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of cheap garments even greater than the de- and so, in despair, you betake yourself to mand for the garments themselves. Mi- the upholsterer, and your work is done, by serable as is the pittance which they receive, no means more effectually, at double the it is better than nothing. It is better to be cost, and with a double amount of delay. hungry than to die. You may see the poor It may, perhaps, be said, that if you do creatures clustering about the doors of the not employ these women to do your work, slop-shops, with their sharp eager faces wait- the upholsterers will employ them for you, ing for their supply of wretched work, as and that therefore it is all the same in the though their very lives depended upon the end. But it is not the same in the end. issue. One wonders that it should be so- The middleman must have his profits, to but so it is.
the, detriment both of the employers and One wonders that it should be so, because the employed. Where they are brought in every one's own experience it so often immediately into contact with each other, happens that he needs for household pur employers get cheaper work, and the emposes the assistance of needle-women of dif- ployés better wages. Hence the injustice of ferent kinds, and yet, somehow or other, can slop-work. You may buy a shirt at a reaseldom get what he wants. In the first sonable price in a ready-made shop. But place there is a grievous setting London- you may buy your own materials, and have wards of female labour. It is supposed that it made for you, at an equally low price, and in London there is a sure market for every yet pay a fair rate of wages for the sempkind of work. In many country places you stress's work. The same may be said of upcannot get a needle-woman for love or holstery, or any other description of work. money. And in London, perhaps, you do But the sempstress is compelled to betake not know where to get it." There may be herself to the middleman, for she knows abundance of what you want in the next where he is to be found. She knows where street, or under the very shadow of your the great slop-shop stands at the corner of house; but you do not know it. Women the street. She does not know that there is to whom such employment as you can give a kind lady still nearer, who is ready to pay them, may be life, happiness, salvation, may her double the price for the same descrippass your door every day, and you would tion of work. think it a privilege to be able to take such All this is the result of a want of organiwomen into your house, and say, " There, zation. The different parts of our social work!” But they do not know it. And so machinery do not hang well together, or they pass on to the slop-shop, and between rather do not hang together at all. There life and death struggle on to the grave, starv. is a bundle of parts, all adapted to each ed perhaps in the midst of plenty.
other, but for want of some connecting links, Now, this is no hypothetical case, but a these parts do not make a whole. The grave, practical fact of very extensive appli- remedy would seem to be easy. Supply the cation. Employers complain that they can- links, and all the parts will act harmoniously not obtain work-people, and work-people together. What is wanted, in all largo complain that they cannot find employers. towns, is a well-understood and readily acThere is, in very many cases, no want on cessible channel of communication between either side, but a want of knowledge. In those who have work to be done and those large towns, this is especially apparent. A who desire to do it. This is the age of asfamily take up their residence, say in some sociation. Societies of almost every kind, London street, and have need of every kind more or less useful, are continually starting of assistance before they can subside into into life. The benevolent energies of the order and comfort. They want char-wo- people of Great Britain were never more men; they want needle-women — women active than at the present time. When a who can sew and alter curtains, who can really great end is to be accomplished, cover furniture, who can lay down carpets, money is never wanted for its furtherancewho can do a thousand nameless things, ne nay, objects scarcely to be accounted great oessary to complete the house for occupa are readily promoted, if they promise in any tion. In all probability, all the needed as- way to relieve the misery of the suffering sistance is to be found in some contiguous classes. We apprehend, therefore, that it street. In all probability, there are women could not be difficult to obtain the means whom you might almost summon from the whereby the machinery of which we speak windows of your house, eager for such work might be brought into effective action. They as you desire to give them-women with appear to be simple and inexpensive. hungry children and empty' cupboards, hav- Everybody wishing to send a letter from ing both the capacity and the inclination for one place to another knows how to secure work. But you do not know where they are; its despatch. In London, if he wishes to
send a parcel, great or small, he knows how women of all kinds would have a ready to achieve it. He knows how to get a loaf means of making kdown their desire to ob of bread, or a quire of paper, or a new hat. tain employment. Moreover, by means of He sees " Post Office," or “ Parcels De- agencies of this description scattered over livery Company"_“Baker,” Stationer," or our large towns, a more equable diffusion of “ Hatter," or the signs and indications of different descriptions of working power each of these, in legible characters on the might be secured. In one district the defront of some shop in a neighbouring street. mand for a particular kind of work might But the poor sempstress, or the char-woman, be greater than the supply; in another, the or the occasional nurse, lives in some back supply might be greater than the demand. coom, or in some sky-parlour, in an obscure Work-women would thus know the locali. court or dark alley, and she cannot declare ties in which they would be most likely to her whereabouts thus unmistakably to the obtain profitable employment. Nor need world. Still the declaration is precisely the the benefits of this diffusion be confined thing she wants, and wanting which she is merely to the towns. They might extend reduced to desperate extremes. Now, can- into the country. Hands of one kind or not this be done for her ? cannot the want another might be wanted in the country be supplied by a little management on the when there is a glut of them in town, or the part of others ? Say that a society, to be reverse. By means of the agencies of which called “ The Society for the Employment of we speak, communication might be kept up Women,” were formed, and that it appoint- between town and country; and they might ed agents in all the principal thoroughfares be made reciprocally to assist each other of our large towns. Every agent should with continual supplies of a particular kind be a respectable shopkeeper, and should be of work. There would not then be that bound to display a conspicuous board an- crowding and huddling in one particular dinouncing his agency at his shop-door, just rection which keeps down the price of labour. as now the boards of the Parcels Delivery There would not then be as there is now a Company are displayed. He should keep keen contest for employment even at a rate a book, in which women requiring any de- of remuneration which is said, in language scription of employment might cause their which expresses only the simple truth, barenames and addresses to be entered, with a ly to keep body and soul together.” description of the work they are competent Every reader of the London newspapers to do, and, if possible, a reference to some has his attention frequently and painfully respectable householder in the neighbour-called to the large amount of misery and hood. Every one then requiring a semps- crime resulting from this ill-requited female tress, a charwoman, a nurse, or any kind of labour. The "Horrors of slop-work” is a female employée, would know where to find common newspaper heading to police reone. Our small tradesmen would be always ports, illustrative of starvation, attempted glad to undertake such agencies. There suicide, illegal pawning, &c. &c. From one might be a small fee paid for registration, which has appeared since this article was or a fixed sum might be paid by the Society, commenced, we take the following significant if it were found necessary—but in all prob- passage. A poor woman is brought up to ability tradesmen would find their account the Thames Police-office, charged with an atin the accession of custom which such an tempt to poison her child and herself. The agency would bring to their respective shops. medical officer, to whom the mother and
There is no possible reason why such a child were taken in the first instance, thus simple machinery as this should not act with testifies : efficiency, after a little time had been allowed to it to make itself known. To the rich it “Mr. Barch said he had been connected with would be a great convenience; to the poor the London Hospital for eleven years, and for a blessing past counting. A lady requiring number of patients had been under his care, and any kind of needlework, or any occasional he had carefully investigated & considerable help in her establishment, or requiring a number of cases, and was satisfied that needleservant, or a laundress, or a milliner, or a women were the most ill-paid class of people, governess, would know where to apply in and the most hard-working on earth. They were her immediate neighbourhood;* and work- miserably paid, and he knew that numbers of
them, with constitutions broken down, earned * We know that there are existing institutions from 3s. to 43. per week only,
and for that very founded with
the objects of registering and supply- scanty pittance were compelled to work from ing governesses, and the same with respect to do three o'clock in the morning till ten at night. mestic servants and needle-women, but they are few They snon became enfeebled by insufficient diet and far between, and what is wanted is a general and overwork, and when broken down either agency, within every one's reach.
had recourse to suicide or prostitution. VOL. XXVI.
“Mr. Selfe (the magistrate) said, there was have a step-mother, and, as my father would not no occasion for distressed needle-women to select do anything for me, and I have no place to go to, either alternative. There were poor-laws in ex- what can I do? I yesterday went to the Mansion istence, and every destitute person was entitled House to ask for an asylum, but the Mansion to parochial relief.
House was shut up; and I therefore wandered on Mr. Barch: Many shrink from it. I am quite to Hackney, and swallowed the poison in Mare sure that many women, rather than endure the Street. I bought the poison in the Strand, at a horrors of slop-work, have gone apon the town; chemist's, where the gentleman asked me what it and I have the anthority of the Bishop of Ox- was for, and, on my telling bim it was not for me, ford for saying, there are 80,000 prostitutes in he served me directly. The girl was remanded, London. Is it any wonder when the needle- and on the following day Mr. D'Eyncourt, the women are so badly remunerated ?
magistrate, told her he had succeeded in obtain“Mr. Selfe said there were no means to com- ing for her an admission into the Elizabeth Fry pel those who employed poor needle women to Institution, for which she seemed very grateful.” pay them more liberally.
« Mr. Burch said the clerical gentlemen should And we need impress upon the mind of go about and visit their flocks more frequently, on one, who has eyes to see and faculties to and clerical agency, with the aid of Jaymen, comprehend, that if some are driven to suicould effect a good deal by visiting the abodes of cide, hundreds and thousands are driven to the poor, and urging upon employers to pay the prostitution by the difficulty of procuring poor needle-women better wages. He also thought
honest work. if the stipendiary magistrates met frequently, they might devise measures to alleviate the miseries of
To suffer such a state of things as this is needle-women.
a national crime. The subject is eminently “Mr. Selfe: What would be the use of visits ? painful, and difficult to discuss in such a It would only be a temporary care. The stipen. manner as shall serve the interests of humandiary magistrates do meet often on all points. ity, and be at the same time inoffensive to You have introduced a wide subject, and beyond the most delicate mind. And yet, of all the our scope to deal with. The needle-women are sectional questions of the one comprehensive badly paid, and there is a good deal of poverty, Woman's
Question, this is, perhaps, most a no doubt, existing in this district, but there is no need for actual destitation. In this case the poor woman's question of all: firstly, because it woman has recently lost her father and her hus- involves the case of the actual “employ. band. It was not possible to prevent a concar- ment" of so large a number of woman; and, rence of unfortunate circumstances."
secondly, because it is mainly by woman's
intervention that these numbers of employées It may not be possible to prevent a con- are to be rescued, if at all, from their degracurrence of unfortunate circumstances; but dation. If there be, as stated, in London it may be possible to prevent a concurrence alone, 80,000 victims to the “great sin of of so many unfortunate circumstances as great cities,” we suspect that we should be drove the poor woman to madness and mur- within the mark, if we were to say that der. We should be guilty of no very vio- 50,000 of them walk the streets at nights lent assumption if we were to declare that wholly because they cannot obtain a livelithe wretched creature could have borne up hood in any other way. A large proportion against her other misfortunes, if her penury of them have been domestic servants, neehad not weighed her to the ground. Needle- dlewomen, waistcoat-makers, artificial flowerwomen, says Mr. Burch, are so miserably makers, &c., &c., and have been driven paid, that, broken down by suffering, they to dishonesty by the difficulty of obtaining betake themselves in time either to suicide honest employment. Scarcely one of them or prostitution : and there is, unhappily, would not forsake her unhappy calling totoo much reason to believe that he does not morrow if honourable work could be providoverstate the miserable results of the ex-ed for her. But who, she asks, will employ treme difficulty of obtaining honourable em- her,—who will stretch out a hand to save ployment for women in our overgrown her? Now, the suggestions which we have towns. The newspapers are continually proposed to ourselves to offer in this place, presenting us with such tragedies as the fol- tend rather towards future prevention than lowing :
present cure. It hardly comes within the
scope of our Article to suggest the means of " Elizabeth Fogarty, a girl of nineteen, was grappling with the immense mass of existing charged at Worship Street with attempting to prostitution, which is such a scandal to our commit suicide by swallowing laudanam. It ap-Christian England; but we believe that any peared that about a fortnight before she flang measure which would facilitate the employ. herself off one of the bridges, but was dragged out. On that occasion she was taken to Bowment of women, by opening a channel of Street. On being now asked the reason of these communication between work-seekers and attempts, she replied, My father is a wood-cutter work-givers would at once diminish the evil. in Westminster: I have lost my mother, but I We think sufficiently well of the women of
England, who are prosperous, and happy, and ruption of their lives--which; properly divirtuous --- who have neither suffered want, rected, would leave little wanting to the nor been tempted to evil-to believe that perfection of the conjugal character. they would esteem it a privilege to rescue humble life this is known and appreciated. an erring sister from perdition, and would A curious illustration of this fact, and of others not shrink, fearful of contamination, or recoil to which we have alluded in this article, was in Pharisaical indignation, from contact with afforded a few months ago by some proceeda suffering Magdalene, eager to walk in ho- ings at the Lambeth Police Office, which nest paths. Nay, we are convinced that are thus reported :there are many, who, reading in a Registration Book some such entry as -".. B., "On Mr. Norton taking his seat on the bench, aged twenty-two, No. 7, Wild Court, Hol. Cook, the gaoler, called to his notice, a young born; formerly a waistcoat-maker; has since man, named Robert Wadham, and a young woman been unfortunate ; anxious to leave her pre- ago the young woman had made an application of
named Maria Perkins, and said that some days sent way of life; is a good needlewoman; an unusual character, namely, a gift of 103. from willing to take any kind of honest employ- the poor box to enable
her and a young man who ment,"--many, we say, who, reading such accompanied her to get married. Mr. Elliott, an entry, would rejoice in the opportunity of having learned from her that the young man was rescuing the penitent one, body and soul, about to get into a situation, he was of opinion from the cruel streets; and would give her that the better course would be for the man to work, to the extent of their own means, and wait a short time, and be in a position before recommend her case to others, who would marrying to support a wife, and the parties with
drew from the court. He, Cook, perceiving that willingly " do likewise."
the young woman, particularly, was very much Let no one be deterred by the considera- downcast at the result of the application, was tion of the little that individual effort can do induced to ask her some questions, and learned to reduce so vast a mountain of evil. Let no from her that having been on the streets for some one say, " What is it to reclaim one out of time, and being disgusted with such a course of eighty thousand ?" and answer the question life, and meeting with the young man who accomdespondingly. What is it to reclaim one ? panied her, and becoming attached to him, she
was anxious to get married to him. The young Why, truly, a great achievement-truly a man consented to her putting up the banns, but noble thing to save "one,-even the least of not having 10s. to pay the marriage fees, they had these little ones.” Besides, who can say been out-called. In addition to his, the mother of that she saves only one ? Every lost one the young man, who was with the young woman, thus brought back to the flock of honest work. assured him that her statement was true, that slie, ers will be more or less a missionary for having a large family, was unable to pay the mo good among her erring sisters. There are ney, but if they were married, she should take the thousands who need but to be shown the way business of artificial flower maker ; and her hus
young woman into her house, and teach her the to earn an honest livelihood, to do it, earnest- band objected to admit her into his house unless ly and gratefully, and never to slide back she was married. Under these circumstances he again into the old slippery paths of destruc- (Cook) had undertaken to get up a subscription tion. There is a capacity for good in most to pay the marriage fees, but he was not so sucof them : they hate their way of life: they cessful as he expected, as he only got 7s. out of hate themselves for following it : they need the 103.; and the reason for bringing this before but to be shown the way to leave it, without the odd 33. Mr. Norton said he should have no perishing outright, and they will leave it. objection whatever in doing so, provided Cook There is much friendship and strong sympa was quite certain of the truth of the statement. thy among these lost ones, and there are few Cook replied that if he had not been satisfied on who, having found their way back to honesty, that point he should not have interfered. Two would not endeavour to persuade others to gentleman in the court subscribed the required leave their abominable trade.
sum, and the magistrate ordered that 108. from In a large number of cases it is, as we have the poor box should be added, and the couple left
the court." said, simply a question of money. Even a few shillings well expended will sometimes There is a great deal that is very suggesturn the scale. A trifling sum of this kind tive in this story. It exhibits the anxiety of will give a girl " a start." Her anxieties do the poor girl to leave her sad way of life not extend far into the future. Perhaps even the latent goodness, and perhaps natural pua couple of crown-pieces may turn one of rity of her character, which had recommend. these unfortunates into an honest wife. Fored her to the young man-his willingness marriage is not denied to them. There is to take her as his wife, in spite of her degradoften an amount of truth and fidelity in these ing antecedents, and the willingness also of poor outcasts--one pure strong affection blos- his family to receive her, and teach her to soming in the midst of all the horrible oor-earn an honest livelihood, provided she were
married. And yet all this, which might | tant as this is) but an increased facility of easily be expanded into a very touching communication between the Rich and the “ Romance of Humble Life," had well-nigh Poor. The Rich have their wants as well as come to nought for want of two crown-pieces. the Poor. If the poor could make their There were, doubtless, thousands of good wants known, the Rich would gain greatly people within a little distance of that Lam- by the knowledge. Let the women of Eng beth Police Office-the excellent Archbishop land, who are happy and prosperous, think at their head—who would willingly have seriously of this. They have work to give, cast in their crowns to make the young peo- and would give it cheerfully to their less ple happy and respectable ; repudiating al- fortunate sisters. But they say that they together Mr. Elliott's idea that it would be cannot get this work done; that they cannot " better to wait a short time." But if it had believe that there is so great a dearth of emnot been for the publicity of the Police Office ployment. They contend it must be a fable —and most serviceable often are our police or an exaggeration, that women's work is so offices as mediums of communication be- miserably requited, when they pay dearly tween the rich and the poor-Maria Perkins for it, and cannot always get it when they might have gone back to the streets, want. They speak of their own experience;
What may be the growth of happiness or and they are right. They do not think how of misery resulting from such a marriage as they are fenced and guarded from all knowthis, Heaven only knows. On a recent oc- ledge of the outside world; and that there casion, * we said and we believe most truly are women, either pining in utter want,
—that “what is wanted most of all is some hungry and shivering in the next street, or thing that will make it less a necessity with else flaunting on the pavement before their women to unite themselves, legally or ille door, simply for want of the very employ. gally, with the other sex.” “In a large num- ment which they are willing, nay, anxious to ber of cases,” we added, “what a woman give. most looks for in matrimony or concubinage It is a part of our system that they should is a breadfinder. ... What else, it is said, be thus ignorant. Who will take the can she do? What but misery, it would be trouble to instruct them? Or who will be better to ask, can result from such a system? bold enough to do it? There are things not -what but wife-beatings or slow torturings to be spoken of to delicate ears--above all, can be the growth of such ill-assorted mar- there is the great sin, riages as this fatal necessity involves ?"
To do away with this necessity, let us open Which slars our crael streets from end to end, out the road to remunerative employment. Who only smile at night beneath the gas." Or, perhaps, we ought not to write “open out the road.” The road is often open, But Will “ virtuous” women inquire into this it requires that we should plant finger-posts grave matter-will they hold fellowship with upon it. Of what use is a road, if the way. outcasts ? farer knows not which way to turn ? A furlong off to the right, or a furlong off to the "Such wretches cannot tell out all their wrong, left, there may be all that the poor wanderer Without offence to decent happy folk ; desires—cheerful fire, a table spread ; se. We know that they must scrupalously hint curity, comfort, repose. But what are these With half-words, delicate reserves, the thing things, if the traveller does not know where Which no one scrupled they should feel in full.** to find them! The poor, foot-sore, frightened woman, goes groping on in the cold and And yet no one can fully understand this in the dark, hungry and weary-not to any subject of the “ Employment of Women"
hospitable goal, but to misery and destruction. no one can appreciate its mighty importance She falls by the wayside and perishes; when no one can estimate the extent to which a finger.post here or a finger-post there-a the evil, seemingly confined to the lower mere costless log of wood, with a few letters classes, rebounds against and destroys the upon it
, would guide her safely to her jour- higher, who does not consider how our ney's end.
streets are swarming with castaways. The We cannot too emphatically repeat, again delicately nurtured lady in her boudoir
, may and again, that what society requires for the think that it is no concern of hers.
But, protection of women against all the cruel perhaps, she is grieving over the profligacy wrongs of the world, is not merely an ex- of a favourite son, who is wasting his very tended market for woman's work, (impor:
* Mrs. Browning's Aurora Leigh, a work of which
we should have made freer use in this paper, if we * North British Review, No. xlix., Article," Out had not devoted to it a separate article of another rages on Women."
kind. See infra, pp. 443.462.