Pamphlet describing working conditions in 19th century mills and factories in Britain and the futility of reforms to deal with these abuses.
Bourgeois writers usually assume that there is no such thing as class struggle, and that the English working classes were never in so flourishing a condition as to-day; or that there is no general feeling of class hatred, and that what little there is arises solely from the innate wickedness of the workers and the evil teachings of Socialists. The facts are that this struggle exists, that it has existed for centuries, and that its existence is quite independent of any doctrines, socialistic or otherwise.
The history of the English Factory Acts is but a record of one phase of this class struggle–this war between the capitalist, owner of all the means of production but one, and the worker, owner of none of the means of production except that one. And that is labour-power.
And the Factory Reports are but a record of another phase of the same struggle. Between 1802 and 1830 there was three Factory Acts passed. But there were during those twenty-eight years no reports, for there were no inspectors. And there were no inspectors because Parliament had voted no money for the carrying out of the provisions of its own Acts. When inspectors were appointed their number was far too small. It is to-day far too small. The Acts, a dead letter from 1802 to 1830, have been during the fifty odd years since the latter date and are still, if not exactly a dead letter, at least moribund.
Whatever reports, of whatever year, are taken, it is the same sad and hideous story. Evasion of the Acts, recklessness as to the health and life of the workers, diseases and accidents due to the labour-conditions and the greed of employers, an unholy alliance of masters, lawyers, magistrates against the wage-slaves–these run with a melancholy persistency through all the report. Things are scarcely any better to-day with the actual workers than they were fifty years ago. And whilst no serious bettering of their condition has obtained, let us bear in mind that those who come under these Acts, and are dealt with in these reports, are the more priviledged of the proletariat. Outside their ranks, miserable as is their condition, are two more unhappy classes: those who have work but are not under the Factory Acts and the vast and ever-increasing mass of men, women, and children for whom there is, and there can be, no work whatever. Of these we do not speak now. But as we give some evidence of the terrible condition of their more fortunate fellows, the voice of these hapless ones will be audible. If the state of the employed under the acts is the horror that we have now to show, what must be that of those labouring industries untouched by those Acts? and what must be that of the myriads who have literally neither employment nor the hope of it?
To show what is the condition of the more lucky body of the workers, and to show that this condition is the same practically to-day as yesterday, we take the latest of the Factory Reports. It is that for 1884, by Alexander Redgrave, Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops.
We do not propose to follow Mr. Redgrave in the order of his report. Our purpose is to consider the chief topics dealt with in this order : (1) The condition of trade. (2) Sanitation. (3) Diseases of workers. (4) Accidents. (5) Education. (6) Prosecutions. (7) Magistrates.
(1) THE CONDITION OF TRADE.–The report reminds us that on this point the weekly and daily papers give so much information that little is necessary from the inspectors. Yet Mr. Redgrave touches on one or two industries, notably the cotton and iron. The former according to Mr. Coles, the Lancashire inspector, held it own through 1884. Of course, we know to-day the state of the cotton industry is at very low ebb, and that the apprehensions as to its future are of the most serious nature. But it is a criticism on this general fact that calls for comment from us. First, Mr. Coles points out that the cost of building the mills is nearly 20 per cent, less than it was ten years ago, and that the costs of manufacturing were never so low as now. He does not point out, however (perhaps it is no part of his duty), that the condition of the operatives is in no way improved as compared with that of ten years back. The masters–i.e., the capitalistic class–may be and are benefited by improvements, not the men. Further, Mr. Coles considers that the colossal individual fortunes of past times will never be realised again. The profits will be more scattered, and this will "perhaps be a national good." Mr. Coles is a careful inspector. It is certainly no part of his work to even know that profits are all the result of unpaid labour somewhere or another, and that no real national good can come until the whole system of production for profit is done away with.
Of the ship-building industry the account by the same inspector is, as might be expected by those that remember the Sunderland distress alone, very unfavourable. Here, again, sadly interesting are the numbers that show the falling-off in 1884 of this particular branch of work to nearly half of what it was in 1883. This most important comment for us is the economic reflexion made by Mr. Coles. This is, he points out, the natural result of a reaction after the rush of capital into the industry, and the corresponding "glut."
Of course, the callings dependent on ship-building, wholly or in part, have suffered–the iron trade especially. Of the 929 blast-furnaces in the United Kingdom, only 452 were in operation, according to statistics available when he wrote. From his own observation Mr. Coles confirms the fact. Of the 40l furnaces in his district, only 249 were in blast. We that are Socialists are often supposed by our critics to have a feeling of satisfaction, even if it is tinged with melancholy, at trade depression. Satisfaction is hardly the feeling. Cassandra probably did not feel particularly happy when her prophecies came true. And it is only as Cassandra that our foretellings and forebodings are ever received. But we have a consciousness that the daughter of Priam scarcely realised. We know that with the constant repetition of this dulness and badness of trade, the consequence of the present capitalistic method of production–a dulness and badness growing always more intensified, and always followed by less and less of recovery–will come in time, to the workers at least, the knowledge of the cause of all this, and the conviction that hard times and even harder times will recur and recur, until the order of things of to-day is replaced by the socialistic order.
One last quotation from Mr. Coles. He writes that "notwithtstanding the depression in trade, pauperism in Scotland during the year ending May, 1883, reached the lowest point since 1846." If the writer of this passage will turn to chapter 23, section 4, of "Das Kapital," he will see that this fact by no means warrants him in the hope that this fact by no means warrants him in the hope that the "present depression is no more than momentary, and that it will not seriously interrupt the progressive social improvement of the people." In the part of Karl Marx' book to which we have just referred, the law of capitalistic accumulation is laid down, and proved historically. The law is, that with the largest accumulations of capital, pauperism in a country is at its worst. Now, the case Mr. Coles quotes is a passing example of the converse of this. As far as the accumulation of capital in the ship-building and dependent interests of Scotland is concerned, there is just now a falling-off, and pauperism actually lessens.
(2) SANITATION.–Under this head the question of ventilation is exercising the minds of our factory inspectors almost as much as in the earlier years of the working of the Acts. The difficulty of the question is made greater by the susceptibility, partly real, partly imaginary, of workers to cold draughts of air. We say "partly imaginary," because the English working class are naturally almost as antagonistic to fresh air as a German in a railway-carriage. They do not understand its value. They over-estimate its likelihood of doing harm. If they had time to study a little elementary physiology, they would know that a thousand times more injury is likely to result from a close room than from one with a little draught in it. But whilst we are condemning the rather absurd prejudice against the slightest trace of a draught, we must not forget that, under the capitalistic system of extortion of labour-power out of workers to the very utmost, the physical strength of the class as a whole and of certain individuals has been undermined, and there is an over-suspectibility to chest affections, towards which air, in the shape of draughts, is a determinant.
Putting on one side for the moment this factor in the inquiry, that is none the less an important one to take into calculation, we find that the three inspectors told off to examine the London millinery and dress-making shops especially, report "that in comparatively few places are any special means taken to secure adequate ventilation."
One simple device for attaining the one great desideratum of an in-flow at the window (the other desideratum is, of course, the out-flow by way of the chimney) is quoted from "Health in the Workshop," and is so simple that, we are tempted to re-quote it for our working and non-working readers. The suggestion may be of use. Raise the lower sash of the window two or three inches, filling in the opening under the bottom of the sash with a piece of wood. Thus a space is left between the sashes in the middle of the window, through which the fresh air entering is directed upwards.
One further criticism on the ventilation question. We cannot but think that the factory inspectors and many other people make a miscalculation as to the number of cubic feet of air required by each individual in workshops. The miscalculation, as it seems to us, is based upon the idea that rooms that are not occupied during the night, or during even a part of the day, necessitate very much less cubic space for each person than is needed in rooms that are continually occupied. Of course, the space necessitated is less, but not so much less as many, and even as the writers in this report, seem to consider. It in granted that the space required for each soldier in barracks is 600 cubic feet. Now, the reasoning of Mr. Redgrave's report is that, as the rooms in barrcks are occupied practically night and day, and as workshops are only occupied in the day time, 250 feet per individual are sufficient.
This is a reasoning that we are quite unable to follow. Apparently the idea is that because –e.g., the room is occupied only half of the twenty-four hours, therefore each person wants only half as many cubic feet as are necessary if the room is occupied the whole of the twenty-four hours. This reasoning–very general, we fear–appears to be wrong chemically, physically, physiologically, and therefore socially. The restoration of the fresh air, with its full complement of oxygen and its minimum of carbon dioxide and organic particles–this restoration during, say the night, cannot affect anything but the first hour or so at most of the day. Let us suppose that during the time that no work is going on the air is completely purified. A short time after the resumption of work, and, at all events, long before the work of the day is ended, the air is foul, practically almost as foul as if the period of non-occupancy had never been. The good effect of the renewal of the air, always supposing (a large supposition) that it takes place completely, is got rid of in a short time after the work has recommenced. This fallacy seems to us to vitiate much of the calculation on the quantity of space required for each individual. To us it seems that the space necessary for each person, even in rooms only occupied during a portion of the twenty-four hours, ought to be calculated on a scale scarcely, if at all, less liberal than that used in regard to rooms constantly occupied.
On the subject of sanitation generally, and not alone of ventilation Mr. Redgrave has much to say when he deals with the sweaters' establishments in the East End of London. The sweater is the middleman in the tailor trade. His exploited operatives are for the most part German, Polish, or Dutch Jews, many of whom are quite ignorant of English. 1,478 of the sweaters' workshops were visited during a special inspection made in the autumn of 1884. In 724 of these the inspectors had no jurisdiction at all, and in 387 others no jurisdiction over the sanitary conditions. 724 + 387 = 1,111 workshops. Of these, 907 required improvements in the sanitary arrangements. 1,478 - 1,111 = 367 workshops where the factory inspectors had authority. Of these, 132 required improvements, and improvements of the most essential kind. Here are one or two cases:–
"No trap to sink. Drinking water from cistern not covered over. Filthy heap of refuse: no proper dust-bin. Water supply to W.C. (from same cistern) out of order. Three families in this house.
"Very dirty place. Place strewn with filthy rags and bones. No drain. W.C. the receptacle for refuse.
"Overcrowded. Drinking water and W.C. supply connected. Tap for drawing drinking water is in the W.C.
"W.C. almost inside workroom. No water supply except in basement, not accessible to tenants. No dust-bin. Condition of drinking water complained of. All houses on this side of street supplied from one cistern at No. 18."
Of course, in the horrible dens of the sweaters over-work is universal. Three or four cases of prosecution, recorded on p. 60 of the Reports, are not a thousandth part of the cases where prosecution was deserved. Those recorded are: Frederic Kirchenwitz, for having employed four young persons from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Woolf Herzberg, for employing a woman from 8 a.m. to 11.5 p.m. Michael Goldstein, two young persons from 8.30 a.m. to 11.19 p.m. Victor Freedman, two young persons from 8 a.m. to 10.57 p.m.
The out-of-door employees of these sweaters, who do their work at "home," are under sanitary conditions even worse, save perhaps here and there, as far as overcrowding is concerned, than those that exist in the dens of the sweaters. It is these "home"-workers who are periodically fined for letting the garments they are making lie upon the beds of their children dying of small-pox, and for taking the garments back without having spent the price paid for them in disinfectants.
(3) DISEASES.–Of the long list of diseases due entirely to the modern system of production only three are specially dealt with in this report. They are the wool-sorters, the millers' diseases, and lead-poisoning. Against the first certain regulations have been drawn up in Bradford. They read like the precautions to be taken in a hospital for some virulent disease. But–mark the addendum–the carrying out of these is voluntary. Now, if there is one thing that the whole of history of the Factory Acts has proved, it is that no regulations, even if they have to do with the saving of life, are of any general value unless they are made compulsory upon the employers. The lust for surplus-value blinds the capitalist in almost every case to everything but surplus-value and its production.
The inquiries of Factory Inspectors have ere now dispelled one or two poetical fancies of the British public as to the nature of certain callings. Another of these has vanished into the "Ewigkeit" with the report of Major Beadon. About 1860 the rural pleasures supposed to be connected with the open-air laundries were, to the inexpressible grief of the sentimental middle-class, rudely dispelled by the investigations of callous government officials. A quarter-of-a-century later, the millers' trade, always connected with ruddy faces and jovial songs, is shown to be a fatal one.
"It is quite exceptional to see a person who has worked any time in a flour-mill who is not affected more or less as to the respiratory organs." Acute affections of the air passages are the result of the work. The average life of millers is only forty-five years. Flour-mills are not under the Factory Acts. But the inspectors receive letters that are cries of despair from the men dying in them:–
"Sir, If it comes within your duties under the Factory Act to protect men obliged to work for sixteen to twenty-one hours per day, I shall ask you to look up some of the flour-mills in this town. Health is sacrificed for the sake of holding bad situations – Yours, Hoping for help,
"January 28, 1884."
Here is an interesting instance of the unfavorable way in which the advance in manufacturing methods tells on the workers. The file-cutters suffer from lead-poisoning. This disease, as is well known, attacks, along with other parts of the body, the wrists and thumbs. The former droop, the latter become weak. Of late an increase in this particular phase of lead-poisoning has been observed, and this is traceable to the to the increased strain and jar on the muscles on account of the greater hardness of the steel now used in making files. A 7-lbs. hammer is now required to do the work that a 5-lbs. hammer could do twenty-five years ago.
(4) ACCIDENTS.–Of the two appendixes to this report the second is a table of accidents. The number of fated accidents in the year ending October 31, 1884, was 403. Amputations ran up to l,337: fractures to 830; injuries to head and face 981; lacerations, contusions, and "such small beer," 5,413. In all, only a little short of 9,000 recorded cases–actually 9,964. Of course, it is notorious that an immense number of accidents are never reported at all to the inspectors.
Without any hesitation, it may be asserted that the larger number of this frightful array of accidents are preventable. The two greatest causes of them are non-fencing of machinery, and the anxiety of the workers to get through their work as rapidly as possible, inasmuch as that work is piece-work, and the loss of a moment is serious to them. Not everyone knows that only within the last seven years has the fencing with protective guards of the steam-engine been made imperative. Those who talk at large of the non-necessity of compulsion in these matters, of the leaving everything to the free-will and benevolence of the masters, might advantageously cogitate on this fact. Until this simple, inexpensive, life-preserving measure was enforced, steam-engines were left unprotected, and the workers were killed in numbers that have certainly been reduced under this "interference with the liberty of the subject." With regard to the fencing difficulty, we quote one case only:–
"With your consent, I lately prosecuted an important company for having neglected to fence certain mill-gearing. A poor girl had been told to remove dust in brick-works at a spot (as the manager stated) 8 feet from an unfenced shaft and cogged wheels. She was not on that day cautioned not to approach the shaft where most of the dust was to be found. Her clothing was caught by the shaft: she was gradually dragged into the wheels. Both legs were cut off and one arm broken. She died the same day.
"At the hearing of my case, an engine-wright (who stated that he had been in charge of the machinery for seven years) said that he had not thought a guard necessary, and although a girl had been killed, he was still of the same opinion."
With a small piece of machinery, the circular saw, accidents in 1884, in the district of Inspector Lakeman, fell at once to, and remained at, zero as soon as guards were placed on the saws.
Shuttle-flying is a common form of accident is Lancashire and Yorkshire. Now, the shuttle of an ordinary cotton loom weighs 9 oz., and it flies off at a velocity sufficient to give it such a momentum that it makes holes in the brick walls of the rooms. Moreover, the shuttle flies off from the loom at such a level as just to strike the face. With a shuttle-guard, the worst that can happen is that the errant piece of machinery strikes the body, not the face, though this is, in the case of women, no great advantage. Two shillings and sixpence is the whole of the outlay required to protect each worker from injury due to the shuttle of his loom. And yet–as everyone will gather who has studied these melancholy questions–the greatest difficulty is experienced by the inspectors in their attempts to make the use of the shuttle-guard general.
In the ship-building yards accidents are very common and very severe. Let us see how the law made by the masters, not by the workmen, hampers and prevents the inspectors from dealing with them. First of all, the ship-building yards fall under three distinct heads. If mechanical power is used, they are non-textile factories. In these the only accidents supposed to be reported to the factory inspectors are the fatal ones caused by machinery. If mechanical power is used, and young persons (i.e., boys and girls under ten) or women are employed, they are workshops. In these the only accidents supposed to be reported are the fatal ones causes by vats or pans. If no mechanical power is used, and only men are employed, the factory inspectors have no jurisdiction at all.
Here, as a converse case of the difficulties that beset the inspectors, we note that in some establishments different parts of the same establishment are under different regulations. One part is a workshop, one a factory, and so on. William Morris's works at Merton Abbey are in his condition, and he has pointed out to us ere now the ease with which an unscrupulous employer might take advantage of this to evade the law in various ways.
Quarries are not under the Factory Act at all, and everyone that has ever been in a quarry district knows how terrible and how frequent are the accidents there. One man was killed in a quarry in North Wales in the night-time. "With more care in the working of these quarries, I" (Mr. Richmond, of the North Wales district) "think the number of accidents might be greatly reduced." This is indeed the cry everywhere. To it the masters, as a rule, answer by blaming the sufferers themselves. Captain Smith, of the Sheffield district, tells the tragic story just quoted of a girl ordered to do work at eight feet (the manager's measurement) from an unfenced shaft of cogged wheels. She was drawn into the wheels and killed. But the dust she had to remove was found close to the shaft, and she had not been cautioned in any way.
The blame of the accidents is again laid on the workers whenever they result from the common practice of cleaning machinery when it is in motion. Theoretically children are, by section 3 of the Act, prohibited from doing this. Of course, they break through this prohibition. Adults, young persons, and children again and again are exposed to the dangers attendant on such a practice, because the masters employing them on piece-work virtually force them to be so anxious about every moment, that they are afraid to lose the time requisite for stopping the machinery and cleaning it when stationary. Another thing that tells in the same dangerous direction is the eagerness to get the work over that springs from the over-quantity of it. The delight in labour for labour's sake is unknown in this merciless, iron age. No one has heart in the work done in our hideous factories, whose chimneys rise up like curses from earth to heaven. The sooner it is over, the sooner to sleep, or drink, or the low form of amusement for which alone their degrading toil leaves them fit. On the Saturday, in some districts, the workers may leave earlier, if the task of cleaning the machinery is done. It would be interesting to know the proportion of the total number of accidents that occur on Saturday in these districts. We cannot refrain from quoting, ere we leave the subject of accidents, one case that is tragically interesting in view of the lethargy of masters in this connexion:–
"I had twice told him verbally that he must fence an upright shaft, running through the first-floor room from floor to ceiling. Finally I sent him an order to fence at once. He always assured me that there was no danger to be apprehended from it whatever, and that it had been running so for years. He neglected to comply with the order sent, and shortly afterwards was himself killed through the shaft obtaining a hold on his overcoat as he was standing near it."
(5) EDUCATION.–A few significant facts come out as to the education of the children of the working classes. The object of that education, to the average, middle-class man, is the better fitting of the children for the condition of life into which it has pleased Providence to call them–i.e., the better fitting them to act as wage-slaves of the Capitalist and as pieces of machinery with enough intelligence to do the work as rapidly as possible, and not enough to rebel at the iniquity of the thing. As proof of this let us take the instructive history of Dundee and Mr. Frank Henderson, Member of Parliament for that town.
By the 6th Section of the Education (Scotland) Act, 1883, it was provided that no child should be employed as half-timer unless he had passed Standard III, as fixed by the Committee of the Privy Council on Education. The Dundee masters dreaded that a large proportion of the half-timers would be shut out from the factories, and the masters would suffer loss. Mr. Frank Henderson, therefore, made special efforts in parliament to obtain a modification of this regulation for himself and his fellow-sufferers. He thought the Third Standard too high, and actually managed, in the master House of Commons, to get the application of the regulation put off for a year.
Before the Chamber of Commerce, Mr. Frank Henderson urged greater activity in the education of children under ten in Dundee. And the reason of his anxiety about their better education? That which we have said is with the capitalist as capitalist the sole reason: that they may be the more ready (in this case the earlier ready) to be exploited. One sentence of the inspector of schools for Scotland, oddly enough called Henderson, gives the solution of the whole matter. The juvenile factory population since the passing of the Education Acts are "quicker to learn, more amenable to discipline, and much less mischievous," which, being translated, means that they are more ready to become machines, less likely to rebel against their unhappy lot, and less childlike.
(6) PROSECUTIONS.–Appendix No. 1 to this report is a list of the infinitesimally small proportion of cases of the infringement of the Factory Acts by employers that are brought to light, and made the subject of legal proceedings, In this appendix are set out date, name of criminal, magistrates before whom the case was heard, nature of the offence, penalty, costs, and remarks by the inspector. Here we may fitly speak of the shifts employed by the lawyers–natural allies of the masters and foes of the workers. A man blinded by a flying shuttle was "not a workman within the meaning of the Act," and the shifting of the blame from a responsible person to one irresponsible, especially from master to manager, is one of the favourite devices of these gentry. In connexion with this it may be noted that the costs exceed the amount of the penalty actually inflicted in many of the cases reported.
This list of prosecutions, read in conjunction with other facts given in the body of, the report, teaches us what a recalcitrant set, as a rule, the masters are. Messrs. Drew & Sons, Biscuit Works, High Street, Shadwell, were ordered by the inspector to fence a steam-engine on May 2. On September 9 it was not fenced, and a boy had two fingers crushed off. On September 20 the engine was still unfenced. J. & J. Birley, Cotton Spinners, New Hall Mill, near Burnley, were convicted on July 9 for the third time. They had made untrue entries and assurances as to sanitary work that they professed had been done when it had never been touched. "Repeated requests" as shuttle-guards and other defensive apparatus are common.
As to the penalties, they are, of course, grossly inadequate. Here are three cases in illustration:–
"Samuel Whitaker, Cotton Spinner, Durn, Littleborough. Neglecting to limewash the factory for a period of twenty-four months. Penalty, 2a 6d.
"Thomas Turnbull & Son, Whitby. Employing four boys more than seven working days without certificates of fitness. Magistrates were of opinion that penalty in one case was sufficient.
"William Hodgkinson, Draper, Bridge Street, Warrington. Employing six females after four o'clock on Saturday afternoon. Penalty 6s. The magistrates remarked that is was 'a very arbitrary law' which required them to inflict penalties for such offences."
Two others of a yet more serious kind must be noted. They serve to show the actual contempt for the value of a human life that our inhuman system of to-day begets. Walter Brooks was killed by an unfenced crank and crank-shaft on the works of Messrs. Bamber & Co., Limited, Cotton Spinners, Mount. Pleasant Mill, Bolton-le-Moors Lancashire. Messrs. Bamber & Co. were fined £5, the costs being £2 1s. 6d. The inspector remarks: "The defendants had compensated the widow with an amount to her satisfaction. The justices fined defendants £5, out of which they recommended £4 to the widow, in addition to the settlement, which they considered handsome." In the case of the girl mentioned above as killed by cogged wheels, the inspector writes as follows: "The chairman of the company prosecuted would, I am convinced, have acted generously to the relations of deceased had he not conscientiously believed that his managers had taken all reasonable precautions, and that a dangerous precedent would have been established by admitting blame."
(7) MAGISTRATES.–Worse sinners in some instances than the masters are the magistrates. This is to be expected, when one remembers that these are chosen from the same class, and in many cases from the same calling, as the men that are arraigned before them. A few examples of magisterial misconduct. Four boys had been employed without certificates of fitness. "Magistrates were of opinion that penalty in one case was sufficient." John Dewhurst & Sons, Airton, had employed six women, seven young persons, and two children after 5.30 p.m. -"the mill running at 8.5 minutes after 5.30, according to the Bell Busk Station clock, by which the hours of work are regulated according to the Act of Parliament. It was asserted, not proved, that the station clock was unreliable. The time is telegraphed to the station daily, and the importance of a station clock being accurately kept need not be enlarged upon, and the railway authorities have stated most distinctly that the clock is accurate, and does not vary half-a-minute at the time of daily correction. The magistrates dismissed the case." This contention about 8.5 minutes must not be regarded as trivial. Multiply 8.5 by the number of workers, probably many more than the fifteen as to whom the summons was taken out, multiply this product by the number of days in the year–e.g., on which the like overtime-working occurred–and we begin to get some estimate of the amount of "nibbling and cribbling" as the operatives call it, that can be effected by one firm alone.
Of the London magistrates Mr. Paget appears to be the most brutal and tyrannical. G.H. Newton, Firewood Manufacturer, Hertford Street, N., was summoned for "employing a child for more than seven days without obtaining surgical certificate; employing two young persons for more than seven days without obtaining surgical certificates; and for failing to keep register with prescribed particulars," etc. The defendant pleaded guilty to the charges, and attempted no defence whatever. Mr. Paget, however, pressed him to withdraw the plea of "guilty" and to plead "not guilty." The first case was proved by Mr. Paterson, when the magistrate asked for the production of the "prescribed form:" An adjournment was therefore asked for with a view to the production of this document, whereupon Mr. Paget instantly dismissed the case. "Under these circumstances I withdrew the remaining cases," writes the inspector.
Three things in conclusion of this saddening survey of a Report that ought to he read by everyone, and will be read by almost none. First. All communications are supposed to be secret that are made by employees to the Factory Inspectors. That the latter earnest officials do all that is in their power to make this supposition a reality is certain. None the less, while we remind workers of this fact, we know that they would remind us that cases of dismissal by masters whose ill-doings have been reported are very common. Secondly. The Factory Acts do not apply to the men. Inspectors can do practically nothing for adult men. They, under the system that makes a ghastly affectation of the freedom of the individual, must not be protected. Third. The likeness of this latest Report to those of earlier times, to those of twenty years or more ago, is the most painful thing about it. The Report of 1884 might be that of 1864. The same diseases, accidents, prosecutions. We do not think that the reading of the Blue-Book or of our pamphlet on it will make much if any difference to the unhappy, disgraceful position of the workers. Our only hope is that those who read, and especially those who bear in mind the monotony of the Reports ever since the Factory Acts came into force, will understand that for the ills suffered by the labour-classes of the community there is but one remedy. And that remedy is the doing away with the systems that makes these ills a necessity. The Factory is still a hell. Our factory-chimneys that Radical politicians call "the glory of England" are in truth the curse of England. And this curse, these hells, must remain blasting the lives of the workers as long as the capitalistic system of production lasts.