Open main menu

Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/119

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

lificness of human beings, otherwise similarly circumstanced, varies inversely as their numbers.’ In the ‘Edinburgh Review’ for July 1830 Macaulay triumphantly reduced the new law to an absurdity. In replying to his critic (Refutation of an Article in the ‘Edinburgh Review,’ No. cii.), Sadler denied that he had used the fatal word ‘inversely’ in a strictly mathematical sense, and admitted that the problem of population was too complex to admit at present of the establishment of an undeviating law. Party feeling ran too high for dispassionate criticism, and Macaulay's rejoinder (‘Sadler's Refutation Refuted,’ in Edinburgh Review January 1831) vituperatively renewed the controversy on the old ground.

In March 1829 Sadler offered himself as tory candidate for Newark at the suggestion of the Duke of Newcastle. He was elected by a majority of 214 votes over Serjeant Wilde (afterwards Lord-chancellor Truro). Soon after taking his seat he delivered a speech against the Roman catholic relief bill, which gave him high rank among the parliamentary speakers of the day. Of this and a second speech on the same subject half a million copies were circulated. Sir James Mackintosh told Zachary Macaulay at the time ‘that Sadler was a great man, but he appears to me to have been used to a favourable auditory.’ At the general election in 1830 Sadler was again returned for Newark. On 18 April 1831 he seconded General Gascoyne's motion for retaining the existing number of members for England and Wales, and the carrying of this amendment against Lord Grey's ministry led to the dissolution of parliament. Newark having become an uncertain seat, Sadler, at the suggestion of the Duke of Newcastle, stood and was returned for Aldborough in Yorkshire. He now devoted himself in the house to questions of social reform. In June 1830 he had moved a resolution in favour of the establishment of a poor law for Ireland on the principle of the 43rd of Queen Elizabeth, with such alterations and improvements as the needs of Ireland required. A second resolution of his to a similar effect, moved on 29 Aug. 1831, was lost by only twelve votes, a division which ministers acknowledged to be equivalent to defeat. The Irish Poor Law Act, however, was not passed till 1838.

In October 1831 Sadler moved a resolution for bettering the condition of the agricultural poor in England. He ascribed the degradation of the labourers to the growth of large farms which had caused the eviction of small holders, and to flagrant injustice committed in the enclosure of commons. He proposed (1) the erection of suitable cottages by the parish authorities, the latter to be allowed to borrow from government to meet the capital outlay; (2) the provision of allotments large enough to feed a cow, to be let, at the rents currently charged for such land in the locality, to deserving labourers who had endeavoured to bring up their families without parochial relief; (3) the offer of sufficient garden ground at fair rents to encourage horticulture among the labourers; and (4) the provision of parish allotments for spade cultivation by unemployed labourers.

In September 1830 Sadler's friend Richard Oastler [q. v.] had called public attention to the overwork of children in the worsted mills of the West Riding. The agitation for legislative interference quickly spread, and in 1831 Sir J. C. Hobhouse (afterwards Baron Broughton) and Lord Morpeth introduced a bill for restricting the working hours of persons under eighteen years of age, employed in factories, to a maximum (excluding allowance for meals) of ten hours a day, with the added condition that no child under nine years should be employed. Sadler supported the bill, though he was prepared to go far beyond it (Alfred, History of the Factory Movement, i. 127). In the meantime alarm spread among many of the manufacturers, and, yielding to their pressure, Hobhouse consented to seriously modify his bill. But Oastler pursued his agitation for ‘ten hours a day and a time-book,’ and agreed with the radical working-men's committees to allow no political or sectarian differences to interfere with efforts for factory reform. Sadler was chosen as the parliamentary leader of the cause. He especially resented Hobhouse's attitude, and wrote on 20 Nov. 1831 that the latter had ‘not only conceded his bill but his very views and judgment’ to the economists, ‘the pests of society and the persecutors of the poor.’ The economists were not all opposed to legislative control of child labour in factories. Both Malthus and, later, McCulloch approved it in principle (cf. Essay on Population, 6th ed. 1826, bk. iii. ch. 3; Hodder, Life of Lord Shaftesbury, i. 157). Hobhouse, however, regarded it as hopeless to make an effort at that time for a Ten-hour Bill, and deprecated immediate action. Nevertheless Sadler, on 15 Dec. 1831, obtained leave to bring in a bill ‘for regulating the labour of children and young persons in the mills and factories of this country.’ He moved the second reading on 16 March 1832, and his speech was published. He argued that ‘the employer and employed do not meet on equal terms in the market of