Extract from Mining District Report 1851
by the Commissioner appointed to inquire into the operation of the Act 5 & 6 Vict. c99, (Mines and Collieries Act 1842) and into the state of the population in the mining districts
Ayrshire & Lanarkshire - Strike of 1850
I have to record another of those mischievous interferences with the regular course of trade and employment, a strike, which took place in the two above named counties in the summer of last year. Its cause and effects in Ayrshire were thus described to me by the manager of one of the largest iron and coal works in that district:-
" Our men were working steadily and contentedly at the wages we were giving them last summer, when two delegates suddenly came down from Lancashire and Durham, and told them they must have their wages raised. Our colliers (about 200) were then earning 3s. 6d. a day. They upon this demanded 4s. The market for iron was very low, and we could not afford the advance, which we accordingly refused. They struck, and continued out 10 weeks, and then went to work at our terms, which were 3s. 3d. per day, which was all that the state of trade then justified us in offering. Before the strike, there had been little demand for coal, and no rise in the price of iron, and no appearance of any. The consequence of the strike was to send the trade elsewhere, and the iron trade with us has not recovered it yet (March, 1851). This is the first strike we ever had. Our men were never thinking of it the day before it took place. Some of them were against it, and knew what injurious consequences it would have, but they were the minority, and were afraid to stand out against the rest. Our colliers' pay averages about £320 per week, and our furnacemen's about £200. The latter, and all our labourers, were thrown out of employ by the conduct of the colliers. We pay the railway company, when we are in full work, from £200 to £300 per week. This of course they lost during the 10 weeks of the strike, being from £2000 to £3000 from this company alone. The strike was general throughout the county of Ayr; about 3000 colliers and miners ceased work for from 9 to 10 weeks. They gained their point in no one instance. The loss to the railway company from one district alone, comprising several works, was £700 per week. The three leaders of it here, under the direction of the delegates from England, were three preachers of the new sect, which many of the Baptists, Methodists, and Independents have joined."
The efforts now pretty generally making to enlighten them as to their true interests, and to convince them that their able, liberal, and honourable-minded masters are more likely to be their real friends than men of limited knowledge belonging to their own class, and coming from a distance to dictate to them what they ought to do, are still too recent to have produced any wide effect among the colliers and miners. Nevertheless in a few instances, as at the large Kilburnie Iron-works, their conduct on the above occasion justified the pains that have been taken by the proprietors and the resident manager, to obtain their confidence and to promote their welfare and comfort. The manager informed me that, although their men were at first carried away by the example, they very soon recovered their own judgement, and returned to their work. The attention to cleanliness, to the roads and the drainage about the houses, to the school, under an excellent master and mistress, to the circulating library, &c., continues as described in a former Report. The locality affords an opportunity for encouraging garden-cultivation, which, I understand, has been under consideration.
At the works of the Messrs. Baird, at Kilwinning in this county, great improvements have been made in the course of the year towards perfecting the roads and drainage. A school has also lately been opened at the works, and was immediately attended by about 200 children. The large open space between the rows of houses will probably be laid out in gardens and planted, as has been done by the Messrs. Baird at their principal works, the Gartsherrie, in Lanarkshire. During the strike, 30 of their colliers at Kilwinning resisted the attempts of their companions to oblige them to join in it, and worked steadily the whole time - an act of moral courage on their part deserving of marked approbation.
In Lanarkshire the strike began about the same time, and appears to have originated in an advance of price given by the "sale coal-masters," in consequence of their stocks having become low, with an increased demand; which circumstance enabled them to realise a higher price for their coal, and to reimburse themselves for the advance of wages given to the collier, which was from the rate of 2s. 6d. to that of 3s. 6d. and 4s. per day. The same advance was demanded, at the instigation of the delegates, from the iron-masters, but as no corresponding advance had taken place in the price of iron, it was refused. The strike of the latter colliers became general; one-third (nearly 50) of the total number of furnaces in Lanarkshire (144) were consequently " blown out;" and at two large works, where there was no stock of coal, all the furnaces were extinguished. The strike lasted upwards of three months. Money to a small extent, I believe, was sent from some of the English mining districts to purchase meal for those who had exhausted their own resources. It is needless to dilate on the enormous losses which these melancholy and senseless struggles inflict on the iron-masters, the men and their families, and the whole community. As usual, this contest ended in the failure of the attempt to coerce employers to give a higher rate of wages than men of fair dealing and unexceptionable character find they can afford. Unfortunately, all experience on this subject seems hitherto to have been thrown away upon the great mass of the colliery population. No sooner is one set of "delegates" from some distant coal district discredited by the failure of their promises or by their pecuniary delinquencies, than the colliers are ready to listen to others. The want of discipline, of due control over their own servants, is an anomaly in these vast concerns, where such great capital is embarked, that demands all the efforts of the most able among those wealthy and intelligent masters to correct. There is at present an element in their great industrial and commercial enterprises that occasionally baffles all their skill and destroys all their calculations. In vain they display the greatest judgement in selecting the field of their operations, the greatest ability in arranging their extensive works, the most accurate scientific knowledge in erecting their powerful machinery ; their labours and their skill are liable at any moment to be foiled and set at nought by an ignorant population. Looked at in reference to the general management of their works, these interruptions of labour, to which they are so often subject, are analogous to what would happen if, after having at considerable cost erected a complicated machine of great power, it was discovered that some error had been made in its construction, which impeded its action, or sometimes stopped it altogether. Any one in the position of these great employers would consider himself discredited as a manufacturer if he had allowed himself to fall into such an error. Experience has abundantly shown that, while the success of all this skill and the profits of all this capital are allowed to hang upon the caprice and self-will of a defective moral and intellectual agency that can neither be reasoned with nor controlled, a miscalculation is made, far more injurious in its commercial consequences than any error in the department of the physical sciences, that could by any probability occur in their branch of manufacture.
Gartsherrie - housing & education
No persons have taken more pains to correct this evil than the largest makers of iron in the district, the Messrs. Baird, whose zealous and liberal promotion of everything contributing to the improvement of the population I have frequently had occasion to notice. They are amply rewarded in the general steadiness and good conduct of their workpeople at Gartsherrie, who rarely give them any trouble by joining in strikes, or by any other forms of insubordination. They continued working during the whole of the strike above mentioned, and doing a full day's labour, the Messrs. Baird protecting them from molestation by an adequate police force. The total population in their houses at Gartsherrie, taken in December of last year, amounted to 2016; that number were therefore saved from the privations and all the other ill consequences that a strike occasions. A strict superintendence is kept over the houses, and overcrowding is, as much as possible, prevented. The number of houses being 385, there are consequently 5.236 persons to a house; only one lodger is allowed where there is a family. Since last year, water from the Airdrie water-works (upwards of three miles off) has been very considerately, and at much cost to the Messrs. Baird, introduced into all these houses. The contrast is great between the neatness and cleanliness of the roads, drains, and the wide and open spaces between the houses, compared with what was the case a few years ago. Strips of grass are laid down for drying clothes upon, &c., and within, good-sized gardens are laid out, and a fine is imposed on whoever neglects his allotment, One displayed much taste and care; I was informed it belonged to an Irishman. The whole aspect of these gardens may be taken as a proof that a little encouragement only is needed to make this very desirable source of interest and amusement more general among the colliery villages. A few trees had been planted, sufficient to show how much cheerfulness and variety might be given to these large squares at a very trifling cost.
The Messrs. Baird are ably seconded in all their efforts for the benefit of the people they employ by the parochial minister, the Rev. Mr. Bell. Without zealous pastoral superintendence, and frequent personal communications with the labouring class in their cottages, the best devised instruments of improvement must often necessarily fail of attaining their full effect. Many prejudices remain to be removed, many sources of misunderstanding to be cleared away, many habits to be corrected by a friendly and instructive word in season, much in the manners, habits, dress, and demeanour of the children to be commented on at the right moment, all of which can be done with the best effect by a clergyman who has obtained the confidence of his parishioners. To such elevating influences may be traced a large portion of what is most satisfactory in the best-managed English parishes. In many points of cleanliness and propriety Mr. Bell has succeeded in effecting much improvement since the commencement of his ministerial labours in the parish in 1846. He gives especial attention to the excellent schools, which are conferring great benefits on the population. A higher department has been lately added to the boys' school (attended by about 30 scholars), in which Latin, Euclid, Algebra, and other branches of a more advanced education are taught. The girls' school, chiefly for industrial work and the peculiarly female branches of instruction, is under an accomplished mistress, and much attention is paid to everything bearing on the duties of domestic life, and the elevation of the female character. Both schools possess lending libraries, which are much used. In addition to all the usual apparatus for schools, there are collections of objects, such as mineral and geological specimens, on which occasional lectures are given. It is worthy of observation, in reference to the plan of offering prizes in the schools of South Staffordshire, mentioned in the first portion of my Report, that the Messrs. Baird have been in the habit of giving £15 per annum as prizes in these schools. I inquired as to their effect, and was informed that so great was the desire to obtain the distinction they were thought to confer, that it frequently happened that boys who had been obliged by the necessities of their parents to leave school for a time and to go to work, returned as soon as they were able, expressly in order to compete for them.
It remains to record the following statement of one of the managers of the Messrs. Baird's works, as to the result to them, as manufacturers, of their liberal expenditure in the promotion of moral and intellectual improvement. It is a statement, also eminently deserving attention in South Staffordshire.
I have stated the above result simply as favourable in a commercial point of view. Although not insensible to it in that light, the Messrs. Baird, I am well convinced, are among the last persons to consider that result as the principal source of their gratification at the success that is attending their liberal expenditure on the high objects I have enumerated.
The means of improvement which I have noted in former Reports at the Dundyvan and other neighbouring works are continued, and some additions contemplated. The Messrs. Murray, of the Monkland iron-works, employing about 4500 people, expressed the opinion that the young men were beginning to be more accessible to reason in regard to strikes. During the whole of the last, many of their men continued to work, notwithstanding the intimidation and violence to which they were subject, and which the measures taken for their protection could not always prevent. The Messrs. Murray have seven schools attached to their works, attended by nearly 2000 children; also evening schools at all the boys' schools, each having an attendance of from 40 to 70 every evening. There are four circulating libraries and reading-rooms, in which many of the best London and local papers and periodicals are taken in. Instrumental music is much cultivated, and three bands have been formed among the workmen. The best effects are said to be visibly proceeding from the female schools, the habits learnt at which have been observed to produce very favourable changes in the comfort and cleanliness of many of the cottages.
An instance of the injurious nature of the strikes and combinations that are prevalent in the local districts was mentioned to me in reference to one of the largest works in this county. About the period of the strike of last summer an order was received by the Messrs. for 4000 tons of iron, to be delivered by a certain day. In the then temper of their men they did not think it safe to accept the order for more than half the quantity, to be delivered, the first thousand tons at the expiration of one, and the second thousand at the expiration of two months. On learning that this contract had been taken, the men made a demand of an additional rate of wages, which could not be complied with. The consequence was that, the first thousand tons not being ready at the day mentioned, the intended purchasers refused to accept them. The remaining portion only of the order was therefore executed. By this one proceeding the men lost all the wages which they might have earned, at a fair rate, on the whole process of rendering marketable three thousand tons of iron, and the masters lost the profits. This is probably a fair example of the extent to which the men, the masters, and the public suffer from the want of a proper understanding between the two former.
Education - Omoa Ironworks
In entering into the state of education with persons desirous of promoting it in the English mining districts, I have frequently taken occasion to refer to the much greater quantity of work obtained from the children in the course of the day in good Scotch schools than in the generality of good English schools under similar circumstances. As an instance of this I beg to refer to the school connected with the Omoa Iron-works (Lanarkshire), and I select this instance because the children who attend it are chiefly those of colliers and miners, very few belonging to any other class of workpeople, or to persons in a condition approaching to the middle class. The average number on the roll from February 1, 1850, to February I, 1851, was 398 at the day-school and 86 at the night-school. The school is taught by one master and two assistants. Of the 35 boys in the first class, the average age was stated to be from 12 to 13. All were "familiar with the whole of Grey's Arithmetic, and some, much beyond it. The colliers' boys before they leave school will read fluently, know the meaning of the usual ' prefixes and affixes,' will be able to work ' discount and interest' and perhaps fractions, and will have gone over the map of the world, also Europe, Asia, England and Scotland, and Palestine. They seldom stay much beyond 10 years old." I questioned two colliers' sons, who were pointed out to me, as to how far they had gone in each branch, and found as follows :-
Robert Cleland, 11 years old in April, 1851 - " Has gone through the compound rules; is in the first English class; has gone through 52 pages of Lennie's Grammar; has gone over the map of the world, Europe, Scotland, and part of Palestine."
Gilbert Clark, 10 years old December, 1850 - " was in practice; is in the first English class; and has done the same quantity of grammar and geography as Robert Cleland."
This advance, so much beyond what is usual with colliers' children in English schools, and to a standard corresponding with which it is the object of the proposed prizes in South Staffordshire to bring the boys in the schools of that district, is, I believe, mainly attributable to the following causes:-
1. The habit, universal in Scotch schools, and scarcely ever found in English schools, of insisting upon a large portion of the school-work being prepared at home. In this instance, the lessons prepared at home were the grammar, geography, reading lessons, Scripture biography with Scripture references, the Catechism, and arithmetic tables.
2. Every boy and girl at the school is, as usual in Scotland, furnished with a small dictionary, or a vocabulary attached to the reading-book. A paragraph in the reading lesson is set daily, and every word in it must be " looked out" and the meaning learnt before the next school-time. The simple knowledge of the mode of using a dictionary with facility is a thing not easily acquired by the imperfectly instructed, and the habit is not often gained unless commenced at school.
3. The stimulus of prizes, which in this school are given by the proprietor of the works, Mr. Stewart, to the amount of £4 per annum, and which are found to operate not only on the children, but on the parents, who are desirous that their children should obtain the distinction, and for which the latter " work with great keenness."
4. The vigorous and active mode of teaching generally adopted by Scotch schoolmasters ; and the facility with which they can get over a great deal of work in a short time, in consequence of so large a proportion of the lessons having been prepared out of school.
The evening school was attended at the time of my inquiry by 103, and I was informed that it rose immediately after to 117. In a considerable number of instances in the Scotch mining districts, where I have made the inquiry, I have found the evening-school frequented by from 70 to 100 boys and young men. The hours are from seven to nine, or even, as in the present instance, half-past nine. The usual hours of the day-school are six, as in England. The schoolmasters in Scotland do not appear to find that their exertions during those six hours (which are unquestionably great) prevent their giving due attention to the evening-school. Eight of the young men at this school were learning Euclid and Algebra.
On becoming conscious of the necessity of making considerable provision for education in this district, the iron-masters and others interested in the improvement of the population have directed their attention almost exclusively to the rising generation of males ; as far as that of the education of the females has been provided for, it is seldom more than in reference to moral and religious and general instruction, which they receive in common with the boys in the same schools, and in the same classes with them.. The intellectual progress, therefore, of the female children, as far as the numbers of such attending day-schools permit, has been satisfactorily begun. The great remaining want, as I have frequently taken occasion to point out to the most liberal and intelligent of the promoters of the above schools, is some special provision for the exclusively female branches of education, by which the manners of the female children might be softened, their habits improved, and their minds prepared for their own peculiar duties in after life. I have urged that much might be done towards this, without any great additional expense, by attaching to each of the existing schools a room in which a respectable matron might, during the hours not occupied by the girls in their lessons with the master, give them this special instruction, in as many branches, and with as wide a scope, as the means placed at her disposal might permit. The salary of such a matron would be much less than that of a schoolmistress, as she would have little or nothing to attend to except exclusively female, including, if she was furnished with a dwelling on the spot, a certain portion of industrial household work.
A far larger proposition, however, has lately been laid before her Grace the Duchess of Hamilton, in a letter publicly distributed, by the principal agent of the Duke of Hamilton's estates in this mining district, who urges with much clearness and ability the duty devolving on all the large proprietors of mineral and other wealth in that district of making a considerable effort on behalf of the female portion of the colliery population, and places in a strong light the advantages likely to result from such an effort, as well as the imperative necessity, under the circumstances of that population, of commencing it without delay. I shall, I have no doubt, be excused for adding nearly the entire letter in the Appendix [see below]. It is a striking proof of the zeal and earnestness which has now arisen on questions of this kind, and affords a strong ground of hope that the evils it points out will before long be in course of effectual removal by the united and concurring endeavours of persons of the highest rank and responsibilities, and the able instrumentality which they have the power of setting in motion within the sphere of their influence.
Copy of portions of letter addressed to Duchess of Hamilton
- by the Principal Agent of the Hamilton Estates, on the Subject of the Education of Females in the Mining Districts of Lanarkshire.
MY LADY DUCHESS, Hamilton, 2nd January 1851.
According to promise, I now venture to address your Grace on the subject of the education of the female portion of the collier population of Lanarkshire; a subject in which you must feel deeply interested, more particularly as the Duke of Hamilton has a great stake in land, and more mineral wealth of his own than any other individual in Scotland.
Coal was wrought on the Duke of Hamilton's estate of Corriden, Bo'ness, by the then proprietor, William de Vereponte, before the end of the 12th century; for we learn from Chalmers the antiquarian that a tenth of the coals on that property was paid to the monks of Holyrood House.
From the end of that century, down to the year 1799, during a period of 700 years, colliers merely by entering upon work in a colliery were bound to perpetual service thereof; and if the owner sold or alienated the ground upon which the work stood, the right of the service of the colliers passed over to the purchaser. By an act of Parliament passed on the 13th June, 1799, the collier population were freed from their servitude.
During the whole of this long time the female sex of the collier population were serfs or slaves like their husbands, fathers, or brothers, and wrought with them in the mines, and were liable to be seized and brought back to servitude if they attempted to escape, and subjected to a fine of £100 Scots each (vide " Erskine's Institutes ").
While the males were employed digging in the pits with pickaxes and shovels, the women were engaged in carrying the coal on their backs from the extremity of the mines, to the pit bottoms or mouths of the mines, or in dragging that mineral there by means of hutches or hurleys along the underground roads. Muscular strength in a female, - not beauty, - was the grand qualification by which she was estimated, and a strong young woman was sure of finding a husband readily. There is an old Scotch saying, "She is like the collier's daughter, better than she is bonny," - proving the value put upon this description of female excellence.
The females generally took the part of drawers or haulers, in the labours of the mine, until a few years ago, when the present Lord Ashley and others brought their degraded condition before Parliament, when an Act was obtained prohibiting their being so employed any longer, under severe penalties to be inflicted on their employers. But such were the inveterate habits of the females themselves, and their total want of knowledge of any other occupation, that they clung pertinaciously to their old employment; and being seconded by the cupidity of many of the coal-masters, it required a great deal of exertion on the part of Government, and its superintendents, to break up the old system of female labour in the mines. Indeed, the poor women, finding themselves unfit for other employment, often eluded the overseers, and stole into the mines dressed in men's clothes, in order to gain a few days' wages for the sake of bare subsistence; and it was frequently a matter of debate whether it was more of the nature of a hardship, than of a relief, to prohibit them from working in the mines, seeing that it deprived them of the means of subsistence. Perhaps the innovation ought to have been introduced more gradually than it was. It is only a few years ago since the Duke of Hamilton's managers were cited before the sheriff at Stirling, and fined, for employing females at the Redding Coalworks.
Your Grace, from what I have now stated, and from the very few years that have elapsed since the above referred-to change took place, may easily conceive what, even at this time, the moral condition of the untaught wives and daughters of the colliers still is, and how much requires to be done to raise them to the ordinary status of the other labouring classes of their sex in this country.
With respect to the condition of the male collier population, which is made up of the old collier race, the Irish immigrants, and the worst Scotch of other counties, it has till of late been to a considerable extent rude, vulgar, ignorant, and savage in the extreme. Much, however, has been recently done by the coalmasters and the Government Inspectors to reform this portion of the population, yet a great deal more requires to be done for their improvement. At present they have frequent strikes, or cessations from work for a rise of wages, and remain sometimes for weeks, and even months, idle. They also restrict their labour to 6, 7, or 8 hours a day, and even to so few as 4 days' labour in the week, or 24 hours per week, while they spend their spare time in idleness and dissipation, in drinking, cock-fighting, dog-baiting, poaching, quarrelling, card-playing, and other kinds of mischief, while their families are left to starve or prowl about begging for subsistence.
Low as the state of education and morals was amongst the aboriginal collier population during their slavery, it has since sunk still lower, owing to the vast influx of Irish of the lowest grade from Connaught. The great increase of the iron trade in this part of Scotland, i.e. Lanarkshire, where the number of iron blast furnaces has been augmented, since the year 1806 to this date, from 14 to 90, and the coal mining from a few pits, comparatively speaking, to no less than nearly 200, has occasioned this immigration into it; and owing to the great demand for miners when the iron trade was prosperous, extravagant wages were given to induce them to settle in this county.
This vast accession of the Irish population, mixed up as it has been with the old collier serf population, is producing a new race or cross breed of people, far more turbulent and improvident than the former race, and who threaten to displace a great portion of the lower orders of the middleward of Lanarkshire entirely, and to burden this district with a barbarous horde of paupers, unless the evil is speedily arrested : and to show how fast this population is increasing amongst us, I may mention that the three mining parishes of Old Monkland, New Monkland, and Bothwell, have increased within my remembrance, down to 1841, when the last population list was made up-
|The 1st from . . . . .||4,000 to 19, 709 souls|
|The 2nd from . . . . .||4,613 to 20,511 souls|
|The 3rd from . . . . .||2,707 to 11,175 souls|
|Together . . . . .||11,320 to 51,395 souls|
- and the same has still further increased since 1841, and will go on to do so at an accelerated ratio, owing, among other causes, to the very early marriages of this description of population, who form their matrimonial connections at the early age of 16 and upwards (their dirty and improvident habits forming no barrier thereto), and thus transmit their own low degree of mind and morals to a numerous progeny, and so perpetuate the evil.
Much has no doubt been done of late years by the owners and tacksmen of mines in Lanarkshire towards educating their people who became operative miners, and that has been attended with considerable success; but what I should wish to be specially remarked by your Grace is, that far less good has been effected in regard to the rising part of the female than of the male generation. Indeed, the general feeling of the masters in favour of the education of the males is now so strong, that, so far as it can be effected without difficulty, there is a probable chance of the boys and youths being pretty generally taught to read English, to write, and to keep accounts, and to make some simple arithmetical calculations. But it appears that hitherto the public attention and that of the masters of mines has not, to the same extent, been directed to the education of the young females of the mining districts, and it is to this deficient condition in point of education that I now beg to draw your Grace's special attention. I am sure your Grace is well aware that it is the mother who has the early tuition of youth, and who gives them their mother-tongue, and also their first and most lasting impressions.
Upon these grounds I think it may be fairly presumed that by attention to the proper education of the female population of the mining districts, a mighty change for the better might be effected through them on the other sex without much difficulty, and that by their means the condition of the working collier might be elevated from what it now is to a much higher position.
I therefore propose that in addition to the schools now established in the mining districts, and which are chiefly for indiscriminate use, an equal number of schools, at least, should be established and set apart for the sole purpose of educating girls and young women, supplied by well-educated, able, respectable, and well-remunerated female teachers, and in these the scholars should learn-
3rd. Arithmetic and keeping accounts.
4th. The elements of religious and moral knowledge, and the advantage of abstinence from drinking, &c.
5th. Cooking and baking of victuals, fitted for the food of labourers, and in the cleanest and most economical way.
6th. Washing and habits of cleanliness, both in person, furniture, and houses.
7th. The making of their own and children's apparel, and mending clothes for both sexes, young and old.
8th. Knitting of stockings and other trades befitting females.
9th. Sewing, spinning, tambouring lace, &c.
And, lastly, I attach the greatest importance, next to sound religious and moral principles, to the habit of cleanliness both as to their persons and bed-clothes and household furniture ; and all such other domestic arrangements as may fall under their charge in after life either as mistress or servant.
For each of these schools there should be provided a small select library of books fit for the scholars.
Let us see how far the result of such a system of female education would benefit the mining districts.
In the first place, the young women themselves would be raised from their present degraded situation, and would become useful members of society, - their morals would be preserved in a pure state, - their personal appearance would be improved, - they would become dutiful children to their parents, kind sisters to their brothers, good servants to their mistresses, agreeable acquaintances to their companions, virtuous, endearing wives to their husbands, and exemplary parents to their children ; and above all, their houses and their homes would prove so much more agreeable to the inmates than heretofore, that the father, the husband, or the son, would seldom, comparatively, think of deserting their own firesides to seek for personal gratification or enjoyment in the ale-house, the spirit-shop, or the tavern, nor fall into bad company, nor spend their money in drinking and dissipation. In short, domestic comfort would, to a great extent, wean the men from bad habits of every kind, for where else would they find themselves so happy as at home, and in their own houses, when well regulated ?
In the second place, the improved condition of the females would react on the males. The latter would become sober, steady workmen; they would labour 5 1/2 days per week in place of only 4 days; they would enjoy better health, and earn higher wages by performing much more labour, and at a cheaper rate than they do at present. Fewer hands would require to be employed, the owners of mines would obtain a higher lordship for their minerals, and the coal and iron masters would draw greater profits from the working of the mines and other works, and such a saving would follow as would be the means of lowering the prices of coal, and thereby greatly increase its consumption; and also enable the ironmasters to produce iron at such prices as would greatly extend its use at home, and its exportation to foreign parts. In short, all of these parties would be great gainers by the change in a pecuniary point of view (to an extent according to an estimate 1 have made, of at least 15 per cent, amongst them), while the character and condition of the miners themselves and their families would be greatly ameliorated. Moreover the increase of pauperism in the mining districts, which is now progressing with fearful rapidity, and threatening the ruin of property of all kinds, would be effectually arrested. That object of itself, when attained, would be of the most vital importance to the public at large.
In the mining departments of France, Germany, and Belgium, great progress has been made in improving the moral condition of the women, and so late as 1849 a work designed for the use of the poorer classes, particularly miners, was published in Paris, 'The Manual of a Christian Workman,' under the sanction of the Archbishop of Paris ('Manuel de 1'Ouvrier Chretien, avec approbation de Monseigneur l'Archeveque de Paris'), a translation of which might be found of great use amongst the operative Catholic females and males in Lanarkshire.
Should your Grace feel disposed to act as patroness of the scheme, and to take an interest in the subject, I shall be ready to draw up a plan for carrying the system of female education into effect,- a system which I am sure the Marchioness of Douglas and the ladies of the county in general will heartily join with you in promoting. In fine, your Grace may depend upon it, that you have it now in your power to make such an important moral and economical movement in the right direction, as will not only be successful throughout the Hamilton estates and the whole of this quarter of Scotland, but also extend its influence to the population, and contribute to the prosperity, of all the mining districts of the United Kingdom, and further, redound at the same time to your own honour, and prove a source of private satisfaction to yourself, as having been the means of conferring an inestimable benefit on a destitute portion of the human race, and at the same time of contributing very materially to individual and national wealth and prosperity.
Nor can I, when reviewing the inestimable benefit that, under Providence, must arise, from carrying those plans into effect, to an immense and rapidly increasing population, which from neglect has been allowed to sink into a state of moral and spiritual destitution, urge the consideration too strongly upon your Grace. I feel, at the same time, that no argument is necessary to you beyond the mere statement of the facts which, in this letter, I have ventured to bring under your notice.
Finally, let me add, that your Grace and the other ladies of Lanarkshire are, under Providence, invested with an immense power, indeed far greater than you can possibly foresee or conceive, which, if wielded with due energy and sound judgement, will lead to the most important and favourable results, not only to a large body of a hitherto too much neglected and ill-regulated mass of your fellow creatures, but also to their immediate superiors and the public at large.
I have the honour to be, with the very highest respect,
My Lady Duchess, Your most obedient, humble, and faithful servant,
(Signed) ROBERT BROWN.
To her Grace the Duchess of Hamilton, &c. &c.