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to find employment only ten would now some of the miners were swinging down
into the pit: the force of the wind blew The reader must judge of the weight of them back into the air. One or two fell on the above arguments, which afford a fine the bank, and were saved; but the rest scope for the ingenuity of the expediency. were again precipitated into the shaft, monger and the casuist, as to whether the The author of the History of Fossil displacement of capital, and therefore of Fuel’ has given a minute account of a calabour, might not lead to greater misery tastrophe, of which the main points are the than that which is sought to be avoided : following: whether the shutting-up the small-seamed In the forenoon of the 25th May, 1812, collieries, which are often the best coal - 121 men were in the Felling Colliery, when and which, or some of them, can only be a terrible explosion was heard; a slight wrought by very young creatures—would earthquake was felt half a mile round; a not enhance the price of a commodity, on cloud of dust rose high into the air, and, the due supply of which, it may be readily borne away by a strong west wind, fell in shown, the life of the community at large thick showers at the distance of a mile and hinges more entirely than on anything save a half, causing a darkness like twilight over food. In a word, a fine mesh of tangled the village of Heworih. argument may be spun by any logical head As soon as the explosion was heard, a imbued with Paley's principle of the crowd of the relations of the colliers greatest happiness to the greatest number' rushed to the pit. The men worked the -a principle, by the way, which to see in 'gin' with astonishing expedition, and, letits details demands an omniscient being, ting down the rope, rescued 32 persons, of and to carry out an almighty one. We whom three (boys) died in a few hours. leave all this to the reader, who, to use An eye-witness, the Rev. M. Hodgson, says another phrase of Paley's, 'can afford to that the shrieks, wringing of hands, and keep a conscience.'
howling were indescribable: they who had We proceed to another point. The in- their friends restored to them seemed to fluence of man on his fellow-men may or suffer as much from excess of joy as they may not be kindly; but that of the physi- had lately done by grief. But these were cal circumstances which surround the miner the few. Several attempts were made to is quite appalling; and even through the rescue those who did not appear : within a stiff and bald detail of the Sub-commission- few hours eight or nine bold men descended ers there are touches of reality which tran- into the pit-bottom, but found that the enscend all imagination. * The life of a col- trance into the workings, or galleries, was lier,' says one of these gentlemen, is of impeded by an upright column of smoke, great danger both for man and child a which convinced them that the mine was collier is never safe after he is swung off on fire. It was in vain that the viewers' to be let down the pit.' He is in danger, assured the people that all hope was at an in the first place, from fire in its most end; and that the only thing left was to exfrightful form, assuming a character which tinguish the ignited coals by closing up the the sublime language of Milton can scarce- mine itself. Each proposition to this effect ly depict
was met with yells of Murder !' from the
kindred, followed by symptoms of deter• Floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire.'
mined resistance. Two or three days
elapsed, while the widows and orphans When the ventilation of a colliery has been al- never ceased to hover about the pit-mouth lowed to become bad, a quantity of carburet- in the hope to hear some cry for succourted hydrogen gas accumulates in the 'wastes,' but all silent as death; and at length the and ignites on the first approach of any light, shaft was permitted to be hermetically save the blessed Davy-lamp: the whole closed. It was re-opened on the Sth of mine is instantly filled with terrific flashes July, on which day a great concourse asof lightning, the expanding fluid driving be- sembled to witness this service of danger fore it a roaring whirlwind of flaming air, -some curious only, but the greater part which tears up everything-scorching some came, with streaming eyes and broken to a cinder, burying others under enormous hearts, to seek a father, a son, or husband rocks and fragments shaken from the roofs --constables were appointed to keep off and passages--and then, thundering up the the crowd—and two surgeons were on the shaft, wastes its volcanic fury in a thick spot, in case of accidents. Eight men at a discharge of dust, stones, and the mangled time descended, who remained four hours limbs of men and horses. One of these in, and eight hours out of the mine. When explosions took place at the moment that the first shift of men came up, a message
was sent for coffins ; those which had been manity part out of the question as a trifle, prepared were sent in cart-loads through we may be allowed to express a little surthe village of Low-Felling. As soon as prise at the inconsistency of expending the cart was seen, the women rushed out of 150,0001. in sinking a shaft, paying enortheir houses with shrieks which were heard mous sums for machinery, and the furto a great distance. The bodies were found nishing and draining a mine—and though most of them marked by fire-some fully aware that the whole may be blown to scorched, and dry as mummies. In one pieces if a trap-door be left open . five minplace twenty were crammed in ghastly con- utes'- yet confiding that risk to the care fusion—some torn to pieces—while others and good sense of children aged from five appeared unscathed, and in attitude as if to seven years ! !--(See Report, p. 147.) overpowered by sleep. It was only by some article of clothing—a shoe-or by
• Dr. Walsh has thus described two of the less some token, as a tobacco-box-that
common harbingers of choke-damp, and firefriends could recognise the
damp, those ministers of death, whose approach A neat corpse.
is frequently as insidious as it is destructive. pyramid, nine feet high, bearing the names
"At one time, an odour of the most fragrant and ages of eighty-nine sufferers, is placed kind is diffused through the mine, resembling over one huge grave in Heworth chapel- scent of the sweetest flowers; and while the yard.
miner is inhaling the balmy gale, he is One would think that the memory of one suddenly struck down and expires in the such catastrophe would suffice as a warning midst of his fancied enjoyment : at another,
it comes in the form of a globe of air en
, gives a long succession of equally closed in a filmy case; and while he is gazing horrid events ; and yet all the sub-commis- and is tempted to take it in his hand, it suddenly sioners were struck with the recklessness explodes, and destroys him and his companions of the miners—one was obliged for his own in an instant.” –History of Fossil Fuel, p. 256. preservation, to knock the Davy lamp out of the hands of his guide, who chose in a
Another of the awful effects produced by most suspicious place to trim it, by expos- the element is when the mine, that is the coal ing the flame without the protecting wire- itself, takes fire. Once ignited, it will go on work to the gas.
Another, on whom pro- burning for years, nay, centuries—as witbably a practical joke was played, seems to ness Wednesbury in Stafford, or Dudley in have been much horrified at the miners, Worcestershire, where
who, by way of amusement, would inflate Smoke may be seen distinctly issuing at more the mouth with a sufficient quantity to pro- places than one, and it is stated that in one of duce a steam, by contracting the lips, and the wells the water is sufficiently hot to be used setting fire to it, as from an Argand burner, for washing and culinary purposes. Smoke and to the great glee of others who looked on.'
steam issue from the crevices on both sides of -Report, p. 137.) Another of these gen- the stones are felt warm, as also the steam issu
the road, and on holding the hand to the place tlemen was bid to walk with his
ing. This part of the town is built over a pit, dle exactly opposite his breast ; for above from which the good coal has been long extracted, him was a layer of wildfire, and below and what is now on fire is the slack or small coal another of choke-damp, the intermediate left behind. If a shaft were attempted to be stratum being alone respirable, the specific opened the flames would burst forth.-(Dr. gravities of each determining its position. It Mitchell, App. I., p. 4.) is mostly in the northern mines that these The combustion is generally spontaneous, gases abound in such quantities that nothing but it may and has arisen through carelessbut the fullest ventilation could permit their ness--or wilfulness, as in 1833 in one of being worked at all. Some of the mines of Lord Fitzwilliam's collieries. Scotland are, however, just sufficiently aired Many of the mines not only have ento prevent actual explosion--no thought be- croached on the penetralia of earth, but ing given to render the atmosphere incapa- have been extended under the beds of rivble of producing chronic disease, and so ers or of the ocean itself; and we find in shortening life. Perhaps the argumentum our time not a few instances where the waad crumenam may have more weight than ters have broken loose and filled them. that ad hominem : it is proved that economy of material is much greater where the
"A catastrophe which occurred in consequence mine is thoroughly ventilated than where it of a sudden irruption of water into the pits at is not, as there, in consequence of dampness, when ten individuals perished, has been made
East Ardsley, near Wakefield, in June, 1809, the wood work and machinery rot away in the subject of a Drama, by the Rev. J. Flumptre, half the time. On the same principle of B. D., Vicar of Great Gransden, Herts, entitled sheer economy, leaving all the mere hu-“Kendrew, or the Coal Mine." The author
says in his preface, that, having visited a coal- , worked fifty years, and its excavations took mine, at the Heaton Colliery, near Newcastle, two hours and a half to be filled.-Report, in the summer of 1799, he adopted that as the
145. foundation of his scenery; and endeavoured so to construct his piece, that, should it ever be pero in Irvine, while fishing in the Garnock, ob
In June, 1833, Mr. Montgomery, banker formed, the audience might have an opportunity of having the interior of a coal-mine, to which served a gurgling motion in its current, we are indebted for so much comfort, as it were | which, though first mistaken by him for presented and realized to them.” It is not likely, salmon-leaps, soon led to the suspicion of however, that the drama was ever recited on the its true cause, and, accordingly the neighstage: the first act opens with a scene repre- bouring headsman of the mine was warned senting the top of the shaft, with the drawing -he, however, was at first slow to believemachinery, &c., and a pitman singing a song, of which the following is the first verse:-
but the men below heard the gurgling of
the waters---and were only dragged out, "" Although the poor collier is dirty and grim, pursued by the waves, when these had The world yet "derives great advantage from risen up to their necks. At first the river him:
ran smooth, but rapidly; but on the followWhilst you sit in your houses secure from the ing afternoon a portion of the mine sunk,
storm, His labour contributes to make you so warm.”
and the stream disappeared, leaving its bed
dry for a mile. The pressure in the pits It will readily be conceived that the sound became so great from the whole workings and appearance of an instantaneous rushing of a of the mines, which extended over 'many large body of water into the workings must be miles,' being filled, that the air, pent up awful indeed to those engulphed therein--par- between the waters and the crust of overticularly when the lights are mostly or entirely lying earth, burst through, and many extinguished ! One of the earliest boyish impres
acres of ground were to be seen all at sions which the writer retains is connected with an event of this nature, which occurred in a York- once bubbling up like the boiling of a shire colliery in the beginning of the year 1805. cauldron.' Immense quantities of sand and The bottom of a large dam suddenly gave way, water were thrown up for five hours, and and poured its contents into the mine beneath : fell like showers of rain. In a short time one of the colliers, recording the deliverance of the whole of Bartonholme, Longford, Snodhimself and fellows in verse, the mediocrity of grass, and Nethermains, were laid under which was relieved by the real impressiveness water, by which calamity from five to six of the occurrence, thus sang:
hundred persons were deprived of employ•“It early in the morning was our troubles dia ment, and the extensive colliery-works so begin;
injured as to preclude all hope of their ever Near two o'clock, we understand, the waters being restored to their former state.'— rushed in:
(History of Fossil Fuel, p. 250.) Then many waded in the deep in such a wretch- But there is a class of accidents far more ed plight,
frequent than these awful visitations of eleTheir case it dreary was indeed--they had no mental agents. The descent into shafts is
kind of light! To hear the cries, and see the tears on this
in the richer mines managed by steam macasion shed,
chinery-in the less wealthy by the gin' The tragic scene, it was enough to cause the or wheel worked by a horse-and in the heart to bleed :
poorest by a wheel worked by hand, such But the all-seeing eye of God, from whom we as that used in drawing water from wells.
draw our breath, Beheld, and by his Providence preserved us all curred of the load being wound over,' and
In all these the frightful accident has ocfrom death,” &c.' -History of Fossil Fuel, pp. 250, 251
the men pitched down the shaft. This
happened in one instance from the little boy In Mr. Curwen's great pit at Working. whom the proprietors employ at 78. a week ton, which was carried two miles under the -in order to save the additional 238., sea, it was observed by the men that the which would have to be paid to a man fit mine had been oozing salt water for some for such a duty-neglecting to stop the time, and some of them got away, but in steam-engine in time, his attention being the night, the single night of the 28th attracted by a mouse on the hearth!!'July, 1837, the sea broke in, and none were (Report, p. 144.) The motive of economy ever found to tell how it happened. The is that assigned in the Evidence; and it bodies even were never recovered—and so states the exact saving as above. the funeral service was read over the pit- Another class of accidents arise from mouth. The spot where the water broke carelessness and want of due inspection as in was discernible in the sea by the black to the ropes and tackle of descent. Then ness of the waves, The mine had been I again the shaft, which should be well lined,
is in the poorer mines but negligently pro- to prevent eight or ten tons of coal falling tected; and a small stone loosened from in any instant on him. Is it wonderful, its side, or flung from the pit-mouth, suf- then, that men living amid such constant fices, with the impetus of descent, to kill. dangers should be callous, or what appears The corves, which ought to be shedded callous to a sub-commissioner,—startled at over, are often open. The pit-mouths, three or four urchins jumping, with fearless which should be surrounded by a wall, so certainty of foot and eye, from the bank as to hinder people falling down them at into a corve about to descend ;-or that ocnight, are not unfrequently unguarded—not casionally some lad of an engine-keeper, so much from the fault of the proprietors, having been well thrashed by a hewer, as because the people will steal the bricks should so manage the machinery as to let for their own use. There are some painful his enemy in the corve drop with the velodescriptions scattered among the Reports city of descending lead down the shaft-of of deaths arising from falling in of the course with imminent risk of life from roofs, when economy tempts to remove the breakage of the rope to which the man pillars that have supported them. Some clings ? The minds of such people become times, after such operations, a very unex- familiarized with death, and the ever-repected mode of filling up these galleries curring accidents are speedily forgotten : takes place spontaneously—the floors are pressed up towards the roof—or, as one of times," says the Chief-Constable at Oldham, if
• There would be more feeling a hundred the witnesses terms it, “the earth is on the a policeman were to kill a dog in the streets move. There are innumerable sources of than about killing a collier. They are quite an danger to the drivers, from accidents pecu- uneducated set of people, who go to cockpits, liar to them; and, finally, there is no peril and races, and fights, and many are gamblers common to any other adventurous profes- and drinkers. There are so many killed, that sion from which the miner is exempt.
it becomes quite customary to expect such things. The historian of. Fossil Fuel has a note children seem to have forgotten it. The chiefest
In a day or two's time even a man's wife and (p. 291) which we cannot but quote :
talk is just at the moment, until the body gets • There is, indeed, no class of persons, sailors collier !" '—(Report, p. 144.)
home, and then people feel, “Oh, it is only a themselves not excepted, who have greater reason to live in constant readiness to encounter In Scotland there are no coroners to insudden death than the colliers who work in some of our deep and impure mines. The fol- vestigate the causes and modes of accidentlowing is a striking illustration of the prevalence al deaths, and the instances known, yet neof pious sentiments under circumstances of ex- glected, are quite frightful. Mary Sneddon cruciating trial :-In one of the Newcastle says— Brother Robert was killed on the collieries, thirty-five men and forty-one boys 21st January last. He was brought home, died by suffocation, or were starved to death; coffined, and buried in Bo'ness kirkyard. one of the boys was found dead with a bible by No one came to inquire how he was killed : his side, and a tin box such as colliers use; they never do in this place. Mr. James the point of a nail this last message to his parent Hunter, overseer to Alloa colliery, states and brother: “Fret not, my dear mother, for that 'the sheriff sometimes comes down. we are singing the praises of God while we He did in the last case after the death of have time. Mother, follow God, more than Juhn Patteson, which was occasioned by ever I did. Joseph, think of God, and be kind being over-wound at the pit-head; he lookto poor mother.” —p. 291.
ed at the ropes and examined their strength,
and then walked away, and no further noThe miners, while 'undergoing,' tap the tice was taken. This is the common pracseam with their picks, to ascertain if it rings tice.' (p. 150.) The commissioners re clear or sounds cracked. In doubtful cases mark two things-the great difficulty of Dr. Mitchell describes them as quitting obtaining from the surgeons any register their work, lighting their pipes, and holding of accidents; and the constant endeavour a consultation-others flying precipitately in the proprietors, managers, and overseers from the falling masses which would, and of mines to lay the blame on the foolhardioften do, crush them. They usually have ness of the miners. If a chain broke, and good warning of such catastrophes by the half a dozen men were precipitated to the groaning of the earth,' but often enough bottom of a shaft, they should have exneglect the awful voice. The hewer may amined the rope or chain before they debe seen lying at full length cutting away; scended' is the excuse ; which is about as and though provided with all the timber just and valid as if in railway travelling it ready at hand to prop up and render his were considered the duly and business of work safe, neglecting the means which are the passengers to inspect the carriages and trains by which they are to be conveyed.) are too tired to speak'-'fall asleep before In well regulated mines, however, it is the they can eat their suppers. There are inespecial business of one person to inspect stances detailed where a curved spine and the head-gear. This should be the case in abscesses of the hip.joint did not shield the all. A mining police is wanted.
worker from labour-diseases which exWith respect to the general effect of haustion and a wet mine would readily inmining labour on the human frame, this duce. (Report, p. 177.) At page 179, the Report states, in conclusion, that the work witness says, ' I have often seen them lying in a well regulated coal-mine is not only on the floor fast asleep: then they fall not injurious but healthful, developing and asleep in the pit, and are killed by wag. expanding the body into forms, which one gons running over them.' of the sub-commissioners compares to the
The first direct efiect of over-work is exfinest models of ancient sculpture. In Staf- bibited in the extraordinary development fordshire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire, of the muscles; those of the back stand and in great part of Yorkshire, the men are out like ropes.' The collier-boys were theredescribed as strong and powerful, 'living fore found greatly superior to those of other like fighting-cocks;' presenting in the callings in this respect. The immediate broad and stalwart frame of the swarthy col- consequence of development in one set of lier as he stalks home, all grime and muscle, organs is diminution in another; and hence, a striking contrast with the puny, pallid, with few exceptions, the colliers are destarveling, little weaver, with his dirty white scribed as a 'stunted race:' the exceptions apron and feminine look.'-(Report, p. 163.) are Warwickshire, Leicestershire, and Ire
Whatever the imagination may picture land. The third effect of over-work is as to the interior of a mine, the reality early decay of the organ over-worked-in turns out to be far from frightful, where the collier, therefore, of the muscular systhis speculation is conscientiously worked ; tem. that is to say, where the passages are sufficiently high not to keep the body bent, the • After they are turned forty-five or fifty they air sufficiently pure to sustain health amid walk home from their work like cripples, stiftly the gigantic efforts the miner must make, the lowness of the gates induces a very bent
stalking along, often leaning on sticks. Where the temperature salubrious, and all other
posture, I have observed an inward curvaiure of appurtenances fit and matching. This is the spine; and chicken-breasted children are what a mine should be, and what many very common in low, thin coal-mines.'—(Report, ought to be, if the eye of public opinion p. 185.) and the hand of the law were directed aright. But this they are not; and so we This decrepitude is common, however, have descriptions of people working in pas- to many other classes than miners : indeed sages
like drains: : yet even here we should any tribe of mechanics may be known by beware of drawing too broad conclusions, their forms as modified by their trade. true words may paint falsely. A person Diseases of the heart and lungs are rife working twelve hours a-day up to his knees among colliers-the former as the result of in wet and muck would speedily die-over-action, the latter from that and the above ground; but the uniform tempera- vitiated and heated air of certain mines. ture of the mine, with even inefficient venti. In East Lothian, Dr. Alison says, pulmolation, removes very much of the dangers nary disease begins between the ages of of what reads like constant exposure to wet. twenty and thirty, and gradually increasing, On the whole it is rather to the over-work carries off the collier, if he be spared by than to anything else that most of the con- other disorders. “Want of proper ventistitutional damages to the frame may be lation is the cause : no part requires more traced—although a bad atmosphere will of looking to than East Lothian. The men course largely complicate the result. die off lıke rotten sheep.' (Report, p. 189.)
Where the work is excessive, and be- Another pulmonary disease, almost pecuyond the physical powers, it retards puber- liar to colliers, is .black-spit,' or 'spurious iy, shortens manhood, and brings on pre- melanosis.' The symptoms are, according mature old age ; and the instances are nu- to Dr. Alison, ‘emaciation, constant shortmerous of this exhausting labour in young ness of breath, quick pulse, occasional children, who are too tired to do anything stitches, copious expectoration, mostly perbut sleep. 'One man remembers he has fectly black, of the colour and consistence many a time dropt to sleep with the meat of blacking, a hacking cough. It is never in his mouth.'
Mothers say that their cured.' (p. 190.) It is said there are no children come home so stiff and tired that consumptive nor red-faced (apoplectic ?) they are obliged to lift them into bed'-'colliers. The cheap-worked mines are cer