The Laboring Classes of England/Letter 9
HISTORY OF AN ORPHAN BOY.
Dear Reader—Permit me to introduce to your notice an old acquaintance of mine, who, for the present, we will call Charles Smith.
In my journeys through England as a traveller, it was my duty to make occasional calls at Manchester, the chief seat of the cotton manufacture; and on one of those occasions I was introduced by a mutual friend to the individual above mentioned. We became friends, and during our intercourse he related to me many of the incidents of his past life. The last time I had the pleasure of seeing him he put into my hands a parcel of documents relating to his history, with full permission to use them at my discretion. From these papers I select the following particulars.
Charles Smith has no recollection whatever of his parents; but from the documents before us, it appears he was born in the year 1792; and was removed to St. Pancras workhouse, in the north-western suburbs of London, in 1796. Being then about four years old, he said he perfectly recollected riding in a coach to the workhouse, accompanied by some female. He did not, however, think this female was his mother, for he had not the least consciousness of having felt either sorrow or uneasiness at being separated from her, as he naturally supposed he should, if she had been his mother. He thinks he had been nursed by his mother, but had passed through many hands before being taken to the workhouse, because he had no recollection of having experienced a mother's caresses. Young as he was, he often inquired of the nurses when the relations of other children came to see his young associates, why no one came to see him, and used to weep, when he was told, that no one had ever owned him, after his being placed in that house. It was supposed that he was an illegitimate child, that his father moved in the upper circle of society, and that his mother had died, probably from grief and disappointment, previous to his removal to the workhouse. Be this as it may, it is certain that when he applied, (after he arrived at manhood) to the parish officers of St. Pancras for information concerning his parents, they refused to give him any account of them.
The sad consciousness that he stood alone in the world, that he had no acknowledged claim of kindred with any human being, rich or poor, so constantly occupied his thoughts, that, together with his sufferings, they imprinted a pensive character on his features, which probably neither change of fortune, nor time itself, will ever entirely obliterate. He well remembers, when about six years old, as the children were repeating their catechism, it was his turn to repeat the fifth commandment; and as he was saying "Honor thy father and thy mother," &c., he burst into tears, and felt greatly distressed. Being asked why he cried, he innocently replied, "I cry because I cannot obey God's commandments; I know not either my father or my mother."
Smith acknowledges he was well fed, decently clad, and comfortably lodged, and not at all over-worked; yet with all these blessings, this destitute child grew melancholy. He relished none of the humble comforts he enjoyed. It was liberty he wanted. The busy world lay outside the workhouse gates, and those he was seldom permitted to pass. He was too young to understand the necessity of the restraint to which he was subjected. Like a bird newly caged, that flutters from side to side, and beats its little wings against its prison walls, in hope of obtaining its liberty; so young Smith, weary of confinement, and anxious to be free, often watched the gates of the house, in the vain hope that some favorable opportunity might facilitate his escape. He was so weary of confinement, he said he would gladly have exchanged situations with the poorest of the poor children, whom, from the upper windows of the workhouse, he had seen begging from door to door, or offering matches for sale to the people as they passed.
From this state of mind, Smith was suddenly diverted, by a rumor that a day was appointed, when the master chimney-sweepers of the metropolis were to come and select such a number of boys as apprentices till the age of twenty-one, as they might deem it necessary to take into their fraternity. These tidings sounded like music to the ears of Smith he anxiously inquired of the nurses if the news were true, and if so, what chance there was of his being one of the elect. The matrons told him that if he was elected he would bitterly rue the day that should consign him to that wretched employment. Still he was not satisfied that it could be worse than the state in which he then was.
The day arrived, the boys were brought forth; many of them in tears, and very sorrowful. Smith might be said to be the most joyous of the whole, and as the grim looking men approached him, he held his head as high as he could, and endeavored to attract their attention. Boy after boy was taken in preference to Smith, who was often handled, examined and rejected. Some of the sweeps complimented him for his spirit, and said, if he made a good use of his time, and contrived to grow a head taller, he might do for them the next time they came.
The confinement that was so wearisome to young Smith must have been equally irksome to his companions, therefore the love of liberty could not have been the sole cause of the difference of feeling manifested by these boys on this occasion. There was another reason; most of the boys had friends or relations, but poor Smith stood alone! No ties of consanguinity bound him to any particular portion of society, or to any place; he had no friend to soothe his troubled mind—no domestic circle to which, though excluded for a time, he might hope to be reunited. When the friends or relatives of other children came to visit them, the caresses that were sometimes exchanged, the joy that beamed on the faces of the favored ones, were any thing but pleasing to our young friend; not that he was envious of their happiness, but that it reminded him more forcibly of his forlorn condition.
From the period of Smith's disappointment in being rejected by the sweeps, a sudden calm succeeded, which lasted till another rumor was spread through the house, that a treaty was on foot between the Overseers of St. Pan eras, and the owners of a large cotton factory, for the disposal of a great number of children. This occurred about a year after the chimney-sweep disappointment.
The rumor itself inspired Smith with new hopes; and when he found that it was not only confirmed, but that the number wanted was so great, that it would take off most of the children in the house, his joy became unbounded. Poor, infatuated boy! delighted with the hope of obtaining a greater degree of liberty, he dreamed not of the misery that impended, in the midst of which he afterwards looked back to St. Pancras as to an elysium.
Prior to the show day of the pauper children to the cotton manufacturer, the most illusive and artfully contrived stories were spread, to fill the minds of these poor infants with the most absurd and ridiculous errors, as to the real nature of the servitude to which they were to be consigned. From the statement of the victims to this bondage, it seems to have been a constant rule with those who had the disposal of parish children, before sending them off to the cotton mills, to fill their minds with the same delusion. Their hopes being thus excited, it was next stated to these innocent victims, that no one could be compelled to go, nor any but volunteers accepted.
When it was supposed that these excitements had operated to induce a ready acquiescence in the proposed migration, all the children, male and female, who were, or appeared to be, seven years old, were assembled in the committee room for the purpose of being examined, touching their health, capacity and willingness to go and serve as apprentices in the way and manner required, for the term of fourteen years.
The boys were to be instructed in cotton spinning and stocking weaving; the girls in cotton spinning and lace making. There was no specification whatever, as to the time their masters were to be allowed to work these poor children, although at this period, great cruelties were known to be exercised by the owners of cotton mills upon their apprentices.
Thus did the church-wardens and overseers of the poor of St. Pancras parish in the month of August, 1799, make over to Messrs. Lambert's, cotton spinners, hosiers and lace men, of St. Mary's parish, Nottingham, our young orphan boy, together with seventy-nine other boys and girls as parish apprentices, till they arrived at the age of twenty-one years.
The poor deluded young creatures were so inflated with joy that they began to treat their old nurses with insolence, and refused to associate with children, who, from sickness, or being under age, had not been accepted. But their illusion soon vanished, and they were soon made to endure hardships such as they had never conceived of.
Happy, no doubt, in the thought of transferring the burden of the further support of eighty young paupers to other parishes, the church-wardens and overseers distinguished the departure of this juvenile colony by acts of munificence. The children were completely new clothed; each had two suits, one for working, and another for their holiday dress. One shilling in money was given to each child, a new pocket handkerchief, and a large piece of gingerbread.
According to his own account, Smith was first to the gate. Having no relatives to take leave of, all his anxiety was to get outside. He was also the first to mount the wagon, and the loudest in his cheering. The whole convoy were well guarded by the parish beadles in their robes of office, and bearing staves, on their way to the wagons that were to carry them to their destination; but these officers the children were taught to consider as a guard of honor.
Some active young men were appointed to look after the passengers in the two large wagons, on their journey to Nottingham. Those vehicles were so secured that when once the grated doors were locked, no one could escape. Plenty of clean straw was put in for the children to sleep on, but they soon began throwing it over one another, and seemed delighted with the commencement of their journey. A few hours progress considerably damped this exultation. The inequality of the road, and the heavy jolts of the wagon, occasioned them many a bruise. Although it was in the middle of August, the children felt very uncomfortable in being thus cooped up in so small a space, (forty in each wagon,) and having no liberty except to look through the gratings of their prison, like so many wild animals on their way to an exhibition. After having passed one night in the wagon, many of the children began to repent, and express a wish to return. They were told to have a little patience till they arrived at Messrs. Lamberts, when no doubt those gentlemen would pay every attention to their wishes. Smith was so overjoyed with his prospects, that he spent his shilling at Leicester, in apples. The greater part of the children were much exhausted, and many of them seriously indisposed before they arrived at Nottingham.
After having been well refreshed, the whole of the children were drawn up in rows to be reviewed by their masters, their friends and neighbors. In Smith's estimation, the Messrs. Lamberts were "stately sort of men." They looked over the children, and finding them all right according to invoice, exhorted them to behave with proper humility and decorum; to pay the most prompt and submissive respect to the orders of those who would be appointed to instruct and superintend them at the mills; and to be diligent and careful, each one to execute his or her task, and thereby avoid the punishment and disgrace which awaited idleness, insolence, or disobedience.
This harangue, which was delivered to them in a severe and dictatorial tone, increased the apprehensions of the children, but not one durst open his mouth to complain. The masters talked to them of the various sorts of labor to which they were to apply themselves; but to the consternation of Smith and his associates, not the least allusion was made to the many fine things which had so positively been promised them while in London. This conversation seemed to look forward to close, protracted toil.
The children rested one night at Nottingham, in the warehouse of their new masters; the next day, in order to cheer their spirits a little, they were led out to see the local curiosities, which are so celebrated by bards of ancient times. The day following, they were conveyed in carts to the place that was to be their home for the next fourteen years. This place was Lowdham cotton mill, situated near a village of that name about ten miles from Nottingham, on the Surhill road. They arrived rather late in the evening.
The mill, a large and lofty edifice, being surmounted by a cupola, Smith at first mistook for a church, and expressed his opinion to that effect; this seemed to please some of the bystanders, who said he would soon know what sort of service was performed there. There was one source of consolation, he thought—it is not surrounded with large walls and strong gates, like the St. Pancras workhouse.
When the first cart, in which was young Smith, drove up to the door of the apprentice-house, which was half a mile distant from the mill, a number of villagers flocked round to see the young cocknies. One old woman said, "Eh! what a fine collection of children, see their pretty rosy cheeks." Another, shaking her head, said, "The roses will soon be out of bloom in the mill." "The Lord have mercy upon them," said a third. "They'll find no mercy here," said a fourth. In common with his comrades, Smith was greatly dismayed by these gloomy prognostications, which their guardians did all they could to check, or prevent the children hearing, hurrying them as rapidly as they could into the house.
The young strangers were conducted into a spacious room, fitted up in the workhouse style, with long, narrow deal tables, and wood benches for seats on each side. The room seemed tolerably clean; but there was a rank, oily smell, which Smith did not much admire. They were ordered to sit down at these tables, the boys and girls apart. The other apprentices had not left work when these children arrived. The supper set before them consisted of milk-porridge, (i. e. oat-meal boiled in milk and water) and rye bread, very black and soft. Smith says it stuck to their teeth like bird-lime. As the young strangers gazed mournfully at each other, the governor and governess, as the master and mistress of the apprentices were styled, kept walking round them and making very coarse remarks. The governor was a huge, raw-boned man, who had served in the army, and had been a drill sergeant. Unexpectedly, he produced a large horsewhip, which he clanged in such a manner that it made the house re-echo. In a moment the children, who had been laughing and joking about the bread, &c., were reduced to the most solemn silence and submission. Even young Smith, who had been one of the ringleaders in these proceedings, was bereft of all his gaiety by the tremendous clang of the whip, and sat as demure as a truant scholar, just previous to his flogging; yet the master of the house had not uttered a single threat, nor, indeed, had he occasion, his stern and forbidding aspect, and his terrible horsewhip inspired quite as much terror as was requisite. Knowing that the apprentices from the mill were coming, this formidable being retired, to the great relief of the young strangers; but so deep an impression had he created, that they sat erect, scarcely daring to look on one side or the other.
While they were in this subdued state, their attention was suddenly attracted by the loud shouting of many voices; almost instantly the stone room filled with a multitude of young persons of both sexes, from young women down to mere children. Their presence was accompanied by a scent of no very agreeable nature, arising from the grease and dirt acquired in the avocation. The boys, generally speaking, had nothing on but a shirt and trowsers. Some few, and but a few, had jackets and hats. Their coarse shirts were open at the neck, and their hair looked as if a comb had seldom been applied. The girls were destitute of shoes and stockings, their locks pinned up, they wore no caps, few had gowns, the principal article of dress being long aprons with sleeves, made of coarse linen, that reached from the neck to the heels. Smith and his companions were almost terrified by the sight of the pale, lean, sallow looking multitude before them.
On their first entrance, some of the old apprentices took a view of the strangers; but the great bulk first looked after their supper, which consisted of boiled potatoes, distributed at a hatch-door, that opened into the common room from the kitchen. At a signal given, the apprentices rushed to this door, and each, as he received his or her portion, withdrew to the table.
Smith, who had always been accustomed to cleanliness, was much surprised to see the girls hold up their greasy aprons in which to receive their supper, and the boys resorted to acts even more filthy and indecent, when receiving the hot boiled potatoes allotted them. With a keen appetite the hungry apprentices devoured their supper, and seemed anxiously to look about for more. Next, the hungry crew ran to the table of the new comers, and voraciously devoured every crust of bread, and every drop of porridge they had left; after which they put and answered questions as occasion required. There was no cloth on the table, no plates, knives or forks; a little salt scattered here and there, with a plentiful supply of cold water, made up the usual accompaniments of the supper table.
The supper being devoured, in the midst of the gossiping that ensued, (for many of the old apprentices had come from the same parish, and were anxious to hear from their old nurses) the bell rang that gave the signal to go to bed.
The grim governor entered to take the charge of the newly arrived boys, and his wife, acting the same part by the girls, appeared every way suitable to so rough and unpolished a mate. She was a large, robust woman, remarkable for a rough, hoarse voice and ferocious aspect. In a surly, heart-chilling tone, she bade the girls follow her. Tremblingly the little creatures obeyed, scarcely daring to cast a look at their fellow travellers, or bid them good night. They separated in mournful silence, the tears trickling down their cheeks; not a sigh was heard, or a word of complaint uttered.
The room in which Smith and several of his companions were deposited was up two pair of stairs. The bed places were a sort of cribs, built in a double tier all round the chamber. The apprentices slept two in a bed. The beds were of flocks. From the quantity of oil imbibed in the apprentices' cloths, and the impurities that were suffered to accumulate from the cotton, a most disagreeable odor scented these rooms. The governor called the strangers to him and allotted to each his bed place and bed-fellow, not allowing any of the newly arrived inmates to sleep together.
The boy with whom Smith was to chum, got into his berth, and without saying a prayer or any thing else, was soon fast asleep. It was not so, however, with our young friend; he could not refrain from tears; he felt, young as he was, that he had been grossly deceived. When he crept into bed, the stench of the oily cloths and the greasy skin of his sleeping comrade almost turned his stomach. Over and over again the poor child repeated every prayer he had learned, and strove to recommend himself to the Father of the fatherless. At last, sleep did seal his weary eyelids; but short was the repose he was allowed to enjoy. Before 5 o'clock he was awaked by his bedfellow, who springing upright at the loud tolling of the factory bell, told Smith to dress with all speed, or the governor would flog him. Before Smith had time to perform this office, the iron door of the chamber, creaking upon its hinges, was opened, and in came the terrific governor with the horsewhip in his hand; at the sight of him every boy hastily turned out of his crib, and huddled on his clothes in haste.
Smith and his fellow-travellers were slowest, not being rightly awake. He said to one of the boys, "Bless me, have you church service so soon?" "Church service, you fool," was the angry answer, "it is to the mill service you are called, and you had better look sharp or you'll catch it." The governor, bearing the emblem of arbitrary rule in his hand, walked around the chamber, looking in every bed place, amusing himself the while with cracking the huge whip, which fully understanding, the boys hastened below. Arrived there, they saw some of the boys washing themselves at a pump, and they were directed to do the same; after which, the whole multitude sat down to a breakfast at 5 o'clock in the morning. The meal consisted of a scanty supply of black bread and milk porridge.
They reached the mill about half past 5 o'clock; the machinery was going in all the rooms from top to bottom. Smith and his companions were astonished at the burring noise which proceeded from 20,000 wheels and spindles in motion, and many of them began to feel sickly from the rank smell of oil which bathed the machinery.
The new hands were received by Mr. Baker, the head manager, in a large room. They were then divided into separate divisions. The overlookers were then ordered to take the division each had assigned him. In this manner they were marched off to the different rooms, and immediately set to their work. All this was done amid the laughs, jokes, and coarse remarks of the overlookers, at the expense of the poor children.
The task first allotted to Smith was to pick up the loose cotton that fell upon the floor. Apparently nothing could be easier, and he set to with diligence, although much terrified by the whirling motion and noise of the machinery, and not a little affected by the dust and flue with which he was half suffocated. He soon felt sick, and by constant stooping, his back ached; he therefore took the liberty to sit down; but this attitude, he soon found was strictly forbidden in cotton mills. His task-master gave him to understand that he must keep on his legs. He did so till twelve o'clock, being six and a half hours without intermission. The poor boy suffered much from thirst and hunger. The moment the bell rang for dinner, all were in motion to get out as soon as possible. Never before did he enjoy the fresh air so much as now.
He had been sick almost to fainting, and it revived him instantly. The cocknies mingled together on their way, to communicate to each other their sad experience. When they arrived at the dinner room, each had his place assigned him.
During the first ten days Smith was kept picking up cotton; he felt at night very great weariness, pain in the back and ankles, and he heard similar complaints from his associates. After this he was promoted to the employment of a roving-winder, and being too short of stature to reach his work, he had to stand on a block of wood; but even with this help he could not keep pace with the machinery. In vain the poor child declared he could not move quicker. He was beaten by his overlooker with great severity, until, in a short time, his body was discolored by bruises. In common with his fellow apprentices, Smith was wholly dependent upon the mercy of the overlookers, whom he found to be, generally speaking, a set of brutal, illiterate men; void alike of understanding or humanity. Smith complained to the manager, who said, "do your work well, and you'll not be beaten."
It will be necessary to state here, that the overlookers had a certain quantity of work to perform in a given time. If every child did not perform its allotted task, the fault was imputed to the overlooker, and he was discharged. On the other hand a per centage was given to the overlooker, upon all work done more than the stipulated task. If, therefore, any complaint was made, the overlooker could have said, that if the owners insisted upon so much work being extracted from the apprentices, and a greater quantity of yarn produced than it was possible to effect by fair and moderate labor, they must allow them severity of punishment, to keep the children in a state of continual exertion. Each of the task-masters, in order to acquire favor and emolument, urged the poor children to the very utmost.
At the expiration of six months, being half starved, and cruelly treated by his task-master, Smith resolved to attempt an escape, to beg his way up to London, and lay his case before the officers of St. Pancras. In this attempt he could not get any of his companions to join him; he therefore determined to go alone. Steady to his purpose, he took the first favorable opportunity, and when the overlooker and manager were busy, he started off in his working clothes unperceived.
He began at a smart trot, looking behind him every 50 or 100 yards the first half mile; but finding he was not pursued, he slackened his pace. He continued to proceed as fast as he was able, not knowing whether he was on the right road to London, and being afraid to ask till he came to a village a few miles from the mill, where he was stopped by a man in the employ of his master. This person, it appears, had a commission from the mill owners, and according to agreement, was to receive five shillings for every runaway apprentice he caught and took back to the mill. Back poor Smith was taken, punished, and jeered at by his task-master, and worked with an increased severity. The poor children pitied him, but could afford him no assistance.
Their condolements, however, were grateful to his wounded pride and disappointed hopes. As he retired to his miserable bed, the governor, grinning, made him a low bow in the military style, and gave him a kick at the same instant. This afforded amusement to that portion of the elder apprentices who had made similar attempts and failed.
Many of these children had by this time been more or less injured by the machinery, several had the skin scraped off their knuckles, others had their fingers crushed, or taken off; young Smith, soon after his attempted escape, lost the fore finger of his left hand. One poor girl had been caught by the main shaft, and was so dreadfully maimed and mutilated as to be obliged to walk on crutches the remainder of her life, yet without having the power of getting any compensation or redress.
Many of the older boys were so oppressed with hunger, that they sallied out at night to plunder the fields; and declared their intention to do some crime, to get themselves transported, in order to be freed from their cruel task-masters.
When Smith had been four years with his masters, they gave up the business, from what cause is not known to me.
There was at this time a mill owner in one of the villages of Derbyshire, of the name of Needham. Like many of his class, he had risen from a state of abject poverty, and had it been by honorable industry, his prosperous fortune would have redounded to his credit. Of his original state of poverty it was his weakness to be ashamed. By the profusion of his table, and the splendor and frequency of his entertainments, he seemed to wish to cover and conceal his mean descent. His house, lawns, equipage, and style of living, completely eclipsed the neighboring gentry; yet, boundless as was his ostentation, he was in his heart sordidly mean; which was sufficiently evinced by his cruelty, in wringing from poor, friendless orphans, the means of supporting his unbecoming pomp. His mansion was at Highgate Wall, near Buxton.
To this unfeeling master, Messrs. Lamberts made over the unexpired term of years, for which the parish apprentices had been bound by their respective indentures. What premium was paid, or if any, I know not; but as this man was neither a hosier, nor a lace manufacturer, he had not the power to fulfil the conditions, of instructing the children in lace-knitting and stocking weaving. The consequence was that they lost the most important advantages of their servitude; and those who survived their term of apprenticeship, found themselves without that degree of skill which was requisite to enable them to gain their bread.
Mr. Needham went to Loudham to inspect the children, and was very liberal in his promises of kind treatment. The whole lot, male and female, to the amount of many scores, were then removed in carts from Lowdham to Litton mill. The first day's progress brought them to Cromford, where they halted for the night. The girls were lodged in dwelling houses, the boys slept on straw in a barn and stable! The next morning the whole party were marched on foot through the village. Then they again mounted their carts. It was in the month of November when this removal took place. On the evening of the second day's journey, the devoted children reached the mill.
This was situated at the bottom of a sequestered glen, surrounded by rugged rocks, and remote from any human habitation. In this place where our young friend spent the next ten years of his life, many of these poor children were hurried to an untimely grave.
The appearance of the apprentices who were at work in the mill when the new hands arrived, was any thing but pleasing. The pallid, sickly complexions, the filthy and ragged condition of their clothing, gave a sorrowful foretaste of what apparently awaited him. From the mill they were escorted to the apprentice house, where every thing wore a discouraging aspect. The lodging room, the bedding, &c., all betokened a want of cleanliness and comfort.
Smith passed a restless night, bitterly deploring his hard destiny, and trembling at the thought of greater sufferings. Soon after four o'clock in the morning, they were summoned to work by the ringing of a bell. The breakfast hour was eight o'clock; but the machinery did not stop, they got it as best they could, now a bit and then a sup, all the time doing their work.
Forty minutes were allowed for dinner, a part of this time being required for cleaning the machinery. The number of the working hours at this mill was from fourteen to sixteen per day. The children suffered severely from this unnatural state of things. From all these sources of sickness and disease, no one will be surprised to hear that contagious fevers arose in the mill, nor that the deaths were so frequent as to require constant supplies of parish children to fill up the vacancies. It has been known that forty boys were sick at one time, being about one fifth of the whole number. Smith was one of the sick, and well remembers tar, pitch and tobacco being burned in the room, and vinegar being sprinkled on the bed and floor. He also remembers the doctor saying, "It is not drugs, but kitchen physic they want." So great was the mortality at one time that the mill owner deemed it necessary to divide the burials, sending a part of them to a distant village, although the fees were greater, in order to conceal the sad reality from his neighbors.
Not a spark of pity was shown to the sick of either sex; they were worked to the very last moment it was possible for them to work, and when they were no longer able to stand, they were put into a wheelbarrow, and wheeled to the apprentice house. The doctor was seldom called, till the patient was in the agonies of death.
I would not willingly overcharge the picture I am drawing, or act so unwisely as to exaggerate these atrocities; and it is with some degree of diffidence I state, in consequence of combined and positive testimony, that no nurse, or nursing, was allowed to the sick, further than what one invalid could do for another!—that neither candle nor lamp-light was allowed, or the least sign of sympathy manifested.
I will not harrow up the feelings of my readers, by entering into a minute detail of all the hardships and sufferings that befel poor Smith during his fourteen years servitude in these places; they are such as would scarcely be credited in this land. It will be sufficient to say, that in addition to his attempt to escape, he twice run off to make complaints to the magistrates, and show them his bruised and crippled frame, but without obtaining the least relief. Finding no remedy in the law, he seriously entertained the idea of committing suicide; for this purpose he went up to an attic window in order to throw himself out. While contemplating the awful leap he was about to make, something seemed to whisper, "Have faith, and struggle on." He then abandoned the idea.
Having completed his term of fourteen years, viz., from seven till twenty-one, he worked till he had saved a little money, and then left that place, which had been the scene of so much suffering to him and his companions. Many of the children who left St. Pancras with him, had gone the way of all flesh, one had become an idiot, inconsequence of ill treatment; one girl was unable to walk without the aid of crutches; and the remainder were more or less crippled and mutilated in various parts of their persons. Smith was a sad spectacle to look upon, stunted in growth, his legs twisted by standing so many hours at the frames, his countenance haggard and care-worn; altogether he presented the appearance of a man of seventy years, who had seen much service, rather than a person of twenty-one years, just entering upon manhood.
Although he had been thus crippled, and had not been taught the business to which he had been bound, yet there was no law in England whereby he, in his poor condition, could obtain compensation for the injuries he had suffered, or might suffer through life, in consequence of the unfeeling avarice of his masters.
The subsequent history of Charles Smith is one continued series of trials, arising out of his crippled condition; and though it might be interesting to the general reader to know how, by patient, persevering industry, he afterwards so far overcame the difficulties of his position as to become a small tradesman in Manchester, yet these particulars would far exceed our limits.
When I last saw Smith in Manchester, he told me he had a short time before been burned out; but that he was then beginning to recover from his losses. He had a wife and three children, two girls and a boy; and while I took tea with him, he told me he would feel quite happy if God would enable him to keep his children from going into the factories.
It gives me great pleasure to say that he is looked upon in his neighborhood, as an honest, industrious man, a good husband and kind father.