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The Young Communicants
ART. I.-THE LOWELL OFFERING; a Repository of
Original Articles. Written by Females employed in the Mills. Lowell, Mass.: printed by A. Watson, 14, Central Street.
of manufactures has for some time seemed inevitable, and with it a great change in the social structure and habits of our labouring classes. The congregating of large masses substituted for home employment, the consequent lessening of domestic ties and parental influence,—the exposure to temptation,—the early independence,-all seemed fraught with danger. The increasing interest felt in the welfare of the poorer classes, and the greater knowledge of their sufferings and vices, made more apparent at least, if not increased, by their assemblage in large towns, filled the friends of humanity with fears, which could be allayed only by a firm trust that a just Providence could not have made the prosperity of one class of society dependant on the degradation of another; and that if to become a manufacturer be a breach of no moral law, it must also be beneficial to the masses that there should be operatives. Our Father has so connected the lot of his children together, that all apparent progress must be hollow and deceptive, which is made at the expense of our brethren. His Providence is one continued war with, and lesson against, selfishness, and he has made it impossible for a narrow selfish policy permanently to prosper.
We had long believed, we might almost say we had known,. that the operatives in a cotton manufactory in the country, under
VOL. IÙ. No. 15.–New Series,
masters feeling a natural interest in the welfare of their workpeople, were perhaps the most favourably circumstanced of our labouring population, both with respect to intellectual and moral improvement, and to physical comforts. But how far the population of our large manufacturing towns (and our manufactures are likely to gather more and more into large towns,) could be placed under sufficiently favourable circumstances to counteract the evils at present existing in them, was a subject of anxious though not hopeless thought.
The publication at the head of this article has been read by us with so much interest and so much pleasure, in relation to this subject, that we are tempted to enter into a somewhat full examination of it.
A periodical consisting entirely of contributions from females, is in itself a novelty, but one exclusively from female operatives, occupied in manual labour twelve hours each day, was indeed unlooked for, and was taken up by us at first, rather as a phenomenon to excite curiosity than from any stronger feeling.
The light thrown by it on the situation, feelings and views of the American operatives, the extent of cultivation implied by the number of contributors, (about fifty,) and the variety of their subjects, the healthy tone of feeling throughout the work, the right views of labour, of happiness, and of wherein consist the advantages of knowledge,—all this interested us so strongly, as to make us inquire further respecting Lowell and its inhabitants, the result of which we will lay before our readers, and thus, as far as we can, enable those connected with our manufacturing population at home to judge how far any elements of good can be transplanted here.
We are aware of some grievous differences between the situation of English and American operatives. As our fathers sowed we must reap. Their jealousy of their neighbours led them into war; they anticipated our resources to carry on those wars; and each class sought by monopolies to secure advantages to itself. While we suffer the varied evils arising from their enmity, injustice and selfishness, let us not lose the lesson, but remember, that under a moral government, national suffering is the necessary consequence of national sin, and that it is in the exercise of the opposite virtues we must seek the remedy.
Lowell, the principal seat of the American cotton manufacture, is a town of Massachusetts, of recent growth, the first mill commencing operations only in 1823. Prior to that date it consisted of three or four houses and an hotel, being a place