ePub 版

how could he trust to that high Constitution, which could yield no character which was given of the relief, but rather produce an aggrapetitioners, if they had agreed to vation of the evils complained of. such a petition as Mr. Roebuck Mr. Muntz declared his inten. had described ? He agreed with tion of supporting the prayer of Lord John Russell, that if the the petition. people had been deluded in this Mr. Oswald opposed it as delu. instance, they might be deluded sive. again, when they had acquired Mr. Villiers spoke in favour of that power which others might the motion, which went no further abuse. He believed Universal Suf- than a hearing of the case alleged frage to be incompatible with the in the petition by counsel at the maintenance of a mixed Monarchy, Bar. under which the people had ob- Mr. O'Connell explained that tained for 150 years as much prac. his vote would be given on the tical liberty, and enjoyment of same side, on the ground of his social happiness, as any form of being a decided advocate of Unihuman government could afford - versal Suffrage ; a doctrine which not excepting that of the United he had not heard successfully comStates of America.

bated, either in this debate, or at He concluded by expressing his any other time. sincere sympathy with the present Mr. Duncombe replied. sufferings of the people, but his The House divided, and there firm resolution not to consent to appeared- ayes, 49; noes, 287 : those momentous changes in the majority, 238.


Lord Ashley's bill for restraining the Employment of Women and

Children in Mines and Collieries-Extracts from the Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry - Impression made by Lord Ashley's statement upon the House of Commons-Speeches of Mr. Fox Maule, Lord F. Egerton, Sir J. Graham, and other MembersLeave given to bring in the Bill nem. con.-Rapid progress of the measure in the House of Commons-It is passed with slight oppositionIt is introduced in an altered form in the House of Lords. Debates on the Second Reading-Lord Wharncliffe states the intentions of the Government respecting it-Lord Londonderry moves, that it be read a second time that day six months, but the Motion is not seconded. Speech of Lord Brougham before going into Committee-Various amendments are proposed and negatived, and the Bill passed - Debates in the House of Commons on the Lords"_AmendmentsCharges against the Government made by Lord Palmerston and Mr. C. Buller-Sir R. Peel vindicates the MinistersThe Amendments agreed to-Bribery at Elections Singular result of proceedings before Committees - General reports respecting compromises of petitions-Mr. Roebuck undertakes an inquiry - He addresses questions to the Members for Reading, Nottingham, Harwich, Penryn and LewesTheir answers

- Mr. Roebuck states his charges and moves for a Select CommitteeMr. Fitzroy seconds the motion-Adjourned debate-Speeches of Mr. Wynn, Mr. Ward, Lord Palmerston, Sir R. Inglis, Sir R. Peel, Lord J. Russell, Lord Stanley, and othersMr. Roebuck amends his motion, which is then carried without a division-Mr. T. Duncombe proposes a test for the Committee, which is rejectedNomination of the Commitlee-An Act of Indemnity for Witnesses passed- Presentation of the Report of the Commitlee-Particulars of compromises in the cases of Harwich, Nottingham, Lewes, Reading, Penryn, and Bridport Mr. Roebuck moves Resolutions founded on the Report-Speeches of Mr. C. Russell, Major Beresford, Mr. Fitzroy, Captain Plumridge, and Lord Chelsea-The Solicitore general moves the previous question-Sir R. Peel states reasons for opposing the resolutions, which are negatived on a division - The Chancellor of the Exchequer refuses Lord Chelsea's application for the Chiltern HundredsLord Palmerston finds fault with the Go. vernment— The Chancellor of the Exchequer and Sir R. Peel vindicate the course adopted for frustrating the Compromises published by the Committee-Statement of Captain Plumridge-Suspension of the Writs for Nottingham, Ipswich, Southamplon, and Newcastle-underVOL. LXXXIV.


[ocr errors]

Lyne-They are finally issued-Bill for Disfranchisement of Sudbury carried in the House of Commons, but afterwards dropped Bill of Lord J. Russell for the prevention of Bribery at Elections.

W ,

THILE measures involving in conjunction with the highest

and the excitement of party feel- sections of the people sunk in the ings were engrossing the attention lowest moral and intellectual barof the Legislature and of the pub- barism. In the midst of the relic mind, a subject of deep import- finements of the nineteenth cenance and painful interest was pre- tury, in the heart of a Christian sented to the notice of the House and enlightened community, and of Commons, by a Member whose with all the channels for the exgenerous exertions on behalf of a

posure of oppression and abuses suffering but neglected class of the which our political system affords, community had, on former occa- it appears hard to realize as truth sions, been attended with honour- the picture of children consigned able success.

The condition of by their parents almost from the children employed in Factories had cradle to perpetual labour, at an been within a recent period the employment entailingon them presubject of a public investigation, the mature adolescence, disease, and result of which was the discovery, misery, and amid scenes which enthat mis-management and merce- surea moral degradation even worse nary cruelty had gradually built than the physical suffering which up a system which was distorting accompanies it. Still less, if posand crippling the rising generation sible, would the ear of modern reof our most important districts. finement have been inclined to A law was passed to prevent the credit tales, now too well estacontinuance of that evil. It was blished, of women compelled to then alleged that the condition of work like beasts of burthen in children in other employments was noisome caves where the sun never even worse, and the benevolent enters, surrounded by an atmoexertions of Lord Ashley procured sphere of vice and pollution which the appointment of Commissioners can hardly be depicted with defor Inquiry into the Employment cency, and under circumstances of of Children. They examined into coarse and loathsome exposure to the state of young persons in one which savage life scarcely affords branch of employment-mines and a parallel. The details of this collieries; and the course of their frightful system will best appear inquiries brought to light more from the selections which we shall than the sufferings of children presently furnish from the Com, alone, for they found the case of missioners' Report, and which Lord the women in many places no less Ashley cited in his able introducpitiable. The frequent juxtaposition to his motion in the House of tion of enormous wealth with the Commons on the 7th of June. lowest degree of destitution and He began with complimenting want has often been remarked as the late Government on the readia characteristic feature of societyness with which they had apin England; the Report of the pointed the Commission, and on Commissioners referred to exposed their choice of Commissioners ;

and then proceeded to prove the Staffordshire, Shropshire, Warnecessity of immediate legislation wickshire, Leicestershire, Derbyby reference to the Report before shire,Cumberland, Durham, Norththe House. First, he quoted the umberland, Gloucestershire, or statements of the Report with re- Somersetshire. In none of the spect to the ages of the children collieries in the coal-fields of Ireemployed :-"In South Stafford- land was a single instance found of shire, Shropshire, Warwickshire, a female child or a female of any Leicestershire, and Cumberland, age being employed in any kind children begin to work at seven of work. I must observe, said years of age; about Halifax, Brad- Lord Ashley, “that with respect ford, and Leeds, at six ; in Der- to that country, neither children byshire and South Durham, at of tender years nor females are emfive or six ; in Lancashire, at five, ployed in underground operations. and near Oldham as early as four; I have often admired the geneand in some small collieries of the rosity of the Irish people, and I last neighbourhood, some children must say that if this is to be taken are brought to work in their bed- as a specimen of their barbarism, gowns. Lord Ashley observed in I would not exchange it for all passing, that had it only been the the refinement and polish of the great coal-owners with whom they most civilized nations of the had to deal, the necessity for the globe." Bill would not have existed. In The nature of the localities in North Durham and Northumber- which the labourers wereemployer, land, many children are employed was the next point to which Lord at five or six, but not generally; Ashley directed the attention of that age is common in the East of the House:"The health depends Scotland ; in the West of Scot much upon the ventilation and land, eight; in South Wales, four drainage of the places; and they is a very usual age; in South differ according to the depth of Gloucestershire, nine or younger; the seams of coal, which vary

from in North Somersetshire, six or ten inches in some places to ten or seven. In the South of Ireland twenty feet in others. In South no children at all are employed. Staffordshire, for instance, says All the underground work, which Dr. Mitchell, the coal-beds are in the coal-mines of England, Scot- sufficiently thick to allow abundland, and Wales, is done by young ance of room; the mines are warm children, appears in Ireland to be and dry, and there is a supply of done by young persons between fresh air. The case is pretty much the ages of thirteen and eighteen." the same in Northumberland,Cum

He next adverted to the em. berland, and South Durham, with ployment of females : The some exceptions in the last place ; practice of employing females un- and in North Durham there are derground is universal in West some thin seams. The mines are Yorkshire and North Lancashire; damp, and the water in them is it is common at Bradford and sometimes deep, in Warwickshire Leeds, in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Lancashire. In Derbyshire, and South Wales: general in the Black dainp very much abounds; East of Scotland, rare in the West

j the ventilation in general is exand no women are employed in ceedingly imperfect. Hence fa


tal explosions frequently take place: with their small carts in seams, in the work-people are distressed by many cases not exceeding twentythe quantity of carbonic acid gas two to twenty-eight inches in which almost everywhere abounds, height. The whole of these places, and of which they make great it appears, are in a most deplorable complaint, and the pits are so hot state as to ventilation, and the as to add greatly to the fatigue of drainage is quite as bad as the the labour. While efficient ven ventilation. The evidence of their tilation,' the Report adds, is ne sufferings, as given by the young glected, less attention is paid to people and the old colliers themdrainage. Some pits are dry and selves. is absolutely hideous. In comfortable. Many are so wet North Wales, the main-roads are that the people have to work all low and narrow, the air foul, day over their shoes in water, at the places of work dusty, dark, the same time that the water is and damp, and the ventilation constantly dripping from the roof: most imperfect. In South Wales, in other pits, instead of dripping, in many pits, the ventilation is it constantly rains, as they term it; wholly neglected ; and the Report so that in a short time after they complains of the quantity of carcommence the labour of the day bonic acid gas, which produces the their clothes are drenched ; and in most injurious effects, though not this state, their feet also in water, actually bad enough to prevent the they work all day. The children people from working. This, inespecially (and in general the deed, is the general result of the younger age the more pain- Report of the Commissioner for fully this unfavourable state of the that district. With respect to the place of work is felt) complain mines in Glamorganshire and Pembitterly of this.' It must be borne brokeshire, he states the ventilain mind that it is in this district tion to be most imperfect, and that the regular hours of labour productive of a manifest tendency are not less than fourteen or six- to shorten life, as well as to abridge teen a day. In the West Riding the number of years of useful laof Yorkshire, it appears that there bour on the part of the workare very few collieries where the people." main road exceeds a yard in height,

After these statements he proand in some it does not exceed ceeded to describe the nature of twenty-six or twenty-eight inches; the employment practised in these nay, in some it is even as little as localities :-“ Now, it appears that twenty-two inches in height; so the practice prevails to a lamentthat in such places the youngestable extent of making young perchild cannot pass along without sons and children of a tender age great pain, and in the most con draw loads by means of the girdle strained posture.

In East Scot- and chain. This practice prevails land, where the side-roads do not generally in Shropshire, in Derexceed from twenty-two to twen- byshire, in the West Riding of ty-eight inches in height, the Yorkshire, in Lancashire, in Cheworking-places are sometimes 100 shire, in the East of Scotland, in and 200 yards distant from the North and South Wales, and in main-road; so that females have South Gloucestershire. The child, to crawl backwards and forwards it appears, has a girdle bound round

« 上一頁繼續 »