Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

On the 19th of January, 1863, Mr. President Commons the contributions to the fund in Lincoln, in reply to an address from the work- | April, 1863, had shown the results of the ing men of Manchester, who had sent to him munificent liberality of the nation. There had a declaration of their hatred of slavery, said : , been collected by the Central Relief Commit"I know and deeply deplore the sufferings tee £959,000, in clothing and provisions to the which the working men at Manchester and in value of £108,000; subscriptions from differall Europe are called to endure in this crisis. ent localities, £306,000 ; private charity, It has been often and studiously represented £200,000; Mansion-house committee, £182,000; that the attempts to overthrow this govern-poor-law board, £680,000 — in all a total of ment, which was built upon the foundation of £2,735,000, of which £1,480,000 had been conhuman rights, and to substitute for it one tributed by the county of Lancaster, so deterwhich should rest exclusively on the basis of mined was the courage and independence of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favour the people there. It may well be understood of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal that though this large sum had been received, citizens the working men of Europe have been and that the balance then in hand for consubjected to a severe trial for the purpose of tinued distribution was £845,000, the distress forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under was extreme. There was no margin for more these circumstances I cannot but regard your than the provision of necessaries in extreme decisive utterances upon the question as an cases, and, indeed, the operatives were mostly instance of sublime Christian heroism which reduced to extremity before they would conhas not been surpassed in any age or in any

sent to receive assistance. country.” Before the end of that year the In November, 1862, JIr. Cobden, in writing price of middling New Orleans cotton in Liver- to Lady Hatherton, had said: "Imagine that pool was 291d. per lb. In 1854 the rate of the iron, stone, and coal were suddenly withthe same quality of cotton had been 5d. per held from Staffordshire, and it gives you but Ib. During 1861 the quotations had con- an imperfect idea of what Lancashire, with its tinued to average 113d. per lb., and in 1862 much larger population, is suffering from the it had been 21}d. Of course the high price want of cotton; it reverses the condition of in 1863 meant no supplies, and though efforts the richest county in the kingdom, and makes had been made to bring cargoes from Egypt, it the poorest. A capitalist with £20,000 inand the crops in India were looked forward vested in buildings and machinery may be to with such anxiety that a consignment of almost on a par with his operatives in destiSurat was received with joyful manifestations, tution if he be deprived of the raw material there was never enough to give good hope of which alone makes his capital productive. resuning work except on very short time in a Bad as is the state of things, I fear we are limited number of mills.

only at its commencement, and unhappily the The provisions made for the relief of the winter is upon us to aggravate the sufferings families of the Lancashire operatives were of the working people. The evil is spreading continued. In July, 1862, Mr. Villiers, pre- through all classes. The first effects will be sident of the Board of Trade, brought in a bill felt on the small shopkeepers; the weak millenabling every parish overburdened with local owners will come next. I met a magistrate distress to claim a contribution from the com- ! yesterday from Oldham, and he told me that mon fund of the union, and in committee an at the last meeting of the bench four thousand addition was made enabling the unions to raise assessments were exempted from payment of money by loan, or to resort to a rate in aid poor-rates on the plea of inability of the parwhenever the expenditure of a wion exceeded ties to pay! How rapidly this must aggravate 38. in the pound. A Lancashire relief fund the pressure on the remainder of the property was also started, with an executive committee of the union! There will be another meeting properly appointed. According to a statement of the Manchester Committee next Monday, made by Mr. Wilson Patten in the House of at which it will be proposed to extend it to a

[ocr errors]

2

[blocks in formation]

National Committee, and the queen will be will, which took the shape of consignments of solicited as Duchess of Lancaster to allow her provisions and other additions to the fund. name to appear as its patrou. An energetic This act of generosity amidst their own effort will then be made to cover the whole troubles and anxieties, and when their own kingdom with local committees, and then in- fields lay fallow and their own manufactures stitute a general canvas for subscriptions. By were still for want of the hands that were this means we may keep matters in tolerable engaged in the deadly struggle, was afterwards order till Parliament meets, but there is a warmly remembered, as, indeed, it deserved growing opinion that we shall have to apply to be; and though for a time it had little apto parliament for imperial aid. People at a preciable effect in mitigating the rancorous distance, who learn that the poor-rates in declamations of a section of the public on both Lancashire are even now less than they are sides, it doubtless had a very decided influence in ordinary times in the agricultural districts, | in the ultimate restoration of reasonable and cannot understand this helplessness and des- friendly feelings, and contributed greatly to titution. They do not perceive how excep- the mutual good understanding that ensued, tional this state of things is. Lancashire, with notwithstanding the atiair of the Alabama and its niachinery stopped, is like a man in a faint- the "claims” that were so long a bone of coning fit. It would be as rational to attempt to tention between the two countries. draw money from the one as blood from the It is not out of place to note also, that, in other. Or it may be compared to a strong the midst of the conflict of opinion and the man suddenly struck with paralysis; until the increasing distress in the early days of 1862, use of his limbs and muscles be restored to Mr. George Peabody, it wealthy American him, it is useless to tell him to help himself.” merchant in London, ammounced that it was

We have seen what had then been done to his intention to give £100,000 for the benefit increase poor-law relief. In September, 1862, of the poor of this metropolis. Mr. l'eabody twenty-four poor-law unions in the distressed was a native of Danvers, in the State of Masdistricts afforded out-door relief to 140,165 sachusetts. He was born on February 18, persons, at a weekly cost of £7922, which re- | 1795; his parents were in humble circumpresented aid to 100,000 persons in excess of stances, and his early education was acquired the relief of the corresponding period of the at the district “common school.” At the age previous year. On the week ending 27th of of eleven he was placed in a grocer's store in December the want was far more excessive, Danvers, in which situation he spent four the relief lists showing the alarming total of years. After a year's rural life with his grand496,816 persons dependent on charitable or father in Vermont be went to Newburyport, parochial funds, while the loss of wages was Massachusetts, as clerk to his elder brother, estimated at about £168,000 per

who had opened a dry-goods shop tliere. He Happily the fund for the relief of the suf- afterwards was in business with his uncle at ferers was well supported, not only by noble Georgetown, district of Columbia, for two and wealthy donors-among whom were the years. In 1814 he withdrew from this concern queen, who gave £2000, and the Viceroy of and became a partner with Mr. Elisha Riges Egypt, who gave £1000 during his visit to in the dry-goods trade, Mr. Riggs furnishing London--but by the people themselves--shop-, the capital and Mr. Peabody the business keepers, employés, and even agricultural la- talent. In 1815 the house was removed to bourers, who contributed pence from their Baltimore, and in 182.2 branch houses were own small and hardly-earned wages. It should established in Philadelphia and New York. not be forgotten either that substantial aid In 1827 Mr. Peabody crossed the Atlantic for and expressions of sympathy came to Lanca- the first time to purchase goods. In 1829 he shire from various parts of Europe, and that became senior partner by the retirement of the Northern States of America were not be- Mr. Riggs. On several occasions of his visits hindhand in significant expressions of gooil- to England he was intrusted with important

week.

financial negotiations by the State of Mary- | of Earl Russell. On the occasion which has

land. Early in 1837 he took up his residence in England. In 1843 he withdrew from the concern of Peabody, Riggs, & Co., and founded a banking-house in London. In the crisis of 1837 he rendered valuable assistance towards the maintenance of American credit in England. The banking-house he established became the headquarters of his countrymen resident in or passing through London and the centre of American news. His Fourth of July dinners at the "Star and Garter," Richmond, soon became public events, and served to bring English and American gentlemen together in agreeable intercourse. In 1852, at the bicentenary anniversary of his native town, he sent a cheque for 20,000 dols. to be expended in the founding of a lyceum and library for the town. By subsequent donations this sum was raised to 60,000 dols., and the institution was opened in or about 1857 with great éclat. In the latter year he gave to certain citizens of Baltimore the sum of 500,000 dols. to found an institute in that city for the promotion of science, literature, and the fine arts, the opening of which was retarded by the civil war in America.

attracted your majesty's attention, of setting apart a portion of my property to ameliorate the condition and augment the comforts of the poor in London, I have been actuated by a deep sense of gratitude to God who has blessed me with prosperity, and of attachment to this great country, where, under your majesty's benign rule, I have received so much personal kindness and enjoyed so many years of happiness. Next to the approval of my own conscience I shall always prize the assurance which your majesty's letter conveys to me of the approbation of the Queen of England, whose whole life has attested that her exalted station has in no degree diminished her sympathy with the humblest of her subjects. The portrait which your majesty is graciously pleased to bestow on me I shall value as the most precious heirloom that I can leave in the land of my birth, where, together with the letter which your majesty has addressed to me, it will ever be regarded as an evidence of the kindly feeling of the Queen of the United Kingdom to a citizen of the United States." The American war had concluded when this letter was written, and above two years afterwards, in December, 1868, Mr. Peabody, who had returned from America, once more gave £100,000, bringing the total sum to the superb amount of £250,000. Shortly afterwards he gave another million of dollars to his American Southern education fund. In October of the following year this liberal benefactor died at the residence of his friend, Sir Curtis Lampson. He was seventy-five years of age, and under his will he had left an additional amount for the benefit of the London poor, making altogether a total of half a million sterling. His remains were placed in Westminster Abbey previous to being conveyed on board one of her majesty's ships to his birth-place in America. The large sum of money, which was placed in the hands of trustees for providing suitable dwellings for the London poor, appears to have been chiefly devoted, it is true,

Mr. Peabody was presented with the freedom of the city of London in recognition of his munificent gift. He afterwards added another £50,000 to it, and received a letter of thanks from the queen for his "more than princely munificence." Her majesty would have conferred upon him either a baronetcy or the Grand Cross of the order of the Bath; but that she understood he felt himself debarred from accepting such distinctions. It only remained, therefore, for the queen to give Mr. Peabody the assurance of her personal feelings, which she further wished to mark by asking him to accept a miniature-portrait of herself, which she desired to have painted, and which, when finished, was either to be sent to him to America, or to be given to him on his return to the country which owed him so much. Mr. Peabody replied: "Madam, I feel seriously my inability to express in adequate terms the gratification with which I have read the letter which your majesty has done me the high honour of transmitting by the hands

1 This was in 1866; Lord John Russell took his seat in the House of Lords in July, 1861, as Earl Russell of Kingston-Russell in Dorset and Viscount Amberley of Ardsalla in Meath.

MEANS FOR ALLEVIATING DISTRESS-COTTON SUPPLY.

129

to the purpose of building substantial houses after benefit to the whole population of the on a model plan, and on a plan which will districts where its lesson had been patiently yield a certain dividend for the maintenance learnt. One of the most striking features of of the scheme; but it can scarcely be con- the time was the remarkable diminution in tended that the actually poor inhabitants of the number of deaths and the improvement in London, or those who need benevolent aid, the health of the majority of the people, even are those who have been chiefly benefited, in those districts where the distress was most since the trust has rather been devoted to the severely felt. This has been attributed to provision of convenient and well-constructed enforced temperance; it may have been also tenements for those decent tenants who can partially attributable to a period of temporary atford to pay a fair amount of rental. Doubt- rest. It should be noted, however, that means less some good may have been effected by thus were taken for providing interesting occupaenabling respectable mechanics and working tion. Schools were established for the inpeople to obtain sound sanitary and reason- struction not only of children but of adults, ably rated dwellings; but whether this kind numbers of whom willingly devoted their now of speculative provision quite represents the unemployed time to acquire the instruction intentions of the philanthropic donor is per- which in their younger days they had never haps a question which the trustees and their been able to attain. Sewing-schools for representatives can best answer.

women and girls were also opened in all parts Mr. Peabody's splendid gift of course had of the manufacturing districts. Numbers nothing to do with the relief of distress in were there taught how to make and to mend Lancashire, to which he was also no doubt a various garments, and carried the practical liberal contributor, but it had much signifi- knowledge gained in these schools into their cance in representing the good feeling which homes. The organization for relieving want continued to exist between numbers of went hand in hand with efforts for providing thoughtful Americans and unbiassed Eng- occupations which would keep the people from lishmen. The efforts made for the special brooding over their trouble, and be useful to object of diminishing the sufferings of the them in their daily lives. people during the cotton famine were nume- During the whole time that the dearth of rous and well sustained. Nor were they con- cotton continued the government and many fined to mere contributions or subscriptions. wealthy and enterprising individuals were They included many personal endeavours, using efforts to promote the growth of the among the most directly useful of which were plant in India and other British dependenthose of Mrs. Gladstone, who during the first cies, so that we might not hereafter be wholly months of the calamity visited the districts dependent on one source of supply. Some where the need was greatest, and while prac- advances were also made in the introduction tically assisting to alleviate the wants of those of improved machinery for preparing and who were on the spot had a number of the cleaning the fibre; and railways and means men conveyed to Hawarden, where they were of transit from the manufacturing districts to employed in making new roads and paths in the seaports were still further developed. To the park. She also established at Hawarden the East and West Indies, New Zealand, an industrial home for distressed Lancashire Queensland and outside the British empire, girls. Numerous endeavours of a similar Brazil-consumers of cotton were looking not kind were made in the suffering districts, and without hope that in the future, if not immeit is to be remarked that though the painful diately, large supplies might be brought from effects of the cotton famine were felt long those places. Of course the supply increased after the American war was over and the but slowly, or rather absolute cessation of mills were at work again, that time of trial supply was only prevented by these means, had not been barren in good results, so that especially as nothing came from the African we may well believe it proved of incalculable cotton- fields when prices had considerably

72

VOL. IV.

a

6

increased. The native growers there had no of which they live. Such a notion was in the notion of working except when compelled; minds of many men even after the acceleraand the increased amount which they re- tion of political progress and the folly and ceived when they conveyed the produce of ignorance of self-elected leaders had put an their plantations to the shore enabled them to end to Chartism. Among the people who settle down to enjoyment-or what passed for had looked at the indefinite promises of comit in their estimation--and to leave the fields munistic or socialistic leaders there were many untilled and unsown. The staple at mills who saw much possible reality in them. That which resumed work was the Surat; and some such experiments had failed long before, though this was of inferior quality, dirty, and when they were associated with political agidifficult to manufacture, it was so much better tation or with certain suspected philosophies than none at all that the people who could or social vagaries, was no proof that the coobtain employment were delighted at being able operative principle might not be commercially to maintain their independence, and to leave sound. As a matter of fact it already necesthe relief funds for the large number who were sarily existed, where a number of people were necessarily supported by charitable efforts. engaged in different work and held different

degrees of importance to promote the same Among the institutions which were already enterprise. In 1873 Carlyle had given exin existence and served both at the time and pression to the thought, or one might rather afterwards to mitigate the effects of such a say the question which was being discussed elsesudden and protracted arrest of a great indus- where among a few serious men. “Whether," try occupying a large district, should be noticed as he puts it, “in some ulterior, perhaps some those societies in which the principles of co- not far distant stage of the chivalry of operation had been adopted and had proved | labour' your master worker may not find it successful. The co-operative societies of possible, and needful, to grant his workers Rochdale had not, it is true, had many imita- permanent interest in his enterprise and theirs! tors, nor did it then seem as though the scheme So that it become in practical result, what in which they had adopted was likely to find essential fact and justice it ever is, a joint much extension in other parts of England enterprise; all men, from the chief master and amidst other industries; but the circum- down to the lowest overseer and operative, stances of the distress in Lancashire and the economically as well as loyally concerned for survival during the cotton famine of the ori- it? Which question I do not answer. The ginal associations whose members had so long answer near, or else far, is perhaps: yes ;--benefited by the provisions of the system, at- and yet we know the difficulties. Despotism tracted public attention to the question. Since is essential in most enterprises: I am told that time co-operative societies in one form or they do not tolerate 'freedom of debate' on other have been regarded as valuable means board a seventy-four! Republican senate and for securing the mutual advantages of their plébiscite would not answer well in cotton members, and in London, societies embracing mills. And yet observe there too, freedom, one branch of the original institutions have not nomad's or ape freedom, but man's freebeen organized in a manner which has more dom, this is indispensable. We must hare it than once threatened to change. the entire and will have it! To reconcile despotism method of business previously adopted by with-well, is that such a mystery? Do you retail traders in the metropolis.

not already know the way? It is to make It scarcely needs to be said that the actual your despotism just. Rigorous as destiny; but or representative co-operative association in- just too as destiny and its laws. The laws of cludes not only a common interest in the sale God: all men obey these, and have no freedom and profits of necessary commodities required at all but in obeying them. The way is alhy the members, but in the industry in which ready known, part of the way; and courage and the members are employed and by the success some qualities are needed for walking in it."

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »