תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

So the prize for lying is awarded to the Palmer, and after sonie little cavilling the play ends thus :Then, to our reason, God give us his And all that hath escaped us here by grace,

negligence, That we may follow with faith so firmly We clearly revoke it and forsake it. His commandments, that we may pur. To pass the time in this without offence His love, and so consequently (chase Was the cause why the maker did make it: To believe his church, fast and faithfully; And so we humbly beseech you to take it. So that we may, according to his promise, Beseeching our Lord to prosper you all Be kept out of error in any wise. In the faith of his Church universal.

THE FACTS OF THE FACTORY QUESTION.

INTRIGUES OF MAGISTRATES.

The factory question enlists all our sympathies. From duty as well as from sympathy, from inclination as well as from principle, we range ourselves on the side of the oppressed and of the poor. The instinctive faith of the soul, and the logical conclusions of the intellect, each and both coinpel us to combat under that banner which is their banner, and on which is inscribed, in eternal characters, 'Equal Rights and Equal Duties.' Reasonings the most severe, the most logical, and, if necessary, the most selfish, alike with sentiments of generosity, chivalry, and courage, which we prefer, place us on the side of the peasant against his landlord-on the side of the factory worker against his employer. It is, and should be, with all democrats and republicans, a point of honour, an article of faith, a command of duty, to employ their intelligence, their feelings, and, if necessary, their bodies and souls, for the welfare and in the cause of the people. We have nothing for the feudalism of the nineteenth century but hostility; whether it be the feudalism which inanifests itself in the monopoly of land, or that which is so terribly displayed in our day in the tyranny of capital. The peasant, whose sad doom it is to be born and condemned to live on the domain of a landlord who has murtgaged his property; and the artisan who is born in a town, condemned to be the subject of a millowner, the victim of starvation, or the vagabond of the streets, the police court, and the poorhouse, command alike our respect, our pity, and our assistance. All who can speak for them should speak for them. It is a sacred duty, which all that men call religion, morality, philosophy, teaches. It is a great example, which thousands of martyrs to humanity have set us; men who are unknown, uncanonized; who have lived, some obscurely, some illustriously, but whose deeds and whose thoughts have borne imperishable fruits in due season. We feebly follow in their footsteps, to emulate, not to envy, their greatness; to become as they, not because they were great and illustrious, but because they were right and in their duty.

A great struggle is going on in the north of England between the factory workers and some of the more conscientious millowners on the one hand, and the griping, the selfish, the hard-hearted on the other. The Ten Hours' Act has been, and is being, daily and hourly violated in Lancashire. The unpaid magistrates, who are millowners, and leagued with millowners, have dared to violate the laws of England --not, alas ! for the first time-for their own profit. They have resolved to interpret

an Act of Parliament in their own favour. They have ventured to overrule the decisions of the legal magistrates, and unblushingly to pervert justice for their own purposes. They have flung a defiance in the face of the government: and this government—80 ready to repress anarchy, so swift to pass and enforce gagging bills, so infamously active in the employment of spies, so renowned for their vainglorious boast of preserving

Peace, Law, and Order'—this government of Whigs, the friends of the people have slothfully permitted the Lancashire magistrates to violate the law, and wilfully encouraged them by an underhand complicity.

The facts of the case are these :

After a long agitation and the endurance of bitter persecutions on the part of the operatives, in their efforts to obtain a diminution of the hours of labour, it chanced that a large party in the House of Commons began to feel the keenest hatred to Sir Robert Peel, because he had taken away from them the darling injustice they perpetrated upon England, in the maintenance of protection. These gentlemen had need of something which would enable them to wreak their vengeance on the ininister, and retaliate, as they thought, upon the manufacturers who were the chief partisans of Corn Law Repcal. Opportunely for them this Ten Hours? Bill was before the House, and the Ten Hours' Bill was particularly hateful to their enemies. These gentlemen, who held and hold the peasant in serfdom, suddenly gave the reins to their philanthropy. They grew eloquent in favour of the rights of man, and sublime in their denunciations of the oppressions of cotton lords. And, what is much more important, they gave their votes for the cause of the poor. The Ten Hours' Bill passed by large majorities, and becaine, in due course, the law of the land.

It was natural to expect that the heirs and descendants of the men who vindicated the majesty of the law, by their arıned satellites, at Peterloo, would remain true to their loud spoken loyalty, and still respect the law, as law, though it opposed their interests and outraged their philosophy. It was natural to expect that magistrates, whose sires perhaps, at least whose predecessors, had so often sacrificed the blood and tears of erring poverty at the shrine of Order, would not blot and stain the honours of their ancestry, when the choice lay between their honour and their interest, between their conscience and their pockets. We repeat, it was natural to expect, that such disinterested gentlemen as the barons of capital are known to be, would, at any cost, respect and obey the law. Strange inconsequence, fatal example, unpardonable baseness ! they violated the law, when the Calf of Mammon, which they have set up in the Wilderness of Toil, and worshipped therein, told them that obedience to the law would be insult to its divinity!

While trade was slack, and the operatives were compelled to work short time, there was little complaint against the Ten Hours' Act. Patience, frugality, resignation, trust in Providence, were the doctrines preached to the working men. Nothing was said, and little probably thought, of the depreciation in the value of their property, their sole and unprotected heritage labour. They were lucky, in such bad times, to get employment for, on an average, six hours a-day. But when orders came in and trade grew brisk, and mills would not work fast enough to

child or

supply the demands of a relentless competition, then ten, then twelve, then fourteen hours were too few to ensure-what, gentle reader, thinkest thou? the profits of the employers? Oh no, nothing less, in the magniloquent language of the manufacturers, than the welfare of the nation ! But to ensure this welfarc-or, as we humbly think, these profits—it was necessary to break the law; and the gentlemen, so anxious for the welfare of the nation, scrupled not to break the law.

By the twenty-sixth section of the Factories' Act, it is enacted, 'That the hours of working for children and young persons in every factory shall be reckoned from the time when

any
young person

shall first begin to work in the morning in such factory.' Nothing can be clearer. And we are informed that it was expressly so worded in order to defeat, hy anticipation, the probable attempt to evade the Act by relays of workers. This express provision has been violated, the relay system is in full operation, and the Act set at defiance.

The process seems to be this:-As the object of the violators of the law is to extract as much work out of the male adults as suits their own convenience, and as the Act only restricts the labour of women and children, it is obvious that by so arranging their working time as not to exceed ten hours per day, by turning them off in gangs for the necessary number of hours, the mills can be kept open, and the male adults conscquently kept employed, as long as it may be agreeable to the masters. This system places both men, women, and children in a position as bad, if not worse, than before the passing of the Ten Hours' Act. The men are compelled to accept long hours or no work. The choice is between obedience to the will of the master, and starvation. The women and children are compelled to waste their time--that is, their property-in working and waiting, and waiting and working, for fifteen or sixteen hours out of the twenty-four. There is no alternative for them, either, but dismissal. Thus the intention of the Act, which was to ameliorate the condition of the operatives, by leaving some hours free to the women for recreation or domestic duties, to the children for education, and to the men for rational enjoyment or intellectual culture-is rendered abortive by a dishonourable evasion of its provisions.

This immoral and disloyal proceeding on the part of the griping and unprincipled among the manufacturers, has awakened and inflamed the ancient animosity which still exists, and which has, in former times, been violently manifested by the operatives against their employers. Of course it was not be supposed that they would endure tamely, without remonstrance, without hostility, this flagrant attempt to defraud them of those rights which, by many a hard battle, and many martyrdoms, they

conquered from their old enemies. They were not the men to finch in the good cause. The legality of the relay system was tried in courts of law; and, to their honour, the Yorkshire magistrates decided that it was illegal. Not so the Lancashire magistrates. By a violation at once of good sense and decency, they appeared on the bench, not to decide whether the accused were guilty or not guilty, but to decide-contrary to the opinion of the paid magistrate, who is a man of law-that the relay system was not contrary to the Act, and, consequently, that the charge of violating it could not be maintained. If those, to punish whose possible

had

misdemeanours the law is made, are to be its interpreters, justice becomes a farce, a mockery, a delusion, and a snare.' A court of justice becomes a court of iniquity, and the bench of magistrates is little less than a bench of petty larceners. The government, as we have before stated, took no part in this dispute (except, as it appears, by secretly preparing a Bill to legalise the relay system !) but, as the magnificent conquerors of Cuffey, the sublime vanquishers of Smith O'Brien, the pure, the heroic knights champions of Law and Order,' they consistently allowed the matter to stand over!

Consequently, as the government have shown that they are indifferent about the maintenance of the laws which were intended to protect the property of the poor, it was for the latter to take care of themselves. Their share of government comes in the shape of taxation and repression ; a world of duties, and a handful of rights—these latter chiefly theoretical. Such as they are, however, and agitation is one, the operatives were bound, in selfdefence, to turn them to account. And, accordingly, an agitation, headed by the heroes of the old struggles, the Old King,' Mr. J. R. Stephens, the good John Fielden's sons, and the leading operatives, has for some time been in operation, and we hope will never cease until the social rights of the people are secured, by the acknowledginent of their political claims. Great meetings have heen held, stirring speeches delivered, resolutions adopted, (whose moderation and impartiality are only equalled by their good sense and firmness), committees appointed, and the old organisation of operatives, which so materially helped to carry the Ten Hours' Act, is being reconstructed. The campaign is begun, and only the treachery of pretended friends, the vacillation of the temporisers, or the violence of the operatives themselves, can stand in the way of its success.

It is right to state that many millowners dislike the relay system. They are forced to adopt it, they say, because it has been adopted by their neighbours. But if we read rightly their memorial to the government, presented in May last, they still believe that the limitation of the hours of labour for women and children, to ten, is unjust and impolitic; they are as far as ever from recognising the inequality of the odds, on the side of the operative, in the strife between Capital and Labour; they are as far as ever from pledging their honour to obey the law, as it stands, or amended, backwards, into eleven hours, or any greater number; and they still confound the welfare of the nation with the transitory interests of master cotton spinners.

The manufacturers have placed themselves in a false position with regard to the law; they stand up as the partisans of disloyalty to the law; and they must take the consequences.

As it has been finely said by Rayner Stephens, • There is something more in this question than the elements of sweat and gold. The 'something more we take to be humanity. Let the manufacturers remember that, in neglecting to respect that something more;' nay, in daring to outrage and despise it; in setting the fatal example of disloyalty to the law, they are destroying the already small amount of confidence between man and man, and preaching, by tyranny, and preparing, by short-sighted selfishness, those doctrines and conditions which necessitate revolutions.

EUGENE.

Illustrative Notices.

A PARAGRAPH in the Lincoln Mercury, No. 8049, says— The Mormons, who, after their expulsion from Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois, made an exodus to the Great Salt Lake Valley, bave published their first manifesto to all their brethren throughout the world. It is a curious document, containing a strange admixture of sense, cant, shrewdness, and impiety, together with many interesting details respecting the region in which they have taken up their abode. They have commenced the erection of a city on a grand scale, which is divided into nineteen wards, consisting each of nine “blocks” of houses, and each three-square. They intend erecting a council-house, bridges, bath-houses, schools, colleges, and all the institutions of civilisation. A gold mine was discovered, it is said, by a party of them who had gone on an exploring tour through the northern part of Western Calitornia. John Smith, the uncle of Joseph, has been ordained Patriarch of the Church.” The cultivation of large tracts of land had been commenced, and there is every prospect of a prosperous settlement growing up in this distant region. In their remote settlement they will be joined by their proselytes from every quarter of the world. Seven thousand English Mormons are said to be preparing to emigrate to their new city; and in the Society Islands, it is said, 200 converts have been made within the last year. The leaders of the sect are about taking steps to procure a territorial government, and delegates will be immediately sent to Washington to effect that object.

Miss Martinean's book of Eastern Travels has been excluded from the Derby library, because of its immoral tendency. [Narrow-minderi bigotry or petty spite must have led to the exclusion of the works of one of the most purely moral writers of the day.) This remark in brackets is made by the editor of the Lincoln Mercury, No. 8049.

The Bristol Working Men's Debating Society, Broadmead, have just concluded four nights' discussion, upon the comparative merits of Communism' and Competition. The question was spoken on by Messrs. Morgan, Green, Cook, Powel, Bucher, Norris, Revel, and others. This society is attracting notice and creating interest.

Mr. Hagen, of Derby, solicits our opinion on the proposal of a friend, concerning the establishment of an asylum for ragged school children, in which their school-sown habits conld be confirmed. We think the project eminently worth following up.

Mr. Owen has been ill—but we are glad to say he has recovered.

Mrs. Martin has been dangerously indisposed, but is again happily in tolerable health. Long indisposition has mainly prevented the completion of her Mother's Gaide,' which we hoped to have seen out long ago.

The members of the Redemption Society, resident in London, have associated themselves together, and their secretary is in attendance every Tuesday evening, at the Coffee House, 37, Holborn Hill, where parties favourable to the objects of the society may enrol themselves as candidates.

Mr. Southwell's Beacon, Nos 1, 2, and 3, are more political and general in their tone than his previous papers. But his own articles have the same recognisable quality of spice' which makes him a favourite with his friends. The Beacon is a microcosm-a world in miniature of the doings of Manchester bigots, whether in the palpit or the press, besides containing independent essays and various articles of popular merit and interest.

Mr. Dean, who for twelve months has contributed his gratuitous services in the Band at the Hall of Science, gives a Vocal, Instrumental, and Elocutionary Entertainment in that place, on Monday next. Mr. Thomas Cooper presides. Our friends will find it a pleasure as well as a duty to be present on this occasion.

G. J. H.

« הקודםהמשך »