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of one master for another, or of one overlooker for another, may and do cause frequent changes. The workman goes wherever he likes best, and can get the most comfortable situation. He is as free as any labourer, of any employment, in any country.
It is sometimes contended that the work-people are not free, but are compelled by their own necessities to retain their situations. Why, this is a kind of compulsion to which all men are subject, masters as well as workmen, and the rich as well as the poor. Every labourer is compelled by his necessities to work ; but does this make him a slave ? If so, all the agricultural labourers, and all labourers of every kind, are slaves! Every clerk, every book-keeper, every shopman, every handicraftsman, is in this sense a slave. But we believe of ali kinds of labour, factory labour is the freest, as well as the best paid and most desired by the working classes. Owing to the number of mills, good and industrious workmen have little difficulty in obtaining situations, except when trade is bad.
It is quite notorious, that factory labour is eagerly sought by the working classes, in preference to labour of almost every other kind. Young females generally prefer it to domestic service, because it leaves them more free and independent, and gives them better remuneration. Wherever a mili is established in a country district, it is accounted one of the greatest blessings. When the incendiary fires were raging last summer in Suffolk, the reporter of The Times, who went down to examine into the facts and to trace the causes, found one village contrasting happily with all the surrounding district, in regard to the comfort and contentedness of the inhabitants : and what caused the superiority? A mill, which, said the reporter, gave regular and well-paid employment to the children of great numbers of families. Lord John Manners paid an honourable tribute to the superior happiness of the work-people in the mills of Turton and Egerton, and said that he conversed there with a woman from the agricultural districts, who was cooking a dinner of beef and potatoes for her family, and who, in reply to his inquiry, laughed at the idea of going back to country life, and said — No, not on any account.'
It is almost superfluous to refute the assertion, that masters have entire control over the workmen, and give them what wages, as well as employ them what hours, they please. This is very far from being the fact. Masters have an exceedingly strong interest in keeping good workmen, and in keeping their machinery always at work. A strike is a heavy loss to the master as well as to the men. In regard to the rate of wages, both employers and employed are the creatures of circumstances; the demand for labour, the supply of it, and its actual productiveness, mainly govern its price. In controversies between masters and men, the power of the two is pretty equally balanced. The numbers of the work-people, and their mutual sympathy, afford them protection against ill-treatment, and give weight to their reasonable claims. There is a great contrast between the real and conscious independence of the factory worker, and the serflike dependence of the labourer in husbandry.
We are fully justified, then, in concluding, that factory labour is free labour; and if so, there is no pretence for legislative interference with the labour of the adults.
Sir Robert Peel well observed, that the principle laid down by Lord Howick, would perfectly justify a compulsory attendance at church. The distrust shown by Lord Howick in men doing that which was best for themselves,' and his declaration that parliament ought to 'set vigorously to work to amend what it found to be amiss in the actual state of society, and that it must of necessity continue to act upon that principle, as well as the general tenor of his speech, justified the premier in drawing this conclusion from it.
But it becomes the friends of civil and religious liberty to be on their guard against the encroachments of a spirit of legislation belonging rather to an arbitrary than to a free government. Such a spirit was evidenced in the memorable Factory Education Act of 1843; and it has gained much ground in and out of parliament, from the plausible accounts published of the progress of government education in Austria, Prussia, France, and other countries. It is exceedingly possible to do partial and temporary good by measures which are based on false principles, and which in the end would work mischief. It is the boast of despotism that it accomplishes good ends by the simple fiat of a monarch, whilst under free governments the same results could not be attained without years of labour and conflict. Yet, this undoubted truth will not induce Englishmen to prefer despotism to freedom. They look at the whole operation of the two systems. In the one, they see the repression of all true liberty of thought, word, and action, ill compensated by ostentatious protection, and by a system of formal education, designed to keep the people under official tutelage. In the other, they see English freedom and independence, under which industry, enterprise, and invention, attain a gigantic growth, whilst intelligence, morals, charity, and religion, spontaneously flourish.
It has been shown, in the letters of Mr. E. Baines, already referred to, that there has been a vast spontaneous growth of education, and the means of religious instruction, in the manufacturing districts, within the present century. Whilst the population of the districts from which he obtained his returns, augmented, between 1801 and 1841, from 975,553 to 2,208,771, or 127 per cent., the church and chapel sittings augmented froin 311,788 to 994,583, or 219 per cent.,—the latter number of sittings being 45 per cent of the entire population. Of the addition of 682,795 sittings made in this century, 612,184 were in churches and chapels built by voluntary subscription, whilst only 70,611 sittings were in churches built by the aid of parliament. In the same districts, 408,531 children and young persons, being one in every 5f of the whole population, are in Sunday-schools, taught by 66,000 gratuitous teachers; and 210,592 children are in day-schools--believed to be five per cent. below the actual number, and showing, therefore, one in ten under day-school education.
These are facts which decisively disprove the imputations cast on the manufacturing districts, and the case which Lord Ashley attempted to make out for the Factory Education Bill, - a measure which, by its unconstitutional character, and the spirit of ecclesiastical usurpation which it betrayed, aroused an unparalleled opposition, and brought forth the most effectual refutation of the calumnies on the manufacturing districts.
If ever there was an age or country in which outward prosperity acquired an extraordinarily rapid growth, whilst knowledge, education, and religion more than kept pace with it, England has been that country during the present century. And it may be said with truth, that all has taken place with as little of government help as has ever been known. Is it not, then, the most prudent as well as the most constitutional course, still to have faith in the energies and the principles of a free people ? Would it not, with this so recent experience before us, be the height of folly to relinquish our dependence on the natural, outof-doors fruits of liberty, and to put industry and mind under the forced cultivation of a government conservatory ?
The thoughtful reader must have observed, of late growth, among a certain class of politicians, of a sentimental, effeminate, and sickly spirit, which, under the name of humanity, threatens to sap the energy, hardihood, and perseverance for which Englishımen have hitherto been distinguished. It is these characteristics of the Anglo-Saxon race that have made England what she is in industry as in arms.
If, instead of those qualities, the population should be led to relax their energies, to shrink from exertion, to prize amusements, holidays, and personal indulgences, to rely on government protection and help, and to cherish a superstitious veneration for forms, names, and
ceremonies, they may become fit tools for a Romanizing clergy and Young-England statesmen, but the pith and marrow of Old England will be gone.
We have now assigned our reasons for thinking, first, that it would not be right, safe, or expedient, that factory labour should be limited to ten hours per day; and second, that even though it were so, the limitation ought not to be imposed by act of parliament, but left to agreement between masters and workmen.
We would not be understood to think that factory labour for twelve hours per day is in itself desirable, or that we wish to see that period perpetuated. This is not our opinion or our wish. We look at the question in the actual circumstances of the country,--suffering under restrictions on the supply of food which compel the manufacturers to work harder for their subsistence than would be needful under free trade,—with a most injudicious import duty on the raw material of the largest manufacture,-and having to sustain the increasing competition of countries, every one of which has longer hours of factory labour than England. Let the circumstances be altered, and the hours of labour might perhaps be abridged with safety. If parliament wishes the factory operatives to work shorter hours, let it repeal the corn laws and the cotton duty. Should the mills of other countries begin to run the same length of day as the English mills, the latter might safely make the day still shorter.
Our own wish would be, that the day of factory labour should be eleven hours instead of twelve. Not that we think this abridgment demanded by the health of the operatives,—not that we expect it to be an unmixed good,-still less, that we think parliament would ever be justified in enforcing it; but that we should hope from this measure for increased opportunities of mental cultivation and the discharge of domestic duties, and that it would add to the personal comfort of the operative, without seriously, if at all, retrenching the income of his family. An abridgment to ten hours, considering the lightness of factory labour, seems to us quite out of the question. And any abridgment at all would be of most doubtful policy for the working classes themselves, so long as trade is burdened with the present duties on food and on cotton-wool, and so long as the factory day in all other countries is more protracted than in this.
We must not conclude these remarks on the factory system and factory legislation, without pointing out to the proprietors of factories the ample field which their circumstances open to them for the exercise of moral influence, and the responsibility which lies upon them to occupy that field. The new industrial system, which has placed such large numbers of workpeople, consisting of men, women, and children, under the employment of comparatively few masters, and brought them into such close contact with each other, may produce moral good or evil, according to the use that is made of it. A mill-owner who attends to the manufacturing department, has his workpeople very much under his own eye. He sees their countenances, their manners, their dress, knows much of their characters and connexions, hears something of their conversation, and can form a tolerable judgment of their moral conduct. Through the medium of the overlookers, he can learn their history, and the condition of their homes and families. His own position with regard to them is one of vast influence, though not of actual power and authority. His example as a husband, a father, a Christian, and a member of society, cannot but produce important effects on the hundreds of persons, young and old, who see him daily. The individuals whom he sets over them as managers and overlookers, have an influence on the operatives, even more direct than that of the master himself; and the nature of that influence must be according to their respective characters. But, further, it is often in the power of the owner of one of these large establishments, to ascertain, by conversation and personal inspection, what his workpeople are in their homes,—whether their habits are sober, their wives managing, their children educated, and whether the families attend religious instruction. This is more difficult in towns than in country places, but it is not impracticable anywhere.
Such being the opportunities of knowledge, and the means of influence possessed by a mill-owner, he is bound, by the clearest duty, to use them for the happiness and true well-being of those placed by Divine Providence under him. It is his duty to promote their health and personal comfort, by enforcing the utmost cleanliness in the mill, ventilation, and whatever arrangements may have a good sanitary tendency. It is his duty to employ managers and overlookers who are moral and humane, and never for a day to keep a man in either of those important situations who is otherwise, be his talents what they may. It is his duty to impress on his workpeople the necessity of personal cleanliness and propriety of dress. It is his duty to prevent, by strict regulations, the use of profane or licentious language, and any species of immorality, and to make it known that no person of bad character can be suffered to remain in his employ.
These are clear and obvious points of duty. But the care of a good man will go much further. He will ascertain the attend