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lls. per week, and the tiny scavenger clears his half-crown. The wives of the spinners never work in the mills, and this is a strong incentive, over and above the wages, to induce the men to struggle for the post. Besides, the spinner is quite a patron in his way: he employs his own piecers and scavenger, and of course selects them from his own family. The thread being now complete, is sent to the power-loom; and here, again, we find the ladies the presiding superintendents. In general, each has charge of two looms, and the duty consists in taking care that nothing goes wrong, rather than in any continued active exertion. The wages range from 7s. to 9s.
It will be seen from the above sketch, that the amount of physical labour-that the actual expenditure of physical energy and strength demanded in a cotton-mill, is really very trifling. The engine is the real worker. It furnishes the thews and sinews for the toil. From the operative is demanded only different degrees of attention and manual adroitness to guide its complicated evolutions. He is, in fact, rather a superintendent, than, in the ordinary sense of the word, a worker. In the early days of textile manufacture, he had no doubt to supply both the motive power and much of the mechanical skill necessary to correct the imperfectly-fashioned and working mechanism. Now, a general superintending watchfulness is alĩ that is requisite at his hands. But although the manufacture of cotton be not a laborious operation, it is very commonly said to be an irksome one. Now, all mechanical toil is more or less irksome, and perhaps the lower the skill, the more disagreeable the labour ; but it may be not unfairly urged, that tenting, and piecing, and spinning, just require that degree of manual dexterity and watchful heed which are compatible with the employment, with the least possible degree of irksomeness, of the greatest possible number of a population of men, women, and children.
At all events, Manchester cotton operatives at work have very little of the woebegone and slave-gang appearance frequently ascribed to them. Let us follow them in a day's toil, and note their appearance and their habits. Somewhere about five o'clock A.M., the “knockers up' are at work. The term is an odd one; but in many humble Manchester windows a card is suspended, inscribed, 'Knocking up done at one penny per week '-meaning that, for the small stipend in question, the advertiser is prepared to knock you up regularly at the hour in the morning your avocations render necessary. Many “knockers up' have a very decent body of clients; and they make their rounds so as to give the last visited time to be ready by the first peal of the factory-bell, which rings from five minutes before six until the hour strikes. In some of the mills, in the winter-time, the engine does not start until half an hour later ; but, as a general rule, operative Manchester is up and stirring by six. The streets leading to the mills are thronged with men, women, and children flocking to their labour.
They talk and laugh cheerily together.' The girls keep, as usual, in groups, with their shawls round their head; and early breakfast-parties assemble at the stalls of peripatetic venders of hot coffee and cocoa. Any 'hand' later than six is fined twopence, and in strict mills the doors are closed after a very few minutes of grace; so that the laggard has not only to pay his fine, but lose his morning's work.
Breakfast-hour comes round at half-past eight o'clock. The engine stops to the minute, and the streets are again crowded with those of the work-people whose homes are in the vicinity. A large proportion, however, breakfast in the factory, which supplies them with hot water. This practice, though inconsistent with the letter of the Factory Act, is winked at for the sake of practical convenience, many of the workmen living at a distance, and the time allowed being only one half-hour. The meal generally consists of coffee, with plenty of bread and butter, and in many cases a slice of bacon. At five minutes to nine o'clock, the bell again rings, and at nine the engine, starts. The work goes on with the most perfect method and order. There is little if any talking, and there seems little disposition to talk. Everybody sets steadily and tranquilly about his or her duties, in that calm, methodical style which betokens perfect acquaintance with the work to be done, and perfect skill wherewith to do it. There is no hurry, no bustle. The people and the machinery keep time as perfectly as though the same engine moved them both. The mill costume is, as may be imagined, something of the slovenliest. The men wear blue and striped shirts, unbraced trousers, and slippers; the women very generally envelop themselves in coarse pinafores and loose jackets, tying round the throat. The spinners and piecers, being the locomotive members of the establishment, frequently go about their work barefoot, or with such chaussure as reminds you of the old story of the sedan without the bottom. Little enough, indeed, can be said for the tidiness or the cleanliness of the work-people; they have an essentially greasy look, as if water would run off them as off a duck's back. And in this respect the women are not much better than the men. The floor on which they stand is as dark as old mahogany, from the continued oil-dripping; and it is really pitiful to see a pretty piecer with her bare feet and ankles the precise colour of the boards she treads on.
In respect to physical appearance and development, the cotton operatives occupy a sort of middle and negative position. To say that they are decidedly stunted, is probably going too far; but they are certainly neither a robust nor a well-made generation. They do not look actually ill, but they have no appearance of what is called rude health. They are spare, and certainly undersized. At the same time, their movements are quick and easy, and there is no sign of weariness or languor either in face or limbs. The hue of the skin is perhaps the least favourable characteristic. The faces which surround you in a factory are for the most part lively in character, but cadaverous, and overspread by a sort of unpleasant greasy pallor. Now and then, a girl may be observed with some indications of roses in her cheeks ; but such cases are exceptional ; and among the elder and matronly women there are none. Altogether, there can be no doubt that factorylife does not tend to develop the frame in all its robustness, or the health in all its vigour, but neither does it seriously keep down the energies, or necessarily shorten life. Many of the characteristics of the factory population are to be found in the inhabitants of the meaner and more crowded towns, whether manufacturing or not; while in country-mills-of which there are scores in Lancashire and Yorkshire, situated amid the breezy hills—the work-people look just as rosy as the peasants around them. The inference would seem to be, that the crowded city-life is more injurious than the busy factory labour.
But meantime the dinner-hour approaches. In Manchester, all the world, master and man, dine, at one o'clock. From one to two, the industrial population from the millionaire factory proprietor, to the little scavenger who earns his weekly half-crown-are all occupied in the pleasant process. Offices, warehouses, factories, are alike deserted. As the chimes strike one, all the engines pause together, and from every industrial establishment-be it cotton, silk, iron, print, or dye works—the hungry crowd swarms forth; and streets and lanes, five minutes ago lonely and deserted, are echoing the tramplings of thousands of hurrying feet. In the great thoroughfares, such as the Oxford, the Oldham, and the London Roads, the press of people is immense; yet it is over, and the swarm absorbed, almost before you can catch its features. In tolerably good times, the Manchester operative never need want a dinner of what he calls “flesh-meat. This he sometimes consumes at home, sometimes at a neighbouring cookshop, and sometimes has brought to the mill. A favourite popular dish is potato-pie'-a substantial pasty made of meat and potatoes, with a formidably thick roofing of doughy paste. This or some similar dish despatched, there is half an hour for smoking, or lounging, or walking, before the inevitable bell once more precedes the starting of the engine. From two o'clock till half-past five forms the last division of the daily toil, making up an aggregate--from six till half-past eight, from nine till one, and from two till halfpast five-of ten hours' work. This arrangement of hours, though the general, is not the universal one. A few of the mills open at seven o'clock, at half-past seven o'clock, and even so late as eight o'clock, after the people have breakfasted, afterwards making but one stoppage in the day. This plan of labour, however, is objectionable, as it defeats the evening leisure, which it was the intention of the Ten Hours' Bill to confer upon the factory population.
Manchester, unfortunately, holds a high, nearly the highest place, in the melancholy returns of national mortality which are every year issued with their boding columns of figures from
Somerset House. The average number of yearly deaths in English towns is about 1 in 45, but l in 50 is a very common rate of mortality. In a few instances, 1 in 60 only of a population dies per year; in Manchester, 1 individual is buried out of every 30. From this grim fact, the theory that death and cotton manufacture go together, has been somewhat illogically educed. The fact is, that death and crowded and ill-built townsthat death and the remediable abuses of cotton manufacture-only go together. The generally crammed and packed arrangement of the minor cotton towns, the great proportions of which were hastily run up to meet the quickly increasing demand for accommodation, causes them also to stand in not a very much better position in the hills of mortality than their metropolis. In Salford, 1 dies in 34; in Bolton, 1 in 37; in Rochdale and Preston, 1 in 38. There are two causes, indirectly indeed connected with cotton manufacture, for this comparatively high rate of mortality, but neither of them is a necessity of cotton manufacture. One is want of sanitary building arrangements; the other, and the more fatal and melancholy still, is the neglect and the opium-dosing of growing children when their mothers are at the mill.
In respect to the healthfulness of the air of the factory, as compared with the atmosphere breathed by a vast proportion of the working population in their own homes, there can be little doubt that the former is far purer and healthier than the latter. The idea that people are overcrowded in cotton-mills, could only have arisen from ignorance of the fact, that by far the greater proportion of room in each apartment is taken up by machinery. The manufacturer could not jam his people together if he would; nor is the temperature unduly heightened, save in the spinning-sheds of the ' high-number' mills. A cotton factory is nearly all windows, with ample arrangements for swinging panes, so that the occupants may invite or exclude the air as they please. Ventilating apparatus, too, is every year becoming more and more studied. Hardly a new mill arises, which does not boast some improvement in this way over its predecessors; so that in nine establishments out of ten, the air in the works rooms, if it do not quite 'smell wooingly,''is at all events inoffensive and non-injurious to health. One single fact, however, proves our point-that Manchester operative mortality mainly arises from defective domestic, not defective working, arrangements. In a report upon the sanitary state of Chorlton-on-Medlock—one of the great operative districts—drawn up by a surgeon of practical experience and great local knowledge, it is shewn that the rate of mortality depends upon the class of street and dwelling in which each individual lives. Thus, take a body of the population, all employed under similar conditions, and all receiving similar wages. Those living in the best class of operative streets, die at the rate of about 1 in 40; those occupying the worst or third-class streets, at that of 1 in 29. Again, in houses of the first class, the Chorlton mortality is 1 in 52—a rate nearly as favourable as that of Windsor; while in the worst species of tenements, the proportion ranges to the very high rate of 1 in 27—the melancholy state of mortality in Liverpool. These facts, which are stated on the best authority, appear to be conclusive upon the point. We have not, unfortunately, the sanitary statistics of any exclusively countrymills, because Lancashire is so thickly peopled, that there is no report taking in country factories which is not also founded upon town ones; but in one country-mill, charmingly situated at Egerton, five miles from Manchester, the statistics of a benefit sick-society revealed the fact, that out of 66 members, 9 was the average number who received relief during the year. Some instructive information upon this subject has been published by the Manchester Statistical Society, from whose records the following table, referring to males only, is selected. The apparent period of sickness of the females is swollen by what the society characteristically term the period 'lost' in accouchements :
The society also give the average number of days of sickness among English operatives in general engaged in various branches of industry. The following is the calculation :
In the Staffordshire Potteries, up to the age of 61,
• Cotton ditto, in Glasgow'
5.06 Among the East India Company's servants, . . 5.04
... ... Labourers in Chatham Dockyard, . 5.38 In the Lancashire Cotton-mills,
under 16 years of age, 3.14 It would thus appear that cotton operatives, after attaining a certain age, stand very well up in the sanitary proportion; and there can be as little doubt that the mortality which does prevail