London Labour and the London Poor, volume 3

Mayhew, Henry
1851

The Ballast-Heavers.

The Ballast-Heavers.

OF these I can at present give but a general description. The individual instances of oppression that I have sought out I must reserve for a subsequent page, when I most heartily hope that the publication of the iniquity of which these poor fellows are the victims, will be at least instrumental in putting an end to a most vile and wicked plan for the degradation and demoralization of our fellow-creatures. The tales I have to tell are such as must rouse every heart not positively indurated by the love of gain. I must, however, be here content, as I said before, with merely describing the system.

The duty of the ballast-heaver is to heave into the holds of the ship the ballast brought alongside the vessel by the Trinity-lighters from the dredging-engines. The ships take in ballast either in the docks or in the Pool. When the ship is cranky-built, and cannot stand steady after a portion of her cargo has been discharged, she usually takes in what is called shifting or stiffening ballast. The ballast is said to stiffen a cranky vessel, because it has the effect of making her firm or steady in the water. The quantity of ballast required by cranky vessels depends upon the build of the ships. Sixty tons of cargo will stiffen the most cranky vessel. I am informed by those who have been all their lives at the business, that they never knew a vessel, however cranky, but what 60 tons" weight would stiffen her. Some vessels are so stiff-built, that they can discharge the whole of their cargo without taking in any ballast at all. These are generally flatbot- tomed vessels, whereas cranky vessels are built sharp towards the keel. The colliers are mostly flat-bottomed vessels, and could in calm weather return to the north without either ballast or cargo in them. This, how- ever, is not allowed by the owners. The generality of ships discharge all their cargo before they take in any ballast. The crankybuilt ships form the exception, and begin taking in ballast when they are about threeparts discharged. When a ship requires ballast, the owner or one of his agents or servants applies to the Trinity House for the quantity needed. If the ship belong to the merchant service, and is lying in any of the docks, the owner has to pay 1s. 7d. per ton to the Trinity Company for the ballast supplied: but if the merchant vessel be lying in the Pool, then the price is 1s. 3d. per ton, and if the vessel be a collier, the price is 1s. per ton. On application being made at the Ballast Office, the party is supplied with a bill, specifying the name and situation of the vessel, the quantity of ballast required for her, and the price that has been paid for it. The bill is then taken to the Ruler"s Office, where it is entered in a book, and the ship supplied with the ballast, according to the place that she has on the books. If the weather is rough, a ship has often to remain three or four days without receiving the ballast she wants. The application for ballast is seldom made directly from the captain or shipowner himself. There are parties living in the neighbourhood of Wapping and Ratcliffe who undertake, for a certain sum per score of tons, to have the requisite quantity of ballast put aboard the ship. These parties are generally either publicans, grocers, butchers, lodging-house-keepers or watermen, and they have a number of labourers dealing with them whom they employ to heave the ballast on board. The publicans, butchers, grocers, or lodging-house-keepers, are the ballast-contractors, and they only employ those parties who are customers at their houses. It is the owner or captain of the vessel who contracts with these "truckmen" for the ballasting of the ship at a certain price per score of tons, and the truckmen for that sum undertake not only to procure the ballast from the Trinity Company, and save the owner or captain all the trouble of so doing, but also to carry it from the Trinity-lighters on board the ship. The reason of the publicans, grocers, butchers, or lodging-house-keepers, undertaking the job is to increase the custom at their shops, for they make it a rule to employ no heavers but those who purchase their goods from them. The price paid to these truckmen varies considerably. Their principal profit, however, is made out of the labourers they employ. The highest price paid to the contractors for putting the ballast on board colliers (exclusive of the cost of the ballast itself) is 10s. per score tons. Many contractors charge less than this—not a few indeed undertake to do it for 9s., and there are one or two who will do it for 8s. the score. But these, I am informed, "are men who are trying to get the work away from the other contractors." The highest price paid to the contractors for ballasting small merchant vessels is 12s. per score as well. For large vessels the price varies according to their size, and, consequently, the number of heavers required to put the ballast on board. The lowest price paid per score to the contractors for small merchant vessels is 10s. Eight or nine years ago the price for ballasting small merchant vessels was much higher. Then the highest price paid to the contractor was 15s. Since that time the prices both for merchant vessels and colliers have been continually falling. This, I am told, arises from the number of contractors increasing, and their continual endeavours to underwork one another. Before the establishment of the Coal-whippers" Office, the contractors for ballast were solely publicans; and they not only undertook to put ballast on board, but to deliver the coals from the ships as well. At this time the publicans engaged in the business made rapid and large fortunes, and soon became shipowners themselves, but after the institution of the Coal-whippers" Office, the business of the publicans, who had before been the contractors, declined. Since that period the contracts for ballasting ships have been undertaken by butchers and grocers, as well as publicans, and the number of these has increased every year, and according as the number of the contractors has increased, so have the prices decreased, for each one is anxious to undersell the other. In order to do this, the contractors have sought everywhere for fresh hands, and the lodginghouse- keepers in particular have introduced labouring men from the country, who will do the work at a less price than those who have been regularly brought up to the business: and I am credibly informed, that whereas nine or ten years ago every ballast-heaver was known to his mates, now the strangers have increased to such an extent that at least two-thirds of the body are unacquainted with the rest. There is treble the number of hands at the work now, I am told, to what there was but a few years back. The prices paid by the contractors to the ballast-heavers are very little below what the owners pay to them, indeed some of the publicans pay the heavers the same price that they themselves receive, and make their profit solely out of the beer and spirits supplied to the workmen. The butchers and grocers generally pay the men 6d. and some 1s. in the score less than they themselves get; but, like the publican, their chief profit is made out of the goods they supply. The lodging-house-keepers seldom contract for the work. They are generally foremen employed by the publican, butcher, or grocer contracting, and they make it a rule that the ballast-heavers whom they hire shall lodge at their house, as well as procure their beer, meat, or grocery, as the case may be, from the shop of the contractor by whom they are employed. All the English ships that enter the port of London are supplied with ballast in this manner. The owners always make it a rule to contract with some publican, butcher, grocer, or lodging-house-keeper for the ballasting of their vessels, and it is impossible for the ballast-heaver to obtain employment at his calling but by dealing at the shops of some or other of these parties. According to the Government returns there were 170 ballast-heavers in the metropolis in 1841, and I am assured that there are more than double that number at present, or nearly 400 labourers engaged in the business. There are now 27 publicans who make a regular business of contracting for the supply of ballast. Besides these there are four butchers, the same number of grocers, and as many lodging-house keepers. Further than this, there is a foreman attached to each of the public-houses, or butchers" or grocers" shops, and these foremen are mostly lodging--house--keepers as well. The foremen in general have the engagement of the heavers, and the first hands they employ are those who lodge at their houses: these hands are expected also to deal with the contractor under whose foreman they serve. The heavers generally, therefore, are obliged to lodge at the house of some foreman, and to obtain their meat, beer, and grocery from the different ballast-contractors, in order to obtain work; indeed, with the exception of clothing, the heaver is compelled to obtain almost every article he consumes through the medium of some contractor. The greater the number of contractors the heaver deals with, the greater is his chance of work. The rule with each of the contractors is to give credit to the hands they employ, and those who are the most in debt with them have the preference in labour. The butchers and grocers generally charge 1d. per lb. extra for everything they sell to the heavers, and the publicans make it up in adulteration. Each of the publicans, butchers, and grocers, who make a rule of contracting for the supply of ballast, has, on an average, two gangs of men dealing at his house, and if he have more ships to supply than his regular hands are capable of doing, then he sends the foreman to either of the places of call where the unemployed men wait for hire throughout the day. Each ship requires from four to six heavers to put the ballast on board, and the men generally ship about 50 tons in the course of the day. They often do as much as 100 tons, and sometimes only 20 in the day. The heavers are divided into constant and casualty men.

The constant men are the first gang working out of the public-house, or butchers" or grocers" shops. The constant men with the publicans are those that are the best customers. "If they didn"t drink," said my informant, "they"d be thought of very little use. These constant men make three times as much as the casualty men, or, in other words, they have three times as much to drink. Generally, one-fifth part of what the publican"s constant men earn is spent in drink. The casualty men are those who belong to no regular houses; but these, if taken on by a publican, are expected to spend the same amount in drink as the constant men. There are no ballast-heavers who are teetotalers. "Indeed it would be madness," says my informant, "for a man to think of it, for to sign the pledge would be entirely to deprive himself and his family of bread.

To complete the different classes of ballastlabourers, I will conclude with the statement of a casualty man:—

I am about 57," (said my informant, who was 6 feet high, and looked like a man far older than 57,) "and have been 35 years a ballast-heaver, with the exception of seven or eight years, when I had the care of some horses used in coal-waggons. When I first knew the trade, earnings was good. I might clear my 1l. a-week. On that I brought up four sons and one daughter—all now married. At that time, I mean when I first worked at ballast-heaving, the men were not so much employed by publicans and other tradesmen. A gang of men could then get work on their own account, a good deal easier than they can get it now through the tradesmen who supply the ballast. As the trade got more and more into the hands of the publicans and such-like, it grew worse and worse for such as me. We earned less, and were not anything like to call free men. Instead of my 1l. I had to stir myself to make 15s. or as low as 12s. a-week. Lately I have been what is called a casualty man. There"s constant men and casualties. Each publican has a foreman to look out, and get men, and see after them. These foremen —all of them that I know of—keeps lodgers, charging them 2s. 6d. or 3s. a-week for a room they could get but for this tie, for 2s.—ay, that they could. Suppose now a publican has a ship to supply with ballast, he acquaints his foreman, and the foreman calls on his lodgers, and sets them to work. These are the constant men. They have always the first turn out of the house. If they return from work at 4, and there"s another job at 5, they get it. That"s interest you see, sir. The more such men earn this way, the more they"re expected to spend with the publican. It"s only bad stuff they have to drink at a full price. It"s only when all the constant men are at work, and a job must be done at once, that me, and such as me, can get work. If I hear of a chance of a job I call on the foreman. If I have money, why, I must drink myself, and treat the foreman with a drop of gin, or what he fancies. If I haven"t the money, I have the worse chance for a job. Suppose I get a job and earn 6s. out of 60 tons of ballast; out of that 6s. I may have 4s., or, at most, 4s. 6d. to take home with me, after paying for what I must drink at the publican"s —what I"m forced to spend. Casualty men have sad trouble to get any work. Those that belong to the houses have all the call. Last week I was on the look-out every day, and couldn"t get a single job, nor earn a single farthing. Last night I had to get a bite of supper at my son"s, and a bite of breakfast this morning as well, and I had to borrow a pair of shoes to come out in. The best week"s work I"ve had this winter was 15s. I had five days in one ship. For that five days I was entitled, I fancy, to 20s., or may be 21s., so that the difference between that and the 15s. went for drink. I only wanted a pint of beer now and then at my work—two or three a day. The worst of it is, we don"t get drink at our work so much as at the public-house we"re employed from. If we want to go home, some of the constant men want to have more and more, and so the money goes. Other weeks I have carried home 10s., 8s., 5s., and many a week nothing, living as I could. It would be a deal better for poor men, like me, if tradesmen had nothing to do with ballast work. If the men that did the work were paid by the gentlemen what wants the ballast, there might then be a living for a poor man. As it is, it"s a very bad, hateful system, and makes people badly off. A ballast-man may sit in a tap-room, wet, and cold, and hungry, (I"ve felt it many a time,) and be forced to drink bad stuff, waiting to be paid. It always happens, unless they"re about shutting up, that we have to wait. We have no sick-fund or benefit societies. I declare to you, that if anything happened to me—if I was sick—I have nothing to call my own but what I"ve on; and not all that, as I"ve told you—and there"s nothing but the parish to look to. (Here the man somewhat shuddered.) I pay 2s. a-week rent. Then again, sir, there"s the basket-men at the docks—all the docks. They"re as bad to the poor man as the publican, or worse. The way they do is this. They"re not in any trade, and they make it their business to go on board ships—foreign ships—American generally. In better times, twenty or twentyfive years ago, there used to be 1s., and as high as 1s. 6d. paid for a ton from such ships to a gang of six ballast-men. I"ve earned six, seven, and eight shillings a-day myself then. We heaved the ballast out of the lighters with our shovels on to a stage, and from that it was heaved into the hold. Two men worked in the lighter, two on the stage, and two in the hold of the vessel. The basket-men manage to fill the hold now by heaving the ballast up from the lighter in baskets by means of a windlass. The basket-man contracts with the captain, and then puts us poor men at the lowest rate he can get; he picks them up anywhere, anything in the shape of men. For every half-crown he pays these men he"ll get 9s. for himself, and more. An American liner may require 300 tons of ballast, and, maybe, a captain will give a basket-man 8d. a-ton: that would be 10l. The basket-man employs six men, and he makes another. He never works himself—never—not a blow: but he goes swaggering about the ship when his men are at work, and he"s on the look-out in the streets at other times. For the 10l. he"ll get for the 300 tons, he"ll pay his men each 2s. 6d. for 60 tons, that is 3l. 15s., and so there"s 6l. 5s. profit for him. Isn"t that a shame, when so many poor men have to go without dinner or breakfast? There"s five basket-men to my knowledge. They are making money all out of poor men that can"t help themselves. The poor suffers for all.

In order to assure myself of the intensity of the labour of ballast-heaving, of which I heard statements on all sides, I visited a gang of men at work, ballasting a collier in the Pool. My engagements prevented my doing this until about six in the evening. There was a very dense fog on the river, and all along its banks; so thick was it, indeed, that the water, which washed the steps where I took a boat, could not be distinguished, even with the help of the adjacent lights. I soon, however, attained the ballast-lighter I sought. The ballast-heavers had established themselves alongside a collier, to be filled with 43 tons of ballast, just before I reached them, so that I observed all their operations. Their first step was to tie pieces of old sail, or anything of that kind, round their shoes, ankles, and half up their legs, to prevent the gravel falling into their shoes, and so rendering their tread painful. This was rapidly done; and the men set to work with the quiet earnestness of those who are working for the morrow"s meal, and who know that they must work hard. Two men stood in the gravel (the ballast) in the lighter; the other two stood on "a stage," as it is called, which is but a boarding placed on the partition-beams of the lighter. The men on this stage, cold as the night was, threw off their jackets, and worked in their shirts, their labour being not merely hard, but rapid. As one man struck his shovel into the ballast thrown upon the stage, the other hove his shovelful through a small porthole in the vessel"s side, so that the work went on as continuously and as quickly as the circumstances could possibly admit. Rarely was a word spoken, and nothing was heard but an occasional gurgle of the water, and the plunging of the shovel into the gravel on the stage by one heaver, followed instantaneously by the rattling of the stones in the hold shot from the shovel of the other. In the hold the ballast is arranged by the ship"s company. The throwing of the ballast through the porthole was done with a nice precision. A tarpaulin was fixed to prevent any of the ballast that might not be flung through the porthole being wasted by falling into the river, and all that struck merely the bounds of the porthole fell back into the lighter; but this was the merest trifle. The men pitched the stuff through most dexterously. The porthole might be six feet above the stage from which they hove the ballast; the men in the lighter have an average heave of six feet on to the stage. The two men on the stage and the two on the lighter fill and discharge their shovels twelve times in a minute; that is, one shovelful is shot by each man in every alternate five seconds; so that every one of the four men engaged at the work flings the height of 36 feet every minute, or 2160 feet in an hour; and in that time, according to the concurrent computation of the heavers, the four men may easily fling in 10 tons, or 5600 lbs. a man, The men work with the help of large lanterns, being employed mostly by night.

I shall now state the sentiments of the men generally, and then individually, upon the subject of their grievances.

To be certain as to the earnings of the men, to see their condition, and to hear from a large number of them their own statements as to the hardships they suffered, and the sums they gained, I met two bodies of the ballast-heavers, assembled without prear- rangement. At one station 50 were present, at the other 30. The men were chiefly clad in coarse, strong jackets; some of them merely waistcoats, with strong, blue flannel sleeves, and coarse trowsers, thick with accumulated grease from long wear. They had, notwithstanding their privations, generally a hardy look. There was nothing squalid in their appearance, as in that of men who have to support life on similar earnings with in-door employment. Their manners were quiet, and far from coarse. At the first meeting 50 were present. One man said, "Well, I think I am the oldest man at present, and I don"t get above 5s. a-week; but that"s because I"m an old man, and cannot work with the young ones." Upon an average the common men earned 10s. a-week the year through, and took home 5s. I inquired, "Are you all compelled to spend a great part of all you earn in drink with the publican?" The answer was simultaneously, "All of us—all—all!" Of the remainder of their earnings, after the drink deductions, the men were all satisfied they spent so much, that many only took 2s. 6d. a-week home to their wives and families on an average. Last week two earned 20s., the publican taking 10s. from each. Three earned 15s.; one of these took 1s. 6d. home, the other 3s., both working for publicans; the third, who worked for a grocer, took home 13s.; the other 2s. being spent in tea and sugar, he being a single man. Three earned 10s.; one, working for a publican, carried home 6s., the difference going in compulsory drink; another 4s., and another 5s. Six did one load of ballast, receiving 7s. 6d. each for it; one took home 4s. 11d.; another 6s. 6d. (a private job); another, who did a load for 5s. 3d., took home 2s. 3d.; the other two took home 5s. each. One man earned 3s., and took it all home, having worked at a private job for a foreigner. Fifteen earned nothing in the course of the last week. For the last fortnight nine had earned nothing. There were nine present that had earned something in the last three weeks. "The fortnight before Christmas," said one, "I didn"t earn 5s. all that fortnight." "Nor I, nor I," said several others. On being asked, "Are you compelled to spend half of your earnings in drink?" there was a general cry of, "More than that, sir; more than that." I asked if men were forced to become drunkards under this system; there was a general cry of, "We are; and blackguards, too." Seventeen were married men. Of them, 3 had no children; 3 had one child; 4 had 2 children; 2 had 3; 3 had 4; one had 5; one had 6. The men all said, that to get away from the publican would be "a new life to them— all to their benefit—no force to waste money in drink—and the only thing that would do them good." Many threw away the drink they had from the publicans, it was so bad; they drank Thames water rather. They were all satisfied "they earned 10s. a-week the year through, spending of that sum what they must spend, and what they were induced to spend, from 5s. to 7s. 6d. a-week." "Another thing," they said, "if you get a job, the publican will advance 1s.—now and then he may. They hate to give money; there"s trnst for as much grog as you like." All hailed with delight the least possible chance of being freed from the publican. One man said he was compelled often enough to pawn something of his own or his wife"s to go and spend it at the publichouse, or he would have no chance of a job. All declare "such a system never was known to have been carried on for years." Many said, "We shall be discharged if they know we have told you the truth." They stated that the ballast-heavers numbered between 300 and 400. There were 60 craft, each requiring 4 heavers; and many men were idle when all the others were at work. Thirty were present when I counted the other meeting. A man said there might be three times that number looking for work then, and as many at work belonging to that station alone. In 1841 the census returns showed that there were 170 ballast-heavers; the men assembled declared that their numbers had more nearly trebled than doubled since then. Within the last two or three years many new hands had got to work, on account of the distress in Ireland. The men agreed with the others I had seen that they earned, one week with another, 10s., taking home but 5s. at the outside, and often only 2s. 6d. In answer to my questions they said, the winter is the best season; the trade is very slack in summer. Earnings in winter are pretty well double what they are in summer. Many agricultural labourers work among the heavers in winter, when they cannot be employed on the land. Of this body all said they were sober men till they took to ballast-heaving, and would like to become sober men again. (A general assent.) Three of the men had taken the pledge before becoming ballast-heavers, and were obliged to break it to get work. They had to drink five pots of beer, they declared, where, if they were free men, they would only drink one. When asked if the present system made drunkards, they answered with one voice, "All; every ballastheaver in it." Twenty were married men. All their wives and children suffered (this was affirmed generally with a loud murmur), and often had nothing to eat or drink while their husbands had but the drink. It was computed (with general concurrence) that 150 ballast-heavers paid foremen for lodgings, not half of them ever seeing the bed they paid for. About twelve years ago they could earn twice or three times as much as they can now; but prices were higher (12s. per score, for what is now 8s.), and the men were far less numerous. The following is a precise statement of the sums to which each ballast-heaver present was entitled, followed by the amount he had carried home the week before, after payment of his compulsory drinkings, and of what he might be induced to drink at the house of his employer while waiting to be paid:— Earned. Took home. £ 0 12 0 £ 0 7 6 0 7 0 0 3 6 0 15 0 0 9 0 0 12 0 0 6 0 0 13 0 0 4 0 0 11 0 0 5 0 0 5 0 0 2 6 0 8 0 0 5 0 0 9 6 0 5 0 1 0 0 0 10 0 0 12 6 0 3 6 1 0 0 0 9 0 0 12 0 0 4 0 0 15 0 0 9 0 0 15 0 0 8 6 0 16 0 0 6 0 0 15 0 0 5 0 Nothing Nothing " " " " " " 0 12 0 0 2 6 0 9 0 0 5 0 1 0 0 0 4 6 1 0 0 0 10 0 0 10 0 0 3 0 0 10 0 0 5 0 0 12 0 0 2 6 0 8 0 0 3 6 0 14 0 6 9 0 ---------- ---------- £ 16 13 0 £ 7 7 0

This statement shows, out of 11s. 1 1/2d. earnings, a receipt of less than 5s. a-week.

According to the returns of the Trinity Ballast-Heavers at Work in the Pool. [From a Sketch. House, there were 615,619 tons of ballast put on board 11,234 ships in the year 1848. The ballast-heavers are paid at the rate of 6d. per ton for shovelling the ballast out of the Trinity Company"s lighters into the holds of vessels. Hence, the total earnings of the ballast-heavers in that year were 15,390l. 9s. 6d. And calculating two-thirds (the men say they always get rid of a half, and often three-fourths, of their earnings in drink) of this sum to have been spent in liquor, it follows that as much as 10,260l. 6s. 4d. went to the publican, and only 5,130l. 3s. 2d. to the labouring men. According to this estimate of their gross earnings, if we calculate the body of the ballast-heavers as numbering 350 men, the average wages of the class are about 16s. 6d. per week each man; or if we reckon the class at 400, then the average wages of each person would be about 14s. 6d. per week. From all I can learn this appears to be about the truth—the earnings of the men being about 15s. a-week, and their real income about 5s.

The men shall now speak for themselves.

The first that I saw were two of the better class of foremen, who volunteered to give me an account of the system.

I am a foreman or ganger of the ballastheavers," said one. "I work under a man who is a publican and butcher; and I also work under another who is only a butcher. I, moreover, work under a grocer. I engage the different gangs of men for the parties under whom I work. I also pay the men. The publican, butcher, or grocer, as the case may be, agrees to give me 9s. a score tons. The foremen often give the men the same money as they themselves receive, barring a pot of beer or a quartern of gin that they may have out of the job. Some foremen take much more.

Another foreman, who was present while I was taking the statement of this man, here observed, that "Many foremen claim tow-tow, or a "fifth-handed" proportion—that is, they will have 10s. when the working men have only 5s. There is a great deal of imposition on the working-classes here, I can assure you; the general thing, when we go to a job out of a public-house is, that the publican expects the men to drink to the amount of 4s. out of every 1l., and 6s. out of every 30s. that"s coming to them—that is, one-fifth part of the men"s money must be spent in liquor. The drink is certainly not the best; indeed, if there is any inferior stuff they have it: it"s an obligation on them that they drink. If they refuse to drink, they won"t get employed, and that"s the plain truth of it. Oh, it"s long wanted looking to; and I"m glad at last to find some one inquiring into it. If they went to get the regular beer from the fair public-houses they would have to pay 3d. a pot for it; and at the contracting publicans" they must give 4d. a pot, and have short measure, and the worst of stuff too. Every six pots of beer they give to the men is only five pots fair measure; and the rum they charge them 2d. half-a-pint more than the regular public-houses would, and far worse rum into the bargain. Besides the profit on their drink, some publicans charge 6d. per score tons as well. Out of the money coming to the men after the publican has been paid his score, many foremen claim onefifth part over and above their regular share; or, in other words, the foremen takes two shares, and the men only one each. When the men have been paid, the publican paying them expects them to spend a further sum in drink, looking black at the man who goes away without calling for his pint or his pot, and not caring if they drink away the whole of their earnings. There"s a good many would be glad if the men sat in their houses and spent their last farthing, and then had to go home penniless to their wives and families."

"I am a "ganger" to a butcher as well as a publican," said one of the foremen. "His practice is just the same as the publican"s. He receives 10s. per score tons, and pays me for the men 9s. The men and myself are all expected to spend about one-half of our earnings with the butcher in meat. He charges 6 1/2d. per lb.; and at other houses, with ready money, I and the men might get it for 4d. as good. His meat is at least one-third dearer than other butchers". I am also ganger to a grocer, and he gets about the same profit out of the men he employs—that is to say, the articles he supplies the men with are at least one-third dearer than at other shops. If anything, he makes more out of the men than the butcher; for if any man goes a score (which he always encourages) he stops the whole out the man"s earnings, and often leaves him without a penny after the job is done. When the publican, grocer, butcher, or lodging-house keeper has a contract for ballast, he directs the foreman working under him to get together the gang that regularly work from his house. This gang are men who always deal at the shop, and the contractor would dismiss me if I was to engage any other men than those who were his regular customers. Many a time a publican has told me that some man was a good, hard drinker, and directed me to engage him whenever I could. If a man sticks up a score, he also tells me to put him on first of all: the grocer and the butcher do the same. This system is the cause, I know, of much distress and misery among the men; the publicans make the men drunkards by forcing them to drink. I know many wives and children who starve half their time through it. They haven"t a bit of shoe or clothing, and all through the publican compelling the men to spend their earnings in drink. After the gang is paid, at least three out of the four get drunk; and, often, the whole four. Many a time I have seen the whole of the men reel- ing home without a penny to bless themselves, and the wife and children have to suffer for all this; they are ill-treated and half-starved: this I can safely say from my own knowledge."

I next saw two men, who stated that they were oppressed by the publican, and the foreman also. The first said, "I work under a publican, and have to pay the foreman onefifth of my earnings; I only have fourpence out of every shilling I earn, and I must be a sober man indeed to get that. Both the publican and the foreman get eightpence out of a shilling, and make their money out of my sweat. Nine years ago I was left, to my sorrow, with nine motherless children, and I am the slave of the publican. He is my destruction, and such--are my sufferings, that I don"t care what I do if I can destroy the system; I shall die happy if I can see an end to it. I would go to bed supperless to-night, and so should my children, if I could stop it. After I have had a job of work, many"s the time I have not had a penny to take home to my children, it has all gone betwixt the foreman and the publican; and what is more, if I had brought anything home I should have stood a worse chance of work the next day. If I had gone away with sixpence in my pocket, the work that should have come to me would have gone to those who had spent all in the house. I can solemnly say that the men are made regular drunkards by the publicans. I am nine-and-twenty years dealing with this oppression, and I wish from my heart I could see an end to it, for the sake of my children and my fellow-creatures" children as well. But I suffer quite as much from the foreman as I do from the publican. I am obliged to treat him before I can get a job of work. The man who gives him the most drink he will employ the first. Besides this, the foreman has two-fifth parts of the money paid for the job; he has twice as much as the men if he does any of the work; and if he does none of the work he takes one-fifth of the whole money: besides this, the men do three times the foreman"s labour. If I could get the full value of my sweat, I could lay by to-morrow, and keep my family respectably. In the room of that, now, my family want bread often—worse luck, for it hurts my feelings. I have been idle all to-day; for hearing of this, I came to make my statement, for it was the pride of my heart to do all that I could to put an end to the oppression. The publicans have had the best of me, and when the system is done away with I shan"t be much the better for it. I have been nine-and-twenty years at it, and it has ruined me both body and soul; but I say what I do for the benefit of others, and those who come after me."

The other man said that he worked under a publican, and a grocer as well, and lodged with a foreman. "I pay 2s. a week for my lodgings," he said; "there are two beds in the room, and two men in each. The room where we all sleep is not more than seven feet long by five feet wide, and barely seven feet high. There is no chimney in it. It is a garret, with nothing in it but the two beds. There hadn"t need be much more, for it wouldn"t hold even a chair besides. There"s hardly room, in fact, for the door to open. I find it very close sleeping there at night-time, with no ventilation, but I can"t help myself. I stay there for the job of work. I must stay; I shouldn"t get a day"s work if I didn"t. The lodgings are so bad, I"d leave them to-morrow if I could. I know I pay twice as much as I could get them for elsewhere. That"s one way in which I, for one, am robbed. Besides this, I am obliged to treat the foreman; I am obliged to give him two glasses of rum, as well as lodging at his house, in order to get employment. I have also to drink at the public-house; one-fifth of my money is kept, first and foremost, by the publican. That goes for the compulsory drink—for the swash which he sends us on board, and that we think the Thames-water is sweet and wholesome to it. It is expressly adulterated for our drink. If we speak a word against it we should be left to walk the streets, for a week and more forward. Even if we were known to meet a friend, and have a pint or a pot in another public-house, we should be called to an account for it by the publican we worked under, and he would tell us to go and get work where we spent our money; and, God knows, very little money we would have coming out of his house after our hard sweat. After the compulsory drink, and the publican has settled with us, and his fifth part of our hardearned money for the swash—it"s nothing else—that he has given us to drink, then I should be thought no man at all if I didn"t have two pots of beer, or half-a-pint of gin, so that I would count myself very lucky indeed if I had a couple of shillings to take home, and out of that I should have to spend twothirds of it to get another job. I am a married man, and my wife and three children are in Ireland. I can"t have them over, for it is as much as I can do to support myself. I came over here thinking to get work, and to send them money to bring them over after me, but since I have been here I have been working at the ballast-work, and I have not been able to keep myself. I don"t complain of what is paid for the work; the price is fair enough; but we don"t get a quarter of what we earn, and the Irish ballast-heavers suffer more here than in their own country. When I came over here I had a good suit of clothes to my back, and now I"m all in rags and tatters, and yet I have been working harder, and earning more money, that I did in all my life. We are robbed of all we get by the foremen and publicans. I was eight years a teetotaler before I went to ballast-work, and now I am forced to be a drunkard, to my sorrow, to get a job of work. My wife and children have a bit of land in Ireland to keep them, and they"re badly off enough, God knows. I can neither help them, nor send money to bring them over to me; nor can I get over to them myself. The grocers whom we work under rob us in the same manner. I have worked under one. He supplied bread, butter, tea, sugar, coffee, candles, tobacco, cheese, &c. It is a larger kind of chandlers" shop. He charges us 5 1/2d. for the same bread as I can buy for 4 1/2d. at other shops. The tea, sugar, and other articles he supplies us with are at the same rate; they are either worse or dearer than at other shops. They generally manage to get a fifth part of our earnings wherever we go; but the grocers are best of all, for they don"t ruin our health, as what they give us don"t make us sick. I work for these two houses because the foreman that I lodge with has work out of both houses, and we are obliged to deal at the houses that he works under; if we didn"t we shouldn"t get the job, so that if we are not robbed by the publican we are by the grocer. They will have it out of the poor hard-working man, and the foreman must have the gain out of it as well. I only wish to God it was done away with, for it is downright oppression to us all, and if I never have another stroke of work I will strive all I can to have it done away with for the sake of my fellow-men.

After these two cases came one who said,— "I have been three years a ballast-heaver. Just before that I came to this country. When I came I got to be a lodger with a foreman to a publican. I paid him 2s. 6d. a-week. My family, a wife and two children, came over when I had got work as a ballast-heaver. I couldn"t take them to the lodgings I then had; they were all for single men: so I had to take another place, and there I went to live with my family; but to keep my work I had to pay the foreman of the publican — him that lets these lodgings to the ballast-heaver— 2s. 6d. a-week all the same as if I had been living there. That I had, and I had to do it for two years. Yes, indeed. I didn"t earn enough to pay for two lodgings, so two or three months back I refused to pay the 2s. 6d. a-week for a place I hadn"t set my foot in for two years, and so I lost my work under that foreman and his publican. If me and my children was starving for want of a bite of bread, neither of them would give me a farthing. There"s plenty as bad as them, too, and plenty used like me, and it"s a murdering shame to tax poor men"s labour for nothing."

This man reiterated the constant story of being compelled to drink against his will, hating the stuff supplied to him, being kept for hours waiting before he was paid, and being forced to get drunk, whether he would or no. The man also informed me that he now works under a butcher, who pays 8s. a score to the hands he employs, he (the butcher) receiving from the captain 10s.

Suppose," he said, "I have a 60-ton job, I"d be entitled to 7s. 6d. without beer, or such-like; but under this butcher I get only 5s. 3d., and out of that 5s. 3d.—that"s all I get in hard money—I"m expected to spend 4s. or thereabouts in meat, such as he chooses to give. I have no choice; he gives what he likes, and charges me 6 1/2d. a-pound for what I could buy at 4d. in a regular way. Very inferior stuff he keeps. Working under a butcher, we must all live on this poor meat. We can"t afford bread or vegetables to it.

This same butcher, I was afterwards informed, had been twice fined for using false weights to customers, such as the man whose statement I have given; he even used wooden weights made to look like lead.

The following is an instance of the injustice done to the men by those who contract to whip rather than to heave the ballast on board.

I now work," said the man, whom I was referred to as an exponent of the wrong, "for Mr. ——, a publican who contracts to supply ships with ballast by the lump. He"ll contract to supply a ship with all the ballast she"ll want by the lump—that is, so much money for all she wants, instead of so much by the ton; or he may contract with a ship at 2s. 6d. a-ton. We—that is a gang of eight men—may put two loads or 120 tons on board in the course of a day. For those 120 tons he will receive 120 half-crowns, that"s 15l. For putting in those 120 tons we— that is, the eight ballast-heavers employed— receive 2s. 6d. a-day of 12 or 14 hours; that is 8 half-crowns or 20 shillings, with 3s. 6d. a-day for a basket-man, in addition to the eight, so leaving the publican a profit of 13l. 16s. 6d." I could hardly believe in the existence of such a system—yielding a mere pittance to the labourer, and such an enormous profit to the contractor, and I inquired further into the matter. I found the statement fully corroborated by many persons present; but that was not all I learned. When the men, by incessant exertion, get in 120 tons in a day, as they often do, nothing is charged them for the beer they have had, four or five pints a-day each; but if only 60 tons be got in, as sometimes happens, through the weather and other circumstances, then the men employed on the half-a-crown a-day must pay for their own beer and pay their private scores for treating a friend, or the like. "There"s no chance of a job," said my informant; "not a bit of it." He continued: "Very bad drink it is—the worst—it makes me as sick as a dog. There"s two brothers there what they call blood-hounds; they"re called so because they hunt up the poor men to get them to work, and to see that they spend their money at their employer"s public--house when work"s done. If you don"t spend something, no bread to cut the next morning—not a bit of it— and no chance of another job there. He employs us ballast-heavers, when we are not at the ballast, in backing coals into the steamers.

I have given the statement of a ballastheaver as to the system pursued by those whom he called basket-men. The employer here alluded to is one of that class, the difference being, that the ballast-heavers shovel the ballast out of the lighter on to the stage, and from the stage through a port-hole into the hold. Four men are thus employed, two on the lighter, and two on the stage. With a large ship five men are employed, and two stages. When the basket-man or the man contracting by the lump is employed, this process is observed:—There are two men in the lighter alongside the vessel to be ballasted, whose business it is to fill five baskets. There are five men at the winch aboard ship employed heaving up these baskets, and a basket-man to turn them over and empty out their contents.

To ascertain that there was no provident fund—no provision whatever for sickness—I investigated the case of a man who, in consequence of illness occasioned by his trade, was afflicted with a pulmonary complaint. This man was formerly one of the wine-cellarmen in the London Dock; he was then made a permanent man at the St. Katherine"s Dock, and was dismissed for having taken a lighted pipe in while at his work; and for the last fourteen years and upwards he has been a ballast-heaver. I now give his wife"s statement:—"My husband has been ill for three months, and he has been six weeks in Guy"s Hospital, and I am afraid he"ll never get out again, for he kept up as long as he could for the sake of the children. We have five at home; one of them (twelve years old) I hope to get to sea, having two older sons at sea, and being the mother of twelve children altogether. I will tcll you what led to my poor husband"s illness; he was a kind husband to me. I consider it was his hard work that made him ill, and his not getting his rights— not his money when entitled to it. After doing a heavy day"s work he had to go and sit in a cold tap-room, drinking bad beer; but it wasn"t beer—muck, I call it—and he had to wait to be paid, ay, and might have had to wait till the day after, and then come home cold and have to go to bed without a bit of victuals. His illness is owing to that; no horse could stand it long. Ballast-men are worse than slaves in the West Indies. When at work he earned what the others did. He only drank what he couldn"t help—the worst of stuff. No drink, no work. Six weeks ago she went to the hospital, I conveying him. When I returned home I found three strange men had turned my four children into the street, doing it in a brutal way. I rushed into the house, and one said, "Who are you?" I seized the fellow who said this by the hand kerchief, and put him out. One of them said, "Be off, you old Irish hag, you have no business here; we have possession." When I saw the children in the street, passion made me strong, and so I put him out. The collector of the rent, who employed the broker, is a publican, for whom my husband worked as a ballast-heaver until he was unable to work from illness. I was given into custody for an assault, and taken before Mr. Yardley. He considered the assault proved, and as an honest woman I couldn"t deny it, and so I had fourteen days with bread and water. The children were placed in the workhouse, where they were well treated. I was very glad they were so taken care of. As soon as I got out I went to see about my children; that was the first thing I did. I couldn"t rest till I did that. I brought them home with me, though it was only to bread and water, but I was with them. I only owed about 15s. rent, and had been four years in the house at the time the publican put the broker in. We paid 6s. 6d. a-week; it was no use asking such a man as that any mercy. He was in the habit of employing ballast-heavers for many years; and if that doesn"t harden a man"s heart, nothing will. In general these ballast publicans are cruel and greedy. At present I go out washing or charing, or doing anything I can to maintain my children, but work"s very slack. I"ve had a day and a-half this fortnight, earning 2s. 6d., that"s all for a fortnight; the parish allows me four loaves of bread a-week. The children, all boys, just get what keeps a little life in them. They have no bed at night, and are starved almost to death, poor things. I blame the system under which my husband had to work—his money going in drink—for leaving me destitute in the world. On Christmas-day we lived on a bit of workhouse bread—nothing else, and had no fire to eat it by. But for the money gone in drink we might have had a decent home, and wouldn"t so soon have come to this killing poverty. I have been tenderly reared, and never thought I should have come to this. May God grant the system may be done away with, for poor people"s sake."

I now give the statement of two women, the wives of ballast-heavers, that I may further show how the wives and families of these men are affected by the present system.

I have been 11 years married," said one, "and have had five children, four being now living.

The other woman had been married 23 years, but has no children living.

We are very badly off," said the woman with a family, "my husband drinking hard. When I first knew him—when we were sweethearts in a country part of Ireland—he was a farmlabourer and I was a collier"s daughter, he was a sober and well-behaved man. Two years after we were married, and he was a sober man those two years still. We came to London to better ourselves, worse luck. The first work he got was ballast-heaving. Then he was obligated to drink or he couldn"t get work; and so, poor man, he got fond of it. This winter oft enough he brings me and the children home 2s. or 1s. 6d. after a job; and on that we may live for two or three days,—we"re half starved, in course. The children have nothing to eat. It"s enough to tear any poor woman"s heart to pieces. What"s gone into the publican"s till would get the children bread, and bedding. and bits of clothes. Nothing but his being employed at ballast-heaving made him a drunkard, for he is a drunkard now. He often comes home and ill-uses me, but he doesn"t illuse the children. He beats me with his fists; he strikes me in the face; he has kicked me. When he was a sober man he was a kind, good husband; and when he"s sober now, poor man, he"s a kind, good husband still. If he was a sober man again with his work, I"d be happy and comfortable to what I am now. Almost all his money goes in drink.

"We can"t get shoes to our feet," said the second woman.

When my husband is sober and begins to think," (continued the first,) "he wishes he could get rid of such a system of drinking,— he really does wish it, for he loves his family, but when he goes out to work he forgets all that. It"s just the drink that does it. I would like him to have a fair allowance at his work, he requires it; and beyond that it"s all waste and sin: but he"s forced to waste it, and to run into sin, and so we all have to suffer. We are often without fire. Much in the pawn-shop do you say, sir? Indeed I haven"t much out.

"We," interposed the elder woman, "haven"t a stitch but what"s in pawn except what wouldn"t be taken. We have 50s. worth in pawn altogether—all for meat and fire."

"I can"t, I daren"t," the younger woman said, "expect anything better while the present system of work continues. My husband"s a slave, and we suffer for it."

The elder woman made a similar statement. After his score is paid, she said, her husband has brought her 4s., 3s., 2s., 1s., and often nothing, coming home drunk with nothing at all. Both women stated that the drink made their husbands sick and ill, and for sickness there was no provision whatever. They could have taken me to numbers of women situated and used as they were. The rooms are four bare walls, with a few pieces of furniture and bedding such as no one would give a penny for. The young woman was perfectly modest in manner, speech, and look, and spoke of what her husband was and still might be with much feeling. She came to me with a half-clad and half-famished child in her arms.

I then took, for the sake of avoiding repe- tition, the statements of two ballast-heavers together—constant men—working under different publicans. The account they gave me of the way in which the publicans contracted to ballast a ship was the same as I have given elsewhere.

I have been twenty years a ballast-heaver," said one, "and all that time I have worked for a publican, and haven"t a coat to my back. Twenty years ago the publicans had the same number of hands, but had more work for them, and I might then earn 20s. a-week; but I couldn"t fetch that home from the publican. He expected me to spend one-half of my earnings with him; and when I left his house drunk, I might spend the other half. I"ve drunk gallons of drink against my will. I"ve drunk stuff that was poison to me. I turned teetotaler about six months ago, and the publican, my employer, sacked me when he found it out, saying, "He"d be d——d if he"d have such men as me—he didn"t make his living by teototalers."

"Yes," added the other man, "and so my publican told me; for I turned teetotaler myself somewhere about seven years ago, and took the pledge from Father Mathew in the Commercial-road. The publican told me, that if Father Mathew chose to interfere with me, why Father Mathew might get employment for me, for he—that"s the publican— wouldn"t. So I was forced to break my pledge to live—me and my youngsters—I had six then, and I"ve buried two since."

"Work," resumed the man who first gave me the statement, "keeps getting worse. Last week I carried only 8s. home, and if I"d got paid by the captain of the ship for the amount of work I did, and on the same terms as the publican, I should have taken home at the very least 16s. The publican that employs us gives us only 8s. a-score, and receives 10s. from the captain. All the publicans don"t do this; some give what they get from the captain, but some publicans takes two-thirds, and that"s the truth. (The second man assented.) One week with another I"ve taken home, this winter, from 12s. to 13s., and but for this shameful starvation system, having to work for a publican"s profit, and to drink his drink, I"d take home my 20s. every week. It makes a man feel like a slave; indeed, I"m not much better. We should be in heaven if we got away from the publican or butcher either; it"s compulsion one"s life through. Some of the publicans have as many as sixty single men lodging in their houses, paying half-a-crown a-week; ay, and men that don"t lodge with them, when the house is full, must pay half-a-crown all the same, to get a job of work, as well as paying for the places where they do lodge."

The first man continued:—

The gin and rum is the worst that can be supplied; but we must drink it or waste it. We often spill it on the ballast, it"s that bad"—["Often, often," was the response of the other man.] "And that"s not the worst. When we get a job of putting sixty tons of ballast on board, we are forced to take six pots of beer with us to our work; but only four pots are supplied, and we must pay for six. We are robbed on every side. I cannot describe how bad it is; a man would hardly believe it; but all will tell you the same—all the men like us." [So, indeed, the poor fellows did afterwards.] "When we call to be paid, we are kept for hours in a cold tap-room, forced to drink cold stuff without being let have a strike of fire to take the chill off it.

The other man then made a further statement.

I"ve been forced to put my sticks in pawn—what I had left—for I was better off once, though I was always a ballast-heaver and have worked for the same publican fourteen years. I have 3l. in pawn now, I blame this present system for being so badly off— sorrow a thing else! Now just look at this: A single man, a lodger, will go into a publican"s and call for 1s. worth of rum, and the publican will call me a scaly fellow, if I don"t do the same; that will be when I"d rather be without his rum, if I got it for nothing." One publican (the men gave me this account concurrently, and it was fully confirmed by a host of others,) married the niece of a waterman employed to pull the harbour-master about the river. He kept a public-house, and carried on the system of lodgers for ballast-heaving, making a great deal of money out of them; by this means he got so much work at his command, that the rest of the publicans complained to the harbour-master, and the man was forced to give up his public-house. When he had to give it up he made it over to his niece"s husband, and that man allowed him 1s. for every ship he brought him to ballast. I"ve known him— that"s the publican that succeeded the man I"ve been telling you of—have 40 ships in a day: one week with another he has had 100 ships; that"s 5l., and he has them still. It"s the same now. We"ve both worked for him. His wife"s uncle (the harbour-master"s waterman) says to the captains, and he goes on board to see them after the harbour-master"s visit to them,—Go to ——; get your ballast of him, and I"ll give you the best berth in the river."

I next obtained an interview with a young man who was the victim of a double extortion. He made the following statement:—

I work under a publican, and lodge in his house. I have done so for five years. I pay 2s. 6d. a-week, there being ten of us in two rooms. We"re all single men. These two rooms contain four beds, three in the larger room and one in the other. We sleep two in a bed, and should have to sleep three in some; only two of the men don"t occupy the lodgings they pay for. The bigger room may be 16 feet by 10; the smaller about a quarter that size. You cannot turn in it—the bed cannot be brought out of the room without being taken to pieces. We must cook in the tap-room, which is a room for the purpose; it contains forms and an old table, with a large grate. We are found fryingpans and gridirons, and pans, and fire, and candle; but we must find our own knives and forks. The room is shamefully dirty—I mean the tap (cooking) room. It looks as if it hadn"t been washed for years. It"s never been washed to my knowledge. The bed-rooms are very little better. The bedding is very bad—a flock bed, with a pair of blankets and quilt, and a sort of sheet clean once a-fortnight. There"s very bad ventilation and very unpleasant smells. It"s a horrid den altogether. None of us would stop there if we could help it—but we can"t help it, for if we leave we get no work. We are forced to find locks for our rooms, to keep our bits of things from being stolen. One man was robbed; my clothes was in the box with his; the box was broken open, but the clothes was left, and a few halfpence put away in the box was taken. There"s lots of bugs; we can only sleep after hard work, and we must drink when we"re at work. I"ve poured my beer into the river many a time, it was so bad—it tasted poisonous. We"ve drank Thames water rather than the bad beer we"re all forced to drink. To show how we"re treated I"ll tell you this: I owe so much, and so much a week"s stopped to pay it; but it never gets less, I am always charged the same. There it is, the same figures are on the slate, keep paying, paying off as you will. They won"t rub it off, or if they do rub it off it"s there again the next time. Only last week a man was discharged for grumbling, because he objected to paying twice over. He hasn"t had a day"s work since.

Then came one who was the employé of a publican and grocer. He said:

I work under a publican and grocer. I"m any man"s man. I stand with my fingers in my mouth at Ratcliff-cross watching, and have done it these last nine years. Half of us is afraid to come and speak to you. When I volunteered, the big-whiskered and fat-faced men (foremen) were looking at me and threatening me for coming to you. No matter, I care for nobody. Worse nor I am I can"t be. No more I can"t. I go to one publican"s to work 60 tons, and for that I get 4s., but 6s. is my rights. The remainder 2s. is left—I"m forced to leave it—for me to drink out on Sunday night. If I was in a fair house the publican would pay me 7s. 6d; as it is I get 4s. and 2s. must be drunk,—it"s the rule at that house—he"s in opposition and works low. If I was at liberty it wasn"t to his house I"d go for a drink. The hardest-drinking man gets work first, and when a man"s drunk he doesn"t care what stuff he puts into his belly. Before we go to a job the four of us are expected to drink half-a-pint of rum or gin; the publicans expect it. If I was a teetotaler I must pay my whack and the other men may drink it, for the score against the ship is divided among the men equal. Suppose two foremen were to meet and have a drop of rum or brandy together, and a little talk about a ship"s ballast, that"s charged to us poor fellows—it"s stuck up to us—but we mustn"t say nothing, though we know we never had a sup of it; but if we say a word it"s all up—no more work. Once on a time I worked for a publican close by here, and when I came to the house I had nothing to drink. My oldest mate whispered to me as we were on our way from the London Dock, and told me to speak my mind, for he knew there was a false score chalked against the ship; and the others was afraid to say a word. Well, I did speak when I got into the house, and the foreman was there, and he asked me what business I had to speak more than another? There was 6s. charged to the score for drink that we never touched or ever saw,—not a sup of it. He— that"s the foreman—told me I shouldn"t go to finish the ship; I said I would, in spite of him. I told the missus I expected she wouldn"t give any more drink but what we had ourselves, or would get when we came home; and she said she wouldn"t; and that"s two years ago; but I haven"t had a job from them parties since. Suppose I get to the public-house for my money at six in the evening, I am forced to wait there till eleven, until I am drunk very often—drunk from vexation; stopt when I"m hungry after five or six hours" work on the river, and not let take the money home to my wife and family, nor let have anything to eat, for I"m waiting for that money to get a bit of grub; but when I"m half drunk the hunger goes off just for a time. I must go and drink in a morning if my children go without breakfast, and starve all day till I come home at night. I can get nothing from my employers but drink. If I ask them for a shilling I can"t get it. I"ve finished my load of ballast without breaking my fast but on the beer we"re forced to take with us. I"ve found grocers better to work under than publicans,—there"s a great deal more honesty in them. They charge a middling fair price; but they"ll have tow-row out of it, —that"s dry money—so much a score. They"ll stop 6d. a score only for giving us a job. I can get as good sugar as I get of them at 4d. for 3 1/2d.; but then the difference between the grocer and publican is, that the wife and family can have a bit of something to eat under the grocer, but not under the publican. All goes in drink with the publican; but we cannot carry drink home. When I go home drunk from the publican"s, I tumble on the floor, perhaps, and say, "Is there anything to eat for me?" and my old woman says, "Where"s the money? give me that and I"ll give you something to eat." Then a man gets mad with vexation, and the wife and children runs away from him; they are glad to get away with their lives, they"re knocked about so. It makes a man mad with vexation to see a child hungry,—it kills me; but what the foreman gives me I must take; I dare never say no. If I get nothing—if all is gone in drink— I must go from him with a blithe face to my starving children, or I need never go back to him for another job.

I shall now set forth as fully as possible the nature of the system by which the ballastheaver is either forced by the fear of losing all chance of future employment, or induced by the hope of obtaining the preference of work from the publican, his employer, to spend at least one half of his earnings every week in intoxicating drinks. Let me, however, before proceeding directly to the subject of my present communication, again lay before the reader the conclusions which I lately drew from the Metropolitan Police returns for 1848, concerning the intemperance of the labouring classes of London. It is essential that I should first prove the fact, and show its necessary consequences. This done, the public will be more ready to perceive the cause, and to understand that until this and similar social evils are removed, it is worse than idle to talk of "the elevation of the masses," and most unjust, to use the mildest term, to condemn the working men for sins into which they are positively forced. To preach about the virtues of teetotalism to the poor, and yet to allow a system to continue that compels them to be drunk before they can get work—not to say bread—is surely a mockery. If we would really have the industrious classes sober and temperate men, we must look first, it seems, to their employers. We have already seen that the intemperance of the coal-labourer is the fault of the employer, rather than the man; but we have only to go among the ballast-labourers to find the demoralization of the working man arising, not from any mere passive indifference, but from something like a positive conspiracy on the part of the master.

According to the criminal returns for the metropolis, there were 9197 males and 7264 females, making altogether a total of 16,461 individuals, charged with drunkenness in the year 1848. This makes one in every 110 individuals in London a drunkard—a proportion which, large as it seems, is still less than onehalf what it was some ten or fifteen years back.

For the sake of comparison I subjoin, in the following page, a Table, taken from the Government Report on Drunkenness; being a return of the number of charges of drunkenness which have been entered upon the books of the Metropolitan Police in the years 1831, NUMBER OF CHARGES OF DRUNKENNESS EACH YEAR IN THE YEARS 1831, 1832, 1833. Locality of each Division. No. of Officers employed in each Division. Computed Population in each Division, according to the Parliamentary Returns. 1831. 1832. 1833. Public-Houses and Beer-Shops in each Division. Males. Females. Total. Males. Females. Total. Males. Females. Total. Public Houses. Beer- Shops. Total. A. Whitehall.... 120 6,238 406 230 636 384 243 627 371 228 599 32 5 37 B. Westminster . 168 53,147 1,596 800 2,396 1,829 831 2,660 1,864 1,193 3,057 186 58 244 C. St. James"s .. 188 105,862 2,290 1,127 3,417 2,119 1,055 3,174 2,208 1,256 3,464 302 20 322 D. St.Marylebone 166 122,206 1,375 727 2,102 1,300 650 1,950 1,019 605 1,624 148 54 202 E. Holborn .... 168 75,241 1,785 1,079 2,864 1,241 897 2,138 879 618 1,497 249 19 368 F. Covent Garden 168 41,010 2,238 1,555 3,793 2,165 1,617 3,782 1,665 1,388 3,053 309 28 332 G. Finsbury .... 236 115,266 2,141 1,423 3,564 2,192 1,440 3,632 1,916 1,270 3,186 368 100 468 H. Whitechapel . 191 119,042 1,253 812 2,065 1,631 1,268 2,899 1,803 1,295 3,098 359 102 461 K. Stepney .... 296 143,137 899 574 1,473 1,387 732 2,119 1,125 762 1,887 437 131 568 L. Lambeth .... 191 101,561 1,732 1,271 3,003 1,581 1,234 2,815 1,291 944 2,235 183 70 153 M. Southwark .. 189 107,537 1,655 1,050 2,705 1,470 982 2,452 1,284 843 2,127 321 66 387 N. Islington .... 269 140,407 850 373 1,223 1,165 573 1,738 826 409 1,235 267 144 311 P. Camberwell .. 243 77,825 256 87 343 201 75 276 203 80 283 138 96 234 R. Greenwich .. 212 58,778 363 137 500 513 240 753 418 210 628 283 51 334 S. Hampstead .. 223 112,136 573 301 874 613 326 939 697 319 1,016 138 74 212 T. Kensington .. 184 70,296 124 24 148 303 109 412 464 137 601 220 93 313 V. Wandsworth . 186 62,039 212 35 247 210 60 270 235 55 290 133 76 209 Total.. 3,398 1,511,728 19,748 11,605 31,353 20,304 12,332 32,636 18,268 11,612 29,880 4,073 1,187 5,155 1832, and 1833, with the number of officers employed in, and the locality of, each division: also the amount of population in each, according to the Parliamentary returns of 1831.

Now, comparing these returns with those of the year before last, we find that the decrease of intemperance in the metropolis has been most extraordinary. In the year 1831, 1 in every 48 individuals was drunk; in 1832 the number increased to 1 in 46; whereas in 1833 it decreased to 1 in 50; and in 1848 the average had again fallen to 1 individual to every 110. This decrease of intemperance was attended with a similar decrease in the number of metropolitan beer-shops. In 1833 there were 1182, and in 1848 only 779 beershops in London. Whether this decrease preceded or succeeded, and so was the cause or the consequence of the increased sobriety of the people, it is difficult to say. The number of public-houses in London, however, had increased during the same period from 4073 to 4275. Upon the cause and effect of this I leave others to speculate.

Of the total, 16,461 persons, male and female, who were charged with being intoxicated in the year 1848, no less than one individual in every seven belonged to the labouring class: and, excluding the females from the number, we shall find that, of the males, every fourth individual that was taken up for drunkenness was a labouring man. Taking the whole population of London, temperate and intemperate, only 1 in every 110 is a drunkard; but with the labouring classes the average is as high as 1 in every 22. Of course, where the habit of drinking is excessive, we may expect to find also excessive pugnacity. That it is the tendency of all intoxicating liquors to increase the irritability of the individual is well known. We might infer therefore, à priori, that the greater number of common assaults would be committed by the greatest drunkards. In 1848 there were 7780 individuals assaulted in London, and nearly onefourth of these, or 1882, were attacked by labouring men, one in every 26 of the entire body of labourers having been charged with this offence. The "simple larceny," of which the labouring classes appear, by the same returns, to be more guilty than any other body of individuals, is also explained by their inordinate intemperance. When a man"s bodily energy is destroyed by drink, labour is so irksome to him that he would sooner peril his liberty than work. What wonder, then, that as many as 1 in every 28 labourers should be charged with theft? Whereas, of the rest of the population there are only 1 in every 226 individuals. Thus, of the labouring classes, 1 in every 22 is charged with being drunk; 1 in every 26 with committing an assault; and 1 in every 28 with being guilty of simple larceny.

For the truth of the connexion existing between drink, pugnacity, and theft, I would refer to the statement of one of the most intelligent and experienced of the coal whippers,—one, indeed, to whose unceasing and heroic exertions that class principally owe their redemption:—"The children of the coal-whippers," he told me, "were, under the old system, almost reared in the tap-room." He himself had known as many as 500 youths that were transported; and this, be it remembered, out of a class numbering only 2000 men.

Such, then, are the proved consequences of an inordinate use of intoxicating liquors. It becomes, therefore, the duty of every one who is anxious for the well-being of the people, to diminish the occasions for drinking wherever possible. To permit the continuance of certain systems of employment and payment, which are well known, both to tempt and compel the men to indulge in intoxicating liquors, is at once to breed the very crimes that it is the office of Government to suppress. The custom pursued by the coal-merchants of paying the labourers in their employ in publichouses, as I lately exposed, appeared bad enough. The "backer," jaded and depressed with his excessive work through the day, was entrapped into the public-house in the evening, under the pretence of receiving his wages. Once inside he was kept waiting there hour after hour by the publican (who of course was out of silver, and had to send some distance for it). Beer is called for by the men in the meantime. Under the influence of the stimulant, the fatigue and the depression begin to leave the labourers, the burden that is still on their backs (it will be remembered that such is the description of the men themselves) is shaken off, and their muscles no longer ache and are stiff, but relax, while their flagging spirits gradually revive under the potent charm of the liquor. What wonder, then, that the poor creatures finding it so easy, and when the habit is once formed, so pleasant, a cure for their ills, should be led to follow up one draught with another and another? This system appeared to me to be vicious enough, and to display a callousness on the part of the employers that quite startled me. But the system under which the ballast-labourers are now suffering, is an infamy hardly to be credited as flourishing in these days. I have, therefore, been at considerable pains to establish such a mass of evidence upon the subject as shall make all earnest men look upon the continuance of such a system as a national dishonour.

OF these I can at present give but a general description. The individual instances of oppression that I have sought out I must reserve for a subsequent page, when I most heartily hope that the publication of the iniquity of which these poor fellows are the victims, will be at least instrumental in putting an end to a most vile and wicked plan for the degradation and demoralization of our fellow-creatures. The tales I have to tell are such as must rouse every heart not positively indurated by the love of gain. I must, however, be here content, as I said before, with merely describing the system.

The duty of the ballast-heaver is to heave into the holds of the ship the ballast brought alongside the vessel by the Trinity-lighters from the dredging-engines. The ships take in ballast either in the docks or in the Pool. When the ship is cranky-built, and cannot stand steady after a portion of her cargo has been discharged, she usually takes in what is called shifting or stiffening ballast. The ballast is said to stiffen a cranky vessel, because it has the effect of making her firm or steady in the water. The quantity of ballast required by cranky vessels depends upon the build of the ships. tons of cargo will stiffen the most cranky vessel. I am informed by those who have been all their lives at the business, that they never knew a vessel, however cranky, but what tons" weight would stiffen her. Some vessels are so stiff-built, that they can discharge the whole of their cargo without taking in any ballast at all. These are generally flatbot- tomed vessels, whereas cranky vessels are built sharp towards the keel. The colliers are mostly flat-bottomed vessels, and could in calm weather return to the north without either ballast or cargo in them. This, how- ever, is not allowed by the owners. The generality of ships discharge all their cargo before they take in any ballast. The crankybuilt ships form the exception, and begin taking in ballast when they are about threeparts discharged. When a ship requires ballast, the owner or of his agents or servants applies to the Trinity House for the quantity needed. If the ship belong to the merchant service, and is lying in any of the docks, the owner has to pay per ton to the Trinity Company for the ballast supplied: but if the merchant vessel be lying in the Pool, then the price is per ton, and if the vessel be a collier, the price is per ton. On application being made at the Ballast Office, the party is supplied with a bill, specifying the name and situation of the vessel, the quantity of ballast required for her, and the price that has been paid for it. The bill is then taken to the Ruler"s Office, where it is entered in a book, and the ship supplied with the ballast, according to the place that she has on the books. If the weather is rough, a ship has often to remain or days without receiving the ballast she wants. The application for ballast is seldom made directly from the captain or shipowner himself. There are parties living in the neighbourhood of and Ratcliffe who undertake, for a certain sum per score of tons, to have the requisite quantity of ballast put aboard the ship. These parties are generally either publicans, grocers, butchers, lodging-house-keepers or watermen, and they have a number of labourers dealing with them whom they employ to heave the ballast on board. The publicans, butchers, grocers, or lodging-house-keepers, are the ballast-contractors, and they only employ those parties who are customers at their houses. It is the owner or captain of the vessel who contracts with these "truckmen" for the ballasting of the ship at a certain price per score of tons, and the truckmen for that sum undertake not only to procure the ballast from the Trinity Company, and save the owner or captain all the trouble of so doing, but also to carry it from the Trinity-lighters on board the ship. The reason of the publicans, grocers, butchers, or lodging-house-keepers, undertaking the job is to increase the custom at their shops, for they make it a rule to employ no heavers but those who purchase their goods from them. The price paid to these truckmen varies considerably. Their principal profit, however, is made out of the labourers they employ. The highest price paid to the contractors for putting the ballast on board colliers (exclusive of the cost of the ballast itself) is per score tons. Many contractors charge less than this—not a few indeed undertake to do it for , and there are or who will do it for the score. But these, I am informed, "are men who are trying to get the work away from the other contractors." The highest price paid to the contractors for

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ballasting small merchant vessels is per score as well. For large vessels the price varies according to their size, and, consequently, the number of heavers required to put the ballast on board. The lowest price paid per score to the contractors for small merchant vessels is or years ago the price for ballasting small merchant vessels was much higher. Then the highest price paid to the contractor was Since that time the prices both for merchant vessels and colliers have been continually falling. This, I am told, arises from the number of contractors increasing, and their continual endeavours to underwork another. Before the establishment of the Coal-whippers" Office, the contractors for ballast were solely publicans; and they not only undertook to put ballast on board, but to deliver the coals from the ships as well. At this time the publicans engaged in the business made rapid and large fortunes, and soon became shipowners themselves, but after the institution of the Coal-whippers" Office, the business of the publicans, who had before been the contractors, declined. Since that period the contracts for ballasting ships have been undertaken by butchers and grocers, as well as publicans, and the number of these has increased every year, and according as the number of the contractors has increased, so have the prices decreased, for each is anxious to undersell the other. In order to do this, the contractors have sought everywhere for fresh hands, and the lodginghouse- keepers in particular have introduced labouring men from the country, who will do the work at a less price than those who have been regularly brought up to the business: and I am credibly informed, that whereas or years ago every ballast-heaver was known to his mates, now the strangers have increased to such an extent that at least -thirds of the body are unacquainted with the rest. There is treble the number of hands at the work now, I am told, to what there was but a few years back. The prices paid by the contractors to the ballast-heavers are very little below what the owners pay to them, indeed some of the publicans pay the heavers the same price that they themselves receive, and make their profit solely out of the beer and spirits supplied to the workmen. The butchers and grocers generally pay the men and some in the score less than they themselves get; but, like the publican, their chief profit is made out of the goods they supply. The lodging-house-keepers seldom contract for the work. They are generally foremen employed by the publican, butcher, or grocer contracting, and they make it a rule that the ballast-heavers whom they hire shall lodge at their house, as well as procure their beer, meat, or grocery, as the case may be, from the shop of the contractor by whom they are employed. All the English ships that enter the port of London are supplied with ballast in this manner. The owners always make it a rule to contract with some publican, butcher, grocer, or lodging-house-keeper for the ballasting of their vessels, and it is impossible for the ballast-heaver to obtain employment at his calling but by dealing at the shops of some or other of these parties. According to the Government returns there were ballast-heavers in the metropolis in , and I am assured that there are more than double that number at present, or nearly labourers engaged in the business. There are now publicans who make a regular business of contracting for the supply of ballast. Besides these there are butchers, the same number of grocers, and as many lodging-house keepers. Further than this, there is a foreman attached to each of the public-houses, or butchers" or grocers" shops, and these foremen are mostly lodging--house--keepers as well. The foremen in general have the engagement of the heavers, and the hands they employ are those who lodge at their houses: these hands are expected also to deal with the contractor under whose foreman they serve. The heavers generally, therefore, are obliged to lodge at the house of some foreman, and to obtain their meat, beer, and grocery from the different ballast-contractors, in order to obtain work; indeed, with the exception of clothing, the heaver is compelled to obtain almost every article he consumes through the medium of some contractor. The greater the number of contractors the heaver deals with, the greater is his chance of work. The rule with each of the contractors is to give credit to the hands they employ, and those who are the most in debt with them have the preference in labour. The butchers and grocers generally charge per lb. extra for everything they sell to the heavers, and the publicans make it up in adulteration. Each of the publicans, butchers, and grocers, who make a rule of contracting for the supply of ballast, has, on an average, gangs of men dealing at his house, and if he have more ships to supply than his regular hands are capable of doing, then he sends the foreman to either of the places of call where the unemployed men wait for hire throughout the day. Each ship requires from to heavers to put the ballast on board, and the men generally ship about tons in the course of the day. They often do as much as tons, and sometimes only in the day. The heavers are divided into constant and casualty men.

The constant men are the first gang working out of the public-house, or butchers" or grocers" shops. The constant men with the publicans are those that are the best customers. "If they didn"t drink," said my informant, "they"d be thought of very little use. These constant men make three times as much as the casualty men, or, in other words, they have three times as much to drink. Generally, one-fifth part of what the publican"s constant men earn is spent in drink. The casualty men are those who belong to no regular houses; but these, if taken on by a publican, are expected to spend the same amount in drink as the constant men. There are no ballast-heavers who are teetotalers. "Indeed it would be madness," says my informant, "for a man to think of it, for to sign the pledge would be entirely to deprive himself and his family of bread.

To complete the different classes of ballastlabourers, I will conclude with the statement of a casualty man:—

I am about 57," (said my informant, who was 6 feet high, and looked like a man far older than 57,) "and have been 35 years a ballast-heaver, with the exception of seven or eight years, when I had the care of some horses used in coal-waggons. When I first knew the trade, earnings was good. I might clear my 1l. a-week. On that I brought up four sons and one daughter—all now married. At that time, I mean when I first worked at ballast-heaving, the men were not so much employed by publicans and other tradesmen. A gang of men could then get work on their own account, a good deal easier than they can get it now through the tradesmen who supply the ballast. As the trade got more and more into the hands of the publicans and such-like, it grew worse and worse for such as me. We earned less, and were not anything like to call free men. Instead of my 1l. I had to stir myself to make 15s. or as low as 12s. a-week. Lately I have been what is called a casualty man. There"s constant men and casualties. Each publican has a foreman to look out, and get men, and see after them. These foremen —all of them that I know of—keeps lodgers, charging them 2s. 6d. or 3s. a-week for a room they could get but for this tie, for 2s.—ay, that they could. Suppose now a publican has a ship to supply with ballast, he acquaints his foreman, and the foreman calls on his lodgers, and sets them to work. These are the constant men. They have always the first turn out of the house. If they return from work at 4, and there"s another job at 5, they get it. That"s interest you see, sir. The more such men earn this way, the more they"re expected to spend with the publican. It"s only bad stuff they have to drink at a full price. It"s only when all the constant men are at work, and a job must be done at once, that me, and such as me, can get work. If I hear of a chance of a job I call on the foreman. If I have money, why, I must drink myself, and treat the foreman with a drop of gin, or what he fancies. If I haven"t the money, I have the worse chance for a job. Suppose I get a job and earn 6s. out of 60 tons of ballast; out of that 6s. I may have 4s., or, at most, 4s. 6d. to take home with me, after paying for what I must drink at the publican"s —what I"m forced to spend. Casualty men have sad trouble to get any work. Those that belong to the houses have all the call. Last week I was on the look-out every day, and couldn"t get a single job, nor earn a single farthing. Last night I had to get a bite of supper at my son"s, and a bite of breakfast this morning as well, and I had to borrow a pair of shoes to come out in. The best week"s work I"ve had this winter was 15s. I had five days in one ship. For that five days I was entitled, I fancy, to 20s., or may be 21s., so that the difference between that and the 15s. went for drink. I only wanted a pint of beer now and then at my work—two or three a day. The worst of it is, we don"t get drink at our work so much as at the public-house we"re employed from. If we want to go home, some of the constant men want to have more and more, and so the money goes. Other weeks I have carried home 10s., 8s., 5s., and many a week nothing, living as I could. It would be a deal better for poor men, like me, if tradesmen had nothing to do with ballast work. If the men that did the work were paid by the gentlemen what wants the ballast, there might then be a living for a poor man. As it is, it"s a very bad, hateful system, and makes people badly off. A ballast-man may sit in a tap-room, wet, and cold, and hungry, (I"ve felt it many a time,) and be forced to drink bad stuff, waiting to be paid. It always happens, unless they"re about shutting up, that we have to wait. We have no sick-fund or benefit societies. I declare to you, that if anything happened to me—if I was sick—I have nothing to call my own but what I"ve on; and not all that, as I"ve told you—and there"s nothing but the parish to look to. (Here the man somewhat shuddered.) I pay 2s. a-week rent.

Then again, sir, there"s the basket-men at the docks—all the docks. They"re as bad to the poor man as the publican, or worse. The way they do is this. They"re not in any trade, and they make it their business to go on board ships—foreign ships—American generally. In better times, twenty or twentyfive years ago, there used to be 1s., and as high as 1s. 6d. paid for a ton from such ships to a gang of six ballast-men. I"ve earned six, seven, and eight shillings a-day myself then. We heaved the ballast out of the lighters with our shovels on to a stage, and from that it was heaved into the hold. Two men worked in the lighter, two on the stage, and two in the hold of the vessel. The basket-men manage to fill the hold now by heaving the ballast up from the lighter in baskets by means of a windlass. The basket-man contracts with the captain, and then puts us poor men at the lowest rate he can get; he picks them up anywhere, anything in the shape of men. For every half-crown he pays these men he"ll get 9s. for himself, and more. An American liner may require 300 tons of ballast, and, maybe, a captain will give a basket-man 8d. a-ton: that would be 10l. The basket-man employs six men, and he makes another. He never works himself—never—not a blow: but he goes swaggering about the ship when his men are at work, and he"s on the look-out in the streets at other times. For the 10l. he"ll get for the 300 tons, he"ll pay his men each 2s. 6d. for 60 tons, that is 3l. 15s., and so there"s 6l. 5s. profit for him. Isn"t that a shame, when so many poor men have to go without dinner or breakfast? There"s five basket-men to my knowledge. They are making money all out of poor men that can"t help themselves. The poor suffers for all.

In order to assure myself of the intensity of the labour of ballast-heaving, of which I heard statements on all sides, I visited a gang of men at work, ballasting a collier in the Pool. My engagements prevented my doing this until about in the evening. There was a very dense fog on the river, and all along its banks; so thick was it, indeed, that the water, which washed the steps where I took a boat, could not be distinguished, even with the help of the adjacent lights. I soon, however, attained the ballast-lighter I sought. The ballast-heavers had established themselves alongside a collier, to be filled with tons of ballast, just before I reached them, so that I observed all their operations. Their step was to tie pieces of old sail, or anything of that kind, round their shoes, ankles, and half up their legs, to prevent the gravel falling into their shoes, and so rendering their tread painful. This was rapidly done; and the men set to work with the quiet earnestness of those who are working for the morrow"s meal, and who know that they must work hard. men stood in the gravel (the ballast) in the lighter; the other stood on "a stage," as it is called, which is but a boarding placed on the partition-beams of the lighter. The men on this stage, cold as the night was, threw off their jackets, and worked in their shirts, their labour being not merely hard, but rapid. As man struck his shovel into the ballast thrown upon the stage, the other hove his shovelful through a small porthole in the vessel"s side, so that the work went on as continuously and as quickly as the circumstances could possibly admit. Rarely was a word spoken, and nothing was heard but an occasional gurgle of the water, and the plunging of the shovel into the gravel on the stage by heaver, followed instantaneously by the rattling of the stones in the hold shot from the shovel of the other. In the hold the ballast is arranged by the ship"s company. The throwing of the ballast through the porthole was done with a nice precision. A tarpaulin was fixed to prevent any of the ballast that might not be flung through the porthole being wasted by falling into the river, and all that struck merely the bounds of the porthole fell back into the lighter; but this was the merest trifle. The men pitched the stuff through most dexterously. The porthole might be feet above the stage from which they hove the ballast; the men in the lighter have an average heave of feet on to the stage. The men on the stage and the on the lighter fill and discharge their shovels times in a minute; that is, shovelful is shot by each man in every alternate seconds; so that every of the men engaged at the work flings the height of feet every minute, or feet in an hour; and in that time, according to the concurrent computation of the heavers, the men may easily fling in tons, or lbs. a man, The men work with the help of large lanterns, being employed mostly by night.

I shall now state the sentiments of the men generally, and then individually, upon the subject of their grievances.

To be certain as to the earnings of the men, to see their condition, and to hear from a large number of them their own statements as to the hardships they suffered, and the sums they gained, I met bodies of the ballast-heavers, assembled without prear- rangement. At station were present, at the other . The men were chiefly clad in coarse, strong jackets; some of them merely waistcoats, with strong, blue flannel sleeves, and coarse trowsers, thick with accumulated grease from long wear. They had, notwithstanding their privations, generally a hardy look. There was nothing squalid in their appearance, as in that of men who have to support life on similar earnings with in-door employment. Their manners were quiet, and far from coarse. At the meeting were present. man said, "Well, I think I am the oldest man at present, and I don"t get above a-week; but that"s because I"m an old man, and cannot work with the young ones." Upon an average the common men earned a-week the year through, and took home I inquired, "Are you all compelled to spend a great part of all you earn in drink with the publican?" The answer was simultaneously, "All of us—all—all!" Of the remainder of their earnings, after the drink deductions, the men were all satisfied they spent so much, that many only took a-week home to their wives and families on an average. Last week earned , the publican taking from each. earned ; of these took home, the other , both working for publicans; the , who worked for a grocer, took home ; the other being spent in tea and sugar, he being a single man. earned ; , working for a publican, carried home , the difference going in compulsory drink; another , and another did load of ballast, receiving each for it; took home ; another (a private job); another, who did a load for , took home ; the other took home each. man earned , and took it all home, having worked at a

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private job for a foreigner. earned nothing in the course of the last week. For the last fortnight had earned nothing. There were present that had earned something in the last weeks. "The fortnight before Christmas," said , "I didn"t earn all that fortnight." "Nor I, nor I," said several others. On being asked, "Are you compelled to spend half of your earnings in drink?" there was a general cry of, "More than that, sir; more than that." I asked if men were forced to become drunkards under this system; there was a general cry of, "We are; and blackguards, too." were married men. Of them, had no children; had child; had children; had ; had ; had ; had . The men all said, that to get away from the publican would be "a new life to them— all to their benefit—no force to waste money in drink—and the only thing that would do them good." Many threw away the drink they had from the publicans, it was so bad; they drank Thames water rather. They were all satisfied "they earned a-week the year through, spending of that sum what they spend, and what they were induced to spend, from to a-week." "Another thing," they said, "if you get a job, the publican will advance —now and then he may. They hate to give money; there"s trnst for as much grog as you like." All hailed with delight the least possible chance of being freed from the publican. man said he was compelled often enough to pawn something of his own or his wife"s to go and spend it at the publichouse, or he would have no chance of a job. All declare "such a system never was known to have been carried on for years." Many said, "We shall be discharged if they know we have told you the truth." They stated that the ballast-heavers numbered between and . There were craft, each requiring heavers; and many men were idle when all the others were at work. were present when I counted the other meeting. A man said there might be times that number looking for work then, and as many at work belonging to that station alone. In the census returns showed that there were ballast-heavers; the men assembled declared that their numbers had more nearly trebled than doubled since then. Within the last or years many new hands had got to work, on account of the distress in Ireland. The men agreed with the others I had seen that they earned, week with another, , taking home but at the outside, and often only In answer to my questions they said, the winter is the best season; the trade is very slack in summer. Earnings in winter are pretty well double what they are in summer. Many agricultural labourers work among the heavers in winter, when they cannot be employed on the land. Of this body all said they were sober men till they took to ballast-heaving, and would like to become sober men again. (A general assent.) of the men had taken the pledge before becoming ballast-heavers, and were obliged to break it to get work. They had to drink pots of beer, they declared, where, if they were free men, they would only drink . When asked if the present system made drunkards, they answered with voice, "All; every ballastheaver in it." were married men. All their wives and children suffered (this was affirmed generally with a loud murmur), and often had nothing to eat or drink while their husbands had but the drink. It was computed (with general concurrence) that ballast-heavers paid foremen for lodgings, not half of them ever seeing the bed they paid for. About years ago they could earn twice or times as much as they can now; but prices were higher ( per score, for what is now ), and the men were far less numerous. The following is a precise statement of the sums to which each ballast-heaver present was entitled, followed by the amount he had carried home the week before, after payment of his compulsory drinkings, and of what he might be induced to drink at the house of his employer while waiting to be paid:—
 Earned. Took home. 
 £ 0 12 0 £ 0 7 6 
 0 7 0 0 3 6 
 0 15 0 0 9 0 
 0 12 0 0 6 0 
 0 13 0 0 4 0 
 0 11 0 0 5 0 
 0 5 0 0 2 6 
 0 8 0 0 5 0 
 0 9 6 0 5 0 
 1 0 0 0 10 0 
 0 12 6 0 3 6 
 1 0 0 0 9 0 
 0 12 0 0 4 0 
 0 15 0 0 9 0 
 0 15 0 0 8 6 
 0 16 0 0 6 0 
 0 15 0 0 5 0 
 Nothing Nothing 
 " " 
 " " 
 " " 
 0 12 0 0 2 6 
 0 9 0 0 5 0 
 1 0 0 0 4 6 
 1 0 0 0 10 0 
 0 10 0 0 3 0 
 0 10 0 0 5 0 
 0 12 0 0 2 6 
 0 8 0 0 3 6 
 0 14 0 6 9 0 
 ---------- ---------- 
 £ 16 13 0 £ 7 7 0 

This statement shows, out of earnings, a receipt of less than a-week.

According to the returns of the Trinity

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House, there were tons of ballast put on board ships in the year . The ballast-heavers are paid at the rate of per ton for shovelling the ballast out of the Trinity Company"s lighters into the holds of vessels. Hence, the total earnings of the ballast-heavers in that year were And calculating -thirds (the men say they always get rid of a half, and often -fourths, of their earnings in drink) of this sum to have been spent in liquor, it follows that as much as went to the publican, and only to the labouring men. According to this estimate of their gross earnings, if we calculate the body of the ballast-heavers as numbering men, the average wages of the class are about per week each man; or if we reckon the class at , then the average wages of each person would be about per week. From all I can learn this appears to be about the truth—the earnings of the men being about a-week, and their real income about

The men shall now speak for themselves.

The that I saw were of the better class of foremen, who volunteered to give me an account of the system.

I am a foreman or ganger of the ballastheavers," said one. "I work under a man who is a publican and butcher; and I also work under another who is only a butcher. I, moreover, work under a grocer. I engage the different gangs of men for the parties under whom I work. I also pay the men. The publican, butcher, or grocer, as the case may be, agrees to give me 9s. a score tons. The foremen often give the men the same money as they themselves receive, barring a pot of beer or a quartern of gin that they may have out of the job. Some foremen take much more.

Another foreman, who was present while I was taking the statement of this man, here observed, that "Many foremen claim tow-tow, or a "-handed" proportion—that is, they will have when the working men have only There is a great deal of imposition on the working-classes here, I can assure you; the general thing, when we go to a job out of a public-house is, that the publican expects the men to drink to the amount of out of every , and out of every that"s coming to them—that is, - part of the men"s money must be spent in liquor. The drink is certainly not the best; indeed, if there is any inferior stuff they have it: it"s an obligation on them that they drink. If they refuse to drink, they won"t get employed, and that"s the plain truth of it. Oh, it"s long wanted looking to; and I"m glad at last to find some inquiring into it. If they went to get the regular beer from the fair public-houses they would have to pay a pot for it; and at the contracting publicans" they must give a pot, and have short measure, and the worst of stuff too. Every pots of beer they give to the men is only pots fair measure; and the rum they charge them half-a-pint more than the regular public-houses would, and far worse rum into the bargain. Besides the profit on their drink, some publicans charge per score tons as well. Out of the money coming to the men after the publican has been paid his score, many foremen claim onefifth part over and above their regular share; or, in other words, the foremen takes shares, and the men only each. When the men have been paid, the publican paying them expects them to spend a further sum in drink, looking black at the man who goes away without calling for his pint or his pot, and not caring if they drink away the whole of their earnings. There"s a good many would be glad if the men sat in their houses and spent their last farthing, and then had to go home penniless to their wives and families."

"I am a "ganger" to a butcher as well as a publican," said of the foremen. "His practice is just the same as the publican"s. He receives per score tons, and pays me for the men The men and myself are all expected to spend about -half of our earnings with the butcher in meat. He charges per lb.; and at other houses, with ready money, I and the men might get it for as good. His meat is at least - dearer than other butchers". I am also ganger to a grocer, and he gets about the same profit out of the men he employs—that is to say, the articles he supplies the men with are at least - dearer than at other shops. If anything, he makes more out of the men than the butcher; for if any man goes a score (which he always encourages) he stops the whole out the man"s earnings, and often leaves him without a penny after the job is done. When the publican, grocer, butcher, or lodging-house keeper has a contract for ballast, he directs the foreman working under him to get together the gang that regularly work from his house. This gang are men who always deal at the shop, and the contractor would dismiss me if I was to engage any other men than those who were his regular customers. Many a time a publican has told me that some man was a good, hard drinker, and directed me to engage him whenever I could. If a man sticks up a score, he also tells me to put him on of all: the grocer and the butcher do the same. This system is the cause, I know, of much distress and misery among the men; the publicans make the men drunkards by forcing them to drink. I know many wives and children who starve half their time through it. They haven"t a bit of shoe or clothing, and all through the publican compelling the men to spend their earnings in drink. After the gang is paid, at least out of the get drunk; and, often, the whole . Many a time I have seen the whole of the men reel-

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ing home without a penny to bless themselves, and the wife and children have to suffer for all this; they are ill-treated and half-starved: this I can safely say from my own knowledge."

I next saw men, who stated that they were oppressed by the publican, and the foreman also. The said, "I work under a publican, and have to pay the foreman onefifth of my earnings; I only have fourpence out of every shilling I earn, and I must be a sober man indeed to get that. Both the publican and the foreman get eightpence out of a shilling, and make their money out of my sweat. years ago I was left, to my sorrow, with motherless children, and I am the slave of the publican. He is my destruction, and such--are my sufferings, that I don"t care what I do if I can destroy the system; I shall die happy if I can see an end to it. I would go to bed supperless to-night, and so should my children, if I could stop it. After I have had a job of work, many"s the time I have not had a penny to take home to my children, it has all gone betwixt the foreman and the publican; and what is more, if I had brought anything home I should have stood a worse chance of work the next day. If I had gone away with sixpence in my pocket, the work that should have come to me would have gone to those who had spent all in the house. I can solemnly say that the men are made regular drunkards by the publicans. I am -and- years dealing with this oppression, and I wish from my heart I could see an end to it, for the sake of my children and my fellow-creatures" children as well. But I suffer quite as much from the foreman as I do from the publican. I am obliged to treat him before I can get a job of work. The man who gives him the most drink he will employ the . Besides this, the foreman has - parts of the money paid for the job; he has twice as much as the men if he does any of the work; and if he does none of the work he takes - of the whole money: besides this, the men do times the foreman"s labour. If I could get the full value of my sweat, I could lay by to-morrow, and keep my family respectably. In the room of that, now, my family want bread often—worse luck, for it hurts my feelings. I have been idle all to-day; for hearing of this, I came to make my statement, for it was the pride of my heart to do all that I could to put an end to the oppression. The publicans have had the best of me, and when the system is done away with I shan"t be much the better for it. I have been -and- years at it, and it has ruined me both body and soul; but I say what I do for the benefit of others, and those who come after me."

The other man said that he worked under a publican, and a grocer as well, and lodged with a foreman. "I pay a week for my lodgings," he said; "there are beds in the room, and men in each. The room where we all sleep is not more than feet long by feet wide, and barely feet high. There is no chimney in it. It is a garret, with nothing in it but the beds. There hadn"t need be much more, for it wouldn"t hold even a chair besides. There"s hardly room, in fact, for the door to open. I find it very close sleeping there at night-time, with no ventilation, but I can"t help myself. I stay there for the job of work. I must stay; I shouldn"t get a day"s work if I didn"t. The lodgings are so bad, I"d leave them to-morrow if I could. I know I pay twice as much as I could get them for elsewhere. That"s way in which I, for , am robbed. Besides this, I am obliged to treat the foreman; I am obliged to give him glasses of rum, as well as lodging at his house, in order to get employment. I have also to drink at the public-house; - of my money is kept, and foremost, by the publican. That goes for the compulsory drink—for the swash which he sends us on board, and that we think the Thames-water is sweet and wholesome to it. It is expressly adulterated for our drink. If we speak a word against it we should be left to walk the streets, for a week and more forward. Even if we were known to meet a friend, and have a pint or a pot in another public-house, we should be called to an account for it by the publican we worked under, and he would tell us to go and get work where we spent our money; and, God knows, very little money we would have coming out of his house after our hard sweat. After the compulsory drink, and the publican has settled with us, and his part of our hardearned money for the swash—it"s nothing else—that he has given us to drink, then I should be thought no man at all if I didn"t have pots of beer, or half-a-pint of gin, so that I would count myself very lucky indeed if I had a couple of shillings to take home, and out of that I should have to spend twothirds of it to get another job. I am a married man, and my wife and children are in Ireland. I can"t have them over, for it is as much as I can do to support myself. I came over here thinking to get work, and to send them money to bring them over after me, but since I have been here I have been working at the ballast-work, and I have not been able to keep myself. I don"t complain of what is paid for the work; the price is fair enough; but we don"t get a quarter of what we earn, and the Irish ballast-heavers suffer more here than in their own country. When I came over here I had a good suit of clothes to my back, and now I"m all in rags and tatters, and yet I have been working harder, and earning more money, that I did in all my life. We are robbed of all we get by the foremen and publicans. I was years a teetotaler before I went to ballast-work, and now I am forced to be a drunkard, to my sorrow, to get a job of

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work. My wife and children have a bit of land in Ireland to keep them, and they"re badly off enough, God knows. I can neither help them, nor send money to bring them over to me; nor can I get over to them myself. The grocers whom we work under rob us in the same manner. I have worked under . He supplied bread, butter, tea, sugar, coffee, candles, tobacco, cheese, &c. It is a larger kind of chandlers" shop. He charges us for the same bread as I can buy for at other shops. The tea, sugar, and other articles he supplies us with are at the same rate; they are either worse or dearer than at other shops. They generally manage to get a part of our earnings wherever we go; but the grocers are best of all, for they don"t ruin our health, as what they give us don"t make us sick. I work for these houses because the foreman that I lodge with has work out of both houses, and we are obliged to deal at the houses that he works under; if we didn"t we shouldn"t get the job, so that if we are not robbed by the publican we are by the grocer. They will have it out of the poor hard-working man, and the foreman must have the gain out of it as well. I only wish to God it was done away with, for it is downright oppression to us all, and if I never have another stroke of work I will strive all I can to have it done away with for the sake of my fellow-men.

After these cases came who said,— "I have been years a ballast-heaver. Just before that I came to this country. When I came I got to be a lodger with a foreman to a publican. I paid him a-week. My family, a wife and children, came over when I had got work as a ballast-heaver. I couldn"t take them to the lodgings I then had; they were all for single men: so I had to take another place, and there I went to live with my family; but to keep my work I had to pay the foreman of the publican — him that lets these lodgings to the ballast-heaver— a-week all the same as if I had been living there. That I had, and I had to do it for years. Yes, indeed. I didn"t earn enough to pay for lodgings, so or months back I refused to pay the a-week for a place I hadn"t set my foot in for years, and so I lost my work under that foreman and his publican. If me and my children was starving for want of a bite of bread, neither of them would give me a farthing. There"s plenty as bad as them, too, and plenty used like me, and it"s a murdering shame to tax poor men"s labour for nothing."

This man reiterated the constant story of being compelled to drink against his will, hating the stuff supplied to him, being kept for hours waiting before he was paid, and being forced to get drunk, whether he would or no. The man also informed me that he now works under a butcher, who pays a score to the hands he employs, he (the butcher) receiving from the captain

Suppose," he said, "I have a 60-ton job, I"d be entitled to 7s. 6d. without beer, or such-like; but under this butcher I get only 5s. 3d., and out of that 5s. 3d.—that"s all I get in hard money—I"m expected to spend 4s. or thereabouts in meat, such as he chooses to give. I have no choice; he gives what he likes, and charges me 6 1/2d. a-pound for what I could buy at 4d. in a regular way. Very inferior stuff he keeps. Working under a butcher, we must all live on this poor meat. We can"t afford bread or vegetables to it.

This same butcher, I was afterwards informed, had been twice fined for using false weights to customers, such as the man whose statement I have given; he even used wooden weights made to look like lead.

The following is an instance of the injustice done to the men by those who contract to whip rather than to heave the ballast on board.

I now work," said the man, whom I was referred to as an exponent of the wrong, "for Mr. ——, a publican who contracts to supply ships with ballast by the lump. He"ll contract to supply a ship with all the ballast she"ll want by the lump—that is, so much money for all she wants, instead of so much by the ton; or he may contract with a ship at 2s. 6d. a-ton. We—that is a gang of eight men—may put two loads or 120 tons on board in the course of a day. For those 120 tons he will receive 120 half-crowns, that"s 15l. For putting in those 120 tons we— that is, the eight ballast-heavers employed— receive 2s. 6d. a-day of 12 or 14 hours; that is 8 half-crowns or 20 shillings, with 3s. 6d. a-day for a basket-man, in addition to the eight, so leaving the publican a profit of 13l. 16s. 6d." I could hardly believe in the existence of such a system—yielding a mere pittance to the labourer, and such an enormous profit to the contractor, and I inquired further into the matter. I found the statement fully corroborated by many persons present; but that was not all I learned. When the men, by incessant exertion, get in 120 tons in a day, as they often do, nothing is charged them for the beer they have had, four or five pints a-day each; but if only 60 tons be got in, as sometimes happens, through the weather and other circumstances, then the men employed on the half-a-crown a-day must pay for their own beer and pay their private scores for treating a friend, or the like. "There"s no chance of a job," said my informant; "not a bit of it." He continued: "Very bad drink it is—the worst—it makes me as sick as a dog. There"s two brothers there what they call blood-hounds; they"re called so because they hunt up the poor men to get them to work, and to see that they spend their money at their employer"s public--house when work"s done. If you don"t spend something, no bread to cut the next morning—not a bit of it— and no chance of another job there. He employs us ballast-heavers, when we are not at the ballast, in backing coals into the steamers.

I have given the statement of a ballastheaver as to the system pursued by those whom he called basket-men. The employer here alluded to is of that class, the difference being, that the ballast-heavers shovel the ballast out of the lighter on to the stage, and from the stage through a port-hole into the hold. men are thus employed, on the lighter, and on the stage. With a large ship men are employed, and stages. When the basket-man or the man contracting by the lump is employed, this process is observed:—There are men in the lighter alongside the vessel to be ballasted, whose business it is to fill baskets. There are men at the winch aboard ship employed heaving up these baskets, and a basket-man to turn them over and empty out their contents.

To ascertain that there was no provident fund—no provision whatever for sickness—I investigated the case of a man who, in consequence of illness occasioned by his trade, was afflicted with a pulmonary complaint. This man was formerly of the wine-cellarmen in the London Dock; he was then made a permanent man at the St. Katherine"s Dock, and was dismissed for having taken a lighted pipe in while at his work; and for the last years and upwards he has been a ballast-heaver. I now give his wife"s statement:—"My husband has been ill for months, and he has been weeks in Guy"s Hospital, and I am afraid he"ll never get out again, for he kept up as long as he could for the sake of the children. We have at home; of them ( years old) I hope to get to sea, having older sons at sea, and being the mother of children altogether. I will tcll you what led to my poor husband"s illness; he was a kind husband to me. I consider it was his hard work that made him ill, and his not getting his rights— not his money when entitled to it. After doing a heavy day"s work he had to go and sit in a cold tap-room, drinking bad beer; but it wasn"t beer—muck, I call it—and he had to wait to be paid, ay, and might have had to wait till the day after, and then come home cold and have to go to bed without a bit of victuals. His illness is owing to that; no horse could stand it long. Ballast-men are worse than slaves in the West Indies. When at work he earned what the others did. He only drank what he couldn"t help—the worst of stuff. No drink, no work. weeks ago she went to the hospital, I conveying him. When I returned home I found strange men had turned my children into the street, doing it in a brutal way. I rushed into the house, and said, "Who are you?" I seized the fellow who said this by the hand kerchief, and put him out. of them said, "Be off, you old Irish hag, you have no business here; we have possession." When I saw the children in the street, passion made me strong, and so I put him out. The collector of the rent, who employed the broker, is a publican, for whom my husband worked as a ballast-heaver until he was unable to work from illness. I was given into custody for an assault, and taken before Mr. Yardley. He considered the assault proved, and as an honest woman I couldn"t deny it, and so I had days with bread and water. The children were placed in the workhouse, where they were well treated. I was very glad they were so taken care of. As soon as I got out I went to see about my children; that was the thing I did. I couldn"t rest till I did that. I brought them home with me, though it was only to bread and water, but I was with them. I only owed about rent, and had been years in the house at the time the publican put the broker in. We paid a-week; it was no use asking such a man as that any mercy. He was in the habit of employing ballast-heavers for many years; and if that doesn"t harden a man"s heart, nothing will. In general these ballast publicans are cruel and greedy. At present I go out washing or charing, or doing anything I can to maintain my children, but work"s very slack. I"ve had a day and a-half this fortnight, earning , that"s all for a fortnight; the parish allows me loaves of bread a-week. The children, all boys, just get what keeps a little life in them. They have no bed at night, and are starved almost to death, poor things. I blame the system under which my husband had to work—his money going in drink—for leaving me destitute in the world. On Christmas-day we lived on a bit of workhouse bread—nothing else, and had no fire to eat it by. But for the money gone in drink we might have had a decent home, and wouldn"t so soon have come to this killing poverty. I have been tenderly reared, and never thought I should have come to this. May God grant the system may be done away with, for poor people"s sake."

I now give the statement of women, the wives of ballast-heavers, that I may further show how the wives and families of these men are affected by the present system.

I have been 11 years married," said one, "and have had five children, four being now living.

The other woman had been married years, but has no children living.

We are very badly off," said the woman with a family, "my husband drinking hard. When I first knew him—when we were sweethearts in a country part of Ireland—he was a farmlabourer and I was a collier"s daughter, he was a sober and well-behaved man. Two years after we were married, and he was a sober man those two years still. We came to London to better ourselves, worse luck. The first work he got was ballast-heaving. Then he was obligated to drink or he couldn"t get work; and so, poor man, he got fond of it. This winter oft enough he brings me and the children home 2s. or 1s. 6d. after a job; and on that we may live for two or three days,—we"re half starved, in course. The children have nothing to eat. It"s enough to tear any poor woman"s heart to pieces. What"s gone into the publican"s till would get the children bread, and bedding. and bits of clothes. Nothing but his being employed at ballast-heaving made him a drunkard, for he is a drunkard now. He often comes home and ill-uses me, but he doesn"t illuse the children. He beats me with his fists; he strikes me in the face; he has kicked me. When he was a sober man he was a kind, good husband; and when he"s sober now, poor man, he"s a kind, good husband still. If he was a sober man again with his work, I"d be happy and comfortable to what I am now. Almost all his money goes in drink.

"We can"t get shoes to our feet," said the woman.

When my husband is sober and begins to think," (continued the first,) "he wishes he could get rid of such a system of drinking,— he really does wish it, for he loves his family, but when he goes out to work he forgets all that. It"s just the drink that does it. I would like him to have a fair allowance at his work, he requires it; and beyond that it"s all waste and sin: but he"s forced to waste it, and to run into sin, and so we all have to suffer. We are often without fire. Much in the pawn-shop do you say, sir? Indeed I haven"t much out.

"We," interposed the elder woman, "haven"t a stitch but what"s in pawn except what wouldn"t be taken. We have worth in pawn altogether—all for meat and fire."

"I can"t, I daren"t," the younger woman said, "expect anything better while the present system of work continues. My husband"s a slave, and we suffer for it."

The elder woman made a similar statement. After his score is paid, she said, her husband has brought her , , , , and often nothing, coming home drunk with nothing at all. Both women stated that the drink made their husbands sick and ill, and for sickness there was no provision whatever. They could have taken me to numbers of women situated and used as they were. The rooms are bare walls, with a few pieces of furniture and bedding such as no would give a penny for. The young woman was perfectly modest in manner, speech, and look, and spoke of what her husband was and still might be with much feeling. She came to me with a half-clad and half-famished child in her arms.

I then took, for the sake of avoiding repe- tition, the statements of ballast-heavers together——working under different publicans. The account they gave me of the way in which the publicans contracted to ballast a ship was the same as I have given elsewhere.

I have been twenty years a ballast-heaver," said one, "and all that time I have worked for a publican, and haven"t a coat to my back. Twenty years ago the publicans had the same number of hands, but had more work for them, and I might then earn 20s. a-week; but I couldn"t fetch that home from the publican. He expected me to spend one-half of my earnings with him; and when I left his house drunk, I might spend the other half. I"ve drunk gallons of drink against my will. I"ve drunk stuff that was poison to me. I turned teetotaler about six months ago, and the publican, my employer, sacked me when he found it out, saying, "He"d be d——d if he"d have such men as me—he didn"t make his living by teototalers."

"Yes," added the other man, "and so publican told me; for I turned teetotaler myself somewhere about years ago, and took the pledge from Father Mathew in the Commercial-road. The publican told me, that if Father Mathew chose to interfere with me, why Father Mathew might get employment for me, for he—that"s the publican— wouldn"t. So I was forced to break my pledge to live—me and my youngsters—I had then, and I"ve buried since."

"Work," resumed the man who gave me the statement, "keeps getting worse. Last week I carried only home, and if I"d got paid by the captain of the ship for the amount of work I did, and on the same terms as the publican, I should have taken home at the very least The publican that employs us gives us only a-score, and receives from the captain. All the publicans don"t do this; some give what they get from the captain, but some publicans takes -thirds, and that"s the truth. (The man assented.) week with another I"ve taken home, this winter, from to , and but for this shameful starvation system, having to work for a publican"s profit, and to drink his drink, I"d take home my every week. It makes a man feel like a slave; indeed, I"m not much better. We should be in heaven if we got away from the publican or butcher either; it"s compulsion "s life through. Some of the publicans have as many as single men lodging in their houses, paying half-a-crown a-week; ay, and men that don"t lodge with them, when the house is full, must pay half-a-crown all the same, to get a job of work, as well as paying for the places where they do lodge."

The man continued:—

The gin and rum is the worst that can be supplied; but we must drink it or waste it. We often spill it on the ballast, it"s that bad"—["Often, often," was the response of the other man.] "And that"s not the worst. When we get a job of putting sixty tons of ballast on board, we are forced to take six pots of beer with us to our work; but only four pots are supplied, and we must pay for six. We are robbed on every side. I cannot describe how bad it is; a man would hardly believe it; but all will tell you the same—all the men like us." [So, indeed, the poor fellows did afterwards.] "When we call to be paid, we are kept for hours in a cold tap-room, forced to drink cold stuff without being let have a strike of fire to take the chill off it.

The other man then made a further statement.

I"ve been forced to put my sticks in pawn—what I had left—for I was better off once, though I was always a ballast-heaver and have worked for the same publican fourteen years. I have 3l. in pawn now, I blame this present system for being so badly off— sorrow a thing else! Now just look at this: A single man, a lodger, will go into a publican"s and call for 1s. worth of rum, and the publican will call me a scaly fellow, if I don"t do the same; that will be when I"d rather be without his rum, if I got it for nothing." One publican (the men gave me this account concurrently, and it was fully confirmed by a host of others,) married the niece of a waterman employed to pull the harbour-master about the river. He kept a public-house, and carried on the system of lodgers for ballast-heaving, making a great deal of money out of them; by this means he got so much work at his command, that the rest of the publicans complained to the harbour-master, and the man was forced to give up his public-house. When he had to give it up he made it over to his niece"s husband, and that man allowed him 1s. for every ship he brought him to ballast. I"ve known him— that"s the publican that succeeded the man I"ve been telling you of—have 40 ships in a day: one week with another he has had 100 ships; that"s 5l., and he has them still. It"s the same now. We"ve both worked for him. His wife"s uncle (the harbour-master"s waterman) says to the captains, and he goes on board to see them after the harbour-master"s visit to them,—Go to ——; get your ballast of him, and I"ll give you the best berth in the river."

I next obtained an interview with a young man who was the victim of a double extortion. He made the following statement:—

I work under a publican, and lodge in his house. I have done so for five years. I pay 2s. 6d. a-week, there being ten of us in two rooms. We"re all single men. These two rooms contain four beds, three in the larger room and one in the other. We sleep two in a bed, and should have to sleep three in some; only two of the men don"t occupy the lodgings they pay for. The bigger room may be 16 feet by 10; the smaller about a quarter that size. You cannot turn in it—the bed cannot be brought out of the room without being taken to pieces. We must cook in the tap-room, which is a room for the purpose; it contains forms and an old table, with a large grate. We are found fryingpans and gridirons, and pans, and fire, and candle; but we must find our own knives and forks. The room is shamefully dirty—I mean the tap (cooking) room. It looks as if it hadn"t been washed for years. It"s never been washed to my knowledge. The bed-rooms are very little better. The bedding is very bad—a flock bed, with a pair of blankets and quilt, and a sort of sheet clean once a-fortnight. There"s very bad ventilation and very unpleasant smells. It"s a horrid den altogether. None of us would stop there if we could help it—but we can"t help it, for if we leave we get no work. We are forced to find locks for our rooms, to keep our bits of things from being stolen. One man was robbed; my clothes was in the box with his; the box was broken open, but the clothes was left, and a few halfpence put away in the box was taken. There"s lots of bugs; we can only sleep after hard work, and we must drink when we"re at work. I"ve poured my beer into the river many a time, it was so bad—it tasted poisonous. We"ve drank Thames water rather than the bad beer we"re all forced to drink. To show how we"re treated I"ll tell you this: I owe so much, and so much a week"s stopped to pay it; but it never gets less, I am always charged the same. There it is, the same figures are on the slate, keep paying, paying off as you will. They won"t rub it off, or if they do rub it off it"s there again the next time. Only last week a man was discharged for grumbling, because he objected to paying twice over. He hasn"t had a day"s work since.

Then came who was the of a publican and grocer. He said:

I work under a publican and grocer. I"m any man"s man. I stand with my fingers in my mouth at Ratcliff-cross watching, and have done it these last nine years. Half of us is afraid to come and speak to you. When I volunteered, the big-whiskered and fat-faced men (foremen) were looking at me and threatening me for coming to you. No matter, I care for nobody. Worse nor I am I can"t be. No more I can"t. I go to one publican"s to work 60 tons, and for that I get 4s., but 6s. is my rights. The remainder 2s. is left—I"m forced to leave it—for me to drink out on Sunday night. If I was in a fair house the publican would pay me 7s. 6d; as it is I get 4s. and 2s. must be drunk,—it"s the rule at that house—he"s in opposition and works low. If I was at liberty it wasn"t to his house I"d go for a drink. The hardest-drinking man gets work first, and when a man"s drunk he doesn"t care what stuff he puts into his belly. Before we go to a job the four of us are expected to drink half-a-pint of rum or gin; the publicans expect it. If I was a teetotaler I must pay my whack and the other men may drink it, for the score against the ship is divided among the men equal.

Suppose two foremen were to meet and have a drop of rum or brandy together, and a little talk about a ship"s ballast, that"s charged to us poor fellows—it"s stuck up to us—but we mustn"t say nothing, though we know we never had a sup of it; but if we say a word it"s all up—no more work.

Once on a time I worked for a publican close by here, and when I came to the house I had nothing to drink. My oldest mate whispered to me as we were on our way from the London Dock, and told me to speak my mind, for he knew there was a false score chalked against the ship; and the others was afraid to say a word. Well, I did speak when I got into the house, and the foreman was there, and he asked me what business I had to speak more than another? There was 6s. charged to the score for drink that we never touched or ever saw,—not a sup of it. He— that"s the foreman—told me I shouldn"t go to finish the ship; I said I would, in spite of him. I told the missus I expected she wouldn"t give any more drink but what we had ourselves, or would get when we came home; and she said she wouldn"t; and that"s two years ago; but I haven"t had a job from them parties since.

Suppose I get to the public-house for my money at six in the evening, I am forced to wait there till eleven, until I am drunk very often—drunk from vexation; stopt when I"m hungry after five or six hours" work on the river, and not let take the money home to my wife and family, nor let have anything to eat, for I"m waiting for that money to get a bit of grub; but when I"m half drunk the hunger goes off just for a time. I must go and drink in a morning if my children go without breakfast, and starve all day till I come home at night. I can get nothing from my employers but drink. If I ask them for a shilling I can"t get it. I"ve finished my load of ballast without breaking my fast but on the beer we"re forced to take with us.

I"ve found grocers better to work under than publicans,—there"s a great deal more honesty in them. They charge a middling fair price; but they"ll have tow-row out of it, —that"s dry money—so much a score. They"ll stop 6d. a score only for giving us a job. I can get as good sugar as I get of them at 4d. for 3 1/2d.; but then the difference between the grocer and publican is, that the wife and family can have a bit of something to eat under the grocer, but not under the publican. All goes in drink with the publican; but we cannot carry drink home. When I go home drunk from the publican"s, I tumble on the floor, perhaps, and say, "Is there anything to eat for me?" and my old woman says, "Where"s the money? give me that and I"ll give you something to eat." Then a man gets mad with vexation, and the wife and children runs away from him; they are glad to get away with their lives, they"re knocked about so. It makes a man mad with vexation to see a child hungry,—it kills me; but what the foreman gives me I must take; I dare never say no. If I get nothing—if all is gone in drink— I must go from him with a blithe face to my starving children, or I need never go back to him for another job.

I shall now set forth as fully as possible the nature of the system by which the ballastheaver is either forced by the fear of losing all chance of future employment, or induced by the hope of obtaining the preference of work from the publican, his employer, to spend at least half of his earnings every week in intoxicating drinks. Let me, however, before proceeding directly to the subject of my present communication, again lay before the reader the conclusions which I lately drew from the Metropolitan Police returns for , concerning the intemperance of the labouring classes of London. It is essential that I should prove the fact, and show its necessary consequences. This done, the public will be more ready to perceive the cause, and to understand that until this and similar social evils are removed, it is worse than idle to talk of "the elevation of the masses," and most unjust, to use the mildest term, to condemn the working men for sins into which they are positively forced. To preach about the virtues of teetotalism to the poor, and yet to allow a system to continue that compels them to be drunk before they can get work—not to say bread—is surely a mockery. If we would really have the industrious classes sober and temperate men, we must look , it seems, to their We have already seen that the intemperance of the coal-labourer is the fault of the employer, rather than the man; but we have only to go among the ballast-labourers to find the demoralization of the working man arising, not from any mere passive indifference, but from something like a positive conspiracy on the part of the master.

According to the criminal returns for the metropolis, there were males and females, making altogether a total of individuals, charged with drunkenness in the year . This makes in every individuals in London a drunkard—a proportion which, large as it seems, is still less than onehalf what it was some or years back.

For the sake of comparison I subjoin, in the following page, a Table, taken from the Government Report on Drunkenness; being a return of the number of charges of drunkenness which have been entered upon the books of the Metropolitan Police in the years ,

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NUMBER OF CHARGES OF DRUNKENNESS EACH YEAR IN THE YEARS1831,1832,1833.
 Locality of each Division. No. of Officers employed in each Division. Computed Population in each Division, according to the Parliamentary Returns. 1831. 1832. 1833. Public-Houses and Beer-Shops in each Division. 
 Males. Females. Total. Males. Females. Total. Males. Females. Total. Public Houses. Beer- Shops. Total. 
 A. Whitehall.... 120 6,238 406 230 636 384 243 627 371 228 599 32 5 37 
 B. Westminster . 168 53,147 1,596 800 2,396 1,829 831 2,660 1,864 1,193 3,057 186 58 244 
 C. St. James"s .. 188 105,862 2,290 1,127 3,417 2,119 1,055 3,174 2,208 1,256 3,464 302 20 322 
 D. St.Marylebone 166 122,206 1,375 727 2,102 1,300 650 1,950 1,019 605 1,624 148 54 202 
 E. Holborn .... 168 75,241 1,785 1,079 2,864 1,241 897 2,138 879 618 1,497 249 19 368 
 F. Covent Garden 168 41,010 2,238 1,555 3,793 2,165 1,617 3,782 1,665 1,388 3,053 309 28 332 
 G. Finsbury .... 236 115,266 2,141 1,423 3,564 2,192 1,440 3,632 1,916 1,270 3,186 368 100 468 
 H. Whitechapel . 191 119,042 1,253 812 2,065 1,631 1,268 2,899 1,803 1,295 3,098 359 102 461 
 K. Stepney .... 296 143,137 899 574 1,473 1,387 732 2,119 1,125 762 1,887 437 131 568 
 L. Lambeth .... 191 101,561 1,732 1,271 3,003 1,581 1,234 2,815 1,291 944 2,235 183 70 153 
 M. Southwark .. 189 107,537 1,655 1,050 2,705 1,470 982 2,452 1,284 843 2,127 321 66 387 
 N. Islington .... 269 140,407 850 373 1,223 1,165 573 1,738 826 409 1,235 267 144 311 
 P. Camberwell .. 243 77,825 256 87 343 201 75 276 203 80 283 138 96 234 
 R. Greenwich .. 212 58,778 363 137 500 513 240 753 418 210 628 283 51 334 
 S. Hampstead .. 223 112,136 573 301 874 613 326 939 697 319 1,016 138 74 212 
 T. Kensington .. 184 70,296 124 24 148 303 109 412 464 137 601 220 93 313 
 V. Wandsworth . 186 62,039 212 35 247 210 60 270 235 55 290 133 76 209 
 Total.. 3,398 1,511,728 19,748 11,605 31,353 20,304 12,332 32,636 18,268 11,612 29,880 4,073 1,187 5,155 

285

, and , with the number of officers employed in, and the locality of, each division: also the amount of population in each, according to the Parliamentary returns of .

Now, comparing these returns with those of the year before last, we find that the decrease of intemperance in the metropolis has been most extraordinary. In the year , in every individuals was drunk; in the number increased to in ; whereas in it decreased to in ; and in the average had again fallen to individual to every . This decrease of intemperance was attended with a similar decrease in the number of metropolitan beer-shops. In there were , and in only beershops in London. Whether this decrease preceded or succeeded, and so was the cause or the consequence of the increased sobriety of the people, it is difficult to say. The number of public-houses in London, however, had increased during the same period from to . Upon the cause and effect of this I leave others to speculate.

Of the total, persons, male and female, who were charged with being intoxicated in the year , no less than individual in every belonged to the labouring class: and, excluding the females from the number, we shall find that, of the males, every individual that was taken up for drunkenness was a labouring man. Taking the whole population of London, temperate and intemperate, only in every is a drunkard; but with the labouring classes the average is as high as in every . Of course, where the habit of drinking is excessive, we may expect to find also excessive pugnacity. That it is the tendency of all intoxicating liquors to increase the irritability of the individual is well known. We might infer therefore, , that the greater number of common assaults would be committed by the greatest drunkards. In there were individuals assaulted in London, and nearly onefourth of these, or , were attacked by labouring men, in every of the entire body of labourers having been charged with this offence. The "simple larceny," of which the labouring classes appear, by the same returns, to be more guilty than any other body of individuals, is also explained by their inordinate intemperance. When a man"s bodily energy is destroyed by drink, labour is so irksome to him that he would sooner peril his liberty than work. What wonder, then, that as many as in every labourers should be charged with theft? Whereas, of the rest of the population there are only in every individuals. Thus, of the labouring classes, in every is charged with being drunk; in every with committing an assault; and in every with being guilty of simple larceny.

For the truth of the connexion existing between drink, pugnacity, and theft, I would refer to the statement of of the most intelligent and experienced of the coal whippers,—, indeed, to whose unceasing and heroic exertions that class principally owe their redemption:—"The children of the coal-whippers," he told me, "were, under the old system, almost reared in the tap-room." He himself had known as many as youths that were transported; and this, be it remembered, out of a class numbering only men.

Such, then, are the proved consequences of an inordinate use of intoxicating liquors. It becomes, therefore, the duty of every who is anxious for the well-being of the people, to diminish the occasions for drinking wherever possible. To permit the continuance of certain systems of employment and payment, which are well known, both to tempt and compel the men to indulge in intoxicating liquors, is at once to breed the very crimes that it is the office of Government to suppress. The custom pursued by the coal-merchants of paying the labourers in their employ in publichouses, as I lately exposed, appeared bad enough. The "backer," jaded and depressed with his excessive work through the day, was entrapped into the public-house in the evening, under the pretence of receiving his wages. Once inside he was kept waiting there hour after hour by the publican (who of course was out of silver, and had to send some distance for it). Beer is called for by the men in the meantime. Under the influence of the stimulant, the fatigue and the depression begin to leave the labourers, the burden that is still on their backs (it will be remembered that such is the description of the men themselves) is shaken off, and their muscles no longer ache and are stiff, but relax, while their flagging spirits gradually revive under the potent charm of the liquor. What wonder, then, that the poor creatures finding it so easy, and when the habit is once formed, so pleasant, a cure for their ills, should be led to follow up draught with another and another? This system appeared to me to be vicious enough, and to display a callousness on the part of the employers that quite startled me. But the system under which the ballast-labourers are now suffering, is an infamy hardly to be credited as flourishing in these days. I have, therefore, been at considerable pains to establish such a mass of evidence upon the subject as shall make all earnest men look upon the continuance of such a system as a national dishonour.

 
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 Title Page
collapseChapter I: The Destroyers of Vermin
collapseOur Street Folk - Street Exhibitors
collapseChapter III: - Street Musicians
collapseChapter IV: - Street Vocalists
collapseChapter V: - Street Artists
collapseChapter VI: - Exhibitors of Trained Animals
collapseChapter VII: Skilled and Unskilled Labour - Garret-Masters
collapseChapter VIII: - The Coal-Heavers
collapseChapter IX: - Ballast-Men
collapseChapter X: - Lumpers
collapseChapter XI: Account of the Casual Labourers
 Chapter XII: Cheap Lodging-Houses
collapseChapter XIII: On the Transit of Great Britain and the Metropolis
collapseChapter XIV: London Watermen, Lightermen, and Steamboat-Men
collapseChapter XV: London Omnibus Drivers and Conductors
collapseChapter XVI: Character of Cabdrivers
collapseChapter XVII: Carmen and Porters
collapseChapter XVIII: London Vagrants
 Chapter XIX: Meeting of Ticket-of-Leave Men
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ID: tufts:UA069.005.DO.00079
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