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I was there that from three dollars to three-and-a-half a week were paid to the women, of which they paid one dollar and twenty-five cents for their board. As this would not fully cover the expense of their keep, twenty-five cents a week for each was also paid to the boarding-house keepers by the mill agents. This substantially came to the same thing, as it left the two dollars a week, or eight shillings, with the girls over and above their cost of living. The board included washing, lights, food, bed, and attendance,-leaving a surplus of eight shillings a week for clothes and saving. Now let me ask any one acquainted with Manchester and its operatives, whether that is not Utopia realized. Factory girls, for whom every comfort of life is secured, with 21l. a year over for saving and dress! One sees the failing, however, at a moment. It is Utopia. Any Lady Bountiful can tutor three or four peasants and make them luxuriously comfortable. But no Lady Bountiful can give luxurious comfort to half-a-dozen parishes. Lowell is now nearly forty years old, and contains but 40,000 inhabitants. From the very nature of its corporations it cannot spread itself. Chicago, which has grown out of nothing in a much shorter period, and which has no factories, has now 120,000 inhabitants. Lowell is a very wonderful place and shows what philanthropy can do; but I fear it also shows what philanthropy cannot do.
There are, however, other establishments, conducted on the same principle as those at Lowell, which have had the same amount, or rather the same sort, of success. Lawrence is now a town of about 15,000 inhabitants, and Manchester of about 24,000,-if I remember rightly ;-and at those places the mills are also owned by corporations and conducted as are those at Lowell. But it seems to me that as New England takes her place in the world as a great manufacturing country-which place she undoubtedly will take sooner or later-she must abandon the hot-house method of providing for her operatives with which she has commenced her work. In the first place, Lowell is not open as a manufacturing town to the capitalists even of New England at large. Stock may, I presume, be bought in the corporations, but no interloper can establish a mill there. It is a close manufacturing community, bolstered up on all sides, and has none of that capacity for providing employment for å thickly-growing population which belongs to such places as Manchester and Leeds. That it should under its present system have been made in any degree profitable reflects great credit on the managers; but the profit does not reach an amount. which in America can be considered as remunerative. The
total capital invested by the twelve corporations is thirteen million and a half of dollars, or about two million seven hundred thousand pounds. In only one of the corporations, that of the Merrimack Company, does the profit amount to 12 per cent. In one, that of the Boott Company, it falls below 7
per cent. The average profit of the various establishments is something below 9 per cent. I am of course speaking of Lowell as it was previous to the war. American capitalists are not, as a rule, contented with so low a rate of interest as this.
The States in these matters have had a great advantage over England. They have been able to begin at the beginning. Manufactories have grown up among us as our cities grew; from the necessities and chances of the times. When labour was wanted it was obtained in the ordinary way; and so when houses were built they were built in the ordinary way. We had not the experience, and the results either for good or bad, of other nations to guide us. The Americans, in seeing and resolving to adopt our commercial successes, have resolved also, if possible, to avoid the evils which have attended those
It would be very desirable that all our factory girls should read and write, wear clean clothes, have decent beds, and eat hot meat every day. But that is now impossible. Gradually, with very up-hill work, but still I trust with sare work, much will be done to improve their position and render their life respectable; but in England we can have no Lowells. In our thickly populated island any commercial Utopia is out of the question. Nor can, as I thinź, Lowell be taken as a type of the future manufacturing towns of New England. When New England employs millions in her factories, instead of thousands,-the hands employed at Lowell
, when the mills are at full work, are about 11,000,-she must cease to provide for them their beds and meals, their church-going proprieties and orderly modes of life. In such an attempt she
has all the experience of the world against her. But nevertheless I think she will have done much good. The tone which she will have given will not altogether lose its influence. Employment in a factory is now considered reputable by a farmer and his children, and this idea will remain. Factory work is regarded as more respectable than domestic service, and this prestige will not wear itself altogether out. Those now employed have a strong conception of the dignity of their own social position, and their successors will inherit much of this, even though they may find themselves excluded from the advantages of the present Utopia. The thing has begun well, but it can only be regarded as a beginning. Steam, it may be presumed, will become the motive power of cotton mills in New England as it is with us; and when it is so, the amount of work to be done at any one place will not be checked by any such limit as that which now prevails at Lowell. Water-power is very cheap, but it cannot be extended; and it would seern that no place can become large as a manufacturing town which has to depend chiefly upon water. It is not improbable that steam may be brought into
. general use at Lowell, and that Lowell may spread itself. If it should spread itself widely, it will lose its Utopian characteristics.
One cannot but be greatly struck by the spirit of philanthropy in which the system of Lowell was at first instituted. It may be presumed that men who put their money into such an undertaking did so with the object of commercial profit to themselves; but in this case that was not their first object. I think it may be taken for granted that when Messrs. Jackson and Lowell went about their task, their grand idea was to place factory work upon a respectable footing,—to give employment in mills which should not be unhealthy, degrading, demoralizing, or hard in its circumstances. Throughout the northern States of America the same feeling is to be seen. Good and thoughtful men have been active to spread education, to maintain health, to make work compatible with comfort and personal dignity, and to divest the ordinary lot of man of the sting of that curse which was supposed to be uttered when our first father was ordered to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow. One is driven to contrast this feeling, of which on all sides one sees such ample testimony, with that sharp desire for profit, that anxiety to do a stroke of trade at every turn, that acknowledged necessity of being smart, which we must own is quite as general as the nobler propensity. I believe that both phases of commercial activity may be attributed to the same characteristic. Men in trade in America are not more covetous than tradesmen in England, nor probably are they more generous or philanthropical. But that which they do, they are more anxious to do thoroughly and quickly. They desire that every turn taken shall be a great turn, -or at any rate that it shall be as great as possible. They go ahead either for good or bad with all the energy they have. In the institutions at Lowell I think we may allow that the good has very much prevailed.
I went over two of the mills, those of the Merrimack corporation, and of the Massachusetts. At the former the printing
establishment only was at work; the cotton-mills were closed. I hardly know whether it will interest any one to learn that something under half-a-million yards of calico are here printed annually. At the Lowell bleachery fifteen million yards are dyed annually. The Merrimack cotton-mills were stopped, and so had the other mills at Lowell been stopped, till some short time before my visit. Trade had been bad, and there had of course been a lack of cotton. I was assured that no severe suffering had been created by this stoppage. The greater number of hands had returned into the country, to the farms from whence they had come; and though a discontinuance of work and wages had of course produced hardship, there had been no actual privation,-no hunger and want. Those of the workpeople who bad no homes out of Lowell to which to be. take themselves, and no means at Lowell of living, had received relief before real suffering had begun. I was assured, with something of a smile of contempt at the question, that there had been nothing like hunger. But, as I said before, visitors always see a great deal of rose colour, and should endeavour to allay the brilliancy of the tint with the proper amount of human shading. But do not let any visitor mix in the browns with too heavy a hand!
At the Massachusetts cotton-mills they were working with about two-thirds of their full number of hands, and this, I was told, was about the average of the number now employed throughout Lowell. Working at this rate they had now on hand a supply of cotton to last them for six months. Their stocks had been increased lately, and on asking from whence, I was informed that that last received had come to them from Liverpool. There is, I believe, no doubt but that a considerable quantity of cotton has been shipped back from England to the States since the civil war began. I asked the gentleman, to whose care at Lowell I was consigned, whether he expected to get cotton from the South,--for at that time Beaufort in South Carolina had just been taken by the naval expedition. He had, he said, a political expectation of a supply of cotton, but not a commercial expectation. That at last was the gist of his reply, and I found it to be both intelligent and intelligible. The Massachusetts mills, when at full work, employ 1300 females and 400 males, and turn out 540,000 yards of calico
On my return from Lowell in the smoking car, an old man came and squeezed in next to me. The place was terribly crowded, and as the old man was thin and clean and quiet I
willingly made room for him, so as to avoid the contiguity of a neighbour who might be neither thin, nor clean, nor quiet. He began talking to me in whispers about the war, and I was suspicious that he was a Southerner and a Secessionist. Under such circumstances his company might not be agreeable, unless he could be induced to hold his tongue. At last he said, “I come from Canada, you know, and you,-you're an Englishman, and therefore I can speak to you openly;" and he gave me an affectionate grip on the knee with his old skinny hand. I suppose I do look more like an Englishman than an American, but I was surprised at his knowing me with such certainty. “There is no mistaking you,” he said, " with your round face and your red cheeks. They don't look like that here," and he gave me another grip. I felt quite fond of the old man, and offered him a cigar.
THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN.
We all know that the subject which appears above as the title of this chapter is a very favourite subject in America. It is, I hope, a very favourite subject in England also, and I am inclined to think has been so for many years past. The rights of women, as contradistinguished from the wrongs of women, has perhaps been the most precious of the legacies left to us by the feudal ages. How amidst the rough darkness of old Teuton rule women began to receive that respect which is now their dearest right, is one of the most interesting studies of history. It came, I take it, chiefly from their own conduct. The women of the old classic races seem to have enjoyed but a small amount of respect or of rights, and to have deserved as little. It may have been very well for one Cæsar to have said that his wife should be above suspicion; but his wife was put away, and therefore either did not have her rights, or else had justly forfeited them. The daughter of the next Cæsar lived in Rome the life of a Messalina, and did not on that account seem to have lost her "position in society," till she absolutely declined to throw any veil whatever over her propensities. the Roman empire fell, chivalry began. For a time even chivalry afforded but a dull time to the women. During the musical period of the troubadours, ladies, I fancy, had but little to amuse them save the music. But that was the beginning, and from that time downwards the rights of women have progressed very favourably.