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town for the first time from the eminence at the terminus of the Liverpool railways, and saw the forest of chimneys pouring forth volumes of steam and smoke, forming an inky canopy which seemed to embrace and involve the entire place. I felt that I was in the presence of those two mighty and mysterious agencies, fire and water, proverbially the best of servants and the worst of masters; and I felt eager to discover how their powers could be employed to the uttermost, and the perils of their ascendency at the same time averted. Sure I was that such physical agencies, developed before me to a startling extent, must exercise a most important influence over the social, the intellectual, and the moral condition of the community; and I resolved to study their effects in order to discover whether they were productive of good or evil, believing them equally potent for either. Years have passed away since that morning, but repeated visits to Manchester have not weakened the effects of that first impression. These visits, however, have enabled me to correct many hasty errors and mistakes; and I think it right to point out some of these corrections, not because I feel any particular pleasure in the exposure of my own blunders, but because my example may serve to prevent others from falling into similar errors.

Like most strangers, I formed at the first an unfavourable opinion of Manchester and the Factory system, because I estimated both by an inapplicable

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standard,—by the results of previous reading and experience. A second error was that I was disposed to regard factories as modes of social existence placed upon their trial,—to be retained if they were found worthy, and to be rejected if they were proved to be injurious. It was scarcely possible to have made two greater errors at the very outset of my investigations ; so long as their influence continued, I was perplexed by the most simple facts, and incapable of discovering their most obvious relations. A great step was gained when I comprehended that the subject I proposed to examine was an

established innovation." The Factory system is a modern creation; history throws no light on its nature, for it has scarcely begun to recognise its existence; the philosophy of the schools supplies very imperfect help for estimating its results, because an innovating power of such immense force could never have been anticipated. The steamengine had no precedent, the spinning jenny is without ancestry, the mule and the power-loom entered on no prepared heritage: they sprang into sudden existence like Minerva from the brain of Jupiter, passing so rapidly through their stage of infancy that they had taken their position in the world and firmly established themselves before there was time to prepare a place for their reception. These potent novelties also made their appearance in a land already crowded with institutions: the force and rapidity with which they developed themselves dislocated all the existing machinery of society, disturbed its very framework, and must necessarily produce, as they have produced, a considerable amount of confusion and suffering until the difficult task of re-adjustment is completed. A giant forcing his way into a densely-wedged crowd extends pain and disturbance to its remotest extremity: the individuals he pushes aside push others in their turn, though none know the cause of pres sure save those with whom the intruder is immediately in contact; and thus also the Factory system causes its presence to be felt in districts where no manufactures are established : all classes are pressed to make room for the stranger, and all are interested in knowing something of what is thus forced upon their acquaintance. Antecedent to any inquiry it would be well to recognise the Factory system as what statesmen call un fait accompli ; it exists, and must continue to exist; it is not practicable, even if it were desirable, to get rid of it; millions of human beings depend upon the Factories for their daily bread, - were there heads sufficiently bold and hearts sufficiently hard to propose their extermination, where are the hands by which the sanguinary decree could be executed ?

It would be absurd to speak of Factories as mere abstractions, and consider them apart from the manufacturing population that population is a reality, and cannot be neglected with impunity. As a stranger passes through the masses of human beings which have been accumulated round the mills and print-works in this and the neighbouring towns, he cannot contemplate these “crowded hives” without feelings of anxiety and apprehension almost amounting to dismay. The population, like the system to which it belongs, is new; but it is hourly increasing in breadth and strength. It is an aggregate of masses, our conceptions of which clothe themselves in terms that express something portentous and fearful. We speak not of them indeed as of sudden convulsions, tempestuous seas, or furious hurricanes, but as of the slow rising and gradual swelling of an ocean which must, at some future and no distant time, bear all the elements of society aloft upon its bosom, and float them--Heaven knows whither. There are mighty energies slumbering in those masses : had our ancestors witnessed the assemblage of such a multitude as is poured forth every evening from the mills of Union Street, magistrates would have assembled, special constables would have been sworn, the riot act read, the military called out, and most probably some fatal collision would have taken place. The crowd now scarcely attracts the notice of a passing policeman, but it is, nevertheless, a crowd, and therefore susceptible of the passions which may animate a multitude.


The most striking phenomenon of the Factory system is, the amount of population which it has suddenly accumulated on certain points : there has been long a continuous influx of operatives into the manufacturing districts from other parts of Britain; these

men have very speedily laid aside all their old habits and associations, to assume those of the mass in which they are mingled. The manufacturing population is not new in its formation alone : it is new in its habits of thought and action, which have been formed by the circumstances of its condition, with little instruction, and less guidance, from external sources. It may be matter of question whether the circumstances surrounding the manufacturing labourer are better or worse than those belonging to the agricultural condition, but there can be no doubt that the former are preferred by the operative. In the present severe pressure of commercial distress there are scores, and probably hundreds of workmen, whom the authorities would gladly send back to their parishes if they could bring them legally under the designation of paupers, but these men submit to the pressure of hunger, and all its attendant sufferings, with an iron endurance which nothing can bend, rather than be carried back to an agricultural district. However severe the condition of the manufacturing operative may be, there is a something behind which he dreads more: he clings to his new state with desperate fidelity, and faces famine rather than return to the farm. The Factory system is, therefore, preferred to the more usual conditions of labour by the population which it employs, and this at once ensures its permanence as a formative element of society, and at the same time renders its influence directly efficacious on character.

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