On this page
- Departments (1)
- Text (4)
Amongst the important questions which must force themselves upon the early attention of the reformed parliament , will be the state of our manufacturing population , and particularly the subject which now engrosses so much of the public feeling , viz , the Factory System , or the substitution of the labour of children for
that of adults ; and the cruel treatment and loss of life to which , according to evidence given before a committee of the House of Commons , the children thus employed are exposed . No one can read that investigation without feelings of horror ; there are some acts at which the heart recoils , and the question involuntarily arises , can these take place in civilized society ? are any approaching to them in cruelty known amongst the untaught savages ?
That the representations which have been made both by children and their parents are generally true , there can be no doubt ; there may be exaggeration , and indeed this would be unavoidable , for the subject is one interesting to those not directly concerned in it , and must cause great excitement in the districts which are immediately under its influence ; particular acts of cruelty may ave been strongly stated in order to force the consideration of the system upon the public mind . But as yet we have only heard
one side of the question ; the master manufacturers may , and probably will show that , as crimes exist in society , it is an exception not the rule , and society is not in consequence to be characterised as criminal . Great cruelty has , no doubt , been practised in a few factories , the excessive labour itself is cruelty , but beyond that , it cannot be the character of the factory system ; it is neither the interest of the master , nor according with the feelings of humanity to practise or allow acts of cruelty .
But though the system should be divested of that stain , and only few delinquents found amongst many masters and superintendents , it is attended with great hardship and labour where even great attention is paid to the comforts of the children ; and though the evidence given by the children themselves and their parents may be overcoloured , we have that of respectable medical men who are employed by masters to look after the health of the children , and who state the anxious exertions of some to
encourage in their mills cleanliness , good conduct , health , and education ; but still even then , the system retains its distressing consequences—hardship , and excessive labour at very early age , without sufficient time being allowed for rest and recreation . That is one point for consideration ; another is equally important , evinced
by the evidence of medical men , that where factories have been introduced , and in proportion to their extent , the number of human beings who attain the age of manhood is greatly reduced ; and in order to prove this fact some interesting tables have been
On The Factory System.
ON THE FACTORY SYSTEM .
No . 75 . M
Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), March 2, 1833, page 145, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct2610/page/1/