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“58. In this case, if the statement of the mother be correct, one of her children, four years of age, works twelve hours a-day with only an interval of a quarter of an hour for each meal, at breakfast, dinner, and tea, and never going out to play: and two more of her children, one six and the other eight years of age, work in summer from 6 a. m. till dusk, and in winter from seven in the morning till ten at night, fifteen hours.
“ 59. This family is singular only in the children being set to work at the ages of two or three. It is common in this district for children to commence work at four, five, and six; the evidence renders this fact indubitable." -(Second Report, p. 10.)
The following extracts relate to the hours of work in the lace trade :
“336. In the Nottingham, Leicester, and Derby districts, partly from the causes just assigned, and partly from the dissipated habits of the workmen, “the hours of labor are so extremely irregular that it is impossible to speak of them with exact precision. The hand-machines, especially the wide machines, are usually double-handed; some very large ones have three men each; the men work such machines by "spells for shifts. The most common time is sixteen, eighteen, and occasionally twenty hours.
However long,' adds the Sub-commissioner, may be the hours during which the machines are propelled, even for the whole twenty-four, either by hand or power, scarcely ever two complete sets of threaders.'
“341. Mr. William Hinde, aged twenty-nine, operative—Among the small masters, who have each one or two machines, it is the custom for one set of children to work for two or three masters. The masters often live a long way from each other; children have often to go one or two miles. They are always wanted when the machine comes off, whatever may be the hour of the day or night; they are required just as much by night as by day, unless
the men will accommodate the children, which is very rarely done, especially when trade is good. When there has been a good pattern, and the machine in constant use, the children “have scarcely a bit of peace,” they have no regular time for meals, “no time for nothing;” when one machine is off, another is on. Was himself formerly a threader, and then a winder. Has often gone at six in the morning, and has had no time to get any thing to eat, except a mouthful now and then, till three or four in the afternoon. It is the same now, when trade is good. The children have no regular time for meals; they have their food sent to them, and they eat when they can; some have nothing but a bit of bread. There is no more regular time for sleeping than for eating; the children often lie down “in the middle of the shop floor, when it is warm.” Thinks hundreds have been sent to the grave by this work. It is enough to kill the children, going half fed and clothed to work in the night, at this time of the year. The thermometer last night was 102.')-(Second Report, pp. 56-9.)
Of course, work of this nature, for such hours, and at such an early age, cannot but be followed by deplorable consequences to health in after life, as well as to moral character. Accordingly the Commissioners report.—(II, p. 109, 110, 181.)
** 598. From the nature of their occupation, the long and irregular hours of work, the frequency of night-work, and the insufficient time allowed for meals—an evil of the greatest magnitude in the case of growing children-the constitution is frequently seriously impaired. The ma
" jority of the children whom I saw,' says the Sub-commissioner, were pale and unhealthy-looking, and several
, were of diminutive stature. The health and sight are often greatly impaired, especially among the runners, who occasionally faint while at work; indeed, there cannot be
an occupation which more seriously deteriorates the constitution. Short-sightedness, amaurosis, distortion of the spine, excessive constitutional debility, indigestion, and derangement of the uterine functions, may be said to be almost universal: all the evidence points to this conclusion.'
"In the town of Nottingham,' says Mr. Grainger, 'all parties, clergy, police, manufacturers, work-people, and parents, agree that the present mode of employing children and young persons as threaders and winders, is a most fertile source of immorality: There
can, in fact, be but few states more immediately leading to vice and profligacy. Children of both sexes are called out of their parents' houses at all hours of the night, and, as it is quite uncertain how long they may be required, whether for two hours or the whole night, a ready and unanswerable excuse for staying out is furnished.-(No. 138.)
“ The moral condition of the lace-makers in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Beds and Bucks, is stated by Major Burns to be extremely low, and prostitution is rife among them, from their scanty earnings, their love of finery, and the almost total absence of early moral culture.”-(Report: App. Pt. I, p. A. 12, s. 104.)
Millinery and Dressmaking.--The portion of these intructive volumes which describes the condition of the young women employed as milliners and mantua-makers in our great cities, and especially in London, is, however, that which has left the most painful impression upon our minds--not only because the work of these unfortunate girls is of all the most severe and unremitting—nor because it is inflicted exclusively upon the weaker sex, and at a period of life the most susceptible of injury from overstrained exertion—nor yet because the actual consequences which are shown to ensue in thousands of cases are so peculiarly deplorable--but because the excess of labor (with all its pernicious and fatal results) is endured in the service, and inflicted in execution of the orders, of a class whose own exemption from toil and privation should make them scrupulously careful not to increase, causelessly or selfishly, the toils and privations of their less favored fellow-creatures—a class, too, many of whom have been conspicuously loud in denouncing the cruelties of far more venial offenders, and in expresssing a somewhat clamorous and overacted sympathy with sufferings which cannot for a moment be compared in severity with those which are every day inflicted on the helpless of their own sex, in ministering to their own factitious and capricious wants. The remark may appear harsh, but the evidence before us fully warrants it--that probably in no occupation whatever--not in the printing fields of Lancashire-not in the lace trade of Nottingham-not in the collieries of Scotland-scarcely in the workshops of Willenhall-most assuredly not in the cotton factories of Manchester, (which a few years ago the fashionable fair of London were so pathetic in lamenting)—can any instances of cruelty be met with which do not “whiten in the shade" of those which every spring and autumn season sees practiced-unreprobated, and till now nearly unknown-in the millinery establishments of the metropolis.
The following extracts will show that we are guilty of no exaggeration.—(II, p. 114-122.)
“ 622. It is estimated that there are in London, in the millinery and dressmaking business, at least 1500 employers, and that the number of young people engaged by each employer varies from two or three to twenty-five or thirty-five-the average in each establishment being
about ten, making in the whole 15,000; but this does not include journeywomen who work at their own houses, of wbom also there are great numbers.
(623. In some of what are considered the best regulated establishments, during the fashionable season, occupying about four months in the year, the regular hours of work are fifteen, but on emergencies, which frequently recur, these hours extend to eighteen. In many establishments the hours of work, during the season, are unlimited, the young women never getting more than six, often not more than four, sometimes only three, and occasionally not more than two hours for rest and sleep out of the twenty-four; and very frequently they work all night.
* 625. Miss O'Neil, Welbeck street, an employer, says
- In the spring season the hours of work are unlimited. The common hours are from six a. m. till twelve at night —sometimes from four a. m. till, twelve. Has herself often worked from six a. m. till twelve at night for two or three months together. It is not at all uncommon, especially in the dressmaking, to work all night; just in the drive of the season,' the work is occasionally continued all night three times a-week. Has worked herself twice in the week all night. In some houses which profess to study the health of their young people, they begin at four a. m. and leave off at eleven p. m., never earlier. Has heard there are houses in London which work on Sundays. 66 628. Miss
-, manager—' has been ten years a “first hand,” which signifies the party who takes the superintendence of the business, as overlooker of the young persons, cutter-out of the work, &c. The common hours of business are from eight a. m. till eleven p. m. in the winter; in the summer from six or half-past six a. m. till twelve at night. During the fashionable season, that is from April to the end of July, it frequently happens that the ordinary hours are greatly exceeded : if there is a drawing-room, or grand fete, or mourning to be made, it often happens that the work goes on for twenty hours out of the twenty-four, occasionally all