Table of Contents:
West End, but for all the year round, from January to December; for you must understand that at the establishment to which I refer, the greater part of the sewing is given out to stop-workers in the busy season, and all that is done in doors is the original cutting-out and ultimate fitting together of the separate parts; but when the slack season comes, there is always as much sewing reserved as will keep the girls of the establishment employed up to the full pitch, so that there is, in fact. no stack season at all for them. "And yet for this continued and unrelenting pressure of sixteen hours work per day, from year's end to year's end, this firm assume to themselves the greatest possible credit. They thank God that they are not as other firms are at the West End — oppressors and destroyers of young women. They never — not even for a few weeks in the busy season — make their people sit up till three or four in the morning. Oh, no ! their gas is always turned on in the work room by eleven o'clock. Why, sir, the West End system, with its few weeks of seventy, followed, as it is, by months of comparative leisure, is mercy itself when viewed alongside of the unmitigated, 'never-ending, still beginning' misery to which I am referring. "The only day of leisure which the girls of this establishment have is Sunday. From Monday morning to Saturday night they are as complete prisoners as any in Newgate. They know not whether the sun shines or the rain falls at that time. They are not allowed to cross the threshold even to purchase a pair of shoes or a new gown for themselves, and must employ their friends out side to do this for them. ‘"Nor is the accommodation indoors such as in any way to reconcile them to this close confinement. The work room, in which ten or twelve of them are employed, is only about twelve feet square, and is entirely devoid of arrangements for ventilation, which is the more to be deplored. as, during the evening, they have to encounter the heat and foul air of three flaming gas-burners right over their heads, every door and window being shut by which a breath of pure air could possibly enter. The bed-rooms are equally uncomfortable, no fewer than six persons being huddled into one and four into another."’ This, however, is only one, and not the most distressing and aggravated form of white slavery in England. A volume has been written by an intelligent Englishman, filled with the most harrowing details of the toil and privation of the working classes, and of the consequent degradation and crime. The domestic servants of the English tradesmen and prosperous mechanics are the veriest slaves in all Christendom, worked harder, with less sympathy, under a mere nominal freedom, which amounts only to the freedom to starve. Yet this is the nation which has set the United States by the ears upon the subject of African slavery. There can be no earthly doubt that it is through the influence of the anti-slavery sentiment of Great Britain and the workings of British emissaries, that the abolition spirit in the North has been worked up to its present pitch of intensity and strength, for the insidious purpose of dissolving the Union, and removing out of the way of England, a great commercial, and probably, hereafter, a manufacturing rival. This is the nation, with white slaves in its mines, who never saw the sun; with white slaves at its hearthstones, who never hear a kind word from year to year; with white slaves of the needle, who toil in hopeless bondage from morn till night; with white slaves in its factories, who are so chained to their toil that they become prematurely old, emaciated and ghastly, famished, demoralized wretches, unable to live and unfit to die; this is the nation, which, forcing opium down Chinese throats at the point of the bayonet, and making slaves of the poor Coolies in the Chinese seaports, perpetually decries and abuses those institutions of the South, by whose products its commerce and manufactories are kept alive, and proclaims the system of slavery, which it forced with its own hands upon the Southern States, but which the humanity of the South has converted into the mildest and most merciful system of domestic and agricultural labor under the sun, as a moral abomination which includes all other abominations, and from which the North ought to free its skirts by measures which inevitably lead to the overthrow of the United States Government. There is no calculating the self-deluding power of the human mind; the capacity it has, with a beam in its own eye, of being troubled about a mote in the eyes of others; but we can scarcely believe that the red-hot anti-slavery passion of England has no other solution. It is her interest that the United States should be divided; it is not her interest that slavery should be abolished. Division paralyzes and strikes down her commercial and manufacturing rival, the North; Abolition would ruin the sources of her own prosperity. Her position in the past and her course in the future may all be decided by ascertaining her own interests. ’
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.