Primary Documents =
The Impact of Industrialization [ID]
on the Lives of Workers

Table of Contents

1. German Journeyman Johann Eberhard Dewald
2. English cotton operative C. E. Royston Pike
3. English factory worker Gaskell


"From Handicraftsman to Factory Worker:
Notes and Letters of Journeyman Johann Eberhard Dewald

With an explanatory introduction from Eugene N. Anderson et. al., Europe in the Nineteenth Century: A Documentary Analysis of Change and Conflict, Vol. I: 1815 - 1870 (New York:"Bobbs-Merri11, - 1961), 107-120

Journeyman Dewald in his diary reveals the contrast between two ways of life, that of the traditional handicraftsman and that of the emerging factory worker. The handicraftsman regarded himself as a member of the middle class; the worker was rapidly becoming a class-conscious member of the proletariat. The difference in attitudes toward work and moral responsibility with respect to oneself and society, the concern for culture in the one case and the lack of it in the other, the cheerfulness of the one point of view as against the pessimism and incipient bitterness of the other these and many other points of comparison can be drawn from the pages covering two years' experience of J.E. Dewald. In every country, although at different times, similar changes were occurring. Many journeymen found a successful life as craftsmen in the developing industrial economy and remained within the middle class. Many others became, as workers, members of the industrial proletariat. Others seized the opportunities of the industrial revolution to become members of the bourgeoisie as entrepreneurs or managers and foremen. Some raised themselves into positions of intellectual and professional leadership. As a social group the handicraftsmen had a wide range of activities in the changing life of the nineteenth century, and Journeyman Dewald's account reveals many of them.

The next day, March 1, we got our visas for Constance. In a cutting north wind and an increasingly heavy snowstorm we journeyed through Eckertsweiler to Offenburg. The sharp snow silenced us, and I had plenty of time to think over my ill-fated travel plans. On the way we met a good-hearted countryman who for love of God took our packs on his wagon. You should try walking in such thick snow while carrying your pack. I should not like to see how the pleasure in it would fade. This was not the first time for us, and we were glad to be able to creep behind the warm stove in the inn at Lahr. We had hardly warmed ourselves however, before we went outdoors again to look around for work. Outside the storm almost bowled us over. The master for certification had a vacancy, and since I had no desire to sign up, my traveling companion decided because of the bad roads and stormy weather to take service. He left his pack with the master and went with me again to the inn to speak to the journeymen and to hear what he could. One hears news in all kinds of ways, and so it was here. But not much that was favorable came out. The journeymen gave the master a bad name. They let their tongues flap, and what they said I do not like at all. He is a skinflint, a miser, who counts every spoonful the journeymen put in their mouths and can not complain enough about how dear food is, so that one almost would vomit it up if one were not afraid the mistress would make another meal out of it. She is his image and not a whit better. Besides, to him the best of the experienced journeymen is no more than a young apprentice.

We had our ears more than full of the gossip and my companion was disgusted with the thought of going into service there. He wanted to go on with me but did not do so; first he enjoyed the free food and lodging and then joined me early the next morning. We went on to Kippersheim. The behavior of my companion was too much for me, however, and I told him quite plainly that his manners were unworthy of an upright and honorable journeyman. The word of a traveling journeyman is also something, and no master can be blamed if he refuses to sign a journeyman who has done such a trick. My companion kept quiet. He saw for himself how badly he had acted. In any case he no longer boasted of his trick and went with me to the church, since the bell began to ring as we entered Kippersheim. May he have honestly repented here before his God!

As the day advanced the road thawed. Our boots were already clumps of mud. After we spent the night in Emmendingen we started out early the next morning. The roads were slick as ice, and it snowed on top of this, but not quietly and regularly as snow usually falls; rather it swirled and danced around us so that it would have been fun if we had not been so bitterly cold. A traveling jacket does not keep one warm enough, and to wear an overcoat may be all right for settled people but not for travelers. Thus we were glad to be in Freiburg about eleven o'clock, where we turned in at the first inn behind Martin's Gate to liven ourselves up with a hot grog.

We spent the afternoon at the guild house and about seven o'clock sought the inn, where we were to spend a gay evening with Antoine and the students. We got ourselves up in clean clothes, and my blue coat and silk hat would have let me pass as a gentleman, although I am proud of my calling and not at all inclined to deny that I am a journeyman tanner.


Easter came. I shall never forget the Resurrection celebration in the Church of the Holy Virgin, when after the quiet the triumphal hymn "Christ is Risen" filled the broad nave with joyous sound. How insignificant is man and yet how much he is through God the Father, who permits him to perform wonders such as astonish man himself. I always think that whoever does not feel this cannot be sincere and cannot be happy in his work.

After that until evening I noted in my diary everything which happened up to that time, and much became clear to me which I have lately experienced without thinking about it.

In the evening a fellow countryman from Konigsfeld came in who works here. We were soon in conversation. He poured me a bottle of Rhine wine and assured me that he would be glad to have me as a countryman here with him. I was agreeable enough. But when he inquired among the journeymen on hand, they only half-heartedly listened and scarcely answered. Guild customs seem to have died out here, where most work is in factories such as are being everywhere established, and there is no longer any feeling of unity among the journeymen. So I shall have to give up taking service in Munich.

On April 3 I visited the palace park at Hellbrunn, which is provided with beautiful fountains and, near them, groups of marble statues which seem to have risen right out of the water and which seek coolness in the shadow of the trees, so brightly shines the spray on the white stone. After that Salzburg did not seem much to me, and we went on by way of Neumark to Schallheitn and Linz, where I got a visa. From Grunfeld we came to Wels through which the new railroad passes to Linz. That was a completely unexpected experience, and I was eager to see it. But it did not run on this day, since it goes only three times a week. A coachman took us there for twelve kreuzer, and during the journey he denounced lustily the invention which he said the devil had devised. For every honest carrier has now completely lost his small wage; and already, in his case, he could no longer provide enough food for his wife and eight children. What in the name of heaven would develop out of this? The world was becoming a madhouse and everyone was crazy for novelty and for machines, and what once was proper and had for generations passed as honorable is now nothing and just to be laughed at. But still nothing comes of all this cleverness except that there is no longer enough to eat.

I have written down all this cursing because in this way farewell is always said to all to which we are accustomed; the new always seems bad, even though it has brought much gain for us.

This thought occurred to me especially when on another day we took the railroad from Sonnfeld, as many after us will do. It is a strange feeling to travel with such rushing speed and to go in minutes over a distance which would take half a day to cover by walking. It is of course not very refreshing to be covered with the smoke and soot from the engine which the wind drives into one's face. Luckily canvas covers were stretched over the wagons or we should not have looked like human beings, since the smoke was hardly bearable. Without any trouble we got to Linz at 9:30. There wasn't much to be seen that was attractive, so we got visas for Vienna and with two other journeymen boarded a raft which was to take us down the Danube.


In the factory of Pollak, which was now my work place, to my delight I met a fellow countryman. It was a new experience for me not to live with the master. But it would have been a difficult undertaking to get the many workers of the factory into a common lodging, especially since many were married and had children. A factory like this is quite different from a master's house and there is no unity among the employees. Each goes his own way and pays little attention to the others. Guild-like conduct is lacking and there is no intercourse as among regular journeymen. Moreover I do not like the work; all day long one has to do the same thing and so loses all sense for the whole. Of course it has to be so in a factory, but I can't adjust to it and always feel as if I only half ply my trade.

If the work did not please me, much less did my contact with the Bohemians, who speak another language and in addition were as sly as one can imagine. Because of my work, which I performed vigorously, my co-workers laughed at me and talked as if it were all right to loaf as much as possible. Pollak is a rich man, they said, and pays badly. But I did not succumb to their talk and answered with spirit: a rich man has no fewer troubles, only they are of another kind; he must look out that his factory gets on and does not one of these days lack work so that the workers are no longer needed. Then they made a face. I know from my father's workshop how he spent many an evening calculating and showed me his figures; the leather should not be too dear, so that with the wages he paid he could still get a price which would give him a profit and good customers. The journeymen in the house enjoyed their evening and knew little of the cares which troubled my father. But what good is talk when no one will listen? It is effort wasted and things only become worse.


The next morning I went to the capital and was glad to be able to slip into the guild house. It was the same old story with the journeymen that one finds everywhere in recent times. Most of the lodgers were not at all like regular journeymen, and seemed to me not to honor their calling and not to behave according to their craft. No question of what to do or what not to do, but a dreary spectacle of the most ordinary kind. The old handwork customs are here completely disappearing. No feeling of comradeship and the worst behavior. The guild house was more like a pothouse than a respectable lodging. When I noticed that as stakes in their game, the men gave their girls, many of whom were amusing themselves suggestively at a nearby table, I had had enough. I took my pack and sought shelter in another place. Then I went for a look at the town. But I was taken for a beggar, since there are no houses belonging to the guilds here and they thought I was asking alms. The custom has completely disappeared of a journeyman's right to his guild certificate, and if he asks for it, he appears to be a loafer. I gave it up, for I should rather go hungry than bear such disgrace. But I shall not have to do that yet; I have still some money in my pocket.

In the afternoon I wanted to get a visa for Switzerland, but no one would give it to me under any conditions. The police were even suspicious, and I was given to understand that I should not express this wish any longer or they would put me in prison for a goodly time as a revolutionary. Many times I was carefully searched, and finally another officer came and the whole thing began again. I protested that I was an honorable and peaceful journeyman, as my passport showed, and that I was on my way home. After extensive discussion I was believed. But Switzerland must be a dangerous part of the earth and I should never have thought it possible to meet so many difficulties.





C. E. Royston Pike,
"Hard Times":
Human Documents of the Industrial Revolution

(New York: Praeger, 1966),
pp. 44-52, 62-63, 247-250, 360-361.


The township of Manchester chiefly consist 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 the more wealthy inhabitants; but the opulent merchants chiefly reside in the country, and even the superior servants of their establishments inhabit the suburbal townships.

Manchester, properly so called, is chiefly inhabited by shopkeepers and the labouring classes. 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 pured 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 demoralization and barbarism of the people, and the general use of the potato as the chief article of food, have encouraged the 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. They have taught this fatal secret to the population of this country . . .

When this example is considered in connexion 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 demoralization. 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 nor 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 severity of toil is, in some measure, to cultivate in him the habits of an animal . . .

Having been subjected to the prolonged labour of an animal his physical energy wasted his mind in supine inaction the artizan has neither moral dignity nor intellectual nor organic strength to resist the seductions of appetite. His wife and children, too frequently subjected to the same process, are unable to cheer his remaining moments of leisure. Domestic economy is neglected, domestic comforts are unknown. A meal of the coarsest food is prepared with heedless haste and devoured with equal precipitation. Home has no 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. Himself impotent of all the distinguishing aims of his species, he sinks into sensual sloth, or revels in more degrading licentiousness. 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 is debilitated and hypochondriacal, and falls the victim of dissipation . . .


Personal Appearance. The vast deterioration in personal form which has been brought about in the manufacturing population, during the last thirty years, a period not extending over one generation, is singularly impressive, and fills the mind with contemplations of a very painful character . . .

Any man who has stood at twelve o'clock at the single narrow doorway, which serves as the place of exit for the hands employed in the great cotton-mills, must acknowledge that an uglier set of men and women, of boys and girls, taken them in the mass, it would be impossible to congregate in a smaller compass. Their complexion is sallow and pallid with a peculiar flatness of feature, caused by the want of a proper quantity of adipose substance to cushion out the cheeks. Their stature low the average height of four hundred men, measured at different times, and at different places, being five feet six inches. Their limbs slender, and playing badly and ungracefully. A very general bowing of the legs. Great numbers of girls and women walking lamely or awkwardly, with raised chests and spinal flexures. Nearly all have flat feet, accompanied with a down-tread, differing very widely from the elasticity of action in the foot and ancle, attendant upon perfect formation. Hair thin and straight many of the men having but little beard, and that in patches of a few hairs, much resembling its growth among the red men of America. A spiritless and dejected air, a sprawling and wide action of the legs, and an appearance, taken as a whole, giving the world but 'little assurance of a man', or if so, 'most sadly cheated of his fair proportions'.

The Daily Round. The mode of life which the system of labour pursued in manufactories forces upon the operative, is one singularly unfavourable to domesticity.

Rising at or before day-break, between four and five o'clock the year round, scarcely refreshed by his night's repose, he swallows a hasty meal, or hurries to the mill without taking any food whatever. At eight o'clock half an hour, and in some instances forty minutes, are allowed for breakfast. In many cases, the engine continues at work during mealtime, obliging the labourer to eat and still overlook his work. This, however, is not universal. This meal is brought to the mill, and generally consists of weak tea, of course nearly cold, with a little bread; in other instances, of milk-and-meal porridge. Tea, however, may be called the universal breakfast, flavoured of late years too often with gin or other stimulants.

Where the hands live in immediate proximity to the mill, they visit home; but this rarely happens, as they are collected from all parts, some far, some near; but the majority too remote to leave the mill for that purpose. After this he is incessantly engaged not a single minute of rest or relaxation being allowed him.

At twelve o'clock the engine stops, and an hour is given for dinner. The hands leave the mill, and seek their homes, where this meal is usually taken. It consists of potatoes boiled, very often eaten alone; sometimes with a little bacon, and sometimes with a portion of animal food. This latter is, however, only found at the tables of the more provident and reputable workmen. If, as it often happens, the majority of the labourers reside at some distance, a great portion of the allotted time is necessarily taken up by the walk, or rather run, backwards and forwards.

No time is allowed for the observances of ceremony. The meal has been imperfectly cooked, by some one left for that purpose, not unusually a mere child, or superannuated man or woman. The entire family surround the table, if they possess one, each striving which can most rapidly devour the miserable fare before them, which is sufficient, by its quantity, to satisfy the cravings of hunger, but possesses little nutritive quality ... As soon as this is effected, the family is again scattered. No rest has been taken; and even the exercise, such as it is, is useless, from its excess, and even harmful, being taken at a time when repose is necessary for the digestive operations.

Again they are closely immured from one o'clock till eight or nine, with the exception of twenty minutes, this being allowed for tea, or baggin-time, as it is called. This imperfect meal is almost universally taken in the mill: it consists of tea and wheaten bread, with very few exceptions. During the whole of this long period they are actively and unremittingly engaged in a crowded room and an elevated temperature, so that, when finally dismissed for the day, they are exhausted equally in body and mind. It must be remembered, that father, mother, son and daughter, are alike engaged; no one capable of working is spared to make home (to which, after a day of such toil and privation, they are hastening) comfortable and desirable. No clean and tidy wife appears to welcome her husband no smiling and affectionate mother to receive her children no home, cheerful and inviting, to make it regarded. On the contrary, all assemble there equally jaded; it is miserably furnished dirty and squalid in its appearance. Another meal, sometimes of a better quality, is now taken, and they either seek that repose which is so much needed, or leave home in the pursuit of pleasure or amusements, which still further tend to increase the evils under which they unavoidably labour.

Food and Drink. The staple diet of the manufacturing population is potatoes and wheaten bread, washed down by tea or coffee. Milk is but little used. Meal is consumed to some extent, either baked into cakes or boiled up with water, making a porridge at once nutritious, easy of digestion, and easily cooked. Animal food forms a very small part of their diet, and that which is eaten is often of an inferior quality. In the class of fine spinners and others, whose wages are very liberal,' flesh meat is frequently added to their meals. Fish is bought to some extent, though by no means very largely; and even this not till it has undergone slight decomposition, having been first exposed in the markets, and, being unsaleable, is then hawked about the back streets and alleys, where it is disposed of for a mere trifle. Herrings are eaten not unusually; and though giving a relish to their otherways tasteless food, are not very well fitted for their use. The process of salting, which hardens the animal fibre, renders it difficult of digestion, dissolving slowly, and their stomachs do not possess the most active or energetic character. Eggs, too, form some portion of the operatives' diet. The staple, however, is tea and bread. Little trouble is required in preparing them for use; and this circumstance, joined to the want of proper domestic arrangements, favours their extensive use amongst a class so improvident and careless as the operative manufacturers.

House Furnishings. The houses of great numbers of the labouring community in the manufacturing districts present many of the traces of savage life. Filthy, unfurnished, deprived of all the accessories to decency and comfort, they are indeed but too truly an index of the vicious and depraved lives of their inmates. What little furniture is found in them is of the rudest and most common sort, and very often in fragments, one or two rush-bottomed chairs, a deal table, a few stools, broken earthenware, such as dishes, tea-cups, etc., one or more tin kettles and cans, a few knives and forks, a piece of broken iron, serving as a poker, no fender, a bedstead or not, as the case may happen to be, blankets and sheets in the strict meaning of the words unknown their place often being made up of sacking, a heap of flocks, or a bundle of straw, supplying the want of a proper bedstead and feather bed, and all these cooped in a single room, which serves as 3'place for domestic and household occupations.

Housing Arrangements. In those divisions of the manufacturing towns occupied by the lower classes of inhabitants, whether engaged in mill-labour conjointly with hand-loom weaving, the houses are of the most flimsy and imperfect structure. Tenanted by the week by an improvident and changeable set of beings, the owners seldom lay out any money upon them, and seem indeed only anxious that they should be tenantable at all, long enough to reimburse them for the first outlay. Hence in a very few years they become ruinous to a degree.

One of the circumstances in which they are especially defective, is that of drainage and water-closets. Whole ranges of these houses are either totally undrained, or only very partially . . . The whole of the washings and filth from these consequently are thrown into the front or back street, which being often unpaved and cut up into deep ruts, allows them to collect into stinking and stagnant pools; while fifty, or more even than that number, having only a single convenience common to them all, it is in a very short time completely choked up with excrementitious matter. No alternative is left to the inhabitants but adding this to the already defiled street, and thus leading to a violation of all those decencies which shed a protection over family morals.

It very frequently happens that one tenement is held by several families, one room, or at most two, being generally looked upon as affording sufficient convenience for all the household purposes of four or five individuals. The demoralizing effects of this utter absence of social and domestic privacy must be seen before they can be thoroughly understood, or their extent appreciated. By laying bare all the wants and actions of the sexes, it strips them of outward regard for decency modesty is annihilated the father and the mother, the brother and the sister, the male and female lodger, do not scruple to commit acts in the presence of each other, which even the savage hides from the eyes of his fellows . . .

Many of these ranges of houses are built back to back, fronting one way into a narrow court, across which the inmates of the opposite houses may shake hands without stepping out of their own doors; and the other way, into a back street, unpaved and unsewered. Most of these houses have cellars beneath them, occupied if it is possible to find a lower class by a still lower class than those living above them.

Foul language. The brutalizing agency of this mode of life is very thoroughly displayed in the language employed by the manufacturing population, young and old alike. Coarse and obscene expressions are their household words; indecent allusions are heard proceeding from the lips of brother to sister, and from sister to brother. The infant lisps words which, by common consent, are banished from general society. Epithets are bandied from mother to child, and from child to mother, and between child and child, containing the grossest terms of indecency. Husband and wife address each other in a form of speech which would be disgraceful to a brothel and these things may be imputed in a very considerable degree to the promiscuous way in which families herd together.

Smoking and Drinking. Tobacco is very largely consumed by the male and female labourers indiscriminately; hundreds of men and women may be daily seen inhaling the fumes of this extraordinary plant, by means of short and blackened pipes. Smoking, too, is an almost universal accompaniment to drinking a pernicious habit, prevailing to a frightful extent in this portion of the population ... In Manchester alone there are very near if not quite one thousand inns, beer-houses, and gin-vaults. Of these more than nine-tenths are kept open exclusively for the supply of the labouring population, placed in situations calculated for their convenience, decked out with everything that can allure them, crowded into back streets and alleys, or flaunting with the most gaudy and expensive decorations in the great working thoroughfares. They are open at the earliest hour, when the shivering artizan is proceeding to his work, holding out to him a temptation utterly irresistible and remain open during a considerable portion of the night ministering their poisons to thousands of debilitated creatures . . .

Nor is it the adult male labourer who alone visits these receptacles for everything that is wicked and degraded. Alas! no. The mother with her wailing child, the girl in company with her sweetheart, the mother in company with her daughter, the father with his son, the grey-haired grandsire with his half-clad grand-child, all ages come here herding promiscuously with prostitutes, pickpockets, the very scum and refuse of society all jumbled up together in an heterogeneous mass of evil . .

The Abominable Irish. From some recent inquiries on the subject, it would appear, that upwards of 20,000 individuals live in cellars in Manchester alone. These are generally Irish families handloom weavers, bricklayers' labourers, etc., etc., whose children are beggars or match-sellers in conjunction with their mothers. The crowds of beings that emerge from these dwellings every morning are truly astonishing, and present very little variety as to respectability of appearance; all are ragged, all are filthy, all are squalid . . . The domestic habits of these improvident creatures are vile in the extreme . . . The Irish cottier has brought with him his disgusting domestic companion the pig; for whenever he can scrape together a sufficient sum for the purchase of one of these animals, it becomes an inmate of his cellar . . .

Lodging-House Horrors. Another fertile source of the licentiousness in domestic manners, exists in the number of lodging-houses, which are very abundant in all the manufacturing districts. By a survey made in Manchester in 1832, there were found very near three hundred of these houses . . . The extraordinary sights presented by these lodging-houses during the night, are deplorable in the extreme. Five, six, seven beds are arranged on the floor there being in the generality of cases, no bedsteads, or any substitutes for them; these are covered with clothing of the most scanty and filthy description. They are occupied indiscriminately by persons of both sexes, strangers perhaps to each other, except a few of the regular occupants. Young men and young women; men, wives, and their children all Hying in a noisome atmosphere, swarming with vermin, and often intoxicated . . .




P. Gaskell,
The Manufacturing Population of England

(1833) chs. 4,5.

From James Leach,
Stubborn Facts from the Factories by a Manchester Operative
published and dedicated to the working classes by
William Rashleigh, M.P.
pp. 11-15.


In some factories none but women are allowed to labour, excepting a few men, such as managers . . . not because the women can perform the work better or turn off a greater quantity, but because they are considered to be more docile than men under the injustice that in some shape or form is daily practised upon them.

A great number of the females employed in factories are married, and not a small number of them are mothers. It frequently happens that the husband is refused work in the same mill with the wife; under these circumstances the poor creature is obliged to leave her husband in bed at five o'clock in the morning, while she hurries off to the mill to undergo her daily repetition of drudgery, on order to procure a scanty portion of food for her husband, herself, and her helpless children. We have repeatedly seen married females, in the last stage of pregnancy, slaving from morning till night beside these never-tiring machines and when oppressed nature became so exhausted that they were obliged to sit down to take a moment's ease, and being seen by the manager, were fined sixpence for the offence. In some mills, the crime of sitting down to take a little rest is visited with a penalty of one shilling, but let the masters and their rules speak for themselves.

1st. The door of the lodge will be closed ten minutes after the engine starts every morning, and no weaver will afterwards be admitted till breakfast-time. Any weaver who may be absent during that time shall forfeit three-pence per loom.

2nd, Weavers absent at any other time when the engine is working, will be charged three-pence per hour each loom for such absence; and the weavers leaving the room without the consent of the overlooker, shall forfeit three-pence . . .

9th. All shuttles, brushes, oil-cans, wheels, windows, etc. if broken, shall be paid for by the weaver.

llth. If any hand in the mill is seen talking to another, whistling, or singing, will be fined sixpence . . .

12th. For every rod broken, one penny will be stopped . . .

16th. For every wheel that breaks, from one shilling to two and sixpence, according to size. Any weaver seen from his work during mill-hours, will be fined sixpence. . .

It often happens that when the weaver goes to work in the morning, he finds the clock fifteen minutes forwarder than when he left in the evening. The hands on the factory clock do not always move from internal wheels, but very frequently from a little external aid; this always takes place after the hands have left the mill in the evening . . . The reader will best understand why this is done, when we inform him that thirty or forty people may be frequently seen at the lodge door locked out, in the morning, while the person with the fine-book has been through the rooms of the mill, taking down the numbers of the looms of those that were absent. On one occasion, we counted ninety-five persons that were thus locked out at half-past five o'clock in the morning. The way in which this method of genteel robbery was accomplished, was by putting clock half an hour forward that is, it was fifteen minutes later than the public clocks of the town in the evening, and fifteen minutes forwarder in the morning. These ninety-five persons were fined three-pence each . . .

At this mill, a short time ago, one of the cut-lookers was discharged, and another placed in his situation. When he had been there a fortnight, the master asked him, 'How it was that he had so little in his bate book'; the man replied, 'I think there's a great deal, I 'bate the weavers o much that I can't for shame look them in the face, when I meet them in the street.' The master answered, 'You be dd, you are five pounds a week worse to me than the man that had this situation before you, and I'll kick you out of the place'. The man was discharged to make room for another who knew his duty better.


We consider it proper to bring into view the condition of a class in the community, intimately connected with the coal-trade, who endure a slavery scarcely tolerated in the ages of darkness and barbarism. The class alluded to is that of the women who carry coals underground, in Scotland known by the name of Bearers.

At present, there are four modes practised in Scotland, for transporting of coals from the wall-face to the hill. The first, most approved of, is to draw the basket of coals from the wall-face to the pit bottom by means of horses, from whence it is drawn to the hill by machinery. The next method resorted to is to draw the coals in small wheel-carriages, by men, women, or boys hired for the purpose, or by the collier himself, as practised in the west country. In the third mode, the coals are carried by women, known by the name of Bearers, who transport them from the wall-face to the pit-bottom, from whence they are drawn by machinery to the hill. The fourth and last mode is the most severe and slavish; for the women are not only employed to carry the coals from the wall-face to the pit bottom, but also to ascend with them to the hill. This latter mode is unknown in England, and is abolished in the neighbourhood of Glasgow.

Severe and laborious as this employment is, still there are young women to be found who, from early habits, have no particular aversion to the work, and who are as cheerful and light in heart as the gayest of the fair sex; and as they have it in their power to betake themselves to other work if they choose, the carrying of coals is a matter of free choice; and therefore no blame can be particularly attached to the coal-master. Yet, still it must, even in the most favourable point of view, be looked upon as a very bad, old, and disgraceful custom. But, as married women are also as much engaged in this servitude es the young, it is in this instance that the practise is absolutely injurious and bad, even although they submit to it without repining . . .

In those collieries where this mode is in practice, the collier leaves his house for the pit about eleven o'clock at night, (attended by his sons, if he has any sufficiently old), when the rest of mankind are retiring to rest. Their first work is to prepare coals, by hewing them down from the wall. In about three hours after, his wife (attended by her daughters, if she has any sufficiently grown) sets out for the pit, having previously wrapped her infant child in a blanket, and left it to the care of an old woman, who, for a small gratuity, keeps three or four children at a time, and who, in their mothers' absence, feeds them with ale or whisky mixed with water. The children who are a little more advanced, are left to the care of a neighbour; and under such treatment, it is surprising that they ever grow up or thrive.

The mother, having thus disposed of her younger children, descends the pit with her older daughters, when each, having a basket of a suitable form, lays it down, and into it the large coals are rolled; and such is the weight carried, that it frequently takes two men to lift the burden upon their backs: the girls are loaded according to their strength. The mother sets out first, carrying a lighted candle in her teeth; the girls follow, and in this manner they proceed to the pit bottom, and with weary steps and slow, ascend the stairs, halting occasionally to draw breath, till they arrive at the hill or pit-top, where the coals are laid down for sale; and in this manner they go for eight or ten hours almost without resting. It is no uncommon thing to see them, when ascending the pit, weeping most bitterly, from the excessive severity of the labour; but the instant they have laid down their burden on the hill, they resume their cheerfulness, and return down the pit singing.

The execution of work performed by a stout woman in that way is beyond conception. For instance, we have seen a woman, during the space of time above mentioned, take on a load of at least 170 pounds avoirdupois, travel with this 150 yards up the slope of the coal below ground, ascend a pit by stairs 117 feet, and travel upon the hill 20 yards more to where the coals are laid down. All this she will perform no less than twenty-four times as a day's work . . . The weight of coals thus brought to the pit top by a woman in a day amounts to 4,080 pounds, or above 36 hundredweight English, and there have been frequent instances of two tons being carried. The wages paid for this work, are eightpence per day! a circumstance as surprising almost as the work performed . . .

From this view of the work performed by bearers in Scotland, some faint idea may be formed of the slavery and severity of the toil, particularly when it is considered that they are entered to this work when seven years of age, and frequently continue till they are upwards of fifty, or even sixty years old.

The collier, with his wife and children, having performed their daily task, return home, where no comfort awaits them; their clothes are frequently soaked with water and covered with mud; their shoes so very bad as scarcely to deserve the name. In this situation they are exposed to all the rigours of 'winter, the cold frequently freezing their clothes.

On getting home, all is cheerless and devoid of comfort; the fire is generally out, the culinary utensils dirty and unprepared, and the mother naturally seeks first after her infant child, which she nurses even before her pit clothes are thrown off . . .

How different is the state of matters, where horses are substituted for women, and when the wife of the collier remains at home. The husband, when he returns home from his hard labour with his sons, finds a comfortable house, a blazing fire, and his breakfast ready in an instant, which cheer his heart, and make him forget all the severities of toil; while his wife, by her industry, enables him to procure good clothes and furniture, which constitute the chief riches of this class of the community. A chest of mahogany drawers, and an eight-day clock, with a mahogany case, are the great objects of their ambition; and when the latter is brought home, all their relations and neighbours are invited upon the occasion, when a feast is given, and the whole night spent in jovial mirth ...

In surveying the workings of an extensive colliery below ground, a married woman came forward, groaning under an excessive weight of coals, trembling in every nerve, and almost unable to keep her knees from sinking under her. On coming up, she said in a most plaintive and melancholy voice, '0 Sir, this is sore, sore work. I wish to God the first woman who tried to bear coals had broken her back, and none would have tried it again'.