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Tuesday, December 18, 1849
Of the 21,000 journeymen tailors at work in the metropolis
there were, in the year 1844, 3,697 employed on the premises of the masters in
the "honourable" trade at the West-end of London, and 2,348 working
out of doors at the "dishonourable show and slop trade. Hence there were
6,081 journeymen tailors engaged at the West-end, and about 15,000 employed
at the East-end of the metropolis. In the East there are upwards of 80 slop and
show shops, many employing from 200 to 300 hands. There were in 1844 only 72
masters in the West who had all the work made on their premises; besides these,
there were 270 masters who had only part of their work made in-doors, and 112
who had none at all done at home. Hence the West-end branch of the business
consisted principally of 454 masters, of whom less than one-sixth belonged to
what is called the "honourable" part of the trade. Since then, I am
assured by one who has long made the business his peculiar study, that the 72
honourable masters have declined at least to 60, while the 172 dishonourable
ones have been more than doubled. The men employed in-doors have decreased from
3,600 to less than 3,000, and those employed out of doors have increased from
2,300 to more than 4,000. Hence the honourable part of the trade is declining at
the rate of 150 men per year; so that in 20 years at least the whole business
will have merged in the show and slop shops; and the wages of the men have
fallen from 18s. a week - which I find is the average of the honourable part of
the trade to 11s., the average of the slop trade.
The aggregate earnings of the 3,000 men now employed at the honourable part of the trade are £2,700 a week, or £140,000 a year. and the earnings of the 18,000 men working at the show and slop trade £9,900 a week, or £514,800 a year. Hence, as a body. the wages of the metropolitan tailors amount to £655,200 a year. But, according to the rate of decrease before mentioned, in twenty years the honourable part of the trade will have entirely disappeared, and the wages of the whole 21,000 journeymen will have declined to 11s. According to this estimate the workmen generally will, at the expiration of that time, suffer an annual loss of £54,600; that is, they will receive upwards of £50,000 less for their year's work than they do now. By the same calculation I find that they are collectively receiving every year £3,000 less wages than they did the year before.
In the year 1844 there were at the West-end 676 men, women. and children working under "sweaters", and occupying ninety-two small rooms, measuring 8 feet by 10, which upon an average was more than seven persons to each apartment. This number of individuals was composed of 179 men, 85 women, 45 boys, 78 girls, and 256 children - the latter being members of the sweaters' family. I am assured that these numbers have at least been doubled in the last five years, and that the number of boys, girls. and women introduced into the trade by the sweaters since the year 1844 is certainly three times as many as it was then. The number of individuals who made a practice of working on the Sunday, at the time the investigation was made, was 852; this, I am informed, has considerably increased. The better class of artisans denounce the system of Sunday working as the most iniquitous of all the impositions on the honourable part of the trade. They object to it, not only on moral and religious grounds, but economically also. "Every 600 men employed on the Sabbath," they say, "deprive 100 individuals of a week's work; every six men who labour seven days in the week must necessarily throw one other man out of employ for a whole week. The seventh man is deprived of his fair share of work by the overtoiling of the other six." This Sunday working, I am told, is a necessary consequence of the cheap slop trade. The workmen cannot keep their families by their six days' labour; and therefore they not only under that system, get less wages and do more work, but by their extra labour they throw so many more hands out of employ.
Of the system of "sweating," the report of the operative tailors in 1844 furnishes the following information, which my recent investigations enable me fully to corroborate: -
"Many of the families (consisting of six or seven persons in many cases) are, from their scanty incomes, obliged to live in one room of small dimensions, and when illness attacks any one of its members. whatever be its nature, whether highly contagious or otherwise, no separation from the remainder of the family takes place, but the latter employ themselves as usual in this vitiated atmosphere, exposed frequently to the accumulated influence of contagion, insufficient diet and constant sedentary work, during sixteen out of the twenty-four hours.
There can be little doubt that woollen clothes remaining for days together in such apartments, and sometimes in contact with the parties labouring under the effects of smallpox, scarlet fever, and other highly contagious diseases, will very likely prove a source from which such contagion may be propagated in the families of those to whom these woollens may be sent. Mr. French, a medical gentleman, states that he has seen a garment (which was a few hours afterwards to be forwarded to a person of rank, serving at the time of his visit as a covering to an individual suffering from small-pox."
On last Friday evening a very numerous
meeting was held at the Hanover-square Rooms, in order to arrive at statistical
results concerning the earnings of the working tailors of the West-end. As many
as 2,000 attended, and the respectable appearance of the operatives formed a
striking contrast to those who had been present at the meeting at Shadwell.
MEETING, HANOVER-SQUARE ROOMS, FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14.- The proceedings were commenced by the Metropolitan Correspondent of The Morning Chronicle, who explained that the operative tailors had been called together for the purpose of collecting certain information in connection with their trade. The object of the meeting was to obtain an estimate of the earnings of the working classes. There was no other end in view but to ascertain the truth: and the instructions he had received were to search out the fact wheresoever they might lead. In the first place it was desirable to have a history of prices in the trade, and then to follow out the depression and its causes. Besides a history of prices, he wishes to ascertain how many tailors laboured singlehanded twenty years ago; whether the change in prices since that period had forced them to employ their wives and families in order to make out a living; and whether prices had been affected by so many extra needlewomen being introduced into the market? With regard to the slop trade, he found, from an inquiry instituted among the operative tailors by their own body, that in the year 1845 there were 72 masters who had all their work done upon their own premises, and that they employed 998 men at the rate of 6s. per day. There were also 270 masters who had only a portion of their work done upon their own premises, and they employed 1,310 men out of doors at scanty and unremunerating prices. Of these 270 there were 112 who had no work done upon their own premises. At that period there were employed within doors altogether 3,697 individuals, and 2,384 out of doors. Now, it was desirable to ascertain how far these numbers had changed since information which would prove whether or not the slop trade had been gaining ground. If, for example, the number of persons employed in-doors had decreased from 3,600, say, to 2,000, whilst the number employed out of doors had increased from 2,300 to 3,400, the operative tailors might perceive what would be the result in a few years. According to the same authority there were 643 persons employed in sweaters' rooms, occupying 98 small rooms and 33 larger. The total number working upon the Sunday was 389. Now, he should like to know how far these numbers had increased, and to what cause the increase was owing. With reference to another part of the subject - the sufferings and privations endured by the workpeople through the low price paid for their labour - they should contrast their present with their past condition. He wished to discover whether their comforts had increased with the decreased price of provisions. If wages fell faster than provisions, it was very clear the working classes must ultimately lapse into pauperism. If they fell at the same rate, and from the same causes, then no benefit had resulted from the recent change; whereas if the price of labour had no connection with the price of food, then it was evident that if wages had gone down, and provisions had remained at the same price, the working classes must have starved outright. It was for the meeting to state what were the facts; and whilst asking them to make known their experience in connection with this subject, they must understand that he did not himself express any opinion, one way or the other - his only object being to collect the facts from their own lips. He further wished to know how much longer they were obliged to work now, and how many more hands they were obliged to employ, in order to gain the same amount of money and obtain the same comforts as they formerly earned and enjoyed. But the most important aim of the meeting was to discover whether the low prices arose from competition among the masters, or from competition amongst the workpeople. To arrive at this knowledge, it would be necessary, first, to ascertain whether the number of hands among the operative tailors had been stationary; also, whether a certain amount of extraneous labour had not been introduced into the craft; also, provided such extraneous labour had been introduced, would the number of hands have been sufficient to perform the amount of work to be done? Had female labour, Irish labour, and foreign labour been introduced or imported for the sake of cheapness, and so undersold the regular artisan? Had the trade suffered from being overstocked by its own hands, or from the addition of such labour as would not, by the mere increase of population, have been introduced into it? It was for them to bring out the facts. He also wished to know whether, in their opinion, the emigration of the working classes would be sufficient to alter the depression of wages? He desired to consult the operatives themselves upon these important questions. He offered no opinion himself; but he wanted theirs, and the facts on which they founded it.
A WORKING TAILOR then came forward, and said he would take a brief review of the condition of the trade so long as he had known it, and endeavour to point out the progress and causes of its downfall. It had been his misfortune, during a period of twenty- five years, to see, not only a downward motion in the trade as regarded prices, but a very material increase in the amount of labour, and a diminution of the chances of obtaining work. The tailors of the metropolis had never hitherto had the opportunity of making their circumstances clearly known to the public. The public hitherto had never had the means of fairly testing their ignorance or their intelligence; and he complained that, whenever they had expressed their dissatisfaction, they had been set down as ignorant beings, who could not comprehend their position or the benefits which they were said to enjoy. Certainly, within his time, the means of making the working classes happy had increased in the country; but in the proportion of that increase had the tailors, as a class, become miserable. Various causes had conspired to enslave them - for he could describe their condition by no other term. In the year 1825, he recollected the trade discovering an evil just creeping in, which, even then, threatened destruction, if not checked. A desire was then evinced on the part of some masters to get work done off their premises, and they commenced by giving out the light trade, such as waistcoat-making. The trade foresaw this would lead to great evil, and in 1825 they made an attempt to stop it. Every house in London that employed men upon their own premises were told that, unless they would undertake not to give out waistcoats to women, the men would not work for them. The answer given in almost every instance was that they would not; but they did not maintain the honour of their word. They still gave out work to women at home. At that time, having come from the country, he obtained 6s. a day, as certain as he went to work, and he was able to maintain his family in comfort and respectability. But this system was afterwards materially departed from by the men themselves. After they found that there was a great number of women who could be useful in the trade, that the husband, by his wife and daughters becoming waistcoat-makers, could make somewhat more money than he could in the shop, they left the shop. That was a fault upon the part of the men, for he thought they were bound to acknowledge their own faults when they pointed out those of the masters. During this time the "show shops" were progressing; but they were not considered respectable. These shops, it must be understood always, from the first, gave out their work to be done at home, because they discovered they could get it done cheaper, as women were employed, than by having men at work upon their own premises. Then some of the more respectable portions of the trade began to imagine that they might put a trifle into their pockets by commencing the same system. Thus the system was established, and, sooner or later, all must go into the same channel. They had already discovered, by the experience of the East-end, that there was no stopping point but one which was equal to starving them out of existence. Abundant evidence had been given, and indeed they all knew it, of the fact that men earning only half-a-crown a day, by fifteen or sixteen hours' hard work, were reduced even from that. This was a fair expression of what competition would do for the whole class, unless it was guarded by some well-understood principle between the employers and the employed. The Government of the country had really been the means of reducing prices in the tailoring trade to so low a scale that no human being, whatever his industry, could live and be happy in his lot. The Government were really responsible for the first introduction of female labour. He would clearly prove what he had stated. He would refer first to the army clothing. Our soldiers were comfortably clothed, as they had a right to be; but surely the men who made the clothing which was so comfortable, ought to be paid for their labour so as to be able to keep themselves comfortable and their families virtuous. But it was in evidence that the persons working upon army clothing could not, upon an average, earn more than 1s. a day. Another Government department - the Post-office - afforded a considerable amount of employment to tailors; but those who worked upon the Post-office clothing earned at the most only 1s. 6d. a day. The police clothing was another considerable branch of tailoring; this, like the others, ought to be paid for at living prices; but the men at work at it could only earn 1s. 6d. a day, supposing them to work hard all the time fourteen or fifteen hours. The Custom-house clothing gave about the same prices. Now, all these sorts of work were performed by time workers, who, as a natural consequence of the wages they received, were the most miserable of human beings. Husband, wife, and family, all worked at it; they just tried to breathe upon it; to live it never could be called. Yet the same Government, which paid such wretched wages, called upon these wretched people to be industrious, to be virtuous, and happy. How was it possible, whatever their industry, to be virtuous and happy? The fact was, the men who, at a slack season, had been compelled to fall back upon these kinds of work, became so beggared and broken down by it, notwithstanding the assistance of their wives and families, that they were never able to rise out of it. They were obliged to hang on at it, month after month, till their spirits or their health failed; and the only addition they could possibly expect was the miserable work they received from the slop-shop. And as to the slop-shop, the owners and the sweaters who served them cared not what the sufferings of their workpeople were, so long as they could become rich, and ride in fine carriages through the City and elsewhere. Was this, he asked, a right system? Was it one likely to promote the real strength and prosperity of the country? It was clear that the Government had no idea of what was going on, or they would take some steps in reference to it. It was a delusion on the part of the middle or any other class to suppose it was their interest to reduce the wages of the working man. Recurring to his own trade, he pointed out the evils of the system of middlemen, or sweaters, and said he had evidence that through it first-rate workmen for a house, which had establishments both at the West-end and in the City, had to work 4½ days for 11s. He only hoped they would be able to obtain the countenance of the employers, and induce them to conduct their business upon a different principle. It was clear there was no remedy for the unfortunate condition of the working tailors, save and except in the abolition of home work, and of the sweating system, and in living prices being paid for Government work.
R. E., also a working tailor, said the progress of the miserable system by which his fellow-workmen were being destroyed having been described, he would draw attention to what he conceived to have been its causes, and to what he considered its remedy. During the last twenty months there had been, from time to time, meetings of trade delegates in London. Their own trade was among the number represented. The delegates had gathered a certain amount of information, by which it was shown that there were, at that time, at least 280,000 mechanics in London. It was ascertained further, that of these 280,000 one-third only were fully employed. one-third were partially employed, and one-third were entirely unemployed. These facts were stated to the Government, they were stated to several influential members of both Houses of Parliament; and the invariable reply was that Government was well disposed to do everything that was possible for the benefit of the working classes, if they knew how. Such was the assurance of a very popular nobleman having a seat in the lower house. Now he would point out at least one respect in which Government might benefit the working classes. He held in his hand a pamphlet containing statements of the Admiralty contract prices for navy clothing. The contract system had been mainly instrumental in destroying the living wages of the working man. Now, the Government were the sole originators of the system of contracts and of sweating. Forty years ago there was nothing known of contracts, except Government contracts; and at that period the contractors were confined to making slops for the navy, the army, and the West India slaver. It was never dreamt of then that such a system was to come into operation in the better classes of trade, till ultimately it was destructive of masters as well as men. The Government having been the cause of the contract system, and consequently of the sweating system, he called upon them to abandon it. The sweating system had established the show shops and the ticket system, both of which were countenanced by the Government. Even the Court assisted to keep the system in fashion, and the royal arms and royal warrants were now exhibited common enough by slopsellers. If the royal arms and royal warrants were used, why, the noble lord was asked, should they not be permitted to a house like Stultz's, which paid good wages? Would it not be more worthy of the Court and the Government to appropriate them to such a house, than bestow them as they were bestowed at the present moment? To this the noble lord could only reply that if the facts were made known to her Majesty he was confident that she would not countenance anything of the sort, and that the system would be put an end to. How, then, to bring the facts before her Majesty? He could only see one effectual way, namely, to bring popular opinion to bear upon the Government with all its force. The broad question with regard to Government and other work was, "Shall the labouring man, after the employment of all his industry and skill, exist upon less than slaves' wages, and under worse than slaves' treatment?" Government said, its duty was to do justice. But was it consistent with justice to pay only 2s. 6d. for making navy jackets, which would be paid 10s. for by every "honourable" tradesman? Was it consistent with justice for the Government to pay for Royal Marine clothing (private's coat and epaulets) 1s. 9d.? Was it consistent with justice for the Government to pay for making a pair of trousers (four or five hours' work) only 2½d.? And yet, when a contractor, noted for paying just wages to those he employed, brought this under the consideration of the Admiralty, they declared they had nothing to do with it. Here is their answer -
"Admiralty, March 19, 1847.
"Sir-Having laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty sour letter of the 8th inst., calling their attention to the extremely low prices paid for making up articles of clothing, provided for her Majesty's naval service, I am commanded by their lordships to acquaint you, that they have no control whatever over the wages paid for making up contract clothing. Their duty is to take care that the articles supplied are of good quality, and well made: the cost of the material and the workmanship are matters which rest with the contractor; and if the public were to pay him a higher price than that demanded, it would not ensure any advantage to the men employed by him, as their wages depend upon the amount of competition for employment amongst themselves.
I am, sir, your most obedient servant,
"W. Shaw, Esq." "H. G. WARD.
After this, he repeated, he saw no other
means of urging this subject upon the attention of the Court and the Government,
but through the force of public opinion. He regarded emigration as, at best, a
fallacious remedy. Mr. Bright said, at the late dinner in Manchester, that food
was cheaper now than it had been for twelve years, and that wages were higher
than they had been for five years. Did anybody in the meeting believe that
statement [loud cries of "no"]? Now, he would like to take the sense
of the meeting, whether they, as working tailors, were now in a better condition
than before, under the present reduced price of provisions?
This question, which was unexpected, was eventually modified into this shape: "Do the working men here assembled feel they are much better off - that their comforts have been greater, and their employment more - since provisions have been cheaper?"
"No, no," was the answer of at least a thousand voices.
Another question was asked in these words: "Provided the laws had not been altered, and the prices of provisions remained as they were, would you have been worse off than you are now?"
"No," replied some; "yes," others.
At the suggestion of a person in the body of the meeting the question was thus put: "Are the working men better paid and better employed now than they were five years ago?"
The meeting instantly replied, "No, no."
Somebody asked why five years were taken, and he wished twenty-five to be substituted. To please this party the question was once more modified in these words: "Are the working men better off now and better paid, than they were twenty-five years ago?"
A unanimous negative was the immediate answer.
On the recommendation of another party this question was also put: "Are you satisfied, if the laws with regard to provisions had not been altered, you would have been worse off?"
The answer to this was "Yes;" after which, such questions being objected to as involving points not directly connected with the purposes of the meeting, they were discontinued.
- C. also a working tailor, said he would briefly offer his opinion upon the policy which he thought would for the future guide the trade in the right direction, and also upon the bad policy which had brought it to its present condition. It was manifest that the slop trade and the Sweating system had materially injured the regular and honourable trade. There could be no question that, for the last thirty years, each succeeding year had been worse than its predecessor, and that upon an average wages had, in the same period, been reduced fully one-half. At that period an industrious and efficient workman could calculate upon an average of 30s. per week the year round; now he was a fortunate man, indeed, who could say, "I can calculate certainly upon 15s. the year round." A great majority of the trade, to his certain knowledge, did not average more than 10s. This state of things had been brought about partly by competition among the workmen and partly by competition among the masters; but the workmen had assisted in bringing this result about quite as much as any combination among the masters could have done. It was futile to charge upon the masters of 1849 the faults of the masters of 1825. There could be no doubt that the cause of the sweating system had been the cupidity of the workmen. The greediness of men, not content with their own earnings, led them to abandon the places where they were at work, in order to go home and labour excessive hours. These men employed others, who hung about the houses-of-call or the streets. Under such a system, he put it to the meeting whether it was not likely a class of employers would spring up, ready to catch at the offers to do work which these men made to secure it? The thing, in short, commenced with themselves; their employers availed themselves of it; and the result was, the present depressed state of the trade. The evil had long been apparent, both to masters and men; but a want of unanimity, and perhaps of mutual knowledge, had caused its continuance. He was satisfied it was the interest of masters to keep work in the right channel, and to support a fair amount of remuneration to the working man. But this was a difficult matter. Let the working tailors, then, do the best they could under the circumstances to extricate themselves and the masters from the dilemma - to snatch, as it were, the brand out of the fire. Female labour had also done very much to injure the trade. No other trade employed their wives and families in the same way or to the same extent. As the first step towards bringing back things into a right direction, he believed that the small band of "honourable" men now in union ought to mitigate the rules which prevented out-door workers from coming among them; and, in the next place, that they ought to invite employers - show them, indeed, the benefit of it - to have all their work done upon their premises. If 7,000 or 8,000 of the trade were bound together for these objects, the moral effect would be very great. Under all the circumstances, he could see no better way of effecting the object in view than the practical application of some such idea as he ventured to throw out.
The question was here put, whether the operative tailors present thought that if the system of out-door labour was done away with, the trade generally would be benefited?
The show of hands gave a unanimous answer in the affirmative. The meeting further intimated in the same way their belief that work being done upon the masters' premises was the real practical remedy against sweating.
A WORKING TAILOR from the East-end next rose, and stated that at certain seasons it was a practice among the sweaters to import cheap labour from Ireland, and from different parts of the Continent, so that emigration would be of no practical benefit, because whatever numbers were taken away would soon be replaced by immigration. He mentioned a number of shops, both at the east and west ends, whose work was all taken by sweaters; and several of these shops were under royal and noble patronage. There was one notorious sweater who kept his carriage. He was a Jew, and of course he gave a preference to his own sect. Thus another Jew received it from him second-rate, then it went on to a third - till it came to the unfortunate Christian, at perhaps the eighth rate, and he performed the work at barely living prices; this same Jew required a deposit of £5 in money before he would give out a single garment to be made. He need not describe the misery which this system entailed upon the workmen. It was well known; but it was almost impossible, except for those who had been at the two, to form an idea of the difference between the present meeting and one at the East-end, where all who attended worked for slop-shops and sweaters. The present was a highly respectable assembly, the other presented no other appearance but those of misery and degradation.
A WORKING TAILOR, an Irishman from the county of Kerry, who was introduced by the last speaker, gave rather a humorous account of how he had been "kidnapped" by a sweater's wife into coming to London. He added he was a slave rather than a working man, for he made coats worth from £2 to £3 each for half-a-crown each, and he worked sixteen hours every day. He had not been out for between five and six weeks, because he had no clothes, but being determined to attend the meeting, he had got the loan of the coat he had on. He mentioned the name and address of the party who had "kidnapped" him, and said he knew many of his countrymen now in London who had been brought over under similar pretences to himself - good wages, plenty of diet, full employment; not one of which promises had been kept.
Several other persons testified to the introduction of cheap Irish and foreign labour.
A person in the crowd said there was a system prevailing in some of the shops at the West-end, which was the meanest he had yet heard of. The foremen in those establishments received first-rate wages; still, under the cover of teaching cutting, they got parties from the country who paid them £5, and who were invariably introduced into the shops as working tailors. And if it were a slack season, a regular hand, though a better tailor, and a married man, would be dispensed with before the new hand so introduced.
Other workmen intimated that they could confirm the statement as to the existence of such a practice. The payment of the £5 was called a "penalty" to get work.
Many other statements were made, which occupied the meeting till a late hour. Before the close their opinion, as practical working men, was taken upon the following questions: -
1. Are you of opinion that emigration will serve you, or not?
The answer was "no."
2. Do you believe that the surplus needlewomen in the metropolis, taking them at 11,000 odd, whose wages are below subsistence point, are the daughters and wives of working men, and that they are forced into the labour market owing to the working man being unable to live upon the wages he now earns?
The answer was "yes."
3. And consequently that the working men's wives and daughters are obliged to go into the labour market, and compete with their own fathers and husbands?
"Yes, quite true," were the replies.
4. Then the surplus needlewomen of the metropolis may generally be expressed as the wives and daughters of the working man, whom he is unable to maintain?
The answer to this was also in the affirmative; and, like the others, perfectly unanimous.
The proceedings thereupon terminated.
The statistical results of the meeting were as follows: -
Returns of the earnings were obtained from 434 operative tailors. Of these 152 were coat hands, who could earn £298 0s. 9d. by working 1,029 days 8 hours, which is at the rate of 5¾d. per hour. According to the returns of those engaged at the dishonourable part of the trade, the coat hands for the slop-shops could earn only at the rate of 2d. per hour. 97 were trousers hands, and they could earn £14 0s. 9d. in 48 days and 10 hours, being at the rate of 5¾d. per hour. At the slop trade, according to the return of 12 hands, the average rate of earnings was 1¼d. per hour.
The aggregate earnings last week of the 434 hands working at the honourable trade was £461 12s. 2½d
The amount that they had in pawn was £310 13s 6d.
The average rate of earnings of each of the hands last week was £1 1s 3½d.
And the average rate of weekly earnings throughout the year £0 18s. 9½d.
There were 104 hands who earned above £1 a week, 229 who got more than 15s., 79 who made above 10s., and 22 whose earnings exceeded 5s. per week.
Since the above meeting I have devoted my attention to the investigation of the West-end show trade. I have also made further inquiries into the system adopted for the introduction of cheap Irish and foreign labour.
I will first proceed to give the reader a more perfect idea than I have yet been able to do of the principle of sweating. I first sought out a sweater himself, from whom I obtained the following information:-
"I make the best coats, and get 16s. for frock and dress. They take me three days each to do. I have to find my own trimmings, and basting up is included likewise. I use one lamp for my own work; my missus has a candle to herself. The lamp costs me about 1s. 9d. a week, and the extra fire for heating my irons about 1s. per week. The expenses of trimmings for two coats will be about 1s. 6d., which come altogether to 4s. 3d., and this has to be deducted from 32s., leaving 27s. 9d. clear for my own weekly earnings. This is more than the generality of people can make. I make this amount of money weekly upon an average all the year round. I can do thus much by my own single hand. I employ persons to work under me - that is, I get the work, and give it to them to do. I generally have two men working at home with me. I take a third of the coat, and I give them each a third to do. They board and lodge with me altogether - that is, they have their dinners, teas, breakfasts, and beds in my place. I give them at the rate of 15s. a coat - that is, I take Is. off the price I receive for the trimmings and my trouble. The trimmings come to 9d., and the extra 3d. is the profit for my trouble. They pay me at the rate of 2s. 6d. per week for washing and lodging-the washing would be about 6d. out of the money. They both sleep in one bed. Their breakfasts I charge 4d. each for - if "with a relish" they are 5d. Their teas are 4d., and their dinners are 6d.; altogether I charge them for their food about 8s. 2d., a week, and this, with lodging and washing, comes to from 16s. 6d. to 11s. per week. The three of us working together can make six coats in the week, if fully employed - on an average we make from four to five coats, and never less than four. This would bring us in altogether, for four coats, £3 4s. Out of this, the shares of each of my two men would be £1. The rest I should deduct for expenses. Then their living would be from about 10s. 6d., so that they would get clear 9s. 6d. per week over and above their living. I pay 7s. 6d. a week rent. I have two rooms, and the men sleep in the work room. I get every week for the four of us (that is, for myself, my missus, and the two men-we live all together) about four or five ounces of tea, and this costs me 1s. 5d. I have 1s. worth of coffee, and about 1s. 6d. worth of sugar. The bread is 3s. 6d. per week, and butter 2s. 11d. The meat comes to about 8s., and the vegetables 2s. 4d. The lighting will be 1s. 9d., firing 1s. 6d. This will come to 30s. for the board and lodging of the four of us, or at the rate of 7s. 6d. per head. I should therefore clear out of the living of my men about 3s. a week each, and out of their work about 8d., so that altogether I get 3s. 8d. a week out of each man I employ. This, I believe, is a fair statement. I wish other people dealt with the men as decently as I do. I know there are many who are living entirely upon them. Some employ as many as fourteen men. I myself worked in the house of a man who did this. The chief part of us lived and worked and slept together in two rooms, on the second floor. They charged 2s. 6d. per head for the lodging alone. Twelve of the workmen, I am sure, lodged in the house, and these paid altogether 30s. a week rent to the sweater. I should think the sweater paid 8s. a week for the rooms - so that he gained at least 22s. clear, out of the lodging of these men, and stood at no rent himself. For the living of the men he charged 5d. for breakfasts, and the same for teas, and 8d. for dinner, or at the rate of 10s. 6d. each per head. Taking one with the other, and considering the manner in which they lived, I am certain that the cost for keeping each of them could not have been more than 5s. This would leave 5s. 6d. clear profit on the board of each of the twelve men, or altogether £3 6s. per week; and this, added to the £1 2s. profit on the rent, would give £4 8s. for the sweater's gross profit on the board and lodging of the workmen in his place. But, besides this, he got 1s. out of each coat made on his premises, and there were twenty-one coats made there upon an average every week; so that altogether the sweater's clear gains out of the men were £5 9s. every week. Each man made about a coat-and-a-half in the course of the seven days (for they all worked on a Sunday- they were generally told to 'borrow a day of the Lord'). For this coat-and-a-half each hand got £1 2s. 6d., and out of it he had to pay 13s. for board and lodging; so that there was 9s. 6d. clear left. These are the profits of the sweater, and the earnings of the men engaged under him, when working for the first-rate houses. But many of the cheap houses pay as low as 8s. for the making of each dress and frock coat, and some of them as low as 6s. Hence the earnings of the men at such work would be from 9s. to 12s. per week and the cost of their board and lodging, without dinners- for these they seldom have-would be from 7s. 6d. to 8s. per week. Indeed, the men working under sweaters at such prices generally consider themselves well off if they have a shilling or two in their pocket for Sunday. The profits of the sweater, however, would be from £4 to £5 out of twelve men working on his premises. The usual number of men working under each sweater is about six individuals: and the average rate of profit about £2 10s., without the sweater doing any work himself. It is very often the case that a man working under a sweater is obliged to pawn his own coat to get any pocket-money that he may require. Over and over again the sweater makes out that he is in his debt from 1s. to 2s. at the end of the week, and when the man's coat is in pledge he is compelled to remain imprisoned in the sweater's lodgings for months together. In some sweating places there is an old coat kept, called a 'reliever,' and this is borrowed by such men as have none of their own to go out in. There are very few of the sweaters' men who have a coat to their backs or a shoe to their feet to come out into the streets on Sunday. Down about Fulwood's-rents, Holborn. I am sure I would not give 6d. for the clothes that are on a dozen of them; and it is surprising to me, working and living together in such numbers and in such small close rooms, in narrow, close back courts as they do, that they are not all swept off by some pestilence. I myself have seen half-a-dozen men at work in a room that was a little better than a bedstead long. It was as much as one could do to move between the wall and the bedstead when it was down. There were two bedsteads in this room, and they nearly filled the place when they were down. The ceiling was so low that I couldn't stand upright in the room. There was no ventilation in the place. There was no fireplace, and only a small window. When the window was open you could nearly touch the houses at the back, and if the room had not been at the top of the house the men could not have seen at all in the place. The staircase was so narrow, steep, and dark, that it was difficult to grope your way to the top of the house - it was like going up a steeple. This is the usual kind of place in which the sweater's men are lodged. The reason why there are so many Irishmen working for the sweaters is, because they are seduced over to this country by the prospect of high wages and plenty of work. They are brought over by the Cork boats at 10s. a-head, and when they once get here the prices they receive are so small that they are unable to go back. In less than a week after they get here their clothes are all pledged, and they are obliged to continue working under the sweaters.
After this I made the best of my way to one who was working under a sweater, and who was anxious, I was told, to expose the iniquities of the whole system. He said:-
"I work for a sweater. I have been working for such people off and on for this last eight or nine years. I 'belonged to society' before that, and worked for the most honourable masters at this end of the town. I worked in the master's shop, of course. I never did day work, but I had piece work to do. I preferred that. I was a very quick hand, and could make more money that way. At day work I should have got £1 16s. a week, but at piece work I have occasionally made 36s. in four days, but these four days were at the latter end of the week. Upon an average I could get about 38s. a week in the brisk time, which was about two months in the year. I was always employed at that time, unless it was my own fault. During the vacation, or slack, I used often to be for many months and not earn a shilling at all. I used to hang about the houses of call then, waiting for a job, which came in about one day a week throughout the rest of the year, excepting Christmas, when perhaps I should have about three weeks' employment. I had a wife, but no children. Four years come this winter was the last time that I had employment at the honourable part of the trade. But before that I used to work for the sweaters when the regular business was slack. I did this unknown to the society of which I was a member. If it had been known to them, I should have had to pay a certain penalty, or else my name would have been scratched off the books, and I should have no more chance of work at the honourable trade. When working for the honourable trade I was employed about one-third of my time, and I should say I earned about £30 in the year. I was out of work two-thirds of my time. I never saved anything out of my wages when I was fully employed. I generally got into debt in the slack time, and was obliged to work hard to pay it off in the brisk. It was during the vacation. eight years back, that I first went to a sweater. Sweaters were scarcely known 25 years back, and they increased enormously after the change from day work to piece work. I could get no employment at my regular trade, and a sweater came down to the house and proposed to me privately to go and work for him. It was a regular practice then for the sweaters to come to the house and look out for such as had no employment and would work under price. I kept on for four years secretly working for the sweaters during vacation, and after that I got so reduced in circumstances that I could not appear respectable, and so get work amongst the honourable trade. The pay that I received by working for the sweaters was so little that I was forced to part with my clothes. When I first went to work for the sweater I used to get 4s. 6d. for making the third part of a coat. It would take from 11 to 13 hours to make a third. I could have done as many as six thirds, but could not get them to do. The sweater where I worked employed more hands than he had work for, so that he could get any job that was wanted in a hurry done as quickly as possible. 1 should say upon an average I got two-thirds of a coat to make each week, and earned about 7s. Some weeks, of course, I did more; but some I had only one, and often none at all. The sweater found me in trimmings. His system was the same as others, and I have worked for many since in the last eight years. The sweaters all employ more men than they want, and I am sure that those who work for them do not get more than two-thirds of a coat to make every week, taking one week with another. Another of the reasons for the sweaters keeping more hands than they want is, the men generally have their meals with them. The more men they have with them the more breakfasts and teas they supply, and the more profit they make. The men usually have to pay 4d.. and very often 5d. for their breakfast, and the same for their tea. The tea or breakfast is mostly a pint of tea or coffee, and three to four slices of bread and butter. I worked for one sweater who almost starved the men; the smallest eater there would not have had enough if he had got three times as much. They had only three thin slices of bread and butter, not sufficient for a child, and the tea was both weak and bad. The whole meal could not have stood him in 2d. a head; and what made it worse was, that the men who worked there couldn't afford to have dinners, so that they were starved to the bone. The sweater's men generally lodge where they work. A sweater usually keeps about six men. These occupy two small garrets; one room is called the kitchen, and the other the workshop; and here the whole of the six men, and the sweater, his wife, and family, live and sleep. One sweater I worked with had four children and six men, and they, together with his wife, sister-in-law, and himself, all lived in two rooms, the largest of which was about eight feet by ten. We worked in the smallest room and slept there as well - all six of us. There were two turn-up beds in it, and we slept three in a bed. There was no chimney, and indeed no ventilation whatever. I was near losing my life there - the foul air of so many people working all day in the place and sleeping there at night was quite suffocating. Almost all the men were consumptive, and I myself attended the dispensary for disease of the lungs. The room in which we all slept was not more than six feet square. We were all sick and weak, and loth to work. Each of the six of us paid 2s. 6d. a week for our lodging, or 15s. altogether, and I am sure such a room as we slept and worked in might be had for 1s. a week; you can get a room with a fireplace for 1s. 6d. The usual sum that the men working for sweaters pay for their tea. breakfast, and lodging is 6s. 6d. to 7s. a week, and they seldom earn more money in the week. Occasionally at the week's end they are in debt to the sweater. This is seldom for more than 6d., for the sweater will not give them victuals if he has no work for them to do. Many who live and work at the sweater's are married men. and are obliged to keep their wives and children in lodgings by themselves. Some send them to the workhouse, others to their friends in the country. Besides the profit of the board and lodging. the sweater takes 6d. out of the price paid for every garment under 10s.; some take 1s., and I do know of one who takes as much as 2s. This man works for a large show-shop at the West-end. The usual profit of the sweater, over and above the board and lodging is 2s. out of every pound. Those who work for sweaters soon lose their clothes, and are unable to seek for other work, because they have not a coat to their back to go and seek it in. Last week I worked with another man at a coat for one of her Majesty's Ministers, and my partner never broke his fast while he was making his half of it. The Minister dealt at the cheap West-end show-shop. All the workman had the whole day-and-a-half he was making the coat was a little tea. But sweaters' work is not so bad as Government work, after all. At that we cannot make more than 4s. or 5s. a week altogether-that is, counting the time we are running after it, of course. Government contract work is the worst work of all, and the starved-out and sweated-out tailor's last resource. But still Government does not do the regular trade so much harm as the cheap show and slop shops. These houses have ruined thousands. They have cut down the prices so that men cannot live at the work; and the masters who did and would pay better wages are reducing the workmen's pay every day. They say they must either compete with the large show shops or go into the Gazette.
Of the system by which the sweaters are supported, the following information will give the public some little notion:-
"I do the superior out-of-door work for a large show-shop at the West-end," said the party from whom I had the information. "Now I am making the walking and driving capes. There is one that is as heavy as two 10s. coats, and yet I only get 18s. for it. I can't tell how long one of them takes me to make, for it is so tedious a job that I get tired of it, and put it down and commence something else. There is so much stitching in it that a man never sees when he will have finished. It's a week's work for any man. I have made every description of coat in the establishment. The pilot cloth capes, bound all round the bottom with braid, I get 6s. for. They take two days each to make. A Witney coat, double stitched all round, I get 10s. for, and each one takes me three days' hard work. I'm sure no man can do it in less. The 18s. coat that I mentioned before has ten rows of stitching all round; to convince you, just count them yourself. If the capes are made of hard box-cloth we get 12s. for them, and they take every one of them four days to make. You see, the master averages our work at 3s. a day; that is just half the price paid by the houses in the honourable part of the trade, but he considers that with our wives' help each of the men can get as much at the work as they could if working single-handed at the honourable part of the trade. A whole family may certainly make 36s. a week at the West-end show work, but then every woman engaged throws a man out of employ; so that the employer not only gets part of his work done at half price, but he deprives a great number of men of their regular employment. For dress and frock coats the firm pays 10s., 11s., 13s., and l4s. No one working at home can complain of the l4s. coats. He gives 6s. 6d. for making shooting coats; if the linings are creased and stitched an inch apart, he gives 8s. 6d. The last will take three days each to make. He gives 1s. extra for shooting jackets if they are bespoke. For the paletots he pays 8s. if they are oversized. All the stock paletots are given out to a Jew to have made. He has contracted for them at 7s. 6d. This Jew has also contracted for the stock shooting coats at 6s. a-piece. The best work that we have to do are the 14s. coats. At these a man could live. The worst work is the driving capes and the paletots. At these a man can barely get a subsistence. At making the box-coats the blood has been coming out of my finger's end, the cloth is so hard. I can make 18s. a week, working twelve hours each day. My expenses out of this are, for trimming, 1s.; coals, 1s.; and candles, 9d.; leaving me 15s. 3d. per week clear. This is to support me and my wife and family. Before I came to the show-shop trade I made about 30s. a week upon an average, or say twice as much as I can do now. I was single then. In 1844 I belonged to the honourable part of the trade. Our house of call supplied the present show-shop with men to work on the premises. The prices then paid were at the rate of 6d. per hour. For the same driving capes that they paid 18s. then, they give only 12s. for now. For the dress and frock coats they gave 15s then. and now they are 14s. The paletots and shooting coats were 12s.; there was no coat made on the premises under that sum. At the end of the season they wanted to reduce the paletots to 9s. The men refused to make them at that price, when other houses were paying as much as 15s. for them. The consequence of this was, the house discharged all the men, and got a Jew middleman from the neighbourhood of Petticoat-lane to agree to do them all at 7s. 6d. a-piece. The Jew employed all the poor people who were at work for the slop warehouses in Houndsditch and its vicinity. This Jew makes on an average 500 paletots a week. The Jew gets 2s. 6d. profit out of each, and having no sewing trimmings allowed to him, he makes the workpeople find them. The saving in trimmings alone to the firm, since the workmen left the premises, must have realised a small fortune to them. Calculating men, women, and children, I have heard it said that the cheap house at the West-end employs 1,000 hands. The trimmings for the work done by these would be about 6d. a week per head; so that the saving to the house since the men worked on the premises has been no less than £1,300 a year, and all this taken out of the pockets of the poor. The Jew who contracts for making the paletots is no tailor at all. A few years ago he sold sponges in the street, and now he rides in his carriage. The Jew's profits are 500 half-crowns, or £60 odd, per week-that is, upwards of £3,000 a year. Women are mostly engaged at the paletot work. When I came to work for the cheap show-shop I had £5 10s. in the savings bank; now I have not a halfpenny in it. All I had saved went little by little to keep me and my family. I have always made a point of putting some money by when I could afford it, but since I have been at this work it has been as much as I could do to live, much more to save. One of the firm for which I work has been heard publicly to declare that he employed 1,000 hands constantly. Now the earnings of these at the honourable part of the trade would be upon an average, taking the skilful with the unskilful, 15s. a week each, or £39,000 a year. But since they discharged the men from off their premises they have cut down the wages of the workmen one-half - taking one garment with another - though the selling prices remain the same to the public; so that they have saved by the reduction of the workmen's wages no less than £19,500 per year. Every other quarter of a year something has been 'docked' off our earnings, until it is almost impossible for men with families to live decently by their labour; and now, for the first time, they pretend to feel for them. They even talk of erecting a school for the children of their work- people; but where is the use of their erecting schools, when they know as well as we do that, at the wages they pay, the children must be working for their fathers at home? They had much better erect workshops, and employ the men on the premises at fair living wages, and then the men could educate their own children, without being indebted to their 'charity.'"
In my last I merely hinted at the system adopted by wily sweaters to entrap inexperienced country and Irish hands into their service. Since then I devoted considerable attention to the subject, and am now in a position to lay before the public the following facts in connection with this trade:-
The system of inducing men by false pretences on the part of sweaters, or more commonly, of sweaters' wives, to work for them at wretched wages, I heard described in various terms. Such persons were most frequently called kidnapped men. The following narrative, given to me by one of the men concerned, and corroborated by one of his Irish fellow-victims, supplies an instance of the stratagems adopted. The second Irishman had but, as he said to me, "changed his house of bondage! - he had fallen into the hands of another sweater, his coat was in pawn, and he could not, in spite of all his struggles, lay by enough to redeem it. The wife of a sweater (an Irishman long notorious for such practices). herself a native of Kerry, visited her friends in that town, and found out two poor journeymen tailors. One was the son of a poor tailor, the other of a small farmer. She induced these two young men to follow her to London, immediately after her return. and at their own expense. She told them of her husband's success in trade, and of the high wages to be got in London by those who had friends in the trade, and engaged the two for her husband. Their wages were to be 36s. a week "to begin with." When the Irishmen reached the sweater's place, near Houndsditch, they found him in a den of a place (I give the man's own words), anything but clean, and anything but sweet, and were at once set to work at trousers making, at 1s. a pair, finding their own trimmings, instead of 36s. a week, they could not clear more than 5s. by constant labour, and the sweater attributed this to their want of skill - they were not capable of working well enough for a London house. He then offered to teach them if they would bind themselves apprentices to him for a year certain. During the year they were to have board and lodging, and £5 each, paid at intervals as they required it. The poor men having no friends in London, and no acquaintances even whom they might consult, consented to this arrangement, and a sort of document was signed. They then went to work on this new agreement, their board being this:- For breakfast-half a pint of poor cocoa each, with half a pound of dry bread cut into slices, between the two; no butter. Dinner was swallowed, a few minutes only being allowed for it, between four and five. It was generally a few potatoes and a bit of salt fish, as low-priced as could be met with. At seven, each man had half a pint of tea, and the same allowance of bread as for breakfast. No supper. They slept three in a bed, in a garret where there was no ventilation whatever. The two men (apprenticed as I have described) soon found that the sweater was unable to teach them anything in their trade, he not being a superior workman to either of them. At three weeks' end they therefore seized an opportunity to escape. The sweater traced them to where they had got work again, took with him a policeman, and gave them in charge as runaway apprentices. He could not, however, substantiate the charge at the station-house, and the men were set at liberty. Even after that the sweater's wife was always hanging about the corners of the streets, trying to persuade these men to go back again. She promised one that she would give him a handsome daughter she had for his wife, and find the new married pair "a beautiful slop shop" to work for, finding them security and all, and giving them some furniture, if he would only go back. The workman so solicited excused himself on the plea of illness. After this the father of this youth, in Kerry, received an anonymous letter, telling him that his son had run away from his employer, carrying with him a suit of clothes, and that he (the father) should have his son written to, and persuaded to return, and the robbery might be hushed up. This was every word false, and the anonymous letter was forwarded to the son in London, and when shown to the sweater he neither admitted nor denied it was his writing, but changed the conversation.
The third entrapped workman that I saw was a young man from the country, who was accosted in the street by the sweater's wife, put down to work under the same false pretences with the others, faring as they did until he effected his escape. The sweater had then but those three hands-he wanted more if his wife could have entrapped them. He had had six so entrapped or cheated in some similar way. Their hours of work were from seven in the morning to twelve at night.
Of this street kidnapping system I give another instance, and in the words of the kidnapped:- "I am now twenty-one, and am a native of Kilfinnan, in the county Limerick, Ireland. My parents died when I was five. A brother, a poor labouring man, brought me up, and had me apprenticed to a tailor. I served seven years. After that, before I ever worked as a journeyman in Ireland, I thought I would come to London to better myself, and I did come, but didn't better myself-worse luck! I 'tramped' from Kilfinnan to Cork, starting with 18s., which I had saved, and with no clothes but the suit I had on. I started because London has such a name among the tailors in Ireland, but they soon find out the difference when they come here. A journeyman tailor in Kilfinnan works for 2s. 6d. a week, his lodging, and two meals a day. In the morning bread and milk, and plenty of it; in the evening potatoes and meat, but meat only twice or thrice a week; fish always on fast-days, and sometimes on other days. I spent in tramping from Kilfinnan to Cork, 38 Irish miles, 6s. I took my passage from the Cove of Cork by a steamer to Bristol, paying 10s. for it. I landed at Bristol with 2s., tramping it up to London. A waggoner once gave me a lift of 18 miles for nothing. I had no help from the trade as I came along. I begged my way, getting bits of bread and cheese at farmers' houses and such places. In five days I reached London, knowing no one but a labourer of the name of Wallace. I found he was dead. That's eighteen months ago. One of Wallace's friends said I should do best at the East-end, but bad's the best I did. I took his advice, and went on that way, and was in Bishopsgate-street, when I met -, a sweater. He spoke to me, saying. 'Are you a tailor seeking work?' I answered 'Yes, to be sure.' He then said he would give me plenty of good work, if I would go with him. I went with him to Brick-lane, where he lived, and he said I must first go a week on trial. I got nothing but my board for that week's work-working six days, long hours. After that he offered me 3s. 6d. a week, board and lodging - not washing. I had no friends, and thought I had better take it, as I did. For breakfast I had less than a pint of cocoa and four slices of thin bread and butter-bad bread from the security' baker's, the worst of bread - only the butter was worse. For dinner - but sometimes only was there dinner, perhaps two days a week, perhaps only one - we had potatoes and salt fish. I couldn't eat salt fish, so he had it regular. Sometimes I got a bite of a bull's cheek. Bad as I lived in Ireland, it was a great deal wholesomer than this - and I had plenty of it too. My master there gave me a bellyfull; here he never did. I slept with another man in a small bed; there were three beds with six men in them in a middle-sized room, the room where the six men worked. My employer, his wife, and I worked downstairs. He boarded and lodged them all - they living as I did. Some of them, working fifteen hours a day, earned 5s. or 6s. a week. I worked and hungered this way for four months, and then we quarrelled, because I wouldn't work all Sunday for nothing; so I left. I'm badly off still."
The continual immigration of foreign labour that I had discovered to be part of the system by which the miserable prices of the slop-trade were maintained, was the next subject to which I directed my inquiries, and I was able to obtain evidence which clearly proves how the honourable part of the trade are undersold by the "sloppers." The party who gave me the following valuable information on this head was a Hungarian Jew sweater. He said:-
"I am a native of Pesth, having left Hungary about eight years ago. By the custom of the country I was compelled to travel three years in foreign parts before I could settle in my native place. I went to Paris after travelling about that time in the different countries of Germany. I stayed in Paris about two years. My father's wish was that I should visit England, and I came to London in June, 1847. I first worked for a West-end show-shop - not directly for them, but through the person who is their 'middleman,' getting work done at what rates he could for the firm, and obtaining the prices they allowed for making the garments. I once worked four days and a half for him, finding my own trimmings, etc., for 9s. For this my employer would receive 12s. 6d. On each coat of the best quality he got 3s. and 3s. 6d. profit. He then employed 190 hands; he has employed 300; many of those so employed setting their wives, children, and others to work, some employing as many as five hands in this way. The middleman keeps his carriage, and will give fifty guineas for a horse. I became unable to work, from a pain in my back, from long hours at my occupation. The doctor told me not to sit much, and so, as a countryman of mine was doing the same, I employed hands, making the best I could of their labour. I have now four young women (all Irish girls) so employed. Last week one of them received 4s., another 4s. 2d., the other two 5s. each. They find their own board and lodging, but I find them a place to work in - a small room, the rent of which I share with another tailor, who works on his own account. There are not so many Jews come over from Hungary or Germany as from Poland. The law of travelling three years brings over many, but not more than it did. The revolutions have brought numbers this year and last. They are Jew tailors flying from Russian and Prussian-Poland to avoid the conscription. I never knew any of these Jews go back again. There is a constant communication among the Jews, and when their friends in Poland and other places learn they're safe in England, and in work and out of trouble, they come over too, even if they can earn more at home. I worked as a journeyman in Pesth, and got 2s. 6d. a week, my board, washing, and lodging. We lived well, everything being so cheap. The Jews come in the greatest number about Easter. They try to work their way here, most of them. Some save money here, but they never go back; if they leave England, it is to go to America.
To further elucidate the ramifications of the sweating trade, I give the account of a German Jew, who, with his family and an English girl, worked for a middleman, the same man of whom I received an account from the Hungarian Jew. The German Jew spoke little English. I found him surrounded by his family, of whom I give an account from his own lips:- "The revolution made me leave Posen, as it did many others. We thought we should be best here in England. At Posen I and another man earned £2 a week as journeymen tailors. We worked 12 or 13 hours a day, but had an hour for dinner and an hour for pleasure. We all worked out of the shop, finding our own trimmings, and sometimes buttons, for which our employers paid us, in addition to our wages, when the work was taken in. I can't tell what it cost us to come here, as we had help from our countrymen on the way. Since I have been in London (more than a year) I have always worked for - [the West-end middleman]. A great many of my countrymen, who came over like myself, worked for him before I did, and a great many do so still. I don't know how many-perhaps thirty other families. For this paletot you see me making gives 5s. It takes me, hard work too, 26 hours to make it. For the rows of stitching in this quilting we say that the tailor gets paid for only one stitch in three - the others -'s profit [one row contained 300 stitches]. I suppose he will charge 7s. for his paletot to the show-shop that employs him. I am now 41, and work constantly at this trade; so does my wife, about my own age [now sick], a work girl [a pretty English girl of 17], and my three sons, aged 18, 17, and 12. Among us we may make £2 a week." The English girl [her own account] received 3s. 6d. a week, and her tea morning and evening, to which she supplied her own bread and butter. This man told me that now employed 190 or 200 hands, and he spoke much of his "grand house, horses, and carriage."
I had also found out that there was at the East-end a house of call for women, which had been recently established with a view of facilitating the supply of female labour. The following statement in connection with that subject I took down verbatim. All the persons with whom I conversed on the subject attributed great importance to there being no such house of call established, as it would tend materially to strengthen the system under which they were suffering:- Mr. S-, a trimming-seller," said my informant, "told me that he intended to open a house of call for girls and women at the tailoring, and that if I wanted any, for a fee of 3d. a head to him, I could always obtain them. The women, for having their names put down, paid 3d. each. He has sent me two, and would have sent me a dozen if I had wanted them. I called upon him last week, but he said two gentlemen had been making inquiries, and he was alarmed, as he had no license for registry. What he meant by that I hardly know. He still offered to supply me without a fee, if I was a customer. The system, but for this check, would no doubt have been pursued, and would have increased."
With respect to the system of fines, I subjoin the following account of fines inflicted this year by a slop-shop on one man (cause seldom assigned): - A coat, name B-, No. 8,330, fined 3d.; a jacket, name O-, 7,423, fined 1s.; a jacket, name S-, 7,125, fined 6d.; a jacket, name R- , 8,274, fined 3d.; a coat, name J-, 1,557, fined 1s.; a coat, name T-, 2,047, fined 1s.; a jacket, name L-, 3,870, fined 1s.; a coat, name G-, 3,644, fined 3d.; a jacket, name F-, fined 3d.; 2s. for being abusive to A-; a coat, name H-, 2,742, fined 1s.; a coat, name C-, 2,882, fined 3d.; a coat, name B-, 3,739, fined 1s.; a jacket, name W-, 3,373, fined 6d.; a coat, name W-, 3,885, fined 6d.; a coat, name R-, 3,819, fined 6d.; a coat, name B. F. B-, 4,286, fined 1s.; a coat, name W-, 4,402, fined 6d.; a coat, name R-, 5,193, fined 6d.; a coat, name L-, fined 6d.