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need. The objection to the indiscriminate use of this plan, that it tends to the neglect of motherly duty, is surely quite out of place in the manufacturing towns, where it is shewn to be the habitual practice of mothers to leave their children to old women or young girls, who drug them with opiates; especially if the crèche, as suggested, be annexed to the factory itself. I venture to say that such establishments, if properly directed, would put a complete check upon the wholesale poisoning of children which is proved to take place, and would, to a great extent, renovate the health of the population.
I shall not dwell here at length upon the letters of the Manufacturing series, the condition of the manufacturing poor having been already treated of at length by other hands in the columns of Fraser's Magazine. Nor shall I insist upon the letters from the Rural Districts, although the subject of them is one less known and more awful. Awfully, indeed, do they confirm those gloomy pictures drawn of the English peasant by the author of Yeast,' pictures of which so many hitherto doubted the literal accuracy. Both series only serve to bring out the truth which the Metropolitan series exhibits in the most glaring colours, with the most startling effect; that everywhere throughout England a force is at work which bears down the wages of the operative with the profits of the capitalist, until the profits swallow up the wages, and vice or crime makes up the maintenance of the de. frauded workman. On this picture let us now dwell.
The transition is complete, from the compulsory socialism (to use a much belied term) of the Manufacturing Districts, to the reigning individualism of the Metropolis; from the gregarious factory-hands to the solitary shirt-makers. London seems emphatically the city of unsocialized labour. From the great slop-seller to the poor slop-worker in her garret, there is a chasm of indifference and selfishness wider almost than that which separates the clod from the most careless landlord. Less labourlords than mere money-lords, the employers for the most part have not the slightest connexion with the employed, beyond the giving out work
and paying for it, generally with cruel deductions. Men of a low stamp of character (with a few bright exceptions, such as Mr. Shaw, the army-clothier), they are wholly absorbed in money-getting, and, from their position and feelings, are often as much beneath the control of public opinion as the landlord or cottonlord sometimes fancies himself above it. The consequences are, an extreme of misery such as cannot be paralleled elsewhere; and yet, interwoven with that misery, golden threads of heroism and virtue, which shew that the largest cities bear the mark of God's hand as well as the most lovely landscapes ; nay, that there only, perhaps, man reaches the very sublimity of greatness — the suffering alone in a crowd. Even the blacker warp of vice itself, crossed with that crimson west of anguish, becomes less hateful to the eye. We turn with shrinking and disgust from Wiltshire or Þorsetshire labourers, pigging their life-long by dozens in one room, children and adults, bloodrelations and strangers, their senses dulled to incest itself; we scarcely dare turn with unmoistened eyes from the story of the maddened mother prostituting herself for her child's bread; of the young girls forced to eke out wages by prostitution, for the dear life's sake, and yet loathing it in their hearts, flying from it on the first opportunity. Or again, we pity the Suffolk labourer stealing a few turnips for the sustenance of his family ; we look with almost admiration on the smooth-handed London pickpocket competing, and often in vain, for the rough but honest labour of the Docks. And nobler examples even than these can yet be set forth, from those precious records of the long-suffering and patience of the London poor, of their manly struggles for honest labour.
Strange and sad, indeed, are the pictures which these Metropolitan letters exhibit, drawn from God's own storehouse of Fact,--stranger, sadder, terribler than all fiction. Look at the Spitalfields weavers, 'formerly the only botanists in the metropolis, possessing, within the memory of living man, an Entomological Society, a Horticultural Society, an Historical Society, and a Mathematical Society, all maintained by the operatives,