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trate, the witness stated that the price paid by the warehouse for making the shirts was only 1s. 6d. per dozen; and that she was paid at the rate of 1s. 3d. per dozen; but although, out of that, she had to provide the needles and thread for the work, she allowed the prisoner the same amount as she received. The constable who captured the prisoner said, that upon going to the house where she lodged, he found her in a miserable attic, entirely destitute of either furniture or food, and still stretched upon her bed, which consisted of a heap of rags in one of the corners of the room. She was evidently very wretched, and in the last state of destitution, and handed him a duplicate for the articles, which she said she had pledged to save herself from starvation. When asked if she wished to say any thing, the prisoner, who was very much agitated, assured the magistrate that what she had stated to the officer was the fact. With even incessant application, she could not make more than three shirts a day, which only produced her 3d.; and as she found it impossible to exist upon that, she was obliged to pledge the work, upon which she obtained 3s. 6d."
Facts like these, which, alas! might be multiplied to any extent by those conversant with needlewomen's pay in our larger towns, reveal an intensity of trial and a violence of temptation not easily to be withstood. Whether it shall be theft or dishonour to the exhausted frame and the weakened, hunger-maddened mind, seem the only points left for choice, and may depend somewhat upon the natural passion or appetites of the various women; and we must not think that in such an hour, when the mind is in the midst of vibrations the most terrible, doubting whether hunger can be driven off, or whether sin has become something like a necessity, we must not think that strong religious principle is at the beck of the agonized soul; we must not think that a tithe of these poor women have had any thing of religious instruction, or any thing to confirm the scanty instruction which had been picked up by short attendance at school. The educational statistics of our larger towns show us how little the schoolmaster has been abroad among the bulk of the population; while of those who have been able to pick up some scraps of religious knowledge, the greater part have been hurried into busy life too soon to have received any deep impressions, and have been under no religious control in the most critical period of their life. We must not, therefore, lay all the blame upon those who fall into sin under such circumstances: we see defects both in our social and our ecclesiastical system, which, in all fairness, must be taken into account as palliating the errors of the poor.
In speaking of the effects of Poverty as a tempter on the masses of women employed as sempstresses, we will turn to another class
which also yields a large number of deserters to the ranks of sin -we allude to the race of inferior servants, who have the hardest places and the worst pay. On this point we will quote a leading article of The Times of June last, which was occasioned by a very painful letter, detailing the course of the friendless and orphan children who are reared in our unions.
"Our readers will hardly fail to remember a letter which appeared in these columns the week before last, on the miserable prospects of a large number of the female population in this and other great cities.
.. The writer observes, 'On attending a short time since at the workhouse of our parishes, I was struck by the happy, contented, and generally prepossessing appearance of a hundred or two little girls, who were playing in the court; and I inquired of the master, in the course of conversation, what usually became of them after leaving the workhouse. His reply was startling and horrifying in the highest degree. 'Why, sir, he replied, I am sorry to say, that five out of every six, if not nine out of every ten, become street-walkers. They leave here at thirteen or fourteen years of age, and are usually put to the poorer sort of housekeepers, who, for the most part, are uneducated people, and use the poor girls badly, expecting them to do the part of grown-up women; and so they come back to us two or three times over, till they are about seventeen or eighteen, when, instead of coming back, they take to the streets.' I inquired whether this was the case in other London workhouses. He replied, 'Yes,' he thought so. Can any thing be more terrible to contemplate? The Bishop of Salisbury, in his last Charge, made some observations of very much the same melancholy purport. He, too, had been struck with the externals of the Union schools, the neatness, the regularity, the happy and well-fed appearance of the girls, and their progress in their studies. He had, however, subse quently ascertained that, as a general rule, they turn out very ill. So convinced are we that such must be the case, that we have often wished, yet almost feared, to see a faithful record of the future lives of these children. Where children are brought up under the care of parents or friends, their conduct and fortunes are a matter of the deepest concern to a vigilant circle. In these humble materials consists the historical knowledge of the poor. The consciousness of occupying a place in the daily thoughts of affectionate friends or inquisitive neighbours, has a great effect in sustaining the moral sentiment in the hour of temptation. The poorest child knows that in the deepest recesses of life, and the farthest corners of the land, it is surrounded by a cloud of witnesses in those who have known it from its childhood, who will expect to hear of its career, who will ask for tidings, and will judge that no news must needs be the worst. Thus a golden tie still binds to her rural home the poor girl who does hard service in a dingy back street of the metropolis. The unhappy units of life, turned out of the great pauper machine, possess no such aids. To them, heartless functionaries supply the place of parents and friends; and their companions in the race of
life only vie for the priority of their fall. What human eye weeps for the poor workhouse-girl, sunk to her irrecoverable doom? As she falls so must she lie. Down she sinks to the bottom, and the ocean of life rolls over her as if no such thing as she had ever seen the light of day."
In these facts we have been bringing our readers among the stern realities of life and of life's temptations; and some perhaps who have treated female error as though it were all a matter of wildness, may be softened into pity as they place before their mind the starvation of the drudging, dreary needlewomen, or the trials of friendless workhouse girls in the grinding service which they are compelled to take.
While we were writing these lines, an Appeal reached us on behalf of schools in Devonport, with a fresh view of the poverty which tempts another class-the families of sea-faring men in our various ports. The "Appeal" (a very interesting one it is) tells us that
"The situation of a sailor's family is peculiarly forlorn and unprotected. It is but seldom blessed with a father's watchful eye; added to which, a sailor, from his habits, is proverbially ignorant and careless of domestic concerns. The mother is compelled to eke out the allowance reserved by the Government from her husband's pay, amounting to about 4s. 6d. a week, by employments away from home, as hawking fish about the streets of Devonport and other neighbouring towns; or she toils day by day with her needle at plain-work or stay-making, to add a trifle (seldom more than 2d. or 3d. a day) towards their support. Meanwhile the little ones are generally neglected, exposed to contact with evil in every shape, almost without check or hindrance. A large portion of the girls, after they reach the age of twelve or thirteen years, are lost to God. A few go to service: the greater part either grow up in idle habits at home, or for wages of 1d. or 1d. a day are congregated together in the houses of persons who take in needlework from the shops deprived of religion or moral instruction, they contaminate one another. Pride, levity, and fondness of dress, thus fostered, prepare them for entire degradation."
But we will now pass from the power of poverty, coupled with over-work, to the effects of over-work alone on the bodily and spiritual frame. We are told by the writers upon this subject, that not only the inferior ranks of sempstresses help largely to fill our streets with sin, but that the higher classes of workwomen, the young girls in notable milliners establishments, swell the stream of guilt. No wonder. When we examine the mode of life which the better class of milliners' assistants are wont to spend, we are not surprised to hear of their fall, even though want does not goad them on. Over-work is, of itself, a tempter of great strength; it must be so; God's law of labour cannot be over
done without loss to body or soul, or both. Once let persons be forced to over-ride their strength, and exceed that sentence of toil which is upon Adam's family, and we must expect, as a necessary consequence, bodily and spiritual prostration: we must expect either early decay of bodily powers or demoralization, or both. The factory inquiries reveal frightful views of distorted limbs, diseased and emaciated frames, weakened minds, and utter oblivion of all religious truth and principle. Now we believe the detestable principles of the old factory system are widely at work at this very hour, in a large number of milliners' establishments; that is, though the assistants or apprentices may be fairly paid, they are fearfully over-worked.
Mr. Paget's excellent tale of "The Pageant," which our readers may remember, is, we fear, "an ower true tale;" it holds good at this very day; and though he erred in pointing to a particular house, and spoke of facts which it was hard to substantiate in law, yet his account of the sufferings of young milliners generally, without reference either to the better or worse class of houses, was not over-coloured. Indeed, with all the exertions which that tale and other revelations caused to be made on behalf of the young dressmakers, the improvement in their condition has been but slight, and that condition is indeed most terrible. Thus, the Report of "The Association for the Aid and Benefit of Dressmakers and Milliners' for the past year tells us, that "the Committees have caused express inquiries to be made respecting the hours of work, both in London and in the country towns; and the information received justifies them in stating, that, although there are still, unhappily, numerous exceptions, a marked amelioration has on the whole been the result of the efforts made by the Association. The reduction which has already been effected must in itself be satisfactory to all who contributed towards the attainment of so desirable an object." Most rosy and hopeful words! but we descend abruptly from these cheerful strains to something like a "dead march, a lamentable conclusion. "But," -that chilling, wintry "but," always ready to freeze hope,-"but the Committees are still more gratified to learn that there is, at the present time, a general impression among those who are connected with this occupation, that at no very distant period the hours of work will be reduced to twelve per diem!" Can this be true in a Christian land? Are the delicate frames of mere girls ground down, exhausted, withered, by this inhuman trade,-by labour, that runs over the twelve hours of man's day of labour? Are all the show and glitter and gaiety and fine apparel and fashionable attire of the women of higher rank bought at the price of such suffering of mind and body as is involved in labours
of such length? Is it true that the female drudges of the higher female world are oppressed with something that approaches the reality of Egyptian bondage? Talk of slavery abroad,―surely we want a Wilberforce at home; surely the step of humanity must now move amid silks and satins, and there find, in the midst of rustling brocades and gay bonnets and wreaths of flowers, the pale victims of English cruelty.
The first causes of all these unholy tasks are to be found in the unthinking crowd of refined women, who flutter in the luxurious and elegant scenes of gay life. With these frightful facts of female suffering, the gay plumage that we see abroad drives our thoughts into the heated rooms where the exhausted and fainting girls prepare the show, and ball-room splendour seems like a guilty sight, as we remember the midnight watches of those who deck the female part of those brilliant scenes.
Alas! alas! what is going on in the midst of us? What undercurrents of misery there are, which do not meet the eye as it glances along the glittering shops of our large towns! The world has a gay frontispiece, but there are hideous pages in the book. Think of these multitudes of girls, living upon "the general impression" which they are to be "gratified to learn," that "at no very distant period "—some ten years, we suppose-" the hours of work will be reduced to twelve per diem! God help you, poor children of the needle! sadder words we never read; surely we may say, that, not only "hope deferred maketh the heart sick," but that hope is itself an unhopeful thing, when we are to cheer ourselves with the prospect of twelve hours' toil "at no distant period." There are indeed exceptions to these fearful practices; we know of those who rule their establishments in the fear of God, and, being deeply warmed with the principles of the Church, truly care for those over whom they are put in charge. May their number be increased, for they are but few as yet!
And what comes of all this over-work? for to this point we must return. The results may be guessed; the young dress makers are utterly unfit to meet temptation; mind and body being overtaxed, are unequal to contend with the suggestions of evil, whether in themselves or others; the whole system is in a weak and morbid state, overwrought, and fluctuating between nervous excitement and depression. After more than twelve hours' toil, can we expect the well-balanced, well-judging, calm, and self-possessed mind? Can the soul be in its healthful and vigorous state, so as to be able to resist temptation with all the vigour needful for the victory? Surely the poor victims are caught by the tempter when they are least prepared; and if any milk of human kindness or equity runs in our veins, we must at least mix pity with reproof