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Friday, December 28, 1849
I resume my inquiry whether stimulating drinks are
necessary for the performance of severe labour.
It may be recollected that in Letter XIX I published the statement of a coal-backer, who declared that it was an absolute necessity of that kind of labour that the men engaged in backing coals from the hold of a ship should, though earning only £1 per week, spend at least 12s. weekly in beer and spirits to stimulate them for the work. This sum, the man assured me, was a moderate allowance, for 15s. was the amount ordinarily expended by the men in drink every week. Hence it followed, that if this quantity of drink was a necessity of the calling, the men pursuing the severest labour of all-doing work that cripples the strongest in from twelve to twenty years- were the worst paid of all labourers, their actual clear gains being only from 5s. to 8s. per week. This struck me as being so terrible a state of things, that I could hardly believe it to be true, though I was assured by several coal-whippers, who were present on the occasion, that the coal-backer who had made the statement had in no way exaggerated his account of the sufferings of his fellow-workmen. I determined, nevertheless, upon inquiring into the question myself, and ascertaining, by the testimony and experience of different classes of individuals engaged in this, the greatest labour, perhaps, performed by any men, whether drink was really a necessity or luxury to the working man.
Accordingly I called a meeting of the coal-whippers, that I might take their opinion on the subject, when I found that out of eighty individuals only four were satisfied that fermented liquors could be dispensed with by the labouring classes. I was, however, still far from satisfied upon the subject, and I determined, as the question is one of the greatest importance to the working men - being more intimately connected with their welfare, physical, intellectual, and moral than any other - to give the subject my most patient and unbiased consideration. I was anxious, without advocating any opinion upon the subject, to collect the sentiments of the coal-labourers themselves; and in order that I might do so as impartially as possible, I resolved upon seeing-first, such men as were convinced that stimulating liquors were necessary to the labouring man in the performance of his work - 2nd. such men as once thought differently, and, indeed, had once taken the pledge to abstain from the use of all fermented liquors, but had been induced to violate their vow in consequence of injury to their health - and 3rd. such men as had taken the pledge and kept it without any serious injury to their constitutions. To carry the subject out with the fulness and impartiality that its importance seemed to me to demand, I further determined to prosecute the inquiry among both classes of coal-labourers--the coal-whippers, and coal-backers as well. The result of these investigations I shall now subjoin. Let me, however, in the first place lay before the reader the following
COMPARATIVE TABLE OF DRUNKENNESS OF THE DIFFERENT TRADES IN LONDON.
ABOVE THE AVERAGE.
1 individual in every 7.2
Papermakers and stainers 12.1
Brass founders 12.4
French polishers 17.3
General and marine store dealers 23.2
Coach and cabmen 28.7
Tinkers and tinmen 45.7
Glassmakers, &c 50.5
Printers, 1 individual in every 52.4
Hatters and trimmers 53.1
Medical men 68.0
BELOW THE AVERAGE
and Gilders 125.2
Artificial Flowermakers 128.1
Parish Officers 373.0
The above calculations have been made from the official returns of the
Metropolitan Police for 1848. The causes of the different degrees of
intemperance here exhibited I leave to others to discover.
After the meeting of coal-whippers, described in my last letter, I requested some of the men who had expressed the various opinions respecting the necessity for drinking some kind of fermented liquor during their work, to meet me, so that I might take down their sentiments on the subject more fully. First of all came two of the most intelligent, who believed malt liquor to be necessary for the performance of their labour. One was a basket-man, or fireman, and the other an "up-and-down" man, or whipper; the first doing the lighter, and the second the heavier kind of work. The basket - man-who, I afterwards discovered, was a good Greek and Latin scholar-said, "If I have anything like a heavy day's work to do, I consider three pints of porter a day necessary. We are not like other labouring men, having an hour to dinner. Often, to save time, we take only ten minutes to our meals. One thing I wish to remark is, that what renders it necessary to have the three pints of beer, in winter, and two pots in summer is the coal-dust arising from the work, which occasions great thirst. In the summer time the basket-man is on the plank all day, and continually exposed to the sun, and in winter to the inclemency of the weather. What with the labour and the heat, the perspiration is excessive. A basket-man with a bad gang of men has no sinecure. In the summer he can wear neither coat nor waistcoat - very few can bear the hat on the head, and they wear nightcaps instead. The work is always done in summer time with only the shirt and trousers on. The basket-man never takes off his shirt like the whippers. The necessity for drink in the summer does not arise so much from the extent of the labour as from the irritation of the coal-dust getting into the throat. There is not so much dust from the coals in the winter as in the summer, the coals being more damp in wet than in fine weather. It is merely the thirst that makes the drink requisite, as far as the basket-man is concerned. Tea would allay the thirst, but there is no opportunity of having this on board ship. If there were an opportunity of having tea at our work, the basket-man might manage to do with it as well as with beer. Water I don't fancy, especially the water of the river- it is very impure; and at the time of the cholera we were prohibited from drinking it. If we could get pure water I do not think it would do as well for us, especially in winter time. In winter time it would be too cold, and too great a contrast to the heat of the blood. It would, in my opinion, produce stagnation in the circulation. We have had instances of men dying suddenly through drinking water when in a state of excitement" (He distinguishes between excitement and perspiration-he calls the basket-man's labour an exciting one, and the whipper's work a heating one). "The men who died suddenly were whippers. I never heard of a basket-man dying from drinking cold water when at his work. I don't think they ever tried the experiment. The whippers have done so through necessity, not through choice. Tea is a beverage that I don't fancy, and I conceive it to be equally expensive, so I prefer porter. When I go off to my work early in the morning I take about a pint of coffee with me in a bottle, and warm it up on board, at the galley fire, for my breakfast; that I find quenches my thirst for the time as well as porter. Porter would be too insipid the first thing in the morning. I never drank coffee through the day while at my work, so I cannot say what the effect would be. I drink porter when at my work, not as giving me greater strength to go through my labour, but merely as a means of quenching my thirst-it being as cheap as any other drink, with the exception of water, and less trouble to procure. Water I consider dangerous at our work; but I can't say that it is so from my own experience. I was in the hospital about seven years ago, and the doctor there asked me how many pints of beer I was in the habit of drinking per day. This was before the office was established. I told him, on the lowest calculation, six or seven-it was the case then under the old system-and he then ordered me two pints of porter a day, as I was very weak, and he said I wanted a stimulus. I am not aware that it is the habit of the publicans to adulterate their porter with salt and water. If such is the case it would without a doubt increase rather than diminish the thirst. I have often found that the beer sold by some of the publicans tends more to create than allay thirst. I am confident, if the working men generally knew that salt and water was invariably mixed with the porter by the publicans, they would no longer hold to the notion that it could quench their thirst; but to convince them of that it would almost be necessary that they should see the publican adulterating the beer with their own eyes. If it really is the case that beer is adulterated with salt and water, it must be both injurious and heating to the labouring man. Some of the men, who are in the habit of drinking porter at their work, very probably attribute the thirst created by the salt and water in the porter, to the thirst created by the coal-dust or the work, and continue drinking it from the force of habit. The habit of drinking is doubtlessly the effect of the old system, when the men were forced to drink by the publicans who paid them. A most miraculous change and one unparalleled in history has been produced by altering the old mode of employing and paying the men. The reformation in the morals and characters of the men is positively wonderful. The sons are no longer thieves, and the daughters are no longer prostitutes. Formerly it was a competition who could drink the most; for he who could do so got the most work. The introduction for a job was invariably - 'you know Mr. So-and-so, I'm a good drinking man.' Seeing the benefit that has resulted from the men not drinking so much as formerly, I am of opinion, though I take my beer every day myself, a great good would ensue if the men would drink even less than they do now, and eat more. It would be more conducive to their health and strength. But they have not the same facility of getting food when over their work, as there is for getting beer. You see they can have credit for beer when they can't get a morsel of food on trust. There are no floating butchers or bakers like there are floating publicans or purl-men. If there were, and men could have trust for bread and meat while at their work on the river, I am sure they would eat more and drink less, and be all the better for it. It would be better for themselves and for their families. The great evil of the drink is, that when a man has a little he often wants more, and doesn't know where to stop. When he once passes the rubicon, as I call it, he is lost. If it wasn't for this evil I think a pint or two of porter would make them do their work better than either tea or water. Our labour is peculiar. The air is always full of coal- dust, and every nerve and muscle of the body is strained, and every pore of the body open, so that he requires some drink that will counteract the cold."
The next two that I saw were men who did the heaviest work - that is, "up-and-down" men, or coal-whippers, as they are usually called. They had both of them been teetotallers. One had been so for eight years, and the other one had tried it for three months. One, who stood at least six feet and a-half high, and was habited in a long blue great coat that reached to his heels, and made him look even taller than he was, said, "I was a strict teetotaller for many years, and I wish I could be so now. All that time I was a coal-whipper, at the heaviest work, and I have made one of a gang that have done as many as 180 tons in one day. I drank no fermented liquor the whole of the time. I had only ginger-beer and milk, and that cost me 1s. 6d. It was in the summer time. I didn't 'buff it' on that day; that is, I didn't take my shirt off. I did this work at the Regent's Canal, and there was a little milk shop close on shore, and I used to run there when I was dry. I had about two quarts of milk and five bottles of ginger-beer, or about three quarts of fluid altogether. I found that amount of drink necessary. I perspired very violently - my shirt was wet through, and my flannels wringing wet with the perspiration over the work. The rule among us is that we do 28 tons on deck, and 28 tons filling in the ship's hold. We go on in that way throughout the day. spelling at every 28 tons. The perspiration in the summer time streams down our foreheads so rapidly, that it will often get into our eyes before we have time to wipe it off. This makes the eyes very sore. At night when we get home we cannot bear to sit with a candle. The perspiration is of a very briny nature, for I often taste it as it runs down to my lips. We are often so heated over our work that the perspiration runs into the shoes; and often, from the dust and heat, jumping up and down, and the feet being galled with the small dust, I have had my shoes full of blood. The thirst produced by our work is very excessive. It is completely as if you had a fever upon you. The dust gets into the throat, and very nearly suffocates you. You can scrape the coal-dust off the tongue with the teeth; and do what you will, it is impossible to get the least spittle into the mouth. I have known the coal-dust to be that thick in a ship's hold, that 1 have been unable to see my mate, though he was only two feet from me. Your legs totter under you. Both before and after I was a teetotaller, I was one of the strongest men in the business. I was able to carry seven hundredweight on my back for fifty yards, and I could lift nine half-hundreds with my right arm. After finishing my day's work I was like a child with weakness. When we have done 14, or 28 tons, we generally stop for a drop of drink, and then I have found that anything that would wet my mouth would revive me. Cold tea, milk, or ginger-beer, were refreshing, but not so much as a pint of porter. Cold water would give a pain in the inside, so that a man would have to lie down and be taken ashore, and perhaps give up work altogether. Many a man has been taken to the hospital merely through drinking cold water over his work. They have complained of a weight and coldness in the chest. They say it has chilled the fat of the heart. I can positively state," continued the man, "that during the whole of eight years I took no fermented drink. My usual drink was cold tea, milk, ginger-beer, or coffee- whichever I could catch. The ginger-beer was more lively than the milk, but I believe I could do more work upon the milk. Tea I found much better than coffee. Cold tea was very refreshing; but if I didn't take it with me in a bottle, it wasn't to be had. I used to take a quart of cold tea with me in a bottle, and make that do for me all day, as well as I could. The ginger-beer was the most expensive, and would cost me is., or more than that, if 1 could get it. The milk would cost me 6d. or 8d. For tea and coffee the expense would be about 2d. the day. But often I have done the whole day's work without any drink, because I would not touch beer, and then I was more fit to be carried home than walk. I have known many men scarcely able to crawl up the ladder out of the hold, they were so fatigued. For myself, being a very strong man, I was never so reduced, thank God. But often when I've got home I've been obliged to drink three pints of milk at a stretch before 1 could touch a bit of victuals. As near as I can guess, it used to cost me when at work 1s. a day for milk, ginger-beer, and other teetotal drinks. When I was not at work my drink used to cost me little or nothing. For eight years I stuck to the pledge, but I found myself failing in strength and health; I found that I couldn't go through a day's work as clever as I used before I left off drink, and when first I was a teetotaller. I found myself failing in every inch of my carcase, my limbs, my body, and all. Of my own free will I gave it up. I did not do so in a fit of passion, but deliberately, because I was fully satisfied that it was injuring my health. Shortly after I had taken the pledge I found I could have more meat than I used to have before, and I found that I neither got strong nor weak upon it. After about five years my appetite began to fail, and then I found my strength leaving me; so I made up my mind to alter the system. When I returned to beer, I found myself getting better in health and stronger daily. Before I was a teetotaller I used to drink heavy, but after teetotalism I was a temperate man. I am sure it is necessary for a hard-working man that he should drink beer. lie can't do his work so well without it as he can with it, in moderation. If he goes beyond his allowance he is better without any. I have taken to drinking beer again within the last twelve months. As long as a man does not go beyond his allowance in beer, his drink will cost him quite as much when he is a teetotaller as it will when he has not taken the pledge. The difference between the teetotal and fermented drinks I find to be this-when I drank milk it didn't make me any livelier; it quenched my thirst, but did not give me any strength. But when I drink a pint or a quart of beer, it does me so much good after a day's labour, that after drinking it I could get up and go to my work again. This feeling would continue for a considerable time. Indeed, I think the beer is much better for a hard-working man, than any unfermented drink. I defy any man in England to contradict me in what I say, and that is, 'A man who takes his reasonable quantity of beer, and a fair share of food, is much better with it than without.' "
Another man, who had been a teetotaller for three months at one time, and seven years at another, was convinced that it was impossible for a hard-working man to do his work as well without beer as with. He had tried it twice, and he spoke from his own experience, and would say that a little - that is, two pints or three for a very hard day's labour - would never hurt no man. Beyond that a man has no right to go; indeed, anything extra only makes him stupid. Under the old system I used to be obliged to buy rum, and over and over again I've had to pay 15d. for a half a pint of rum in a ginger-beer bottle, and have gone into the street and sold it for 6d., and got a steak with the money. No man can say drink has ruined my constitution, for I've only had two penny-worth of antibilious pills in twenty-five years; and I will say a little beer does a man more good than harm, and too much does a man more harm than good.
The next two "whippers" that I saw were both teetotallers. One had taken the pledge eight months ago and the other four years, and they had both kept it strictly. One had been cellarman at a public-house; and he said, "I neither take spruce, nor any of the cordials. Water is my beverage at dinner." The other had been an inveterate drunkard. The cellarman is now a basket-man, and the other an up-and-down man, or whipper, in the same gang. The basket-man said, "I can say this from my own experience, that it is not necessary for a working man, doing the very hardest labour, to drink fermented liquors. I was an up-and-down man for two years without tasting a drop of beer or spirits. I have helped to whip 189 tons of coal in one day without any, and that in the heat of summer. What I had with me was a bottle of cocoa, and I took with that plenty of steak, potatoes, and bread. If the men was to take more meat, and less beer, they would do much better. It's a delusion to think beer necessary. Often the men who say the beer is necessary will deliver a ship, aye, and not half a dozen half-pints be drank aboard. The injury is done ashore. The former custom of our work - the compulsory system of drinking that we was under - has so embedded the idea of drink in the men, that they think it is actually necessary. It's not the least to be wondered at that there's so many drunkards among them. I don't think we shall ever be able to undo the habit of drinking among the whippers in this generation. As far as I am concerned. since I have been a teetotaller, I have enjoyed a more regular state of health than I used before. Now that I am a basket-man I drink only water with my dinner, and during my work I take nothing. I have got a ship "in hands," going to work on Monday morning. I shall have to run backwards and forwards on a one-and-twenty foot plank, and deliver 300 tons of coals, and I shall do that upon water. That man," pointing to the teetotaller who accompanied him, "will be in it, and he'll have to help to pull the coals twenty foot above the deck, and he'll do it all upon water. When I was a coal-whipper myself I used to drink cocoa. I took it cold with me of a morning and warmed it aboard. They prophesied it would kill me in a week, but I know it's done me every good in life. I have drunk water when I was a working up-and-down, and when I was in the highest perspiration, and never found it injure me. It allays the thirst more than anything. If it didn't allay the thirst, I should want to drink often; but if I take a drink of water from the cask, I find my thirst immediately quenched. Many of the men who drink beer will take a drink of water afterwards, because the beer increases their thirst and heats them; that I believe is principally from the salt-water in it; in fact, it stands to reason that, if beer is half brine, it can't quench thirst. Ah! it's shocking stuff the purlmen make up for them on the river. When I was drinking beer at my employment I used seldom to exceed three pints of beer a day - that is what I took on board. What I had on shore of course was not to help me to do my labour. I know the beer used to inflame my thirst, because I've had to drink water after it over and over again. I never made a habit of drinking - not since the establishment of the office. Previous to that, of course I was compelled to drink. I've got "jolly" now and then; but I never made a habit of it. It used to cost me about 2s. or 2s. 6d. a week on the average for drink at the uttermost, because I couldn't afford more. Since I've taken the pledge I'm sure it hasn't cost me 6d. a week. A teetotaller feels less thirst than any other man. I don't know what natural thirst is, except I've been eating salt provisions. I belong to a total abstinence society, and there are about a dozen coal-whippers, and about the same number of coal-backers, members of it. Some have been total abstainers for twelve years, and are living witnesses that fermented drinks are not necessary for working men. There are about 200 to 250 coal-whippers, I have been given to understand, who are teetotallers. Those coal-whippers who have been total abstainers for twelve years are not weaker or worse in health for the want of beer." [This statement was denied by a person present; but a gentleman, who was intimately acquainted with the whole body, mentioned the names of several men who had been-some ten years, and some upwards of twelve years-strict adherents to the principle of teetotalism.] "The great quantity of drinking is carried on ashore. I should say the men generally drink twice as much ashore as they do afloat. Those who drink beer are always thirsty. Through drinking over their work, aboard, a thirst is created, which they set to drinking when ashore to allay; and after a hard day's labour a very little overcomes a man. One or two pots of beer, and the man is loth to stir. He is tired, and the drink, instead of refreshing him, makes him sleepy and heavy. The next morning after drinking he is thirstier still, and then he goes to work drinking again. The perspiration will start out of him in large drops like peas; you will see it stream down his face and his hands with the coal-dust sticking to them just like as if he had a pair of silk gloves on him. It's a common saying with us about such a man that he's got the gloves on. The drunkards always perspire the most over their work. The prejudice existing among the men in favour of drink is such that they believe they would die if they went without it. I am quite astonished to see such an improvement in them as there is; and I do think that if the clergymen of the neighbourhood did their duty and exerted themselves, the people would be better still. At one time there was as many as 500 coal-whippers total abstainers, and the men were much better clothed, and the homes and appearance of the whippers were much more decent. What I should do if I drunk I don't know. I got £1 for clearing a ship last week, and I shan't get any more till Monday night, and I have six children and a wife to keep out of that. For this last fortnight I have only made 10s. a week, so I am sure I couldn't even afford is. a week for drink without robbing my family."
The second teetotaller, who had been an inveterate drunkard in his time, stated as follows:-Like the rest of the coal-whippers, he thought once that he could not do his work without beer. He used to drink as much as he could get. He averaged two pots at his work, and when he came on shore he would have two pots more. He had been a coal-whipper for upwards of twenty years, and for nineteen years and three months of that time he was a hard drinker - a regular stiff one, said he. "I not only used," he added, "to get drunk myself, but I taught my children to do so. I have got sons as big as myself, coal-backers, and total abstainers. Often I have gone home of a Sunday morning drunk myself, and found two of my sons drunk. They'd be unable to sit at the table. They were about fourteen then, and when they went out with me I used to teach them to take their little drops of neat rum or gin. I have seen the youngest mop up' his half-quartern as well as I did. Then I was always thirsty; and when I got up of a morning I used to go stalking round to the first public-house that was open. to see if I could get a pint or a quartern. My mouth was dry and parched as if I had got a burning fever. If I had no work that day. I used to sit in a public-house, and spend all the money I'd got. If I had no money, I would go home and raise it somehow. I would ask the old woman to give me the price of a pint, or perhaps the young on's were at work, and I was pretty safe to meet them coming home. Talk about going out of a Sunday! I was ashamed to be seen out. My clothes were ragged, and my shoes would take the water in at one end and let it out again at the other. I keep my old rags at home to remind me of what I was, I call them the regimentals of the guzzileers. I pawned everything I could get at. For ten or twelve years I used a beer-shop regularly. That was my house of call. Now my home is very happy. All my children are teetotallers. My sons are as big as myself, and they are at work, carrying 1¾ cwt. to 2 cwt. up a Jacob's ladder thirty-three steps high. They do this all day long, and have been doing so for the last seven days. They drink nothing but water or cold tea, and say they find themselves the better able to do their work. Coal- backing is about the hardest labour a man can perform. For myself, too, I find I am quite as able to do my work without intoxicating drinks as I was with them. There's my basketman," said he, pointing to the other teetotaller, "and he can tell you whether what I say is true or not. I have helped to whip 147 tons of coal in the heat of summer. The other men were calling for beer every time they could see or hear a purl-man, but I took nothing. I don't think I perspired so much as they did. When I was in the drinking custom I have known the perspiration run down my legs and arms as if I'd been in a hot bath. Since I've taken the pledge I scarcely perspire at all. I'll work against any man that takes beer, provided I have a good teetotal pill-that is, a good pound of steak with plenty of gravy in it. That's the stuff to work upon. That's what the working man wants - plenty of it, and less beer, and he'd beat a horse any day. I am satisfied that the working man can never be raised above his present position until he can give over drinking. That is the reason why I'm sticking to the pledge, that I may be a living example to my class that they can and may work without beer. It has made my home happy, and I want it to make every other working man's as comfortable. I tried the principle of teetotalism first on board a steamboat. I was stoker, and we burnt twenty-seven cwt. of coals every hour we were at sea-that's very nearly a ton and a half per hour. There, with the heat of the fire, we felt the effects of drinking strong brandy. Brandy was the only fermented drink we were allowed. After a time I tried what other stimulants we could use. The heat in the hold, especially before the fires, was awful. There were nine stokers and four coal trimmers. We found the brandy that we drank in the day made us ill-our heads ached when we got up in the morning; so four of us agreed to try oatmeal and water as our drink, and we found that suited us better than intoxicating liquor. I myself got as fat as a bull upon it. It was recommended to me by a doctor in Falmouth, and we all of us tried it eight or nine voyages. Some time after I left the company I went to strong drink again, and continued at it till the first of May last; and then my children's love of drink got so dreadful that I got to hate myself as being the cause of it. But I couldn't give up the drinking. Two of my mates, however, urged me on to try. On the 1st of May I signed the pledge. I prayed to God on the night I went to give me strength to keep it, and never since have I felt the least inclination to return. When I had left off a fortnight I found myself a great deal better; all the cramps that I had been loaded with when I was drinking left me. Now I am happy and comfortable at home. My wife's about one of the best women in the world. She bore with me in all my troubles, and now she glories in my redemption. My children love me, and we club all our earnings together, and can always on a Sunday manage a joint of sixteen or seventeen pounds. My wife, now that we are teetotallers, need do no work; and in conclusion, I must say, that I have much cause to bless the Lord that ever I signed the teetotal pledge."
"After I leave my work," added the teetotaller, "I find the best thing I can have to refresh me is a good wash of my face and shoulders in cold water. This is twice as enlivening as ever I found beer. Once a fortnight I go over to Goulston-square, Whitechapel, and have a warm bath. This is one of the finest things that ever was invented for the working man. Any persons that use them don't want beer. I invited a coal-whipper man to come with me once. 'How much does it cost?' he asked. I told him 1d. Well,' he said, 'I'd sooner have half a pint of beer. I haven't washed my body for these 22 years, and don't see why I should begin to have anything to do with these new-fangled notions at my time of life.' I will say that a good wash is better for the working man than the best drink."
The man ultimately made a particular request that his statement might conclude with a verse that he had chosen from the Temperance Melodies:-
"And now we love the social cheer
Of the bright winter eve;
We have no cause for sigh or tear-
We have no cause to grieve.
"Our wives are clad, our children fed;
We boast, where'er we go,
Twas all because we signed the pledge
A long time ago."
At the close of my interview with these men I received from them an invitation to visit them at their own houses whenever I should think fit. It was clearly their desire that I should see the comforts and domestic arrangements of their homes. Accordingly, on the morrow, choosing an hour when there could have been no preparation, I called at the lodgings of the first. I found the whole family assembled in the back kitchen, that served them for a parlour. As I entered the room the mother was busy at work, washing and dressing her children for the day. There stood six little things - so young that they seemed to be all about the same height - with their faces shining with the soap and water, and their cheeks burning red with the friction of the towel. They were all laughing and playing about the mother, who, with comb and brush in hand, found it no easy matter to get them to stand still whilst she made "the parting." First of all, the man asked me to step upstairs, and see the sleeping-room. I was much struck with the scrupulous cleanliness of the apartment. The blind was as white as snow, half rolled up, and fastened with a pin. The floor was covered with patches of different coloured carpet, showing that they had been bought from time to time, and telling how difficult it had been to obtain the luxury. In one corner was a cupboard, with the door taken off, the better to show all the tumblers, teacups, and coloured glass mugs, that, with two decanters well covered with painted flowers, were kept more for ornament than use. On the chimney-piece was a row of shells, china shepherdesses and lambs, and a stuffed pet canary in a glass case for a centre ornament. Against the wall, surrounded by other pictures, hung a half-crown water-colour drawing of the wife with a child on her knee, matched on the other side by the husband's likeness, cut out in black paper. Pictures of bright coloured ducks, and a print of Father Moore, the teetotaller, completed the collection.
"You see," said the man, "we manages pretty well; but I can assure you we has a hard time of it to do it at all comfortably. Me and my wife is just as we stands. All our other things are in pawn. If I was to drink, I don't know what I should do. How others manage is to me a mystery. This will show you I speak the truth," he added; and going to a secretary that stood against the wall, he produced a handful of duplicates. There were 17 tickets in all, amounting to £3 0s. 6d., the highest sum borrowed being 10s. "That'll show you! I don't like my poverty to be known, or I should have told you of it before. And yet we manages to sleep clean," and he pulled back the patchwork counterpane and showed me the snow white sheets beneath. "There's not enough clothes to keep us warm, but at least they're clean. We're obliged to give as much as we can to the children. Cleanliness is my wife's hobby, and I let her indulge it. I can assure you last week my wife had to take the gown off her back to get a shilling with it. My little ones seldom have a bit of meat from one Sunday to another, and never a bit of butter."
I then descended into the parlour. The children were all seated on little stools that their father had made for them in his spare moments, and warming themselves round the fire, their little black shoes resting on the white hearth. By their regular features, small mouths, large dark eyes, and fair skins, no one would have taken them for a labouring man's family. In answer to my questions he said, "The eldest of them (a pretty little half clad girl, seated in one corner) is ten, the next seven, that one five, that three, and this (a little thing perched upon a table near the mother) two. I've got all their ages in the Bible upstairs." I remarked a strange look about one of the little girls, "Yes, she always suffered with that eye, and down at the hospital they lately performed an operation on it." An artificial pupil had been made.
The room was closed in from the passage by a rudely-built partition. "That I did myself in my leisure," said the man; "it makes the room snugger. As he saw me looking at the clean rolling-pin and bright tins hung against the wall," he observed, "That's all my wife's doing. She has got them together by sometimes going without dinner herself, and laying out the 2d. or 3d. in things of that sort. That is how she manages. To-day she has got us a sheep's head and a few turnips for our Sunday's dinner," he added, taking off the lid off the boiling saucepan. Over the mantelpiece hung a picture of George IV, surrounded by four other frames. One of them contained merely three locks of hair. The man, laughing, told me, "Two of them are locks of myself and my wife, and the light one in the middle belonged to my wife's brother, who died in India." "That's her doing again," he added.
After this I paid a visit to the other teetotaller at his home, and there saw one of his sons. He had six children altogether, and also supported his wife's mother. If it wasn't for him the poor old thing, who was 75, and a teetotaller too, must have gone to the workhouse. Three of his six children lived at home. The other three were out at service. One of the lads at home was a coal- backer. He was twenty-four years of age, and on an average could earn 17s. 6d. It was four years since he had taken to backing. He said, "I am at work at one of the worst wharfs in London. It is called 'The Slaughterhouse' by the men, because the work is so excessive. The strongest man can only last twelve years at the work there. After that he is overstrained, and of no use. I do the hardest work, and carry the coals up from the hold. The ladder I mount has about 35 steps, and stands very nearly straight on end. Each time I mount, I carry on my back 238 lb. No man can work at this for more than five days in the week. I work three days running, then have a day's rest, and then work two days more. I myself generally do five days' work out of the six. I never drink any beer, and have not for the last eight months. For three years and four months I took beer to get over the work. I used to have a pint at eleven, a pot at dinner, a pint at four o'clock, and double allowance, or a couple of pots, after work. Very often I had more than double allowance. I seldom in a day drank less than that; but I have done more. I have drank five pots in four minutes and a half. So my expenditure for beer was ls. 4d. a day regularly. Indeed, I used to allow myself three half-crowns to spend in beer a week, Sundays included. When a coal-worker is in full work, he usually spends 2s. a day, or 12s. a week in beer. The trade calls these men temperate. When they spend 15s., the trade think they are intemperate. Before I took the pledge, I scarcely ever went to bed sober after my labour. I was not always drunk; but I was heavy and stupid with beer. Twice within the time I was a coal- backer I have been insensibly drunk. I should say three-fourths of the coal-backers are drunk twice a week. Coal-backing is as heavy a class of labour as any performed. I don't know any that can beat it. I have been eight months doing the work, and can solemnly state I have never tasted a drop of fermented liquor. I have found I could do my work better and brisker than when I drank. I never feel thirsty over my work now; before I was always dry, and felt as if I could never drink enough to quench it. Now I never drink from the time I go to work till the time I have my dinner; then my usual beverage is either cold coffee or oatmeal and water. From that time I never drink till I take my tea. On this system I find myself quite as strong as I did with the porter. When I drank porter, it used to make me go along with a sack a little bit brisker for half an hour, but after that I was dead and obliged to have some more. There are men at the wharf who drink beer and spirits that can do six days' labour in the week. I can't do this myself; I have done as much when I took fermented liquors, but I only did so by whipping myself up with stimulants. 1 was obliged to drink every hour a pint of beer to force me along. This was only working for the publican, for I had less money at the week's end than when I did less work. Now I can keep longer and more steadily at my work. In a month I would warrant to back more coals than a drunkard. I think the drunkard can do more for a short space of time than a teetotaller. I am satisfied the coal- backers, as a class, would be better off if they left off the drinking. and then masters would not force them to do so much work after dark as they do now. They always pay at public-houses. If that system was abandoned, the men would be greatly benefited by it. Drinking is not a necessity of the labour. All I want when I'm at work is a bit of coal in the mouth. This not only keeps the mouth cool, but as we go up the ladder, we very often scrunch our teeth - the work's so hard. The coal keeps us from biting the tongue- that's one use; the other is, that, by rolling it along in the mouth, it excites the spittle, and so moistens the mouth. This I find a great deal better than a pot of porter."
In order to complete my investigations concerning the necessity of drinking in the coal-whipping trade, I had an interview with some of the more intelligent of the men who had been principally concerned in the passing of the act that rescued the class from the "thraldom of the publican":
"I consider," said one, "that drink is not a necessity of our labour, but it is a necessity of the system under which we were formerly working. I have done the hardest work that any labouring man can do, and drank no fermented liquor. Nor do I consider fermented liquors to be necessary for the severest labour. This I can say of my own experience, having been a teetotaller for sixteen months. But if the working man don't have the drink, he must have good solid food, superior to what he is in the habit of having. A pot of coffee and a good beef dumpling will get one over the most severe labour. But if he can't have that he must have the stimulants. A pint of beer he can always have on credit, but he can't the beef dumpling. If there is an excuse for any persons drinking, there is for the coalwhippers, for under the old system they were forced to become habitual drunkards to obtain work."
I also questioned another of the men who had been a prime mover in obtaining the act. He assured me that before the "emancipation of the men the universal belief of the coalwhippers. encouraged by the publicans, was, that it was impossible for them to work without liquor. In order to do away with that delusion, the three principal agents in procuring the act became teetotallers of their own accord, and remained so-one for 16 months, and another for nine years-in order to prove to their fellow-workmen that drinking over their labour could be dispensed with, and that they might have "cool brains to fight through the work they had undertaken."
Another of the more intelligent men, who had been a teetotaller for three years, told me: "Whilst I was a teetotaller I performed the hardest labour I ever did before or after, with more ease and satisfaction than ever I did under the drinking system. It is quite a delusion to believe that, with proper nutriment, the health declines under habits of total abstinence."
After this I was anxious to continue my investigations among the coal porters, and see whether the more intelligent among them were as firmly convinced as the better class of coal-whippers were that intoxicating drinks were not necessary for the performance of hard labour. I endeavoured to find one of each class-pursuing the same plan as I had adopted with the coal-whippers, viz., I sought first one who was so firmly convinced of the necessity of drinking fermented liquors during his work that he had never been induced to abandon them - secondly, I endeavoured to obtain the evidence of one who had tried the principle of total abstinence, and had found it fail; and, thirdly, I strove to procure the opinion of those who had been teetotallers for several years, and who could conscientiously state that no stimulant was necessary for the performance of their labour. Subjoined is the result of my investigations:- Concerning the motives and reasons for the great consumption of beer by the coalporters, I obtained the following statement from one of them:- "I've been all my life at coal portering, off and on, and am now 39. For the last two years or so I've worked regularly as a filler to Mr. -- s waggons. I couldn't do my work without a good allowance of beer. I can't afford so much now, as my family costs me more, but my regular allowance one time was three pots a day. I have drunk four pots, and always a glass of gin in the morning to keep out the cold air from the water. If I got off then for 7s. a week for drink, I reckon'd it a cheap week. I can't do my work without my beer, and no coal-porter can properly. It's all nonsense talking about ginger beer, or tea, or milk, or that sort of thing-what body is there in any of it? Many a time I might have been choked with coal-dust if I hadn't had my beer to clear my throat with. I can't say that I'm particular thirsty like next morning, after drinking three or four pots of beer to my own work, but I don't get drunk." He frequently, and with some emphasis. repeated the words, "but I don't get drunk." "You see, when you're at such hard work as ours, one's tired soon, and a drop of good beer puts new sap into a man. It oils his joints like. He can lift better, and stir about brisker. I don't care much for beer when I'm quiet at home on a Sunday. It sets me to sleep then. I once tried to go without to please a master, and did work one day with only one half pint. I went home as tired as a dog. I should have been soon good for nothing, if I'd gone on that way-half-pinting in a day! Lord love you, we know a drop of good beer. The coal porters is admitted to be as good judges of beer as any men in London; may be the best judges, better than publicans. No salt and water will go down with us. It's no use a publican trying to gammon us with any of his cag-mag stuff. Salt and water for us! Sartainly a drop of 'short' (neat spirit) does one good in a cold morning like this; it's uncommon raw by the waterside, you see. Coal-porter's doesn't often catch cold; beer and gin keeps it out. Perhaps my beer and gin now costs me 5s. a week, and that's a deal out of what I can earn. I dare say I earn 18s. a week. sometimes I may spend 6s. That's a third of my earnings, you say, and so it is; and as it's necessary for my work, isn't it a shame a poor man's pot of beer, and drop of gin, and pipe of tobacco should be so dear? Taxes makes them dear. I can read, sir, and I understand these things. Beer - four pots a day of it - doesn't make me step unsteady. Hard work carries it off, and so one doesn't feel it that way. Beer's made of corn as well as bread, and so it stands to reason it's nourishing. Nothing'll persuade me it isn't. Let a teetotal gentleman try his hand at coal work, and then he'll see if beer has no support in it. Too much is bad, I know; but a man can always tell how much he wants to help him on with his work. If beer didn't agree with me, why of course I wouldn't drink it - but it does. Sartainly, we drops into a beer-shop of a night, and does tipple a little, when work's done; and the old women (our wives) comes for us, and they get a sup to soften them, and so they may get to like it overmuch, as you say, and one's bit of a house may go to rack and manger. I've a good wife myself, though. I know well enough all them things is bad - drunkenness is bad; all I ask for is a proper allowance at work; the rest's no good. I can't tell whether too much or no beer at coal work would be best - perhaps none at all - leastways it would be safer. I shouldn't like to try either. Perhaps coal porters does get old sooner than other trades, and mayn't live so long, but that's their hard work, and it would be worse still without beer. But I don't get drunk."
I conversed with several men on the subject of their beer-drinking, but the foregoing is the only statement I met with where a coal-porter could give any reason for his faith in the virtues of beer, and vague as in some points it may be, the other reasons I had to listen to were still vaguer. "Somehow, we can't do without beer; it puts in the strength that the work takes out." "It's necessary for support." Such was the pith of every argument.
In order fully to carry out this inquiry, I obtained the address of a coal-backer from the ships, who worked hard and drank a good deal of beer, and who had the character of being an industrious man. I saw him in his own apartment, his wife being present while he made the following statement:- "I've worked at backing since I was twenty-four, and that's more than twelve years ago. I limit myself now, because times is not so good, to two pots of beer a-day; that is, when I'm all day at work. Some takes more. I reckon that when times was better, I drank fifteen pots a week, for I was in regular work, and middling well off. That's 780 pots, or 195 gallons, a year, you say. Like enough it may be - I never calculated, but it does seem a deal. It can't be done without, and men themselves is the best judges of what suits their work - I mean of how much to take. I'll tell you what it is, sir. Our work's harder than people guess at, and one must rest sometimes. Now, if you sit down to rest without something to refresh you, the rest does you harm instead of good, for your joints seem to stiffen; but a good pull at a pot of beer backs up the rest, and we start lightsomer. Our work's very hard. I've worked till my head's ached like to split, and when I've got to bed, I've felt as if I had the weight on my back still, and I've started awake when I fell off to sleep, feeling as if something was crushing my back flat to my chest. I can't say that I ever tried to do without beer altogether. If I was to think of such a thing, my old woman there would think I was out of my head. [The wife assented.] I've often done with a little when work's been slackish. First, you see, we bring the coal up from the ship's hold. There sometimes it's dreadful hot, not a mouthful of air, and the coal-dust sometimes as thick as a fog. You breathe it into you, and your throat's like a flue, so that you must have something to drink. I fancy nothing quenches you like beer. We want a drink that tastes. Then there's the coals on your back to be carried up a nasty ladder, or some such contrivance, perhaps 20 feet-and a sack full of coals weighs 2 cwt. and a stone at least; the sack itself's heavy and thick. Isn't that a strain on a man? No horse could stand it long. Then when you get fairly out of the ship you go along planks to the waggon, and must look sharp, specially in slippery or wet weather, or you'll topple over, and then there's the hospital or the workhouse for you. Last week we carried along planks 60 feet at least. There's nothing extra allowed for distance, but there ought to be. I've sweat to that degree in summer that I've been tempted to jump into the Thames just to cool myself. The sweat's run into my boots, and I've felt it running down me for hours as I had to trudge along. It makes men bleed at the nose and mouth, this work does. Sometimes we put a bit of coal in our mouths to prevent us biting our tongues. I do sometimes, but its almost as bad as if you did bite your tongue; for when the strain comes heavier and heavier on you, you keep scrunching the coal to bits, and swallow some of it, and you're half choked, and then its no use, you must have beer. Some's tried a bit of tobacco in their mouths, but that doesn't answer; it makes you spit, and often spit blood. I know I can't do without beer. I don't think they dulterate for us. They may for fine people that just tastes it, and, I've heard has wine and things. But we must have it good, and a publican knows who's good customers. Perhaps a bit of good grub might be as good as beer to strengthen you at work, but the straining and sweating makes you thirsty more than hungry, and if poor men must work so hard, and for so little, for rich men, why, poor men will take what they feel will satisfy them, and run the risk of its doing them good or harm, and that's just where it is. I can't work three days running now without feeling it dreadful. I get a mate that's fresher to finish my work. I'd rather earn less at a trade that would give a man a chance of some ease; but all trades is overstocked. You see we have a nicish, tidy room here, and a few middling sticks, so I can't be a drunkard."
I now give the statement of a coalporter who had been a teetotaller:- "I have been twenty-two years a coalheaver. When I began that work I earned 50s. a week as backer and filler. I am now earning, one week with another, say 15s. We have no sick fund among us - no society of any sort - no club - no schools - no nothing. We had a kind of union among us before the great strike, more than fourteen years back, but it was just for the strike. We struck against masters lowering the pay for a ton a man to 2¼d. from 2½d. The strike only lasted two or three weeks, and the men were forced to give way; they didn't all give way at once, but came-to gradual. One can't see one's wife and children without bread. There's very few teetotallers among us, though there's not many of us now that can be called drunken; they can't get it, sir. I was a teetotaller myself for two years, till I couldn't keep to it any longer. We all break. It's a few years back, I forget zactly when. At that time teetotallers might drink shrub, but that never did me no good; a good cup of tea freshened me more. I used then to drink ginger-beer, and spruce, and tea and coffee. I've paid as much as 5s. a week for ginger-beer. When I teetotalled I always felt thirsty. I used to long for a drink of beer, but somehow managed to get past a public-house until I could stand it no longer. A clerk of ours broke first, and I followed him. I certainly felt weaker before I went back to my beer. Now I drink a pint or two as I find I want it. I can't do without it, so it's no use trying. I joined because I felt I was getting racketty, and giving my mind to nothing but drink instead of looking to my house. There may he a few teetotallers among us, but I think not. I only knew two. We all break; we can't keep it. One of these broke, and the other kept it, because if he breaks his wife'll break, and they were both regular drunkards. A coal-porter's worn out before he's what you may call well old. There's not very many old men among us. A man's done up at fifty, and seldom lives long after, if he has to keep on at coal-portering. I wish we had some sick fund, or something of that kind. If I was laid up now there would be nothing but the parish for me, my wife, and four children." [Here the poor man spoke in a broken voice.] "The masters often discharge old hands when they get feeble, and put on boys. We have no coals allowed for our own firesides. Some masters, if we buys of them, charges us full price; others, a little cheaper." I saw this man in the evening, after he had left his work, in his own room. It was a large and airy garret. His wife, who did not know previously of my visit, had in her domestic arrangements manifested a desire common to the better-disposed of the wives of the labourers or the poor - that of trying to make her "bit of place" look comfortable. She had to tend a baby four months old; two elder children were ill-clad, but clean; the eldest boy, who is fifteen, is in the summer employed on a river steam-boat and is then of great help to his parents. There were two beds in the room, and the bedding was decently arranged so as to form a bundle, while its scantiness or worn condition was thus concealed. The solitary table had a faded green cloth cover, very thread-bare, but still a cover. There were a few cheap prints over the mantel-shelf, and the best description I can give is, in a phrase not uncommon among the poor, that the whole was an attempt "to appear decent." The woman spoke well of her husband, who was kind to her, and fond of his home, and never drank on Sundays.
Last of all I obtained an interview with two coal-porters who had been teetotallers for some years.
"I have been a coal-porter ever since I have been able to carry coals," said one. "I began at 16. I have been a backer all the time. I have been a teetotaller eight years, on the 10th of next March. My average earnings where I am now is about 35s. per week. At some wharfs work is very bad, and the men don't average half that. They were paid every night where I worked last, and sometimes I have gone home with 2½d. Take one with the other I should say the coal-porter's earnings average about £1 per week. My present place is about as good a berth as there is along the waterside. There is only one gang of us, and we do as much work as two will do in many wharfs. Before I was a teetotaller I principally drank ale. I judged that the more I gave for my drink the better it was. Upon an average I used to drink from three to four pints of ale per day. I used to drink a good drop of gin, too. The coal-porters are very partial to dog's-nose - that is, half-a-pint of ale with a pennyworth of gin in it, and when they have got the money, they go up to what they term 'the lucky shop' for it. The coal- porters take this every morning through the week, when they can afford it. After my work I used to drink more than when I was at it. I used to sit as long as the house would let me have any. Upon an average, I should say I used to take three or four pints more of an evening; so that altogether I think I may fairly say I drank my four pots of ale regularly every day, and about half-a-pint of' dog's-nose. I reckon my drink used to cost me 13s. a week when I was in work. At times I was a drunken noisy gentleman then." Another coal-porter, who has been a teetotaller ten years on the 25th of last August, told me that before he took the pledge he used to drink a great deal after he had done his work, but while he was at work he could not stand it. "I don't think I used to drink above three pints and a half and a pennyworth of gin in the daytime," said this man. "Of an evening I used to stop at the public- house generally till I was drunk, and unfit to work in the morning. I will vouch for it I used to take about three pots a day after I had done work. My reckoning used to come to about 1s. 8d. a day, or, including Sundays, about 10s. 6d. per week. At that time I could average all the year round about 30s. a week, and I used to drink away 10s. of it regularly; I did indeed, sir, more to my shame." The other coal-porter told me his earnings averaged about the same, but he drank more. "I should say I got rid of nearly one-half of my money. I did like the beer then; I thought I could not live without it. It's between twelve and thirteen years since the first coal-porter signed the pledge. His name was John Sturge, and he was looked upon as a madman. I looked upon him myself in that light. The next was Thomas Bailey, and he was my teetotal father. When I first heard of a coal-porter doing without beer I thought it a thing onpossible. I made sure they wouldn't live long. It was part of my education to believe they couldn't. My grandfather brewed home-brewed beer, and he used to say to me, 'Drink, my lad, it'll make thee strong.' The coal-porters say, now if we could get the genuine home-brewed, that would be the stuff to do us good - the publicans' wash is no good. I drank beer then for strength. The stimulation caused by the alcohol, I mistook for my own power." "Richard Hooper - he's been a teetotaller now about twelve years. He was the fourth of the coaleys as signed the pledge, and he first instilled teetotalism on my mind," said the other man. "Where he works now, there's nine out of fifteen men is teetotallers. Seeing that he could do his work much better than when he drinked beer, induced me to become one. He was more regular to his work after he had given it up, than whenever I knowed him before." "The way in which Thomas Bailey put it into my head was this here," continued the other. "He invited me to a meeting. I told him I would come, but he'd never make a teetotaller of me, I knowed. I went with the intention to listen to what they could have to say. It was a little bit curious to know how they could make out that beer was no good for a body. The first man that addressed the meeting was a tailor. I thought it might do very well for him; but then, says I, if you had the weight of 238lbs. of coals on your back, my lad, you couldn't do it without beer or ale. I thought this here because I was taught to believe I couldn't do without it. I cared not what any man said about beer, I believed it was life itself. After the tailor, a coal-porter got up to speak. Then I began to listen more attentively. The man said he once had a happy home and a happy wife - everything the heart could wish for, but through intoxicating drinks he had been robbed of everything. The man pictured the drunkard's home so faithfully that the arrows of conviction stuck fast in my heart, and my conscience said, 'thou art a drunkard, too.' The coal-porter said his home had been made happy through the principle of total abstinence. I was determined to try it from that hour. My home was as miserable as it possibly could be, and I knowed intoxicating drink was the cause on it. I signed the pledge that night, after the coal-porter was done speaking, but was many months before I was thoroughly convinced I was doing right in abstaining altogether. I kept thinking on it after going home of a night, tired and fatigued with my hard work, sometimes scarcely able to get up stairs through being so overwrought, and not being quite satisfied about it, I took every opportunity to hear lectures on the subject. I heard one on the properties of intoxicating drinks, which quite convinced me that I had been labouring under a delusion. The gentleman analysed the beer in my presence, and I saw that in a pint of it there was 14oz. of water - that I had been paying 2d. for - 1oz. of alcohol - and 1oz. of what they call nutritious matter. but which is the filthiest stuff man ever set eyes upon. It looked more like cobbler's wax than anything. It was what the lecturer called-the residyum, I think, was the name he gave it. The alcohol is what stimulates a man, and makes him feel as if he could carry two sacks of coals while it lasts, but afterwards comes the depression, that's what the coal-porters calls 'the blues,' and then he feels that he can do no work at all, and he either goes home and puts another man on in his place, or else he goes and works it off with more drink. You see where we coal-porters have been mistaken, is believing alcohol was nutriment, and in fancying that a stimulant was strength. Alcohol is nothing strengthening to the body - indeed, it hardens the food in the stomach, and so hinders digestion; you can see as much any day if you go into the hospitals, and look at the different parts of animals preserved in spirits. The strength that alcohol gives is unnatural and false. It's food only that can give real strength to the frame. I have done more work since I've been a teetotaller in my eight years than I did in ten or twelve years before. I have felt stronger. I don't say that I do my work better; but this I will say, without any fear of successful contradiction, that I do my work with more ease to myself, and with more satisfaction to my employer, since I have given over intoxicating drinks. I scarcely know what thirst is. Before I took the pledge I was always dry; and the mere shadow of the pot-boy was quite sufficient to convince me I wanted something. I certainly haven't felt weaker since I have left off malt liquor. I have eaten more and drank less. I live as well now as any of the publicans do - and who has a better right to do so than the man that works? I have backed as many as sixty tons in a day since I took the pledge, and have done it without any intoxicating drink with perfect ease to myself, and walked five miles to a temperance meeting afterwards. But before I became a teetotaller, after the same amount of work I should scarcely have been able to crawl home. I should have been certain to have lost the next day's work at least; but now I can back that quantity of coals week after week without losing a day. I've got a family of six children under twelve years of age. My wife's a teetotaller, and has suckled four children upon the principle of total abstinence. Teetotalism has made my home quite happy, and what I get goes twice as far. Where I work now four of us out of five are teetotallers. I am quite satisfied that the heaviest work that a man can possibly do may be done without a drop of fermented liquor. I say so from my own experience. All kind of intoxicating drinks is quite a delusion. They are the cause of the working man's wages being lowered. Masters can get the men who drink, at their own price. If it wasn't for the money spent in liquor, we should have funds to fall back upon, and then we could stand out against any reduction that the masters might want to put upon us, and could command a fair day's wage for a fair day's work; but as it is, the men are all beggars, and must take what the master offers them. The backing of coals out of the holds of ships is man-killing work. It's scandalous that men should be allowed to force their fellow-men to do such labour. The calves of a man's leg is as hard as a bit of board after that there straining work. They hardly know how to turn out of bed of a morning after they have been at that for a day. I never worked below bridge, thank God, and hope I never shall. I have not wanted for a day's work since I've been a teetotaller. Men can back out from a ship's hold better without liquor than with it. We teetotallers can do the work better - that is, with more ease to ourselves, than the drinkers can. Many teetotallers have backed coals out of the hold, and I have heard them say over and over again that they did their work with more comfort and ease than they did when they drank intoxicating drink. Coal-backing from the ship's hold is the hardest work that it is possible for a man to do. Going up a ladder sixteen feet high, with 238lbs. weight on a man's back, is sufficient to kill any one; indeed, it does kill the men in a few years - they're soon old men at that work; and I do say that the masters below bridge should be stopped going on as they're doing now. And what for? Why, to put the money they save by it into their own pockets, for the public a'n't no better off - the coals is just as dear there. Then the whippers and the lightermen are all thrown out of work by it; and, what's more, the lives of the backers are shortened many years - we reckon at least ten year. "I wish to say this much," said the other teetotaller; "it's a practice with some of the coal merchants to pay their men in public-houses, and this is a chief cause of a great portion of the wages being spent in drink. I once worked for a master upon Bankside as paid his men at a public-house, and I worked a week there, which yarned me 28s. and some odd half-pence. When I went on Saturday night the publican asked me what I was come for. In reply I said, I'm come to settle. He says, 'You're already settled with' - meaning that I had nothing to take. I had drinked all my lot away, he said, with the exception of 5s. I had borrowed during the week. Then I told him to look back, and he'd find I'd something due to me. He did so, and said there was a halfpenny. I had nothing to take home to my wife and two children. I asked the publican to lend me a few shillings, saying my young uns had nothing to eat. His reply was, 'That's nothing to me-that's your business.' After that I made it my business. While I stood at the bar, in came the three teetotallers that worked along with me, and picked up the 28s. each that was coming to them; and I thought how much better they was off than me. The publican had stopped all my money for drink that I knowed I'd not had; and yet I couldn't help myself, cause he had the paying on me. Then something came over me as I stood there, and I said, from this night, with the help of God, I'll never taste of another drop of intoxicating liquors - that's ten years ago the 25th of last August - and I've kept my pledge ever since, thank God. That publican has been the making of me. The master that discharged me before for getting drunk, when he heard that I was sober, sent for me back again. But before that, the three teetotallers who was working along with me, was discharged by their master to oblige the publican that stopped my money. The publican, you see, had his coals from the wharf. He was a 'brass-plate coal merchant' as well as a publican, and had private customers of his own. He threatened to take his work away from the wharf if the three teetotallers wasn't discharged, and sure enough, the master did discharge them rather than lose so good a customer. Many of the masters now are growing favourable to teetotalism. I can say that I've done more on the principle of total abstinence than ever I done before. I'm better in health. I've no trembling when I goes to my work of a morning, but on the contrary I'm ready to meet it. I'm happier at home. We never has no angry words now," said the man with a shake of the head; and a strong emphasis on the now. "My children never runs away from me as they used to before. They come and embrace me more. My money now goes for eatables and clothes, what I and my children once was deprived on through my intemperate habits, and I bless God and the publican that made me a teetotaller - that I do sincerely - every night as I go to bed. And as for men to hold out that they can't do their work without it, I'm prepared to prove that we have done more work without it than ever we done, or could do, with it."
I have been requested by the coalwhippers to publish the following expression of gratitude on their part towards the Government for the establishment of the Coalwhippers'-office: -
"The change that the Legislature has produced in us, by putting an end to the thraldom of the publican, by the institution of this office, we wish it to be generally known that we and our wives and children are very thankful for."
I shall now conclude with the following estimate of the number of the hands, ships, &c., engaged in the coal trade of London: - There are about 400 wharfs, I am informed, from Wapping to Chelsea, as well as those on the City Canal. A large wharf will keep about 30 horses, 6 waggons, and 4 carts, and it will employ constantly from 3 to 4 gangs of 5 men; besides these there will be 6 waggoners, 1 cart carman, and about 2 trounsers - in all from 24 to 29 men. A small wharf will employ one gang of 5 men, about 10 horses, 3 waggons, and 1 cart; 3 waggoners, 1 trounser. and 1 cart carman. At the time of the strike, sixteen years ago, there were more than 3,000 coal-porters, I am told, in London. It is supposed that there is upon an average I gang and a-half, or about 7 men, employed in each wharf; or, in all, 2,800 coal-porters in constant employment, and about 200 odd men out of work. There are, in the trade, about 4 waggons and 1 cart to each wharf, or 1,600 waggons, and 400 carts, having 5,200 horses; to these there would be about 3 waggoners and 1 cart carman upon an average to each wharf, or 1,600 in all. Each wharf would occupy about 2 trounsers, or 800 in the whole.
Hence the statistics of the coal trade will be as follows: -
Tons of coal entering the port of London each year 3,418,340
Horses for ditto 5,200