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no return of correct sensations. Day after day their toil is accumulated upon them: deprived of the cheering influence of the face of nature, robbed of the pure breath of heaven, cooped up in crowded buildings with the Babel-like sound of their companions, animate and inanimate, their overstrained minds and bodies know no return to healthy feelings; and they plunge deeper and deeper into the whirlpool 'till they neither know their danger, nor if they did, could they avoid or escape it without a moral discipline, a physical regeneration, which at present appear if not utterly hopeless, at least very remote. The increase which has of late years taken place in the number of gin vaults, and the more than equal increase of the number of low beer houses since the passing of the beer bill, which ought to have been designated a Bill for the demoralization of the working classes," is sufficiently indicative of the prevalence of dram drinking and tavern haunting.*
In Manchester alone there are nearly if not quite 1000 inns, beer houses, and gin vaults; of these 900 at least are kept open exclusively for the supply of the labouring population ;-placed in situations calculated for their convenience, decked out with every thing that can allure them, crowded into back streets and alleys, or flaunting with the most gaudy and expensive decorations in the great working thoroughfare-they are open at the earliest hours when the thirsty operative is proceeding to his work, holding out to him a temptation utterly irresistible, and remain open during a considerable portion of the night, ministering their poisons to thousands of debilitated creatures, who flock to them in place of seeking excitement and pleasurable stimulus in fireside comfort and enjoyment.
Nor is it the adult male labourer who alone visits these receptacles for every thing that is wicked and degrading. Alas! no: the woman with her wailing child, the girl in company with her sweetheart, the mother in company with her daughter, the father with his son, the gray-haired grandsire with his grandchild,-all come here, herding promiscuously with prostitutes, pick-pockets, and the very scum and refuse of society, all jumbled together in a heterogeneous mass of evil, to the ruin of every thing chaste and delicate in woman, and the utter annihilation of every that is honest or honourable in man. Thus mingling in wild carouse crimes of all shades are perpetrated. Blasphemy, fornication, adultery, incest, child murder, form the black back-ground; while drunkenness, thieving, and obscenity, stand out boldly in front: the very sources of every noble principle of the heart are depraved, and converted into pollution. The mind loses its healthy tone, and remains dormant except when under the influence of these abominable stimulants; whilst the body becomes emaciated,
* Mr. Bradley, the respectable and intelligent Boroughreeve of Manchester, during 1832-3, observed the number of persons entering a gin shop in five minutes during eight successive Saturday nights, and at different periods from seven o'clock till ten. The average result was 112 men, and 163 women, or 275 in forty minutes, which is equal to 412 per hour.-Dr. Key's Pamphlet, p. 58.
shrunken, dwindled to a mere anatomy, and sinks into premature decrepitude, wearing out its miserable remnant of existence in the workhouse; or becomes the victim of an acute disease, and, dying in the crowded wards of an hospital, falls into the grave unheeded, uncared for, even by those who have derived their very existence from the blasted trunk now withered before them.
Pawnbrokers shops have an affinity in their demoralizing agency to the gin and beer-houses, and are almost as numerous, occupying the same localities, and giving unhappy facilities to the poor man to protract his Saturday night's or Sunday's debauch throughout the early part of the week. Article after article is pledged for small sums, to be redeemed the next pay-day; and homesteads, which, on the Saturday mornings are destitute of every domestic utensil are found in the evening possessing some of them. They have been fetched from pledge, a loss has been sustained on them, and in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, they are again missing before the middle of the ensuing week. The same with regard to dress: coat or trowsers, cloak, dress or under-dress, shoes, stockings, &c., all have a constant round; sacrifice after sacrifice takes place, till at length the articles are either left unredeemed, or become so far worn and soiled as to be no longer a valued security to the pawnbroker, even for the very small sum he advances upon them, be it twopence, fourpence, or sixpence.
In pawning, the debased and reckless female is the principal agent; and this calls our attention more directly towards the state of women in the districts of which we write.
The moral influence of woman upon man's character, and domestic happiness, is mainly attributable to her natural and instinctive habits. Her love, her tenderness, her affectionate solicitude for his comfort and enjoyment, her devotedness, her unwearied care, her conjugal attractions, exercise a most ennobling impression upon his nature, and do more towards making him a good husband, a good father, and an useful citizen than all the dogmas of political economy. But the factory woman cannot have this beneficial agency upon man's character : her instincts, from their earliest birth, have been thwarted and pushed aside from their proper channels; they have had no field in which they could be cultivated, no home where their aberrations might have been checked, no legitimate objects on which her love could be lavished; on the reverse, her passions have been prematurely developed, her physical organization stimulated into precocious activity, her social affections utterly blighted, her person rendered unworthy by its want of feminine gracefulness; her occupation has destroyed the delightful sympathies of home, as also her maternal affections; and finally, in place of seeking her pleasures, enjoyments, and happiness, in ministering to the wants, and promoting the welfare of her household, she seeks gratification in other less pure and less womanly stimuli, fatal alike to her health, her comfort, and her appearance.
Nothing would tend more to elevate the moral condition of the manufacturing population, than the restoration of woman to her proper social rank; nothing would exercise greater influence upon the form and growth of her offspring, than her devotion to those womanly oc
cupations, which would render her a denizen of home. No great step can be made till she is snatched from unremitting toil, and made what nature meant she should be, the centre of a system of social delights. Domestic avocations are those which are peculiarly her lot. The poor man who suffers his wife to work separate from him and from home, is a bad calculator: it destroys domestic economy, without which no earnings are sufficient to render him comfortable; it produces separate interests, and separate sets of feelings; they lose their mutual dependence upon each other: their offspring is suffered to starve or perish; to become, even as a child, the imitator of their bad example; to have its frame prematurely injured; to acquire bodily conditions, which it must, in its turn, transmit to its own children; till in the end a point of physical declension is reached, from which the return of a condition approximating to that of the more perfect and more valuable part of the species, must be by slow and painful gradations. When women are thus reduced below the grade of savage life, we can no longer wonder that all household virtues are utterly extinct; and thus we have to lament the want of regard for conjugal obligations, of bashful reserve, of a cultivation of those few sensibilities which can and do shed a bright gleam of pure radiance over married life, when composed of its proper elements.
Maternal affection is one of those beautiful and beneficent instincts which so strongly mark the goodness and surprising wisdom of the Divine Being. It is alike influential upon the unwieldy whale and the least mamiferous animal-upon the fierce and cruel eagle, and the painted humming bird. In all countries, in all stages of civilizationin war, in pestilence, in shipwreck or famine-whether roaming through the jungle or over the prairie-whether traversing the expanse of the continent, or dwelling in the far-off and isolated island, woman has ever been found with the hallowed character of a mother, and exhibiting, for the sake and love of her offspring, an abandonment of self and a pouring forth of her most holy affections, which has been the brightest and purest portion of her history.
Love of helpless infancy-attention to its wants, its sufferings, and its unintelligible happiness, seem to form the very well-spring of a woman's heart-fertilizing, softening. and enriching, all her grosser passions and appetites: it is truly an instinct in the strictest acceptation of the word. A woman, if removed from all knowledge of her sex, and its attributes, from the very hour of her birth would, should she become a mother in the wilderness, lavish as much tenderness upon her babe, cherish it as fondly, hang over it with as fervent affection, attend to its wants, sacrifice her personal comforts, with as much ardour, as much devotedness, as the most refined, fastidious. and intellectual mother placed in the very centre of civilized society.
The system of factory labour has, however, gone far towards annihilating this great and beautiful principle in woman's moral organization; it has torn asunder those links of instinctive affection, which, under almost every other circumstance, have bound a mother to her offspring, and in doing this it has deprived woman of that moral characteristic, the most influential in rendering her a loveable and loving being.
Compelled to rise early-no opportunity given for visiting home during the day, but at scanty and hurried meal-times-her mind and body alike enthralled by her occupation-her social affections destroyed -her frame little calculated to furnish her child with support, she becomes inaccessible to its appeals to her tenderness, leaves it to the care of an hireling or young person—a mere infant, and as its faculties develope, takes no interest in keeping it from the contagion of vice and grossness.
If a mother's love is thus injured, a love springing as it does from the very groundwork of her moral nature, no wonder can be excited that the relations of husband and wife are preverted; and in place of presenting a perfect picture of what love and domestic felicity should be, developing a scene of indecency, wanting every thing which should render home a place for pure and chaste delights. The chastity of marriage is but little known or exercised, husband and wife have become equally regardless of each other, and an habitual indifference to sexual rights is generated, which adds another item to assist in the destruction of domestic habits.
The delicacy of comportment, which is the palladium of married love, has no existence:-separated the whole of the day, exposed to vicious example, surrounded by a stimulant yet enervating asmosphere, the intercourse of man and wife loses its protecting influence upon the animal appetites, and ceases to become a bar to licentiousness and even profligacy. After their day's labour they meet at night not as those who love and have been separated, not to indulge in the endearments proper to their condition; but to drink and to quarrel, to behave indecently, or to taunt each other in terms of vulgarity. The fountains of domestic purity being thus poisoned, the sanctity of marriage rites thus profaned, social virtue is driven fron her last strong hold, and becomes then a prey to obscenity, coarseness, selfishness, and every thing that is pernicious and abominable.
If the domestic manners of the parents are thus depraved, their example cannot tend to remove the influence of the evil lessons taught their children at the mill, the gin or beer shop, in the streets or lodging houses; brother and sister lose that connection which ought naturally and properly to exist between them: disregard for each others welfare, a separation of interests and feelings, a forgetfulness of what is due one to another, destroy those bonds which should link together the hearts of individuals springing from the same source, endeared as they ought to be by the memory of their younger years-years which unfortunately for them have been passed in total disregard for home duties; uncared for likewise by their natural guardians, and separated at an early age to be exposed to a continuance of the same vices which deprived their homes of all beneficial influence upon the moral and social developement, they are inured to conduct vicious in itself, and tending to destroy all the nobler and better feelings of their nature.
Neither is the conduct of parent to child and of child to parent a whit more engaging, but is as remote as possible from the just observance of filial and parental duties: insubordination on the part
of the child, cruelty and oppression on the part of the parent, produce quarrelling, fighting, a total alienation of affection, and finally, a separation from home at an age when parental control and proper domestic discipline are essential to the future well-being of the child.
A household thus constituted, in which all the decencies and moral observances of domestic life are constantly violated, reduces its inmates to a condition no wise elevated above that of a savage. Recklessness, improvidence, unnecessary poverty, starvation, drunkenness, prostitution, filth, parental cruelty and carelessness, filial disobedience, conjugal infidelity, unkindness, and selfishness, are its constituents; and the results of such a combination are social misery and moral degradation-bad men, bad women, bad citizens.
Such is a faint and brief outline of the state of our manufacturing population; and it presents a picture over which humanity shuddersat which human nature recoils: that such a state of things can exist in a country in which Christianity stands so high, can scarcely be believed. How to remedy it, is the vital question which proposes itself on every side. This we are are unable to answer; but as it is said that to know the real state of a disease is half its cure, we may be certain that one of the best things that can be done at present is the supplying of sound and correct information, drawn from personal observation and unexceptionable sources. The legislature will have again and again to make laws for the gradual improvement of this portion of our population; and it is, above all things, of importance that the condition of the labourers should be carefully and maturely considered, and be brought prominently forward; that the public feeling should be roused, and that public virtue should stand forward to put an end to that system of vice and misery which is a foul blot upon the manufacturing energies of England, and casts a darker shade over her national character than even the iniquitous traffic of Ethiopian slavery.
Lord, dry a humble mourner's tear,
And give these drops the power to clear
Proud man's cold comfort is too vain,
Too poor, too mean, for me;
I would not they should know my pain,
Oh! let thy Spirit, like the dew,
Restoring it to life anew,
With all the smiles of spring-
To bud and bloom in Thee!