Problems of a Great City

White, Arnold

1887

QUESTIONS.

Age (years)?-2 at 16; 1 at 18; 3 at 19; 2 at 21; 5 at 22; 2 at 24; 5 at 25; 2 at 26; 3 at 27; 3 at 28; 3

19

at 30 and 31; 1 at 34; 3 at 35; 3 at36; 1 at 37; I at 39; 3 at 40; 1 at 45; 1 at 5 ; 2 at 56. Single or married ?-40 married; 10 single. If married how many children ?-4 with none; 9 with 1; 5 with 2; 7 with 3; 6 with 4; 3 with 5; 5 with 6. Wages of good machinists per day ?-6 at 6s.; 2 at 6s. 6d.; 10 at 7s.; 3at 6s. 8d.; 17at 7s. 6d.; 8at8s.; 1 at 8s. 6d. 1 at 1s. 1d. each coat; 1 at 1s. 6d. each coat; 1 at 4d. per waistcoat. Wages of plain machinists per day ?-1 at 1s.; 2 at 2s.; 1 at 2S. 6d.; 8 at 3s.; 4 at 3s. 6d.; 1 at 3s. 8d.; 1 at 3s. 9d.; 15 at 4S.; 1 at 4s. 6d.; 7 at 5s.; 3 at 5s. 6d.; 2 at 6s.; 3 at 6s. 8d. How many girls at work, and wages per day ?-1 at 10d.; 1 at 1s. 2d.; 1 at 1s. 3d.; 4 at 1s. 6d.; 5 at 1s. 8d.; 8at 2S.; 7 at 2s. 6d.; 22 at 3s.; at 3s. 3d.; 6at 3s. 6d.; 2 at 3s. 8d.; 6 at 4s.; 1 at 4s. 6d.; 2at 4s. 8d.; 7 at 5S. Is there a coke fire in same workshop ?-46 cases coke fire; 4 cases gas stove. How many gaslights ?-In 2 cases, 3; in 6 cases, 4; in 11 cases, 5; in 8 cases, 6; in 11 cases, 7; in 3 cases, 8; in 2 cases, 9; in 2 cases, 12; in 2 cases, 15; in 1 case, one lamp; in one case, 5; in 1 case paraffin. How many water closets ?-In 47 cases 1, two being described as " very dirty." What hours do the men work per day ?-In 2 cases 10; in 6 cases, 13 ; in 11 cases, 14; in 1 case, 14½ in 16 cases, 15; in 7 cases, 6 ; in 2 cases, 17; in 3 cases, 8 ; in 1 case, 19; in 1 case, 20. What hours do the girls work per day ?-In 1 case 10½ in 3 cases, 11; in 17 cases, 12 ; in 3 cases, 12½ in 14 cases, 13; in 10 cases, 14; in 2 cases, work in kitchen after 11 and 12 respectively; in one case 12

20

hours, and paid for ¾; day; in 2 cases, 12 hours, paid for 11 ; in 1 case till 10 Thursday; in 1 case till 11 ; in 1 case 15 hours; in 1 case 14 hours Thursday. In 1 case, sometimes in kitchen after 11. How often does Inspector visit workshop ?-In 9 cases, "Very seldom ;" in 2 cases, " Very often ;" in 4 cases, "Once ;" in 3 cases, " Once in three months;" in 2 cases, "Twice in two years;" in 19 cases, " Never;" in 1 case, " Once in 6 months ;" in 3 cases, "Been twice." (In 3 cases fines imposed, one of these paying two penalties.) What time do men leave work Thursday night ?-In 3 cases at 10; in 1 case at 10.30; in 3 cases at 11 ; in 2 cases at 11.30; in 17 cases at 12 ; in 2 cases at 12.30; in 8 cases at 1; in 4 cases at 2; in 1 case at 2.30; in 1 case at 3; in 1 case at 4. In 2 cases, " sometimes all night;" in 1 case, " as usual;" in 1 case, " don't leave shop." What time do they come on Friday morning ?-In 1 case at 4; in 9 cases at 5; in 20cases at 6; in 3 cases at 6.30; in 10 cases at 7; in 2 cases at 8; in 1 case at 10; in 1 case no work Friday. Do they have an hour for dinner on Friday ?-In 45 cases, " No ;" in 5 cases not stated either way; 1 case out of these says " No, even middle of week." Are your wages reduced in the slack time ?-In 2 cases, 6d.; in 3 cases, 1s.; in 1 case, 2s.; in 2 cases, takes off quarter day; in 22 cases, "No;" in 17 cases, "Yes;" in one case discharges men. How long have you to work for half-day ?-In 11 cases, 7 hours; in 6 cases, 7½ hours; in 20 cases, 8 hours; in 3 cases, 8½ hours; in 9 cases, 9 hours; in 1 case, " off at 12." How many hours for quarter-day ?-In 5 cases, 3½ hours;

21

in 2 cases, 4¼ hours; in 22 cases, 4 hours; in 7 cases, 4½ hours; in 12 cases, 5 hours; in 1 case, 6 hours; in 1 case, 7 hours.

The following are some of the remarks appended to the questions by the men themselves :-

If there are two hours' work we must oblige them for nothing-Drives us like slaves, or as if we were dogs, and calls us foul names, and swears and curses all day-Too many to put down-Sometimes work all night, and get paid for quarter of a day-Not paid in full for time worked-Sometimes, if I work four and a half days, get paid for three and three-quarters-Have to work any time when wanted, and not paid-Drives us like dogs-Treated very bad-Very badly treated; children play in the workshop-If I complain of the many hours, he says, " Go home, you are only fit for cat's meat ;" and sends the apprentice to find him another horse-The workshop is in a dilapidated condition, and not fit for a wild beast to be in it; the ceiling falling through day by day, and raining in-When he expects the Inspector, he puts the poor girls in his bedroom or kitchen, and many a Thursday night the poor girls don't go home to sleep- The master ought to be buried, as he is very bad -The apprentice has to be left after other girls are gone-I have cruel treatment, and he always tries to take as much off wages as possible; he tries his utmost-He is a bad man-as good as the lot-very cruel, and thinks nothing of a workman, calls them his horses-Paid Sunday instead of when leaving off-A very spiteful man-Employers have decided to give their men piecework,

which is greatly to the disadvantage of the employe, reduces wages to nothing-Very bad man, not worth serving-Very bad master-We work all the week and he pays us three times, and he goes about the workshop grumbling that we work too short hours; he says that we got to work from six to twelve at night-The employer don't care to get up early, and tries to detain you as long as possible in the evening-- Very insulting-Never work on Friday, but finish and don't get paid for it-He is very insulting.

A cabinet-maker working by the piece, who must sell the fruit of his week's work or starve, is free only in one sense. The other party to the contract is free in another. Englishmen are governed by phrases. The most beneficent institution, were it entitled "" would stand no chance of winning the public confidence. "Home Rule" has destroyed the Liberal party; " Local SelfGovernment" is conceded by all parties alike. So with " freedom" and "slavery." enjoys the advantages of the worst and most squalid forms of slavery under the name of freedom, and therefore there is nothing incongruous when a million and a quarter of pounds sterling are annually despatched for the souls of fat heathen in more favoured corners of the earth's surface, or

23

in the complacency with which we look back on the liberation of the West Indian slaves.

Misery and despair, loathing of the curse of life, mocked with the vocabulary of religion, groanings that cannot be uttered, an ever-growing torrent of children poured into an environment of wretchedness and vice, are some of the chemicals seething in the caldron of civilization. Abroad we have done no better. Tribes chaste and temperate are decimated by loathsome diseases, and ruined by raw spirits proffered by the hand that does not hold the

Many a valiant soul fights gallantly to stem the tide of woe and want. But their efforts, if not fruitless, make no permanent and palpable impress on the mass of wrong to be cleared away. Ever increasing at compound interest, the volume of our national debt grows with rapid strides, and even now the mutterings of subterranean fires can be heard by those who have ears to ear and who are not muffled in comfort. Every winter a bitter cry is raised by permanent distress. Fleeting notice is attracted, and twopence-halfpenny

24

apiece for all in trouble is raised by the influence of a and the destruction of a few Piccadilly windows. Then the leaf buds burst, and Ascot, Henley, strawberries, and Strauss's band chase the ugly memories of the winter through the .

What is to be done in order to liquidate the National Debt? The right course to pursue may be doubtful, but it is clear that this is no time to stand in the ancient ways. The present system of the churches after a course of evangelical teaching extending over one hundred and fifty years has failed beyond hope of redemption. Philanthropy is a paid profession supporting swarms of administrators. The struggle for existence between benevolent societies is as bitter as the strife between the various forms of the Christian faith, or between members of the same Cabinet. Disease has corroded the texture of civilization, and such an analysis as was never bestowed upon it is needed before prescriptions can be prepared and exhibited to the suffering nation with any hope of success. Diagnosis of the disease

25

is not impossible. The evil is broadly divisible into two parts-the remediable and that which is essentially incapable of cure. The remediable portion is again to be divided into (1) That which can be attacked and dealt with by society at large forthwith, and (2) That which requires the process of time for the development of healing measures. In other words, the work for this generation is one part, and work for the next generation is the second portion of the task. Then again, the remedies applicable by society, either legislative or otherwise, are precedent to the efforts of those on whose behalf society bestirs itself. The work as a whole is a process and not a stroke. It cannot be carried out by legislation alone. Law is nothing more than the floating opinion of the majority of the people, crystallized in the form of an Act of Parliament. Law that is in advance of or behind the convictions of the majority is inoperative. , and lately repealed, are instances of each contingency.

That which is required, therefore, is the

26

creation of wholesome public opinion in regard to specific evils needing prompt and drastic treatment, and the excitement of such a sense of universal individual responsibility that it can neither be alienated nor evaded. We need the Conscription for social affairs. The party of is at present in agreement about nothing, although most people have a general conviction that a great deal requires to be done, with a leaning towards drugs from their own pharmacopoeia. Convention, and its cousin Decorum, combine with the safe formalities of a Christianity ignorant of its Founder, to prevent discussion or inquiry into some of the root causes of the evil. The art of embellishing the outside of the platter is incapable of further development. We live in the golden age of whited walls. Any poor wight, therefore, who is resolute in stripping horror of its clothing may lay to his account the certain enmity of most of the clergy and all the paid philanthropists who batten on the process of whiting the wall with a dainty brush of camels' hair.