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idea or capacity of acting in concert, without any power of combination, and entirely influenced by institutions, feelings, and habits which taught them implicitly to act under the guidance of those to whom they had been accustomed to look up with hereditary awe, and, he might add, with hereditary attachment. [Hear, hear.] At that period the population of the towns was limited, and the manufacturing portion were principally skilled artizans, who got high wages, were possessed of great intelligence, and were well able to protect themselves. What was the case now? Millions, he might say, of men had collected together for the first time, in certain limited spaces; millions, not skilled artizans, but men carrying on, in their several classes, some one particular branch of industry, which they practised from the first moment at which they could work, till they could work no longer,—the great mass of them, in fact, just as unskilled as the rudest agricultural labourer. Thus large masses of uuskilled, needy, impoverished labourers were collected together, subjected to terrible privations and discomforts from their very agglomeration ;—from the same cause, almost at the mercy of their employers ;—and from the same cause ready and apt to combine for mischief.
Was this a state of things which Parliament could regard with satisfaction ? [Hear, hear.] Was it a good state of things ? Was it better for the working people? Was it better for the rest of the community ? [Hear, hear.] What was the physical condition of these unfortunate people thus collected together? Was it a satisfactory one? [Hear, hear.] He would not go into any lengthened details, but let him simply ask the House to remember what had been shown to be the comparative duration of life in Manchester, for instance, and in the county of Wilts, an agricultural district. In Wiltshire the average duration of life was thirty-three years : in Manchester, it was only seventeen. [Hear.] He did not mean to say that this difference in the duration of human life sprung solely or mainly from the nature of factory labour: but it clearly must arise from the circumstances taken all together, under which that labour was carried on in the great towns. Now, it could not be doubted that the evils of this physical condition were calculated to grow worse in every succeeding generation. A people whose life was reduced to one half of the usual average of the labouring class by no accident, no sudden disaster, no chance epidemic, but by the constant action of circumstances unfavourable to health and longevity, were not likely to propagate a vigorous and healthy race. He thought that no legislature could view with indifference a state of things that thus shortened human life, and tended to deteriorate the species. [Hear.] In some respects, no doubt, the factory labourer was better off than other unskilled labourers. But he did think that there were circumstances in that kind of labour that tended to the injury of health. The mere temperature in which they worked must tend to this result. [Hear, hear.] There were these poor people working for hours and hours together all day long in an Indian temperature, and then turned out to go home and sleep in a northern climate. (Hear, hear.] Nor was their social and moral condition at all satisfactory. No man could venture to say that they were properly educated. No man could say that their religious wants were properly attended to. [Hear, hear.] No man could say that their moral condition was wholesome or natural. [Hear, hear.] The mode of employment was such as to subvert all the ordinary relations of the sexes as to labour; the women and children did the hard work, the men occupied themselves with the household duties. [Hear, hear.]
The women and the children supported the men by their hard labour; though every one must admit that nothing could be of greater importance than that women should be limited to the discharge of their own proper functions. [Hear, hear.] The political bearings of this state of things called for earnest consideration; for it could not but be acknowledged that the number of people thus collected together, with manifold subjects of complaint, with great facilities for combination, with no attachment, as a rule, to their employers, in a condition eminently open to the machinations of agitators—were circumstances fraught with much danger to the country, unless a speedy and effectual remedy was applied. [Hear, hear.]
Those who might shrink from the taunt of being actuated by mere humanity would find plenty of justification for legislating on this subject on grounds of mere interest. It was the interest of every friend of order and property to provide the remedy for a social state that could not continue without danger to both. And in looking for a remedy, it was consolatory to think that in the very circumstances which excited alarm there was one counterbalancing advantage. The very proximity of these masses of labouring population placed them more completely under the control and direction of government, and afforded greater facilities for applying the various remedies which were needed—for properly organising these people, guiding them by religion, bettering them by education, restraining them by police, ensuring their comforts by sanitary regulations, and checking the growth of mischievous social habits among them by legislative interference. (Hear, hear.] It was their duty to do so if they regarded their welfare—their policy to do so if they looked to their own safety. [Hear, hear.] They had neglected the calls of duty and policy-they had allowed this vast population to grow up with the scanty provision for religious guidance which the chances of the old parochial division of several centuries ago had furnished with the schooling which sectarian competition supplied-in such dwellings as the caprice or avarice of builders and ground-landlords ran up for them, [hear, hear]; and they had allowed, without any attempt at interference, the growth of that monstrous subversion of the ordinary relations of society which pervaded the whole labouring population of these towns. [Hear, hear.] There was no thinking man that was not appalled at this state of things, and the prospect of its unchecked tendency. It was not a mere question of sentiment. Political economists did not regard it with unmixed complacency. Even Mr. M‘Culloch, no sentimentalist, shook his head, and confessed that the growth of huge masses of manufacturing population was a source of alarm. [Hear, hear.) But he only shook his head and confessed his fears: he suggested no remedy. [Hear, hear. His noble friend ventured to grapple with the peril. One frightful, acknowledged evil he saw, and asked them to check, by preventing the weakness of youth and sex from being worked more than the usual period required for the labour of strong men in all other branches of industry in this country. He asked nothing more. He said ten hours' labour is the usual day's labour of grown-up men in this country. There is one immense branch of industry in which poverty and competition have compelled women and young persons to work more than this. Step in and aid them; and pro. bibit their working more than the full day's labour of men. Even if this prohibition should prevent men doing so, still prevent this mischief; and it would be no great evil if even the adult male cottonspinner were indirectly prevented from overworking himself. The Government trembled at this proposal. They forgot the mischiefs of our present state—the perils of the future: they shrank from change; and dignified their inertness by the high sounding name of adherence to principle. [Hear, hear.] But he would say these were among the fallacious pretexts by which selfish wealth had always showed its indifference to the well-being of the poor-by which incapable legislators had sought to rid themselves of the duties of government. [Hear, hear.]
Such he conceived to be the importance of the object which the noble lord sought to attain. His measure would reduce the toil of women and young persons within the limits of the usual day's labour of men in this country. It would tend to the improvement of their health : leave them more, though by no means enough of time, for education, household duties, and relaxation : and check the present disposition to the use of stimulants. [Hear, hear.] His own expectation was that it would do this to a much greater extent than the mere amount provided by the Bill. He thought in all probability that it would at least in a great many mills induce the master to substitute the labour of men for that of young persons and women. It was known that vast proportions of the young men were now out of employ. They were told now by Mr. Horner that there are hundreds of young men working as piercers for less wages than those of young women. (Hear, hear.] When you could no longer employ the women and young persons for twelve hours, what would be the difficulty of getting the unemployed, or those now employed at less wages to work for the higher wages now given to the women? [Hear, hear.] The natural state of things would thus be restored, men would do the hard work, and women would be entirely left
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to their household duties. [Hear, hear.] But, in many cases the limiting the labour of the women and young persons, would undoubtedly limit the labour of all ages and all sexes. The mill would only go for ten hours. He must confess he thought this a very desirable result. He should like to see the workmen in our factories work no longer hours than the great body of labourers in the country.
It was said that the opinion of practical men was altogether against the view of his noble friend; but, with all respect for practical men, he was not always particularly inclined to take their opinions on matters affecting their own particular interests. [Hear, hear.] They had always some paradise of a mill of their own, or a friend's, to bring up in proof that the particular complaint advanced was without foundation ; there was always some statement that trade would not bear the weight of a single feather more, and the particular thing proposed to be done was invariably the feather which would bear down the scale. The present Bill, according to some of these practical men, was the feather which would bear down commerce. Comparisons, every body agreed, were odious, bur he could not help calling to mind that, in like manner, every measure which had been proposed for the removal of negro slavery had been objected to by a number of practical men, each of whom possessed some heaven on earth in the West Indies, whose negroes lived in the utmost happiness; and whether the proposal was to abolish the flogging of women, or the use of the cart whip in the field, it was always asserted by these practical authorities that that particular change would effect the ruin of the West Indian interest. [Hear, hear.] He was ready to pay the utmost attention to the arguments and proofs adduced by practical men; but arguments and proofs he must require from them, for he would not be deterred by their mere vague assurances of the danger of interference.
Nor was he much influenced by an argument, in terrorem, used by the right hon. bart., (Sir R. Peel,) as to the consequences of interference to the extent proposed by the noble lord. “ If you do what you propose now,” he said, “ where will you stop? If you interfere with the cotton trade, you will interfere next with the screwmakers, the potteries, the button-makers, domestic servants, agricultural labourers, with all trades and businesses." He would at once inform the right hon. baronet that, as far as he (Mr. C. Buller) was concerned, his tendency would be to apply the same principle which the present Bill applied to factories, to every other case of a similar nature, up to the point at which he should be stopped by decided inconvenience, or absolute impossibility. [Hear, hear.] Wherever the same interference would do more good than harm, he would interfere. Government themselves proposed to interfere with a twelve hours' limitation; his noble friend, on precisely the same principle, thought ten bours a proper
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limit to factory labour. On the same principle, if there were any other branches of industry which Parliament could regulate as easily and safely as it could the labour in factories, he (Mr. B.) would apply to them precisely the same principles as they applied to the factories. He did not know enough of the particular circumstances of the earthenware and button and screw manufactures to pledge himself as to the course which he would pursue with regard to them; but as far as he knew of them, he could not conceive why they were not subjected to the same regulations as were deemed applicable to factories. [Hear, hear.] With regard to domestic servants, he did not think interference would be so beneficial as to counterbalance the immense evils of the domestic inquisition which it would necessitate. In some classes domestic servants, might be overworked; but these did not comprise the great body of the class; and certainly gentlemen's servants were not a body whose sufferings excited much of his commiseration. [Hear.] Then with regard to agricultural labourers, they certainly were not generally overworked. In other respects they had much to complain of. They were too often ill-paid, ill-fed, illclothed, illlodged; but Nature herself, the vicissitudes of night and day, prevented a general excess of out-door labour. (Hear.] As for the hard work in harvest, mentioned by the right hon, baronet, who would complain if the long hours of labour in the factory prevailed only during two or three weeks of the year, when absolute necessity, arising from natural causes, required them, and if the labourer were stimulated to a brief occasional exertion by high pay, generous food, and the custom of the country, which made harvest a period of festivity, as well as of labour in common? [Hear. But these, in fact, were the kind of terrors that were always held out to scare them from attempting anything for the benefit of the great body of the people. The wisest of men had said, " The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way: there is a lion in the street.” He never saw such a man for lions as the right hon. baronet at the head of the Government. He elevated every cat, or shadow of a cat, into a lion, and said, “ For God's sake don't go along the street, or you'll be eaten up.” [Laughter.]
But the two right hon. baronets had advanced more substantial arguments against the amendment of the noble lord. One of them had taken great pains to show that the proposed reduction of the hours of labour would exclude our manufactures from foreign markets; the other that it would occasion a large reduction of wages. These were arguments of a commercial nature, which the friends of humanity doubtless could not overlook; for if they were sound, they would be decisive against the humanity and justice of the noble lord's amendment. There surely could be no real humanity in any attempt to better the condition of the labourer, that should end in depriving him of the means of earning his subsistence. But before he proceeded to discuss these two arguments separately, he must