War Office itself, might utilise the services of professional women
more freely than they do, with great advantage to themselves.
Women have among other things a very sharp eye for the detection
of fraud and corruption. It was to the initiative and energy of one
woman that the greatest improvements in the organisation of the
Army Hospital Service in the nineteenth century were due. It is
admitted that no change in the administration of the Factory Depart-
ment has been so fruitful for good as the appointment of women
factory inspectors. Why, then, are not professional women called
in to aid in the organisation of commissariat, the inspection of
clothing stores, the " housekeeping " of the Army, especially in the
case of the needs of raw recruits ? Incalculable waste, diversified
here and there by actual lack of food, is reported from the camps.
The help of expert women might here be of enormous value, and
not only avoid waste, but ensure the provision of more wholesome
food and more comfortable clothing. Some valuable hints on this
subject are to be derived from an article by Mrs. Janet Courtney in
the Fortnightly Review, February 1915, " The War and Women's
264 THE EFFECTS OF THE WAR
Such an association may have great results, directly
in the attainment of the objects set forth, indirectly
in the stimulating of public spirit and a sense of citizen-
ship among women.
There is, however, little ground for hoping that the
war will of itself lead to social measures of reconstruc-
tion or to the development of a better-organised state,
whether in regard to women or in regard to labour
generally. Some can find spiritual comfort and
sustenance in the idea that by fighting German
militarism we are destroying tyranny and despotism
among ourselves. On the contrary, it may be that
in fighting we are impelled to use as a weapon and
may be giving a new lease of life to precisely those
tendencies, those forces in our own social life which
we are opposing among the Germans for all we are
worth. Class domination, the rule of the strongest,
and the idealisation of brute force are not peculiar to
Germany, although unquestionably, as we have been
driven to see, they have there reached an extraordinary
exuberance. But the same tendencies are here, and
we may be sure democracy will not come of itself,
merely as a result of the war. War inevitably means
for the time the predominance of man over woman,
the predominance of the soldier over the industrial,
the predominance of reaction over democracy. It is
significant that the stress of war was quickly seized as
a pretext for suspending the protection of industrial
workers by the State, and for relaxing the Education
Acts which normally interpose some hindrance to the
exploitation of children by the capitalist employer.
The clamour for compulsion and the shameless under-
payment of women in some branches of war work are
signs of the same reaction. Yet in the long run the
ON THE EMPLOYMENT OF WOMEN 265
apparently weaker elements of society are as vitally
necessary as the stronger, and to ignore or silence
their needs is to strike at the heart of life. The
problems offered by the great war, gigantic and
staggering as they are, are not so different in kind from,
though vaster in degree and more appalling than, the
problem of the industrial revolution itself. Each is a
problem of the development of material civilisation,
which has (we know it now too poignantly) far out-
distanced the growth of civilisation on its social and
spiritual side. Each includes the question whether
man is to be the master or the slave of the mechanic
powers his own genius has evoked. Neither can ever
be solved without the conscious co-operation of Woman
and Labour, failing which we must for ever fall short
of the highest possibilities of our race. " If Great
Britain is to lead the way in promoting a new spirit
between the nations, she needs a new spirit also in
the whole range of her corporate life. For what
Britain stands for in the world is, in the long run,
what Britain is, and when thousands are dying for
her it is more than ever the duty of all of us to try to
make her worthier of their devotion." 1
1 The War and Democracy. Introduction by A. E. Zimmern,
p. 14. London, 1914.
266 THE EFFECTS OF THE WAR
CHANGES IN EMPLOYMENT DURING THE WAR 1914-1915.
I. Contraction of Employment of
Women and Girls.
Board of Trade Figures.
Reduction in Numbers as compared with July 1914.
Trade. All Work-people, Women predominating.
Reduction of Employment per cent
of previous year.
Reduction of Earnings per cent
of previous year.
"aSta." 1 " B """ C > -
III. Percentage Increase or Decrease compared with
same Month in Previous Year.
chiefly West End .
-i 4 -c
Mantle, costume, etc.,
- 2-5 + 0-6
Shirt and collar makers
- 1-5 - 2-1
APPENDIX TO CHAPTERS II. AND IV.
DOCUMENTS AND EXTRACTS ILLUSTRATIVE OF THE POSITION
OF WOMEN DURING THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION.
Thoughts on the Use of Machines in the Cotton Manufacture.
By a Friend of the Poor. Manchester Reference
Library, 677, i, B. 12. (Barnes, 1780.)
" What a prodigious difference have our machines
made in the gain of the females of the family ! Formerly
the chief support of a poor family arose from the loom.
The wife could get comparatively but little on her single
spindle. But for some years a good spinner has been able
to get as much as or more than a weaver. For this reason
many weavers have become spinners, and by this means
such quantities of cotton warps, twists, wefts, etc., have
been poured into the country that our trade has taken a
new turn. All the spinners in the country could not
possibly have produced so much as this, as are now wanted
in a small part of our manufacture. If it were true that
a weaver gets less, yet, as his wife gets more, his family
does not suffer. But the fact is that the gains of an in-
dustrious family have been upon the average much greater
than they were before these inventions."
Page 1 6. " When I look upon our machines, with a
regard to the Poor, and as their friend and well-wisher,
my heart glows with gratitude and pleasure on their
account, in the full hope that, by means of them, our
manufactures will continue, and be extended and improved,
from age to age. Perhaps, e'er long, our manufacture
may be chiefly of cotton. Linen may be almost laid aside.
Suppose, for instance, common yearn could be brought
to market, made with cotton warps. What a sale might
we expect ! Such goods would have the demand of all the
world. Nor is this at all unlikely to be the case, in some
future time. Already cotton yarn has been offered to sale,
as I am very credibly informed, almost, if not entirely, as
cheap as linen yarn, of the same length. Germany and
Ireland then have reason to be alarmed at our machines.
Their yarn manufactures may suffer severely. But surely
this will be the highest advantage to us, by increasing
the quantity of labour amongst ourselves and keeping so
much money at home. Perhaps, by new improvements,
we may vie with the East India goods in fineness and
beauty. And then what a prospect would open upon
us ! But you say all this is a mere perhaps. It is so.
And I only offer it as such. But, I ask, is it more unlikely
than our present improvements were, twenty years ago ?
I believe not. Some tradesmen thought the cotton manu-
facture at its highest pitch then. It was then but in its
infancy. Perhaps it is so yet. Human ingenuity, when
spurred on by proper rewards, may leave whatever has been
done already at a vast distance. We may have goods
brought to market, cheaper, finer, better. The necessary
consequence of this will be, the demand will increase and
all the world become our customers. If we can undersell
all the world, we may have the custom of all the world.
Merchants are alike all the world over. They will go to the
cheapest market. What a pleasing thought is this ! But in
order to do this it is necessary to encourage our machines,
and to keep them as much as possible to ourselves."
Description of Interior of a Cotton Mill, in A Short Essay
for the Service of the Proprietors of Cotton Mills and
the Persons Employed in Them. Manchester, 1784.
(M/c Library, 28269/4.)
(Quotes instances of jail fever from overcrowding, etc.)
Page 9. " The Cotton Mills are large buildings, but so
constructed as to employ the greatest possible number of
persons. That no room may be lost, the several stories
are built as low as possible. Most of the rooms are crowded
with machines, about which it is necessary to employ a
considerable quantity of oil in order to facilitate their
motion. From the nature of the manufacture, a great
deal of cotton dust is constantly flying about, which, adher-
ing to the oil and heated by the friction, occasions a strange
and disagreeable srnell. The number of people who work
in the mill must certainly be proportioned to the size of it.
In a large one I am informed there are several hundreds.
. . . The manufacturers, in many instances, constantly
labour day and night. 1 Of course a great number of
candles must be used, and scarce any opportunity for
ventilation afforded. From hence it is evident that there
is a considerable effluvia constantly arising from the bodies
of a large number of persons (well or in a degree indisposed,
just as it happens), from the oil and cotton dust, and from
the candles used in the night, without any considerable
supply of fresh air. There are indeed trifling casements,
sometimes opened and sometimes not ; but totally in-
sufficient to subserve any valuable purpose. . . . What
consequences must we expect from so many pernicious
circumstances ? What are the consequences which have
actually proceeded from them ? As we have already
observed, it is well known that there has been a contagious
disorder in a cotton mill in the neighbourhood of Manchester
which has been fatal to many, and infected more. . . .
Most of the patients that were ill, having been asked where
they caught the fever, either replied that they caught it
themselves at the cotton mill or were infected by others
that had. Several were asked what kind of labour they
followed who were first seized with the disorder. They
all replied, they were the people that worked in the cotton
1 It should be observed that the first proprietors of some cotton
mills, alarmed by the consequences of obliging their servants to
work incessantly, have shut up their mills in the night.
2 7 o APPENDIX
Leicester, 1788. British Museum Tracts, B. 544 (10).
Humble Petition of the Poor Spinners, which on a very
moderate calculation consist of Eighteen Thousand, Five
Hundred, employed in the Town and Country aforesaid,
Sheweth, that the business of Spinning, in all its branches,
hath ever been, time out of mind, the peculiar employment
of women ; insomuch that every single woman is called
in law a Spinster ; to which employment your Petitioners
have been brought up, and by which they have hitherto
earned their maintenance. That this employment above
all others is suited to the condition and circumstances of
the Female Poor ; inasmuch as not only single women,
but married ones also, can be employed in it consistently
with the necessary cares of their families ; for, the business
being carried on in their own houses, they can at any time
leave it when the care of their families requires their attend-
ance, and can re-assume the work when family duty permits
it ; nay, they can, in many instances, carry on their work
and perform their domestic duty at the same time ; particu-
larly in the case of attending a sick husband or child, or
an aged parent.
That the children of the poor can also be employed in
this occupation more or less, according to their age and
strength, which is not only a great help to the maintenance
of the family, but inures their children to habits of industry.
It is therefore with great concern your Petitioners see that
this antient employment is likely to be taken from them
an employment so consistent with civil liberty, so full of
domestic comfort, and so favourable to a religious course of
life. This we apprehend will be the consequences of so
many spinning mills, now erecting after the model of the
cotton mills. The work of the poor will be done by these
engines, and they left without employment.
The proprietors of the spinning mills do indeed tell your
Petitioners that their children shall be employed after the
manner of the children at the cotton mills. Your Petitioners
have enquired what that manner is ; and with grief ol
heart they find that a vast number of poor children are
crowded together in an unhealthy place, have no time
allowed them for recreation and exercise, are kept to work
for ten or twelve hours together, and that in the night-time
as well as by day ; hereby they become cripples and
emaciated beyond measure. That no care is taken of their
morals, as your Petitioners can learn ; though these very
children are the means by which their masters are raised
to wealth and honours too ; for we have heard that a
certain great mill-monger is newly created a knight though
he was not born a gentleman.
The adventurers are turning their cotton mills into
jersey mills, and new ones are daily erecting ; and our
masters show what their expectations are by undervaluing
our work and beating down our wages. 1
1800. Broadsheet, pp. 942, 72, L. 15 (M/c Library).
(This broadsheet records the resolutions carried at a
special meeting of merchants, manufacturers, and cotton
spinners held at Manchester, May 2, 1800, to consider pro-
ceedings of meetings recently held for the purpose of getting
Parliament to put a duty on exportation of cotton twist.)
Resolved I. That cotton spinning is a manufacture of
the first importance to this country. That it gives employ-
ment to a considerable part of the national capital and
to a very large portion of the poor of this county and of
several other counties, the chief part consisting of women
and children who, by means of this manufacture, are
rendered highly useful to the community at large instead
of being a burthen on it, as they would be if not employed in
cotton mills (italics added).
1 A certain manufacturer of worsted threatened a sister of ours,
whom he employed, that he would send all his jersey to be spun at
the mill ; and further insulted her with the pretended superiority
of that work. She having more spirit than discretion, stirred up
the sisterhood, and they stirred up all the men they could influence
(not a few) to go and destroy the mills erected in and near Leicester,
and this is the origin of the late riots there.
Broadsheet in Manchester Library (n. d.).
(Purports to be by an old weaver, deprecating attacks
on machinery.) " If machinery is destroyed, how are your
children to be employed, who now, at an age in which
children in other countries gain nothing, can support
themselves ? Yes, and not only this, but can earn as
much, or even more, than a hardworking man in other
countries, where there are not these improvements ? It
is thus that our poor are enabled to marry early and support
a family, as the children, instead of being a deadweight
upon their parents, can more than do for themselves. So
great, indeed, have been our comforts from the demand
for our cheap manufactures and the plenty of employ, that
people have flocked into Lancashire from all parts of
the kingdom by thousands, tens of thousands, aye, and
hundreds of thousands too.
" If they (machines) are destroyed, how then are you to
find support for yourselves and your families ? Where will
your children of seven, eight, or nine years old find employ-
ment and money to contribute to the comforts of all ?
Will our barren moors support them ? "
From Alfred's History of the Factory Movement, vol. i. p. 16.
When the first factories were erected, it was soon dis-
covered that there was in the minds of the parents a strong
repugnance to the employment thus provided for children :
the native domestic labourers, being then able amply to
provide for their children, rejected the tempting offers of
the mill-owners, the parents preferring to rear their children
in their own homes, and to train them to their own handi-
crafts. For a long period it was by the working people
themselves considered to be disgraceful to any father who
allowed his child to enter the factory nay, in the homely
words of that day, as will be remembered by the old men
of the present age, " that parent made himself the town's
talk " and the unfortunate girl so given up by her parents
in after life found the door of household employment closed-
against her " Because she had been a factory girl."
It was not until the condition of portions of the working
class had been reduced that it became the custom with
working men to eke out the means of their subsistence by
sending their children to the mills. Until that sad and
calamitous custom prevailed, the factories in England
were worked by " stranger-children," gathered together
from the workhouse.
Under the operation of the factories' apprentice system
parish apprentices were sent, without remorse or enquiry,
from the workhouses in England, to be " used up " as the
" cheapest raw material in the market." This inhuman
conduct was systematically practised; the mill-owners
communicated with the overseer of the poor, and when
the demand and supply had been arranged to the satisfac-
tion of both the contracting parties, a day was fixed for the
examination of " the little children " to be inspected by
the mill-owner, or his agent, previous to which the
authorities of the workhouse had filled the minds of their
wards with the notion that by entering the mills they would
become ladies and gentlemen. . . . It sometimes happened
that traffickers contracted with the overseers, removing
their juvenile victims to Manchester, or other towns, on
their arrival ; if not previously assigned, they were de-
posited sometimes in dark cellars, where the merchant
dealing in them brought his customers ; the mill-owners,
by the light of lanthorns, being enabled to examine the
children, their limbs and stature having undergone the
necessary scrutiny, the bargain was struck, and the poor
innocents were conveyed to the mills. The general treat-
ment of those apprentices depended entirely on the will
of their masters ; in very many instances their labour was
limited only by exhaustion after many modes of torture
had been unavailingly applied to force continued action ;
their food was stinted, coarse, and unwholesome. In
" brisk times " the beds (such as they were) were never
cool, the mills were worked night and day, and as soon as
one set of children rose for labour the other set retired for
rest. We dare not trust ourselves to write all we know on
this subject, much less all we feel. . . . The moral nature
of the traffic between parish authorities and the buyers of
pauper children, may be judged from the fact that in some
cases one idiot was accepted with twenty sane children.
... In stench, in heated rooms, amid the constant whirling
of a thousand wheels, have little fingers and little feet been
kept in ceaseless action, forced into unnatural activity by
blows from the heavy hands and feet of the merciless over-
looker, and the infliction of bodily pain by instruments of
punishment invented by the sharpened ingenuity of in-
satiable selfishness. . . . Some of the helpless victims . . .
nightly prayed that death would come to their relief ;
weary of prayer, some there were who deliberately accom-
plished their own destruction. The annals of Litten Mill
afford an instance of this kind. " Palfrey the smith had
the task of riveting irons upon any of the apprentices whom
the master ordered, and these were much like the irons
usually put upon felons. Even young women, if suspected
of intending to run away, had irons riveted upon their
ankles, and reaching by long links and rings up to the hips,
and in these they were compelled to walk to and from the
mill and to sleep. Robert Blincoe asserts that he has
known many girls served in this manner. A handsome-
looking girl, about the age of twenty years, who came from
the neighbourhood of Cromford, whose name was Phoebe
Day, being driven to desperation by ill-treatment, took the
opportunity one dinner-time, when she was alone and
supposed no one saw her, to take off her shoes and throw
herself into the dam at the end of the bridge, next the
apprentice-house. Some one passing along and seeing
a pair of shoes stopped. The poor girl had sunk once,
and just as she rose above the water he seized her by the
hair. . . . She was nearly gone, and it was with some
difficulty her life was saved. When Mr. Needham heard
of this, and being afraid the example might be contagious,
he ordered James Durant, a journeyman spinner, who had
been apprenticed there, to take her away to her relations
at Cromford, and thus she escaped."
The Factory System. Enquiry into the State of the
Manufacturing Population. London, 1831.
Page 12. " As a second cause of the unhealthiness of
manufacturing towns we place the severe and unremitting
labour. Cotton factories (which are the best in this
particular) begin to work at half-past five or six in the
morning and cease at half-past seven or eight at night. An
interval of half an hour or forty minutes is allowed for
breakfast, an hour for dinner, and generally half an hour
for tea, leaving about twelve hours a day clear labour.
The work of spinners and stretchers (men) is among the
most laborious that exist, and is exceeded, perhaps, by that
of mowing alone, and few mowers, we believe, think of
continuing their labour for twelve hours without inter-
mission. . . . The labour of the other classes of hands
employed in factories, as carders, rovers, piecers, and
weavers, consists not so much in their actual manual
exertion, which is very moderate, as in the constant
attention which they are required to keep up and the
intolerable fatigue of standing for so great a length of time.
We know that incessant walking for twenty-four hours
was considered one of the most intolerable tortures to
which witches in former times were subjected, for the
purpose of compelling them to own their guilt, and that
few of them could hold out for twelve ; and the fatigue of
standing for twelve hours, without being permitted to
lean or sit down, must be scarcely less extreme. Accord-
ingly, some sink under it, and many more have their con-
stitutions permanently weakened and undermined.
" III. The third cause we shall assign is perhaps even
more efficient than the last. The air in almost all factories
is more or less unwholesome. Many of the rooms are
obliged to be kept at a certain temperature (say 65 degrees
Fahrenheit) for the purpose of manufacture, and from the
speed of the machinery, the general want of direct com-
munication with the external atmosphere, and from
artificial heat, they often exceed the temperature. . . .
But in addition to mere heat, the rooms are often ill-
ventilated, the air is filled with the effluvia of oil, and with
emanations from the uncleanly persons of a large number
of individuals ; and, from the want of free ventilation, the
air is very imperfectly oxygenated and has occasionally
a most overpowering smell. 1 In a word, the hands
employed in these large manufactories breathe foul air
for twelve hours out of the twenty-four, and we know that
few things have so specific and injurious an action on the
digestive organs as the inhalation of impure air, and this
fact alone would be almost sufficient to account for the
prevalence of stomachic complaints in districts where
" The small particles of cotton and dust with which the