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pit, to hurry, and when the child was exhausted it was carried home, stripped and put to bed.”
John Ibbotson, another witness, says, “I have been forty-five years in the pits, and I knew a man, called Joseph Canthrey, who sent a child in at four years, and there are many who go to
thrust behind, at that time, and many more at five : but it is soon enough for them to go at nine or ten, and the sooner they go in, the sooner their constitution is mashed up.""
The Commissioners say that the proprietors seemed reluctant to acknowledge the truth in regard to the age of the children, but that the practice of sending them to the mines at this early age, is “as universal as it is barbarous." One case is recorded in which a child was regularly taken to the pit-work at three years of age. After the infant had worked itself into exhaustion, it was thrown upon the damp coal until night, when its father went home. And it was also stated, that “out of thirty children employed in six pits in the Halifax district, seventeen are between five and nine years of age.”
Says Mr. Fletcher, one of the Sub-commissioners: “In the smaller collieries of the Oldham district, which had only thin strata, varying in thickness from eighteen inches to twenty-four, children are employed so early as six, five, and even four years of age. Some are so young, that they go even in their bed-gowns. One little fellow, whom I endeavoured to question, could not even articulate."
like works. The pits are altogether worked by boys. Si. The elder one lies on his side, and in that posture na holes and gets the coal. It is then loaded in a
barrow or tub, and drawn along the bank of the pit mouth, without wheels, by boys from eight to twelve years of age, on all fours, with dog belts
and chains, the passages being very often an inch fee or two thick in black mud, and are neither ironed Orte nor wooded. In Mr. Barne's pit these poor boys bustivhave to drag the barrows with one cwt. of coals The sixty times a day sixty yards, and the empty
barrows back, without once straightening their a backs, unless they stand under the shaft and run med the risk of having their heads broken by a coal ies, falling."-Again he says, “out of five children I me examined who worked in the Brampton pits, three in rere not only bow-legged, but their arms were bet ved in the same way; and their whole frame
red far from being well developed.”
he says, “must be carried on, of
ployed, as in most other districts, mess. I can never forget the xture of this class that I met about eight years old, who
ed with an expression of
The condition of these children, and the labour they perform. It would seem impossible even for avarice itself to contrive a plan by which the soft muscles of infants could be coined into gold. But it has been done most effectually. No individual miner is allowed to do more than a certain quantity of work, but for every child he introduces into the mine a farther allowance of work is awarded to him, and the consequence is, children are put to hurry-a technical term for pushing or drawing trucks of coal through the narrow seams where adults cannot get-almost as soon as they can go by themselves.
From a remark of the commissioners, it would seem that the regulation which thus stints the labour of the parent and offers him a premium for that of his infant, is attributable to the coal own: ers. If it were not, the stern demands of necessity and the calls of hunger, would compel the poor miner to enslave his children to brutalizing toil, rather than see them utterly starvę.
But one would suppose that even if tender children were forced up to hard labour, yet still they would not be condemned to the most prostrating and destroying kind; but, on the contrary, the work required of them is often of the most horrible description. Mr. Fellows, one of the sub-commis: sioners gives the following graphic picture :
“I wish to call the attention of the board to the pits about Brampton. The seams are so thin that several have only two feet headway to all the works. The pits are altogether worked by boys. The elder one lies on his side, and in that posture holes and gets the coal. It is then loaded in a barrow or tub, and drawn along the bank of the pit mouth, without wheels, by boys from eight to twelve years of age, on all fours, with dog belts and chains, the passages being very often an inch or two thick in black mud, and are neither ironed nor wooded. In Mr. Barne's pit these poor boys have to drag the barrows with one cwt. of coals sixty times a day sixty yards, and the empty barrows back, without once straightening their backs, unless they stand under the shaft and run the risk of having their heads broken by a coal falling." --Again he says, “out of five children I examined who worked in the Brampton pits, three were not only bow-legged, but their arms were bowed in the same way; and their whole frame appeared far from being well developed."
Another commissioner in describing the Halifax miners, draws this melancholy picture.
56 The narrowness of the space in which all the operations," he says, “must be carried on, of course materially influences the labour of the children and young persons. Fortunately few children are needed in them as trappers; but those that are employed, as in most other districts, sit in perfect darkness. I can never forget the first unfortunate creature of this class that I met with. It was a boy about eight years old, who looked at me as I passed with an expression of