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cultural labourers would perish, inevitably, but for the means of subsistence provided in the manufacturing districts to which they are induced to migrate. Nor is the condition of the farmers less affected by the corn laws, as is shewn in the same report. No better test of a farmer's prosperity could be found than the number of labourers in his employ. The progress or decay, therefore, of the farming interest has been measured by the number of agricultural labourers in successive periods; and it is undeniably established that the relative strength of such population has diminished, and that, therefore, a most ruinous sacrifice of farming capital has occurred; while, though in some districts the population has increased, the means for their accommodation have been lessened: the food used by the people has been diminished in quantity, and deteriorated in quality, the home consumption of farm produce being daily diminishing. These might be the obvious deductions of reason; but they have received the confirmation of irrefutable figures.
It will enrich our pages to transfer an extract from the League,' on the statistics of our British population; shewing their relative occupations. It first gives the proportions which the agricultural, the commercial, and the miscellaneous classes bore to each other, in Agricultural. Commercial.
32 • In 1831, the number of occupiers of land and labourers above twenty years of age in Great Britain, was 1,251,751 ; and in 1841 the number was 1,215,264 ; showing a diminution of about forty thousand.
• In 1831, the number of persons engaged in commerce, trade, and manufactures, 20 years of age and upwards, was 1,572,292; and in 1841, the number was 2,039,409; showing an increase of more than 400,000. It must be further remembered that the year 1841 was one of severe manufacturing distress, when several large establishments were closed, and consequently that the number of persons employed in manufactures must since that time have been considerably increased.
Compared with the whole population, we find that the agricultural class forms not quite 8 per cent of the entire, while trade and manufacture employ 16 and half per cent. When we take into account that the agricultural labourers in their capacity of consumers are not less interested in obtaining cheap food than the manufacturing operatives, we find language fail us to describe adequately the perverse folly as well as the prepense crime with which the corn laws sacrifice the many to the few.
• The counties which have sent the largest proportions of surplus
population to seek employment elsewhere are Buckingham, Huntingdon, Norfolk, Oxford, Suffolk, Westmorland, and Worcester. Thus, while the agricultural counties annually export a large portion of their population to seek employment in the manufacturing districts, their representatives vote for the perpetuation of a system by which the amount of manufacturing employment is restricted within the narrowest possible limits. We are almost tempted to exclaim, that these facts go beyond the wildest imaginings of fancy.
* The total number of persons engaged in the textile fabrics of Great Britain, including cotton, hose, lace, wool, silk, and flax, is 800,246. They may be thus classified :Males above 20 years of age
344,121 under 20 years of age
135,795 . The number of persons engaged in the manufacture of iron is nearly 30,000, and of iron-miners 11,000. The number of persons employed under-ground in mines, amounts to 193,825, being very nearly an eighth of the number of persons employed in the cultivation of the surface. Of these, far the larger proportion, that is to say, 118,233, are returned as engaged in coal-mines.
• We find that 24,774 persons are engaged in the Potteries; and there can be no doubt that this branch of British industry would be very greatly extended under a system of free trade. If we are inferior to the French and Saxons—which, however, is somewhat doubtful—in the manufacture of the finer kinds of porcelain, we are far superior to the rest of the world in the ordinary earthenware (faïence) of general use ; and nothing but our preposterous policy could have prevented us from supplying the markets of the whole world with the articles of pottery which unite in themselves the luxury and the economy of ordinary life. Glass gives employment only to 7464 persons. The progress of this manufacture in England has been much checked by its being subjected to the operations of the excise. • It
appears that 16,550 persons were engaged in the manufacture of engines and machines when this census was taken. Our own inquiries have shewn us that this amount has been considerably increased within the last two years, and this beneficial result has been entirely produced by the operation of Free-Trade principles, permitted to work freely by the repeal of those laws which prohibited the exportation of machinery. It is impossible to overrate the importance of this branch of industry, which comprehends the most intelligent and best paid class of persons, both as masters and handicraftsmen. The general activity of trade and manufactures is essential to their prosperity, and the commercial restrictions by which both are fettered greatly impede the development of inventive intelligence, as well as the increase of physical wealth in this class of the community. The general results of the inquiry are presented to us in the following table :
Isles on the
Commerce, trade, and ma
nufactures Agriculture, including far
mers & graziers, labourers, gardeners, nurserymen, and florists Other labourers, miners,
quarriers, porters, messengers, &c.. Navy, merchant service,
watermen, &c. .. Navy and merchant seamen
India Company's service
paupers, lunatics, & pri-
Total of population, includ.
navy abroad and afloat
15,911,757 | 2,620,184
124,040 | 18,844,434
• This table gives us the occupations and pursuits of 7,846,500 persons actively employed in Britain, and the report thus accounts for the remainder :
• The Residue' of the population whose occupations are entirely accounted for amounts to 10,997,865, which would at first appear to be a large proportion. It must, however, be remembered, that this comprehends both sexes and all ages ; and it will be found, upon examination, that of this number only 2} per cent are males above 20 years of age. The males under 20, and the females above and under 20, make up respectively about 31, 32, and 33 per cent. of the remainder. For the large number under 20 of each sex, without any occupation, it is obviously easy to account, comprehending, as it does, infants and children of tender age.
The number of women above 20 years of age, without any occupation, returned, consists generally of unmarried women living with their parents, and of the wives of professional men or shopkeepers, living upon their earnings, but not considered as carrying on the occupations of their husbands. The small number of males above 20 years
of age who have been returned by the enumerators as not pursuing any occupation (nor as being persons of independent means, nor as paupers), amounting to 272,732, in a population of 18,655,981 souls (a proportion of only 1:46 per cent.), may be supposed to consist of sons who continue to reside with their parents, and perhaps to assist in their business, without being returned as carrying on the same trades, of husbands supported by the labour and industry of their wives, and of persons temporarily out of employment.'
Discussion proceeds, inquiries are awakened, and information is elicited and diffused; not alone among politicians, statesmen, and the more wealthy classes of society. Protection Societies made their appeal to the predilections and selfishness of the tenant class among the farmers; but the stroke has rebounded, and the monopolist has overshot his mark. Agricultural labourers have begun, in public meeting assembled, to state their grievances in a peaceful and constitutional form, and to trace their sufferings and privations to the operation of the corn laws. It is no doubt better that they should speak out, though we question whether their superiors have much relish for the accents in which their complaints are uttered, than that they should harbour in their breasts, or keep smouldering in their secret intercourse, such sentiments as have occasionally been expressed by some of them.
The half famished labourers of the South of England are exposed to every circumstance of physical and moral deterioration, amidst all their boasted protection. Their moan of distress has been unheeded by the lords of the soil; who have spoken loudly of their benevolence for the victims of the factory and of the rights of free labour in the colonies. But the annals of the poor,' whether 'short and simple,' or complicated with distress and suffering, have lost the music of poetry, and need not the aids of fiction. The utmost powers of human endurance have been tested, and another recipe must be speedily prescribed. A scene has opened on the eyes of monopolist landlords in Goatacre; and we are not ashamed to proclaim that it was presented within the walls of an Independent Chapel; every part of which was closely packed by labourers, their wives and children ; while crowds unable to obtain an entrance, hung round the doors and windows. We are told it was a spontaneous movement on the part of these labouring agriculturists themselves; the chairman was of their own selection; and the assembly was addressed chiefly, if not wholly, by persons of their own class. They stated their grievances in temporate and manly language, and revealed tales of suffering which cannot be read without horror. The speech of the first speaker may serve as a specimen :
Charles Gingell, of Preston, in the parish of Lyneham. He said he felt great distress and grievances, but could scarcely find words to express himself. For the last twelve months his wages had amounted to £19. 2s. He was thirty-four weeks working for 7s. a week, and eighteen weeks for 8s. per week. This gave an average of about 7s. 4d. a week. Out of these great wages he had to maintain himself, his wife, and six children. If he could spend all that sum for food he would not grumble; but there were many other things to be paid for-£3 a year rent; the shoe bill of the family he could not put at less than Is. per week; and ls, a week for firing, reducing the sum to about 4s. a week, or 6d. per head, for food per week; to say nothing of tea, sugar, butter, soap, candles, &c. He wished to pay everybody their own, but he could not do it. It was high time some remedy was provided to alter the condition of the labourer; and he thought, if they could once get Free Trade, the condition of the people would altogether alter and improve. Eighteen years ago he married a wife from the manufacturing districts, and women at that time were earning 12s. a week. At that rate his family would earn 26s. a week, while his wages from the land would increase. Was not Free Trade, then, desirable? (Yes, yes,' and cheers.)'
Other meetings have been held, and, at some of them, women have been conspicuous pleading for their offspring, and telling the peculiar sufferings of their sex. Their stories of domestic privation and family misery ought to pierce the heart of their landlords. Their appearance on such a stage is a novelty in England, and it is a signal proof how severe the wretched. ness of the agricultural labourers has become, and how bitterly it is felt. We were much struck by the report of Mrs. Ferris's address, and need not ask for it the attention which it is sure to command:
Mary Ferris, of Chalcut, then stood up to speak, and, in language such as only a woman and a mother could use, addressed the meeting. She said the fathers did not know all the distress which was endured. When her husband was at work, her children were frequently crying for food. Last year her husband earned 8s. a week. The rich knew nothing of the misery which they endured. They thought if they saw the labourers with a decent smock frock on that there was no distress among them. She had often gone to bed, and laid awake for hours with the stomạch-ache for want of food. She had three children: one 13 years old, ought to earn 5d. a day; another, 10 years, ought to earn 4d a day; and the third, 8 years old, ought to earn 3d. This would add 6s. a week to her income, and then they would not complain of being badly off. If the factories were now open, as they were thirty years ago, the elder children would have employment in them, leaving the younger to fill their places on the farm. Now her husband frequently had the 'trembles' so from want of food that he could hardly do his work. (Voices, 'I've often had the trembles too.') Her children were dirty and ragged: for she could neither buy soap nor firing to wash them or