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Full text of "The white slaves of England. Comp. from official documents. With twelve spirited illustrations"


University of California Berkeley 



Gift 4 

MARK NEUMAN 
MA 1960 PnD 1967 



v > 



* ^ 

*\\ 





THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 



GIFT OF 
PUBLISHER 



THE 



AVES 



WHITER 




THIRD THOUSAND. 



THE WHITE SLATES 



OP 



ENGLAND. 



COMPILED FROM OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS. 



WITH TWELYE SPIRITED ILLUSTRATIONS. 



BY JOHN C. COBDEN. 



AUBURN: 
DERBY AND MILLER. 

BUFFALO: 
DERBY, ORTON AND MULLIGAN. 

CINCINNATI: 

HENRY W. DERBY. 

1853. 



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and 

fifty-three, by 

DKBBY AND MILLEE, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Northern District of New- York. 



PREFACE. 



THE following pages exhibit a system of wrong and outrage 
equally abhorrent to justice, civilization and humanity. The 
frightful abuses which are here set forth, are, from their enor- 
mity, difficult of belief; yet they are supported by testimony 
the most impartial, clear and irrefutable. These abuses are 
time-honored, and have the sanction of a nation which prides it- 
self upon the freedom of its Constitution ; and which holds up 
its government to the nations of the earth as a model of regu- 
lated liberty. Vain, audacious, false assumption ! Let the ref- 
utation be found in the details which this volume furnishes, of 
the want, misery and starvation the slavish toil the meni- 
al degradation of nineteen-twentieths of 'her people. Let her 
miners, her operatives, the tenants of her work-houses, her 
naval service, and the millions upon millions in the Emerald 
Isle and in farther India attest its fallacy. 

These are the legitimate results of the laws and institutions 
of Great Britain ; and they reach and affect, in a greater or less 
degree, all her dependencies. Her church and state, and her 
laws of entail and primogeniture, are the principal sources of 
the evils under which her people groan ; and until these are 
1* 5 



6 PKEFACE. 

changed there is no just ground of hope for an improvement 
in their condition. The tendency of things is, indeed, to make 
matters still worse. The poor are every year becoming poor- 
er, and more dependent upon those who feast upon their suffer- 
ings ; while the wealth and power of the realm are annually 
concentrating in fewer hands, and becoming more and more in- 
struments of oppression. The picture is already sufficiently 
revolting. "Nine hundred and ninety-nine children of the 
same common Father, suffer from destitution, tha,t the thou- 
sandth may revel in superfluities. A thousand cottages shrink 
into meanness and want, to swell the dimensions of a single palace. 
The tables of a thousand families of the industrious poor waste 
awayjnto drought and barrenness, that one board may be laden 
with surfeits." 

i From these monstrous evils there seems to be little chance 
of escape, except by flight ; and happy is it for the victims of 
oppression, that an asylum is open to them, in whicn they can 
fully enjoy the rights and privileges, from which, for ages, they 
have been debarred. Let them come. The feudal chains 
which so long have bound them can here be shaken off. Here 
they can freely indulge the pure impulses of the mind and the 
soul, untrammeled by political or religious tyranny. Here 
they can enjoy the beneficent influences of humane institutions 
and laws, and find a vast and ample field in which to develop 
and properly employ all their faculties. 

The United States appear before the eyes of the downtrod- 
den whites of Europe as a land of promise. Thousands of ig- 
norant, degraded wretches, who have fled from their homes to 



PREFACE. 7 

escape exhausting systems of slaverj, annually land upon our 
shores, and in their hearts thank God that he has created such 
a refuge. This is the answer the overwhelming answer 
to the decriers of our country and its institutions. These emi- 
grants are more keenly alive to the superiority of our institu- 
tions than most persons who have been bred under them, and 
to their care we might confidently intrust our defence. 

We design to prove in this work that the oligarchy which 
owns Great Britain at the present day is the best friend of hu- 
man slavery, and that its system is most barbarous and destruc- 
tive. Those feudal institutions which reduced to slavery the 
strong-minded race of whites, are perpetuated in Great Britain, 
to the detriment of freedom wherever the British sway extends. 
Institutions which nearly every other civilized country has abol- 
ished, and which are at least a century behind the age, still curse 
the British islands and their dependencies. This system of 
slavery, with all its destructive effects, will be found fully illus- 
trated in this volume. 

Our plan has been to quote English authorities wherever pos- 
sible. Out of their own mouths shall they be condemned. 
We have been much indebted to the publications of distin- 
guished democrats of England, who have keenly felt the evils 
under which their country groans, and striven, with a hearty 
will, to remove them. They have the sympathies of civilized 
mankind with their cause. May their efforts soon be crowned 
with success, for the British masses and oppressed nations far 
away in the East will shout loud and long when the aristocracy 
is brought to the dust ! 



1 AS WE HAVE BEEN GREAT IN CRIME, LET US BE 

EARLY LV REPENTANCE. THERE WILL BE A DAT OF RETRIBUTION, WHERE- 
IN WE SHALL HAVE TO GIVE ACCOUNT OF ALL THE TALENTS, FACULTIES, 
AND OPPORTUNITIES WHICH HAVE BEEN INTRUSTED TO US. LET IT NOT 
THEN APPEAR THAT OUR SUPERIOR POWER HAS BEEN EMPLOYED TO OPPRESS 
OUR FELLOW CREATURES, AND OUR SUPERIOR LIGHT TO DARKEN THE CRE- 
ATION OF OUR GOD." Wilberforce. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

General Slavery proceeding from the existence of the British 
Aristocracy Page 13 



CHAPTER II. 
Slavery in the British Mines 28 

CHAPTER III. 
Slavery in the British Factories 104 

CHAPTER IV. 
Slavery in the British Workshops 168 

CHAPTER V. 
The Workhouse System of Britain 206 

CHAPTER VI. 

Impressment, or Kidnapping White Men for Slaves in the 
Naval Service 257 

11 



12 CONTENTS/ 

CHAPTEK VII. 
Irish Slavery Page 284 

CHAPTER VIII. 
The Menial Slaves of Great Britain .. 370 



CHAPTER IX. 

Mental and Moral Condition of the White Slaves in Great 
Britain..., .. 379 



CHAPTER X. 
Coolie Slavery in the British Colonies 433 

CHAPTER XI. 
Slavery in British India 441 

CHAPTER XII. 

The Crime and the Duty of the English Government 489 



THE 



WHITE SLAVES OF ENGLAND, 



CHAPTER I. 

GENERAL SLAVERY PROCEEDING FROM THE EXISTENCE OP 
THE BRITISH ARISTOCRACY. 

WHAT is slavery ? A system under which the time 
and toil of one person are compulsorily the property of 
another. The power of life and death, and the privilege 
of using the lash in the master, are not essential, but 
casual attendants of slavery, which comprehends all in- 
voluntary servitude without adequate recompense or the 
means of escape. He who can obtain no property in the 
soil, and is not represented in legislation, is a slave ; 
for he is completely at the mercy of the lord of the soil 
and the holder of the reins of government. Sometimes 
slavery is founded upon the inferiority of one race to 
another; and then it appears in its most agreeable 
garb, for the system may be necessary to tame and 
civilize a race of savages. But the subjection of the 
majority of a nation to an involuntary, hopeless, ex- 
hausting, and demoralizing servitude, for the benefit of 

13 



14 THE WHITE SLAVES 

an idle and luxurious few of the same nation, is slavery 
in its most appalling form. Such a system of slavery, 
we assert, exists in Great Britain. 

In the United Kingdom, the land is divided into 
immense estates, constantly retained in a few hands; 
and the tendency of the existing laws of entail and 
primogeniture is to reduce even the number of these 
proprietors. According to McCulloch, there are 
77,007,048 acres of land in the United Kingdom, in- 
cluding the small islands adjacent. Of this quantity, 
28,227,435 acres are uncultivated ; while, according to 
Mr. Porter, another English writer, about 11,300,000 
acres, now lying waste, are fit for cultivation. The 
number of proprietors of all this land is about 50,000. 
Perhaps, this is a rather high estimate for the present 
period. Now the people of the United Kingdom num- 
ber at least 28,000,000. What a tremendous majority, 
then, own not a foot of soil ! But this is not the worst. 
Such is the state of the laws, that the majority never 
can acquire an interest in the land. Said the London 
Times, in 1844, "Once a peasant in England, and the 
man must remain a peasant for ever ;" and, says Mr. 
Kay, of Trinity College, Cambridge 

"Unless .the English peasant will consent to tear himself from 
his relations, friends, and early associations, and either transplant 
himself into a town or into a distant colony, he has no chance of 
improving his condition in the world." 

Admit this admit that the peasant must remain 



OF ENGLAND. 15 

through life at the mercy of his lord, and of legislation 
in which his interests are not represented and tell us 
if he is a freeman ? 

To begin with England, to show the progress and 
effects of the land monopoly : The Kev. Henry Worsley 
states that in the year 1770, there were in England 
250,000 freehold estates, in the hands of 250,000 different 
families ; and that, in 1815, the whole of the lands of 
England were concentrated in the hands of only 32,000 
proprietors ! So that, as the population increases, the 
number of proprietors diminishes. A distinguished 
lawyer, who was engaged in the management of estates 
in Westmpreland and Cumberland counties in 1849, 
says 

" The greater proprietors in this part of the country are buying 
up all the land, and including it in their settlements. "Whenever 
one of the small estates is put up for sale, the great proprietors 
outbid the peasants and purchase it at all costs. The consequence 
is, that for some time past, the number of the small estates has been 
rapidly diminishing in all parts of the country. In a short time 
none of them will remain, but all be merged in the great estates. 
* * * The consequence is, that the peasant's position, instead 
of being what it once was one of hope is gradually becoming 
one of despair. Unless a peasant emigrates, there is now no 
chance for him. It is impossible for him to rise above the pea- 
sant class." 

The direct results of this system are obvious. Unable 
to buy land, the tillers of the soil live merely by the 
sufferance of the proprietors. If one of the great land- 
holders takes the notion that grazing will be more 



16 THE WHITE SLAVES 

profitable than farming, he may sweep away the homes 
of his labourers, turning the poor wretches upon the 
country as wandering paupers, or driving them into the 
cities to overstock the workshops and reduce the wages 
of the poor workman. And what is the condition of 
the peasants who are allowed to remain and labour 
upon the vast estates? Let Englishmen speak for 
Englishmen. 

Devon, Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire are generally 
regarded as presenting the agricultural labourer in his 
most deplorable circumstances, while Lincolnshire ex- 
hibits the other extreme. We have good authority for 
the condition of the peasantry in all these counties. 
Mr. John Fox, medical officer of the Cerne Union, in 
Dorsetshire, says 

" Most of the cottages are of the worst description ; some mere 
mud-hovels, and situated in low and damp places, with cesspools 
or accumulations of filth close to the doors. The mud floors of 
many are much below the level of the road, and, in wet seasons, 
are little better than so much clay. In many of the cottages, the 
beds stood on the ground floor, which was damp three parts of 
the year ; scarcely one had a fireplace in the bedroom ; and one 
had a single small pane of glass stuck in the mud wall as its only 
window. 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 any animal food, and, conse- 
quently, highly susceptible of disease, and very unable to contend 
with it." 

Very often, according to other equally good authority, 
there is not more than one room for the whole family, 



OF ENGLAND. IT 

and the demoralization of that family is the natural 
consequence. The Morning Chronicle of November, 
1849, said of the cottages at Southleigh, in Devon 

" One house, which our correspondent visited, was almost a 
ruin. It had continued in that state for ten years. The floor 
was of mud, dipping near the fireplace into a deep hollow, which 
was constantly filled with water. There were five in the family 
a young man of twenty-one, a girl of eighteen, and another girl 
of about thirteen, with the father and mother, all sleeping to- 
gether up-stairs. And what a sleeping-room! 'In places it 
seemed falling in. To ventilation it was an utter stranger. The 
crazy floor shook and creaked under me as I paced it.' Yet the 
rent was Is. a week the same sum for which apartments that 
may be called luxurious in comparison may be had in the model 
lodging-houses. And here sat a girl weaving that beautiful 
Honiton lace which our peeresses wear on court-days. Cottage 
after cottage at Southleigh presented the same characteristics. 
Clay floors, low ceilings letting in the rain, no ventilation ; two 
rooms, one above and one below; gutters running through the 
lower room to let off the water; unglazed window-frames, now 
"boarded up, and now uncovered to the elements, the boarding 
going for firewood ; the inmates disabled by rheumatism, ague, 
and typhus ; broad, stagnant, open ditches close to the doors ; 
heaps of abominations piled round the dwellings ; such are the 
main features of Southleigh ; and it is in these worse than pig- 
styes that one of the most beautiful fabrics that luxury demands 
or art supplies is fashioned. The parish houses are still worse. 
' One of these, on the borders of Devonshire and Cornwall, and 
not far from Launceston, consisted of two houses, containing 
between them four rooms. In each room ' lived a family night 
and day, the space being about twelve feet square. In one were 
a man and his wife and eight children ; the father, mother, and 
two children lay in one bed, the remaining six were huddled 
' head and foot' (three at the top and three at the foot) in the 
other bed. The eldest girl was between fifteen and sixteen, the 

2* 



18 THE WHITE SLAVES 

eldest boy between fourteen and fifteen.' Is it not horrible to 
think of men and women being brought up in -this foul and brutish 
manner in civilized and Christian England ! The lowest of 
savages are not worse cared for than these children of a luxurious 
and refined country." 

Yet other authorities describe cases much worse than 
this which so stirs the heart of the editor of the Morn- 
ing Chronicle. The frightful immorality consequent 
upon such a mode of living will be illustrated fully in 
another portion of this work. 

In Lincolnshire, the cottages of the peasantry are in a 
better condition than in any other part of England ; but 
in consequence of the lowness of wages and the compa- 
rative enormity of rents, the tillers of the soil are in 
not much better circumstances than their rural brethren 
in other counties. Upon an average, a hard-working 
peasant can earn five shillings a week ; two shillings of 
which go for rent. If he can barely live when employed, 
what is to become of him when thrown out of employ- 
ment ? Thus the English peasant is driven to the most 
constant and yet hopeless labour, with whips more 
terrible than those used by the master of the negro slave. 

In Wales, the condition of the peasant, thanks to the 
general system of lord and serf, is neither milder nor 
more hopeful than in England. Mr. Symonds, a com- 
missioner who was sent by government to examine the 
state of education in some of the "Welsh counties, says 
of the peasantry of Brecknockshire, Cardiganshire, and 
Radnorshire 



OF ENGLAND. 19 

" The people of my district are almost universally poor. In 
some parts of it, wages are probably lower than in any part of 
Great Britain. The evidence of the witnesses, fully confirmed by 
other statements, exhibits much poverty, but little amended in, 
other parts of the counties on which I report. The farmers them-' 
selves are very much impoverished, and live no better than English, 
cottagers in prosperous agricultural counties. 

" The cottages in which the people dwell are miserable in the 
extreme in nearly every part of the country in Cardiganshire, 
and every part of Brecknockshire and Radnorshire, except the 
east. I have myself visited many of the dwellings of the poor, 
and my assistants have done so likewise. I believe the Welsh, 
cottages to be very little, if at all, superior to the Irish huts in the 
country districts. 

"Brick chimneys are very unusual in these cottages; those 
which exist are usually in the shape of large cones, the top being 
of basket-work. In very few cottages is there more than one room, 
which serves the purposes of living and sleeping. A large dresser 
and shelves usually form the partition between the two ; and 
where there are separate beds for the family, a curtain or low 
board is (if it exists) the only division with no regular partition. 
And this state of things very generally prevails, even where there 
is some little attention paid to cleanliness ; but the cottages and 
beds are frequently filthy. The people are always very dirty. In 
all the counties, the cottages are generally destitute of necessary 
outbuildings, including even those belonging to the farmers ; and 
both in Cardiganshire and Radnorshire, except near the border 
of England, the pigs and poultry have free run of the joint dwell- 
ing and sleeping rooms." 

In Scotland, the estates of the nobility are even 
larger than in England. Small farms are difficult to 
find. McCulloch states that there are not more than 
8000 proprietors of land in the whole of Scotland ; and, 
as in England, this number is decreasing. In some 

districts, the cottages of the peasantry are as wretched 

2 



20 THE WHITE SLAVES 

as any in England or Wales. For some years past, the 
great landholders, such as the Duke of Buccleuch and 
the Duchess of Sutherland, have been illustrating the 
glorious beneficence of British institutions by removing 
the poor peasantry from the homes of their fathers, for 
the purpose of turning the vacated districts into deer- 
parks, sheep-walks, and large farms. Many a Highland 
family has vented a curse upon the head of the re- 
morseless Duchess of Sutherland. Most slaveholders 
in other countries feed, shelter, and protect their slaves, 
in compensation for work ; but the Duchess and her 
barbarous class take work, shelter, food, and protection 
from their serfs all at one fell swoop, turning them upon 
the world to beg or starve. Scotland has reason 
strong reason to bewail the existence of the British 
aristocracy. 

Next let us invoke the testimony of Ireland the 
beautiful and the wretched Ireland, whose people have 
been the object of pity to the nations for centuries 
whose miseries have been the burden of song and the 
theme of eloquence till they have penetrated all hearts 
save those of the oppressors whose very life-blood has 
been trampled out by the aristocracy. Let us hear her 
testimony in regard to the British slave system. 

Ireland is splendidly situated, in a commercial point 
of view, commanding the direct route between Northern 
Europe and America, with some of the finest harbours 
in the world. Its soil is rich and fruitful. Its rivers 



OF ENGLAND. 

are large, numerous, and well adapted for internal 
commerce. The people are active, physically and 
intellectually, and, everywhere beyond Ireland, are 
distinguished for their energy, perseverance, and 
success. Yet, in consequence of its organized oppres- 
sion, called government, Ireland is the home of miseries 
which have scarcely a parallel upon the face of the 
earth. The great landlords spend most of their time 
in England or upon the continent, and leave their lands 
to the management of agents, who have sub-agents for 
parts of the estates, and these latter often have still 
inferior agents. Many of the great landlords care 
nothing for their estates beyond the receipt of the rents, 
and leave their agents to enrich themselves at the 
expense of the tenantry. Everywhere in Ireland, a 
traveller, as he passes along the roads, will see on the 
roadsides and in the fields, places which look like 
mounds of earth and sods, with a higher heap of sods 
upon the top, out of which smoke is curling upward ; 
and with two holes in the sides of the heap next the 
road, one of which is used as the door, and the other 
as the window of the hovel. These are the homes of 
the peasantry ! Entering a hovel, you will find it to 
contain but one room, formed by the four mud walls ; 
and in these places, upon the mud floor, the families of 
the peasant live. Men, women, boys, and girls live 
and sleep together, and herd with the wallowing pig. 
Gaunt, ragged figures crawl out of these hovels and 



22 THE WHITE SLAVES 

plant the ground around them with potatoes, which 
constitute the only food of the inmates throughout the 
year, or swarm the roads and thoroughfares as wretched 
beggars. The deplorable condition of these peasants 
was graphically described by no less a person than Sir 
Kobert Peel, in his great speech on Ireland, in 1849 ; 
and the evidence quoted by him was unimpeachable. 
But not only are the majority of the Irish condemned 
to exist in such hovels as we have sketched above their 
tenure of these disgusting cabins is insecure. If they 
do not pay the rent for them at the proper time, they 
are liable to be turned adrift even in the middle of the 
night. No notice is necessary. The tenants are sub- 
ject to the tender mercies of a bailiff, without any 
remedy or appeal, except to the court of Heaven. Kay 
states that in 1849, more than 50,000 families were 
evicted and turned as beggars upon the country. An 
Englishman who travelled through Ireland in the fall 
of 1849, says 

" In passing through some half dozen counties, Cork, (especially 
in the western portions of it,) Limerick, Clare, Gal way, and 
Mayo, you see thousands of ruined cottages and dwellings of the 
labourers, the peasants, and the small holders of Ireland. You 
gee from the roadside twenty houses at once with not a roof upon 
them. I came to a village not far from Castlebar, where the 
system of eviction had been carried out only a few days before. 
Five women came about us as the car stopped, and on making 
inquiry, they told us their sorrowful story. They were not badly 
clad ; they were cleanly in appearance ; they were intelligent ; 
they used no violent language, but in the most moderate terms 



OF ENGLAND. 23 

told us that on the Monday week previously those five houses had 
been levelled. They told us how many children there were in 
their families : I recollect one had eight, another had six ; that 
the husbands of three of them were in this country for the har- 
vest ; that they had written to their husbands to tell them of the 
desolation of their homes. And, I asked them, ' What did the 
husbands say in reply ?' They said ' they had not been able to 
eat any breakfast !' It is but a simple observation, but it marka 
the sickness and the sorrow which came over the hearts of those 
men, who here were toiling for their three or four pounds, denying 
themselves almost rest at night that they might make a good 
reaping at the harvest, and go back that they might enjoy it in 
the home which they had left. All this is but a faint outline of 
what has taken place in that unhappy country. Thousands of 
individuals have died within the last two or three years in conse- 
quence of the evictions which have taken place." 

The great loss of life in the famine of 1847 showed 
that the peasantry had a miserable dependence upon 
the chances of a good potato crop for the means of 
keeping life in their bodies. Crowds of poor wretches, 
after wandering about for a time like the ghosts of 
human beings, starved to death by the roadside, victims 
of the murderous policy of the landed aristocracy. 
Since that period of horror, the great proprietors, 
envious of the lurid fame achieved by the Duchess of 
Sutherland in Scotland, have been evicting their tenants 
on the most extensive scale, and establishing large farms 
and pasturages, which they deem more profitable than 
former arrangements. In despair at home, the wretched 
Irish are casting their eyes to distant lands for a refuge 
from slavery and starvation. But hundreds of thou- 



24 THE WHITE SLAVES 

sands groan in their hereditary serfdom, without the 
means of reaching other and happier countries. Tho 
dearest ties of family are sundered by the force of want. 
The necessity of seeking a subsistence drives the father 
to a distant land, while the child is compelled to remain 
in Ireland a pauper. The husband can pay his own 
passage to America, perchance, but the wife must stay 
in the land of misery. Ask Ireland if a slave can 
breathe in Great Britain ! The long lamentation of 
ages, uniting with the heart-broken utterances of her 
present wretched bondsmen, might touch even the 
British aristocracy in its reply. 

So much for the general condition of the peasantry 
in the United Kingdom. The miserable consequences of 
the system of lord and serf do not end here. No ! There 
are London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Dublin, 
and many other cities and towns, with their crowds of 
slaves either in the factories and workshops, or in the 
streets as paupers and criminals. There are said to be 
upward of four millions of paupers in the United 
Kingdom ! Can such an amount of wretchedness be 
found in any country upon the face of the globe ? To 
what causes are we to attribute this amount of pauper- 
ism, save to the monopolies and oppressions of the 
aristocracy? Think of there being in the United 
Kingdom over eleven million acres of good land uncul- 
tivated, and four millions of paupers ! According to 
Kay, more than two millions of people were kept from 



OF ENGLAND. 25 

starving in England and Wales, in 1848, by relief doled 
out to them from public and private sources. So scant 
are the earnings of those who labour day and night in 
the cities and towns, that they may become paupers if 
thrown out of work for a single week. Many from 
town and country are driven by the fear of starvation 
to labour in the mines, the horrors of which species of 
slavery shall be duly illustrated farther on in this 
work. 

Truly did Southey write 

" To talk of English happiness, is like talking of Spartan free- 
dom ; the helots are overlooked. In no country can such riches 
be acquired by commerce, but it is the one who grows rich by 
the labour of the hundred. The hundred human beings like 
himself, as wonderfully fashioned by nature, gifted with the like 
capacities, and equally made for immortality, are sacrificed body, 
and soul. Horrible as it must needs appear, the assertion is true 
to the very letter. They are deprived in childhood of all instruc- 
tion and all enjoyment of the sports in which childhood instinc- 
tively indulges of fresh air by day and of natural sleep by night. 
Their health, physical and moral, is alike destroyed ; they die of 
diseases induced by unremitting task-work, by confinement in 
the impure atmosphere of crowded rooms, by the particles of 
metallic or vegetable dust which they are continually inhaling; 
or they live to grow up without decency, without comfort, and 
without hope without morals, without religion, and without 
shame ; and bring forth slaves like themselves to tread in the 
same path of misery." 

Again, the same distinguished Englishman says, in 
number twenty-six of Espriella's Letters 

"The English boast of their liberty, but there is no liberty in 
England for the poor. They are no longer sold with the soil, it 
B 



26 THE WHITE SLAVES 

is true ; but they cannot quit the soil if there be any probability 
or suspicion that age or infirmity may disable them. If, in such 
a case, they endeavour to remove to some situation where they 
hope more easily to maintain themselves, where work is more 
plentiful or provisions cheaper, the overseers are alarmed, the 
intruder is apprehended, as if he were a criminal, and sent back 
to his own parish. Wherever a pauper dies, that parish must be 
at the cost of his funeral. Instances, therefore, have not been 
wanting of wretches, in the last stage of disease, having been 
hurried away in an open cart, upon straw, and dying upon the 
road. Nay, even women, in the very pains of labour, have been 
driven out, and have perished by the wayside, because the birth- 
place of the child would be its parish 1" 

The sufferings of the rural labourers the peasantry 
of Great Britain and Ireland are to be attributed to 
the fact that they have no property in the land, and 
cannot acquire any. The law of primogeniture, on 
which the existence of the British aristocracy depends, 
has, as we have already shown, placed the land and 
those who labour on it the soil and the serfs at the 
disposal of a few landed proprietors. The labourers are 
not attached to the soil, and bought and sold with it, 
as in Kussia. The English aristocrat is too cunning to 
adopt such a regulation, because it would involve the 
necessity of supporting his slaves. They are called 
freemen, in order to enable their masters to detach them 
from the soil, and drive them forth to starve, when it 
suits their convenience, without incurring any legal 
penalty for their cruelty, such as the slaveholders of 
other countries would suffer. The Russian, the Spa- 
nish, the North American slaveholder must support his 



OF ENGLAND. 27 

slaves in sickness and helpless old age, or suffer the 
penalties of the law for his neglect. The British slave- 
holder alone may drive his slaves forth to starve in the 
highway by hundreds and thousands; and no law of 
Great Britain affords the means of punishing him for 
his murderous cruelty. His Irish slaves may be saved 
from starvation by American bounty, but he cannot be 
punished until he shall meet his Judge at the day of 
final account. 



28 THE WHITE SLAVES 



CHAPTER II. 

SLAVERY IN THE BRITISH MINES. 

IN proceeding to speak more particularly of the 
various forms of British slavery, we will begin with 
labour in the mines the horrors of which became 
known to the world through reports made to Parliament 
in the summer of 1840. Pressed by the fear of general 
execration, Parliament appointed a commission of in- 
quiry, which, after a thorough examination of all the 
mines in the United Kingdom, made a voluminous re- 
port. So shocking were the accounts of labour in the 
mines given by this commission, that the delicate nerves 
of several perfumed lords were grievously pained, and 
they denounced the commissioners as being guilty of 
exaggeration. Nevertheless, the evidence adduced by 
the officers was unimpeachable, and their statements 
were generally received as plain truth. 

The mining industry of the kingdom is divided into 
two distinct branches that of the coal and iron mines, 
and that of the mines of tin, copper, lead, and zinc. 
The coal measures," as the geological formations 
comprising the strata of coal are designated, are vari- 
ously dispersed in the middle, northern, and western 



OF ENGLAND. 



29 



portions of South Britain, and in a broad belt of coun- 
try which traverses the centre of Scotland, from the 
shores of Ayrshire to those of the Frith of Forth. 
There are, also, some coal-tracts in Ireland, but they 
are of comparatively small importance. In all these 
districts, the coal is found in beds, inter stratified for 
the most part with various qualities of gritstone and 
shale, in which, in some of the districts, occur layers 
of ironstone, generally thin, but sometimes forming 
large masses, as in the Forest of Dean. When the 
surface of the coal country, is mountainous and inter- 
sected by deep ravines, as in South Wales, the mineral 
deposites are approached by holes driven into the sides 
of the hills ; but the common access to them is by ver- 
tical shafts, or well-holes, from the bottoms of which 
horizontal roadways are extended in long and confined 
passages through the coal strata, to bring all that is 
hewn to the "pit's eye," or bottom of the shaft, for 
winding up. It is requisite to have more than one 
shaft in the same workings ; but where the coal lies so 
deep that the sinking of a distinct shaft requires an 
enormous outlay of capital, only one large shaft is 
sunk; and this is divided by wooden partitions, or 
brattices, into several distinct channels. There must 
always be one shaft or channel, called the " downcast 
pit," for the air to descend; and another, called the 
"upcast pit," for the return draught to ascend. The 
apparatus for lowering and drawing up is generally in 

3* 



30 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the upcast shaft. This is either a steam-engine, a 
horse-gin, or a hand-crank. The thickness of the 
seams that are wrought varies from the eighteen-inch 
seams of the Lancashire and Yorkshire hills, to the ten- 
yard coal of South Staffordshire. But two, three, and 
four feet are the more common thicknesses of the beds 
that are wrought. When there is a good roof, or hard 
rock immediately over the coal, with a tolerably solid 
floor beneath it, thin coal-seams can be worked with 
advantage, because the outlay of capital for propping 
is then very limited ; but the very hardness of the con- 
tiguous strata would require an outlay almost as great 
to make the roadways of a proper height for human 
beings of any age to work in. 

By the evidence collected under the commission, it is 
proved that there are coal-mines at present at work in 
which some passages are so small, that even the youngest 
children cannot move along them without crawling on 
their hands and feet, in which constrained position they 
drag the loaded carriages after them ; and yet, as it is 
impossible by any outlay compatible with a profitable 
return, to render such coal-mines fit for human beings 
to work in, they never will be placed in such a condi- 
tion, and, consequently, they never can be worked 
without this child slavery ! When the roads are six 
feet high and upward, there is not only ample space 
for carrying on the general operations of the mine, but 
the coals can be drawn direct from the workings to the 



OF ENGLAND. 



31 



foot of the shaft by the largest horses ; and when the 
main roads are four feet and a half high, the coals may 
be conveyed to the foot of the shaft by ponies or asses. 
But when the main ways are under four feet, the coals 
can only be conveyed by children. Yet, in many mines, 
the main gates are only from twenty-four to thirty 
inches high. In this case, even the youngest children 
must work in a bent position of the body. "When the 
inclination of the strata causes all the workings out of 
the main ways to be on inclined plains, the young 
labourers are not only almost worked to death, but ex- 
posed to severe accidents in descending the plains with 
their loads, out of one level into another. In many of 
the mines, there is such a want of drainage and ventila- 
tion, that fatal diseases are contracted by the miners. 

According to the report of the Parliamentary com- 
mission, about one-third of the persons employed in the 
coal-mines were under eighteen years of age, and much 
more than one-third of this number were under thirteen 
years of age. When the proprietor employs the whole 
of the hands, not only will his general overseer be a 
respectable person, but his underlookers will be taken 
from the more honest, intelligent, and industrious of 
the labouring colliers. Elsewhere, the rulers in pits 
are such as the rudest class is likely to produce. The 
great body of the children and young persons are, 
however, of the families of the adult work-people em- 
ployed in the pits, or belong to the poor population of 



32 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the neighbourhood. But, in some districts, there are 
numerous defenceless creatures who pass the whole of 
their youth in the most abject slavery, into which they 
are thrown chiefly by parish authorities, under the 
name of apprenticeship. Said the Parliamentary com- 
missioners in their report 

" There is one mode of engaging the labour of children and 
young persons in coal-mines, peculiar to a few districts, which 
deserves particular notice, viz. that by apprenticeship. The 
district in which the practice of employing apprentices is most in 
use, is South Staffordshire ; it was formerly common in Shrop- 
shire, but is now discontinued ; it is still common in Yorkshire, 
Lancashire, and the West of Scotland ; in all the other districts, it 
appears to be unknown. In Staffordshire, the sub-commissioner 
states that the number of children and young persons working in 
the mines as apprentices is exceedingly numerous; that these 
apprentices are paupers or orphans, and are wholly in the power 
of the butties ;* that such is the demand for this class of children 
by the butties, that there are scarcely any boys in the union 
workhouses of Walsall, Wolverhampton, Dudley, and Stourbridge ; 
that these boys are sent on trial to the butties between the ages 
of eight and nine, and at nine are bound as apprentices for twelve 
years, that is, to the age of twenty-one years complete ; that, not- 
withstanding this long apprenticeship, there is nothing whatever 
in the coal-mines to learn beyond a little dexterity, readily ac- 
quired by short practice ; and that even in the mines of Cornwall, 
where much skill and judgment is required, there are no appren- 
tices, while, in the coal-mines of South Staffordshire, the orphan 
whom necessity has driven into a workhouse, is made to labour 
in the mines until the age of twenty-one, solely for the benefit of 

another." 

% 

Thomas Moorhouse, a collier boy, who was brought 

* The butties are the men who superintend the conveyance of the 
coal from the digger to the pit-shaft. 



OF ENGLAND. 33 

to the notice of the Parliamentary commissioners, 
said 

" I don't know how old I am ; father is dead ; I am a chanco 
child ; mother is dead also ; I don't know how long she has been 
dead ; 'tis better na three years ; I began to hurry* when I was 
nine years old for William Greenwood ; I was apprenticed to him 
till I should be twenty-one ; my mother apprenticed me ; I lived 
with Greenwood ; I don't know how long it was, but it was a 
goodish while ; he was bound to find me in victuals and drink 
and clothes ; I never had enough ; he gave me some old clothes 
to wear, which he bought at the rag-shop ; the overseers gave him 
a sovereign to buy clothes with, but he never laid it out ; the 
overseers bound me out with mother's consent from the township 
of Southowram ; I ran away from him because he lost my inden- 
tures, for he served me very bad ; he stuck a pick into me twice." 

Here the boy was made to strip, and the commis- 
sioner, Mr. Symonds, found a large cicatrix likely to 
have been occasioned by such an instrument, which 
must have passed through the glutei muscles, and have 
stopped only short of the hip-joint. There were twenty 
other wounds, occasioned by hurrying in low workings, 
upon and around the spinous processes of the vertebrae, 
from the sacrum upward. The boy continued 

" lie used to hit me with the belt, and mawl or sledge, and 
fling coals at me. He served me so bad that I left him, and went 
about to see if I could get a job. I used to sleep in the cabins 
upon the pit's bank, and in the old pits that had done working. 
I laid upon the shale all night. I used to get what I could to 
eat. I ate for a long time the candles that I found in the pits 
that the colliers left over night. I had nothing else to eat. I 
looked about for work, and begged of the people a bit. I got to , 

* To hurry is to draw or push the coal-cars. 

3 



34 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Bradford after a while, and had a job there for a month while a 
collier's lad was poorly. When he came back, I was obliged to 
leave." 

Another case was related by Mr. Kennedy, one of 
the commissioners. A boy, named Edward Kershaw, 
had been apprenticed by the overseers of Castleton to 
a collier of the name of Robert Brierly, residing at 
Balsgate, who worked in a pit in the vicinity of Rooley 
Moor. The boy was examined, and from twenty-four 
to twenty-six wounds were found upon his body. His 
posteriors and loins were beaten to a jelly ; his head, 
which was almost cleared of hair on the scalp, had the 
marks of many old wounds upon it which had healed 
up. One of the bones in one arm was broken below 
the elbow, and, from appearances, seemed to have been 
so for some time. The boy, on being brought before 
the magistrates, was unable either to sit or stand, and 
was placed on the floor of the office, laid on his side on 
a small cradle-bed. It appears from the evidence, that 
the boy's arm had been broken by a blow with an iron 
rail, and the fracture had never been set, and that he 
had been kept at work for several weeks with his arm 
in the condition above described. It further appeared 
in evidence, and was admitted by Brierly, that he had 
been in the habit of beating the boy with a flat piece 
of wood, in which a nail was driven and projected about 
half an inch. The blows had been inflicted with such 
violence that they penetrated the skin, and caused the 



OP ENGLAND. 35 

wounds above mentioned. The body of the boy pre- 
sented all the marks of emaciation. This brutal master 
had kept the boy at work as a wagoner until he was no 
longer of any use, and then sent him home in a cart to 
his mother, who was a poor widow, residing in Church 
lane, Rochdale. And yet it is said that a slave cannot 
breathe the air of England ! 

The want of instruction, and the seclusion from the 
rest of the world, which is common to the colliers, give 
them a sad pre-eminence over every other class of 
labourers, in ignorance and callousness ; and when they 
are made masters, what can be expected ? In all cases 
of apprenticeship, the children are bound till they 
attain the age of twenty-one years. If the master dies 
before the apprentice attains the age of twenty-one 
years, the apprentice is equally bound as the servant 
of his deceased master's heirs, executors, administrators, 
and assigns. In fact, the apprentice is part of the 
deceased master's goods and chattels ! 

But, to speak more particularly of the labour of the 
children : The employment of the adult collier is almost 
exclusively in the "getting" of the coal from its 
natural resting-place, of which there are various me- 
thods, according to the nature of the seams and the 
habits of the several districts. That of the children 
and young persons consists principally either in tending 
the air-doors where the coal- carriages must pass through 
openings, the immediately subsequent stoppage of which 



36 THE WHITE SLAVES 

is necessary to preserve the ventilation in its proper 
channels, or in the conveyance of the coal from the 
bays or recesses in which it is hewn, along the subter- 
ranean roadways, to the bottom of the pit-shaft; a 
distance varying from absolute contiguity even to miles, 
in the great coal-fields of the North of England, where 
the depth requires that the same expensive shaft shall 
serve for the excavation of a large tract of coal. The 
earliest employment of children in the pits is generally 
to open and shut the doors, upon the proper custody of 
which the. ventilation and safety of the whole mine 
depends. These little workmen are called "trappers." 
Of the manner in which they pass their earlier days, 
Dr. Mitchell, a distinguished Englishman, has given a 
very interesting sketch, which deserves to be quoted 
here entire : 

" The little trapper, of eight years of age, lies "quiet in bed. It 
is now between two and three in the morning, and his mother 
shakes him and desires him to rise, and tells him that his father 
has an hour ago gone off to the pit. He turns on his side, rubs 
his eyes, and gets up, and comes to the blazing fire and puts on 
his clothes. His coffee, such as it is, stands by the side of the 
fire, and bread is laid down for him. The fortnight is now well 
advanced, the money all spent, and butter, bacon, and other 
luxurious accompaniments of bread, are not to be had at break- 
fast till next pay-day supply the means. He then fills his tin 
bottle with coffee and takes a lump of bread, sets out for the pit, 
into which he goes down in the cage, and walking along the 
horseway for upward of a mile, he reaches the barrow-way, over 
which the young men and boys push the trams with the tubs on 
rails to the flats, where the barrow- way and horse-way meet, and 



OF ENGLAND. 87 

where the tubs are transferred to rolleys or carriages drawn by 
horses. 

"He knows his place of work. It is inside one of the doors 
called trap-doors, which is in the barrow-way, for the purpose of 
forcing the stream of air which passes in its long, many-miled 
course from the down-shaft to the up-shaft of the pit ; but which 
door must be opened whenever men or boys, with or without car- 
riages, may wish to pass through. He seats himself in a little 
hole, about the size of a common fireplace, and with the string in 
his hand ; and all his work is to pull that string when he has to 
open the door, and when man or boy has passed through, then 
to allow the door to shut of itself. Here it is his duty to sit, and 
be attentive, and pull his string promptly as any one approaches. 
He may not stir above a dozen steps with safety from his charge, 
lest he should be found neglecting his duty, and suffer for the 
same. 

"He sits solitary by himself, and has no one to talk to him; 
for in the pit the whole of the people, men and boys, are as busy 
as if they were in a sea-fight. He, however, sees now and then 
the putters urging forward their trams through his gate, and 
derives some consolation from the glimmer of the little candle of 
about 40 to the pound, which is fixed on their trams. For he 
himself has no light. His hours, except at such times, are passed 
in total darkness. For the first week of his service in the pit 
his father had allowed him candles to light one after another, 
but the expense of three halfpence a day was so extravagant 
expenditure out of tenpence, the boy's daily wages, that his 
father, of course, withdrew the allowance the second week, all 
except one or two. candles in the morning, and the week after the 
allowance was altogether taken away ; and now, except a neigh- 
bour kinder than his father now and then drop him a candle as 
he passes, the boy has no light of his own. 

" Thus hour after hour passes away ; but what are hours to 
him, seated in darkness, in the bowels of the earth? He knows 
nothing of the ascending or descending sun. Hunger, however, 
though silent and unseen, acts upon him, and he betakes to his 
bottle of coffee and slice of bread ; and, if desirous, he may have 

4 



38 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the luxury of softening it in a portion of water in the pit, which 
is brought down for man and beast. 

" In this state of sepulchral existence, an insidious enemy gains 
upon him. His eyes are shut, and his ears fail to announce the 
approach of a tram. A deputy overman comes along, and a 
smart cut of his yardwand at once punishes the culprit and re- 
calls him to his duty ; and happy was it for him that he fell into 
the hands of the deputy overman, rather than one of the putters ; 
for his fist would have inflicted a severer pain. The deputy 
overman moreover consoles him by telling him that it was for his 
good that he punished him ; and reminds him of boys, well known 
to both, who, when asleep, had fallen down, and some had been 
severely wounded, and others killed. The little trapper believes 
that he is to blame, and makes no complaint, for he dreads being 
discharged ; and he knows that his discharge would be attended 
with the loss of wages, and bring upon him the indignation of 
his father, more terrible to endure than the momentary vengeance 
of the deputy and the putters all taken together. 

" Such is the day-work of the little trapper in the barrow-way. 

"At last, the joyful sound of 'Loose, loose/ reaches his ears. 
The news of its being four o'clock, and of the order, ' Loose, loose/ 
having been shouted down the shaft, is by systematic arrange- 
ment sent for many miles in all directions round the farthest 
extremities of the pit. The trapper waits until the last putter 
passes with his tram, and then he follows and pursues his journey 
to the foot of the shaft, and takes an opportunity of getting into 
the cage and going up when he can. By five o'clock he may 
probafoly get home. Here he finds a warm dinner, baked potatoes, 
and broiled bacon lying above them. He eats heartily at the 
warm fire, and sits a little after. He dare not go out to play 
with other boys, for the more he plays the more he is sure to 
sleep the next day in the pit. He, therefore, remains at home, 
until, feeling drowsy, he then repeats the prayer taught by our 
blessed Lord, takes off his clothes, is thoroughly washed in hot 
water by his mother, and is laid in his bed." 

The evidence of the Parliamentary commissioners 



OF ENGLAND. 39 

proves that Dr. Mitchell has given the life of the young 
trapper a somewhat softened colouring. Mr. Scriven 
states that the children employed in this way become 
almost idiotic from the long, dark, solitary confinement. 
Many of them never see the light of day during the 
winter season, except on Sundays. 

The loaded corves drawn by the hurriers weigh from 
two to five hundred-weight. These carriages are mounted 
upon four cast-iron wheels of five inches in diameter, 
there being, in general, no rails from the headings to the 
main gates. The children have to drag these carriages 
through passages in some cases not more than from 
sixteen to twenty inches in height. Of course, to ac- 
complish this, the young children must crawl on their 
hands and feet. To render their labour the more easy, 
the sub-commissioner states that they buckle round 
their naked person a broad leather strap, to which is 
attached in front a ring and about four feet of chain, 
terminating in a hook. As soon as they enter the main 
gates, they detach the harness from the corve, change 
their position by getting behind it, and become " thrust- 
ers." The carriage is then placed upon the rail, a 
candle is stuck fast by a piece of wet clay, and away 
they run with amazing swiftness to the shaft, pushing 
the loads with their heads and hands. The younger 
children thrust in pairs. 

" After trapping," says the report of the commissioners, " the 
ne?t labour in the ascending scale to which the children are put, is 



40 THE WHITE SLAVES 

' thrutching/ or thrusting, which consists in being helper to a 
' drawer/ or ' wagoner/ who is master, or ' butty/ over the 
' thrutcher/ In some pits, the thrutcher has his head protected 
by a thick cap, and he will keep on his trousers and clogs ; but 
in others, he works nearly naked. The size of the loads which 
he has to thrutch varies with the thickness of the seam ; and with 
the size, varies his butty's method of proceeding, which is either 
as a drawer or a wagoner. The drawers are those who use the 
belt and chain. Their labour consists in loading, with the coals 
hewn down by the ' getter/ an oblong tub without wheels, and 
dragging this tub on its sledge bottom by means of a girdle of 
rough leather passing round the body, and a chain of iron attached 
to that girdle in front, and hooked to the sledge. The drawer 
has, with the aid of his thrutcher, to sledge the tub in this man- 
ner from the place of getting to the mainway, generally down, 
though sometimes up, a brow or incline of the same steepness as 
the inclination of the strata ; in descending which he goes to the 
front of his tub, where his light is fixed, and, turning his face to 
it, regulates its motion down the hill, as, proceeding back fore- 
most, he pulls it along by his belt. "When he gets to the main- 
way, which will be at various distances not exceeding forty or 
fifty yards from his loading-place, he has to leave this tub upon a 
low truck running on small iron wheels, and then to go and fetch 
a second, which will complete its load, and with these two to 
join with his thrutcher in pushing it along the iron railway to 
the pit bottom to have the tubs successively hooked on to the 
drawing-rope. Returning with his tubs empty, he leaves the 
mainway, first with one, and then with the other tub, to get 
them loaded, dragging them up the ' brow 7 by his belt and chain, 
the latter of which he now passes between his legs, so as to pull, 
face foremost, on all fours. In the thin seams, this labour has 
to be performed in bays, leading from the place of getting to the 
mainways, of scarcely more than twenty inches in height, and in 
mainways of only two feet six inches, and three feet high, for the 
Beam itself will only be eighteen inches thick. 

"Wagoning is a form of drawing which comes into use with 
the more extensive employment of railways in the thicker seams. 



Or ENGLAND. 41 

The tubs here used are large, and all mounted on wheels. From 
the place of getting, the loads are pushed by the wagoners with 
hands and heads to the bottom of the pit along the levels ; and 
where they have to descend from one level into another, this is 
generally done by a cut at right angles directly with the dip, 
down the 'brow' which it makes. Here there is a winch or 
pinion for jigging the wagons down the incline, with a jigger at 
the top and a hooker-on at the bottom of the plane, where it is 
such as to require these. The jiggers and the hookers-on are 
children of twelve or thirteen. Sometimes the descent from one 
line of level into another is by a diagonal cutting at a small 
angle from the levels, called a slant, down which the wagoners 
can, and do, in some instances, take their wagons without jigging, 
by their own manual labour; and a very rough process it is, 
owing to the impetus which so great a weight acquires, notwith- 
standing the scotching of the wheels." 

Mr. Kennedy thus describes the position of the chil- 
dren, in the combined drawing and thrutching : 

" The child in front is harnessed by his belt or chain to the 
wagon ; the two boys behind are assisting in pushing it forward. 
Their heads, it will be observed, are brought down to a level with 
the wagon, and the body almost in the horizontal position. This 
is done partly to avoid striking the roof, and partly to gain the 
advantage of the muscular action, which is greatest in that posi- 
tion. It will be observed, the boy in front goes on his hands and 
feet : in that manner, the whole weight of his body is, in fact, 
supported by the chain attached to the wagon and his feet, and, 
consequently, his power of drawing is greater than it would be 
if he crawled on his knees. These boys, by constantly pushing 
against the wagons, occasionally rub off the hair from the crowns 
of their heads so much as to make them almost bald." 

In Derbyshire, some of the pits are altogether worked 
by boys. The seams are so thin, that several have 

only a two-feet headway to all the workings. The boy 
C 4* 



42 THE WHITE SLAVES 

who gets the coal, lies on his side while at work. .The 
coal is then loaded in a barrow, or tub, and drawn 
along the bank to the pit mouth by boys from eight to 
twelve years of age, on all fours, with a dog-belt and 
chain, the passages being very often an inch or two 
thick in black mud, and neither ironed nor wooded. 
In Mr. Barnes's pit, these boys have to drag the barrows 
with one hundred-weight of coal or slack, sixty times a 
day, sixty yards, and the empty barrows back, without 
once straightening their backs, unless they choose to 
stand under the shaft and run the risk of having their 
heads broken by coal falling, 

In some of the mines, the space of the workings is 
so small that the adult colliers are compelled to carry 
on their operations in a stooping posture ; and, in others, 
they are obliged to work lying their whole length along 
the uneven floor, and supporting their heads upon a 
board or short crutch. In these low, dark, heated, 
and dismal chambers, they work perfectly naked. In 
many of the thin-seam mines, the labour of " getting" 
coal, so severe for adults, was found by the commis- 
sioners to be put upon children from nine to twelve 
years of age. 

If the employment of boys in such a way be, as a 
miner said to the commissioners, " barbarity, barbarity," 
what are we to think of the slavery of female children 
in the same abyss of darkness ? How shall we express 
our feelings upon learning that females, in the years 




COAL GETTER. 



OF ENGLAND. 4d 

of opening womanhood, are engaged in the same occu- 
pations as their male companions, in circumstances 
repugnant to the crudest sense of decency ? Yet we 
have unimpeachable evidence that, at the time of the 
investigations of the commissioners, females were thus 
employed ; and there is reason to believe that this is 
still the case. 

The commissioners found females employed like the 
males in the labours of the mines in districts of York- 
shire and Lancashire, in the East of Scotland, and in 
Wales. In great numbers of the pits visited, the men 
were working in a state of entire nakedness, and were 
assisted by females of all ages, from girls of six years 
old to women of twenty-one these females being 
themselves quite naked down to the waist. Mr. 
Thomas Pearce says that in the West Biding of York- 
shire 

" The girls hurry with a belt and chain, as well as thrust. 
There are as many girls as boys employed about here. One of 
the most disgusting sights I have ever seen, was that of young 
females, dressed like boys in trousers, crawling on all fours, with, 
belts around their waists and chains passing between their legs, 
at day-pits at Thurshelf Bank, and in many small pits near 
Holrnfirth and New Mills. It exists also in several other places." 

In the neighbourhood of Halifax, it is stated that 
there is no distinction whatever between the boys and 
girls in their coming up the shaft and going down ; in 
their mode of hurrying or thrusting ; in the weight of 
corves ; in the distance they arc hurried ; in wages or 

4 



44 THE WHITE SLAVES 

dress ; that the girls associate and labour with men who 
are in a state of nakedness, and that they have them- 
selves no other garment than a ragged shift, or, in the 
absence of that, a pair of broken trousers, to cover their 
persons. 

Here are specimens of the evidence taken by the 
commissioners : 

"Susan Pitchforth, aged eleven, Elland: 'I have worked in 
this pit going two years. I have one sister going of fourteen, 
and she works with me in the pit. I am a thruster/ 

"'This child/ said the sub-commissioner, 'stood shivering 
"before me from cold. The rags that hung about her waist were 
once called a shift, which was as black as the coal she thrust, 
and saturated with water the drippings of the roof and shaft. 
During my examination of her, the banksman, whom I had left 
in the pit, came to the public-house and wanted to take her away, 
because, as he expressed himself, it was not decent that she 
should be exposed to us/ 

" Patience Kershaw, aged seventeen : ' I hurry in the clothes 
I have now got on, (trousers and ragged jacket;) the bald place 
upon my head is made by thrusting the corves ; the getters I 
work for are naked except their caps ; they pull off their clothes ; 
all the men are naked/ 

" Mary Barrett, aged fourteen : ' I work always without stock- 
ings, or shoes, or trousers; I wear nothing but my shift; I have 
to go up to the headings with the men ; they are all naked there; 
I am got well used to that, and don't care much about it ; I was 
afraid at first, and did not like it/ " 

In the Lancashire coal-fields lying to the north and west of 
Manchester, females are regularly employed in underground 
labour ; and the brutal policy of the men, and the abasement of 
the women, is well described by some of the witnesses examined 
by Mr. Kennedy. 

" Peter Gaskill, collier, at Mr. Lancaster's, near Worsley : 




5-' 



OF ENGLAND. 



45 



' Prefers women to boys as drawers ; they are better to manage, 
and keep the time better ; they will fight and shriek and do every 
thing but let anybody pass them ; and they never get to be coal- 
getters that is another good thing/ 

" Betty Harris, aged thirty-seven, drawer in a coal-pit, Little 
Bolton : ' I have a belt round my waist and a chain passing be- 
tween my legs, and I go .on my hands and feet. The road is very 
steep, and we have to hold by a rope, and when there is no rope, 
by any thing we can catch hold of. There are six women and 
about six boys and girls in the pit I work in ; it is very hard 
work for a woman. The pit is very wet where I work, and the 
water comes over our clog-tops always, and I have seen it up to 
my thighs ; it rains in at the roof terribly ; my clothes are wet 
through almost all day long. I never was ill in my life but 
when I was lying-in. My cousin looks after my children in the 
daytime. I am very tired when I get home at night ; I fall asleep 
sometimes before I get washed. I am not so strong as I was, 
and cannot stand my work so well as I used to do. I have drawn 
till I have had the skin off me. The belt and chain is worse when 
we are in the family-way. My feller (husband) has beaten me 
many a time for not being ready. I were not used to it at first, 
and he had little patience ; I have known many a man beat his 
drawer/ 

" Mary Glover, aged thirty-eight, at Messrs. Foster's, Ringley 
Bridge : ' I went into a coal-pit when I was seven years old, and 
began by being a drawer. I never worked much in the pit when 
I was in the family-way, but since I have gave up having chil- 
dren, I have begun again a bit. I wear a shift and a pair of 
trousers when at work. I always will have a good pair of trou- 
sers. I have had many a twopence given me by the boatmen on 
the canal to show my breeches. I never saw women work naked, 
but I have seen men work without breeches in the neighbourhood 
of Bolton. I remember seeing a man who worked stark naked.' " 

In the East of Scotland, the business of the females 
is to remove the coals from the hewer who has picked 

them from the wall-face, and placing them either on 

c* 



46 THE WHITE SLAVES 

their backs, which they invariably do when working in 
edge-seams, or in little carts when on levels, to carry 
them to the main road, where they are conveyed to the 
pit bottom, where, being emptied into the ascending 
basket of the shaft, they are wound by machinery to 
the pit's mouth, where they lie heaped for further dis- 
tribution. Mr. Franks, an Englishman, says of this 
barbarous toil 

" Now when the nature of this horrible labour is taken into 
consideration ; its extreme severity ; its regular duration of from 
twelve to fourteen hours daily ; the damp, heated, and unwhole- 
some atmosphere of a coal-mine, and the tender age and sex of 
the workers, a picture is presented of deadly physical oppression 
and systematic slavery, of which I conscientiously believe no one 
unacquainted with such facts would credit the existence in the 
British dominions." 

The loads of coal carried on the backs of females 
vary in weight from three-quarters of a hundred-weight 
to three hundred-weight. In working edge-seams, or 
highly inclined beds, the load must be borne to the 
surface, or to the pit-bottom, up winding stairs, or a 
succession of steep ladders. The disgrace of this pe- 
culiar form of oppression is said to be confined to 
Scotland, "where, until nearly the close of the last 
century, the colliers remained in a state of legal bond- 
age, and formed a degraded caste, apart from all hu- 
manizing influences and sympathy." From all accounts, 
they are not much improved in condition at the present 
time. 



OF ENGLAND. 47 

A sub-commissioner thus describes a female child's 
labour in a Scottish mine, and gives some of the evi- 
dence he obtained : 

" She has first to descend a nine-ladder pit to the first rest, 
even to which a shaft is sunk, to draw up the baskets or tubs of 
coals filled by the bearers ; she then takes her creel (a basket 
formed to the back, not unlike a cockle-shell, flattened toward 
the back of the neck, so as to allow lumps of coal to rest on the 
back of the neck and shoulders,) and pursues her journey to the 
wall-face, or, as it is called here, the room of work. She then. 
lays down her basket, into which the coal is rolled, and it is fre- 
quently more than one man can do to lift the burden on her back. 
The tugs or straps are placed over the forehead, and the body 
bent in a semicircular form, in order to stiffen the arch. Large 
lumps of coal are then placed on the neck, and she then com- 
mences her journey with her burden to the bottom, first hanging 
her lamp to the cloth crossing her head. In this girl's case, she 
has first to travel about fourteen fathoms (eighty-four feet) from 
wall-face to the first ladder, which is eighteen feet high ; leaving 
the first ladder, she proceeds along the main road, probably three 
feet six inches to four feet six inches high, to the second ladder, 
eighteen feet high ; go on to the third and fourth ladders, till she 
reaches the pit-bottom, where she casts her load, varying from 
one hundred-weight to one hundred-weight and a half, in the tub. 
This one journey is designated a rake ; the height ascended, and 
the distance along the roads added together, exceed the height of 
St. Paul's Cathedral ; and it not unfrequently happens that the 
tugs break, and the load. falls upon those females who are follow- 
ing. However incredible it may be, yet I have taken the evi- 
dence of fathers who have ruptured themselves from straining to 
lift coal on their children's backs. 

" Janet Gumming, eleven years old, bears coals : ' I gang with 
the women at five, and come up with the women at five at night ; 
work all night on Fridays, and come away at twelve in the day. 
I .carry the large bits of coal from the wall-face to the pit-bottom, 
and the small pieces called chows in a creel. The weight is 



48 THE WHITE SLAVES 

usually a hundred-weighty does not know how many pound* 
there are in a hundred-weight, but it is some weight to carry ; it 
takes three journeys to fill a tub of four hundred-weight. The 
distance varies, as the work is not always on the same wall ; 
sometimes one hundred and fifty fathoms, whiles two hundred 
and fifty fathoms. The roof is very low ; I have to bend my back 
and legs, and the water comes frequently up to the calves of my 
legs. Has no liking for the work; father makes me like it. 
Never got hurt, but often obliged to scramble out of the pit when 
bad air was in.' 

"William Hunter, mining oversman, Arniston Colliery: 'I 
have been twenty years in the works of Robert Dundas, Esq., 
and had much experience in the manner of drawing coal, as well 
as the habits and practices of the collier people. Until the last 
eight months, women and lasses were wrought below in these 
works, when Mr. Alexander Maxton, our manager, issued an 
order to exclude them from going below, having some months 
prior given intimation of the same. Women always did the 
lifting or heavy part of the work, and neither they nor the chil- 
dren were treated like human beings, nor are they where they 
are employed. Females submit to' work in places where no man 
or even lad could be got to labour in ; they Work in bad roads, 
up to their knees in water, in a posture nearly double ; they are 
below till the last hour of pregnancy ; they have swelled haunches 
and ankles, and are prematurely brought to the grave, or, what 
is worse, lingering existence. Many of the daughters of the 
miners are now at respectable service. I have two who are in 
families at Leith, and who are much delighted with the change.' 

" Robert Bald, Esq., the eminent coal-viewer, states that, ' In 
surveying the workings of an extensive colliery under ground, a 
married woman came forward, groaning under an excessive 
weight of coals, trembling in every nerve, and almost unable to 
licep her kiiees from sinking under her. On coming up, she 
said, in a plaintive and melancholy voice, " Oh, sir, this is sore, 
sore, sore work. I wish to God that the first woman who tried 
to bear coals had broke her back, and none would have tried it 
again." 



OF ENGLAND. 49 

The boxes or carriages employed in putting are of 
two kinds the hutchie and the slype ; the hutchie being 
an oblong, square-sided box with four wheels, which 
usually runs on a rail ; and the slype a wood-framed 
box, curved and shod with iron at the bottom, holding 
from two and a quarter to five hundred-weight of coal, 
adapted to the seams through which it is dragged. The 
lad or lass is harnessed over the shoulders and back 
with a strong leathern girth, which, behind, is furnished 
with an iron-hook, which is attached to a chain fastened 
to the coal-cart or slype. The dresses of these girls 
are made of coarse hempen stuff, fitting close to the 
figures ; the coverings to their heads are made of the 
same material. Little or no flannel is used, and their 
clothing, being of an absorbent nature, frequently gets 
completely saturated shortly after descending the pit. 
We quote more of the evidence obtained by the com- 
missioners. It scarcely needs any comment : 

"Margaret Hipps, seventeen years old, putter, Stoney Rigg 
Colliery, Stirlingshire : ' My employment, after reaching the 
wall-face, is to fill my bagie, or slype, with two and a half to 
three hundred-weight of coal, I then hook it on to my chain and 
drag it through the seam, which is twenty-six to twenty-eight inches 
high, till I get to the main road a good distance, probably two 
hundred to four hundred yards. The pavement I drag over is 
wet, and I am obliged at all times to crawl on hands and feet w.ith 
my bagie hung to the chain and ropes. It is sad sweating and 
sore fatiguing -work, and frequently maims the women.' 

" Sub-commissioner : ' It is almost incredible that human beings 
can submit to such employment, crawling on hands and knees, 
harnessed like horses, over soft, slushy floors, more difficult than 

5 



50 THE WHITE SLAVES 

dragging the same weights through our lowest common sewera, 
and more difficult in consequence of the inclination, which is fre- 
quently one in three to one in six.' 

"Agnes Moffatt, seventeen years old, coal-bearer: 'Began 
working at ten years of age ; father took sister and I down ; he 
gets our wages. I fill five baskets; the weight is more than 
twenty-two hundred-weight ; it takes me twenty journeys. The 
work is o'er sair for females. It is no uncommon for women to 
lose their burden, and drop off the ladder down the dyke below ; 
Margaret McNeil did a few weeks since, and injured both legs. 
When the tugs which pass over the forehead break, which they 
frequently do, it is very dangerous to be under with a load/ 

"Margaret Jacques, seventeen years of age, coal-bearer: 'I 
have been seven years at coal-bearing ; it is horrible sore work ; 
it was not my choice, but we do our parents' will. I make thirty 
rakes a day, with two hundred-weight of coal on my creel. It is 
a guid distance I journey, and very dangerous on parts of the 
road. The distance fast increases as the coals are cut down/ 

" Helen Keid, sixteen years old, coal-bearer : ' I have wrought 
five years in the mines in this part ; my employment is carrying 
coal. Am frequently worked from four in the morning until six 
at -night. I work night-work week about, (alternate weeks.) I 
then go down at two in the day, and come up at four and six in 
the morning. I can carry near two hundred-weight on my back. 
I do not like the work. Two years since the pit closed upon 
thirteen of us, and we were two days without food or light ; nearly 
one day we were up to our chins in water. At last we got to an 
old shaft, to which we picked our way, and were heard by 
people watching above. Two months ago, I was filling the tubs 
at the pit bottom, when the gig clicked too early, and the hook 
caught me by my pit-clothes the people did not hear my shrieks 
my hand had fast grappled the chain, and the great height of 
the shaft caused me to lose my courage, and I swooned. The 
banksman could scarcely remove my hand the deadly grasp 
saved my life.' 

"Margaret Drysdale, fifteen years old, coal-putter: 'I don't 
like the work, but mother is dead, and father brought me down ; 



OF ENGLAND. 



51 



I had no choice. The lasses will tell you that they all like the 
work fine, as they think you are going to take them out of the 
pits. My employment is to draw the carts. I have harness, or 
draw-ropes on, like the horses, and pull the carts. Large carts 
hold seven hundred-weight and a half, the smaller five hundred- 
weight and a half. The roads are wet, and I have to draw the 
work about one hundred fathoms/ 

" Katherine Logan, sixteen years old, coal-putter : ' Began to 
work at coal-carrying more than five years since ; works in har- 
ness now ; draw backward with face to tubs ; the ropes and 
chains go under my pit-clothes ; it is o'er sair work, especially 
where we crawl/ 

"Janet Duncan, seventeen years old, coal-putter: 'Works at 
putting, and was a coal-bearer at Hen-Muir Pit and New Pen- 
caitland. The carts I push contain three hundred-weight of coal, 
being a load and a half; it is very severe work, especially when 
we have to stay before the tubs, on the braes, to prevent them 
coming down too fast ; they frequently run too quick, and knock 
us down ; when they run over fast, we fly off the roads and let them 
go, or we should be crushed. Mary Peacock was severely crushed 
a fortnight since ; is gradually recovering. I have wrought above 
in harvest time ; it is the only other work that ever I tried my 
hand at, and having harvested for three seasons, am able to say 
that the hardest daylight work is infinitely superior to the best 
of coal-work/ 

" Jane Wood, wife of James Wood, formerly a coal-drawer and 
bearer : ' Worked below more than thirty years. I have two 
daughters below, who really hate the employment, and often 
prayed to leave, but we canna do well without them just now. 
The severe work causes women much trouble ; they frequently 
have premature births. Jenny McDonald, a neighbour, was laid 
idle six months ; and William King's wife lately died from mis- 
carriage, and a vast of women suffer from similar causes/ 

" Margaret Boxter, fifty years old, coal-hewer : ' I hew the 
coal ; have done so since my husband failed in his breath ; he has 
been off work twelve years. I have a son, daughter, and nieca 
working with me below, and we have sore work to get mainte- 



52 THE WHITE SLAVES 

nance. I go down early to hew the coal for my girls to draw ; 
my son hews also. The work is not fit for women, and men 
could prevent it were they to labour more regular ; indeed, men 
about this place don't wish wives to work in mines, but the 
masters seem to encourage it at any rate, the masters never 
interfere to prevent it.' " 

"The different kinds of work to which females are put in South 
Wales, are described in the following evidence : 

" Henrietta Frankland, eleven years old, drammer : ' When 
well, I draw the drams, (carts,) which contain four to five hun- 
dred-weight of coal, from the heads to the main road ; I make 
forty-eight to fifty journeys ; sister, who is two years older, works 
also at dramming ; the work is very hard, and the long hours 
before the pay-day fatigue us much. The mine is wet where we 
work, as the water passes through the roof, and the workings are 
only thirty to thirty-three inches high.' 

" Mary Reed, twelve years old, air-door keeper : ' Been five 
years in the Plymouth mine. Never leaves till the last dram 
(cart) is drawn past by the horse. Works from six till four or 
five at night. Has run home very hungry ; runs along the level 
or hangs on a cart as it passes. Does not like the work in the 
dark ; would not mind the daylight work/ 

" Hannah Bowen, sixteen years old, windlass-woman : ' Been 
down two years ; it is good hard work ; work from seven in the 
morning till three or four in the afternoon at hauling the wind- 
lass. Can draw up four hundred loads of one hundred-weight 
and a half to four hundred-weight each.' 

"Ann Thomas, sixteen years old, windlass-woman: 'Finds 
the work very hard; two women always work the windlass 
below ground. We wind up eight hundred loads. Men do not 
like the winding, it is too hard work for them.' " 

The commissioners ascertained that when the work- 
people were in full employment, the regular hours for 
children and young persons were rarely less than 
eleven ; more often they were twelve ; in some districts, 



OF ENGLAND. 53 

they are thirteen ; and, in one district, they are gene- 
rally fourteen and upward. In Derbyshire, south of 
Chesterfield, from thirteen to sixteen hours are con- 
sidered a day's work. Of the exhausting effects of such 
labour for so long a time, we shall scarcely need any 
particular evidence. But one boy, named John Bos- 
tock, told the commissioners that he had often been 
made to work until he was so tired as to lie down on 
his road home until twelve o'clock, when his mother 
had come and led him home ; and that he had some- 
times been so tired that he could not eat his dinner, 
but had been beaten and made to work until night. 
Many other cases are recorded : 

" John Rawson, collier, aged forty : ' I work at Mr. Sorby's 
pit, Handsworth. I think the children are worked overmuch 
sometimes/ Report, No. 81, p. 243, 1. 25. 

" Peter Waring, collier, Billingby : ' I never should like my 
children to go in. They are not beaten ; it is the work that hurts 
them ; it is mere slavery, and nothing but it/ Ibid. No. 125, 
p. 256, 1. 6. 

"John Hargreave, collier, Thorpe's Colliery: 'Hurrying is 
heavy work for children. They ought not to work till they are 
twelve years old, and then put two together for heavy corves/ 
Ibid. No. 130, p. 256, 1. 44. 

. " Mr. Timothy Marshall, collier, aged thirty-five, 'Darton : ' I 
think the hurrying is what hurts girls, and it is too hard work 
for their strength ; I think that children cannot be educated after 
they once get to work in pits ; they are both tired and even dis- 
inclined to learn when they have done work/ Ibid. No. 141, p. 
262, 1. 39. 

"A collier at Mr. Travis's pit: 'The children get but little 
schooling ; six or seven out of nine or ten know nothing 4 They 

5* 



54 THE WHITE SLAVES 

never go to night-schools, except some odd ones. When the 
children get home, they cannot go to school, for they have to be 
up so early in the morning soon after four and they cannot do 
without rest/ Ibid. No. 94, p. 246, 1. 33. 

"Mr. George Armitage, aged thirty-six, formerly collier at 
Silkstone, now teacher at Hayland School : ' Little can be learnt 
merely on Sundays, and they are too tired as well as indisposed 
to go to night-schools. I am decidedly of opinion that when 
trade is good, the work of hurriers is generally continuous ; but 
when there are two together, perhaps the little one will have a 
rest while the big one is filling or riddling.' Ibid., No. 138, p. 
261, 1. 24. 

" William Firth, between six and seven years old, Deal Wood 
Pit, Flockton : ' I hurry with niy sister. I don't like to be in pit. 
I was crying to go out this morning. It tires me a good deal/ 
Ibid. No. 218, p. 282, 1. 11. 

"John Wright, hurrier in Thorpe's colliery : ' I shall be nino 
years old next Whitsuntide. It tires me much. It tires my 
arms. I have been two years in the pit, and have been hurrying 
all the time. It tries the small of my arms.' Ibid. No. 129, p. 
256, 1. 31. 

" Daniel Dunchfield : ' I am going in ten ; I am more tired in 
the forenoon than at night ; it makes my back ache ; I work all 
day the same as the other boys ; I rest me when I go home at 
night; I never go to play at night; I get my supper and go to bed.' 
Ibid. No. 63, p. 238, 1. 32. 

" George Glossop, aged twelve : ' I help to fill and hurry, and am 
always tired at night when I've done/ Ibid. No. 50, p. 236, 1. 21. 

" Martin Stanley : ' I tram by myself, and find it very hard 
work. It tires me in my legs and shoulders every day/ Ibid. 
No. 69, p. 240, 1. 27. 

" Charles Iloyle : ' I was thirteen last January. I work in the 
thin coal-pit. I find it very hard work. We work at night one 
week, and in the day the other. It tires me very much some- 
times. It tires us most in the legs, especially when we have to 
go on our hands and feet. I fill as well as hurry/ Ibid. No. 78, 
p. 242, 1. 41. 



OF ENGLAND. 55 

"Jonathan Clayton, thirteen and a half years old, Soap "Work 
Colliery, Sheffield: 'Hurrying is very hard work; when I got 
home at night, I was knocked up.' Ibid. No. 6, p. 227, 1. 48. 

" Andrew Roger, aged seventeen years : 'I work for my father, 
who is an undertaker. I get, and have been getting two years. 
I find it very hard work indeed ; it tires me very much ; I can, 
hardly get washed of a night till nine o'clock, I am so tired/ 
Ibid. No. 60, p. 237, 1. 49. 

[" ' This witness,' says the sub-commissioner, ' when examined 
in the evening after his work was over, ached so much that he 
could not stand upright.'] Ibid. s. 109 ; App. pt. i. p. 181. 

" Joseph Reynard, aged nineteen, Mr. StancliflVs pit, Mirfield : 
' I began hurrying when I was nine ; I get now ; I cannot hurry, 
because one leg is shorter than the other. I have had my hip 
bad since I was fifteen. I am very tired at nights. I worked in 
a wet place to-day. I have worked in places as wet as I have 
been in to-day.' 

["'I examined Joseph Reynard ; he has several large abscesses 
in his thigh, from hip-joint disease. The thigh-bone is dislocated 
from the same cause ; the leg is about three inches shorter ; two 
or three of the abscesses are now discharging. No appearance of 
puberty from all the examinations I made. I should not think 
him more than eleven or twelve years of age, except from his 
teeth. I think him quite unfit to follow any occupation, much 
less the one he now occupies. 

Signed, " ' U. BRADBURY, Surgeon/] 

" ' This case/ says the sub-commissioner, 'is one reflecting the 
deepest discredit on his employers/ Symons, Evidence, No. 272 ; 
App. pt. i. p. 298, 1. 29. 

"Elizabeth Eggley, sixteen years old: 'I find my work very 
much too hard for me. I hurry alone. It tires me in my arms 
and back most. I am sure it is very hard work, and tires 
us very much ; it is too hard work for girls to do. We some- 
times go to sleep before we get to bed/ Ibid. No. 114, p. 252, 
1.44. 

"Ann Wilson, aged ten and a half years, Messrs. Smith's 
vK>lliery : ' Sometimes the work tires us when vre have a good bit 



56 THE WHITE SLAVES 

to do ; it tires me in my back. I hurry by myself. I push with 
my head/ Ibid. No. 229, p. 224, 1. 12. 

"Elizabeth Day, hurrier, Messrs. Hopwood's pit, Barnsley: 
' It is very hard work for us all. It is harder work than we 
ought to do, a deal. I have been lamed in my back, and strained 
in my back.' Ibid. No. 80, p. 244, 1. 33. 

"Mary Shaw: 'I am nineteen years old. I hurry in the pit 
you were in to-day. I have ever been much tired with my work/ 
Ibid. No. 123, p. 249, 1. 38. 

" Ann Eggley, hurrier in Messrs. Thorpe's colliery : ' The 
work is far too hard for me ; the sweat runs off me all over some- 
times. I am very tired at night. Sometimes when we get home 
nt night, we have not power to wash us, and then we go to bed. 
Sometimes we fall asleep in the chair. Father said last night it 
was both a shame and a disgrace for girls to work as we do, but 
fjhere was nought else for us to do. The girls are always tired/ 
Ibid. No. 113, p. 252, 1. 17. 

" Elizabeth Coats : ' I hurry with my brother. It tires me a 
great deal, and tires my back and arms/ Ibid. No. 115, p. 252, 
1.59. 

" Elizabeth Ibbitson, at Mr. Harrison's pit, Gomersel : ' I don't 
like being at pit ; I push the corf with my head, and it hurts me, 
and is sore/ Ibid. No. 266, p. 292, 1. 17. 

" Margaret Gomley, Lindley Moor, aged nine : ' Am very tired/ 
Scriven, Evidence, No. 9 ; App. pt. ii. p. 103, 1. 34. 

"James Mitchell, aged twelve, Messrs. Holt and Hebblewaite's : 
' I am very tired when I get home ; it is enough to tire a horse ; 
and stooping so much makes it bad/ Ibid. No. 2, p. 101, 1. 32. 

"William Whittaker, aged sixteen, Mr. Rawson's colliery: 'I 
am always very tired when I go home/ Ibid. No. 13, p. 104, 1. 55. 

" George Wilkinson, aged thirteen, Low Moor : ' Are you tired 
now ? Nay. Were you tired then ? Yea. What makes the 
difference ? I can hurry a deal better now/ W. H. Wood, Esq., 
Evidence, No. 18, App. pt. ii. p. 7i 11, 1. 30. 

"John Stevenson, aged fourteen, Low Moor: 'Has worked in 
a coal-pit eight years ; went in at six years old ; used to rue to 
in j does not rue now ; it was very hard when he went in, and 



OF ENGLAND. 57 

" I were nobbud a right little one." Was not strong enough 
when he first went ; had better have been a little bigger ; used 
to be very tired ; did not when he first went. I waur ill tired/ 
Ibid. No. 15, p. A 10, 1. 39. 

" Jabez Scott, aged fifteen, Bowling Iron Works : ' Work is 
very hard ; sleeps well sometimes; sometimes is very ill tired and 
cannot sleep so well.' Ibid. No. 38, p. Ji 10, L 29. 

" William Sharpe, Esq., F. E. S., surgeon, Bradford, states : 
* That he has for twenty years professionally attended at the Low 
Moor Iron Works ; that there are occasionally cases of deformity, 
and also bad cases of scrofula, apparently induced by the boys 
being too early sent into the pits, by their working beyond their 
strength, by their constant stooping, and by occasionally working 
in water/ " Ibid. No. 60, p. h 27, 1. 45. 

The statements of the children, as will be seen, are 
confirmed by the evidence of the adult work-people, in 
which we also find some further developments : 

" William Fletcher, aged thirty-three, collier, West Hallam : 
' Considers the collier's life a very hard one both for man and 
boy, the latter full as hard as the former/ Report, No. 37, p. 
279, 1. 17. 

" John Beasley, collier, aged forty-nine, Shipley : ' He haa 
known instances where the children have been so overcome with 
the work, as to cause them to go off in a decline ; he has seen 
those who could not get home without their father's assistance, 
and have fallen asleep before they could be got to bed ; has known 
children of six years old sent to the pit, but thinks there are 
none at Shipley under seven or eight ; it is his opinion a boy is 
too weak to stand the hours, even to drive between, until he is 
eight or nine years old ; the boys go down at six in the morning, 
and has known them kept down until nine or ten, until they are 
almost ready to exhaust ; the children and young persons work 
the same hours as the men ; the children are obliged to work in 
the night if the wagon-road is out of repair, or the water coming 
on them ; it happens sometimes two or three times in the week ; 

5 



58 THE WHITE SLAVES 

they then go down at six p. M. to six A. M., and have from ten 
minutes to half an hour allowed for supper, according to the 
work they have to do; they mostly ask the children who 
have heen at work the previous day to go down with them, 
but seldom have to oblige them ; when he was a boy, he has 
worked for thirty-six hours running many a time, and many 
more besides himself have done so/ Ibid. No. 40, p. 274, 1. 23. 

" William Wardle, aged forty, Eastwood : ' There is no doubt 
colliers are much harder worked than labourers ; indeed, it is the 
hardest work under heaven/ Ibid. No. 84, p. 287, 1. 51. 

" Samuel Richards, aged forty, Awsworth : * There are Sunday- 
schools when they will go ; but when boys have been beaten, 
knocked about, and covered with sludge all the week, they want 
to be in bed to rest all day on Sunday/ Ibid. No. 166, p. 307, 
1.58. 

" William Sellers, operative, aged twenty-two, Butterley Com- 
pany : ' When he first worked in the pit, he has been so tired 
that he slept as he walked/ Ibid. No. 222, p. 319, 1. 35. 

" William Knighton, aged twenty-four, Denby : ' He remembers 
"mony" a time he has dropped asleep with the meat in his 
mouth through fatigue ; it is those butties they are the very 
devil; they impose upon them in one way, then in another/ 
Ibid. No. 314, p. 334, 1. 42. 

" , engine-man, Babbington: 'Has, when working 

whole days, often seen the children lie down on the pit-bank and 
go to sleep, they were so tired/ Ibid. No. 137, p. 300, 1. 10. 

" John Attenborough, schoolmaster, Greasley : ' Has observed 
that the collier children are more tired and dull than the others, 
but equally anxious to learn/ Ibid. No. 153, p. 304, 1. 122. 

" Ann Birkin : ' Is mother to Thomas and Jacob, who work in 
Messrs. Fenton's pits ; they have been so tired after a whole day's 
work, that she has at times had to wash them and lift them into 
bed/ Ibid. No. 81, p. 285, 1. 59. 

" Hannah Neale, Butterley Park : ' They come home so tired 
that they become stiff, and can hardly get to bed ; Constantino, 
the one ten years old, formerly worked in the same pit as his 
brothers, but about a half a year since his toe was cut off by the 



OF ENGLAND. 59 

bind falling ; notwithstanding this, the loader made him work 
until the end of the day, although in the greatest pain. He was 
out of work more than fqur months owing to this accident/ 
Ibid. No. 237, p. 320, 1. 51. 

" Ellen Wagstaff, Watnall : ' Has five children, three at Trough 
lane and two at Willow lane, Greasley ; one at Trough lane is 
eighteen, one fourteen, one thirteen years of age ; and those at 
Willow lane are sixteen and nineteen ; they are variously em- 
ployed ; the youngest was not seven years old when he first went 
to the pits. The whole have worked since they were seven or 
seven and a half; they have worked from six to eight ; from six 
to two for half days, no meal-time in half days ; she has known 
them when at full work so tired when they first worked, 
that you could not hear them speak, and they fell asleep before 
they could eat their suppers ; it has grieved her to the heart to 
see them.' Ibid. No. 104, p. 292, 1. 18. 

" Ann Wilson, Underwood : 'Is stepmother to Matthew Wilson 
and mother to Richard Clarke. Has heard what they have said, 
and believes it to be true ; has known them when they work 
whole days they have come home so tired and dirty, that they 
could scarcely be prevented lying down on the ashes by the fire- 
side, and could not take their clothes off; has had to do it for 
them, and take them to the brook and wash them, and has sat up 
most of the night to get their clothes dry. The next morning 
they have gone to work like bears to the stake/ Ibid. No. 112, 
p. 294, 1. 5. 

" Hannah Brixton, Babbington : * The butties slave them past 
any thing. Has frequently had them drop asleep as soon as they 
have got in the house, and complain of their legs and arms aching 
very bad/ Ibid. No. 149, p. 302, 1. 44. 

" Michael Wilkins : ' Never has a mind for his victuals ; never 
feels himself hungry/ 

"John Charlton: 'Thinks the stythe makes him bad so that 
he cannot eat his bait, and often brings it all home with him 
again, or eats very little of it/ 

" Michael Richardson : ' He never has much appetite ; and the 
dust often blacks his victuals. Is always dry and thirsty/ 



60 THE WHITE SLAVES 

"William Beaney : ' Has thrown up his victuals often when he 
came home ; thinks the bad air made him do this/ 

"John Thompson: ' Often throws up his food/ 

" Thomas Newton: ' Threw up his victuals last night when he 
came home. Never does so down in the pit, but often does when 
he comes home/ 

" Moses Clerk : ' Throws up his victuals nearly every day at 
home and down in the pit/ 

" Thomas Martin : ' Many times feels sick, and feels headache, 
and throws up his food. Was well before he went down in the 
pit/ 

" Thomas Fawcett : ' Many a night falls sick ; and he many 
times throws up his meat when he is in bed. Sometimes feela 
bad and sick in the morning/ 

" George Alder : ' Has been unwell of late with the hard work. 
Has felt very sick and weak all this last week/ (Looks very palo 
and unwell.) 

" John Charlton : 'Often obliged to give over. Has been off 
five days in the last month. Each of these days was down in the 
pit and obliged to come up again/ 

" John Laverick and others : ' Many times they fell sick down 
in the pit. Sometimes they have the heart-burn ; sometimes they 
force up their meat again. Some boys are off a week from being 
sick ; occasionally they feel pains/ 

" Six trappers : ' Sometimes they feel sick upon going to work 
in the morning. Sometimes bring up their breakfasts from their 
stomachs again. Different boys at different times do this/ 

"George Short. 'It is bad air where he is, and makes him 
bad; makes small spots come out upon him, (small pimples,) 
which he thinks is from the air, and he takes physic to stop 
them. His head works very often, and he feels sickish some- 
times/ 

"Nichol Hudderson: 'The pit makes him sick. Has been 
very bad in his health ever since he went down in the pit. Was 
very healthy before. The heat makes him sick. The sulphur 
rising up the shaft as he goes down makes his head work. 
Often BO sick that he cannot eat when he gets up, at least he 



OF ENGLAND. 61 

cannot eat very much. About a half a year since, a boy named 
John Huggins was very sick down in the pit, and wanted to come 
up, but the keeper would not let him ride, (come up,) and he 
died of fever one week afterward.' 

[" The father of this lad and his brother fully corroborate this 
statement, and the father says the doctor told him that if he (the 
boy) had not been kept in the pit, he might have been, perhaps, 
saved. This boy never had any thing the matter with him before 
he went down into the pit." Leifchild, Evidences, Nos. 156, 169, 
270, 83, 110, 142, 143, 374, 194, 364, 135, 100, 101 ; App. pt. i. 
p. 582 et seq. See also the statement of witnesses, Nos. 315, 
327, 351, 359, 360, 361, 362, 363, 365, 377, 381, 382, 384, 403, 
434, 454, 455, 457, 464, 465, 466.] 

Similar statements are made by all classes of wit- 
nesses in some other districts. Thus, in Shropshire : 

" A surgeon who did not wish his name to be published : ' They 
are subject to hypertrophy of the heart, no doubt laying the 
foundation of such disease at the early age of from eight to thir- 
teen years/ Mitchell, Evidence, No. 45 ; App. pt. i. p. 81, 1. 16. 

" Mr. Michael Thomas Sadler, surgeon, Barnsley : ' I have 
found diseases of the heart in adult colliers, which it struck me 
arose from violent exertion. I know of no trade about here 
where the work is harder.' Symons, Evidence, No. 139 ; App. 
pt. i. p. 261, 1. 36. 

" Mr. Pearson, surgeon to the dispensary, Wigan : ' They are 
very subject to diseases of the heart.' Kennedy, Report, 1. 304; 
App. pt. ii. p. 189. 

" Dr. "William Thompson, Edinburgh : ' Workers in coal-mines 
are exceedingly liable to suffer from irregular action, and ulti- 
mately organic diseases of the heart/ Franks, Evidence, App. 
pt. i. p. 409. 

" Scott Alison, M. D., East Lothian : ' I found diseases of the 

heart very common among colliers at all ages, from boyhood up 

to old age. The most common of them were inflammation of 

that organ, and of its covering, the pericardium, simple enlarge- 

D 



62 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ment or hypertrophy, contraction of the auriculo-ventricular 
communications, and of the commencement of the aorta. These 
symptoms were well marked, attended for the most part with 
increase of the heart's action, the force of its contraction being 
sensibly augmented, and, in many cases, especially those of hy- 
pertrophy, much and preternaturally extended over the chest.' 
Ibid. p. 417. 

" Mr. Thomas Batten, surgeon, Coleford : ' A boy about thir- 
teen years of age, in the Parkend Pits, died of hosmorrhagia 
purpurea, (a suffusion of blood under the cuticle,) brought on by 
too much exertion of the muscles and whole frame.' Waring, 
Evidence, No. 36 ; App. pt. ii. p. 24, 1. 21. 

To this list of diseases arising from great muscular 
exertion, must be added rupture : 

" Dr. Farell, Sheffield : ' Many of them are ruptured ; nor is 
this by any means uncommon among lads arising, in all proba- 
bility, form over-exertion.' Symons, Evidence, No. 47, App. pt. 
i. p. 286, 1. 2. 

" Mr. Pearson, surgeon to the dispensary, Wigan : ' Colliers 
are often ruptured, and they often come to me for advice/ 
Kennedy, Report, 1. 304 ; App. pt. ii. p. 189. 

" Andrew Grey : ' Severe ruptures occasioned by lifting coal. 
Many are ruptured on both sides. I am, and suffer severely, and 
a vast number of men here are also/ Franks, Evidence, No. 
147 ; App. pt. i. p. 463, 1. 61. 

But employment in the coal-mines produces an- 
other series of diseases incomparably more painful and 
fatal, partly referable to excessive muscular exertion, 
and partly to the state of the place of work that is, 
to the foul air from imperfect ventilation, and the wet- 
ness from inefficient drainage. Of the diseases of the 
Inngs produced by employment in the mines, asthma 
is the most frequent. 



OF ENGLAND. 63 

" Mr. William Kartell Baylis : * The working of the mines brings 
on asthma.' Mitchell, Evidence, No. 7 ; App. pt. i. p. 65, 1. 31. 

" A surgeon who does not wish his name to be published : 
1 Most colliers, at the age of thirty, become asthmatic. There 
are few attain that age without having the respiratory apparatus 
disordered/ Ibid. No. 45, p. 81, 1. 15. 

" Mr. George Marcy, clerk of the Wellington Union : ' Many 
applications are made from miners for relief on account of sick- 
ness, and chiefly from asthmatic complaints, when arrived at an 
advanced age. At forty, perhaps, the generality suffer much 
from asthma. Those who have applied have been first to the 
medical officer, who has confirmed what they said/ Ibid. No. 46, 
p. 81, 1. 44. 

"'I met with very few colliers above forty years of age, who, 
if they had not a confirmed asthmatic disease, were not suffering 
from difficult breathing/ Fellows, Eeport, s. 57 ; App. pt. ii. p. 
256. 

" Phoebe Gilbert, Watnall, Messrs. Barber and Walker : ' She 
thinks they are much subject to asthma. Her first husband, who 
died aged 57, was unable to work for seven years on that account/ 
Fellows, Evidence, No. 105 ; App. pt. ii. p. 256. 

" William Wardle, collier, forty years of age, Eastwood : ' There 
are some who are asthmatical, and many go double/ Ibid. No. 
84, p. 287, 1. 40. 

"Mr. Henry Hemmingway, surgeon, Dewsbury: 'When children 
are working where carbonic acid gas prevails, they are rendered 
more liable to affections of the brain and lungs. This acid pre- 
vents the blood from its proper decarbonization as it passes from 
the heart to the lungs. It does not get properly quit of the 
carbon/ Symons, Evidence, No. 221 ; App. pt. i. p. 282, 1. 38. 

" Mr. Uriah Bradbury, surgeon, Mirfield : ' They suffer from 
asthma/ Ibid. No. 199, p. 278, 1. 58. 

"Mr. J. B. Greenwood, surgeon, Cleckheaton: 'The cases 
which have come before me professionally have been chiefly 
affections of the chest and asthma, owing to the damp underfoot, 
and also to the dust which arises from the working of the coal/ 
Ibid. No. 200, p. 279, 1. 8. 



64 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" J. Ibetson, collier, aged fifty- three, Birkenshaw : ' I have suf- 
fered from asthma, and am regularly knocked up. A collier 
cannot stand the work regularly. He must stop now and then, 
or he will be mashed up before any time/ Ibid. No. 267, p. 292, 
1.42. 

" Joseph Barker, collier, aged forty-three, "Windybank Pit : 'I 
have a wife and two children ; one of them is twenty-two years 
old ; he is mashed up, (that is, he is asthmatical,) he has been as 
good a worker as ever worked in a skin/ Scriven, Evidence, No. 
14 ; App. pt. ii. p. 104, 1. 60. 

"Mr. George Canney, surgeon, Bishop Aukland: 'Do the 
children suffer from early employment in the pits ?' ' Yes, seven 
and eight is a very early age, and the constitution must suffer in 
consequence. It is injurious to be kept in one position so long, 
and in the dark. They go to bed when they come home, and 
enjoy very little air. I think there is more than the usual 
proportion of pulmonary complaints/ Mitchell, Evidence, No. 97 ; 
App. pt. i. p. 154, 1. 2. 

" Mr. Headlam, physician, Newcastle : ' Diseases of respira- 
tion are more common among pitmen than among others, dis- 
tinctly referable to the air in which they work. The air contains 
a great proportion of carbonic gas, and carburetted hydrogen. 
These diseases of the respiratory organs arise from the breathing 
of these gases, principally of the carbonic acid gas. Leif child, 
Evidence, No. 499 ; App. pt. i. p. 67, 1. 11. 

"Mr. Heath, of Newcastle, surgeon: 'More than usually lia- 
ble to asthma; mostly between thirty and forty years of age. 
A person always working in the broken would be more liable to 
asthma. Asthma is of very slow growth, and it is difficult to 
say when it begins. Custom and habit will not diminish the evil 
effects, but will diminish the sensibility to these evils/ Ibid. 
No. 497, p. 665, 1. 10-14. 

" Matthew Blackburn, driver, fifteen years of age, Heaton Col- 
liery : ' Has felt shortness of breath. Helps up sometimes, but 
is bound to drive. Cannot help up sometimes for shortness of 
breath. His legs often work, (ache ;) his shoulders work some- 
times. Working in a wet place/ Ibid. No. 27, p. 573, 1. 34. 



OF ENGLAND. 65 

" Dr. S. Scott Alison, East Lothian : ' Between the twentieth 
and thirtieth year the colliers decline in bodily vigour, and 
become more and more spare ; the difficulty of breathing pro- 
gresses, and they find themselves very desirous of some remission 
from their labour. This period is fruitful in acute diseases, such 
as fever, inflammation of the lungs, pleura, and many other ail- 
ments, the product of over-exertion, exposure to cold and wet, 
violence, insufficient clothing, intemperance, and foul air. For 
the first few years chronic bronchitis is usually found alone, and 
unaccompanied by disease of the body or lungs. The patient 
suffers more or less difficulty of breathing, which is affected by 
changes of the weather, and by variations in the weight of the 
atmosphere. He coughs frequently, and the expectoration is 
composed, for the most part, of white frothy and yellowish 
mucous fluid, occasionally containing blackish particles of car- 
bon, the result of the combustion of the lamp, and also of minute 
coal-dust. At first, and indeed for several years, the patient, for 
the most part, does not suffer much in his general health, eating 
heartily, and retaining his muscular strength in consequence. 
The disease is rarely, if ever, entirely cured ; and if the collier 
be not carried off by some other lesion in the mean time, this 
disease ultimately deprives him of life by a slow and lingering 
process. The difficulty of breathing becomes more or less per- 
manent, the expectoration becomes very abundant, effusions of 
water take place in the chest, the feet swell, and the urine is 
secreted in small quantity ; the general health gradually breaks 
up, and the patient, after reaching premature old age, slips into 
the grave at a comparatively early period, with perfect willing- 
ness on his part, and no surprise on that of his family and 
friends.' Franks, Evidence, App. pt. i. p. 412, 415, Appendix A. 

" John Duncan, aged fifty-nine, hewer, Pencaitland : ' Mining 
has caused my breath to be affected, and I am, like many other 
colliers, obliged to hang upon my children for existence. The 
want of proper ventilation in the pits is the chief cause. No part 
requires more looking to than East Lothian ; the men die off like 
rotten sheep/ Ibid. No. 150, p. 464, 1. 28. 

" George Hogg, thirty-two years of age, coal-hewer, Pencait- 



66 THE WHITE SLAVES 

land: 'Unable to labour much now, as am fashed with bad 
breath ; the air below is very bad ; until lately no ventilation 
existed.' Ibid. No. 153, p. 406, 1. 46. See also Witnesses, Nos. 
4, 36, 53, 131, 152, 155, 175, 275, 277, &c. : ' The confined air and 
dust in which they work is apt to render them asthmatic, as well 
as to unfit them for labour at an earlier period of life than is the 
case in other employments/ Tancred, Report, s. 99, App. pt. i. 
p. 345. 

" Dr. Adams, Glasgow : ' Amongst colliers, bronchitis or asthma 
is very prevalent among the older hands/ Tancred, Evidence, 
No. 9 ; App. pt. i. p. 361, 1. 44. 

" Mr. Peter Williams, surgeon, Holiwell, North Wales : ' The 
chief diseases to which they are liable are those of the bronchiaet 
Miners and colliers, by the age of forty, generally become affected 
by chronic bronchitis, and commonly before the age of sixty fall 
martyrs to the disease. The workmen are, for the most part, 
very healthy and hardy, until the symptoms of affections of the 
bronchial tubes show themselves/ H. H. Jones, Evidence, No. 
95 ; App. pt. ii. p. 407, 1. 8. 

" Jeremiah Bradley, underground agent, Plaskynaston : ' The 
men are apt to get a tightness of breath, and become unfit for the 
pits, even before sixty/ Ibid. No. 30, p. 383, 1. 8. 

" Amongst colliers in South Wales the diseases most prevalent 
are the chronic diseases of the respiratory organs, especially 
asthma and bronchitis/ Franks, Report, s. 64; App. pt. ii. 
p. 484. 

" David Davis, contractor, Gilvachvargoed colliery, Glamorgan- 
shire : ' I am of opinion that miners are sooner disabled and off 
work than other mechanics, for they suffer from shortness of 
breath long before they are off work. Shortness of breath may 
be said to commence from forty to fifty years of age/ Franks, 
Evidence, No. 178 ; App. pt. ii. p. 533, 1. 32. 

"Richard Andrews, overseer, Llancyach, Glamorganshire: 
* The miners about here are very subject to asthmatic complaints/ 
Ibid. No. 152 ; p. 529, 1. 7. 

"Mr. Frederick Evans, clerk and accountant for the Dowlais 
Collieries, Monmouthshire : ' Asthma is a prevalent disease 



OF ENGLAND. 67 

among colliers/ R. W. Jones, Evidence, No. 121 ; App. pt. ii. 
p. 646, 1. 48. 

" Mr. David Mushet, Forest of Dean : ' The men generally be- 
come asthmatic from fifty to fifty-five years of age.' Waring, Evi- 
dence, No. 37; App. pt. ii. p. 25, 1. 3. 

" 'Asthmatic and other bronchial affections are common among 
the older colliers and miners.' Waring, Report, s. 72 ; App. 
pt. ii. p. 6. 

"Mr. W. Brice, clerk, Coal Barton and Yobster Collieries, 
North Somersetshire : ' The work requires the full vigour of a 
man, and they are apt, at this place, to get asthmatical from the gas 
and foul air.' Stewart, Evidence, No. 7 ; App. pt. ii. p. 50, 1. 49. 

" James Beacham, coal-breaker, "Writblington, near Radstock: 
Many of the miners suffer from " tight breath." ' Ibid. No. 32 ; 
p. 56, 1. 31. 

Of that disease which is peculiar to colliers, called 
"black spittle," much evidence is given by many medi- 
cal witnesses and others : 

" Mr. Cooper, surgeon, of Bilston, gives the following account 
of this malady when it appears in its mildest form : ' Frequently 
it occurs that colliers appear at the offices of medical men, com- 
plaining of symptoms of general -debility, which appear to arise 
from inhalation of certain gases in the mines, (probably an excess 
of carbonic.) These patients present a pallid appearance, are 
affected with headache, (without febrile symptoms,) and constric- 
tion of the chest ; to which may be added dark bronchial expec- 
toration and deficient appetite. Gentle aperients, mild sto- 
machics, and rest from labour above ground, restore them in a 
week or so, and they are perhaps visited at intervals with a 
relapse, if the state of the atmosphere or the ill ventilation of the 
mine favour the development of deleterious gas.' Mitchell, Evi- 
dence, No. 3 ; App. pt. i. p. 62, 1. 48." 

In other districts this disease assumes a much more 
formidable character : 



68 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" Dr. Thompson, of Edinburgh, states that, ' The workmen in 
coal mines occasionally die of an affection of the lungs, accompa- 
nied with the expectoration of a large quantity of matter of a 
deep black colour, this kind of expectoration continuing long 
after they have, from choice or illness, abandoned their subter- 
ranean employment; and the lungs of such persons are found, on 
examination after death, to be most deeply impregnated with 
black matter. This black deposition may occur to a very con- 
siderable extent in the lungs of workers in coal-mines, without 
being accompanied with any black expectoration, or any other 
phenomena of active disease, and may come to light only after 
death has been occasioned by causes of a different nature, as by 
external injuries.' Franks, Appendix A, No. 1 ; App. pt. i. p. 
409. 

" Dr. S. Scott Alison : ' Spurious melanosis, or " black spit" of 
colliers, is a disease of pretty frequent occurrence among the 
older colliers, and among those men who have been employed in 
cutting and blasting stone dykes in the collieries. The symptoms 
are emaciation of the whole body, constant shortness and quick- 
ness of breath, occasional stitches in the sides, quick pulse, 
usually upward of one hundred in the minute, hacking cough 
day and night, attended by a copious expectoration, for the most 
part perfectly black, and very much the same as thick blacking 
in colour and consistence, but occasionally yellowish and mucous, 
or white and frothy ; respiration is cavernous in some parts, and 
dull in others ; a wheezing noise is heard in the bronchial pas- 
sages, from the presence of an inordinate quantity of fluid ; the 
muscles of respiration become very prominent, the neck is short- 
ened, the chest being drawn up, the nostrils are dilated, and the 
countenance is of an anxious aspect. The strength gradually 
wasting, the collier, who has hitherto continued at his employ- 
ment, finds that he is unable to work six days in the week, and 
goes under ground perhaps only two or three days in that time ; 
in the course of time, he finds an occasional half-day's employ- 
ment as much as he can manage, and when only a few weeks' or 
months' journey from the grave, ultimately takes a final leave of 
his labour. This disease is never cured, and if the unhappy 



OF ENGLAND. 69 

victim of an unwholesome occupation is not hurried off by some 
more acute disease, or by violence, it invariably ends in the 
death of the sufferer. Several colliers have died of this disease 
under my care/ Ibid. Appendix A, No. 2 ; App. pt. i. p. 415, 
416. 

" Dr. Makellar, Pencaitland, East Lothian : ' The most serious 
and fatal disease which I have been called to treat, connected 
with colliers, is a carbonaceous infiltration into the substance of 
the lungs. It is a disease which has long been overlooked, on 
account of the unwillingness which formerly existed among that 
class of people to allow examination of the body after death ; but 
of late such a prejudice has in a great measure been removed. 
From the nature of Pencaitland coal-works, the seams of coal 
being thin when. compared with other coal-pits, mining operations 
are carried on with difficulty, and, in such a situation, there is 
a deficiency in the supply of atmospheric gas, thereby causing 
difficulty in breathing, and, consequently, the inhalation of the 
carbon whicli the lungs in exhalation throw off, and also any 
carbonaceous substance floating in this impure atmosphere. I 
consider the pulmonary diseases of coal-miners to be excited 
chiefly by two causes, viz. first, by running stone-mines with 
the use of gunpowder ; and, secondly, coal-mining in an atmo- 
sphere charged with lamp-smoke and the carbon exhaled from 
the lungs. All who are engaged at coal-pits here, are either em- 
ployed as coal or stone miners ; and the peculiar disease to which 
both parties are liable varies considerably according to the em- 
ployment.' Ibid. Appendix A, No. 3, p. 422. See also witnesses 
Nos. 7, 44, 112, 144, 146. For a full account of this disease, see 
reports of Drs. Alison, Makellar, and Reid, in the Appendix to 
the sub-commissioner's report for the East of Scotland." 

Dr. Makellar gives the following remarkable evidence 
as to the efficacy of ventilation in obviating the produc- 
tion of this disease : 

" The only effectual remedy for this disease is a free admission 

of pure air, and to be so applied as to remove the confined smoke, 
D* 



70 THE WHITE SLAVES 

both as to stone-mining and coal-mining, and also the introduction 
of some other mode of lighting such pits than by oil. I know 
many coal-pits where there is no black-spit, nor was it ever known, 
and, on examination, I find that there is and ever has been in them 
a free circulation of air. For example, the Penstone coal-works, 
which join Pencaitland, has ever been free of this disease ; but 
many of the Penstone colliers, on coming to work at Pencaitland 
pit, have been seized with, and died of, this disease. Penstone 
has always good air, while it is quite the contrary at Pencaitland.' 
Ibid. Appendix A, No. 3 ; App. pt. i. p. 422." 

Other diseases, produced by employment in coal- 
mines, less fatal, but scarcely less painful, are rheuma- 
tism and inflammation of the joints. 

Mr. William Kartell Baylis states that working in 
the cold and wet often brings on rheumatism. " More suf- 
fer from this than from any other complaint."* Asthma 
and rheumatism, which are so prevalent in other dis- 
tricts, are very rare in Warwickshire and Leicester- 
shire, f But, in Derbyshire, "rheumatism is very 
general. I believe you will scarcely meet a collier, 
and ask him what he thinks of the weather, but he will 
in reply say, < Why, his back or shoulders have or have 
not pained him as much as usual.' "J 

George Tweddell, surgeon, Houghton-le- Spring, South 
Durham, says, in answer to the question Are miners 
much subject to rheumatism? "Not particularly so. 
Our mines are dry; but there is one mine which is wet, 
where the men often complain of rheumatism. " 

* Mitchell, Evidence, No. 7; App. pt. i. p. 65, 1. 81. 

f Ibid, in loco. J Fellows, Report, s. 68 ; App. pt. ii. p. 256. 

\ Mitchell, Evidence, No. 99 ; App. pt. i. p. 155, 1. 8. 



OF ENGLAND. 71 

Similar evidence is given by the medical and other 
witnesses in all other districts. Wherever the mines 
are not properly drained, and are, therefore, wet and 
cold, the work-people are invariably afflicted with rheu- 
matism, and with painful diseases of the glands. 

The sub-commissioner for the Forest of Dean gives 
the following account of a painful disease of the joints 
common in that district : 

" ' The men employed in cutting down the coal are subject to 
inflammation of the bursce, both in the knees and elbows, from 
the constant pressure and friction on these joints in their working 
postures. When the seams are several feet thick, they begin by 
kneeling and cutting away the exterior portion of the base. They 
proceed undermining till they are obliged to lie down on their 
sides, in order to work beneath the mass as far as the arm can 
urge the pick, for the purpose of bringing down a good head of 
coal. In this last posture the elbow forms a pivot, resting on the 
ground, on which the arm of the workman oscillates as he plies 
his sharp pick. It is easy to comprehend how this action, com- 
bined with the pressure, should affect the delicate cellular mem- 
brane of this joint, and bring on the disease indicated. The thin 
seams of coal are necessarily altogether worked in a horizontal 
posture.' Waring, Report, s. 63-66; App. pt. ii. p. 5, 6. 

" Twenty boys at the Walker Colliery: ' The twenty witnesses, 
when examined collectively, say, that the way is so very dirty, 
and the pit so warm, that the lads often get tired very soon.' 
Leifchild, Evidence, No. 291 ; App. pt. i. p. 627, 1. 661. 

" Nineteen boys examined together, of various ages, of whom 
the spokesman was William Holt, seventeen years old, putter : 
' The bad air when they were whiles working in the broken, 
makes them sick. Has felt weak like in his legs at those times. 
Was weary like. Has gone on working, but very slowly. Many 
a one has had to come home before having a fair start, from 
bad air and hard work. Hours are too long. Would sooner 
work less hours and get less money/ Ibid. No. 300 ; p. 629, 1. 1. 



72 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" Twenty-three witnesses assembled state : * That their work is 
too hard for them, and they feel sore tired ; that some of them 
constantly throw up their meat from their stomachs ; that their 
heads often work, (ache;) the back sometimes ; and the legs feel 
weak/ Ibid. No. 354 ; p. 639, 1. 18. 

" John Wilkinson, aged thirteen, Piercy Main Colliery : ' Was 
in for a double shift about five weeks ago, and fell asleep about 
one o'clock p. M., as he was going to lift the limmers off to join 
the rolleys together, and got himself lamed by the horse turning 
about and jamming one of his fingers. Split his finger. Was 
off a week from this accident. Sometimes feels sick down in the 
pit ; felt so once or twice last fortnight. Whiles his head works, 
(aches,) and he has pains in his legs, as if they were weak. 
Feels pains in his knees. Thinks the work is hard for foals, 
more so than for others.' Ibid. No. 60 ; p. 579, 1. 22. 

"John Middlemas: 'Sometimes, but very rarely, they work 
double shift ; that is, they go down at four o'clock A. M. and do not 
come up until four o'clock p. M. in the day after that, thus stopping 
down thirty-six hours, without coming up, sometimes ; and some- 
times they come up for half an hour, and then go down again. 
Another worked for twenty-four hours last week, and never came 
up at all. Another has stopped down thirty-six hours, without 
coming up at all,, twice during the last year. When working this 
double shift they go to bed directly they come home.' Ibid. No. 
98 ; p. 588, 1. 42. 

" Michael Turner, helper-up, aged fourteen and a half, Gos- 
forth Colliery : ' Mostly he puts up hill the full corves. Many 
times the skin is rubbed off his back and off his feet. His head 
works (aches) very often, almost every week. His legs work so 
sometimes that he can hardly trail them. Is at hard work now, 
shoving rolleys and hoisting the crane ; the former is the hardest 
work. His back works very often, so that he has sometimes 
to sit down for half a minute or so.' Ibid. No. 145 ; p. 598, 
1. 58. 

" George Short, aged nearly sixteen : ' Hoists a crane. His 
bead works very often, and he feels sickish sometimes, and 
drowsy sometimes, especially if he sits down. Has always been 



OP ENGLAND. 73 

drowsy since he went there. Twice he has worked three shifts 
following, of twelve hours each shift ; never came up at all during 
the thirty- six hours ; was sleepy, but had no time to sleep. Has 
many times worked double shift of nineteen hours, and he does 
this now nearly every pay Friday night. A vast of boys work in 
this shift, ten or eleven, or sometimes more. The boys are very 
tired and sleepy/ Ibid. No. 191 ; p. 606, 1. 41. 

"John Maffin, sixteen years old, putter, Gosforth Colliery: 
' Was strong before he went down pits, but is not so now, from 
being overhard wrought, and among bad air/ Ibid. No. 141 ; 
p. 598, 1. 2. 

"Robert Hall, seventeen years old, half marrow, Felling Col- 
liery : ' The work of putting makes his arms weak, and his legs 
work all the day ; makes his back work. Is putting to the dip 
now in a heavy place. Each one takes his turn to use the 
" soams," (the drawing-straps ;) one pulls with them, and the 
other shoves behind. Both are equally hard. If it is a very 
heavy place there are helpers-up, but not so many as they want. 
Has known one sore strained by putting/ 

" John Peel, aged thirteen : * Is now off from this. Is healthy 
in general, but is now and then off from this work/ Ibid. No. 
325 ; p. 634, 1. 11. 

" Michael Richardson, fifteen years old, putter, St. Lawrence 
Main Colliery : ' About three quarters of a year since he wrought 
double shift every other night ; or, rather, he worked three times 
in eleven days for thirty-six hours at a time, without coming up 
the pit. About six months ago he worked three shifts following, 
of twelve hours each shift, and never stopped work more than a 
few minutes now and then, or came up the pit till he was done. 
There was now and then some night-work to do, and the over-man 
asked him to stop, and he could not say no, or else he (the over- 
man) would have frowned on him, and stopped him, perhaps, of 
some helpers-up. Thinks the hours for lads ought to be short- 
ened, and does not know whether it would not be better even if 
their wages were less/ Ibid. No. 270 ; p. 623, 1. 32. 

" James Glass, eighteen years old, putter, Walbottle : ' Puts a 
tram by himself. Has no heloer-up, and no assistance. Mostly 

* 6 



74 THE WHITE SLAVES 

puts a full tram up. Is putting from a distance now. Mostly 
the trams are put up by one person. Was off work the week 
before last three days, by being sick. Was then putting in the 
night shift, and had to go home and give over. Could not work. 
His head works nearly every day. He is always hitting his head 
against stone roofs. His arms work very often. Has to stoop 
a good deal. The weight of his body lies upon his arms when he 
is putting. The skin is rubbed off his back very often/ Ibid. 
No. 244; p. 619, 1.27. 

" Mr. James Anderson, a Home Missionary, residing in Easing- 
ton Lane, Hetton-le-Hole, in reply to queries proposed, handed in 
the following written evidence : ' The boys go too soon to work : 
I have seen boys at work not six years of age, and though their 
work is not hard, still they have long hours, so that when they 
come home they are quite spent. I have often seen them lying 
on the floor, fast asleep. Then they often fall asleep in the pit, 
and have been killed. Not long ago a boy fell asleep, lay down 
on the way, and the wagons killed him. Another boy was killed ; 
it was supposed he had fallen asleep when driving his wagon, 
and fallen off, and was killed. 'Ibid. No. 446; p. 655, 1. 62." 

The children employed in the mines and collieries 
are distinguished by a remarkable muscular develop- 
ment, which, however, is unhealthy, as it is premature, 
obtained at the expense of other parts of the body, and 
of but short duration. The muscles of the arms and 
the back become very large and full. 

With the great muscular development, there is com- 
monly a proportionate diminution of stature. All 
classes of witnesses state that colliers, as a body chil- 
dren, young persons, and adults are stunted in growth. 
There are only two exceptions to this in Great Britain, 
namely, Warwickshire and Leicestershire. It is to be 
inferred from the statements of the sub-commissioner 



OF ENGLAND. 75 

for Ireland, that that country forms a third exception 
for the United Kingdom. Of the uniformity of the 
statements as to the small stature and the stunted 
growth of the colliers in all other districts, the follow- 
ing may be regarded as examples : 

In Shropshire, the miners, as a body, are of small 
stature; this is abundantly obvious even to a casual 
observer, and there are many instances of men never 
exceeding the size of boys.* Andrew Blake, M. D., 
states of the colliers in Derbyshire, that he has observed 
that many of them are not so tall as their neighbours 
in other employments ; this, in a degree, he considers is 
owing to their being worked so young.f In the West 
Hiding of Yorkshire, also, there is in stature an " ap- 
preciable difference in colliers' children, manifest at all 
ages after they have been three years constantly in the 
pits ; there is little malformation, but, as Mr. Eliss, a 
surgeon constantly attending them, admits, they are 
somewhat stunted in growth and expanded in width. "J 

" Mr. Henry Hemmingway, surgeon, Dewsbury : ' I am quite 
sure that the rule is that the children in coal-pits are of a lower 
stature than others/ Symons, Evidence, No. 221 ; App. pt. i. p. 
282, 1. 47. 

" Mr. Thomas Rayner, surgeon, Bristall : ' I account for the 
stunted growth from the stooping position, which makes them 
grow laterally, and prevents the cartilaginous substances from 
expanding.' Ibid. No. 268, p. 292, 1. 52. 

* Dr. Mitchell, Report, s. 314 ; App. pt. i. p. 39. 

f Fellows, Evidence, No. 10 ; App. pt. ii. p. 266, 1. 10. 

I Symons, Report, s. 200; App. pt. i. p. 193, 



76 THE WHITE 

" Henry Moorhouse, surgeon, Huddersfield : 'I may state, from 
my own personal examination of many of them, that they are 
much less in stature, in proportion to their ages, than those work- 
ing in mills/ Ibid. No. 273, p. 293, 1. 49. 

"Mr. Jos. Ellison, Bristall: 'The employment of children de 
cidedly stunts their growth/ Ibid. No. 249, p. 288, 1. 8." 

Mr. Symons, in Appendix to p. 212 of his Report, 
has given in detail the names, ages, and measurement, 
both in stature and in girth of breast, of a great num- 
ber of farm and of colliery children of both ages re- 
spectively. By taking the first ten collier boys, and 
the first ten farm boys, of ages between twelve and 
fourteen, we find that the former measured in the ag- 
gregate forty-four feet six inches in height, and two 
hundred and seventy-four and a half inches around the 
breast ; while the farm boys measured forty-seven feet 
in height, and two hundred and seventy-two inches 
round the breast. By taking the ten first collier girls 
and farm girls, respectively between the ages of four- 
teen and seventeen, we find that the ten collier girls 
measured forty-six feet four inches in height, and two 
hundred and ninety-three and a half inches round the 
breast; while the ten farm girls measured fifty feet 
five inches in height, and two hundred and ninety-seven 
inches round the breast ; so that in the girls there is a 
difference in the height of those employed on farms, 
compared with those employed in collieries, of eight 
4nd a half per cent, in favour of the former; while 
between the colliery and farm boys of a somewhat 



OF ENGLAND. 77 

younger age, and before any long period had been spent 
in the collieries, the difference appears to be five and a 
half per cent, in favour of the farm children. 

In like manner, of sixty children employed as hur- 
riers in the neighbourhood of Halifax, at the average 
ages of ten years and nine months, Mr. Scriven states 
that the average measurement in height was three feet 
eleven inches and three-tenths, and, in circumference, 
three feet two inches ; while of fifty-one children of the 
same age employed on farms, the measurement in height 
was four feet three inches, the circumference being the 
same in both, namely, two feet three inches. In like 
manner, of fifty young persons of the average of four- 
teen years and eleven months, the measurement in 
height was four feet five inches, and in circumference 
two feet three inches; while of forty-nine young 
persons employed on farms, of the average of fifteen 
years and six months, the measurement in height was 
four feet ten inches and eight-elevenths, and, in cir- 
cumference, two feet three inches, being a difference of 
nearly six inches in height in favour of the agricultural 
labourers. 

In the district of Bradford and Leeds, there is " in 
stature an appreciable difference, from about the age 
at which children begin to work, between children em- 
ployed in mines and children of the same age and 
station in the neighbourhood not so employed; and this 



78 THE WHITE SLAVES 

shortness of stature is generally, though to a less de- 
gree, visible in the adult."* 

In Lancashire, the sub-commissioner reports that 
"It appeared to him that the average of the colliers 
are considerably shorter in stature than the agricultural 
labourers. "f The evidence collected by the other 
gentlemen in this district is to the same effect. Mr. 
Pearson, surgeon to the dispensary, Wigan, states, 
with regard to the physical condition of the children and 
young persons employed in coal-mining, as compared 
with that of children in other employments, that they 
are smaller and have a stunted appearance, which he 
attributes to their being employed too early in life.J 
And Mr. Richard Ashton, relieving-officer of the Black- 
burn district, describes the colliers as " a low race, and 
their appearance is rather decrepit. " Though some 
remarkable exceptions have been seen in the counties 
of Warwick and Leicester, the colliers, as a race of 
men, in some districts, and in Durham among the rest, 
are not of large stature. || George Canney, medical 



* Wood, Report, s. 36 ; App. pt. ii. p. H 7. Also Evidence, Nos. 
60, 75, 76. 

f Kennedy, Report, s. 296 ; App. pt. ii. p. 188. 

J Ibid, s.304; p. 188. 

$ Austin, Evidence, No. 1 ; App. pt. ii. p. 811 ; i. 12. See also 
the remarks by Mr. Fletcher on the vicinity of Oldham, App. pt. ii. 
6. 69, p. 832. 

U Mitchell, Report, s. 214; App.pt. i.p. 143. 



OF ENGLAND. 79 

practitioner, Bishop Aukland, states, "that they are 
less in weight and bulk than the generality of men."* .; 

Of the collier boys of Durham and Northumberland, 
the sub-commissioner reports that an inspection of 
more than a thousand of these boys convinced him that 
"as a class, (with many individual exceptions,) their 
stature must be considered as diminutive."! Mr. 
Nicholas Wood, viewer of Killingworth, &c., states 
"that there is a very general diminution of stature 
among pit-men."{ Mr. Heath, of Newcastle, surgeon 
to Killingworth, Gosforth, and Coxlodge collieries, 
"thinks the confinement of children for twelve hours 
in a pit is not consistent with ordinary health ; the 
stature is rather diminished^ and there is an absence of 
colour; they are shortened in stature." And J. 
Brown, M. D., Sunderland, states "that they are 
generally stunted in stature, thin and swarthy." || 

Of the collier population in Cumberland, it is stated 
that "they are in appearance quite as stunted in 
growth, and present much the same physical phenomena 
as those of Yorkshire, comparing, of course, those fol- 
lowing similar branches of the work."^ Thomas 



* Mitchell, Evidence, No. 97 ; App. pt. i. p. 154, 1. 19. 

f Leifchild, Report, s. 72; App. pt. i. p. 252. 

$ Leifchild, Evidence, No. 97 ; App. pt. i. p. 587, 1. 39. 

g Ibid. No. 497, p. 665, 1. 7. 

j| Ibid. No. 504, p. 672, 1. 22. 

^ Sjmons, Report, s. 22 ; App. pt. i. p. 802. 



80 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Mitchell, surgeon, Whitehaven, says, "their stature 
is partly decreased."* 

Of the deteriorated physical condition of the collier 
population in the East of Scotland, as shown, among 
other indications, by diminished stature, Dr. S. Scott 
Alison states that "many of the infants in a collier 
community are thin, skinny, and wasted, and indicate, 
by their contracted features and sickly, dirty-white or 
faint-yellowish aspect, their early participation in a de- 
teriorated physical condition. From the age of infancy 
up to the seventh or eighth year, much sickliness and 
general imperfection of physical development is ob- 
servable. The physical condition of the boys and girls 
engaged in the collieries is much inferior to that of 
children of the same age engaged in farming operations, 
in most other trades, or who remain at home unem- 
ployed. The children are, upon the whole, prejudicially 
affected to a material extent in their growth and deve- 
lopment. Many of them are short for their years."f 

In South Wales, the testimony of medical gentle- 
men, and of managers and overseers of various works, 
in which large numbers of children as well as adults 
are employed, proves that the physical health and 
strength of children and young persons is deteriorated 
by their employment at the early ages and in the works 



* Symons, Evidence, No. 312 ; App. pt. i. p. 305, 1. 59. 
t Franks, Report, App. A, No. 2; App. pt. i. p. 410, 411. 



OF ENGLAND. 81 

before enumerated."* Mr. Jonathan Isaacs, agent of 
the Top Hill colliery : I have noticed that the chil- 
dren of miners, who are sent to work, do not grow as 
they ought to do ; they get pale in their looks, are 
weak in their limbs, and any one can distinguish a col- 
lier's child from the children of other working people. "f 
Mr. P. Kirkhouse, oversman to the Cyfarthfa col- 
lieries and ironstone mines, on this point observes 
" The infantine ages at which children are employed 
cranks (stunts) their growth, and injures their constitu- 
tion. "J John Russell, surgeon to the Dowlais Iron 
Works : "In stature, I believe a difference to exist in 
the male youth from twelve to sixteen, employed in the 
mines and collieries, compared with those engaged in 
other works, the former being somewhat stunted ; and 
this difference (under some form or other) seems still 
perceptible in the adult miners and colliers. " 

A crippled gait, often connected with positive de- 
formity, is one of the frequent results of slaving in the 
mines. 

In Derbyshire, the children who have worked in the 
collieries from a very early age are stated to be bow- 
legged.H 



* Franks, Report, s. 85 ; App. pt. ii. p. 485. 

f Franks, Evidence, No. 144 ; App. pt. ii. p. 582, 1. 4. 

J Ibid. No. 2, p. 503, 1. 21. 

\ R. W. Jones, Evidence, No. 102 ; App. pt. ii. p. 64, 1. 28. 

jj Fellows, Report, s. 45 ; App. pt. ii. p. 255. 



82 THE WHITE SLAVES 

In the West Riding of Yorkshire, " after they are 
turned forty-five or fifty, they walk home from their 
work almost like cripples ; stiffly stalking along, often 
leaning on sticks, bearing the visible evidences in their 
frame and gait of over-strained muscles and over-taxed 
strength. Where the lowness of the gates induces a 
very bent posture, I have observed an inward curvature 
of the spine ; and chicken-breasted children are very 
common among those who work in low, thin coal- 
mines."* Mr. Uriah Bradbury, surgeon, Mirfield: 
Their knees never stand straight, like other peo- 
ple's, "f Mr. Henry Hemmingway, surgeon, Dews- 
bury : May be distinguished among crowds of 
people, by the bending of the spinal column. "J Mr. 
William Sharp, surgeon, Bradford: "There are 
occasionally cases of deformity. " 

In Lancashire district, John Bagley, about thirty- 
nine years of age, collier, Mrs. Lancaster's, Patricroft, 
states, that " the women drawing in the pits are gene- 
rally crooked. Can tell any woman who has been in 
the pits. They are rarely, if ever, so straight as other 
women who stop above ground. "|| Mr. William Gaulter, 
surgeon, of Over Darwen, says Has practised as a 



* Symons, Report, s. 110; App. pt. i. p. 181. 

f Symons, Evidence, No. 199 ; App. pt. i. p. 279, 1. 3. 

J Ibid. No. 21 ; p. 282, 1. 246. 

$ Wood, Evidence, No. 60; App. pt. ii. p. h 27, 1. 46. 

|j Kennedy, Evidence, No. 30 ; App. pt. ii. p. 218, 1. 6. 



OF ENGLAND. 83 

surgeon twenty-four years in this neighbourhood. 
Those who work in collieries at an early age, when 
they arrive at maturity are not generally so robust as 
those who work elsewhere. They are frequently 
crooked, (not distorted,) bow-legged, and stooping."* 
Betty Duxberry, whose children work in the pits, as- 
serts that " colliers are all crooked and short-legged, 
not like other men who work above ground ; but they 
were always colliers, and always will be. This young 
boy turns his feet out and his knees together ; drawing 
puts them out of shape. "f 

Evidence collected in Durham and Northumberland, 
shows that the underground labour produces similar 
effects in that district. 

Mr. Nicholas Wood, viewer of Killingworth, Hetton, 
and other collieries : The children are perhaps a 
little ill-formed, and the majority of them pale, and not 
robust. Men working in low seams are bent double 
and bow-legged very often." J J. Brown, M. D. and 
J. P., Sunderland : They labour more frequently 
than other classes of the community under deformity 
of the lower limbs, especially that variety of it de- 
scribed as being in-kneed.' This I should ascribe to 
yielding of the ligaments, owing to long standing in the 



* Austin, Evidence, No. 7 ; App. pt. ii. p. 812. 1, 160. 

f Ibid. No. 17 ; p. 815, 1. 63. 

J Leifchild, Evidence, No. 97; App. pt. i. p. 687, 1. 32. 



84 THE WHITE SLAVES 

mines in a constrained and awkward position."* Mr. 
Thomas Greenshaw, surgeon, Walker colliery : " Their 
persons are apt to be somewhat curved and cramped- 
As they advance in life, their knees and back fre- 
quently exhibit a curved appearance, from constant 
bending at their work."f Mr. W. Morrison, surgeon 
of Pelaw House, Chesterle street, Countess of Dur- 
ham's collieries : " The < outward man' distinguishes a 
pit-man from any other operative. His stature is 
diminished, his figure disproportionate and misshapen ; 
his legs being much bowed ; his chest protruding, (the 
thoracic region being unequally developed.) His coun- 
tenance is not less striking than his figure his cheeks 
being generally hollow, his brow overhanging, his cheek- 
bones high, his forehead low and retreating. Nor is 
his appearance healthful his habit is tainted with 
scrofula. I have seen agricultural labourers, black- 
smiths, carpenters, and even those among the wan and 
distressed-looking weavers of Nottinghamshire, to 
whom the term < jolly' might not be inaptly applied; 
but I never saw a < jolly-looking' pit-man. As the germ 
of this physical degeneration may be formed in the 
youthful days of the pit-man, it is desirable to look for 
its cause. "J 



* Leichfield, Evidence, No. 504 ; p. 672, 1. 22. 
f Ibid. No. 498 ; p. 665, 1. 50. 
J Ibid. No. 496 ; p. 662, 1. 62. 



OF ENGLAND. 85 

Ruptures, rheumatism, diseases of the heart and of 
other organs, the results of over-exertion in unhealthy 
places, are common among the persons employed in the 
mines, as many intelligent persons testified before the 
commissioners. 

An employment often pursued under circumstances 
which bring with them so many and such formidable 
diseases, must prematurely exhaust the strength of or- 
dinary constitutions; and the evidence collected in 
almost all the districts proves that too often the collier 
is a disabled man, with the marks of old age upon him, 
while other men have scarcely passed beyond their 
prime. 

The evidence shows that in South Staffordshire and 
Shropshire, many colliers are incapable of following 
their occupation after they are forty years of age ; 
others continue their work up to fifty, which is stated 
by several witnesses to be about the general average. 
Mr. Marcy, clerk to the Wellington Union, Salop, 
states, that " at about forty the greater part of the 
colliers may be considered as disabled, and regular old 
men as much as some are at eighty."* 

Even in Warwickshire and Leicestershire, in which 
their physical condition is better than in any other dis- 
tricts, Mr. Michael Parker, ground bailiff of the Smith- 
son collieries, states that "some of the men are 



Mitchell, Evidence, No. 46 ; App. pt. i. p. 81, 1. 47. 
E 



86 THE WHITE SLAVES 

knocked up at forty-five and fifty, and that fifty may 
be the average ; which early exhaustion of the physical 
strength he attributes to the severe labour and bad 
air."* Mr. Dalby, surgeon of the Union of Ashby-de- 
la-Zouch, says " The work in the pit is very labo- 
rious, and some are unable for it as early as fifty, 
others at forty-five, and some at sixty; I should say 
the greater part at forty-five."f And Mr. Davenport, 
clerk of the Union of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, gives a higher 
average, and says that " a collier may wear from 
sixty-five to seventy, while an agricultural labourer 
may wear from seventy to seventy-five. "J 

Of Derbyshire the sub-commissioner reports "I 
have not perceived that look of premature old age so 
general amongst colliers, until they are forty years of 
age, excepting in the loaders, who evidently appear so 
at twenty-eight or thirty, and this I think must arise 
from the hardness of their labour, in having such great 
weights to lift, and breathing a worse atmosphere than 
any other in the pit." Phoebe Gilbert states " The 
loaders are, as the saying is, 'old men before they 
are young ones.' "|| Dr. Blake says "He has also 
noticed that when a collier has worked from a child, 



* Mitchell, Evidence, No. 77; p. 113, 1. 6. 

f Ibid. No. 81; p. 114, 1. 22. 

% Ibid. No. 82 ; p. 114, 1. 61. 

\ Fellows, Report, s. 49 ; App. pt. ii. p. 256. 

(| Fellows, Evidence, No. 105 ; p. 292, 1. 48. 



OF ENGLAND. 87 

and becomes forty, he looks much older than those of 
the same age above ground."* 

In Yorkshire "the collier of fifty is usually an aged 
man ; he looks overstrained and stiffened by labour.' 'f 
"But whilst both the child and the adult miner appear 
to enjoy excellent health, and to be remarkably free 
from disease, it nevertheless appears that their labour, 
at least that of the adult miner, is, in its general result, 
and in the extent to which it is pursued, of a character 
more severe than the constitution is properly able to 
bear. It is rare that a collier is able to follow his 
calling beyond the age of from forty to fifty, and then, 
unless he be fortunate enough to obtain some easier 
occupation, he sinks into a state of helpless depend- 
ence. Better habits with regard to temperance might 
diminish, but would not remove, this evil; and the 
existence of this fact, in despite of the general healthi- 
ness of the collier population, gives rise to the ques- 
tion whether, apart from all considerations of mental 
and moral improvement, a fatal mistake is not com- 
mitted in employing children of tender years to the 
extent that their strength will bear, instead of giving 
opportunity, by short hours of labour, for the fuller 
and more perfect physical development which would 



* Fellows, Evidence, No. 10; p. 262, 1. 8. 
f Symons, Report, s. 209 ; App. pt. i. p. 198. 



88 THE WHITE SLAVES 

better fit them to go through the severe labour of their 
after-life."* 

In the coal-fields of North Durham and Northum- 
berland, Dr. Elliott states " that premature old age in 
appearance is common ; men of thirty-five or forty 
years may often be taken for ten years older than they 
really are."f Mr. Thomas Greenhow, surgeon, Walker 
Colliery, North Durham, says "they have an aged 
aspect somewhat early in life."{ Of the effect of em- 
ployment in the coal-mines of the East of Scotland, in 
producing an early and irreparable deterioration of the 
physical condition, the sub-commissioner thus reports : 
" In a state of society such as has been described, the 
condition of the children may be easily imagined, and 
its baneful influence on the health cannot well be 
exaggerated; and I am informed by very competent 
authorities, that six months labour in the mines is suf- 
ficient to effect a very visible change in the physical 
condition of the children ; and indeed it is scarcely 
possible to conceive of circumstances more calculated to 
sow the seeds of future disease, and, to borrow the lan- 
guage of the Instructions, to prevent the organs from 
being fully developed, to enfeeble and disorder their 
functions, and to subject the whole system to injury 
which cannot be repaired at any subsequent stage of 

* Wood, Report, s. 42 ; App. pt. ii. p. 167. 

f Leif child, Evidence, No. 499; App. pt. i. p. 668, 1. 44. 

J Ibid. No. 498; p. 665, 1. 52. 



OF ENGLAND. 89 

life."* In the West of Scotland, Dr. Thompson, Ayr, 
says " A collier at fifty generally has the appearance 
of a man ten years older than he is."f 

The sub-committee for North Wales reports "They 
fail in health and strength early in life. At thirty a 
miner begins to look wan and emaciated, and so does a 
collier at forty ; while the farming labourer continues 
robust and hearty."! John Jones, relieving officer for 
the Holy well district, states "Though the children 
and young persons employed in these works "are healthy, 
still it is observable that they soon get to look old, and 
they often become asthmatic before they are forty. " 

In the Forest of Dean, Mr. Thomas Marsh, surgeon, 
states that colliers usually become old men at fifty 
to fifty-five years of age."|| In North Somersetshire, 
William Brice, clerk and manager, says " there are 
very few at work who are above fifty years of age.'.' If 

Early death is the natural consequence of the prema- 
ture decrepitude thus described to those whom ever-im- 
minent casualities have not brought to the grave during 
the years of their vigour. The medical evidence 
shows that even in South Staffordshire and Shropshire, 



* Franks, Report, s. 68 ; App. pt. i. p. 396. 
f Tancred, Evidence, No. 34 ; App. pt. i. p. 371, 1. 58. 
j H. H. Jones, Report, s. 83 ; App. pt. ii. p. 375. 
% H. H. Jones, Evidence, No. 96 ; App. pt. ii. p. 407, 1. 61. 
|| Waring, Evidence, No. 38 ; App. pt. ii. p. 25, 1. 67. 
fl Stewart, Evidence, No. 7; App. pt. ii. p. 50, 1. 48. 

7 



90 THE WHITE SLAVES 

comparatively few miners attain their fifty-first year. 
In Warwickshire and Leicestershire it is not uncommon 
for the men to follow their occupation ten years longer ; 
but all classes of witnesses in the other districts uni- 
formly state that it is rare to see an old collier. 

In Derbyshire, William Wardle "does not think 
colliers live as long as those above ground ; very few 
live to be sixty."* 

In Yorkshire, " colliers have harder work than any 
other class of workmen, and the length of time they 
work, as well as the intense exertion they undergo, 
added to the frequent unhealthiness of the atmosphere, 
decidedly tend to shorten their lives, "f Mr. Henry 
Hemmingway, surgeon, Dewsbury, states " I only 
knew one old collier. "J Mr. Thomas Rayner, surgeon, 
Bristall, says " I have had twenty-seven years' prac- 
tice, and I know of no old colliers their extreme term 
of life is from fifty-six to sixty years of age." In 
Lancashire, states Mr. Kennedy, "it appeared tome 
that the number of aged men was much smaller than in 
other occupations. "|| 

After stating that the colliers of South Durham are 
a strong and healthy race, Dr. Mitchell adds " The 



* Fellows, Evidence, No. 84 ; App. pt. ii. p. 287, 1. 38. 

f Symons, Report, s. 110, App. pt. i. p. 181. 

% Symons, Evidence, No. 221 ; App. pt. i. p. 282, 1. 45. 

Ibid. No. 268 ; p. 292, 1. 51. 

|] Kennedy, Report, s. 299 ; App. pt. ii. p. 188. 



OF ENGLAND. 91 

work, however, is laborious and exhausting; and the 
colliers, though healthy, are not long-lived."* John 
Wetherell Hays, clerk of the Union, Durham, states, 
" that the colliers are not long-lived ; that they live 
well, and live fast."f And George Canney, medical 
practitioner, Bishop Auckland, says " they are gene- 
rally short-lived. "J 

The sub-commissioner for the East of Scotland re- 
ports, that after a careful consideration of all the 
sources of information which could assist him in the 
object of his inquiry, he arrives at the following conclu- 
sion : " That the labour in the coal-mines in the Lo- 
thian and River Forth districts of Scotland ia most 
severe, and that its severity is in many cases increased by 
the want of proper attention to the economy of mining 
operations ; whence those operations, as at present carried 
on, are extremely unwholesome, and productive of dis- 
eases which have a manifest tendency to shorten life." 
Mr. Walter Jarvie, manager to Mr. Cadell, of Banton, 
states that " in the small village of Banton there are 
nearly forty widows ; and as the children work always 
on parents' behalf, it prevents them having recourse to 
the kirk-session for relief. "|| Elsper Thompson says, 



* Mitchell, Report, s. 212 ; App. pt. i. p. 143. 

f Mitchell, Evidence, No. 96 ; App. pt. i. p. 153, 1. 57. 

J Ibid. No. 97 ; p. 153, 1. 64. 

$ Franks, Report, s. 121 ; App. pt. i. p. 408. 

|| Franks, Evidence, No. 273 ; App. pt. i. p. 487, 1. 26. 



92 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" Most of the men begin to complain at thirty to thirty- 
five years of age, and drop off before they get the 
length of forty."* Henry Naysmith, sixty-five years 
of age, collier, who says he has wrought upward of 
fifty years, adds that " he has been off work nearly ten 
years, and is much afflicted with shortness of breath : it 
is the bane of the colliers, and few men live to my 
age."f 

In North Wales, it is said that few colliers come to 
the age of sixty, and but still fewer miners. This I 
believe to be the fact, though I met with many, both 
miners and colliers, who had attained the age of sixty ; 
yet they were few compared with the number employed 
in these branches of industry. "J Mr. John Jones, 
relieving-ofiicer for the Holy well district, thinks they 
are not as long-lived as agriculturists. " James Jones, 
overman, Cyfarthfa "Works, states "that the colliers 
are generally very healthy and strong up to the age of 
forty or fifty ; they then often have a difficulty of 
breathing, and they die at younger ages than agricul- 
tural labourers or handicraftsmen. "|| Mr. John Hughes, 
assistant underground agent, says they do not appear 
to live long after fifty or sixty years old. "If 



* Franks, Evidence, No. 73; p. 450, 1. 31. 

f Ibid. No. 83 ; p. 452, 1. 29. 

j H. H. Jones, Report, s. 84 ; App. pt. ii. p. 375. 

% H. H. Jones, Evidence, No. 96 ; App. pt. ii. p. 407, 1. 53. 

\ Ibid. No. 2 ; p. 378, 1. 35. \ Ibid. No. 3 j p. 379, 1. 34. 



OF ENGLAND. 93 

In South Wales, the sub-commissioner reports that he 
has not been able to ascertain, for want of sufficient 
data, the average duration of a collier's life in the 
counties either of Glamorgan or Mo'nmouth, but it is 
admitted that such average duration is less than that 
of a common labourer. In the county of Pembroke, 
however, Mr. James Bowen, surgeon, Narbeth, in that 
county, informs me The average life of a collier is 
about forty ; they rarely attain forty-five years of age ; 
and in the entire population of Begelly and East Wil- 
liamson, being 1163, forming, strictly speaking, a 
mining population, there are not six colliers of sixty 
years of age." 

The Rev. Richard Buckby, rector of Begelly, in 
answer to one of the queries in the Educational Paper 
of the Central Board, writes "The foul air of the 
mines seriously affects the lungs of the children and 
young persons employed therein, and shortens the term 
of life. In a population of one thousand, there are 
not six colliers sixty years of age." 

There are certain minor evils connected with employ 
ment in the worst class of coal-mines, which, though not 
perhaps very serious, are nevertheless sources of much 
suffering, such as irritation of the head, feet, back, and 
skin, together with occasional strains. "The upper 
parts of their head are always denuded of hair; their 
scalps are also thickened and inflamed, sometimes 

taking on the appearance tinea capitis, from the press- 

E* 



94 THE WHITE SLAVES 

lire and friction which they undergo in the act of 
pushing the corves forward, although they are mostly 
defended by a padded cap."* "It is no uncommon 
thing to see the 'hurriers bald, owing to pushing the 
corves up steep board gates, with their heads."f 

Mr. Alexander Muir, surgeon: "Are there any pe- 
culiar diseases to which colliers are subject ? No, ex- 
cepting that the hurriers are occasionally affected by a 
formation of matter upon the forehead, in consequence 
of pushing the wagons with their head. To what ex- 
tent is such formation of matter injurious to the 
general health? It produces considerable local irri- 
tation. When the matter is allowed to escape, it heals 
as perfectly as before. Do you conceive this use of 
the head to be a necessary or unnecessary part of their 
occupation? I should think it not necessary. Does it 
arise from any deficiency of strength, the head being 
used to supply the place of the arms ? I should think 
it does."J David Swallow, collier, East Moor: "The 
hair is very often worn off bald, and the part is swollen 
so that sometimes it is like a bulb filled with spongy 
matter ; so very bad after they have done their day's 
work that they cannot bear it touching. " William 
Holt: "Some thrutched with their heads, because 



* Scriven, Report, s. 83 ; App. pt. ii. p. 72. 

f Symons, Evidence, s. 96 ; App. pt. i. p. 187. 

J Wood, Evidence, No. 76 ; App. pt. ii. p. h 32, 1. 18. 

g Symons, Evidence, No. 197; App. pt. i. p. 277, 1. 68. 



OF ENGLAND, 95 

v 

they cannot thrutch enough with their hands alone. 
Thrutching with their heads makes a gathering in the 
head, and makes them very ill."* 

In running continually over uneven ground, without 
shoes or stockings, particles of dirt, coal, and stone get 
between the toes, and are prolific sources of irritation 
and lameness, of which they often complain ; the skin 
covering the balls of the toes and heels becomes thick- 
ened and horny, occasioning a good deal of pain and 
pustular gathering, "f James Mitchell: "I have hurt 
my feet often ; sometimes the coals cut them, and they 
run matter, and the corves run over them when I stand 
agate; I an't not always aware of their coming."J 
Selina Ambler : " I many times hurt my feet and legs 
with the coals and scale in gate ; sometimes we run 
corve over them; my feet have many a time been 
blooded." Mrs. Carr : "Has known many foals laid 
off with sore backs, especially last year and the year 
before, when the putting was said to be very heavy in 
the Flatworth pit. Some foals had to lay off a day or 
two, to get their backs healed, before they could go to 
work again."|| William Jakes: "His back is often 
skinned ; is now sore and all red, from holding on or 



* Austin, Evidence, No. 9 ; App. pt. ii. p. 813, 1. 40. 

f Scriven, Report, s. 82 ; App. pt. ii. p. 72. 

J Scriven, Evidence, No. 2 ; App. pt. ii. p. 101, 1. 33. 

\ Ibid. No. 79, p. 124, 1. 28. See also Nos. 12, 13, 18, 25. 

jj Leifchild, Evidence, No. 86 ; App. pt. i. p. 583, 1. 27. 



96 THE WHITE SLAVES 

back against the corf."* George Faction: "In some 
places lie bends quite double, and rubs his back so as to 
bring the skin off, and whiles to make it bleed, and 
whiles he is off work from these things."f Mr. James 
Probert, surgeon : " Chronic pain in the back is a 
very common complaint among colliers, arising from 
overstrained tendonous muscles, a&d it is the source of 
much discomfort to the colliers. "J Mr. William Dodd, 
surgeon: "As to the < boils,' when a fresh man comes 
to the colliery he generally becomes affected by these 
< boils/ most probably from the heat in the first instance, 
and subsequently they are . aggravated by the salt 
water." James Johnson: "Sometimes when among 
the salt water, the heat, etc., brings out boils about the 
size of a hen's egg upon him, about his legs and thighs, 
and under his arms sometimes. A vast of boys, men, 
and all, have these boils at times. These boils perhaps 
last a fortnight before they get ripe, and then they 
burst. A great white thing follows, and is called a 
< tanner' "|| Dr. Adams, Glasgow: "An eruption on 
the skin is very prevalent among colliers. "Tf William 
Mackenzie: "Had about twenty boils on his back at 



* LeifcMld, Evidence, No. 201; p. 610, 1. 52. 

f Ibid. No. 267, p. 623, 1. 11. 

J Franks, Evidence, No. 31 ; App. pt. ii. p. 510, 1. 49. 

LeifcMld, Evidence, No. 385 ; App, pt. i. p. 645, 1. 35. 

|| Ibid. No. 375, p. 644, 1. 48. 

If Tailored, Evidence, No. 9 ; App. pt. i. p. 861, 1. 45. 



OF ENGLAND. 97 

one time, about two years since. These lasted about 
three months. He was kept off work about a week* 
If he touched them against any thing they were like 
death to him. But few of the boys have so many at a 
time; many of the boys get two or three at a time. 
The boys take physic to bring them all out ; then they 
get rid of them for some time. If the salt water falls 
on any part of them that is scotched, it burns into the 
flesh like ; it is like red rust. It almost blinds the 
boys if it gets into their eyes."* 

Accidents of a fatal nature are of frightful fre- 
quency in the mines. In one year there were three 
hundred and forty-nine deaths by violence in the coal- 
mines of England alone. Of the persons thus killed, 
fifty-eight were under thirteen years of age ; sixty-two 
under eighteen, and the remainder over eighteen. 
One of the most frequent causes of accidents is the 
want of superintendence to see the security of the ma- 
chinery for letting down and bringing up the work- 
people, and the restriction of the number of persona 
who ascend or descend at the same time. The com- 
missioners observed at Elland two hurriers, named Ann 
Ambler and William Dyson, cross-lapped upon a clutch- 
iron, drawn up by a woman. As soon as they arrived 
at the top the handle was made fast by a bolt. The 

* LeifcMld, Evidence, No. 376 ; App. pt. i. p. 644, 1. 64. 



98 THE WHITE SLAVES 

woman then grasped a hand of both at the same time, 
and by main force brought them to land. 

From all the evidence adduced, the commissioners 
came to the following conclusions : 

" In regard to coal-mines 

" That instances occur in which children are taken into these 
mines to work as early as four years of age, sometimes at five, 
and between five and six ; not unfrequently between six and 
seven, and often from seven to eight ; while from eight to nine is 
the ordinary age at which employment in these mines com- 
mences. 

" That a very large proportion of the persons employed in car- 
rying on the work of these mines is under thirteen years of age ; 
and a still larger proportion between thirteen and eighteen. 

"That in several districts female children begin to work in 
these mines at the same early ages as the males. 

" That the great body of the children and young persons em- 
ployed in these mines are of the families of the adult work- 
people engaged in the pits, or belong to the poorest population in 
the neighbourhood, and are hired and paid in some districts by 
the work-people, but in others by the proprietors or contractors. 

" That there are in some districts, also, a small number of 
parish apprentices, who are bound to serve their masters until 
twenty-one years of age, in an employment in which there is 
nothing deserving the name of skill to be acquired, under circum- 
stances of frequent ill-treatment, and under the oppressive con- 
dition that they shall receive only food and clothing, while their 
free companions may be obtaining a man's wages. 

" That, in many instances, much that skill and capital can effect 
to render the place of work unoppressive and healthy and safe, 
is done, often with complete success, as far as regards the health- 
fulness and comfort of the mines ; but that to render them per- 
fectly safe does not appear to be practicable by any means yet 
known ; while, in great numbers of instances, their condition in 
regard both to ventilation and drainage is lamentably defective. 



OF ENGLAND. 99 

* That the nature of the employment which is assigned to the 
youngest children generally that of 'trapping' requires that 
they should be in the pit as soon as the work of the day com- 
mences, and, according to the present system, that they should 
not leave the pit before the work of the day is at an end. 

" That although this employment scarcely deserves the name 
of labour, yet, as the children engaged in it are commonly ex- 
cluded from light, and are always without companions, it would, 
were it not for the passing and repassing of the coal-carriages, 
amount to solitary confinement of the worst sort. 

" That in those districts where the seams of coal are so thick 
that horses go direct to the workings, or in which the side pas- 
sages from the workings to the horseways are not of any great 
length, the lights in the main way render the situation of the 
children comparatively less cheerless, dull, and stupefying; but 
that in some districts they are in solitude and darkness during 
the whole time they are in the pit ; and, according to their own 
account, many of them never see the light of day for weeks 
together during the greater part of the winter season, except on 
those days in the week when work is not going on, and on the 
Sundays. 

" That, at different ages from six years old and upward, the 
hard work of pushing and dragging the carriages of coal from 
the workings to the main ways, or to the foot of the shaft, begins ; 
a labour which all classes of witnesses concur in stating requires 
the unremitting exertion of all the physical power which the 
young workers possess. 

" That, in the districts in which females are taken down into the 
coal-mines, both sexes are employed together in precisely the same 
kind of labour, and work for the same number of hours ; that the 
girls and boys, and the young men and young women, and even 
married women and women with child, commonly work almost 
naked, and the men, in many mines, quite naked ; and that all 
classes of witnesses bear testimony to the demoralizing influence 
of the employment of females under ground. 

" That, in the East of Scotland, a much larger proportion of 
children and young persons are employed in these mines than in 



100 THE WHITE SLAVES 

any other districts, many of whom are girls ; and that the chief 
part of their labour consists in carrying the coal on their backs 
up steep ladders. 

" That, when the work-people are in full employment, the re- 
gular hours of work for children and young persons are rarely 
less than eleven, more often they are twelve ; in some districts 
they are thirteen, and in one district they are generally fourteen 
and upward. 

" That, in the great majority of these mines, night-work is a part 
of the ordinary system of labour, more or less regularly carried 
on according to the demand for coals, and one which the whole 
body of evidence shows to act most injuriously both on the phy- 
sical and moral condition of the work-people, and more especially 
on that of the children and young persons. 

" That the labour performed daily for this number of hours, 
though it cannot strictly be said to be continuous, because, from 
the nature of the employment, intervals of a few minutes neces- 
sarily occur during which the muscles are not in active exertion, 
is, nevertheless, generally uninterrupted by any regular time set 
apart for rest or refreshment ; what food is taken in the pit being 
eaten as best it may while the labour continues. 

"That in all well-regulated mines, in which in general the 
hours of work are the shortest, and in some few of which from 
half an hour to an hour is regularly set apart for meals, little or 
no fatigue is complained of after an ordinary day's work, when 
the children are ten years old and upward; but in other in- 
stances great complaint is made of the feeling of fatigue, and the 
work-people are never without this feeling, often in an extremely 
painful degree. 

" That in many cases the children and young persons have 
little cause of complaint in regard to the treatment they receive 
from the persons of authority in the mine, or from the colliers ; 
but that in general the younger children are roughly used by 
their older companions, while in many mines the conduct of the 
adult colliers to the children and adult persons who assist them 
is harsh and cruel ; the persons in authority in these mines, who 
must be cognizant of this ill-usage, never interfering to prevent 



OF ENGLAND. 101 

it, and some of them distinctly stating that they do not conceive 
that they have any right to do so. 

" That, with some exceptions, little interest is taken by the 
coal-owners in the children or young persons employed in their 
works after the daily labour is over ; at least, little is done to 
afford them the means of enjoying innocent amusement and 
healthful recreation. 

" That in all the coal fields accidents of a fearful nature are 
extremely frequent ; and that the returns made to our own queries, 
as well as the registry tables, prove that, of the work-people who 
perish by such accidents, the proportion of children and young per- 
eons sometimes equals and rarely falls much below that of adults. 

" That one of the most frequent causes of accidents in these 
mines is the want of superintendence by overlookers or otherwise, 
to see to the security of the machinery for letting down and bring- 
ing up the work-people, the. restriction of the number of persons 
that ascend and descend at a time, the state of the mine as to the 
quantity of noxious gas in it, the efficiency of the ventilation, the 
exactness with which the air-door keepers perform their duty, the 
places into which it is safe or unsafe to go with a naked lighted 
candle, the security of the proppings to uphold the roof, &c. 

" That another frequent cause of fatal accidents is the almost 
universal practice of intrusting the closing of the air-doors to very 
young children. 

" That there are many mines in which the most ordinary pre- 
cautions to guard against accidents are neglected, and in which 
no money appears to be expended with a view to secure the safety, 
much less the comfort, of the work-people. 

" There are, moreover, two practices, peculiar to a few districts, 
which deserve the highest reprobation, namely, first, the prac- 
tice, not unknown in some of the smaller mines in Yorkshire, and 
common in Lancashire, in employing ropes that are unsafe for 
letting down and drawing up the work-people ; and second, the 
practice occasionally met with in Yorkshire, and common in Der- 
byshire and Lancashire, of employing boys at the steam-engines 
for letting down and drawing up the work-people/' first Beport, 
Conclusion,?, p. 255-257, 



102 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Well, what did the British Government do when the 
heart-rending report of the commissioners was received ? 
It felt the necessity of a show of legislative interference. 
Lord Ashley introduced a bill into the House of Com- 
mons, having for its object the amelioration of the con- 
dition of the mining women and children. Much discus- 
sion occurred. The bill passed the House of Commons, 
and was taken to the House of Lords, the high court of 
British oppression. Some lords advocated the measure, 
whereupon Lord Londonderry and some others spoke 
of them as "bitten with a humanity mania." Modifi- 
cations were made in the bill to suit the pockets of the 
luxurious proprietors, and then it was grumblingly 
adopted. What did the bill provide ? That no child 
under ten years of age, and no woman or girl, of any 
age, should be allowed to work in a mine. Now, chil- 
dren may be ten years of age, and above that, and yet 
they are still tender little creatures. The majority of 
the sufferers who came to the notice of the commis- 
sioners were above ten years of age ! In that point, 
at least, the bill was worse than a nullity it was a base 
deceit, pouring balm, but not upon the wound ! 

The same bill provided that no females should be 
allowed to work in the mines. But then the females 
were driven to the mines by the dread of starvation. 
Soon after the passage of the bill, petitions from the 
mining districts were sent to Parliament, praying that 
females might be allowed to work in the mines. The 



OF ENGLAND. 103 

petitioners had no means of getting bread. If they 
had, they would never have been in the mines at all. 
The horrors of labour in the mines were consequences 
of the general slavery. Well, there were many pro- 
prietors of mines in Parliament, and their influence 
was sufficient to nullify the law in practice. There is 
good authority for believing that the disgusting slavery 
of the British mines has been ameliorated only to a very 
limited extent. 



104 THE WHITE SLAVES 



CHAPTER III. 

SLAVERY IN THE BRITISH FACTORIES. 

GREAT BRITAIN has long gloried in the variety and 
importance of her manufactures. Burke spoke of Bir- 
mingham as the toyshop of Europe ; and, at this day, 
the looms of Manchester and the other factory towns 
of England furnish the dry-goods of a large portion of 
the world. Viewed at a distance, this wonder-working 
industry excites astonishment and admiration; but a 
closer inspection will show us such corrupt and gloomy 
features in this vast manufacturing system as will turn 
a portion of admiration into shrinking disgust. Giving 
the meed of praise to the perfection of machinery and 
the excellence of the fabrics, what shall we say of the 
human operatives ? For glory purchased at the price 
of blood and souls is a vanity indeed. Let us see ! 

The number of persons employed in the cotton, wool, 
silk, and flax manufactures of Great Britain is estimated 
at about two millions. Mr. Baines states that about 
one and a half million are employed in the cotton manu- 
factures alone. The whole number employed in the 
production of all sorts of iron, hardware, and cutlery 



OP ENGLAND. 105 

articles is estimated at 350,000. In the manufacture 
of jewelry, earthen and glass ware, paper, woollen stuffs, 
distilled and fermented liquors, and in the common 
trades of tailoring, shoemaking, carpentering, &c., the 
numbers employed are very great, though not accu- 
rately known. We think the facts will bear us out in 
stating that this vast body of operatives suffer more of 
the real miseries of slavery than any similar class upon 
the face of the earth. 

In the first place, admitting that wages are as high 
in Great Britain as in any continental country, the 
enormous expenses of the church and aristocracy pro- 
duce a taxation which eats up so large a portion of 
these wages, that there is not enough left to enable the 
workman to live decently and comfortably. But the 
wages are, in general, brought very low by excessive 
competition; and, in consequence, the operative must 
stretch his hours of toil far beyond all healthy limits to 
earn enough to pay taxes and support himself. It is 
the struggle of drowning men, and what wonder if many 
sink beneath the gloomy waves ? 

When C. Edwards Lester, an author of reputation, was 
in England, he visited Manchester, and, making inquiries 
of an operative, obtained the following reply : 

" I have a wife and nine children, and a pretty hard time we 
have too, we are so many ; and most of the children are so small, 
they can do little for the support of the family. I generally get 
from two shillings to a crown a day for carrying luggage ; and 
eomo of my children are in the mills ; and the rest are too young 

8 



106 THE WHITE SLAVES 

to work yet. My wife is never well, and it comes pretty hard on 
her to do the work of the whole family. We often talk these 
things over, and feel pretty sad. We live in a poor house ; w6 
can't clothe our children comfortably ; not one of them ever went 
to school : they could go to the Sunday-school, but we can't make 
them look decent enough to go to such a place. As for meat, we 
never taste it ; potatoes and coarse bread are our principal food. 
We can't save any thing for a day of want ; almost every thing 
we get for our work seems to go for taxes. We are taxed for 
something almost every week in the year. We have no time to 
ourselves when we are free from work. It seems that our life is 
all toil ; I sometimes almost give up. Life isn't worth much to a 
poor man in England ; and sometimes Mary and I, when we talk 
about it, pretty much conclude that we all should be better off if 
we were dead. I have gone home at night a great many times, 
and told my wife when she said supper was ready, that I had 
taken a bite at a chophouse on the way, and was not hungry 
she and the children could eat my share. Yes, I have said this a 
great many times when I felt pretty hungry myself. I sometimes 
wonder that God suffers so many poor people to come into the 
world." 

And this is, comparatively, a mild case. Instances 
of hard-working families living in dark, damp cellars, 
and having the coarsest food, are common in Manches- 
ter, Birmingham, and other manufacturing towns. 

Mrs. Gaskell, in her thrilling novel, " Mary ^Barton, 
a Tale of Manchester Life," depicts without exaggera- 
tion the sufferings of the operatives and their families 
when work is a little slack, or when, by accident, they 
are thrown out of employment for a short period. A 
large factory, belonging to a Mr. Carson, had been 
destroyed by fire, and about the same time, as trade 
was bad, some mills shortened hours, turned off hands, 



OF ENGLAND. 107 

and finally stopped work altogether. Almost incon- 
ceivable misery followed among the unemployed work- 
men. In the best of times they fared hardly ; now they 
were forced to live in damp and filthy cellars, and many 
perished, either from starvation or from fevers bred in 
their horrible residences. One cold evening John Barton 
received a hurried visit from a fellow-operative, named 
George Wilson. 

"' You've not got a bit o' money by you, Barton V asked he. 

" * Not I ; who has now, I'd like to know ? Whatten you want 
it for?' 

" ' I donnot want it for mysel, tho' we've none to spare. But don 
ye know Ben Davenport as worked at Carson's ? He's down wi' 
the fever, and ne'er a stick o' fire, nor a cowd potato in the house/ 

"'I han got no money, I tell ye,' said Barton. Wilson looked 
disappointed. Barton tried not to be interested, but he could not 
help it in spite of his gruffness. He rose, and went to the cup- 
board, (his wife's pride long ago.) There lay the remains of his 
dinner, hastily put there ready for supper. Bread, and a slice of 
cold, fat, boiled bacon. He wrapped them in his handkerchief, 
put them in the crown of his hat, and said ' Come, let's be going/ 

" ' Going art thou going to work this time o' day ?' 

" ' No, stupid, to be sure not. Going to see the fellow thou spoke 
on.' So they put on their hats and set out. On the way Wilson 
said Davenport was a good fellow, though too much of the Me- 
thodee ; that his children were too young to work, but not too 
young to be cold and hungry ; that they had sunk lower and 
lower, and pawned thing after thing, and that now they lived in 
in a cellar in Berry-street, off Store-street. Barton growled inar- 
ticulate words of no benevolent import to a large class of mankind, 
and so they went along till they arrived in Berry-street. It was 
unpaved ; and down the middle a gutter forced its way, every 
now and then forming pools in the holes with which the street 
abounded. Never was the Old Edinburgh cry of ' Gardez 1'eau/ 



108 THE WHITE SLAVES 

more necessary than in this street. As they passed, women from 
their doors tossed household slops of every description into the 
gutter ; they ran into the next pool, which overflowed and stag- 
nated. Heaps of ashes were the stepping-stones, on which the 
passer-by, who cared in the least for cleanliness, took care not to 
put his foot. Our friends were not dainty, but even they picked 
their way till they got to some steps leading down into a small 
area, where a person standing would have his head about one foot 
below the level of the street, and might, at the same time, without 
the least motion of his body, touch the window of the cellar and 
the damp, muddy wall right opposite. You went down one step 
even from the foul area into the cellar, in which a family of human 
beings lived. It was very dark inside. The window panes were 
many of them broken and stuffed with rags, which was reason 
enough for the dusky light that pervaded the place even at mid- 
day. After the account I have given of the state of the street, no 
one can be surprised that, on going into the cellar inhabited by 
Davenport, the smell was so fetid as almost to knock the two 
men down. Quickly recovering themselves, as those inured to 
such things do, they began to penetrate the thick darkness of the 
place, and to see three or four little children rolling on the damp, 
nay, wet, brick floor, through which the stagnant, filthy moisture 
of the street oozed up ; the fireplace was empty and black ; the 
wife sat on her husband's lair, and cried in the dank loneliness. 

" ' See, missis, I'm back again. Hold your noise, children, and 
don't mither (trouble) your mammy for bread, here's a chap as 
has got some for you/ 

" In that dim light, which was darkness to strangers, they 
clustered round Barton, and tore from him the food he had 
brought with him. It was a large hunch of bread, but it had 
vanished in an instant. 

"'We maun do summut for 'em,' said he to Wilson. * Yo stop 
here, and I'll be back in half an hour/ 

" So he strode, and ran, and hurried home. He emptied into the 
ever-useful pocket-handkerchief the little meal remaining in the 
mug. Mary would have her tea at Miss Simmonds' ; her food for 
the day was safe. Then he went up-stairs for his better coat, and 



OP ENGLAND. 109 

his one, gay, red and yellow silk pocket-handkerchief his jewels, 
his plate, his valuables these were. He went to the pawn-shop ; 
he pawned them for five shillings ; he stopped not, nor stayed, till 
he was once more in London Road, within five minutes' walk of 
Berry-street then he loitered in his gait, in order to discover the 
shops he wanted. He bought meat, and a loaf of bread, candles, 
chips, and from a little retail yard he purchased a couple of hun- 
dredweights of coals. Some money yet remained all destined 
for them, but he did not yet know how best to spend it. Food, 
light, and warmth, he had instantly seen, were necessary ; for 
luxuries he would wait. Wilson's eyes filled with tears when he 
saw Barton enter with his purchases. He understood it all, and 
longed to be once more in work, that he might help in some of 
these material ways, without feeling that he was using his son's 
money. But though ' silver and gold he had none,' he gave heart- 
service and love-works of far more value. Nor was John Barton 
behind in these. * The fever' was (as it usually is in Manchester) 
of a low, putrid, typhoid kind ; brought on by miserable living, 
filthy neighbourhood, and great depression of mind and body. It 
is virulent, malignant, and highly infectious. But the poor are 
fatalists with regard to infection ; and well for them it is so, for 
in their crowded dwellings no invalid can be isolated. Wilson 
asked Barton if he thought he should catch it, and was laughed 
at for his idea. 

" The two men, rough, tender nurses as they were, lighted the 
fire, which smoked and puffed into the room as if it did not know 
the way up the damp, unused chimney. The very smoke seemed 
purifying and healthy in the thick clammy air. The children 
clamoured again for bread ; but this time Barton took a piece first 
to the poor, helpless, hopeless woman, who still sat by the side 
of her husband, listening to his anxious, miserable mutterings. 
She took the bread, when it was put into her hand, and broke a 
bit, but could not eat. She was past hunger. She fell down on 
the floor with a heavy, unresisting bang. The men looked puzzled. 
'She's wellnigh clemmed, (starved,)' said Barton. 'Folk do say 
one mus'n't give clemmed people much to eat ; but, bless us, she'll 
eat naught.' 
F 



110 THE WHITE SLAVES 

' I'll tell you what I'll do,' said Wilson, I'll take these two big 
lads, as does naught but fight, home to my missis's for to-night, 
and I will .get a jug o' tea. Them women always does best with 
tea and such slop.' 

"So Barton was now left alone with a little child, crying, when 
it had done eating, for mammy, with a fainting, dead-like woman, 
and with the sick man, whose mutterings were rising up to screams 
and shrieks of agonized anxiety. He carried the woman to the 
fire, and chafed her hands. He looked around for something to 
raise her head. There was literally nothing but some loose bricks : 
however, those he got, and taking off his coat, he covered them 
with it as well as he could. He pulled her feet to the fire, which 
now began to emit some faint heat. He looked round for water, 
but the poor woman had been too weak to drag herself out to the 
distant pump, and water there was none. He snatched the child, 
and ran up the area steps to the room above, and borrowed their 
only saucepan with some water in it. Then he began, with the 
useful skill of a working man, to make some gruel ; and, when it 
was hastily made, he seized a battered iron table-spoon, kept 
when many other little things had been sold in a lot, in order to 
feed baby, and with it he forced one or two drops between her 
clenched teeth. The mouth opened mechanically to receive more, 
and gradually she revived. She sat up and looked round ; and, 
recollecting all, fell down again in weak and passive despair. 
Her little child crawled to her, and wiped with its fingers the 
thick-coming tears which she now had strength to weep. It was 
now high time to attend to the man. He lay on straw, so damp 
and mouldy no dog would have chosen it in preference to flags ; 
over it was a piece of sacking, coming next to his worn skeleton 
of a body ; above him was mustered every article of clothing that 
could be spared by mother or children this bitter weather ; and, 
in addition to his own, these might have given as much warmth 
as one blanket, could they have been kept on him ; but as he rest- 
lessly tossed to and fro, they fell off, and left him shivering in spite 
of the burning heat of his skin. Every now and then he started 
up in his naked madness, looking like the prophet of wo in tbe 
fearful plague-picture j but he soon fell again in exhaustion, and 



OF ENGLAND. Ill 

Barton found he must be closely watched, lest in these falls he 
should injure himself against the hard brick floor. He was thank- 
ful when Wilson reappeared, carrying in both hands a jug of 
steaming tea, intended for the poor wife ; but when the delirious 
husband saw drink, he snatched at it with animal instinct, with 
a selfishness he had never shown in health. 

" Then the two men consulted together. It seemed decided with- 
out a word being spoken on the subject, that both should spend 
the night with the forlorn couple ; that was settled. But could 
no doctor be had ? In all probability, no. The next day an in- 
firmary order might be begged ; but meanwhile the only medical 
advice they could have must be from a druggist's. So Barton, 
being the moneyed man, set out to find a shop in London Road." 

" He reached a druggist's shop, and entered. The druggist, 
whose smooth manners seemed to have been salved over with hia 
own spermaceti, listened attentively to Barton's description of 
Davenport's illness, concluded it was typhus fever, very prevalent 
in that neighbourhood, and proceeded to make up a bottle of me- 
dicine sweet spirits of nitre, or some such innocent potion very 
good for slight colds, but utterly powerless to stop for an instant 
the raging fever of the poor man it was intended to relieve. He 
recommended the same course they had previously determined to 
adopt, applying the next morning for an infirmary order; and 
Barton left the shop with comfortable faith in the physic given 
him ; for men of his class, if they believe in physic at all, believe 
that every description is equally efficacious. 

" Meanwhile Wilson had done what he could at Davenport's 
home. He had soothed and covered the man many a time ; he 
had fed and hushed the little child, and spoken tenderly to the 
woman, who lay still in her weakness and her weariness. He 
had opened a door, but only for an instant ; it led into a back 
cellar, with a grating instead of a window, down which dropped 
the moisture from pigstyes, and worse abominations. It was not 
paved ; the floor was one mass of bad-smelling mud. It had never 
been used, for there was not an article of furniture in it ; nor 
could a human being, much less a pig, have lived there many 
days. Yet the ' back apartment' made a difference in the rent, 



112 THE WHITE SLAVES 

The Davenports paid threepence more for having two rooms. 
When he turned round again, he saw the woman suckling the 
child from her dry, withered breast. 

" ' Surely the lad is weaned !' exclaimed he, in surprise. 'Why, 
how old is he ?' 

"'Going on two year/ she faintly answered. 'But, oh ! it keeps 
him quiet when I've naught else to gi' him, and he'll get a bit of 
sleep lying there, if he's getten naught beside. We han done our 
best to gi' the childer food, howe'er we pinched ourselves.' 

" ' Han ye had no money fra th' town ?' 

" ' No ; my master is Buckinghamshire born, and he's feared 
the town would send him back to his parish, if he went to the 
board ; so we've just borne on in hope o' better times. But I 
think they'll never come in my day ;' and the poor woman began 
her weak, high-pitched cry again. 

" ' Here, sup this drop o' gruel, and then try and get a bit o* 
sleep. John and I'll watch by your master to-night.' 

" ' God's blessing be on you !' 

" She finished the gruel, and fell into a dead sleep. Wilson 
covered her with his coat as well as he could, and tried to move 
lightly for fear of disturbing her ; but there need have been no 
such dread, for her sleep was profound and heavy with exhaus- 
tion. Once only she roused to pull the coat round her little child. 

" And now, all Wilson's care, and Barton's to boot, was wanted 
to restrain the wild, mad agony of the fevered man. He started 
up, he yelled, he seemed infuriated by overwhelming anxiety. 
He cursed and swore, which surprised Wilson, who knew his piety 
in health, and who did not know the unbridled tongue of delirium. 
At length he seemed exhausted, and fell asleep ; and Barton and 
Wilson drew near the fire, and talked together in whispers. They 
sat on the floor, for chairs there were none ; the sole table was an 
old tub turned upside down. They put out the candle and con- 
versed by the flickering fire-light, 

" ' Han yo known this chap long ?' asked Barton. 

"'Better nor three year. He's worked wi' Carsons that long, 
and were always a steady, civil-spoken fellow, though, as I said 
afore, somewhat of a Methodee. I wish I'd gotten a letter he sent 



OF ENGLAND. 113 

to his missis, a week or two agone, when he were on tramp for 
work. It did my heart good to read it ; for yo see, I were a bit 
grumbling mysel ; it seemed hard to be sponging on Jem, and 
taking a' his flesh-meat money to buy bread for me and them as 
I ought to be keeping. But, yo know, though I can earn naught, 
I mun eat summut. Well, as I telled ye, I were grumbling, 
when she/ indicating the sleeping woman by a nod, ' brought me 
Ben's letter, for she could na read hersel. It were as good as 
Bible-words ; ne'er a word o' repining ; a' about God being our 
father, and that we mun bear patiently whate'er he sends/ 

" 'Don ye think he's th' masters' father, too? I'd be loth to 
have 'em for brothers/ 

" ' Eh, John ! donna talk so ; sure there's many and many a 
master as good nor better than us/ 

" ' If you think so, tell me this. How comes it they're rich, and 
we're poor ? I'd like to know that. Han they done as they'd be 
done by for us ?' 

" But Wilson was no arguer no speechifier, as he would have 
called it. So Barton, seeing he was likely to have his own way, 
went on 

" ' You'll say, at least many a one does, they'n getten capital, 
an' we'n getten none. I say, our labour's our capital, and we 
ought to draw interest on that. They get interest on their 
capital somehow a' this time, while ourn is lying idle, else how 
could they all live as they do ? Besides, there's many on 'em as 
had naught to begin wi' ; there's Carsons, and Buncombes, and 
Mengies, and many another as corned into Manchester with 
clothes to their backs, and that were all, and now they're worth 
their tens of thousands, a' gotten out of our labour ; why^the very 
land as fetched but sixty pound twenty years agone is now worth 
six hundred, and that, too, is owing to our labour ; but look at yo, 
and see me, and poor Davenport yonder. Whatten better are we? 
They'n screwed us down to th' lowest peg, in order to make their 
great big fortunes, and build their great big houses, and we why, 
we're just clemming, many and many of us. Can you say there's 
naught wrong in this 2'" 



114 THE WHITE SLAVES 

These poor fellows, according to the story, took care 
of Davenport till he died in that loathsome cellar, and 
then had him decently buried. They knew not how 
soon his fate would overtake them, and they would then 
Want friends. In the mean time, while disease and 
starvation were doing their work among the poor ope- 
ratives, their masters were lolling on sofas, and, in the 
recreations of an evening, spending enough to relieve a 
hundred families. Perhaps, also, the masters' wives 
were concocting petitions on the subject of negro- 
slavery that kind of philanthropy costing very little 
money or self-sacrifice. 

It may be said that the story of " Mary Barton" is a 
fiction ; but it must not be forgotten that it is the work 
of an English writer, and that its scenes are professedly 
drawn from the existing realities of life in Manchester, 
where the author resided. In the same work, we find 
an account of an historical affair, which is important in 
this connection, as showing how the wail of the oppress- 
ed is treated by the British aristocracy : 

" For three years past, trade had been getting worse and worse, 
and the price of provisions higher and higher. This disparity 
between the amount of the earnings of the working classes, and 
the price of their food, occasioned, in more cases than could well 
be imagined, disease and death. Whole families went through a 
gradual starvation. They only wanted a Dante to record their 
sufferings. And yet even his words would Ml short of the awful 
truth ; they could only present an outline of the tremendous facts 
of the destitution that surrounded thousands upon thousands in 
the terrible years 1839, 1840, and 1841. Even philanthropists, 



OF ENGLAND. 115 

who had studied the subject, were forced to own themselves per- 
plexed in the endeavour to ascertain the real causes of the 
misery ; the whole matter was of so complicated a nature, that 
it became next to impossible to understand it thoroughly. It 
need excite no surprise, then, to learn that a bad feeling between 
working men and the upper classes became very strong in this 
season of privation. The indigence and sufferings of the opera- 
tives induced a suspicion in the minds of many of them, that 
their legislators, their managers, their employers, and even their 
ministers of religion, were, in general, their oppressors and 
enemies ; and were in league for their prostration and enthral- 
ment. The most deplorable and enduring evil that arose out of 
the period of commercial depression to which I refer, was this 
feeling of alienation between the different classes of society. It 
is so impossible to describe, or even faintly to picture, the state 
of distress which prevailed in the town at that time, that I will 
not attempt it; and yet I think again that surely, in a Christian 
land, it was not known even so feebly as words could tell it, or 
the more happy and fortunate would have thronged with their 
sympathy and their aid. In many instances the sufferers wept 
first, and then they cursed. Their vindictive feelings exhibited 
themselves in rabid politics. And when I hear, as I have heard, 
of the sufferings and privations of the poor, of provision-shops 
where ha'porths of tea, sugar, butter, ami even flour, were sold 
to accommodate the indigent of parents sitting in their clothes 
by the fire-side during the whole night, for seven weeks together, 
in order that their only bed and bedding might be reserved for 
the use of their large family of others sleeping upon the cold 
hearth-stone for weeks in succession, without adequate means of 
providing themselves with food or fuel (and this in the depth of 
winter) of others being compelled to fast for days together, un- 
cheered by any hope of better fortune, living, moreover, or rather 
starving, in a crowded garret or damp cellar, and gradually sink- 
ing under the pressure of want and despair into a premature 
grave ; and when this has been confirmed by the evidence of 
their care-worn looks, their excited feelings, and their deso- 
late homes can I wonder that many of them, in such times of 



116 THE WHITE SLAVES 

misery and destitution, spoke and acted with ferocious precipita- 
tion 1 

"An idea was now springing up among the operatives, that 
originated with the Chartists, but which came at last to be che- 
rished as a darling child by many and many a one. They could 
not believe that government knew of their misery ; they rather 
chose to think it possible that men could voluntarily assume the 
office of legislators for a nation, ignorant of its real state ; as who 
should make domestic rules for the pretty behaviour of children, 
without caring to know that these children had been kept for 
days without food. Besides, the starving multitudes had heard 
that the very existence of their distress had been denied in Par- 
liament ; and though they felt this strange and inexplicable, yet 
the idea that their misery had still to be revealed in all its 
depths, and that then some remedy would be found, soothed their 
aching hearts, and kept down their rising fury. 

" So a petition was framed, and signed by thousands in the 
bright spring days of 1839, imploring Parliament to hear wit- 
nesses who could testify to the unparalleled destitution of the 
manufacturing districts. Nottingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, Man- 
chester, and many other towns, were busy appointing delegates 
to convey this petition, who might speak, not merely of what 
they had seen and had heard, but from what they had borne and 
Buffered. Life-worn, gaunt, anxious, hunger-stamped men were 
those delegates." 

The delegates went in a body to London, and applied 
at the Parliament House for permission to present 
their petition upon the subject nearest their hearts 
the question of life and death. They were haughtily 
denied a hearing. The assemblage of the "best gen- 
tlemen in Europe," were, perhaps, discussing the best 
means of beautifying their parks and extending their 
estates. What had these rose-pink legislators to do 
with the miseries of the base-born rabble the soil-serfs 



OF ENGLAND. 117 

of their chivalric Norman ancestors ? The delegates 
returned in despair to their homes, to meet their 
starving relatives and friends, and tell them there was 
not a ray of hope. In France such a rejection of a 
humble petition from breadless working-men would 
have been followed by a revolution. In Great Britain 
the labourers seem to have the inborn submission of 
hereditary slaves. Though they feel the iron heel of 
the aristocracy upon their necks, and see their families 
starving around them, they delay, and still delay, 
taking that highway to freedom manly and united 
rebellion. 

The workmen employed in the factories are sub- 
jected to the cruel treatment of overlookers, who have 
the power of masters, and use it as tyrants. If an 
operative does not obey an order, he is not merely 
reproved, but kicked and beaten as a slave. He dare 
not resent, for if he did he would be turned forth to 
starve. Such being the system under which he works, 
the operative has the look and air of a degraded Helot. 
Most of them are unhealthy, destitute of spirit, and 
enfeebled by toil and privation. The hand-loom 
weavers, who are numerous in some districts, are the 
most miserable of the labourers, being hardly able to 
earn scant food and filthy shelter. 

The hundreds of thousands of tender age employed in 
all the various branches of manufacture are in all 

cases the children of the poor, When the father goes 
F* 



118 THE WHITE SLAVES 

to the workhouse he has no longer any control over his 
children. They are at the mercy of the parish, and 
may be separated, apprenticed to all sorts of masters, 
and treated, to all intents and purposes, as slaves. 
The invention of labour-saving machinery has brought 
the services of children into great demand in the manu- 
facturing towns. They may be bought at the work- 
house at a cheap rate, and then they must trust to God 
alone for their future welfare. There is scarcely an 
instance in which the law ever interferes for their pro- 
tection. The masters and overlookers are allowed to 
beat their younger operatives with impunity. 

The following evidence contains instances of a treat- 
ment totally barbarous, and such are very frequent, 
according to the report of the commissioners : 

" When she was a child, too little to put on her ain claithes, 
the overlooker used to beat her till she screamed again. Gets 
many a good beating and swearing. They are all very ill-used. 
The overseer carries a strap. Has been licked four or five 
times. The boys are often severely strapped; the girls some- 
times get a clout. The mothers often complain of this. Has 
seen the boys have black and blue marks after strapping. Three 
weeks ago the overseer struck him in the eye with his clenched 
fist, so as to force him to be absent two days. Another overseer 
used to beat him with his fist, striking him so that his arm was 
black and blue. Has often seen the workers beat cruelly. Has 
seen the girls strapped ; but the boys were beat so that they fell 
to the floor in the course of the beating with a rope with four 
tails, called a cat. Has seen the boys black and blue, crying for 
mercy. 

"The other night a little girl came home cruelly beaten; 



OF ENGLAND. 119 

wished to go before a magistrate, but was advised not. That 
man is always strapping the children. The boys are badly used. 
They are whipped with a strap till they cry out and shed tears ; 
has seen the managers kick and strike them. Has suffered much 
from the slubbers' ill treatment. It is the practice of the slub- 
bers to go out and amuse themselves for an hour or so, and then 
make up their work in the same time, which is a great fatigue to 
the piecers, keeping them ' on the run' for an hour and a half 
together, besides kicking and beating them for doing it badly, 
when they were so much tired. The slubbers are all brutes to 
the children ; they get intoxicated, and then kick them about ; 
they are all alike. Never complained to the master ; did once to 
his mother, and she gave him a halfpenny not to mind it, to go 
back to work like a good boy. Sometimes he used to be surly, 
and would not go, and then she always had that tale about the 
halfpenny ; sometimes he got the halfpenny, and sometimes not. 

" He has seen the other children beaten. The little girls stand- 
ing at the drawing-head. They would run home and fetch their 
mothers sometimes. 

" Hears the spinners swear very bad at their piecers, and sees 
'em lick 'em sometimes ; some licks 'em with a strap, some licks 
'em with hand ; some straps is as long as your arm, some is very 
thick, and some thin; don't know where they get the straps. 
There is an overlooker in the room ; he very seldom comes in ; 
they won't allow 'em if they knows of it. (Child volunteered 
the last observation. Asked how she knew that the overlookers' 
would not allow the spinners to lick the little hands ; answers, 
'Because I've heard 'em say so.') Girls cry when struck 
with straps; only one girl struck yesterday; they very seldom 
strike 'em. 

" There is an overlooker in the room, who is a man. The 
doffer always scolds her when she is idle, not the overlooker ; the 
doffer is a girl. Sometimes sees her hit the little hands ; always 
hits them with her hands. Sometimes the overlooker hits the 
little hands ; always with her hand when she does. Her mother 
is a throstle-spinner, in her room. The overseer scolds the little 
hands ; says he'll bag 'em ; sometimes swears at 'em. Some- 



120 THE WHITE SLAVES 

times overseer beats a ' little hand ;' when he does it, it is always 
with his open hand ; it is not so very hard ; sometimes on the 
face, sometimes on the back. He never beats her. Some on 'em 
cries when they are beat, some doesn't. He beats very seldom ; 
didn't beat any yesterday, nor last week, nor week before; 
doesn't know how long it is ago since she has seen him strike a 
girl. If our little helper gets careless we may have occasion to 
correct her a bit. Some uses 'em very bad ; beats 'em ; but only 
with the hand ; and pulls their ears. Some cry, but not often. 
Ours is a good overlooker, but has heard overlookers curse very 
bad. The women weavers themselves curse. Has never cursed 
herself. Can say so honestly from her heart. 

" Drawers are entirely under the control of the weavers, said a 
master ; they must obey their employer ; if they do not they are 
sometimes beat and sometimes discharged. J chastise them occa- 
sionally wiili alight whip; do not allow it by my workmen ; some- 
times they are punished with a fool's-cap, sometimes with a cane, 
but not severely." 

" William M. Beath, of Mr. Owen's New Lanark Mills, de- 
posed : ' Thinks things improved under Mr. Owen's management. 
Recollects seeing children beaten very severe at times. He him- 
self has been beaten very sore, so bad that his head was not in 
its useful state for several days. Recollects, in particular, one 
boy James Barry who was very unfond of working in the mill, 
who was always beaten to his work by his father, with his hands 
and feet ; the boy was then beaten with a strap by the overseers, 
for being too late, and not being willing to come. Has seen him 
so beaten by Robert Shirley, William Watson, and Robert Sim. 
The boy, James Barry, never came properly to manhood. It was 
always conjectured that he had too many beatings. He was the 
cruellest beat boy ever I saw there. There was a boy, whose 
name he does not recollect, and while he (W. M.B.) was working as 
a weaver at Lanark, having left the mill, and his death was at- 
tributed by many to a kick in the groin from Peter Gall, an over- 
seer. Does not recollect whether the ill usage of the children 
above alluded to took place in Mr. Owen's time, or before he 
caine j but there was certainly a great improvement, in many re- 



OP ENGLAND. 121 

epects, under his management, particularly in cleanliness, shorter 
hours, and the establishment of schools. Has been three years 
employed in his present situation. Has two children of his own 
in the mill. Does not believe (and he has every opportunity of 
knowing) that the children of this mill have been tampered with 
by anybody, with a view to their testimony before the com- 
missioners, and that they are not afraid to tell the truth. He 
himself would, on account of his children, like a little shorter 
hours and a little less wages ; they would then have a better 
opportunity of attending a night-school/ 

" Henry Dunn, aged twenty-seven, a spinner : ' Has been five 
years on this work. Went at eight years of age to Mr. Dunn's 
mill at Duntochar; that was a country situation, and much 
healthier than factories situated in town. They worked then 
from six to eight ; twelve hours and a half for work, and one 
hour and a half for meals. Liked that mill as well as any he 
ever was in. Great attention was paid to the cleanliness and 
comfort of the people. The wages were lower there at that time 
than they were at Glasgow. After leaving Duntochar, he came 
into town to see Mr. Humphrey's, (now Messrs. Robert Thomp- 
son,) which was at that time one continued scene of oppression. 
A system of cruelty prevailed there at that time, which was con- 
fined almost entirely to that work. The wheels were very small, 
and young men and women of the ages of seventeen and eighteen 
were the spinners. There was a tenter to every flat, and he was 
considered as a sort of whipper-in, to force the children to extra 
exertion. Has seen wounds inflicted upon children by tenters, 
by Alexander Drysdale, among others, with a belt or stick, or 
the first thing that came uppermost. Saw a kick given by the 
above-mentioned Alexander Drysdale, which broke two ribs of a 
little boy. Helped to carry the boy down to a surgeon. The 
boy had been guilty of some very trifling offence, such as calling 
names to the next boy. But the whole was the same; all the 
tenters were alike. Never saw any ill-treatment of the children 
at this mill. Mr. Stevenson is a very fine man. The machinery 
in the spinning department is quite well boxed in it could not be 
better; but the cards might be more protected with great advan- 

11 9 



122 THE WHITE SLAVES 

tage. It is very hot in winter, but he can't tell how hot. There 
is no thermometer/ 

"Ellen Terrier, aged thirteen; carries bobbins: 'Has been 
three years in this mill. Was one year before in another mill in 
this town ; doesn't like neither of them very well, because she 
was always very tired from working from half-past five o'clock 
in the morning until half-past seven, with only two intervals of 
half an hour each. She sometimes falls asleep now. She 
worked formerly in the lower flat. When Charles Kennedy was 
the overseer he licked us very bad, beat our heads with his hand, 
and kicked us very bad when the ends were down. He was aye 
licking them, and my gademother (stepmother) has two or three 
times complained to Mr. Shanks, (senior,) and Mr. S. always told 
him about it, but he never minded. Does not know what he left 
the mill for. A good many folks went away from this mill just 
for Kennedy. Can read ; cannot write.' 

" Mary Scott, aged fourteen : ' Has been here two years. Was 
here with Charles Kennedy. When he has seen us just speaking 
to one another, he struck us with his hands and with his feet. He 
beat us when he saw any of the ends down. Has seen him strike 
Ellen Terrier (the last witness) very often, just with his hands ; 
and has seen him strike Betty Sutherland ; can't tell how often, 
but it was terrible often.' 

" Euphemia Anderson, aged twenty : ' Has been three years at 
this mill ; has been in different mills since she was seven years 
old. About six years ago she was taken ill with pains in the 
legs, and remained ill for three years. I wasn't able to stand. 
Thinks it was the standing so long that made her ill. She is now 
again quite in good health, except that she is sair-footed some- 
times. They have seats to sit down upon. When the work is 
bad, we cannot get time to sit down. When the flax is good we 
have a good deal of time. Has never seen children beat by 
Charles Kennedy, but has heard talk of it ; has often heard them 
complain of him, never of anybody else. Can read; cannot 
write. Never went to a school; never had muckle time. She 
would give up some of her wages to have shorter hours. Her 
usual dinner is broth and potatoes.' " 



OF ENGLAND. 123 

The next evidence is particularly valuable, as it 
came from a person who had left the factory work ; 
and having an independent business, he may be pre- 
sumed to have spoken without fear or favour : 

" William Campbell, aged thirty-seven : ' Is a grocer, carrying 
on business in Belfast. Was bred up a cotton-spinner. Went 
first as a piecer to his father, who was a spinner at Mr. Hussy's 
mill, Graham Square, Glasgow, and afterward to several mills in 
this place, among which was Mr. John McCrackan's, where he 
was, altogether, piecer and spinner between four and five years, 
(1811-1818.) There was a regulation at that time there, that 
every hand should be fined if five minutes too late at any work- 
ing hour in the morning and after meals the younger 5d., which 
amounted to the whole wages of some of the lesser ones ; the 
older hands were fined as high as 10d. The treatment of the 
children at that time was very cruel. Has seen Robert Martin, 
the manager, continually beating the children with his hands 
generally, sometimes with his clenched fist. Has often seen his 
sister Jane, then about fourteen, struck by him ; and he used to 
pinch her ears till the blood came, and pull her hair. The faults 
were usually very trifling. If on coming in he should find any 
girl combing her hair, that was an offence for which he would 
beat her severely, and he would do so if he heard them talking 
to one another. He never complained of the ill-usage of his 
Bister, because he believed if he did, his father and two sisters, 
who were both employed in the mill, would have been immedi- 
ately dismissed. A complaint was made by the father of a little 
girl, against Martin, for beating a child. Mr. Ferrer, the police 
magistrate, admonished him. He was a hot-headed, fiery man, 
and when he saw the least fault, or what he conceived to be a 
fault, he just struck them at once. Does not recollect any child 
getting a lasting injury from any beating here. The treatment 
of the children at the mill was the only thing which could be 
called cruelty which he had witnessed. One great hardship to 
people employed in the factories is the want of good water, 



124 THE WHITE SLAVES 

which exists in most of them. At only one of the mills which he 
worked at was there water such as could be drunk brought into 
the flats, and that was Mr. Holdsworth's mill, Anderson, Glas- 
gow. From what he recollects of his own and his sister's feel- 
ings, he considers the hours which were then and are still com- 
monly occupied in actual labour viz. twelve hours and a half 
per day longer than the health of children can sustain, and also 
longer than will admit of any time being reserved in the evening 
for their instruction.' " 

These instances of steady, systematic cruelty, in the 
treatment of children, go far beyond any thing recorded 
of slave-drivers in other countries. If an American 
overseer was to whip a slave to death, an awful groan 
would express the horror of English lords and ladies. 
But in the factories of Great Britain we have helpless 
children not only kicked and beaten, but liable at any 
moment to receive a mortal wound from the billy- 
roller of an exasperated slubber. Here is more evi- 
dence, which we cannot think will flag in interest : 

" John Gibb, eleven years old, solemnly sworn, deposes, ' that 
he has been about three years a piecer in one of the spinning- 
rooms; that the heat and confinement makes his feet sair, and 
makes him sick and have headaches, and he often has a stitch in 
his side ; that he is now much paler than he used to be ; that he 
receives 4s. &d. a week, which he gives to his mother ; that he is 
very desirous of short hours, that he might go to school more than 
he can do at present; that the spinners often lick him, when he 
is in fault, with taws of leather/ 

" Alexander Wylie, twenty-six years old, solemnly sworn, de- 
poses, ' that he is a spinner in one of the spinning departments ; 
that most of the spinners keep taws to preserve their authority, 
but he does not ; that he has seen them pretty severely whipped, 



OF ENGLAND. 125 

when they were in fault ; that he has seen piecers beat by the 
overseers, even with their clenched fists ; that he has seen both 
boys and girls so treated ; that he has seen John Ewan beating 
his little piecers severely, even within these few weeks ; that 
when he had a boy as a piecer, he beat him even more severely 
than the girls ; that he never saw a thermometer in his flat, till 
to-day, when, in consequence of a bet, the heat was tried, and it 
was found to be 72, but that they are spinning coarser cotton in 
his flat than in some of the other flats, where greater heat is 
requisite/ 

"Bell Sinclair, thirteen years old, solemnly sworn, deposes, 
' that she has been about four years in the same flat with John 
Gibb, a preceding witness; that all the spinners in the apart- 
ment keep a leather strap, or taws, with which to punish the 
piecers, both boys and girls the young ones chiefly when they 
are negligent ; that she has been often punished by Francis Gibb 
and by Robert Clarke, both with taws and with their hands, and 
with his open cuff; that he has licked her on the side of the head 
and on her back with his hands, and with the strap on her back 
and arms ; that she was never much the worse of the beating, 
although she has sometimes cried and shed tears when Gibb or 
Clarke was hitting her sair/ Deposes that she cannot write. 

"Mary Ann Collins, ten years old, solemnly sworn, deposes, 
' that she has been a year in one of the spinning-rooms in which 
John Ewan is a spinner ; that yesterday he gave her a licking 
with the taws ; that all the spinners keep taws except Alexander 
"Wylie ; that he beat her once before till she grat ; that she has 
sometimes a pain in her breast, and was absent yesterday on that 
account/ Deposes that she cannot write. 

"Daniel McGinty, twenty-two years old, solemnly sworn, 
deposes, ' that he has been nearly two years a spinner here ; 
that he notices the piecers frequently complain of bad health; 
that he was a petitioner for short hours, so that the people might 
have more time for their education as well as for health ; that he 
had a strap to punish the children when they were in fault, but 
he has not had one for some time, and the straps are not so com- 
mon now as they were formerly ; that he and the other spinners 



126 THE WHITE SLAVES 

prefer giving the piecers a lick on the side of the head with their 
hands, than to use a strap at all ; that he has seen instances of 
piecers being knocked down again and again, by a blow from the 
hand, in other mills, but not since he came to this one ; that he 
has been knocked down himself in Barrowfield mill, by Lauchlin 
McWharry, the spinner to whom he was a piecer.' 

" Isabella Stewart, twenty-two years old, solemnly sworn, de- 
poses, 'that she has been four years at this mill, and several 
years at other mills ; that she is very hoarse, and subject to 
cough, and her feet and ankles swell in the evening ; that she is 
very anxious for short hours thirteen hours are real lang hours 
but she has nothing else to find fault with ; that Alexander 
Simpson straps the young workers, and even gives her, or any of 
the workers, if they are too late, a lick with the strap across the 
shoulders ; that he has done this within a week or two ; that he 
sometimes gives such a strap as to hurt her, but it is only when 
he is in a passion/ Deposes that ' she cannot write. In the 
long hours they canna get time to write nor to do nae thing/ 

"James Patterson, aged sixty years, solemnly sworn, deposes, 
' that he is an overseer in Messrs. James and William Brown's 
flax-spinning mill, at Dundee, and has been in their employment 
for about seven years; that he was previously at the spinning 
mill at Glamis for twelve years, and there lost his right hand 
and arm, caught by the belt of the wheels, in the preparing 
floor; that he is in the reeling flat, with the women, who are 
tired and sleepy ; one of them Margaret Porter at present in 
bed, merely from standing so long for a fortnight past ; that it 
would be God's blessing for every one to have shorter hours; 
that he has been about forty years in spinning-mills, and has 
seen the young people so lashed with a leather belt that they 
could hardly stand : that at Trollick, a mill now given up, he has 
seen them lashed, skin naked, by the manager, James Brown; 
that at Moniferth he has seen them taken out of bed, when they 
did not get up in time, and lashed with horsewhips to their work, 
carrying their clothes, while yet naked, to the work, in their arms 
with them/ 

"William Roe, (examined at his own request:) 'I am consta- 



OF ENGLAND. 127 

ble of Radford. I was in the army. I -went to work with Mr. 
Wilson in 1825. I had been with Strutts, at Belper, before 
that. The reason I left was this : I was told the overlooker was 
leathering one of my boys. I had two sons there. The over- 
looker was Crooks. I found him strapping the boy, and I struck 
him. I did not stop to ask whether the boy had done any thing. 
I had heard of his beating him before. Smith came up, and said 
I should work there no more till I had seen Mr. Wilson. My 
answer was, that neither I nor mine should ever work more for 
such a mill as that was. It was but the day before I took the 
boy to Smith, to show him that he had no time to take his vic- 
tuals till he came out at twelve. There was no satisfaction, but 
he laughed at it. That was the reason I took the means into my 
own hands. Crooks threatened to fetch a warrant for me, but 
did not. I told him the master durst not let him. The boy had 
been doing nothing, only could not keep up his work enough to 
please them. I left the mill, and took away my sons. One was 
ten, the other was between eight and nine. They went there 
with me. The youngest was not much past eight when he went. 
I heard no more of it. I put all my reasons down in a letter to 
Mr. Wilson, but I heard no more of it. Smith was sent away 
afterward, but I don't know why. I have heard it was for dif- 
ferent ill-usages. Crooks is there now. Hogg was the overlooker 
in my room. I have often seen him beat a particular boy who 
was feeding cards. One day he pulled his ear till he pulled it 
out of the socket, and it bled very much. I mean he tore the 
bottom of the ear from the head. I went to him and said, if that 
boy was mine Pd give him a better threshing than ever he had 
in his life. It was reported to Mr. S. Wilson, and he told me I 
had better mind my own business, and not meddle with the over- 
lookers. I never heard that the parents complained. Mr. S. Wil- 
son is dead now. Mr. W. Wilson said to me afterward, I had 
made myself very forward in meddling with the overlookers' busi- 
ness. I was to have come into the warehouse at Nottingham, but 
in consequence of my speaking my mind I lost the situation. I 
never had any complaint about my work while I was there, nor 
at Mr. Strutt's. I left Mr. Strutt's in hopes to better myself. I 



128 THE WHITE SLAVES 

came as a machine smith. I went back to Mr. Strutt's, at Mil- 
ford, after I left Wilson, for two years. The men never had more 
than twenty-five minutes for their dinner, and no extra pay for 
stopping there. I dressed the top cards, and ground them. I 
never heard that Mr. Wilson proposed to stop the breakfast hour, 
and that the hands wished to go on. I don't think such a thing 
could be. Whilst I worked there we always went in at half-past 
five, and worked till nigh half-past seven. We were never paid 
a farthing overtime. At Strutt's, if ever we worked an hour 
overtime, we were paid an hour and a half. I have seen Smith 
take the girls by the hair with one hand, and slap them in 
the face with the other; big and little, it made no difference. 
He worked there many years before he was turned away. He 
works in the mill again now, but not as an overlooker. I 
never knew of any complaint to the magistrate against Smith. 
I had 12^. when I was there for standing wages. It was about 
nine in the morning my boy was beat. I think it was in the 
middle of the day the boy's ear was pulled. The work was 
very severe there while it lasted. A boy generally had four 
breakers and finisher-cards to mind. Such a boy might mind 
six when he had come on to eleven or twelve ; I mean finishers. 
A boy can mind from three to four breakers. Any way they had 
not time to get their victuals. I don't know what the present 
state of the mill is as to beating. Men will not complain to the 
magistrates while work is so scarce, and they are liable to be 
turned out ; and if they go to the parish, why there it is, * Why, 
you had work, why did you not stay at it ?' " 

Robert Blincoe, a small manufacturer, once an ap- 
prentice to a cotton mill, and one who had seen and 
suffered much in factories, was sworn and examined by 
Dr. Hawkins, on the 18th of May, 1833. In the evi- 
dence, which follows, it will be noted that most of the 
sufferers mentioned were parish children, without pro- 
tectors of any kind 



OF ENGLAND. 129 

"'Do you know where you were born?' 'No; I only know 
that I came out of St. Pancras parish, London. 7 

" 'Do you know the name of your parents?' 'No. I used to 
be called, when young, Robert Saint ; but when I received my 
indentures I was called Robert Blincoe ; and I have gone by that 
name ever since.' 

" ' What age are you ?' ' Near upon forty, according to my 
indentures." 

" ' Have you no other means of knowing your age but what 
you find in your indentures ?' ' No, I go by that/ 

" ' Do you work at a cotton mill ?' ' Not now. I was bound 
apprentice to a cotton mill for fourteen years, from St. Pancras 
parish ; then I got my indentures. I worked five or six years 
after, at different mills, but now I have got work of my own. I 
rent power from a mill in Stockport, and have a room to myself. 
My business is a sheet wadding manufacturer/ 

" ' Why did you leave off working at the cotton mills?' 'I 
got tired of it, the system is so bad; and I had saved a few 
pounds. I got deformed there; my knees began to bend in when 
I was fifteen ; you see how they are, (showing them.) There are 
many, many far worse than me at Manchester.' 

" ' Can you take exercise with ease ?' ' A very little makes 
me sweat in walking. I have not the strength of those who are 
straight.' 

" ' Have you ever been in a hospital, or under doctors, for your 
knees or legs ?' ' Never in a hospital, or under doctors for that, 
but from illness from overwork I have been. When I was near 
Nottingham there were about eighty of us together, boys and 
girls, all 'prenticed out from St. Pancras parish, London, to cot- 
ton mills ; many of us used to be ill, but the doctors said it was 
only for want of kitchen physic, and want of more rest.' 

" ' Had you any accidents from machinery ?' ' No, nothing to 
signify much ; I have not myself, but I saw, on the 6th of March 
last, a man killed by machinery at Stockport ; he was smashed, 
and he died in four or five hours ; I saw him while the accident 
took place ; he was joking with me just before ; it was in my own 
room. I employ a poor sore cripple under me, who could not 



130 THE WHITE SLAVES 

easily get work anywhere else. A young man came good-na- 
turedly from another room to help my cripple, and he was acci- 
dentally drawn up by the strap, and was killed. I have known 
many such accidents take place in the course of my life.' 

" ' Recollect a few/ ' I cannot recollect the exact number, but 
I have known several : one was at Lytton Mill, at Derbyshire ; 
another was the master of a factory at Staley Bridge, of the 
name of Bailey. Many more I have known to receive injuries, 
such as the loss of a limb. There is plenty about Stockport that 
is going about now with one arm; they cannot work in the 
mills, but they go about with jackasses and such like. One girl, 
Mary Richards, was made a cripple, and remains so now, when I 
was in Lowdham mill, near Nottingham. She was lapped up by 
a shaft underneath the drawing-frame. That is now an old- 
fashioned machinery/ 

" ' Have you any children ' Three/ 

"'Do you send them to factories?' 'No. I would rather 
have them transported. In the first place, they are standing 
upon one leg, lifting up one knee a greater part of the day, keep- 
ing the ends up from the spindle. I consider that that employ- 
ment makes many cripples ; then there is the heat and dust ; 
then there are so many different forms of cruelty used upon 
them ; then they are so liable to have their fingers catched, and 
to suffer other accidents from the machinery ; then the hours is 
BO long that I have seen them tumble down asleep among the 
straps and machinery, and so get cruelly hurt; then I would not 
have a child of mine there, because there is not good morals ; 
there is such a lot of them together that they learn mischief.' 

" ' What do you do with your children ?' ' My eldest of thir- 
teen has been to school, and can teach me. She now stays at 
home, and helps her mother in the shop. She is as tall as me, 
and is very heavy. Very different from what she would have 
been if she had worked in a factory. My two youngest go to 
school, and are both healthy. I send them every day two miles 
to school. I know from experience the ills of confinement.' 

" ' What are the forms of cruelty that you spoke of just now as 
being practised upon children in factories?' 'I have seen the 



OF ENGLAND. 131 

time when two hand-vices, of a pound weight each, more or less, 
have been screwed to my ears at Lytton mill, in Derbyshire. 
Here are the scars still remaining behind my ears. Then three 
or four of us have been hung at once to a cross-beam above the 
machinery, hanging by our hands, without shirts or stockings. 
Mind, we were apprentices, without father or mother, to take care 
of us ; I don't say they often do that now. Then, we used to 
stand up, in a skip, without our shirts, and be beat with straps 
or sticks ; the skip was to prevent us from running away from 
the strap.' 

"'Do you think such things are done now in Manchester?' 
'No, not just the same things; but I think the children are still 
beaten by overlookers ; not so much, however, in Manchester, 
where justice is always at hand, as in country places. Then they 
used to tie on a twenty-eight pounds weight, (one or two at once,) 
according to our size, to hang down on our backs, with no shirts 
on. I have had them myself. Then they used to tie one leg up 
to the faller, while the hands were tied behind. I have a book 
written about these things, describing my own life and sufferings. 
I will send it to you.'* 

" ' Do the masters know of these things, or were they done only 
by the overlookers ?' ' The masters have often seen them, and 
have been assistants in them.' 

The work is so protracted that the children are ex- 
hausted, and many become crippled from standing too 
long in unhealthy positions : 

" John Wright, steward in the silk factory of Messrs. Brinsley 
and Shatwell, examined by Mr. Tufnell. 

" ' What are the effects of the present system of labour ?' ' From 
my earliest recollections, I have found the effects to be awfully 
detrimental to the well-being of the operative ; I have observed, 
frequently, children carried to factories, unable to walk, and that 

* Enclosed for the inspection of the Central Board. It is entitled, 
"A Memoir of Robert Blincoe, &c., Manchester." J. Doherty. 1852, 



132 THE WHITE SLAVES 

entirely owing to excessive labour and confinement. The degra- 
dation of the work-people baffles all description ; frequently have 
two of ray sisters been obliged to be assisted to the factory and 
home again, until by and by they could go no longer, being to- 
tally crippled in their legs. And in the next place, I remember 
some ten or twelve years ago working in one of the largest firms 
in Macclesfield, (Messrs. Baker and Pearson,) with about twenty- 
five men, where they were scarce one-half fit for his majesty's 
service. Those that are straight in their limbs are stunted in 
their growth, much inferior to their fathers in point of strength. 
3dly. Through excessive labour and confinement there is often a 
total loss of appetite ; a kind of languor steals over the whole 
frame, enters to the very core, saps the foundation of the best con- 
stitution, and lays our strength prostrate in the dust. In the 
fourth place, by protracted labour there is an alarming increase 
of cripples in various parts of this town, which has come under 
my own observation and knowledge/ " 

Young sufferers gave the following evidence to the 
commissioners : 

" ' Many a time has been so fatigued that she could hardly take 
off her clothes at night, or put them on in the morning ; her mother 
would be raging at her, because when she sat down she could 
not get up again through the house.' ' Looks on the long hours 
as a great bondage.' ' Thinks they are not much better than the 
Israelites in Egypt, and their life is no pleasure to them/ ' When 
a child, was so tired that she could seldom eat her supper, and 
never awoke of herself/ ' Are the hours to be shortened ?' earn- 
estly demanded one of these girls of the commissioner who was 
examining her, ' for they are too long/ " 

The truth of the account given by the children of 
the fatigue they experience by the ordinary labour of 
the factory is confirmed by the testimony of their 
parents. In general, the representation made by pa- 
rents is like the following : 



OF ENGLAND. 133 

"'Her children come home so tired and worn out they can 
hardly eat their supper.' ' Has often seen his daughter come 
home in the evening so fatigued that she would go to bed supper- 
less/ ' Has seen the young workers absolutely oppressed, and 
unable to sit down or rise up; this has happened to his own 
children/ 

These statements are confirmed by the evidence of 
the adult operatives. The depositions of the witnesses 
of this class are to the effect, that " the younger workers 
are greatly fatigued;" that "children are often very 
severe (unwilling) in the mornings ;" that " children are 
quite tired out;" that "the long hours exhaust the 
workers, especially the young ones, to such a degree 
that they can hardly walk home;" that "the young 
workers are absolutely oppressed, and so tired as to be 
unable to sit down or rise up;" that "younger workers 
are so tired they often cannot raise their hands to their 
head;" that "all the children are very keen for short 
hours, thinking them now such bondage that they might 
as well be in a prison ;" that "the children, when engaged 
in their regular work, are often exhausted beyond what 
can be expressed;" that "the sufferings of the children 
absolutely require that the hours should be shortened." 

The depositions of the overlookers are to the same 
effect, namely, that " though the children may not com- 
plain, yet that they seem tired and sleepy, and happy 
to get out of doors to play themselves. That, " the 
work over-tires the workers in general." " Often sees 

the children very tired and stiff-like." "Is entirely of 
G 



134 THE WHITE SLAVES 

opinion, after real experience, that the hours of labour 
are far too long for the children, for their health and 
education; has from twenty-two to twenty-four boys 
under his charge, from nine to about fourteen years old, 
and they are generally much tired at night, always 
anxious, asking if it be near the mill-stopping." " Never 
knew a single worker among the children that did not 
complain of the long hours, which prevent them from 
getting education, and from getting health in the open 
air." 

The managers in like manner state, that the labour 
exhausts the children;" that "the workers are tired in 
the evening ;" that " children inquire anxiously for the 
hour of stopping." And admissions to the same effect, 
on the part of managers and proprietors, will be found 
in every part of the Scotch depositions. 

In the north-eastern district the evidence is equally 
complete that the fatigue of the young workers is great. 

" ' I have known the children,' says one witness, 'to hide them- 
selves in the store among the wool, so that they should not go 
home when the work was over, when we have worked till ten or 
eleven. I have seen six or eight fetched out of the store and beat 
home ; beat out of the mill however ; I do not know why they 
should hide themselves, unless it was that they were too tired to 
go home/ 

" ' Many a one I have had to rouse in the last hour, when the 
work is very slack, from fatigue/ ' The children were very much 
jaded, especially when we worked late at night/ ' The children 
bore the long hours very ill indeed.' * Exhausted in body and 
depressed in mind by the length of the hours and the height of 
the temperature/ ' I found, when I was an overlooker, that, after 



OF ENGLAND. 135 

the children from eight to twelve years had worked eight, nine, 
or ten hours, they were nearly ready to faint ; some were asleep ; 
some were only kept to work by being spoken to, or by a little 
chastisement, to make them jump up. I was sometimes obliged 
to chastise them when they were almost fainting, and it hurt my 
feelings ; then they would spring up and work pretty well for 
another hour ; but the last two or three hours were my hardest 
work, for they then got so exhausted/ ' I have never seen fathers 
carrying their children backward nor forward to the factories ; 
but I have seen children, apparently under nine, and from nine 
to twelve years of age, going to the factories at five in the morn- 
ing almost asleep in the streets.'" 

"Ellen Cook, card-filler: ' I was fifteen last winter. I worked 
on then sometimes day and night; may be twice a week ; I used 
to earn 4s. a week ; I used to go home to dinner ; I was a feeder 
then ; I am a feeder still. We used to come at half-past eight at 
night, and work all night till the rest of the girls came in the 
morning; they would come at seven, I think. Sometimes we 
worked on till half-past eight the next night, after we had been 
working all the night before. We worked on meal-hours, except 
at dinner. I have done that sometimes three nights a week, and 
sometimes four nights. It was just as the overlooker chose. John 
Singleton ; he is overlooker now. Sometimes the slubbers would 
work on all night too ; not always. The pieceners would have to 
stay all night then too. It was not often though that the slubbers 
worked all night. We worked by ourselves. It was when one of the 
boilers was spoiled ; that was the reason we had to work all night. 
The engine would not carry all the machines. I was paid for the 
over-hours when we worked day and night ; not for meal-hours. 
We worked meal-hours, but were not paid for them. George Lee 
is the slubber in this room. He has worked all night ; not often, 
I think ; not above twice all the time we worked so ; sometimes 
he would not work at all. The pieceners would work too when 
lie did. They used to go to sleep, poor things 1 when they had 
over-hours in the night. I think they were ready enough to sleep 
sometimes, when they only worked in the daytime. I never was a 
piecener ; sometimes I go to help them when there are a good 



136 THE WHITE SLAVES 

many cardings. We have to get there by half-past five, in the 
morning, now. The engine begins then. We don't go home to 
breakfast. Sometimes we have a quarter of an hour ; sometimes 
twenty minutes ; sometimes none. Them in the top-room have a 
full half hour. We can't take half an hour if we like it ; we should 
get jawed ; we should have such a noise, we should not hear the 
last of it. The pieceners in this room (there were four) have the 
same time as we do. In some of the rooms they forfeit them if 
they are five minutes too late ; they don't in this room. The 
slubber often beats the pieceners. He has a strap, and wets it, 
and gives them a strap over the hands, poor things ! They cry 
out ever so loud sometimes ; I don't know how old they are/ " 

" James Simpson, aged twenty-four, solemnly sworn, deposes : 
' That he has been about fifteen years in spinning mills ; that he 
has been nearly a year as an overseer in Mr. Kinmond's mill here, 
and was dismissed on the 2d of May, for supporting, at a meeting 
of the operatives, the Ten Hours Bill ; that he was one of the per- 
sons to receive subscriptions, in money, to forward the business, 
and was dismissed, not on a regular pay-day, but on a Thursday 
evening, by James Malcolm, manager, who told him that he was 
dismissed for being a robber to his master in supporting the Ten 
Hours Bill ; that by the regulations of the mill he was entitled to 
a week's notice, and that a week's wages were due to him at the 
time, but neither sum has been paid ; that he was two or three times 
desired by the overseer to strike the boys if he saw them at any 
time sitting, and has accordingly struck them with a strap, but never 
so severely as to hurt them ; that he is not yet employed/ And 
the preceding deposition having been read over to him, he was 
cautioned to be perfectly sure that it was true in all particulars, 
as it would be communicated to the overseer named by him, and 
might still be altered if, in any particular, he wished the change 
of a word ; but he repeated his assertion, on oath, that it was. 

" Ann Kennedy, sixteen years old, solemnly sworn, deposes : 
' That she has been nearly a year a piecer to James McNish, a 
preceding witness ; that she has had swelled feet for about a year, 
but she thinks them rather better ; that she has a great deal of 
pain, both in her feet and legs, so that she was afraid she would 



OF ENGLAND. 137 

not be able to go on with the work ; that she thought it was owing 
to the heat and the long standing on her feet ; that it is a very 
warm room she is in ; that she sometimes looks at the thermo- 
meter and sees it at 82, or 84, or 86 ; that all the people in the 
room are very pale, and a good deal of them complaining.' De- 
poses, that she cannot write. 

"Joseph Hurtley, aged forty-four: 'Is an overlooker of the 
flax-dressing department. Has been there since the commence- 
ment. Thinks, from what he observes, that the hours are too 
long for children. Is led to think so from seeing the children 
much exhausted toward the conclusion of the work. When he 
came here first, and the children were all new to the work, he 
found that by six o'clock they began to be drowsy and sleepy. 
He took different devices to keep them awake, such as giving 
them snuff, &c. ; but this drowsiness partly wore off in time, from 
habit, but he still observes the same with all the boys, (they are 
all boys in his department,) and it continues with them for some 
time. Does not know whether the children-go to school in the 
evening, but he thinks, from their appearance, that they would 
be able to receive very little benefit from tuition. 

" 'The occupation of draw-boys and girls to harness hand-loom 
weavers, in their own shops, is by far the lowest and least sought 
after of any connected with the manufacture of cotton. They are 
poor, neglected, ragged, dirty children. They seldom are taught 
any thing, and they work as long as the weaver, that is, as long 
as they can see, standing on the same spot, always barefooted, on 
an earthen, cold, damp floor, in a close, damp cellar, for thirteen 
or fourteen hours a day. 

" ' The power-loom dressers have all been hand-loom weavers, 
but now prevent any more of their former companions from being 
employed in their present business. 

" ' They earn 2s. per week, and eat porridge, if their parents 
can afford it ; if not, potatoes and salt. They are, almost always, 
between nine and thirteen years of age, and look healthy, though 
some have been two or three years at the business ; while the 
weaver, for whom they draw, is looking pale, squalid, and under- 
fed. 

10 



138 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' There are some hundreds of children thus employed in the 
immediate neighbourhood of Glasgow/ " 

In Leicester, Mr. Drinkwater, of the Factory Com- 
mission, found that great cruelty was practised upon 
the children employed in some of the factories, by the 
workmen called " slubbers," for whom the young crea- 
tures act as piecers. Thomas Hough, a trimmer and 
dyer, who had worked at Robinson's factory, deposed 

" ' The children were beaten at the factory ; I complained, and 
they were turned away. If I could have found the man at the 
time there would have something happened, I am sure. I knew 
the man ; it was the slubber with whom they worked. His name 
was Smith. Robinson had the factory then. I had my second 
son in to Mr. Robinson, and stripped him, and showed him how 
cruelly he had been beaten. There were nineteen bruises on his 
back and posteriors. It was not with the billy-roller. It was 
with the strap. He has often been struck with the billy-roller 
at other times, over the head. Robinson rebuked the man, and 
said he should not beat them any more. The children were beat 
several times after that ; and on account of my making frequent 
complaints they turned the children away. They worked with 
Smith till they left. Smith was of a nasty disposition, rather. 
I would say of the slubbers generally, that they are a morose, ill- 
tempered set. Their pay depends on the children's work. The 
slubbers are often off drinking, and then they must work harder 
to get the cardings up. I have seen that often. That is in the 
lamb's-wool trade. Mr. Gamble is one of the most humane men 
that ever lived, by all that I hear, and he will not allow the slub- 
bers to touch the children, on any pretence ; if they will not 
work, he turns them away. There gets what they call flies on 
the cardings, that is, when the cardings are not properly pieced ; 
and it is a general rule to strike the children when that happens 
too often. They allow so many ratched cardings, as they call 
them, in a certain time ; and if there are more, they call the 



OF ENGLAND. 139 

children round to the billy-gate and strap them. I have seen the 
straps which some of them use; they are as big as the strap on 
my son's lathe yonder, about an inch broad, (looking at it.) Oh, 
it is bigger than this, (it measured 7-8ths.) It is about an inch. 
I have seen the children lie down on the floor, and the slubber 
strike on them as they lay. It depends entirely on the temper of 
the man ; sometimes they will only swear at them, sometimes 
they will beat them. They will be severe with them at one time, 
and very familiar at another, and run on with all sorts of de- 
bauched language, and take indecent liberties with the feeders 
and other big girls, before the children. That is the reason why 
they call the factories hell-holes. There are some a good deal dif- 
ferent. The overlookers do not take much notice generally. They 
pick out bullies, generally, for overlookers. It is very necessary 
to have men of a determined temper to keep the hands in order. 

" ' I have known my children get strapped two or three times 
between a meal. At all times of the day. Sometimes they 
would escape for a day or two together, just as it might happen. 
Then they get strapped for being too late. They make the chil- 
dren sum up, that is, pick up the waste, and clean up the billies 
during the meal-time, so that the children don't get their time. 
The cruelty complained of in the factories is chiefly from the 
slubbers. There is nobody so closely connected with the chil- 
dren as the slubbers. There is no other part of the machinery 
with which I am acquainted where the pay of the man depends 
on the work of the children so much.' " 

" Joseph Badder, a slubber, deposed : ' Slubbing and spinning 
is very heavy. Those machines are thrown aside now. The 
spinners did not like them, nor the masters neither. They did 
not turn off such stuff as they expected. I always found it more 
difficult to keep my piecers awake the last hours of a winter's 
evening. I have told the master, and I have been told by him 
that I did not half hide them. This was when they were work- 
ing from six to eight. I have known the children hide themselves 
in the store among the wool, so that they should not go home 
when the work was over, when we have worked till ten or eleven. 
I have seen six or eight fetched out of the store and beat home ; 



140 THE WHITE SLAVES 

beat out of the mill. However, I do not know why they should 
hide themselves, unless it was they were too tired to go home. 
My piecers had two hours for meals. Other parts of the work I 
have known them work children, from seven to twelve in age, 
from six in the morning till ten or eleven at night, and give no 
time for meals ; eat their victuals as they worked ; the engines 
running all the time. The engine never stopped at meal-times ; 
it was just as the spinner chose whether the children worked on 
or not. They made more work if they went on. I never would 
allow any one to touch my piecers. The foreman would come at 
times, and has strapped them, and I told him I would serve him 
the same if he touched them. I have seen the man who worked 
the other billy beat his piecers. I have seen children knocked 
down by the billy-rollers. It is a weapon that a man will easily 
take up in a passion. I do not know any instance of a man being 
prosecuted for it. The parents are unwilling, for fear the children 
should lose their work. I know Thorpe has been up before the 
magistrate half a dozen times or more, on the complaint of the 
parents. He has been before the bench, at the Exchange, as we 
call it, and I have seen him when he came back, when the magis- 
trates have reprimanded Thorpe, and told the parents they had 
better take the children away. After that he has been sometimes 
half drunk, perhaps, and in a passion, and would strap them for 
the least thing, more than he did before. I remember once that 
he was fined ; it was about two years and a half ago ; it was for 
beating a little girl ; he was fined 10.9. I have seen him strap 
the women when they took the part of the children. The master 
complained he was not strict enough. I know from Thorpe that 
the master always paid his expenses when he was before the 
magistrate. I believe they generally do in all the factories. I 
have frequently had complaints against myself by the parents of 
the children, for beating them. I used to beat them. I am sure 
no man can do without it who works long hours ; I am sure he 
cannot. I told them I was very sorry after I had done it, but I 
was forced to do it. The master expected me to do my work, and 
I could not do mine unless they did theirs. One lad used to say 
to me frequently, (he was a jocular kind of lad,) that he liked a 



OF ENGLAND. 141 

good beating at times, it helped him to do his work. I used to 
joke with them to keep up their spirits. I have seen them fall 
asleep, and they have been performing their work with their hands 
while they were asleep, after the billy had stopped, when their work 
was done. I have stopped and looked at them for two minutes, 
going through the motions of piecening,fast asleep, when there was 
really no work to do, and they were really doing nothing. I believe, 
when we have been working long hours, that they have never 
been washed, but on a Saturday night, for weeks together. 

"Thomas Clarke, (examined at request of Joseph Badder:) 
* I am aged eleven, I work at Cooper's factory ; the rope-walk. I 
spin there. I earn 4s. a week there. I have been there about 
one year and a half. I was in Ross's factory before that. I was 
piecener there. I piecened for Joseph Badder one while, then for 
George Castle. I piecened for Badder when he left. Badder told 
me I was wanted here. We have not been talking about it. I 
remember that Jesse came to the machine, and Badder would not 
let him go nigh, and so they got a scuffling about it. I was very 
nigh nine years of age when I first went to piecen. I got 2s. Qd. 
a week, at first. I think I was a good hand at it. When I had 
been there half a year I got 3s. Badder used to strap me some 
odd times. Some odd times he'd catch me over the head, but it 
was mostly on the back. He made me sing out. He has taken 
the billy-roller to me sometimes ; about four times, I think. He 
used to take us over the shoulders with that ; he would have done 
us an injury if he had struck us over the head. I never saw any 
one struck over the head with a billy-roller. He would strap us 
about twelve times at once. He used to strap us sometimes over 
the head. He used to strap us for letting his cards run through. 
I believe it was my fault. If we had had cardings to go on with 
we would have kept it from running through. It was nobody's 
fault that there were no cardings, only the slubbers fault that 
worked so hard. I have had, maybe, six stacks of cardings put 
up while he was out. When he came in, he would work harder 
to work down the stacks. Sometimes he would stop the card. 
He used to strap us most when he was working hardest. He did 
not strap us more at night than he did in the daytime. He would 
G* 



142 THE WHITE SLAVES 

sometimes stay half a day. "When he was away, as soon as we 
had six stacks of cardings up, the rule was to stop, and then we'd 
pick up the waste about the room, and take a play sometimes, but 
yery seldom. Mr. Ross paid me. Badder never paid me when 
he was out. I never got any money from Badder. I used some- 
times to fall asleep. The boy next to me used often to fall asleep : 
John Breedon ; he got many a stroke. That was when we were 
working for Castle ; that would be about six o'clock. He was 
about the size of me ; he was older than I was. They always 
strapped us if we fell asleep. Badder was a better master than 
Castle. Castle used to get a rope, about as thick as my thumb, 
and double it, and put knots in it, and lick us with that. That 
was a good bit worse than the strap. I was to no regular master 
afterward ; I used to do bits about the room. I ran away 
because Thorpe used to come and strap me. He did not know 
what he was strapping me for ; it was just as he was in his 
humours. I never saw such a man ; he would strap any one 
as did not please him. I only worked for him a week or two. 
I didn't like it, and I ran away. He would strap me if even there 
was a bit of waste lying about the room. I have had marks on 
my back from Castle's strapping me.' " 

In Nottingham, also, there is much cruelty shown in 
the treatment of the children, as will appear from the 
following evidence taken by Mr. Power : 

"Williamson, the father: 'My two sons, one ten, the other 
thirteen, work at Milnes's factory, at Lenton. They go at half- 
past five in the morning; don't stop at breakfast or tea-time. 
They stop at dinner half an hour. Come home at a quarter before 
ten. They used to work till ten, sometimes eleven, sometimes 
twelve. They earn between them 65. 2d. per week. One of them, 
the eldest, worked at Wilson's for 2 years at 2s. 3d. a week. He 
left because the overlooker beat him and loosened a tooth for him. 
I complained, and they turned him away for it. They have been 
gone to work sixteen hours now ; they will be very tired when 
they come home at half-past nine. I have a deal of trouble to get 



OF ENGLAND. 143 

'em up in the morning. I have been obliged to beat em with a 
strap in their shirts, and to pinch 'em, in order to get them well 
awake. It made me cry to be obliged to do it.' 

" ' Did you make them cry ? ; ' Yes, sometimes. They will be 
home soon, very tired, and you will see them/ I preferred walk- 
ing toward the factory to meet them. I saw the youngest only, 
and asked him a few questions. He said, ' I'm sure I shaVt stop 
to talk to you ; I want to go home and get to bed ; I must be up 
at half-past five again to-morrow morning.' 

"Q and A , examined. The boy: 'I am 

going fourteen : my sister is eleven. I have worked in Milnes's 
factory two years. She goes there also. We are both in the 
clearing-room. I think we work too long hours ; I've been badly 
with it. We go at half-past five, give over at half- past nine. I'm 
now just come home. We sometimes stay till twelve. We are 
obliged to work over-hours. I have 4*. a week ; that is, for stay- 
ing from six till seven. They pay for over-hours besides. I asked 
to come away one night, lately, at eight o'clock, being ill ; I was 
told if I went I must not come again. I am not well now. I 
can seldom eat any breakfast ; my appetite is very bad. I have 
had a bad cold for a week.' 

" Father : ' I believe him to be ill from being over-worked. My 
little girl came home the other, day cruelly beaten. I took her to 
Mr. Milnes ; did not see him, but showed Mrs. Milnes the marks. 
I thought of taking it before a magistrate, but was advised to let 
it drop. They might have turned both my children away. That 
man's name is Blagg; he is always strapping the children. I 
eha'n't let the boy go to them much longer ; I shall try to ap- 
prentice him ; it's killing him by inches ; he falls asleep over his 
food at night. I saw an account of such things in the newspaper, 
and thought how true it was of my own children.' 

" Mother : ' I have worked in the same mills myself. The same 
man was there then. I have seen him behave shocking to the 
children. He would take 'em by the hair of the head and drag 
; em about the room. He has been there twelve years. There's 
a many young ones in that hot room. There's six of them badly 
now, with bad eyes and sick-headache. This boy of ours has 



144 TflE WHITE SLAVES 

alwas been delicate from a child. His appetite is very bad now ; 
he does not eat his breakfast sometimes for two or three days 
together. The little girl bears it well ; she is healthy. I should 
prefer their coming home at seven, without additional wages. 
The practice of working over-hours has been constantly pursued 
at Milnes's factory/ 

" John Fortesque, at his own house, nine p. M. 'I am an over- 
looker in this factory. "VVe have about one hundred hands. Forty 
quite children ; most of the remainder are young women. Our 
regular day is from six to seven. It should be an hour for dinner, 
but it is only half an hour. I don't know how it comes so. We 
have had some bad men in authority who made themselves big ; 
it is partly the master. No time is allowed for tea or breakfast ; 
there used to be a quarter of an hour for each ; it's altered now. 
We call it twelve hours a day. Over-time is paid for extra. When 
we are busy we work over-hours. Our present time is till half- 
past nine. It has been so all winter, and since to this time. We 
have some very young ones ; as young as eight. I don't like to 
take them younger ; they're not able to do our work. We have 
three doubling-rooms, a clearing-room, and a gassing-room. We 
have about forty in the clearing-room. We occasionally find it 
necessary to make a difference as to the time of keeping some of 
the children. We have done so several times. Master has said : 
Pick out the youngest, and let them go, and get some of the 
young women to take their places. I am not the overlooker to the 
clearing-room. Blagg is overlooker there ; there has been many 
complaints against him. He's forced to be roughish in order to 
keep his place. If he did not keep the work going on properly 
there would be some one to take his place who would. There 
are some children so obstinate and bad they must be'punished. 
A strap is used. Beating is necessary, on account of their being 
idle. We find it out often in this way : we give them the same 
number of bobbins each ; when the number they ought to finish 
falls off, then they're corrected. They would try the patience of 
any man. It is not from being tired, I think. It happens as 
often in the middle of the day as at other times. I don't like the 
beating myself; I would rather there were little deductions in 



OF ENGLAND. 145 

their earnings for these offences. I am sure the children would 
not like to have any of their earnings stopped ; I am sure they 
would mind it. From what I have heard parents say about their 
children when at work, I am sure they (the parents) would 
prefer this mode of correction ; and, I think, it would have an effect 
on the children. At the factory of Messrs. Mills and Elliot they 
go on working all the night as well as day. I believe them to 
have done so for the last year and a half; they have left it off 
about a week. (A respectable female here entered with a petition 
against negro-slavery; after she was gone, Mr. Fortesque continued.) 
I think home slavery as bad as it can be abroad ; worst of any- 
where in the factories. The hours we work are much too long 
for young people. Twelve hours' work is enough for young or 
old, confined in a close place. The work is light, but it's stand- 
ing so long that tires them. I have been here about two years; 
I have seen bad effects produced on people's health by it, but not 
to any great degree. It must be much worse at Mills and Elliot's ; 
working night as well as day, the rooms are never clear of people's 
breaths. We set our windows open when we turn the hands out. 
The gas, too, which they use at night, makes it worse/ " 

The italicised parenthesis is, bond fide, a part of the 
Beport, as may be proved by consulting the parlia- 
mentary document. The respectable female was pro- 
bably the original of Dickens's Mrs. Jellaby. 

Bead these references to a case of barbarity in a 
factory at Wigan : 

Extract from a speech made by Mr. Grant, a Manchester spinner, 
at a meeting held at Chorlton-upon- Medlock ; reported in the 
Manchester Courier of 20th April, 1833. 

" Much was said of the black slaves and their chains. No 
doubt they were entitled to freedom, but were there no slaves 
except those of sable hue ? Has slavery no sort of existence 
among children of the factories? Yes, and chains were some- 



146 THE WHITE SLAVES 

times introduced, though those chains might not be forged of 
iron. He would name an instance of this kind of slavery, which 
took place at Wigan. A child, not ten years of age, having been 
late at the factory one morning, had, as a punishment, a rope 
put round its neck, to which a weight of twenty pounds was 
attached ; and, thus burdened like a galley-slave, it was com- 
pelled to labour for a length of time in the midst of an impure 
atmosphere and a heated room. [Loud cries of, Shame !] The 
truth of this has been denied by Mr. Richard Potter, the member 
for Wigan ; but he (the speaker) reiterated its correctness. He 
has seen the child ; and its mother's eyes were filled with tears 
while she told him this shocking tale of infant suffering." 

Extract from a speech made by Mr. Oastler, on the occasion of a 
meeting at tlie City of London Tavern ; reported in the Times, 
of the 25th of February, 1833. 

" In a mill at Wigan, the children, for any slight neglect, were 
loaded with weights of twenty pounds, passed over their shoul- 
ders and hanging behind their backs. Then there was a mur- 
derous instrument called a billy-roller, about eight feet long and 
one inch and a half in diameter, with which many children had 
been knocked down, and in some instances murdered by it." 

Extract from a speech, made by Mr. Oastler, at a meeting held in 
the theatre at Bolton, and reported in the Bolton Chronicle, of the 
30th of March, 1833. 

" In one factory they have a door which covers a quantity of 
cold water, in which they plunge the sleepy victim to awake it. 
In Wigan they tie a great weight to their backs. I knew the 
Russians made the Poles carry iron weights in their exile to Si- 
beria, but it was reserved for Christian England thus to use an 
infant." 

Rowland Detroiser deposed before the Central Board 
of Commissioners, concerning the treatment of chil- 
dren in the cotton factories : 



OF ENGLAND. 147 

" 'The children employed in a cotton-factory labour, are not all 
under the control or employed by the proprietor. A very con- 
siderable number is employed and paid by the spinners and 
stretchers, when there are stretchers. These are what are called 
piecers and scavengers ; the youngest children being employed in 
the latter capacity, and as they grow up, for a time in the sca- 
vengers and piecers. In coarse mills, that is, mills in which low 
numbers of yarn are spun, the wages of the scavengers is com- 
monly from Is. Gd. to 2s. 6d., according to size and ability. The 
men do not practise the system of fining, generally speaking, and 
especially toward these children. The sum which they earn is 
so small it would be considered by many a shame to make it less. 
They do not, however, scruple to give them a good bobbying, as 
it is called ; that is, beating them with a rope thickened at one 
end, or, in some few brutal instances, with the combined weapons 
of fist and foot/ 

" ' But this severity, you say, is practised toward the children 
who are employed by the men, and not employed by the masters?' 
' Yes/ 

" 'And the men inflict the punishment?' ' Yes. 7 
" ' Not the overlookers ?' ' Not in these instances/ 
" ' But how do you reconcile your statement with the fact that 
the men have been the principal complainers of the cruelties prac- 
tised toward the children, and also the parties who are most 
active in endeavouring to obtain for the children legislative pro- 
tection ?' ' My statement is only fact. I do not profess to recon- 
cile the apparent inconsistency. The men are in some measure 
forced by circumstances into the practice of that severity of 
which I have spoken/ 

" ' Will you explain these circumstances ?' ' The great object in 
a cotton mill is to turn as much work off as possible, in order to 
compensate by quantity for the smallness of the profit. To that 
end every thing is made subservient. There are two classes of 
superintendents in those establishments. The first class are 
what are called managers, from their great power and authority. 
Their especial business is to watch over the whole concern, and 
constantly to attend to the quantity and quality of the yarn, &c. 



148 THE WHITE SLAVES 

turned off. To these individuals the second class, called over- 
lookers, are immediately responsible for whatever is amiss. The 
business of overlookers is to attend to particular rooms and classes 
of hands, for the individual conduct of which they are held re- 
sponsible. These individuals, in some mills, are paid in propor- 
tion to the quantity of work turned off ; in all, they are made re- 
sponsible for that quantity, as well as for the quality ; and as the 
speed of each particular machine is known, nothing is more easy 
than to calculate the quantity which it ought to produce. This 
quantity is the maximum ; the minimum allowed is the least pos- 
sible deficiency, certain contingencies being taken into account. 
In those mills in which the overlookers are paid in proportion to 
the quantity of work turned off, interest secures the closest 
attention to the conduct of every individual under them ; and in 
other mills, fear of losing their places operates to produce the 
same effect. It is one continual system of driving ; and, in order 
to turn off as great a quantity of work as is possible, the mana- 
ger drives the overlookers, and the overlookers drive the men. 
Every spinner knows that he must turn off the average quantity 
of work which his wheels are capable of producing, or lose his 
place if deficiencies are often repeated ; and consequently, the 
piecers and scavengers are drilled, in their turns, to the severest 
attention. On their constant attention, as well as his own, de- 
pends the quantity of work done. So that it is not an exag- 
geration to say, that their powers of labour are subjected to the 
severity of an undeviating exaction. A working man is esti- 
mated in these establishments in proportion to his physical ca- 
pacity rather than his moral character, and therefore it is not 
difficult to infer what must be the consequences. It begets a sys- 
tem of debasing tyranny in almost every department, the most 
demoralizing, in its effects. Kind words are godsends in many 
cotton factories, and oaths and blows the usual order of the day. 
The carder must produce the required quantity of drawing and 
reiving ; the spinner, the required quantity of yarn ; a system of 
overbearing tyranny is adopted toward everybody under them ; 
they are cursed into the required degree of attention, and blows 
are resorted to with the children when oaths fail, and sometimes 



OF ENGLAND. 149 

even before an oath has been tried. In short, the men must do 
work enough, or lose their places. It is a question between 
losing their places and the exercise of severity of discipline in 
all cases ; between starvation and positive cruelty, in many. 
There are exceptions, but my conviction is that they are com- 
paratively few indeed. To me the whole system has always 
appeared one of tyranny." 

Mr. Abraham Whitehead, clothier, of Scholes, near 
Holmfirth, examined by Parliamentary Committee : 

" ' What has been the treatment which you have observed that 
these children have received at the mills, to keep them attentive 
for so many hours, at so early ages ?' ' They are generally 
cruelly treated ; so cruelly treated that they dare not, hardly for 
their lives, be too late at their work in the morning. "When I 
have been at the mills in the winter season, when the children 
are at work in the evening, the very first thing they inquire is, 
" What o'clock is it?" If we should answer, " Seven," they say, 
" Only seven 1 it is a great while to ten, but we must not give up 
till ten o'clock, or past." They look so anxious to know what 
o'clock it is that I am convinced the children are fatigued, and 
think that, even at seven, they have worked too long. My heart 
has been ready to bleed for them when I have seen them so 
fatigued, for they appear in such a state of apathy and insensi- 
bility as really not to know whether they are doing their work 
or not. They usually throw a bunch of ten or twelve cordings 
across the hand, and take one off at a time ; but I have seen the 
bunch entirely finished, and they have attempted to take off an- 
other, when they have not had a cording at all ; they have been 
BO fatigued as not to know whether they were at work or not.' 

" ' Do they frequently fall into errors and mistakes in piecing 
when thus fatigued ?' ' Yes ; the errors they make when thus 
fatigued are, that instead of placing the cording in this way, 
(describing it,) they are apt to place them obliquely, and that 
causes a flying, which makes bad yarn ; and when the billy-spin- 
ner sees that, he takes his strap, or the billy-roller, and says, 



150 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" Damn thee, close it ; little devil, close it ;" and they strike the 
child with the strap or billy roller.' 

" ' You have noticed this in the after part of the day more par- 
ticularly ?' ' It is a very difficult thing to go into a mill in the 
latter part of the day, particularly in winter, and not to hear 
some of the children crying for being beaten for this very fault.' 

" ' How are they beaten ?' ' That depends on the humanity of 
the slubber or billy-spinner. Some have been beaten so violently 
that they have lost their lives in consequence of being so beaten ; 
and even a young girl has had the end of a billy-roller jammed 
through her cheek/ 

" 'What is the billy-roller?' 'A heavy rod of from two to 
three yards long, and of two inches in diameter, and with an 
iron pivot at each end. It runs on the top of the cording, over 
the feeding-cloth. I have seen them take the billy-roller and rap 
them on the head, making their heads crack so that you might 
have heard the blow at a distance of six or eight yards, in spite 
of the din and rolling of the machinery. Many have been 
knocked down by the instrument. I knew a boy very well, of 
the name of Senior, with whom I went to school ; he was struck 
with a billy-roller on the elbow ; it occasioned a swelling ; he was 
not able to work more than three or four weeks after the blow ; 
and he died in consequence. There was a woman in Holmfirth 
who was beaten very much: I am not quite certain whether on 
the head ; and she lost her life in consequence of being beaten 
with a billy-roller. That which was produced (showing one) is 
not the largest size ; there are some a foot longer than that ; it 
is the most common instrument with which these poor little 
pieceners are beaten, more commonly than with either stick or 
strap.' 

" ' How is it detached from the machinery ?' ' Supposing this 
to be the billy-frame, (describing it,) at each end there is a socket 
open ; the cording runs underneath here, just in this way, and 
when the billy-spinner is augry, and sees the little piecener has 
done wrong, he takes off this and says, "Damn thee, close it.'" 

" ' You have seen the poor children in this situation?' ' I have 
jeen them frequently struck with the billy-roller ; I have seen 



OF ENGLAND. 151 

one so struck as to occasion its death ; but I once saw a piecener 
struck in the face by a billy-spinner with his hand, until its nose 
bled very much ; and when I said, " Oh dear, I would not suffer 
a child of mine to be treated thus," the man has said " How the 
devil do you know but what he deserved it ? What have you to 
do with it?"' " 

But the most complete evidence in regard to the 
slavery in the factories was that given to the Par- 
liamentary Committee, by a man named Peter Smart, 
whose experience and observation as a slave and a 
slave-driver in the factories of Scotland, enabled him 
to substantiate all the charges made against the sys- 
tem. His, history possesses the deepest interest, and 
should be attentively perused : 

" ' Where do you reside ?' ' At Dundee.' 

" ' What age are you ?' ' Twenty-seven/ 

." ' What is your business ? J ' An overseer of a flax-mill.' 

" ' Have you worked in a mill from your youth 1' ' Yes, siuco 
I was five years of age/ 

" ' Had you a father and mother in the country at that time ?' 
' My mother stopped in Perth, about eleven miles from the mill, 
and my father was in the army/ 

"'Were you hired for any length of time when you went ?' 
' Yes, my mother got 155. for six years, I having my meat and 
clothes/ 

"'At whose mill?' ' Mr. Andrew Smith's, at Gateside/ 

" ' Is that in Fifeshire ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' What were your hours of labour, do you recollect, in that 
mill ?' ' In the summer season we were very scarce of water/ 

" ' But when you had sufficient water, how long did you work?' 
'We began at four o'clock in the morning, and worked till ten or 
eleven at night ; as long as we could stand upon our feet/ 



152 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' You hardly could keep up for that length of time?' 'No, 
we often fell asleep/ 

" ' How were you kept to your work for that length of time ; 
were you chastised ?' ' Yes, very often, and very severely.' 

" ' How long was this ago ?' ' It is between twenty-one and 
twenty-two years since I first went.' 

" ' "Were you kept in the premises constantly ?' * Constantly.' 

" ' Locked up ?' ' Yes, locked up.' 

"'Night and day?' 'Night and day; I never went home 
while I was at the mill.' 

" ' Was it possible to keep up your activity for such a length 
of time as that ?' ' No, it was impossible to do it ; we often fell 
asleep.' 

" ' Were not accidents then frequently occurring at that mill 
from over-fatigue?' 'Yes, I got my hands injured there by the 
machinery/ 

" ' Have you lost any of your fingers ?' ' Yes, I have lost one, 
and the other hand is very much injured.' 

" ' At what time of the night was that when your hands became 
thus injured ?' ' Twilight, between seven and eight o'clock.' 

" ' Do you attribute that accident to over-fatigue and drowsi- 
ness ?' ' Yes, and to a want of knowledge of the machinery. I 
was only five years old when I went to the mills, and I did not 
know the use of the different parts of the machinery.' 

" ' Did you ever know any other accident happen in that mill ?' 
'Yes, there was a girl that fell off her stool when she was 
piecing ; she fell down and was killed on the spot.' 

" ' Was that considered by the hands in the mill to have been 
occasioned by drowsiness and excessive fatigue ?' ' Yes.' 

" ' How old were you at the time this took place ?' ' I don't 
know, for I have been so long in the mills that I have got no 
education, and I have forgot the like of those things.' 

" ' Have you any recollection of what the opinions of the peo- 
ple in the mill were at that time as to the cause of the accident ?' 
' I heard the rest of them talking about it, and they said that it 
was so. We had long stools that we sat upon then, old-fa- 
ehioned ; we have no such things as those now/ 



OF ENGLAND. 153 

" ' Is that the only accident that you have known to happen in 
that mill V i There was a boy, shortly before I got my fingers 
hurt, that had his fingers hurt in the same way that I had/ 

" ' Was there any other killed ?' ' There was one killed, but I 
could not say how it was ; but she was killed in the machinery.' 

" ' Has any accident happened in that mill during the last 
twelve years?' 'I could not say; it is twelve years since I 
left it' 

" ' Is that mill going on still ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Speaking of the hours that you had to labour there, will you 
Btate to this committee the effect it had upon you 1' ' It had a very 
great effect upon me ; I was bad in my health.' 

"'Were you frequently much beaten, in order to keep you up 
to your labour ?' ' Yes ; very often beat till I was bloody at the 
mouth and at the nose, by the overseer and master too. 1 

" ' How did they beat you ?' ' With their hands and with a 
leather thong.' 

"'Were the children, generally speaking, treated as you 
have stated you were ?' ' Yes ; generally ; there are generally 
fifteen boys in one, and a number of girls in the other ; they were 
kept separately. 7 

" ' You say you were locked up night and day ?' ' Yes.' 

" ' Do the children ever attempt to run away ?' ' Very often.' 

" ' Were they pursued and brought back again ?' ' Yes, the 
overseer pursued them, and brought them back/ 

" * Did you ever attempt to run away?' ' Yes, I ran away twice.' 

" ' And you were brought back ?' ' Yes ; and I was sent up to 
the master's loft, and threshed with a whip for running away.' 

" ' Were you bound to this man ?' ' Yes, for six years.' 

"'By whom were you bound?' 'My mother got 15s. for the 
six years.' 

" ' Do you know whether the children were, in point of fact, 
compelled to stop during the whole time for which they were en- 
gaged ?' ' Yes, they were.' 

" ' By law ?' ' I cannot say by law ; but they were compelled 
by the master ; I never saw any law used there but the law of 
their own hands.' 

11 



154 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' Does that practice of binding continue in Scotland now ?' 
' Not in the place I am in/ 

"'How long since it has ceased? 7 Tor the last two years 
there has been no engagement in Dundee/ 

" ' Are they generally engagements from week to week, or from 
month to month ?' ' From month to month/ 

" ' Do you know whether a practice has prevailed of sending 
poor children, who are orphans, from workhouses and hospitals to 
that work ?' ' There were fifteen, at the time I was there, came 
from Edinburgh Poorhouse/ 

" ' Do you know what the Poorhouse in Edinburgh is ?' ' It is 
just a house for putting poor orphans in/ 

" ' Do you know the name of that establishment ?' ' No/ 

" ' Do you happen to know that these fifteen came to the mill 
from an establishment for the reception of poor orphans ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' How many had you at the mill ?' ' Fifteen/ 

'"At what ages ?' ' From 12 to 15.' 

" 'Were they treated in a similar manner to yourself?' ' Yes, 
we were all treated alike ; there was one treatment for all, from 
the oldest to the youngest/ 

" ' Did not some of you attempt, not merely to get out of the mill, 
but out of the country ?' ' Yes ; I have known some go down to 
the boat at Dundee, in order to escape by that means, and the 
overseer has caught them there, and brought them back again/ 

" ' Is there not a ferry there ?' Yes/ 

" ' When persons disembark there, they may embark on the 
ferry?' 'Yes/ 

" ' Did your parents live in Dundee at this time ?' ' No/ 

" ' Had you any friends at Dundee ?' ' No/ 

" ' The fact is, that you had nobody that could protect you?' 'No, 
I had no protection ; the first three years I was at the mill I never 
eaw my mother at all ; and when I got this accident with my 
hand she never knew of it.' 

" ' Where did she reside at that time ?' ' At Perth/ 

" ' You say that your master himself was in the habit of treat- 
ing you in the way you have mentioned ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Describe what the treatment was ?' ' The treatment was 



OF ENGLAND. 155 

very bad ; perhaps a box on the ear, or very frequently a kick 
with his foot.' 

" ' Were you punished for falling asleep in that mill ?' ' Yes, 
I have got my licks for it, and been punished very severely for it/ 

" 'Where did you go to then ?' ' I went to a mill in Argyle- 
shire.' 

" ' How many years were you in this mill of Mr. Andrew Smith's, 
of Gateside ' Eleven years/ 

" ' What age were you, when you went to this mill in Argyle- 
ehire?' ' About 16.' 

" ' You stated that you were bound to stay with Mr. Smith for 
six years ; how came you then to continue with him the remaining 
five years ?' ' At the end of those six years I got 3Z. a year from 
my master, and found my own clothes out of that.' 

" ' Were you then contented with your situation ?' ' No, I can- 
not say that I was ; but I did not know any thing of any other 
business.' 

" * You had not been instructed in any other business, and 
you did not know where you could apply for a maintenance ?' 
'No.' 

"'To whose mill did you then remove?' 'To Messrs. Duff, 
Taylor & Co., at Ruthven, Forfarshire.' 

" ' What were your hours of labour there ?' ' Fourteen hours.' 

" ' Exclusive of the time for meals and refreshment?' 'Yes.' 

" ' Was that a flax mill ?' ' Yes.' 

" ' Did you work for that number of hours both winter and 
Bummer ?' ' Yes, both winter and summer.' 

" ' How old were you at this time ?' ' Sixteen.' 

" ' Are you aware whether any increase was made in the num- 
ber of hours of work, in the year 1819, by an agreement between 
the masters and the workmen ?' ' No, I cannot say as to that.' 

" ' You think there could not be much increase of your previous 
labour, whatever agreement might have been made upon the sub- 
ject ?' ' No, there could have been no increase made to that ; it 
was too long for that.' 

"'Were the hands chastised up to their labour in that mill?' 
'Yes.' 



156 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' That was the practice there also ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Do you mean to state that you were treated with great cruelty 
at the age of 16, and that you still remain in the mill ?' ' I was 
not beaten so severely as I was in Fifeshire/ 

" ' You were not so beaten as to induce you to leave that mill V 
' If I had left it, I did not know where to go/ 

" ' Did you try to get into any other occupation ?' ' Yes, I went 
apprentice to a flax-dresser at that time/ 

"'What was the reason that you did not keep at it?' 'My 
hand was so disabled, that it was found I was not able to follow 
that business/ 

" ' You found you could not get your bread at that business ?' 
'Yes/ 

" ' Consequently, you were obliged to go back to the mills ?' 
'Yes/ 

" ' Was it the custom, when you were 16 years of age, for the 
overseer to beat you ?' ' Yes, the boys were often beaten very 
severely in the mill/ 

" ' At this time you were hired for wages ; how much had you ?' 
' Half-a-crown a week/ 

" ' And your maintenance V ' No, I maintained myself/ 

" ' Is not that much lower than the wages now given to people 
of sixteen years of age ?' ' I have a boy about sixteen that has 
4s. Qd. a week, but he is in a high situation ; he is oiler of the 
machinery/ 

" ' Besides, you have been injured in your hand by the accident 
to which you have alluded, and that probably might have inter- 
fered with the amount of your wages ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' What duty had you in the mill at this time, for the perform- 
ance of which you received 2s. 6d. a week, when you were at Duff, 
Taylor & Co/s ?' c I was a card-feeder/ 

" ' Did your hand prevent you working at that time as well as 
other boys of the same age, in feeding the cards ?' ' Yes, on the 
old system ; I was not able to feed with a stick at that time ; it is 
done away with now/ 

" ' How long did you stay there ?' ' About fifteen months/ 

" ' How many hours did you work there ?' ' Fourteen/ 



OF ENGLAND. 157 

" ' Do you mean that you worked fourteen hours actual la- 
bour T ' Yes. 7 

" ' Was it a water-mill ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Were you ever short of water ?' ' We had plenty of water. 7 

" ' How long did you stop for dinner T ' Half an hour/ 

" ' What time had you for breakfast, or for refreshment in the 
afternoon ?' ' We had no time for that/ 

" Did you eat your breakfast and dinner in the mill then ?' 
'No, we went to the victualling house/ 

"'Was that some building attached to the mill? 7 *Yes, at a 
a small distance from the mill/ 

" ' Was it provided for the purpose of the mill V * Yes, we got 
our bread and water there/ 

" 'Did you sleep in a bothy at Duff & Taylor's ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Were you locked up in a bothy ?' ' No/ 

" c What is a bothy V It is a house with beds all round/ 

" ' Is it not the practice for farm-servants, and others, who are 
unmarried, to sleep in such places ?' ' I could not say as to that ; 
I am not acquainted with the farm system/ 

" ' To what mill did you next go ?' ' To Mr. Webster's, at Battus 
Den, within eleven miles of Dundee/ 

" ' In what situation did you act there ?' ' I acted as an over- 
seer/ 

" At 17 years of age ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Did you inflict the same punishment that you yourself had 
experienced ?' ' I went as an overseer ; not as a slave, but as a 
slave-driver/ 

" ' What were the hours of labour in that mill ?' ' My master 
told me that I had to produce a certain quantity of yarn ; the 
hours were at that time fourteen ; I said that I was not able to 
produce the quantity of yarn that was required ; I told him if he 
took the timepiece out of the mill I would produce that quantity, 
and after that time I found no difficulty in producing the quantity/ 

" ' How long have you worked per day in order to produce 
the quantity your master required ?' ' I have wrought nineteen 
hours/ 

" ' Was this a water-mill V ' Yes, water and steam both/ 
H 



158 THE WHITE SLAVES 

"'To -what time have you worked?' 'I have seen the mill 
going till it was past 12 o'clock on the Saturday night.' 

" * So that the mill was still working on the Sabbath morning.' 
'Yes.' 

" ' Were the workmen paid by the piece, or by the day ?' ' No, 
all had stated wages.' 

" ' Did not that almost compel you to use great severity to the 
hands then under you?' 'Yes; I was compelled often to beat 
them, in order to get them to attend to their work, from their 
being overwrought.' 

" ' Were not the children exceedingly fatigued at that time ?' 
' Yes, exceedingly fatigued.' 

" ' Were the children bound in the same way in that mill ?' 
' No ; they were bound from one year's end to another, for twelve 
months.' 

" ' Did you keep the hands locked up in the same way in that 
mill ?' ' Yes, we locked up the mill ; but we did not lock the 
bothy/ 

" ' Did you find that the children were unable to pursue their 
labour properly to that extent ?' ' Yes ; they have been brought 
to that condition, that I have gone and fetched up the doctor to 
them, to see what was the matter with them, and to know 
whether they were able to rise, or not able to rise ; they were 
not at all able to rise ; we have had great difficulty in getting 
them up.' 

" ' When that was the case, how long have they been in bed, 
generally speaking ?' ' Perhaps not above four or five hours in 
their beds. Sometimes we were very ill-plagued by men coming 
about the females' bothy.' 

"'Were your hands principally girls ?' 'Girls and boys all 
together ; we had only a very few boys/ 

" ' Did the boys sleep in the girls' bothy?' Yes, all together/ 

" ' Do you mean to say that there was only one bothy for the 
girls and for the boys who worked there?' ' Yes/ 

" ' What age were those girls and boys ?' ' We had them from 
8 to 20 years of age ; and the boys were from 10 to 14, or there- 
abouts/ 



OF ENGLAND. 159 

" ' You spoke of men who came about the bothy ; did the girls 
expect them ?' ' Yes ; of course they had their sweethearts/ 

" ' Did they go into the bothy ?' ' Yes ; and once I got a sore 
beating from one of them, for ordering him out of the bothy/ 

" ' How long were you in that mill V ' Three years and nine 
months/ 

" ' And where did you go to next V ' To Messrs. Anderson & 
Company, at Moneyfieth, about six miles from Dundee/ 

" 'What were your hours of labour there ?' ' Fifteen hours/ 

'" Exclusive of the hour for refreshment ?' 'Yes ; we seldom 
stopped for refreshment there/ 

"'You worked without any intermission at all, frequently?' 
' Yes ; we made a turn-about/ 

" ' Explain what you mean by a turn-about ?' ' We let them 
out by turns in the days/ 

" ' How long did you let one go out ? ' Just as short a time as 
they could have to take their victuals in/ 

" ' What were the ages of the children principally employed in 
that place ?' ' From about 12 to 20 ; they were all girls that I 
had there, except one boy, and I think he was 8 years of age/ 

" ' Was this a flax-mill ?' ' Yes, all flax/ 

" ' Did you find that the children there were exceedingly dis- 
tressed with their work ?' ' Yes ; for the mill being in the country, 
we were very scarce of workers, and the master often came out 
and compelled them by flattery to go and work half the night 
after their day's labour, and then they had only the other half to 
sleep/ 

" ' You mean that the master induced them by offering them 
extra wages to go to work half the night ?' ' Yes/ 

" ' Was that very prejudicial to the girls so employed ?' ' Yes ; 
I have seen some girls that were working half the night, that have 
fainted and fallen down at their work, and have had to be carried 
out/ 

" ' Did you use severity in that mill ?' ' No, I was not very 
severe there/ 

" ' You find, perhaps, that the girls do not require that severity 
that the boys do?' 'Yes/ 



J60 THE WHITE SLAVES 

11 ' How large was that mill ?' ' There were only eighteen of us 
altogether/ 

" ' From what you have seen, should you say that the treatment 
of the children and the hours of labour are worse in the small or 
in the large mills?' ' I could not answer that question/ 

" 'Have you ever been in any large mill 1' * Yes, I am in one 
just now, Mr. Baxter's/ 

" ' Is the treatment of the children better in that large mill than 
in the smaller mills in which you have been usually ?' ' There is 
little difference ; the treatment is all one/ 

" ' To whose mill did you next go ?' ' To Messrs. Baxter & 
Brothers, at Dundee/ 

" ' State the hours of labour which you worked when you were 
there, when trade was brisk? 7 'Thirteen hours and twenty 
minutes/ 

" ' What time was allowed for meals?' ' Fifty minutes each day/ 

" ' Have you found that the system is getting any better now ?' 
' No, the system is getting no better with us/ 

" ' Is there as much beating as there was ?' ' There is not so 
much in the licking way/ 

" ' But it is not entirely abolished, the system of chastisement?' 
'No, it is far from that/ 

" ' Do you think that, where young children are employed, that 
system ought, or can be, entirely dispensed with, of giving some 
chastisement to the children of that age ?' ' They would not re- 
quire chastisement if they had shorter daily work/ 

" ' Do you mean to state that they are only chastised because 
through weariness they are unable to attend to their work, and 
that they are not chastised for other faults and carelessness as 
well ?' ' There may be other causes besides, but weariness is the 
principal fault/ 

" ' Does not that over-labour induce that weariness and inca- 
pacity to do the work, which brings upon them chastisement at 
other parts of the day as well as in the evening ?' ' Yes ; young 
girls, if their work go wrong, if they see me going round, and 
my countenance with the least frown upon it, they will begin 
crying when I go by/ 



OF ENGLAND. 161 

" ' Then they live in a state of perpetual alarm and suffering ?' 
'Yes/ 

" ' Do you think that those children are healthy ?' ' No, they 
are far from that ; I have two girls that have been under me these 
two years ; the one is 13 years, the other 15, and they are both 
orphans and sisters, and both one size, and they very seldom are 
working together, because the one or the other is generally ill ; 
and they are working for 3s. 6d. a week/ 

" ' Have you the same system of locking up now?' ' Yes, lock- 
ing up all day/ 

" ' Are they locked up at night ?' ' No ; after they have left 
their work we have nothing more to do with them/ 

" 'What time do they leave their work in the evening now?' 
'About 20 minutes past 7/ 

" ' What time do they go to it in the morning ?' ' Five minutes 
before 5/ 

" ' Do you conceive that that is at all consistent with the health 
of those children ?' ' It is certainly very greatly against their 
health.' 

" ' Is not the flax-spinning business in itself very unwholesome?' 
' Very unwholesome/ 



So much for the slavery of the factories a slavery 
which destroys human beings, body and soul. The fate 
of the helpless children condemned to such protracted, 
exhausting toil, under such demoralizing influences, 
with the lash constantly impending over them, and no 
alternative but starvation, is enough to excite the tears 
of all humane persons. That such a system should be 
tolerated in a land where a Christian church is a part 
of the government, is indeed remarkable proving how 
greatly men are disinclined to practise what they 
profess. 



162 THE WHITE SLAVES 

We cannot close this chapter upon the British fac- 
tories without making a quotation from a work which, 
we fear, has been too little read in the United Kingdom 
a fiction merely in construction, a truthful narrative 
in fact. We allude to " The Life and Adventures of 
Michael Armstrong, the Factory Boy," by Frances 
Trollope. Copious editions of this heart-rending story 
should be immediately issued by the British publishers. 
This passage, describing the visit of Michael Arm- 
strong to the cotton factory, in company with Sir 
Matthew Dowling and Dr. Crockley, is drawn to the 
life : 

"The party entered the building, whence as all know who 
have done the like every sight, every sound, every scent that 
kind nature has fitted to the organs of her children, so as to ren- 
der the mere unfettered use of them a delight, are banished for 
ever and for ever. The ceaseless whirring of a million hissing 
wheels seizes on the tortured ear ; and while threatening to de- 
stroy the delicate sense, seems bent on proving first, with a sort 
of mocking mercy, of how much suffering it can be the cause. 
The scents that reek around, from oil, tainted water, and human 
filth, with that last worst nausea arising from the hot refuse of 
atmospheric air, left by some hundred pairs of labouring lungs, 
render the act of breathing a process of difficulty, disgust, and 
pain. All this is terrible. But what the eye brings home to the 
heart of those who look round upon the horrid earthly hell, is 
enough to make it all forgotten ; for who can think of villanous 
smells, or heed the suffering of the ear-racking sounds, while 
they look upon hundreds of helpless children, divested of every 
trace of health, of joyousness, and even of youth ! Assuredly 
there is no exaggeration in this ; for except only in their diminu- 
tive size, these suffering infants have no trace of it. Lean and 



OF ENGLAND. 163 

distorted limbs, sallow and sunken cheeks, dim hollow eyes, 
that speak unrest and most unnatural carefulness, give to each 
tiny, trembling, unelastic form, a look of hideous premature old 
age. 

"But in the room they entered, the dirty, ragged, miserable 
crew were all in active performance of their various tasks ; the 
overlookers, strap in hand, on the alert ; the whirling spindles 
urging the little slaves who waited on them to movements as un- 
ceasing as their own ; and the whole monstrous chamber redolent 
of all the various impurities that ' by the perfection of our manu- 
facturing system' are converted into 'gales of Araby' for the 
rich, after passing, in the shape of certain poison, through the 
lungs of the poor. So Sir Matthew proudly looked about him 
and approved ; and though it was athwart that species of haughty 
frown in which such dignity as his is apt to clothe itself, Dr. 
Crockley failed not to perceive that his friend and patron was in 
good humour, and likely to be pleased by any light and lively 
jestings in which he might indulge. Perceiving, therefore, that 
little Michael passed on with downcast eyes, unrecognised by 
any, he wrote upon a slip of paper, for he knew his voice could 
not be heard ' Make the boy take that bare-legged scavenger 
wench round the neck, and give her a kiss while she is next lying 
down, and let us see them sprawling together/ 

" Sir Matthew read the scroll, and grinned applause. 

" The miserable creature to whom the facetious doctor pointed, 
was a little girl about seven years old, whose office as ' scavenger' 
was to collect incessantly, from the machinery and from the floor, 
the flying fragments of cotton that might impede the work. In 
the performance of this duty, the child was obliged, from time to 
time, to stretch itself with sudden quickness on the ground, while 
the hissing machinery passed over her ; and when this is skilfully 
done, and the head, body, and outstretched limbs carefully glued 
to the floor, the steady-moving but threatening mass may pass and 
repass over the dizzy head and trembling body without touching 
it. But accidents frequently occur; and many are the flaxen 
locks rudely torn from infant heads, in the process. 

"It was a sort of vague hope that something comical of this kind 



164 THE WHITE SLAVES 

might occur, which induced Dr. Crockley to propose this frolic to 
his friend, and probably the same idea suggested itself to Sir 
Matthew likewise. 

" 'I say, Master Michael 1' vociferated the knight, in a scream 
which successfully struggled with the din, ' show your old ac- 
quaintance that pride has not got the upper hand of you in your 
fine clothes. Take scavenger No. 3, there, round the neck ; now 
now now, as she lies sprawling, and let us see you give her a 
hearty kiss.' 

"The stern and steady machinery moved onward, passing over 
the body of the little girl, who owed her safety to the miserable 
leanness of her shrunken frame ; but Michael moved not. 

" 'Are you deaf, you little vermin ?' roared Sir Matthew. ' Now 
she's down again. Do what I bid you, or, by the living God, you 
shall smart for it !' 

" Still Michael did not stir, neither did he speak ; or if he did, 
his young voice was wholly inaudible, and the anger of Sir Mat- 
thew was demonstrated by a clenched fist and threatening brow. 
' Where the devil is Parsons ?' he demanded, in accents that poor 
Michael both heard and understood. ' Fine as he is, the strap 
will do him good.' 

" In saying this, the great man turned to reconnoitre the space 
he had traversed, and by which his confidential servant must 
approach, and found that he was already within a good yard 
of him. 

" ' That's good I want you, Parsons. Do you see this little 
rebel here, that I have dressed and treated like one of my own 
children ? What d'ye think of his refusing to kiss Miss No. 3, 
scavenger, when I bid him ?' 

" ' The devil he does?' said the manager, grinning: 'we must 
see if we can't mend that. Mind your hits, Master Piecer, and 
salute the young lady when the mules go back, like a gentle- 
man/ 

" Sir Matthew perceived that his favourite agent feared to enforce 
his first brutal command, and was forced, therefore, to content 
himself with seeing the oiled and grimy face of the filthy little 
girl in contact with that of the now clean and delicate-looking 



OF ENGLAND. 165 

Michael. But he felt he had been foiled, and cast a glance upon 
his proUgt, which seemed to promise that he would not forget 
it." 

Nor is the delineation, in the following verses, by 
Francis M. Blake, less truthful and touching : 



THE FACTORY CHILD. 

Early one winter's morning, 

The weather wet and wild, 
Some hours before the dawning, 

A father call'd his child ; 
Her daily morsel bringing, 

The darksome room he paced, 
And cried, " The bell is ringing 

My hapless darling, haste." 

"Father, Fm up, but weary, 

I scarce can reach the door, 
And long the way and dreary 

Oh, carry me once more 1 
To help us we've no mother, 

To live how hard we try 
They kilFd my little brother 

Like him I'll work and die 1" 

His feeble arms they bore her, 

The storm was loud and wild- 
God of the poor man, hear him ! 

He prays, " Oh, save my child 1" 
Her wasted form seem'd nothing 

The load was in his heart ; 
The sufferer he kept soothing, 

Till at the mill they part. 
H* 



166 THE WHITE SLAVES 

The overlooker met her, 

As to the frame she crept, 
And with the thong he beat her, 

And cursed her as she wept. 
Alas ! what hours of horror 

Made up her latest day! 
In toil, and pain, and sorrow, 

They slowly pass'd away. 

It seem'd, as she grew weaker, 

The threads the oftener broke, 
The rapid wheels ran quicker, 

And heavier fell the stroke. 
The sun had long descended, 

But night brought no repose : 
Her day began and ended 

As her taskmasters chose. 



Then to her little neighbour 

Her only cent she paid, 
To take her last hour's labour, 

While by her frame she laid. 
At last, the engine ceasing, 

The captives homeward flee, 
One thought her strength increasing 

Her parent soon to see. 

She left, but oft she tarried, 

She fell, and rose no more, 
But by her comrades carried, 

She reach'd her father's door. 
All night with tortured feeling, 

He watch' d his speechless child ; 
While close beside her kneeling, 

She knew him not, nor smiled. 



OP ENGLAND. 167 

Again the loud bell's ringing, 

Her last perceptions tried, 
When, from her straw bed springing, 

" '.Tis time I" she shriek'd, and died. 
That night a chariot pass'd her, 

While on the ground she lay, 
The daughters of her master 

An evening visit pay ; 
Their tender hearts were sighing, 

As negro wrongs were told, 
While the white slave was dying, 

Who gain'd their father's gold I 






I 



168 THE WHITE SLAVES 



CHAPTER IV. 

SLAVERY IN THE BRITISH WORKSHOPS. 

WHEN Captain Hugh Clapperton, the celebrated 
English traveller, visited Bello, the sultan of the 
Felatahs, at Sackatoo, he made the monarch some pre- 
sents, in the name of his majesty the king of England. 
These were two new blunderbusses, a pair of double- 
barrelled pistojs, a pocket compass, an embroidered 
jacket, a scarlet bornonse, a pair of scarlet breeches, 
thirty-four yards of silk, two turban shawls, four 
pounds of cloves, four pounds of cinnamon, three cases 
of gunpowder with shot and balls, three razors, three 
clasp-knives, three looking-glasses, six snuff-boxes, a 
spy-glass, and a large tea-tray. The sultan said 
Every thing is wonderful, but you are the greatest 
curiosity of all!" and then added, "What can I give 
that is most acceptable to the king of England?" 
Clapperton replied " The most acceptable service you 
can render to the king of England is to co-operate with 
his majesty in putting a stop to the slave-trade on the 
coast, as the king of England sends large ships to 
cruise there, for the sole purpose of seizing all vessels 






OF ENGLAND. 169 

engaged in this trade, whose crews are thrown into 
prison, and of liberating the unfortunate slaves, on 
whom lands and houses are conferred, at one of our 
settlements in Africa." "What!" exclaimed the sul- 
tan, "have you no slaves in England?" "No: when- 
ever a slave sets his foot in England, he is from that 
moment free," replied Clapperton. "What do you 
then do for servants?" inquired the sultan. "We hire 
them for a stated period, and give them regular wages ; 
nor is any person in England allowed to strike another; 
and the very soldiers are fed, clothed, and paid by the 
government," replied the English captain. "God is 
great!" exclaimed the sultan. "You are a beautiful 
people." Clapperton had succeeded in putting a beau- 
tiful illusion upon the sultan's imagination, as some 
English writers have endeavoured to do among the 
civilized nations of the earth. If the sultan had been 
taken to England, to see the freedom of the "servants" 
in the workshops, perhaps he would have exclaimed 
God is great! Slaves are plenty." 

The condition of the apprentices in the British, 
workshops is at least as bad as that of the children in 
the factories. According to the second report of the 
commissioners appointed by Parliament, the degrading 
system of involuntary apprenticeship in many cases 
without the consent of parents and merely according 
to the regulations of the brutal guardians of the work- 
houses, is general. The commissioners say 

U 



170 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" That in some trades, those especially requiring skilled work- 
men, these apprentices are bound by legal indentures, usually at 
the age of fourteen, and for a term of seven years, the age being 
rarely younger, and the period of servitude very seldom longer ; 
but by far the greater number are bound without any prescribed 
legal forms, and in almost all these cases they are required to 
serve their masters, at whatever age they may commence their ap- 
prenticeship, until they attain the age of twenty-one, in some in- 
stances in employments in which there is nothing deserving the 
name of skill to be acquired, and in other instances in employ- 
ments in which they are taught to make only one particular part 
of the article manufactured : so that at the end of their servitude 
they are altogether unable to make any one article of their trade in 
a complete state. That a large proportion of these apprentices 
consist of orphans, or are the children of widows, or belong to 
the very poorest families, and frequently are apprenticed by 
boards of guardians. 

" That in these districts it is common for parents to borrow 
money of the employers, and to stipulate, by express agreement, 
to repay it from their children's wages ; a practice which prevails 
likewise in Birmingham and "YVarrington : in most other places 
no evidence was discovered of its existence." Second Report of 
the Commissioners, p. 195, 196. 

Here we have a fearful text on which to comment. 
In these few sentences we see the disclosure of a sys- 
tem which, if followed out and abused, must produce a 
state of slavery of the very worst and most oppressive 
character. To show that it is thus abused, here are 
some extracts from the Reports on the Wolverhampton 
district, to which the Central Board of Commissioners 
direct special attention : 

" The peculiar trade of the Wolverhampton district, with the 
exception of a very few large proprietors, is in the hands of a 



OF ENGLAND. 171 

great number of small masters, who are personally known only to 
some of the foremen of the factors to whom they take their work, 
and scarcely one of whom is sufficiently important to have his name 
over his door or his workshop in front of a street. In the town of 
Wolverhampton alone there are of these small masters, for example, 
two hundred and sixty locksmiths, sixty or seventy key-makers, 
from twenty to thirty screw-makers, and a like number of latch, 
bolt, snuffer, tobacco-box, and spectacle frame and case makers. 
Each of these small masters, if they have not children of their 
own, generally employ from one to three apprentices." Home, 
Report ; App. pt. ii. p. 2. s. 13 et seq. 

The workshops of the small masters are usually of 
the dirtiest, most dilapidated, and confined description, 
and situated in the most filthy and undrained localities, 
at the back of their wretched abodes. 

" There are two modes of obtaining apprentices in this district, 
namely, the legal one of application to magistrates or boards of 
guardians for sanction of indentures ; and, secondly, the illegal 
mode of taking the children to be bound by an attorney, without 
any such reference to the proper authorities. There are many 
more bound by this illegal mode than by the former. 

" In all cases, the children, of whatever age, are bound till they 
attain the age of twenty-one years. If the child be only seven 
years of age, the period of servitude remains the same, however 
simple the process or nature of the trade to be learnt. During 
the first year or two, if the apprentice be very young, he is 
merely used to run errands, do dirty household work, nurse in- 
fants, &c. 

" If the master die before the apprentice attain the age of 
twenty-one years, the apprentice is equally bound as the servant 
of his deceased master's heirs, executors, administrators, and 
assigns in fact, the apprentice is part of the deceased master's 
goods and chattels. Whoever, therefore, may carry on the trade, 
he is the servant of such person or persons until his manumission 



172 THE WHITE SLAVES 

is obtained by reaching his one-and-twentieth year. The ap- 
prentice has no regular pocket-money allowed him by the master. 
Sometimes a few halfpence are given to him. An apprentice of 
eighteen or nineteen years of age often has 2d. or 3d. a week 
given him, but never as a rightful claim." Second Report of 
Comm issioners. 

"Among other witnesses, the superintendent registrar states 
that in those trades particularly in which the work is by the 
piece, the growth of the children is injured ; that in these cases 
more especially their strength is over-taxed for profit. One of the 
constables of the town says that 'there are examples without 
number in the place, of deformed men and boys ; their backs or 
their legs, and often both, grow wrong ; the backs grow out and 
the legs grow in at the knees hump-backed and knock-kneed. 
There is most commonly only one leg turned in a K leg ; it is 
occasioned by standing all day for years filing at, a vice ; the hind 
leg grows in the leg that is hindermost. Thinks that among the 
adults of the working classes of Willenhall, whose work is all 
forging and filing, one-third of the number are afflicted with 
hernia,' &c." Home, Evidence, p. 28, No. 128. 

As the profits of -many of the masters are small, it 
may be supposed that the apprentices do not get the 
best of food, shelter, and clothing. We have the evi- 
dence of Henry Nicholls Payne, superintendent regis- 
trar of Wolverhampton, Henry Hill, Esq., magistrate, 
and Paul Law, of Wolverhampton, that it is common 
for masters to buy offal meat, and the meat of animals 
that have died from all manner of causes, for the food 
of apprentices. The clothing of these poor creatures 
is but thin tatters for all seasons. The apprentices 
constantly complain that they do not get enough to 
eat. 



OF ENGLAND. 173 

"They are frequently fed," says the sub-commissioner, "es- 
pecially during the winter season, on red herrings, potatoes, 
bread with lard upon it, and have not always sufficient even of 
this. 

" Their living is poor ; they have not enough to eat. Did not 
know what it was to have butcher's meat above once a week ; 
often a red herring was divided between two for dinner. The 
boys are often clemmed, (almost starved;) have often been to 
his house to ask for a bit of pudding are frequent complaints. 
In some trades, particularly in the casting-shops of founderies, 
in the shops in which general forge or smith's work is done, and 
in the shops of the small locksmiths, screwmakers, &c., there are 
no regular meal-hours, but the children swallow their food as they 
can, during their work, often while noxious fumes or dust are flying 
about, and perhaps with noxious compositions in their unwashed 
hands." 

The apprentices employed in nail-making are de- 
scribed as so many poorly fed and poorly clad slaves. 
Almost the whole population of Upper Sedgley and 
Upper Gormal, and" nearly one-half of the population 
of Coseley, are employed in nail-making. The nails are 
made at forges by the hammer, and these forges, which 
are the workshops, are usually at the backs of the 
wretched hovels in which the work-people reside. 
"The best kind of forges," says Mr. Home, "are little 
brick shops, of about fifteen feet long and twelve feet 
wide, in which seven or eight individuals constantly 
work together, with no ventilation except the door, and 
two slits, or loopholes, in the wall ; but the great 
majority of these work-places are very much smaller, 
(about ten feet long by nine wide,) filthily dirty; and oa 



174 THE WHITE SLAVES 

looking in upon one of them when the fire is not 
lighted, presents the appearance of a dilapidated coal- 
hole, or little hlack den." In these places children 
are first put to labour from the ages of seven to eight, 
where they continue to work daily, from six o'clock in 
the morning till seven or eight at night ; and on weigh- 
days the days the nails are taken to the factors from 
three or four in the morning till nine at night. They 
gradually advance in the number of nails they are re- 
quired to make per day, till they arrive at the stint of 
one thousand. A girl or boy of from ten to twelve 
years of age continually accomplishes this arduous 
task from day to day, and week to week. Their food 
at the same time is, in general, insufficient, their clothing 
miserable, and the wretchedness of their dwellings 
almost unparalleled. 

" Throughout the long descent of the main roadway, or rather 
eludgeway, of Lower Gormal," says Mr. Home, " and throughout 
the very long winding and straggling roadway of Coseley, I never 
saw one abode of a working family which had the least appear- 
ance of comfort or wholesomeness, while the immense majority 
were of the most wretched and sty-like description. The effect 
of these unfavourable circumstances is greatly to injure the 
health of the children, and to stop their growth ; and it is re- 
markable that the boys are more injured than the girls, because 
the girls are not put to work as early as the boys by two years or 
more. They appear to bear the heat of the forges better, and 
they sometimes even become strong by their work." 

The children employed in nail-making, in Scotland, 
evince the nature of their toil by their emaciated looks 



OF ENGLAND. 175 

and stunted growth. They are clothed in apparel in 
which many paupers would not dress; and they are 
starved into quickness at their work, as their meals 
depend on the quantity of work accomplished. 

In the manufacture of earthenware there are many 
young slaves employed. The mould-runners are an 
especially pitiable class of workmen ; they receive on a 
mould the ware as it is formed by the workmen, and 
carry it to the stove-room, where both mould and ware 
are arranged on shelves to dry. The same children 
liberate the mould when sufficiently dry, and carry it 
back to receive a fresh supply of ware, to be in like 
manner deposited on the shelves. They are also gene- 
rally required by the workmen to "wedge their clay;" 
that is, to lift up large lumps of clay, which are to be 
thrown down forcibly on a hard surface to free the clay 
from air and to render it more compact. Excepting 
when thus engaged, they are constantly "on the run" 
from morning till night, always carrying a considerable 
weight. These children are generally pale, thin, weak, 
and unhealthy. 

In the manufacture of glass the toil and suffering of 
the apprentices, as recorded in the evidence before the 
commissioners, are extreme. One witness said 

" From his experience he thinks the community has no idea of 
what a boy at a bottle- work goes through ; ' it would never be 
allowed, if it were known;' he knows himself; he has been car- 
ried home from fair fatigue ; and on two several occasions, when 
laid in bed, could not rest, and had to be taken out and laid on 



176 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the floor. These "boys begin work on Sabbath evenings at ten 
o'clock, and are not at home again till between one and three on 
Monday afternoon. The drawing the bottles out of the arches is 
a work which no child should be allowed, on any consideration, 
to do; he himself has been obliged several times to have planka 
put in to walk on, which have caught fire under the feet ; and a 
woollen cap over the ears and always mits on the hands ; and a 
boy cannot generally stop in them above five minutes. There is 
no man that works in a bottle-work, but will corroborate the 
statement that such work checks the growth of the body ; the irre- 
gularity and the unnatural times of work cause the boys and men 
to feel in a sort of stupor or dulness from heavy sweats and irre- 
gular hours. The boys work harder than any man in the works ; 
all will allow that. From their experience of the bad effect on 
the health, witness and five others left the work, and none but 
one ever went to a bottle-work after." 

The young females apprenticed to dress-makers suffer 
greatly from overwork and bad treatment, as has long 
been known. John Dalrymple, Esq., Assistant Surgeon, 
Royal London Ophthalmic Hospital, narrates the fol- 
lowing case : 

" A delicate and beautiful young woman, an orphan, applied 
at the hospital for very defective vision, and her symptoms were 
precisely as just described. Upon inquiry it was ascertained that 
she had been apprenticed to a milliner, and was in her last year 
of indentureship. Her working hours were eighteen in the day, 
occasionally even more ; her meals were snatched with scarcely 
an interval of a few minutes from work, and her general health 
was evidently assuming a tendency to consumption. An appeal 
was made, by my directions, to her mistress for relaxation ; but 
the reply was that, in the last year of her apprenticeship, her 
labours had become valuable, and that her mistress was entitled to 
them as a recompense for teaching. Subsequently a threat of ap- 
peal to the Lord Mayor, and a belief that a continuation of the 



OF ENGLAND. 177 

occupation would soon render the apprentice incapable of labour, 
induced the mistress to cancel the indentures, and the victim was 
saved." 

Frederick Tyrrell, Esq., Surgeon to the London Oph- 
thalmic Hospital, and to St. Thomas's Hospital, men- 
tions a case equally distressing : 

" A fair and delicate girl, about seventeen years of age, was 
brought to witness in consequence of total loss of vision. She 
had experienced the train of symptoms which have been detailed, 
to the fullest extent. On examination, both eyes were found dis- 
organized, and recovery therefore was hopeless. She had been 
an apprentice as a dress-maker at the west end of the town ; and 
some time before her vision became affected, her general health 
had been materially deranged from too close confinement and 
excessive work. The immediate cause of the disease in the eyes 
was excessive and continued application to making mourning. 
She stated that she had been compelled to remain without chang- 
ing her dress for nine days and nights consecutively ; that during 
this period she had been permitted only occasionally to rest on a 
mattrass placed on the floor, for an hour or two at a time ; and 
that her meals were placed at her side, cut up, so that as little 
time as possible should be spent in their consumption. Witness 
regrets that he did not, in this and a few other cases nearly as 
flagrant and distressing, induce the sufferers to appeal to a jury 
for compensation." 

It may be asserted, without fear of successful contra- 
diction, that, in proportion to the numbers employed, 
there are no occupations in which so much disease is 
produced as in dress-making. The report of a sub- 
commissioner states that it is a ' serious aggravation 
of this evil, that the unkindness of the employer very 
frequently causes these young persons, when they be- 



178 THE WHITE SLAVES 

come unwell, to conceal their illness, from the fear of 
being sent out of the house ; and in this manner the 
disease often becomes increased in severity, or is even 
rendered incurable. Some of the principals are so 
cruel, as to object to the young women obtaining medi- 
cal assistance." 

The London Times, in an exceedingly able article 
upon " Seamstress Slavery," thus describes the terrible 
system : 

"Granting that the negro gangs who are worked on the cotton 
grounds of the Southern States of North America, or in the sugar 
plantations of Brazil, are slaves, in what way should we speak 
of persons who are circumstanced in the manner we are about to 
relate ? Let us consider them as inhabitants of a distant region 
say of New Orleans no matter about the colour of their skins, 
and then ask ourselves what should be our opinion of a nation in 
which such things are tolerated. They are of a sex and age the 
least qualified to struggle with the hardships of their lot young 
women, for the most part, between sixteen and thirty years of 
age. As we would not deal in exaggerations, we would promise 
that we take them at their busy season, just as writers upon 
American slavery are careful to select the season of cotton-pick- 
ing and sugar-crushing as illustrations of their theories. The 
young female slaves, then, of whom we speak, are worked in 
gangs, in ill-ventilated rooms, or rooms that are not ventilated at 
all ; for it is found by experience that if air be admitted it brings 
with it " blacks" of another kind, which damage the work upon 
which the seamstresses are employed. Their occupation is to 
sew from morning till night and night till morning stitch, stitch, 
stitch without pause, without speech, without a smile, without a 
sigh. In the gray of the morning they must be at work, say at 
six o'clock, having a quarter of an hour allowed them for break- 
ing their fast. The food served out to them is scanty and mise- 



OF ENGLAND. 179 

rable enough, but still, in all probability, more than their fevered 
system can digest. We do not, however, wish to makeou' a case 
of starvation ; the suffering is of another kind, equally dreadful 
of endurance. From six o'clock till eleven it is stitch, stitch. At 
eleven a small piece of dry bread is served to each seamstress, 
but still she must stitch on. At one o'clock, twenty minutes are 
allowed for dinner a slice of meat and a potato, with a glass of 
toast-and-water to each workwoman. Then again to work stitch, 
stitch, until five o'clock, when fifteen minutes are again allowed 
for tea. The needles are then set in motion once more stitch, 
Btitch, until nine o'clock, when fifteen minutes are allowed for 
supper a piece of dry bread and cheese and a glass of beer. 
From nine o'clock at night until one, two, and three o'clock in 
the morning, stitch, stitch ; the only break in this long period 
being a minute or two just time enough to swallow a cup of 
strong tea, which is supplied lest the young people should ' feel 
sleepy/ At three o'clock A. M., to bed ; at six o'clock A. M., 
out of it again to resume the duties of the following day. There 
must be a good deal of monotony in the occupation. 

" But when we have said that for certain months in the year 
these unfortunate young persons are worked in the manner we 
describe, we have not said all. Even during the few hours al- 
lotted to sleep should we not rather say to a feverish cessation 
from toil their miseries continue. They are cooped up in sleep- 
ing-pens, ten in a room which would perhaps be sufficient for the 
accommodation of two persons. The alternation is from the 
treadmill and what a treadmill! to the Black Hole of Cal- 
cutta. Not a word of remonstrance is allowed, or is possible. 
The seamstresses may leave the mill, no doubt, but what awaits 
them on the other side of the door ? starvation, if they be honest ; 
if not, in all probability, prostitution and its consequence. They 
would scarcely escape from slavery that way. Surely this is a 
terrible state of things, and one which claims the anxious con- 
sideration of the ladies of England who have pronounced them- 
selves so loudly against the horrors of negro slavery in the United 
States. Had this system of oppression against persons of their 
own sex been really exercised in New Orleans, it would have 



180 THE WHITE SLAVES 

elicited from them many expressions of sympathy for the suffer- 
ers, and of abhorrence for the cruel task-masters who could so 
cruelly overwork wretched creatures so unfitted for the toil. 
It is idle to use any further mystification in the matter. The 
scenes of misery we have described exist at our own doors, and 
in the most fashionable quarters of luxurious London. It is in 
the dressmaking and millinery establishments of the 'West-end' 
that the system is steadily pursued. The continuous labour is be- 
stowed upon the gay garments in which the 'ladies of England' 
love to adorn themselves. It is to satisfy their whims and ca- 
prices that their wretched sisters undergo these days and nights 
of suffering and toil. It is but right that we should confess the 
fault does not lie so much at the door of the customers as with 
the principals of these establishments. Tbfe milliners and dress- 
makers of the metropolis will not employ hands enough to do the 
work. They increase their profits from the blood and life of the 
wretched creatures in their employ. Certainly the prices charged 
for articles of dress at any of the great West-end establishments 
are sufficiently high as most English heads of families know to 
their cost to enable the proprietors to retain a competent staff 
of work-people, and at the same time to secure a very handsome 
profit to themselves. Wherein, then, lies the remedy ? Will the 
case of these poor seamstresses be bettered if the ladies of England 
abstain partially, or in great measure, from giving their usual 
orders to their usual houses ? In that case it may be said some 
of the seamstresses will be dismissed to starvation, and the re- 
mainder will be overworked as before. We freely confess we do 
not see our way through the difficulty ; for we hold the most im- 
probable event in our social arrangements to be the fact, that a 
lady of fashion will employ a second-rate instead of a first-rate 
house for the purchase of her annual finery. The leading mil- 
liners and dressmakers of London have hold of English society 
at both ends. They hold the ladies by their vanity and their 
love of fine clothes, and the seamstresses by what appears to be 
their interest and by their love of life. Now, love of fine 
clothes and love of life are two very strong motive springs of 
human action." 




SLAVES OF THE NEEDLE. 



OF ENGLAXD. 181 

In confirmation of this thrilling representation of the 
seamstress slavery in London, the following letter sub- 
sequently appeared in the Times : 

" To tlie Editor of the Times : 

" Sir, May I beg of you to insert this letter in your valuable 
paper at your earliest convenience, relative to the letters of the 
' First HandT I can state, without the slightest hesitation, that 
they are perfectly true. My poor sister was apprenticed to one 
of those fashionable West-end houses, and my father paid the 
large sum of 40 only to procure for his daughter a lingering 
death. I was allowed to visit her during her illness ; I found her 
in a very small room, which two large beds would fill. In this 
room there were six children's bedsteads, and these were each to 
contain three grown-up young women. In consequence of my 
Bister being so ill, she was allowed, on payment of 5s. per week, 
a bed to herself one so small it might be called a cradle. The 
doctor who attended her when dying, can authenticate this letter. 

"Apologizing for encroaching on your valuable time, I remain 
your obedient servant, A POOR CLERK." 

Many witnesses attest the ferocious bodily chastise- 
ment inflicted upon male apprentices in workshops : 

" In Sedgley they are sometimes struck with a red-hot iron, 
and burned and bruised simultaneously; sometimes they have 
' a flash of lightning' sent at them. When a bar of iron is drawn 
white-hot from the forge it emits fiery particles, which the man 
commonly flings in a shower upon the ground by a swing of his 
arm, before placing the bar upon the anvil. This shower is some- 
times directed at the boy. It may come over his hands and face, 
his naked arms, or on his breast. If his shirt be open in front, 
which is usually the case, the red-hot particles are lodged therein, 
and he has to shake them out as fast as he can." .Home, Report, 
p. 76, \ 757. See also witnesses, p. 56, 1. 24 ; p. 59, 1. 54. 

" In Darlaston, however, the children appear to be very little 
I 



182 THE WHITE SLAVES 

beaten, and in Bilston there were only a few instances of cruel 
treatment : ' the boys are kicked and cuffed abundantly, but not 
with any vicious or cruel intention, and only with an idea that 
this is getting the work done.' "Ibid. p. 62, 65, 660, 688. 

" In Wednesbury the treatment is better than in any other 
town in the district. The boys are not generally subject to any 
severe corporal chastisement, though a few cases of ill-treament 
occasionally occur. ' A few months ago an adult workman broke 
a boy's arm by a blow with a piece of iron ; the boy went to school 
till his arm got well ; his father and mother thought it a good 
opportunity to give him some schooling/ " Ibid. Evidence, No. 
331. 

" But the class of children in this district the most abused and 
oppressed are the apprentices, and particularly those who are 
bound to the small masters among the locksmiths, key and bolt 
makers, screwmakers, &c. Even among these small masters, 
there are respectable and humane men, who do not suffer any 
degree of poverty to render them brutal ; but many of these men 
treat their apprentices not so much with neglect and harshness, 
as with ferocious violence, the result of unbridled passions, ex- 
cited often by ardent spirits, acting on bodies exhausted by over- 
work, and on minds which have never received the slightest moral 
or religious culture, and which, therefore, never exercise the 
smallest moral or religious restraint." Ibid. 

Evidence from all classes, masters, journeymen, re- 
sidents, magistrates, clergymen, constables, and, above 
all, from the mouths of the poor oppressed sufferers 
themselves, is adduced to a heart-breaking extent. The 
public has been excited to pity by Dickens's picture of 
Smike in Willenhall, there are many Smikes. 

" , aged sixteen : ' His master stints him from six in 

the morning till ten and sometimes eleven at night, as much as 
ever he can do ; and if he don't do it, his master gives him no 
cupper, and gives him a good hiding, sometimes with a big strap, 



OF ENGLAND. 183 

sometimes with a big stick. His master has cut his head open five 
times once with a key and twice with a lock ; knocked the cor- 
ner of a lock into his head twice once with an iron bolt, and 
once with an iron shut a thing that runs into the staple. His 

master's name is , of Little London. There is another 

apprentice besides him, who is treated just as bad/ " Ibid. p. 
32, 1. 4. 

" , aged fifteen : ' Works at knob-locks with . 

Is a fellow-apprentice with . Lives in the house of his 

master. Is beaten by his master, who hits him sometimes with 
his fists, and sometimes with the file-haft, and sometimes with a 
stick it's no matter what when he's a bit cross ; sometimes hits 
him with the locks ; has cut his head open four or five times ; so 
he has his fellow apprentice's head. Once when he cut his head 
open with a key, thinks* half a pint of blood run off him.' " Ibid, 
p. 32, 1. 19. 

" , aged fourteen: 'Has been an in-door apprentice 

three years. Has no wages ; nobody gets any wages for him. 
Has to serve till he is twenty-one. His master behaves very bad. 
His mistress behaves worse, like a devil ; she beats him ; knocks 
his head against the wall. His master goes out a-drinking, and 
when he comes back, if any thing's gone wrong that he (the boy) 
knows nothing about, he is beat all the same.' " Ibid. p. 32. 1. 36. 

" , aged sixteen: 'His master sometimes hits him 

with his fist, sometimes kicks him ; gave him the black eye he 
has got; beat him in bed while he was asleep, at five in the 
morning, because he was not up to work. He came up-stairs 
and set about him set about him with his fist. Has been over 
to the public office, Brummagem, to complain ; took a note with 
him, which was written for him ; his brother gave it to the pub- 
lic office there, but they would not attend to it ; they said they 
could do no good, and gave the note back. He had been beaten 
at that time with a whip-handle it made wales all down his arms 
and back and all ; everybody he showed it to said it was scandal- 
ous. Wishes he could be released from his master, who's never 
easy but when he's a-beating of me. Never has enough to eat at 
no time ; ax him for more, he won't gie it me.' " Ibid. p. 30, 1. 5. 



184 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" , aged seventeen: 'Has no father or mother to take 

his part. His master once cut his head open with a flat file-haft, 
and used to pull his ears nearly off; they bled so he was obliged to 
go into the house to wipe them with a cloth/ " Ibid. p. 37, 1. 7. 

f aged fifteen : The neighbours who live agen the 

shop will say how his master beats him ; beats him with a strap, 
and sometimes a nut-stick ; sometimes the wales remain upon 
him for a week; his master once cut his eyelid open, cut a hole 
in it, and it bled all over his files that he was working with.' " 
Ibid. p. 37, 1. 47. 

" , aged 18: 'His master once ran at him with a 

hammer, and drove the iron-head of the hammer into his side 
he felt it for weeks ; his master often knocks him down on tho 
shop-floor ; he can't tell what it's all for, no more than you can ; 
don't know what it can be for unless it's this, his master thinks 
he don't do enough work for him. When he is beaten, his master 
does not lay it on very heavy, as some masters do, only beats him 
for five minutes at a time; should think that was enough, 
though.' "Home, Evidence, p. 37, 1. 57. 

All this exists in a Christian land ! Surely telescopic 
philanthropists must be numerous in Great Britain. 
Wonderful to relate, there are many persons instru- 
mental in sustaining this barbarous system, who pro- 
fess a holy horror of slavery, and who seldom rise up 
or lie down without offering prayers on behalf of the 
African bondsmen, thousands of miles away. Yerily, 
there are many people in this motley world so organized 
that they can scent corruption "afar off," but gain no 
knowledge of the foulness under their very noses. 

Henry Mayhew, in his "London Labour and the 
London Poor," gives some very interesting information 
in regard to the workshops in the great metropolis of 



OF ENGLAND. 185 

the British Empire. " In the generality of trades, the 
calculation is that one-third of the hands are fully em- 
ployed, one-third partially, and one-third unemployed 
throughout the year." The wages of those who are 
regularly employed being scant, what must be the con- 
dition of those whose employment is but casual and pre- 
carious ? Mayhew, says 

"The hours of labour in mechanical callings are usually twelve, 
two of them devoted to meals, or seventy-two hours (less by the 
permitted intervals) in a week. In the course of my inquiries for 
the Clironicle, I met with slop cabinet-makers,tailors, and milliners, 
who worked sixteen hours and more daily, their toil being only 
interrupted by the necessity of going out, if small masters, to 
purchase materials, and offer the goods for sale ; or, if journey- 
men in the slop trade, to obtain more work and carry what was 
completed to the master's shop. They worked on Sundays also ; 
one tailor told me that the coat he worked at on the previous 

Sunday was for the Rev. Mr. , who ' little thought it,' and 

these slop-workers rarely give above a few minutes to a meal. 
Thus they toil forty hours beyond the hours usual in an honour- 
able trade, (112 hours instead of 72,) in the course of a week, or 
between three and four days of the regular hours of work of the 
six working days. In other words, two such men will in less 
than a week accomplish work which should occupy three men a 
full week ; or 1000 men will execute labour fairly calculated to 
employ 1500 at the least. A paucity of employment is thus 
caused among the general body, by this system of over-labour 
decreasing the share of work accruing to the several operatives, 
and so adding to surplus hands. 

" Of over-work, as regards excessive labour, both in the general 
and fancy cabinet trade, I heard the following accounts, which 
different operatives concurred in giving ; while some represented 
the labour as of longer duration by at least an hour, and some 
by two hours a day, than I have stated. 

13 



186 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" The labour of the men who depend entirely on ' the slaugh- 
ter-houses' for the purchase of their articles is usually seven 
days a week the year through. That is, seven days for Sunday- 
work is all but universal each of thirteen hours, or ninety-one 
hours in all; while the established hours of labour in the 
' honourable trade' are six days of the week, each of ten hours, 
or sixty hours in all. Thus fifty per cent, is added to the extent 
of the production of low-priced cabinet work, merely from ' over- 
hours ;' but in some cases I heard of fifteen hours for seven days 
in the week, or 105 hours in all. 

" Concerning the hours of labour in this trade, I had the fol- 
lowing minute particulars from a garret-master who was a chair- 
maker : 

" ' I work from six every morning to nine at night ; some work 
till ten. My breakfast at eight stops me for ten minutes. I can 
breakfast in less time, but it's a rest. My dinner takes me say 
twenty minutes at the outside ; and my tea eight minutes. All 
the rest of the time I'm slaving at my bench. How many 
jninutes' rest is that, sir ? Thirty-eight ; well, say three-quarters 
of an hour, and that allows a few sucks at a pipe when I rest ; 
but I can smoke and work too. I have only one room to work 
and eat in, or I should lose more time. Altogether, I labour 
fourteen and a quarter hours every day, and I must work on Sun- 
days at least forty Sundays in the year. One may as well work 
as sit fretting. But on Sundays I only work till it's dusk, or till 
five or six in summer. When it's dusk I take a walk. I'm not 
well dressed enough for a Sunday walk when it's light, and I 
can't wear my apron on that day very well to hide patches. But 
there's eight hours that I reckon I take up every week, one with 
another, in dancing about to the slaughterers. I'm satisfied that 
I work very nearly 100 hours a week the year through ; deduct- 
ing the time taken up by the slaughterers, and buying stuff say 
eight hours a week it gives more than ninety hours a week for 
my work, and there's hundreds labour as hard as I do, just for a 
crust/ 

" The East-end turners generally, I was informed, when in- 
quiring into the state of that trade, labour at the lathe from six 



OF ENGLAND. 187 

o'clock in the morning till eleven and twelve at night, being 
eighteen hours' work per day, or one hundred and eight hours per 
week. They allow themselves two hours for their meals. It 
takes them, upon an average, two hours more every day fetching 
and carrying their work home. Some of the East-end men work 
on Sundays, and not a few either/ said my informant. ' Some- 
times I have worked hard/ said one man, ' from six one morning 
till four the next, and scarcely had any time to take my meals in 
the bargain. I have been almost suffocated with the dust flying 
down my throat after working so many hours upon such heavy 
work too, and sweating so much. It makes a man drink where 
he would not.' 

" This system of over-work exists in the ' slop' part of almost 
every business ; indeed, it is the principal means by which the 
cheap trade is maintained. Let me cite from my letters in the 
Chronicle some more of my experience on this subject. As 
regards the London mantuamakers, I said: ' The workwomen 
for good shops that give fair, or tolerably fair wages, and expect 
good work, can make six average-sized mantles in a week, work- 
ing from ten to twelve hours a day ; but the slop-workers by toil- 
ing from thirteen to sixteen hours a day, will make nine such sized 
mantles in a week. In a season of twelve weeks, 1000 workers 
for the slop-houses and warehouses would at this rate make 
108,000 mantles, or 36,000 more than workers for the fair trade. 
Or, to put it in another light, these slop- wo men, by being com- 
pelled, in order to live, to work such over-hours as inflict lasting 
injury on the health, supplant, by their over-work and over- 
hours, the labour of 500 hands, working the regular hours." 

Mr. Mayhew states it as a plain, unerring law, that 
"over-work makes under-pay, and under-pay makes 
over-work." True; but under-pay in the first place 
gave rise to prolonged hours of toil ; and in spite of all 
laws that may be enacted, as long as a miserable pit- 
tance is paid to labourers, and that, too, devoured by 



188 THE WHITE SLAVES 

taxes, supporting an aristocracy in luxury, so long 
the workman be compelled to slave for a subsistence. 

The "strapping" system, which demands an undue 
quantity of work from a journeyman in the course of a 
day, is extensively maintained in London. Mr. May- 
hew met with a miserable victim of this system of 
slavery, who appeared almost exhausted with excessive 
toil. The poor fellow said 

" ' I work in what is called a strapping-shop, and have worked 
at nothing else for these many years past in London. I call 
" strapping" doing as much work as a human being or a horse 
possibly can in a day, and that without any hanging upon the 
collar, but with the foreman's eyes constantly fixed upon you, 
from six o'clock in the morning to six o'clock at night. The shop 
in which I work is for all the world like a prison ; the silent sys- 
tem is as strictly carried out there as in a model jail. If a man 
was to ask any common question of his neighbour, except it was 
connected with his trade, he would be discharged there and then. 
If a journeyman makes the least mistake he is packed off just the 
same. A man working at such places is almost always in fear ; 
for the most trifling things lie's thrown out of work in an instant. 
And then the quantity of work that one is forced to get through 
is positively awful ; if he can ; t do a plenty of it he don't stop 
long where I am. No one would think it was possible to get so 
much out of blood and bones. No slaves work like we do. At 
some of the strapping shops the foreman keeps continually walk- 
ing about with his eyes on all the men at once. At others the 
foreman is perched high up, so that he can have the whole of the 
men under his eye together. I suppose since I knew the trade 
that a man does four times the work that he did formerly. I know 
a man that's done four pairs of sashes in a day, and one is con- 
sidered to be a good day's labour. What's worse than all, the 
men are every one striving one against the other. Each is try- 
ing to get through the work quicker than his neighbours. Four 



OF ENGLAND. 189 

or five men are set the same job, so that they may be all pitted 
against one another, and then away they go, every one striving 
his hardest for fear that the others should get finished first. 
They are all tearing along, from the first thing in the morning to 
the last at night, as hard as they can go, and when the time 
conies to knock off they are ready to drop. I was hours after I 
got home last night before I could get a wink of sleep ; the soles 
of my feet were on fire, and my arms ached to that degree that I 
could hardly lift my hand to my head. Often, too, when we get 
up of a morning, we are more tired than when we went to bed, 
for we can't sleep many a night ; but we mus'n't let our em- 
ployers know it, or else they'd be certain we couldn't do enough 
for them, and we'd get the sack. So, tired as we may be, we are 
obliged to look lively, somehow or other, at the shop of a morn- 
ing. If we're not beside our bench the very moment the bell's 
done ringing, our time's docked they won't give us a single 
minute out of the hour. If I was working for a fair master, I 
should do nearly one-third, and sometimes a half, less work than 
I am now forced to get through ; and, even to manage that much, 
I shouldn't be idle a second of my time. It's quite a mystery to 
me how they do contrive to get so much work out of the men. 
But they are very clever people. They know how to have the 
most out of a man, better than any one in the world. They are 
all picked men in the shop regular " strappers," and no mis- 
take. The most of them are five foot ten, and fine broad-shoul- 
dered, strong-backed fellows too if they weren't they wouldn't 
have them. Bless you, they make no words with the men, they 
gack them if they're not strong enough to do all they want ; and 
they can pretty soon tell, the very first shaving a man strikes in 
the shop, what a chap is made of. Some men are done up at 
such work quite old men and gray, with spectacles on, by the 
time they are forty. I have seen fine strong men, of thirty-six, 
come in there, and be bent double in two or three years. They 
are most all countrymen at the strapping shops. If they see a 
great strapping fellow, who they think has got some stuff about 
him that will come out, they will give him a job directly. We 
are used for all the world like cab or omnibus-horses. Directly 
I* 



190 THE WHITE SLAVES 

they've had all the work out of us, we are turned off, and I am 
sure, after my day's work is over, my feelings must be very much 
the same as one of the London cab-horses. As for Sunday, it is 
literally a day of rest with us, for the greater part of us lay a-bed 
all day, and even that will hardly take the aches and pains out 
of our bones and muscles. When I'm done and flung by, of 
course I must starve/ " 

It may be said that, exhausting as this labour certainly 
is, it is not slavery ; for the workman has a will of his 
own, and need not work if he does not choose to do it. 
Besides, he is not held by law ; he may leave the shop ; 
he may seek some other land. These circumstances 
make his case very different from the negro slave of 
America. True, but the difference is in favour of the 
negro slave. The London workman has only the alter- 
native such labour as has been described, the work- 
house, or starvation. The negro slave seldom has such 
grinding toil, is provided for whether he performs it or 
not, and can look forward to an old age of comfort and 
repose. The London workman may leave his shop, but 
he will be either consigned to the prison of a workhouse 
or starved. He might leave the country, if he could 
obtain the necessary funds. 

Family work, or the conjoint labour of a workman's 
wife and children, is one of the results of the wretchedly 
rewarded slavery in the various trades. Mr. Mayhew 
gives the following statement of a " fancy cabinet" 
worker upon this subject : 

" The most on us has got large families ; we put the children 



OF ENGLAND. 191 

to work as soon as we can. My little girl began about six, but 
about eight or nine is the usual age. ' Oh, poor little things/ said 
the wife, ' they are obliged to begin the very minute they can use 
their fingers at all/ The most of the cabinet-makers of the East 
end have from five to six in family, and they are generally all at 
work for them. The small masters mostly marry when they are 
turned of twenty. You see our trade's coming to such a pass, 
that unless a man has children to help him he can't live at all. 
I've worked more than a month together, and the longest night's 
rest I've had has been an hour and a quarter; ay, and I've been 
up three nights a week besides. I've had my children lying ill, 
and been obliged to wait on them into the bargain. You see we 
couldn't live if it wasn't for the labour of our children, though it 
makes 'em poor little things! old people long afore they are 
growed up.' 

" ' Why, I stood at this bench/ said the wife, ' with my child, 
only ten years of age, from four o'clock on Friday morning till 
ten minutes past seven in the evening, without a bit to eat or 
drink. I never sat down a minute from the time I began till I 
finished my work, and then I went out to sell what I had done. 
I walked all the way from here [Shoreditch] down to the Lowther 
Arcade to get rid of the articles/ Here she burst out into a 
violent flood of tears, saying, ' Oh, sir, it is hard to be obliged to 
labour from morning till night as we do, all of us, little ones and 
all, and yet not be able to live by it either/ 

" 'And you see the worst of it is, this here children's labour is of 
such value now in our trade, that there's more brought into the 
business every year, so that it's really for all the world like breed- 
ing slaves. Without my children I don't know how we should be 
able to get along.' ' There's that little thing/ said the man, point- 
ing to the girl ten years of age, before alluded to, as she sat at 
the edge of the bed, ' why she works regularly every day from 
six in the morning till ten at night. She never goes to school ; 
we can't spare her. There's schools enough about here for a 
penny a week, but we could not afford to keep her without work- 
ing. If I'd ten more children I should be obliged to employ them 
all the same way, and there's hundreds and thousands of children 



192 THE WHITE SLAVES 

now slaving at this business. There's the M 's ; they have a 

family of eight, and the youngest to the oldest of all works at the 
bench; and the oldest a' n't fourteen. I'm sure, of the two thou- 
sand five hundred small masters in the cabinet line, you may 
safely say that two thousand of them, at the very least, have from 
five to six in family, and that's upward of twelve thousand chil- 
dren that's been put to the trade since prices have come down. 
Twenty years ago I don't think there was a child at work in our 
business ; and I am sure there is not a small master now whose 
whole family doesn't assist him. But what I want to know is, 
what's to become of the twelve thousand children when they're 
growed up and come regular into the trade? Here are all my 
ones growing up without being taught any thing but a business 
that I know they must starve at.' 

" In answer to my inquiry as to what dependence he had in 
case of sickness, ' Oh, bless you,' he said, ' there's nothing but the 
parish for us. I did belong to a benefit society about four years 
ago, but I couldn't keep up my payments any longer. I was in 
the society above five-and-twenty years, and then was obliged to 
leave it after all. I don't know of one as belongs to any friendly 
society, and I don't think there is a man as can afford it in our 
trade now. They must all go to the workhouse when they're sick 
or old.'" 

The " trading operatives," or those labourers who em- 
ploy subordinate and cheaper work-people, are much 
decried in England; but they, also, are the creations 
of the general system. A workman frequently ascer- 
tains that he can make more money with less labour, by 
employing women or children at home, than if he did 
all of his own work ; and very often men are driven to 
this resource to save themselves from being worked to 
death. The condition of those persons who work for 



OF ENGLAND. 193 

the "trading operatives," or "middle-men," is as mise- 
rable as imagination may conceive. 

In Charles Kingsley's popular novel, "Alton Locke," 
we find a vivid and truthful picture of the London tailor's 
workshop, and the slavery of the workmen, which may 
be quoted here in illustration : 

" I stumbled after Mr. Jones up a dark, narrow iron staircase, 
till we emerged through a trap-door into a garret at the top of 
the house. I recoiled with disgust at the scene before me ; and 
here I was to work perhaps through life ! A low lean-to room, 
stifling me with the combined odours of human breath and per 
spiration, stale beer, the sweet sickly smell of gin, and the sour 
and hardly less disgusting one of new cloth. On the floor, thick 
with dust and dirt, scraps of stuff and ends of thread, sat some 
dozen haggard, untidy, shoeless men, with a mingled look of care 
and recklessness that made me shudder. The windows were 
tight closed to keep out the cold winter air ; and the condensed 
breath ran in streams down the panes, checkering the dreary out- 
look of chimney-tops and smoke. The conductor handed me over 
to one of the men. 

" * Here Crossthwaite, take this younker and make a tailor of 
him. Keep him next you, and prick him up with your needle if 
he shirks.' 

" He disappeared down the trap-door, and mechanically, as if 
in a dream, I sat down by the man and listened to his instruc- 
tions, kindly enough bestowed. But I did not remain in peace 
two minutes. A burst of chatter rose as the foreman vanished, 
and a tall, bloated, sharp-nosed young man next me bawled in 
my ear 

"'I say, young 'un, fork out the tin and pay your footing at 
Conscrumption Hospital !' 

"'What do you mean?' 

" ' AVt he just green ? Down with the stumpy a tizzy for a 
pot of half-and-half/ 

"'I never drink beer.' 



194 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' Then never do/ whispered the man at my side ; 'as sure as 
hell's hell, it's your only chance/ 

" There was a fierce, deep earnestness in the tone, -which made 
me look up at the speaker, but the other instantly chimed in. 

" ' Oh, yer don't, don't yer, my young Father Mathy 1 then 
yer'll soon learn it here if yer want to keep your victuals down/ 

" ' And I have promised to take my wages home to my mother/ 

" ' Oh criminy ! hark to that, my coves ! here's a chap as is 
going to take the blunt home to his mammy/ 

" ' T'a'nt much of it the old un'll see,' said another. ' Yen yer 
pockets it at the Cock and Bottle, my kiddy, yer won't find much 
of it left o' Sunday mornings/ 

" ' Don't his mother know he's out ?' asked another ; ' and won't 
she know it 

Ven he's sitting in his glory 
Half-price at the Vic-tory. 

Oh no, ve never mentions her her name is never heard. Cer- 
tainly not, by no means. Why should it?' 

" 'Well, if yer won't stand a pot/ quoth the tall man, 'I will, 
that's all, and blow temperance. 'A short life and a merry one/ 
says the tailor 

The ministers talk a great deal about port, 

And they makes Cape wine very dear, 
But blow their hi's if ever they tries 

To deprive a poor cove of his beer. 

Here, Sam, run to the Cock and Bottle for a pot of half-and-half 
to my score/ 

" A thin, pale lad jumped up and vanished, while my tormentor 
turned to me : 

"I say, young 'un, do you know why we're nearer heaven here 
than our neighbours?' 

" ' I shouldn't have thought so/ answered I with a naivete which 
raised a laugh, and dashed the tall man for a moment. 

"'Yer don't? then I'll tell yer. Acause we're atop of the 
house in the first place, and next place yer'U die here six months 



OF ENGLAND. 195 

sooner nor if yer worked in the room below. A' n't that logic and 
science, Orator?' appealing to Crossthwaite. 

"'Why?' asked I. 

" ' Acause you get all the other floors' stinks up here, as well 
as your own. Concentrated essence of man's flesh, is this here 
as you're a-breathing. Cellar work-room we calls Rheumatic 
Ward, because of the damp. Ground-floor's, Fever Ward them 
as don't get typhus gets dysentery, and them as don't get dysen- 
tery gets typhus your nose 'd tell yer why if you opened the 
back windy. First floor's Ashmy Ward don't you hear ; um 
now through the cracks in the boards, a-puffing away like a nest 
of young locomotives? And this here more august and upper- 
crust cockloft is the Conscrumptive Hospital. First you begins 
to cough, then you proceed to expectorate spittoons, as you see, 
perwided free gracious for nothing fined a kivarten if you 
spits on the floor 

Then your cheeks they grow red, and your nose it grows thin, 
And your bones they sticks out, till they comes through your skin : 

and then, when you've sufficiently covered the poor dear shivering 
bare backs of the hairystocracy, 

Die, die, die, 

Away you fly, 

Your soul is in the sky ! 

as the hinspired Shakspeare wittily remarks/ 

" And the ribald lay down on his back, stretched himself out, 
and pretended to die in a fit of coughing, which last was alas ! 
no counterfeit, while poor I, shocked and bewildered, let my tears 
fall fast upon my knees. 

" ' Fine him a pot !' roared one, ' for talking about kicking the 
bucket. He's a nice young man to keep a cove's spirits up, and 
talk about " a short life and a merry one." Here comes the heavy. 
Hand it here to take the taste of that fellow's talk out of my 
mouth/ 

"'Well, my young 'un/ recommenced my tormentor, 'and 
how do you like your company?' 



196 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' Leave the boy alone/ growled Crossthwaite : ' don't you see 
he's crying? 7 

" ' Is that any thing good to eat? Give me some on it, if it is 
it '11 save me washing my face.' And he took hold of my hair 
and pulled my head back. 

" ' I'll tell you what, Jemmy Downefl,' said Crossthwaite, in a 
voice that made him draw back, 'if you don't drop that, I'll give 
you such a taste of my tongue as shall turn you blue.' 

"'You'd better try it on, then. Do only just now if you 
please.' 

" ' Be quiet, you fool !' said another. ' You're a pretty fellow 
to chaff the orator. He'll slang you up the chimney afore you 
can get your shoes on.' 

" ' Fine him a kivarten for quarrelling,' cried another ; and the 
bully subsided into a minute's silence, after a sotto voce ' Blow 
temperance, and blow all Chartists, say II' and then delivered 
himself of his feelings in a doggrel song : 

Some folks leads coves a dance, 

With their pledge of temperance, 
And their plans for donkey sociation ; 

And their pocket-fulls they crams 

By their patriotic flams, 
And then swears 'tis for the good of the nation. 

But I don't care two inions 

For political opinions, 
While I can stand my heavy and my quartern; 

For to drown dull care within, 

In baccy, beer, and gin, 
Is the prime of a working-tailor's fortin ! 

" ' There's common sense for you now; hand the pot here.' 
" I recollect nothing more of that day, except that I bent my- 
self to my work with assiduity enough to earn praises from Cross- 
thwaite. It was to be done, and I did it. The only virtue I ever 
possessed (if virtue it be) is the power of absorbing my whole 
heart and mind in the pursuit of the moment, however dull or 
trivial, if there be good reason why it should be pursued at all. 



OF ENGLAND. 197 

" I owe, too, an apology to my readers for introducing all this 
ribaldry. God knows it is as little to my taste as it can be to theirs, 
but the thing exists ; and those who live, if not by, yet still be- 
side such a state of things, ought to know what the men are like, 
to whose labour, ay, life-blood, they owe their luxuries. They 
are * their brothers' keepers/ let them deny it as they will." 

As a relief from misery, the wretched workmen gene- 
rally resort to intoxicating liquors, which, however, 
ultimately render them a hundredfold more miserable. 
In "Alton Locke," this is illustrated with an almost 
fearful power, in the life and death of the tailor Downes. 
After saving the wretched man from throwing himself 
into the river, Alton Locke accompanies him to a dis- 
gusting dwelling, in Bermondsey. The story con- 
tinues : 

" He stopped at the end of a miserable blind alley, where a 
dirty gas-lamp just served to make darkness visible, and show the 
patched windows and rickety doorways of the crazy houses, 
whose upper stories were lost in a brooding cloud of fog ; and the 
pools of stagnant water at our feet : and the huge heap of cinders 
which filled up the waste end of the alley a dreary black, form- 
less mound, on which two or three spectral dogs prowled up and 
down after the offal, appearing and vanishing like dark imps in 
and out of the black misty chaos beyond. 

" The neighbourhood was undergoing, as it seemed, 'improve- 
ments,' of that peculiar metropolitan species which consists in 
pulling down the dwellings of the poor, and building up rich 
men's houses instead ; and great buildings, within high tempo- 
rary palings, had already eaten up half the little houses ; as the 
great fish, and the great estates, and the great shopkeepers, eat 
up the little ones of their species by the law of competition, 
lately discovered to be the true creator and preserver of the uni- 
verse. There they loomed up, the tall bullies, against the dreary 



198 THE WHITE SLAVES 

sky, looking down -with their grim, proud, stony visages, on the 
misery which they were driving out of one corner, only to accu- 
mulate and intensify it in another. 

" The house at which we stopped was the last in the row ; all 
its companions had been pulled down ; and there it stood, lean- 
ing out with one naked ugly side into the gap, and stretching out 
long props, like feeble arms and crutches, to resist the work of 
demolition. 

"A group of slatternly people were in the entry, talking loudly,^ 
and as Downes pushed by them, a woman seized him by the arm. Y 

" ' Oh ! you unnatural villain ! To go away after your drink, 
and leave all them poor dead corpses locked up, without even 
letting a body go in to stretch them out !' 

" ' And breeding the fever, too, to poison the whole house !' 
growled one. 

" The relieving-officer's been here, my cove/ said another; 'and 
he's gone for a peeler and a search-warrant to break open the 
door, I can tell you !' 

" But Downes pushed past unheeding, unlocked a door at the 
end of the passage, thrust me in, locked it again, and then rushed 
across the room in chase of two or three rats, who vanished into 
cracks and holes. 

" And what a room ! A low lean-to with wooden walls, without 
a single article of furniture ; and through the broad chinks of the 
floor shone up as it were ugly glaring eyes, staring at us. They 
were the reflections of the rushlight in the sewer below. The 
stench was frightful the air heavy with pestilence. The first 
breath I drew made my heart sink, and my stomach turn. But 
I forgot every thing in the object which lay before me, as Downes 
tore a half-finished coat off three corpses laid side by side on the 
bare floor. 

"There was his little Irish wife; dead and naked the 
wasted white limbs gleamed in the lurid light ; the unclosed eyes 
stared, as if reproachfully, at the husband whose drunkenness 
had brought her there to kill her with the pestilence ; and on 
each side of her a little, shrivelled, impish, child-corpse the 
wretched man had laid their arms round the dead mother's neck 
and there they slept, their hungering and wailing over at last 



OF ENGLAND. 199 

for ever : the rats had been busy already with them but what 
matter to them now ? 

"'Look!' he cried; 'I watched 'em dying! Day after day I 
saw the devils come up through the cracks, like little maggots 
and beetles, and all manner of ugly things, creeping down their 
throats ; and I asked 'em, and they said they were the fever 
devils/ 

" It was too true ; the poisonous exhalations had killed them. 
The wretched man's delirium tremens had given that horrible 
substantiality to the poisonous fever gases. 

" Suddenly Downes turned on me almost menacingly. 'Money ! 
money ! I want some gin !' 

" I was thoroughly terrified and there was no shame in feel- 
ing fear, locked up with a madman far my superior in size and 
strength, in so ghastly a place. But the shame, and the folly 
too, would have been in giving way to my fear ; and with a bold- 
ness half assumed, half the real fruit of excitement and indigna- 
tion at the horrors I beheld, I answered 

" ' If I had money, I would give you none. What do you want 
with gin ? Look at the fruits of your accursed tippling. If you 
had taken my advice, my poor fellow/ I went on, gaining courage 
as I spoke, ' and become a water-drinker, like me' 

" ' Curse you and your water-drinking ! If you had had no 
water to drink or wash with for two years but that that/ point- 
ing to the foul ditch below ' If you had emptied the slops in 
there with one hand, and filled your kettle with the other' 

" ' Do you actually mean that that sewer is your only drinking 
water ?' 

" ' Where else can we get any ? Everybody drinks it ; and you 
shall too you shall !' he cried, with a fearful oath, ' and then see 
if you don't run off to the gin-shop, to take the taste of it out of 
your mouth. Drink ! and who can help drinking, with his 
stomach turned with such hell-broth as that or such a hell's 
blast as this air is here, ready to vomit from morning till night 
with the smells ? I'll show you. You shall drink a bucket-full 
of it, as sure as you live, you shall/ 

" And he ran out of the back door, upon a little balcony, which 
hung over the ditch. 



200 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" I tried the door, Ibut the key was gone, and the handle too. 
I beat furiously on it, and called for help: Two gruff authorita- 
tive voices were heard in the passage. 

" ' Let us in ; I'm the policeman !' 

" ' Let me out, or mischief will happen !' 

" The policeman made a vigorous thrust at the crazy door; and 
just as it burst open, and the light of his lantern streamed into 
the horrible den, a heavy splash was heard outside. 

" ' He has fallen into the ditch T 

" ' He'll be drowned, then, as sure as he's a born man/ shouted 
one of the crowd behind. 

" We rushed out on the balcony. The light of the policeman's 
lantern glared over the ghastly scene along the double row of 
miserable house-backs, which lined the sides of the open tidal 
ditch over strange rambling jetties, and balconies, and sleeping 
sheds, which hung on rotting piles over the black waters, with 
phosphorescent scraps of rotten fish gleaming and twinkling out 
of the dark hollows, like devilish gravelights over bubbles of 
poisonous gas, and bloated carcases of dogs, and lumps of offal, 
floating on the stagnant olive-green hell-broth over the slow sul- 
len rows of oily ripple which were dying away into the darkness 
far beyond, sending up, as they stirred, hot breaths of miasma 
the only sign that a spark of humanity, after years of foul life, 
had quenched itself at last in that foul death. I almost fancied 
that I could see the haggard face staring up at me through the 
elimy water ; but no it was as opaque as stone." 

Dowries had been a "sweater," and before his death 
was a "sweater's slave." 

When the comparatively respectable workshop in 
which Alton Locke laboured was broken up, and the 
workmen were told by the heartless employer that he 
intended to give out work, for those who could labour 
at home, these toil-worn men held a meeting, at which 



OF ENGLAND. 201 

a man named John Crossthwaite, thus spoke for his 
oppressed and degraded class : 

" We were all bound to expect this. Every working tailor must 
come to this at last, on the present system ; and we are only 
lucky in having been spared so long. You all know where this 
will end in the same misery as fifteen thousand out of twenty 
thousand of our class are enduring now. We shall become the 
slaves, often the bodily prisoners, of Jews, middlemen, and sweat- 
ers, who draw their livelihood out of our starvation. We shall 
have to face, as the rest have, ever-decreasing prices of labour, 
ever-increasing profits made out of that labour by the contractors 
who will employ us arbitrary fines, inflicted at the caprice of 
hirelings the competition of women, and children, and starving 
Irish our hours of work will increase one-third, our actual pay 
decrease to less than one-half; and in all this we shall have no 
hope, no chance of improvement in wages, but ever more penury, 
slavery, misery, as we are pressed on by those who are sucked by 
fifties almost by hundreds yearly, out of the honourable trade 
in which we were brought up, into the infernal system of con- 
tract work, which is devouring our trade and many others, body 
and soul. Our wives will be forced to sit up night and day to 
help us our children must labour from the cradle, without chance 
of going to school, hardly of breathing the fresh air of heaven 
our boys as they grow up must turn beggars or paupers our 
daughters, as thousands do, must eke our their miserable earn- 
ings by prostitution. And, after all, a whole family will not gain 
what one of us had been doing, as yet, single-handed. You know 
there will be no hope for us. There is no use appealing to go- 
vernment or Parliament. I don't want to talk politics here. I 
shall keep them for another place. But you can recollect as well 
as I can, when a deputation of us went up to a member of Parlia- 
ment one that was reputed a philosopher, and a political econo- 
mist, and a liberal and set before him the ever-increasing penury 
and misery of our trade and of those connected with it ; you re- 
collect his answer that, however glad he would be to help us, it 
was impossible he could not alter the laws of nature that 

14 



202 THE WHITE SLAVES 

wages were regulated by the amount of competition among the 
men themselves, and that it was no business of government, or 
any one else, to interfere in contracts between the employer and 
employed, that those things regulated themselves by the laws of 
political economy, which it was madness and suicide to oppose. 
He may have been a wise man. I only know that he was a rich 
one. Every one speaks well of the bridge which carries him over. 
Every one fancies the laws which fill his pockets to be God's laws. 
But I say this : If neither government nor members of Parliament 
can help us, we must help ourselves. Help yourselves, and Hea- 
ven will help you. Combination among ourselves is the only 
chance. One thing we can do sit still.' 
" ' And starve !' said some one." 

Crossthwaite is represented as having preferred to 
endure want rather than work under the sweating sys- 
tem. But there are few men who possess such spirit 
and determination. Men with families are compelled, 
by considering those who are dependent upon them, to 
work for whatever prices the masters choose to pay. 
They are free labourers if they do not choose to work 
they are perfectly free to starve ! 

The government took the initiative in the sweating 
system. It set the example by giving the army and 
navy clothes to contractors, and taking the lowest 
tenders. The police clothes, the postmen's clothes, the 
convict's clothes, are all contracted for by sweaters and 
sub-sweaters, till government work is the very last, 
lowest resource to which a poor, starved-out wretch 
betakes himself, to keep body and soul together. Thus 
is profit made from the pauperism of men, the slavery of 
children, and the prostitution of women, in Great Britain. 



OF ENGLAND. 203 

Some years ago the following announcement appeared 
in the Village Gazette : 

" Peter Moreau and his wife are dead, aged twenty-five years. 
Too much work has killed them and many besides. We say 
"Work like a negro, like a galley-slave: we ought to say Work 
like a freeman." 

Work like negro slaves, indeed ! There is no such 
work in America, even among the slaves ; all day long, 
from Monday morning till Saturday night, week after 
week, and year after year, till the machine is worn out. 
American slaves and convicts in New South Wales are 
fat and happy, compared with the labourers of England. 
It frequently happens that Englishmen commit crimes 
for the purpose of becoming galley-slaves in New South 
Wales. They do not keep their purpose secret ; they 
declare it loudly with tears and passionate exclamations 
to the magistrate who commits them for trial, to the 
jury who try them, and to the judge who passes sen- 
tence on them. This is published in the newspapers, 
but so often that it excites no particular comment. 

The parish apprentices are the worst-treated slaves 
in the world. They are at the mercy of their masters 
and mistresses during their term of apprenticeship, 
without protectors, and without appeal against the most 
cruel tyranny. In the reign of George III., one Eliza- 
beth Brownrigg was hanged for beating and starving to 
death her parish apprentices. In 1831, another woman, 
Esther Hibner by name, was hanged in London for 



204 THE WHITE SLAVES 

beating and starving to death a parish apprentice. Two 
instances of punishment, for thousands of cases of im- 
punity ! 

" The evidence in the case of Esther Hibner proved that a num- 
ber of girls, pauper apprentices, were employed in a workshop; 
that their victuals consisted of garbage, commonly called hog's- 
wash, and that of this they never had enough to stay the pains 
of hunger; that they were kept half-naked, half-clothed in dirty 
rags; that they slept in a heap on the floor, amid filth and stench; 
that they suffered dreadfully from cold ; that they were forced to 
work so many hours together that they used to fall asleep while 
at work ; that for falling asleep, for not working as hard as their 
mistress wished, they were beaten with sticks, with fists, dragged 
by the hair, dashed on to the ground, trampled upon, and other- 
wise tortured ; that they were found, all of them more or less, 
covered with chilblains, scurvy, bruises, and wounds ; that one 
of them died of ill-treatment ; and mark this that the discovery 
of that murder was made in consequence of the number of coffins 
which had issued from Esther Hibner's premises, and raised the 
curiosity of her neighbours. For this murder Mrs. Hibner was 
hanged ; but what did she get for all the other murders which, 
referring to the number of coffins, we have a right to believe that 
she committed ? She got for each 10. That is to say, when- 
ever she had worked, starved, beaten, dashed and trampled a girl 
to death, she got another girl to treat in the same way, with 10 
for her trouble. She carried on a trade in the murder of parish 
apprentices ; and if she had conducted it with moderation, if the 
profit and custom of murder had not made her grasping and care- 
less, the constitution, which protects the poor as well as the rich, 
would never have interfered with her. The law did not permit 
her to do what she liked with her apprentices, as Americans do 
with their slaves ; oh no. Those free-born English children were 
merely bound as apprentices, with their own consent, under the 
eye of the magistrate, in order that they might learn a trade and 
become valuable subjects. But did the magistrate ever visit Mrs. 
Hibner's factory to see how she treated the free-born English 



OF ENGLAND. 205 

girls ? never. Did the parish officers ? no. "Was there any legal 
provision for the discovery of the woman's trade in murder? 
none." 

" You still read on the gates of London poorhouses, ' strong, 
healthy boys and girls,' &c. ; and boys or girls you may obtain 
by applying within, as many as you please, free-born, with the 
usual fee. Having been paid for taking them, and having gone 
through the ceremonies of asking their consent and signing bonds 
before a magistrate, you may make them into sausages, for any 
thing the constitution will do to prevent you. If it should be 
proved that you kill even one of them, you will be hanged ; but 
you may half-starve them, beat them, torture them, any thing 
short of killing them, with perfect security; and using a little 
circumspection, you may kill them too, without much danger. 
Suppose they die, who cares ? Their parents ? they are orphans, 
or have been abandoned by their parents. The parish officers? 
very likely, indeed, that these, when the poorhouse is crammed 
with orphan and destitute children, should make inquiries trou- 
blesome to themselves ; inquiries which, being troublesome to you, 
might deprive them of your custom in future. The magistrate? 
he asked the child whether it consented to be your apprentice; 
the child said ' Yes, your worship ;' and there his worship's duty 
ends. The neighbours? of course, if you raise their curiosity like 
Esther Hibner, but not otherwise. In order to be quite safe, I 
tell you you must be a little circumspect. But let us suppose 
that you are timid, and would drive a good trade without the 
shadow of risk. In that case, half-starve your apprentices, cuff 
them, kick them, torment them till they run away from you. 
They will not go back to the poorhouse, because there they would 
be flogged for having run away from you : besides, the poorhouse 
is any thing but a pleasant place. The boys will turn beggars 
or thieves, and the girls prostitutes ; you will have pocketed 10 
for each of them, and may get more boys and girls on the same 
terms, to treat in the same way. This trade is as safe as it is 
profitable."* 

* England and America, Harpers & Brothers, publishers, 1834. 



206 THE WHITE SLAVES 



CHAPTER V 

THE WORKHOUSE SYSTEM OF BRITAIN. 

THE English, writers generally point to the poor-laws 
of their country as a proud evidence of the merciful and 
benevolent character of the government. Look at those 
laws ! so much have we done in the cause of humanity. 
See how much money we expend every year for the re- 
lief of the poor ! Our workhouses are maintained at an 
enormous expense. Yery well ; but it takes somewhat 
from the character of the doctor, to ascertain that he 
gave the wound he makes a show of healing. What are 
the sources of the immense pauperism of Britain ? The 
enormous monopoly of the soil, and the vast expense of 
civil and ecclesiastical aristocracy. The first takes work 
from one portion of the people, and the latter takes the 
profits of work from the other portion. The " glorious 
institutions" of Britain crowd- the workhouses; and we 
are now going to show the horrible system under which 
paupers are held in these establishments. 

The labouring classes are constantly exposed to the 
chance of going to the workhouse. Their wages are so 
low, or so preyed upon by taxes, that they have no 
opportunity of providing for a rainy day." A few 



OF ENGLAND. 207 

weeks' sickness, a few weeks' absence of work, and, 
starvation staring them in the face, they are forced to 
apply to the parish authorities for relief. Once within 
the gate of the workhouse, many never entertain the 
idea of coming out until they are carried forth in their 
coffins. 

Each parish has a workhouse, which is under the 
control of several guardians, who, again, are under the 
orders of a Board of Commissioners sitting at London. 
Many perhaps a majority of the guardians of the 
parishes are persons without those humane feelings 
which should belong to such officials, and numerous 
petty brutalities are added to those which are inherent 
in the British workhouse system. 

Robert Southey says 

" When the poor are incapable of contributing any longer to 
their own support, they are removed to what is called the work- 
house. I cannot express to you the feelings of hopelessness and 
dread with which all the decent poor look on to this wretched 
termination of a life of labour. To this place all vagrants are 
sent for punishment ; unmarried women with child go here to be 
delivered ; and poor orphans and base-born children are brought 
up here until they are of age to be apprenticed off; the other in- 
mates are of those unhappy people who are utterly helpless, parish 
idiots and madmen, the blind and the palsied, and the old who 
are fairly worn out. It is not in the nature of things that the 
superintendents of such institutions as these should be gentle- 
hearted, when the superintendence is undertaken merely for the 
sake of the salary. To this society of wretchedness the labouring 
poor of England look as their last resting-place on this side of the 
grave ; and, rather than enter abodes so miserable, they endure 
the severest privations as long as it is possible to exist. A feel- 



208 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ing of honest pride makes them shrink from a place where guilt 
and poverty are confounded ; and it is heart-breaking for ' those 
who have reared a family of their own to be subjected, in their 
old age, to the harsh and unfeeling authority of persons younger 
than themselves, neither better born nor better bred." 

This is no less true, than admirable as a specimen of 
prose. It was true when Southey penned it, and it is 
true now. Let us look at some of the provisions of the 
poor-laws of England, which form the much-lauded sys- 
tem of charity. 

One of these provisions refuses relief to those who 
will not accept that relief except in the character of 
inmates of the workhouse, and thus compels the poor 
applicants to either perish of want or tear asunder all 
the ties of home. To force the wretched father from 
the abode of his family, is a piece of cruelty at which 
every humane breast must revolt. What wonder that 
many perish for want of food, rather than leave all that 
is dear to them on earth ? If they must die, they prefer 
to depart surrounded by affectionate relatives, rather 
than by callous guardians of the poor," who calculate 
the trouble and the expense of the burial before the 
breath leaves the body. The framers of the poor-laws 
forgot perchance that, "Be it ever so humble, there's 
no place like home." 

Another provision of the poor-laws denies the conso- 
lations of religion to those whose conscientious scruples 
will not allow them to worship according to the forms 
of the established church. This is totally at variance 



OF ENGLAND. 209 

with the spirit of true Christianity, and a most barbarous 
privation. One would think that British legislators 
doubted the supreme efficacy of the Christian faith in 
saving souls from destruction. Why should not the 
balm be applied, regardless of the formal ceremonies, 
if it possesses any healing virtues ? But the glory of 
the English Church is its iron observance . of forms; 
and, rather than relax one jot, it would permit the souls 
of millions to be swept away into the gloom of eternal 
night. 

Then, there is the separation regulation, dragging 
after it a long train of horrors and heart-rending suf- 
ferings violating the law of holy writ Whom God 
hath joined together, let no man put asunder" and 
trampling upon the best feelings of human nature. 

A thrilling illustration of the operation of this law is 
narrated by Mr. James Grant.* We quote : 

" Two persons, man and wife, of very advanced years, were at 
last, through the infirmities consequent on old age, rendered in- 
capable of providing for themselves. Their friends were like 
themselves, poor ; but, so long as they could, they afforded them 
all the assistance in their power. The infirmities of the aged 
couple became greater and greater ; so, as a necessary conse- 
quence, did their wants. The guardians of the poor their parish 
being under the operation of the new measure refused to afford 
them the slightest relief. What was to be done ? They had no 
alternative but starvation and the workhouse. To have gone to 
the workhouse, even had they been permitted to live together, 

* Every-day Life in London. 



210 THE WHITE SLAVES 

could have been painful enough to their feelings ; but to go there 
to be separated from each other, was a thought at which their 
hearts sickened. They had been married for nearly half a cen- 
tury ; and during all that time had lived in the greatest harmony 
together. I am speaking the language of unexaggerated truth 
when I say, that their affection for each other increased, instead 
of suffering, diminution, as they advanced in years. A purer or 
stronger attachment than theirs has never, perhaps, existed in a 
world in which there is so much of mutability as in ours. Many 
were the joys and many were the sorrows which they had equally 
shared with each other. Their joys were increased, because par- 
ticipated in by both : their sorrows were lessened, because of the 
.consolations they assiduously administered to each other when 
the dispensations of Providence assumed a lowering aspect. The 
reverses they had experienced, in the course of their long and 
eventful union, had only served to attach them the more strongly 
to each other, just as the tempestuous blast only serves to cause 
the oak to strike its roots more deeply in the earth. With minds 
originally constituted alike, and that constitution being based on 
a virtuous foundation, it was, indeed, to be expected that the lapse 
of years would only tend to strengthen their attachment. Nothing, 
in a word, could have exceeded the ardour of their sympathy with 
each other. The only happiness which this world could afford 
them was derived from the circumstance of being in each other's 
company ; and the one looked forward to the possibility of being 
left alone, when the other was snatched away by death, with feel- 
ings of the deepest pain and apprehension. Their wish was, in 
subordination to the will of the Supreme Being, that as they had 
been so long united in life, so in death they might not be divided. 
Their wish was in one sense realized, though not in the sense they 
had desired. The pressure of want, aggravated by the increasing 
infirmities of the female, imposed on her the necessity of repairing 
to the workhouse. The husband would most willingly have fol- 
lowed, had they been permitted to live together when there, in 
the hope that they should, even in that miserable place, be able 
to assuage each other's griefs, as they had so often done before. 
That was a permission, however, which was not to be granted to 



OF ENGLAND. 211 

them. The husband therefore determined that he would live on a 
morsel of bread and a draught of cold water, where he was, rather 
than submit to the degradation of a workhouse, in which he would 
be separated from her who had been the partner of his joys and 
griefs for upward of half a century. The hour of parting came ; 
and a sad and sorrowful hour it was to the aged couple. "Who 
shall describe their feelings on the occasion? Who can even 
enter into those feelings? No one. They could only be con- 
ceived by themselves. The process of separation was as full of 
anguish to their mental nature as is the severance of a limb from 
the body to the physical constitution. And that separation was 
aggravated by the circumstance, that both felt a presentiment, so 
strong as to have all the force of a thorough conviction, that their 
separation was to be final as regarded this world. What, then, 
must have been the agonies of the parting hour in the case of a 
couple whose mental powers were still unimpaired, and who had 
lived in the most perfect harmony for the protracted period of 
fifty years ? They were, I repeat, not only such as admit of no 
description, but no one, who has not been similarly circumstanced, 
can even form an idea of them. The downcast look, the tender 
glances they emitted to each other, the swimming eye, the moist 
cheek, the deep-drawn sigh, the choked utterance, the affectionate 
embrace all told, in the language of resistless eloquence, of the 
anguish caused by their separation. The scene was affecting in 
the extreme, even to the mere spectator. It was one which must 
have softened the hardest heart, as it drew tears from every eye 
which witnessed it ; what, then, must the actual realization of it 
in all its power have been to the parties themselves ? The sepa- 
ration did take place ; the poor woman was wrenched from the 
almost death-like grasp of her husband. She was transferred to 
the workhouse ; and he was left alone in the miserable hovel in 
which they had so long remained together. And what followed ? 
What followed I That may be soon told : it is a short history. 
The former pined away, and died in three weeks after the 
separation ; and the husband only survived three weeks more. 
Their parting was thus but for a short time, though final as 



212 THE WHITE SLAVES 

regarded this world. Ere six weeks had elapsed they again met 
together 

Met on that happy, happy shore, 
Where friends do meet to part no more/' 

Here was an outrage, shocking to every heart of or- 
dinary sensibility, committed by authority of the British 
government, in due execution of its "charitable enact- 
ments." In searching for a parallel, we can only find it 
among those savage tribes who kill their aged and infirm 
brethren to save trouble and expense. Yet such actions 
are sanctioned by the government of a civilized nation, 
in the middle of the nineteenth century ; and that, too, 
when the government is parading its philanthropy in 
the face of the world, and, pharisaically, thanking God 
that it is not as other nations are, authorizing sin and 
wrong. 

It was said by the advocates of this regulation of 
separation, that paupers themselves have no objection 
to be separated from each other ; because, generally 
speaking, they have become old and unable to assist 
each other, before they throw themselves permanently 
on the parish in other words, that the poor have not 
the same aifection for relatives and friends that the 
wealthy have. Well, that argument was characteristic 
of a land where the fineness of a man's feelings are 
assumed to be exactly in proportion to the position of 
his ancestry and the length of his purse perfectly in 
keeping, as an artist would say. A pauper husband 



OF ENGLAND. 213 

and wife, after living together, perhaps for thirty years, 
become old and desire to be separated, according to the 
representations of the British aristocrat. His iron logic 
allows no hearts to the poor. To breathe is human 
to feel is aristocratic. 

Equally to be condemned is the regulation which 
prohibits the visits to the workhouse of the friends of 
the inmates. The only shadow of a reason for this is 
an alleged inconvenience attending the admission of 
those persons who are not inmates ; and for such a rea- 
son the wife is prevented from seeing her husband, the 
children from seeing their father, and the poor heart- 
broken inmate from seeing a friend perhaps the only 
one he has in the world. We might suppose that the 
authors of this regulation had discovered that adversity 
multiplies friends, instead of driving them away from 
its gloom. Paupers must be blessed beyond the rest 
of mankind in that respect. Instances are recorded 
in which dying paupers have been refused the consola- 
tion of a last visit from their children, under the opera- 
tion of this outrageous law. Mr. James Grant mentions 
a case that came to his notice : 

" An instance occurred a few months since in a workhouse in 
the suburbs of the metropolis, in which intelligence was acci- 
dentally conveyed to a daughter that her father was on his death- 
bed ; she hurried that moment to the workhouse, but was refused 
admission. With tears in her eyes, and a heart that was ready 
to break, she pleaded the urgency of the case. The functionary 
was deaf to her entreaties ; as soon might she have addressed 
J* 



214 THE WHITE SLAVES 

them to the brick wall before her. His answer was, ' It is con- 
trary to the regulations of the place ; come again at a certain 
hour/ She applied to the medical gentleman who attended the 
workhouse, and through his exertions obtained admission. She 
flew to the ward in which her father was confined : he lay cold, 
motionless, and unconscious before her his spirit was gone ; he 
had breathed his last five minutes before. Well may we exclaim, 
when we hear of such things, ' Do we live in a Christian coun- 
try ? Is this a civilized land ?' " 

Certainly, Mr. Grant, it is a land of freedom and phi- 
lanthropy unknown upon the rest of the earth's surface. 

From a survey of the poor-laws it appears that 
poverty is considered criminal in Great Britain. The 
workhouses, which are declared to have been established 
for the relief of the poor, are worse than prisons for 
solitary confinement ; for the visits of friends and the 
consolations of religion, except under particular forms, 
are denied to the unhappy inmates, while they are per- 
mitted to the criminal in his dungeon. 

What an English pauper is may be learned from the 
following description of the "bold peasantry," which 
we extract from one of the countless pamphlets on 
pauperism written by Englishmen. 

" What is that defective being, with calfless legs and stooping 
shoulders, weak in body and mind, inert, pusillanimous and 
stupid, whose premature wrinkles and furtive glance tell of 
misery and degradation ? That is an English peasant or pauper ; 
for the words are synonymous. His sire was a pauper, and his 
mother's milk wanted nourishment. From infancy his food has 
been bad, as well as insufficient ; and he now feels the pains of 
unsatisfied hunger nearly whenever he is awake. But half- 



OF ENGLAND. 215 

clothed, and never supplied with more warmth than suffices to 
cook his scanty meals, cold and wet come to him, and stay by 
him, with the weather. He is married, of course ; for to this he 
would have been driven by the poor-laws, even if he had been, 
as he never was, sufficiently comfortable and prudent to dread 
the burden of a family. But, though instinct and the overseer 
have given him a wife, he has not tasted the highest joys of hus- 
band and father. His partner and his little ones being, like him- 
self, often hungry, seldom warm, sometimes sick without aid, and 
always sorrowful without hope, are greedy, selfish, and vexing ; 
BO, to use his own expression, he ' hates the sight of them/ and 
resorts to his hovel only because a hedge aifords less shelter from 
the wind and rain. Compelled by parish law to support his 
family, which means to join them in consuming an allowance 
from the parish, he frequently conspires with his wife to get that 
allowance increased, or prevent its being diminished. This 
brings begging, trickery, and quarrelling; and ends in settled 
craft. Though he has the inclination he wants the courage to 
become, like more energetic men of his class, a poacher or smug- 
gler on a large scale ; but he pilfers occasionally, and teaches 
his children to lie and steal. His subdued and slavish manner 
toward his great neighbours shows that they treat him with sus- 
picion and harshness. Consequently he at once dreads and hates 
them ; but he will never harm them by violent means. Too de- 
graded to be desperate, he is only thoroughly depraved. His 
miserable career will be short ; rheumatism and asthma are con- 
ducting him to the workhouse, where he will breathe his last 
without one pleasant recollection, and so make room for another 
wretch, who may live and die in the same way. This is a sam- 
ple of one class of English peasants. Another class is composed 
of men who, though paupers to the extent of being in part sup- 
ported by the parish, were not bred and born in extreme destitu- 
tion, and who, therefore, in so far as the moral depends on the 
physical man, are qualified to become wise, virtuous, and happy. 
They have large muscles, an upright mien, and a quick percep- 
tion. With strength, energy, and skill, they would earn a com- 
fortable subsistence as labourers, if the modern fashion of paying 



216 THE WHITE SLAVES 

wages out of the poor-box did not interfere with the due course 
of things, and reduce all the labourers of a parish, the old and 
the young, the weak and the strong, the idle and the industrious, 
to that lowest rate of wages, or rather of weekly payment to 
each, which, in each case, is barely sufficient for the support of 
life. If there were no poor-laws, or if the poor-laws were such 
that labour was paid in proportion to the work performed, and 
not according to a scale founded on the power of gastric juice 
under various circumstances, these superior men would be em- 
ployed in preference to the inferior beings described above, 
would earn twice as much as the others could earn, and would 
have every motive for industry, providence, and general good 
conduct. As it is, their superior capacity as labourers is of no 
advantage to them. They have no motive for being industrious 
or prudent. What they obtain between labour and the rate ia 
but just enough to support them miserably. They are tempted 
to marry for the sake of an extra allowance from the parish : and 
they would be sunk to the lowest point of degradation but for the 
energy of their minds, which they owe to their physical strength. 
Courage and tenderness are said to be allied : men of this class 
usually make good husbands and affectionate parents. Impelled 
by want of food, clothes, and warmth, for themselves and their 
families, they become poachers wherever game abounds, and 
smugglers when opportunity serves. By poaching or smuggling, 
or both, many of them are enabled to fill the bellies of their chil- 
dren, to put decent clothes on the backs of their wives, and to 
keep the cottage whole, with a good fire in it, from year's end to 
year's end. The villains ! why are they not taken up ? They 
are taken up sometimes, and are hunted always, by those who 
administer rural law. In this way they learn to consider two 
sets of laws those for the protection of game, and those for the 
protection of home manufactures as specially made for their 
injury. Be just to our unpaid magistrates ! who perform their 
duty, even to the shedding of man's blood, in defence of phea- 
sants and restrictions on trade. Thus the bolder sort of husbandry 
labourers, by engaging in murderous conflicts with gamekeepers 
and preventive men, become accustomed to deeds of violence, 



OF ENGLAND. 217 

and, by living in jails, qualified for the most desperate courses. 
They also imbibe feelings of dislike, or rather of bitter hatred, 
toward the rural magistracy, whom they regard as oppressors 
and natural enemies ; closely resembling, in this respect, the 
defective class of peasants from whom they differ in so many par- 
ticulars. Between these two descriptions of peasantry there is 
another, which partakes of the characteristics of both classes, but 
in a slighter degree, except as regards their fear and hatred of 
the rural aristocracy. In the districts where paupers and game 
abound, it would be difficult to find many labourers not coming 
under one of these descriptions. By courtesy, the entire body is 
called the bold peasantry of England. But is nothing done by 
the * nobility, clergy, and gentry/ to conciliate the affection of the 
pauper mass, by whose toil all their own wealth is produced? 
Charity ! The charity of the poor-laws, which paupers have been 
taught to consider a right, which operates as a curse to the able- 
bodied and well-disposed, while it but just enables the infirm of 
all ages to linger on in pain and sorrow. Soup I Dogs'-meat, 
the paupers call it. They are very ungrateful; but there is a 
way of relieving a man's necessities which will make him hate 
you ; and it is in this way, generally, that soup is given to the 
poor. Books, good little books, which teach patience and submis 
eion to the powers that be ! With which such paupers as obtain 
them usually boil their kettles, when not deterred by fear of the 
reverend donor. Of this gift the design is so plain and offensive, 
that its effect is contrary to what was intended, just as children 
from whom obedience is very strictly exacted are commonly 
rebels at heart. What else ? is nothing else done by the rural 
rich to win the love of the rural poor ? Speaking generally, 
since all rules have exceptions, the privileged classes of our rural 
districts take infinite pains to be abhorred by their poorest neigh- 
bours. They enclose commons. They stop footpaths. They 
wall in their parks. They set spring-guns and man-traps. They 
spend on the keep of high-bred dogs what would support half as 
many children, and yet persecute a labouring man for owning 
one friend in his cur. They make rates of wages, elaborately 
calculating the minimum of food that will keep together the soul 

15 



218 THE WHITE SLAVES 

and body of a clodhopper. They breed game in profusion for 
their own amusement, and having thus tempted the poor man to 
knock down a hare for his pot, they send him to the tread-mill, 
or the antipodes, for that inexpiable offence. They build jails, 
and fill them. They make new crimes and new punishments for 
the poor. They interfere with the marriages of the poor, com- 
pelling some, and forbidding others, to come together. They shut 
up paupers in workhouses, separating husband and wife, in 
pounds by day and wards by night. They harness poor men to 
carts. They superintend alehouses, decry skittles, deprecate 
beer-shops, meddle with fairs, and otherwise curtail the already 
narrow amusements of the poor. Even in church, where some 
of them solemnly preach that all are equal, they sit on cushions, 
in pews boarded, matted, and sheltered by curtains from the wind 
and the vulgar gaze, while the lower order must put up with a 
bare bench on a stone floor, which is good enough for them. 
Everywhere they are ostentatious in the display of wealth and 
enjoyment; while, in their intercourse with the poor, they are 
suspicious, quick at taking offence, vindictive when displeased, 
haughty, overbearing, tyrannical, and wolfish ; as it seems in 
the nature of man to be toward such of his fellows as, like sheep, 
are without the power to resist." 

In London, a species of slavery pertains to the work- 
house system which has justly excited much indignation. 
This is the employment of paupers as scavengers in the 
streets, without due compensation, and compelling them 
to wear badges, as if they were convicted criminals. 
Mr. Mayhew has some judicious remarks upon this sub- 
ject : 

" If pauperism be a disgrace, then it is unjust to turn a man 
into the public thoroughfare, wearing the badge of beggary, to be 
pointed at and scorned for his poverty, especially when we are 
growing so particularly studious of our criminals that we make 



OF ENGLAND. 219 

them wear masks to prevent even their faces being seen.* Nor 
is it consistent with the principles of an enlightened national 
morality that we should force a body of honest men to labour 
upon the highways, branded with a degrading garb, like convicts. 
Neither is it wise to do so, for the shame of poverty soon becomes 
deadened by the repeated exposure to public scorn ; and thus the 
occasional recipient of parish relief is ultimately converted into 
the hardened and habitual pauper. "Once a pauper always a 
pauper," I was assured was the parish rule ; and here lies the 
rationale of the fact. Not long ago this system of employing badged 
paupers to labour on the public thoroughfares was carried to a 
much more offensive extent than it is even at present. At one 
time the pauper labourers of a certain parish had the attention of 
every passer-by attracted to them while at their work, for on the 
back of each man's garb a sort of smock frock was marked, 
with sufficient prominence, ' CLERKENWELL. STOP IT!' This pub- 
lic intimation that the labourers were not only paupers, but regard- 
ed as thieves, and expected to purloin the parish dress they wore, 
attracted public attention, and was severely commented upon at a 
meeting. The ' STOP IT !' therefore was cancelled, and the frocks 
are now merely lettered 'CLERKENWELL.' Before the alteration, 
the men very generally wore the garment inside out." 

The pauper scavengers employed by the metropoli- 
tan parishes are divided into three classes: 1. The 
in-door paupers, who receive no wages whatever, their 
lodging, food, and clothing being considered to be suffi- 
cient remuneration for their labour; 2. The out-door 
paupers, who are paid partly in money and partly in 
kind, and employed in some cases three days, and in 
others six days in the week; 3. The unemployed la- 
bourers of the district, who are set to scavenging work 

* This is done at the Model Prison, Pentonville. 



220 THE WHITE SLAVES 

by the parish and paid a regular money-wage the em- 
ployment being constant, and the rate of remuneration 
varying from Is. 3c?. to 2s. 6d. a day for each of the six 
days, or from 7s. Qd. to 15s. a week. 

The first class of pauper-scavengers, or those who re- 
ceive nothing for their labour beyond their lodging, food, 
and clothing, are treated as slaves. The labour is com- 
pulsory, without inducements for exertion, and conducted 
upon the same system which the authorities of the parish 
would use for working cattle. One of these scavengers 
gave the following account of this degrading labour to 
Mr. Mayhew : 

"'Street-sweeping/ he said, 'degrades a man, and if a man's 
poor he hasn't no call to be degraded. Why can't they set the 
thieves and pickpockets to sweep ? they could be watched easy 
enough ; there's always idle fellers as reckons theirselves real 
gents, as can be got for watching and sitch easy jobs, for they 
gets as much for them as three men's paid for hard work in a 
week. I never was in a prison, but I've heerd that people there 
is better fed and better cared for than in workusses. What's the 
meaning of that, sir, I'd like to know. You can't tell me, but I 
can tell you. The workus is made as ugly as it can be, that poor 
people may be got to leave it, and chance dying in the street 
rather/ [Here the man indulged in a gabbled detail of a series 
of pauper grievances which I had a difficulty in diverting or inter- 
rupting. On my asking if the other paupers had the same opinion 
as to the street-sweeping as he had, he replied : ] ' To be sure 
they has ; all them that has sense to have a 'pinion at all has ; 
there's not two sides to it anyhow. No, I don't want to be kept 
and do nothink. I want proper work. And by the rights of it I 

might as well be kept with nothink to do as or ' [parish 

officials]. 'Have they nothing to do?' I asked. 'Nothink, but 



OF ENGLAND. 221 

to make mischief and get what ought to go to the poor. It's sala- 
ries and such like as swallers the rates, and that's what every 
poor family knows as knows any think. Did I ever like my work 
better ? Certainly not. Do I take any pains with it ? Well, 
where would be the good? I can sweep well enough, when I please, 
but if I could do more than the best man as ever Mr. Drake paid 
a pound a week to, it wouldn't be a bit better for me not a bit, 
sir, I assure you. We all takes it easy whenever we can, but the 
work must be done. The only good about it is that you get out- 
side the house. It's a change that way certainly. But we work 
like horses and is treated like asses/ " 



The second mode of pauper scavenging, viz. that 
performed by out-door paupers, and paid for partly in 
money and partly in kind, is strongly condemned, as 
having mischievous and degrading tendencies. The 
men thus employed are certainly not independent la- 
bourers, though the means of their subsistence are partly 
the fruits of their toil. Their exceedingly scant pay- 
ment keeps them hard at work for a very unreasonable 
period. Should they refuse to obey the parish regula- 
tions in regard to the work, the pangs of hunger are 
sure to reach them and compel them to submit. Death 
is the only door of escape. From a married man em- 
ployed by the parish in this work, Mr. Mayhew obtained 
the following interesting narrative, which is a sad reve- 
lation of pauper slavery : 

" ' I was brought up as a type-founder; my father, who was one, 
learnt me his trade ; but he died when I was quite a young man, 
or I might have been better perfected in it. I was comfortably 
off enough then, and got married. Very soon after that I was 



222 THE WHITE SLAVES 

taken ill with an abscess in my neck, you can see the mark of it 
still/ [He showed me the mark.] ' For six months I wasn't able 
to do a thing, and I was a part of the time, I don't recollect how 
long, in St. Bartholomew's Hospital. I was weak and ill when I 
came out, and hardly fit for work ; I couldn't hear of any work I 
could get, for there was a great bother in the trade between mas- 
ter and men. Before I went into the hospital, there was money 
to pay to doctors ; and when I came out I could earn nothing, so 
every thing went ; yes, sir, every thing. My wife made a little 
matter with charing for families she'd lived in, but things are in 
a bad way if a poor woman has to keep her husband. She was 
taken ill at last, and then there was nothing but the parish for us. 
I suffered a great deal before it come to that. It was awful. No 
one can know what it is but them that suffers it. But I didn't 
know what in the world to do. We lived then in St. Luke's, and 
were passed to our own parish, and were three months in the 
workhouse. The living was good enough, better than it is now, 
I've heard, but I was miserable/ ['And I was very miserable/ 
interposed the wife, ' for I had been brought up comfortable ; my 
father was a respectable tradesman in St. George's-in-the-East, and 
I had been in good situations/] ' We made ourselves/ said the 
husband, 'as useful as we could, but we were parted of course. 
At the three months' end, I had 10s. given to me to come out with, 
and was told I might start costermongering on it. But to a man 
not up to the trade, 10s. won't go very far to keep up costering. 
I didn't feel master enough of my own trade by this time to try 
for work at it, and work wasn't at all regular. There were good 
hands earning only 12s. a week. The 10s. soon went, and I had 
again to apply for relief, and got an order for the stone-yard to go 
and break stones. Ten bushels was to be broken for 15d. It was 
dreadful hard work at first. My hands got all blistered and 
bloody, and I've gone home and cried with pain and wretched- 
ness. At first it was on to three days before I could break the ten 
bushels. I felt shivered to bits all over my arms and shoulders, 
and my head was splitting. I then got to do it in two days, and 
then in one, and it grew easier. But all this time I had only 
what was reckoned three days' work in a week. That is, you see, 



OP ENGLAND. 223 

sir, I had only three times ten bushels of stones given to break in 
a week, and earned only 3s. 9d. Yes, I lived on it, and paid Is. 
bd. a week rent, for the neighbours took care of a few sticks for us, 
and the parish or a broker wouldn't have found them worth car- 
riage. My wife was then in the country with a sister. I lived 
upon bread and dripping, went without fire or candle (or had one 
only very seldom) though it wasn't warm weather. I can safely 
say that for eight weeks I never tasted one bite of meat, and hardly 
a bite of butter. When I couldn't sleep of a night, but that wasn't 
often, it was terrible, very. I washed what bits of things I had 
then, myself, and had sometimes to get a ha'porth of soap as a 
favour, as the chandler said she ' didn't make less than a penn'orth/ 
If I ate too much dripping, it made me feel sick. I hardly know 
how much bread and dripping I ate in a week. I spent what 
money I had in it and bread, and sometimes went without. I was 
very weak, you may be sure, sir ; and if I'd had the influenza or 
any thing that way, I should have gone off like a shot, for I seemed 
to have no constitution left. But my wife came back again and 
got work at charing, and made about 4s. a week at it ; but we 
were still very badly off. Then I got to work on the roads every 
day, and had Is. and a quartern loaf a day, which was a rise. I 
had only one child then, but men with larger families got two 
quartern loaves a day. Single men got $d. a day. It was far 
easier work than stone-breaking too. The hours were from eight 
to five in winter, and from seven to six in summer. But there's 
always changes going on, and we were put on Is. IJdJ. a day and 
a quartern loaf, and only three days a week. All the same as to 
time of course. The bread wasn't good ; it was only cheap. I 
suppose there was twenty of us working most of the times as I 
was. The gangsman, as you call him, but that's more for the 
regular hands, was a servant of the parish, and a great tyrant. 
Yes, indeed, when we had a talk among ourselves, there was 
nothing but grumbling heard of. Some of the tales I've heard 
were shocking ; worse than what I've gone through. Everybody 
was grumbling, except perhaps two men that had been twenty 
years in the streets, and were like born paupers. They didn't 
feel it, for there's a great difference in men. They knew no better. 



224 THE WHITE SLAVES. 

But anybody might have been frightened to hear some of the 
men talk and curse. We've stopped work to abuse the parish 
officers as might be passing. We've mobbed the overseers ; and a 
number of us, I was one, were taken before the magistrate for it : 
but we told him how badly we were off, and he discharged us, and 
gave us orders into the workhouse, and told 'em to see if nothing 
could be done for us. We were there till next morning, and thea 
sent away without any thing being said/ " 

" ' It's a sad life, sir, is a parish worker's. I wish to God I could 
get out of it. But when a man has children he can't stop and 
say, " I can't do this," and " I won't do that." Last week, now, 
in costering, I lost 6s. [he meant that his expenses, of every kind, 
exceeded his receipts by 6s.,] and though I can distil nectar, or 
any thing that way, [this was said somewhat laughingly,] it's only 
when the weather's hot and fine that any good at all can be done 
with it. I think, too, that there's not the money among working- 
men that there once was. Any thing regular in the way of pay 
must always be looked at by a man with a family. 

" 'Of course the streets must be properly swept, and if I can 
sweep them as well as Mr. Dodd's men, for I know one of them 
very well, why should I have only Is. 4%d. a week and three 
loaves, and he have 16s., I think it is. I don't drink, my wife 
knows I don't, [the wife assented,] and it seems as if in a parish a 
man must be kept down when he is down, and then blamed for it. 
I may not understand all about it, but it looks queer.'" 

The third system of parish work, where the labourer 
is employed regularly, and paid a certain sum out of the 
parochial fund, is superior to either of the other modes; 
"but still, the labourers are very scantily paid, subjected 
to a great deal of tyranny by brutal officers, and mise- 
rably provided. They endure the severest toil for a 
wretched pittance, without being able to choose their 
masters or their employment. No slaves could be more 
completely at the mercy of their masters. 



OF ENGLAND. 225 

The common practice of apprenticing children born 
and reared in workhouses, to masters who may feed, 
clothe, and beat them as they please, is touchingly illus- 
trated in Dickens's famous story of Oliver Twist. After 
Oliver had been subjected for some time to the tender 
mercies of guardians and overseers in the workhouse, it 
was advertised that any person wanting an apprentice 
could obtain him, and five pounds as a premium. He nar- 
rowly escaped being apprenticed to a sweep, and finally 
fell into the hands of Mr. Sowerberry, an undertaker. 
In the house of that dismal personage, he was fed upon 
cold bits, badly clothed, knocked about unmercifully, 
and worked with great severity. Such is the common 
fate of parish apprentices ; and we do not think a more 
truthful conception of the beauties of the system could 
be conveyed than by quoting from the experience of 
Dickens's workhouse boy: 

"Oliver had not been within the walls of the workhouse a quar- 
ter of an hour, and had scarcely completed the demolition of a 
second slice of bread, when Mr. Bumble, who had handed him 
over to the care of an old woman, returned, and, telling him it was 
a board night, informed him that the board had said he was to 
appear before it forthwith. 

" Not having a very clearly defined notion what a live board 
was, Oliver was rather astounded by this intelligence, and was not 
quite certain whether he ought to laugh or cry. He had no time 
to think about the matter, however ; for Mr. Bumble gave him a 
tap on the head with his cane to wake him up, and another on his 
back to make him lively, and, bidding him follow, conducted him 
into a large whitewashed room, where eight or ten fat gentlemen 
were sitting round a table, at the top of which, seated in an arm- 



226 THE WHITE SLAVES 

chair rather higher than the rest, was a particularly fat gentle- 
man with a very round, red face. 

" ' Bow to the board/ said Bumble. Oliver brushed away two 
or three tears that were lingering in his eyes, and seeing no board 
but the table, fortunately bowed to that. 

" ' What's your name, boy ?' said the gentleman in the high chair. 

" Oliver was frightened at the sight of so many gentlemen, which 
made him tremble: and the beadle gave him another tap behind, 
which made him cry ; and these two causes made him answer in a 
very low and hesitating voice ; whereupon a gentleman in a white 
waistcoat said he was a fool, which was a capital way of raising 
his spirit, and putting him quite at his ease. 

" ' Boy/ said the gentleman in the high chair : ' listen to me. 
You know you're an orphan, I suppose ?" 

" 'What's that, sir?" inquired poor Oliver. 

" ' The boy is a fool I thought he was/ said the gentleman in 
the white waistcoat in a very decided tone. If one member of a 
class be blessed with an intuitive perception of others of the same 
race, the gentleman in the white waistcoat was unquestionably 
well qualified to pronounce an opinion on the matter. 

"'Hush!' said the gentleman who had spoken first. 'You 
know you've got no father or mother, and that you are brought up 
by the parish, don't you ?' 

" ' Yes, sir/ replied Oliver, weeping bitterly. 

"'What are you crying for?' inquired the gentleman in the 
white waistcoat ; and to be sure it was very extraordinary. What 
could he be crying for ? 

" ' I hope you say your prayers every night/ said another gen- 
tleman in a gruff voice, 'and pray for the people who feed you, 
and take care of you, like a Christian/ 

" ' Yes, sir/ stammered the boy. The gentleman who spoke 
last was unconsciously right. It would have been very like a 
Christian, and a marvellously good Christian, too, if Oliver had 
prayed for the people who fed and took care of him. But he 
hadn't, because nobody had taught him. 

" ' Well you have come here to be educated, and taught a useful 
trade/ said the red-faced gentleman in the high chair. 



OF ENGLAND. 227 

" ' So you'll begin to pick oakum to-morrow morning at six 
o'clock/ added the surly one in the white waistcoat. 

" For the combination of both these blessings in the one simple 
process of picking oakum, Oliver bowed low by the direction of 
the beadle, and was then hurried away to a large ward, where, on 
a rough hard bed, he sobbed himself to sleep. What a noble 
illustration of the tender laws of this favoured country ! they let 
the paupers go to sleep 1 

" Poor Oliver ! he little thought, as he lay sleeping in happy 
unconsciousness of all around him, that the board had that very 
day arrived at a decision which would exercise the most material 
influence over all his future fortunes. But they had. And this 
was it: 

" The members of this board were very sage, deep, philosophical 
men ; and when they came to turn their attention to the work- 
house, they found out at once, what ordinary folks would never 
have discovered, the poor people liked it ! It was a regular 
place of public entertainment for the poorer classes, a tavern 
where there was nothing to pay, a public breakfast, dinner, tea, 
and supper, all the year round, a brick and mortar elysium, 
where it was all play and no work. ' Oho !' said the board, looking 
very knowing ; ' we are the fellows to set this to rights ; we'll stop 
it all in no time/ So they established the rule, that all poor peo- 
ple should have the alternative (for they would compel nobody, 
not they,) of being starved by a gradual process in the house, or 
by a quick one out of it. With this view, they contracted with 
the water-works to lay on an unlimited supply of water, and with 
a corn-factor to supply periodically small quantities of oat-meal : 
and issued three meals of thin gruel a-day, with an onion twice a 
week, and half a roll on Sundays. They made a great many other 
wise and humane regulations having reference to the ladies, which 
it is not necessary to repeat ; kindly undertook to divorce poor 
married people, in consequence of the great expense of a suit in 
Doctors' Commons ; and, instead of compelling a man to support 
his family, as they had theretofore done, took his family away 
from him, and made him a bachelor ! There is no telling how 
many applicants for relief under these last two heads would not 



228 THE WHITE SLAVES 

have started up in all classes of society, if it had not been coupled 
with the workhouse. But they were long-headed men, and they 
had provided for this difficulty. The relief was inseparable from 
the workhouse and the gruel ; and that frightened people. 

"For the first three months after Oliver Twist was removed, the 
system was in full operation. It was rather expensive at first, in 
consequence of the increase in the undertaker's bill, and the neces- 
sity of taking in the clothes of all the paupers, which fluttered 
loosely on their wasted, shrunken forms, after a week or two's 
gruel. But the number of workhouse inmates got thin, as well as 
the paupers ; and the board were in ecstasies. The room in which 
the boys were fed was a large stone hall, with a copper at one end, 
out of which the master, dressed in an apron for the purpose, and 
assisted by one or two women, ladled the gruel at meal-times ; of 
which composition each boy had one porringer, and no more, 
except on festive occasions, and then he had two ounces and a 
quarter of bread besides. The bowls never wanted washing the 
boys polished them with their spoons, till they shone again ; and 
when they had performed this operation, (which never took very 
long, the spoons being nearly as large as the bowls,) they would 
sit staring at the copper with such eager eyes, as if they could de- 
vour the very bricks of which it was composed ; employing them- 
selves meanwhile in sucking their fingers most assiduously, with 
the view of catching up any stray splashes of gruel that might have 
been cast thereon. Boys have generally excellent appetites : Oliver 
Twist and his companions suffered the tortures of slow starvation 
for three months ; at last they got so voracious and wild with hun- 
ger, that one boy, who was tall for his age, and hadn't been used 
to that sort of thing, (for his father had kept a small cook's shop;) 
hinted darkly to his companions, that unless he had another basin 
of gruel per diem, he was afraid he should some night eat the boy 
who slept next him, who happened to be a weakly youth of tender 
age. He had a wild, hungry eye, and they implicitly believed him. 
A council was held ; lots were cast who should walk up to the mas- 
ter after supper that evening, and ask for more ; and it fell to 
Oliver Twist. 

The evening arrived : the boys took their places ; the master, ia 



OP ENGLAND. 229 

his cook's uniform, stationed himself at the copper ; his pauper 
assistants ranged themselves behind him ; the gruel was served 
out, and a long grace was said over the short commons. The gruel 
disappeared, and the boys whispered to each'other and winked at 
Oliver, while his next neighbours nudged him. Child as he was, 
he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose 
from the table, and, advancing, basin and spoon in hand, to the 
master, said, somewhat alarmed at his own temerity 

" ' Please, sir, I want some more/ 

" The master was a fat, healthy man, but he turned very pale. 
He gazed in stupefied astonishment on the small rebel for some 
seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants 
were paralyzed with wonder, and the boys with fear. 

" * What I' said the master at length, in a faint voice. 

" ' Please, sir,' replied Oliver, ' I want some more/ 

" The master aimed a blow at Oliver's head with the ladle, 
pinioned him in his arms, and shrieked aloud for the beadle. 

" The board were sitting in solemn conclave, when Mr. Bumble 
rushed into the room in great excitement, and addressing the 
gentleman in the high chair, said 

" ' Mr. Limbkins, I beg your pardon, sir ; Oliver Twist has 
asked for more/ There was a general start. Horror was de- 
picted on every countenance. 

" ' For more !' said Mr. Limbkins. ' Compose yourself, Bumble, 
and answer me distinctly. Do I understand that he asked for 
more, after he had eaten the supper allotted by the dietary ?' 

" ' He did, sir/ replied Bumble. 

" c That boy will be hung/ said the gentleman in the white 
waistcoat ; ' I know that boy will be hung/ 

" Nobody controverted the prophetic gentleman's opinion. An 
animated discussion took place. Oliver was ordered into instant 
confinement ; and a bill was next morning pasted on the outside 
of the gate, offering a reward of five pounds to anybody who 
would take Oliver Twist off the hands of the parish ; in other 
words, five pounds and Oliver Twist were offered to any man or 
woman who wanted an apprentice to any trade, business, or 
calling. 

K 



230 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' I never was more convinced of any thing in my life/ said 
the gentleman in the white waistcoat, as he knocked at the gate 
and read the bill next morning, ' I never was more convinced 
of any thing in my life, than I am that that boy will come to be 
hung/ 

" For a week after the commission of the impious and profane 
offence of asking for more, Oliver remained a close prisoner in J 
the dark and solitary room to which he had been consigned by 
the wisdom and mercy of the board. It appears, at first sight, 
not unreasonable to suppose, that, if he had entertained a be- 
coming feeling of respect for the prediction of the gentleman in 
the white waistcoat, he would have established that sage indi- 
vidual's prophetic character, once and for ever, by tying one end 
of his pocket-handkerchief to a hook in the wall, and attaching 
himself to the other. To the performance of this feat, however, 
there was one obstacle, namely, that pocket-handkerchiefs being 
decided articles of luxury, had been, for all future times and 
ages, removed from the noses of paupers by the express order of 
the board in council assembled, solemnly given and pronounced 
under their hands and seals. There was a still greater obstacle 
in Oliver's youth and childishness. He only cried bitterly all 
day ; and when the long, dismal night came on, he spread his 
little hands before his eyes to shut out the darkness, and crouch- 
ing in the corner, tried to sleep, ever and anon waking with a 
start and tremble, and drawing himself closer and closer to the 
wall, as if to feel even its cold hard surface were a protection in 
the gloom and loneliness which surrounded him. 

" Let it not be supposed by the enemies of ' the system/ that, 
during the period of his solitary incarceration, Oliver was denied 
the benefit of exercise, the pleasure of society, or the advantages 
of religious consolation. As for exercise, it was nice cold wea- 
ther, and he was allowed to perform his ablutions every morning 
under the pump, in a stone yard, in the presence of Mr. Bumble, 
who prevented his catching cold, and caused a tingling sensation 
to pervade his frame, by repeated applications of the cane ; as for 
society, he was carried every other day into the hall where the 
boys dined, and there sociably flogged, as a public warning and 



OF ENGLAND. 231 

example ; and, so far from being denied the advantages of re- 
ligious consolation, he was kicked into the same apartment every 
evening at prayer-time, and there permitted to listen to, and con- 
sole his mind with, a general supplication of the boys, containing 
a special clause therein inserted by the authority of the board, in 
which they entreated to be made good, virtuous, contented, and 
obedient, and to be guarded from the sins and vices of Oliver 
Twist, whom the supplication distinctly set forth to be under the 
exclusive patronage and protection of the powers of wickedness, 
and an article direct from the manufactory of the devil him- 
Belf. 

"It chanced one morning, while Oliver's affairs were in this 
auspicious and comfortable state, that Mr. Gamfield, chimney- 
sweeper, was wending his way adown the High-street, deeply 
cogitating in his mind his ways and means of paying certain 
arrears of rent, for which his landlord had become rather press- 
ing. Mr. Gamfield' s most sanguine calculation of funds could 
not raise them within full five pounds of the desired amount ; 
and, in a species of arithmetical desperation, he was alternately 
cudgelling his brains and his donkey, when, passing the work- 
house, his eyes encountered the bill on the gate. 

" ' Woo !' said Mr. Gamfield to the donkey. 

" The donkey was in a state of profound abstraction wonder- 
ing, probably, whether he was destined to be regaled with a cab- 
bage-stalk or two, when he had disposed of the two sacks of soot 
with which the little cart was laden ; so, without noticing the 
word of command, he jogged onward. 

" Mr. Gamfield growled a fierce imprecation on the donkey 
generally, but more particularly on his eyes ; and running after 
him, bestowed a blow on his head which would inevitably have 
beaten in any skull but a donkey's ; then, catching hold of the 
bridle, he gave his jaw a sharp wrench, by way of gentle re- 
minder that he was not his own master ; and, having by these 
means turned him round, he gave him another blow on the head, 
just to stun him until he came back again j and, having done so, 
walked to the gate to read the bill. 

"The gentleman with the white waistcoat was standing at the 



232 THE WHITE SLAVES 

gate with his hands behind him, after having delivered himself 
of some profound sentiments in the board-room. Having wit- 
nessed the little dispute between Mr. Gamfield and the donkey, he 
smiled joyously when that person came up to read the bill, for he 
saw at once that Mr. Gamfield was just exactly the sort of master 
Oliver Twist wanted. Mr. Gamfield smiled, too, as he perused the 
document, for five pounds was just the sum he had been wishing 
for ; and, as to the boy with which it was encumbered, Mr. Gam- 
field, knowing what the dietary of the workhouse was, well knew 
he would be a nice small pattern, just the very thing for register 
stoves. So he spelt the bill through again, from beginning to 
end ; and then, touching his fur cap in token of humility, ac- 
costed the gentleman in the white waistcoat. 

" ' This here boy, sir, wot the parish wants to 'prentis/ said Mr. 
Gamfield. 

" ' Yes, my man/ said the gentleman in the white waistcoat, 
with a condescending smile, ' what of him ?' 

" ' If the parish vould like him to learn a light, pleasant trade, 
in a good 'spectable chimbley-sweepin bisness,' said Mr. Gam- 
field, ' I wants a 'prentis, and I'm ready to take him.' 

" ' Walk in,' said the gentleman with the white waistcoat. 
And Mr. Gamfield having lingered behind, to give the donkey 
another blow on the head, and another wrench of the jaw, as a 
caution not to run away in his absence, followed the gentleman 
in the white waistcoat into the room where Oliver had first seen 
him. 

" ' It's a nasty trade/ said Mr. Limbkins, when Gamfield had 
again stated his case. 

" ' Young boys have been smothered in chimeys, before now,' 
said another gentleman. 

" ' That's acause they damped the straw afore they lit it in the 
chimbley to make 'em come down again,' said Gamfield ; ' that's 
all smoke, and no blaze ; vereas smoke a'n't o' no use at all in 
makin' a boy come down ; it only sinds him to sleep, and that's 
wot he likes. Boys is wery obstinit, and wery lazy, gen'lm'n, 
and there's nothink like a good hot blaze to make 'em come down 
vith a run j it's humane, too, gen'lm'n, acause, even if they've 



OP ENGLAND. 233 

stuck in the chimbley, roastin' their feet makes 'em struggle to 
hextricate theirselves.' 

"The gentleman in the white waistcoat appeared very much 
amused with this explanation ; but his mirth was speedily checked 
by a look from Mr. Limbkins. The board then proceeded to con- 
verse among themselves for a few minutes, but in so low a tone 
that the words, 'saving of expenditure/ 'look well in the ac- 
counts/ ' have a printed report published/ were alone audible ; 
and they only chanced to be heard on account of their being very 
frequently repeated with great emphasis. 

" At length the whispering ceased, and the members of the 
board having resumed their seats and their solemnity, Mr. Limb- 
kins said, 

" ' We have considered your proposition, and we don't approve 
of it/ 

" ' Not at all/ said the gentleman in the white waistcoat. 

" ' Decidedly not/ added the other members. 

" As Mr. Gamfield did happen to labour under the slight im- 
putation of having bruised three or four boys to death already, it 
occurred to him that the board had perhaps, in some unaccount- 
able freak, taken it into their heads that this extraneous circum- 
stance ought to influence their proceedings. It was very unlike 
their general mode of doing business, if they had ; but still, as 
he had no particular wish to revive the rumour, he twisted his 
cap in his hands, and walked slowly from the table. 

" ' So you won't let me have him, gen'lmen/ said Mr. Gamfield, 
pausing near the door. 

" ' No/ replied Mr. Limbkins ; ' at least, as it's a nasty busi- 
ness, we think you ought to take something less than the pre- 
mium we offered/ 

" Mr. Gamfield's countenance brightened, as with a quick step 
he returned to the table, and said, 

" ' What'll you give, gen'lmen ? Come, don't be too hard on a 
poor man. What'll you give ?' 

" ' I should say three pound ten was plenty/ said Mr. Limfo- 
kins. 

'" 16 



234 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' Ten shillings too much,' said the gentleman in the white 
waistcoat. 

" ' Come/ said Gamfield, ' say four pound, gen'lmen. Say 
four pound, and you've got rid of him for good and all. There 1' 

" ' Three pound ten/ repeated Mr. Limbkins, firmly. 

" c Come, Til split the difference, gen'lmen/ urged Gamfield. 
1 Three pound fifteen/ 

" ' Not a farthing more/ was the firm reply of Mr. Limbkins. 

" * You're desp'rate hard upon me, gen'lmen/ said Gamfield, 
wavering. 

" ' Pooh ! pooh ! nonsense !' said the gentleman in the white 
waiscoat. 'He'd be cheap with nothing at all as a premium. 
Take him, you silly fellow ! He's just the boy for you. He 
wants the stick now and then ; it'll do him good ; and his board 
needn't come very expensive, for he hasn't been overfed since he 
was born. Ha ! ha ! ha 1' 

" Mr. Gamfield gave an arch look at the faces round the table, 
and, observing a smile on all of them, gradually broke into a 
smile himself. The bargain was made, and Mr. Bumble was at 
once instructed that Oliver Twist and his indentures were to be 
conveyed before the magistrate for signature and approval, that 
very afternoon. 

" In pursuance of this determination, little Oliver, to his exces- 
sive astonishment, was released from bondage, and ordered to put 
himself into a clean shirt. He had hardly achieved this very un- 
usual gymnastic performance, when Mr. Bumble brought him 
with his own hands, a basin of gruel, and the holiday allowance 
of two ounces and a quarter of bread ; at sight of which Oliver 
began to cry very piteously, thinking, not unnaturally, that the 
board must have determined to kill him for some useful purpose, 
or they never would have begun to fatten him up in this way. 

" ' Don't make your eyes red, Oliver, but eat your food, and be 
thankful/ said Mr. Bumble, in a tone of impressive pomposity. 
( You're a-going to be made a 'prentice of, Oliver.' 

'"A 'prentice, sir !' said the child, trembling. 

" ' Yes, Oliver/ said Mr. Bumble. ' The kind and blessed gen- 
tlemen which i& so many parents to you, Oliver, when you have 



OF ENGLAND. 235 

none of your own, are a-going to 'prentice you, and to set you up 
in life, and make a man of you, although the expense to the 
parish is three pound ten! three pound ten, Oliver! seventy 
ehillin's ! one hundred and forty sixp'ences ! and all for a 
naughty orphan which nobody can love.' 

" As Mr. Bumble paused to take breath after delivering this 
address, in an awful voice, the tears rolled down the poor child's 
face, and he sobbed bitterly. 

" ' Come/ said Mr. Bumble, somewhat less pompously ; for it 
was gratifying to his feelings to observe the effect his eloquence 
had produced. ' Come, Oliver, wipe your eyes with the cuffs of 
your jacket, and don't cry into your gruel ; that's a very foolish 
action, Oliver.' It certainly was, for there was quite enough 
water in it already. 

"On their way to the magistrate's, Mr. Bumble instructed 
Oliver that all he would have to do would be to look very happy, 
and say, when the gentleman asked him if he wanted to be ap- 
prenticed, that he should like it very much indeed; both of 
which injunctions Oliver promised to obey, the more readily as 
Mr. Bumble threw in a gentle hint, that if he failed in either par- 
ticular, there was no telling what would be done to him. When 
they arrived at the office he was shut up in a little room by him- 
self, and admonished by Mr. Bumble to stay there until he came 
back to fetch him. 

" There the boy remained with a palpitating heart for half an 
hour, at the expiration of which time Mr. Bumble thrust in his 
head, unadorned with the cocked hat, and said aloud, 

"'Now, Oliver, my dear, come to the gentleman/ As Mr. 
Bumble said this, he put on a grim and threatening look, and 
added in a low voice, ' Mind what I told you, you young rascal.' 

" Oliver stared innocently in Mr. Bumble's face at this some- 
what contradictory style of address ; but that gentleman pre- 
vented his offering any remark thereupon, by leading him at once 
into an adjoining room, the door of which was open. It was a 
large room with a great window ; and behind a desk sat two old 
gentlemen with powdered heads, one of whom was reading the 
newspaper, while the other was perusing, with the aid of a pair 



236 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of tortoise-shell spectacles, a small piece of parchment which lay 
before him. Mr. Limbkins was standing in front of the desk, on 
one side ; and Mr. Gamfield, with a partially washed face, on the 
other; while two or three bluff-looking men in top-boots were 
lounging about. 

" The old gentleman with the spectacles gradually dozed off, 
over the little bit of parchment ; and there was a short pause 
after Oliver had been stationed by Mr. Bumble in front of the 
desk. 

" ' This is the boy, your worship/ said Mr. Bumble. 

" The old gentleman who was reading the newspaper raised 
his head for a moment, and pulled the other old gentleman by 
the sleeve, whereupon the last-mentioned old gentleman woke up. 

" ' Oh, is this the boy ?' said the old gentleman. 

" * This is him, sir/ replied Mr. Bumble. ' Bow to the magis- 
trate, my dear/ 

" Oliver roused himself, and made his best obeisance. He had 
been wondering, with his eyes fixed on the magistrate's powder, 
whether all boards were born with that white stuff on their 
heads, and were boards from thenceforth, on that account. 

" ' Well/ said the old gentleman, ' I suppose he's fond of chim- 
ney-sweeping ?' 

" ' He dotes on it, your worship/ replied Bumble, giving Oliver 
a sly pinch, to intimate that he had better not say he didn't. 

" ' And he will be a sweep, will he V inquired the old gentle- 
man. 

" ' If we was to bind him to any other trade to-morrow, he'd 
run away simultaneously, your worship/ replied Bumble. 

"'And this man that's to be his master, you, sir, you'll 
treat him well, and feed him, and do all that sort of thing, will 
you ?' said the old gentleman. 

" ' When I says I will, I means I will/ replied Mr. Gamfield, 
doggedly. 

" ' You're a rough speaker, my friend, but you look an honest, 
open-hearted man/ said the old gentleman, turning his spectacles 
in the direction of the candidate for Oliver's premium, whose 
villanous countenance was a regular stamped receipt for cruelty. 



OF ENGLAND. 237 

But the magistrate was half blind, and half childish, so he 
couldn't reasonably be expected to discern what other people did. 

" ' I hope I am, sir/ said Mr. Gamfield with an ugly leer. 

" ' I have no doubt you are, my friend/ replied the old gentle- 
man, fixing his spectacles more firmly on his nose, and looking 
about him for the inkstand. 

" It was the critical moment of Oliver's fate. If the inkstand 
had been where the old gentleman thought it was, he would have 
dipped his pen into it and signed the indentures, and Oliver 
would have been straightway hurried off. But, as it chanced to 
be immediately under his nose, it followed as a matter of course, 
that he looked all over his desk for it, without finding it ; and 
happening in the course of his search to look straight before him, 
his gaze encountered the pale and terrified face of Oliver Twist, 
who, despite of all the admonitory looks and pinches of Bumble, 
was regarding the very repulsive countenance of his future mas- 
ter with a mingled expression of horror and fear, too palpable to 
be mistaken even by a half-blind magistrate. 

" The old gentleman stopped, laid down his pen, and looked 
from Oliver to Mr. Limbkins, who attempted to take snuff with a 
cheerful and unconcerned aspect. 

" ' My boy/ said the old gentleman, leaning over the desk. 
Oliver started at the sound, he might be excused for doing so, 
for the words were kindly said, and strange sounds frighten one. 
He trembled violently, and burst into tears. 

" ' My boy/ said the old gentleman, ' you look pale and 
alarmed. "What is the matter ?' 

" ' Stand a little away from him, beadle/ said the other magis- 
trate, laying aside the paper and leaning forward with an expres- 
sion of some interest. 'Now, boy, tell us what's the matter; 
don't be afraid/ 

" Oliver fell on his knees, and, clasping his hands together, 
prayed that they would order him back to the dark room that 
they would starve him beat him kill him if they pleased, rather 
than send him away with that dreadful man. 

" ' Well !' said Mr. Bumble, raising his hands and eyes with 
most impressive solemnity ' Well 1 of all the artful and design- 
K* 



238 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ing orphans that ever I see, Oliver, you are one of the most bare- 
facedest.' 

" ' Hold your tongue, beadle/ said the second old gentleman, 
when Mr. Bumble had given vent to this compound adjective. 

" ' I beg your worship's pardon/ said Mr. Bumble, incredulous 
of his having heard aright 'did your worship speak to me?' 

" ' Yes hold your tongue.' 

" Mr. Bumble was stupefied with astonishment. A beadle 
ordered to hold his tongue ! A moral revolution. 

" The old gentleman in the tortoise-shell spectacles looked at 
his companion ; he nodded significantly. 

" ' We refuse to sanction these indentures/ said the old gentle- 
man, tossing aside the piece of parchment as he spoke. 

" ' I hope/ stammered Mr. Limbkins ' I hope the magistrates 
will not form the opinion that the authorities have been guilty 
of any improper conduct, on the unsupported testimony of a mere 
child.' 

" ' The magistrates are not called upon to pronounce any opi- 
nion on the matter/ said the second old gentleman, sharply. ' Take 
the boy back to the workhouse and treat him kindly; he seems 
to want it.' 

" That same evening the gentleman in the white waistcoat most 
positively and decidedly affirmed, not only that Oliver would be 
hung, but that he would be drawn and quartered into the bar- 
gain. Mr. Bumble shook his head with gloomy mystery, and said 
he wished he might come to good: to which Mr. Gamfield replied 
that he wished he might come to him, which, although he agreed 
with the beadle in most matters, would seem to be a wish of a 
totally opposite description. 

" The next morning the public were once more informed that 
Oliver Twist was again to let, and that five pounds would be paid 
to anybody who would take possession of him. 

" In great families, when an advantageous place cannot be ob- 
tained, either in possession, reversion, remainder, or expectancy, 
for the young man who is growing up, it is a very general custom 
to send him to sea. The board, in imitation of so wise and salu- 
tary an example, took counsel together on the expediency of ship- 



OF ENGLAND. 239 

ping off Oliver Twist in some small trading-vessel bound to a good 
unhealthy port, which suggested itself as the very best thing that 
could possibly be done with him; the probability being that the 
skipper would either flog him to death in a playful mood, some 
day after dinner, or knock his brains out with an iron bar, both 
pastimes being, as is pretty generally known, very favourite and 
common recreations among gentlemen of that class. The more 
the case presented itself to the board in this point of view, the 
more manifold the advantages of the step appeared ; so they came 
to the conclusion that the only way of providing for Oliver effec- 
tually, was to send him to sea without delay. 

" Mr. Bumble had been despatched to make various prelimi- 
nary inquiries, with the view of finding out some captain or other 
who wanted a cabin-boy without any friends ; and was returning 
to the workhouse to communicate the result of his mission, when 
he encountered just at the gate no less a person than Mr. Sower- 
berry, the parochial undertaker. 

" Mr. Sowerberry was a tall, gaunt, large-jointed man, attired 
in a suit of threadbare black, with darned cotton stockings of the 
same colour, and shoes to answer. His features were not natu- 
rally intended to wear a smiling aspect, but he was in general 
rather given to professional jocosity ; his step was elastic, and his 
face betokened inward pleasantry as he advanced to Mr. Bumble 
and shook him cordially by the hand. 

" * I have taken the measure of the two women that died last 
night, Mr. Bumble/ said the undertaker. 

" ' You'll make your fortune, Mr. Sowerberry/ said the beadle, 
as he thrust his thumb and forefinger into the proffered snuff-box 
of the undertaker, which was an ingenious little model of a patent 
coffin. ' I say you'll make your fortune, Mr. Sowerberry/ re- 
peated Mr. Bumble, tapping the undertaker on the shoulder in a 
friendly manner with his cane. 

" ' Think so?' said the undertaker in a tone which half admitted 
and half disputed the probability of the event. ' The prices al- 
lowed by the board are very small, Mr. Bumble/ 

" ' So are the coffins/ replied the beadle, with precisely as near 
an approach to a laugh as a great official ought to indulge in. 



240 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" Mr. Sowerberry was much tickled at this, as of course he 
ought to be, and laughed a long time without cessation. * Well, 
well, Mr. Bumble/ he said at length, ' there's no denying that, 
since the new system of feeding has come in, the coffins are some- 
thing narrower and more shallow than they used to be ; but we 
must have some profit, Mr. Bumble. Well-seasoned timber is an 
expensive article, sir; and all the iron handles come by canal 
from Birmingham/ 

" ' Well, well/ said Mr. Bumble, ' every trade has its draw- 
backs, and a fair prcftt is of course allowable/ 

" ' Of course, of course/ replied the undertaker; ' and if I don't 
get a profit upon this or that particular article, why I make it up 
in the long run, you see he ! he ! he !' 

" Just so/ said Mr. Bumble. 

" ' Though I must say/ continued the undertaker, resuming 
the current of observations which the beadle had interrupted, 
* though I must say, Mr. Bumble, that I have to contend against 
one very great disadvantage, which is, that all the stout people 
go off the quickest I mean that the people who have been better 
off, and have paid rates for many years, are the first to sink when 
they come into the house ; and let me tell you, Mr. Bumble, that 
three or four inches over one's calculation makes a great hole in 
one's profits, especially when one has a family to provide for, sir/ 

" As Mr. Sowerberry said this, with the becoming indignation 
of an ill-used man, and as Mr. Bumble felt that it rather tended 
to convey a reflection on the honour of the parish, the latter gen- 
tleman thought it advisable to change the subject; and Oliver 
Twist being uppermost in his mind, he made him his theme. 

" ' By-the-by/ said Mr. Bumble, ' you don't know anybody who 
wants a boy, do you a parochial 'prentis, who is at present a 
dead-weight a millstone, as I may say round the parochial 
throat ? Liberal terms, Mr. Sowerberry liberal terms / and, as 
Mr. Bumble spoke, he raised his cane to the bill above him and 
gave three distinct raps upon the words ' five pounds/ which were 
printed therein in Roman capitals of gigantic size. 

(t ' Gadso !' said the undertaker, taking Mr. Bumble by the 
gilt-edged lappel of his official coat j ' that's just the very thing I 



OF ENGLAND. 241 

wanted to speak to you about. You know dear me, what a very 
elegant button this is, Mr. Bumble; I never noticed it before.' 

" ' Yes, I think it is rather pretty/ said the beadle, glancing 
proudly downward at the large brass buttons which embellished 
his coat. ' The die is the same as the parochial seal the Good 
Samaritan healing the sick and bruised man. The board pre- 
sented it to me on New-year's morning, Mr. Sowerberry. I put 
it on, I remember, for the first time to attend the inquest on that 
reduced tradesman who died in a doorway at midnight/ 

" ' I recollect/ said the undertaker. * The jury brought in 
Died from exposure to the cold, and want of the common neces- 
saries of life didn't they?' 

" Mr. Bumble nodded. 

" 'And they made it a special verdict, I think/ said the under- 
taker, ' by adding some words to the effect, that if the relieving 
officer had' 

"'Tush foolery!' interposed the beadle, angrily. 'If the 
board attended to all the nonsense that ignorant jurymen talk, 
they'd have enough to do.' 

" ' Very true/ said the undertaker; ' they would indeed.' 

" ' Juries/ said Mr. Bumble, grasping his cane tightly, as was 
his wont when working into a passion 'juries is ineddicated, 
vulgar, grovelling wretches/ 

" ' So they are/ said the undertaker. 

" ' They haven't no more philosophy or political economy about 
'em than that/ said the beadle, snapping his fingers contemptu- 
ously. 

" ' No more they have/ acquiesced the undertaker. 

" ' I despise 'em/ said the beadle, growing very red in the face. 

" '. So do I/ rejoined the undertaker. 

" ' And I only wish we'd a jury of the independent sort in the 
house for a week or two/ said the beadle ; ' the rules and regula- 
tions of the board would soon bring their spirit down for them/ 

" ' Let 'em alone for that/ replied the undertaker. So saying, 
he smile4 approvingly to calm the rising wrath of the indignant 
parish officer. 

" Mr. Bumble lifted off his cocked-hat, took a handkerchief 



242 THE WHITE SLAVES 

from the inside of the crown, wiped from his forehead the perspi- 
ration which his rage had engendered, fixed the cocked hat on 
again, and, turning to the undertaker, said in a calmer voice, 
' Well, what about the boy? ' 

" ' Oh!' replied the undertaker; 'why, you know, Mr. Bumble, 
I pay a good deal toward the poor's rates/ 

" ' Hem !' said Mr. Bumble. ' Well ?' 

" ' Well/ replied the undertaker, ' I was thinking that if I pay 
so much toward 'em, I've a right to get as much out of 'em as I 
can, Mr. Bumble ; and so and so I think Til take the boy 
myself.' 

" Mr. Bumble grasped the undertaker by the arm and led him 
into the building. Mr. Sowerberry was closeted with the board 
for five minutes, and then it was arranged that Oliver should go 
to him that evening ' upon liking' a phrase which means, in the 
case of a parish apprentice, that if the master find, upon a short 
trial, that he can get enough work out of a boy without putting 
too much food in him, he shall have him for a term of years to 
do what he likes with. 

" When little Oliver was taken before ' the gentlemen' that 
evening, and informed that he was to go that night as general 
house-lad to a coffin-maker's, and that if he complained of his 
situation, or ever came back to the parish again, he would be sent 
to sea, there to be drowned or knocked on the head, as the case 
might be, he evinced so little emotion, that they by common con- 
Bent pronounced him a hardened young rascal, and ordered Mr. 
Bumble to remove him forthwith." 

Some years ago an investigation into the treatment 
of the poor in St. Pancras workhouse was made. It 
originated in the suicide of a girl, who, having left her 
place, drowned herself rather than return to the work- 
house to be confined in the " shed" a place of confine- 
ment for refractory and ill-disposed paupers. The una- 
nimous verdict of the coroner's jury was to this effect, 



OF ENGLAND. 243 

and had appended to it an opinion that the discipline 
of the shed was unnecessarily severe. This verdict led 
to an investigation. 

Mr. Howarth, senior churchwarden, a guardian, and 
a barrister, explained that the shed was used for sepa- 
rating able-bodied, idle, and dissolute paupers from the 
aged and respectable inmates of the house. The shed 
was not, he declared, a place of confinement any more 
than the workhouse itself. The place in question con- 
sists of two rooms, a day-room and a dormitory, on the 
basement of the main building, two feet below the level 
of the soil, each about thirty-five feet long by fifteen 
wide and seven high. The bedroom contains ten beds, 
occupied sometimes by sixteen, sometimes by twenty or 
twenty-four paupers. According to the hospital calcu- 
lation of a cube of nine feet to an occupant, the dormi- 
tory should accommodate six persons. The damp from 
an adjoining cesspool oozes through the walls. This 
pleasant apartment communicates with a yard forty feet 
long, and from fifteen to twenty broad, with a flagged 
pavement and high walls. This yard is kept always 
locked. But it is not a place of confinement. Oh no ! 
it is a place of separation. 

Let us see the evidence of James Hill, who waits on 
the occupants of the shed : " They are locked up night 
and day. They frequently escape over the walls. They 
are put in for misconduct." 

Mr. Lee, the master of the workhouse, declares that 



244 THE WHITE SLAVES 

if the persons in the shed make application to come out, 
they are frequently released. He is " not aware if he 
has any legal right to refuse them, but does sometimes 
exercise that authority." One of the women is there 
for throwing her clothes over the wall; another for 
getting " overtaken in liquor" while out of the house, 
and losing her pail and brush. A third inmate is a girl 
of 'weak intellect, who went out for a day, was made 
drunk and insensible by a male pauper, and suffered 
dreadful maltreatment. 

All the pauper witnesses represent the shed as a place 
of punishment. The six ounces of meat given three 
times a week by the dietary, is reduced to four ounces 
for the shed paupers. Still all this, in Mr. Howarth's 
eyes, neither constitutes the shed a place of confinement 
nor of punishment. It is a place of separation. So is 
a prison. It is a prison in a prison ; a lower depth in 
the lowest deep of workhouse wretchedness and restraint. 

Are we to be told that this is " classification," (as 
the report of the directors impudently calls it,) by which 
the young and old, imbecile and drunken, sickly and 
turbulent, are shut up together day and night picking 
oakum ; looking out through the heavy day on the bare 
walls of their wretched yard at night breathing their 
own foetid exhalations and the miasma of a cesspool, 
twenty-four of them sometimes in a space only fit to 
accommodate six with due regard to health and decency? 
And all this at the arbitrary will of master or matron, 



OF ENGLAND. 245 

unchecked by the board ! One poor creature had been 
there for three years. She had not come out because 
" she was in such bad health, and had nowhere to go." 
Yet she was shut up, because she was considered able 
bodied and fit for work, when her appearance belied it, 
and spoke her broken spirit and shattered constitution. 

Mr. W. Lee, guardian, seemed blessed with an unusual 
amount of ignorance as to his legal powers and respon- 
sibilities. He kept no account of persons confined in 
the black-hole, for forty-eight hours sometimes, and 
without directions from the board. He thought the 
matron had power to put paupers in the strong room. 
On one point he was certain: he "had no doubt that 
persons have been confined without his orders." He 
" had no doubt that he had received instructions from 
the board about the refractory ward, but he does not 
know where to find them." " If any paupers committed 
to the ward feel aggrieved, they can apply to be released, 
and he had no doubt he would release them." He made 
no weekly report of punishments. He reigned supreme, 
monarch of all he surveyed, wielding the terrors of shed 
and black-hole unquestioned and unchecked. 

In Miss Stone, the matron, he had a worthy coadju- 
trix. The lady felt herself very much "degraded" by 
the coroner's jury. They asked her some most incon- 
venient questions, to which she gave awkwardly ready 
answers. She confined to the shed a girl who returned 
from place, though she admitted the work of the place 



246 THE WHITE SLAVES 

was too much for her. She confessed she might have 
punished Jones (the suicide) by putting her in the black- 
hole; but it was a mere trifle "only a few hours" in 
an underground cell, perhaps from morning till night, 
for refusing to do some domestic service." Jones was 
helpless; her mistress brought her back to the work- 
house. Jones cried, and begged to be taken back to 
service, offering to work for nothing. Her recollections 
of the workhouse do not seem to have been pleasant. 
Hard work, unpaid ; suicide ; any thing rather than the 
shed. 

A precious testimony to the St. Pancras system of 
classification !" These paupers in the shed are clearly 
a refractory set. " They complain of being shut up 
so long." " They say they would like more bread and 
more meat." Audacious as Oliver Twist ! They even 
complain of the damp and bad smell. Ungrateful, dainty 
wretches! On the whole, as Mr. Howarth says, it is 
evidently unjust to suppose that the system of separa- 
tion adopted in the house is regarded as a mode of pu- 
nishment." The directors issued a solemn summons to 
the members of the parochial medical board. District 
surgeons and consulting surgeons assembled, inspected 
the shed, and pronounced it a very pleasant place if the 
roof were higher, and if the ventilation were better, and 
if the damp were removed, and if fewer slept in a bed, 
and six instead of twenty-four in the room. They then 
examined the dietary, and pronounced it sufficient if 



OF ENGLAND. 247 

the allowances were of full weight, if the meat were of 
the best quality, if there were plenty of milk in the 
porridge, and if the broth were better. Great virtue 
in an " if!" Unhappily, in the present case, the allow- 
ances were not full weight ; the meat not of the best 
quality ; there is not milk enough in the porridge ; and 
the broth might be very much better, and yet not good. 

Mr. Cooper, the parish surgeon, was a special object 
of antipathy to the worthy and humane Howarth; he 
was one of those ridiculously particular men, unfit to 
deal with paupers. He actually objected to the pauper 
women performing their ablutions in the urinals, and 
felt aggrieved when the master told him to " mind his 
shop," and Howarth stood by without rebuking the 
autocrat! Mr. Cooper, too, admits that the dietary 
would be sufficient with all the above-mentioned " ifs." 
But he finds that the milk porridge contains one quart 
of milk to six of oatmeal; that the meat is half fat, and 
often uneatable from imperfect cooking; and that the 
frequent stoppages of diet are destructive of the health 
of the younger inmates. His remonstrances, however, 
have been received in a style that has read him a lesson, 
and he ceases to remonstrate accordingly, and the guar- 
dians have it as they would a silent surgeon and an 
omnipotent master. 

The saddest part of the farce, however, was that of 
the last day's proceedings. The quality and quantity 
of the diet had been discussed ; the directors felt bound 



248 THE WHITE SLAVES 

to examine into both ; so they proceeded to the house. 
Of course the master knew nothing of the intended visit. 
Who can suspect the possibility of such a thing after 
the previous display of Howarth's impartiality and de- 
termination to do justice? So to the house they went. 
They took the excellent Lee quite by surprise, and en- 
joyed parish pot-luck. Dr. Birmingham's description 
makes one's mouth water : 

" He came to the house on Saturday, in order to examine the 
food ; he found that, on that day, the inmates had what was called 
ox-cheek soup ; he tasted it, and he was so well satisfied with it 
that he took all that was given to him. He then went into the 
kitchen, and saw the master cutting up meat for the sick and 
infirm. He tasted the mutton, and found it as succulent and as 
good as that which he purchased for his own consumption." 

The picture of this patriarchal and benevolent master 
" cutting up meat for the sick and infirm," is perfectly 
beautiful. Howarth, too, did his duty, and was equally 
lucky. 

" Mr. Howarth stated that he had visited the house yesterday, 
and had examined the food, with the quality of which he was 
perfectly satisfied. He tasted the soup, and was so well pleased 
with it that he obtained an allowance. (A laugh.)" 

But not satisfied with this, that Khadamanthus of a 
Birmingham proposed a crucial test. 

" He begged to move that the master of the workhouse be de- 
sired to bring before the board the ordinary rations allowed the 
paupers for breakfast, dinner, and supper; and that any gentle- 
man present be allowed to call and examine any of the paupers 



OF ENGLAND. 249 

as to whether the food they usually received was of the same 
quality, and in the same quantity." 

The rations were produced ; "and, lo! the porridge 
smoked upon the board." Thus it was, in tempting and 
succulent array the pauper bill of fare : 

Soup. 

Cheese. Pease porridge. Potatoes. 

Meat. Beer. 

Nothing can be more tempting ; who would not be a 
pauper of St. Pan eras ? Six paupers are called in, and 
one and all testify that the rations of meat, potatoes, 
soup, and porridge are better in quality and greater in 
quantity than the workhouse allowance. There is a 
slight pause. Birmingham looks blank at Howarth, and 
Howarth gazes uneasily on Birmingham ; but it is only 
for a minute : ready wits jump : 

" Dr. Birmingham. This is the allowance for Sunday. 
" Mr. Marley. I understand there is no difference between the 
allowance on Sunday and on any other day. 

" Mr. HowartJi. They have better meat on Sundays." 

What follows this glaring exposure ? Impeachment 
of the master, on this clear proof of malversation in the 
house and dishonesty before the board? So expects 
Mr. Halton, and very naturally suggests that Mr. Lee 
be called on for an explanation. Mr. Lee is not called 
on, and no explanation takes place. The room is cleared, 
and, after an hour and a half's discussion, a report is 

unanimously agreed to. Our readers may anticipate its 

17 



250 THE WHITE SLAVES 

tenour. } t finds that there is no place deserving to be 
called the shed ; that the rooms so called are very ad- 
mirable places of "separation" for refractory paupers; 
that the diet is excellent ; that every thing is as it ought 
to be. It recommends that reports of punishments be 
more regularly made to the board, that classification of 
old and young be improved, and that some little change 
be made in the ventilation of the refractory "wards ! 

And so concludes this sad farce of the St. Pancras 
investigation. One more disgraceful to the guardians 
cannot be found even in the pregnant annals of work- 
house mismanagement.* 

"Farming out" paupers, especially children, is one 
of the most prolific sources of misery among the 
English poor who are compelled to appeal to the 
parish authorities. This practice consists of entering 
into contracts with individuals to supply the paupers 
with food, clothing, and lodging. The man who offers 
to perform the work for the smallest sum commonly 
gets the contract, and then the poor wretches who look 
to him for the necessaries of life must submit to all 
kinds of treatment, and be stinted in every thing. 
During the last visit of that scourge, the cholera, to 
England, a large number of farmed pauper children 
were crowded, by one Mr. Drouet, a contractor, into a 
close and filthy building, where they nearly all perished. 

* London Daily News. 



OF ENGLAND. 251 

An investigation was subsequently held, but influential 
persons screened the authors of this tragedy from 
justice. During the investigation, it was clearly shown 
that the children confided to the care of Mr. Drouet 
were kept in a state of filth and semi-starvation. 

So much for the boasted charity of the dominant 
class in Great Britain! By its enormous drain upon 
the public purse, and its vast monopoly of that soil 
which was given for the use of all, it creates millions 
of paupers wretches without homes, without resources, 
and almost without hope ; and then, to prevent them- 
selves from being hurled from their high and luxurious 
places, and from being devoured as by ravenous wolves, 
they take the miserable paupers in hand, separate 
families, shut them up, as in the worst of prisons, and 
give them something to keep life in their bodies. 
Then the lords and ladies ask the world to admire their 
charitable efforts. What they call charity is the off- 
spring of fear ! 

A member of the humbler classes in England no 
sooner begins to exist, than the probability of his be- 
coming a pauper is contemplated by the laws. A writer 
in Chambers's Journal says, in regard to this point 

" Chargeability is the English slave system. The poor man 
cannot go where he lists in search of employment he may be- 
come chargeable. He cannot take a good place which may be 
offered to him, for he cannot get a residence, lest he become 
chargeable. Houses are pulled down over the ears of honest 
working-men, and decent poor people are driven from Dan to 



252 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Beersheba, lest they become chargeable. There is something in- 
finitely distressing in the whole basis of this idea that an Eng- 
lish peasant must needs be regarded from his first breath, and all 
through life, as a possible pauper. But the positive hardships 
arising from the idea are what we have at present to deal with. 

"These are delineated in a happy collection of facts lately 
brought forward by Mr. Chadwick at a meeting of the Farmers' 
Club in London. It appears that the company assembled, who, 
from their circumstances, were all qualified to judge of the truth 
of the facts and the soundness of the conclusions, gave a general 
assent to what was said by the learned poor-law secretary. Un- 
fortunately, we can only give a few passages from this very re- 
markable speech. 

" Mr. Chadwick first referred to the operation of the existing 
law upon unsettled labouring men. ' The lower districts of Read- 
ing were severely visited with fever during the last year, which 
called attention to the sanitary condition of the labouring popu- 
lation. I was requested to visit it. While making inquiries 
upon the subject, I learned that some of the worst-conditioned 
places were occupied by agricultural labourers. Many of them, 
it appeared, walked four, six, seven, and even eight miles, in wet 
and snow, to and from their places of work, after twelve hours' 
work on the farm. Why, however, were agricultural labourers 
in these fever-nests of a town ? I was informed, in answer, that 
they were driven in there by the pulling down of cottages, to 
avoid parochial settlements and contributions to their mainte- 
nance in the event of destitution. Among a group, taken as an 
example there, in a wretched place consisting of three rooms, ten 
feet long, lived Stephen Turner, a wife, and three children, He 
walked to and from his place of work about seven miles daily, 
expending two hours and a half in walking before he got to his 
productive work on the farm. His wages are 10-s. a week, out 
of which he pays 2s. for his wretched tenement. If he were resi- 
dent on the farm, the two and a half hours of daily labour spent 
in walking might be expended in productive work ; his labour 
would be worth, according to his own account, and I believe to a 
farmer's acknowledgment, 2s. Qd. per week more. For a rent of 



OP ENGLAND. 253 

5 55., such as he now pays, he would be entitled to a good cot- 
tage with a garden ; and his wife and children being near, would 
be available for the farm labour. So far as I could learn there 
are between one hundred and two hundred agricultural labourers 
living in the borough of Reading, and the numbers are increas- 
ing. The last week brought to my notice a fact illustrative of 
the present unjust state of things, so far as regards the labourer. 
A man belonging to Maple-Durham lived in Reading; walked 
about four miles a day to his work, the same back, frequently 
getting wet ; took fever, and continued ill some time, assisted by 
the Reading Union in his illness ; recovered, and could have re- 
turned to his former employment of 10s. per week, but found he 
was incapable of walking the distance ; the consequence was, he 
took work that only enabled him to earn 5s. per week ; he is now 
again unable to work. Even in Lincolnshire, where the agri- 
culture is of a high order, and the wages of the labourer conse- 
quently not of the lowest, similar displacements have been made, 
to the prejudice of the farmer as well as the labourer, and, as will 
be seen, of the owner himself. Near Gainsborough, Lincoln, and 
Louth, the labourers walk even longer distances than near Read- 
ing. I am informed of instances where they walk as far as six 
miles ; that is, twelve miles daily, or seventy-two miles weekly, 
to and from their places of work. Let us consider the bare 
economy, the mere waste of labour, and what a state of agricul- 
tural management is indicated by the fact that such a waste can 
have taken place. Fifteen miles a day is the regular march of 
infantry soldiers, with two rest-days one on Monday, and one 
on Thursday ; twenty-four miles is a forced march. The man 
who expends eight miles per diem, or forty-eight miles per week, 
expends to the value of at least two days' hard labour per week, 
or one hundred in the year, uselessly, that might be expended 
usefully and remuneratively in production. How different is it 
in manufactories, and in some of the mines, or at least in the 
best-managed and most successful of them ! In some mines as 
much as 2000 and 3000 is paid for new machinery to benefit 
the labourers, and save them the labour of ascending and de- 
scending by ladders. In many manufactories they have hoists to 
L 



254 THE WHITE SLAVES 

raise them and their loads from lower to upper rooms, to save 
them the labour of toiling up stairs, to economize their strength 
for piece-work to mutual advantage. It is not in county and 
borough towns only that this unwholesome over-crowding is going 
on. I am informed that from the like cause the evil of over-crowd- 
ing is going on in the ill-conditioned villages of open parishes. 
It is admitted, and made manifest in extensive evidence given be- 
fore a committee of the house of lords by practical farmers, that 
when an agricultural labourer applies for work, the first question 
put to him is, not what has been his experience, what can he do, 
but to what parish does he belong. If he do not belong to the 
parish of the occupier, the reply is usually an expression of re- 
gret that he can only employ the labourer of his own parish. To 
the extent to which the farmer is directly liable to the payment 
of .rates, by the displacement of a settled parish labourer, he ia 
liable to a penalty for the employment of any other labourer who 
is not of the parish. To the same extent is he liable to a penalty 
if he do not employ a parish labourer who is worthless, though 
a superior labourer may be got by going farther a-field, to whom 
he would give better wages. This labourer who would go farther 
is thus driven back upon his parish ; that is to say, imposed,, and 
at the same time made dependent, upon the two or three or seve- 
ral farmers, by whom the parisli is occupied. He then says, 'If 
this or that farmer will not employ me, one of them must ; if 
none of them will, the parish must keep me, and the parish pay 
is as good as any.' Labour well or ill, he will commonly get 
little more, and it is a matter of indifference to him : it is found 
to be, in all its essential conditions, labour without hope slave 
labour ; and he is rendered unworthy of his hire. On the other 
hand, in what condition does the law place the employer ? It 
imposes upon him the whole mass of labourers of a narrow dis- 
trict, of whatsoever sort, without reference to his wants or his 
capital. He says, ' I do not want the men at this time, or these 
men are not suitable to me ; they will not do the work I want ; 
but if I must have them, or pay for keeping them in idleness if I 
do not employ them, why, then, I can only give them such wages 
as their labour is worth to me, and that is little/ Hence wages 



OP ENGLAND. 255 

are inevitably reduced. What must be the effect upon the manu- 
facturer if he were placed in the same position as tenant farmers 
are in the smaller parishes in the southern counties, if he were 
restricted to the employment only of the labourers in the parish? 
if, before he engaged a smith, a carpenter, or a mason, he were 
compelled to inquire, ' To what parish do you belong ?' Why, 
that the 24s. a week labour would fall to 12s. or 10s., or the price 
of agricultural labour. Agriculturists from northern districts, 
who work their farms with 12s. and 15*. a weeli frao labour, have 
declined the temptation of low rents, to take farms in parishes 
where the wages are 7s. or Ss. a week. While inspecting a farm 
in one of these pauperized districts, an able agriculturist could not 
help noticing the slow, drawling motions of one of the labourers 
there, and said, 'My man, you do not sweat at that work/ 'Why, 
no, master/ was the reply ; * seven shillings a week isn't sweat- 
ing wages.' The evidence I have cited indicates the circum- 
stances which prevent the adoption of piece-work, and which, 
moreover, restrict the introduction of machinery into agricultural 
operations, which, strange though it may appear to many, is 
greatly to the injury of the working classes ; for wherever agri- 
cultural labour is free, and machinery has been introduced, there 
more and higher-paid labour is required, and labourers are 
enabled to go on and earn good wages by work with machines 
long after their strength has failed them for working by hand. 
In free districts, and with high cultivation by free and skilled 
labour, I can adduce instances of skilled agricultural labourers 
paid as highly as artisans. I could adduce an instance, bordering 
upon Essex, where the owner, working it with common parish 
labour at Is. 6d., a day, could not make it pay ; and an able 
farmer now works it with free labour, at 2s. 6d., 3s., and 
3s. 6d., and even more, per day, for taskwork, and, there is 
reason to believe, makes it pay well. A farmer, who died 
not long ago immensely wealthy, was wont to say that ' he 
could not live upon poor 2s. a day labour ; he could not make his 
money .upon less than half-crowners/ The freedom of labour, 
not only in the northern counties, but in eome places near the 
slave-labour districts of the southern counties, is already attend- 



256 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ed with higher wages at the rate of 125. , 14?., and 15s. weekly. 
In such counties as Berks and Bedford, the freedom of the labour 
market, when it came into full operation, could not raise wages 
less than 2s. a week ; and 2s. a week would, in those counties, 
represent a sum of productive expenditure and increased produce 
equal to the whole amount of unproductive expenditure on the 
poor-rates/" 

By this arrangement of parochial settlement, the 
English agricultural labourer has a compulsory resi- 
dence, like that of the American slave upon the planta- 
tion where he is born. This, therefore, is one of the 
most striking manifestations of the peasant being a 
serf. A free and beautiful system is that of the 
English Unions ! 



OF ENGLAND. 257 



CHAPTER VI. 

IMPRESSMENT, OR KIDNAPPING WHITE MEN FOR SLAVES 
IN THE NAVAL SERVICE. 

ONE of the most repulsive features of the general 
system of slavery in Great Britain, is called impress- 
ment. It is the forcible removal of seamen from their 
ordinary employment, and compelling them to serve, 
against their will, in the ships of war. Long ago, 
some of the maritime nations condemned men to the 
galleys for crime. But Great Britain dooms peaceable 
and unoffending men to her vessels of war, severs all 
the ties of home and kindred, and outrages every prin- 
ciple of justice, in this practice of impressment. The 
husband is torn from his wife, the father from his chil- 
dren, the brother from the sister, by the press-gangs 
the slave-hunters of Britain. 

This practice is not expressly sanctioned by any act 
of Parliament, but it is so, indirectly, by the numerous 
statutes that have been passed granting exemptions 
from it. According to Lord Mansfield, it is a power 
founded upon immemorial usage," and is understood to 
make a part of the common law. All seafaring men 



258 THE WHITE SLAVES 

are liable to impressment, unless speciallyjprotected by 
custom or statute. Seamen executing particular ser- 
vices for government, not unfrequently get protections 
from the Admiralty, Navy Board, &c. Some are ex- 
empted by local custom ; and ferrymen are everywhere 
privileged from impressment. The statutory exemp- 
tions are as follows : 

I. Every ship in the coal-trade has the following persons pro- 
tected, viz. two able seamen (such as the master shall nominate) 
for every ship of one hundred tons, and one for every fifty tons 
for every ship of one hundred tons and upward ; and every officer 
who presumes to impress any of the above, shall forfeit, to the 
master or owner of such vessel, 10 for every man so impressed; 
and such officers shall be incapable of holding any place, office, 
or employment in any of his majesty's ships of war. 6 and 7 
Will. 3, c. 18, \ 19.* 

II. No parish apprentice shall be compelled or permitted to en- 
ter into his majesty's sea-service, until he arrives at the age of 
eighteen years. 2 and 3 Anne, c. G, \ 4. 

III. Persons voluntarily binding themselves apprentices to sea- 
service, shall not be impressed for three years from the date of 
their indentures. [This is a protection for the master not for 
the parish apprentice.] But no persons above eighteen years of 
age shall have any exemption or protection from his majesty's 
service, if they have been at sea before they became apprentices. 
2 and 3 Anne, c. 6, 1 15 ; 4 Anne, c. 19, \ 17 ; and 13 Geo. 2, 
c.17,12. 



* In order that these men shall be thus protected, it is necessary 
for the master TO NAME THEM, before they are impressed; this is to 
be done by going before the mayor or other chief magistrate of the 
place, who is to give the master a certificate, in which is contained 
the names of the particular men whom he thus nominates ; and this 
certificate will be their protection. 



OP ENGLAND. 259 

IV. Apprentices. The act 4 Geo. 4, c. 25, enacts some new 
regulations with respect to the number of apprentices that ships 
must have on board, according to their tonnage, and grants pro- 
tection to such apprentices till they have attained the age of 
twenty-one years. 

V. Persons employed in the fisheries. The act 50 Geo. 3, c. 108, 
grants the following exemptions from impressment, viz. : 

1. Masters of fishing vessels or boats, who, either themselves or 
their owners, have, or within six months before applying for a 
protection shall have had, one apprentice or more, under sixteen 
years of age, bound for five years, and employed in the business 
of fishing. 

2. All such apprentices, not exceeding eight to every master or 
owner of any fishing vessel of fifty tons or upward ; not exceed- 
ing seven to every vessel or boat of thirty-five tons, and under 
fifty ; not exceeding six to every vessel of thirty tons, or under 
thirty-five ; and not exceeding four to every boat under thirty 
tons burden, during the time of their apprenticeship, and till the 
age of twenty years ; they continuing, for the time, in the busi- 
ness of fishing only. 

3. One mariner, besides the master and apprentices, to every 
fishing vessel of one hundred tons or upward, employed on the 
sea-coast, during his continuance in such service. 

4. Any landsman, above the age of eighteen, entering and em- 
ployed on board such vessel for two years from his first going to 
sea and to the end of the voyage then engaged in, if he so long 
continue in such service. [The ignorance of a landsman seems 
to be the only reason for this exemption.] 

An affidavit sworn before a justice of the peace, containing the 
tonnage of such fishing vessel or boat, the port or place to which 
she belongs, the name and description of the master, the age of 
every apprentice, the term for which he is bound and the date of 
his indenture, and the name, age, and description of every such 
mariner and landsman respectively, and the time of such lands- 
man's first going to sea, is to be transmitted to the Admiralty ; 
who, upon finding the facts correctly stated, grant a separate pro- 
tection to every individual. In case, however, " of an actual in- 



260 THE WHITE SLAVES 

vasion of these kingdoms, or imminent danger thereof," such pro- 
tected persons may be impressed ; but except upon such an emer- 
gency, any officer or officers impressing such protected person, 
shall respectively forfeit 20 to the party impressed, if not an 
apprentice, or to his master if he be an apprentice. | 2, 3, 4. 
[The phrase, "imminent danger of invasion," is susceptible of 
a wide interpretation for the purposes of tyranny.] 

VI. General exemptions. All persons fifty-five years of age and 
upward, and under eighteen years. Every person being a 
foreigner, who shall serve in any merchant ship, or other trading 
vessels or privateers, belonging to a subject of the crown of 
Great Britain ; and all persons, of what age soever, who shall use 
the sea, shall be protected for two years, to be computed from the 
time of their first using it. 13 Geo. 2, c. 17. [The impressment 
of American seamen, before the war of 1812, shows how easily 
these exemptions may be disregarded.] 

VII. Harpooners, line-managers, or boat-steerers, engaged in 
the Southern whale fishery, are also protected. 26 Geo. 3, 
c. 50. 

VIII. Mariners employed in the herring fisheries are exempted 
while actually employed. 48 Geo. 3, c. 110. 

" The practice of impressment," says McCulloch, " so subver- 
sive of every principle of justice, is vindicated on the alleged 
ground of its being absolutely necessary to the manning of the 
fleet. But this position, notwithstanding the confidence with 
which it has been taken up, is not quite so tenable as has been 
supposed. Tha difficulties experienced in procuring sailors for 
the fleet at the breaking out of a war are not natural, but artificial, 
and might be got rid of by a very simple arrangement. During 
peace, not more than a fourth or fifth part of the seamen are re- 
tained in his majesty's service that are commonly required during 
war ; and, if peace continue for a few years, the total number of 
sailors in the king's and the merchant service is limited to that 
which is merely adequate to supply the reduced demand of the 
former and the ordinary demand of the latter. When, therefore, 
war is declared, and 30,000 or 40,000 additional seamen are wanted 
for the fleet, they cannot be obtained, unless by withdrawing them 



OF ENGLAND. 261 

from the merchant service, which has not more than its comple- 
ment of hands. But to do this by offering the seamen higher 
wages would be next to impossible, and would, supposing it were 
practicable, impose such a sacrifice upon the public as could 
hardly be borne. And hence, it is said, the necessity of impress- 
ment, a practice which every one admits can be justified on no 
other ground than that of its being absolutely essential to the 
public safety. It is plain, however, that a necessity of this kind 
may be easily obviated. All, in fact, that is necessary for this 
purpose, is merely to keep such a number of sailors in his ma- 
jesty's service during peace, as may suffice, with the ordinary 
proportion of landsmen and boys, to man the fleet at the breaking 
out of a war. Were this done, there would not be the shadow of 
a pretence for resorting to impressment ; and the practice, with 
the cruelty and injustice inseparable from it, might be entirely 
abolished. 

" But it is said that, though desirable in many respects, the 
expense of such a plan will always prevent its being adopted. It 
admits, however, of demonstration, that instead of being dearer, 
this plan would be actually cheaper than that which is now fol- 
lowed. Not more than 1,000,000/. or 1,200,OOOZ. a year would be 
required to be added to the navy estimates, and that would not be 
a real, but merely a nominal advance. The violence and injustice 
to which the practice of impressment exposes sailors operates at 
all times to raise their wages, by creating a disinclination on the 
part of many young men to enter the sea-service ; and this disin- 
clination is vastly increased during war, when wages usually rise 
to four or five times their previous amount, imposing a burden on 
the commerce of the country, exclusive of other equally mischievous 
consequences, many times greater than the tax that would be 
required to keep up the peace- establishment of the navy to its 
proper level. It is really, therefore, a vulgar error to suppose 
that impressment has the recommendation of cheapness in its 
favour ; and, though it had, no reasonable man will contend that 
that is the only, or even the principal, circumstance to be attended 
to. In point of fact, however, it is as costly as it is oppressive 
and unjust." 

L 



262 THE WHITE SLAVES 

These remarks are creditable to the good sense and 
humanity of McCulloch ; but are too much devoted to 
the expediency of outrage. To speak more clearly, the 
discussion is conducted in too cool-blooded a style. We 
defy any man of ordinary sensibility to read the ac- 
counts of scenes attending many cases of impressment, 
without feeling the deepest pity for the enslaved seaman 
and his bereaved relatives and friends, and burning 
with indignation at the heartless tyranny displayed by 
the government. After a long and laborious voyage in 
a merchant vessel, the sun-burned seamen arrives in 
sight of home. His wife and children, who have long 
bewailed his absence and feared for his fate, stand, 
with joyous countenances, upon the shore, eager to 
embrace the returned wanderer. Perhaps a govern- 
ment vessel, on the search for seaman, then sends its 
barbarous press-gang aboard the merchantman, and 
forces the husband and father once more from the pre- 
sence of the beloved ones. Or, he is permitted to land. 
He visits his home, and is just comfortably settled, re- 
solved to pass the rest of his days with his family, when 
the gang tears him from their arms and years long, 
dragging years will pass away before he will be allowed 
to return. Then, the wife may be dead, the children at 
the mercy of the parish. This is English freedom ! A 
gang of manacled negroes shocks humanity, and calls 
down the vengeance of heaven upon the head of the 
slave-driver ; but a press-gang may perform its heart- 



OF ENGLAND. 263 

rending work in perfect consistency with the free and 
glorious institutions of Britain. 

By far the most thrilling narrative of the scenes 
attending impressments, with which we are acquainted, 
is to he found in the romance of Katie Stewart," pub- 
lished in Blackwood's Magazine, without the author's 
name. We quote : 

" The next day was the Sabbath, and Willie Morison, with his 
old mother leaning on his arm, reverently deposited his silver half- 
crown in the plate at the door of West Anster Church, an offer- 
ing of thankfulness, for the parish poor. There had been various 
returns during the previous week ; a brig from the Levant, and 
another from Riga where, with its cargo of hemp, it had been 
frozen in all the winter had brought home each their proportion 
of welcome family fathers, and young sailor men, like Willie Mo- 
rison himself, to glad the eyes of friends and kindred. One of 
these was the son of that venerable elder in the lateran, who rose 
to read the little notes which the thanksgivers had handed to him 
at the door ; and Katie Stewart's eyes filled as the old man's slow 
voice, somewhat moved by reading his son's name just before, 
intimated to the waiting congregation before him, and to the 
minister in the pulpit behind, also waiting to include all these in 
his concluding prayer, that William Morison gave thanks for his 
safe return. 

" And then there came friendly greetings as the congregation 
streamed out through the church-yard, and the soft, hopeful sun- 
shine of spring threw down a bright flickering network of light 
and shade through the soft foliage on the causewayed street ; 
peaceful people going to secure and quiet homes families joy- 
fully encircling the fathers or brothers for whose return they had 
just rendered thanks out of full hearts, and peace upon all and 
over all, as broad as the skies and as calm. 

" But as the stream of people pours again in the afternoon from 
the two neighbour churches, what is this gradual excitement which 



264 THE WHITE SLAVES 

manifests itself among them ? Hark ! there is the boom of a gun 
plunging into all the echoes ; and crowds of mothers and sisters 
cling about these young sailors, and almost struggle with them, 
to hurry them home. Who is that hastening to the pier, with his 
staff clenched in his hand, and his white ' haffit locks' streaming 
behind him? It is the reverend elder who to-day returned thanks 
for his restored son. The sight of him the sound of that second- 
gun pealing from the Firth puts the climax on the excitement of 
the people, and now, in a continuous stream from the peaceful 
churchyard gates, they flow toward the pier and the sea. 

" Eagerly running along by the edge of the rocks, at a pace 
which, on another Sabbath, she would have thought a desecration 
of the day, clinging to Willie Morison's arm, and with an anxious 
heart, feeling her presence a kind of protection to him, Katie 
Stewart hastens to the Billy Ness. The gray pier of Anster is 
lined with anxious faces, and here and there a levelled telescope 
under the care of some old shipmaster attracts round it a still 
deeper, still more eager knot of spectators. The tide is out, and 
venturous lads are stealing along the sharp low ranges of rock, 
slipping now and then with incautious steps into the little clear 
pools of sea-water which surround them ; for their eyes are not on 
their own uncertain footing, but fixed, like the rest, on that visible 
danger up the Firth, in which all feel themselves concerned. 

" Already there are spectators, and another telescope on the 
Billy Ness, and the whole range of ' the braes' between Anstru- 
ther and Pittenweem is dotted with anxious lookers-on ; and the 
far away pier of Pittenweem, too, is dark with its little crowd. 

"What is the cause ! Not far from the shore, just where that 
headland, which hides you from the deep indentation of Largo 
Bay, juts out upon the Firth, lies a little vessel, looking like a 
diminutive Arabian horse, or one of the aristocratic young slight 
lads who are its officers, with high blood, training, and courage in 
every tight line of its cordage and taper stretch of its masts. 
Before it, arrested in its way, lies a helpless merchant brig, softly 
ewaying on the bright mid-waters of the Firth, with the cutter's 
boat rapidly approaching its side. 

" Another moment and it is boarded ; a very short interval of 



OP ENGLAND. 265 

silence, and again the officer you can distinguish him with that 
telescope, by his cocked hat, and the flash which the scabbard of 
his sword throws on the water as he descends the vessel's side 
has re-entered the cutter's boat. Heavily the boat moves through 
the water now, crowded with pressed men poor writhing hearts, 
whose hopes of home-coming and peace have been blighted in a 
moment; captured, some of them, in sight of their homes, and 
under the anxious, straining eyes of wives and children, happily 
too far off to discern their full calamity. 

"A low moan comes from the lips of that poor woman, who, 
wringing her hands and rocking herself to and fro, with the un- 
conscious movement of extreme pain, looks pitifully in Willie 
Mori son's face, as he fixes the telescope on the scene. She is 
reading the changes of its expression, as if her sentence was 
there ; but he says nothing, though the very motion of his hand, 
as he steadies the glass, attracts, like something of occult signifi- 
cance, the agonized gaze which dwells upon him. 

" ' Captain, captain !' she cried at last, softly pulling his coaf, 
and with unconscious art using the new title : ' Captain, is't the 
Traveller? Can ye make her out? She has a white figure-head 
at her bows, and twa white lines round her side. Captain, cap- 
tain ! tell me for pity's sake I* 

"Another long keen look was bent on the brig, as slowly and 
disconsolately she resumed her onward way. 

" ' No, Peggie/ said the young sailor, looking round to meet her 
eye, and to comfort his companion, who stood trembling by his 
side : ' No, Peggie ma,ke yourself easy ; it's no the Traveller.' 

" The poor woman seated herself on the grass, and, supporting 
her head on her hands, wiped from her pale cheek tears of relief 
and thankfulness. 

" ' God be thanked! and oh ! God pity thae puir creatures, and 
their wives, and their little anes. I think I have the hardest 
heart in a* the world, that can be glad when there's such misery 
in sight/ 

"But dry your tears, poor Peggie Rodger b*9;e up your 
trembling heart again for another fiery trial; fc* here comes 
another white sail peacefully glidi*^ up the Firth-, with a flag 

18 



266 THE WHITE SLAVES 

fluttering from the stern, and a white figure-head dashing aside 
the spray, which seems to embrace it joyfully, the sailors think, 
as out of the stormy seas it nears the welcome home. With a 
light step the captain walks the little quarter-deck with light 
hearts the seamen lounge amidship, looking forth on the green 
hills of Fife. Dark grows the young sailor's face, as he watches 
the unsuspicious victim glide triumphantly up through the blue 
water into the undreaded snare ; and a glance round, a slight 
contraction of those lines in his face which Katie Stewart, eagerly 
watching him, has never seen so strongly marked before, tells the 
poor wife on the grass enough to make her rise hysterically strong, 
and with her whole might gaze at the advancing ship ; for, alas I 
one can doubt its identity no longer. The white lines on its side 
the white figure-head among the joyous spray and the Traveller 
dashes on, out of its icy prison in the northern harbour out of 
its stormy ocean voyage homeward bound 1 

" Homeward bound ! There is one yonder turning longing looks 
to Anster's quiet harbour as the ship sails past ; carefully putting 
up in the coloured foreign baskets those little wooden toys which 
amused his leisure during the long dark winter among the ice, 
and thinking with involuntary smiles how his little ones will leap 
for joy as he divides the store. Put them up, good seaman, gentle 
father ! the little ones will be men and women before you look 
on them again. 

" For already the echoes are startled, and the women here on 
shore shiver and wring their hands as the cutter's gun rings out 
its mandate to the passenger ; and looking up the Firth you see 
nothing but a floating globe of white smoke, slowly breaking into 
long streamers, and almost entirely concealing the fine outline of 
the little ship of war. The challenged brig at first is doubtful 
the alarmed captain does not understand the summons ; but again 
another flash, another report, another cloud of white smoke, and 
the Traveller is brought to. 

" There are no tears on Peggie Rodger's haggard cheeks, but a 
convulsive shudder passes over her. now and then, as, with intense 
strained eyes, she watches the cutter's boat as it crosses the Firth, 
toward the arrested brig. 



OF ENGLAND. 267 

" ' God ! an* it were sunk like lead '/ said a passionate voice 
beside her, trembling with the desperate restraint of impotent 
strength. 

" * God help us ! God help us ! curse na them/ said the poor 
woman with an hysteric sob. ' Oh, captain, captain I gie me the 
glass ; if they pit him in the boat I'll ken Davie if naebody else 
would, I can gie me the glass/ 

" He gave her the glass, and himself gladly turned away, 
trembling with the same suppressed rage and indignation which 
had dictated the other spectator's curse. 

" ' If ane could but warn them wi' a word/ groaned Willie Mori- 
son, grinding his teeth ' if ane could but lift a finger ! but to see 
them gang into the snare like innocents in the broad day Katie, 
it's enough to pit a man mad I* 

" But Katie's pitiful compassionate eyes were fixed on Peggie 
Bodger on her white hollow cheeks, and on the convulsive steadi- 
ness with which she held the telescope in her hand. 

" ' It's a fair wind into the Firth there's another brig due. 
Katie, I canna stand and see this mair 1' 

" He drew her hand through his arm, and unconsciously grasp- 
ing it with a force which at another time would have made her 
Cry with pain, led her a little way back toward the town. But 
the fascination of the scene was too great for him, painful as it 
was, and far away on the horizon glimmered another sail. 

" ' Willie 1' exclaimed Katie Stewart, ' gar some of the Sillar- 
dyke men gang out wi' a boat gar them row down by the coast, 
and then strike out in the Firth, and warn the men/ 

" He grasped her hand again, not so violently. ' Bless you, 
lassie ! and wha should do your bidding but myself? but take 
care of yourself, Katie Stewart. What care I for a' the brigs in 
the world if any thing ails you? Gang hame, or' 

" ' HI no stir a fit till you're safe back again. I'll never speak 
to you mair if ye say anither word. Be canny be canny but 
haste ye away.' 

" Another moment, and Katie Stewart stands alone by Peggie 
Rodger's side, watching the eager face which seems to grow old 
and emaciated with this terrible vigil, as if these moments were 



268 THE WHITE SLAVES 

years ; while the ground flies under the bounding feet of Willie 
Morison, and he answers the questions which are addressed to 
him, as to his errand, only while he himself continues at full 
speed to push eastward to Cellardyke. 

" And the indistinct words which he calls back to his comrades, 
as he ' devours the way/ are enough to send racing after him an 
eager train of coadjutors; and with his bonnet off, and his hands, 
which tremble as with palsy, clasped convulsively together, the 
white-haired elder leans upon the wall of the pier, and bids God 
bless them, God speed them, with a broken voice, whose utterance 
comes in gasps and sobs ; for he has yet another son upon the sea. 

" Meanwhile the cutter's boat has returned from the Traveller 
with its second load ; and a kind bystander relieves the aching 
arms of poor Peggie Rodger of the telescope, in which now she 
has no further interest. 

"'Gude kens, Gude kens/ said the poor woman slowly, as Katie 
strove to comfort her. ' I didna see him in the boat ; but ane 
could see nothing but the wet oars flashing out of the water, and 
blinding folks e'en. What am I to do ? Miss Katie, what am I 
to think ? They maun have left some men in the ship to work 
her. Oh ! God grant they have ta'en the young men, and no heads 
of families wi' bairns to toil for. But Davie's a buirdly man, just 
like ane to take an oflicer's ee. Oh, the Lord help us ! for I'm 
just distraught, and kenna what to do/ 

" A faint cheer, instantly suppressed, rises from the point of 
the pier and the shelving coast beyond ; and yonder now it glides 
along the shore, with wet oars gleaming out of the dazzling sunny 
water, the boat of the forlorn hope. A small, picked, chosen com- 
pany bend to the oars, and Willie Morison is at the helm, warily 
guiding the little vessel over the rocks, as they shelter themselves 
in the shadow of the coast. On the horizon the coming sail flut- 
ters nearer, nearer and up the Firth yonder there is a stir in the 
cutter as she prepares to leave her anchor and strike into the mid- 
waters of the broad highway which she molests. 

" The sun is sinking lower in the grand western skies, and be- 
ginning to cast long, cool, dewy shadows of every headland and 
little promontory over the whole rocky coast ; but still the Firth is 



OF ENGLAND. 269 

burning with his slanting fervid rays, and Inchkeith far away 
lies like a cloud upon the sea, and the May, near at hand, lifts its 
white front to the sun a Sabbath night as calm and full of rest 
as ever natural Sabbath was and the reverend elder yonder on 
the pier uncovers his white head once more, and groans within 
himself, amid his passionate prayers for these perilled men upon 
the sea, over the desecrated Sabbath-day. 

" Nearer and nearer wears the sail, fluttering like the snowy 
breast of some sea-bird in prophetic terror ; and now far off the red 
fishing-boat strikes boldly forth into the Firth with a signal-flag 
at its prow. 

"In the cutter they perceive it now; and see how the anchor 
swings up her shapely side, and the snowy sail curls over the 
yards, as with a bound she darts forth from her lurking-place, 
and flashing in the sunshine, like an eager hound leaps forth after 
her prey. 

" The boat the boat I With every gleam of its oars the hearts 
throb that watch it on its way ; with every bound it makes there 
are prayers prayers of the anguish which will take no discour- 
agement pressing in at the gates of heaven ; and the ebbing tide 
bears it out, and the wind droops its wings, and falls becalmed 
upon the coast, as if repenting it of the evil service it did to those 
two hapless vessels which have fallen into the snare. Bravely on 
as the sun grows lower bravely out as the fluttering stranger 
sail draws nearer and more near and but one other strain will 
bring them within hail. 

" But as all eyes follow these adventurers, another flash from 
the cutter's side glares over the shining water ; and as the smoke 
rolls over the pursuing vessel, and the loud report again disturbs 
all the hills, Katie's heart grows sick, and she scarcely dares look 
to the east. But the ball has ploughed the water harmlessly, and 
yonder is the boat of rescue yonder is the ship within hail ; and 
some one stands up in the prow of the forlorn hope, and shouts 
and waves his hand. 

"It is enough. 'There she goes there she tacks!' cries ex- 
ulting the man with the telescope, ' and in half an hour she'll be 
safe in St. Andrew's Bay/ 



270 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" But she sails slowly back and slowly sails the impatient 
cutter, with little wind to swell her sails, and that little in her 
face; while the fisherboat, again falling close inshore with a 
irelay of fresh men at the oars, has the advantage of them both. 

"And now there is a hot pursuit the cutter's boat in full chase 
after the forlorn hope ; but as the sun disappears, and the long 
shadows lengthen and creep along the creeks and bays of the 
rocky coast so well known to the pursued, so ill to the pursuer, 
the event of the race is soon decided ; and clambering up the first 
accessible landing-place they can gain, and leaving their boat on 
the rocks behind them, the forlorn hope joyously make their way 
home. 

" ' And it's a' Katie's notion and no a morsel of mine/ says the 
proud Willie Morison. But alas for your stout heart, Willie ! 
alas for the tremulous, startled bird which beats against the inno- 
cent breast of little Katie Stewart, for no one knows what heavy 
shadows shall vail the ending of this Sabbath-day. 

x- * * * # 

" The mild spring night has darkened, but it is still early, and 
the moon is not yet up. The worship is over in John Stewart's 
decent house, and all is still within, though the miller and his 
wife still sit by the ' gathered' fire, and talk in half whispers about 
the events of the day, and the prospects of ' the bairns/ It is 
scarcely nine yet, but it is the reverent usage of the family to 
shut out the world earlier than usual on the Sabbath ; and Katie, 
in consideration of her fatigue, has been dismissed to her little 
chamber in the roof. She has gone away not unwillingly, for, 
just before, the miller had closed the door on the slow, reluctant, 
departing steps of Willie Morison, and Katie is fain to be alone. 

" Very small is this chamber in the roof of the Milton, which 
Janet and Katie used to share. She has set down her candle on 
the little table before that small glass in the dark carved frame, 
and herself stands by the window, which she has opened, looking 
out. The rush of the burn fills the soft air with sound, into which 
sometimes penetrates a far-off voice, which proclaims the little 
town still awake and stirring: but save the light from Robert 
Moulter's uncurtained window revealing a dark gleaming link 



OF ENGLAND. 271 

of the burn, before the cot-house door and the reddened sky 
yonder, reflecting that fierce torch on the May, there is nothing 
visible but the dark line of fields, and a few faint stars in the 
clouded sky. 

" But the houses in Anster are not yet closed or silent. In the 
street which leads past the town-house and church of West Anster 
to the shore, you can see a ruddy light streaming out from the 
window upon the causeway, the dark churchyard wall, and over- 
hanging trees. At the fire stands a comely young woman, lifting 
' a kettle of potatoes' from the crook. The ' kettle' is a capacious 
pot on three feet, formed not like the ordinary ' kail-pat,' but like 
a little tub of iron ; and now, as it is set down before the ruddy 
fire, you see it is full of laughing potatoes, disclosing themselves, 
snow-white and mealy, through the cracks in their clear dark 
coats. The mother of the household sits by the fireside, with a 
volume of sermons in her hand ; but she is paying but little at- 
tention to the book, for the kitchen is full of young sailors, eagerly 
discussing the events of the day, and through the hospitable open 
door others are entering and departing with friendly salutations. 
Another such animated company fills the house of the widow Mo- 
rison, ' aest the town,' for still the afternoon's excitement has not 
subsided. 

" But up this dark leaf-shadowed street, in which we stand, 
there comes a muffled tramp as of stealthy footsteps. They hear 
nothing of it in that bright warm kitchen fear nothing, as they 
gather round the fire, and sometimes rise so loud in their conver- 
sation that the house-mother lifts her hand, and shakes her head, 
with an admonitory, * Whist bairns ; mind, it's the Sabbath-day.' 

" Behind backs, leaning against the sparkling panes of the win- 
dow, young Robert Davidson speaks aside to Lizzie Tosh, the 
daughter of the house. They were ' cried' to-day in tTest Anster 
kirk, and soon will have a blithe bridal ' If naething comes in 
the way,' says Lizzie, with her downcast face ; and the manly 
young sailor answers t Nae fear,* 

" ' Nae fear!' But without, the stealthy steps come nearer; 
and if you draw far enough away from the open door to lose the 
merry voices., and have your eyes no longer dazzled with the light, 



272 THE WHITE ^ SLAVES 

you will see dim figures creeping through the darkness, and feel 
that the air is heavy with the breath of men. But few people 
care to use that dark road between the manse and the churchyard 
at night, so no one challenges the advancing party, or gives the 
alarm. 

" Lizzie Tosh has stolen to the door ; it is to see if the moon is 
up, and if Robert will have light on his homeward walk to Pitten- 
weem ; but immediately she rushes in again, with a face as pale 
as it had before been blooming, and alarms the assembly. ' A 
band of the cutter's men ; an officer, with a sword at his side. 
Bin, lads, rin, afore they reach the door/ 

" But there is a keen, eager face, with a cocked hat surmount- 
ing it, already looking in at the window. The assembled sailors 
make a wild plunge at the door ; and, while a few escape under 
cover of the darkness, the cutter's men have secured, after a des- 
perate resistance, three or four of the foremost. Poor fellows! 
You see them stand without, young Robert Davidson in the front, 
his broad, bronzed forehead bleeding from a cut he has received 
in the scuffle, and one of his captors, still more visibly wounded, 
looking on him with evil, revengeful eyes : his own eye, poor lad, 
is flaming with fierce indignation and rage, and his broad breast 
heaves almost convulsively. But now he catches a glimpse of the 
weeping Lizzie, and fiery tears, which scorch his eyelids, blind 
him for a moment, and his heart swells as if it would burst. But 
it does not burst, poor desperate heart ! until the appointed bullet 
shall come, a year or two hence, to make its pulses quiet for 
ever. 

"A few of the gang entered the house. It is only 'a but and a 
ben ;' and Lizzie stands with her back against the door of the 
inner apartment, while her streaming eyes now and then cast a 
sick, yearrrifcg glance toward the prisoners at the door for her 
brother stands there as well as her betrothed. 

" ' What for would you seek in there ?' asked the mother, lift- 
ing up her trembling hands. ' "What would ye despoil my chau- 
jner for, after ye've made my hearthstane desolate. If ye've a 
license to steal men, ye've nane to steal gear. Ye've dune your 
warst : gang out o' my house ye thieves, ye locusts, ye' 



OP ENGLAND, 273 

"'We'll see about that, old lady/ said the leader: 'put the 
girl away from that door. Tom, bring the lantern/ 

" The little humble room was neatly arranged. It was their 
best, and they had not spared upon it what ornament they could 
attain. Shells far travelled, precious for the giver's sake, and 
many other heterogeneous trifles, such as sailors pick up in fo- 
reign parts, were arranged upon the little mantel-piece and grate. 
There was no nook or corner in it which could possibly be used 
for a hiding-place ; but the experienced eye of the foremost man 
saw the homely counterpane disordered on the bed ; and there 
indeed the mother had hid her youngest, dearest son. She had 
scarcely a minute's time to drag him in, to prevail upon him to 
let her conceal him under her feather-bed, and all its comfortable 
coverings. But the mother's pains were unavailing, and now 
she stood by, and looked on with a suppressed scream, while that 
heavy blow struck down her boy as he struggled her youngest, 
fair-haired, hopeful boy. 

" Calm thoughts are in your heart, Katie Stewart dreams of 
sailing over silver seas under that moon which begins to rise, 
slowly climbing through the clouds yonder, on the south side of 
the Firth. In fancy, already, you watch the soft Mediterranean 
waves rippling past the side of the Flower of Fife, and see the 
strange beautiful countries of which your bridegroom has told 
you shining under the brilliant southern sun. And then the 
home-coming the curious toys you will gather yonder for the 
sisters and the mother ; the pride you will have in telling them 
how Willie has cared for your voyage how wisely he rules the 
one Flower of Fife, how tenderly he guards the other. 

" Your heart is touched, Katie Stewart, touched with the calm 
and pathos of great joy ; and tears lie under your eyelashes, like 
the dew on flowers. Clasp your white hands on the sill of the 
window heed not that your knees are unbended and say your 
child's prayers with lips which move but utter nothing audible, 
and with your head bowed on the moonbeam, which steals into 
your window like a bird. True, you have said these child's 
prayers many a night, as in some sort a charm, to guard you as 
you slept ; but now there comes upon your spirit an awe of the 



274 THE WHITE SLAVES 

great Father yonder, a dim and wonderful apprehension of the 
mysterious Son in whose name you make those prayers. Is it 
true, then, that he thinks of all our loves and sorrows, this One, 
whose visible form realizes to us the dim, grand, glorious heaven 
knows us by name remembers us with the God's love in his 
wonderful human heart ; us, scattered by myriads over his earth, 
like the motes in the sunbeam ? And the tears steal over your 
cheeks, as you end the child's prayer with the name that is above 
all names. 

" Now, will you rest? But the moon has mastered all her hilly 
way of clouds, and from the full sky looks down on you, Katie, 
with eyes of pensive blessedness like your own. Tarry a little 
linger to watch that one bright spot on the Firth, where you could 
almost count the silvered waves as they lie beneath the light. 

" But a rude sounds breaks upon the stillness a sound of flying 
feet echoing over the quiet road ; and now they become visible 
one figure in advance, and a band of pursuers behind the same 
brave heart which spent its strength to-day to warn the uncon- 
scious ship the same strong form which Katie has seen in her 
dreams on the quarter-deck of the Flower of Fife ; but he will 
never reach that quarter-deck, Katie Stewart, for his strength 
flags, and they gain upon him. 

" Gain upon him, step by step, unpitying bloodhounds ! see 
him lift up his hands to you, at your window, and have no ruth 
for his young hope, or yours ; and now their hands are on his 
shoulder, and he is in their power. 

" ' Katie ! ; cries the hoarse voice of Willie Morison, breaking 
the strange fascination in which she stood, ' come down and speak 
to me ae word, if ye wouldna break my heart. Man if ye are a 
man let me bide a minute ; let me say a word to her. I'll maybe 
never see her in this world again/ 

" The miller stood at the open door the mother within was 
wiping the tears from her cheeks. ' Oh Katie, bairn, that ye had 
been sleeping!' But Katie rushed past them, and crossed the 
burn. 

"What can they say? only convulsively grasp each other's 
hands wofully look into each other's faces, ghastly in the moon- 



OF ENGLAND. 275 

light ; till Willie Willie, who could have carried her like a child, 
in his strength of manhood bowed down his head into those 
little hands of hers which are lost in his own vehement grasp, 
and hides with them his passionate tears. 

" ' Willie, I'll never forget ye/ says aloud the instinctive im- 
pulse of little Katie's heart, forgetting for the moment that there 
is any grief in the world "but to see his. 'Night and day I'll 
mind ye, think of ye: If ye were twenty years away, I would be 
blither to wait for ye, than to be a queen. Wilfie, if ye must go, 
go with a stout heart for I'll never forget ye, if it should be 
twenty years !' 

" Twenty years ! Only eighteen have you been in the world 
yet, brave little Katie Stewart ; and you know not the years, how 
they drag their drooping skirts over the hills when hearts long 
for their ending, or how it is only day by day, hour by hour, that 
they wear out at length, and fade into the past. 

" 'ftow, my man, let's have no more of this/ said the leader of 
the gang. ' I'm not here to wait your leisure ; come on. 

"And now they are away truly away and the darkness settles 
down where this moment Katie saw her bridegroom's head bow- 
ing over the hands which still are wet with his tears. Twenty 
years ! Her own words ring into her heart like a knell, a pro- 
phecy of evil if he should be twenty years away \" 

There is no exaggeration in the above narrative. 
Similar scenes have occurred on many occasions, and 
others of equally afiecting character might be gathered 
from British sailors themselves. In the story of Katie 
Stewart," ten years' elapse before Willie Morison is 
permitted to return to his betrothed. In many cases 
the pressed seamen never catch a glimpse of home or 
friends again. Sometimes decoys and stratagems are 
used to press the seamen into the service of the govern- 
ment. Such extensive powers are intrusted to the 



276 THE TVHITE SLAVES 

officers of men-of-war, that they may be guilty of 
the grossest violations of right and justice with impu- 
nity, and even those "protections" which the govern- 
ment extends to certain persons, are frequently of no 
effect whatever. In the novel of "Jacob Faithful," 
Captain Marryatt has given a fine illustration of the 
practice of some officers. The impressment of Jacob 
and Thomas the waterman, is told with Marryatt's 
usual spirit. Here it is : 

" ' I say, you watermen, have you a mind for a good fare ?' cried 
a dark-looking, not over clean, square built, short young man, 
standing on the top of the flight of steps. 

"'Whereto, sir? 7 

" ' Gravesend, my jokers, if you a'n't afraid of salt water.' 

" ' That's a long way, sir !' replied Tom, ' and for salt water we 
must have salt to our porridge/ 

" ' So you shall, my lads, and a glass of grog into the bargain.' 

" ' Yes, but the bargain a' n't made yet, sir. Jacob, will you go?' 

" ' Yes, but not under a guinea/ 

" ' Not under two guineas/ replied Tom, aside. 

" ' Are you in a great hurry, sir?' continued he, addressing tne 
young man. f 

" ' Yes, in a devil of a hurry j I shall lose my ship. What will 
you take me for ?' 

" ' Two guineas, sir/ 

" ' Very well. Just come up to the public-house here, and, put 
in my traps/ 

"We had brought down his luggage, put it into the wherry and 
started down the river with the tide. Our fare was very commu- 
nicative, and we found out that he was master's mate of the Im- 
mortalit6, forty-gun frigate, lying off Gravesend, which was to 
drop down the next morning, and wait for sailing orders at the 
Downs. We carried the tide with us, and in the afternoon were 



Ofl ENGLAND. 277 

close to the frigate, whose blue ensign waved proudly over the 
taffrail. There was a considerable sea arising from the wind 
meeting the tide, and before we arrived close to her, we had 
shipped a great deal of water ; and when we were alongside, the 
wherry, with the chest in her bows, pitched so heavily, that we were 
afraid of being swamped. Just as a rope had been made fast to 
the chest, and they were weighing it out of the wherry, the ship's 
launch with water came alongside, and whether from accident or 
wilfully I know not, although I suspect the latter, the midship- 
man who steered her, shot her against the wherry, which was 
crushed in, and immediately filled, leaving Tom and me in the 
water, and in danger of being jammed to death between the 
launch and the side of the frigate. The seamen in the boat, 
however, forced her off with their oars, and hauled us in, while 
our wherry sank with her gunnel even with the water's edge, and 
floated away astern. 

" As soon as we had shaken ourselves a little, we went up the side 
and asked one of the officers to send a boat to pick up our wherry. 

"'Speak to the first lieutenant there he is/ was the reply. 

" I went up to the person pointed out to me : ' If you please 
sir' 

" ' What the devil do you want ?' 

"'A boat, sir, to' 

" ' A boat ! the devil you do I* 

" ' To pick up our wherry, sir/ interrupted Tom. 

" ' Pick it up yourself/ said the first lieutenant, passing us and 
hailing the men aloft. ' Maintop there, hook on your stay. Be 
smart. Lower away the yards. Marines and afterguard, clear 
launch. Boatswain's-mate/ 

" ' Here, sir/ 

" ' Pipe marines and afterguard to clear launch/ 

" ' Ay, ay, sir/ 

" ' But we shall lose our boat, Jacob/ said Tom, to me. * They 
stove it in, and they ought to pick it up/ Tom then went up to 
the master's-mate, whom we had brought on board, and explained 
our difficulty. 

" ' Upon my soul, I dar'n't say a word. I'm in a scrape for 
M 



278 THE WHITE SLAVES 

breaking my leave. Why the devil didn't you take care of your 
wherry, and haul ahead when you saw the launch coming/ 

" ' How could we when the chest was hoisting out?' 

" ' Very true. Well, I'm very sorry for you, but I must look 
after my chest.' So saying, he disappeared down the gangway 
ladder. 

" ' I'll try it again, any how/ said Tom, going up to the first 
lieutenant. ' Hard case to lose our boat and our bread, sir,' said 
Tom, touching his hat. 

"The first lieutenant, now that the marines and afterguard 
were at a regular stamp and go, had, unfortunately, more leisure 
to attend to us. He looked at us earnestly, and walked aft to 
see if the wherry was yet in sight. At that moment up came the 
master's-mate who had not yet reported himself to the first lieu- 
tenant. 

" ' Tom/ said I, 'there's a wherry close to ; let us get into it, 
and go after our boat ourselves.' 

" ' Wait one moment to see if they will help us and get our 
money, at all events/ replied Tom ; and we walked aft. 

" ' Come on board, sir/ said the master's mate, touching his 
hat with humility. 

" ' You've broke your leave, sir/ replied the first lieutenant, 
' and now I've to send a boat to pick up the wherry through your 
carelessness/ 

" ' If you please, they are two very fine young men/ observed 
the mate. ' Make capital foretop-men. Boat's not worth sending 
for, sir/ 

" This hint, given by the mate to the first lieutenant, to regain 
his favour, was not lost. ' Who are you, my lads ?' said the first 
lieutenant to us. 

" ' Watermen, sir/ 

" ' Watermen, hey ! was that your own boat?' 

" ' No, sir/ replied I, ' it belonged to the man that I serve with/ 

" ' Oh ! not your own boat ? Are you an apprentice then ?' 

" ' Yes, sir, both apprentices/ 

" ' Show me your indentures/ 

1(1 We don't carry them about with us.' 



OF ENGLAND. 279 

" ' Then how am I to know that you are apprentices ?' 

" ' We can prove it," sir, if you wish it/ 

" ' I do wish it; at all events, the captain will wish it.' 

" ' Will you please to send for the boat, sir? she's almost out 
of sight/ 

" ' No, my lads, I can't find king's boats for such service/ 

" ' Then, we had better go ourselves, Tom/ said I, and we went 
forward to call the waterman who was lying on his oars close to 
the frigate. 

" ' Stop stop not so fast. Where are you going, my lads ?' 

" ' To pick up our boat, sir/ 

" ' Without my leave, hey !' 

" ' We don't belong to the frigate, sir/ 

" ' No ; but I think it very likely that you will, for you have 
no protections/ 

" ' We can send for them and have them down by to-morrow 
morning/ 

"'Well, you may do so, if you please, my lads; you cannot 
expect me to believe every thing that is told me. Now, for in- 
stance, how long have you to serve, my lad ?' said he, addressing 
Tom. 

" ' My time is up to-morrow, sir/ 

" ' Up to-morrow. Why, then, I shall detain you until to-mor- 
row, and then I shall press you/,, 

" ' If you detain me now, sir, I am pressed to-day/ 

" ' Oh no ! you are only detained until you prove your appren- 
ticeship, that's all/ 

" ' Nay, sir, I certainly am pressed during my apprenticeship/ 

" ' Not at all, and I'll prove it to you. You don't belong to the 
ship until you are victualled on her books. Now, I sha'n't victual 
you to-day, and therefore, you won't he pressed.' 

" ' I shall be pressed with hunger, at all events/ replied Tom, 
who never could lose a joke. 

" ' No, you sha'n't ; for I'll send you both a good dinner out of 
the gun-room, so you won't be pressed at all/ replied the lieu- 
tenant, laughing at Tom's reply. 

"You will allow me to go, sir, at all events/ replied I; 'for I 



280 THE WHITE SLAVES 

knew that the only chance of getting Tom and myself clear was 
by hastening to Mr. Drummond for assistance. 

" ' Pooh ! nonsense ; you must both row in the same boat as 
you have done. Th$ fact is, my lads, I've taken a great fancy to 
you both, and I can't make up my mind to part with you.' 

" ' It's hard to lose our bread, this way/ replied I. 

" ' We will find you bread, and hard enough you will find it,' 
replied the lieutenant, laughing; 'it's like a flint/ 

"'So we ask for bread, and you give us a stone/ said Tom; 
* that's 'gainst Scripture/ 

" ' Very true, my lad ; but the fact is, all the scriptures in the 
world won't man the frigate. Men we must have, and get them 
how we can, and where we can, and when we can. Necessity has 
no law ; at least it obliges us to break through all laws. After all, 
there's no great hardship in serving the king for a year or two, and 
filling your pockets with prize-money. Suppose you volunteer?' 

" ' Will you allow us to go on shore for half an hour to think 
about it ?' replied I. 

" ' No ; I'm afraid of the crimps dissuading you. But, I'll give 
you till to-morrow morning, and then I shall be sure of one, at 
all events/ 

" ' Thanky, for me/ replied Tom. 

'"You're very welcome/ replied the first lieutenant, as, laugh- 
ing at us, he went down the companion ladder to his dinner. 

" ' Well, Jacob, we are in for it/ said Tom, as soon as we were 
alone. ' Depend upon it, there's no mistake this time/ 

" ' I'm afraid not/ replied I, ' unless we can get a letter to your 
father, or Mr. Drummond, who, I am sure, would help us. But 
that dirty fellow, who gave the first lieutenant the hint, said the 
frigate sailed to-morrow morning ; there he is, let us speak to 
him/ 

" ' When does the frigate sail ?' said Tom to the master's-mato, 
who was walking the deck. 

" ' My good fellow, it's not the custom on board of a man-of- 
war for men to ask officers to answer such impertinent questions. 
It's quite sufficient for you to know that when the frigate sails, 
you will have the honour of sailing in her/ 



OF ENGLAND. 281 

" ' Well, sir/ replied I, nettled at his answer, ' at all events, 
you will have the goodness to pay us our fare. We have lost our 
wherry, and our liberty, perhaps, through you ; we may as well 
have our two guineas/ 

" ' Two guineas ! It's two guineas you want, heh?' 

" ' Yes, sir, that was the fare agreed upon/ 

" ' Why, you must observe, my men/ said the master's-mate, 
hooking a thumb into each arm-hole of his waistcoat, ' there must 
be a little explanation as to that affair. I promised you two 
guineas as watermen ; but now that you belong to a man-of-war, 
you are no longer watermen. I always pay my debts honourably 
when I can find the lawful creditors ; but where are the water- 
men? 7 

" ' Here we are, sir/ 

" ' No, my lads, you are men-of-war's men now, and that quite 
alters the case." 

" 'But we are not so yet, sir: even if it did alter the case, we 
are not pressed yet/ 

"'Well, then, you will be to-morrow, perhaps; at all events 
we shall see. If you are allowed to go on shore again, I owe 
you two guineas as watermen ; and if you are detained as men- 
of-war's men, why then you will only have done your duty in pull- 
ing down one of your officers. You see, my lads, I say nothing 
but what's fair/ 

" ' Well, sir, but when you hired us, we were watermen/ replied 
Tom. 

" ' Very true, so you were ; but recollect the two guineas were 
not due until you had completed your task, which was not until 
you came on board. When you came on board you were pressed 
and became men-of-war's men. You should have asked for your 
fare before the first lieutenant got hold of you. Don't you per- 
ceive the justice of my remarks ?' 

" ' Can't say I do, sir ; but I perceive that there is very little 
chance of our being paid/ said Tom. 

" ' You are a lad of discrimination/ replied the master's-mate ; 
*and now I advise you to drop the subject, or you may induce 
me to pay you man-of-war fashion/ 

^j 19 



282 THE WHITE SLAVES 

"'How's that, sir?' 

" ' Over the face and eyes, as the cat paid the monkey/ replied 
the master's-mate, walking leisurely away. 

" No go, Tom/ said I, smiling at the absurdity of the argu- 
ments. 

" ' I'm afraid it's no go, in every way, Jacob. However, I don't 
care much about it. I have had a little hankering after seeing 
the world, and perhaps now's as well as any other time ; but I'm" 
sorry for you, Jacob.' 

" ' It's all my own fault/ replied I ; and I fell into one of those 
reveries so often indulged in of late as to the folly of my conduct 
in asserting my independence, which had now ended in my losing 
my liberty. But we were cold from the ducking we had received, 
and moreover very hungry. The first lieutenant did not forget 
his promise : he sent us up a good dinner, and a glass of grog 
each, which we discussed under the half-deck between two of the 
guns. "We had. some money in our pockets, and we purchased 
some sheets of paper from the bumboat people, who were on the 
main-deck supplying the seamen ; and I wrote to Mr. Drummond 
and Mr. Turnbull, as well as to Mary and old Tom, requesting 
the two latter to forward our clothes to Deal, in case of our being 
detained. Tom also wrote to comfort his mother, and the great- 
est comfort he could give was, as he said, to promise to keep 
sober. Having intrusted these letters to the bumboat women, 
who promised faithfully to put them into the post-office, we had 
then nothing else to do but to look out for some place to sleep. 
Our clothes had dried on us, and we were walking under the half- 
deck, but not a soul spoke to, or even took the least notice of us. 
In a newly manned ship, just ready to sail, there is a universal 
feeling of selfishness prevailing among the ship's company. Some, 
if not most, had, like us, been pressed, and their thoughts were 
occupied with their situation, and the change in their prospects. 
Others were busy making their little arrangements with their 
wives or relations ; while the mass of the seamen, not yet organ- 
ized by discipline, or known to each other, were in a state of dis- 
union and individuality, which naturally induced every man to 
look after himself, without caring for his neighbour. We there 



OF ENGLAND. 283 

fore could not expect, nor did we receive any sympathy ; we were 
in a scene of bustle and noise, yet alone. A spare topsail, which 
had been stowed for the present between two of the guns, was 
the best accommodation which offered itself. We took possession 
of it, and, tired with exertion of mind and body, were soon fast 
asleep." 

In the mean time, doubtless, there was weeping and 
wailing at the homes of the pressed seamen. Parents, 
tottering on the verge of the grave, and deprived of 
their natural support wives and children at the fire- 
side, uncheered by the presence of the head of the 
family could only weep for the absent ones, and pray 
that their government might one day cease to be tyran- 
nical. 



284 THE WHITE SLAVES 



CHAPTER VII. 

IRISH SLAVERY. 

FOR centuries the Irish nation has groaned under 
the yoke of England. The chain has worn to the 
bone. The nation has felt its strength depart. Many 
of its noblest and fairest children have pined away in 
dungeons or starved by the roadside. The tillers of 
the soil, sweating from sunrise to sunset for a bare 
subsistence, have been turned from their miserable 
cabins hovels, yet homes and those who have been 
allowed to remain have had their substance devoured 
by a government seemingly never satisfied with the 
extent of its taxation. They have suffered unmitigated 
persecution for daring to have a religion of their own. 
Seldom has a conquered people suffered more from the 
cruelties and exactions of the conquerors. While 
Clarkson and Wilberforce were giving their untiring 
labours to the - cause of emancipating negro slaves 
thousands of miles away, they overlooked a hideous 
system of slavery at their very doors the slavery of a 
people capable of enjoying the highest degree of civil 
and religious freedom. Says William Howitt 




I li 1 S II TENANT ABOUT TO EMIGRATE 



OF ENGLAND. 285 

" The great grievance of Ireland the Monster Grievance is 
just England itself. The curse of Ireland is bad government, 
and nothing more. And who is the cause of this ? Nobody but 
England. Who made Ireland a conquered country ? England. 
Who introduced all the elements of wrangling, discontent, and 
injustice? -England. Who set two hostile churches, and two 
hostile races, Celts and Saxons, together by the ears in that coun- 
try ? England, of course. Her massacres, her military planta- 
tions, her violent seizure of ancient estates, her favouritism, her 
monstrous laws and modes of government, were the modern 
emptying of Pandora's box the shaking out of a bag-full of 
Kilkenny cats on the soil of that devoted country. The conse 
quences are exactly those that we have before us. Wretched 
Saxon landlords, who have left one-fourth of the country uncul- 
tivated, and squeezed the population to death by extortion on the 
rest. A great useless church maintained on the property of the 
ejected Catholics who do as men are sure to do, kick at robbery, 
and feel it daily making their gall doubly bitter. And then we 
shake our heads and sagely talk about race. If the race be bad, 
why have we not taken pains to improve it ? Why, for scores of 
years, did we forbid them even to be educated ? Why do we 
complain of their being idle and improvident, and helpless, when 
we have done every thing we could to make them so ? Are our 
ministers and Parliaments any better? ..Are they not just as idle, 
and improvident, and helpless, as it regards Ireland? Has not 
this evil been growing these three hundred years? Have any 
remedies been applied but those of Elizabeth, and the Stuarts 
and Straffords, the Cromwells, and Dutch William's ? Arms and 
extermination ? We have built barracks instead of schools ; we 
have sown gunpowder instead of corn and now we wonder at 
the people and the crops. The wisest and best of men have for 
ages been crying out for reform and improvement in Ireland, 
and all that we have done has been to augment the army and the 
police." 

The condition of the Irish peasantry has long been 

most miserable. Untiring toil for the lords of the soil 
M* 



286 THE WHITE SLAVES 

gives the labourers only such a living as an American 
slave would despise. Hovels fit for pig-styes rags 
for clothing potatoes for food are the fruits of the 
labour of these poor wretches. A vast majority of 
them are attached to the Roman Catholic Church, yet 
they are compelled to pay a heavy tax for the support 
of the Established Church. This, and other exactions, 
eat up their little substance, and prevent them from 
acquiring any considerable property. Their poor 
homes are merely held by the sufferance of grasping 
agents for landlords, and they are compelled to submit 
to any terms he may prescribe or become wandering 
beggars, which alternative is more terrible to many of 
them than the whip would be. 

O'Connell, the indomitable advocate of his oppressed 
countrymen, used the following language in his repeal 
declaration of July 27, 1841 : 

" It ought to sink deep into the minds of the English aristocra- 
cy, that no people on the face of the earth pay to another such a 
tribute for permission to live, as Ireland pays to England in 
absentee rents and surplus revenues. There is no such instance ; 
there is nothing like it in ancient or modern history. There is 
not, and there never was, such an exhausting process applied to 
any country as is thus applied to Ireland. It is a solecism in 
political economy, inflicted upon Ireland alone, of all the nations 
that are or ever were." 

Surely it is slavery to pay such a price for a misera- 
ble existence. We cannot so abuse terms as to call a 
people situated as the Irish are, free. They are com- 



OF ENGLAND. 287 

pelled to labour constantly without receiving an ap- 
proach to adequate compensation, and they have no 
means of escape except by sundering the ties of home, 
kindred, and country. 

The various repulsive features of the Irish system 
can be illustrated much more fully than our limits will 
permit. But we will proceed to a certain extent, as it 
is in Ireland that the results of British tyranny have 
been most frightfully manifested. 

The population of Ireland is chiefly agricultural, yet 
there are no agricultural labourers in the sense in 
which that term is employed in Great Britain. A 
peasant living entirely by hire, without land, is wholly 
unknown. 

The persons who till the ground may be divided into 
three classes, which are sometimes distinguished by the 
names of small farmers, cottiers, and casual labourers ; 
or, as the last are sometimes called, "con-acre" men. 

The class of small farmers includes those who hold 
from five to twelve Irish acres. The cottiers are those 
who hold about two acres, in return for which they 
labour for the farmer of twenty acres or more, or for 
the gentry. 

Con-acre is ground hired, not by the year, but for a 
single crop, usually of potatoes. The tenant of con- 
acre receives the land in time to plant potatoes, and 
surrenders it so soon as the crop has been secured. 
The farmer from whom he receives it usually ploughs 



288 THE WHITE SLAVES 

and manures the land, and sometimes carts the crop. 
Con-acre is taken by tradesmen, small farmers, and 
cottiers, but chiefly by labourers, who are, in addition, 
always ready to work for hire when there is employ- 
ment for them. It is usually let in roods, and other 
small quantities, rarely exceeding half an acre. These 
three classes, not very distinct from each other, form 
the mass of the Irish population. 

" According to the census of 1831," says Mr. Bicheno, " the 
population of Ireland was 7,767,401 ; the ' occupiers employing 
labourers' were 95,339 ; the ' labourers employed in agricul- 
ture/ (who do not exist in Ireland as a class corresponding to 
that in England,) and the ' occupiers not employing labourers/ 
amounted together to 1,131,715. The two last descriptions pretty 
accurately include the cottier tenants and cottier labourers ; and, 
as these are nearly all heads of families, it may be inferred from 
hence how large a portion of the soil of Ireland is cultivated by a 
peasant tenantry ; and when to these a further addition is made 
of a great number of little farmers, a tolerably accurate opinion 
may be formed of the insignificant weight and influence that any 
middle class in the rural districts can have, as compared with the 
peasants. Though many may occupy a greater extent of land 
than the ' cottiers/ and, if held immediately from the proprietor, 
generally at a more moderate rent, and may possess some trifling 
stock, almost all the inferior tenantry of Ireland belong to one 
class. The cottier and the little farmer have the same feelings, 
the same interests to watch over, and the same sympathies. 
Their diet and their clothing are not very dissimilar, though 
they may vary in quantity ; and the one cannot be ordinarily 
distinguished from the other by any external appearance. Neither 
does the dress of the children of the little farmers mark any dis- 
tinction of rank, as it does in England ; while their wives aro 
singularly deficient in the comforts of apparel." Report of 
Commissioners of Poor Inquiry. 



OF ENGLAND. 289 

The whole population, small farmers, cottiers, and 
labourers, are equally devoid of capital. The small 
farmer holds his ten or twelve acres of land at a nomi- 
nal rent a rent determined not by what the land will 
yield, but by the intensity of the competition to obtain 
it. He takes from his farm a wretched subsistence, 
and gives over the remainder to his landlord. This 
remainder rarely equals the nominal rent, the growing 
arrears of which are allowed to accumulate against 
him. 

The cottier labours constantly for his landlord, (or 
master, as he would have been termed of old,) and 
receives, for his wages as a serf, land which will afford 
him but a miserable subsistence. Badly off as these 
two classes are, their condition is still somewhat better 
than that of the casual labourer, who hires con-acre, 
and works for wages at seasons when employment can 
be had, to get in the first place the means of paying 
the rent for his con-acre. 

Mr. Bicheno says 

" It appears from the evidence that the average crops of con- 
acre produce about as much or a little more, (at the usual price 
of potatoes in the autumn,) than the amount of the rent, seed, 
and tenant's labour, say 5s. or 10s. Beyond this the labourer 
does not seem to derive any other direct profit from taking con- 
acre ; but he has the following inducements. In some cases he 
contracts to work out a part, or the whole, of his con-acre rent ; 
and, even when this indulgence is not conceded to him by previ- 
ous agreement, he always hopes, and endeavours to prevail on 
the farmer to be allowed this privilege, which, in general want 



290 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of employment, is almost always so much clear gain to him. By 
taking con-acre he also considers that he is securing food to the 
extent of the crop for himself and family at the low autumn 
price ; whereas, if he had to go to market for it, he would be sub- 
ject to the loss of time, and sometimes expense of carriage, to 
the fluctuations of the market, and to an advance of price in 
spring and summer." 

Of the intensity of the competition for land, the fol- 
lowing extracts from the evidence may give an idea : 

" Galway, F. 35.' If I now let it be known that I had a farm 
of five acres to let, I should have fifty bidders in twenty-four 
hours, and all of them would be ready to promise any rent that 
might be asked.' Mr. Birmingham. The landlord takes on 
account whatever portion of the rent the tenant may be able to 
offer ; the remainder he does not remit, but allows to remain over. 
A remission of a portion of the rent in either plentiful or scarce 
seasons is never made as a matter of course ; when it does take 
place, it is looked upon as a favour. 

"'The labourer is, from the absence of any other means of 
subsisting himself and family, thrown upon the hire of land, and 
the land he must hire at any rate ; the payment of the promised 
rent is an after consideration. He always offers such a rent as 
leaves him nothing of the produce for his own use but potatoes, 
his corn being entirely for his landlord's claim.' Rev. Mr. 
Hughes, P. P., and Par Jeer. 

" Leitrim, F. 36 and 37. ' So great is the competition for small 
holdings, that, if a farm of five acres were vacant, I really believe 
that nine out of every ten men in the neighbourhood would bid 
for it if they thought they had the least chance of getting it : 
they would be prepared to outbid each other, ad infinitum, in 
order to get possession of the land. The rent which the people 
themselves would deem moderate, would not in any case admit of 
their making use of any other food than potatoes ; there are even 
many instances in this barony where the occupier cannot feed 
himself and family off the land he holds. In his anxiety to grow 



OF ENGLAND. 291 

as much oats (his only marketable produce) as will meet the 
various claims upon him, he devotes so small a space to the cul- 
tivation of potatoes, that he is obliged to take a portion of con- 
acre, and to pay for it by wages earned at a time when he would 
have been better employed on his own account/ Rev. T. Md- 
guire, P. P." 

The land is subdivided into such small portions, that 
the labourer has not sufficient to grow more than a 
very scanty provision for himself and family. The 
better individuals of the class manage to secrete some 
of its produce from the landlord, to do which it is of 
course necessary that they should not employ it on 
their land : but if land is offered to be let, persons will 
be found so eager for it as to make compliments to 
some one of the family of the landlord or of his agent. 

The exactions of agents and sub-agents are the most 
frequent causes of suffering among the peasantry. 
These agents are a class peculiar to Ireland. They 
take a large extent of ground, which they let out in 
small portions to the real cultivator. They grant 
leases sometimes, but the tenant is still in their power, 
and they exact personal services, presents, bribes; 
and draw from the land as much as they can, without 
the least regard for its permanent welfare. That por- 
tion of the poor peasant's substance which escapes the 
tithes and tax of government is seized by the remorse- 
less agents, and thus the wretched labourer can get 
but a miserable subsistence by the severest toil. 

In general the tenant takes land, promising to pay a 



292 THE WHITE SLAVES 

nominal rent," in other words, a rent he never can 
pay. This rent falls into arrear, and the landlord 
allows the arrear to accumulate against him, in the 
hope that if he should chance to have an extraordinary 
crop, or if he should obtain it from any unexpected 
source, the landlord may claim it for his arrears. 

The report of Poor-Law Commissioners states that 
"Agricultural wages vary from 6d. to Is. a day; 
that the average of the country in general is about 
S^d. ; and that the earnings of the labourers, on an 
average of the whole class, are from 2s. to 2s. 6d. a 
week, or thereabout." 

" Thus circumstanced, it is impossible for the able-bodied, in 
general, to provide against sickness or the temporary absence of 
employment, or against old age or the destitution of their widows 
and children in the contingent event of their own premature 
decease. 

" A great portion of them are insufficiently provided at any 
time with the commonest necessaries of life. Their habitations 
are wretched hovels ; several of a family sleep together upon 
straw or upon the bare ground, sometimes with a blanket, some- 
times not even so much to cover them ; their food commonly con- 
sists of dry potatoes, and with these they are at times so scantily 
supplied as to be obliged to stint themselves to one spare meal in 
the day. There are even instances of persons being driven by 
hunger to seek sustenance in wild herbs. They sometimes get a 
herring, or a little milk, but they never get meat, except at 
Christmas, Easter, and Shrovetide." 

The peasant finds himself obliged to live upon the 
cheapest food, potatoes, and potatoes of the worst qua- 
lity, because they yield most, and are consequently the 



OF ENGLAND. 293 

cheapest. These potatoes are little better than tur- 
nips." "Lumpers" is the name given to them. They 
are two degrees removed from those which come ordi- 
narily to our tables, and which are termed "apples." 
Mr. Bicheno says, describing the three sorts of pota- 
toes apples, cups, and lumpers 

" The first named are of the best quality, but produce the least 
in quantity ; the cups are not so good in quality as the apples, 
but produce more ; and the lumpers are the worst of the three in 
quality, but yield the heaviest crop. For these reasons the 
apples are generally sent to Dublin and other large towns for 
sale. The cups are grown for the consumption of smaller towns, 
and are eaten by the larger farmers, and the few of the small oc- 
cupiers and labourers who are in better circumstances than the 
generality of their class ; and the lumpers are grown by large 
farmers for stall-feeding cattle, and by most of the small occu- 
piers and all the labourers (except a few* in constant employ- 
ment, and having but small families) for their own food. Though 
most of the small occupiers and labourers grow apples and cups, 
they do not use them themselves, with the few exceptions men- 
tioned, except as holiday fare, and as a little indulgence on 
particular occasions. They can only afford to consume the 
lumpers, or coarsest quality, themselves, on account of the much 
larger produce and consequent cheapness of that sort. The 
apples yield 10 to 15 per cent, less than the cups, and the cups 
10 to 15 per cent, less than the lumpers, making a difference of 
20 to 30 per cent, between the produce of the best and the worst 
qualities. To illustrate the practice and feeling of the country 
in this respect, the following occurrence was related by one of 
the witnesses : ' A landlord, in passing the door of one of his 
tenants, a small occupier, who was in arrears with his rent, saw 
one of his daughters washing potatoes at the door, and perceiv- 
ing that they were of the apple kind, asked her if they were 
intended for their dinner. Upon being answered that they were, 



294 THE WHITE SLAVES 

he entered the house, and asked the tenant what he meant 
by eating apple potatoes when they were fetching so good a 
price in Dublin, and while he did not pay him (the landlord) his 
rent?'" 

Lumpers, dry, that is, without milk or any other 
addition to them, are the ordinary food of the people. 
The pig which is seen in most Irish cabins, and the cow 
and fowls kept by the small farmers, go to market to 
pay the rent ; even the eggs are sold. Small farmers, 
as well as labourers, rarely have even milk to their 
potatoes. 

The following graphic description of an Irish pea- 
sant's home, we quote from the Pictorial Times, of 
February 7, 1846. Some districts in Ireland are 
crowded with such hovels : 

" CaUn of J. Donoghue. The hovel to which the eye is now 
directed scarcely exceeds Donoghue' s length. He will have al- 
most as much space when laid in his grave. He can stand up in 
no part of his cabin except the centre ; and yet he is not an aged 
man, who has outlived all his connections, and with a frame just 
ready to mingle with its native dust. Nor is he a bachelor, ab- 
solutely impenetrable to female charms, or looking out for some 
damsel to whom he may be united, 'for better or for worse.' 
Donoghue, the miserable inmate of that hovel, on the contrary, 
has a wife and three children ; and these, together with a dog, a 
pig, and sundry fowls, find in that cabin their common abode. 
Human beings and brutes are there huddled together ; and the 
motive to the occupancy of the former is just the same as that 
which operates to the keeping of the latter what they produce. 
Did not the pig and the fowls make money, Donoghue would have 
none ; did not Donoghue pay his rent, the cabin would quickly 
have another tenant. Indeed, his rent is only paid, and he and 



OF ENGLAND. 295 

his family saved from being turned adrift into the wide world, "by 
his pig and his fowls. 

" But the cabin should be examined more particularly. It has 
a hole for a door, it has another for a window, it has a third 
through which the smoke may find vent, and nothing more. No 
resemblance to the door of an English cottage, however humble, 
nor the casement it is never without, nor even the rudest chimney 
from which the blue smoke arises, suggesting to the observer 
many ideas of comfort for its inmates, can possibly be traced. 
The walls, too, are jet black ; and that which ought to be a floor 
is mud, thick mud, full of holes. The bed of the family is sod. 
The very cradle is a sort of swing suspended from the roof, and 
it is set in motion by the elbow of the wretched mother of the 
wretched child it contains, if she is not disposed to make use of 
her hands. 

" The question may fairly be proposed What comfort can a 
man have in such circumstances ? Can he find some relief from 
his misery, as many have found and still find it, by conversing 
with his wife ? No. To suppose this, is to imagine him standing 
in a higher class of beings than the one of which he has always 
formed a part. Like himself, too, his wife is oppressed; the 
growth of her faculties is stunted ; and, it may be, she is hungry, 
faint, and sick. Can he talk with his children ? No. What can 
he, who knows nothing, tell them ? What hope can he stimulate 
who has nothing to promise ? Can he ask in a neighbour ? No. 
He has no hospitality to offer him, and the cabin is crowded with 
his own family. Can he accost a stranger who may travel in the 
direction of his hovel, to make himself personally acquainted 
with his condition and that of others ? No. He speaks a lan- 
guage foreign to an Englishman or a Scotchman, and which those 
who hate the ' Saxon/ whatever compliments they may pay him 
for their own purposes, use all the means they possess to main- 
tain. Can he even look at his pig with the expectation that he 
will one day eat the pork or the bacon it will yield? No; not 
he. He knows that not a bone of the loin or a rasher will be his. 
That pig will go, like all the pigs he has had, to pay his rent. 
Only one comfort remains, which he has in common with his pig 



296 THE WHITE SLAVES 

and his dog, the warmth of his peat fire. Poor Donoghue ! thou 
belongest to a race often celebrated as ' the finest peasantry in the 
world/ but it would be difficult to find a savage in his native 
forest who is not better off than thou I" 

There is one other comfort besides the peat fire, 
which Donoghue may have, and that is an occasional 
gill of whisky a temporary comfort, an ultimate 
destruction a new fetter to bind him down in his 
almost brutal condition. In Ireland, as in England, 
intoxication is the Lethe in which the heart-sick 
labourers strive to forget their sorrows. Intemperance 
prevails most where poverty is most generally felt. 

The Pictqrial Times thus sketches a cabin of the 
better class, belonging to a man named Pat Bren- 
nan: 

"We will enter it, and look round with English eyes. We will 
do so, too, in connection with the remembrance of an humble 
dwelling in England. " There we find at least a table, but here 
there is none. There we find some chairs, but here there are 
none. There we find a cupboard, but here there is none. There 
we find some crockery and earthenware, but here there is none. 
There we find a clock, but here there is none. There we find a 
bed, bedstead, and coverings, but here there are none. There is 
a brick, or stone, or boarded floor, but here there is none. What 
a descent would an English agricultural labourer have to make if 
he changed situations with, poor Pat Brennan, who is better off 
than most of the tenants of Derrynane Beg, and it may be in the 
best condition of them all ! Brennan's cabin has one room, in 
which he and his family live, of course with the fowls and pigs. 
One end is partitioned off in the manner of a loft, the loft being 
the potato store. The space underneath, where the fire is kindled, 



OE ENGLAND. 297 

has side spaces for seats. In some instances, the turf-bed is on 
one side and the seats on the other. The other contents of the 
dwelling are a milk-pail, a pot, a wooden bowl or two, a platter, 
and a broken ladder. A gaudy picture of the Virgin Mary may 
sometimes be seen in such cabins." 

The eviction of the wretched peasantry has caused 
an immense amount of misery, and crowds of the 
evicted ones have perished from starvation. The tillers 
of the soil are mere tenants at will, and may be ejected 
from their homes without a moment's notice. A whim 
of the landlord, the failure of the potato crop, or of 
the ordinary resources of the labourers, by which they 
are rendered unable to pay their rent for a short time, 
usually results in an edict of levelling and extermina- 
tion. A recent correspondent of the London Illus- 
trated News, thus describes the desolation of an Irish 
village : 

" The village of Killard forms part of the Union of Kilrush, 
and possesses an area of 17,022 acres. It had a population, in 
1841, of 6850 souls, and was valued to the poor-rate at 4254. 
It is chiefly the property, I understand, of Mr. John McMahon 
Blackall, whose healthy residence is admirably situated on the 
brow of a hill, protected by another ridge from the storms of the 
Atlantic. His roof-tree yet stands there, but the people have dis- 
appeared. The village was mostly inhabited by fishermen, who 
united with their occupation on the- waters the cultivation of 
potatoes. When the latter failed, it might have been expected 
that the former should have been pursued with more vigour than 
ever ; but boats and lines were sold for present subsistence, and 
to the failure of the potatoes was added the abandonment of the 
fisheries. The rent dwindled to nothing, and then came the 

20 



298 THE WHJTE SLAVES 

leveller and the exterminator. What has become of tke 6850 
souls, I know not ; but not ten houses remain of the whole village 
to inform the wayfarer where, according to the population returns, 
they were to be found in 1841. They were here, but are gone for 
ever ; and all that remains of their abodes are a few mouldering 
walls, and piles of offensive thatch turning into manure. Killard 
is an epitome of half Ireland. If the abodes of the people had 
not been so slight, that they have mingled, like Babylon, with 
their original clay, Ireland would for ages be renowned for its 
ruins ; but, as it is, the houses are swept away like the people, 
and not a monument remains of a multitude, which, in ancient 
Asia or in the wilds of America, would numerically constitute a 
great nation." ' * 

The same correspondent mentions a number of other 
instances of the landlord's devastation, and states that 
large tracts of fertile land over which he passed were 
lying waste, while the peasantry were starving by the 
roadside, or faring miserably in the workhouses. At 
Carihaken, in the county of Galway, the levellers had 
been at work, and had tumbled down eighteen houses. 
The correspondent says 

" In one of them dwelt John Killian, who stood by me while I 
made a sketch of the remains of his dwelling. He told me that 
he and his fathers before him had owned this now ruined cabin 
for ages, and that he had paid <4 a year for four acres of ground. 
He owed no rent ; before it was due, the landlord's drivers cut 
down his crops, carried them off, gave him no account of the pro- 
ceeds, and then tumbled his house. The hut made against the 
end wall of a former habitation was not likely to remain, as a 
decree had gone forth entirely to clear the place. The old man 
also told me that his son having cut down, on the spot that was 
once his own garden, a few sticks to make him a shelter, was 



OP ENGLAND. 299 



taken up, prosecuted, and sentenced to two months' confinement, 
for destroying trees and making waste of the property. 

" I must supply you with another sketch of a similar subject, 
on the road between Maam and Clifden, in Joyce's County, once 
famous for the Patagonian stature of the inhabitants, who aro 
now starved down to ordinary dimensions. High up on the 
mountain, but on the roadside, stands the scalpeen of Keillines. 
It is near General Thompson's property. Conceive five human 
beings living in such a hole : the father was out, at work ; the 
mother was getting fuel on the hills, and the children left in the 
hut could only say they were hungry. Their appearance con- 
firmed their words want was deeply engraved in their faces, and 
their, lank bodies were almost unprotected by clothing. 

" From Clifden to Ouchterade, twenty-one miles, is a dreary 
drive over a moor, unrelieved except by a glimpse of Mr. Martin's 
house at Ballynahinch, and of the residence of Dean Mahon. 
Destitute as this tract is of inhabitants, about Ouchterade some 
thirty houses have been recently "demolished. A gentleman who 
witnessed the scene told me nothing could exceed the heartless- 
ness of the levellers, if it were not the patient submission of the 
sufferers. They wept, indeed ; and the children screamed with 
agony at seeing their homes destroyed and their parents in tears ; 
but the latter allowed themselves unresistingly to be deprived of 
what is to most people the dearest thing on earth next to their 
lives their only home. 

"The public records, my own eyes, a piercing wail of wo 
throughout the land all testify to the vast extent of the evic- 
tions at the present time. Sixteen thousand and odd persons 
unhoused in the Union of Kilrush before the month of June in 
the present year ; seventy-one thousand one hundred and thirty 
holdings done away in Ireland, and nearly as many houses de- 
stroyed, in 1848 ; two hundred and fifty-four thousand holdings 
of more than one acre and less than five acres, put an end to 
between 1841 and 1848 : six-tenths, in fact, of the lowest class of 
tenantry driven from their now roofless or annihilated cabins and 
houses, makes up the general description of that desolation of 
which Tullig and Mooven are examples. The ruin is great and 



300 THE WHITE SLAVES 

complete. The blow that effected it was irresistible. It came in 
the guise of charity and benevolence ; it assumed the character 
of the last and best friend of the peasantry, and it has struck 
them to the heart. They are prostrate and helpless. The once 
frolicksome people even the saucy beggars have disappeared, 
and given place to wan and haggard objects, who are so resigned 
to their doom that they no longer expect relief. One beholds only 
shrunken frames, scarcely covered with flesh crawling skeletons, 
who appear to have risen from their graves, and are ready to 
return frightened to that abode. They have little other covering 
than that nature has bestowed on the human body a poor pro- 
tection against inclement weather ; and, now that the only hand 
from which they expected help is turned against them, even hope 
is departed, and they are filled with despair. Than the present 
Earl of Carlisle there is not a more humane nor a kinder-hearted 
nobleman in the kingdom ; he is of high honour and unsullied 
reputation ; yet the poor-law he was mainly the means of es- 
tablishing for Ireland, with the best intentions, has been one of 
the chief causes of the people being at this time turned out 
of their homes, and forced to burrow in holes, and share, till 
they are discovered, the ditches and the bogs with otters and 
snipes. 

" The instant the poor-law was passed, and property was made 
responsible for poverty, the whole of the land-owners, who had 
before been careless about the people, and often allowed them to 
plant themselves on untenanted spots, or divide their tenancies 
delighted to get the promise of a little additional rent imme- 
diately became deeply interested in preventing that, and in keep- 
ing down the number of the people. Before they had rates to 
pay, they cared nothing for them ; but the law and their self- 
interest made them care, and made them extirpators. Nothing 
less than some general desire like that of cupidity falling in with 
an enactment, and justified by a theory nothing less than a 
passion which works silently in all, and safely under the sanction 
of a law could have - effected such wide-spread destruction. 
Even humanity was enlisted by the poor-law on the side of ex- 
tirpation. As long as there was no legal provision for the poor, a 



OF ENGLAND. 301 

landlord had some repugnance to drive them from every shelter ; 
but the instant the law took them under its protection, and forced 
the land-owner to pay a rate to provide for them, repugnance 
ceased : they had a legal home, however inefficient, to go to ; and 
eviction began. Even the growth of toleration seems to have 
worked to the same end. Till the Catholics were emancipated, 
they were all rich and poor, priests and peasants united by a 
common bond ; and Protestant landlords beginning evictions on 
a great scale would have roused against them the whole Catholic 
nation. It would have been taken up as a religious question, as 
well as a question of the poor, prior to 1829. Subsequent to that 
time with a Whig administration, with all offices open to Catho- 
lics no religious feelings could mingle with the matter : eviction 
became a pure question of interest ; and while the priests look 
now, perhaps, as much to the government as to their flocks for 
support, Catholic landlords are not behind Protestant landlords 
in clearing their estates." 

The person from whom we make the above quotation 
visited Ireland after the famine consequent upon the 
failure of the potato crop had done its worst in the 
latter part of 1849. But famine seems to prevail, to a 
certain extent, at all times, in that unhappy land and 
thus it is clear that the accidental failure of a crop has 
less to do with the misery of the people than radical 
misgovernment. 

" To the Irish, such desolation is nothing new. They have long 
been accustomed to this kind of skinning. Their history, ever since 
it was written, teems with accounts of land forcibly taken from one 
set of owners and given to another ; of clearings and plantings 
exactly similar in principle to that which is now going on ; of 
driving men from Leinster to Munster, from Munster to Con- 
naught, and from Connaught into the sea. Without going back 
H 



302 THE WHITE SLAVES 

to ancient proscriptions and confiscations all the land having 
been, between the reign of Henry II. and William III. confis- 
cated, it is affirmed, three times over we must mention that the 
clearing so conspicuous in 1848 has now been going on for several 
years. The total number of holdings in 1841, of above one 
acre, and not exceeding five acres each, was 310,375; and, in 
1847, they had been diminished to 125,926. In that single class 
of holdings, therefore, 184,449, between 1841 and 1847 inclusive, 
had been done away with, and 24,147 were extinguished in 1848. 
Within that period, the number of farms of five acres and up- 
ward, particularly of farms of thirty acres and upward, was in- 
creased 210,229, the latter class having increased by 108,474. 
Little or no fresh land was broken up ; and they, therefore, could 
only have been formed by amassing in these larger farms nu- 
merous small holdings. Before the year 1847, therefore, before 
1846, when the potato rot worked so much mischief, even before 
1845, the process of clearing the land, of putting down home- 
steads and consolidating farms, had been carried to a great ex- 
tent ; before any provision had been made by a poor-law for the 
evicted families, before the turned-out labourers and little farmers 
had even the workhouse for a refuge, multitudes had been con- 
tinually driven from their homes to a great extent, as in 1848. 
The very process, therefore, on which government now relies for 
the present relief and the future improvement of Ireland, was be- 
gun and was carried to a great extent several years before the ex- 
tremity of distress fell upon it in 1846. We are far -from saying 
that the potato rot was caused by the clearing system ; but, by 
disheartening the people, by depriving them of security, by con- 
tributing to their recklessness, by paralyzing their exertions, by 
promoting outrages, that system undoubtedly aggravated all the 
evils of that extraordinary visitation." Illustrated News, October 
13, 1849. 

The correspondent of the News saw from one 
hundred and fifty to one hundred and eighty funerals 
of victims to the want of food, the whole number 



OF ENGLAND. 803 

attended by not- more than fifty persons. So hardened 
were the men regularly employed in the removal of the 
dead from the workhouse, that they would drive to the 
churchyard sitting upon the coffins, and smoking with 
apparent enjoyment. These men had evidently " supped 
full of horrors." A funeral was no solemnity to them. 
They had seen the wretched peasants in the madness of 
starvation, and death had come as a soothing angel. 
Why should the quieted sufferers be lamented ? 

A specimen of the in-door horrors of Scull may be 
seen in the sketch of a hut of a poor man named Mul- 
lins, who lay .dying in a corner, upon a heap of straw 
supplied by the Relief Committee, while his three 
wretched children crouched over a few embers of turf, 
as if to raise the Idst remaining spark of life. This 
poor man, it appears, had buried his wife about five 
days before, and was, in all probability, on the eve of 
joining her, when he was found out by the efforts of 
the vicar, who, for a few short days, saved him from 
that which no kindness could ultimately avert. The 
dimensions of Mullins's hut did not exceed ten feet 
square, and the dirt and filth was ankle-deep upon the 
floor. 



" Commander Caffin, the captain of the steam-sloop Scourge, 
on the south coast of Ireland, has written a letter to a friend, 
dated February 15, 1847, in which he gives a most distressing 
and graphic account of the scenes he witnessed in the course of 
bis duty in discharging a cargo of meal at Scull. After stating 



304 THE WHITE SLAVES 

that three-fourths of the inhabitants carry a tale of wo in their 
countenances, and are reduced to mere skeletons, he mentions the 
result of what he saw while going through the parish with the 
rector, Dr. Traill. He says 

" 'Famine exists to a fearful degree, with all its horrors. Fever 
has sprung up, consequent upon the wretchedness ; and swellings 
of limbs and body, and diarrhoea, upon the want of nourishment, 
are everywhere -to be found. Dr. TrailFs parish is twenty-one 
miles in extent, containing about eighteen thousand souls, with 
not more than half a dozen gentlemen in the whole of it. He 
drove me about five or six miles ; but we commenced our visits 
before leaving the village, and in no house that I entered was 
there not to be found the dead or dying. In particularizing two or 
three, they may be taken as the features of the whole. There was 
no picking or choosing, but we took them just as they came. 

" ' The first which I shall mention was a cabin, rather above 
the ordinary ones in appearance and comfort ; in it were three 
young women, and one young man, and three children, all 
crouched over a fire pictures of misery. Dr. Traill asked after 
the father, upon which one of the girls opened a door leading into 
another cabin, and there were the father and mother in bed ; the 
father the most wretched picture of starvation possible to con- 
ceive, a skeleton with life, his power of speech gone ; the mother 
but a little better her cries for mercy and food were heart- 
rending. It was sheer destitution that had brought them to this. 
They had been well to do in the world, with their cow, and few 
sheep, and potato-ground. Their crops failed, and their cattle 
were stolen ; although, anticipating this, they had taken their 
cow and sheep into the cabin with them every night, but they 
were stolen in the daytime. The son had worked on the road, 
and earned his Sd. a day, but this would not keep the family, and 
he, from work and insufficiency of food, is laid up, and will soon 
be as bad as his father. They had nothing to eat in the house, 
and I could see no hope for any one of them. 

" ' In another cabin we went into, a mother and her daughter 
were there the daughter emaciated, and lying against the wall 
the mother naked upon some straw on the ground, with a rug 



OF ENGLAND. 305 

over her a most distressing object of misery. She writhed 
about, and bared her limbs, in order to show her state of ex- 
haustion. She had wasted away until nothing but the skin 
covered the bones she cannot have survived to this time. 

"'Another that I entered had, indeed, the appearance of 
wretchedness without, but its inside was misery 1 Dr. Traill, on 
putting his head inside the hole which answered for a door, said, 
* Well, Philis, how is your mother to-day ?' he having been with 
her the day before and was replied to, 'Oh, sir, is it you? 
Mother is dead !' and there, fearful reality, was the daughter, a 
skeleton herself, crouched and crying over the lifeless body of her 
mother, which was on the floor, cramped up as she had died, with 
her rags and her cloak about her, by the side of a few embers of 
peat. In the next cabin were three young children belonging to 
the daughter, whose husband had run away from her, all pictures 
of death. The poor creature said she did not know what to do 
with the corpse she had no means of getting it removed, and 
she was too exhausted to remove it herself: this cabin was about 
three miles from the rectory. In another cabin, the door of 
which was stopped with dung, was a poor woman whom we had 
taken by surprise, as she roused up evidently much astonished. 
She burst into tears upon seeing the doctor, and said she had not 
been enabled to sleep since the corpse of the woman had lain in 
her bed. This was a poor creature who was passing this mise- 
rable cabin, and asked the old woman to allow her to rest herself 
for a few moments, when she had laid down, but never rose up 
again ; she died in an hour or so, from sheer exhaustion. The 
body had remained in this hovel of six feet square with the poor 
old woman for four days, and she could not get anybody to 
remove it.' 

" The letter proceeds : 

" ' I could in this manner take you through the thirty or more 
cottages we visited; but they, without exception, were all alike 
the dead and the dying in each ; and I could tell you more of the 
truth of the heart-rending scene were I to mention the lamenta- 
tions and bitter cryings of each of these poor creatures on the 
threshold of death. Never in my life have I seen such whole- 



306 THE WHITE SLAVES 

sale misery, nor could I have thought it so complete.'" Illus- 
trated News, February 20, 1847. [At this period, famine prevailed 
throughout Ireland.] 

At the village of Mienils, a man named Leahey 
perished during the great famine, with many circum- 
stances of horror. When too weak, from want of 
food, to help himself, he was stretched in his filthy 
hovel, when his famished dogs attacked and so mangled 
him that he expired in intense agony. Can the history 
of any other country present such terrible instances 
of misery and starvation ? The annals of Ireland have 
been dark, indeed; and those who have wilfully cast 
that gloom upon them, must emancipate Africans, and 
evangelize the rest of mankind, for a century, at least, 
to lay the ghosts of the murdered Irish. 

An Irish funeral of later days, with its attendant 
circumstances of poverty and gloom, is truly calcu- 
lated to stir the sensitive heart of a poet. The obse- 
quies display the meagre results of attempts to bury 
the dead with decency. The mourners are few, but 
their grief is sincere; and they weep for the lost as 
they would be wept for when Death, who is ever walk- 
ing by their side, lays his cold hand on them. During 
the great famine, some poor wretches perished while 
preparing funerals for their friends. In the following 
verses, published in Howitt's Journal, of the 1st of April, 
1847, we have a fine delineation of an Irish funeral, 
such as only a poet cpuld give : 



OF ENGLAND. 807 



AN IRISH FUNERAL. 



BY THE AUTHOR OF " ORION." 



" Funerals performed." London Trades. 

" On Wednesday, the remains of a poor woman, who died of 
hunger, were carried to their last resting-place by three women, 
and a blind man the son-in-law of the deceased. The distance 
between the wretched hut of the deceased and the grave-yard was 
nearly three miles." Tuam Herald. 

HEAVILY plod 
Highroad and sod, 
"With the cold corpse clod 
Whose soul is with God 1 

An old door's the hearse 
Of the skeleton corpse, 
And three women bear it, 
With a blind man to share it : 
Over flint, over bog, 
They stagger and jog : 
Weary, and hungry, and hopeless, and cold, 
They slowly bear onward the bones to the mould. 
Heavily plod 
Highroad and sod, 
With the cold corpse clod, 
Whose soul is with God ! 

Barefoot ye go, 

Through the frost, through the snow ; 

Unsteady and slow, 

Your hearts mad with woe ; 



308 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Bewailing and blessing the poor rigid clod 

The dear dead-and-cold one, whose soul is with God. 

Heavily plod 

Highroad and sod, 

This ruin and rod 

Are from man and not God ! 



Now out spake her sister, 

" Can we be quite sure 
Of the mercy of Heaven, 

Or that Death is Life's cure ? 
A cure for the misery, famine, and pains, 
Which our cold rulers view as the end of their gains ?" 

Heavily plod 

Highroad and sod, 

With the cold corpse clod, 

Whose soul is with God 1 



" In a land where's plenty," 

The old mother said, 
" But not for poor creatures 

Who pawn rags and bed 
There's plenty for rich ones, and those far away, 
Who drain off our life-blood, so thoughtless and gay I" 

Heavily plod 

Highroad and sod, 

With the cold corpse clod, 

Whose soul is with God ! 



Then wailed the third woman 

" The darling was worth 
The rarest of jewels 

That shine upon earth. 

When hunger was gnawing her wasted and wild 
She shared her last morsel with my little child." 



OF ENGLAND. 309 

Heavily plod 
Highroad and sod, 
With the cold corpse clod, 
Whose soul is with God ! 

" Christ I* pray'd the blind man, 

" We are not so poor, 
Though we bend 'neath the dear weight 

That crushes this door ; 

For we know that the grave is the first step to Heaven, 
And a birthright we have in the riches there given." 
Heavily plod, 
"Highroad and sod, 
With the cold corpse clod, 
Whose soul is with God ! 

What wonder if the evicted peasants of Ireland, 
made desperate by the tyranny of the landlords, some- 
times make "a law unto themselves," and slay their 
oppressors! Kebellion proves manhood under such 
circumstances. Instances of landlords being mur- 
dered by evicted tenants are numerous. In the fol- 
lowing sketch we have a vivid illustration of this phase 
of Irish life : 

" The moorland was wide, level, and black ; black as night, if 
you could suppose night condensed on the surface of the earth, and 
that you could tread on solid darkness in the midst of day. The 
day itself was fast dropping into night, although it was dreary and 
gloomy at the best ; for it was a November day. The moor, for 
miles around, was treeless and houseless ; devoid of vegetation, 
except heather, which clad with its gloomy frieze coat the shivering 
landscape. At a distance you could discern, through the misty 
atmosphere, the outline of mountains apparently as bare and stony 
N* 



310 THE WHITE SLAVES 

as this wilderness, which they bounded. There were no fields, no 
hedgerows, no marks of the hand of man, except the nakedness 
itself, which was the work of man in past ages ; when, period after 
period, he had tramped over the scene with fire and sword, and 
left all that could not fly before him, either ashes to be scattered 
by the savage winds, or stems of trees, and carcasses of men trod- 
den into the swampy earth. As the Roman historians said of 
other destroyers, * They created solitude, and called it peace/ 
That all this was the work of man, and not of Nature, any one 
spot of this huge and howling wilderness could testify, if you would 
only turn up its sable surface. In its bosom lay thousands of an- 
cient oaks and pines, black as ebony ; which told, by their gigantic 
bulk, that forests must have once existed on this spot, as rich as 
the scene was now bleak. Nobler things than trees lay buried 
there ; but were, for the most part, resolved into the substance of 
the inky earth. The dwellings of men had left few or no traces, 
for they had been consumed in flames ; and the hearts that had 
loved, and suffered, and perished beneath the hand of violence and 
insult, were no longer human hearts, but slime. If a man were 
carried blindfold to that place, and asked when his eyes were un- 
bandaged where he was, he would say ' Ireland 1' 

" He would want no clue to the identity of the place, but the 
scene before him. There is no heath like an Irish heath. There 
is no desolation like an Irish desolation. Where Nature herself 
has spread the expanse of a solitude, it is a cheerful solitude. The 
air flows over it lovingly : the flowers nod and dance in gladness ; 
the soil breathes up a spirit of wild fragrance, which communicates 
a buoyant sensation to the heart. You feel that you tread on 
ground where the peace of God, and not the ' peace' of man created 
in the merciless hurricane of war, has sojourned: where the sun 
shone on creatures sporting on ground or on tree, as the Divine 
Goodness of the Universe meant them to sport : where the hunter 
disturbed alone the enjoyment of the lower animals by his own 
boisterous joy : where the traveller sang as he went over it, because 
he felt a spring of inexpressible music in his heart: where the 
weary wayfarer sat beneath a bush, and blessed God, though his 
limbs ached with travel, and his goal was far off. In God's deserts 



' 



OF ENGLAND. 311 

dwells gladness ; in man's deserts, death. A melancholy smites 
you as you enter them. There is a darkness from the past that 
envelopes your heart, and the moans and sighs of ten-times perpe- 
trated misery seem still to live in the very winds. 

" One shallow and widely spread stream struggled through the 
moor ; sometimes between masses of gray stone. Sedges and the 
white-headed cotton-rush whistled on its margin, and on island-like 
expanses that here and there rose above the surface of its middle 
course. 

" I have said that there was no sign of life ; but on one of those 
gray stones stood a heron watching for prey. He had remained 
straight, rigid, and motionless for hours. Probably his appetite 
was appeased by his day's success among the trout of that dark 
red-brown stream, which was coloured by the peat from which it 
oozed. "When he did move, he sprang up at once, stretched his 
broad wings, and silent as the scene around him, made a circuit 
in the air ; rising higher as he went, with slow and solemn flight. 
He had been startled by a sound. There was life in the desert now. 
Two horsemen came galloping along a highway not far distant, and 
the heron, continuing his grave gyrations, surveyed them as he 
went. Had they been travellers over a plain of India, an Austrian 
waste, or the pampas of South America, they could not have been 
grimmer of aspect, or more thoroughly children of the wild. They 
were Irish from head to foot. 

" They were mounted on two spare but by no means clumsy 
horses. The creatures had marks of blood and breed that had 
been introduced by the English to the country. They could claim, 
if they knew it, lineage of Arabia. The one was a pure bay, the 
other and lesser, was black ; but both were lean as death, haggard 
as famine. They were wet with the speed with which they had 
been hurried along. The soil of the damp moorland, or of the field 
in which, during the day, they had probably been drawing the 
peasant's cart, still smeared their bodies, and their manes flew as 
wildly and untrimmed as the sedge or the cotton-rush on the wastes 
through which they careered. Their riders, wielding each a heavy 
stick instead of a riding-whip, which they applied ever and anon to 
the shoulders or flanks of their smoking animals, were mounted on 



312 THE WHITE SLAVES 

their bare backs, and guided them by halter instead of bridle. They 
were a couple of the short frieze-coated, knee-breeches and gray- 
stocking fellows who are as plentiful on Irish soil as potatoes. 
From beneath their narrow-brimmed, old, weather-beaten hats, 
streamed hair as unkemped as their horses' manes. The Celtic 
physiognomy was distinctly marked the small and somewhat up- 
turned nose; the black tint of skin ; the eye now looking gray, now 
black; the freckled cheek, and sandy hair. Beard and whiskers 
covered half the face, and the short square-shouldered bodies were 
bent forward with eager impatience, as they thumped and kicked 
along their horses, muttering curses as they went. 

" The heron, sailing on broad and seemingly slow vans, still kept 
them in view. Anon, they reached a part of the moorland where 
traces of human labour were visible. Black piles of peat stood on 
the solitary ground, ready, after a summer's cutting and drying. 
Presently patches of cultivation presented themselves ; plots of 
ground raised on beds, each a few feet wide, with intervening 
trenches to carry off the boggy water, where potatoes had grown, and 
small fields where grew more stalks of ragwort than grass, inclosed 
"by banks cast up and tipped here and there with a brier or a stone. 
It was the husbandry of misery and indigence. The ground had 
already been freshly manured by sea-weeds, but the village where 
was it? Blotches of burnt ground, scorched heaps of rubbish, 
and fragments of blackened walls, alone were visible. Garden- 
plots were trodden down, and their few bushes rent up, or hung 
with tatters of rags. The two horsemen, as they hurried by with 
gloomy visages, uttered no more than a single word: 'Eviction 1* 

" Further on, the ground heaved itself into a chaotic confusion. 
Stony heaps swelled up here and there, naked, black, and barren: 
the huge bones of the earth protruded themselves through her skin. 
Shattered rocks arose, sprinkled with bushes, and smoke curled 
up from what looked like mere heaps of rubbish, but which were 
in reality human habitations. Long dry grass hissed and rustled 
in the wind on their roofs, (which were sunk by-places, as if falling 
in ;) and pits of reeking filth seemed placed exactly to prevent ac- 
cess to some of the low doors ; while to others, a few stepping-stones 
made that access only possible. Here the two riders stopped, and 



OF ENGLAND. 313 

hurriedly tying their steeds to an elder-bush, disappeared in one 
of the cabins. 

" The heron slowly sailed on to the place of its regular roost. 
Let us follow it. 

" Far different was this scene to those the bird had left. Lofty 
trees darkened the steep slopes of a fine river. Rich meadows lay 
at the feet of woods and stretched down to the stream. Herds of 
cattle lay on them, chewing their cuds after the plentiful grazing 
of the day. The white walls of a noble house peeped, in the dusk 
of night, through the fertile timber which stood in proud guardian- 
ship of the mansion ; and broad winding walks gave evidence of a 
place where nature and art had combined to form a paradise. 
There were ample pleasure-grounds. Alas ! the grounds around 
the cabins over which the heron had so lately flown, might be truly 
styled pain-grounds. 

" Within that home was assembled a happy family. There was 
the father, a fine-looking man of forty. Proud you would have 
deemed him, as he sate for a moment abstracted in his cushioned 
chair; but a moment afterward, as a troop of children came 
bursting into the room, his manner was instantly changed into one 
so pleasant, so playful, and so overflowing with enjoyment, that 
you saw him only as an amiable, glad, domestic man. The mother, 
a handsome woman, was seated already at the tea-table ; and, 
in another minute, sounds of merry voices and childish laughter 
were mingled with the jocose tones of the father, and the playful 
accents of the mother ; addressed, now to one, now to another of 
the youthful group. 

" In due time the merriment was hushed, and the household 
assembled for evening prayer. A numerous train of servants as- 
sumed their accustomed places. The father read. He had paused 
once or twice, and glanced with a stern and surprised expression 
toward the group of domestics, for he heard sounds that astonished 
him from one corner of the room near the door. He went on 
' Remember the children of Edom, Lord, in the day of judgment, 
how they said, Down with it, down with it, even to the ground. 
daughter of Babylon, wasted with misery, yea, happy shall he be 
who rewardeth thee, as thou hast served us 1' 

21 



314 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" There was a burst of smothered sobs from the same corner, 
and the master's eye flashed with a strange fire as he again darted 
a glance toward the offender. The lady looked equally surprised, 
in the same direction ; then turned a meaning look on her husband 
a warm flush was succeeded by a paleness in her countenance, 
and she cast down her eyes. The children wondered, but were 
still. Once more the father's sonorous voice continued ' Give us 
this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we for- 
give them that trespass against us/ Again the stifled sound was 
repeated. The brow of the master darkened again the mother 
looked agitated; the children's wonder in creased; the master closed 
the book, and the servants, with a constrained silence, retired from 
the room. 

" ' What can be the matter with old Dennis?' exclaimed the lady, 
the moment that the door had closed on the household. ' Oh ! what 
is amiss with poor old Dennis !' exclaimed the children. 

" ' Some stupid folly or other,' said the father, morosely. 
' Come ! away to bed, children. You can learn Dennis's troubles 
another time.' The children would have lingered, but again the 
words, 'Away with you !' in a tone which never needed repetition, 
were decisive : they kissed their parents and withdrew. In a few 
seconds the father rang the bell. ' Send Dennis Groggan here/ 

" The old man appeared. He was a little thin man, of not less 
than seventy years of age, with white hair and a dark spare coun- 
tenance. He was one of those nondescript servants in a large 
Irish house, whose duties are curiously miscellaneous. He had, 
however, shown suflicient zeal and fidelity through a long life, to 
secure a warm nook in the servants' hall for the remainder of his 
days. 

" Dennis entered with an humble and timid air, as conscious 
that he had deeply offended ; and had to dread at least a severe 
rebuke. He bowed profoundly to both the master and mistress. 

" ' What is the meaning of your interruptions during the pray- 
ers, Dennis ?' demanded the master abruptly. ' Has any thing 
happened to you ?' 

"'No, sir/ 

" 'Any thing amiss in your son's family ?' 



OF ENGLAND. 315 

" ' No, your honour.' 

" The interrogator paused ; a storm of passion seemed slowly 
gathering within him. Presently he asked in a loud tone, ' What 
does this mean ? Was there no place to vent your nonsense in, 
but in this room, and at prayers ?' 

" Dennis was silent. He cast an imploring look at the master, 
then at the mistress. 

" ' What is the matter, good Dennis ?' asked the lady, in a kind 
tone. ' Compose yourself, and tell us. Something strange must 
have happened to you/ 

" Dennis trembled violently; but he advanced a couple of paces, 
seized the back of a chair as if to support him, and, after a vain 
gasp or two, declared, as intelligibly as fear would permit, that the 
prayer had overcome him. 

" ' Nonsense, man !' exclaimed the master, with fury in the same 
face, which was so lately beaming with joy on the children. ' Non- 
sense ! Speak out without more ado, or you shall rue it.' 

" Dennis looked to the mistress as if he would have implored 
her intercession ; but as she gave no sign of it, he was compelled 
to speak ; but in a brogue that would have been unintelligible to 
English ears. We therefore translate it : 

" ' I could not help thinking of the poor people at Rathbeg, when 
the soldiers and police cried, " Down with them ! down with them, 
even to the ground I" and then the poor bit cabins came down all 
in fire and smoke, amid the howls and cries of the poor creatures. 

" ' Oh ! it was a fearful sight, your honour it was, indeed to see 
the poor women hugging their babies, and the houses where they 
were born burning in the wind. It was dreadful to see the old 
bedridden man lie on the wet ground among the few bits of furni- 
ture, and groan to his gracious God above. Oh, your honour ! you 
never saw such a sight, or you sure a it would never have 
been done !' 

" Dennis seemed to let the last words out as if they were jerked 
from him by a sudden shock. 

" The master, whose face had changed during this speech to a 
livid hue of passion, his eyes blazing with rage, was in the act 
of rushing on old Dennis, when he was held back by his wife, 



316 THE WHITE SLAVES 

who exclaimed, Oswald! be calm; let us hear what Dennis has 
to say. Go on, Dennis, go on/ 

" The master stood still, breathing hard to overcome his rage. 
Old Dennis, as if seeing only his own thoughts, went on: '0, 
bless your honour, if you had seen that poor frantic woman when 
the back of the cabin fell and buried her infant, where she thought 
she had laid it safe for a moment while she flew to part her hus- 
band and a soldier who had struck the other children with the 
fiat of his sword, and bade them to troop off. Oh, your honour, 
but it was a killing sight. It was that came over me in the 
prayer, and I feared that we might be praying perdition on us 
all, when we prayed about our trespasses. If the poor creatures 
of Rathbeg should meet us, your honour, at Heaven's gate (I was 
thinking) and say These are the heathens that would not let us 
have a poor hearthstone in poor ould Ireland. And that was all, 
your honour, that made me misbehave so; I was just thinking 
of that, and I could not help it.' 

" 'Begone, you old fool!' exclaimed the master; and Dennis 
disappeared with a bow and an alertness that would have done 
credit to his earlier years. 

" There was a moment's silence after his exit. The lady turned 
to her husband, and clasping his arm with her hands and looking 
into his darkened countenance with a look of tenderest anxiety, 
said: 

" * Dearest Oswald, let me, as I have so often done, once more 
entreat t^at these dreadful evictions may cease. Surely there 
must be some way to avert them and to set your property right, 
without such violent measures.' 

" The stern proud man said, ' Then why, in the name of Hea- 
ven, do you not reveal some other remedy? why do you not en- 
lighten all Ireland ? why don't you instruct Government ? The 
unhappy wretches who have been swept away by force are no 
people, no tenants of mine; they squatted themselves down, as a 
ewarm of locusts fix themselves while a green blade is left ; they 
obstruct all improvement ; they will not till the ground them- 
selves, nor will they quit it to allow me to provide more industri- 
ous and provident husbandmen to cultivate it. Land that teems 



OF ENGLAND. 317 

with fertility, and is shut out from bearing and bringing forth 
food for man, is accursed. Those who have been evicted not only 
rob me, but their more industrious fellows/ 

" ' They will murder us/ said the wife, ' some day for these 
things. They will ' 

" Her words were cut short suddenly by her husband starting, 
and standing in a listening attitude. ' "Wait a moment/ ne said, 
with a peculiar calmness, as if he had just got a fresh thought ; 
and his lady, who did not comprehend what was the cause, but 
hoped that some better influence was touching him, unloosed her 
hands from his arm. ' Wait just a moment/ he repeated, and 
stepped from the room, opened the front door, and, without his 
hat, went out. 

" * He is intending to cool down his anger/ thought his wife ; 
' he feels a longing for the freshness of the air/ But she had not 
caught the sound which had startled his quicker, because more 
excited ear; she had been too much engrossed by her own inter- 
cession with him ; it was a peculiar whine from the mastiff, which 
was chained near the lodge-gate, that had arrested his attention. 
He stepped out. The black clouds which overhung the moor had 
broken, and the moon's light straggled between them. 

" The tall and haughty man stood erect in the breeze and lis- 
tened. Another moment there was a shot, and he fell headlong 
upon the broad steps on which he stood. His wife sprang with a 
piercing shriek from the door and fell on his corpse. A crowd 
of servants gathered about them, making wild lamentations and 
breathing vows of vengeance. The murdered master and the wife 
were borne into the house. 

" The heron soared from its lofty perch, and wheeled with ter- 
rified wings through the night air. The servants armed them- 
selves, and, rushing furiously from the house, traversed the sur- 
rounding masses of trees ; fierce dogs were let loose, and dashed 
frantically through the thickets : all was, however, too late. The 
soaring heron saw gray figures, with blackened faces, stealing 
away often on their hands and knees down the hollows of the 
moorlands toward the village, where the two Irish horsemen had, 



318 THE WHITE SLAVES 

in the first dusk of that evening, tied their lean steeds to the old 
elder bush. 

" Near the mansion no lurking assassin was to be found. Mean- 
while two servants, pistol in hand, on a couple of their master's 
horses, scoured hill and dale. The heron, sailing solemnly on 
the wind above, saw them halt in a little town. They thundered 
with the butt-ends of their pistols on a door in the principal street ; 
over it there was a coffin-shaped board, displaying a painted crown 
and the big-lettered words, ' POLICE STATION.' The mounted ser- 
vants shouted with might and main. A night-capped head issued 
from a chamber casement with 'What is the matter?' 

" ' Out with you, police ! out with all your strength, and lose 
not a moment. Mr. FitzGibbon, of Sporeen, is shot at his own 
door/ 

" The casement was hastily clapped too, and the two horsemen 
galloped forward up the long, broad street, now flooded with the 
moon's light. Heads full of terror were thrust from upper win- 
dows to inquire the cause of that rapid galloping, but ever too 
late. The two men held their course up a steep hill outside of 
the town, where stood a vast building overlooking the whole place ; 
it was the barracks. Here the alarm was also given. 

" In less than an hour a mounted troop of police in olive-green 
costume, with pistols at holster, sword by side, and carbine on the 
arm, were trotting briskly out of town, accompanied by the two 
messengers, whom they plied with eager questions. These an- 
swered, and sundry imprecations vented, the whole party increased 
their speed, and went on, mile after mile, by hedgerow and open 
moorland, talking as they went. 

" Before they reached the house of Sporeen, and near the village 
where the two Irish horsemen had stopped the evening before, 
they halted and formed themselves into more orderly array. A 
narrow gully was before them on the road, hemmed in on each 
side by rocky steeps, here and there overhung with bushes. The 
commandant bade them be on their guard, for there might be 
danger there. He was right ; for the moment they began to trot 
through the pass, the flash and rattle of fire-arms from the thick- 
ets above saluted them, followed by a wild yell. In a second, 



OF ENGLAND. 319 

several of their number lay dead or dying in the road. The fire 
was returned promptly by the police, but it was at random ; for, 
although another discharge and another howl announced that the 
enemy were still there, no one could be seen. The head of the 
police commanded his troops to make a dash through the pass ; 
for there was no scaling the heights from this side, the assailants 
having warily posted themselves there, because at the foot of the 
eminence were stretched on either hand impassable bogs. The 
troop dashed forward, firing their pistols as they went, but were 
met by such deadly discharges of firearms as threw them into 
confusion, killed and wounded several of their horses, and made 
them hastily retreat. 

" There was nothing for it but to await the arrival of the caval- 
ry ; and it was not long before the clatter of horses' hoofs and 
the ringing of sabres were heard on the road. On coming up, 
the troop of cavalry, firing to the right and left on the hillsides, 
dashed forward, and, in the same instant, cleared the gully in 
safety, the police having kept their side of the pass. In fact, not 
a single shot was returned, the arrival of this strong force having 
warned the insurgents to decamp. The cavalry, in full charge, 
ascended the hills to their summits. Not a foe was to be seen, 
except one or two dying men, who were discovered by their groans. 

" The moon had been for a time quenched in a dense mass of 
clouds, which now were blown aside by a keen and cutting wind. 
The heron, soaring over the desert, could now see gray-coated 
men flying in different directions to the shelter of the neighbour- 
ing hills. The next day he was startled from his dreamy reveries 
near the moorland stream, by the shouts and galloping of mingled 
police and soldiers, as they gave chase to a couple of haggard, 
bare-headed, and panting peasants. These were soon capture--!, 
and at once recognised as belonging to the evicted inhabitants of 
the recently deserted village. 

" Since then years have rolled on. The heron, who had been, 
startled from his quiet haunts by these things, was still dwelling 
on the lofty tree with his kindred, by the hall of Sporeen. He 
had reared family after family in that airy lodgment, as spring 
after spring came round; but no family, after that fatal time, 



320 THE WHITE SLAVES 

had ever tenanted the mansion. The widow and children had 
fled from it so soon as Mr. FitzGibbon had been laid in the grave. 
The nettle and dock flourished over the scorched ruins of the vil- 
lage of Rathbeg; dank moss and wild grass tangled the proud 
drives and walks of Sporeen. All the woodland rides and plea- 
sure-grounds lay obstructed with briers ; and young trees in time 
grew luxuriantly where once the roller in its rounds could not 
crush a weed ; the nimble frolics of the squirrel were now tha 
only merry things where formerly the feet of lovely children had 
sprung with elastic joy. 

" The curse of Ireland was on the place. Landlord and tenant, 
gentleman and peasant, each with the roots and the shoots of 
many virtues in their hearts, thrown into a false position by the 
mutual injuries of ages, had wreaked on each other the miseries 
sown broadcast by their ancestors. Beneath this foul spell men 
who would, in any other circumstances, have been the happiest 
and the noblest of mankind, became tyrants ; and peasants, who 
would have glowed with grateful affection toward them, exulted 
in being their assassins. As the traveller rode past the decaying 
hall, the gloomy woods, and waste black moorlands of Sporeen, 
he read the riddle of Ireland's fate, and asked himself when an 
(Edipus would arise to solve it." 

A large number of the peasantry of Connemara, a 
rocky and romantic region, are among the most recent 
evictions. 

" These hardy mountaineers, whose lives, and the lives of their 
fathers and great-grandfathers have been spent in reclaiming the 
barren hills where their hard lot has been cast, were the victims 
of a series of oppressions unparalleled in the annals of Irish mis- 
rule. They were thickly planted over the rocky surface of Conne- 
mara for political purposes. In the days of the 40s. freeholder, 
they were driven to the hustings like a flock of sheep, to register 
not alone one vote, but in many instances three or four votes each; 
and it was no uncommon thing to see those unfortunate serfs 
evicted from their holdings when an election had terminated 



OF ENGLAND. 321 

not that they refused to vote according to the wish of their land- 
lords, but because they did not go far enough in the sin of per- 
jury and the diabolical crime of impersonation. "When they 
ceased to possess any political importance, they were cast away 
like broken tools. It was no uncommon thing, in the wilds of 
Connemara, to see the peasantry, after an election, coming before 
the Catholic Archbishop, when holding a visitation of his diocese, 
to proclaim openly the crime of impersonation which their land- 
lords compelled them to commit, and implore forgiveness for 
such. Of this fact we have in the town of Galway more than one 
living witness ; so that, while every thing was done, with few ex- 
ceptions, to demoralize the peasantry of Connemara, and plant in 
their souls the germs of that slavery which is so destructive to 
the growth of industry, enterprise, or manly exertion no com- 
passion for their wants was ever evinced no allowance for their 
poverty and inability to meet the rack-renting demands of their 
landlords was ever made." 

Perhaps, it requires no (Edipus to tell what will be 
the future of the Irish nation, if the present system of 
slavery is maintained by their English conquerors. If 
they do not cease to exist as a people, they will con- 
tinue to quaff the dark waters of sorrow, and to pay a 
price, terrible to think of, for the mere privilege of 
existence. 

During the famine of 1847, the heartlessness of many 
Irish landlords was manifested by their utter indifference 
to the multitudes starving around their well-supplied 
mansions. At that period, the Rev. A. King, of Cork, 
wrote to the Southern Reporter as follows : 

"The town and the surrounding country for many miles are 
possessed by twenty-six proprietors, whose respective yearly in- 



322 THE WHITE SLAVES 

comes vary from one hundred pounds, or less, to several thou- 
sands. They had all been respectfully informed of the miserable 
condition of the people, and solicited to give relief. Seventeen of 
the number had not the politeness to answer the letters of the 
committee, four had written to say they would not contribute, and 
the remaining five had given a miserable fraction of what they 
ought to have contributed. My first donation from a small 
portion of a small relief fund, received from English strangers, 
exceeded the aggregate contributions of six-and-twenty landed 
proprietors, on whose properties human beings were perishing 
from famine, filth, and disease, amid circumstances of wretched- 
ness appalling to humanity and disgraceful to civilized men ! I 
believe it my sacred duty to gibbet this atrocity in the press, and 
to call on benevolent persons to loathe it as a monster crime. 
Twenty-one owners of property, on which scores, nay hundreds, 
of their fellow-creatures are dying of hunger, give nothing to save 
their lives I Are they not virtually guilty of wholesale murder ? 
I ask not what human law may decide upon their acts, but in the 
name of Christianity I arraign them as guilty of treason against 
the rights of humanity and the laws of God I" 

It is to escape the responsibility mentioned by Mr. 
King, as well as to avoid the payment of poor-rates, that 
the landlords resort to the desolating process of evic- 
tion. To show the destructive nature of the tyrannical 
system that has so long prevailed in Ireland, we will 
take an abstract of the census of 1841 and 1851. 

1841. 1851. 

Houses: Inhabited 1,328,839 1,047,935 

" Uninhabited, built 52,203 65,159 

building... 3,318 2,113 

Total 1,384,360 1,115,207 

Families 1,472,287 1,207,002 



OF ENGLAND. 323 

Persons: Males 4,019,576 3,176,727 

Females 4,155,548 3,339,067 

Total 8,175,124 6,515,794 

Population in 1841 8,175,124 

1851 6,515,794 

Decrease 1,659,330 

Or, at the rate of 20 per cent. 

Population in 1821 6,801,827 

1831 7,767,401 

" 1841 8,175,124 

1851 6,515,794 

Or, 286,030 souls fewer than in 1821, thirty years ago. 

" We shall impress the disastrous importance of the reduction 
in the number of the people on our readers, by placing before 
them a brief account of the previous progress of the population. 
There is good reason to suppose, that, prior to the middle of the 
last century, the people continually, though slowly, increased; but 
from that time something like authentic but imperfect records give 
the following as their numbers at successive periods : 

1754 2,372,634 

1767 2,544,276 ... Increase per cent. 7-2 

1777 2,690,556 ... " 5'7 

1785 2,845,932 ... " 5-8 

1805 5,359,456 ... 84*0 

1813 5,937,858 ... " 10-8 

1821 6,801,829 ... " 14-6 

1831 7,767,401 - " 14-9 

1841 8,175,124 ... " 5-3 

1851 6,515,794 ... Decrease 20-0 

" Though there are some discrepancies in these figures, and pro- 
bably the number assigned to 1785 is too small, and that assigned 
to 1805 too large, they testify uniformly to a continual increase of 
the people for eighty-seven years, from 1754 to 1841. Now, for 
the first time in nearly a century, a complete change has set in, 
and the population has decreased in the last ten years 20 per cent. 
It is 1,659,330 less than in 1841, and less by 286,033 than in 1821. 



324 THE WHITE SLAVES 

"But this is not quite all. The census of 1851 was taken 68 days 
earlier than the census of 1841 ; and it is obvious, if the same rate 
of decrease continued through those 68 days, as has prevailed on 
the average through the ten years, that the whole amount of de- 
crease would be so much greater. Sixty-eight days is about the 
54th part of ten years say the 50th part ; and the 50th part of 
the deficiency is 33,000 odd say 30,000. "We must add 30,000, 
therefore, to the 1,659,330, making 1,689,330, to get the true 
amount of the diminution of the people in ten years. 

"Instead of the population increasing in a healthy manner, im- 
plying an increase in marriages, in families, and in all the affec- 
tions connected with them, and implying an increase in general 
prosperity, as for nearly a century before, and now amounting, 
as we might expect, to 8,600,000, it is 2,000,000 less. This is a 
disastrous change in the life of the Irish. At this downward rate, 
decreasing 20 per cent, in ten years, five such periods would suffice 
to exterminate the whole population more effectually than the In- 
dians have been exterminated from North America. Fifty years 
of this new career would annihilate the whole population of Ire- 
land, and turn the land into an uninhabited waste. This is a 
terrible reverse in the condition of a people, and is the more 
remarkable because in the same period the population of Great 
Britain has increased 12 per cent., and because there is no other 
example of a similar decay in any part of Europe in the same 
time, throughout which the population has continued to increase, 
though not everywhere equally, nor so fast as in Great Britain. 
Indeed, it may be doubted whether the annals of mankind can 
supply, in a season of peace when no earthquakes have toppled 
down cities, no volcanoes have buried them beneath their ashes, 
and no inroads of the ocean have occurred such wholesale dimi- 
nution of the population and desolation of the country. 

" The inhabited houses in Ireland have decreased from 1,328,839 
in 1841 to 1,047,735 in 1851, or 281,104, (21-2 per cent.,) and 
consequently more than the population, who are now worse lodged 
and more crowded in relation to houses than they were in 1841. 
As the uninhabited houses have increased only 12,951, no less 
than 268,153 houses must have been destroyed in the ten years. 



OP ENGLAND. 325 

That informs us of the extent of the ' clearances' of which we 
have heard so much of late ; and the 1,659,300 people less in the 
country is an index to the number of human beings who inhabited 
the houses destroyed. We must remember, too, that within the 
period a number of union workhouses have been built in Ireland, 
capable of accommodating 308,885 persons, and that, besides the 
actual diminution of the number of the people, there has been a 
change in their habits, about 300,000 having become denizens of 
workhouses, who, prior to 1841, lived in their own separate huts. 
With distress and destruction pauperism has also increased. 

" The decrease has not been equal for the males and females ; 
the numbers were as follows ; 

1841. 1851. 

Males 4,019,576 ... 3,176,124 Decrease 20'9 per cent. 

Females 4,155,548 ... 3,336,067 " 29'6 

. e t The females now exceed the males by 162,943, or 2 per cent. 
OH the whole population. It is not, however, that the mortality 
has been greater among the males than the females, but that more 
of the former than of the latter have escaped from the desolation. 
"Another important feature of the returns is the increase of 
the town population: Dublin, 22,124, or 9 per cent.; Belfast, 
24,3*52", or 32 per cent. ; Galway, 7422, or 43 per cent. ; Cork, 
765, or 7 per cent. Altogether, the town population has in- 
creased 71,028, or nearly 1 per cent., every town except London- 
derry displaying the same feature ; and that increase makes the 
decrease of the rural population still more striking. The whole 
decrease is of the agricultural classes : Mr. O'Connell's ' finest 
pisantry' are the sufferers." 

The London Illustrated News, in an article upon the 
census, says 

" The causes of the decay of Ihe people, subordinate to ineffi- 
cient employment and to wanting commerce and manufactures, 
are obviously great mortality, caused by the destruction of the 
potatoes and the consequent want of food, the clearance system, 
aud emigration. From the retarded increase of the population 



326 THE WHITE SLAVES 

between 1831 and 1841 only 5.3 per cent., while in the previous 
ten years it had been nearly 15 per cent. it may be inferred 
that the growth of the population was coming to a stand-still 
before 1841, and that the late calamities only brought it down to 
its means of continued subsistence, according to the distribution 
of property and the occupations of the people. The potato rot, 
in 1846, was a somewhat severer loss of that root than had before 
fallen on the Irish, who have suffered occasionally from famines 
ever since their history began ; and it fell so heavily on them 
then, because they were previously very much and very generally 
impoverished. Thousands, and even millions, of them subsisted 
almost exclusively on lumpers, the very worst kind of potatoes, 
and were reduced in health and strength when they were over- 
taken by the dearth of 1846. The general smallness of their 
consumption, and total abstinence from the use of tax paying 
articles, is made painfully apparent by the decrease of the popu- 
lation of Ireland having had no sensible influence in reducing the 
revenue. They were half starved while alive. Another remarka- 
ble fact which we must notice is, that, while the Irish population 
have thus been going to decay, the imports and exports of the 
empire have increased in a much more rapid ratio than the 
population of Great Britain. For them, therefore, exclusively, is 
the trade of the empire carried on, and the Irish who have been 
swept away, without lessening the imports and exports, have had 
no share in our commerce. It is from these facts apparent, that, 
while they have gone to decay, the population of Great Britain 
have increased their well-being and their enjoyments much more 
than their numbers. We need not remind our readers of the 
dreadful sufferings of the Irish in the years 1847, 1848, and 1849 ; 
for the accounts we then published of them were too melancholy 
to be forgotten. As an illustration, we may observe that the 
Irish Poor-law Commissioners, in their fourth report, dated May 
5, 1851, boast that the 'worst evils of the famine, such as the 
occurrence of deaths by the wayside, a high rate of mortality in 
the workhouses, and the prevalence of dangerous and contagious 
diseases in or out of the workhouse, have undergone a very ma- 
terial abatement.' There have been, then, numerous deaths by 



Ofl ENGLAND. 327 

the wayside, alarming contagious diseases, and great mortality 
in the workhouses." 

The Poor-law Commissioners kept a most mysterious 
silence during the worst period of the famine ; and, it 
was only when the horrors of that time were known to 
the whole civilized world that they reported the "abate- 
ment of the evils." Perhaps, they had become so ac- 
customed to witnessing misery in Ireland that even the 
famine years did not startle them into making a 
humane appeal to the British government upon behalf 
of the sufferers. 

The Illustrated News, in the same article we have 
quoted above, says, quite sensibly, but with scarcely a 
due appreciation of the causes of Ireland's decay 

" The decline of the population has "been greatest in Connaught; 
now the Commissioners tell us that in 1847 the maximum rate 
of mortality in the workhouses of that province was 43.6 per 
week in a thousand persons, so that in about 23 weeks at this 
rate the whole 1000 would be dead. The maximum rate of 
mortality in all the workhouses in that year was 25 per 1000 
weekly, or the whole 1000 would die in something more than 39 
weeks. That was surely a very frightful mortality. It took place 
among that part of the population for which room was found in 
the workhouses ; and among the population out of the workhouses 
perishing by the wayside, the mortality must have been still more 
frightful. We are happy to believe, on the assurance of the com- 
missioners, that matters are now improved, that workhouse ac- 
commodation is to be had with one exception, Kilrush for all 
who need it; that the expense of keeping the poor is diminished; 
that contagious disorders are less frequent, and that the ra.^e of 
mortality has much declined. But the statement that such iin- 



328 THE WHITE SLAVES 

provements have taken place, implies the greatness of the past 
Bufferings. There can be no doubt, therefore, that the decay of 
the population has partly arisen from increased mortality on the 
one hand, and from decreasing marriages and decreasing births 
on the other. Now that the Irish have a poor-law fairly adminis- 
tered, we may expect that, in future, such terrible scenes as were 
witnessed in 1847-49 will not again occur. But the state which 
authorized the landlords, by a law, to clear their estates of the 
peasantry, as if they were vermin, destroying, as we have seen, 
268,153 dwellings, without having previously imposed on those 
landlords the obligation of providing for the people, did a great 
wrong, and the decay of the people now testifies against it. 

" With reference to emigration the least objectionable mode of 
getting rid of a population there are no correct returns kept of 
the number of Irish who emigrate, because a great part of them 
go from Liverpool, and are set down in the returns as emigrants 
from England. It is supposed by those best acquainted with the 
subject, that more than nine-tenths of the emigrants from Liver- 
pool are Irish. Taking that proportion, therefore, and adding it 
to the emigrants who proceed direct from Ireland, the number 
of Irish emigrants from 1842 to the present year was 



1843 39,549 

1844 55,910 

1845 76,523 

1846 106,767 



Total, 4 years, 278,749 



1*47 214,970 

18v* 177,720 

1849 208,759 

1850 207,853 

Total, 4 years, 809,302 



Total, 8 years 1,088,051. 

" If we add 70,000 for the two first years of the decennial period 
not included in the return, we shall have 1,158,051 as the total 
emigration of the ten years. It was probably more than that 
it could not well have been less. To this we must add the number 
of Irish who came to England and Scotland, of whom no account 
is kept. If we put them down at 30,000 a year, we shall have 
for tlie ten years 300,000 ; or the total expatriation of the Irish in 
the ten years may be assumed at 1,458,000, or say 1,500,000. At 



OP ENGLAND. 329 

first sight this appears a somewhat soothing explanation of 
the decline of the Irish population ; but, on being closely ex- 
amined, it diminishes the evil very little in one sense, and threat- 
ens to enhance it in another. 

" So far as national strength is concerned, it is of no conse- 
quence whether the population die out or emigrate to another state, 
except that, if the other state be a rival or an enemy, it may be 
worse for the parent state that the population emigrate than be 
annihilated. In truth, the Irish population in the United States, 
driven away formerly by persecution, have imbittered the feel- 
ings of the public there against England. Emigration is only 
very beneficial, therefore, when it makes room for one at home 
for every one removed. Such is the emigration from England to 
her colonies or to the United States, with which she has intimate 
trade relations ; but such is not the case with the emigration 
from Ireland, for there we find a frightful void. No one fills the 
emigrant's place. He flies from the country because he cannot 
live in it ; and being comparatively energetic, we may infer that 
few others can. In the ordinary course, had the 1,500,000 ex- 
patriated people remained, nearly one-third of them would have 
died in the ten years ; they would have increased the terrible 
mortality, and, without much adding to the present number of 
the people, would have added to the long black catalogue of 
death. 

" For the emigrants themselves removal is a great evil, a mere 
flying from destruction. The Poor-law Commissioners state that 
the number of pauper emigrants sent from Ireland in 1850 was 
about 1800, or less than one per cent, of the whole emigration ; 
the bulk of the emigrants were not paupers, but persons of some 
means as well as of some energy. They were among the best 
of the population, and they carried off capital with them leaving 
the decrepit, the worn-out, and the feeble behind them ; tho 
mature and the vigorous, the seed of future generations, went out 
of the land, and took with them the means of future increase. 
We doubt, therefore, whether such an emigration as that from 
Ireland within the last four years will not be more fatal to its 
future prosperity than had the emigrants swelled the mortality at 

M 



330 THE WHITE SLAVES 

home. All the circumstances now enumerated tend to establish 
the conclusion, that, for the state, and for the people who remain 
behind, it is of very little consequence whether a loss of popula- 
tion, such as that in Ireland, be caused by an excessive mortality 
or excessive emigration. 

" To the emigrants themselves, after they have braved the pain 
of the separation and the difficulties of the voyage, and after they 
are established in a better home, the difference is very great ; but 
it may happen that, to Ireland as a state, their success abroad 
will be rather dangerous than beneficial. On the whole, emigra- 
tion does not account for the decrease of people ; and if it did 
account for it, would not afford us the least consolation/' 

In the above article, the Kilrush Union is mentioned 
as an exception to the general improvement in Ireland, 
in respect to workhouse accommodation. Mr. Sidney 
Godolphin Osborne, the able and humane correspondent 
of the London Times, can enlighten us in regard to 
the treatment of the poor of Kilrush in 1851. 

"I am sorry to be compelled again to call public attention to 
the state of things in the above ill-fated union. I do not dispute 
the interest which must attach to the transactions of the Encum- 
bered Estates Court, the question of the so-called Godless Col- 
leges, the campaign now commencing against the national 
schools, and the storm very naturally arising against the Papal 
Aggression Bill, in a country so Catholic as Ireland. But I must 
claim some interest upon the part of the British public on the 
question of life and death now cruelly working out in the West of 
Ireland. 

" The accommodation for paupers in the Kilrush union-houses 
was, in the three weeks ending the 8th, 15th, and 22d of this 
month, calculated for 4654 ; in the week ending the 8th of March 
there were 5005 inmates, 56 deaths ! in the week ending the 15th 
of March, 4980 inmates, 68 deaths ! in the week ending the 



OP ENGLAND. 331 

22d of March, 4868 inmates, 79 deaths ! That is to say, tTiere 
were 203 deaths in 21 days. I last week called your attention to 
the fact of the overcrowding and the improper feeding of the poor 
creatures in these houses, as proved by a report made by the 
medical officer on the 1st of February, repeated on the 22d, and, 
at the time of my letter, evidently unheeded. Behold the result 
79 deaths in a population of under 5000 in one week ! I have, I 
regret to say, besides these returns, a large mass of returns of 
deaths outside the house, evidently the result of starvation ; on 
some, coroners' juries have admitted it to be so. 

" Eye-witnesses of the highest respectability, as well as my own 
paid agent, report to me the state of the town and neighbourhood 
of the workhouse on the admission-days in characters quite hor- 
rifying: between 100 and 200 poor, half-starved, almost naked 
creatures may be seen by the roadside, under the market-house 
in short, wherever the famished, the houseless, and the cold can 
get for a night's shelter. Many have come twelve Irish miles to 
seek relief, and then have been refused, though their sunken eyes 
and projecting bones write the words ' destitute' and ' starving 7 
in language even the most callous believers in pauper cunning 
could not misunderstand. I will defy contradiction to the fact, 
that the business of the admission-days is conducted in a way 
which forbids common justice to the applicants ; it is a mere 
mockery to call the scene of indecent hurry and noisy strife be- 
tween guardians, officers, and paupers, which occupies the few 
hours weekly given to this work, a hearing of applicants. 

" I have before me some particulars of a visit of inspection paid 
to these houses a short time since by a gentleman whose position 
and whose motives are above all cavil for respectability and in- 
tegrity ; I have a mass of evidence, voluntarily given me, from 
sources on which I can place implicit confidence, all tending to 
one and the same point. The mortality so fast increasing can 
only be ascribed to the insufficiency of the out-relief given to the 
destitute, and the crowding and improper diet of the in-door pau- 
pers. From the published statement of the half-year ending 
September 29, 1850, signed ' C. M. Vandeleur, chairman/ I find 
there were 1014 deaths in that said half-year, Average weekly 



THE WHITE SLAVES 

cost per head food, ll^d. ; clothing, 2d. I shall look with 
anxiety for the return of the half-year just ended ; it will be a 
curious document, as emanating from a board the chairman of 
which has just trumpeted in your columns with regard to this 
union, 'that the lands, with little exception, are well occupied, 
and a spirit of industry visible among all classes/ It will at 
least prove a more than usual occupation of bury ing-land, and a 
spirit of increased energy in the grave-digging class. 

"With regard to the diet of the old and infirm, I can conceive 
it possible that since the publication of my last letter there may 
be some improvement, though I am not yet aware of it. I am 
now prepared to challenge all contradiction to the fact that the 
diet has been not only short of what it ought to be by the pre- 
scribed dietary, but, in the case of the bread, it has frequently 
been unfit for human food such as very old or very young people 
could only touch under the pressure of famine, and could not, 
under any circumstances, sustain health upon. 

" Let the authorities investigate the deaths of the last six 
weeks, taking the cause of death from the medical officers, and 
how soon after admission each individual died ; they will then, 
with me, cease to wonder that the poor creatures who come in 
starving should so soon sink, when the sanatory condition of the 
law's asylum is just that which would tell most severely even on 
the most healthy. I admit, sir, that Kilrush market may be well 
supplied with cheap food, but the evicted peasantry have no 
money, and vendors do not give. I admit that the season for the 
growth of nettles, and cornkale, and other weeds, the of late 
years normal food of these poor creatures, has not yet set in, and 
this I do not deny is all against them. I leave to the British 
public the forming any conclusion they like from this admission. 

" What I now contend for is this that in a particular part of 
Great Britain there are certain workhouses, asylums for the des- 
titute, supervised by salaried inspectors, directly under the cog- 
nizance of the Government, in which the crowding of the sick is 
most shameful, the diet equally so. The mortality for the weeks 
ending January 25 to March 22 484, upon a population which 
in those weeks never exceeded 5200 souls ! I believe these to be 



OF ENGLAND. 333 

facts which cannot be disputed, and I claim on them the imme- 
diate interference of the Government, and the more especially as 
the chairman of this union makes a public favourable comparison 
between it and the union of Ennistymon, in the same county. I 
am myself prepared, on very short notice, to go over at my own 
expense with any person of respectability from this country, ap- 
pointed by Government, and I have no doubt we shall prove that 
I have, if any thing, understated matters ; if so, am I wrong, sir, 
in saying, that such a state of things, within a twenty hours' 
journey from London, is in a sad and shameful contrast to the 
expected doings of the ' World's Fair' on English ground ? When, 
the other day, I looked on the Crystal Palace, and thought of Kil- 
rush workhouse, as I have seen it and now know it to be, I confess I 
felt, as a Christian and the subject of a Christian Government, 
utter disgust. Again, sir, I thank you from my heart for your 
indulgence to these my cries for justice for Ireland." 

Alas ! poor country, where each hour teems with a 
new grievance ; where tyranny is so much a custom 
that the very institutions which have charity written 
upon their front are turned to dangerous pest-houses, 
slaving shops, or tombs ; where to toil even to extremi- 
ty is to be rewarded with semi-starvation in styes, and, 
perhaps, by sudden eviction, and a grave by the way- 
side ; where to entertain certain religious convictions is 
to invite the whips of persecution, and the particular 
tyranny of the landlord who adheres to the Church of 
England ; where to speak the faith of the heart, the 
opinions of the mind, is to sacrifice the food doled out 
by the serf-holders ; where to live is to be considered a 
glorious mercy to hope, something unfit for common 

men. 

0* 



334 THE WHITE SLAVES 

The struggles and achievements of Con McNale, as 
related in " Household Words," give us a tolerably 
truthful representation of the milder features of Irish 
peasant life. Con had better luck than most of his class, 
and knew better how to improve it. Yet the circum- 
stances of his existence were certainly not those of a 
freeman : 

" My father," said he, " lived under ould Squire Kilkelly, an* 
for awhile tinded his cattle ; but the Squire's gone out iv this part 
iv the counthry, to Australia or some furrin part, an' the men- 
tioned house (mansion-house) an' the fine property was sould, so 
it was, for little or nothin', for the fightin' was over in furrin 
parts ; Boney was put down, an' there was no price for corn or 
cattle, an' a jontleman from Scotland came an' bought the istate. 
We were warned by the new man to go, for he tuk in his own 
hand all the in-land about the domain, bein' a grate farmer. He 
put nobody in our little place, but pulled it down, an' he guv 
father a five-guinea note, but my father was ould an' not able to 
face the world agin, an' he went to the town an' tuk a room a 
poor, dirty, choky place it was for him, myself, and sisther to live 
in. The neighbours were very kind an' good though. Sister 
Bridget got a place wid a farmer hereabouts, an' I tuk the world 
on my own showlders. I had nothin' at all but the rags I stud 
up in, an' they were bad enuf. Poor Biddy got a shillin' ad- 
vanced iv her wages that her masther was to giv her. She guv 
it me, for I was bent on goin' toward Belfast to look for work. 
All along the road I axed at every place ; they could giv it me, 
but to no good ; except when I axed, they'd giv me a bowl iv 
broth, or a piece iv bacon, or an oaten bannock, so that I had my 
shillin' to the fore when I got to Belfast. 

" Here the heart was near lavin' me all out intirely. I went 
wandtherin' down to the quay among the ships, and what should 
there be but a ship goin' to Scotland that very night wid pigs. 
In throth it was fun to see the sailors at cross-purposes wid 'em, 



OF ENGLAND. 335 

for they didn't know the natur iv the bastes. I did. I knew how 
to coax 'em. I set to an' I deludhered an' coaxed the pigs, an' 
by pullin' them by the tail, knowing that if they took a fancy I 
wished to pull 'em back out of the ship they'd run might an' main 
into her, and so they did. Well, the sailors were mightily divart- 
ed, an' when the pigs was aboord I wint down to the place; an* 
the short iv it is that in three days I was in Glasgow town, an* 
the captain an' the sailors subschribed up tin shillins an' guv it 
into my hand. Well, I bought a raping-hook, an' away I trudged 
till I got quite an' clane into the counthry, an' the corn was here 
and there fit to cut. At last I goes an' ax a farmer for work. He 
thought I was too wake to be paid by the day, but one field havin* 
one corner fit to cut, an' the next not ready, ' Paddy,' says he, 
'you may begin in that corner, an' I'll pay yee: by the work yees 
do,' an' he guv me my breakfast an' a pint of beer. Well, I never 
quit that masther the whole harvest, an' when the raping was 
over I had four goolden guineas to carry home, besides that I waa 
as sthrong as a lion. Yees would wonder how glad the sailors 
was to see me back agin, an' ne'er a farthin' would they take 
back iv their money, but tuk me over agin to Belfast, givin' mo 
the hoighth of good thratemint of all kinds. I did not stay an 
hour in Belfast, but tuk to the road to look afther the ould man 
an' little Biddy. Well, sorrows the tidins I got. The ould man 
had died, an' the grief an' disthress of poor little Biddy had even 
touched her head a little. The dacent people where she was, may 
the Lord reward 'em, though they found little use in her, kep her, 
hoping I would be able to come home an' keep her myself, an' so 
I was. I brought her away wid me, an' the sight iv me put new 
life in her. I was set upon not being idle, an' I'll tell yees what 
I did next. 

" When I was little bouchaleen iv a boy I used to be ahead on 
the mountain face, an' 'twas often I sheltered myself behind them 
gray rocks that's at the gable iv my house ; an' somehow it came 
into my head that the new Squire, being a grate man for improv- 
in' might let me try to brake in a bit iv land there ; an* so I goes 
off to him, an' one iv the sarvints bein' a sort iv cousin iv mine, 
I got to spake to the Squire, an' behould yees he guv me lave at 



336 THE WHITE SLAVES 

onst. Well, there's no time like the prisint, an' as 1 passed out 
iv the back yard of the mentioned (mansion) house, I sees the 
sawyers cutting some Norway firs that had been blown down by 
the storm, an' I tells the sawyers that I had got lave to brake in 
a bit iv land in the mountains, an' what would some pieces iv fir 
cost. They says they must see what kind of pieces they was that 
I wished for; an' no sooner had I set about looking 'em through 
than the Squire himself comes ridin' out of the stable-yard, an' 
jjsys he at onst, ' McNale,' says he, ' you may have a load iv cut- 
tius to build your cabin, or two if you need it.' ' The Heavens 
be your honour's bed,' says I, an' I wint off to the room where I 
an' Biddy lived, not knowin' if I was on my head or my heels. 
Next day, before sunrise, I was up here, five miles up the face 
of Slieve-dan, with a spade in my fist, an' I looked roun' for the 
most shiltered spot I could sit my eyes an. Here I saw, where 
the house an' yard are stan'in', a plot iv about an acre to the 
south iv that tail ridge of rocks, well sheltered from the blast 
from the north an' from the aste, an' it was about sunrise an' a 
fine morning in October that I tuk up the first spadeful. There 
was a spring then drippin' down the face iv the rocks, an' I saw 
at once that it would make the cabin completely damp, an' the 
land about mighty sour an' water-stain; so I determined to do 
what I saw done in Scotland. I sunk a deep drain right under 
the rock to run all along the back iv the cabin, an' workin' that 
day all alone by myself, I did a grate dale iv it. At night it was 
close upon dark when I started to go home, so I hid my spade in 
the heath an' trudged off. The next morning I bargained with a 
farmer to bring me up a load iv fir cuttins from the Squire's, an' 
by the evenin' they were thrown down within a quarter iv a mile 
iv my place, for there was no road to it then, an' I had to carry 
'em myself for the remainder of the way. This occupied me till 
near nightfall ; but I remained that night till I placed two up- 
right posts of fir, one at each corner iv the front iv the cabin. 

" I was detarmined to get the cabin finished as quickly as pos- 
sible, that I might be able to live upon the spot, for much time 
was lost in goin' and comin'. The next day I was up betimes, 
an' finding a track iv stiff blue clay, I cut a multitude of thick 



OF ENGLAND. 337 

square sods iv it, an' having set up two more posts at the remain- 
in' two corners iv the cabin, I laid four rows iv one gable, rising 
it about three feet high. Havin' laid the rows, I sharpind three 
or four straight pine branches, an' druv them down through the 
sods into the earth, to pin the wall in its place. Next day I had 
a whole gable up, each three rows iv sods pinned through to the 
three benathe. In about eight days I had put up the four walls, 
makin' a door an' two windows ; an' now my outlay began, for I 
had to pay a thatcher to put on the sthraw an' to assist me in 
risin' the rafthers. In another week it was covered in, an' it was 
a pride to see it with the new thatch an' a wicker chimbly daubed 
with clay, like a pallis undernathe the rock. I now got some 
turf that those who had cut 'em had not removed, an' they sould 
'em for a thrifle, an' I made a grate fire an' slept on the flure of 
my own house that night. Next day I got another load iv fir 
brought to make the partitions in the winter, an' in a day or two 
after I had got the inside so dhry that I was able to bring poor 
Biddy to live there for good and all. The Heavens be praised, 
there was not a shower iv rain fell from the time I began the 
cabin till I ended it, an' when the rain did fall, not a drop came 
through all was carried off by my dhrain into the little river 
before yees. 

" The moment I was settled in the house I comminced dhrain- 
ing about an acre iv bog in front, an' the very first winter I sowed 
a shillin's worth of cabbidge seed, an' sold in the spring a pound's 
worth of little cabbidge plants for the gardins in the town below. 
When spring came, noticin' how the early-planted praties did the 
best, I planted my cabbidge ground with praties, an' I had a 
noble crap, while the ground was next year fit for the corn. In 
the mane time, every winther I tuk in more and more ground, 
an' in summer I cut my turf for fewel, where the cuttins could 
answer in winther for a dhrain ; an' findin' how good the turf 
were, I got a little powney an' carried 'em to the town to sell, 
when I was able to buy lime in exchange an' put it on my bog, 
so as to make it produce double. As things went on I got assist- 
ance, an' when I marrid, my wife had two cows that guv me a 
grate lift. 



338 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" I was always thought to be a handy boy, an* I could do a 
turn of mason-work with any man not riglarly bred to it ; so I 
took one of my loads of lime, an' instead of puttin' it on the land, 
I made it into morthar and indeed the stones being no ways 
scarce, I set to an' built a little kiln, like as I had seen down the 
counthry. I could then burn my own lime, an' the limestone 
were near to my hand, too many iv 'em. While all this was goin' 
on, I had riz an' sould a good dale iv oats and praties, an 7 every 
summer I found ready sale for my turf in the town from one jon- 
tleman that I always charged at an even rate, year by year. I 
got the help of a stout boy, a cousin iv my own, who was glad iv 
a shilter; an' when the childher were ould enough, I got some 
young cattle that could graze upon the mountain in places where 
no other use could be made iv the land, and set the gossoons to 
herd 'em. 

" There was one bit iv ground nigh han' to the cabin that puz- 
zled me intirely. It was very poor and sandy, an' little better 
than a rabbit burrow ; an' telling the Squire's Scotch steward iv 
it, he bade me thry some flax ; an' sure enuf, so I did, an' a fine 
crap iv flax I had as you might wish to see ; an' the stame-mills 
being beginnin' in the counthry at that time, I sould my flax for 
a very good price, my wife having dhried it, beetled it, an' 
scutched it with her own two hands. 

" I should have said before that the Squire himself came up 
here with a lot iv fine ladies and jontlemen to see what I had 
done ; an' you never in your life seed a man so well plased as he 
was, an' a mimber of Parlimint from Scotland was with him, an' 
he tould me I was a credit to ould Ireland ; an' sure didn't Father 
Connor read upon the papers, how he tould the whole story in 
the Parlimint house before all the lords an' quality. But faix, 
he didn't forgit me ; for a month or two after he was here, an' it 
coming on the winter, comes word for me an' the powney to go 
down to the mentioned (mansion) house, for the steward wanted 
me. So away I wint, an' there, shure enuf, was an illigant Scotch 
plough, every inch of iron, an' a lot of young Norroway pines 
the same you see shiltering the house an' yard an' all was a free 
prisint for me from the Scotch jontleman that was the mimber 



OF ENGLAND. 339 

of Parlimint. 'Twas that plough that did the meracles iv work 
hereabouts ; for I often lint it to any that I knew to be a careful 
hand, an' it was the manes iv havin' the farmers all round send 
an' buy 'em. At last I was able to build a brave snug house ; 
and, praised be Providence, I have never had an hour's ill health 
nor a moment's grief, but when poor Biddy, the cratur, died from 
us. It is thirty years since that morning that I tuk up the first 
spadeful from the wild mountain side ; an' twelve acres are good 
labour land, an' fifteen drained an' good grazin'. I have been 
payin' rint twinty years, an' am still, thank God, able to take my 
own part iv any day's work plough, spade, or flail." 

" Have you got a lease?" said I. 

" No, indeed, nor a schrape of a pin; nor I never axed it. Have 
J not my tinnant-rite?" 

At any moment the labours of poor Con might have 
been rendered of no benefit to him. He held the 
wretched hovel and the ground he tilled merely by the 
permission of the landlord, who could have desolated 
all by the common process of eviction ; and Con would 
then have been driven to new exertions or to the work- 
house. The rugged ballad of Patrick Fitzpatrick's 
Farewell," presents a case more common than that of 
Con McNale : 

" Those three long years I've labour'd hard as any on Erin's isle, 

And still was scarcely able my family to keep; 
My tender wife and children three, under the lash of misery, 

Unknown to friends and neighbours, I've often seen to weep. 
Sad grief it seized her tender heart, when forced her only cow 

to part, 
And canted* was before her face, the poor-rates for to pay; 

* Auctioned. 



340 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Cut down in all her youthful bloom, she's gone into her silent 

tomb; 
Forlorn I will mourn her loss when in America." 

In the same ballad we have an expression of the com- 
parative paradise the Irish expect to find and do find, 
by the way in that land which excites so much the 
pity of the philanthropic aristocracy : 

" Let Erin's sons and daughters fair now for the promised land 

prepare, 

America, that beauteous soil, will soon your toil repay; 
Employment, it is plenty there, on beef and mutton you can fare, 

From five to six dollars is your wages every day. 
Now see what money has come o'er these three years from 

Columbia's shore; 

But for it numbers now were laid all in their silent clay; 
California's golden mines, my boys, are open now to crown 

our joys, 
So all our hardships we'll dispute when in America." 

As an illustration of the manner in which eviction is 
sometimes effected by heartless landlords in Ireland, and 
the treatment which the lowly of Great Britain gene- 
rally receive from those who become their masters, we 
may quote "Two Scenes in the Life of John Bodger," 
from "Dickens's Household Words." The characters 
in this sketch are English ; but the incidents are such 
as frequently occur in Ireland : 

" In the year 1832, on the 24th of December, one of those clear 
bright days that sometimes supersede the regular snowy, sleety 
Christmas weather, a large ship lay off Plymouth ; the Blue Peter 
flying from her masthead, quarters of beef hanging from her miz- 



OF ENGLAND. 341 

zen-booms, and strings of cabbages from her stern rails ; her decks 
crowded with coarsely-clad blue-nosed passengers, and lumbered 
with boxes, barrels, hen-coops, spars, and chain-cables. The wind 
was rising with a hollow, dreary sound. Boats were hurrying to 
and fro, between the vessel and the beach, where stood excited 
groups of old people and young children. The hoarse, impatient 
voices of officers issuing their commands, were mingled with the 
shrill wailing of women on the deck and the shore. 

"It was the emigrant ship 'Cassandra/ bound for Australia 
during the period of the 'Bounty' system, when emigration re- 
cruiters, stimulated by patriotism and a handsome percentage, 
rushed frantically up and down the country, earnestly entreating 
' healthy married couples/ and single souls of either sex, to accept 
a free passage to ' a land of plenty.' The English labourers had 
not then discovered that Australia was a country where masters 
were many and servants scarce. In spite of poverty and poorhouse 
fare, few of the John Bull family could be induced to give heed to 
flaming placards they could not read, or inspiring harangues 
they could not understand. The admirable education which in 
1832, at intervals of seven days, was distributed in homoeopathic 
doses among the agricultural olive-branches of England, did not 
include modern geography, even when reading and writing were 
imparted. If a stray Sunday-school scholar did acquire a faint 
notion of the locality of Canaan, he was never permitted to travel 
as far as the British Colonies. 

" To the ploughman out of employ, Canaan, Canada, and Aus- 
tralia were all 'furrin parts;' he did not know the way to them ; 
but he knew the way to the poorhouse, so took care to keep within 
reach of it. 

" Thus it came to pass that the charterers of the good ship 'Cas- 
sandra' were grievously out in their calculations ; and failing to 
fill with English, were obliged to make up their complement with 
Irish ; who, having nothing to fall upon, but the charity of the poor 
to the poorer, are always ready to go anywhere for a daily meal. 

" The steamers from Cork had transferred their ragged, weeping, 
laughing, fighting cargoes ; the last stray groups of English had 
been collected from the western counties ; the Government officers 



342 THE WHITE SLAVES 

had cleared and passed the ship. With the afternoon tide two 
hundred helpless, ignorant, destitute souls were to bid farewell to 
their native land. The delays consequent on miscalculating the 
emigrating taste of England had retarded until midwinter, a voy- 
age which should have been commenced in autumn. 

"In one of the shore-boats, sat a portly man evidently neither 
an emigrant nor a sailor wrapped in a great coat and comforters ; 
his broad-brimmed beaver secured from the freezing blast by a 
coloured bandanna tied under the chin of a fat, whiskerless face. 
This portly personage was Mr. Joseph Lobbit, proprietor of ' The 
Shop/ farmer, miller, and chairman of the vestry of the rich 
rural parish of Duxrnoor. 

" At Duxmoor, the chief estate was in Chancery, the manor- 
house in ruins, the lord of it an outlaw, and the other landed pro- 
prietors absentees, or in debt ; a curate preached, buried, married, 
and baptized, for the health of the rector compelled him to pass 
the summer in Switzerland, and the winter in Italy ; so Mr. Lob- 
bit was almost the greatest, as he was certainly the richest, man in 
the parish. 

" Except that he did not care for any one but himself, and did 
not respect any one who had not plenty of money, he was not a bad 
sort of man. lie had a jolly hearty way of talking and shaking 
hands, and slapping people on the back ; and until you began to 
count money with him, he seemed a very pleasant, liberal fellow. 
He was fond of money, but more fond of importance ; and there- 
fore worked as zealously at parish-business as he did at his own 
farm, shop, and mill. He centred the whole powers of the vestry 
in one person, and would have been beadle, too, if it had been 
possible. He appointed the master and matron of the workhouse, 
who were relations of his wife ; supplied all the rations and clothing 
for ' the house / and fixed the prices in full vestry (viz. himself, 
and the clerk, his cousin,) assembled. He settled all the questions 
of out-door relief, and tried hard, more than once, to settle the rate 
of wages too. 

" Ill-natured people did say that those who would not work on 
Master Lobbit' s farm, at his wages, stood a very bad chance if they 
wanted any thing from the parish, or came for the doles of blankets, 



OF ENGLAND. 343 

coals, bread, and linsey-woolsey petticoats, which, under the pro- 
visions of the tablets in Duxmoor church, are distributed every 
. Christmas. Of course, Mr. Lobbit supplied these gifts, as chief 
shop-keeper, and dispensed them, as senior and perpetual church- 
warden. Lobbit gave capital dinners; plenty smoked on his 
board, and pipes of negro-head with jorums of gin punch followed, 
without stint. 

" The two attorneys dined with him and were glad to come, 
for he had always money to lend, on good security, and his gin was 
unexceptionable. So did two or three bullfrog farmers, very rich 
and very ignorant. The doctor and curate came occasionally; 
they were poor, and in his debt at ' The Shop/ therefore bound to 
laugh at his jokes which were not so bad, for he was no fool 
so that, altogether, Mr. Lobbit had reason to believe himself a very 
popular man. 

" But there was where is there not ? a black drop in his over- 
flowing cup of prosperity. 

" He had a son whom he intended to make a gentleman ; whom 
he hoped to see married to some lady of good family, installed in 
the manor-house of Duxmoor, (if it should be sold cheap, at the 
end of the Chancery suit,) and established as the squire of the 
parish. Robert Lobbit had no taste for learning, and a strong 
taste for drinking, which his father's customers did their best to 
encourage. Old Lobbit was decent in his private habits ; but, as 
he made money wherever he could to advantage, he was always 
surrounded by a levee of scamps, of all degrees some agents and 
assistants, some borrowers, and would-be borrowers. Young 
Lobbit found it easier to follow the example of his father's com- 
panions than to follow his father's advice. He was as selfish and 
greedy as his father, without being so agreeable or hospitable. 
In the school-room he was a dunce, in the play-ground a tyrant 
and bully ; no one liked him ; but, as he had plenty of money, 
many courted him. 

"As a last resource his father sent him to Oxford ; whence, after 
a short residence, he was expelled. He arrived home drunk, and 
in debt ; without having lost one bad habit, or made one respect- 
able friend. From that period he lived a sot, a village rake, the 



344 THE WHITE SLAVES 

king of the taproom, and the patron of a crowd of blackguards, 
who drank his beer and his health ; hated him for his insolence, 
and cheated him of his money. 

" Yet Joseph Lobbit loved his son, and tried not to believe the 
stories good-natured friends told of him. 

"Another trouble fell upon the prosperous churchwarden. On 
the north side of the parish, just outside the boundaries of Dux- 
moor Manor, there had been, in the time of the Great Civil Wars, 
a large number of small freehold farmers: each with from forty to 
five acres of land ; the smaller, fathers had divided among their 
progeny ; the larger had descended to eldest sons by force of pri- 
mogeniture. Joseph Lobbit's father had been one of these small 
freeholders. A right of pasture on an adjacent common was at- 
tached to these little freeholds ; so, what with geese and sheep, 
and a cow or so, even the poorest proprietor, with the assistance 
of harvest work, managed to make a living, up to the time of the 
last war. War prices made land valuable, and the common was 
enclosed ; though a share went to the little freeholders, and sons 
and daughters were hired, at good wages, while the enclosure was 
going on, the loss of the pasture for stock, and the fall of prices 
at the peace, sealed their fate. John Lobbit, our portly friend's 
father, succeeded to his little estate, of twenty acres, by the death 
of his elder brother, in the time of best war prices, after he had 
passed some years as a shopman in a great seaport. His first use 
of it was to sell it, and set up a shop in Duxmoor, to the great 
scandal of his farmer neighbours. When John slept with his 
fathers, Joseph, having succeeded to the shop and savings, began 
to buy land and lend money. Between shop credit to the five- 
acred and mortgages to the forty-acred men, with a little luck in 
the way of the useful sons of the freeholders being constantly en- 
listed for soldiers, impressed for sailors, or convicted for poaching 
offences, in the course of years Joseph Lobbit became possessed, 
not only of his paternal freehold, but, acre by acre, of all his 
neighbours' holdings, to the extent of something like five hundred 
acres. The original owners vanished ; the stout and young de- 
parted, and were seen no more ; the old and decrepit were received 
and kindly housed in the workhouse* Of course it could not have 



OF ENGLAND. 345 

been part of Mr. Lobbies bargain to find them board and lodging 
for the rest of their days at the parish expense. A few are said to 
have drunk themselves to death ; but this is improbable, for the 
cider in that part of the country is extremely sour, so that it is 
more likely they died of colic. 

"There was, however, in the very centre of the cluster of free- 
holds which the parochial dignitary had so successfully acquired, 
a small barren plot of five acres with a right of road through the 
rest of the property. The possessor of this was a sturdy fellow, 
John Bodger by name, who was neither to be coaxed nor bullied 
into parting with his patrimony. 

"John Bodger was an only son, a smart little fellow, a capital 
thatcher, a good hand at cobhouse building in fact a handy man. 
Unfortunately, he was as fond of pleasure as his betters. He sang 
a comic song till peoples' eyes ran over, and they rolled on their 
seats : he handled a singlestick very tidily ; and, among the light 
weights, was not to be despised as a wrestler. He always knew 
whore a hare was to be found ; and, when the fox.-hounds were out, 
to hear his view-halloo did your heart good. These tastes were 
expensive; so that when he came into his little property, although 
he worked with tolerable industry, and earned good wages for that 
part of the country, he never had a shilling to the fore, as the Irish 
say. If he had been a prudent man, he might have laid by some- 
thing very snug, and defied Mr. Lobbit to the end of his days. 

" It would take too long to tell all Joseph Lobbies ingenious de- 
vices after plain, plump offers to buy Bodger' s acres had been 
refused. John Bodger declined a loan to buy a cart and horse ; 
he refused to take credit or a new hat, umbrella, and waistcoat, 
after losing his money at Bidecot Fair. He went on steadily 
slaving at his bit of land, doing all the best thatching and build- 
ing jobs in the neighbourhood, spending his money, and enjoying 
himself without getting into any scrapes ; until Mr. Joseph Lobbit, 
completely foiled, began to look on John Bodger as a personal 
enemy. 

"Just when John and his neighbours were rejoicing over the de- 
feat of the last attempt of the jolly parochial, an accident occurred 
which upset all John's prudent calculations. He fell in love. 

23 



340 THE WHITE SLAVES 

He might have married Dorothy Paulson, the blacksmith's daugh- 
ter an only child, with better than two hundred pounds in the 
bank, and a good business a virtuous, good girl, too, except that 
she was as thin as a hurdle, with a skin like a nutmeg-grater, and 
rather a bad temper. But instead of that, to the surprise of every 
one, he went and married Carry Hutchins, the daughter of Widow 
Hutchins, one of the little freeholders bought out by Mr. Lobbit, 
who died, poor old soul, the day after she was carried into the 
workhouse, leaving Carry and her brother Tom destitute that is 
to say, destitute of goods, money, or credit, but not of common 
sense, good health, good looks, and power of earning wages. 

" Carry was nearly a head taller than John, with a face like a 
ripe pear. He had to buy her wedding gown, and every thing 
else. He bought thematLobbit's shop. Tom Hutchins he was 
fifteen years old a tall, spry lad, accepted five shillings from his 
brother-in-law, hung a small bundle on his bird's-nesting stick, 
and set off to walk to Bristol, to be a sailor. He was never heard 
of any more at Duxmoor. 

"At first all went well. John left off going to wakes and fairs, 
except on business ; stuck to his trades ; brought his garden into 
good order, and worked early and late, when he could spare time, 
at his two fields, while his wife helped him famously. If they had 
had a few pounds in hand, they would have had ' land and beeves/ 

" But the first year twins came a boy and girl ; and the next 
another girl, and then twins again, and so on. Before Mrs. Bod- 
ger was thirty she had nine hearty, healthy children, with a fair 
prospect of plenty more ; while John was a broken man, soured, 
discontented, hopeless. No longer did h^ stride forth eagerly to 
his work, after kissing mother and babies ; no longer did he hurry 
home to put a finishing-stroke to the potato-patch, or broadcast 
his oat crop ; no longer did he sit whistling and telling stories of 
bygone feats at the fireside, while mending some wooden imple- 
ment of his own, or making one for a neighbour. Languid and 
moody, he lounged to his task with round shoulders and slouching 
gait ; spoke seldom when he did, seldom kindly. His children, 
except the youngest, feared him, and his wife scarcely opened her 
lips, except to answer. 



OF ENGLAND. 347 

" A long, hard, severe winter, and a round of typhus fever, 
which carried off two children, finished him. John Bodger was 
beaten, and obliged to sell his bit of land. He had borrowed 
money on it from the lawyer ; while laid up with fever he had 
silently allowed his wife to run up a bill at ' The Shop.* When 
strong enough for work there was no work to be had. Lobbit saw 
his opportunity, and took it. John Bodger wanted to buy a cow, 
he wanted seed, he wanted to pay the doctor, and to give his boys 
clothes to enable them to go to service. He sold his land for what 
he thought would do all this and leave a few pounds in hand. 
He attended to sign the deed and receive money ; when instead of 
the balance of twenty-five pounds he had expected, he received 
one pound ten shillings, and a long lawyer's bill receipted. 

He did not say much; for poor countrymen don't know how to 
talk to lawyers, but he went toward home like a drunken man ; 
and, not hearing the clatter of a horse behind him that had run 
away, was knocked down, run over, and picked up with his collar- 
bone and two ribs broken. 

The next day he was delirious ; in the course of a fortnight he 
came to his senses, lying on a workhouse bed. Before he could 
rise from the workhouse bed, not a stick or stone had been left to 
tell where the cottage of his fathers had stood for more than two 
hundred years, and Mr. Joseph Lobbit had obtained, in auctioneer- 
ing phrase, a magnificent estate of five hundred acres within a 
ring fence. 

"John Bodger stood up at length a ruined, desperate, dangerous 
man, pale, and weak, and even humble. He said nothing ; the 
fever seemed to have tamed every limb every feature except 
his eyes, which glittered like an adder's when Mr. Lobbit came to 
talk to him. Lobbit saw it and trembled in his inmost heart, yet 
was ashamed of being afraid of a pauper I 

"About this time Swing fires made their appearance in the 
country, and the principal insurance companies refused to insure 
farming stock, to the consternation of Mr. Lobbit; for he had 
lately begun to suspect that among Mr. Swing's friends he was 
not very popular, yet he had some thousand pounds of corn-stacks 
in his own yards and those of his customers. 



348 THE WHITE SLAVES 

"John Bodger, almost convalescent, was anxious to leave the 
poorhouse, while the master, the doctor, and every official, seemed 
in a league to keep him there and make him comfortable, although 
a short time previously the feeling had been quite different. But 
the old rector of Duxmoor having died at the early age of sixty- 
six, in spite of his care for his health, had been succeeded by a 
man who was not content to leave his duties to deputies ; all the 
parish affairs underwent a keen criticism, and John and his large 
family came under investigation. His story came out. The new 
rector pitied and tried to comfort him ; but his soothing words 
fell on deaf ears. The only answer he could get from John was, 
'A hard life while it lasts, sir, and a pauper's grave, a pauper 
widow, pauper children ; Parson, while this is all you can offer 
John Bodger, preaching to him is of no use/ 

" With the wife the clergyman was more successful. Hope and 
belief are planted more easily in the hearts of women than of men, 
for adversity softens the one and hardens the other. The rector 
was not content with exhorting the poor ; he applied to the rich 
Joseph Lobbit on behalf of John Bodger's family, and as the rec- 
tor was not only a truly Christian priest, but a gentleman of good 
family and fortune, the parochial ruler was obliged to hear and 
to heed. 

" Bland and smooth, almost pathetic, was Joseph Lobbit : he 
was ' heartily sorry for the poor man and his large family ; should 
be happy to offer him and his wife permanent employment on 
his Hill farm, as well as two of the boys and one of the girls/ 

" The eldest son and daughter, the first twins, had been for some 
time in respectable service. John would have nothing to do with 
Mr. Lobbit. 

" While this discussion was pending, the news of a ship at 
Plymouth waiting for emigrants, reached Duxmoor. 

" The parson and the great shopkeeper were observed in a long 
warm conference in the rectory garden, which ended in their 
shaking hands, and the rector proceeding with rapid strides to the 
poorhouse. 

" The same day the lately established girls' school was set to 
work sewing garments of all sizes, as well as the females of the 



OF ENGLAND. 349 

rector's family. A week afterward there was a stir in the vil- 
lage ; a wagon moved slowly away, laden with a father, mother, 
and large family, and a couple of pauper orphan girls. Yes, it 
was true ; John and Carry Bodger were going to ' furrin parts/ 
* to be made slaves on/ The women cried, and so did the children 
from imitation. The men stared. As the emigrants passed the 
Red Lion there was an attempt at a cheer from two tinkers ; but 
it was a failure ; no one joined in. So staring and staring, the 
men stood until the wagon crept round the turn of the lane and 
over the bridge, out of sight ; then bidding the ' wives' go home 
and be hanged to 'em, their lords, that had two-pence, went in to 
spend it at the Red Lion, and those who had not, went in to see 
the others drink, and talk over John Bodger' s ' bouldness/ and 
abuse Muster Lobbit quietly, so that no one in top-boots should 
hear them ; for they were poor ignorant people in Duxmoor 
they had no one to teach them, or to care for them, and after the 
fever, and a long hard winter, they cared little for their own flesh 
and blood, still less for their neighbours. So John Bodger was 
forgotten almost before he was out of sight. 

"By the road-wagon which the Bodgers joined when they 
reached the highway, it was a three days' journey to Plymouth. 

" But, although they were gone, Mr. Lobbit did not feel quite 
satisfied ; he felt afraid lest John should return and do him some 
Becret mischief. He wished to see him on board ship, and fairly 
under sail. Besides his negotiation with Emigration Brokers had 
opened up ideas of a new way of getting rid, not only of dangerous 
fellows like John Bodger, but of all kinds of useless paupers. 
These ideas he afterward matured, and although important 
changes have taken place in our emigrating system, even in 1851, 
a visit to government ships, will present many specimens of parish 
inmates converted, by dexterous diplomacy, into independent 
labourers. 

" Thus it was, that contrary to all precedent, Mr. Lobbit left 
his shopman to settle the difficult case of credit with his Christmas 
customers, and with best horse made his way to Plymouth ; and 
now for the first time in his life floated on salt water. 

" With many grunts and groans he climbed the ship's side ; not 
P 



350 THE WHITE SLAVES 

being as great a man at Plymouth as at Duxmoor, no chair was 
lowered to receive his portly person. The mere fact of having to 
climb up a rope-ladder from a rocking boat on a breezy, freezing 
day, was not calculated to give comfort or confident feelings to an 
elderly gentleman. With some difficulty, not without broken 
shins, amid the sarcastic remarks of groups of wild Irishmen, and 
the squeaks of bare-footed children who not knowing his awful 
parochial character, tumbled about Mr. Lobbit's legs in a most 
impertinently familiar manner he made his way to the captain's 
cabin, and there transacted some mysterious business with the 
Emigration Agent over a prime piece of mess beef and a glass of 
Madeira. The Madeira warmed Mr. Lobbit. The captain assured 
him positively that the ship would sail with the evening tide. 
That assurance removed a heavy load from his breast : he felt like 
a man who had been performing a good action, and also cheated 
himself into believing that he had been spending his own money 
in charity ; so, at the end of the second bottle, he willingly chimed 
in with the broker's proposal to go down below and see how the 
emigrants were stowed, and have a last look at his ' lot.' 

" Down the steep ladder they stumbled into the misery of a 
' bounty' ship. A long, dark gallery, on each side of which were 
ranged the berths ; narrow shelves open to every prying eye ; 
where, for four months, the inmates were to be packed like her- 
rings in a barrel, without room to move, almost without air to 
breathe ; the mess table, running far aft the whole distance be- 
tween the masts, left little room for passing, and that little was 
encumbered with all manner of boxes, packages, and infants, 
crawling about like rabbits in a warren. 

" The groups of emigrants were characteristically employed. 
The Irish ' coshering,' or gossiping ; for, having little or no bag- 
gage to look after, they had little care ; but lean and ragged, 
monopolized almost all the good-humour of the ship. Acute cock- 
neys, a race fit for every change, hammering, whistling, screwing 
and making all snug in their berths ; tidy mothers, turning with 
despair from alternate and equally vain attempts to collect their 
numerous children out of danger, and to pack the necessaries of 
a room into the space of a small cupboard, wept and worked away. 



OF ENGLAND. 851 

Here, a ruined tradesman, with his family, sat at the table, din- 
nerless, having rejected the coarse, tough salt meat in disgust: 
there, a half-starved group fed heartily on rations from the same 
cask, luxuriated over the allowance of grog, and the idea of such 
a good meal daily. Songs, groans, oaths: crying, laughing, coin- 
plaining, hammering and fiddling combined to produce a chaos of 
strange sounds ; while thrifty wives, with spectacle on nose, 
mended their husband's breeches, and unthrifty ones scolded. 

"Amid this confusion, under the authoritative guidance of the 
second mate, Mr. Lobbit made his way, inwardly calculating how 
many poachers, pauper refractories, "Whiteboys, and Captain 
Hocks, were about to benefit Australia by their talents, until he 
reached a party which had taken up its quarters as far as possible 
from the Irish, in a gloomy corner near the stern. It consisted 
of a sickly, feeble woman, under forty, but worn, wasted, retaining 
marks of former beauty in a pair of large, dark, speaking eyes, 
and a well-carved profile, who was engaged in nursing two 
chubby infants, evidently twins, while two little things, just able 
to walk, hung at her skirts ; a pale, thin boy, nine or ten years 
old, was mending a jacket ; an elder brother, as brown as a berry, 
fresh from the fields, was playing dolefully on a hemlock flute. 
The father, a little, round-shouldered man, was engaged in cut- 
ting wooden buttons from a piece of hard wood with his pocket- 
knife ; when he caught sight of Mr. Lobbit he hastily pulled off 
his coat, threw it into his berth, and, turning his back, worked 
away vigorously at the stubborn laift of oak he was carving. 

" ' Hallo, John Bodger, so here you are at last/ cried Mr. Lob- 
bit ; ' I've broken my shins, almost broken my neck, and spoilt 
my coat with tar and pitch, in finding you out. Well, you're 
quite at home, I see : twins all well ? both pair of them ? How 
do you find yourself, Missis ?' 

" The pale woman sighed, and cuddled her babies the little 
man said nothing, but sneered, and made the chips fly faster. 

" 'You're on your way now to a country where twins are no ob- 
ject; your passage is paid, and you've only got now to pray for 
the good gentlemen that have given you a chance of earning an 
honest living.' 



352 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" No answer. 

" ' I see them all here except Mary, the young lady of the 
family. Pray, has she taken rue, and determined to stay in 
England, after all ; I expected as much' 

" As he spoke, a young girl, in the neat dress of a parlour ser- 
yant, came out of the shade. 

" ' Oh ! you are there, are you, Miss Mary ? So you have made 
up your mind to leave your place and Old England, to try your 
luck in Australia ; plenty of husbands there : ha, ha !' 

"The girl blushed, and sat down to sew at some little garments. 
Fresh, rosy, neat, she was as great a contrast to her .brother, the 
"brown, ragged ploughboy, as he was to the rest of the family, 
with their flabby, bleached complexions. 

" There was a pause. The mate, having done his duty by find- 
ing the parochial dignitary's proteges, had slipped away to more 
important business ; a chorus of sailors ' yo heave ho-ing' at a 
chain cable had ceased, and for a few moments, by common con- 
sent, silence seemed to have taken possession of the long, dark 
gallery of the hold. 

" Mr. Lobbit was rather put out by the silence, and no answers ; 
he did not feel so confident as when crowing on his own dunghill, 
in Duxmoor ; he had a vague idea that some one might steal be- 
hind him in the dark, knock his hat over his eyes, and pay off old 
scores with a hearty kick : but parochial dignity prevailed, and, 
clearing his throat with a ' hem,' he began again 

"' John Bodger, where's your coat? what are you shivering 
there for, in your sleeves ? what have you done with the excel- 
lent coat generously presented to you by the parish a coat that 
cost, as per contract, fourteen shillings and fourpence you have 
not dared to sell it, I hope ?' 

" ' Well, Master Lobbit, and if I did, the coat was my own, I 
suppose ?' 

"'What, sir?' 

" The little man quailed ; he had tried to pluck up his spirit, 
but the blood did not flow fast enough. He went to his berth and 
brought out the coat. 

" It was certainly a curious colour, a sort of yellow brown, the 



OP ENGLAND. 353 

cloth shrunk and cockled up, and the metal buttons turned a 
dingy black. 

" Mr. Lobbit raved ; ' a new coat entirely spoiled, what had he 
done to it?' and as he raved he warmed, and felt himself at home 
again, deputy acting chairman of the Duxmoor Vestry. But the 
little man, instead of being frightened, grew red, lost his humble 
mien, stood up, and at length, when his tormentor paused for 
breath, looked him full in the face, and cried, ' Hang your coat ! 
hang you ! hang all the parochials of Duxmoor ! What have 
I done with your coat ? Why, I've dyed it ; I've dipped it in a 
tan-yard ; I was not going to carry your livery with me. I mean 
to have the buttons off before I'm an hour older. Gratitude you 
talk of; thanks you want, you old hypocrite, for sending me 
away. I'll tell you what sent me, it was that poor wench and 
her twins, and a letter from the office, saying they would not in- 
sure your ricks, while lucifer matches are so cheap. Ay, you may 
stare you wonder who told me that ; but I can tell you more. 
Who is it writes so like his father the bank can't tell the dif- 
ference ?' 

" Mr. Lobbit turned pale. 

" ' Be off!' said the little man ; 'plague us no more. "54m have 
eaten me up with your usury ; you've got my cottage and my bit 
of land ; you've made paupers of us all, except that dear lass, 
and the one lad, and you'd wellnigh made a convict of me. But 
never mind. This will be a cold, drear Christmas to us, and a 
merry, fat one to you ; but, perhaps, the Christmas may come 
when Master Joseph Lobbit would be glad to change places with 
poor, ruined John Bodger. I am going where I am told that sons 
and daughters like mine are better than " silver, yea, than fine 
gold." I leave you rich on the poor man's inheritance, and poor 
man's flesh and blood. You have a son and daughter that will 
revenge me. " Cursed are they that remove landmarks, and de- 
vour the substance of the poor !" ' 

" While this, one of the longest speeches that John Bodger was 
ever known to make, was being delivered, a little crowd had col- 
lected, who, without exactly understanding the merits of the 
case, had no hesitation in taking side with their fellow-passenger, 



354 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the poor man with the large family. The Irish began to inquire 
if the stout gentleman was a tithe-proctor or a driver ? Murmurs 
of a suspicious character arose, in the midst of which, in a very 
hasty, undignified manner, Mr. Lobbit backed out, climbed up to 
the deck with extraordinary agility, and, without waiting to make 
any complaints to the officers of the ship, slipped down the side 
into a boat, and never felt himself safe, until called to his senses 
by an attempt on the part of the boatman to exact four times the 
regular fare. 

" But a good dinner at the Globe (at parochial expense) and a 
report from the agent that the ship had sailed, restored Mr. Lob- 
bit's equanimity ; and by the time that, snugly packed in the 
mail, he was rattling along toward home by a moonlight Christ- 
mas, he began to think himself a martyr to a tender heart, and 
to console himself by calculating the value of the odd corner of 
Bodger's acres, cut up into lots for his labourers' cottages. The 
result fifty per cent. proved a balm to his wounded feelings. 

" I wish I could say that at the same hour John Bodger was 
comforting his wife and little ones ; sorry am I to report that he 
left them to weep and complain, while he went forward and 
smoked^his pipe, and sang, and drank grog with a jolly party in 
the forecastle -for John's heart was hardened, and he cared little 
for God or man. 

" This old, fond love for his wife and children seemed to have 
died away. He left them, through the most part of the voyage, 
to shift for themselves sitting forward, sullenly smoking, looking 
into vacancy, and wearying the sailors with asking, ' How many 
knots to-day, Jack ? When do you think we shall see land ?' So 
that the women passengers took a mortal dislike to him ; and it 
being gossiped about that when his wife was in the hospital he 
never went to see her for two days, they called him a brute. So 
'Bodger the Brute' he was called until the end of the voyage. 
Then they were all dispersed, and such stories driven out of mind 
by new scenes. 

"John was hired to go into the far interior, where it was diffi- 
cult to get free servants at all ; so his master put up with the 
dead-weight encumbrance of the babies, in consideration of the 



OF ENGLAND. 355 

clever wife and string of likely lads. Thus, in a new country, 
he began life again in a blue jersey and ragged corduroys, but with 
the largest money income he had ever known." 

The second scene is a picture of John Bodger's pros- 
perity in Australia, where eviction and workhouses are 
forgotten. If Australia had not been open to John as 
a refuge, most probably he would have become a crimi- 
nal, or a worthless vagrant. Here is the second 
scene : 

" In 1842, my friend Mrs. C. made one of her marches through 
the bush with an army of emigrants. These consisted of parents 
with long families, rough, country-bred single girls, with here 
and there a white-handed, useless young lady the rejected ones 
of the Sydney hirers. In these marches she had to depend for 
the rations of her ragged regiment on the hospitality of the set- 
tlers on her route, and was never disappointed, although it often 
happened that a day's journey was commenced without any dis- 
tinct idea of who would furnish the next dinner and breakfast. 

" On one of these foraging excursions starting at day-dawn 
on horseback, followed by her man Friday, an old lag, (prisoner,) 
in a light cart, to carry the provender she went forth to look for 
the flour, milk, and mullet, for the breakfast of a party whose 
English appetites had been sharpened by travelling at the pace 
of the drays all day, and sleeping in the open air all night. 

" The welcome smoke of the expected station was found ; the 
light cart, with the complements and empty sack despatched; 
when musing, at a foot-pace, perhaps on the future fortune of the 
half-dozen girls hired out the previous day, Mrs. C. came upon a 
small party which had also been encamping on the other side of 
the hills. 

"It consisted of two gawky lads, in docked smock frocks, 
woolly hats, rosy, sleepy countenances fresh arrivals, living 
monuments of the care bestowed in developing the intelligence 



356 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of the agricultural mind in England. They were hard at work 
on broiled mutton. A regular, hard-dried bushman had just 
driven up a pair of blood mares from their night's feed, and a 
white-headed, brisk kind of young old man, the master of the 
party, was sitting by the fire, trying to feed an infant with some 
sort of mess compounded with sugar. A dray, heavily laden, 
with a bullock-team ready harnessed, stood ready to start under 
the charge of a bullock-watchman. 

" The case was clear to a colonial eye ; the white-headed man 
had been down to the port from his bush-farm to sell his stuff, 
and was returning with two blood mares purchased, and two emi- 
grant lads hired ; but what was the meaning of the baby ? "We 
see strange things in the bush, but a man-nurse is strange even 
there. 

"Although they had never met before, the white-headed man 
almost immediately recognised Mrs. C., for who did not know 
her, or of her, in the bush ? so was more communicative than 
he otherwise might have been ; so he said 

" ' You see, ma'am, my lady, I have only got on my own place 
these three years ; having a long family, we found it best to dis- 
perse about where the best wages was to be got. We began sav- 
ing the first year, and my daughters have married pretty well, 
and my boys got to know the ways of the country. There's three 
of them married, thanks to your ladyship; so we thought we 
could set up for ourselves. And we've done pretty tidy. So, as 
they were all busy at home, I went down for the first time to get 
a couple of mares, and see about hiring some lads out of the ships 
to help us. You see I have picked up two newish ones ; I have 
docked their frocks to a useful length, and I think they'll do 
after a bit ; they can't read, neither of them no more could I 
when I first came but our teacher (she's one my missis had 
from you) will soon fettle them ; and I've got a power of things 
on the dray ; I wish you could be there at unloading ; for it being 
my first visit, I wanted something for all of them. But about 
this babby is a curious job. When I went aboard the ship to 
hire my shepherds, I looked out for some of my own country ; 
and while I was asking, I heard of a poor woman whose husband 



OF ENGLAND. 357 

had been drowned in a drunken fit on the voyage, that was lying 
very ill, with a young babby, and not likely to live. 

" ' Something made me go to see her ; she had no friends on 
board, she knew no one in the colony. She started, like, at my 
voice ; one word brought on another, when it came out she was 
the wife of the son of my greatest enemy. 

" ' She had been his father's servant, and married the son se- 
cretly. When it was found out, he had to leave the country ; 
thinking that once in Australia, the father would be reconciled, 
and the business that put her husband in danger might be 
settled. For this son was a wild, wicked man, worse than the 
father, but with those looks and ways that take the hearts of poor 
lasses. Well, as we talked, and I questioned her for she did not 
seem so ill as they had told me she began to ask me who I was, 
and I did not want to tell ; when I hesitated, she guessed, and 
cried out, ' What, John Bodger, is it thee !' and with that she 
screamed, arid screamed, and went off quite light-headed, and 
never came to her senses until she died. 

" ' So, as there was no one to care for the poor little babby, and 
as we had such a lot at home, what with my own children and my 
grandchildren, I thought one more would make no odds, so the 
gentleman let me take it, after I'd seen the mother decently 
buried. 

"'You see this feeding's a very awkward job, ma'am and 
I've been five days on the road. But I think my missis will be 
pleased as much as with the gown I've brought her/ 

" ' What,' said Mrs. C., ' are you the John Bodger that came 
over in the ' Cassandra/ the John B. ?' 

" ' Yes, ma'am/ 

"'John, the Brute?' 

" ' Yes, ma'am. But I'm altered, sure-?y/ 

" ' Well,' continued John, ' the poor woman was old Joseph 
Lobbit's daughter-in-law. Her husband had been forging, or 
something, and would have been lagged if he'd staid in England. 
I don't know but I might have been as bad if I had not got out 
of the country when I did. But there's something here in always 
getting on ; and not such a struggling and striving that softens a 
P* 



358 THE WHITE SLAVES 

poor man's heart. And I trust what I've done for this poor 
babby and its mother may excuse my brutish behaviour. I 
could not help thinking when I was burying poor Jenny Lobbit, 
(I mind her well, a nice little lass, about ten years old,) I could 
not help thinking as she lay in a nice, cloth-covered coffin, and a 
beautiful stone cut with her name and age, and a text on her 
grave, how different it is even for poor .people to be buried here. 
Oh, ma'am ! a man like me, with a long family, can make ahead 
here, and do a bit of good for others worse off. We live while we 
live ; when we die we are buried with decency. I remember, 
when my wife's mother died, the parish officers were so cross, and 
the boards of the coffin barely stuck together, and it was terrible 
cold weather, too. My Carry used to cry about it uncommonly 
all the winter. The swells may say what they like about it, but 
I'll be blessed if it be'ent worth all the voyage to die in it.' 

" Not many days afterward, Mrs. C. saw John at home, sur- 
rounded by an army of sons and daughters ; a patriarch, and 
yet not sixty years old ; the grandchild of his greatest enemy the 
greatest pet of the family. 

" In my mind's eye there are sometimes two pictures. John 
Bodger in the workhouse, thinking of murder and fire-raising in 
the presence of his prosperous enemy ; and John Bodger, in his 
happy bush-home, nursing little Nancy Lobbit. 

" At Duxmoor the shop has passed into other hands. The ex- 
shopkeeper has bought and rebuilt the manor-house. He is the 
squire, now, wealthier than ever he dreamed ; on one estate a 
mine has been found ; a railway has crossed and doubled the 
value of another ; but his son is dead ; his daughter has left him, 
and lives, he knows not where, a life of shame. Childless and 
friendless, the future is, to him, cheerless and without hope." 

Poor-law guardians are characters held in very low- 
esteem by the Irish serfs, who are not backward in 
expressing their contempt. The feeling is a natural one, 
as will appear from considering who those guardians 
generally are, and how they perform their duties : 



OF ENGLAND. 359 

"At the introduction of the poor-law into Ireland, the work- 
houses were built by means of loans advanced by the Government 
on the security of the rates. Constructed generally in that style 
of architecture called ' Elizabethan/ they were the most imposing 
in the country in elevation and frequency, and, placed usually in 
the wretched suburbs of towns and villages, formed among the 
crumbling and moss-grown cottages, a pleasing contrast in the 
eye of the tourist. They were calculated to accommodate from 
five hundred to two thousand inmates, according to the area and 
population of the annexed district ; but some of them remained 
for years altogether closed, or, if open, nearly unoccupied, owing 
to the ingenious shifts of the ' Guardians/ under the advice of the 
' Solicitor of the Board/ Their object was to economize the re- 
sources of the Union, to keep the rates down, and in some in- 
stances they evaded the making of any rate for years after the 
support of the destitute was made nominally imperative by the 
law of the land. 

" As there was a good deal of patronage in a small way placed 
at the disposal of the ' Guardians/ great anxiety was manifested 
by those eligible to the office. Most justices of the peace were, 
indeed, ipso facto, Guardians, but a considerable number had to 
be elected by the rate-payers, and an active canvass preceded 
every election. A great deal of activity and conviviality, if not 
gayety, was the result, and more apparently important affairs were 
neglected by many a farmer, shopkeeper, and professional man, 
to insure his being elected a ' Guardian/ while the unsuccessful 
took pains to prove their indifference, or to vent their ill-humour 
in various ways, sometimes causing less innocuous effects than 
the following sally: 

" At a certain court of quarter sessions, during the dog-day heat 
of one of these contests, a burly fellow was arraigned before 
'their worships' and the jury, charged with some petty theft; 
and as he perceived that the proofs were incontestably clear 
against him, he fell into a very violent trepidation. An attorney 
of the court, not overburdened with business, and fond of occu- 
pying his idle time in playing off practical jokes, perceiving how 
the case stood, addressed the prisoner in a whisper oyer the side 



360 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of the dock, with a very ominous and commiserating shake of his 
head: 

" 'Ah, you unfortunate man, ye'll be found guilty; and as sure 
as ye are, ye'll get worse than hangin' or thransportation. As 
sure as ever the barristher takes a pinch of snuff, that's his inten- 
tion; ye'll see him put on the black cap immaydiately. Plaid 
guilty at once, and I'll tell ye what ye'll say to him afther/ 

" The acute practitioner knew his man ; the poor half-witted 
culprit fell into the snare ; and after a short and serious whisper- 
ing between them, which was unobserved in the bustle of the 
court-house usual on such occasions, the prisoner cried out, just 
as the issue-paper was going up to the jury, ' Me lord, me lord, I 
plaid guilty ; I beg your wortchip's an' their honours' pardon. 

" ' Very well/ said the assistant barrister, whose duty it was 
to advise upon the law of each case, and preside at the bench in 
judicial costume ; ' very well, sir. Crier, call silence/ 

"Several voices immediately called energetically for silence, 
impressing the culprit with grave ideas at once of his worship's 
great importance, and the serious nature of the coming sentence. 

" ' Withdraw the plea of not guilty, and take one of guilty to 
the felony/ continued the assistant barrister, taking a pinch of 
snuff and turning round to consult his brother magistrates as to 
the term of intended incarceration. 

" 'Don't lose yer time, ye omodhaun!' said the attorney, with 
an angry look at the prisoner. 

" 'Will I be allowed to spake one word, yef wortchips?' said 
the unfortunate culprit. 

" 'What has he to say?' said the assistant barrister with con- 
siderable dignity. 

'"Go on, ye fool ye/ urged the attorney. 

" ' My lord, yer wortchips, and gintlemin av the jury/ exclaimed 
the culprit, ' sind me out o' the counthry, or into jail, or breakin' 
stones, or walkin' on the threadmill, or any thing else in the 
coorse o' nature, as yer wortchips playses ; but for the love o' the 
Virgin Mary, don't make me a Poor-Law Gargin.' "* 

* Household Words. 



OF ENGLAND. 361 

The most recent legislation of the British government 
in regard to Ireland, the enactment of the Poor-law 
and the Encumbered Estates Act, has had but one grand 
tendency that of diminishing the number of the popu- 
lation, which is, indeed, a strange way to improve the 
condition of the nation. The country was not too 
thickly populated ; far from it : great tracts of land 
were entirely uninhabited. The exterminating acts 
were, therefore, only measures of renewed tyranny. To 
enslave a people is a crime of sufficient enormity; but 
to drive them from the homes of their ancestors to seek 
a refuge in distant and unknown lands, is such an action 
as only the most monstrous of governments would dare 
to perform. 

We have thus shown that Ireland has long endured, 
and still endures, a cruel system of slavery, for which 
we may seek in vain for a parallel. It matters not 
that the Irish serf may leave his country ; while he 
remains he is a slave to a master who will not call him 
property, chiefly because it would create the necessity 
of careful and expensive ownership. If the Irish mas- 
ter took his labourer for his slave in the American 
sense, he would be compelled to provide for him, work 
or not work, in sickness and in old age. Thus the 
master reaps the benefits, and escapes the penalties of 
slave-holding. He takes the fruits of the labourer's 
toil without providing for him as the negro slaves of 

America are provided for ; nay, very often he refuses 

84 



862 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the poor wretch a home at any price. In no other 
country does the slaveholder seem so utterly reckless 
in regard to human life as in Ireland. After draining 
all possible profit from his labourer's service he turns 
him forth as a pauper, to get scant food if workhouse 
officials choose to give it, and if not, to starve by the 
wayside. The last great famine was the direct result 
of this accursed system of slavery. It was oppression 
of the worst kind that reduced the mass of the people 
to depend for their subsistence upon the success or 
failure of the potato crop ; and the horrors that fol- 
lowed the failure of the crop were as much the results 
of misgovernment as the crimes of the French Revolu- 
tion were the consequences of feudal tyranny, too long 
endured. Can England ever accomplish sufficient 
penance for her savage treatment of Ireland ? 

Some English writers admit that the degradation of 
the Irish and the wretched condition of the country 
can scarcely be overdrawn, but seek for the causes of 
this state of things in the character of the people. 
But why does the Irishman work, prosper, and achieve 
wealth and position under every other government but 
that of Ireland? This would not be the case if there 
was any thing radically wrong in the Irish nature. In 
the following extract from an article in the Edin- 
burgh Review, we have a forcible sketch of the con- 
dition of Ireland, coloured somewhat to suit English 
views : 



OP ENGLAND. 363 

" It is obvious that the insecurity of a community in which the 
bulk of the population form a conspiracy against the law, must 
prevent the importation of capital ; must occasion much of what 
is accumulated there to be exported ; and must diminish the mo- 
tives and means of accumulation. Who will send his property to 
a place where he cannot rely on its being protected ? "Who will 
voluntarily establish himself in a country which to-morrow may 
be in a state of disturbance ? A state in which, to use the words 
of Chief Justice Bushe, ' houses and barns and granaries are 
levelled, crops are laid waste, pasture-lands are ploughed, planta- 
tions are torn up, meadows are thrown open to cattle, cattle are 
maimed, tortured, killed ; persons are visited by parties of ban- 
ditti, who inflict cruel torture, mutilate their limbs, or beat them 
almost to death. Men who have in any way become obnoxious 
to the insurgents, or opposed their system, or refused to partici- 
pate in their outrages, are deliberately assassinated in the open 
day ; and sometimes the unoffending family are indiscriminately 
murdered by burning the habitation.'* A state in which even 
those best able to protect themselves, the gentry, are forced to 
build up all their lower windows with stone and mortar ; to ad- 
mit light only into one sitting-room, and not into all the windows 
of that room ; to fortify every other inlet by bullet-proof barri- 
cades ; to station sentinels around during all the night and the 
greater part of the day, and to keep firearms in all the bed- 
rooms, and even on the side-table at breakfast and dinner-time.f 
Well might Bishop Doyle exclaim, ' I do not blame the absentees ; 
I would be an absentee myself if I could.' 

" The state of society which has been described may be con- 
sidered as a proof of the grossest ignorance ; for what can be a 
greater proof of ignorance than a systematic opposition to law, 
carried on at the constant risk of liberty and of life, and pro- 

* Charge on the Maryborough Commission, p. 5. Cited in Lewis's 
Irish Disturbances, p. 227. 

f See the evidence of Mr. Blacker, House of Commons' Report on 
the State of Ireland, 1824, p. 75 ; that of Mr. Griffiths, ibid. 232 ; 
and that of Mr. Blacker, House of Lords' Report, 1824, p. 14. 



364 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ducing where it is most successful, in the rural districts, one level 
of hopeless poverty, and in the towns, weeks of high wages and 
months without employment a system in which tremendous 
risks and frightful sufferings are the means, and general misery 
is the result ? The ignorance, however, which marks the greater 
part of the population in Ireland, is not merely ignorance of the 
moral and political tendency of their conduct an ignorance in 
which the lower orders of many more advanced communities par- 
ticipate but ignorance of the businesses which are their daily 
occupations. It is ignorance, not as citizens and subjects, but as 
cultivators and labourers. They are ignorant of the proper rota- 
tion of crops, of the preservation and use of manure in a word, 
of the means by which the land, for which they are ready to 
sacrifice their neighbours' lives, and to risk their own, is to be 
made productive. Their manufactures, such as they are, are 
rude and imperfect, and the Irish labourer, whether peasant or 
artisan, who emigrates to Great Britain, never possesses skill 
sufficient to raise him above the lowest ranks in his trade. 

" Indolence the last of the causes to which we have attributed 
the existing misery of Ireland is not so much an independent 
source of evil as the result of the combination of all others. The 
Irishman does not belong to the races that are by nature averse 
from toil. In England, Scotland, or America he can work hard. 
He is said, indeed, to require more overlooking than the natives 
of any of these countries, and to be less capable, or, to speak 
more correctly, to be less willing to surmount difficulties by pa- 
tient intellectual exertion ; but no danger deters, no disagree- 
ableness disgusts, no bodily fatigue discourages him. 

" But in his own country he is indolent. All who have com- 
pared the habits of hired artisans or of the agricultural labourers 
in Ireland with those of similar classes in England or Scotland, 
admit the inferiority of industry of the former. The indolence 
of the great mass of the people, the occupiers of land, is obvious 
even to the passing traveller. Even in Ulster, the province in 
which, as we have already remarked, the peculiarities of the 
Irish character are least exhibited, not only are the cabins, and 
eren the farm-houses, deformed within and without by accumula- 



OF ENGLAND. 365 

tions of filth, which the least exertion would remove, but the land 
itself is suffered to waste a great portion of its productive power. 
We have ourselves seen field after field in which the weeds 
covered as much space as the crops. From the time that his 
crops are sowed and planted until they are reaped the peasant 
and his family are cowering over the fire, or smoking, or lounging 
before the door, when an hour or two a day employed in weeding 
their potatoes, oats, or flax, would perhaps increase the produce 
by one-third. 

"The indolence of the Irish artisan is sucffiiently accounted- for 
by the combinations which, by prohibiting piece-work, requiring 
all the workmen to be paid by the day and at the same rate, pro- 
hibiting a good workman from exerting himself, have destroyed 
the motives to industry. ' I consider it/ says Mr. Murray, ' a 
very hard rule among them, that the worst workman that ever 
took a tool in his hand, should be paid the same as the best, but 
that is the rule and regulation of the society ; and that there was 
only a certain quantity of work allowed to be done ; so that, if 
one workman could turn more work out of his hands, he durst 
not go on with it. There is no such thing as piece-work ; and if 
a bad man is not able to get through his work, a good workman 
dare not go further than he does.'* 

" The indolence of the agricultural labourer arises, perhaps, 
principally from his labour being almost always day-work, and 
in a great measure a mere payment of debt a mere mode of 
working out his rent. That of the occupier may be attributed to 
a combination of causes. In the first place, a man must be mas- 
ter of himself to a degree not common even among the educated 
classes, before he can be trusted to be his own task-master. 
Even among the British manufacturers^ confessedly the most in- 
dustrious labourers in Europe, those who work in their own 
houses are comparatively idle and irregular, and yet they work 
under the stimulus of certain and immediate gain. The Irish 
occupier, working for a distant object, dependent in some 

* House of Commons' Committee on Combinations, 1838. Ques- 
tions 5872-5876* 



366 THE WHITE SLAVES 

measure on the seasons, and with no one to control or even to 
advise him, puts off till to-morrow what need not necessarily be 
done to-day puts off till next year what need not necessarily "be 
done this year, and ultimately leaves much totally undone. 

" Again, there is no damper so effectual as liability to taxation 
proportioned to the means of payment. It is by this instrument 
that the Turkish government has destroyed the industry, the 
wealth, and ultimately the population of what were once the 
most flourishing portions of Asia perhaps of the world. It is 
thus that the taille ruined the agriculture of the most fertile por- 
tions of France. Now, the Irish occupier has long been subject 
to this depressive influence, and from various sources. The com- 
petition for land has raised rents to an amount which can be paid 
only under favourable circumstances. Any accident throws the 
tenant into an arrear, and the arrear is kept a subsisting charge, 
to be enforced if he should appear capable of paying it. If any 
of the signs of prosperity are detected in his crop, his cabin, his 
clothes, or his food, some old demand may be brought up against 
him. Again, in many districts a practice prevails of letting land 
to several tenants, each of whom is responsible for the whole rent. 
It is not merely the consequence, but the intention, that those who 
can afford to pay should pay for those who cannot. Again, it is 
from taxation, regulated by apparent property, that all the reve- 
nues of the Irish Catholic Church are drawn. The half-yearly 
offerings, the fees on marriages and christenings, and, what 
is more important, the contributions to the priests made on 
those occasions by the friends of the parties, are all assessed by 
public opinion, according to the supposed means of the payer. 
An example of the mode in which this works, occurred a few 
months ago, within our own knowledge. 300 was wanted by a 
loan fund, in a Catholic district in the North of Ireland. In the 
night, one of the farmers, a man apparently poor, came to his land- 
lord, the principal proprietor in the neighbourhood, and offered 
to lend the money, if the circumstance could be kept from his 
priest. His motive for concealment was asked, and he answered, 
that, if the priest knew he had 300 at interest, his dues would 
be doubled. Secrecy was promised, and a stocking was brought 



OF ENGLAND 367 

from its hiding-place in the roof, filled with notes and coin, which 
had been accumulating for years until a secret investment could 
be found. Again, for many years past a similar taxation has ex- 
isted for political purposes. The Catholic rent, the O'Connell 
tribute, and the Repeal rent, like every other tax that is unsanc- 
tioned by law, must be exacted, to a larger or smaller amount, 
from every cottier, or farmer, as he is supposed to be better or 
worse able to provide for them. 

"Who can wonder that the cultivator, who is exposed to these 
influences, should want the industry and economy which give 
prosperity to the small farmer in Belgium ? What motive has he 
for industry and economy ? It may be said that he has the same 
motive in kind, though not in degree, as the inhabitants of a hap- 
pier country ; since the new demand to which any increase of his 
means would expose him probably would not exhaust the whole 
of that increase. The same might be said of the subjects of the 
Pasha. There are inequalities of fortune among the cultivators 
of Egypt, just as there were inequalities in that part of France 
which was under the taille. No taxation ever exhausted the whole 
surplus income of all its victims. But when a man cannot calcu- 
late the extent to which the exaction may go when all he knows 
is, that the more he appears to have the more will be demanded 
when he knows that every additional comfort which he is seen to 
enjoy, and every additional productive instrument which he is 
found to possess, may be a pretext for a fresh extortion, he turns 
careless or sulky he yields to the strong temptation of indolence 
and of immediate excitement and enjoyment he becomes less 
industrious, and therefore produces less he becomes less frugal, 
and therefore, if he saves at all, saves a smaller portion of that 
smaller product." 

For the turbulence of the Irish people, the general 
indolence of the labourers and artisans, and the misery 
that exists, the writer of the above sketch has causes 
worthy of the acuteness of Sir James Graham, or some 
other patent political economist of the aristocracy of 



368 THE WHITE SLAVES 

England. We need not comment. We have only made 
the above quotation to show to what a condition Ireland 
has been reduced, according to the admissions of an 
aristocratic organ of England, leaving the reader ac- 
quainted with the history of English legislation in re- 
gard to the unhappy island to make the most natural 
inferences. 

The ecclesiastical system of Ireland has long been 
denounced as an injury and an insult. As an insult it 
has no parallel in history. Oppression and robbery in 
matters connected with religion have been unhappily 
frequent; but in all other cases the oppressed and 
robbed have been the minority. That one-tenth of the 
population of a great country should appropriate to 
themselves the endowment originally provided for all 
their countrymen ; that, without even condescending to 
inquire whether there were or were not a congregation 
of their own persuasion to profit by them, they should 
seize the revenues of every benefice, should divert them 
from their previous application, and should hand them 
over to an incumbent of their own, to be wasted as a 
sinecure if they were not wanted for the performance 
of a duty this is a treatment of which the contumely 
stings more sharply even than the injustice, enormous 
as that is.* 

The tax of a tithe for the support of a church in 

f Edinburgh Eeview. 



OP ENGLAND. 369 

which they have no faith is a grievance of which Irish 
Catholics, who compose nine-tenths of the population 
of Ireland, complain with the greatest reason. Of 
what benefit to them is a church which they despise ? 
The grand reason for the existence of an established 
church fails under such circumstances. The episcopal 
institutions can communicate no religious instruction, 
because the creed which they sustain is treated with 
contempt. But where is the use of argument in regard 
to this point. The Established Church affords many 
luxurious places for the scions of the aristocracy, and 
there lies the chief purpose of its existence. The op- 
pressive taxation of Catholics to support a Protestant 
church will cease with the aristocracy. 



370 THE WHITE SLAVES 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE MENIAL SLAVES OP GREAT BRITAIN. 

THE spirit of British institutions is nowhere more 
plainly and offensively manifested than in the treat- 
ment which domestic servants receive. The haughty 
bearing, the constant display of supreme contempt, 
and the frequency of downright cruelty on the part of 
the master or mistress, and the complete abasement 
and submission of the servant, have been repeatedly 
subjects of observation, and show clearly that the days 
of "lord and thrall" are vividly remembered in Great 
Britain. In Miss Martineau's " Society in America," 
we find some observations to the point. She says 

" However fascinating to Americans may be the luxury, con- 
versational freedom, and high intellectual cultivation of English 
society, they cannot fail to be disgusted with the aristocratic in- 
solence which is the vice of the whole. The puerile and bar- 
baric spirit of contempt is scarcely known in America ; the 
English insolence of class to class, of individuals toward each 
other, is not even conceived of, except in the one highly disgrace- 
ful instance of the treatment of people of colour. Nothing in 
American civilization struck me so forcibly and so pleasurably 
as the invariable respect paid to man, as man. Nothing since 



OP ENGLAND. 371 

my return to England has given me so much pain as the contrast 
there. Perhaps no Englishman can become fully aware, without 
going to America, of the atmosphere of insolence in which he 
dwells ; of the taint of contempt which infects all the intercourses 
of his world. He cannot imagine how all he can say that is 
truest and best about the treatment of people of colour in Ame- 
rica, is neutralized on the spot by its being understood how the 
same contempt is spread over the whole of society here, which is 
there concentrated upon the blacks/' 

It has been remarked that those who are most sub- 
missive as serfs are the most arrogant and tyrannical 
as lords. In Great Britain, from dukes down to work- 
house officials, the truth of this remark is obvious. 
Each class treats its superior with abject deference, 
and its inferior with overbearing insolence. The corol- 
lary of our quotation from Miss Martineau is that the 
treatment masters give to their negro slaves in America, 
in their common intercourse, is what masters give to 
their servants in Great Britain. In the free States of 
America a master may command his servant, and if 
obedience is refused he may deduct from his wages or 
give him a discharge, but the laws prevent all violence ; 
the man is never forgotten in the servant. Another 
state of affairs is to be found in Great Britain. The 
laws are inadequate in their construction and too costly 
in their administration to protect the poor servant. 
Should he refuse obedience, or irritate his master in 
any way, his punishment is just as likely to be kicks and 
blows as a discharge or a reduction of wages. English- 



372 THE WHITE SLAVES 

men have frequently complained, while doing business 
in the United States, because they were prevented from 
striking refractory persons in their employ. In at- 
tempting to act out their tyrannical ideas, such em- 
ployers have been severely chastised by their free, 
republican servants. 

What the serf of the feudal baron in the twelfth cen- 
tury was, the servant of modern days is, in the eyes of 
the lords and ladies of Great Britain. Between these 
aristocrats and their retainers there, exists no fellow- 
feeling ; the ties of our common brotherhood are 
snapped asunder, and a wide and startling gap inter- 
venes. Implicit obedience to commands, and a sub- 
missive, respectful demeanour on the one hand, are 
repaid by orders given in the most imperative tone, to 
perform the most degrading offices, and by a con- 
temptuous, haughty demeanour on the other hand. In 
the servant the native dignity of our nature is for the 
time broken and crushed. In the master the worst 
passion of our nature is exhibited in all its hideous de- 
formity. The spirit that dictated the expression, <I 
am the porcelain, you are only the common clay,' is not 
confined to the original speaker, but, with few excep- 
tions, is very generally participated in. It is not, 
however, solely by the aristocratic class that the ser- 
vant is treated with such contumely, the fault is largely 
participated in by the middle and working classes. 



OF ENGLAND. 373 

The feelings of the English people are essentially aris- 
tocratic."* 

Until recently an order was placed at the entrance 
to Kensington Gardens, which read as follows : " No 
Dogs or Livery Servants admitted" What more con- 
clusive evidence of the degraded condition of menial 
servants in Great Britain could be obtained. A fellow- 
man, of good character a necessary conclusion from 
his being in a situation is placed on a level with 
brutes. The livery seems as much the badge of slavery 
in the nineteenth century as the collar of iron was in 
the days of baron and villain. It is a bar to the recep- 
tion of a servant in any genteel society, and thus con- 
stantly reminds him of his debased condition. He can 
have but little hope of improving that condition, when 
all intercourse with persons of superior fortune or 
attainments is so effectually prevented. A menial he 
is, and menials must his children be, unless they should 
meet with extraordinary fortune. The following letter 
of a footman recently appeared in the "Times" news- 
paper. It is manly, and to the point. 

" Many articles having appeared in your paper under the term 
' Flunkeyana,' all depreciatory of poor flunkeys, may I be allowed 
to claim a fair and impartial hearing on the other side ? I am a 
footman, a liveried flunkey, a pampered menial terms which 
one Christian employs to another, simply because he is, by the 
Almighty Dispenser of all things, placed, in his wisdom, lower 

* Servants and Servitude, in Hewitt's Journal. 



3T4 THE WHITE SLAVES 

in life than the other. Not yet having seen any defence of 
servants, may I trust to your candour and your generosity to 
insert this humble apology for a set of men constrained by cir- 
cumstances to earn their living by servitude ? The present cry 
seems to be to lower their wages. I will state simply a few broad 
facts. I am a footman in a family in which I have lived thirteen 
years. My master deems my services worth 24 guineas a year. 
The question is, is this too much ? I will strike the average of 
expenditure. I am very economical, it is considered. I find for 
washing I pay near .6 a year ; shoes, 4 10s. ; tea and sugar, 
2 12s. ; wearing apparel, say 4 4s. ; for books I am a reader 
I allow myself 1 7s. You will see this amounts to 18 7s. 
each year. I include nothing for amusement of any kind, but 
say 13s. yearly. I thus account for 19 yearly, leaving 6 for 
savings. One or two other things deserve, I think, a slight no- 
tice. What is the character required of a mechanic or labourer ? 
None. What of a servant ? Is he honest, sober, steady, religious, 
cleanly, active, industrious, an early riser ? Is he married ? Wo 
be to the poor fellow who does not answer yes to this category of 
requests, save the last ! The answer is, Your character does not 
suit ; you will not do for me. Again : does a servant forget him- 
self for once only, and get tipsy ? he is ruined for life. In a 
word, sir, a thorough servant must be sober, steady, honest, and 
single ; he must never marry, must never be absent from his du- 
ties, must attend to his master in sickness or in health, must be 
reviled and never reply, must be young, able, good-tempered, 
and willing, and think himself overpaid if at the year's end he 
has 5s. to put in his pocket. In old age or sickness he may go 
to the workhouse, the only asylum open. In youth he has plenty 
of the best, and can get one service when he leaves another, if 
his character is good ; but when youth deserts him, and age and 
sickness creep on, what refuge is there for him ? No one will 
have him. He is too old for service, that is his answer. In ser- 
vice he is trusted with valuable articles of every description ; and 
in what state of life, whether servant or artisan, surely he who is 
placed in situations of trust deserves a trifle more of recompense 
than is sufficient to pay his way and no more." 



OF ENGLAND. 375 

We have mentioned, in other chapters, some in- 
stances of the cruel treatment of parish children ap- 
prenticed to trades. "We have also evidence that those 
who are bound out as servants are subjected to the most 
brutal tyranny. Occasionally, when the cases become 
so outrageous as to be noised abroad, investigations are 
held ; but these instances are few compared with the 
vast number of cases of cruel treatment of which the 
public are permitted to hear nothing. 

In the latter part of December, 1850, one Mr. Sloane, 
a special pleader, residing in the Middle Temple, was 
guilty of the most frightful cruelty to a servant-girl 
named Jane Wilbred, formerly an inmate of the West 
London Union. The girl, or some of her friends, com- 
plained, and Mr. Sloane was brought before Alderman 
Humphrey, at Guildhall. During the examination, 
evidence of the most brutal treatment of the poor girl 
was given, and such was the nature of the statements 
made on oath that the fury of the people was aroused. 
Mr. Sloane was committed for trial. When he was 
conveyed to the Compter the mob attacked the cab, and 
seemed determined to apply Lynch law. But the 
wretch was safely deposited in prison, through the ex- 
ertions of the police. He was tried, convicted, and 
sentenced to imprisonment ; but whether he served out 
his sentence we are not informed. This was one case 
of punishment for a thousand of impunity. 

So great was the indignation of the people at the de- 



376 THE WHITE SLAVES 

velopments made upon the trial of Sloane, that some 
measure of alleviation in regard to parish apprentices 
and servants was deemed necessary. The Earl of 
Carlisle, (late Lord Morpeth), brought in a bill in the 
House of Commons, the object of which was to compel 
the parish guardians and the binding magistrates to 
watch over and protect the helpless servants and ap- 
prentices. The bill was passed by Parliament ; but it 
is inoperative and ineffectual. Parish guardians are too 
glad to get the children off their hands to take any 
steps which might retard the desired consummation ; 
and the children can easily be prevented from making 
complaints to magistrates by the threats of masters 
and mistresses, and the common fear of consequences. 
In this case, as in all legislation concerning the poor, 
the Parliament of Great Britain has proceeded upon 
the same principle as the physician who applies external 
remedies for diseases which have internal causes. In- 
stead of endeavouring to remove the great causes of 
pauperism the monopolies of the aristocracy it only 
seeks to render the paupers easier in their condition. 

Mr. Mayhew, in his " London Labour and the Lon- 
don Poor," shows that a large number of the vagrants 
of London and other English cities, are young persons 
who have been servants, and have run away in conse- 
quence of ill-treatment. Rather than be constantly 
treated as slaves, the boys prefer to be vagabonds and 
the girls prostitutes. They then enjoy a wild kind of 



OF ENGLAND. 377 

freedom, which, with all its filth and vice, has some 
share of pleasure, unknown to those who move at the 
beck of a master or mistress, and live in constant dread 
of the rod. 

In those countries where society is untainted with 
aristocracy, the servant when performing duties is re- 
spected as a human being with a mind to think and a 
heart to feel one to be reprimanded or discharged 
from service for neglect or positive wrong, but never 
beaten as a soulless beast. In England, the servant, 
to hold a place, must be a most abject, cringing, and 
submissive slave. In some countries, the taint of negro 
blood keeps a man always in the position of an inferior. 
In England, the man of "serf blood," though he be a 
Celt or Saxon, is ever treated as a hind by the man of 
"noble blood;" and the possession of this same "noble 
blood" justifies the most infamous scoundrel in treating 
his domestics, not only with contempt, but positive 
cruelty. Americans have been charged with having an 
undying horror of the negro taint. In England, the 
common blood is just as steadily abhorred by the domi- 
nant class. The slavery of servants their hopeless, 
abject, and demoralizing condition is the result, direct 
and unmistakable, of the existence of the aristocracy. 
When the serfs are completely freed ; when the country 
is no longer ruled by a few thousand persons ; when a 
long line of ancestry and magnificent escutcheons cease 
to dignify imbeciles and blackguards; in short, when 

32* 25 



378 THE WHITE SLAVES 

England takes a few steps upon that glorious path 
which the great American republic has hewn for the 
nations of the earth there will be sure respect for man, 
as man ; and the servants may have some hope of im- 
proving their condition. 



OF ENGLAND. 



3T9 



CHAPTER IX. 

MENTAL AND MORAL CONDITION OF THE WHITE SLAVES 
IN GREAT BRITAIN. 

THE moral degradation and mental darkness of the 
labouring classes in Great Britain in the middle of 
the Nineteenth century, are appalling to contemplate. 
Beneath the wing of a government professedly Chris- 
tian, there is sheltered a vast number of people who 
must be characterized as heathen as fit subjects of 
missionary labours, such as are freely given to the dark 
sons of India and Africa. They know nothing of God 
but his prevailing name ; and the Bible's light is hid 
from them as completely as if its pages were inscribed 
with Egyptian hieroglyphics. Their code of morals is 
the creature of their sensual inclinations ; their intelli- 
gence seemingly the superior instinct of the animal. 
Scotland is far beyond other portions of Great Britain 
in the moral and mental cultivation of its people ; but 
there is a large class in that country to which the above 
observations may be justly applied. 

According to Kay, more than half the poor in Eng- 



380 THE WHITE SLAVES 

land and Wales cannot read and write, while the ma- 
jority of the remainder know nothing of science, his- 
tory, geography, music, or drawing, and very little of 
the Scripture history. In the great mercantile and 
manufacturing towns, it is true that poor men, if they 
defer their marriage, and have no extraordinary encum- 
brances, may improve their condition ; but scarcely 
any facilities are oifered for their acquiring the intelli- 
gence necessary for the control of passion. The schools 
in the towns are wretchedly arranged and managed. 
Many are nothing more than "dame schools," con- 
ducted often in cellars or garrets, by poor women, who 
know how to read, but who often know nothing else. 
The schools for the peasants are still fewer in number, 
and inefficient in character ; and hence the result, that 
the English peasantry are more ignorant and de- 
moralized, less capable of helpirg themselves, and 
more pauperized, than those of any other country in 
Europe, if we except Russia, Turkey, South Italy, and 
some parts of the Austrian Empire. A writer in a 
recent number of " Household Words," makes some 
remarkable statements in regard to the ignorance of 
the English masses : 

" Wherever we turn, ignorance, not always allied to poverty, 
stares us in the face. If we look in the Gazette, at the list of 
partnerships dissolved, not a month passes but some unhappy 
man, rolling perhaps in wealth, but wallowing in ignorance, is put 
to the experimentum crucis of * his mark.* The number of petty 



OF ENGLAND. 381 

jurors in rural districts especially who can only sign with a 
cross is enormous. It is not unusual to see parish documents of 
great local importance defaced with the same humiliating symbol 
by persons whose office shows them to be not only ' men of mark/ 
but men of substance. We have printed already specimens of 
the partial ignorance which passes under the ken of the post- 
office authorities, and we may venture to assert, that such speci- 
mens of penmanship and orthography are not to be matched in 
any other country in Europe. A housewife in humble life need 
only turn to the file of her tradesmen's bills to discover hiero- 
glyphics which render them so many arithmetical puzzles. In 
short, the practical evidences of the low ebb to which the plainest 
rudiments of education in this country has fallen, are too com- 
mon to bear repetition. "We cannot pass through the streets, we 
cannot enter a place of public assembly, or ramble in the fields, 
without the gloomy shadow of Ignorance sweeping over us. The 
rural population is indeed in a worse plight than the other 
classes. We quote with the attestation of our own experience 
the following passage from one of a series of articles which have 
recently appeared in a morning newspaper : ' Taking the adult 
class of agricultural labourers, it is almost impossible to exag- 
gerate the ignorance in which they live and move and have their 
being. As they work in the fields, the external world has some 
hold upon them through the medium of their senses ; but to all 
the higher exercises of intellect they are perfect strangers. You 
cannot address one of them without being at once painfully 
struck with the intellectual darkness which enshrouds him. 
There is in general neither speculation in his eyes nor intelli- 
gence in his countenance. The whole expression is more that of 
an animal than of a man. He is wanting, too, in the erect and 
independent bearing of a man. When you accost him, if he is 
not insolent which he seldom is he is timid and shrinking, his 
whole manner showing that he feels himself at a distance from 
you greater than should separate any two classes of men. He is 
often doubtful when you address, and suspicious when you ques- 
tion him ; he is seemingly oppressed with the interview while it 
lasts, and obviously relieved when it is over. These are the traits 



382 THE WHITE SLAVES 

which I can affirm them to possess as a class, after having come 
in contact with many hundreds of farm labourers. They belong 
to a generation for whose intellectual culture little or nothing was 
done. As a class, they have no amusements beyond the indul- 
gence of sense. In nine cases out of ten, recreation is associated 
in their minds with nothing higher than sensuality. I have fre- 
quently asked clergymen and others, if they often find the adult 
peasant reading for his own or others' amusement? The inva- 
riable answer is, that such a sight is seldom or never witnessed. 
In the first place, the great bulk of them cannot read. In the next, 
a large proportion of those who can, do so with too much diffi- 
culty to admit of the exercise being an amusement to them. 
Again, few of those who can read with comparative ease, have 
the taste for doing so. It is but justice to them to say that many 
of those who cannot read have bitterly regretted, in my hearing, 
their inability to do so. I shall never forget the tone in which an 
old woman in Cornwall intimated to me what a comfort it would 
now be to her could she only read her Bible in her lonely 
hours/ " 

From statistics given by Kay, it is apparent that the 
proportional amount of crime to population, calculated 
in two years, 1841 and 1847, was greater in almost all 
the agricultural counties of England than it was in the 
mining and manufacturing districts. The peasants of 
England must be subjected to a singularly demoralizing 
system to produce so terrible a result. The extreme 
poverty of the agricultural labourers is the great stimu- 
lant to crime of all kinds ; but the darkness of ignorance 
is also a powerful agent. Poverty renders the peasants 
desperate, and they are too ignorant to see the conse- 
quences of crime. 

In a former part of this work, it was mentioned that 



OP ENGLAND. 383 

the miserable cottages in which the peasants are com- 
pelled to reside have considerable influence in demo- 
ralizing them. This deserves to be fully illustrated. 
The majority of the cottages have but two small rooms ; 
in one of which husband and wife, young men and 
young women, boys and girls, and, very often, a mar- 
ried son and his wife all sleep together. Kay says 

"The accounts we receive from all parts of the country show 
that these miserable cottages are crowded to an extreme, and that 
the crowding is progressively increasing. People of both sexes, 
and of all ages, both married and unmarried parents, brothers, 
sisters, and strangers sleep in the same rooms and often in the 
same beds. One gentlemen tells us of six people of different sexes 
and ages, two of whom were man and wife, sleeping in the same 
bed, three with their heads at the top and three with their heads 
at the foot of the bed. Another tells us of adult uncles and niecea 
sleeping in the same room close to each other ; another, of the 
uncles and nieces sleeping in the same bed together ; another, of 
adult brothers and sisters sleeping in the same room with a 
brother and his wife just married ; many tell us of adult brothers 
and sisters sleeping in the same beds ; another tells us of rooms 
BO filled with beds that there is no space between them, but that 
brothers, sisters, and parents crawl over each other half naked in 
order to get to their respective resting-places ; another, of its being 
common for men and women, not being relations, to undress to- 
gether in the same room, without any feeling of its being indelicate ; 
another, of cases where women have been delivered in bedrooms 
crowded with men, young women, and children ; and others men- 
tion facts of these crowded bedrooms much too horrible to be 
alluded to. Nor are these solitary instances, but similar reports 
are given by gentlemen writing in ALL parts of the country." 

The young peasants from their earliest years are 
accustomed to sleep in the same bedrooms with people 



384 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of both sexes ; and they lose all sense of the indecency 
of such a life, taking wives before they are twenty years 
of age to sleep in the same room with their parents. 
The policy now pursued by the aristocratic landlords, 
of clearing their estates, tends to crowd the cottages 
which are allowed to remain, and thus the demoraliza- 
tion of the peasantry is stimulated. Adultery is the 
very mildest form of the vast amount of crime which it 
is engendering. Magistrates, clergymen, surgeons, and 
parish-officers bear witness that cases of incest are in- 
creasing in all parts of the country. An eminent 
writer represents the consequences of the state of the 
peasant's cottages in England and Wales in the follow- 
ing startling, but unexaggerated terms : 

" A man and woman intermarry, and take a cottage. In eight 
cases out of ten it is a cottage with but two rooms. For a time, 
so far as room at least is concerned, this answers their purpose ; 
but they take it, not because it is at the time sufficiently spacious 
for them, but because they could not procure a more roomy dwell- 
ing, even if they desired it. In this they pass with tolerable com- 
fort, considering their notions of what comfort is, the first period 
of married life ; but, by-and-by they have children, and the family 
increases, until, in the course of a few years, they number, per- 
haps, from eight to ten individuals. But in all this time there 
has been no increase to their household accommodation. As at 
first, so to the very last, there is but the ONE SLEEPING-ROOM. As 
the family increases, additional beds are crammed into this apart- 
ment, until at last it is so filled with them, that there is scarcely 
room left to move between them. I have known instances in which 
they had to crawl over each other to get to their beds. So long as 
the children are very young, the only evil connected with this is 
the physical one arising from crowding so many people together 



OF ENGLAND. 385 

into what is generally a dingy, frequently a damp, and invariably 
an ill-ventilated apartment. But years steal on, and the family 
continues thus bedded together. Some of its members may yet 
be in their infancy, but others of both sexes have crossed the line 
of puberty. But there they are, still together in the same room 
the father and mother, the sons and the daughters young men, 
young women, and children. Cousins, too, of both sexes, are 
often thrown together into the same room, and not unfrequently into 
the same bed. I have also known of cases in which uncles slept 
in the same room with their grown-up nieces, and newly-married 
couples occupied the same chamber with those long married, and 
with others marriageable but unmarried. A case also came to 
my notice, already alluded to in connection with another branch 
of the subject, in which two sisters, who were married on the 
same day, occupied adjoining rooms in the same hut, with nothing 
but a thin board partition, which did not reach the ceiling, be- 
tween the two rooms, and a door in the partition which only 
partly filled up the doorway. For years back, in these same two 
rooms, have slept twelve people of both sexes and all ages. 
Sometimes, when there is but one room, a praiseworthy effort is 
made for the conservation of decency. But the hanging up of a 
piece of tattered cloth between the beds, which is generally all 
that is done in this respect, and even that but seldom, is but a 
poor set-off to the fact, that a family, which, in common decency, 
should* as regards sleeping accommodations, be separated at least 
into three divisions, occupy, night after night, but one and the 
same chamber. This is a frightful position for them to be in 
when an infectious or epidemic disease enters their abode. But 
this, important though it be, is the least important consideration 
connected with their circumstances. That which is most so, is 
the effect produced by them upon their habits and morals. In 
the illicit intercourse to which such a position frequently gives 
rise, it is not always that the tie of blood is respected. Certain it 
is, that when the relationship is even but one degree removed 
from that of brother and sister, that tie is frequently overlooked. 
And when the circumstances do not lead to such horrible conse- 
quences, the mind, particularly of the female, is wholly divested 



386 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of that sense of delicacy and shame, which, so long as they are 
preserved, are the chief safeguards of her chastity. She therefore 
falls an early and an easy prey to the temptations which beset 
her beyond the immediate circle of her family. People in the 
other spheres of life are but little aware of the extent to which 
this precocious demoralization of the female among the lower 
orders in the country has proceeded. But how could it be other- 
wise ? The philanthropist may exert himself in their behalf, the 
moralist may inculcate even the worldly advantages of a better 
course of life, and the minister of religion may warn them of the 
eternal penalties which they are incurring ; but there ia an in- 
structor constantly at work, more potent than them all an in- 
structor in mischief, of which they must get rid ere they can 
make any real progress in their laudable efforts and that is, the 
bedchamber in the two-roomed cottage." 



But such cottages will continue to be the dwellings 
of the peasantry until the system of lord and serf is 
abolished, until they can obtain ground of their own, 
and have no fear of eviction at a moment's notice. It 
has often been a matter of wonder that there is less dis- 
content and murmuring among the miserable peasants 
than among the workmen in the manufacturing towns. 
The reason lies upon the surface. The workmen in the 
factories are generally more intelligent than the agri- 
cultural labourers, and have a keen feeling of their 
degradation. It requires a certain degree of elevation 
to render a man discontented. The wallowing pig is 
satisfied. 

We need not be surprised to find that where so much 
misery prevails crime is frightfully frequent. The 
"Times" of the 30th of November, 1849, shows the 



OF ENGLAND. 387 

terrible increase of crime in the last few years in Dor- 
setshire. The " Times" says 

" We yesterday published, in a very short compass, some grave 
particulars of the unfortunate county of Dorset. It is not simply 
the old story of wages inadequate for life, hovels unfit for habita- 
tion, and misery and sin alternately claiming our pity and our 
disgust. This state of things is so normal, and we really believe 
so immemorial in that notorious county, that we should rather 
deaden than excite the anxiety of the public by a thrice-told tale. 
What compels our attention just now is a sudden, rapid, and, we 
fear, a forced aggravation of these evils, measured by the infallible 
test of crime. Dorsetshire is fast sinking into a slough of wretch- 
edness, which threatens the peace and morality of the kingdom at 
large. The total number of convictions, which 

" In 1846 was 798, and 

" In 1847 was 821, mounted up, 

"In 1848, to 950; 

" and up to the special general session, last Tuesday, (Dec. 1849,) 
for less than eleven months of the present year, to the astonish- 
ing number of 1193, being at the rate of 1300 for the whole yearl 
Unless something is done to stop this flood of crime, or the tide 
happily turns of itself, the county will have more than doubled its 
convictions within four years ! Nor is it possible for us to take 
refuge in the thought that the increase is in petty offences. In no 
respect is it a light thing for a poor creature to be sent to jail, 
whatever be the offence. He has broken the laws of his country, 
and forfeited his character. His name and his morals are alike 
tainted with the jail. He is degraded and corrupted. If his 
spirit be not crushed, it is exasperated into perpetual hostility to 
wealth and power. * 

" It is, then, no light affair that a rural county, the abode of an 
ancient and respectable aristocracy, somewhat removed from the 
popular influences of the age, with a population of 175,043 by the 
late census, should produce in four years near 4000 convictions, 



88 THE WHITE SLAVES 

being at the rate of one conviction in that period for every sixty 
persons, or every twelve householders." 

"We might express our doubts of the real respecta- 
bility of the ancient aristocracy of Dorsetshire. They 
do not injure society in a way of which the laws take 
notice ; but had they nothing to do with the making 
of the 4000 criminals ? In 1834, an English writer 
estimated that about 120,000 of the people were al- 
ways in jail. At the present time the number is still 
greater. 

The humane and able author of Letters on Rural 
Districts," published in the "Morning Chronicle" of 
London, thus speaks of the frightful immorality among 
the agricultural population of Norfolk and Suffolk coun- 
ties : 

" One species of immorality, which is peculiarly prevalent in 
Norfolk and Suffolk, is that of bastardy. With the exception of 
Hereford and Cumberland, there are no counties in which the per- 
centage of bastardy is so high as it is in Norfolk being there 
53.1 per cent, above the average of England and Wales ; in Suf- 
folk it is 27 per cent, above, and in Essex 19.1 per cent, below the 
average. In the two first-named counties, and even in the latter 
one, though not to the same extent, there appears to be a perfect 
want of decency among the people. ' The immorality of the young 
women,' said the rector of one parish to me, ' is literally horrible, 
and I regret to say it is on the increase in a most extraordinary 
degree. When I first came to the town, the mother of a bastard 
child used to be ashamed to show herself. The case is now 
quite altered ; no person seems to think any thing at all of it. 
When I first came to the town, there was no such thing as a 
common prostitute in it ; now there is an enormous number of 



OF ENGLAND. 389 

them. When I am called upon to see a woman confined with an 
illegitimate child, I endeavour to impress upon her the enormity 
of the offence ; and there are no cases in which I receive more 
insult from those I visit than from such persons. They generally 
say they'll get on as well, after all that's said about it ; and if they 
never do any thing worse than that, they shall get to heaven as 
well as other people/ Another clergyman stated to me, that he 
never recollected an instance of his having married a woman who 
was not either pregnant at the time of her marriage, or had had 
one or more children before her marriage. Again, a third clergy- 
man told me, that he went to baptize the illegitimate child of one 
woman, who was thirty-five years of age, and it was absolutely 
impossible for him to convince her that what she had done was 
wrong. ' There appears,' said he, ' to be among the lower orders 
a perfect deadness of all moral feeling upon this subject.' Many 
of the cases of this kind, which have come under my knowledge, 
evince such horrible depravity, that I dare not attempt to lay them 
before the reader. Speaking to the wife of a respectable labourer 
on the subject, who had seven children, one of whom was then 
confined with an illegitimate child, she excused her daughter's 
conduct by saying, ' What was the poor girl to do ! The chaps say 
that they won't marry 'em first, and then the girls give way. I 
did the same myself with my husband.' There was one case in 
Cossey, in Norfolk, in which the woman told me, without a blush 
crimsoning her cheek, that her daughter and self had each had 
a child by a sweep, who lodged with them, and who promised 
to marry the daughter. The cottage in which these persons slept 
consisted of but one room, and there were two other lodgers who 
occupied beds in the same room ; in one of which ' a young wo- 
man occasionally slept with the young man she was keeping com- 
pany with/ The other lodger was an old woman of seventy-four 
years of age. To such an extent is prostitution carried on in 
Norwich, that out of the 656 licensed public-houses and beer-shops 
in the city, there are not less than 220, which are known to the 
police as common brothels. And, although the authorities have 
the power of withholding the licenses, nothing is done to put a 
stop to the frightful vice/ 7 



390 THE WHITE SLAVES 

A want of chastity is universal among the female 
peasants of Wales, arising chiefly from the herding of 
many persons in the small cottages. In the vicinity of 
the mines, the average of inhabitants to a house is said 
to be nearly twelve. The Rev. John Griffith, vicar of 
Aberdare, says 

"Nothing can be lower, I would say more degrading, than the 
character in which the women stand relative to the men. The 
men and the women, married as well as single, live in the same 
house, and sleep in the same room. The men do not hesitate to 
wash themselves naked before the women ; on the other hand, the 
women do not hesitate to change their under garments before the 
men. Promiscuous intercourse is most common, is thought of as 
nothing, and the women do not lose caste by it." 

The Welsh are peculiarly exempt from the guilt of 
great crimes. But petty thefts, lying, cozening, every 
species of chicanery and drunkenness are common 
among the agricultural population, and are regarded as 
matters of course. 

Infanticide is practised to a terrible extent in Eng- 
land and Wales. In most of the large provincial towns, 
"burial clubs" exist. A small sum is paid every year by 
the parent, and this entitles him to receive from X3 to 5 
from the club on the death of the child. Many persons 
enter their children in several clubs ; and, as the burial 
of the child does not necessarily cost more than XI, or 
at the most XI 10s., the parent realizes a considerable 
sum after all the expenses are paid. For the sake of 
this money, it has become common to cause the death 



OF ENGLAND. 391 

of the children, either by starvation, ill-usage, or poison. 
No more horrible symptom of moral degradation could 
be conceived. 

" Mr. Chadwick says,* ' officers of these burial societies, reliev- 
ing officers, and others, whose administrative duties put them in 
communication with the lowest classes in these districts, (the 
manufacturing districts,) express their moral conviction of the 
operation of such bounties to produce instances of the visible neg- 
lect of children of which they are witnesses. They often say 
You are not treating that child properly, it will not live ; is it in 
the dub? And the answer corresponds with the impression pro- 
duced by the sight. 

" ' Mr. Gardiner, the clerk of the Manchester union, while 
registering the causes of death, deemed the cause assigned by a 
labouring man for the death of a child unsatisfactory, and staying 
to inquire, found that popular rumour assigned the death to wil- 
ful starvation. The child (according to a statement of the case) 
had been entered in at least ten burial clubs ; and its parents had 
had six other children, who only lived from nine to eighteen months 
respectively. They had received from several burial clubs twenty 
pounds for one of these children, and they expected at least as 
much on account of this child. An inquest was held at Mr. Gar- 
diner's instance, when several persons, who had known the de- 
ceased, stated that she was a fine fat child shortly after her birth, 
but that she soon became quite thin, was badly clothed, and 
seemed as if she did not get a sufficiency of food. . . The jury, 
having expressed it as their opinion that the evidence of the 
parents was made up for the occasion and entitled to no credit, 
returned the following verdict : Died through want of nourish- 
ment, but whether occasioned by a deficiency of food, or by dis- 
ease of the liver and spine brought on by improper food and drink 
or otherwise, does not appear. 

" ' Two similar cases came before Mr. Coppock, the clerk and 

* Sanitary Inquiry Report, 1843, p. 64. 



392 THE WHITE SLAVES 

superintendent-registrar of the Stockport union, in both of which 
he prosecuted the parties for murder. In one case, where three 
children had been poisoned with arsenic, the father was tried with 
the mother and convicted at Chester, and sentenced to be trans- 
ported for life, but the mother was acquitted. In the other case, 
where the judge summed up for a conviction, the accused, the 
father, was, to the astonishment of every one, acquitted. In this 
case the body was exhumed after interment, and arsenic was 
detected in tfie stomach. In consequence of the suspicion raised 
upon the death on which the accusation was made in the first 
case, the bodies of two other children were taken up and exa- 
mined, when arsenic was found in tJieir stomachs. In all these cases 
payments on the deaths of the children were insured from the 
burial clubs; the cost of the coffin and burial dues would not be 
more than about one pound, and the allowance from the club is 
three pounds. 

" * It is remarked on these dreadful cases by the superinten- 
dent-registrar, that the children who were boys, and therefore likely 
to be useful to the parents, were not poisoned; the female children 
were the victims. It was the clear opinion of the medical officers 
that infanticides have been committed in Stockport to obtain the 
burial money.' " 

Such parents must be placed upon a level with the 
swine that devour their farrow. We are led to doubt 
whether they could sink much lower in the animal 
scale ; poverty and ignorance seem to have thoroughly 
quenched the spark of humanity. The author of " Let- 
ters on Labour, and the Poor in the Rural Districts," 
writing of the burial clubs in the eastern counties, says : 

" The suspicion that a great deal of ' foul play' exists with re- 
spect to these clubs is supported, not only by a comparison of the 
different rates of mortality, but it is considerably strengthened 
by the facts proved upon the trial of Mary May. The Rev. Mr. 
Wilkins, the vicar of Wickes, who was mainly instrumental in. 



OF ENGLAND. 393 

bringing the case before a court of justice, stated to me that, from 
the time of Mary May coming to live in his parish, he was deter- 
mined to keep a very strict watch upon her movements, as he had 
heard that fourteen of Tier children had previously died suddenly. 

" A few weeks after her arrival in his parish, she called upon 
him to request him to bury one of her children. Upon his asking 
her which of the children it was, she told him that it was Eliza, 
a fine healthy-looking child of ten years old. Upon his express- 
ing some surprise that she should have died so suddenly, she said, 
' Oh, sir, she went off like a snuff; all my other children did so 
too/ A short time elapsed, and she again waited upon the vicar 
to request him to bury her brother as soon as he could. His sus- 
picions were aroused, and he endeavoured to postpone the funeral 
for a few days, in order to enable him to make some inquiries. 
Not succeeding in obtaining any information which would war- 
rant further delay in burying the corpse, he most reluctantly 
proceeded in the discharge of his duty. 

" About a week after the funeral, Mary May again waited upon 
him to request him to sign a certificate to the effect that her bro- 
ther was in perfect health a fortnight before he died, that being 
the time at which, as it subsequently appeared, she had entered 
him as nominee in the Harwich Burial Club. Upon inquiring as 
to the reason of her desiring this certificate, she told him that, 
unless she got it, she could not get the money for him from the 
club. This at once supplied the vicar with what appeared to be 
a motive for * foul play' on the part of the woman. He accord- 
ingly obtained permission to have the body of her brother ex- 
humed ; doses of arsenic were detected, and the woman was ar- 
rested. With the evidence given upon the trial the reader is, no 
doubt, perfectly conversant, and it will be unnecessary for me to 
detail it She was convicted. Previously to her execution she 
refused to make any confession, but said, * If I were to tell all 
I know, it would give the hangman work for the next twelve 
months/ Undue weight ought not to be attached to the declara- 
tion of such a woman as Mary May ; but, coupled with the dis- 
closures that took place upon the trial with respect to some of her 
neighbours and accomplices, and with the extraordinary rate 

26 



394 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of mortality among the clubs, it certainly does appear that the 
general opinion with respect to the mischievous effects of these 
societies is not altogether without foundation. 

" Although there are not in Essex, at present, any burial cluba 
in which children are admitted under fourteen years of age aa 
members or nominees, still, as illustrating the evils arising from 
these clubs, I may state that many persons who are fully conver- 
sant with the working of such institutions have stated that they 
have frequently been shocked by hearing women of the lower 
classes, when speaking of a neighbour's child, make use of such 
expressions as, ' Oh, depend upon it, the child '11 not live ; it's in 
the burial club.' When speaking to the parents of a child who 
may be unwell, it is not unfrequently that they say, ' You should 
do so and so/ or, ' You should not do so and so ;' ' You should 
not treat it in that way; is it in the burial club?' Instances of the 
most culpable neglect, if not of graver offences, are continually 
occurring in districts where clubs exist in which children are 
admitted. A collector of one of the most extensive burial socie- 
ties gave it as his opinion, founded upon his experience, that it 
had become a constant practice to neglect the children for the 
sake of the allowance from the clubs ; and he supported his 
opinion by several cases which had come under his own observa- 
tion." 

A vast number of other facts, of equally shocking 
character, have been ascertained. The Rev. J. Clay, 
cliaplain of the Preston House of Correction, in a 
sanitary report, makes some statements of a nature to 
startle : 

" It appears, on the unimpeachable authority of a burial-club 
official, that ' hired nurses speculate on the lives of infants commit- 
ted to their care, by entering them in burial clubs;' that ' two young 
women proposed to enter a child into his club, and to pay the 
weekly premium alternately. Upon inquiring as to the relation 
subsisting between the two young women and the child, he learned 
that the infant was placed at nurse with the mother of one of 



OF ENGLAND. 395 

these young women/ The wife of a clergymen told me that, 
visiting a poor district just when a child's death had occurred, 
instead of hearing from the neighbours the language of sympathy 
for the bereaved parent, she was shocked by such observations 
as 'Ah ! it's a fine thing for the mother, the child's in two clubs 1* 
" As regards one town, I possess some evidence of the amount 
of burial-club membership and "of infant mortality, which I beg 
to lay before you. The reports of this town refer to 1846, when 
the population of the town amounted to about 61,000. I do not 
name the town, because, as no actual burial-club murders are 
known to have been committed in it, and as such clubs are not 
more patronized there than in other places, it is, perhaps, not 
fair to hold it up to particular animadversion ; indeed, as to its 
general character, this very town need not fear comparison with 
any other. Now this place, with its sixty-one thousand people 
of all classes and ages, maintains at least eleven burial clubs, the 
members of which amount in the aggregate to nearly fifty-two 
thousand ; nor are these all. Sick clubs, remember, act as burial 
clubs. Of these there are twelve or fourteen in the town, muster- 
ing altogether, probably, two thousand members. Here, then, 
we have good data for comparing population with 'death lists;' 
but it will be necessary, in making the comparison, to deduct 
from the population all that part of it which has nothing to do 
with these clubs, viz. all infants under two months old, and all 
persons of unsound health, (both of these classes being excluded 
by the club rules;) all those also of the working classes, whose 
sound intelligence and feeling lead them to abhor burial-club 
temptations ; and all the better classes, to whom five or twenty 
pounds offer no consolation for the death of a child. On the 
hypothesis that these deductions will amount to one-sixth of the 
entire population, it results that the death lists are more numerous 
by far than the entire mass old, young, and infants which sup- 
port them ; and, according to the statement of a leading death-list 
officer, three-fourths of the names on these catalogues of the doomed 
are the names of children. Now, if this be the truth and I be- 
lieve it is hundreds, if not thousands of children must be entered 
each into four, Jive, or even twelve clubs, their chances of life 



396 THE WHITE SLAVES 

diminishing, of course, in proportion to the frequency with which 
they are entered. Lest you should imagine that such excessive 
addiction to burial clubs is only to be found in one place, I 
furnish you with a report for 1846, of a single club, which then 
boasted thirty-four thousand one hundred members, the entire 
population of the town to which it belongs having been, in 1841, little 
more than thirty-six thousand!" 

The authorities from whom these statements are 
derived are of the highest respectability; they bear 
witness to a state of affairs scarcely to be conceived by 
people of other civilized countries. Hundreds of thou- 
sands of human beings seem to be driven into an awful 
abyss of crime and misery by the iron rule of the aris- 
tocracy an abyss where mothers forget maternal feel- 
ings, where marriage vows are scoffed, and where the 
momentary gratification of brutal passions is alone 
esteemed. There, indeed, there is no fear of God, and 
heathenism spreads its upas shade to poison and destroy. 

The only amusement which the English poor possess 
in many parts of the country, is to visit taverns. In 
the towns the "gin-palaces" and the beer-houses are 
very numerous; and whenever the poor have leisure, 
these places are thronged by drunken men and aban- 
doned women. In all the rural districts there is a 
frightful amount of drunkenness. British legislation 
has increased the number of these hot-beds of crime 
and pauperism. 

" In the beginning of the revolutionary war the duties on malt 
were augmented, and in 1825 the duties on spirits were decreased. 



OF ENGLAND. 397 

It was thus that whisky was substituted for ale as the beverage 
of the Scotch, and that gin and brandy began to be generally 
drunk by the English poor. 

" The consumption of spirits immediately increased in a tre- 
mendous proportion. From 4,132,263 gallons, the consumption 
in 1825, it rose in one year to 8,888,648 gallons ; that is, the con- 
sumption was in one year more than doubled by the change ; and 
from that period, with the exception of the year next following, 
viz. 1827, the consumption has been progressively augmenting. 

" Since that time the noted beer-shop act has been passed. By 
that act, any one was enabled to obtain a license to enable him 
to sell beer, whether the person desirous of doing so was a person 
of respectable character or not. 

"But this was the least of the evils which were effected by that 
act. A clause, which was still more injurious, was that which 
prescribed that the liquor must be drunk upon the premises of the 
beer-house, i. e. either in the beer-house or on a bench just outside 
the door. 

" This has the effect in many cases, where the poor would 
otherwise take the beer home to their own cottages, of forcing the 
young men who wish to have a little to drink, to sit down and 
take it in the society of the worst people of the neighbourhood, 
who always, as a matter of course, spend their leisure -in the 
tavern. I am convinced that nothing can be more injurious in 
its effects upon the poor than this clause. It may be said to 
force the honest labourers into the society and companionship of 
the most depraved, and so necessarily to demoralize the young 
and honest labourer. 

" The following is the number of gallons of native proof spirits 
on which duty was paid for home consumption in the United 
Kingdom, in the undermentioned years : 

Years. Gallons. 

1843 18,841,890 

1844 20,608,525 

1845 23,122,588 

1846 24,106,697 



THE WHITE SLAVES 



" To the above must be added the number of gallons of foreign 
and colonial spirits retained for home consumption, as follows : 



Years. 


No. of Gallons of Foreign, 
&c. Spirits. 


No. of Gallons of Home 
and Foreign Spirits consumed 
in the United Kingdom. 


1843 
1844 
1845 
1846 


3,161,957 
3,242,606 
3,549,889 
4,252,237 


22,026,289 
22,042,905 
26,672,477 
28,360,934 



"From the above statistics it appears that the consumption 
of spirits in the United Kingdom is increasing much more rapidly 
than the population ! 

" The number of licenses granted to retailers of spirits or beer 
amounted, in 1845, to 237,345 ; that is, there was to be found, in 
1845, a retailer of beer or spirits in every 115 of the population ! 
Of the beer licenses, 68,086 were for dwellings rated under 20 
per annum, and 35,340 were licenses for premises rated under 
10 per annum ! This shows how large a proportion of the beer- 
shops are situated in the poorest districts, for the use of the 
poorest classes.* 

There is a section of London, which in 1847 had 
2000 inhabitants, one butcher's shop, two bakers' 
shops, and seventeen beer-houses. The total cost of 
the spirits and beer consumed in the United Kingdom 
was, in 1843, estimated at 65,000,000, a sum greater, 
by several millions, than the whole revenue of the 
government. The inimitable Dickens has given us a 
vivid sketch of a London gin-palace and its attendants. 
He says 

" The extensive scale on which these places are established, 
*Kay. 



OF ENGLAND. 399 

and the ostentatious manner in which the business of even the 
smallest among them is divided into branches, is most amusing. 
A handsome plate of ground glass in one door directs you ' To 
the Counting-house ;' another to the 'Bottle Department ;' a third 
to the ' Wholesale Department ;' a fourth to the ' Wine Prome- 
nade ;' and so forth, until we are in daily expectation of meeting 
with a * Brandy Bell,' or a ' Whisky Entrance/ Then ingenuity 
is exhausted in devising attractive titles for the different descrip- 
tions of gin ; and the dram-drinking portion of the community, 
as they gaze upon the gigantic black and white announcements, 
which are only to be equalled in size by the figures beneath them, 
are left in a state of pleasing hesitation between ' The Cream of 
the Valley/ 'The Out and Out/ 'The No Mistake/ 'The Good 
for Mixing/ ' The real Knock-me-down,' ' The celebrated Butter 
Gin/ ' The regular Flare-up,' and a dozen other equally inviting 
and wholesome liqueurs. Although places of this description 
are to be met with in every second street, they are invariably 
numerous and splendid in precise proportion to the dirt and 
poverty of the surrounding neighbourhood. The gin-shops in 
and near Drury-lane, Holborn, St. Giles's, Covent-garden, and 
Clare-market, are the handsomest in London. There is more of 
filth and squalid misery near those great thoroughfares than in 
any part of this mighty city. 

" We will endeavour to sketch the bar of a large gin-shop, and 
its ordinary customers, for the edification of such of our readers 
as may not have had opportunities of observing such scenes ; and 
on the chance of finding one well suited to our purpose we will 
make for Drury-lane, through the narrow streets and dirty courts 
which divide it from Oxford street, and that classical spot adjoin- 
ing the brewery at the bottom of Tottenham-court-road, best 
known to the initiated as the ' Kookery/ 

" The filthy and miserable appearance of this part of London 
can hardly be imagined by those (and there are many such) who 
have not witnessed it. Wretched houses with broken windows 
patched with rags and paper, every room let out to a different 
family, and in many instances to two or even three ; fruit and 
* sweet-stuff' manufacturers in the cellars, barbers and red-her- 



400 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ring venders in the front parlours, and cobblers in the back ; a 
bird-fancier in the first floor, three families on the second, starva- 
tion in the attics, Irishmen in the passage ; a ' musician' in the 
front kitchen, and a charwoman and five hungry children in the 
back one filth everywhere a gutter before the houses and a 
drain behind them clothes drying and slops emptying from the 
windows ; girls of fourteen or fifteen with matted hair, walking 
about barefooted, and in white great-coats, almost their only 
covering ; boys of all ages, in coats of all sizes and no coats at 
all ; men and women, in every variety of scanty and dirty ap- 
parel, lounging, scolding, drinking, smoking, squabbling, fight- 
ing, and swearing. 

" You turn the corner, what a change ! All is light and bril- 
liancy. The hum of many voices issues from that splendid gin- 
shop which forms the commencement of the two streets opposite, 
and the gay building with the fantastically ornamented parapet, 
the illuminated clock, the plate-glass windows surrounded by 
stucco rosettes, and its profusion of gas-lights in richly gilt 
burners, is perfectly dazzling when contrasted with the darkness 
and dirt we have just left. The interior is even gayer than the 
exterior. A bar of French polished mahogany, elegantly carved, 
extends the whole width of the place ; and there are two side- 
aisles of great casks, painted green and gold, enclosed within a 
light brass rail, and bearing such inscriptions as ' Old Tom, 549 ;' 
* Young Tom, 360 ;' ' Samson, 1421.' Beyond the bar is a lofty 
and spacious saloon, full of the same enticing vessels, with a gal- 
lery running round it, equally well furnished. On the counter, 
in addition to the usual spirit apparatus, are two or three little 
baskets of cakes and biscuits, which are carefully secured at the 
top with wicker-work, to prevent their contents being unlawfully 
abstracted. Behind it are two showily-dressed damsels with 
large necklaces, dispensing the spirits and ' compounds.' They 
are assisted by the ostensible proprietor of the concern, a stout 
coarse fellow in a fur cap, put on very much on one side, to give 
him a knowing air, and display his sandy whiskers to the best 
advantage. 

" It is growing late, and the throng of men, women, and ehil~ 



OF ENGLAND. 401 

dren, who have been constantly going in and out, dwindles down 
to two or three occasional stragglers cold, wretched-looking 
creatures, in the last stage of emaciation and disease. The knot 
of Irish labourers at the lower end of the place, who have been 
alternately shaking hands with, and threatening the life of, each 
other for the last hour, become furious in their disputes, and find- 
ing it impossible to silence one man, who is particularly anxious 
to adjust the difference, they resort to the infallible expedient of 
knocking him down and jumping on him afterward. The man 
in the fur cap and the potboy rush out ; a scene of riot and con- 
fusion ensues ; half the Irishmen get shut out, and the other half 
get shut in ; the potboy is knocked among the tubs in no time ; 
the landlord hits everybody, and everybody hits the landlord ; 
the barmaids scream ; the police come in ; and the rest is a con- 
fused mixture of arms, legs, staves, torn coats,' shouting, and 
struggling. Some of the party are borne off to the station-house, 
and the remainder slink home to beat their wives for complain- 
ing, and kick the children for daring to be hungry." 

The neglected and frightfully wretched condition of 
a great part of the juvenile population in the British 
towns has frequently excited the attention of philan- 
thropic Englishmen. On the 6th of June, 1848, Lord 
Ashley made a speech on juvenile destitution in the 
House of Commons, in which he drew an awful picture 
of misery and degradation. He showed that in the 
midst of London there is a large and continually in- 
creasing number of lawless persons, forming a separate 
class, having pursuits, interests, manners, and customs 
of their own. These are quite independent of the 
number of mere pauper children who crowd the streets 
of London, and who never attend a school. The law- 



402 THE WHITE SLAVES 

less class were estimated by Lord Ashley to number 
thirty thousand. 

" Of 1600 who were examined, 162 confessed that they had 
been in prison, not merely once, or even twice, but some of them 
several times ; 116 had run away from their homes ; 170 slept in 
the ' lodging houses ;' 253 had lived altogether by beggary ; 216 
had neither shoes nor stockings ; 280 had no hat or cap, or cover- 
ing for the head ; 101 had no linen ; 249 had never slept in a 
bed ; many had no recollectiou of ever having been in a bed ; 
68 were the children of convicts. 

" In 1847 it was found that of 4000 examined, 400 confessed 
that they had been in prison, 660 lived by beggary, 178 were the 
children of convicts, and 800 had lost one or both their parents. 
Now, what was the employment of these people ? They might 
be classed as street-sweepers; vendors of lucifer matches, 
oranges, cigars, tapes, and ballads ; they held horses, ran 
errands, jobbed for ' dealers in marine stores/ that being the 
euphonious term for receivers of stolen goods an influential race 
in the metropolis, but for whose agency a very large proportion 
of juvenile crime would be extinguished. It might be asked, 
how did the large number who never slept in bed pass the night ? 
In all manner of places : under dry arches of bridges and via- 
ducts, under porticos, sheds, carts in outhouses, sawpits, or 
staircases, or in the open air, and some in lodging-houses. Curi- 
ous, indeed, was their mode of life. One boy, during the incle- 
ment period of 1847, passed the greater part of his nights in the 
large iron roller in the Regent's Park. He climbed over the 
railings, and crept to the roller, where he lay in comparative 
security. 

"Lord Ashley says, 'many of them were living in the dry 
arches of houses not finished, inaccessible except by an aperture, 
only large enough to admit the body of a man. When a lantern 
was thrust in, six or eight, ten or twelve people might be found 
lying together. Of those whom we found thus lodged, we in- 
vited a great number to come the following day, and there an 



OF ENGLAND. 403 

examination was instituted. The number examined was 33. 
Their ages varied from 12 to 18, and some were younger. 24 had 
no parents, 6 had one, 3 had stepmothers, 20 had no shirts, 9 no 
shoes, 12 had been once in prison, 3 twice, 3 four times, 1 eight 
times, and 1 (only 14 years old) twelve times. The physical con- 
dition of these children was exceedingly bad ; they were a prey to 
vermin, they were troubled with itch, they were begrimed with 
dirt, not a few were suffering from sickness, and two or three 
days afterward several died from disease and the effects of 
starvation. I privately examined eight or ten. I was anxious 
to obtain from them the truth. I examined them separately, 
taking them into a room alone. I said, " I am going to ask you 
a variety of questions, to which I trust you will give me true an- 
swers, and I will undertake to answer any question you may 
put." They thought that a fair bargain. I put to several of 
them the question, " How often have you slept in a bed during 
the last three years ?" One said, perhaps twelve times, another 
three times, another could not remember that he ever had. I 
asked them, how they passed the night in winter. They said, 
"We lie eight or ten together, to keep ourselves warm." I en- 
tered on the subject of their employments and modes of living. 
They fairly confessed they had no means of subsistence but beg- 
ging and stealing. The only way of earning a penny in a legiti- 
mate way was by picking up old bones. But they fairly 
acknowledged for themselves and others scattered over the town, 
with whom they professed themselves acquainted, that they had 
not and could not have any other means of subsistence than by 
begging and stealing. A large proportion of these young per- 
sons were at a most dangerous age for society. What was the 
moral condition of those persons ? A large proportion of them 
(it was no fault of theirs) did not recognise the distinctive rights 
of meum and tuum. Property appeared to them to be only the 
aggregate of plunder. They held that every thing which was pos- 
sessed was common stock ; that he who got most was the cleverest 
fellow, and that every one had a right to abstract from that stock 
what he could by his own ingenuity. Was it matter of surprise 
that they entertained those notions, which were instilled into 



404 THE WHITE SLAVES 

their minds from the time they were able to creep on all fours 
that not only did they disregard all the rights of property, but 
gloried in doing so, unless they thought the avowal would bring 
them within the grasp of the law. To illustrate their low state 
of morality, and to show how utterly shameless they were in 
speaking on these subjects, I would mention what had passed at 
a ragged school to which fourteen or fifteen boys, having pre- 
sented themselves on a Sunday evening, were admitted as they 
came. They sat down, and the lesson proceeded. The clock 
struck eight. They all rose with the exception of one little boy. 
The master took him by the arm and said, " You must remain ; 
the lesson is not over." The reply was, " We must go to busi- 
ness." The master inquired what business ? " We must all go 
to catch them as they come out of the chapels." It was neces- 
sary for them, according to the remark of this boy, to go at a 
certain time in pursuit of their calling. They had no remorse 
or shame, in making the avowal, because they believed that there 
were no other means of saving themselves from starvation. I 
recollect a very graphic remark made by one of those children in 
perfect simplicity, but which yet showed the horrors of their po- 
sition. The master had been pointing out to him the terrors of 
punishment in after-life. The remark of the boy was, "That 
may be so, but I don't think it can be any worse than this world 
has been to me." Such was the condition of hundreds and 
thousands/ " 

A large number of the depraved children live in 
what are called the " lodging-houses." Most Ame- 
ricans have heard of the " Old Brewery" at the Five 
Points in New York city, where more than two hun- 
dred persons of all ages and sexes were crowded 
together. Such lodging-houses as this, (which fortu- 
nately has been destroyed,) are common in London and 
the provincial towns of Great Britain. Mr. Mayhew, 



OF ENGLAND. 405 

in his "London Labour and the London Poor," has 
given us very full information concerning them. He 
obtained much 'of it from one who had passed some 
time among the dens of infamy. He says of these 
lodging-houses 

" ' They have generally' a spacious, though often ill-ventilated 
kitchen, the dirty, dilapidated walls of which are hung with prints, 
while a shelf or two are generally, though barely, furnished witV. 
crockery and kitchen utensils. In some places knives and forks 
are not provided, unless a penny is left with the "deputy," or mana- 
ger, till they are returned. A brush of any kind is a stranger, 
and a looking-glass would be a miracle. The average number of 
nightly lodgers is in winter seventy, in the summer (when many 
visit the provinces) from forty to forty-five. The general charge 
is, if two sleep together, 3d. per night, or 4d. for a single bed. In 
either case, it is by no means unusual to find eighteen or twenty 
in one small room, the heat and horrid smell from which are in- 
sufferable ; and, where there are young children, the staircases 
are the lodgment of every kind of filth and abomination. In some 
houses there are rooms for families, where, on a rickety machine, 
which they dignify by the name of a bedstead, may be found the 
man, his wife, and a son or daughter, perhaps eighteen years of age ; 
while the younger children, aged from seven to fourteen, sleep on 
the floor. If they have linen, they take it off to escape vermin, 
and rise naked, one by one, or sometimes brother and sister to- 
gether. This is no ideal picture ; the subject is too capable of 
being authenticated to need any meaningless or dishonest assist- 
ance called " allowable exaggeration." The amiable and deservedly 
popular minister of a district church, built among lodging-houses, 
has stated that he has found twenty-nine human beings in one 
apartment ; and that having with difficulty knelt down between 
two beds to pray with a dying woman, his legs became so jammed 
that he could hardly get up again. 

" ' Out of some fourscore such habitations,' continues my inform- 
ant, ' I have only found two which had any sort of garden ; and, I am 
R* 



406 THE WHITE SLAVES 

happy to add, that in neither of these two was there a single case 
of cholera. In the others, however, the pestilence raged with ter- 
rible fury/ " 

There are other lodging-houses still lower in charac- 
ter than those described above, and where there is a 
total absence of cleanliness and decency. A man who 
had slept in these places, gave the following account to 
Mr. Mayhew : 

" He had slept in rooms so crammed with sleepers he believed 
there were thirty where twelve would have been a proper number 
that their breaths in the dead of night and in the unventilated 
chamber, rose (I use his own words) ' in one foul, choking steam 
of stench/ This was the case most frequently a day or two prior 
to Greenwich Fair or Epsom Races, when the congregation of the 
wandering classes, who are the supporters of the low lodging- 
houses, was the thickest. It was not only that two or even three 
persons jammed themselves into a bed not too large for one full- 
sized man ; but between the beds and their partition one from 
another admitted little more than the passage of a lodger were 
placed shakedowns, or temporary accommodation for nightly 
slumber. In the better lodging-houses the shakedowns are small 
palliasses or mattrasses ; in the worst they are bundles of rags of 
any kind ; but loose straw ia used only in the country for shake- 
downs. Our informant saw a traveller, who had arrived late, eye 
his shakedown in one of the worst houses with any thing but a 
pleased expression of countenance ; and a surly deputy, observing 
this, told the customer he had his choice, ' which/ the deputy added, 
'is not as all men has, or I shouldn't have been waiting here on 
you. But you has your choice, I tell you ; sleep there on that 

shakedown, or turn out and be ; that's fair/ At some of 

the busiest periods, numbers sleep on the kitchen floor, all huddled 
together, men and women, (when indecencies are common enough,) 
and without bedding or any thing but their scanty clothes to soften 



OF ENGLAND. 407 

the hardness of the stone or brick floor. A penny is saved to the 
lodger by this means. More than two hundred have been accom- 
modated in this way in a large house. The Irish, in harvest-time, 
very often resort to this mode of passing the night. 

" I heard from several parties, of the surprise, and even fear or 
horror, with which a decent mechanic more especially if he were 
accompanied by his wife regarded one of these foul dens, when 
destitution had driven him there for the first time in his life. 
Sometimes such a man was seen to leave the place abruptly, 
though perhaps he had prepaid his last half-penny for the re- 
freshment of a night's repose. Sometimes he was seized with sick- 
ness. I heard also from some educated persons who had ' seen 
better days"/ of the disgust with themselves and with the world, 
which they felt on first entering such places. 'And I have some 
reason to believe,' said one man, ' that a person, once well off, who 
has sunk into the very depths of poverty, often makes his first ap- 
pearance in one of the worst of those places. Perhaps it is because 
he keeps away from them as long as he can, and then, in a sort of 
desperation fit, goes into the cheapest he can meet with ; or if ho 
knows it's a vile place, he very likely says to himself as I did 
" I may as well know the worst at once." ' 

"Another man, who had moved in good society, said, when 
asked about his resorting to a low lodging-house : ' When a man's 
lost caste in society, he may as well go the whole hog, bristles and 
all, and a low lodging-house is the entire pig/ 

" Notwithstanding many abominations, I am assured that the 
lodgers, in even the worst of these habitations, for the most part, 
sleep soundly. But they have, in all probability, been out in tho 
open air the whole of the day, and all of them may go to their 
couches, after having walked, perhaps, many miles, exceedingly 
fatigued, and some of them half drunk. ' Why, in course, sir/ 
said a ' traveller/ whom I spoke to on this subject, ' if you is in a 
country town or village, where there's only one lodging-house, 
perhaps, and that a bad one an old hand can always suit hisself 
in London you must get half drunk, or your money for your bed 
is wasted. There's so much rest owing to you, after a hard day ; 
and bugs and bad air'll prevent its being paid, if you don't lay in 



408 THE WHITE SLAVES 

some stock of beer, or liquor of some sort, to sleep on. It's a duty 
you owes yourself; but, if you haven't the browns, why, then, in 
course, you can't pay it.' I have before remarked, and, indeed, 
have given instances, of the odd and sometimes original manner 
in which an intelligent patterer, for example, will express himself. 

" The information I obtained in the course of this inquiry into 
the condition of low lodging-houses, afforded a most ample cor- 
roboration of the truth of a remark I have more than once found 
it necessary to make before that persons of the vagrant class will 
sacrifice almost any thing for warmth, not to say heat. Otherwise, 
to sleep, or even sit, in some of the apartments of these establish- 
ments would be intolerable. 

" From the frequent state of weariness to which I have alluded, 
there is generally less conversation among the frequenters of the 
low lodging-houses than might be expected. Some are busy cook- 
ing, some (in the better houses) are reading, many are drowsy and 
nodding, and many are smoking. In perhaps a dozen places of 
the worst and filthiest class, indeed, smoking is permitted even in 
the sleeping-rooms ; but it is far less common than it was even 
half-a-dozen years back, and becomes still less common yearly. 
Notwithstanding so dangerous a practice, fires are and have been 
very unfrequent in these places. There is always some one awake, 
which is one reason. The lack of conversation, I ought to add, 
and the weariness and drowsiness, are less observable in the lodg- 
ing-houses patronized by thieves and women of abandoned cha- 
racter, whose lives are comparatively idle, and whose labour a mere 
nothing. In their houses, if their conversation be at all general, 
it is often of the most unclean character. At other times it is car- 
ried on in groups, with abundance of whispers, shrugs, and slang, 
by the members of the respective schools of thieves or lurkers." 
******** 

" The licentiousness of the frequenters, and more especially the 
juvenile frequenters, of the low lodging-houses, must be even more 
briefly alluded to. In some of these establishments, men and 
women, boys and girls, but perhaps in no case, or in very rare 
cases, unless they are themselves consenting parties, herd together 
promiscuously. The information which I have given from a reve- 



OF ENGLAND. 409 

rend informant indicates the nature of the proceedings, when the 
sexes are herded indiscriminately, and it is impossible to pre- 
sent to the reader, in full particularity, the records of the vice 
practised. 

"Boys have boastfully carried on loud conversations, and from 
distant parts of the room, of their triumphs over the virtue of girls, 
and girls have laughed at and encouraged the recital. Three, 
four, five, six, and even more boys and girls have been packed, 
head and feet, into one small bed ; some of them perhaps never 
met before. On such occasions any clothing seems often enough 
to be regarded as merely an encumbrance. Sometimes there are 
loud quarrels and revilings from the jealousy of boys and girls, 
and more especially of girls whose ' chaps' have deserted or been 
inveigled from them. At others, there is an amicable interchange 
of partners, and next day a resumption of their former compa- 
nionship. One girl, then fifteen or sixteen, who had been leading 
this vicious kind of life for nearly three years, and had been re- 
peatedly in prison, and twice in hospitals and who expressed a 
strong desire to 'get out of the life' by emigration said: 'What- 
ever that's bad and wicked, that any one can fancy could be done 
in such places among boys and girls that's never been taught, or 
won't be taught, better, is done, and night after night/ In these 
haunts of low iniquity, or rather in the room into which the 
children are put, there are seldom persons above twenty. The 
young lodgers in such places live by thieving and pocket-picking, 
or by prostitution. The charge for a night's lodging is generally 
2d., but smaller children have often been admitted for \d. If a 
boy or girl resort to one of these dens at night without the means 
of defraying the charge for accommodation, the ' mot of the ken* 
(mistress of the house) will pack them off, telling them plainly 
that it will be no use their returning until they have stolen some- 
thing worth 2d. If a boy or girl do not return in the evening, and 
have not been heard to express their intention of going elsewhere, 
the first conclusion arrived at by their mates is that they have 
'got into trouble,' (prison.) 

" The indiscriminate admixture of the sexes among adults, in 
many of these places, is another evi* Even in some houses con- 

27 



410 THE WHITE SLAVES 

sidered of the better sort, men and women, husbands and wives, 
old and young, strangers and acquaintances, sleep in the same 
apartment, and if they choose, in the same bed. Any remonstrance 
at some act of gross depravity, or impropriety, on the part of a 
woman not so utterly hardened as the others, is met with abuse 
and derision. One man who described these scenes to me, and 
had long witnessed them, said that almost the only women who ever 
hid their faces or manifested dislike of the proceedings they could 
net but notice, (as far as he saw,) were poor Irishwomen, generally 
those who live by begging : ' But for all thatj' the man added, * an 
Irishman or Irishwoman of that sort will sleep anywhere, in any 
mess^ to save a halfpenny, though they may have often a few shil- 
lings, or a good many, hidden about them/ " 



The recent report of Captain Hays, " on the opera- 
tion of the Common Lodging-house Act," presents some 
appalling facts: 

"Up to the end of February, it was ascertained that 3100 per- 
sons, mostly Irishmen, in the very heart of the metropolis, lodged 
every night, 84,000 individuals in 3712 rooms. The instances 
enumerated are heart sickening. In a small room in Rosemary 
lane, near the Tower, fourteen adults were sleeping on the floor 
without any partition or regard to decency. In an apartment in 
Church lane, St. Giles, not fifteen feet square, were thirty-seven 
women and children, all huddled together on the floor. There are 
thousands of similar cases. The eastern portion of London, com- 
prising Whitechapel, Spitalfields, and Mile-end an unknown land 
to all of the decent classes is filled with a swarming population 
of above 300,000 beggars, costermongers, thieves, ragsellers, Jews, 
and the like. A single court is a fair example of this whole dis- 
trict. It contains eight houses of two rooms each. Three hun- 
dred persons men, women, and children live there. There is 
only one place of convenience ; and one hydrant, which is served 
half an hour e^ch day. The condition of this court may be ima- 



OF ENGLAND. 411 

gined; it is too filthy to describe. Decayed matter, stagnant 
water, refuse fish, vegetables, broken baskets, dead cats, dogs, and 
rats, are strewed everywhere around. The prices of various kinds 
of provision in these neighbourhoods give a forcible notion of the 
condition of the population. You can purchase for a halfpenny 
fish or meat enough for a dinner. 

" In this neighbourhood is Rag Fair. It is worth a visit. Thou- 
sands of persons are assembled in the streets, which are so thickly 
covered with merchandise that it is difficult to step along without 
treading on heaps of gowns, shawls, bonnets, shoes, and articles of 
men's attire. There is no conceivable article of dress that may 
not be purchased here. It is not without danger that one even 
visits the place at noonday. You are in the midst of the refuse of 
all London, of a whole race, whose chief employment is to com- 
mit depredations upon property, and whose lives are spent in the 
midst of a squalor, filth, deprivation and degradation, which the 
whole world cannot probably parallel. One of the London mis- 
sionaries says ' Persons who are accustomed to run up heavy 
bills at the shops of fashionable tailors and milliners will scarcely 
believe the sums for which the poor are able to purchase the same 
kind of articles. I have recently clothed a man and woman, both 
decently, for the sum of nine shillings. There is as great a variety 
of articles in pattern, shape, and size, as could be found in any 
draper's shop in London. The mother may go to Hag Fair, with 
the whole of her family, both boys and girls yes, and her hus- 
band, too and for a very few shillings deck them out from top to 
toe. I have no doubt that a man and his wife, and five or six 
children, with 1 would purchase for themselves ari entire change. 
This may appear an exaggeration ; but I actually Overheard a con- 
versation, in which two women were trying to bargain for a child's 
frock ; the sum asked was 1 %d., and the sum offered was \d., and 
they parted on the difference.' 

" The following is a bill delivered by a dealer to one of the mis- 
sionaries, who was requested to supply a suit of clothes for a man 
and woman whom he had persuaded to get married several years 
after the right time : 



412 THE WHITE SLAVES 

s. d. 

A full linen-fronted shirt, very elegant 6 

A pair of warm worsted stockings 1 

A ipair of light-coloured trousers 6 

A black cloth waistcoat 3 

A pair of white cotton braces 1 

A pair of low shoes 1 

A black silk velvet stock 1 

A bl;ick beaver, fly-fronted, double-breasted paletot coat, 

lin< 3d with silk, a very superior article 1 6 

A cloth cap, bound with a figured band 1 

A paLr of black cloth gloves 1 

3 3 

*' The man had been educated, and could speak no fewer than 
five languages ; by profession he was, however, nothing but a dust- 
hill rak.er. 

" The bill delivered for the bride's costume is as follows : 

A shift- 1 

A pair of stays 2 

A flannel petticoat 4 

A black Orleans ditto 4 

A pair oJ white cotton stockings,., 1 

A very good light-coloured cotton gown 10 

A pair of single-soled slippers, with spring heels 2 

A double-d.yed bonnet, including a neat cap 2 

A pair of white cotton gloves , 1 

A lady's g reen silk paletot, lined with crimson silk, 
trimmed with black 10 

3 1" 

Throughout the country there are low lodging-houses, 
which do not differ much in character from those of 
London. In all of them the most disgusting immorality 
is practised to an extent scarcely conceivable by those 
who do not visit such dens of vice and misery. 



OP ENGLAND. 413 

The story of the Jew Fagan, and his felonious opera- 
tions, in Dickens's Oliver Twist, is a true representation 
of a most extensive business in London. There are a 
large number of notorious receivers of stolen goods. 
Some of them keep a number of boys, who are instructed 
in stealing, and beaten severely when unsuccessful. 
Mayhew mentions one notorious case in George-yard. 
A wooden-legged Welshman, named Hughes, and com- 
monly called Taff, was the miscreant. Two little boys 
were his chief agents in stealing, and when they did not 
obtain any thing, he would take the strap off his wooden 
leg, and beat them through the nakedness of their rags. 
He boarded and lodged about a dozen Chelsea -and 
Greenwich pensioners. These he followed and watched 
closely until they were paid. Then, after they had set- 
tled with him, he would make them drunk and rob 
them of the few shillings they had left. 

The brutal treatment of servants, which we have 
already touched, drives many of them to the low lodging- 
houses, and to the commission of crime. In the follow- 
ing narrative, which a girl communicated to Mr. Mayhew, 
we have an illustration of this assertion, as well as 
some awful disclosures in regard to " life among the 
lowly;" 

" ' I am an orphan. When I was ten I was sent to service as a 
maid of all-work, in a small tradesman's family. It was a hard 
place, and my mistress used me very cruelly, beating me often. 
When I >ad been in place three weeks, my mother died; my 



414 THE WHITE SLAVES 

father having died twelve years before. I stood my mistress's ill- 
treatment about six months. She beat me with sticks as well as 
with her hands. I was black and blue, and at last I ran away. 

I got to Mrs. , a low lodging-house. I didn't know before 

that there was such a place. I heard of it from some girls at the 
Glasshouse, (baths and wash-houses,) where I went for shelter. I 
went with them to have a halfpenny worth of coffee, and they took 
me to the lodging-house. I then had three shillings, and stayed 
about a month, and did nothing wrong, living on the three shil- 
lings and what I pawned my clothes for, as I got some pretty good 
things away with me. In the lodging-house I saw nothing but 
what was bad, .and heard nothing but what was bad. I was 
laughed at, and was told to swear. They said, ' Look at her for 

a d modest fool' sometimes worse than that, until by degrees 

I got to be as bad as they were. During this time I used to see 
boys and girls from ten to twelve years old sleeping together, but 
understood nothing wrong. I had never heard of such places 
before I ran away. I can neither read nor write. My mother 
was a good woman, and I wish I'd had her to run away to. I 
saw things between almost children that I can't describe to you 
very often I saw them, and that shocked me. At the month's 
end, when I was beat out, I met with a young man of fifteen I 
myself was going on to twelve years old and he persuaded me 
to take up with him. I stayed with him three months in the 
same lodging-house, living with him as his wife, though we were 
mere children, and being true to him. At the three months' end 
he was taken up for picking pockets, and got six months. I was 
sorry, for he was kind to me ; though I was made ill through 
him ; so I broke some windows in St. Paul's churchyard to get 
into prison to get cured. I had a month in the Cornpter, and 
came out well. I was scolded very much in the Compter, on 
account of the state I was in, being so young. I had 2s. 6d. given 
to me when I came out, and was forced to go into the streets for 
a living. I continued walking the streets for three years, some- 
times making a good deal of money, sometimes none, feasting one 
day and starving the next. The bigger girls could persuade me 
to do any thing they liked with my money. I was never happy 



OP ENGLAND. 415 

all the time, but I could get no character, and could not get out 
of the life. I lodged all this time at a lodging-house in Kent- 
street. They were all thieves and bad girls. I have known 
between three and four dozen boys and girls sleep in one room. 
The beds were horrid filthy and full of vermin. There was very 
wicked carryings on. The boys, if any difference, was the worst. 
We lay packed, on a full night, a dozen boys and girls squeedged 
into one bed. That was very often the case some at the foot 
and some at the top boys and girls all mixed. I can't go into 
all the particulars, but whatever could take place in words or acts 
between boys and girls did take place, and in the midst of the 
others. I am sorry to say I took part in these bad ways myself, 
but I wasn't so bad as some of the others. There was only a- 
candle burning all night, but in summer it was light great part 
of the night. Some boys and girls slept without any clothes, and 
would dance about the room that way. I have seen them, and, 
wicked as I was, felt ashamed. I have seen two dozen capering 
about the room that way ; some mere children, the boys generally 
the youngest. There were no men or 

women present. There were often fights. The deputy never in- 
terfered. This is carried on just the saine as ever to this day, 
and is the same every night. I have heard^young girls shout out 
to one another how often they had been obliged to go to the hos- 
pital, or the infirmary, or the workhouse. There was a great deal 
of boasting about what the boys and girls had stolen during the 
day. I have known boys and girls change their ' partners/ just 
for a night. At three years' end I stole a piece of beef from a 
butcher. I did it to get into prison. I was sick of the life I was 
leading, and didn't know how to get out of it. I had a month for 
stealing. When I got out I passed two days and a night in the 
streets doing nothing wrong, and then went and threatened to 

break Messrs. 's windows again. I did that to get into 

prison again ; for when I lay quiet of a night in prison I thought 
things over, and considered what a shocking life I was leading^ 
and how my health might be ruined completely, and I thought I 
would stick to prison rather than go back to such a life. I got 
six months for threatening. When I got out I broke a lamp next 



416 THE WHITE SLAVES 

morning for the same purpose, and had a fortnight. That was 
the last time I was in prison. I have since been leading the same 
life as I told you of for the three years, and lodging at the same 
houses, and seeing the same goings on. I hate such a life now 
more than ever. I am willing to do any work that I can in wash- 
ing and cleaning. I can do a little at my needle. I could do 
hard work, for I have good health. I used to wash and clean in 
prison, and always behaved myself there. At the house where I 

am it is 3d. a night ; but at Mrs. 's it is Id. and 2d. a night, 

and just the same goings on. Many a girl nearly all of them 
goes out into the streets from this penny and twopenny house, to 
get money for their favourite boys by prostitution. If the girl 
can not get money she must steal something, or will be beaten by 
her ' chap' when she comes home. I have seen them beaten, often 
kicked and beaten until they were blind from bloodshot, and their 
teeth knocked out with kicks from boots as the girl lays on the 
ground. The boys, in their turn, are out thieving all day, and 
the lodging-house keeper will buy any stolen provisions of them, 
and. sell them to the lodgers. I never saw the police in the house. 
If a boy comes to the house on a night without money or sawney, 
or something to sell to the lodgers, a handkerchief or something 
of that kind, he is not admitted, but told very plainly, ' Go thieve 
it, then/ Girls are treated just the same. Anybody may call 
in the daytime at this house and have a halfpenny worth of coffee 
and sit any length of time until evening. I have seen three dozen 
sitting there that way, all thieves and bad girls. There are no 
chairs, and only one form in front of the fire, on which a dozen 
can sit. The others sit on the floor all about the room, as near 
the fire as they can. Bad language goes on during the day, as I 
told you it did during the night, and indecencies too, but nothing 
like so bad as at night. They talk about where there is good 
places to go and thieve. The missioners call sometimes, but 
they're laughed at often when they're talking, and always before 
the door's closed on them. If a decent girl goes there to get a 
ha'porth of coffee, seeing the board over the door, she is always 
shocked. Many a poor girl has been ruined in this house since I 
was, and boys have boasted about it. I never knew boy or girl do 



OP ENGLAND. 41T 

good, once get used there. Get used there, indeed, and you are 
life-ruined. I was an only child, and haven't a friend in the 
world. I have heard several girls say how they would like to 
get out of the life, and out of the place. From those I know, I 
think that cruel parents and mistresses cause many to be driven 
there. One lodging-house keeper, Mrs. , goes out dressed re- 
spectable, and pawns any stolen property, or sells it at public- 
houses/ 

"As a corroboration of the girl's statement, a wretched-looking 
boy, only thirteen years of age, gave me the following additional 
information. He had a few rags hanging about him, and no shirt 
indeed, he was hardly covered enough for purposes of decency, 
his skin being exposed through the rents in his jacket and trou- 
sers. He had a stepfather, who treated him very cruelly. The 
stepfather and the child's mother went ' across the country/ beg- 
ging and stealing. Before the mother died, an elder brother ran 
away on account of being beaten. 

" ' Sometimes/ I give his own words, ' he (the stepfather) 
wouldn't give us a bit to eat, telling us to go and thieve for it. 
My brother had been a month gone (he's now a soldier in Gib- 
raltar) when I ran away to join him. I knew where to find him, 
as we met sometimes. We lived by thieving, and I do still by 

pulling flesh, (stealing meat.) I got to lodge at Mrs. , and have 

been there this eight months. I can read and write a little.' This 
boy then confirmed what the young girl had told me of the grossest 
acts night by night among the boys 'and girls, the language, &c., 
and continued: 'I always sleep on the floor for Id., and pay 
%d. besides for coke. At this lodging-house cats and kittens are 
melted down, sometimes twenty a day. A quart pot is a cat, and 
pints and half-pints are kittens. A kitten (pint) brings 3d. from 
the rag-shops, and a cat 6d. There's convenience to melt them 
down at the lodging-house. We can't sell clothes in the house, 
except any lodger wants them ; and clothes nearly all go to the 

Jews in Petticoat-lane. Mrs. buys the sawney of us ; so 

much for the lump, 2d. a pound about; she sells it again for 
twice what she gives, and more. Perhaps 30 Ibs. of meat every 
day is sold to her, I have been in prison six times, and have 



418 THE WHITE SLAVES 

had three dozen ; each time I came out harder. If I left Mrs. 

's house I don't know how I could get my living. Lots of 

boys would get away if they could. I never drink. I don't like 
it. Very few of us boys drink. I don't like thieving, and often 
go about singing ; but I can't live by singing, and I dont know 
how I could live honestly. If I had money enough to buy a stock 
of oranges, I think I could be honest.' " 

Mr. Mayhew called a meeting of thieves and beggars 
at the Bristol Union School-room, Shakspeare Walk, 
Shadwell. One hundred and fifty of them all under 
twenty years of age attended. It may be doubted 
whether such a meeting could have been brought about 
in any other city. The young thieves and beggars 
were very fair samples of their numerous class. Of 
professed beggars, there were fifty; and sixty-six ac- 
knowledged themselves habitual thieves. The an- 
nouncement that the greater number present were 
thieves, pleased them exceedingly, and was received 
with three rounds of applause ! Fourteen of them had 
been in prison over twenty times, and twenty stated 
that they had been flo'gged in prison. Seventy-eight 
of them regularly roamed through the country every 
year ; sixty-five slept regularly in the casual wards of 
the Unions ; and fifty-two occasionally slept in trampers' 
lodging-houses throughout the country. 

The ignorance prevailing among the vast number of 
street-sellers in London, is rather comically illustrated 
by Mr. Mayhew, in the following instance : 



OF ENGLAND. 419 

" One boy gave me his notions of men and things. He was a 
thick-limbed, red-cheeked fellow; answered very freely, and 
sometimes, when I could not help laughing at his replies, .laughed 
loudly himself, as if he entered into the joke. 

" Yes, he had heer'd of God who made the world. Couldn't 
exactly recollec' when he'd heerd on him, but he had, most 
sarten-ly. Didn't know when the world was made, or how any- 
body could do it. It must have taken a long time. It was afore 
his time, ' or yourn either, sir/ Knew there was a book called 
the Bible ; didn't know what it was about; didn't mind to know; 
knew of such a book to a sartinty, because a young 'oman took 
one to pop (pawn) for an old 'oman what was on the spree a 
bran new 'un but the cove wouldn't have it, and the old 'oman 

said he might be d d. Never heer'd tell on the deluge, of the 

world having been drownded ; it couldn't, for there wasn't water 
enough to do it. He weren't a going to fret hisself for such 
things as that. Didn't know what happened to people after death, 
only that they was buried. Had seen a dead body laid out ; was 
a little afeared at first ; poor Dick looked so different, and when 
you touched his face he was so cold ! oh, so cold ! Had heer'd 
on another world ; wouldn't L _ind if he was there hisself, if he 
could do better, for things was often queer here. Had heer'd on 
it from a tailor such a clever cove, a stunner as went to 
'Straliar, (Australia,) and heer'd him say he was going into 
another world. Had never heer'd of France, but had heer'd of 
Frenchmen ; there wasn't half a quarter so many on 'em as of 
Italians, with their ear-rings like flash gals. Didn't dislike 
foreigners, for he never saw none. What was they ? Had 
heer'd of Ireland. Didn't know where it was, but it couldn't be 
very far, or such lots wouldn't come from there to London. 
Should say they walked it, ay, every bit of the way, for he'd seen 
them come in all covered with dust. Had heer'd of people going 
to sea, and had seen the ships in the river, but didn't know 
nothing about it, for he was very seldom that way. The sun was 
made of fire, or it wouldn't make you feel so warm. The stars 
was fire, too, or they wouldn't shine. They didn't make it warm, 
they was too small. Didn't know any use they was of. Didn't 



420 THE WHITE SLAVES 

know how far they was off; a jolly lot higher than the gas lights 
some on 'em was. Was never in a church ; had heer'd they 
worshipped God there; didn't know how it was done; had heer'd 
singing and praying inside when he'd passed ; never was there, 
for he hadn't no togs to go in, and wouldn't be let in among such 
swells as he had seen coming out. "Was a ignorant chap, for 
he'd never been to school, but was up to many a move, and didn't 
do bad. Mother said he would make his fortin yet. 

" Had heer'd of the Duke of Wellington ; he was Old Nosey; 
didn't think he ever seed him, but had seen his statty. Hadn't 
heer'd of the battle of Waterloo, nor who it was atween ; once 
lived in Webber-row, Waterloo-road. Thought he had heer'd 
speak of Bonaparte ; didn't know what he was ; thought he'd 
heer'd of Shakspeare, but didn't know whether he was alive or 
dead, and didn't care. A man with something like that name 
kept a dolly and did stunning ; but he was sich a hard cove that 
if he was dead it wouldn't matter. Had seen the queen, but 
didn't recollec' her name just at the minute ; oh ! yes, Wictoria 
and Albert. Had no notion what the queen had to do. Should 
think she hadn't such power [he had first to ask me what 'power' 
was] as the lord mayor, or as Mr. Norton as was the Lambeth 
beak, and perhaps is still. Was never once before a beak, and 
didn't want to. Hated the crushers ; what business had they to 
interfere with him if he was only resting his basket in a street ? 
Had been once to the Wick, and once to the Bower ; liked tum- 
bling better ; he meant to have a little pleasure when the peas 



The vagabond propensities of the street-children are 
thus described by Mr. Mayhew : 

" As soon as the warm weather commences, boys and girls, but 
more especially boys, leave the town in shoals, traversing the 
country in every direction ; some furnished with trifling articles 
(such as I have already enumerated) to sell, and others to beg- 
ging, lurking, or thieving. It is not the street-sellers who so 



OF ENGLAND. 421 

much resort to the tramp, as those who are devoid of the com- 
monest notions of honesty ; a quality these young vagrants some- 
times respect when in fear of a jail, and the hard work with 
which such a place is identified in their minds and to which, 
with the peculiar idiosyncrasy of a roving race, they have an 
insuperable objection. 

" I have met with boys and girls, however, to whom a jail had 
no terrors, and to whom, when in prison, there was only one 
dread, and that a common one among the ignorant, whether with 
or without any sense of religion superstition. ' I lay in prison 
of a night, sir/ said a boy who was generally among the briskest 
of his class, ' and think I shall see things/ The ' things' repre- 
sent the vague fears which many, not naturally stupid, but un- 
taught or ill-taught persons, entertain in the dark. A girl, a 
perfect termagant in the breaking of windows and suchlike 
offences, told me something of the same kind. She spoke well 
of the treatment she experienced in prison, and seemed to have a 
liking for the matron and officials ; her conduct there was quiet 
and respectful. I believe she was not addicted to drink. 

" Many of the girls, as well as the boys, of course trade as 
they * tramp/ They often sell, both in the country and in town, 
little necklaces composed of red berries strung together upon 
thick thread, for dolls and children ; but although I have asked 
several of them, I have never yet found ene who collected the 
berries and made the necklaces themselves ; neither have I met 
with a single instance in which the girl vendors knew the name 
of the berries thus used, nor indeed even that they were berries. 
The invariable reply to my questions upon this point has been 
that they ' are called necklaces ;' that ' they are just as they sells 
'em to us;' that they 'dont know whether they are made or 
whether they grow ;' and in most cases, that they ' gets them in 
London, by Shoreditch;' although in one case a little brown- 
complexioned girl, with bright sparkling eyes, said that ' she got 
them from the gipsies/ At first I fancied, from this child's ap- 
pearance, that she was rather superior in intellect to most of her 
class ; but I soon found that she was not a whit above the others, 
unless, indeed, it were in the possession of the quality of cunning." 
S 



422 THE WHITE SLAVES 

The regular "tramps," or wandering vagabonds, are 
very numerous throughout Great Britain. At certain 
periods they issue from all the large towns, and prey 
upon the rural districts like swarms of locusts. In no 
other country can be found so constant a class of va- 
grants. The gipsies form but a small portion of the 
"tramps." These vagrants are miserably clothed, 
filthy, covered with vermin, and generally very much 
diseased sometimes from debauchery, and sometimes 
from want of food and from exposure. Very few of 
them are married. The women are nearly all prosti- 
tutes. The manner of life of these wanderers is 
curious. They beg during the day in the towns, or 
along the roads; and they so arrange their day's 
tramp as to arrive, most nights, in the neighbourhood 
of the workhouses. They then hide the money they 
have collected by begging, and present themselves, 
after sunset, at the gates of the workhouse, to beg a 
night's lodging. To nearly every workhouse there are 
attached vagrant wards, or buildings which are spe- 
cially set apart for the reception of tramps such as 
those we have described. These wards are commonly 
brick buildings, of one story in height. They have 
brick floors and guard-room beds, with loose straw and 
rugs for the males, and iron bedsteads, with straw, for 
the females. They are badly ventilated, and unprovided 
with any means for producing warmth. All holes for 
ventilation are sure to be stopped up at night, by the 



OP ENGLAND. 423 

occupants, with rags or straw, so that the stench of 
these sleeping-places is disgusting in the extreme. 
Guards are appointed for these wards, but such is the 
immorality and indecency of the vagrants, that the 
most disgusting scenes are common in them. The 
wards resound with the vilest songs and the foulest 
language ; and so numerous are the "tramps" that the 
guardians find it impossible to separate the sexes. 
This vast evil of vagrancy is constantly increasing, 
and is a natural result of the monopolies and oppres- 
sions of the aristocracy. It is stated that on the 25th 
of March, 1848, the 626 Unions of England and Wales 
relieved 16,086 vagrants. But this scarcely gives an 
idea of the magnitude of the evil. Between 40,000 
and 50,000 "tramps" infest the roads and streets of 
England and Wales every day. The majority of them 
are thieves, and nearly all are almost brutally ignorant. 
In London there are large numbers of small dealers, 
called costermongers and patterers. Persons belonging 
to these classes seldom or never rise above their trade, 
and they seem to have a kind of hereditary pride in 
their degraded position. Many of the costermongers 
and patterers are thieves, and the general character of 
these classes is very debased ; ignorance and immorali- 
ty prevail to a fearful extent. The patterers are more 
intelligent than the costermongers, but they are also 
more immoral. They help off their wares, which are 
chiefly stationery and quack medicines, by long ha- 



424 THE WHITE SLAVES 

rangues, while the costermongers merely cry their fish, 
greens, &c. about the streets. The number of people 
dependent upon costermongering in London is about 
thirty thousand. The patterers are not so numerous. 

Concubinage is the rule and marriage the exception 
among both costermongers and patterers. Mr. Mayhew 
estimates that only one-tenth of the couples living to- 
gether and carrying on the costermongering trade are 
married. There is no honour attached to the marriage 
state and no shame to concubinage. In good times the 
women are rigidly faithful to their paramours, but in 
the worst pinch of poverty a departure from fidelity is 
not considered heinous. About three out of a hundred 
costermongers ever attend a church, and the majority 
of them have no knowledge of Christianity ; they asso- 
ciate the Church of England and aristocracy, and hate 
both. Slang is acquired very rapidly, and some coster- 
mongers will converse in it by the hour. The women 
use it sparingly; the girls more than the women; the 
men more than the girls; and the boys most of all. 
Pronouncing backward is the simple principle upon 
which the costermonger slang is founded. 

The patterers, though a vagrant, are an organized 
class. Mr. Mayhew says 

" There is a telegraphic despatch between them, through the 
length and breadth of the land. If two patterers (previously un- 
acquainted) meet in the provinces, the following, or something 
like it, will be their conversation: Can you ' voker romeny' (can 



OF ENGLAND. 425 

you speak cant?) What is your ' monekeer?' (name.) Perhaps 
it turns out that one is ' White-headed Bob,' and the .other 'Ply- 
mouth Ned/ They have a ' shant of gatter' (pot of beer) at the 
nearest 'boozing ken/ (ale-house,) and swear eternal friendship 
to each other. The old saying, that ' When the liquor is in the 
wit is out,' is remarkably fulfilled on these occasions, for they 
betray to the ' flatties' (natives) all their profits and proceedings. 

" It is to be supposed that in country districts, where there are 
no streets, the patterer is obliged to call at the houses. As they 
are mostly without the hawker's license, and sometimes find wet 
linen before it is lost, the rural districts are not fond of their visits; 
and there are generally two or three persons in a village reported 
to be ' gammy,' that is, unfavourable. If a patterer has been 
'crabbed,' that is, ofiended, at any of the 'cribs,' (houses,) he 
mostly chalks a signal on or near the door. I give one or two 
instances : 

" ' Bone,' meaning good. 

" ' Cooper' d,' spoiled by the imprudence of some other patterer. 

" ' Gammy,' likely to have you taken up. 

" ' Flummut,' sure of a month in quod. 

" In most lodging-houses there is an old man who is the guide 
to every ' walk' in the vicinity, and who can tell every house on 
every round that is ' good for a cold 'tater.' In many cases there 
is over the kitchen mantel-piece a map of the district, dotted here 
and there with memorandums of failure or success, 

" Patterers are fond of carving their names and avocations 
about the houses they visit. The old jail at Dartford has been 
some years a ' padding-ken/ In one of the rooms appear the 
following autographs: 

" 'Jemmy, the Rake, bound to Bristol; bad beds, but no bugs. 
Thank God for all things/ 

" ' Razor George and his moll slept here the day after Christ- 
mas; just out of " stir," (jail,) for "muzzling a peeler." ' 

" ' Scotch Mary, with "driz," (lace,) bound to Dove* and back, 
please God.' 

" Sometimes these inscriptions are coarse and obscene; some- 
times Tery well written and orderly, Nor do they want illustra- 
tions, , g8 



426 THE WHITE SLAVES 

"At the old factory, Lincoln, is a portrait of the town beadle, 
formerly- a soldier ; it is drawn with different-coloured chalks, and 
ends with the following couplet: 

' You are a B for false swearing, 
In hell they'll roast you like a herring.' 

" Concubinage is very common among patterers, especially on 
their travels; they have their regular rounds, and call the pere- 
grination ' going on circuit/ For the most part they are early 
risers ; this gives them a facility for meeting poor girls who have 
had a night's shelter in the union workhouses. They offer such 
girls some refreshments, swear they are single men, and promise 
comforts certainly superior to the immediate position of their 
victims. Consent is generally obtained ; perhaps a girl of four- 
teen or fifteen, previously virtuous, is induced to believe in a pro- 
mise of constant protection, but finds herself, the next morning, 
ruined and deserted; nor is it unlikely that, within a month or 
two, she will see her seducer in the company of a dozen incidental 
wives. A gray-headed miscreant, called 'Cutler Tom/ boasta 
of five hundred such exploits ; and there is too great reason to 
believe that the picture of his own drawing is not greatly over- 
charged." 

A reverend gentleman, who had enjoyed the best 
opportunities for observing the patterers, gave Mr. 
Mayhew the following information : 

" I have seen fathers and mothers place their boys and girls in, 
positions of incipient enormity, and command them to use lan- 
guage and gestures to each other which would make a harlot 
blush, and almost a heathen tremble. I have hitherto viewed the 
patterer as a salesman, having something in his hand, on whose 
merits, real or pretended, lie talks people out of their money. By 
slow degrees prosperity rises, but rapid is the advance of evil. 
The patterer sometimes gets ' out of stock/ and is obliged, at no 
great sacrifice of conscience, to ' patter' in another strain. In 
every large town, sham official documents, with crests, seals, and 



OF ENGLAND. 427 

signatures, can be got for half-a-crown. Armed with these, the 
patterer becomes a ' lurker/ that is, an impostor ; his papers cer- 
tify any and every ' ill that flesh is heir to.' Shipwreck is called 
a ' shake lurk ;' loss by fire is a ' glim/ Sometimes the petitioner 
has had a horse which has dropped dead with the mad staggers; 
or has a wife ill or dying, and six or seven children at once sick- 
ening of the small-pox. Children are borrowed to support the 
appearance ; the case is certified by the minister and churchwar- 
dens of a parish which exists only in imagination ; and as many 
people dislike the trouble of investigation, the patterer gets enough 
to raise a stock in trade, and divides the spoil between the swag- 
shop and the gin-palace. Sometimes they are detected, and get 
a 'drag/ (three months in prison.) 

" They have many narrow escapes ; one occurs to me of a some- 
what ludicrous character: A patterer and lurker (now dead) 
known by the name of ' Captain Moody/ unable to get a ' fake- 
ment' written or printed, was standing almost naked in the streets 
of a neighbouring town. A gentleman stood still and heard his 
piteous tale, but, having been ' done' more than once, he resolved 
to examine the affair, and begged the petitioner to conduct him 
to his wife and children, who were in a garret on a bed of lan- 
guishing, with neither clothes, food, nor fire, but, it appeared, 
with faith enough to expect a supply from ' Him who feedeth the 
ravens/ and in whose sacred name even a cold 'tater was im- 
plored. The patterer, or half-patterer and half-beggar, took the 
gentleman (who promised a sovereign if every thing was square) 
through innumerable and intricate windings, till he came to an 
outhouse or sort of stable. He saw the key outside the door, and 
begged the gentleman to enter and wait till he borrowed a light 
of a neighbour to show him up-stairs. The illumination never 
arrived, and the poor charitable man found that the miscreant 
had locked him into the stable. The patterer went to the pad- 
ding-ken, told the story with great glee, and left that locality 
within an hour of the occurrence." 

Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, and other pro- 
vincial cities possess an ignorant and immoral popula- 



428 THE WHITE SLAVES 

tion quite equal, in proportion to the entire population 
of each city, to that of London. In each may be found 
a degraded class, with scarcely any ideas of religion or 
morality, living in the most wretched manner, and 
practising every species of vice. The cellar-houses, in 
which many of them live, have been described in another 
chapter. They are the filthy abodes of a people almost 
reduced to a brutish condition. In Liverpool parish 
there is a cellar-population of 20,000, a large number 
of whom are continually engaged in criminal practices. 
There are portions of the city of Glasgow which a 
stranger could scarcely traverse safely at night, and 
where an amount of vice and misery may be witnessed 
which is not exceeded in either London or Liverpool. 

In the mining and manufacturing districts of England 
there is much ignorance and more vice.. In both, there 
are schools of a miserable character, but those young 
persons who can find time to attend them learn nothing 
beyond reading, writing, and the simplest rules of arith- 
metic. The mining labour, as carried on in the mines 
of England, is extremely demoralizing in its tendency, 
as we have shown in another part of this work. The 
report of parliamentary commissioners contains some 
statements in regard to the darkness of mind and cor- 
ruption of heart among young persons employed in the 
various trades and manufactures. 

The following facts are quoted from the Second Re- 
port of the " Children's Employment Commission," 



OP ENGLAND. 429 

The moral and religious state of tlie children and 
young persons employed in the trades and manufactures 
of Birmingham, is described by the sub-commissioners 
as very unfavourable. The social and domestic duties 
and affections are but little cultivated and practised ; 
great numbers never attend any place of public worship ; 
and of the state of juvenile crime some conception may 
be formed by the statement, that of the total number of 
known or suspected offenders in this town, during the 
twelve last months namely, 1223 at least one-half 
were under fifteen years of age. 

As to illicit sexual intercourse, it seems to prevail 
almost universally, and from a very early period of life; 
to this common conclusion witnesses of every rank give 
testimony. 

WOLVERHAMPTON. Of the moral condition of the 
youthful population in the Wolverhampton district, Mr. 
Home says "Putting together all I elicited from va- 
rious witnesses and conversations with working people, 
abroad and at home, and all that fell under my obser- 
vation, I am obliged to come to the conclusion, that the 
moral virtues of the great majority of the children are 
as few in number and as feeble in practice as can well 
be conceived in a civilized country, surrounded by re- 
ligious and educational institutions, and by individuals 
anxious for the improvement of the condition of the 
working classes." 

He adds of WITTENHALL A lower condition of 



430 THE WHITE SLAVES 

morals, in the fullest sense of the term, could not, I 
think, be found. I do not mean by this that there are 
many more prominent vices among them, but that moral 
feelings and sentiments do not exist among them. They 
have no morals." 

SHEFFIELD. In all the Sheffield trades, employing 
large numbers of children, it is stated that there is a 
much closer intermixture of the younger children with 
the elder youths, and with the men, than is usual in 
the cotton, woollen, and flax factories ; and that the 
conversation to which the children are compelled to 
listen, would debase their minds and blunt their moral 
feelings even if they had been carefully and virtuously 
educated, but that of course this result takes place 
more rapidly and completely in the case of those who 
have had little or no religious culture, and little but 
bad example before their eyes from their cradle up- 
ward. 

Habits of drinking are formed at a very early age, 
malt liquor being generally introduced into the work- 
shops, of which the youngest children are encouraged 
to partake. "Very many," say the police-officers, 
"frequent beer-shops, where they play at dominoes, 
bagatelle, &c. for money or drink." Early intemper- 
ance is assigned by the medical men as one cause of the 
great mortality of Sheffield. " There are beer-houses," 
says the Rev. Mr. Farish, " attended by youths exclu- 
sively, for the men will not have them in the same houses 



OF ENGLAND. 431 

with themselves. In these beer-houses are youths of 
both sexes encouraged to meet, and scenes destructive 
of every vestige of virtue or morality ensue. 

But it is stated by all classes of witnesses, that " the 
most revolting feature of juvenile depravity in this 
town is early contamination from the association of the 
sexes," that "juvenile prostitution is exceedingly com- 
mon." The evidence," says the sub-commissioner, 
"might have been doubled which attests the early 
commencement of sexual and promiscuous intercourse 
among boys and girls." 

SEDGLEY. At Sedgley and the neighbouring vil- 
lages, the number of girls employed in nail-making 
considerably exceeds that of the boys. Of these girls 
Mr. Home reports " Their appearance, manners, ha- 
bits, and moral natures (so far as the word moral can 
be applied to them) are in accordance with their half- 
civilized condition. Constantly associating with igno- 
rant and depraved adults and young persons of the 
opposite sex, they naturally fall into all their ways; 
and drink, smoke, swear, throw off all restraint in word 
and act, and become as bad as a man. The heat of 
the forge and the hardness of the work renders few 
clothes needful in winter ; and in summer, the six or 
seven individuals who are crowded into these little dens 
find the heat almost suffocating. The men and boys 
are usually naked, except a pair of trousers and an 
open shirt, though they very often have no shirt ; and 



432 THE WHITE SLAVES 

the women and girls have only a tKin ragged petticoat, 
and an open shirt without sleeves." 

In the mining districts, there is even more ignorance 
and depravity than in the places where factories and 
workshops abound. The nature of the work, and va- 
rious wants, such as no freemen would suffer from 
want of proper schools and proper amusements induce 
this state of things. An American visiting any of these 
mining districts, would be astounded at the dulness, 
ignorance, and viciousness that prevails among the 
labourers- men and women, boys and girls. Many of 
them are perfect heathensnever hearing of God except 
when his awful name is "taken in vain." Of Christ 
and his mission they hear somewhat, but know nothing 
positively. Newspapers those daily and weekly mes- 
sengers that keep Americans fully informed of the af- 
fairs of the world they seldom see. The gin-shop and 
the brothel are their common resorts. 

Missionaries are wanted in Great Britain. Alas ! 
that in the middle of the nineteenth century, there 
should be so many hundreds of thousands of people, in 
the vicinity of a costly church establishment, without 
any knowledge of the Bible ! that a professedly 
Christian government should keep so many souls in 
ignorance of Christianity! that a country boasting 
of its civilization and enlightenment should contain so 
much darkness and depravity! 



n2&2!*L 




OF ENGLAND. 433 



CHAPTER X. 

COOLIE SLAVERY IN THE BRITISH COLONIES. 

THE British government emancipated the negro 
slaves held under its authority in the West Indies, 
thereby greatly depreciating the value of the islands, 
permitting a half-tamed race to fall back into a state 
of moral and mental darkness, and adding twenty mil- 
lions to the national debt, to be paid out of the sweat 
and blood of her own white serfs. This was termed a 
grand act of humanity ; those who laboured for it have 
been lauded and laurelled without stint, and English 
writers have been exceedingly solicitous that the world 
should not " burst in ignorance" of the achievement. 

Being free, the negroes, with the indolence inherent 
in their nature, would not work. Many purses suffered 
in consequence, and the purse is a very tender place to 
injure many persons. It became necessary to substi- 
tute other labourers for the free negroes, and the 
Coolies of India were taken to the Antilles for ex- 
periment. These labourers were generally sober, 



434 THE WHITE SLAVES 

steady, and industrious. But how were they treated ? 
A colonist of Martinique, who visited Trinidad in 
June, 1848, thus writes to the French author of a 
treatise on free and slave labour : 

" If I could fully describe to you the evils and suffering endured 
by the Indian immigrants (Coolies) in that horribly governed 
colony, I should rend the heart of the Christian world by a re- 
cital of enormities unknown in the worst periods of colonial 
slavery. 

" Borrowing the language of the prophet, I can truly say, ' The 
whole head is sick, and the whole heart is sad; from the sole of 
the foot to the top of the head nothing is sound ;' ^unds, sores, 
swollen ulcers, which are neither bandaged, nor soothed, nor 
rubbed with oil. 

"My soul has been deeply afflicted by all that I have seen. 
How many human beings lost! So far as I can judge, in spite 
of their wasting away, all are young, perishing under the weight 
of disease. Most of them are dropsical, for want of nourish- 
ment. Groups of children, the most interesting I have ever seen, 
scions of a race doomed to misfortune, were remarkable for their 
small limbs, wrinkled and reduced to the size of spindles and 
not a rag to cover them ! And to think that all this misery, all 
this destruction of humanity, all this waste of the stock of a 
ruined colony, might have been avoided, but has not beenl 
Great God ! it is painful beyond expression to think that such a 
neglect of duty and of humanity on the part of the colonial au- 
thorities, as well of the metropolis as of the colony a neglect 
which calls for a repressive if not a retributive justice will go 
entirely unpunished, as it has hitherto done, notwithstanding the 
indefatigable efforts of Colonel Fagan, the superintendent of the 
immigrants in this colony, an old Indian officer of large ex- 
perience, of whom I have heard nothing but good, and never any 
evil thing spoken, in all my travels through the island. 

" I am told that Colonel Fagan prepared a regulation for the go- 
vernment and protection of the immigrants which regulation 



OF ENGLAND. 435 

would probably realize, beyond all expectation, the object aimed 
at ; but scarcely had he commenced his operations when orders 
arrived from the metropolis to suppress it, and substitute another 
which proceeded from the ministry. The Governor, Mr. Harris, 
displeased that his OAvn regulation was thus annulled, pronounced 
the new order impossible to be executed, and it was withdrawn, 
without having been properly tried. The minister sent another 
order in regard to immigration, prepared in his hotel in Downing 
street ; but Governor Harris pronounced it to be still more diffi- 
cult of execution than the first, and it, too, failed. It is in this 
manner that, from beginning to end, the affairs of the Indian 
immigrants have been conducted. It was only necessary to treat 
them with justice and kindness to render them thanks to their 
active superintendent the best labourers that could be imported 
into the colony. They are now protected neither by regulations 
nor ordinances ; no attention is paid to the experienced voice of 
their superintendent full of benevolence for them, and always 
indefatigably profiting by what can be of advantage to them. 
If disease renders a Coolie incapable of work, he is driven from 
his habitation. This happens continually ; he is not in that case 
even paid his wages. What, then, can the unfortunate creature 
do ? Very different from the Creole or the African ; far distant 
from his country, without food, without money ; disease, the 
result of insufficient food and too severe labour, makes it im- 
possible for him to find employment. He drags himself into the 
forests or upon the skirts of the roads, lies there and dies ! 

" Some years since, the unfortunate Governor (Wall) of Gorea 
was hung for having pitilessly inflicted a fatal corporal punish- 
ment on a negro soldier found guilty of mutiny ; and this soldier, 
moreover, was under his orders. In the present case, I can prove 
a neglect to a great extent murderous. The victims are Indian 
Coolies of Trinidad. In less than one year, as is shown by 
official documents, two thousand corpses of these unfortunate 
creatures have furnished food to the crows of the island ; and a 
similar system is pursued, not only without punishment, but 
without even forming the subject of an official inquest. Strange 
and deplorable contradiction 1 and yet the nation which gives ua 



436 THE WHITE SLAVES 

this example boasts of extending the aegis of its protection over 
all its subjects, without distinction! It is this nation, also, that 
complacently takes to itself the credit of extending justice equally 
over all classes, over the lordly peer and the humblest subject, 
without fear, favour, or affection 1" 

In the Mauritius, the Coolies who have been im- 
ported are in a miserable condition. The planters 
have profited by enslaving these mild and gentle 
Hindoos, and rendering them wretched. 

" By aid of continued Coolie immigration," says Mr. Henry C. 
Carey/ "the export of sugar from the Mauritius has been doubled 
in the last sixteen years, having risen from seventy to one hun- 
dred and forty millions of pounds. Sugar is therefore very 
cheap, and the foreign competition is thereby driven from the 
British market. ' Such conquests/ however, says, very truly, the 
London Spectator, ' don't always bring profit to the conqueror ; 
nor does production itself prove prosperity. Competition for the 
possession of a field may be carried so far as to reduce prices 
below prime cost ; and it is clear, from the notorious facts of the 
West Indies from the change of property, from the total un- 
productiveness of much property still that the West India pro- 
duction of sugar has been carried on not only without replacing 
capital, but Math a constant sinking of capital.' The 'free* 
Coolie and the ' free' negro of Jamaica have been urged to com- 
petition for the sale of sugar, and they seem likely to perish 
together ; but compensation for this is found in the fact that 
' free trade has, in reducing the prices of commodities for home 
consumption, enabled the labourer to devote a greater share of 
his income toward purchasing clothing and luxuries, and has in- 
creased the home trade to an enormous extent.' What effect this 
reduction of ' the prices of commodities for home consumption.' 

* The Slave Trade, Domestic and Foreign. 



OF ENGLAND. 437 

has had upon the poor Coolies, may be judged from the followiug 
passage: 'I here beheld, for the first time, a class of beings of 
whom we have heard much, and for whom I have felt considerable 
interest. I refer to the Coolies imported by the British govern- 
ment to take the places of the faineant negroes, when the appren- 
ticeship system was abolished. Those I saw were wandering 
about the streets, dressed rather tastefully, but always meanly, 
and usually cai'rying over their shoulder a sort of chiffonnier's 
sack, in which they threw whatever refuse stuff they found in the 
streets or received as charity. Their figures are generally superb, 
and their Eastern costume, to which they adhere as far as their 
poverty will permit of any clothing, sets off their lithe and grace- 
ful forms to great advantage. Their faces are almost uniformly 
of the finest classic mould, and illuminated by pairs of those 
dark, swimming, and propitiatory eyes which exhaust the lan- 
guage of tenderness and passion at a glance. But they are the 
most inveterate mendicants on the island. It is said that those 
brought from the interior of India are faithful and efficient work- 
men, while those from Calcutta and its vicinity are good for 
nothing. Those that were prowling about the streets of Spanish 
Town and Kingston, I presume were of the latter class, for there 
is not a planter on the island, it is said, from whom it would be 
more difficult to get any work than from one of them. They sub- 
sist by begging altogether. They are not vicious nor intemperate, 
nor troublesome particularly,' except as beggars. In that calling 
they have a pertinacity before which a Northern mendicant would 
grow pale. They will not be denied. They will stand perfectly 
still and look through a window from the street for a quarter of 
an hour, if not driven away, with their imploring eyes fixed upon 
you like a stricken deer, without saying a word or moving a 
muscle. They act as if it were no disgrace for them to beg, as if 
an indemnification which they are entitled to expect, for the out" 
rage perpetrated upon them in bringing them from their distant 
homes to this strange island, is a daily supply of their few and 
cheap necessities, as they call for them. I confess that their 
begging did not leave upon my mind the impression produced by 
ordinary mendicancy, They do not look as if they ought to 



438 THE WHITE SLAVES 

work. I never saw one smile ; and though they showed no posi- 
tive suffering, I never saw one look happy. Each face seemed to 
be constantly telling the unhappy story of their woes, and, like 
fragments of a broken mirror, each reflecting in all its hateful 
proportions the national outrage of which they are the vic- 
tims.' "* 

English writers have frequently charged the citizens 
of the United States with being sordid, and caring 
more for pecuniary profit than honourable principle. 
No national measure of the great North American 
Republic, however, is so deeply tainted with avaricious 
motives as the colonial enactments and commercial 
schemes of Great Britain. Witness the government 
of British India, and the infamous traffic in opium 
forced upon the Chinese. In the conveyance of Coolies 
to the West Indies, and their treatment while toiling 
in those islands, we see the same base spirit displayed. 
All considerations of humanity have been sacrificed to 
calculations of profit. A people, naturally mild and 
intelligent, have been taken from their native land to 
distant islands, to take the place of the fierce and bar- 
barous Africans, to whose civilization slavery seems 
almost necessary; and in their new land of bondage 
these poor creatures have been deprived of the induce- 
ments to steady exertion, and left to beg or starve. 

After the passage of the act abolishing negro 
slavery, an arrangement was sanctioned by the colo- 

* Bigelow's Jamaica in 1850. 



OF ENGLAND. 439 

nial government for the introduction of Indian labour- 
ers into the Mauritius, under a species of apprentice- 
ship. The Coolies were engaged at five rupees, equal 
to ten shillings a month, for five years, with also one 
pound of rice, a quarter of a pound of dhall, or grain 
a kind of pulse and one ounce of butter, or ghee, 
daily. But for every day they were absent from their 
work they were to return two days to their masters, 
who retained one rupee per month to pay an advance 
made of six months' wages, and to defray the expense 
of their passage. If these men came into Port Louis 
to complain of their masters, they were lodged in the 
Bagne prison till their masters were summoned ! Be- 
fore the magistrates the masters had a great advan- 
tage over their servants. The latter being foreigners, 
but few of them could speak French, and they had no 
one to assist them in pleading their cause. They 
generally represented themselves as having been de- 
ceived with respect to the kind of labour to be required 
of them.* 

A large number of Indian convicts have been trans- 
ported to the Mauritius, and their slavery is deplora- 
ble. Backhouse, who visited the island when these 
poor wretches were not so numerous as they now are, 
says " Among the Indian convicts working on the 
road, we noticed one wearing chains; several had a 

* Backhouse's Visit to the Mauritius. 



440 THE WHITE SLAVES 

slight single ring round the ankle. They are lodged in 
huts with flat roofs, or in other inferior dwellings near 
the road. There are about seven hundred of them in 
the island. "What renders them peculiarly objects of 
sympathy is, that they were sent here for life, and no 
hope of any remission of sentence is held out to them 
for good conduct. Theirs is a hopeless bondage ; and 
though it is said by some that they are not hard worked, 
yet they are generally, perhaps constantly, breaking 
stones and mending the roads, and under a tropical 
sun. There are among them persons who were so 
young when transported that, in their offences, they 
could only be looked on as the dupes of those who were 
older, and many of them bear good characters." 

The hopeless slavery of these convicts is a doom 
which displays, in a striking light, the characteristics 
of British philanthropy. Death would be preferable to 
such a punishment, in the estimation of many of the 
Hindoos; but the British authorities are determined to 
make the punishment pay ! After the " eternal blazon" 
concerning the act of emancipating negroes, for which 
the pauperized labourers of Great Britain had to pay 
by their slavery, the colonial government created 
another system, attended with the misery and degrada- 
tion of a people better fitted for freedom than the 
negroes. The civilized world is requested to look on 
and admire ! 



OF ENGLAND. 441 



CHAPTER XL 

SLAVERY IN BRITISH INDIA. 

THE extensive, populous, and wealthy peninsula of 
Hindostan has suffered greatly from the crushing 
effects of the British slave system. From the founda- 
tion of the empire in India by Clive, conquest and 
extortion seem to have been the grand objects of the 
aristocratic government. There unscrupulous soldiers 
have fought, slaughtered, enslaved, and plundered. 
There younger sons, with rank, but without fortune, 
have filled their purses. There vast and magnificent 
tracts of country have been wasted with fire and sword, 
in punishment for the refusal of native princes to be- 
come slaves. There the fat of the land has been gar- 
nered up for the luxury of the conquerors, while famine 
has destroyed the people by thousands. There, indeed, 
has the British aristocracy displayed its most malig- 
nant propensities rioting in robbery and bloodshed 
setting all religion at defiance, while upholding the 
Christian standard and earning to the full the con- 
tinued execration of mankind. 

29 



442 THE WHITE SLAVES 

In a powerful work, called "The Aristocracy of 
England : a History for the People, by John Hamp- 
den, Jun.," a book we commend to the people of 
England, we have the following passage : 

" From the hour that Olive and his coadjutors came into the dis- 
covery of the vast treasures of the native princes, whence he him- 
self obtained, besides his jaghire of 30,000 per annum, about 
300,000 ; and he and his fellows altogether, between 1759 and 
1763, no less than 5,940,498, exclusive of this said jaghire, the 
cupidity of the aristocracy became excited to the highest degree ; 
and from that period to the present, India has been one scene of 
flights of aristocratic locusts, of fighting, plundering, oppression, 
and extortion of the natives. We will not go into these things ; 
they are fully and faithfully written in Mills's ' History of British 
India ;' in Howitt's ' Colonization and Christianity ;' and, above 
all, in the letters of the Honourable Frederick Shore, brother of 
Lord Teignmouth, a man who passed through all offices from a 
clerk to that of a judge and saw much of the system and work- 
ing of things in many parts of India. He published his letters 
originally in the India papers, that any one on the spot might 
challenge their truth; and, since his death, they have been 
reprinted in England. The scene which that work opens up is 
the most extraordinary, and demands the attention of every lover 
of his country and his species. It fully accounts for the strange 
facts, that India is now drained of its wealth ; that its public 
works, especially the tanks, which contributed by their waters to 
maintain its fertility, are fallen to decay ; that one-third of the 
country is a jungle inhabited by tigers, who pay no taxes ; that 
its people are reduced to the utmost wretchedness, and are often, 
when a crop fails, swept away by half a million at once by 
famine and its pendant, pestilence, as in 1770, and again in 
1838-9. To such a degree is this reduction of the wealth and 
cultivation of India carried, that while others of our colonies pay 
taxes to the amount of a pound or thirty shillings per head, India 
pays only four shillings. 



OF ENGLAND. 443 

" At the renewal of its charter in 1834, its income was about 
twenty millions, its debt about forty millions. Since then its in- 
come has gradually fallen to about seventeen millions, and its 
debt we hear now whispered to be about seventy millions. Such 
have been the effects of exhausted fields and physical energies on 
the one hand, and of wars, especially that of Affghanistan, on the 
other. It requires no conjurer, much less a very profound arith- 
metician, to perceive that at this rate we need be under no appre- 
hension of Russia, for a very few years will take India out of our 
hands by mere financial force. 

" Our aristocratic government, through the Board of Control, 
keep up and exert a vast patronage in India. The patronage of 
the president of this board alone, independent of his salary of 
5000 a year, is about twenty-one thousand pounds. But the 
whole aristocracy have an interest in keeping up wars in India, 
that their sons as officers, especially in these times of European 
peace, may find here both employment and promotion. This, 
then, the Company has to contend against; and few are they 
who are aware of the formidable nature of this power as it is ex- 
erted in this direction, and of the strange and unconstitutional 
legislative authority with which they have armed themselves for 
this purpose. How few are they who are aware that, while the 
East India Company has been blamed as the planners, authors, 
and movers of the fatal and atrocious invasion of Cabul, that the 
Directors of the Company only first, and to their great amaze- 
ment, learned the outbreak of that war from the public Indian 
papers. So far from that war being one of their originating, it 
was most opposed to their present policy, and disastrous to their 
affairs. How then came this monstrous war about, and who then 
did originate it? To explain this requires us to lay open a 
monstrous stretch of unconstitutional power on the part of our 
government a monstrous stratagem for the maintenance of their 
aristocratic views in India, which it is wonderful could have 
escaped the notice and. reprehension of the public. Let the 
reader mark well what follows. 

" In the last charter, granted in 1834, a clause was introduced, 
binding a secret committee of the East India Company, consisting 



444 THE WHITE SLAVES 

of three persons only, the chairman, deputy chairman, and senior 
director, who are solemnly sworn to this work, to receive private 
despatches from the Board of Control, and without communi- 
cating them to a single individual besides themselves, to forward 
them to India, where the receivers are bound, without question or 
appeal, to enforce their immediate execution. By this inquisito- 
rial aystem, this worse than Spanish or Venetian system of secret 
decrees, government has reserved to itself a direction of the 
affairs of India, freed from all constitutional or representative 
check, and reduced the India Company to a mere cat's-paw. By 
the sworn secrecy and implicit obedience of this mysterious tri- 
umvirate, the Company is made the unconscious instrument of 
measures most hostile to its own views, and most fatal to its best 
interests. It may at any hour become the medium of a secret 
order which may threaten the very destruction of its empire. 
Such was the case with the war of Cabul. The aristocratic 
government at home planned and ordered it; and the uncon- 
scious Company was made at once to carry out a scheme so 
atrocious, so wicked and unprincipled, as well as destructive to 
its plans of civil economy, and to bear also the infamy of it. 
Awaking, therefore, to the tremendous nature of the secret powers 
thus introduced into their machinery by government, the Com- 
pany determined to exercise also a power happily intrusted to 
them. Hence the recall of Lord Ellenborough, who, in obedience 
to aristocratic views at home, was not only running headlong 
over all their plans of pacific policy, but with his armies and ele- 
phants was treading under foot their cotton and sugar plantations. 
Hence, on the other hand, the favour and support which this 
warlike lord finds with the great martial duke, and the home 
government." 

The policy of the European conquerors of India was 
fully illustrated during the gubernatorial term of War- 
ren Hastings. Of his extortion the eloquent Macaulay 
says 



OF ENGLAND. 445 

" The principle which directed all his dealings with his neigh- 
bours is fully expressed by the old motto of one of the great 
predatory families of Teviotdale ' Thou shalt want ere I want/ 
He seems to have laid it down, as a fundamental proposition 
which could not be disputed, that when he had not as many lacs 
of rupees as the public service required, he was to take them from 
anybody who had. One thing, indeed, is to be said in excuse for 
him. The pressure applied to him by his employers at home was 
such as only the highest virtue could have withstood such as 
left him no choice except to commit great wrongs, or to resign 
his high post, and with that post all his hopes of fortune and dis- 
tinction. It is perfectly true, that the directors never enjoined 
or applauded any crime. Far from it. Whoever examines their 
letters at that time will find there many just and humane senti- 
ments, many excellent precepts ; in short, an admirable circle of 
political ethics. But every exhortation is modified or annulled 
by a demand for money. ' Govern leniently, and send more 
money ; practise strict justice and moderation toward neighbour- 
ing powers, and send more money / this is, in truth, the sum of 
almost all the instructions that Hastings ever received from 
home. Now these instructions, being interpreted, mean simply, 
'Be the father and the oppressor of the people; be just and un- 
just, moderate and rapacious/ The directors dealt with India 
as the church, in the good old times, dealt with a heretic. They 
delivered the victim over to the executioners, with an earnest 
request that all possible tenderness might be shown. We by no 
means accuse or suspect those who framed these despatches of 
hypocrisy. It is probable that, writing fifteen thousand miles 
from the place where their orders were to be carried into effect, 
they never perceived the gross inconsistency of which they were 
guilty. But the inconsistency was at once manifest to their 
lieutenant at Calcutta, who, with an empty treasury, with an un- 
paid army, with his own salary often in arrear, with deficient 
crops, with government tenants daily running away, was called 
upon to remit home another half million without fail. Hastings 
saw that it was absolutely necessary for him to disregard either 
the moral discourses or the pecuniary requisitions of his em- 
T 



446 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ployers. Being forced to disobey them in something, he had to 
consider what kind of disobedience they would most readily par- 
don; and he correctly judged that the safest course would be to 
neglect the sermons and to find the rupees." 

How were the rupees found? By selling provinces 
that had never belonged to the British dominions ; by 
the destruction of the brave Rohillas of Rohilcund, in 
the support of the cruel tyrant, Surajah Dowlah, sove- 
reign of Oude, of which terrible act Macaulay says 

" Then the horrors of Indian war were let loose on the fair 
valleys and cities of Rohilcund; the whole country was in a blaze. 
More than a hundred thousand people fled from their homes to 
pestilential jungles, preferring famine and fever and the haunts 
of tigers to the tyranny of him to whom an English and a Chris- 
tian government had, for shameful lucre, sold their substance and 
their blood, and the honour of their wives and daughters. Colonel 
Champion remonstrated with the Nabob Vizier, and sent strong 
representations to Fort William; but the governor had made no 
conditions as to the mode in which the war was to be carried on. 
He had troubled himself about nothing but his forty lacs; and, 
though he might disapprove of Surajah Dowlali's wanton barbarity, 
he did not think himself entitled to interfere, except by offering 
advice. This delicacy excites the admiration of the reverend bio- 
grapher. ' Mr. Hastings/ he says, * could not himself dictate to 
the Nabob, nor permit the commander of the Company's troops 
to dictate how the war was to be carried on.' No, to be sure. 
Mr. Hastings had only to put down by main force the brave strug- 
gles of innocent men fighting for their liberty. Their military 
resistance crushed, his duties ended; and he had then only to 
fold his arms and look on while their villages were burned, their 
children butchered, and their women violated." 

By such a course of action, Warren Hastings made 
the British empire in India pay. By such means did 



OF ENGLAND. 447 

the aristocrats, of whom the governor was the tool, 
obtain the money which would enable them to live in 
luxury. 

" The servants of the Company obtained not for their employ- 
ers, but for themselves a monopoly of almost the whole internal 
trade; they forced the natives to buy dear and sell cheap; they 
insulted with perfect impunity the tribunals, the police, and the 
fiscal authorities of the country ; they covered with their protec- 
tion a set of native dependants, who ranged through the provinces 
spreading desolation and terror wherever they appeared. Every 
servant of a British factor was armed with all the power of his 
master, and his master was armed with all the power of the Com- 
pany. Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at 
Calcutta, while thirty millions of human beings were reduced to 
the last extremity of wretchedness. They had been accustomed 
to live under tyranny, but never under tyranny like this ; they 
found the little finger of the Company thicker than the loins of 
Surajah Dowlah. Under their old masters they had at least one 
resource; when the evil became insupportable, they rose and 
pulled down the government. But the English government was 
not to be so shaken off. That government, oppressive as the most 
oppressive form of barbarian despotism, was strong with all the 
strength of civilization; it resembled the government of evil genii 
rather than the government of human tyrants." * * * 

" The foreign lords of Bengal were naturally objects of hatred 
to all the neighbouring powers, and to all the haughty race pre- 
sented a dauntless front; their armies, everywhere outnumbered, 
were everywhere victorious. A succession of commanders, formed 
in the school of Clive, still maintained the fame of their country. 
* It must be acknowledged,' says the Mussulman historian of those 
times, * that this nation's presence of mind, firmness of temper, 
and undaunted bravery are past all question. They join the 
most resolute courage to the most cautious prudence ; nor have 
they their equal in the art of ranging themselves in battle array 
and fighting in order. If to so many military qualifications they 
knew how to join the arts of government if they exerted as much 



448 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ingenuity and solicitude in relieving the people of God as they 
do in whatever concerns their military affairs, no nation in the 
world would be preferable to them or worthier of command ; but 
the people under their dorninion groan everywhere, and are re- 
duced to poverty and distress. God! come to the assistance 
of thine afflicted servants, and deliver them from the oppressions 
they suffer/ " 

From the earliest times the "village system," with 
.its almost patriarchal regulations, seems to have pre- 
vailed in Hindostan. Each village had its distinct 
organization, and over a certain number of villages, or 
a district, was an hereditary chief and an accountant, 
both possessing great local influence and authority, and 
certain estates.* The Hindoos were strongly attached 
to their native villages, and could only be forced to 
abandon them by the most constant oppressions. Dy- 
nasties might change and revolutions occur, but so long 
as each little community remained undisturbed, the 
Hindoos were contented. Mohammedan conquerors left 
this beautiful system, which had much more of genuine 
freedom than the British institutions at the present day, 
untouched. The English conquerors were not so mer- 
ciful, although they were acquainted with Christianity. 
The destruction of local organizations and the central- 
ization of authority, which is always attended with the 
increase of slavery, f have been the aims of English 
efforts. The principle that the government is the sole 

* Brigg's Historical Fragments. f Carey. 



OF ENGLAND. 449 

proprietor of the land, and therefore entitled to a large 
share of the produce, has been established, and slavery, 
to escape famine and misery, has become necessary to 
the Hindoos. 

Exhaustion was the result of the excessive taxation 
laid upon the Hindoos by the East India Company. As 
the government became stinted for revenue, Lord Corn- 
wallis was instructed to make a permanent settlement, 
by means of which all the rights of village proprietors 
over a large portion of Bengal were sacrificed in favour 
of the Zemindars, or head men, who were thus at once 
constituted great landed proprietors masters of a large 
number of poor tenants, with power to punish at discre- 
tion those who were not able to pay whatever rent was 
demanded.* From free communities, the villages were 
reduced to the condition of British tenants-at-will. The 
Zemindaree system was first applied to Bengal. In 
Madras another system, called the Ryotwar, was intro- 
duced. This struck a fatal blow at the local organiza- 
tions, which were the sources of freedom and happiness 
among the Hindoos. Government assumed all the 
functions of an immediate landholder, and dealt with 
the individual cultivators as its own tenants, getting as 
much out of them as possible. 

The Zemindars are an unthrifty, rack-renting class, 
and take the uttermost farthing from the under-tenants. 

* Carey. 



450 THE WHITE SLAVES 

Oppressions and evictions are their constant employ- 
ments ; and since they have been constituted a landed 
aristocracy, they have fully acted out the character in 
the genuine British fashion. 

Another tenure, called thePatnee, has been established 
of late years, by some of the great Zemindars, with the 
aid of government enactments, and it is very common in 
Bengal. The great Zemindar, for a consideration, makes 
over a portion of his estate in fee to another, subject to 
a perpetual rent, payable through the collector, who re- 
ceives it on behalf of the zemindar ; and if it is not paid, 
the interests of the patneedar are sold by the collector. 
These, again, have sub-patneedars, and the system has 
become very much in vogue in certain districts. The 
parties are like the Irish middlemen, and the last screws 
the tenant to the uttermost.* 

During the British government of Bengal, wealth has 
been accumulated by a certain superior class, and popu- 
lation, cultivation, and the receipts from rent of land, 
have largely increased ; but, as in England, the mass of 
the people are poor and degraded. In the rich provinces 
of Upper India, where the miserable landed system of 
the conquerors has been introduced, the results have 
been even more deplorable. Communities, once free, 
happy, and possessed of plenty, are now broken up, or 
subjected to such excessive taxation that their members 
are kept in poverty and slavery. 

* Campbell's Modern India. 



OF ENGLAND. 451 

Colonel Sleeman, in his " Rambles and Recollections of 
an Indian Official," records a conversation which he held 
with the head landholder of a village, organized under 
the Zemindar system. During the dialogue, some state- 
ments were made which are important for our purpose. 

The colonel congratulated himself that he had given 
satisfactory replies to the arguments of the Zemindar, 
and accounted naturally for the evils suffered by the 
villagers. The reader will, doubtless, form a different 
opinion : 

" In the early part of November, after a heavy fall of rain, I 
was driving alone in my buggy from Garmuktesin on the Ganges, 
to Meerut. The roads were very bad, the stage a double one, and 
my horse became tired and unable to go on. I got out at a small 
village to give him a little rest and food ; and sat down under the 
shade of one old tree upon the trunk of another that the storm 
had blown down, while my groom, the only servant I had with me, 
rubbed down and baited my horse. I called for some parched 
grain from the same shop which supplied my horse, and got a 
draught of good water, drawn from the well by an old woman, in 
a brass jug lent to me for the purpose by the shopkeeper. 

" While I sat contentedly and happily stripping my parched 
grain from its shell, and eating it grain by grain, the farmer, or 
head landholder of the village, a sturdy old Rajpoot, came up and 
sat himself, without any ceremony, down by my side, to have a 
little conversation. [To one of the dignitaries of the land, in whose 
presence the aristocracy are alone considered entitled to chairs, 
this easy familiarity seems at first strange arid unaccountable ; he is 
afraid that the man intends to offer him some indignity, or what is 
still worse, mistakes him for something less than a dignitary ! 
The following dialogue took place : ] 

" ' You are a Rajpoot, and a Zemindar ?' (landholder.) 

" ' Yes ; I am the head landholder of this village/ 



452 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" ' Can you tell me how that village in the distance is elevated 
above the ground ; is it from the debris of old villages, or from a 
rock underneath ?' 

" ' It is from the debris of old villages. That is the original seat 
of all the Rajpoots around ; we all trace our descent from the 
founders of that village, who built and peopled it many centuries 
ago.' 

" 'And you have gone on subdividing your inheritances here as 
elsewhere, no doubt, till you have hardly any of you any thing to 
eat?' 

" ' True, we have hardly any of us enough to eat ; but that is 
the fault of the government, that does not leave us enough that 
takes from us as much when the season is bad as when it is 
good !' 

" ' But your assessment has not been increased, has it?' 

" ' No ; we have concluded a settlement for twenty years upon 
the same footing as formerly.' 

" 'And if the sky were to shower down upon you pearls and 
diamonds, instead of water, the government would never demand 
more from you than the rate fixed upon ?' 

"'No.' 

" ' Then why should you expect remissions in bad seasons?' 

" 'It cannot be disputed that the burkut (blessing from above) 
is less under you than it used to be formerly, and that the lands 
yield less from our labour.' 

" ' True, my old friend, but do you know the reason why ?' 

" ' No.' 

" ' Then I will tell you. Forty or fifty years ago, in what you 
call the times of the burkut, (blessing from above,) the cavalry of 
Seikh, freebooters from the Punjab, used to sweep over this fine 
plain, in which stands the said village from which you are all de- 
scended; and to massacre the whole population of some villages; 
and a certain portion of that of every other village ; and the 
lands of those killed used to lie waste for want of cultivators. Is 
not this all true ?' 

" ' Yes, quite true.' 

" ' And the fine groves which had been planted over this plain 



OF ENGLAND. 453 

"by your ancestors, as they separated from the great parent stock, 
and formed independent villages and hamlets for themselves, 
were all swept away and destroyed by the same hordes of free- 
booters, from whom your poor imbecile emperors, cooped up in 
yonder large city of Delhi, were utterly unable to defend you 1' 

" ' Quite true/ said the old man with a sigh. ' I remember 
when all this fine plain was as thickly studded with fine groves 
of mango-trees as Rohilcund, or any other part of India.' 

" * You know that the land requires rest from labour, as well as 
men and bullocks ; and that if you go on sowing wheat, and other 
exhausting crops, it will go on yielding less and less returns, and 
at last not be worth the tilling ?' 

" ' Quite well/ 

" ' Then why do you not give the land rest by leaving it longer 
fallow, or by a more frequent alternation of crops relieve it ?' 

" ' Because we have now increased so much, that we should not 
get enough to eat were we to leave it to fallow ; and unless we 
tilled it with exhausting crops we should not get the means of pay- 
ing our rents to government/ 

" ' The Seikh hordes in former days prevented this ; they killed 
off a certain portion of your families, and gave the land the rest 
which you now refuse it. When you had exhausted one part, you 
found another recovered by a long fallow, so that you had better 
returns ; but now that we neither kill you, nor suffer you to be 
killed by others, you have brought all the cultivable lands into 
tillage ; and under the old system of cropping to exhaustion, it 
is not surprising that they yield you less returns/ 

" By this time we had a crowd of people seated around us upon 
the ground, as I went on munching my parched grain and talking 
to the old patriarch. They all laughed at the old man at the 
conclusion of my last speech, and he confessed I was right. 

" ' This is all true, sir, but still your government is not consi- 
derate; it goes on taking kingdom after kingdom and adding to 
its dominions, without diminishing the burden upon us its old sub- 
jects. Here you have had armies away taking Affghanistan, but 
\re shall not have one rupee the less to pay/ 

" ' True, my friend, nor would you demand a rupee less from 
T* 



454 THE WHITE SLAVES 

those honest cultivators around us, if we were to leave you all 
your lands untaxed. You complain of the government they 
complain of you. [Here the circle around us laughed at the old 
man again.] Nor would you subdivide the lands the less for 
having it rent free ; on the contrary, it would be every generation 
subdivided the more, inasmuch as there would be more of local 
ties, and a greater disinclination on the part of the members of 
families to separate and seek service abroad/ 

" ' True, sir, very true; that is, no doubt, a very great evil/ 

" 'And you know it is not an evil produced by us, but one 
arising out of your own laws of inheritance. You have heard, 
no doubt, that with us the eldest son gets the whole of the land, 
and the younger sons all go out in search of service, with such 
share as they can get of the other property of their father?' 

" ' Yes, sir; but where shall we get service you have none to . 
give us. I would serve to-morrow, if you would take me as a 
soldier/ said he, stroking his white whiskers. 

" The crowd laughed heartily, and some wag observed, ' that 
perhaps I should think him too old/ 

" ' Well/ said the old man, smiling, ' the gentleman himself is 
not very young, and yet I dare say he is a good servant of his 
government/ 

" This was paying me off for making the people laugh at his 
expense. ' True, my old friend/ said I, ' but I began to serve 
when I was young, and have been long learning/ 

" ' Very well/ said the old man; * but I should be glad to serve 
the rest of my life upon a less salary than you got when you 
began to learn/ 

" 'Well, my friend, you complain of our government; but you 
must acknowledge that we do all we can to protect you, though 
it is true that we are often acting in the dark/ 

" 'Often, sir? you are always acting in the dark; you hardly 
any of you know any thing of what your revenue and police offi- 
cers are doing; there is no justice or redress to be got without 
paying for it; and it is not often that those who pay can get it/ 

" ' True, my old friend, that is bad all over the world. You 
cannot presume to ask any thing even from the Deity himself, 



OP ENGLAND. 455 

without paying the priest who officiates in his temples; and if 
you should, you would none of you hope to get from your deity 
what you asked for/ 

" Here the crowd laughed again, and one of them said ' that 
there was certainly this to be said for our government, that the 
European gentlemen themselves never took bribes, whatever those 
under them might do.' 

" ' You must not be too sure of that neither. Did not the Lai 
Beebee (red lady) get a bribe for soliciting the judge, her hus- 
band, to let go Ameer Sing, who had been confined in jail? 7 

" ' How did this take place?' 

" 'About three years ago Ameer Sing was sentenced to impri- 
sonment, and his friends spent a great deal of money in bribes to 
the native officers of the court, but all in vain. At last they were 
recommended to give a handsome present to the red lady. They 
did so, and Ameer Sing was released.' 

" ' But did they give the present into the lady's own hand?' 

" ' No, they gave it to one of her women.' 

" 'And how do ypu know that she ever gave it to her mistress, 
or that her mistress ever heard of the transaction?' 

" ' She might certainly have been acting without her mistress's 
knowledge; but the popular belief is, that Lai Beebee got the 
present.' 

" I then told them the story of the affair at Jubbulpore, when 
Mrs. Smith's name had been used for a similar purpose, and the 
people around us were highly amused ; and the old man's opinion 
of the transaction evidently underwent a change.* 



* " Some of Mr. Smith's servants entered into a combination to 
defraud a suitor in his court of a large sum of money, which he was 
to pay to Mrs. Smith as she walked in the garden. A dancing-girl 
from the town of Jubbulpore was made to represent Mrs. Smith, and 
a suit of Mrs. Smith's clothes were borrowed for her from the washer- 
woman. The butler took the suitor into the garden and introduced 
him to the supposed Mrs. Smith, who received him very graciously, 
and condescended to accept his offer of five thousand rupees in gold 
mohurs. The plot was afterward discovered, and the old butler, 



456 THE WHITE SLAVES 

" We became good friends, and the old man begged me to have 
my tents, which he supposed were coming up, pitched among 
them, that he might have an opportunity of showing that he was 
not a bad subject, though he grumbled against the government. 

" The next day, at Meerut, I got a visit from the chief native 
judge, whose son, a talented youth, is in my office. Among other 
things, I asked him whether it might not be possible to improve 
the character of the police by increasing the salaries of the of- 
ficers, and mentioned my conversation with the landholder. 

" ' Never, sir,' said the old gentleman; ' the man that now gets 
twenty-five rupees a month, is contented with making perhaps 
fifty or seventy-five more; and the people subject to his authority 
pay him accordingly. Give him a hundred, sir, and he will put 
a shawl over his shoulders, and the poor people will be obliged 
to pay him at a rate which will make up his income to four hun- 
dred. You will only alter his style of living, and make him a 
greater burden to the people ; he will always take as long as he 
thinks he can with impunity/ 

" ' But do you not think that when people see a man adequately 
paid by government, they will the more readily complain at any 
attempt at unauthorized exactions?' 

" ' Not a bit, sir, as long as they see the same difficulties in the 
way of prosecuting them to conviction. In the administration 
of civil justice (the old gentleman is a civil judge) you may occa- 
sionally see your way, and understand what is doing; but in 
revenue and police you have never seen it in India, and never 
will, I think. The officers you employ will all add to their in- 
comes by unauthorized means ; and the lower their incomes, the 
less their pretensions, and the less the populace have to pay.' " 

In the " History . f the Possessions of the Honourable 
East India Company," by R. Montgomery Martin, F. S. 
S., the following statements occur : 



washerwoman and all, were sentenced to labour in a rope on the 
roads." 



OF ENGLAND 457 

" The following estimate has been made of the population of the 
allied and independent states : Hydrabad, 10,000,000; Oude, 
6,000,000; Nagpoor, 3,000,000; Mysore, 3,000,000; Sattara, 
1,500,000; Gurckwar, 2,000, 000; Travancore and Cochin, 1,000,000; 
Ilajpootana, and various minor principalities, 16,500,000 ; Scin- 
dias territories, 4,000,000 ; the Seiks, 3,000,000 ; Nepal, 2,000,000 ; 
Cashmere, etc., 1,000,000 ; Scinde, 1,000,000 ; total, 51,000,000. 
This, of course, is but a rough estimate by Hamilton, (Slavery in 
British India.) For the last forty years the East India Company's 
government have been gradually, but safely, abolishing slavery 
throughout their dominions ; they began in 1789 with putting 
down the maritime traffic, by prosecuting any person caught in 
exporting or importing slaves by sea, long before the British go- 
vernment abolished that infernal commerce in the "Western world, 
and they have ever since sedulously sought the final extinction of 
that domestic servitude which had long existed throughout the 
East, as recognised by the Hindoo and Mohammedan law. In 
their despatches of 1798, it was termed * an inhuman commerce 
and cruel traffic.' French, Dutch, or Danish subjects captured 
within the limit of their dominions in the act of purchasing or 
conveying slaves were imprisoned and heavily fined, and every 
encouragement was given to their civil and military servants to 
aid in protecting the first rights of humanity. 

" Mr. Robertson,* in reference to Cawnpore, observes : ' Do- 
mestic slavery exists ; but of an agricultural slave I do not recol- 
lect a single instance. "When I speak of domestic slavery, I mean 
that status which I must call slavery for want of any more accu- 
rate designation. It does not, however, resemble that which is 
understood in Europe to be slavery ; it is the mildest species of 
servitude. The domestic slaves are certain persons purchased in 
times of scarcity ; children purchased from their parents ; they 
"row up in the family, and are almost entirely employed in do- 
mestic offices in the house ; not liable to be resold. 

" ' There is a certain species of slavery in South Bahar, where 



* Lords' Evidence, 1687. 

80 



458 THE WHITE SLAVES 

a man mortgages his labour for a certain sum of money ; and this 
species of slavery exists also in Arracan and Ava. It is for his 
life, or until he shall pay the sum, that he is obliged to labour for 
the person who lends him the money ; and if he can repay the 
gum, he emancipates himself. 

" ' Masters have no power of punishment recognised by our 
laws. Whatever may be the provision of the Mohammedan or Hin- 
doo codes to that effect, it is a dead letter, for we would not re- 
cognise it. The master doubtless may sometimes inflict domestic 
punishment ; but if he does, the slave rarely thinks of complain- 
ing of it. Were he to do so his complaint would be received/ 
This, in fact, is the palladium of liberty in England. 

" In Malabar, according to the evidence of Mr. Baber, slavery, 
as mentioned by Mr. Robertson, also exists, and perhaps the same 
is the case in Guzerat and to the north ; but the wonder is, not 
that such is the case, but that it is so partial in extent, and fortu- 
nately so bad in character, approximating indeed so much toward 
the feudal state as to be almost beyond the reach as well as the 
necessity of laws which at present would be practically inopera- 
tive. The fact, that of 100,000,000 British inhabitants, [or allow- 
ing five to a family, 20,000,000 families,] upward of 16,000,000 
are landed proprietors, shows to what a confined extent even do- 
mestic slavery exists. A commission has been appointed by the 
new charter to inquire into this important but delicate subject/'' 



We have quoted this passage from a writer who is a 
determined advocate of every thing British, whether it 
be good or bad, in order to show by his own admission 
that chattel slavery, that is the precise form of slavery 
of which the British express such a holy horror, exists 
in British Iniia under the sanction of British laws. 
Nor does it ydst to a small extent only, as he would 
have us belike. It has always existed there, and must 
necessarily be on the increase, from the very cause 



OP ENGLAND. 450 

which he points out/ viz. famine. No country in the 
world, thanks to British oppression, is so frequently 
and so extensively visited by famine as India ; and as 
the natives can escape in many instances from starving 
to death by selling themselves, and can save their chil- 
dren by selling them into slavery, we can readily form 
an estimate of the great extent to which this takes 
place in cases of famine, where the people are perish- 
ing by thousands and tens of thousands. As to the 
statement that the government of the East India Com- 
pany have been endeavouring to abolish this species of 
slavery, it proves any thing rather than a desire to 
benefit the natives of India. Chattel slaves are not 
desired by British subjects because the ownership of 
them involves the necessity of supporting them in sick- 
ness and old age. The kind of slavery which the 
British have imposed on the great mass of their East 
Indian subjects is infinitely more oppressive and inhu- 
man than chattel slavery. Indeed it would not at all 
suit the views of the British aristocracy to have chattel 
slavery become so fashionable in India as to interfere 
with their own cherished system of political slavery, 
which is so extensively and successfully practised in 
England, Scotland, Ireland, and the West and East 
Indies. The money required for the support of chattel 
slaves could not be spared by the aristocratic govern- 
ments in the colonies. The object is to take the fruits 
of the labourer's toil without providing for him at all, 



460 THE WHITE SLAVES 

When labourers are part of a "master's capital, the 
better he provides for them the more they are worth. 
When they are not property, the character of their sub- 
sistence is of no importance ; but they must yield the 
greater part of the results of their toil. 

The "salt laws" of India are outrageously oppres- 
sive. An account of their operation will give the 
reader a taste of the character of the legislation to 
which the British have subjected conquered Hindoos. 
Such an account we find in a recent number of 
Household Words," which Lord Shaftesbury and his 
associates in luxury and philanthropy should read more 
frequently than we can suppose they do : 

" Salt, in India, is a government monopoly. It is partially im- 
ported, and partially manufactured in government factories. 
These factories are situated in dreary marshes the workers ob- 
taining certain equivocal privileges, on condition of following 
their occupation in these pestiferous regions, where hundreds of 
these wretched people fall, annually, victims to the plague or the 
floods. 

" The salt consumed in India must be purchased through the 
government, at a duty of upward of two pounds per ton, making 
the price to the consumer about eight' pence per pound. In Eng- 
land, salt may be purchased by retail, three pounds, or wholesale, 
five pounds for one penny ; while in India, upward of thirty 
millions of persons, whose average incomes do not amount to 
above three shillings per week, are compelled to expend one- 
fourth of that pittance in salt for themselves and families. 

" It may naturally be inferred, that, with such a heavy duty 
upon this important necessary of life, that underhand measures 
are adopted by the poor natives for supplying themselves. We 
shall see, however, by the following severe regulations, that the 



OF ENGLAND. 461 

experiment is too hazardous to be often attempted. Throughout 
the whole country there are numerous ' salt chokies/ or police 
stations, the superintendents of which are invested with powers 
of startling and extraordinary magnitude. 

" "When information is lodged with such superintendent that 
salt is stored in any place without a ' ruwana,' or permit, he pro- 
ceeds to collect particulars of the description of the article, the 
quantity stated to be stored, and the name of the owner of the 
store. If the quantity stated to be stored exceeds seventy 
pounds, he proceeds with a body of police to make the seizure, 
If the door is not opened to him at once, he is invested with full 
power to break it open ; and if the police-officers exhibit the least 
backwardness in assisting, or show any sympathy with the un- 
fortunate owner, they are liable to be heavily fined. The owner 
of the salt, with all persons found upon the premises, are im- 
mediately apprehended, and are liable to six months' imprison- 
ment for the first offence, twelve for the second, and eighteen 
'months for the third ; so that if a poor Indian was to see a shower 
of salt in his garden, (there are showers of salt sometimes,) and 
to attempt to take advantage of it without paying duty, he would 
become liable to this heavy punishment. The superintendent of 
police is also empowered to detain and search trading vessels, 
and if salt be found on board without a permit, the whole of the 
crew may be apprehended and tried for the offence. Any person 
erecting a distilling apparatus in his own house, merely to distil 
enough sea-water for the use of his household, is liable to such a 
fine as may ruin him. In this case, direct proof is not required, 
but inferred from circumstances at the discretion of the judge. 

" If a person wishes to erect a factory upon his own estate, he 
must first give notice to the collector of revenue of all the par- 
ticulars relative thereto, failing which, the collector may order 
all the works to be destroyed. Having given notice, officers are 
immediately quartered upon the premises, who have access to all 
parts thereof, for fear the company should be defrauded of the 
smallest amount of duty. When duty is paid upon any portion, 
the collector, upon giving a receipt, specifies the name and resi- 
dence of the person to whom it is to be delivered, to whom it 



462 THE WHITE SLAVES 

must be delivered within a stated period, or become liable to 
fresh duty. To wind up, and make assurance doubly sure, the 
police may seize and detain any load or package which may pass 
the stations, till they are satisfied such load or package does not 
contain contraband salt. 

" Such are the salt laws of India ; such the monopoly by which 
a revenue of three millions sterling is raised ; and such the sys- 
tem which, in these days of progress and improvement, acts as an 
incubus upon the energies, the mental resources, and social ad- 
vancement of the immense population of India. 

" Political economists of all shades of opinion men who have 
well studied the subject deliberately assert that nothing would 
tend so much toward the improvement of that country, and to a 
more complete development of its vast natural resources, than 
the abolition of these laws ; and we can only hope, without 
blaming any one, that at no distant day a more enlightened 
policy will pervade the councils of the East India Company, and 
that the poor Hindoo will be emancipated from the thraldom of 
these odious enactments. 

"But apart from every other consideration, there is one, in 
connection with the Indian salt-tax, which touches the domestic 
happiness and vital interest of every inhabitant in Great Britain. 
It is decided, by incontrovertible medical testimony, that cholera 
(whose ravages every individual among us knows something, 
alas ! too well about) is in a great measure engendered, and its 
progress facilitated, by the prohibitory duties on salt in India, 
the very cradle of the pestilence. Our precautionary measures 
to turn aside the plague from our doors, appear to be somewhat 
ridiculous, while the plague itself is suffered to exist, when it 
might be destroyed its existence being tolerated only to adminis- 
ter to the pecuniary advantage of a certain small class of the 
community. Let the medical men of this country look to it. 
Let the people of this country generally look to it ; for there is 
matter for grave and solemn consideration, both nationally and 
individually, in the Indian salt-tax." 

Yes, the salt-tax is very oppressive; but it pays 



OF ENGLAND. 463 

those who authorized its assessment, and that is 
sufficient for them. When they discover some means 
of obtaining its equivalent some oppression quite as 
cruel but not so obvious we may expect to hear of 
the abolition of the odious salt monopoly. 

Famines (always frightfully destructive in India) 
have become more numerous than ever, under the 
blighting rule of the British aristocrats. Vast tracts 
of country, once the support of busy thousands, have 
been depopulated by these dreadful visitations. 

" The soil seems to lie under a curse. Instead of yielding 
abundance for the wants of its own population and the inhabit- 
ants of other regions, it does not keep in existence its own chil- 
dren. It becomes the burying-place of millions who die upon its 
bosom crying for bread. In proof of this, turn your eyes back- 
ward upon the scenes of the past year. Go with me into the 
North-west provinces of the Bengal presidency, and I will show 
you the bleaching skeletons of five hundred thousand human 
beings, who perished of hunger in the space of a few short 
months. Yes, died of hunger, in what has been justly called the 
granary of the world. Bear with me, if I speak of the scenes 
which were exhibited during the prevalence of this famine. The 
air for miles was poisoned by the effluvia emitted from the pu- 
trefying bodies of the dead. The rivers were choked with the 
corpses thrown into their channels. Mothers cast their little ones 
beneath the rolling waves, because they would not see them draw 
their last gasp and feel them stiffen in their arms. The English 
in the cities were prevented from taking their customary evening 
drives. Jackals and vultures approached, and fastened upon the 
bodies of men, women, and children before life was extinct, 
Madness, disease, despair stalked abroad, and no human power 
present to arrest their progress. It was the carnival of death. 
And this occurred in British India in the reign of Victoria the 



464 THE WHITE SLAVES 

First. Nor was the event extraordinary and unforeseen. Far 
from it : 1835-36 witnessed a famine in the Northern provinces ; 
1833 beheld one to the eastward; 1822-23 saw one in the 
Deccan." 

The above extract from one of George Thompson's 
"Lectures on India," conveys an idea of the horrors 
of a famine in that country. What then must be the 
guilt of that government that adopts such measures as 
tend to increase the frequency and swell the horror of 
these scenes ! By draining the resources of the people, 
and dooming them to the most pinching poverty, the 
British conquerors have greatly increased the dangers 
of the visitations of famine, and opened to it a wide field 
for destruction. The poor Hindoos may be said to live 
face to face with starvation. The following account of 
the famine of 1833 is given by Colonel Sleeman, in 
his " Rambles and Recollections :" 

" During the famine of 1833, as on all similar occasions, grain 
of every kind, attracted by high prices, flowed up in large streams 
from this favoured province (Malwa) toward Bundelcund; and 
the population of Bundelcund, as usual in such times of dearth and 
scarcity, flowed off toward Malwa against the stream of supply, 
under the assurance that the nearer they got to the source the 
greater would be their chance of employment and subsistence. 
Every village had its numbers of the dead and the dying ; and the 
roads were all strewed with them ; but they were mostly concen- 
trated upon the great towns, and civil and military stations, where 
subscriptions were open for their support by both the European 
and native communities. The funds arising from these subscrip- 
tions lasted till the rain had fairly set in, when all able-bodied 
persons could easily find employment in tillage among the agri- 



OF ENGLAND. 465 

cultural communities of the villages around. After the rains have 
fairly set in, the sick and helpless only should be kept concentrated 
upon large towns and stations, where little or no employment is 
to be found ; for the oldest and youngest of those who are able to 
work can then easily find employment in weeding the cotton, rice, 
sugar-cane, and other fields under autumn crops, and in preparing 
the land for the reception of the wheat, grain, and other spring 
seeds ; and get advances from the farmers, agricultural capitalists, 
and other members of the village communities, who are all glad to 
share their superfluities with the distressed, and to pay liberally 
for the little service they are able to give in return. 

" At large places, where the greater numbers are concentrated, 
the scene becomes exceedingly distressing, for in spite of the best 
dispositions and greatest efforts on the part of government and its 
officers, and the European and native communities, thousands 
commonly die of starvation. At Saugor, mothers, as they lay in 
the streets unable to walk, were seen holding up their infants, and 
imploring the passing stranger to take them in slavery, that they 
might at least live hundreds were seen creeping into gardens, 
courtyards, and old ruins, concealing themselves under shrubs, 
grass, mats, or straw, where they might die quietly, without having 
their bodies torn by birds and beasts before the breath had left 
them I Respectable families, who left home in search of the 
favoured land of Malwa, while yet a little property remained, 
finding all exhausted, took opium rather than beg, and husband, 
wife, and children died in each other's arms ! Still more of such 
families lingered on in hope until all had been expended ; then 
shut their doors, took poison, and died all together, rather than ex- 
pose their misery, and submit to the degradation of begging. All 
these things I have myself known and seen ; and in the midst of 
these and a hundred other harrowing scenes which present them- 
selves on such occasions, the European cannot fail to remark the 
patient resignation with which the poor people submit to their fate ; 
and the absence of almost all those revolting acts which have 
characterized the famines of which he has read in other countries 
such as the living feeding on the dead, and mothers devouring their 
own children. No such things are witnessed in Indian famines ; 



466 THE WHITE SLAVES 

here all who suffer attribute the disaster to its real cause, the want 
of rain in due season ; and indulge in no feelings of hatred against 
their rulers, superiors, or more fortunate equals in society, who 
happen to live beyond the influence of such calamities. They 
gratefully receive the superfluities which the more favoured are 
always found ready to share with the afflicted in India ; and 
though their sufferings often subdue the strongest of all pride 
the pride of caste, they rarely ever drive people to acts of violence. 
The stream of emigration, guided as it always is by that of the 
agricultural produce flowing in from the more favoured countries, 
must necessarily concentrate upon the communities along the line 
it takes a greater number of people than they have the means of 
relieving, however benevolent their dispositions ; and I must say, 
that I have never either seen or read of a nobler spirit than seems 
to animate all classes of these communities in India on such dis- 
tressing occasions." 

The same writer has some judicious general remarks 
upon the causes of famine in India, which are worthy 
of quotation. We have only to add, that whatever 
may be found in the climate and character of the 
country that expose the people to the frequency of 
want, the conquerors have done their best to aggravate 
natural evils : 

" In India, unfavourable seasons produce much more disastrous 
consequences than in Europe. In England, not more than one- 
fourth of the population derive their incomes from the cultivation 
of the land around them. Three-fourths of the people have incomes, 
independent of the annual returns from those lands ; and with 
these incomes they can purchase agricultural produce from other 
lands when the crops upon them fail. The farmers, who form so 
large a portion of the fourth class, have stock equal in value to 
four times the amount of the annual rent of their lands. They have 
also a great variety of crops ; and it is very rare that more than 



OP ENGLAND. 467 

one or two of them fail, or are considerably affected, the same 
season. If they fail in one district or province, the deficiency is 
very easily supplied to people who have equivalents to give for 
the produce of another. The sea, navigable rivers, fine roads, all 
are open and ready at all times for the transport of the super- 
abundance of one quarter to supply the deficiencies of another. 
In India' the reverse of all this is unhappily everywhere to be 
found ; more than three-fourths of the whole population are en- 
gaged in the cultivation of the land, and depend upon its annual 
returns for subsistence. The farmers and cultivators have none 
of them stock equal in value to more than half the amount of the 
annual rents of their lands. They have a great variety of crops ; 
but all are exposed to the same accidents, and commonly fail at 
the same time. The autumn crops are sown in June and July, 
and ripen in October and November ; and if seasonable showers 
do not fall in July, August, and September, all fail. The spring 
crops are sown in October and November, and ripen in March ; 
and if seasonable showers do not happen to fall during December 
or January, all, save what are artificially irrigated, fail. If they 
fail in one district or province, the people have few equivalents to 
offer for a supply of land produce from any other. Their roads 
are scarcely anywhere passable for wheeled carriages at any sea- 
son, and nowhere at all seasons they have nowhere a navigable 
canal, and only in one line a navigable river. Their land produce 
is conveyed upon the backs of bullocks, that move at the rate of 
BIX or eight miles a day, and add one hundred per cent, to the 
cost for every hundred miles they carry it in the best seasons, and 
more than two hundred in the worst. What in Europe is felt 
merely as a dearth, becomes in India, under all these disadvan- 
tages, a scarcity; and what is there a scarcity becomes here a 
famine." 

Another illustration of the truth that poverty is the 
source of crime and depravity is found in India. Sta- 
tistics and the evidence of recent travellers show that 
the amount of vice in the different provinces is just in 



468 THE WHITE SLAVES 

proportion to the length of time they have been under 
British rule. No stronger proof of the iniquity of the 
government of its poisonous tendencies as well as 
positive injustice could be adduced. 

The cultivation and exportation of the pernicious 
drug, opium, which destroys hundreds of thousands of 
lives annually, have latterly been prominent objects of 
the East Indian government. The best tracts of land 
in India were chosen for the cultivation of the poppy. 
The people were told that they must either raise this 
plant, make opium, or give up their land. Further- 
more, those who produced the drug were compelled to 
sell it to the Company. In the Bengal Presidency, the 
monopoly of the government is .complete. It has its 
establishment for the manufacture of the drug. There 
are two great agencies at Ghazeepore and Patna, for 
the Benares and Bahar provinces. Each opium agent 
has several deputies in different districts, and a native 
establishment. They enter into contracts with the cul- 
tivator for the supply of opium at a rate fixed to suit 
the demand. The land-revenue authorities do not in- 
terfere, except to prevent cultivation without permis- 
sion. The land cultivated is measured, and all the 
produce must be sold to the government. At the head 
agency the opium is packed in chests and sealed with 
the Company's seal.* 

* Campbell's Modern India. 



OF ENGLAND. 469 

The imperial government of China, seeing that the 
traffic in opium was sowing misery and death among its 
subjects, prohibited the introduction of the drug within 
the empire in 1839. But the British had a vast amount 
of capital at stake, and the profits of the trade were too 
great to be relinquished for any considerations of hu- 
manity. War was declared ; thousands of Chinese were 
slaughtered, and the imperial government forced to 
permit the destructive traffic on a more extensive scale 
than ever, and to pay $2,000,000 besides for daring to 
protest against it I 

The annual revenue now realized from the opium 
traffic amounts to ,3,500,000. It is estimated that 
about 400,000 Chinese perish every year in conse- 
quence of using the destructive drug, while the amount 
of individual and social misery proceeding from the 
same cause is appalling to every humane heart. Among 
the people of India who have been forced into the culti- 
vation and manufacture of opium, the use of it has 
greatly increased under the fostering care of the govern- 
ment. The Company seems to be aware that a people 
enervated by excessive indulgence will make little effort 
to throw off the chains of slavery. Keep the Hindoo 
drunk with opium and he will not rebel. 

The effects of this drug upon the consumer are thus 
described by a distinguished Chinese scholar : " It 
exhausts the animal spirits, impedes the regular per- 
formance of business, wastes the the flesh and blood, 
U 



470 THE WHITE SLAVES 

dissipates every kind of property, renders the person 
ill-favoured, promotes obscenity, discloses secrets, vio- 
lates the laws, attacks the vitals, and destroys life." 
This statement is .confirmed by other natives, and also 
by foreign residents; and it is asserted that, as a 
general rule, a person does not live more than ten years 
after becoming addicted to the use of this drug. 

The recent Burmese war had for one of its objects 
the opening of a road to the interior of China, for the 
purpose of extending the opium trade. And for such 
an object thousands of brave Burmese were slaughtered, 
fertile and beautiful regions desolated, and others sub- 
jected to the peculiar slave-system of the East India 
Company. The extension of British dominion and the 
accumulation of wealth in British hands, instead of the 
spread of Christianity and the development of civiliza- 
tion, mark all the measures of the Company. 

"William Howitt, one of the ablest as well as the most 
democratic writers of England, thus confirms the state- 
ments made above : 



" The East India Company exists by monopolies of the land, of 
opium, and of salt. By their narrow, greedy, and purblind ma- 
nagement of these resources, they have contrived to reduce that 
once affluent country to the uttermost depths of poverty and 
pauperism. The people starve and perish in famine every now 
and then by half a million at a time. One-third of that superb 
peninsula is reduced to waste and jungle. While other colonies 
pay from twenty to thirty shillings per head of revenue, India 
yields only four shillings per head. The income of the govern- 



OP ENGLAND. 471 

ment at the last renewal of the charter was twenty millions; it is 
now reduced to about seventeen millions ; and even to raise this, 
they have been obliged to double the tax on salt. The debt was 
forty millions ; it is now said to be augmented by constant war, 
and the payment of the dividends, which, whatever the real pro- 
ceeds, are always kept up to the usual height, to seventy millions. 
This is a state of things which cannot last. It is a grand march 
toward financial inanition. It threatens, if not arrested by the 
voice of the British people, the certain and no very distant loss 
of India. 

" We have some glimpses of the treatment of the people in the 
collection of the land-tax, as it is called, but really the rent. The 
government claims not the mere right of governing, but, as con- 
querors, the fee-simple of the land. Over the greater part of 
India there are no real freeholders. The land is the Company's, 
and they collect, not a tax, but a rent. They have their collectors 
all over India, who go and say as the crops stand, ' We shall take 
so much of this/ It is seldom less than one-half it is more com- 
monly sixty, seventy, and eighty per cent ! This is killing the 
goose to come at the golden egg. It drives the people to despair ; 
they run away and leave the land to become jungle; they perish 
by famine in thousands and tens of thousands. 

" This is why no capitalists dare to settle and grow for us 
cotton, or manufacture for us sugar. There is no security no 
fixity of taxation. It is one wholesale system of arbitrary plun- 
der, such as none but a conquered country in the first violence of 
victorious license ever was subjected to. But this system has 
here continued more than a generation ; the country is reduced 
by it to a fatal condition the only wonder is that we yet retain 
it at all. 

" The same system is pursued in the opium monopoly. The finest 
lands are taken for the cultivation of the poppy ; the government 
give the natives what they please for the opium, often about as 
many shillings as they get paid for it guineas per pound, and 
ship it off to curse China with it. ' In India/ says a writer in 
the Chinese Repository, 'the extent of territory occupied with the 
poppy, and the amount of population engaged in its cultivation 



472 THE WHITE SLAVES 

and the preparation of opium, are far greater than in any other 
part of the world.' 

"Turkey is said to produce only 2000 chests of opium annually; 
India produces 40,000 of 134 Ibs. each, and yielding a revenue of 
about 4,000,000 sterling. 

" But perhaps worse than all is the salt monopoly. It is well 
known that the people of India are a vegetable diet people. Boiled 
rice is their chief food, and salt is an absolute necessary of life. 
With a vegetable diet in that hot climate, without plenty of salt, 
putrid diseases and rapid mortality are inevitable. Nature, or 
Providence, has therefore given salt in abundance. The sea 
throws it up already crystallized in many places ; in others it is 
prepared by evaporation ; but the Company steps in and imposes 
two hundred per cent, on this indispensable article, and guards it 
by such penalties that the native dare not stoop to gather it when 
it lies at his feet. The consequence is that mortality prevails, to 
a terrific extent often, among the population. Officers of govern- 
ment are employed to destroy the salt naturally formed ; and 
government determines how much salt shall be annually con- 
sumed. 

" Now, let the people of England mark one thing. The cholera 
originates in the East. It has visited us once, and is on its march 
once more toward us. We have heard through the newspapers 
of its arrival in Syria, in Turkey, in Russia, at Vienna. In a few 
months it will probably be again among us. 

" Has any one yet imagined that this scourge may possibly be the 
instrument of Divine retribution for our crimes and cruelties? Has 
any one imagined that we have any thing to do with the creation 
of this terrible pestilence ? Yet there is little, there is scarcely 
the least doubt, that this awful instrument of death is occasioned 
by this very monopoly of salt that it is the direct work of the 
four-and-twenty men in Leadenhall-street. The cholera is found 
to arise in the very centre of India. It commences in the midst 
of this swarming population, which subsists on vegetables, and 
which is deprived by the British government of the necessary 
salt I In that hot climate it acquires a deadly strength thou- 
sands perish by it as by the stroke of lightning, and it hence 



OF ENGLAND. 473 

radiates over the globe, travelling at the speed of a horse in full 
gallop. Thus it is that God visits our deeds upon our heads. 

" Such is a brief glance at the mal-administration, the abuse, and 
the murderous treatment of India, permitted by great and Christian 
England to a knot of mere money-making traders. We commit 
the lives and happiness of one hundred and fifty millions of souls 
the well-being, and probably the chance of retention, of one of the 
finest countries in the world, and the comfort and prosperity of 
every human creature in Great Britain, to the hands of those who 
are only, from day to day, grasping at the vitals of this glorious 
Eastern region to increase their dividends. This is bad enough, 
but this is not all. As if we had given them a charter in the most 
effectual manner to damage our dominions and blast all our pros- 
pects of trade, we have allowed these four-and-twenty men of 
Leadenhall-street not only to cripple India, but to exasperate 
and, as far as possible, close China against us. Two millions of 
people in India and three millions of people in China all wait- 
ing for our manufactures, all capable of sending us the comforts 
and necessaries that we need it would seem that to us, a nation 
especially devoted to trade, as if Providence had opened all the gor- 
geous and populous East to employ and to enrich us. One would 
have thought that every care and anxiety would have been aroused 
to put ourselves on the best footing with this swarming region. 
It has been the last thing thought of. 

" The men of Leadenhall-street have been permitted, after having 
paralyzed India, to send to China not the articles that the Chinese 
wanted, but the very thing of all others that its authorities ab- 
horred that is, opium. 

" It is well known with what assiduity these traders for years 
thrust this deadly drug into the ports of China ; or it may be 
known from 'Medhurst's China,' from 'ThelwalPs Iniquities 
of the Opium Trade, 7 from 'Montgomery Martin's Opium in 
China/ and various other works. It is well known what horrors, 
crimes, ruin of families, and destruction of individuals the rage 
of opium-smoking introduced among the millions of the Celestial 
Empire. Every horror, every s.pecies of reckless desperation, 
social depravity, and sensual crime, spread from the practice and 

31 



474 THE WHITE SLAVES 

overran China as a plague. The rulers attempted to stop the evil 
Tby every means in their power. They enacted the severest 
punishments for the sale of it. These did not avail. They aug- 
mented the punishment to death. Without a stop to it the whole 
framework of society threatened to go to pieces. ' Opium/ says 
the Imperial edict itself, ' coming from the distant regions of bar- 
barians, has pervaded the country with its baneful influence.' The 
opium-smoker would steal, sell his " property, his children, the 
mother of his children, and finally commit murder for it. The 
most ghastly spectacles were everywhere seen ; instead of healthy 
and happy men, the most repulsive scenes. ' I visited one of the 
opium-houses,' said an individual quoted by Sir Robert Inglis, in 
the House of Commons, in 1843, ' and shall I tell you what I saw 
in this antechamber of hell ? I thought it impossible to find any- 
thing worse than the results of drinking ardent spirits ; but I have 
succeeded in finding something far worse. I saw Malays, Chinese, 
men and women, old and young, in one mass, in one common 
herd, wallowing in their filth, beastly, sensual, devilish, and this 
under the eyes of a Christian government/ 

" They were these abominations and horrors that the Emperor 
of China determined to arrest. They were these which our East 
India Company determined to perpetuate for this base gain. 
When the emperor was asked to license the sale of opium, as he 
could not effect its exclusion, and thus make a profit of it, what was 
his reply ? * It is true I cannot prevent the introduction oftlie flow- 
ing poison. Gain-seeking and corrupt men will, for profit and sen- 
suality, defeat my wisTies, but nothing will induce me to derive a 
benefit from the vice and misery of my people.' 

" These were the sentiments of the Chinese monarch ; what was 
the conduct of the so-called Christian Englishmen ? They deter- 
mined to go on poisoning and demoralizing China, till they pro- 
voked the government to war, and then massacred the people to 
compel the continuance of the sale of opium." 



Howitt evidently has as ardent a sympathy for those 
who have suffered from the tyranny of British rule as 



OF ENGLAND. 475 

Edmund Burke himself. The wholesale degradation of 
the Hindoos, which has resulted from the measures 
of the East India Company, calls loudly indeed for the 
denunciations of indignant humanity. The crime must 
have its punishment. The ill-gotten gains of the Com- 
pany should be seized to carry out an ameliorating 
policy, and all concerned in enforcing the system of 
oppression should be taught that justice is not to be 
wounded with impunity. 

The burdens imposed upon the Hindoos are precisely 
of the character and extent of those that have reduced 
Ireland to poverty and her people to slavery. Besides 
the enormous rents, which are sufficient of themselves 
to dishearten the tillers of the soil, the British authori- 
ties seem to have exhausted invention in devising taxes. 
So dear a price to live was never paid by any people 
except the Irish. What remains to the cultivator when 
the rent of the land and almost forty different taxes 
are paid ? 

Those Hindoos who wish to employ capital or labour 
in any other way than in cultivation of land are deterred 
by the formidable array of taxation. The chief taxes 
are styled the Veesabuddy, or tax on merchants, 
traders, and shopkeepers ; the Mohturfa, or tax on 
weavers, carpenters, stonecutters, and other mechanical 
trades ; and the Bazeebab, consisting of smaller taxes 
annually rented out to the highest bidder. The pro- 
prietor of the Bazeebab is thus constituted a petty chief- 



4(0* THE WHITE SLAVES 

tain, with power to exact fees at marriages and religious 
ceremonies ; to inquire into and fine the misconduct of 
females in families, and other misdemeanours in fact, 
petty tyrants, who can at all times allege engagements 
to the government to justify extortion.* These pro- 
prietors are the worst kind of slaveholders. 

The mode of settling the Mohturfa on looms is re- 
markable for the precision of its exaction. Every 
circumstance of the weaver's family is considered ; the 
number of days which he devotes to his loom, the num- 
ber of his children, the assistance which he receives 
from them, and the number and quality of the pieces 
which he can produce in a year ; so that, let him exert 
himself as he will, his industry will always be taxed to 
the highest degree. f This method is so detailed that 
the servants of the government cannot enter into it, and 
the assessment of the tax is therefore left to the heads 
of the villages. It is impossible for a weaver to know 
what he is to pay to the government for being allowed 
to carry on his business till the yearly demand is made. 
If he has worked hard, and turned out one or two pieces 
of cloth more than he did the year before, his tax is in- 
creased. The more industrious he is the more he is 
forced to pay. 

The tax-gatherers are thorough inquisitors. Accord- 
ing to Hikards, upward of seventy different kinds of 

* Rikards. f Collector's Report. 



OP ENGLAND. 477 

buildings the houses, shops, or warehouses of different 
castes and professions were ordered to be entered into 
the survey accounts ; besides the following implements 
of professions, which were usually assessed to the public 
revenue, viz. : Oil-mills, iron manufactory, toddy- 
drawer's stills, potter's kiln, washerman's stone, gold- 
smith's tools, sawyer's saw, toddy-drawer's knives, 
fishing-nets, barber's hones, blacksmith's anvils, pack- 
bullocks, cocoa-nut safe, small fishing-boats, cotton- 
beater's bow, carpenter's tools, large fishing-boats, 
looms, salt-storehouses. If a landlord objects to the 
assessment on trees, as old and past bearing, they are, 
one and all, ordered to be cut down a measure as ri- 
diculous as unjust as it not only inflicts injury upon 
the landlord, but takes away the chance of future profit 
for the government. Mr. Rikards bears witness, as a 
collector of Malabar, that lands and produce were 
sometimes inserted in the survey account which abso- 
lutely did not exist, while other lands were assessed to 
the revenue at more than their actual produce. From 
all this, it is obvious that the Hindoo labourer or arti- 
san is the slave of the tax-collector, who, moreover, has 
no interest in the life of his victim. 

Labour being almost " dirt cheap" in India, whenever 
speculating companies of Englishmen wish to carry out 
any particular scheme for which labourers are required, 
they hire a number of Hindoo Coolies, induce them to 

visit any port of the country, and treat them abomi- 
u* 



478 THE WHITE SLAVES 

nably, knowing that the poor wretches have no pro- 
tection. The operations of the Assam Tea Company 
illustrate this practice : 

" An inconsiderate expenditure of capital placed the Assam Tea 
Company in great jeopardy, and at one time it was feared the 
scheme would be abandoned. The number of managers and as- 
sistants appointed by the Assam Company to carry on their affairs 
and superintend their tea gardens, on large salaries, was quite 
unnecessary ; one or two experienced European superintendents 
to direct the native establishment would have answered every pur- 
pose. A vast number of Coolies (or labourers) were induced to 
proceed to Upper Assam to cultivate the gardens ; but bad ar- 
rangements having been made to supply them with proper, whole- 
some food, many were seized with sickness. On their arrival at 
the tea-plantations, in the midst of high and dense tree jungle, 
numbers absconded, and others met an untimely end. The rice 
served out to the Coolies from the Assam Tea Company's store- 
rooms, was so bad as not to be fit to be given to elephants, much 
less to human beings. The loss of these labourers, who had been 
conveyed to Upper Assam at a great expense, deprived the com- 
pany of the means of cultivating so great an extent of country as 
would otherwise have been insured ; for the scanty population of 
Upper Assam offered no means of replacing the deficiency of 
hands. Nor was the improvidence of the company in respect to 
labourers the only instance of their mismanagement. Although 
the company must have known that they had no real use or neces- 
sity for a steamer, a huge vessel was nevertheless purchased, and 
frequently sent up and down the Burrampooter river from Cal- 
cutta; carrying little else than a few thousand rupees for the 
payment of their establishment in Upper Assam, which might 
have been transmitted through native bankers, and have saved 
the company a most lavish and unprofitable expenditure of 
capital."* 

* Sketch of Assam. 



OF ENGLAND. 479 

Ay, and the expense is all that is thought worthy of 
consideration. The miserable victims to the measures 
of the company might perish like brutes without being 
even pitied. 

On the verge of starvation, as so many of the Hindoo 
labourers generally are, it does not excite surprise that 
they are very ready to listen to the offers of those who 
are engaged in the Cooley slave-trade." In addition 
to the astounding facts given by us in the previous chap- 
ter, in regard to this traffic in men, we quote the follow- 
ing from the London Spectator of October, 1838 : 

" Under Lord Glenelg's patronage, the Eastern slave-trade pros- 
pers exceedingly. The traffic in Hill Coolies promises to become 
one of the most extensive under the British flag. A cargo arrived 
in Berbice about the beginning of May, in prime condition : and 
the Berbice Advertiser, one of the most respectable of the "West 
India journals, states, that out of 289, conveyed in the Whitby, 
only eight died on the passage, and very few were ill. Only one 
circumstance was wanting to make them the happiest of human (?) 
beings only eight women were sent as companions for the 280 
men ; and the deficiency of females was the more to be regretted 
because it was ' probable they would be shunned by the negroea 
from jealousy and speaking a different language/ 

" The same newspaper contains a very curious document re- 
specting the Hill Cooley traffic. It is a circular letter, dated the 
8th January, 1838, from Henley, Dowson, and Bethel, of Calcutta, 
the agents most extensively engaged in the shipment of labourers 
from India to the Mauritius and British Guiana. These gentle- 
men thus state their claims to preference over other houses in the 
same business : 

" ' We have within the last two years procured and shipped 
upward of 5000 free agricultural labourers for our friends at Mau- 



480 THE WHITE SLAVES 

ritius ; and, from the circumstance of nearly 500 of the number 
"being employed on estates in which we possess a direct interest, 
we can assure you that a happier and more contented labouring 
population is seldom to be met with in any part of the world, 
than the Dhargas or mountain tribes sent from this vast country/ 

" Five thousand within two years to the Mauritius alone ! This 
is pretty well, considering that the trade is in its infancy. As to 
the statement of the happiness and contentment of the labourers, 
rather more impartial evidence than the good word of the ex- 
porters of the commodity advertised would be desirable. If 
Englishmen could fancy themselves Hill Coolies for an instant 
landed in Berbice, in the proportion of 280 men to 8 of the gentler 
sex, ' speaking a different language/ and shunned by the very 
negroes we are inclined to think they would not, even in that 
imaginary and momentary view, conceit themselves to be among 
the happiest of mankind. 

" We proceed with the Calcutta circular : 

" ' The labourers hitherto procured by us have cost their em- 
ployers, landed at the Mauritius, about one hundred rupees (or 
10Z. sterling) per man ; which sum comprises six months' advance 
of wages, provisions and water for the voyage, clothing, commis- 
sion, passage, insurance, and all incidental charges.' 

" ' The expense attending the shipment of Indian labourers to 
the West India Colonies would be necessarily augmented firstly, 
by the higher rate of passage-money, and the increased quantity 
of provisions and water ; and, secondly, from the necessity of 
making arrangements, indispensable to the health and comfort 
of native passengers, on a voyage of so long a duration, in the 
course of which they would be exposed to great vicissitude of 
climate. 

" * On making ample allowance for these charges, we do not 
apprehend that a labourer, sent direct from this country to Deme- 
rara, and engaged to work on your estates for a period of five 
consecutive years, would cost, landed there, above two hundred 
and ten rupees, or 21Z. sterling.' 

" This sum of 210 rupees includes six months' wages at what 
rate does the reader suppose ? Why, five rupees, or ten shillings 



OF ENGLAND. 481 

sterling a month half-a-crown a week in Demerara! The pas- 
sage is 101, and the insurance 12s. ; for they are insured at so 
much a head, like pigs or sheep. 

" It is manifest that after their arrival in Demerara, the Indians 
will not, unless on compulsion, work for five years at the rate of 
10s. a month, while the negroes receive much higher wages. 
They are therefore placed under strict control, and are just as 
much slaves as the Redemptioners, whom the virtuous Quakers 
inveigled into Pennsylvania a century or more ago. The Indians 
bind themselves to work in town or country, wherever their con- 
signee or master may choose to employ them. One of the articles 
of their agreement is this : 

" ' In order that the undersigned natives of India may be fully 
aware of the engagement they undertake, it is hereby notified, 
that they will be required to do all such work as the object for 
which they are engaged necessitates ; and that, as labourers attached 
to an estate, they will be required to clear forest and extract timber, 
carry manure, dig and prepare land for planting, also to take 
charge of horses, mules, and cattle of every description ; in short, 
to do all such work as an estate for the cultivation of sugar-cane and 
the manufacture of sugar demands, or any branch of agriculture to 
which they may be destined.' 

" In case of disobedience or misconduct that is, at the caprice 
of the master they may be ' degraded/ and sent back at their 
own charge to Calcutta. They are to receive no wages during 
illness ; and a rupee a month is to be deducted from their wages 
thereby reducing them to 2s. a week as an indemnity- fund for 
the cost of sending them back. What security there is for the 
kind treatment of the labourers does not appear : there is nothing 
in the contract but a promise to act equitably. 

" Now, in what respect do these men differ in condition from 
negro slaves, except very much for the worse? They must be 
more helpless than the negroes if for no other reason, because 
of their ignorance of the language their masters use. They will 
not, for a long period certainly, be formidable from their numbers. 
How easily may even the miserable terms of the contract with 
their employers be evaded ! Suppose the Indian works steadily 



482 THE WHITE SLAVES 

for four years, it may suit his master to describe him as refrac- 
tory and idle during the fifth, and then he will be sent back at 
his own cost ; and the whole of his earnings may be expended in 
paying for his passage to Calcutta, where, after all, he is a long 
way from home. 

"It is impossible to contemplate without pain the inevitable 
lot of these helpless beings ; but the conduct of the government, 
which could sanction the infamous commerce of which the Hill 
Cooley will be the victims, while professing all the while such a 
holy horror of dealing in negroes, should rouse general indig- 
nation. 

Is it only a certain shade of black, and a peculiar physical 
conformation, which excites the compassion of the Anti-Slavery 
people ? If it is cruelty, oppression, and fraud which they abhor 
and desire to prevent, then let them renew their agitation in 
behalf of the kidnapped natives of India, now suffering, probably 
more acutely, all that made the lot of the negro a theme for elo- 
quence and a field for Christian philanthropy." 

This is written in the right spirit. The trade de- 
scribed has increased to an extent' which calls for the 
interference of some humane power. Should the British 
government continue to sanction the traffic, it must stand 
responsible for a national crime. 

Oppressive and violent as the British dominion in 
India undoubtedly is, the means devised to extend it 
are even more worthy of strong condemnation. The 
government fixes its eyes upon a certain province, where 
the people are enjoying peace and plenty, and deter- 
mines to get possession of it. The Romans themselves 
were not more fertile in pretences for forcible seizure 
of territory than these British plunderers. They quickly 
hunt up a pretender to the throne, support his claims 



OF ENGLAND. 483 

"with a powerful army, make him their complete tool, 
dethrone the lawful sovereign, and extend their autho- 
rity over the country. The course pursued toward 
Afghanistan in 1838 illustrates this outrageous viola- 
tion of national rights. 

The following account of the origin and progress of 
the Afghanistan war is given by an English writer in the 
Penny Magazine : 



" In 1747, Ahmeed Shah, an officer of an Afghan troop in the 
service of Persia, refounded the Afghan monarchy, which was 
maintained until the death of his successor in 1793. Ahmeed 
was of the Douranee tribe, and the limits over which his sway 
extended is spoken of as the Douranee empire. Four of the sons 
of Ahmeed's successor disputed, and in turn possessed, the throne ; 
and during this civil war several of the principal chiefs threw off 
their allegiance, and the Douranee empire ceased to exist, but 
was split up into the chiefships of Candahar, Herat, Caboul, and 
Peshawur. Herat afterward became a dependency of Persia, and 
Shah Shooja ool Moolook, the chief of Peshawur, lost his power 
after having enjoyed it for about six years. Dost Mohammed 
Kahn, the chief of Caboul, according to the testimony of the late 
Sir Alexander Burnes, writing in 1832, governed his territory 
with great judgment, improved its internal administration and 
resources, and became the most powerful chief in Afghanistan. 
Shah Shooja was for many years a fugitive and a pensioner of 
the British government. He made one unsuccessful attempt to 
regain his territory, but Peshawur eventually became a tributary 
to the ruler of the Punjab. Such was the state of Afghanistan 
in 1836. 

" In the above year the Anglo-Indian government complained 
that Dost Mohammed Khan, chief of Caboul, had engaged in 
schemes of aggrandizement which threatened the stability of the 
British frontier in India ; and Sir Alexander Burnes, who was 



484 THE WHITE SLAVES 

sent with authority to represent to him the light in which his 
proceedings were viewed, was compelled to leave Caboul without 
having effected any change in his conduct. The siege of Herat, 
and the support which both Dost Mohammed and his brother, the 
chief of Candahar, gave to the designs of Persia in Afghanistan, 
the latter chief especially openly assisting the operations against 
Herat, created fresh alarm in the Anglo-Indian government as to 
the security of our frontier. Several minor chiefs also avowed 
their attachment to the Persians. As our policy, instead of hos- 
tility, required an ally capable of resisting aggression on the 
western frontier of India, the Governor-general, from whose offi- 
cial papers we take these statements, ' was satisfied/ after serious 
and mature deliberation, 'that a pressing necessity, as well as 
every consideration of policy and justice, warranted us in espous- 
ing the cause of Shah Shooja ool Moolk;' and it was determined 
to place him on the throne. According to the Governor-general, 
speaking from the best authority, the testimony as to Shah Shooja's 
popularity was unanimous. In June, 1838, the late Sir "William 
Macnaghten formed a tripartite treaty with the ruler of the Pun- 
jab and Shah Shooja ; the object of which was to restore the latter 
to the throne of his ancestors. This policy it was conceived would 
conduce to the general freedom and security of commerce, the 
restoration of tranquillity upon the most important frontier of 
India, and the erection of a lasting barrier against hostile in- 
trigue and encroachment ; and, while British influence would 
thus gain its proper footing among the nations of Central Asia, 
the prosperity of the Afghan people would be promoted. 

" Troops were despatched from the Presidencies of Bengal and 
Bombay to co-operate with the contingents raised by the Shah 
and our other ally, the united force being intended to act together 
under the name of the ' Army of the Indus.' After a march of 
extraordinary length, through countries which had never before 
been traversed by British troops, and defiles which are the most 
difficult passes in the world, where no wheeled carriage had ever 
been, and where it was necessary for the engineers in many places 
to construct roads before the baggage could proceed, the com- 
bined forces from Bengal and Bombay reached Candahar in May, 



OF ENGLAND. 485 

1839. According to the official accounts, the population wera 
enthusiastic in welcoming the return of Shah Shooja. The next 
step was to advance toward Ghiznee and Caboul. On the 23d 
July, the strong and important fortress and citadel of Ghiznee, 
regarded throughout Asia as impregnable, was taken in two 
hours by blowing up the Caboul gate. The army had only been 
forty-eight hours before the place. An * explosion party 7 carried 
three hundred pounds of gunpowder in twelve sand-bags, with a 
hose seventy-two feet long, the train was laid and fired, the party 
having just time to reach a tolerable shelter from the effects of 
the concussion, though one of the officers was injured by its force. 
On the 7th of August the army entered Caboul. Dost Mohammed 
had recalled his son Mohammed Akhbar from Jellalabad with 
the troops guarding the Khyber Pass, and their united forces 
amounted to thirteen thousand men ; but these troops refused to 
advance, and Dost Mohammed was obliged to take precipitate 
flight, accompanied only by a small number of horsemen. Shah 
Shooja made a triumphant entry into Caboul, and the troops of 
Dost Mohammed tendered their allegiance to him. The official 
accounts state that in his progress toward Caboul he was joined 
by every person of rank and influence in the country. As the 
tribes in the Bolan Pass committed many outrages and murders 
on the followers of the army of the Indus, at the instigation of 
their chief, the Khan of Khelat, his principal town (Khelat) was 
taken on the 13th of November, 1839. The political objects of the 
expedition had now apparently been obtained. The hostile chiefs 
of Caboul and Candahar were replaced by a friendly monarch. 
On the side of Scinde and Herat, British alliance and protection 
were courted. All this had been accomplished in a few months, 
but at an expense said to exceed three millions sterling." 

The expense of national outrage is only of importance 
to the sordid and unprincipled men who conceived and 
superintended the Afghanistan expedition. In the first 
part of the above extract, the writer places the British 
government in the position of one who strikes in self- 



486 THE WHITE SLAVES 

defence. It was informed that Dost Mohammed enter- 
tained schemes of invasion dangerous to the British 
supremacy informed by the exiled enemy of the chief 
of Caboul. The information was seasonable and ex- 
ceedingly useful. Straightway a treaty was formed, by 
which the British agreed to place their tool for the 
enslavement of the Afghans upon the throne from 
which he had been driven. . Further on, it is said, that 
when Shah Sooja appeared in Afghanistan he was 
joined by every person of rank and influence in the 
country. Just so ; and the followers and supporters 
of Dost Mohammed nearly all submitted to the supe- 
rior army of the British general. But two years after- 
ward, the strength of the patriotic party was seen, when 
Caboul rose against Shah Sooja, drove him again from 
the throne, and defeated and massacred a considerable 
British garrison. Shah Sooja was murdered soon after- 
ward. But the British continued the war against the 
Afghans, with the object of reducing them to the same 
slavery under which the remainder of Hindostan was 
groaning. The violation of national rights, the mas- 
sacre of thousands, and the enslavement of millions 
were the glorious aims of British policy in the Afghan 
expedition. The policy then carried out has been more 
fully illustrated since that period. Whenever a ter- 
ritory was thought desirable by the government, neither 
national rights, the principles of justice and humanity, 
nor even the common right of property in individuals 



OP ENGLAND. 487 

has been respected. "Wealth has been an object for 
the attainment of which plunder and massacre were not 
considered unworthy means. 

Said Mr. John Bright, the radical reformer of Man- 
chester, in a speech delivered in the House of Com- 
mons : " It cannot be too universally known that the 
cultivators of the soil (in India) are in a very unsatis- 
factory condition ; that they are, in truth, in a condi- 
tion of almost extreme and universal poverty. All 
testimony concurred upon that point.- He would call 
the attention of the House to the statement of a cele- 
brated native of India, the Rajah Rammohun Roy, who, 
about twenty years ago, published a pamphlet in Lon- 
don, in which he pointed out the ruinous effects of the 
Zemindaree system, and the oppressions experienced by 
the ryots in the Presidencies of Bombay and Madras. 
After describing the state of affairs generally, he added, 
t Such was the melancholy condition of the agricultural 
labourers, that it always gave him the greatest pain to 
allude to it.' Three years afterward, Mr. Shore, who 
was a judge in India, published a work which was con- 
sidered as a standard work till now, and he stated < that 
the British government was not regarded in a favour- 
able light by the native population of India that a 
system of taxation and extortion was carried on unpa- 
ralleled in the annals of any country.' " 

From all quarters we receive unimpeachable evidence 
that the locust system has performed its devouring work 



488 THE WHITE SLAVES 

on the broadest scale in India ; and that the Hindoos 
are the victims of conquerors, slower, indeed, in their 
movements, than Tamerlane or Genghis Khan, but more 
destructive and more criminal than either of those great 
barbarian invaders. 



OF ENGLAND. 489 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE CRIME AND THE DUTY OP THE ENGLISH GOVERNMENT. 

IT remains to sum up the charges against the English 
oligarchy, and to point out the path which justice, hu- 
manity, and the age require the government to pursue. 
In so doing, we shall go no farther than the facts pre- 
viously adduced will afford us sure ground, nor speak 
more harshly than our duty to our oppressed fellow-men 
will demand. "We pity the criminal even while we pass 
sentence upon her. 

A government originating in, and suited for, a barba- 
rous age must necessarily be unfit for one enjoying the 
meridian of civilization. The arrangement of lord and 
serf was appropriate to the period when war was regarded 
as the chief employment of mankind, and when more 
respect was paid to the kind of blood flowing in a man's 
veins than to his greatness or generosity of soul. But, 
in the nineteenth century, war is regarded as an evil to 
be avoided as long as possible. Peace is the rule, and 
conflict the exception. Christianity has taught us, also, 
that the good and the great in heart and mind wher- 
ever born, wherever bred are the true nobility of our 

race. It is the sin of the English government that it 

32 



490 THE WHITE SLAVES 

works against the bright influence of the times and 
throws the gloomy shadow of feudalism over some of the 
fairest regions of the earth. It legislates for the age 
of William the Conqueror instead of the reign of 
Victoria. 

The few for hereditary luxury and dominion, the 
many for hereditary misery and slavery, is the grand 
fundamental principle of the English system. For every 
gorgeous palace there are a thousand hovels, where even 
beasts should not be forced to dwell. For every lord 
who spends his days in drinking, gambling, hunting, 
horse-racing, 'and. indulging himself in all the luxu- 
ries that money can purchase, a thousand persons, at 
least, must toil day and night to obtain the most wretched 
subsistence. In no country are the few richer than in 
England, and in no country are the masses more fear- 
fully wretched. The great bulk of the property of 
England, both civil and ecclesiastical, is in the grasp of 
the aristocracy. All offices of church and state, yield- 
ing any considerable emolument, are monopolized by the 
lords and their nominees. The masses earn the lords 
spend. The lords have all the property, but the masses 
pay all the taxes, and slave and starve that the taxes 
may be paid. 

Without such a system, is it possible that there could 
be millions of acres of good land lying waste, and mil- 
lions of paupers who dare not cultivate it? that the 
workhouses could be crowded that men, women, and 



OF ENGLAND. 491 

children could be driven to all kinds of work, and yet 
by the most exhausting toil not earn enough to enable 
them to live decently and comfortably that honest and 
industrious people could starve by the wayside, or die 
of disease engendered in dirty hovels that vice and 
crime could be practised to an appalling extent that 
whole villages could be swept away and the poor la- 
bourers either driven into the crowded cities, or to a 
distant land, far from kindred and friends ? 

The aristocrats of England are the most extensive 
slaveholders in the world. In England, Wales, Scot- 
land, and Ireland, they have the entire labouring mass 
for their slaves men, women, and children being doomed 
to the most grinding toil to enable their masters to live 
in luxurious ease. In India and the other colonies they 
have treated the natives as the conquered were treated 
in the Middle Ages. They have drained their resources, 
oppressed them in every way, and disposed of tribes and 
nations as if they had been dealing with cattle. Add 
the slaves of India to the slaves of the United Kingdom, 
and we may count them by tens of millions. These 
slaves are not naturally inferior to their masters. They 
belong to races fertile in great and good men and 
women. Poets, artists, philosophers, historians, states- 
men, and warriors of the first magnitude in genius have 
sprung from these down-trodden people. They have 
fully proved themselves capable of enjoying the sweets 
of freedom. They remain slaves because their masters 



492 THE WHITE SLAVES 

find it profitable, and know how to cozen and bully them 
into submission. 

The following description of France before the great 
revolution of 1789, by M. Thiers, is strikingly applica- 
ble to the condition of Great Britain at the present 
day: 

" The condition of the country, both political and economical, 
was intolerable. There was nothing but privilege privilege vested 
in individuals, in classes, in towns, in provinces, and even in 
trades and professions. Every thing contributed to check indus- 
try and the natural genius of man. All the dignities of the state, 
civil, ecclesiastical, and military, were exclusively reserved to cer- 
tain individuals. No man could take up a profession without 
certain titles and the compliance with certain pecuniary condi- 
tions. Even the favours of the crown were converted into family 
property, so that the king could scarcely exercise his own judg- 
ment, or give any preference. Almost the only liberty left to the 
sovereign was that of making pecuniary gifts, and he had been 
reduced to the necessity of disputing with the Duke of Coigny for 
the abolition of a useless place. Every thing, then, was made im- 
movable property in the hands of a few, and everywhere these few 
resisted the many who had been despoiled. The burdens of the 
state weighed on one class only. The noblesse and the clergy 
possessed about two-thirds of the landed property ; the other 
third, possessed by the people, paid taxes to the king, a long list of 
feudal droits to the noblesse, tithes to the clergy, and had, more- 
over, to support the devastations committed by noble sportsmen and 
their game. The taxes upon consumption pressed upon the great 
multitude, and consequently on the people. The collection of 
these imposts was managed in an unfair and irritating manner ; 
the lords of the soil left long arrears with impunity, but the peo- 
ple, upon any delay in payment, were harshly treated, arrested, 
and condemned to pay in their persons, in default of money to 
produce. The people, therefore, nourished with their labour and 



OP ENGLAND. 493 

defended with their blood the higher classes of society, without 
"being able to procure a comfortable subsistence for themselves. 
The townspeople, a body of citizens, industrious, educated, less 
miserable than the people, could nevertheless obtain none of the 
advantages to which they had a right to aspire, seeing that it was 
their industry that nourished and their talents that adorned the 
kingdom." 

The elements of revolution are all to be found in 
Great Britain. A Mirabeau, with dauntless will and 
stormy eloquence, could use them with tremendous 
effect. Yet the giant of the people does not raise his 
voice to plead the cause of the oppressed, and to awaken 
that irresitible enthusiasm which would sweep away the 
pampered aristocracy. 

The armorial escutcheons of the aristocracy are fear- 
fully significant of its character. Says John Hamp- 
den, Jun. :* 

" The whole emblazonment of aristocracy is one manifesto of 
savage barbarism, brute force, and propensity to robbery and plun- 
der. What are these objects on their shields ? Daggers, swords, 
lions' heads, dogs' heads, arrow-heads, boars' heads, cannon balls, 
clubs, with a medley of stars, moons, and unmeaning figures. 
What are the crests of these arms ? Lascivious goats, rampant 
lions, fiery dragons, and griffins gone crazed : bulls' heads, block- 
heads, arms with uplifted daggers, beasts with daggers, and vul- 
tures tearing up helpless birds. What, again, are the supporters 
of these shields? What are the emblems of the powers by which 
they are mantained and upheld ? The demonstration is deeply 
significant. They are the most singular assemblage of all that is 
fierce, savage, rampageous, villanous, lurking, treacherous, blood- 

* The Aristocracy of England. 



494 THE WHITE SLAVES 

thirsty, cruel, and bestial in bestial natures. They are infuriated 
lions, boars, and tigers ; they are raging bulls, filthy goats, horrid 
hyenas, snarling dogs, drunken bears, and mad rams ; they are 
foxes, wolves, panthers, every thing that is creeping, sneaking, 
thievish, and perfidious. Nay, nature cannot furnish emblems 
extensive enough, and so start up to our astonished sight the most 
hideous shapes of fiendlike dragons and griffins, black, blasted aa 
by infernal fires ; the most fuliginous of monsters ; and if the hu- 
man shape is assumed for the guardians and supporters of aristo- 
cracy, they are wild and savage men, armed with clubs and grim 
with hair, scowling brute defiance, and seeming ready to knock 
down any man at the command of their lords. Ay, the very birds 
of prey are called in ; and eagles, vultures, cormorants, in most 
expressive attitudes, with most ludicrous embellishments of 
crowned heads, collared necks, escutcheoned sides, and with 
hoisted wings and beaks of open and devouring wrath, proclaim 
the same great truth, that aristocracy is of the class of what the 
Germans call Raub-tkieren, or robber-beasts in our vernacular, 
leasts of prey." 

And the character thus published to the world has 
been acted out to the full from the days of the bastard 
Duke of Normandy and his horde of ruffians to the 
time of the "Iron Duke" and his associates in title and 
plunder. The hyenas and vultures have never been 
satisfied. 

The crime of England lies in maintaining the slavery 
of a barbarous age in the middle of the nineteenth cen- 
tury ; in keeping her slaves in physical misery, mental 
darkness, moral depravity, and heathenism; in carry- 
ing fire and sword into some of the loveliest regions of 
the earth, in order to gratify that thirst for wealth and 
dominion ever characteristic of an aristocracy; in 



OF ENGLAND. 495 

forcing her slaves in India to cultivate poison, and her 
weak neighbours of China to buy it ; in plundering and 
oppressing the people of all her colonies ; in concen- 
trating the wealth of the United Kingdom and the de- 
pendencies in the purses of a few persons, and thus 
dooming all others beneath her iron rule to constant, 
exhausting, and unrewarded toil ! We arraign her be- 
fore the tribunal of justice and humanity, as the most 
powerful and destructive of tyrannies ; as the author 
of Ireland's miseries, and a course of action toward 
that island compared with which the dismemberment of 
Poland was merciful ; as the remorseless conqueror of 
the Hindoos; as a government so oppressive that her 
people are flying by thousands to the shores of America 
to escape its inflictions ! Though most criminals plead 
"not guilty," she cannot have the front to do so ! The 
general judgment of civilized mankind has long ago 
pronounced a verdict of conviction. 

Yet, guilty as is the English oligarchy, certain of its 
members have taken to lecturing the world about the 
duties of Christians and philanthropists. This, we sup- 
pose, in charity, is done upon the principle given by 
Hamlet to his mother 

"Assume a virtue if you have it not." 

But a loftier authority than Shakspeare tells us to 
remove the beam from our own eye before we point to 
the mote that is in the eye of a brother. Example, 



496 J-liE WHITE SLAVES 

also, is more powerful than precept. Pious exhorta- 
tions from a villain are usually disregarded. A 
preacher should never have the blood of slaughtered 
victims on his hands. 

We think it not difficult to show that England is the 
"best friend of slavery, while professing an aversion to 
it, and dictating to other governments to strive for its 
abolition. At an enormous expense, she maintains 
men-of-war upon the coast of Africa, with the object 
of suppressing the trade in negro slaves. This expense 
her white slaves are taxed to pay ; while the men-of- 
war have not only not suppressed the slave-trade, but 
Lave doubled its horrors, by compelling the slave- 
traders to inflict new tortures upon the negroes they 
capture and conceal. In the mean time, the govern- 
ment is doing all in its power to impoverish and enslave 
(for the slavery of a people follows its poverty) the 
more intelligent races of the world. England prides 
herself upon her efforts to destroy the trade in African 
savages and chattel slavery. Her philanthropy is all 
black ; miserable wretches with pale faces have no 
claims upon her assisting hand; and she refuses to 
recognise the only kind of slavery by which masters 
are necessitated to provide well for their slaves, while 
she enforces that system which starves them ! England 
is the best friend of the most destructive species of 
slavery, and has extended it over tens of millions of 
beings. 



OF ENGLAND. 49T 

Justice, humanity, and the age demand the abolition 
of this exhausting, famine-breeding, and murderous 
system. It is hostile to every principle of right to 
civilization, and to the loving spirit of Christianity. 
Starving millions groan beneath the yoke. From the 
crowded factories and workshops from the pestilential 
hovels from the dark and slave-filled coal-pits from 
the populous workhouses from the vast army of wan- 
dering beggars in England and Scotland from the 
perishing peasantry of Ireland from the wretched 
Hindoos upon the Ganges and the Indus from the 
betrayed Coolies in the West-India Islands arises the 
cry for relief from the plunderers and the oppressors. 
" How long, Lord, how long !" 

A few thousand persons own the United Kingdom. 
They have robbed and reduced to slavery not only 
their own co^itrymen, but millions in other lands. 
They continue to rob wherever they find an opportunity. 
They spend what their crime has accumulated in all 
kinds of vice and dissipation, and rear their children 
to the same courses. Money raised for religious pur- 
poses they waste in luxurious living. They trade in 
all the offices of church and state. They persecute, 
by exclusion, all who do not subscribe to "thirty-nine 
articles" which they wish to force upon mankind. In 
brief, the oligarchy lies like an incubus upon the empire, 
and the people cannot call themselves either free or 
happy until the aristocrats be driven from their high 



498 WHITE SLAVES OF ENGLAND. 

places. Burst, then, the chains, ye countrymen of 
Hampden and Vane ! Show to the world that the old 
fire is not yet quenched ! that the spirits of your mar- 
tyrs to liberty are yet among you, and their lessons in 
your hearts ! Obtain your freedom peaceably, if you 
can but obtain it, for it expands and ennobles the life 
of a nation ! In the air of liberty alone can a people 
enjoy a healthy existence. A day of real freedom is 
worth more than years in a dungeon. What have you 
to dread? Do you not know your strength? Be 
assured, this aristocracy could not stand an hour, were 
you resolved against its existence ! It would be swept 
away as a feather before a hurricane. Do you fear 
that much blood would flow in the struggle? Consider 
the hundreds of thousands who are crushed out of ex- 
istence every year by this aristocracy, and ask your- 
selves if it is not better that the system* should be over- 
thrown, even at the expense of blood, than that it 
should continue its destructive career ? Had not men 
better make an effort to secure freedom and plenty for 
their posterity, than starve quietly by the wayside ? 
These are the questions you should take home to your 
hearts. One grand, determined, glorious effort, and 
you are free. 

" Hereditary bondsmen, know ye not 
Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow?" 



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