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The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes of Manchester in 1832

Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth

Self-knowledge, inculcated by the maxim of the ancient philosopher, is a precept not less appropriate to societies than to individuals. The physical and moral evils by which we are personally surrounded, may be more easily avoided when we are distinctly conscious of their existence; and the virtue and health of society may be preserved, with less difficulty, when we are acquainted with the sources of its errors and diseases.

The sensorium of the animal structure, to which converge the sensibilities of each organ, is endowed with a consciousness of every change in the sensations to which each member is liable; and few diseases are so subtle as to escape its delicate perceptive power. Pain thus reveals to us the existence of evils, which, unless arrested in their progress, might insidiously invade the sources of vital action.

Society were well preserved, did a similar faculty preside, with an equal sensibility, over its constitution; making every order immediately conscious of the evils affecting any portion of the general mass, and thus rendering their removal equally necessary for the immediate ease, as it is for the ultimate welfare of the whole social system. The mutual dependence of the individual members of society and of its various orders, for the supply of their necessities and the gratification of their desires, is acknowledged, and it imperfectly compensates for the want of a faculty, resembling that pervading consciousness which presides over the animal economy. But a knowledge of the moral and physical evils oppressing one order of the community, is by these means slowly communicated to those which are remote; and general efforts are seldom made for the relief of partial ills, until they threaten to convulse the whole social constitution.

Some governments have attempted to obtain, by specific measures, that knowledge for the acquisition of which there is no natural faculty. The statistical investigations of Prussia, of the Netherlands, of Sweden, and of France, concerning population, labour, and its commercial and agricultural results; the existing resources of the country, its taxation, finance, &c. are minute and accurate. The economist may, however, still regret, that many most interesting subjects of inquiry are neglected, and that the reports of these governments fail to give a perfect portraiture of the features of each individual part of the social body. Their system, imperfect though it be, is greatly superior to any yet introduced into this country. Here, statistics are neglected; and when any emergency demands a special inquiry, information is obtained by means of committees of the Commons, whose labours are so multifarious, as to afford them time for little else than the investigation of general conclusions, derived from the experience of those supposed to be most conversant with the subject. An approximation to truth may thus be made, but the results are never so minutely accurate as those obtained from statistical investigations; and, as they are generally deduced from a comparison of opposing testimonies, and sometimes from partial evidence, they frequently utterly fail in one most important respect, namely - in convincing the public of the facts which they proclaim.

The introduction into this country of a singularly malignant contagious malady, which though it selects its victims from every order of society, is chiefly propagated amongst those whose health is depressed by disease, mental anxiety, or want of the comforts and conveniences of life, has directed public attention to an investigation of the state of the poor. In Manchester, Boards of Health were established, in each of the fourteen districts of Police, for the purpose of minutely inspecting the state of the houses and streets. These districts were divided into minute sections, to each of which two or more inspectors were appointed from among the most respectable inhabitants of the vicinity, and they were provided with tabular queries, applying to each particular house and street. Individual exceptions only exist, in which minute returns were not furnished to the Special Board: and as the investigation was prompted equally by the demands of benevolence, of personal security, and of the general welfare, the results may be esteemed as accurate as the nature of the investigation would permit. The other facts contained in this pamphlet have been obtained from the public offices of the town, or are the results of the author's personal observation.

The township of Manchester chiefly consists of dense masses of houses, inhabited by the population engaged in the great manufactories of the cotton trade. Some of the central divisions are occupied by warehouses and shops, and a few streets by the dwellings of some of the more wealthy inhabitants; but the opulent merchants chiefly reside in the country, and even the superior servants of their establishments inhabit the suburban townships. Manchester, properly so called, is chiefly inhabited by shopkeepers and the labouring classes.[1] Those districts where the poor dwell are of very recent origin. The rapid growth of the cotton­ manufacture has attracted hither operatives from every part of the kingdom, and Ireland has poured forth the most destitute of her hordes to supply the constantly increasing demand for labour. This immigration has been, in one important respect, a serious evil. The Irish have taught the labouring classes of this country a pernicious lesson. The system of cottier farming, the demoralisation and barbarism of the people, and the general use of the potato as the chief article of food, have encouraged the growth of population in Ireland more rapidly than the available means of subsistence have been increased. Debased alike by ignorance and pauperism, they have discovered, with the savage, what is the minimum of the means of life, upon which existence may be prolonged. The paucity of the amount of means and comforts necessary for the mere support of life, is not known by a more civilised population, and this secret has been taught the labourers of this country by the Irish. As competition and the restrictions and burdens of trade diminished the profits of capital, and consequently reduced the price of labour, the contagious example of ignorance and a barbarous disregard of forethought and economy, exhibited by the Irish, spread. The colonisation of savage tribes has ever been attended with effects on civilisation as fatal as those which have marked the progress of the sand flood over the fertile plains of Egypt. Instructed in the fatal secret of subsisting on what is barely necessary to life, - yielding partly to necessity, and partly to example, - the labouring classes have ceased to entertain a laudable pride in furnishing their houses, and in multiplying the decent comforts which minister to happiness. What is superfluous to the mere exigencies of nature is too often expended at the tavern; and for the provision of old age and infirmity, they too frequently trust either to charity, to the support of their children, or to the protection of the poor laws.

When this example is considered in connection with the unremitted labour of the whole population engaged in the various branches of the cotton manufacture, our wonder will be less excited by their fatal demoralisation. Prolonged and exhausting labour, continued from day to day, and from year to year, is not calculated to develop the intellectual or moral faculties of man. The dull routine of a ceaseless drudgery, in which the same mechanical process is incessantly repeated, resembles the torment of Sisyphus - the toil, like the rock, recoils perpetually on the wearied operative. The mind gathers neither stores not strength from the constant extension and retraction of the same muscles. The intellect slumbers in supine inertness; but the grosser parts of our nature attain a rank development. To condemn man to such monotonous toil is, in some measure, to cultivate in him the habits of an animal. He becomes reckless. He disregards the distinguishing appetites and habits of his species. He neglects the comforts and delicacies of life. He lives in squalid wretchedness, on meagre food, and expends his superfluous gains in debauchery.

The population employed in the cotton factories rises at five o'clock in the morning, works in the mills from six till eight o'clock, and returns home for half and hour or forty minutes for breakfast. This meal generally consists of tea or coffee, with a little bread. Oatmeal porridge is sometimes, but of late rarely used, and chiefly by the men; but the stimulus of tea is preferred, and especially by the women. The tea is almost always of a bad, and sometimes of a deleterious quality; the infusion is weak, and little or no milk is added. The operatives return to the mills and workshops until twelve o'clock, when an hour is allowed for dinner. Amongst those who obtain the lower rates of wages this meal generally consists of boiled potatoes. [2] The mess of potatoes is put into one large dish; melted lard and butter are poured upon them, and a few pieces of fried fat bacon are sometimes mingled with them, and but seldom a little meat. Those who obtain better wages, or families whose aggregate income is larger, add the greater proportion of animal food to this meal, at least three times in the week; but the quantity consumed by the labouring population is not great. The family sits round the table, and each rapidly appropriates his portion on a plate, or they all plunge their spoons into the dish, and with an animal eagerness satisfy the cravings of their appetite. At the expiration of the hour, they are all again employed in the workshops or mills, where they continue until seven o'clock or a later hour, when they generally again indulge in the use of tea, often mingled with spirits accompanied by a little bread. Oatmeal or potatoes are however taken by some a second time in the evening.

The comparatively innutritious qualities of these articles of diet are most evident. We are, however, by no means prepared to say that an individual living in a healthy atmosphere, and engaged in active employment in the open air, would not be able to continue protracted and severe labour, without any suffering, whilst nourished by this food. We should rather be disposed, on the contrary, to affirm, that any ill effects must necessarily be so much diminished, that, from the influence of habit, and the benefits derived from the constant inhalation of an uncontaminated atmosphere, during healthy exercise in agricultural pursuits, few if any evil results would ensue. But the population nourished on this aliment is crowded into one dense mass, in cottages separated by narrow, unpaved, and almost pestilential streets, in an atmosphere loaded with the smoke and exhalations of a large manufacturing city. The operatives are congregated in rooms and workshops during twelve hours in the day,[3] in an enervating, heated atmosphere, which is frequently loaded with dust or filaments of cotton, or impure from constant respiration, or from other causes. They are engaged in an employment which absorbs their attention, and unremittingly employs their physical energies.[4] They are drudges who watch the movements, and assist the operations, of a mighty material force, which toils with an energy ever unconscious of fatigue. The persevering labour of the operative must rival the mathematical precision, the incessant motion, and the exhaustless power of the machine.

Hence, besides the negative results - the abstraction of moral and intellectual stimuli - the absence of variety - banishment from the grateful air and the cheering influences of light, the physical energies are impaired by toil, and imperfect nutrition. The artisan too seldom possesses sufficient moral dignity or intellectual or organic strength to resist the seductions of appetite. His wife and children, subjected to the same process, have little power to cheer his remaining moments of leisure. Domestic economy is neglected, domestic comforts are too frequently unknown. A meal of coarse food is hastily prepared, and devoured with precipitation. Home has little other relation to him than that of shelter - few pleasures are there - it chiefly presents to him a scene of physical exhaustion, from which he is glad to escape. His house is ill furnished, uncleanly, often ill ventilated - perhaps damp; his food, from want of forethought and domestic economy, is meagre and innutritious; he generally becomes debilitated and hypochondriacal, and, unless supported by principle, falls the victim of dissipation. In all these respects, it is grateful to add, that those among the operatives of the mills, who are employed in the process of spinning, and especially of fine spinning (who receive a high rate of wages and who are elevated on account of their skill), are more attentive to their domestic arrangements, have better furnished houses, are consequently more regular in their habits , and more observant of their duties than those engaged in other branches of the manufacture.

The other classes of artisans of whom we have spoken, are frequently subject to a disease, in which the sensibility of the stomach and bowels is morbidly excited; the alvine secretions are deranged, and the appetite impaired. Whilst this state continues, the patient loses flesh, his features are sharpened, the skin becomes sallow, or of the yellow hue which is observed in those who have suffered from the influence of tropical climates. The strength fails, the capacities of physical enjoyment are destroyed, and the paroxysms of corporeal suffering are aggravated by deep mental depression. We cannot wonder that the wretched victim of this disease, invited by those haunts of misery and crime the gin shop and the tavern, as he passes to his daily labour, should endeavour to cheat his suffering of a few moments, by the false excitement procured by ardent spirits; or that the exhausted artisan, driven by ennui and discomfort from his squalid home, should strive, in the delirious dreams of a continued debauch, to forget the remembrance of his reckless improvidence, of the destitution, hunger, and uninterrupted toil, which threaten to destroy the remaining energies of his enfeebled constitution.

The example which the Irish have exhibited of barbarous habits and savage want of economy, united with the necessarily debasing consequences of uninterrupted toil, have lowered the state of the people.

The inspection conducted by the District Boards of Health, chiefly referred to the state of the streets and houses, inhabited by the labouring population - to local nuisances, and more general evils. The greatest portion of these districts, especially of those situated beyond Great Ancoats-street, are of very recent origin; and from the want of proper police regulations are untraversed by common sewers. The houses are ill soughed, often ill ventilated, un­provided with privies, and, in consequence, the streets, which are narrow, unpaved, and worn into deep ruts, become the common receptacles of mud, refuse, and disgusting ordure.

The Inspectors' reports do not comprise all the houses and streets of the respective districts, and are in some other respects imperfect. The returns concerning the various defects which they enumerate must be received, as the reports of evils too positive to be overlooked. Frequently, when they existed in a slighter degree, the questions received no reply.

Predisposition to contagious disease is encouraged by everything which depresses the physical energies, amongst the principal of which agencies may be enumerated imperfect nutrition; exposure to cold and moisture, whether from inadequate shelter, or from want of clothing, and fuel, of from the dampness of the habitation; uncleanliness of the person, the street, and the abode; an atmosphere contaminated, whether from the want of ventilation, or from impure effluvia; extreme labour, and consequent physical exhaustion; intemperance; fear; anxiety; diarrhoea, and other diseases. The whole of these subjects could not be included in the investigation, though it originated in a desire to remove, as far as possible, those ills which depressed the health of the population. The list of inquiries to which the inspectors were requested to make tabular replies is placed in the appendix, for the purpose of enabling the reader to form his own opinion of the investigation from which the classified results are deduced.

The state of the streets powerfully affects the health of their inhabitants. Sporadic cases of typhus chiefly appear in those which are narrow, ill ventilated, unpaved, or which contain heaps of refuse, or stagnant pools. The confined air and noxious exhalations, which abound in such places, depress the health of the people, and on this account contagious diseases are also most rapidly propagated there. The operation of these causes is exceedingly promoted by their reflex influence on the manners. The houses, in such situations, are uncleanly, ill provided with furniture; an air of discomfort if not of squalid and loathsome wretchedness pervades them, they are often dilapidated, badly drained, damp: and the habits of their tenants are gross - they are ill fed, ill clothed, and uneconomical - at once spendthrifts and destitute - denying themselves of the comforts of life, in order that they may wallow in the unrestrained licence of animal appetite. An intimate connection subsists, among the poor, between the cleanliness of the street and that of the house and person. Uneconomical habits and dissipations are almost inseparably allied; and they are so frequently connected with uncleanliness, that we cannot consider their concomitance as altogether accidental. The first step to recklessness may often be traced in a neglect of that self-respect, and of the love of domestic enjoyments, which are indicated by personal slovenliness, and discomfort of the habitation. Hence, the importance of providing by police regulations of general enactment, against those fertile sources alike of disease and demoralisation, presented by the gross neglect of the streets and habitations of the poor. When the health is depressed by the concurrence of these causes, contagious diseases spread with a fatal malignancy among the population subjected to their influence. The records [5] of the Fever Hospital of Manchester prove that typhus prevails almost exclusively in such situations.

Those districts which are almost exclusively inhabited by the labouring population are Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10. Nos. 13 and 14, and 7, also, contain, besides the dwellings of the operatives, those of shopkeepers and tradesmen, and are traversed by many of the principal thoroughfares. No. 11 was not inspected, and Nos. 5, 6, 8, and 9, are the central district containing the chief streets, the most respectable shops, the dwellings of the more wealthy inhabitants, and the warehouses of merchants and manufacturers. Subtracting, therefore, from the various totals, those items in the reports which concern these divisions only, we discover in those districts which contain a large portion of poor, namely, in Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10, 13, and 14, that among 579 streets inspected, 243 were altogether unpaved, 46 partially paved, 93 ill ventilated, and 307 contained heaps of refuse, deep ruts, stagnant pools, ordure, &c; and in the districts which are almost exclusively inhabited by the poor, namely, Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10, among 438 streets inspected, 214 were altogether unpaved, 32 partially paved, 63 ill ventilated, and 259 contained heaps of refuse, deep ruts, stagnant pools, ordure , &c.

It is, however, to be lamented, that these results fail to exhibit a perfect picture of the ills which are suffered by the poor. The replies to the questions contained in the Inspectors' table refer only to cases of the most positive kind, and the numerical results would, therefore, have been exceedingly increased, had they embraced those in which the evils existed in a scarcely inferior degree. Some idea of the want of cleanliness prevalent in their habitations, may be obtained from the report of the number of houses requiring white­washing; but this column fails to indicate their gross neglect of order, and absolute filth. Much less can we obtain satisfactory statistical results concerning the want of furniture, especially of bedding, and of food, clothing, and fuel. In these respects the habitations of the Irish are most destitute. They can scarcely be said to be furnished. They contain one or two chairs, a mean table, the most scanty culinary apparatus, and one or two beds, loathsome with filth. A whole family is often accommodated on a single bed, and sometimes a heap of filthy straw and a covering of old sacking hide them in one undistinguished heap. debased alike by penury, want of economy, and dissolute habits. Frequently, the Inspectors found two or more families crowded into one small house, containing only two apartments, one in which they slept, and another in which they ate; and often more than one family lived in a damp cellar, containing only one room, in whose pestilential atmosphere from twelve to sixteen persons were crowded. To these fertile sources of disease were sometimes added the keeping of pigs and other animals in the house, with other nuisances of the most revolting character.

As the visits of the Inspectors were made in the day, when the population is engaged in the mills, and the vagrants and paupers are wandering through the town, they could not form any just idea of the state of the pauper lodging-houses. The establishments thus designated are fertile sources of disease and demoralisation. They are frequently able to accommodate from twenty to thirty of more lodgers, among whom are the most abandoned characters, who, reckless of the morrow, resort thither for the shelter of the night - men who find safety in a constant change of abode, or are too uncertain in their pursuits to remain beneath the same roof for a longer period. Here, without distinction of age or sex, careless of all decency, they are crowded in small and wretched apartments; the same bed receiving a succession of tenants until too offensive for their unfastidious senses. The Special Board being desirous that these lodging-houses should be inspected by the Overseers, the Churchwardens obtained a report of the number in each district, which cannot fail to be a source of surprise and apprehension.

The temporary tenants of these disgusting abodes, too frequently debased by vice, haunted by want, and every other consequence of crime, are peculiarly disposed to the reception of contagion. Their asylums are frequently recesses where it lurks, and they are active agents in its diffusion. They ought to be as much the objects of a careful vigilance from those who are the guardians of the health, as from those who protect the property of the public.

In some districts of the town exist evils so remarkable as to require more minute description. A portion of low, swampy ground, liable to be frequently inundated, and to constant exhalation, is included between a high bank over which the Oxford Road passes, and a bend of the river Medlock, where its course is impeded by a weir. This unhealthy spot lies so low that the chimneys of its houses, some of them three stories high, are little above the level of the road. About two hundred of these habitations are crowded together in an extremely narrow space, and they are chiefly inhabited by the lowest Irish. Many of these houses have also cellars, whose floor is scarcely elevated above the level of the water flowing in the Medlock. The soughs are destroyed, or out of repair; and these narrow abodes are in consequence always damp, and are frequently flooded to the depth of several inches, because the surface water can find no exit. This district has sometimes been the haunt of hordes of thieves and desperadoes who defied the law, and is always inhabited by a class resembling savages in their appetites and habits. It is surrounded on every side by some of the largest factories of the town, whose chimneys vomit forth dense clouds of smoke, which hang heavily over this insalubrious region.

The subjoined document resulted from an inspection made by a Special Sub-committee of Members of the Board of Health, and the signatures of the gentlemen forming that Sub-Committee were appended to it. .[6]

Near the centre of the town, a mass of buildings, inhabited by prostitutes and thieves, is intersected by narrow and loathsome streets, and close courts defiled with refuse. These nuisances exist in No. 13 District, on the western side of Deansgate, and chiefly abound in Wood-street, Spinning Field, Cumberland-street, Parliament-passage, Parliament-street and Thomson-street. In Parliament-street there is only one privy for three hundred and eighty inhabitants, which is placed in a narrow passage, whence its effluvia infest the adjacent houses, and must prove a most fertile source of disease. In this street also, cesspools with open grids have been made close to the doors of the houses, in which disgusting refuse accumulates, and whence its noxious effluvia constantly exhale. In Parliament-passage about thirty houses have been erected, merely separated by an extremely narrow passage (a yard and a half wide) from the wall and back door of other houses. These thirty houses have one privy.

The state of the streets and houses in that part of No. 4, included between Store-street and Travis-street, and London Road, is exceedingly wretched - especially those built on some irregular and broken mounds of clay, on a steep declivity descending into Store-street. These narrow avenues are rough, irregular gullies, down which filthy streams percolate; and the inhabitants are crowded in dilapidated abodes, or obscure and damp cellars, in which it is impossible for the health to be preserved.

Unwilling to weary the patience of the reader by extending such disgusting details, it may suffice to refer generally to the wretched state of the habitations of the poor in Clay-street, and the lower portion of Pot-street; in Providence-street, and its adjoining courts; in Back-Portugal-street; in Back Hart-street, and many of the courts in the neighbourhood of Portland-street, some of which are not more than a yard and a quarter wide, and contain houses, frequently three stories high, the lowest of which stories is occasionally used as a receptacle of excrementitious matter: - to many streets in the neighbourhood of Garden-street, Shudehill: - to Back-Irk-street and to the state of almost the whole of that mass of cottages filling the insalubrious valley through which the Irk flows, and which is denominated Irish town.

The Irk, black with the refuse of dye-works erected on its banks, receives excrementitious matters from some sewers in this portion of the town - the drainage from the gas-works, and filth of the most pernicious character from bone-works, tanneries, size manufactories, &c. Immediately beneath Ducie-bridge, in a deep hollow between two high banks, it sweeps round a large cluster of some of the most wretched and dilapidated buildings of the town. The course of the river is here impeded by a weir, and a large tannery, eight stories high (three of which stories are filled with skins exposed to the atmosphere, in some stage of the processes to which they are subjected), towers close this crazy labyrinth of pauper dwellings. This group of habitations is called 'Gibraltar'. and no sight can well be more insalubrious than that on which it is built. Pursuing the course of the river on the other side of Ducie-bridge, other tanneries, size manufactories, and tripe-houses occur. The parish burial ground occupies one side of the stream, and a series of courts of the most singular and unhealthy character the other. Access is obtained to these courts through narrow covered entries from Long Millgate, whence the explorer descends by stone stairs, and in one instance by three successive flights of steps to a level with the bed of the river. In this last mentioned (Allen's) court he discovers himself to be surrounded, on one side by a wall of rock, on two others by houses three stories high, and on the fourth by the abrupt and high bank down which he descended, and by walls and houses erected on the summit. These houses were, a short time ago, chiefly inhabited by fringe, silk, and cotton weavers, and winders, and each house contained in general three or four families. An adjoining court (Barratt's) on the summit of the bank, separated from Allen's court only by a low wall, contained, besides a pig-stye - a tripe manufactory in a low cottage, which was in a state of loathsome filth. Portions of animal matter were decaying in it, and one of the inner rooms was converted into a kennel, and contained a litter of puppies. In the court, on the opposite side, is a tan yard where skins are prepared without bark in open pits, and here is also a catgut manufactory. Many of the windows of the houses in Allen's court open over the river Irk, whose stream (again impeded, at the distance of one hundred yards by a weir) separates it from another tannery, four stories high and filled with skins, exposed to the currents of air which pass through the building. On the other side of this tannery is the parish burial ground, chiefly used as a place of interment for paupers. A more unhealthy spot than this (Allen's) court it would be difficult to discover, and the physical depression consequent on living in such a situation may be inferred from what ensued on the introduction of cholera here. A matchseller, living in the first story of one of these houses, was seized with cholera, on Sunday, July 22nd; he died on Wednesday, July 25th; and owing to the wilful negligence of his friends, and because the Board of Health had no intimation of the occurrence, he was not buried until Friday afternoon, July 27th. On that day, five other cases of cholera occurred amongst the in­habitants of the court. On the 28th, seven, and on the 29th, two. The cases were nearly all fatal. Those affected with cholera were on the 28th and 29th removed to the Hospital, the dead were buried, and on the 29th the majority of the inhabitants were taken to a house of reception, and the rest, with one exception, dispersed into the town, until their houses had been thoroughly fumigated, ventilated, whitewashed, and cleansed; notwithstanding which dispersion, other cases occurred amongst those who had left the court.

These facts are thus minutely related, because we are anxious to direct public attention to the advantage which would accrue from widening this portion of Long Millgate, by taking down the whole of the houses on the Irk side of the street, from a factory which projects into it, on that side, as far as Ducie-bridge, and thus improving this important entrance to the town, from Bury, and from the north-east of Lancashire.

The houses of the poor, especially throughout the whole of the Districts Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, are too generally built back to back, having therefore only one outlet, no yard, no privy, and no receptacle of refuse. Consequently the narrow, unpaved streets, in which mud and water stagnate, become the common receptacles of offal and ordure. Often low, damp, ill-ventilated cellars exist beneath the houses; an improvement on which system consists in the erection of a stage over the first story, by which access is obtained to the second, and the house is inhabited by two separate families. More than one disgraceful example of this might be enumerated. The streets in the districts where the poor reside, are generally unsewered, and the drainage is consequently superficial. The houses are often built with a total neglect of order, on the summit of natural irregularities of the surface, or on mounds left at the side of artificial excavations on the brick grounds, with which these parts of the town abound.

One nuisance frequently occurs in these districts of so noxious a character, that it ought, at the earliest period, to be suppressed by legal interference. The houses of the poor sometimes surround a common area, into which the doors and windows open at the back of the dwelling. Porkers, who feed pigs in the town, often contract with the inhabitants to pay some small sum for the rent of their area, which is immediately covered with pigstyes, and converted into a dung-heap and receptacle of the putrescent garbage, upon which the animals are fed, as also of the refuse which is now heedlessly flung into it from all the surrounding dwellings. The offensive odour which sometimes arises from these areas cannot be conceived.

There is no Common Slaughter-house in Manchester, and those which exist are chiefly situated in the narrowest and most filthy streets in the town. The drainage from these houses, deeply tinged with blood, and impregnated with other animal matters, frequently flows down the common surface drain of the street, and stagnates in the ruts and pools. Moreover, sometimes in the yards of these houses - from the want of a vigilant circumspection - offal is allowed to accumulate with the grossest neglect of decency and disregard to the health of the surrounding inhabitants. The attention of the commissioners of police cannot be too soon directed to the propriety of obtaining powers to erect a Common Slaughterhouse on some vacant space, and to compel the butchers of the town to slaughter all animals killed in the township in the building thus provided.

The Districts Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4, are inhabited by a turbulent population, which, rendered reckless by dissipation and want, - misled by the secret intrigues, and excited by the inflammatory harangues of demagogues, has frequently committed daring assaults on the liberty of the more peaceful portions of the working classes, and the most frightful devastations on the property of their masters. Machines have been broken, and factories gutted and burned at mid-day, and the riotous crowd has dispersed ere the insufficient body of police arrived at the scene of disturbance. The civic force of the town is totally inadequate to maintain the peace, and to defend property from the attacks of lawless depredators; and a more efficient, and more numerous corps ought to be immediately organised, to give power to the law, so often mocked by the daring front of sedition, and outraged by the frantic violence of an ignorant and deluded rabble. The police form, in fact, so weak a screen against the power of the mob, that popular violence is now, in almost every instance, controlled by the presence of a military force.

The wages [7] obtained by operatives in the various branches of the cotton manufacture are, in general, such, as with the exercise of that economy without which wealth itself is wasted, would be sufficient to provide them with all the decent comforts of life - the average wages of all persons employed in the mills (young and old) being from nine to twelve shillings per week. Their means are too often consumed by vice and improvidence. But the wages of certain classes are exceedingly meagre. The introduction of the power-loom, though ultimately destined to be productive of the greatest general benefits, has, in the present restricted state of commerce, occasioned some temporary embarrassment, by diminishing the demand for certain kinds of labour, and consequently, their price. The hand-loom weavers, existing in this state of transition, still continue a very extensive class, and though they labour fourteen hours and upwards daily, earn only from five to seven or eight shillings per week [8} They consist chiefly of Irish, and are affected by all the causes of moral and physical depression which we have enumerated. Ill fed - ill clothed - half sheltered and ignorant; - weaving in close damp cellars, or crowded workshops, it only remains that they should become, as is too frequently the case, demoralised and reckless, to render perfect the portraiture of savage life. Amongst men so situated, the moral check has no influence in preventing the rapid increase of the population. The existence of cheap and redundant labour in the market has, also, a constant tendency to lessen its general price, and hence the wages of the English operatives have been exceedingly reduced by this immigration of Irish - their comforts consequently diminished - their manners debased - and the natural influence of manufactures on the people thwarted. We are well convinced that without the numerical and moral influence of this class, on the means and on the character of the people who have had to enter into competition with them in the market of labour, we should have had less occasion to regret the physical and moral degradation of the operative population.

The poor-laws, as at present administered, [9] retain all the evils of the gross and indiscriminate bounty of ancient monasteries. They also fail in exciting the gratitude of the people, and they extinguish the charity of the rich. The custom is not now demanded as the prop of any superstition; nor is it fit that institutions, well calculated to assuage the miseries which feudalism inflicted on its unemployed and unhappy serfs, should be allowed to perpetuate indigence, improvidence, idleness and vice, in a commercial community. The artificial structure of society, in providing security against existing evils, has too frequently neglected the remote moral influence of its arrangements on the community. Humanity rejoices in the consciousness that the poorest may obtain the advantages of skilful care in disease, and that there are asylums for infirmity, age, and decrepitude; but the unlimited extension of benefits, devised by a wise intelligence for the relief of evils which no human prescience could elude, has a direct tendency to encourage amongst the poor apathy concerning present exigencies, and the neglect of a provision for the contingencies of the future.

A rate levied on property for the support of indigence is, in a great degree, a tax on the capital, from whose employment are derived the incentives of industry and the rewards of the frugal, ingenious, and virtuous poor. If the only test of the application of this fund by indigence, without reference to desert - be want, irrespective of character - motives to frugality, self-control and industry are at once removed, and the strong barrier which nature had itself erected to prevent the moral lapse of the entire population is wantonly destroyed. The tax acts as a new burden on the industrious poor, already suffering from an enormous pressure, and not only drags within the limits of pauperism unwilling victims, but paralyses with despair the efforts of those whose exertions might otherwise have prolonged their struggle with adversity. The wages of the worthy are often given to encourage the sluggard, the drunkard, and the man whose imprudence entails on the community the precocious burden of his meagre and neglected offspring.

The feeble obstacle raised in the country to the propagation of a pauper population, by making the indigent chargeable on the estates of the land-owners, is even there rendered almost entirely inefficacious by the too frequent non-residence of the gentry, or the indifference with which this apparently inevitable evil is regarded. In the South of England the fatal error has been committed of paying a certain portion of the wages of able-bodied labourers out of the fund obtained by the poor-rates; and a population is thus created, bound like slaves to toil, had having also like them a right to be maintained. But, in the large towns, the feeble check to the increase of pauperism, which thus exists in some rural districts, is entirely removed. The land is let to speculators who build cottages, the rents of which are collected weekly, a commutation for the rates being often paid by the landlord when they are demanded, which seldom occurs in the lowest description of houses. A married man having thus by law an unquestioned right to a maintenance proportioned to the number of his family, direct encouragement is afforded to improvident marriages. The most destitute and immoral marry to increase their claim on the stipend appointed for them by law, which thus acts as a bounty on the increase of a squalid and debilitated race, who inherit from their parents disease, sometimes deformity, often vice, and always beggary.

The number of labourers thus created diminishes the already scanty wages of that portion of the population still content to endeavour by precarious toil to maintain their honest independence. Desperate is the struggle by which, under such a system, the upright labourer procures for his family the comforts of existence. Many are dragged by the accidents of life to an unwilling acceptance of this legalised pension of the profligate, and some, over informed by misfortune in the treachery of their own hearts, are seduced to palter with temptation, and at length to capitulate with their apparent fate.

Fearful demoralisation attends an impost whose distribution diminishes the incentives to prudence and virtue. When reckless of the future, the intelligence of man is confined to the narrow limits of the present. He thus debases himself beneath the animals, whose instincts teach them to lay up stores for the season of need. The gains of the pauper are, in prosperity, frequently squandered in taverns, whilst his family exists in hungered and ragged misery, and few sympathies with the sufferings of his aged relatives or neighbours enter his cold heart, since he knows they have an equal claim with himself, on that pittance which the law awards. The superfluities which nature would prompt him in a season of abundance to hoard for the accidents of the future, are wasted with reckless profusion; because the law takes care of the future. Selfish profligacy usurps the seat of the household virtues of the English labourer.

Charity once extended an invisible chain of sympathy between the higher and lower ranks of society, which has been destroyed by the luckless pseudophilanthropy of the law.[10] Few aged or decrepid pensioners now gratefully receive the visits of the higher classes - few of the poor seek the counsel, the admonitions, and assistance of the rich in the period of the inevitable accidents of life. The bar of the overseer is however crowded with the sturdy applicants for a legalised relief, who regard the distributor of this bounty as their stern and merciless oppressor, instructed by the compassionless rich to reduce to the lowest possible amount the alms which the law wrings from their reluctant hands. This disruption of the natural ties has created a wide gulf between the higher and lower orders of the community, across which the scowl of hatred banished the smile of charity and love.

That government have appointed a Commission of inquiry into the evils arising from the administration of the Poor-laws, must be a source of satisfaction to every well-wisher to the poor. Since it would be unjust to annul the existing provision for a rapidly increasing indigence which the law has itself fostered, the improvement of its present administration is all that the most sanguine can expect as an immediate result of this inquiry. Every change which assimilates the method of distributing this legal charity to that by which a well-regulated private bounty is administered, must be hailed.[11] The present official organisation in the large towns is incapable of producing these results. The parish officers and sidesmen are not sufficiently numerous to enable them (if they were permitted by law) to make a discrimination - concerning the characters of individuals, their actual condition, and the accidents or faults that may have occasioned it - equal to that which is observed in the most judicious distribution of private bounty. Since desert does not enhance the claim which indigence can enforce, the only relation which the parish officer now has with the applicant for relief is that of the investigation and proof of his indigence; and, to this end. those now employed may be sufficiently proper agents. But if we would substitute any portion of that sympathy with the distresses of the poor, and that gratitude for relief afforded - that acknowledged right to administer good counsel, and that willingness to receive advice - that privilege of inquiring into the arrangements of domestic economy, instructing the ignorant, and checking the perverse - all which attend the beneficent path of private charity, much superior men must be employed in the office of visiting the houses of the poor, and being the almoners of the public. Such an office can only be properly filled by men of some education, but especially of high moral character, and possessing great natural gentleness. An attempt should be constantly made to relieve the mind of the independent poor from the necessity of receiving an eleemosynary dole, by recommending the worthy to employment. It is not sufficient that the Sidesman or Churchwarden should give a few hours daily to an examination of all applicants in our enormous townships, but the towns should be minutely subdivided, each district having its local board, which (besides an executive parish overseer resident in the district, and thus possessing every means of becoming minutely acquainted with the character of the inhabitants), should also be furnished with its board of superior officers. By such means: by adopting the test of desert [12], at least to determine the amount of relief bestowed: by discouraging or even rejecting those whose indigence is the consequence of dissipation, of idleness, and of wilful imprudence; and by making the overseers themselves the means of instructing the poor, that every labourer is the surest architect of his own fortune - by constituting them the patrons of virtue and the censors of vice, and besides being the almoners of the public charity, the sources of a powerful moral agency - much good might be effected. [13] The enormous expenditure, incurred by the present system, might be exceedingly reduced, and the alms might at length (by a process whose success would depend on the gradual moral improvement of society), be confined to such of the aged, the decrepid, and the unfortunate, as being without the hope of assistance from the charity of relations or friends, were thus reluctantly driven, by a hard necessity, to have recourse to the fund of the poor, and a constant effort should be vigorously maintained to disburden the public of this enormous tax, by every other means which would contribute to the virtuous independence of the working classes.

At present this alarming impost increases so rapidly, that it threatens ultimately to absorb the fund which ought to be employed solely in rewarding the labour of the industrious poor, and hence, to reduce the whole population to the condition of helots.

The fund derived from the poor's-rate for the relief of the indigent, is, in Manchester, as judiciously administered as the state of the law will permit. Too much praise can scarcely be given to the zealous exertions of those gentlemen who fill the offices of Churchwardens and Sidesmen. Yet the effect of the present state of the law is but too apparent here.

Pauperism is everywhere accompanied with moral and physical degradation. Impressed with this opinion, we endeavoured to discover, from such facts as might be ascertained at the town's offices, how this calamitous law affected Manchester.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The amount of crime is one chief means of ascertaining the moral condition of a community. To the perfection of this estimate it is, however, essential that crimes committed against the person should be distinguished from those against property.[14] The moral guilt of the latter depending considerably upon the equality of the distribution of wealth throughout the country, the degree of ease in which the people live ought also to be brought into view; and when we compare the criminal calendars of different nations, we ought not to omit to refer to their respective modes of administering justice, and to the attention paid in each country to that branch of it which we call preventive. That prevention is by far the more important care, in point both of duty and expediency, is a truth which governments are beginning to perceive; though in most countries repression, and in not a few vindictiveness,[15] still form the spirit of the penal code." "So long as the will of man is free, and it is in his power either to conform to the law, or to violate it, the care of the legislature should be to turn that will into the right channel".

The state of the registers, required for an accurate investigation of the amount of crime committed in Manchester, was such as to demand more time in their classification, than, under the circumstances in which this pamphlet was prepared, we were able to give the subject. We have obtained, however, an account of the number of persons committed at the new Bailey Court House, Salford, for the different offenses under which their commitment is recorded. The amount of crime exhibited in this table results therefore from a much greater population than that contained in the township; the out-townships being also included, or a population of at least 240,000.

Number of felons: 1777

Persons committed for want of sureties to keep the peace - non-payment of fines - neglect of family &c. 2775

For want of sureties to appear at the Sessions 527

For disobeying orders in Bastardy 508

Rogues and vagabonds 2195

There is a licentiousness capable of corrupting the whole body of society, like an insidious disease, which eludes observation, yet is equally fatal in its effects. Criminal acts may be statistically classed - the victims of the law may be enumerated - but the number of those affected with the moral leprosy of vice cannot be exhibited with mathematical precision. Sensuality has no record,[16] and the relaxation of social obligations may co-exist with a half dormant, half restless impulse to rebel against all the preservative principles of society; yet these chaotic elements may long smoulder, accompanied only by partial eruptions of turbulence or crime.

In the absence of direct evidence, we are unwilling that any statements should rest on our personal testimony; but we again refer with confidence to that of an intelligent and impartial observer. [17]

One other characteristic of the social body, in its present constitution, appears to us too remarkable and important to be entirely overlooked.

Religion is the most distinguished and ennobling feature of civil communities. Natural attributes of the human mind appear to ensure the culture of some form of worship and as society rises through its successive stages, these forms are progressively developed, from the grossest observances of superstition, until the truths and dictates of revelation assert their rightful supremacy.

The absence of religious feeling, the neglect of all religious ordinances, afford substantive evidence of so great a moral degradation of the community, as to ensure a concomitant civic debasement. The social body cannot be constructed like a machine, on abstract principles which merely include physical motion, and their numerical results in the production of wealth. The mutual relation of men is not merely dynamical, nor can the composition of their forces be subjected to a purely mathematical calculation. Political economy, though its object be to ascertain the means of increasing the wealth of nations, cannot accomplish its design, without at the same time regarding their happiness, and as its largest ingredient the cultivation of religion and morality.

With unfeigned regret, we are therefore constrained to add, that the standard of morality is exceedingly debased, and that religious observances are neglected amongst the operative population of Manchester. The bonds of domestic sympathy are too generally relaxed; and as a consequence, the filial and paternal duties are uncultivated. The artisan has not time to cherish these feelings, by the familiar and grateful arts which are their constant food, and without which nourishment they perish. An apathy benumbs his spirit. Too frequently the father, enjoying perfect health and with ample opportunities of employment, is supported in idleness on the earnings of his oppressed children; and on the other hand, when age and decrepitude cripple the energies of the parents, their adult children abandon them to the scanty maintenance derived from parochial relief.

That religious observances are exceedingly neglected, we have had constant opportunities of ascertaining, in the performance of our duty as Physician to the Ardwick and Ancoats Dispensary, which frequently conducted us to the houses of the poor on Sunday. With rare exceptions, the adults of the vast population of 84,147 contained in Districts Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4, spent Sunday either in supine sloth, in sensuality, or in listless inactivity. A certain portion only of the labouring classes enjoys even healthful recreation on that day, and a very small number frequent the places of worship.

* * * * * * * * * *

... the profits of capital are increased, though not in the same ratio as the wages of labour are for a time diminished. But, were the restrictions abolished, each new invention would not only enable man to purchase, by a smaller amount of labour, a larger portion of foreign products, but would, by these means, powerfully stimulate the genius and industry of other nations, whose demand for our manufactures would increase in a ratio at least equal to their accumulation. In other words, improvements in machinery diminish the cost of production; but if the demand for manufactures be limited by arbitrary enactments, the increased employment which would also be their natural and inevitable result, is prevented, until commerce is able, in some other way, to compensate for the evils of injudicious legislation. We have capital and labour - but to obtain the greatest amount of commercial advantages, we must also have an unlimited power of exchange.

We believe, therefore, that chiefly to this cause must be attributed the combined misery of severe labour and want entailed on that wretched but extensive class, the handloom weavers of the cotton trade.

Were an unlimited exchange permitted to commerce, the hours of labour might be reduced, and time afforded for the education and religious and moral instruction of the people. With a virtuous population, engaged in free trade, the existence of redundant labour would be an evil of brief duration, rarely experienced. The unpopular, but alas, too necessary proposals of emigration would no longer be agitated. Ingenuity and industry would draw from the whole world a tribute more than adequate to supply the ever-increasing demands of a civilised nation.

The duties imposed on the introduction of foreign corn were originally intended, by raising the price of grain, to act as a compensation to the landowner for the supposed unequal pressure of taxation upon him. This inequality of the public burdens has, however, been exceedingly exaggerated, and those taxes, which are said to be derived from land on which corn is grown, are also procured from many other descriptions of property which are not protected. The faults of our present financial system are so numerous, that if the principle of relieving the inequality of the pressure of taxation be admitted, we must pay back in bounties one third of what is obtained by taxes. The scarcity and dearness of food certainly bring to the agricultural population no benefit, after the brief demand for labour necessary to bring fresh soils into cultivation is past. The landowner alone receives any advantage from the high price of food, and that much less than has generally been supposed. The fluctuating scale by which the duties on corn are at present regulated, has produced the most disastrous effects among the agricultural tenantry: rents have been paid out of capital, and estates have been injured, in consequence of the embarrassments of the cultivators. A tax on the staple commodity of life enhances the price of all other food, by increasing the wages of labour, and the rent of land; and, as it enters as an element into the cost of every article produced (and that in a ratio constantly accumulating with the amount of labour employed), it presses heavily, though indirectly, on the superior classes, and upon all other consumers. Not the least injurious effects of the present Corn-law are the burden of supporting an unemployed population, which it entails on society at large, and the insecurity of property which results from the near approach to destitution of a large portion of its members. But since this system simultaneously contracts the market of the capitalist (by excluding one most important object of barter), and increases the cost of production, its direst effects are felt in the manufacturing districts, which have long been maintaining an unequal struggle with foreign competitors. In the cotton trade, to the expense of importing the raw material, and that chiefly from one of those countries where bounties on manufactures exist, is added the pressure of one tax, on the raw material, and of another, which, by raising the price of labour, increases that of the manufactured result. Industry, invention, the most subtle sagacity, and the most daring enterprise appear at length almost baffled by the difficulties they encounter. The profits of capital are reduced to the most meagre attenuation - the rapidity of production, of transmission and return, appear to have reached their utmost limit. Injudicious duties on foreign produce have provoked retaliation, and the manufactures of other countries are supported by artificial expedients in rivalry with our own. The difficulty of changing the system is every day increased, until, ere long, it may become a serious question with other countries, whether the advantages to be derived from free trade can compensate for the sacrifice of the capital embarked in their commercial establishments. The cotton manufacture is rapidly spreading all over the continent, and particularly in Switzerland and France; and America threatens us with a more formidable competition.

Under these circumstances, every part of the system appears necessary to the preservation of the whole. The profits of trade will not allow a greater remuneration for labour, and competition even threatens to reduce its price. Whatever time is subtracted from the hours of labour[18] must be accompanied with an equivalent deduction from its rewards the restrictions of trade prevent other improvements, and we fear that the condition of the working classes cannot be much improved, until the burdens and restrictions of the commercial system are abolished.

We will yield to none in an earnest and unqualified opposition to the present restrictions and burdens of commerce, and chiefly because they lessen the wages of the lower classes, increase the price of food, and prevent the reduction of the hours of labour: - because they will retard the application of a general and efficient system of education, and thus not merely depress the health, but debase the morals of the poor. Those politicians who proposed a serious reduction of the hours of labour, unpreceded by the relief of commercial burdens, seem not to believe that this measure would inevitably depress the wages of the poor, whilst the price of the necessaries of life would continue the same. They appear, also, not to have sufficiently reflected that, if this measure were unaccompanied by a general system of education, the time thus bestowed would be wasted or misused. If this depression of wages, coincident with an increase of the time generally spent by an uneducated people in sloth or dissipation, be carefully reflected upon, the advocates of this measure will, perhaps, be less disposed to regard it as one calculated to confer unqualified benefits on the labouring classes. To retrace the upward path from evil and misery is difficult. Health is only acquired after disease, by passing through slow and painful stages. Neither can the evils which affect the operative population be instantly relieved by the exhibition of any single notable remedy.

Men are, it must be confessed, too apt to regard with suspicion those who differ from them in opinion, and rancorous animosity is thus engendered between those whose motives are pure, and between whose opinions only shades of difference exist. We believe that no objection to a reduction of the hours of labour would exist amongst the enlightened capitalists of the cotton trade, if the difficulty of maintaining, under the present restrictions, the commercial position of the country did not forbid it. Were these restrictions abolished, they would cease to fear the competition of their foreign rivals, and the working classes of the community would find them to be the warmest advocates of every measure which could conduce to the physical comfort, or moral elevation of the poor.

A general and efficient system of education would be devised - a more intimate and cordial association would be cultivated between the capitalist and those in his employ - the poor would be instructed in habits of forethought and economy; and, in combination with these great and general efforts to ameliorate their condition, when the restrictions of commerce had been abolished, a reduction in the hours of labour would tend to elevate the moral and physical condition of the people.

We are desirous of adding a few observations on each of these measures. Ere the moral and physical condition of the operative population can be much elevated, a system of national education so extensive and liberal as to supply the wants of the whole labouring population must be introduced. Ignorance is twice a curse - first from its necessarily debasing effects, and then because rendering its victim insensible to his own fate, he endures it with supine apathy. The ignorant are, therefore, properly, the care of the state. Our present means of instruction are confined to Sunday Schools, and a few Lancasterian and National Schools, quite inadequate to the wants of the population. The absence of education is like that of cultivation, the mind untutored becomes a waste, in which prejudices and traditional errors grow as rankly as weeds. In this sphere of labour, as in every other, prudent and diligent culture is necessary to obtain genial products from the soil; noxious agencies are abroad, and, while we refuse to sow the germs of truth and virtue, the winds of heaven bring the winged seeds of error and vice. Moreover, as education is delayed, a stubborn barrenness affects the faculties - want of exercise renders them inapt - he that has never been judiciously instructed, has not only to master the first elements of truth, and to unlearn error, but in proportion as the period has been delayed, will be the difficulty of these processes. What wonder then that the teachers of truth should make little impression on an unlettered population, and that the working classes should become the prey of those who flatter their passions, adopt their prejudices, or even descend to imitate their manners.

If a period ever existed when public peace was secured by refusing knowledge to the population, that epoch has lapsed. The policy of governments may have been little able to bear the scrutiny of the people. This may be the reason why the fountains of English literature have been sealed - and the works of our reformers, our patriots, and our confessors - the exhaust­less sources of all that is pure and holy, and of good report amongst us - have not been made accessible and familiar to the poor. Yet literature of this order is destined to determine the structure of our social constitution, and to become the mould of our national character; and they who would dam up the flood of truth from a lower ground, cannot prevent its silent transudation. A little knowledge is thus inevitable, and it is proverbially a dangerous thing. Alarming disturbances of social order generally commence with a people only partially instructed. The preservation of internal peace, not less than the improvement of our national institutions, depends on the education of the working classes.

Government, unsupported by poplar opinion, is deprived of its true strength, and can only retain its power by the hateful expedients of despotism. Laws which obtain not general consent are dead letters, or obedience to them must be purchased by blood. But ignorance perpetuates the prejudices and errors which contend with the just exercise of a legitimate authority, and makes the people the victims of those ill-founded panics which disgrace the movements of a deluded populace. Unacquainted with the real sources of their own distress, misled by the artful misrepresentations of men whose element is disorder, and whose food faction can alone supply, the people have too frequently neglected the constitutional expedients by which redress ought only to have been sought, and have brought obloquy on their just cause, by the blind ferocity of those insurrectionary movements, in which they have assaulted the institutions of society. That good government may be stable, the people must be so instructed that they may love that which they know to be right.

The present age is peculiarly calculated to illustrate the truth of these observations. When we have equally to struggle against the besotted idolatry of ancient modes, which would retain error, and the headlong spirit of innovation, which, under the pretence of reforming, would destroy - now, hurried wildly onwards to the rocks on which we may be crushed; and then sucked back into the deep, - between this Scylla and that Charybdis, shall we hesitate to guide the vessel of the state, by the power of an enlightened popular opinion! The increase of intelligence and virtue amongst the mass of the people will prove our surest safeguard, in the absence of which, the possessions of the higher orders might be, to an ignorant and brutal populace, like the fair plains of Italy to the destroying Vandal. The wealth and splendour, the refinement and luxury of the superior classes, might provoke the wild inroads of a marauding force, before whose desolating invasion every institution which science has erected, or humanity devised, might fall, and beneath whose feet all the arts and ornaments of civilised life might be trampled.

Even our national power rests on this basis, which power is sustained [19] 'not so much by the number of the people, as by the ability and character of the people;' and we should tremble to behold the excellent brightness and terrible form of a great nation resting, like the 'image' of the prophet, on a population, in which the elements of strength and weakness are so commingled, as to ensure the dissolution of every cohesive principle, in that portion of society, which is thus not inaptly portrayed by the feet which were part of iron and part of clay.

The education afforded to the poor must be substantial. The mere elementary rudiments of knowledge are chiefly useful, as a means to an end. The poor man will not be made a much better member of society, by being only taught to read and write. His education should comprise such branches of general knowledge as would prove sources of rational amusement, and would thus elevate his tastes above a companionship in licentious pleasures. Those portions of the exact sciences which are connected with his occupation, should be familiarly explained to him, by popular lectures, and cheap treatises. To this end, Mechanics' Institutions (partly conducted by the artisans themselves, in order that the interest they feel in them may be constantly excited and maintained) should be multiplied by the patrons of education, among the poor. The ascertained truths of political science should be early taught to the labouring classes, and correct political information should be constantly and industriously disseminated amongst them. Were the taxes on periodical publications removed, men of great intelligence and virtue might be induced to conduct journals, established for the express purpose of directing to legitimate objects that restless activity by which the people are of late agitated. Such works, sanctioned by the names of men distinguished for their sagacity, spirit, and integrity, would command the attention and respect of the working classes. The poor might thus be also made to understand their political position in society, and the duties that belong to it - 'that [20] they are in a great measure the architects of their own fortune; that what others can do for them is trifling indeed, compared with what they can do for themselves; that they are infinitely more interested in the preservation of public tranquillity than any other class of society, that mechanical inventions and discoveries are always supremely advantageous to them,; and that their real interests can only be effectually promoted, by displaying greater prudence and forethought.' They should be instructed in the nature of their domestic and social relations. The evils which imprudent marriages entail on those who contract them, on their unhappy offspring, and on society at large, should be exhibited in the strongest light. The consequence of idleness, improvidence, and moral deviations, should be made the subjects of daily admonition; so that a young man might enter the world, not, as at present, without chart or compass, blown hither and thither by every gust of passion, but, with a knowledge of the dangers to which he is exposed, and of the way to escape them.

The relation between the capitalist and those in his employ, might prove a fruitful source of the most beneficial comments. The misery which the working classes have brought upon themselves, by their mistaken notions on this subject, is incalculable, not to mention the injury which has accrued to capitalists. and to the trade of this country.

Much good[21] would result from a more general and cordial association of the higher and lower orders. In Liverpool a charitable society exists denominated the 'Provident', whose members include a great number of the most influential inhabitants. The town is subdivided into numerous districts, the inspection and care of each of which is committed to one or two members of the association. They visit the people in their houses - sympathise with their distresses, and minister to the wants of the necessitous; but above all, they acquire by their charity, the right of inquiring into their arrangements - of instructing them in domestic economy - of recommending sobriety, cleanliness, forethought, and method.

Every capitalist might contribute much to the happiness of those in his employ, by a similar exercise of enlightened charity. He might establish provident associations and libraries amongst his people. Cleanliness, and a proper attention to clothing and diet [22] might be enforced. He has frequent opportunities of discouraging the vicious, and of admonishing the improvident. By visiting the houses of the operatives, he might advise the multiplication of household comforts and the culture of the domestic sympathies. Principle and interest admonish him to receive none into his employ, unless they can produce the most satisfactory attestations to their character.

Above all, he should provide instruction for the children of his workpeople: he should stimulate the appetite for useful knowledge, and supply it with appropriate food.

Happily, the effect of such a system is not left to conjecture. In large towns serious obstacles oppose its introduction; but in Manchester more than one enlightened capitalist confesses its importance, and has made preparations for its adoption. In the country, the facilities are greater; and many establishments might be indicated, which exhibit the results of combined benevolence and intelligence. One example may suffice.

Twelve hundred persons are employed in the factories of Mr. Thomas Ashton, of Hyde. This gentleman has erected commodious dwellings for his workpeople, with each of which he has connected every convenience that can minister to comfort. He resides in their immediate vicinity, and has frequent opportunities of maintaining a cordial association with his operatives. Their houses are well furnished, clean, and their tenants exhibit every indication of health and happiness. Mr. Ashton has also built a school, where 640 children, chiefly belonging to his establishment, are instructed on Sunday, in reading, writing, arithmetic &c. A library, connected with this school, is eagerly resorted to, and the people frequently read after the hours of labour have expired. An infant school is, during the week, attended by 280 children, and in the evenings others are instructed by masters selected for the purpose. The factories themselves are certainly excellent examples of the cleanliness and order which may be attained, by a systematic and persevering attention to the habits of the artisans.

The effects of such enlightened benevolence may be, to a certain extent, exhibited by statistical statements. The population, before the introduction of machinery, chiefly consisted of colliers, hatters and weavers. Machinery was introduced in 1801 [and the result was] the augmentation of the value of property, the diminution of poor rates, and the rapid increase of the amount assessed for the repairs of the highway, during a period, in which the population of the townships increased from 830 to 7,138.

This [is] proof of the advantages which may be derived from the commercial system, under judicious management. We feel much confidence in inferring that where so little pauperism exists, the taint of vice has not deeply infected the population; and concerning their health we can speak from personal observation. The rate of mortality, from statements [23] with which Mr. Ashton has politely furnished us, appears to be exceedingly low. In thirteen years (during the first six of which, the number of rovers, spinners, piecers and dressers was 100, and during the last seven, above 200) only eight deaths occurred, though the same persons were, with rare exceptions, employed during the whole period. Supposing, for the sake of convenience, that the deaths were nine; then by ascribing three to the first six years, and six to the last seven, the mortality during the former period was 1 in 200, and during the latter, 1 in 233. The number of weavers during the first six years was 200, and during the last seven 400; and in this body of workmen 40 deaths occurred in thirteen years. By ascribing 13 of these deaths to the first six years, and 27 to the last seven, during the former period, was 1 in 92, and during the latter, 1 in 103.

These facts indicate that the present hours of labour do not injure the health of a population, otherwise favourably situated, but that, when evil results ensue, they must chiefly be ascribed to the combination of this with other causes of moral and physical depression.

Capitalists, whose establishments are situated in the country, enjoy many opportunities of controlling the habits and ministering to the comforts of those in their employ, which cannot exist in a large manufacturing town. In the former, the land in the vicinity is generally the property of the manufacturer, and upon this he may build commodious houses, and surround the operative with all the conveniences and attractions of a home. In the town, the land is often in the possession of non-resident proprietors, anxious only to obtain the largest amount of chief rent. It is therefore let in separate lots to avaricious speculators, who (unrestrained by any general enactment, or special police regulation) build without plan, wretched abodes in confused groups, intersected by narrow, unpaved or undrained streets and courts. By this disgraceful system the moral and physical condition of the poor undergoes an inevitable depression.

In Manchester [24] 'it is much to be regretted that the surveyors or highways, or some other body of gentlemen specially appointed, were not, forty years ago, invested with authority to regulate the laying out of building-land within the precincts of the town, and to enforce the observance of certain conditions, on the part of the owners and lessees of such property.' Private rights ought not to be exercised so as to produce a public injury. The law, which describes and punishes offenses against the person and property of the subject, should extend its authority by establishing a social code, in which the rights of communities should be protected from the assaults of partial interests. By exercising its functions in the former case, it does not wantonly interfere with the liberty of the subject, nor in the latter, would it violate the reverence due to the sacred security of property.

The powers obtained by the recent changes in the Police Act of Manchester are retrospective, and exclusively refer to the removal of existing evils: their application must also necessarily be slow. We conceive that special police regulations should be framed for the purpose of preventing the recurrence of that gross neglect of decency and violation of order, whose effects we have described.

Streets should be built according to plans determined (after a conference with the owners) by a body of Commissioners, specially elected for the purpose - their width should bear a certain relation to the size and elevation of the houses erected. Landlords should be compelled, on the erection of any house, to provide sufficient means of drainage, and each to pave his respective area of the street. Each habitation should be provided with a due receptacle for every kind of refuse, and the owner should be obliged to whitewash the house, at least once every year. Inspectors of the state of houses should be appointed: and the repair of all those, reported to be in a state inconsistent with the health of the inhabitants, should be enforced at the expense of the landlords. If the rent of the houses are not sufficient to remunerate the owners for this repair, their situation must in general be such, or their dilapidation so extreme, as to render them so undesirable to the comfort, or so prejudicial to the health of the tenants, that they ought no longer to be inhabited.

Sources of physical depression, arising from the neglect of these arrangements, abound to such an extent in Manchester, that it has been sagaciously suggested that some powerful counteracting causes must also be in operation, or we should otherwise frequently be subjected to the visitation of fatal epidemic diseases. What all those causes may be it would perhaps be vain to speculate, but it might be demonstrated that the establishment of the House of Recovery has had a most salutary influence in checking the spread of typhus fever.

The associations of workmen, for protecting the price of labour, have too frequently been so directed, as to occasion increased distress to the operatives, embarrassment to the capitalist, and injury to the trade of the country, whereas, were they properly conducted, they might exercise a generally beneficial influence. No combination can permanently raise the wages of labour above the limit defined by the relation existing between population and capital; but partial monopolies, and individual examples of oppression might, by this means, be removed, and occasions exist, when, on the occurrence of a fresh demand, the natural advance of the price of labour might be hastened. So long, however, as these associations needlessly provoke animosity by the slander of private character, by vexatious and useless interference, and by exciting turbulence and alarm, many of their most legitimate purposes cannot be pursued. Distrust will then prevent masters and workmen from framing regulations for their mutual benefit, such as modes of determining the quantity or quality of work produced, and the collection of correct statistical information - or from combining in applications to government for improvements of the laws which affect commerce. Capitalists, fearing combination amongst their workmen, will conceal the true state of the demand, and thus at one period, the operative will be deprived of that reward of his labour, which he would otherwise obtain, and, at another, will receive no warning of the necessary reduction of manufacturing establishments; which change may thus occur at a period, when, having made no provision for it, he may be least able to encounter the privation of his ordinary means of support. The risks attending the outlay of capital, the extension of the sphere of enterprise, and even the execution of contracts are, by the uncertainty thus introduced into circumstances affecting the supply of labour, exceedingly augmented. Larger stocks must be maintained, less confidence will attend commercial transactions, and an increase of price is necessary to cover these expenses and risks. '[25]If an establishment consist of several branches which can be only carried on jointly, as, for instance, of iron mines, blast furnaces, and a colliery, in which there are distinct classes of workmen, it becomes necessary to keep on hand a larger stock of materials than would otherwise be required, if it were certain that no combinations would arise. The proprietors of one establishment in the trade which has been mentioned, think it expedient always to keep above ground a supply of coal, for six months, which is in that instance equal in value to about £10,000.'

The efforts of these associations have not unfrequently occasioned the introduction of machinery into branches of labour, whence skill has been driven to undertake the severer and ill-rewarded occupation of ordinary toil. When machinery thus suddenly excludes skilled labour, much greater temporary distress is occasioned to the operative, than by the natural and gradual progress of mechanical improvements. By employing the power of these associations, at periods when an advance of wages has been impossible, or to resist a fall which the influence of natural causes rendered inevitable, the workmen have not only prevented the accumulation of the fund for the maintenance of labour, at a period when the advance of population was unchecked, but they have dissipated their own savings, as well as the monies of the union, in useless efforts, and, when pride and passion have combined to prolong the struggle, their furniture and clothes have been sold, and their family reduced to the extremes of misery. The effects of these 'strikes' are frequently shared by unwilling sufferers, first, among those whose labour cannot be conducted independently of the body which has refused to work, and secondly, by those whose personal will is controlled by the threats or the actual violence of the rest. During the 'strike', habits of idleness or dissipation are not unfrequently contracted - suspicion degenerates into hatred - and a wide gulf is created between the masters and the workmen. The kindlier feelings are extinguished, secret leagues are formed, property is destroyed, such of the operatives as do not join the combination, are daily assaulted, and at length licence mocks the law with the excesses of popular tumult.

It is impossible that the distrust, thus created, should not sometimes occasion the exclusion from the trade, of the entire body of workmen concerned, and the introduction of a new colony of operatives into the district. The labourers thus immigrating are not seldom an uncivilised and foreign race, so that, if ever the slightest tendency to cordial co-operation existed between the capitalist and the operative, that is now dissolved. The obstinacy with which this struggle with the manufacturer has sometimes been conducted has occasioned the removal of establishments to another district, or even to a foreign country, and these contests are always unfavourable to the introduction of fresh capital into the neighbourhood where they occur.

The more deserving and intelligent portions of the labouring class are often controlled by the great boldness and activity of that portion which has least knowledge and virtue. Thus, we fear, that the power of the Co-operative Unions has been directed to mischievous objects, and the funds, the time, and energies of the operatives, have been wasted on unfeasible projects. Moreover, they who, as they are the weakest, ought to be, and generally are, the firmest advocates of liberty, have been misled into gross violations of the liberty of their fellow workmen. The power of these unions, to create disorder, or to attain improper objects, would be destroyed, if every assault were prosecuted, or the violation of the liberty of the subject prevented by the assiduous interference of an efficient police. The radical remedy for these evils is such an education as shall teach the people in what consists their true happiness, and how their interests may be best promoted.

The tendency to these excesses would be much diminished, did a cordial sympathy unite the higher with the lower classes of society. The intelligence of the former should be the fountain whence this should flow. If the results of labour be solely regarded, in the connection of the capitalist with those in his employ, the first step is taken towards treating them as mere animal power necessary to the mechanical processes of manufacture. This is a heartless, if not a degrading association. The contract for the rewards of labour conducted on these principles issues in suspicion, if not in rancorous animosity.

The operative population constitutes one of the most important elements of society, and when numerically considered, the magnitude of its interests and the extent of its power assume such vast proportions, that the folly which neglects them is allied to madness. If the higher classes are unwilling to diffuse intelligence among the lower, those exist who are ever ready to take advantage of their ignorance; if they will not seek their confidence, others will excite their distrust; if they will not endeavour to promote domestic comfort, virtue, and knowledge among them, their misery, vice, and prejudice will prove volcanic elements, by whose explosive violence the structure of society mat be destroyed. The principles developed in this Pamphlet, as they are connected with facts occurring within a limited sphere of observation, may be unwittingly supposed to have relation to that locality alone. The object of the author will, however, by grossly misunderstood, if it be conceived, that he is desirous of placing in invidious prominence defects which he may have observed in the social constitution of his own town. He believed the evils here depicted to be incident, in a much larger degree, to many other great cities, and the means of cure here indicated to be equally capable of application there. His object is simply to offer to the public an example of what he conceives to be too generally the state of the working classes, throughout the kingdom, and to illustrate by specific instances, evils everywhere requiring the immediate interference of legislative authority.


[1] To the stranger, it is also necessary to observe, that the investigations on whose results the conclusions of this pamphlet are founded, were of necessity conducted in the township of Manchester only; and that the inhabitants of a great part of the adjacent townships are in a condition superior to that described in these pages. The most respectable portion of the operative population has, we think, a tendency to avoid the central districts of Manchester, and to congregate in the suburban townships. back

[2] The diet and household management of the factory operatives have undergone a great change since this was written. Tea, coffee, wheaten bread, and animal food, are now much consumed. - J.P.K.B. 1863.back

[3] The Factories Regulation Acts, restricting the hours of labour for women and children had not then passed. Practically the restriction shortens the men's time to about an average of ten hours.back

[4] A gentleman, whose opinions on these subjects command universal respect, suggests to me, that the intensity of this application is exceedingly increased by the system of paying, not for time, but according to the result of labour.back

[5]Abundant evidence of this fact was collected by Mr. Wallis, lately House Surgeon to the House of Recovery.back



The undersigned having been deputed by the Special Board of Health to inquire into the state of Little Ireland, beg to report that in the main street and courts abutting, the sewers are all in a most wretched state, and quite inadequate to carry off the surface water, not to mention the slops thrown down by the inhabitants in about two hundred houses.

The privies are in a most disgraceful state, inaccessible from filth, and too few for the accommodation of the number of people, - the average number being two to two hundred and fifty people. The upper rooms are, with few exceptions, very dirty, and the cellars much worse; all damp, and some nine to ten feet square, some inhabited by ten persons, others by more; in many, the people have no beds, and keep each other warm by close stowage on shavings, straw, &c; a change of linen or clothes is an exception to the common practice. Many of the back rooms where they sleep have no other means of ventilation than from the front rooms.

Some of the cellars on the lower ground were once filled up as uninhabitable; but one is now occupied by a weaver, and he has stopped up the drain with clay, to prevent the water flowing from it into his cellar, and mops up the water every morning.

We conceive it will be impossible effectually to remove the evils enumerated; and offer the following suggestions with a view to their partial amelioration.
First, to open the main sewer from the bottom, and to relay it.
Secondly, to open and unchoke the lateral drains, and secure a regular discharge of the water, &c., into the main sewer.
Thirdly, to enforce the weekly cleansing and purification of the privies.
Fourthly, if practicable, to fill up the cellars.
Fifthly, to provide the inhabitants with quick­lime, and induce them to whitewash their rooms, where it can be done with safety.
Sixthly, if possible, to induce the inhabitants to observe greater cleanliness in their houses and persons.

In conclusion, we are decidedly of opinion that should cholera visit this neighbour­hood, a more suitable soil and situation for its malignant development cannot be found than that described and commonly known by the name of Little Ireland. back

[7] The wages are paid weekly, not once a fortnight, or once a month, as is the case in collieries and many other places. The youngest child in the mill earns three shillings per week, and the best female spinner twenty-one shillings. The total paid is £350 - averaging nine shillings and three pence per seek to each person employed. Letter to Lord Althorp in Defence of the Cotton Factories of Lancashire by Holland Hoole, Esq. back

[8}Evidence of Joseph Foster before the Emigration Committee, 1827.back

[9]This was published before the passing of the Poor Law Amendment Act. back

[10]If the relief of indigence from the poor-rate were a matter of Christian charity, in any other sense than being a humane provision of an enlightened system of policy, developed in a Christian nation, this might be just; but otherwise it involves a confusion of charity with police. - J.P.K.S., 1862.back

[11]This rule is not applicable to the simple relief of indigence. That is a pure regulation of police, giving security to life in order to give security to property and peace to society, by the suppression of vagabondage and crime. But it is applicable to all the moral relations of pauper children and indigent age in workhouses. - 1862. back

[12] There is no moral test applicable to destitution of the means of living. Society decides that it is for the public interest that even the most worthless indigent should be kept alive. The pauper's claim is for life, not on account of desert, but of indigence. J.P.K.S. , 1862.back

[13] The scheme here suggested is clearly impracticable as a method of administration for the relief of indigence; but it is also impossible, in the strictest relief of indigence as a matter of police, to overlook all the moral relations of man. - 1862.back

[14]]Foreign Quarterly Review, Vol. V, p. 404.back

[15] Works of Charles Lucas - also De la Justice de la Prévoyance - and De la Mission de la Justice Humaine. - par M. Depéctiaux. back

[16] No record exists by which the number of illegitimate births can be ascertained. Even this evidence would form a very imperfect rule by which to judge of the comparative prevalence of sensuality.back

[17]Inquiry into the State of the Manufacturing Population, p. 24 - Ridgeway.back

[18] The effect of such a measure is thus correctly described in an able and perspicuous pamphlet lately published, entitled, "A Letter to Lord Althorp, in Defence of the Cotton Factories of Lancashire," by Holland Hoole.

"If Mr. Sadler's Bill becomes a law, the masters will have the choice of two evils. Either they must reduce the hours of labour to the limit proposed to be fixed for children (fifty-eight hours per week) or they must place their establishments without the pale of this enactment, by discharging all persons under eighteen years from their factories."

"In the former case a reduction of the wages of all persons employed, whether children or adults, corresponding with the reduction of the time of labour must inevitably take place." "Not a few of the master cotton spinners have determined to adopt the other course above mentioned, namely, to discharge from their employment all the hands under eighteen years of age, as soon as the proposed law comes into operation."back

[19]Cobbett's Cottage Economy. Introduction.back

[20] McCulloch, on the Rise, Progress, and Present State of the British Cotton Manufacture, Edinburgh Review, No. 91.back

[21] "An Address to the Higher Classes on the present State of Feeling among the Working Classes".back

[22] ''True Theory of Rent,' by T. Perronnet Thomson, Esq.back

[23] Minute of Deaths among the Spinners, Piecers and Dressers, employed at the works of Mr. Thomas Ashton, in Hyde, from 1819 to 1832, thirteen years, viz.: Spinners - Rd. Robinson, James Seville, David Cordingly, Eli Taylor. Piecers - Jas. Rowbotham, Wm. Green. Dressers - John Cocker, Samuel Broad­hurst.

There are employed at these works 61 rovers and spinners, 120 piecers, and 33 dressers: total 219; among whom there are at this time 10 spinners, whose ages are respectively from forty up to fifty-six years; and among the dressers there are 12 whose ages are equal to that of the above spinners. We have no orphans at this place, neither have we any family receiving parochial relief; nor can we recollect the time when there was any such. The different clubs or sick lists among the spinners, dressers, overlookers and mechanics employed here, allow ten or twelve shillings per week to the members during sickness, and from six to eight pounds to a funeral; which applies also to the member's wife, and, in some cases, one half or one fourth to the funeral of a child. The greatest amount of contributions to these funds has in no one year exceeded five shillings and sixpence from each member.

The weavers (chiefly young women) have also a funeral club, the contributions to which are fourpence per member to each funeral. In the above period of thirteen years there have happened among them only forty funerals.

Number of persons employed, twelve hundred, who maintained about two thousand.

Hyde, 27th March 1832
Joseph Tinker, Book-keeper.back

[24] Dr. Lyon on the Medical Topography and Statistics of Manchester. - North of England Medical and Surgical Journal, Vol. I, p. 17.back

[25]'The Economy of Machinery and Manufactures', by Charles Babbage, Esq., p.250.back

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