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Title: Women's Work
Author: Bulley, Agnes Amy, Whitley, Margaret
Language: English
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Social Questions of To-Day

Edited by H. De B. gibbins, M.A.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

                      SOCIAL QUESTIONS OF TO-DAY.

                  _Edited by H. de B. GIBBINS, M.A._

                        Crown 8vo., 2_s._ 6_d._

    A series of volumes upon these topics of social, economic, and
    industrial interest that are at the present moment foremost in
    the public mind. Each volume is written by an author who is an
    acknowledged authority upon the subject with which he or she
    deals, and who treats the question in a thoroughly sympathetic
    but impartial manner, with special reference to the historic
    aspect of the subject.

    _The following Volumes of the Series are now ready._

    =1. TRADE UNIONISM--NEW AND OLD.= G. HOWELL, M.P., Author of
    _The Conflicts of Capital and Labour_. Second Edition.

    =2. PROBLEMS OF POVERTY=: An Inquiry into the Industrial
    Condition of the Poor. J. A. HOBSON, M.A.

    of _The History of Co-operation_.

    =4. MUTUAL THRIFT.= Rev. J. FROME WILKINSON, M.A., Author of
    _The Friendly Society Movement_.

    of Political Economy in the University of Dublin.

    =6. THE ALIEN INVASION.= W. H. WILKINS, B.A., Secretary to the
    Association for Preventing the Immigration of Destitute Aliens.

    (With an Introductory Note by the Right Reverend the Bishop of

    =7. THE RURAL EXODUS=: Problems of Village Life. P. ANDERSON





    Modern Factory System_, _etc._



    _Other Volumes are in preparation._


      *      *      *      *      *      *




With a Preface by Lady Dilke

Methuen & Co.


The writers of the present volume have a purely practical object in
view. They have no desire to discuss, theoretically, the duties,
rights, and responsibilities of women. They consider that it would be
unwise to give prominence to considerations affecting the political
or social position of women, in a work dealing specially with their
industrial situation.

On the other hand, they are fully aware that there is a necessary
connection between the views which appear to be in course of formation
as to the proper position of women in the labour market, and the change
which has taken place in the standpoint from which all questions--even
the most abstract--regarding the condition of women are now discussed.
Various reforms have been forced on us within the last thirty years
through the necessity of recognising, legally and socially, that
development in the relations of women to the state and to society which
has been brought about by the pressure of the altered circumstances of
modern life. Unfortunately, the agitation which has accompanied the
carrying of these reforms has been characterized, in some directions,
by a deplorable lack of self-control and judgment on the part of
certain of those who have put themselves forward as the leaders of
their sex. In the past, it must be confessed that our social system
has not afforded to the majority of women those opportunities for the
acquisition of disciplined habits of mind which are to be found only in
bearing the responsibilities of independent action and self-government.
When we hear the voices of those who have been called the “shrieking
sisterhood” uplifted in frenzied violence against the male oppressor,
when we are tempted to repudiate their follies, we may remember that
crimes against good sense, good taste, and good feeling are, like other
crimes, bred of the bitter resentment of wrong which springs in the
breasts of all who awake to consciousness of the suffering inflicted by
centuries of unjust rule. This being so, we may see some extenuation
even of the ravings of those unhappy “wild women” who appear to hold
the most serious national interests as of no importance, in comparison
with the fascinating amusement of fostering an unwholesome antagonism
of sex.

The clamour raised by those who have taken this line of extreme
reaction has retarded the advance of public opinion in the direction
of practical and needed reform, and has gravely hampered the efforts
of those who have striven to arouse public interest in the attempt
to better the position of women in various fields of labour. People
have, not unnaturally, been alarmed by what seems to many the absurd
suggestion of equality between the sexes, and, shrinking from the
assertion of such principles, have adopted an attitude of hostility
to the just claims of women for consideration in respect of their
labour and wages, their education, the protection of their earnings and
property, the removal of such trade and professional restrictions as
are of an artificial character, and the opening out to them of wider
means of obtaining a livelihood.

In view of the responsibilities and duties which society now imposes
on women, changes in the direction of these reforms are not only
reasonable but necessary in the common interest. To insist, however,
that such reforms shall under no circumstances take account of the
differences of sex is to fight against indisputable facts which must,
in the end, prove too strong for us. There is no danger to society
in the recognition of equal human rights for both sexes, if we are
also ready to recognise the divergence of their capabilities, for the
relations of men and women to each other, their functions in the family
and the state, must ultimately be determined--however ill it may please
the more ardent female reformer--by the operation of natural laws.

If we attempt to ignore these laws we are at once landed in a sea
of difficulties. Take this very question of “Women’s Work.” At the
outset we are brought face to face with facts that show us that all
employments are not equally suitable to men and women. We find that, in
the case of mothers at least, there are many occupations for which they
are wholly unfit, but in which men may engage with impunity. Day after
day we find child-bearing women compelled to labour after a fashion for
which they are temporarily unfit, and which is not only the frequent
cause of permanent injury to their own health, but entails a heritage
of disease, or of that feeble health which falls a ready prey to
disease, on all their offspring.

I have seen many married women who were habitually employed in
handling white lead, and in but two instances has my question as to
the health of their children been satisfactorily answered; whilst in
certain branches of the potters’ trade the employment of the mother
not unfrequently means the death of her children in their early
infancy. Even where the employment is not in itself unhealthy, its
pursuit, regardless of the claims of the family--as in the case where
working mothers leave their little ones at the gate of the factory to
a stranger’s care--has to be paid for by a high percentage of infant

It is impossible to look into facts of this class without realising
that natural laws impose severe limitations, and will probably continue
to impose much the same restrictions, as to health and strength on
women workers; and when these marry there arise ties which conflict,
and, as far as one can see, will always conflict, with the efficiency
and regularity of the labour of married women. The violation of these
restrictions on any large scale not only constitutes a danger to the
state by causing the steady deterioration of a large section of the
population, but the intermittent character of the supply of labour from
the ranks of married women greatly heightens the difficulties with
which those who are concerned with the organisation of modern industry
have to deal. It is indeed a commonplace now-a-days, that without
improved organization and regulation of the labour of women there can
be no security for the majority of breadwinners.

The present state of anarchy in the labour world, and the difficulties
of our industrial situation, have been appreciably heightened by the
course of conduct pursued and advised by those who persist in regarding
the interests of women as in themselves separate from the interests of
men. Colossal fortunes are built up in large measure by the enforced
labour of women and children, who are encouraged in their suicidal
rivalry with their husbands and fathers in the labour market by those
who do not realise the retribution which follows on the adoption of
their counsels. I have used the word “enforced” advisedly; unchecked
competition is a force of great power. There are masses of workers in
England who are no more free to choose their work, or to make terms for
it, than were the slaves on a Virginian plantation. The Newcastle woman
in the white lead works of Elswick, who counts seven little ones at her
board, whose man is out of work, is tied and bound as with chains. Her
man, her children, look to her for food, and at her heels are hundreds
of other women in similar distress, whose breadwinners are, perhaps
through no fault of their own, also out of work, or in receipt of wages
wholly inadequate to the maintenance of the family. Those who encourage
our women to treat men as their rivals, to compete with them, and by
their competition to persistently reduce the earnings of men, are doing
their best to aggravate this state of things. The wages of the husband
and father being reduced by the entrance into his trade of the women
who undersell him, the wife and mother needs must turn her back upon
her home, and give her working day to make up the difference. In this
way the homes of our working classes are too often destroyed, and the
health of future generations sacrificed.

Apart from the fact that, in most trades, women have made their
appearance on the scene in the capacity of “blacklegs,” it must be
admitted that there has been, on the side of men, something like
resentment at the intrusion of women into professions or branches
of industry which have been hitherto reserved to themselves. The
expression by the men of this natural feeling--in the case of the
doctors it was something more--has, as naturally, irritated the
friends of those women who are seeking fresh means of employment; it
has enabled them to appeal for sympathy and support from the public
as against the “injustice” of men, and it has strengthened their
determination to treat men, at all costs, as rivals and enemies who
must be driven from their occupations by what I once heard one of these
ladies describe, with more force than elegance, as “the cheaper animal.”

To the onslaught of these shortsighted champions of the working woman’s
cause, the men, with equal unwisdom, have retorted by raising, on every
occasion, possible or impossible, the plea of “unfitness” as a bar to
the treacherous encroachments of the opposite sex, and they have thus,
in their turn, tried to win popular sympathy with their efforts to
prevent the entrance of women into certain coveted employments, or to
expel them from others in which they have already gained a footing.
“Unfit!” Yes, undoubtedly, much labour at present performed by our
women is unfit, if there is any fitness in our old and cherished
ideal of home and of the place of the woman in the family; but, if we
once enter on the line of restricting their employment by artificial
barriers, it seems to me difficult to foresee the number and variety of
the complications which would ensue.

We may, however, freely concede that some interference may be
necessary where, through the helplessness of the employed and the
unscrupulousness of the employer, the health and well-being of future
generations is jeopardised. In other words, certain restrictions on
the labour of children and child-bearing women may be required by
the interests of that society of which they are a part; further than
this it seems scarcely wise to go in our demand for anything like
legislative interference in respect to this matter of “unfitness.” The
true remedy lies in the direction of the better organisation of the
trades themselves. The same too may be said of the disastrous effect
on the market of that increasing supply of cheap labour which is ever
swelling to larger and larger proportions through the influx of our
women. Instead of encouraging them to enter into competition with men,
and by so doing to drag wages down to lower and yet lower levels, the
task before us is to teach them that the interests of labour are one,
and that wherever they enter a trade they must in self-protection
refuse to sell their labour for less than a rate proportional to that
demanded by their men.

Increased and effectual organisation would do away with the causes
which provoke that clamour for prohibitive legislation which, as in
the case of the pit-brow women, calls forth angry protest from those
who see their livelihood endangered, and intensifies that bitter
spirit of rivalry of sex which is a fatal obstacle to the better and
harmonious ordering of the world of industry. The only safe course for
women, the only safe course for the community at large, is to consider
their industrial position as an essential part of the general problem,
not to be dissociated without risk from the organisation of the men.
The cardinal points of the programme of the leaders of labour--the
shortening of hours, the abolition of overtime, the regulation of
wages, the limitation of the number of apprentices in the overcrowded
trades--these are matters of chief importance to all workers, matters
in which the interests of all, whether they be men or women, precisely
coincide. Even where, at first sight, their interests appear to
diverge, it will on further consideration be found that such sacrifice
of personal freedom as the woman may be, on certain points, called upon
to make, she makes for the sake ultimately of her own hearth and of
her own children. Those who prefer to regard the interests of men and
women as opposed must accept a view of their mutual relations which,
involving as it does antagonism of sex, pits the woman against the man
in an unregulated competition for employment, which, if forced to its
extreme, will end by lowering the whole level of English life far more
surely than the immigration of any number of “destitute aliens.”

The difficulties which meet us therefore in adjusting the relations
of the sexes in the great field of labour are not insuperable. Once
our women workers see how much depends on their co-operation, on their
self-restraint, on their standing firm, they will not fail their men,
and the difficulties which beset them and their position in the labour
movement of the day, once solved in the full light of that which is
best for the family, best for our society and best for our national
life, we shall assuredly be far on our way towards the settlement
of those less pressing grievances which are put forward by the idle
classes. The highest interests of women in every sphere of life are
indissolubly bound up with those of men, and any attempt to deal with
either separately is fraught with danger to the State and to the nation.

This principle lies at the bottom of all reasoned Trades Unionism,
which, in so far as it is concerned with the organisation of women’s
work, has for its ultimate object the restoration of as many as
possible to their post of honour as queens of the hearth.

                                                    EMILIA F. S. DILKE.

        _May, 1894._


                              CHAPTER I.


                              CHAPTER II.

    WOMEN’S WORK: CLERICAL AND COMMERCIAL                     39

                             CHAPTER III.

    WOMEN AND TRADE UNIONS                                    66

                              CHAPTER IV.

    THE TEXTILE TRADES                                        93

                              CHAPTER V.

    MISCELLANEOUS TRADES                                     109

                              CHAPTER VI.

    INFLUENCE OF OCCUPATION ON HEALTH                        119

                             CHAPTER VII.

    INFANT MORTALITY                                         140

                             CHAPTER VIII.

    LEGISLATION                                              150



    General characteristics--Classification--LITERATURE:
    Fiction--Journalism--TEACHING: Recent changes--Day
    _v._ Resident Posts--High Schools--Advantages and
    Disadvantages--Hours and Salaries--Report of Committee
    of Enquiry--Fees--Elementary Schools--Table of
    Salaries--London School Board--Voluntary _v._ Secondary
    Schools--Domestic Economy--Demand for teachers--New
    openings--Higher teaching posts--RELIGION and PHILANTHROPY:
    Increased employment of women--Women preachers--LAW:
    Present position of affairs--Conveyancing--MEDICINE:
    Progress made--Prospects--Recent
    Inadequate arrangements--Remuneration--ART:
    Music, Painting, Sculpture--Obstacles to
    progress--Remuneration--THE STAGE: Prospects--The
    Ballet and its remuneration--HANDICRAFTS: Artistic
    CONCLUSIONS: Social hindrances.

In dealing with the more cultured branches of women’s work we have to
do with a department which, except in one or two directions, is as yet
incomplete, being still in process of growth and development. Women are
but slowly working their way into the arts and the learned professions,
and their place cannot yet be definitely estimated. Progress has been
so rapid of late that what is true one year has ceased to hold good in
the next. A writer who attempts to deal with matter that is thus in
a state of flux can only hope to give a tolerably faithful picture
of the moment, acknowledging frankly that present conditions may soon
give place to something very different. A counterbalancing advantage,
however, lies in the fact that in literary and professional work women
are independent units, and their labour is not, as in manufacture and
manual occupations, so mixed up with that of men that it is almost
impossible to treat of it apart. In the occupations with which this
chapter is concerned each woman as a rule is economically independent
of other workers, and is free to make her individual talent and
idiosyncrasy fully felt. There is a satisfaction in noting what women
are able to do when their hands are free, though a careful examination
of the conditions under which their work is carried on may lead to
the conclusion that circumstances are not yet as favourable to the
production of good work as they will eventually become. It should be
premised that work of any kind, literary or other, is here regarded
from a purely industrial point of view, and that the aim of the writer
is not to criticise, but simply to record.

For practical purposes the occupations here treated of may be
classified thus:

(1) Literary work, including journalism.

(2) Teaching.

(3) Other professional work, including medicine and nursing.

(4) Art, including such handicrafts as are practised by women; music,
and the drama.

Various occupations not coming precisely under any of these heads
are followed by a few scattered individuals, but these will receive
merely a passing notice. They are interesting in themselves, but are so
largely experimental that it would be useless to consider them at any
length, since they may disappear at any moment.

=Literature.=--It is only recently that women have entered the field
of literature in any numbers. Until the last thirty years or so
it may almost be said that only a few exceptional women, able to
make their mark as poets or novelists, were occupied to any serious
extent in literary work. Nor when we remember that the pursuit of
literature was considered to “unsex” a woman, and that Mrs. Somerville
had to keep a supply of plain sewing ready to cover her books and
papers if a visitor should call, is the deficiency very difficult
to account for. Only natures in which genius is a compelling force
can burst such iron bonds. Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, Miss Mitford,
Mrs. Somerville, Charlotte Bronté, and Mrs. Browning--to name a few
of the pioneers--first broke down the barriers. Then other quiet
workers crept in, magazines became more numerous, and offered a ready
outlet for literary work; biography, history, and science began to be
handled by women. Harriet Martineau perhaps more than any other woman
typified the modern phase of literary activity, fulfilling in her
single person functions any one of which would content most literary
women, being novelist, essay writer, historian, and journalist in one.
She was the first of her sex to enter upon the routine every-day work
of literature, which has been freely trodden since, and her writings
embody much of the tone of thought and feeling which is characteristic
of the “women’s movement” of to-day.

=Fiction.=--The branch of literature in which women are most successful
at present is undoubtedly fiction. Besides the few novelists whose
names are widely known, there are a multitude of scribblers of lesser
fame who yet make a good living by their profession. There are grades
in these things, and writers whose works are seldom found on the
shelves of the fastidious are yet in good demand at the libraries, and
have a circulation and a public of their own. An immense amount of
second class fiction is written by women, who seem to have a special
gift for producing tales that are readable and brightly written
without ever rising above the level of mediocrity. There is a still
lower literary grade, in which poverty of invention keeps company with
a wretched literary style. Yet books of this class are not always

The writing of fiction is usually supposed to be a highly remunerative
occupation, and so indeed it often is. But it does not follow that the
writing of three volume novels pays. The phenomenal success, pecuniary
and literary, of one or two recent novels must not be taken as a sample
of what a writer may expect.[1] Though a good price is generally paid
for a novel if the author has once hit the public taste, only moderate
terms can be secured by less known writers, and beginners must be
content to part with their works for a very small sum. A well-known
novelist may receive £400, £500, or even more for a novel, but a writer
of fair reputation does not as a rule receive more than £100 for a
novel that may have taken many months to write. If the novelist is
wise, however, she will make a varied use of her material. Good prices,
say from £100 to £250, are given for serial stories by publishing
syndicates, who issue the tale simultaneously in half-a-dozen
newspapers; and the regular publishers do not as a rule give any less
for novels which have already appeared in the serial form. Probably
they regard the earlier issue as a good advertisement. Short tales
also pay well to those who can write them, and by the contribution of
occasional miscellaneous papers to magazines and reviews the strain of
prolonged composition may be avoided and the income proportionately
improved. A lady novelist and miscellaneous writer in London has
been making from £600 to £700 a year for some time, and has lately
made as much as £900. Just at present the acknowledged author has an
advantage even in journalism, for there is a great demand for articles
in newspapers signed by writers of repute. As much as £10 a column
is sometimes received for articles not in themselves of an important
character by writers whose names are well known in other fields. It is
an expensive fancy, and whether it will last cannot yet be predicted;
but if one paper indulges in it, the rest are obliged to follow suit.
Outside fiction, a good deal of miscellaneous literary work is done by
women, of which it is impossible to give any detailed account. Each
writer works in her own fashion, and for lack of meeting-places there
has hitherto been little interchange of thought or experience among
literary women. The foundation of the Writers’ Club in London may
perhaps be taken as a sign of change in these matters. The formation of
this institution is instructive, since it was due to the limitation of
the projected “Authors’ Club” to men, on the express ground (endorsed
by Mr. Walter Besant) that women writers could not afford to pay the
subscription. In support of this opinion a lady engaged in literary
work in London estimates that few of the rank and file among her
colleagues are earning more than £200 a year. On the other hand, some
writers have made a competency for old age, and not a few married
women, hard pressed by fate, have contrived to bring up a family upon
their literary earnings. Miss Annie S. Swan recently owned to an income
of about £1,000 a year, and Miss Yonge made a handsome fortune by her
novels. Successful playwrights also make a good deal of money; but it
is doubtful whether any woman comes under this category as yet.

    [1] George Eliot received £8,000 for _Middlemarch_, but Mrs.
    Humphry Ward is said to have received £18,000 for _David

=Journalism.=--At the present moment journalism appears to be the
fashionable literary pursuit for women, and their contributions to
the daily and weekly papers have increased enormously during the
last few years. The general lightening of the cargo which has taken
place throughout the periodical press has greatly contributed to this
result; for women writers have usually a light touch, and an apparently
inexhaustible power of turning out bright and readable, though often
flimsy, articles upon social subjects. In the department of dress
they of course reign supreme, and few newspapers can now afford to
despise this erstwhile frivolous subject. The writers who discourse
upon fashion, however, have, as a rule, had little literary training;
and through their efforts a kind of press jargon has been evolved,
wonderful alike in grammar, in phraseology, in similes. But this is
the least creditable form of feminine journalism, and we will not
linger over it. In many of the papers written for women (and to which,
of course, women largely contribute) there is very fair writing upon
a great variety of subjects. Women have occasionally been successful
in the main walks of journalism, but the position of the lady who
represents the _Daily News_ in Paris is probably unique. As a rule
women keep to their special department, chronicling the doings of
London society, and taking charge of the lighter topics generally,
while their _confrères_ are dealing with politics and diplomacy.[2]
This new development of journalism affords an example of the results
which may be expected to follow when women are allowed free play to
their activities in other directions. They will not always simply
duplicate the work of their male predecessors, but will enlarge the
field of operations by striking out a line of their own.

It is impossible to name with any accuracy the income attainable in
the profession. Few of the women whose names are known in connection
with the press are journalists pure and simple, though some of the
younger generation are adopting the profession in all frankness, to
sink or swim as their luck allows. Some few who entered the field
before there were many competitors have achieved a good position, but
their number could easily be counted on the fingers. A woman, however,
who has a fair variety of subjects at command, and can combine purely
literary work with the day-to-day business of a journalist, may make
a very reasonable income from her profession--say £400 a year. But a
journalist beginning at the bottom of the ladder would take long to
mount so high, and would probably be well content, after some years’
work, to be earning £200 a year. It should be noted that journalism
among women is almost confined to London; for though there are women
so engaged in the provinces, it seldom forms their regular means of

    [2] Miss Flora Shaw, who writes upon Colonial subjects in the
    _Times_ may be mentioned as an exception.

=Teaching.=--The profession most commonly followed by educated women
is of course that of teaching. Until recently it was almost the only
occupation open to the class above shop assistants, and even in
becoming a teacher a lady was held to have lost caste. The opening
of university education to women has given the death blow to such
false sentiment, and women are now free to adopt what calling they
like without loss of social position.[3] The foundation of public
day-schools for girls and the working of the Education Act of 1870
have diverted the channel of women’s activities from private teaching
to public schools. Instead of the governess we have the High School
mistress; instead of the “Dame” in a cottage the Elementary School
teacher. Not that the private governess is in any way abolished, for
many parents prefer, or are obliged by reason of residence in the
country to have their children taught at home. Both the governess’s
status and salary are, however, considerably improved, owing to the
rise in the general level of education. Greater acquirements are
demanded, and payment is higher in return. A resident governess may
earn anything from £20 to £200 a year with board. If not resident she
hardly obtains the full equivalent in money, since her board costs
her employer but little if she lives in the house, and is generally
left out of consideration. But for many reasons resident posts are
unattractive to the majority of teachers, and a bribe in the way of
higher salary has to be offered if a really competent teacher is
desired in a boarding school or a private family. Young women entering
the profession generally prefer posts in High Schools, where the
work, though fatiguing, is kept within fixed hours, and where time out
of school is (nominally at any rate) at the teacher’s own disposal.
There is something stimulating in teaching large classes, and those
who have grown accustomed to it are seldom content afterwards to
devote themselves to one or two children. Payment too is regular, and
employment tolerably certain, whereas in private families either means
or honesty or both may be defective, and in any case the growth of the
children deprives the governess sooner or later of her employment.
For these reasons therefore High Schools as a rule attract the ablest
teachers, unless delicate health or personal predilection happens
to weigh in the other direction. A similar state of things prevails
with regard to private schools, which are obliged either to pay high
salaries in order to attract good teachers, or to put up with the
inefficient ones who cannot easily obtain work in a High School.

    [3] The early students of Girton and Newnham, however, were
    regarded askance. One of them, now in a position of honour,
    related that when her intention of going to college became
    known in the country district where she lived, her acquaintance
    “could not have spoken worse of her if she had committed a
    forgery.” To another who had gained a scholarship her friends
    remarked, “You are surely satisfied now, you cannot want to
    _make use of it_.”

=High Schools.=--It is doubtful, however, whether High School work
altogether deserves the respect with which it is regarded by aspirants
to the teaching profession. A glamour was thrown around it in the
beginning by the interest with which the foundation of new schools was
regarded, and there is a certain sense of distinction in forming part
of an institution whose working always attracts a good deal of local
attention. Against these attractions, however, must be set decided
disadvantages. In the first place the work is very severe, and it is
made harder than it need be by the bad methods of teachers. To impart
to large classes the stimulus which is the essence of good teaching is
no light task, and the better it is performed the more is taken out of
the teacher. But as the actual class hours are usually short (9 to
1, and 2.30 to 4 on three or four afternoons in the week according to
arrangement) this alone would not be found injurious; and where the
staff is as large as it ought to be, teachers should get an interval
during some at least of the mornings. But the worst part of High School
work is the correction of homework, which in many cases takes up most
of the evenings in the week. Such an expenditure of energy is almost
pure waste, and the mistress comes to school in the mornings tired and
dull, incapable of exerting the magnetism which makes the lesson a
living thing. It is greatly to the discredit of head mistresses that a
greater number of them do not set their faces against this practice.
Instead of consulting with their assistants as to how corrections can
be minimised, they often insist upon a certain amount of homework
being set, and seem to consider that the more of it a teacher does
the greater is her value. In reality the opposite is the case, for a
good teacher will test her class during the lesson, and thus do away
to a great extent with the necessity for homework. Homework cannot be
altogether abolished, but it might and ought to be much diminished,
in the interests of both teachers and taught. Women need to be less
rigidly conscientious in these matters, and more truly enlightened.

=Salaries.=--The salaries to be earned by assistant mistresses in
High Schools can hardly be regarded as satisfactory, though they are
probably higher than anything that could be gained by teaching, except
in a few cases, before the institution of public day schools for girls.
A committee of ladies and gentlemen interested in education recently
investigated this question with great care, and a summary of their
conclusions may be given here. In the first place they estimate that
a change from private teaching to a High School is “mostly attended
by pecuniary loss,” which confirms the statement made above. After
analysing the replies to schedules of questions sent out to schools,
the committee come regretfully to the conclusion that, apart from
head mistresses’ and a few exceptional posts, “something under £160
per annum is the average reward, after twelve or thirteen years’
experience, of the most expensively educated and successful assistant
mistresses.” From my own knowledge of High Schools I can fully endorse
this estimate. Few assistants earn more than £150 a year, and there are
probably--nay, certainly--not half a dozen who receive £200 a year. As
the reward of an expensive education, and, presumably, a fair amount of
talent, these figures can hardly be regarded as satisfactory.

Summing up the general results, “We may say,” proceeds the report,
“that of the teachers who joined their present school more than two
years ago one-fourth are at present receiving an average salary of
£82 for an average week’s work (the average including very large
variations) of 32 hours; half (25 per cent. of whom possess University
degrees) are receiving an average salary of £118 for a week’s work of
about 35 hours; and one-fourth (50 per cent. of whom are University
women) are earning an average of £160 in exchange for a week’s work of
36 to 37 hours.

“These results do not appear unsatisfactory, but it must be remembered
that under the phrase _more than two years_ is covered a length of
service extending in one case to as many as seventeen years, and of
which the average must be taken as very nearly six. Many also of these
teachers have had considerable experience in other schools before
entering the one in which they are at present engaged.”

A further question which the Committee were charged to investigate
was the decline or otherwise of school salaries. Upon this point they
remark, “The schools which have been in existence for some years appear
to be paying within a trifle of what they paid in 1885, but among the
few returns which the Committee have been able to obtain from teachers
in the employment of the recently formed Church schools, are some
salaries so low as appreciably to affect the general average.

“The Committee, however, are obliged to note--and they do so with the
greatest regret--that whereas between three or four years ago the
commonest initial salary of non-graduates was fluctuating between £70
and £80, the preponderance has now been decisively gained by the lower

This real though slight retrograde movement in salaries is reinforced
by another factor, of which intending teachers should take note.

“Until recently,” reports the Committee, “when a new assistant-mistress
was engaged in a High School, the agreement then made arranged not
only for an initial salary, but also for a scale of annual or biennial
increment up to a certain maximum. The Committee learn with regret that
in many schools these agreements are no longer being made, and that new
mistresses are therefore obliged to trust for the future entirely to
the liberality of their councils.”

It will be seen therefore that the position of a High School mistress,
though fairly stable and moderately well remunerated as women’s
occupations go, does not present a brilliant prospect. Additional risk
arises from the recent establishment of schools, some of which belong
to the Church Schools Company, others to local companies, with lower
fees than those prevailing in the average High School. These tend
by their competition for pupils to reduce the profits of the better
schools, and therefore to lower teachers’ salaries. The evil is a
serious one, and it is much to be regretted that women, by accepting
posts in such schools, should countenance a movement fraught with
injury to their fellow-workers.

It is exceedingly doubtful whether the public schools for girls which
have sprung up all over the country with such rapidity of late years
have been formed upon a sound footing as regards payment of fees and
salaries.[4] Broadly speaking, the fees are too low to pay salaries
which will allow the recipients to live in any but a very careful
manner. If unhampered by claims of relations, teachers may secure the
necessaries, and, to some extent, the comforts of life; but they can
hardly allow themselves such recreation, change of scene, and general
liberality of living, in the wide sense of the term, as will enable
them to recuperate their stock of health, energy, and intellectual
brightness, so as to retain freshness in teaching and keep abreast of
the times. The right level of teaching cannot be maintained upon any
less terms; and so long as girls’ secondary schools are founded upon a
purely commercial basis, the standard which we have a right to demand
from those who have charge of the education given therein will seldom,
I fear, be reached. The organisation of secondary schools is, however,
too large a matter to be discussed here. The whole question, including
the claims of secondary schools upon the State for support, is rapidly
becoming an affair for national consideration. Legislation cannot be
long deferred, and the preliminary stage of discussion and debate has
already begun.

    [4] The average fee in the Girls’ Public Day School Company’s
    Schools is £12 12_s._ 0_d._ _per annum_, the same as that
    charged by the City of London School for Boys, a richly-endowed
    school, which has no dividends to pay, and is backed by the
    richest Corporation in the world.

=Elementary Schools.=--The conditions under which employment can
be obtained in the elementary schools may be found in the official
publications of the Education Department, and the general character
of the work is also too well known to need description here.[5] More
women than men are employed in the elementary schools, the number of
certificated masters being 18,611, of mistresses 27,746. I append
tables of salaries drawn up in 1893, by the National Union of Teachers,
classified according to the denominations to which the schools belong.
It should be noted that the tables refer to certificated mistresses

    [5] Regulations as to certificates and examinations are
    undergoing considerable change, and it is expedient therefore
    for candidates to consult the latest publications.


  |              PRINCIPAL.                |     ADDITIONAL.     | TOTAL. |
  |                |Average salaries,      |Average salaries,    |Average |
  | Denominations  |including all          |including all        |salaries|
  |                |professional           |professional         |        |
  |                |sources of income      |sources of income    |        |
  |                |         +-------------+       +-------------+        |
  |                |         |Number on    |       |Number on    |        |
  |                |         |which        |       |which        |        |
  |                |         |average      |       |average      |        |
  |                |         |is taken     |       |is taken     |        |
  |                |         |      +------+       |      +------+        |
  |                |         |      |Number|       |      |Number|        |
  |                |         |      |pro-  |       |      |pro-  |        |
  |                |         |      |vided |       |      |vided |        |
  |                |         |      |with  |       |      |with  |        |
  |                |         |      |house |       |      |house |        |
  |                | £  s. d.|      |      |£ s. d.|      |      | £ s. d.|
  |Schools         |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |connected       |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |with National   |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Society or      |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Church of       |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |England         | 72  3  1| 8,982|3,752 |48 15 1| 2,520|  150 |67  0  0|
  |                |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Wesleyan Schools| 83 14 10|   320|    3 |49  6 0|   220|    1 |69 14  3|
  |                |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Roman Catholic  |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Schools         | 64 17  6| 1,350|  304 |50  4 2|   477|    7 |61  0 11|
  |                |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |British,        |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Undenominational|         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |and other       |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Schools         | 78  3  0|   858|  167 |54 10 3|   533|    5 |69  1 11|
  |                |         |      |      |       |      |      |        |
  |Board Schools   |110  2  6| 4,895|  512 |78 19 8| 7,591|   31 |91  3 10|
  |Total           | 83  8  6|16,405|4,738 |69  6 7|11,341|  194 |77 13  3|



  |                 |Under £40.                                  |
  |                 |   +----------------------------------------+
  |                 |   |£40 and less than £45.                  |
  |                 |   |   +------------------------------------+
  |                 |   |   |£45 and less than £50.              |
  |                 |   |   |   +--------------------------------+
  |                 |   |   |   |£50 and less than £75.          |
  |                 |   |   |   |     +--------------------------+
  |                 |   |   |   |     |£75 and less than £100.   |
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     +--------------------+
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |£100 and less       |
  |  Denominations. |   |   |   |     |     |than £150.          |
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     +--------------+
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |£150 and less |
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |than £200.    |
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   +----------+
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |£200 and  |
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |over.     |
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   +------+
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |Total.|
  |Schools connected|   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |with             |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |National Society |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |or               |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Church of England|203|320|397|4,626|2,303|1,037| 82| 14| 8,982|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Wesleyan Schools |  3|  8|  7|  150|   74|   58| 18|  2|   320|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Roman Catholic   |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Schools          | 16| 18| 29|1,013|  230|   43|  1| --| 1,350|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |British,         |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Undenominational |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |and other Schools| 18| 22| 28|  414|  217|  130| 23|  6|   858|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Board Schools    | 35| 56| 93|1,269|1,140|1,296|524|482| 4,895|
  |     Total       |275|424|554|7,472|3,984|2,564|648|504|16,405|
  |                                                              |
  |                           ADDITIONAL.                        |
  |Schools connected|   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |with             |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |National Society |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |or               |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Church of England|405|483|395|1,152|   70|   15| --| --| 2,520|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Wesleyan Schools | 25| 45| 34|  107|    8|    1| --| --|   220|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Roman Catholic   |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Schools          | 46| 71| 51|  298|    8|    3| --| --|   477|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |British,         |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Undenominational |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |and other Schools| 41| 76| 76|  288|   41|   10|  1| --|   533|
  |                 |   |   |   |     |     |     |   |   |      |
  |Board Schools    |146|246|358|2,771|1,956|2,106|  8| --| 7,591|
  |Total            |663|921|914|4,616|2,083|2,135|  9| --|11,341|

These tables show a considerable difference between the salaries paid
in Board and in Voluntary Schools, the Board School average being £91
3_s._ 10_d._ against the highest Voluntary average of £69 14_s._ 3_d._
In rural districts also extra duties of an onerous nature, such as
teaching in the Sunday-school, playing the organ in church, getting up
village concerts, and performing parochial duties generally, are often
imposed by the clerical managers of Voluntary Schools. Small School
Boards also are not wholly guiltless in the matter. Particulars as to
these exactions may be learnt from the publications of the National
Union of Teachers, which is making a determined stand against their

The highest salaries are given by the London School Board. Trained
assistants (female) begin at £85 a year, and head mistresses receive
from £200 to £300. Higher salaries are given for special work, and in
the large provincial centres also it may be said without inaccuracy
that the regulation scale is constantly broken in order to secure good
teachers of special subjects. In London pupil teachers’ schools the
salaries of assistant mistresses begin at £125 a year, rising by annual
increments of £5 to £150. Assistant masters in similar posts receive
£140 to £170 per annum. Salaries for both sexes are said to be rising
gradually throughout the country, and although a contrary movement has
recently been initiated in the London School Board, it is hardly likely
that it will be carried out to any great extent.

=Elementary _versus_ Secondary Schools.=--Hitherto elementary schools
have not commended themselves as a field of work for the class
of women who now form the staff of girls’ secondary schools. The
salaries offered outside London have not been high enough to tempt
them; holidays are short in comparison with High Schools (six weeks
in the year instead of thirteen); and, lastly, the conditions as to
training hitherto exacted have been practically prohibitive. Women
who have already received an expensive education are not inclined to
spend two or three years more in a denominational training college.
The relaxation of rules in favour of women who have passed certain
recognised examinations, and the opening of day training classes
in connection with recognised colleges, such as Owen’s College,
Manchester, and several of the local University Colleges, may do much
to open the elementary schools to a more cultured class of women. Such
women would soon obtain the headship of a school, and would then, under
a liberal Board, find a good field for the exercise of talent and
organising power. I fear, however, that the shortness of holidays may
still prove a serious obstacle.

=Domestic Subjects.=--Meanwhile a new field of work is being opened
by the inclusion of domestic subjects in the school course. A teacher
of cookery in elementary schools can earn from £80 to £100 a year in
a fairly agreeable manner, and private and visiting teachers often
earn more. Dressmaking and laundry work are also in great demand,
particularly in evening continuation schools; and if to these subjects
is added a knowledge of sick-nursing and elementary hygiene, the
combination forms an admirable stock-in-trade for a teacher. In some
towns School Boards are training their own teachers, probably with more
haste than thoroughness, to fill the posts for which such a sudden
demand has arisen. Instruction in domestic subjects is also being
carried on under the auspices of the County Councils, for there are few
among their number that have not devoted a share of the funds available
under the Technical Instruction Act, and in towns by the power of
levying a penny rate, to the furtherance of technical education, in
which domestic instruction for girls is almost always included. Thus,
throughout the length and breadth of the land, teachers of these
subjects are eagerly sought; and cookery schools, embryo technical
schools for women, and voluntary agencies, such as the National Health
Society, are busily employed in training teachers and sending them out
to different districts. The Liverpool School of Cookery is particularly
active in this direction.

The misfortune is that in these subjects there is no definite standard,
and each school trains after its own fashion. The money for technical
education was gained by a side wind, and the passing of the Act found
the country unprepared, no organised system of instruction or of
training for teachers being in existence. As experience is gradually
accumulated the different agencies at work will probably make
comparison of methods and adopt to some extent a common system and
standard. In this connection it should be mentioned that though women
have no place upon County Councils, they may be and are appointed upon
the local committees for carrying out the Councils’ schemes, and in
this way they are able to take an active share in educational work.

It cannot at present be foretold what shape this large enterprise
will eventually take, but it seems likely that for some time to
come the teaching of domestic subjects will form an important and
considerable opening for women. It is fortunate that it is so, since
many are thereby enabled to find congenial employment who have no
taste for the purely literary side of education. In time permanent
institutions for domestic instruction will probably be formed in the
large centres of population--indeed such a movement has already begun.
The superintendence of work at these centres, which will also embrace
outlying districts, must give rise to good appointments, and it is
well to bear in mind that these will certainly fall by preference to
women who besides technical knowledge have received a good general
education, and possess powers of organisation and management. Women
so qualified will probably be highly paid. The rank and file may not
impossibly find their earnings diminish as their numbers increase;
at present their services are at a scarcity value. In view of the
certain extension of this branch of teaching work it is worth while for
girls or their parents to consider whether (viewed as a wage-earning
instrument solely) a course at a school of domestic economy, requiring
at most two years, and costing a comparatively small sum (say £15 per
annum), is not more advantageous than three or four years at Oxford or
Cambridge, costing from £70 to £100 a year. In the ordinary branches of
teaching, as I have shown, a woman seldom earns more than £150 a year,
and teaching is almost the only breadwinning occupation followed by
women graduates. I know teachers of domestic economy who make as much
or more in the winter months, and have the summer free for either rest
or self-culture.

=Higher Teaching Posts.=--But few posts of higher teaching or
superintendence are open to women. Even those mentioned above are only
just beginning to take visible shape. Headships of High Schools are of
course important positions, and are often well paid. An initial salary
of £250 a year (sometimes, however, only £150) is offered, generally
with rooms, but not board; capitation fees, varying from 10_s._ to
30_s._ are usually added, but these do not begin until 100 pupils have
been entered. Thus in an unprosperous neighbourhood a mistress may have
all the trouble of organising and managing a school for £150 or £200 a
year; for it is precisely in these districts that the lowest initial
salaries are offered. In some few cases the income rises to £700 or
£800 a year. The headships of colleges and training colleges available
are of course very limited in number, and the same may be said of the
college lectureships at Oxford and Cambridge, with rooms in college.
These are not well paid, and are chiefly attractive for the pleasant
university life they afford. Few women are as yet engaged as University
Extension lecturers, though it is hard to see what impediment, beyond
the prejudice of sex, stands in the way of their employment.

=Religion and Philanthropy.=--Religion and Philanthropy have not
hitherto been reckoned among the avenues leading to remunerative
employment for women; but it is by no means certain that this will be
the case in the future. The Catholic Church has always provided careers
for women in connection with convents and sisterhoods, and institutions
formed upon their pattern are springing up in the Church of England
and even in the Dissenting churches. Since, however, the members are
merely supplied with board, lodging, and clothing, and are content
to find their reward in the satisfaction of their calling, there is
little further to be said about these occupations from the industrial
point of view. The feminine side of religious and philanthropic work,
however, is developing upon much broader lines than heretofore, and
though at present it partakes largely of the character of amateur work,
it can hardly fail in course of time to create remunerative and (if
the term may be allowed) professional occupations for women. To some
extent this is the case already. Even in the Established Church the
propriety of women preaching appears to be regarded to some extent as
an open question, and--with or without formal sanction--the innovation
seems destined to spread. Whatever else women preachers may lack
they at any rate seldom fail of a congregation, an item which no
church can afford to disregard. It can hardly be doubted that in this
field also the labourer will eventually be found worthy of her hire.
For example, philanthropic societies have usually a paid secretary,
besides, in many cases, visitors, lecturers, and propagandists. Most
of the religious bodies have now “Settlements” in the London slums,
with women’s branches. The resident manager is certainly paid in
some instances, and will no doubt soon be in all. Political work may
also in time afford occupation to a limited number of women. It is,
however, in purely religious work that we may expect to see the next
development of women’s activities. In almost all denominations women
are already at work preaching and exhorting, and the desirability of
giving formal sanction to their proceedings is being actively discussed
in Nonconformist churches.

=Law.=--Of the learned professions only one, that of medicine, is open
to women. A combination of law and ancient custom keeps women out of
the legal profession, and it is only in certain of its approaches,
such as conveyancing and accountants’ work, that they are free to
seek a livelihood. A summary of the case by Miss Eliza Orme LL.B.,
gives a clear idea of the situation. “Women can make wills and simple
agreements without qualification. Anything else (_i.e._ deeds) must
be _nominally_ done by a solicitor, and women can only be employed by
them as clerks. Women cannot go into court. If they do chamber practice
(_i.e._ settling difficult deeds for solicitors, or giving counsel’s
opinion), they can only do it through barristers as ‘devils,’ receiving
half fees. If women are to be solicitors the Act will need altering.
To be barristers they must be admitted by the benchers of one of the
four Inns (Inner and Middle Temple, Benchers’ Inn, and Gray’s Inn), and
if a woman applied, probably a joint council of all would sit.

“The Benchers might admit them as certificated conveyancers, which
would not allow them to plead in court; but men themselves have not
used their certificate for many years.

“The University of London law degree is open to women. It is a thorough
practical test, but not a legal qualification to practice.”

From this summary it will be seen that the door of the legal profession
is still fast closed. There is no difficulty however in a lady’s
practising as a conveyancer, and no reason therefore why more women
should not follow the example of Miss Orme in adopting the profession,
which is said to offer a fair prospect of remuneration. There is also
at least one lady accountant in London, and the audit of societies
and public companies, the preparation of balance-sheets and financial
statements, may be freely undertaken by women who are willing to train
for the work.

It should be added that legal work seems likely to become possible for
women in India. Miss Cornelia Sorabji, who recently passed in the law
schools at Oxford, is about to take up a Government appointment in her
own country, and will be occupied with attending to the legal interests
of Hindu women, who are unable to consult lawyers of the opposite sex.
It remains to be seen whether her example is capable of being followed
by others.

=Medicine.=--The profession of medicine has at last, after long
struggles, been thrown open to both sexes, and women doctors are
slowly taking their place in the ranks as recognised practitioners of
the healing art. Their presence will tend in an eminent degree to the
preservation of health as distinct from the cure of disease, at any
rate as far as women patients are concerned; since it is plain that
women, and especially girls, can be more readily induced to complain
of ailments in the initial and manageable stage if they are able
to consult a member of their own sex. This statement is sometimes
questioned, but as far as girls, at least, are concerned, I have no
doubt whatever of its correctness. And since the seeds of illness
are often laid in early life this point is of the very greatest
importance. It is not necessary here to recall the history of the
struggle for medical education, or to give details as to the places
of study open to women.[6] It is more important to enquire what rank
medical women are taking in their profession, and what appointments
they are able to obtain. Upon the first point it is still too soon
to pronounce an opinion. A medical man does not expect to make a
reputation within the time that the majority of women have as yet been
at work. There are about 170 medical women upon the register, and of
these only a dozen qualified before 1880. It is obviously too early,
and the ground covered is too small, to expect conspicuous results as
yet; and if a number of women are filling public posts in India, or
working at private practice in England with adequate success, they
and their friends have every reason to be content. In some respects it
is said to be easier for women to build up a practice than for men.
Dr. Jex-Blake remarks that “in point of fact women are continually
doing what men hardly ever attempt--viz., settling down in a strange
place with no professional introduction to practice by purchase or
otherwise; and if gifted with a moderate degree of patience, tact,
and other qualities needful in every successful practitioner, they do
manage to succeed in a way that certainly goes far to justify their
bold adventure.” It is usually estimated that five years are necessary
to put together a practice that will afford a livelihood. Whether the
standard of “livelihood” here taken is as high as that of man cannot be
exactly known; but it is certain that women who succeed in the medical
profession make much larger incomes than in most other callings.

The appointments which have recently become available are a great
help to medical women at the beginning of their career. A medical
man usually fills minor posts in hospitals, or acts as a _locum
tenens_ for a while before attempting to set up for himself; but
women have hitherto been obliged to take up practice as soon as their
qualification was gained. The New Hospital for Women in Euston Road,
officered entirely by women, now affords young doctors the means of
gaining experience, and a number of other posts are gradually becoming
available. Several medical women hold Government appointments as
physicians to the female staff of the Post-office; a lady officiates
as assistant resident medical officer in a workhouse hospital, another
in the Holloway Sanatorium, others in fever hospitals or as asylum
inspectors. A well-known surgeon in the provinces employs a lady as
an anæsthetist, and a country doctor in good practice has for some
time been in the habit of employing medical women as assistants. A few
middle class girls’ schools have engaged the services of a consulting
lady doctor, and it would be well if the example were more widely
followed; since, apart from cases of illness, there are many questions
of hygiene and school arrangements in which a properly-qualified woman
could give valuable advice.

    [6] For the former see Dr. Sophia Jex-Blake’s _Medical Women_
    and (_inter alia_) a pamphlet entitled _Women and Medicine_, by
    Edith A. Huntley (Lewes: Farncombe and Co., Printers); for the
    latter _The Englishwoman’s Year Book_, which gives a list of
    medical schools open to women.

=Medical Women in India.=--An important field for medical women is
to be found in India. The Mahommedan races do not allow the presence
of a male physician in the zenana; and the Hindus, who have borrowed
from the conquering race many of their ideas and customs, are also
opposed to the practice. The Countess of Dufferin’s scheme for
supplying medical aid to the women of India--now too well known to
require explanation--was instituted in 1885, and has been warmly
supported by native princes, some of whom have founded hospitals on
their own account. At present thirteen women doctors are working
under the Dufferin Fund, besides assistant surgeons, and over 200
pupils are studying in Indian medical schools. The various missionary
societies also educate and support a number of medical missionaries
in India. It is possible that some day Government may include the
medical profession in the Civil Service, but for the present the work
has to be done by voluntary effort. Eventually too Indian women will
take over the medical care of their own sisters; but for some time to
come the field must continue to be largely occupied by Englishwomen.
Hindu and Mahommedan girls do not study medicine; the native students
in medical schools are drawn from the Parsees, Brahma Somaj (Veda
Hindus), and Eurasians. Englishwomen holding appointments in India are
allowed private practice as well, but the latter alone would never
yield a livelihood, since the natives who make use of the dispensaries
do not expect to pay a fee. If they receive medicine they do not
object to pay for it, and those who send for a lady doctor to attend
them in their houses are also ready to pay for her services; but only
the comparatively rich think of asking for a doctor’s visit. Ladies
employed by the association engage to work for five years in India,
and, besides a free passage out, receive a salary of 300 rupees a
month. Scholarships are attached to some of the women’s medical
schools, but the amount--£25 or £30 per annum during education--seems
very small in relation to the obligations undertaken, which, if not
fulfilled, involve the return of the money.

=Pharmacy.=--One or two ladies have adopted pharmacy as a profession;
and as means of training are now accessible, there seems no reason why
an occupation which is neither arduous nor disagreeable should not be
largely followed by women. Mrs. Clarke Keer has a dispensary in London,
and a few other ladies hold posts in connection with hospitals. It
has been suggested that the work should be taken up by the daughters
of medical men, whose position gives them special opportunities for

=Dentistry.=--Another very suitable profession is dentistry, which
is largely followed by women in America, but only by a few in this
country. There should be excellent openings in this profession. A
dentist once observed to me, that with children a woman dentist would
have it all her own way, and would probably beat all the men, for
children were troublesome patients, and men did not know how to deal
with them.

=Midwifery.=--Women of education are being trained in increasing
numbers as midwives, and there is abundant opening in this direction
for useful and remunerative work. But at present the status of midwives
is uncertain, owing to the lax regulations respecting their practice
and qualifications. The whole profession is undergoing a change,
passing from the ranks of untrained, unskilled, and inefficient work
to that of a skilled profession. The registration of trained midwives
is being urgently demanded, and a Select Committee has reported in
favour of the examination and registration of all who practise as
midwives. The necessity for stricter regulations will be apparent
when it is stated that seven cases of childbirth out of ten in this
country take place without the presence of a medical man, and that the
women (mostly poor) who employ midwives have no means of ascertaining
their fitness for the duty. The Obstetrical Society, London, gives a
midwife’s certificate of acknowledged value, which should be obtained
by every lady intending to practise in midwifery. For those who wish
to undertake benevolent work among the poor, especially in country
districts, a knowledge of midwifery is highly desirable. The Midwives’
Institute in Buckingham Street, Strand, looks after the interests of
midwives, and arranges for their training.

=Nursing.=--The profession of nursing continues to attract numbers of
educated women into its ranks, and facilities for training are said
to be insufficient for the demand. (For details see _Englishwoman’s
Year Book_.) Considering the hardships involved in the profession
its continued popularity is surprising. The work of a trained
nurse, whether employed in a hospital or in private or district
work, is necessarily severe, and it is to be regretted that more
careful provision is not made for the comfort of so useful a class
of workers. Hours are long and holidays short, and work of the most
trying description is expected to be done year after year, with a mere
fraction of the rest and recreation which is considered necessary in
other and not more arduous professions. In Nursing Institutes and
Homes the dietary is often very poor, and in hospitals the state of
things is not much better. It is unfortunately impossible to repeat
in any detail the complaints made by nurses without indicating the
institutions to which they refer; but most persons with acquaintances
among hospital nurses know that abundant dissatisfaction exists in the
profession. Examples could of course be given of institutions that
are well managed in this respect, but they are, it is to be feared,
the exception rather than the rule. Boards of Management are under
constant pressure to increase their accommodation, and, funds being
seldom abundant, they are tempted to work with an insufficient staff.
The consequences are felt most severely by the more educated nurses.
It seems to be forgotten that the superior tact and skill which make
the cultured woman a better nurse than her uneducated colleague are
gained to some extent at the expense of toughness of fibre, and that
hours and dietary need modification accordingly. I am afraid that a
good deal of the mischief arises from mistaken notions as to what the
profession of nursing ought to be. Nurses are supposed to take it up
in a missionary spirit for the good of the community, without regard
to their own comfort or health. Now unfortunately the more “noble” a
profession is considered, the greater is the tendency to neglect the
material well-being of those concerned in it; and nurses have reason
to feel the full force of this misplaced sentiment. The policy followed
in their regard is as foolish as it is unjust. The inevitable fatigues
of a nurse’s life require to be counteracted by the most careful
provisions for her comfort, if full efficiency is to be kept up; and
Hospital Boards would do well to remember that more professions are
now open to women than there were when nursing first became popular.
The supply of capable nurses is already insufficient, as the recent
influenza epidemic showed, and may easily become still more inadequate,
if neither facilities for training nor conditions of employment undergo
any improvement.

=Nurses’ Salaries.=--Except in institutions to which pensions
are attached, the profession of nursing cannot be regarded as a
money-making career. At one large London hospital probationers receive
£12 with uniform the first year, £20 the second, and the “sisters,”
or heads of wards, receive £40 per annum. The Workhouse Training
Association (for replacing pauper attendants by trained nurses in
workhouse infirmaries) gives no salary the first year, £20 the second,
rising to £25. A district nursing association in the provinces gives
trained nurses £24 the first year, and salaries rise to £30--board,
lodging, and washing being also found. From £25 to £30 therefore
generally represents the money payment of a trained nurse. The matron
of a hospital may receive anything from £50 to £100 per annum. In
the large London hospitals the latter sum is often exceeded, with
the addition of house, servant, and handsome fees from probationers.
For heads of hospitals therefore the profession is by no means
unremunerative; but these posts are few and far between. With the
multiplication of cottage hospitals which is certain to take place
minor posts with fair salaries and a not too arduous life will become
available. Private nursing under a medical man is often well paid, but
uncertainty of employment has to be taken into account. Co-operative
associations of nurses are also being formed, and it is possible that
by their means a larger proportion of the fees paid by patients may
find their way into the pockets of those who earn them.

=Art. Painting and Music.=--And now what must be said of the domain
of the arts and of women’s place therein? If women have entered but
timidly into this fair kingdom, it has not been for want of fitness,
as the rapid success of a few among them clearly shows; the hindrance
has lain rather in the prejudices of society and the lack of proper
training. Though rapidly disappearing, the former are not yet extinct;
means of training are not the same for both sexes, nor have women
ceased to suffer from the blasting influence of Puritanism upon art.
Anything that damages the social reputation of a profession bars it
more or less to women; and anything that makes training difficult or
expensive is a more serious hindrance to women than to men, since
parents are not so willing to make sacrifices for a girl as for a boy.
Astonishment is often expressed at the absence of women composers of
merit; but the reason is not really far to seek. Until the foundation
of the London schools of music (to which that of Manchester must now
be added) musical education has been difficult to obtain by either
sex. But the practical part, which involves an acquaintance with
orchestral instruments, the methods of opera, the arrangement of
church music, the management of chorus parts and a hundred other
details, has hitherto been almost unattainable by women. There seems
little _à priori_ reason for supposing that music is an affair of sex.
Fanny Mendelssohn was scarcely, if at all, less gifted than the brother
who so calmly placed her in the background, and was not ashamed to
appropriate the credit of her work. Some of the “Lieder ohne Worte,”
and “O rest in the Lord”--the latter perhaps the most popular of all
Mendelssohn’s melodies--were, as is now generally known, composed by

=Remuneration.=--It is impossible to give any estimate of the value of
either music or painting as a means of livelihood. A music teacher, if
well qualified, may earn a fair living; and a teacher of an instrument
less commonly learnt than the piano--say the violin--may sometimes earn
£150 or £200 a year while quite young. Singers, unless of the first
rank, generally find it profitable to combine private teaching with
public performances. For a concert engagement a beginner may receive
£5 with travelling expenses, rising soon, if successful, to £10 or
£20. Great performers are of course at a “monopoly value,” as the
economists say, and their annual earnings often run into four figures.
As for composing, its pecuniary reward is very uncertain. “It does not
pay to write symphonies,” a popular composer naively remarked, and the
same thing may be said of most of the higher kinds of composition.
Incidental music for stage plays is often well paid, and a popular song
may yield a small income in itself. The budding composer, however, like
the artist or author, must be content to let his first works be sold
for almost nothing for the sake of making a reputation, but this once
made he can command his own terms. A deadening effect is exercised on
musical art in this country by the mischievous system of royalties.
Many singers high in the ranks will not look at a modern song unless
they are paid a handsome royalty for singing it, and thus a valuable
means of advancing the reputation of a young composer is rendered

Painting and sculpture are so purely an affair of the individual that
it is more difficult to make general statements with regard to them
than with any other artistic profession. Each artist works on his own
lines; there is no general or usual rate of remuneration, and no one
can predict with any certainty the prospects of the profession even to
a painter of talent. Indeed the less the talent, often, the greater
the success. All that can be said is that the woman who means to
live by her brush or her chisel must be prepared for a hard struggle
before she can earn a competence; and very few attain to wealth. The
development of illustration in periodicals has however opened a large
and fairly-well paid outlet for women’s work, and many a rising painter
would be hard put to it but for the aid that comes--only in guineas and
half-guineas it may be, but steadily--from black-and-white drawings for
the press. Many men, though at present few women, earn a fairly good
living entirely by black-and-white work.

=The Stage.=--The stage is, socially speaking, becoming easier of entry
for girls. Those who wish to succeed must begin young, a proviso which
forms a serious disadvantage in a profession involving obstacles to
be surmounted, or awkward corners to be rounded. It is difficult to
obtain entrance to a good London theatre, and novices generally have
to go through a course of probation with a touring company, with the
prospect of hard work, ill quarters, and uncertain pay. The profession
is thus encountered on its roughest side at first, and it is not
surprising that the prospect should daunt intending candidates. Yet
the stage has a fascination of its own, and those who once tread the
boards can seldom find it in their heart to forsake them. If a girl
can by luck or perseverance gain a footing in one of the good London
companies, the life need present no terrors to herself or her friends,
and payment will be fair and regular while it lasts; but outside a
comparatively small circle the stage, though perfectly reputable, is
at best precarious as a means of livelihood. Engagement is almost
always for the run of a single piece only, and there is usually no
payment for rehearsals. Thus, after weeks of rehearsal, if the piece
is unsuccessful, a girl may only earn a fortnight’s salary. In these
matters actors and actresses are not well used, and when they have
learnt the value of united effort they will certainly combine for
securing juster terms. There is less cause for complaint in the _rate_
of payment, which is generally fair, and often very good; while a
successful actress can of course make a very large income. In good
theatres a guinea a week is a common wage for a girl who merely “walks
on,” but with touring companies she is generally expected to serve
an apprenticeship before earning anything. If she obtains a speaking
part she may earn £2 or £3 a week; but an actress would do well to
reckon her salary at half its nominal amount, as she is likely to be
frequently out of work. The institution of regular rates of payment
is hindered by stage-struck amateurs, who are willing to pay, in
some cases large sums, to appear on the boards, even in the smallest

There are all ranks and grades in the dramatic profession, and a vast
number of actresses never rise above the position of “extra” ladies
in pageant plays, or the rank and file of performers in pantomimes.
The latter earn from 15_s._ to 20_s._ a week, and their employment
is intermittent. In the case of impecunious or unscrupulous managers
payment also is uncertain. Girls in the humbler ranks of the profession
are subject to all sorts of ill-treatment and swindling. For example,
a number of girls were recently engaged for an “open-air fête” in
the country during some weeks of the summer. The weather turned out
wet, and a friend who visited them found their dressing-tent only
partly covered in, and swimming in water. They had attended thirteen
rehearsals and a few performances without payment, and but for the
intervention of friendly outsiders it is doubtful whether they would
ever have received any payment at all. These girls had left paying
employment as dressmakers and milliners for this thankless work, yet
they endured their unjust treatment without complaint.

Speaking generally, the difficulty of the dramatic profession is,
that while talent is rare, it is overcrowded with candidates of very
moderate abilities. On this account it is very difficult for a girl
to get an opportunity of showing what she can do, and much patience
is necessary to success. If possible, a girl should have some other
means of eking out her income during the first months or years of the

Many girls work at dressmaking in the summer months, taking to the
stage regularly when the pantomime season comes on. Then there is the
ballet, which in London alone employs thousands of women. An ordinary
ballet dancer receives £1 to £1 10_s._ a week, and has to work hard
for her money; the best members of the troupe however may earn as much
as 35_s._ a week. The earnings of “solo” dancers are of course much
higher. English principals in pantomimes receive £5 and £9 a week,
but the usual custom is to employ foreigners--French or Italians--who
are paid as much as £12 a week. Popular performers receive fancy
salaries, and a dancer or music-hall singer who has hit the public
taste sometimes makes as much as £70 a week. A lady in this branch of
the profession was recently invited to visit America at a salary of
£250 a week. A “variety artist” sued her manager for £43 6_s._ 8_d._ as
a week’s salary, and gained all but the odd £3 6_s._ 8_d._ Miss Loie
Fuller, the “serpentine” dancer, was engaged, as a subsequent lawsuit
shewed, by a French manager for three years, at a salary of 102,000
francs, or over £4000 a year. If reward went by talent and artistic
culture these figures would be highly satisfactory, but as a rule the
reverse is the case. With regard to dancing, however, public taste
is improving, and both on the stage and in private houses graceful
dancing--dancing worthy of being called an art--is increasingly
appreciated. A really good dancer is highly paid, though not upon the
extravagant scale quoted above.

=Handicrafts.=--A word must be said about the position of women in
artistic crafts and in designing, though it is to be feared that the
account will somewhat resemble the famous chapter on “Reptiles in
Ireland.” Pottery is almost the only field in which women are employed
as designers, and here, as in isolated examples in other trades, what
has happened is rather that an artist has turned trade designer, than
that the trade has educated an artist. For example, a lady now carrying
on business as a jeweller was educated at an art school, and owing to
some accidental circumstance began designing for a jeweller. Eventually
she set up in business for herself, and still designs many of the
articles manufactured in her workshop. Isolated cases of the same
kind might be cited from other trades. Speaking generally, however,
women designers have not shaken themselves free from the trammels of
the art schools, or gained the practical acquaintance with crafts and
manufacture which alone can make their work marketable. It is probably
more difficult for women than for men to gain this practical knowledge,
and those who mean to succeed must bring both courage and perseverance
to the task.

=Artistic Crafts.=--The artistic crafts proper are hardly followed at
all by women. With the decay of domestic industries they lost what
skill and knowledge they once possessed, and technical education has
not yet restored them to their rightful position as skilled workers. If
women are employed as jewellers, potters, or even photographers, it is
only in the least skilled, and consequently worst paid portions of the
work. Thus in the jewellery manufacture they are employed in unskilled
operations, such as stringing pearls; and their earnings do not rise
above £1 a week, while the skilled labour of men brings in from £3 to
£6 a week. At electrotyping, in Birmingham, their wages are not more
than 25_s._ a week, and the same might be said of those engaged in the
electro-plate manufacture in Sheffield.

A few women are employed in chromo-lithography, but not many
lithographers are willing to take women as apprentices. Wood engraving
employs rather larger numbers, and the work is fairly well paid. In an
office in which four women engravers work the wages earned per head
during three months were, on an average, £2 18_s._ 5_d._ weekly, the
highest wage earned being £3 3_s._ 4_d._, and the lowest £2 13_s._
7_d._, representing a payment of 1_s._ 1_d._ an hour. At another office
the average weekly wage is £1 18_s._ 9_d._, the highest being £2
3_s._ 9_d._, and the lowest £1 7_s._ 11_d._, representing an average
payment of 10_d._ an hour. The entrance of women into such crafts has
been materially aided by the Society for the Employment of Women, in
Berners Street, which endeavours to find both means of training and
business openings for its clients. In artistic crafts which require
an apprenticeship women have much opposition to encounter; their
entrance is generally opposed by the workmen employed, who fear, and
not without reason, that the women will undersell them and bring their
wages down. If women hope to gain a footing in skilled occupations they
must conciliate opposition, by showing that they have no intention of
underselling their fellow workmen.

=General Conclusions.=--It will be seen that in almost all the
occupations here considered women have special difficulties to
contend with--imperfect training, amateurish habits, social customs
or prejudices, and the opposition of those who, sometimes from
prejudice and sometimes from a well-grounded fear of injury, oppose the
industrial employment of women. Time and good counsels may be trusted
to diminish these obstacles, if not to do away with them entirely.
Meanwhile it remains to give women the opportunity, by thorough
training, of showing the extent of their capacity for different kinds
of work. Disquisitions as to what women can do, or cannot do, are
irrelevant at the present moment, when facilities for training and
employment have not been open long enough to test their powers in any
direction. In these matters it is safer to prophesy after the event,
and it is certain that competition will eventually drive women out of
any calling for which they prove themselves really unfitted.



    ROUTINE CLERICAL WORK: Type-writing and
    shorthand--Secretaryships--Clerks and Book-keepers--THE
    CIVIL SERVICE: The Post Office--Number of women
    Learnerships--Counter-women and Telegraphists--The
    Telephones--Complaints against women--COMMERCE: Subordinate
    position of women--Shopkeeping--Trade as a Career--SHOP
    ASSISTANTS AND THEIR CONDITION: Wages--Deductions from
    Wages--Fines--Forms of Agreement--Long Hours--“Counter
    and Bed”--Select Committee on Mr. Provand’s
    Bill--Evidence from different places--Select Committee
    1888--Standing all day--Effect upon health--The _Lancet_
    on the provision of seats--Combination of assistants
    necessary--Insanitary Surroundings--Living in--Evils of
    the system--Bad food and insufficient accommodation--No
    social life--Hurried meals--Sunday arrangements--Personal
    Narratives--Warehouses--Combination among assistants--Objects
    of the different Societies--Legislation and its probable
    effects--ADDENDUM: The Reports of the Lady Assistant
    Commissioners to the Labour Commission--Miss Collet’s summary.

=Routine Clerical Work. Type-writing.=--There has been a great
increase of late in the variety of routine clerical work open to
women. The type-writing machine might have been designed for their
especial benefit, since it has brought within their reach a number
of occupations well suited to their capacities. The lady typist and
shorthand writer is a recognised institution in American commercial
houses; American women, with their superior adroitness, having promptly
seized upon an opening so favourable to their interests and adapted it
to their own use. The difficulty as to the two sexes working together
is not as much felt in America as here, and where special arrangements
have to be made or accommodation provided for women clerks it is done
without demur. For type-writing to be satisfactory as an occupation
it should be combined with shorthand, for a typist pure and simple
can seldom rise beyond a clerkship in a type-writing office, and must
not expect more than clerk’s pay; and in this case her weekly wages
will certainly be counted by shillings, not by pounds. The addition of
shorthand renders many kinds of secretarial work available, and here,
as in other occupations, any special skill or knowledge may lead to a
considerable increase in wages. An industrious typist who can secure a
good connection may make a fair, though not a large, income by working
on her own account. Authors and journalists often dictate their work to
a shorthand writer and typist, receiving it back in a few hours in a
handy and legible form. The usual fee is from 2_s._ to 3_s._ 6_d._ an
hour. Doctors, literary and public men, often give permanent employment
to a typist, and this kind of work is specially suited to women. Here
again, however, brains as well as manual skill are needed. Mere routine
work can never earn more than low wages.

=Clerks and Book-keepers.=--Female clerks and book-keepers are largely
employed in retail houses of business. To judge from their rapidly
increasing numbers it would seem as if their work were quite as
satisfactory as that of men, and yet their wages are invariably lower.
Herein, it is to be feared, lies the only difference between them
and the male clerks whom they supersede. From 15_s._ to £1 a week is
probably as much as a woman can expect in this employment; but, on the
other hand, a girl with an aptitude for business may sometimes make a
clerkship the stepping-stone to a forewoman or manager’s post, thus
leading, of course, to much higher wages. A well-known shipping firm
in Liverpool has for many years employed a lady to take charge of all
the ship linen and furniture. Under her is a large staff of clerks and
needlewomen, who carry on their work in comfortable and well-arranged
premises not far from the Docks. It is probable that as women come
to receive a more practical and thorough education they will be more
largely employed in posts in which care and attention to small details
is important. At present the capacity which women undoubtedly possess
in this direction is often neutralised by slovenly business habits.

=The Civil Service.=--Of clerkships those in connection with the Civil
Service are perhaps the most important. From the eagerness with which
women compete for its posts, indeed, the Civil Service would seem to
be a very El Dorado for its employés, a conclusion which is hardly
warranted by an examination of its conditions. The work, however, is
light, demands only moderate abilities, and is performed on the whole
under agreeable conditions. Wages are not high, but pensions are
attached to the most important branches, an advantage which hardly
any other employment open to women possesses. A woman who has worked
for forty years in the Post-office may retire with a pension equal to
two-thirds of her salary. Even after ten years of service a pension
of one-sixth is available. The respective amounts, in the case of
Post-office clerkships (to be described immediately), would probably be
about £80 and £15 per annum respectively, and a woman must be earning
exceptional wages in any other employment to put by sufficient to bring
in an income of even these modest dimensions. It is unfortunate that in
this, as in so many other occupations, women are willing to undersell
men. The clerks in the Post-office naturally look with anything but
favour upon the influx of women clerks at a lower wage, knowing that
it means their own gradual supercession. It is sometimes said that
the less robust health of women, and their consequently less regular
attendance, forms sufficient justification for a lower rate of pay;
but the alacrity of the public departments to engage female clerks
seems to shew that any disabilities on the score of health are more
than balanced by diminished salaries. Where the advantages to the
employer are equal there is seldom any eagerness to prefer the labour
of women. A similar displacement of men is going on in other Government
departments; at the War Office, in Special Commissions, and elsewhere,
women are being engaged for routine clerical work, and almost always at
a lower rate of payment than men.

=The Post-office.=--The most important public department with regard to
the employment of women is the Post-office. The Postmaster-General’s
Report for 1891 shows the total number of officials on the permanent
establishment, with sub-postmasters and letter receivers, to be 63,868,
of whom 8877 are women. Of these, 906 women are employed as clerks
in the chief offices in London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, and 3750 as
“counter-women” and telegraphists throughout the kingdom, besides
others employed as sub-postmistresses and letter receivers. These
figures however do not represent the gross total of the Post-office
staff, for we are informed that about 54,000 other persons are employed
more or less in Post-office work, and of these 16,000 are women. In
this estimate are probably included the extra clerks, generally former
_employés_, who come in and help at times of special pressure, as well
as the domestic servants and needlewomen whose business it is to keep
the buildings and miscellaneous Post-office property in order.

=Classification.=--An impression prevails that women are only employed
by the Post-office in selling stamps and sending off telegrams, that
being the only branch of Post-office work of which the general public
has cognisance. “Counter-women,” however, as these _employés_ are
technically called, are only subordinate officials, and their work
is both less agreeable and worse paid than that of some of the other
departments. Post-office appointments, as far as women are concerned,
may be classified thus:

(1) Clerkships in the four great branches of the Post-office--the
Savings Bank, Postal Orders, Returned Letters, and Clearing House.

(2) Sorterships.

(3) Telegraph Learnerships.

(4) Counter-women and telegraphists.

=Clerkships.=--Of the posts just enumerated the clerkships are the
most important and best paid, and are filled by a superior class of
women. During some years they were obtained by nomination, and the
women chosen generally came from the cultured classes; but now all
appointments are thrown open to competition, and anyone within the
limits of age (18 to 20) who can pass the not very severe entrance
examination is eligible for a vacancy. There is considerable demand
for these posts, and it is considered a very small competition if
there are only two qualified candidates for every vacancy. The hours
of attendance in the office are in most cases seven daily, and a
month’s holiday is allowed. Salaries commence at £65 a year, rising
by an annual increase of £3 to £80 in the lowest class. There are
possibilities however of much higher salaries, as the accompanying
table (drawn from the _Civil Service Competitor_) of numbers and
salaries of the female staff at the General Post-office, London, shows--

    1 Superintendent                 £250 by £15 to £400
    2       ”                         215 ”   15  ”  400
    3 Assistant Superintendents       200 ”   10  ”  240
    2       ”                         200 ”       ”
   18 Principal Clerks                140 ”   10  ”  190
   11       ”                         120 ”   10  ”  170
   50 First class Clerks              105 ”    5  ”  130
   51       ”                          85 ”    5  ”  110
  324 Second class Clerks              65 ”    3  ”  100
  295       ”                          65 ”    3  ”   80

=General Conditions.=--Work in the General Post Office is carried on
under pleasant conditions. The premises are good, and all reasonable
arrangements are made for the comfort of the clerks. Strict privacy
is enforced; the clerks never come in contact with the public; and,
the routine of the business once mastered, there is a regularity and
freedom from worry about Post-office work, which to certain natures
is probably attractive. A girl of fair education, but without the
special knowledge or aptitude necessary for the teaching profession,
may profitably turn her attention to Post-office work, in which the
defect of monotony is counterbalanced by regularity of employment and
the prospect of a pension in later life. Candidates must be unmarried
or widows, and must be duly qualified in respect of character and
health. They must further pass an examination in handwriting, spelling,
arithmetic, English composition, geography, and English history. A
periodical entitled the _Civil Service Competitor_ gives details as to
the changes which take place in the regulations from time to time.

=Sorterships.=--These posts are attached chiefly to the General Post
Office in London. Candidates must be “not less than four feet ten
inches in height without boots” (a very moderate requirement, surely),
and the limit of age is 15 to 18. An examination must be passed in
reading and copying badly-written manuscript, handwriting, spelling,
arithmetic (first four rules), and the geography of the United Kingdom.
Salaries begin at 12_s._ a week, rising by 1_s._ a week to 20_s._, with
prospect of promotion to the higher classes. The work chiefly consists,
as the title indicates, in sorting the papers of the department. Like
the clerkships just described, the occupation is regular and not
disagreeable. An advantage in a young girl’s beginning as a sorter
is that if she desires to qualify for a clerkship, she may, if she
has served for two years, secure an extension of age up to 25. Thus,
though she fail to pass the examination at the latest age allowable to
outsiders, she may try again, perhaps several times.

=Telegraph Learnerships.=--The privilege just mentioned is attached to
this department also, and appointments as counter-women are now usually
filled up from the ranks of the telegraph learners. A preliminary
examination must be passed in dictation, handwriting, and arithmetic
(first four rules), and successful candidates must attend a Post-office
Telegraph School (free) to learn the craft. The course usually takes
three months, but pupils who show no aptitude may be discharged. On
receiving a certificate from the school the telegraphist begins work
in a Post-office at a salary of 10_s._ a week, rising to 12_s._ and
14_s._, as she becomes capable of transmitting messages and taking
charge of an instrument; thence, if promoted, to 30_s._ or 38_s._
Supervisors may receive from £90 a year to £140. The age for admission
in London is 14 to 18, in the provinces 14 to 25.

=Counter-women.=--This is the only branch of Post-office work which
is carried on under the eyes of the general public, the workers
serving at the open counters of Post-offices, selling stamps, cashing
postal orders, and performing all the miscellaneous duties belonging
to a local office. Since the Government took over the management of
telegraphs counter-women have been of necessity chiefly recruited from
the telegraph learners. A second-class counter-woman receives from
12_s._ to 30_s._ a week; a first-class from 30_s._ to 38_s._

=Complaints against Women.=--It must be acknowledged that women have
not altogether distinguished themselves in this branch of employment.
Sir James Fergusson, when Postmaster-General, felt called upon to
issue a circular to Post-office clerks, with pointed reference to the
female clerks, recommending the practice of greater civility in their
dealings with the public; and the measure was regarded, I think, with
general satisfaction. In some commercial centres similar complaints
are made of the indifference and carelessness of the girls in charge
of the telephones, who do not seem to realise that important business
transactions are dependent upon their promptitude and attention. In a
large telephone office which I could name women have been replaced by
men to the unconcealed satisfaction of the subscribers. A newspaper
editor told me that he always found a great change for the better when
evening arrived, and women clerks were replaced by men. It would be
easy to make too much of these complaints, but they deserve to be noted
in considering the entry of women into new employments.

=Commerce.=--Leaving clerical work on one side, we may now turn to
the wide field of trade and commerce, and examine into the position
occupied by women. Here, as in most other departments, their place will
be found to be chiefly subordinate. Women rarely enter the higher and
more lucrative branches of trade and commerce, while they overcrowd
the lower ranks. Isolated cases may be quoted in which the control of
large capital is in the hands of women; and as land-owners and managers
of large estates they often take an important share in commercial
operations. We sometimes hear of women millowners and merchants; but
these positions are generally the result of accident rather than
choice, and women who have become capitalists by inheritance seldom
(except in the case of land) take any active share in the management of
their property. There are exceptions, however; and it is possible that
if a careful enquiry were made they would prove to be more numerous
than was supposed. In a recent lawsuit about a colliery the defendant,
a lady coalowner, was asked, “You never go down into the mine, I
suppose?” “Indeed I do,” was the reply. “I take the greatest interest
in my property, and I frequently go down into the mine.”

Englishwomen lag strangely behind American and French women in the
conduct of business enterprise, though whether from lack of talent or
opportunity is not clear. Probably they possess neither the talent
of the French nor the opportunity of the Americans. In retail trading
women take a much larger part, though here their operations, if on any
large scale, are generally confined to one or two trades, chiefly those
concerned with women’s dress and outfitting. Probably no great number
of women are engaged in these enterprises, but in the smaller kinds of
shopkeeping they are largely concerned. Very precarious much of this
work is. Any decent woman who has saved a little money thinks herself
qualified to open a shop and carry on business without preliminary
training. The usual result of such experiments is that capital dwindles
away before profits have begun to make their appearance. Women do not
always realise that the management of even a small business requires
knowledge, resource, and an unwearied attention to details.

=Trade as a Career.=--It is to be regretted that the daughters of
shopkeepers, particularly of the wealthier sort, do not more often
devote themselves to trade. Their position gives them unrivalled
opportunities of learning the business under agreeable conditions,
and they would gain thereby an independent position and an occupation
of great interest. As forewoman, cashier, buyer, or manager of a
department, a girl of superior education with an interest in the
well-being of the concern might do good service for the firm. The
majority of wealthy shopkeepers’ daughters however usually prefer to
dissociate themselves as far as possible from the industry which is
the source of their prosperity, while pushing their way into society
by its aid. _En révanche_ ladies of the aristocracy, secure of social
position, but lacking in means, have recently taken to retail trade;
and though not all the aristocratic millinery and dressmaking
establishments started a few years ago with a flourish of trumpets have
outlived the difficulties of early life, the fact that the attempt has
been made has contributed a good deal to change the attitude of society
towards retail trading as an occupation for women. A few thoughtful
parents, perceiving that such occupations as High School teaching offer
but a poor reward for the energies of cultivated women, are training
their daughters systematically for trade. The wisdom of such a course
deserves to be highly commended, for girls so prepared will enter upon
their work with every chance of success, and free from the ignorance
which perpetually clogs the steps of women’s enterprise. To parents
not themselves in business the matter may present some difficulties;
but for girls whose fathers are in trade, the means of training are
of course ready to hand. They will do well to get rid, as speedily as
may be, of the false sentiment which makes them despise a pleasant and
lucrative employment.

=Shop Assistants.=--When we come to the lower grades of employment, to
the work of shop assistants and book-keepers, the proportion quickly
alters, and the women far outnumber the men. There are unfortunately
no means of ascertaining the number of women so employed, but the
total number of both sexes in the retail trade is about one million,
and about four-fifths of the assistants in the drapery trade are
women. In other trades the proportion is not quite so high, and in the
grocery trade about nine-tenths are men. An account of the labour of
men and women in shops (for the two sexes cannot be separated in its
consideration) must, if truthfully given, be little else than a recital
of their grievances. There are, it is true, establishments where the
_employés_ are well paid and fairly treated, but their number is
small compared to those in which poor pay, ungenerous treatment, and
unhealthy surroundings are the lot of the shop assistant of either sex.

=Their Grievances.=--The chief points upon which complaints centre

(1) Capricious deductions from wages.

(2) Unfair forms of agreement.

(3) Long hours.

(4) Insanitary surroundings.

(5) Living in.

=Wages.=--First as to wages. We often hear it said that a young woman
serving in a shop is better paid than a governess; and it is true
that a young woman of business ability and good appearance engaged as
show-woman in a millinery or mantle department can earn from £200 to
£300 or even £400 a year--far more than women teachers, except in rare
cases, can dream of earning. But these are the plums of the profession,
and they are few and far between. The wages of shop assistants are
exceedingly variable, small shopkeepers only giving a few shillings a
week, the proprietors of large establishments being able to afford a
better wage. In the larger shops an entrance premium is often demanded,
or at least the assistant must serve for several months without wages.
Women assistants, for no apparent reason, receive considerably lower
wages than men. The former may earn from £10 to £25 a year with board
and lodging, the latter from £20 to £40.[7] Generally speaking the
wages of female shop assistants are estimated to be 33 per cent.
lower than those of male assistants. I have not been able to find any
reason for the difference beyond the willingness of women to take less
than men. It would be interesting to know whether there is any real
difference in efficiency between the sexes. I believe that in purely
manual occupations lack of efficiency is enough to account for women’s
lower wages; but in clerical and routine work the reason is not so

    [7] It is difficult to obtain an accurate estimate of the
    average wages of women shop assistants. The figures in the text
    were given me by the Secretary of the National Union of Shop
    Assistants. Miss Collet (_Report to Labour Commission_, p. 86)
    gives a table of salaries varying from £7 16_s._ to £75 per
    annum. Probably about 10_s._ a week is the _average_ wage, but
    many who have worked for some years earn, it would seem from
    the table, about £1 a week, generally without board.

=Fines.=--The nominal wages of a shop assistant, however, whether high
or low to start with, are subject to serious deductions by the way.
Few large retail houses are free from a system of vexatious fines,
deducted nominally from premiums on sales. I have before me a fine-book
belonging to a large London house containing nearly a hundred rules,
to the breach of which fines varying from 6_d._ to 5_s._ are attached,
with threats of even worse penalties behind. Thus for standing on a
chair the fine is 6_d._; permitting customers to go unserved without
calling special attention of buyer or shopwalker, 1_s._; second offence
reported. Omission of particulars as to filling up duplicate forms
and returning change, at discretion up to 5_s._; for sending bad coin
to cashier, the loss to be made up, and 1_s._ fine as well. For not
having premiums credited on exchange or return of goods, fine 2_s._
6_d._, second offence dismissal. Wrong or insufficient address, 2_s._
6_d._, and so on through a dozen closely-printed pages, until one
wonders how human ingenuity could devise so many punishable offences.
In another book of rules, more moderate in dimensions, and animated by
a less vindictive spirit than the above, a fine of 6_d._ is levied for
taking wrong change, and only half the deficiency is charged when bad
coin is presented. Allowing a customer to go unserved without calling
the attention of the “buyer,” however, still incurs a fine of 1_s._
Regulations such as these sufficiently explain the over-eagerness of
shop assistants to sell, which is often so annoying to their customers.
The unhappy victims of the fine-book have no choice but to cajole or
worry the customer into buying, since their very livelihood depends
upon success. Where such minute attention to details is necessary as
in shop work, fines may be to some extent a necessary evil; but there
can hardly be sufficient reason for the endless multiplication of petty
exactions which an examination of fine-books reveals. One would gladly
see the system exchanged for some plan of profit-sharing which would
secure the co-operation of assistants by more agreeable means. It is
true that a bonus on purchases is sometimes given during the annual
sale, but this apparent boon is again accompanied by a liability to
fines which must detract considerably from its advantages.[8]

    [8] Miss Collet (_Report, The Employment of Women_, p. 88)
    quotes a witness who stated that her fines sometimes exceeded
    her premiums. “Anyone,” added this witness, “who left the
    counter on account of illness was fined for absence.”

=Agreements.=--On entering a situation shop assistants are often
obliged to sign agreements which place them practically at the mercy
of their employers. In some cases they agree to accept instant
dismissal if fault is found with their work or conduct, in which case
they bind themselves not to take action in a court of law. A girl may
thus be discharged at a moment’s notice, and find herself literally
in the streets,[9] The formation of a strong Trade Union among shop
assistants is probably the only measure that can avail to check such

    [9] Miss Collet (_ibid._ p. 88) states that “in the majority of
    cases a moment’s notice [of dismissal] was the rule. No wages
    are in the latter case paid in lieu of notice, and the only
    provision to secure that they shall not be absolutely penniless
    when they leave is the retention by the employer of the first
    week or fortnight’s wages, which are paid to them on dismissal.
    The matron of a home said that in one case a shop assistant
    who came to her was unable to obtain even this from her former
    employer. The power to dismiss at a moment’s notice is not
    merely reserved for grave offences, but seems to be frequently
    exercised on most trivial grounds,” and the examples given by
    Miss Collet fully bear out the truth of the statement.

=Long Hours.=--The most trying feature of a shop assistant’s life,
however, is the long hours of labour. Upon this point agitation is at
present centred, and rightly, since the length of the working day is
not only an evil in itself, but renders the other ills which assistants
suffer more difficult to bear and less easy to remove. In order to
amend the conditions of their life assistants must have leisure to
combine, for nothing breaks the spirit like unceasing toil. At present,
as was pathetically remarked by a shop assistant, “counter and bed
is the common lot of most of us,” and energies enfeebled by a long
day’s work are unequal to grappling with the problem of reform. Both
sexes work under the same conditions; women keep the same long hours
as men; nor would they regard with approval special legislation in
their favour, fearing lest the indirect result of such legislation
should be to restrict their employment. How far such a result is really
probable it is not easy to say. The Secretary of the Early Closing
Association, giving evidence before the Select Committee on the Shop
Hours Regulation Bill (1892), expressed himself satisfied that the
limitation of women’s hours proposed by the Bill would not prejudice
their employment; but though the contention is probably correct as far
as the drapery trade is concerned, it is by no means certain that it
would hold good of other trades, and women cashiers and clerks would
certainly be replaced by men in shops where the latter are most largely
employed. On the other hand, the greater cheapness of women’s labour
might enable it to keep its place. It is probable, however, that in any
case the restriction would be used as an excuse for lowering women’s
wages still further.

The act of 1886 limited the hours of children employed in shops
to seventy-four; but as no provision was made for inspection to
enforce it, the act became a dead letter. The Act of 1892 extended
the benefits of restricted hours to “young persons,” but left the
appointment of inspectors optional. A few large towns are enforcing
the Act by appointing inspectors. As, with these exceptions, each
employer is free to do what seems right in his own eyes, shop hours
vary indefinitely, and it is impossible to give any figures that are
of universal application. An assistant giving evidence before the
Select Committee stated that in Chelsea, Fulham, and Hammersmith she
had worked from 88 to 90 hours a week, but in Holloway only 63½.
Other cases as bad, or even worse, might be cited. A representative
of the Early Closing Association estimated the average hours in the
southern and eastern districts of London at from 75 to 91 per week,
but I am inclined to think this estimate exaggerated.[10] London shops
in the poorer districts however are great sinners in the matter of
late hours. As a rule hours are shortest in the central districts of
large towns, since the exodus of the wealthier classes to the suburbs
as evening comes on renders it useless to keep shops open after six
or seven o’clock. Saturday afternoon’s holiday is gained in the same
manner. As we move towards the suburbs, and towards the working class
districts, the hours become longer, and on Saturday, instead of the
desired half holiday, toil is prolonged far into the evening, it may
be even till midnight. In Manchester, which is said to stand well on
the whole from the shop assistant’s point of view, the hours in the
central district are about 66 to 68 weekly, in some few cases 50 only,
and in the suburbs 80; but in many parts of the city much longer hours
are kept, and late Saturday night shopping prevails in the working
class districts. To some extent this is inevitable; but in a city like
Manchester, where the Saturday half-holiday is general, such extremely
late shop hours can hardly be necessary, and with regard to other
towns also the necessity of late hours for the shopping of the working
classes is probably much exaggerated. It is well known that so long as
shops are open customers will come, and if purchases could be made at
three o’clock in the morning, individuals would probably be found who
preferred that time to any other. The Select Committee of the House of
Commons on the Shop Hours Regulation Bill of 1888, reported that they
were “satisfied that the hours of shop assistants range in many places
as high as from eighty-four to eighty-five hours per week,” and were
further “convinced that such long hours must be generally injurious
and often ruinous to health, and that the same amount of business might
be compressed into a shorter space of time.” Eighty-five hours too, as
we have seen, are by no means the extreme limit of weekly work. It is a
common thing for shops opened at eight in the morning to be kept open
until nine o’clock at night; and what chance, it may be asked, has a
girl released at that hour after a long day’s toil of enjoying healthy
recreation? A rational life is impossible under such conditions.

    [10] Miss Collet’s tables give 50 to 74 hours, exclusive of
    meals, but no attempt is made to find the average hours. And,
    as Miss Collet remarks, “those working long hours are most
    inaccessible, from the very fact that they have no time to go
    to social meetings, and have less courage to complain.” Miss
    Orme gives the average hours in Welsh shops at 54¾ a week, the
    highest being 62½ and the lowest 51½.

=Standing.=--The long hours of standing are of course apt to be
injurious to the health of women, and especially of young girls.
Physicians give evidence of diseases contracted in this manner, and the
report of the “Sanitary Commission” of the _Lancet_, though moderate
in expression, is sufficiently explicit upon this point.[11] It must
be remembered, however, that constitutions differ, and I have been
informed by a young woman who had served ten years in a shop (where,
however, short hours are kept) that while she herself had grown used to
the standing, her sister, serving in the same shop, was quite unable
to endure the fatigue, and had failed seriously in health. A few years
ago some well-meaning persons, urged on by the _Lancet_, exerted
themselves to get seats provided for shop assistants, and their efforts
were apparently successful. Subsequent investigations by the _Lancet_
commissioner, however, disclosed a serious flaw in the arrangements.
In one shop he found that although seats were provided anyone “found
idle” was fined 6_d._ “At another very large establishment,” reported
the commissioner, “which boasts of the seats it provides, anyone
found using them is reprimanded the first time, and dismissed on a
repetition of the offence.” The episode is instructive as showing how
impossible it is for outsiders to reform trade abuses. Shop assistants
must themselves combine for the removal of their grievances if any
improvement is to be effected. In the same way “consumers’ leagues,”
for the avoidance of late shopping or for boycotting shops where
sweating is carried on, are doomed beforehand to failure. Combination
among the workers, backed by judicious legislation, is the only sure
method of securing reform.[12]

    [11] The Report of the Lady Assistant Commissioners fully
    confirms the same opinion.

    [12] An ingenious method in use in some Welsh towns deserves
    notice. Shops which are kept open late are picketed by men
    carrying cards, on which is printed, “You are requested to do
    your shopping before 7 p.m.” Miss Orme had such a card handed
    to her at Swansea, and on enquiry found that the agitation thus
    raised by the National Union of Shop Assistants had been very
    successful in shortening hours.

=Insanitary Conditions.=--An evil almost as great as the long hours
of labour is the insanitary condition of many shops. In large
establishments proper arrangements are usually made, though it often
happens that the building is draughty or ill-ventilated. But in small
shops there is sometimes no sanitary provision whatever, and assistants
must have recourse to the nearest public house, the only lavatory
available. Shops that are merely “fronts” have of course no offices
attached, and in those built on to private houses the proprietor often
reserves the house premises entirely for his own family. The abuse is a
crying one, and from its nature it is difficult to expose. Small shops
are also often close, ill-ventilated, and full of foul odours, though
perhaps women do not suffer from the latter cause as much as men, being
less employed in provision shops, pawnbrokers’, or fur shops. Women
cashiers, however, who are confined all day in the elevated boxes
rendered necessary by the rolling ball system of giving change, suffer
severely from the accumulation of gas and bad air towards the ceiling.

=Living-in.=--Another matter with regard to which discontent is rapidly
spreading is the system of compulsory “living-in,” which prevails
widely in drapery and large outfitting establishments. This custom
is, I believe, unknown in Scotland. A drapery firm in the North of
England, for example, employs 300 assistants of both sexes, and all are
obliged to live in the house provided by the employer. In shops where
“living-in” is compulsory board and lodging is usually valued at £40
per annum. It is a common complaint, however, among assistants that if
after some years’ service they obtain the privilege of living “out”
they only receive an allowance of £15 or £20 per annum. This statement
has been made over and over again, and its truth can hardly be doubted.
For the sum charged by the employer the inmates of a large house
ought to be comfortably fed and housed; but though in some cases the
arrangements are all that could be desired, yet against the majority
grave accusations are made with regard to over-crowding, bad food, and
uncomfortable household arrangements.[13] The bedroom accommodation is
said to be insufficient, and the furniture scanty; the food provided
is often poor, and sometimes uneatable. Sundry small filchings in
the shape of charges for blacking boots, use of piano and library,
are also strongly resented. There is seldom any provision for social
life, perhaps because there would be no time to enjoy it. Usually the
two sexes are lodged apart, but some boarding houses are apparently
mixed, for in one set of house rules it is stated that talking in the
dining-room during meals is “strictly prohibited,” that the young men
are not permitted to enter the young ladies’ sitting-room, and visitors
are not allowed in the house. At most establishments only twenty
minutes or half-an-hour is allowed for dinner, and the assistants are
liable to be called off if required in the shop. On this system meals
must be simply bolted, to the no small injury of the digestion; and it
is not surprising that dyspeptic derangement is a common ailment of
shop assistants.

    [13] The Lady Commissioners’ reports are full of these

=Sundays.=--When Sunday comes round a diametrically opposite policy is
followed, and after being kept in close confinement during six days of
the week the unhappy assistant finds himself or herself put outside
the door on the seventh. Either the boarders are given to understand
that their presence is not desired within doors, or else no meals are
provided, and the assistants are left to shift for themselves as best
they may. No doubt the best-conducted houses are careful of their
assistants’ comfort on Sundays. Extreme cases, in which the assistants
are absolutely shut out, are probably rare; but some are known to
exist, and the tendency to make Sunday an uncomfortable day for those
who remain indoors appears to be pretty general. The disastrous
consequences of throwing female assistants--often mere girls--upon
their own resources on the day in the week when respectable means of
shelter or refreshment are least accessible can easily be imagined.
Here again a strong Trade Union seems to afford the only possible
chance of dealing with the evil. The stress of competition is ever at
work, driving employers to diminish their expenses in every possible
way in order to sell their wares at the cheapest rate; and it is so
easy to effect the needful economies out of the domestic establishment
of their assistants. It will be readily perceived too that the system
of compulsory “living-in” places the assistants more completely in the
power of their employers than is desirable for any body of workers, and
the assistants themselves do not hesitate to affirm that this is the
chief cause of its maintenance. Incidentally also it disfranchises the
men, who are not able to claim even the lodgers’ franchise. Attempts
are made in some places by philanthropic societies to provide homes
for girls employed in shops where living-in is not compulsory. These
may be useful in some cases, but their usual defect is a too maternal
government, which the girls resent.

=Personal Narratives.=--In support of what has been here stated as to
the general conditions of shop work, I may add some particulars gleaned
from one or two lady shop assistants who have been kind enough to tell
me frankly their experience. Both are now employed in shops with whose
management they are perfectly content, but their previous experiences
were of a far less agreeable nature. Miss Smith served for some time
in a drapery establishment in a second-rate quarter of a large town.
The hours were from 9 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., and to 10, 10.30, or later on
Saturdays. No annual holidays were given; the assistants were supposed
to have one free day a month, but often they did not get it. An hour
was allowed for dinner, which the assistants had to provide either in
or out of the building. As my informant’s home was half an hour distant
she brought her own dinner, and thus was unable to have warm food. When
engaged in the millinery department she divided her time between the
showroom and the workroom, and was often kept until 12.30 on Saturday
night, or rather Sunday morning, finishing orders. Her sister had been
similarly employed in a small country town for eighteen months, during
most of which time the working hours were so long that from Monday
morning until Sunday morning she only left the counter for bed. “At the
end of the time,” added Miss Smith, “she was carried home in blankets,”
having broken down completely under the hard conditions of her life.
“Country shops,” remarked Miss Smith, “are the worst of all; the work
is never at an end.” Asked if she had ever found deficient sanitary
arrangements, she stated that in an otherwise well-managed shop the
housekeeper had at one time, from some whim, taken to locking the
lavatories, opening them only at certain intervals. The rebellion that
ensued, however, had forced her to relinquish the practice. Some small
shops, it was added, were “merely square rooms,” and were unprovided
with offices.

Miss Jones had had a varied experience. In her first situation--a
suburban shop, where she lived in the house--the hours were from 8.30
a.m. to 9.30 p.m., with the usual additional hours on Saturday. “I
always went straight to bed after my work,” she said, “for there was
only the kitchen to sit in, and one could not go out at that time of
night.” A large second-class shop in a provincial town was not much
better. The hours were from 8.30 a.m. to 8.30 p.m., twenty minutes
being allowed for dinner, and a quarter of an hour for tea. A week’s
holiday was given in summer. The assistants lived in the house; no
talking was allowed at meals; and if, as was not unnatural among a
gathering of young people of both sexes, the place of conversation was
supplied by giggling, the “governor” seated at the head of the table
growled his disapprobation. “Our only amusement was to kick each other
under the table to make one another laugh,” observed Miss Jones; “but
where I am now we talk as much as we like, and enjoy ourselves.” In the
first-named establishment there were many fines, in the house as well
as in the shop. Four girls slept in a bedroom, two in each bed; if the
gas was left lit after a certain hour, the room-mates were all fined
6_d._ a head, innocent and guilty alike.

My informants laid stress upon the time taken up by straightening
the shop after closing hours, an extra burden which is sometimes
unavoidable. In a shop which closed at 6.30 Miss Jones had sometimes
been busy “straightening” gloves (_i.e._ arranging them in their boxes
and sorting the sizes) till 10 o’clock or even later. At sale times
such extra work is frequent. Neither speaker objected to the system of
fines if reasonably administered, but they thought it hard to be fined
for not making a sale when the article demanded was actually not in
stock. About the pressure put upon assistants to effect sales they had
some amusing stories. On one occasion a buyer brought a lady customer
to the counter where Miss Jones was serving, with the request that she
would show her “furniture fringes,” adding in a low tone, “And see that
she gets them.” Miss Jones, who knew that furniture fringes were not in
the shop, was at her wits’ end. “I showed her everything I could think
of,” she said, “and kept her there until I saw the buyer move away,
when I whispered hastily, ‘We _haven’t got_ any furniture fringes,’ and
the lady took her departure. Fortunately the buyer forgot to ask me any
questions afterwards. Another time a lady asked for a kind of beaded
dress front which we did not keep; but because I let her go without
calling up the buyer I was fined 2_s._ 6_d._”

The details here given from personal experience amply bear out what
has been said about the difficulties and disagreeables of a shop
assistant’s life, and they may be multiplied _ad infinitum_ by anyone
who cares to make personal investigation into the subject.

=Warehouses.=--The conditions of life in warehouses are much the
same as in shops, but some of the special grievances of the latter
are absent. Fines, though not wholly unknown, are not customary, and
“living-in,” though practised to some extent, especially among London
city firms, is not general throughout the country. Women are much
employed in furriers’ and trimming warehouses. Wages are poor--often
only from 7_s._ to 10_s._ a week; but a good saleswoman in a wholesale
house may earn as much as £1 a week. Long hours, poor wages, and
insanitary conditions are the chief grievances of warehouse assistants,
and they are making common cause with workers in shops for their

=Combination among Assistants.=--Strenuous efforts are now being made
to secure combination among shop assistants, but the task is not
easy. Shop assistants are apt to regard such measures as suitable
only to artisans and labourers, failing to perceive that from lack
of combination they themselves are often much worse treated than the
labourers whose methods of self-defence they despise. No artisan would
think for a moment of enduring the conditions with regard to fines,
forms of agreement, and method of living, which are imposed upon shop
assistants, whose hours of labour are also, as I have shown, far beyond
those worked by factory “hands.”[14] The fear of dismissal is a more
real cause for hesitation; but if the union is carefully organised,
and causes of offence are avoided during its early days, there seems
no reason why this objection should not gradually disappear. There are
now in existence the “United Shop Assistants’ Union,” the “National
Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen, and Clerks,” with head-quarters
in London, and branches in most of the large towns, and the “National
Union of Clerks”; besides an outside society, the “Early Closing
Association,” which works for one special object--the shortening of
shop hours. The others are unions for mutual help and defence, and the
“National Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen, and Clerks,” which
has about 2,000 members, is constituted upon genuine Trade Union lines,
giving sick benefits and out-of-work pay upon a graduated scale for
payments of 1_s._ 2_d._ to 2_s._ a month.

The passing of the Shop Hours Regulation Act can hardly be expected
to effect any general improvement in shop hours; but if efficiently
carried out it should do something to shorten the working hours of
those for whom it is specially designed--children and young persons. It
is satisfactory to note that several towns are appointing inspectors,
without whose aid the Act would remain nugatory, and that a number of
women are among those appointed. It is highly improbable that public
opinion will rest content with such a very imperfect piece of work
as the Act of 1892; and before long we may expect to see the working
hours of all shop assistants limited by law. If the coming legislation
affects all shops alike (with necessary exceptions for special trades,
such as chemists), it is not likely to meet with strong opposition,
since it is the competition of one shopkeeper with another which forms
the chief obstacle to a voluntary change. Often the refusal of a single
shopkeeper prevents the adoption of early closing in a whole district.
If all are obliged to close no injury is done, and large employers
of labour gave evidence in this sense before the Select Committee.
Happily, in this case, the question admits of being considered upon
its own merits, and we need not fear the appearance of that familiar
hindrance to labour reform, the bugbear of foreign competition.

    [14] Miss Collet’s tables of factory and shop hours (Report, p.
    85) corroborate this statement.


This chapter was written before the publication of the Blue Book
on “The Employment of Women,” which contains detailed and valuable
reports upon the work of shop assistants by Miss Orme and Miss Collet.
As the evidence given above is fully confirmed by the Commissioners’
Reports, I have left the chapter as it stood, with the addition of
a few foot-notes, as an independent contribution to the study of
the question. Those who wish to pursue the matter further may do so
profitably by reading the Reports in full. I cannot leave the subject,
however, without quoting Miss Collet’s impressive summary of the
effects of shop work and life upon the health of those employed (p. 88).

“The constant supervision of the shop walker, the patience and
politeness to be shown to the most trying customers, the difficulty of
telling the truth about the goods without incurring the displeasure
of the managers, the long standing, the close atmosphere even in
well-ventilated shops when crowded with customers, the short time for
meals, the care required to keep things in their right places and to
make out accounts correctly, the long evenings with gaslight, and the
liability to dismissal without warning or explained reason, all tend to
render the occupation of the shop assistants most trying to the nerves
and injurious to health.” And she adds: “It is a significant fact that
whereas large numbers of factory girls cannot be prevailed upon to give
up their factory work after marriage, the majority of shop assistants
look upon marriage as their one hope of relief, and would, as one girl
expressed it, ‘marry anybody to get out of the drapery business.’”



    No existing combination outside Manual Labour--Beginning
    of Unionism among women--Emma Paterson--Sketch of her
    life--She advocates combination--Conference--Women’s
    Protective and Provident League, formed 1874--First
    Women’s Union, Bookbinders, 1874--Approval of Trades
    Congress, 1874--Women Delegates to Congress, 1875--Other
    Unions formed up to 1879--Army Clothing Factory--Liverpool
    Tailoresses--Nailmakers--_Women’s Union Journal_--Death of
    Mrs. Paterson, 1886--The Match Girls’ Strike, 1889--Public
    Sympathy--New Organisations--Unionism in the Provinces--Mixed
    Unions--Tours undertaken by League Officials--Method
    of Proceeding--Difficulties of Unionism--Fines and
    deductions--Attitude of Men’s Unions--Increased
    Support--Established results and Future Prospects--Factory
    and Home-work--Working for Pocket-money--Foreign
    Competition--“Consumers’ League”--Self Help--_Directory of
    Women’s Unions._

The history of combination among women lies within a narrow compass.
Its action has been confined entirely to the working classes, and
even among them the period of its existence is as yet but short. No
organization fulfilling the purposes of a Trade Union is to be found
among women of the cultured classes, and the corporations by which
professional and commercial men secure the maintenance of a definite
system of employment and a fixed standard of payment have no parallel
among workers of the other sex. So far as women join the ranks of
a profession already thus guarded--as, for instance, the medical
profession--they share its privileges, and we are thus spared the
spectacle of women doctors underselling their male colleagues, and
earning their maledictions thereby. There are various associations of
women engaged in teaching, but these as a rule are formed purely for
educational purposes, and are powerless to defend or protect their
members in any way. Indirectly, however, they may serve some of the
purposes of a Trade Union. Thus the Association of Assistant Mistresses
in secondary schools, though carefully disclaiming all title to be
called a Trade Union, is able, by means of friendly conferences with
headmistresses as well as by the information it disseminates among
its members, and the publicity which it is able to give to matters in
which their interests are concerned, to confer upon its members some
of the minor benefits of combination. The National Union of Teachers
in elementary schools (men and women) comes much nearer to the Trade
Union type; but though affording its members valuable aid, and able
through its Parliamentary Committee seriously to influence legislation,
it is not constituted upon a Trade Union basis, and does not profess to
fulfil its functions. The associations recently formed among men and
women employed in shops are, however, Trade Unions, both in intention
and in fact; but with this solitary, though important, exception, the
progress of unionism among women has been entirely confined to the
classes engaged in strictly manual labour.

=Emma Paterson.=--There is no difficulty in fixing the date of the
first beginnings of Trades Unionism among women, or in assigning the
credit of its foundation to the right quarter. The date was 1874, and
the founder was Emma Paterson, _née_ Smith. I am here speaking of
purely women’s unions, for it must not be forgotten that large unions
of men and women had existed for many years in the textile trades of
the North of England. Emma Smith was the daughter of a schoolmaster,
and was carefully educated by her father. She gained early practice in
organisation in connection with the Working Men’s Club and Institute
Union, and gave such evidence of talent in this direction that when
only nineteen she was appointed assistant secretary. After five
years’ service Emma Smith became Secretary of the Women’s Suffrage
Association, and her early practical experience, combined with the
theoretical discussions upon the position of women to which she was now
introduced, led her to think seriously about their industrial position
also. In 1873 Miss Smith became Mrs. Paterson, and with her husband,
a former hon. secretary of the Institute previously mentioned, and
hardly less interested than herself in labour questions, she started
for a tour in America, undertaken partly with a view to studying
the operations of Friendly Societies in that country. She had been
deeply struck with some remarks that had fallen from an American lady
lecturer upon this subject, and the idea of a similar organisation at
home for women took root and germinated in her thoughtful mind. In
America she learnt with interest that experiments in women’s unions
had already been made, and showed some prospect of success. On her
return to England Mrs. Paterson wrote a paper, which was published
in the _Labour News_, advocating the formation of a national union
for improving the position of working women. The article contained a
careful _resumé_ of the question, and showed that the writer possessed
a thorough insight into her subject. It was pointed out that women
are almost always worse paid than men, even when equally skilled;
that their isolation as workers exposes them to reductions of wages
from unscrupulous employers, which their more honourable rivals are
compelled to imitate. In support of the “benefit” side of Unionism Mrs.
Paterson cites a curious case. “At a time of great slackness of trade
among the bookbinders, in 1871, caused by a delay in passing through
the House of Commons the revised Prayer Book, it was stated that during
sixteen months two of the men’s unions had paid £2,500 in relieving
their unemployed members, but that the women in the trade, having no
union to fall back upon, had suffered the greatest distress.” Mrs.
Paterson then deals with the popular scepticism as to women’s powers
of combination. “At three successive annual congresses of leaders and
delegates of Trades Unions the need of women’s unions has been brought
before them, and each time someone present has asserted that women
_cannot_ form unions. The only ground for this assertion,” adds Mrs.
Paterson courageously, “appears to be that women _have not_ yet formed
unions. Probably they have not done so because they have not quite seen
how to set about it.”

=Women’s Protective and Provident League.=--The first result of Mrs.
Paterson’s paper was that a conference was convened to consider her
proposal. Many friends outside the ranks of labour attended the meeting
held in the Quebec Institute on July 8th, 1874, at which Mr. Hodgson
Pratt presided. Resolutions were passed to the effect--

1. That a Committee be appointed, to be entitled the Women’s Protective
and Provident Committee.

2. That one of the objects of the Association shall be to enable women
earning their own livelihood to combine to protect their interests.

3. That it shall be one of the objects of the Association to provide a
benefit fund for assistance in sickness and other contingencies.

A committee was elected, and Mrs. Paterson was appointed honorary
secretary, a post which she held until her death in 1886.

The resolutions here quoted indicate sufficiently clearly the objects
of the Association. It was considered necessary, however, not to
proclaim these too loudly to a world unprepared for their reception,
and accordingly the use of the term “Trade Union” was carefully
avoided. Public opinion had not then been enlisted in favour of the
principle of combination for either men or women; employers were not
likely to regard amicably a further extension of the methods against
which they had already fought so obstinately, and working men as a
class had not yet grasped the importance, in the interests of labour
generally, of the complete adoption of unionism by workers of both
sexes. Their attitude was to some extent one of suspicion towards
women, on account of their readiness to undersell the labour of men. It
behoved the friends of the movement to walk guardedly, and to disarm
suspicion until their cause had gained strength. The cumbrous title
“Women’s Protective and Provident League” first adopted, directed
attention accordingly to one side only of the work--that of insurance
against sickness--while veiling its trade union aspect under the vague
adjective “protective.” More stress was laid than would perhaps now be
the case upon the advantage to be derived from the sick benefit funds
of the unions. The courage and hopes of the women were hardly raised to
the point of making sacrifices for an organization of whose powers as
a bulwark against oppression they were ignorant, but the prospect of
receiving payment when out of work was something that the most timid
could appreciate.

=Bristol Association.=--A Working Women’s Association was founded in
Bristol in 1874 upon similar lines to those of the League, and under
the influence of the same inspiration, Mrs. Paterson having circulated
her paper and attended a conference in that city. The society is still
in existence.

=Bookbinders’ Union.=--The progress made during the first year of the
League’s life was slow; but, as all who have watched the growth of
social organisms are well aware, a period of struggle and slow progress
is the unavoidable preliminary of growth in any movement which is
firmly grounded. The Union of Women employed in Bookbinding was formed
in 1874, and was followed next year by that of the Upholsteresses and
the Shirt and Collar Makers, societies which are all still alive,
though not large in numbers. The bookbinding trade was selected for the
first experiment, partly because a recent period of trade depression
had made the want of a provident society severely felt, but still more
because Mr. King, the secretary of the London Consolidated Society of
Bookbinders, undertook to give the women all the help in his power in
the work of forming a trades union. “There is no provision,” remarks
the Report of the League’s work for 1874, “for the admission of women
as members of the men’s societies either in bookbinding or other
trades, with some few exceptions in the North of England. Nor would
the women be able to avail themselves of such provision, as they could
not pay the same subscription, their wages seldom being more than half
those of the men.” Here we have the whole case in a nutshell--women
completely unorganized, and disabled by their poverty from making use
of the levers by which men had raised their position. It is gratifying
to be able to add that several of the men’s unions have recently
admitted women at a lower rate of contribution. About the same time
unions of women were formed in Dewsbury and also in Leicester, where,
it was stated, the stitchers and seamers in the hosiery trade received
only 5_s._ a week. A meeting was called by some gentlemen of the town
who recognised the mischief of allowing wages to diminish unchecked,
and a union was formed, which was able almost immediately to obtain for
its members a small advance of wages.

=Trades Congress, Liverpool.=--In January, 1874, the Trades Congress
met in Liverpool, and Mrs. Paterson addressed a letter to the members
upon the subject of combination among women. The letter was read by
the President (Mr. Julian), and the Congress expressed hearty approval
of the movement. Meanwhile the Committee of the League busied itself
in stimulating the young societies by means of social gatherings and
entertainments, and by holding meetings and endeavouring to arouse
public interest. A room was rented in Holborn, and was used for small
meetings and as a house of call for women out of work.

=Provincial Unions. Women Delegates to Congress.=--In 1875 and the
following year efforts were made by the League to organise working
women in the provinces. Meetings were held in Glasgow, Manchester, and
Sheffield, and unions were formed in various trades; but though the
co-operation of the local Trades Council was enlisted, not many of the
societies then formed have survived. An event of more import was the
admission of women to the Trades Congress at Glasgow in 1875, where
Miss Simcox represented the Shirt and Collar Makers, and Mrs. Paterson
the Bookbinders and the Upholstresses. A resolution pledging the
members of the Congress to promote trades unions among women was moved
by Mr. Shipton, of the London Trades Council, and carried unanimously.
Since 1875 women have been present at each annual meeting of the Trades
Congress, and have invariably been received with courtesy and goodwill.
During the next few years unions of women were formed in London as

  Tailoresses’ Union                                        1877
  Dressmakers’, Milliners’, and Mantle Makers’ Union        1878
  Westminster and Pimlico Branch of the Tailoresses’ Union  1879
  East London Tailoresses’ Union                            1879

The societies thus formed were for the most part small, the total
membership only reaching about 1,300 in 1879; but they held well
together, and their financial position was sound. In 1879 the Society
of Women employed in Bookbinding was able to report that after paying
during the year benefits amounting to £37 10_s._ 6_d._, a balance of
£218 12_s._ remained in hand. The Upholsteresses’ Society had paid £23
15_s._ in benefits, and had a balance of £98 18_s._ 6_d._ In all cases
the societies had paid their own working expenses, the funds of the
League being only employed in giving them a fair start.

=Army Clothing Factory.=--In 1879 the good offices of the League
were employed in bringing the grievances of the women working in the
Royal Army Clothing Factory at Pimlico under notice of the House of
Commons, and in obtaining the appointment of a Committee of Inquiry.
This is probably the first case in which the conditions of women’s
labour have been investigated at the request of the workers themselves.
Similar grievances cropped up in 1882, and once more in 1885-6. The
League, as before, took up the women’s case, holding conferences and
attracting public attention to the matter. The result was a searching
inquiry into the management of the factory, undertaken by Mrs. Fawcett,
at the request of Mr. Woodall, Surveyor-General of Ordnance. Mrs.
Fawcett received the thanks of the Department for her labours, and the
grievances of the women were in great part redressed.

Two trade societies were formed in Leicester in 1878-9--the Cigar
Makers’ and the Worsted Spinners’. Members of the Trades Council again
gave their aid, and the unions thus formed still carry on, under
changed names, a flourishing existence. In the autumn of 1878 five
women attended the Trades Congress held in Bristol, at which a proposal
for the appointment of working men and women as sub-inspectors of
factories was carried unanimously. The question was brought up again at
the Congress of 1881, and at the instance of the League Parliament was
approached on the subject.[15]

    [15] It was not until 1893 that two ladies--Miss Abraham and
    Miss Muirhead Paterson--were appointed factory inspectors. No
    working women have yet been appointed.

=Results in 1882.=--For some years the work of forming Women’s Unions
went on but slowly, and in London, though persistent efforts were made,
no new societies were permanently established between 1879 and 1888.
By 1882 it was found that the seven London unions had received £1210
in members’ subscriptions, and had paid away £475 in sick benefits
and grants at death. The total number of unions formed by the League
was stated in 1883 to be nineteen, ten in London, and nine in the
provinces. Meetings were held in many towns, and a few unions were
formed, among which may be mentioned a Working Women’s Society in
Oxford, founded in 1881. In Liverpool the Tailoresses’ Union would have
collapsed but for the help of the League, and the case affords a good
example of the dangers with which the work of combination is beset. The
union was not constituted in a business-like manner, and the member
of the men’s union (afterwards expelled), who was allowed to act as
secretary and treasurer, “neglected,” as the report euphemistically
puts it, to place the funds in a bank. Suspicion at once took
possession of the society, and subscriptions ceased. The League
promptly came to the rescue, deposited a sum equal to the subscriptions
in a local bank on behalf of the society, and took means, which were
eventually successful, for obtaining repayment from the secretary.

=Nailmakers.=--Attention was drawn in 1883 to the wretched wages earned
by women in the nailmaking trade, by Mr. Broadhurst’s bill (promoted
by the Parliamentary committee of the Trades Congress), prohibiting
the employment in that trade of girls under 14. The bill was thrown
out, but the fact of its having been brought in roused the women to
a sense of their position, and an effort was made to form a union
under the auspices of the League. Wages were then quoted at 3_s._ to
5_s._ a week. A large number of women nailmakers are now enrolled in
the Midland Trades Federation, which contains altogether 1500 women.
Unionism in the nail and chain trades has fluctuated greatly, for
the difficulties in the way of combination are very great. Both Mr.
Burnett’s Report to the Board of Trade and Miss Orme’s to the Labour
Commission, show a wretched condition of life and labour in these

It will be seen that the record of combination among women, where the
support of men’s unions has not been available, is to some extent a
history of abortive attempts. The experience thus gained, however,
has not been wholly thrown away. It has shown where the attempt is
likely to succeed, and where it is not. As a result, effort is now
being concentrated on the most favourable fields, and recent events
have shown the wisdom of this course. In spite of many failures, the
examples of successful combination are sufficiently numerous to prove
that the task of organising women’s labour, if difficult, is by no
means hopeless.

=Women’s Union Journal.=--Among other agencies promoted or encouraged
by the League during its early years were a monthly paper called the
_Women’s Union Journal_ (now issued quarterly as the _Women’s Trades
Union Review_), a reading-room, where women out of work could consult
advertisements, and employers send notices of vacancies, a swimming
club (which owed its formation to the horror caused by the sinking of
the _Princess Alice_ in the Thames), a small co-operative society, and
contributions towards a seaside house for members of the Unions.

=Death of Mrs. Paterson.=--At the end of the year 1886 the unions
suffered an irreparable loss in the death of Mrs. Paterson. Her
husband, who had been one of the earliest members of the League,
and took the warmest interest in its progress, had died a few years
before. Almost since her girlhood, as we have seen, Mrs. Paterson had
striven hard for the advancement of working women, and her death, at
the early age of thirty-eight, was attributed by her friends to her
unwearying labours. She had been honorary secretary of the League from
its foundation, and since 1875 had attended every meeting of the Trades
Congress but one, besides giving unremitting attention to the affairs
of the individual unions. Mrs. Paterson exercised a great influence
over the working women with whom she came in contact, and she possessed
two qualities which are not always found together--enthusiasm for an
ideal and great business powers. To her quiet yet persistent efforts it
is due that the movement did not collapse amid the many difficulties of
its early years, and that the idea of Trades Unionism among women has
been steadily kept alive. For a short time after Mrs. Paterson’s death,
Miss Clementina Black held the post of secretary to the League, but
resigned in 1889, and became connected with a new organization, similar
in aim, called the “Women’s Trades Union Association.” Her place was
taken by Miss Emilie Holyoake, daughter of the well-known co-operator,
Miss Florence Routledge, B.A., becoming honorary secretary.

=Match-Girls’ Strike.=--The years 1888 and 1889 marked a great
upheaval in the labour market. The first saw the match-girls’ strike,
the second the dockers’ strike. The great silent mass of struggling,
starving, unskilled labour then for the first time found voice, and its
utterance, expressed in the unmistakable terms of a deadly struggle,
and following hard upon the revelations made before the Commission on
the Sweating System, brought home to the outside world the real state
of things prevailing in the lower ranks of labour. Thus the public mind
was prepared to show something more than passive sympathy with the
rebellion which broke out soon afterwards among unskilled labourers.
The strike of the girls in Messrs. Bryant and May’s factory, though
dwarfed in interest by the dockers’ strike which followed, was still a
remarkable episode, unique indeed in the history of combination among
women. The beginning of the strike found the girls entirely without
organization, its close left them with increased wages, a union nearly
a thousand strong, and for some time afterwards considerably in excess
of that figure. The strikers were ably and courageously led by Mrs.
Annie Besant and Mr. Herbert Burrows, and their success was also due
in no small degree to the support of the London Trades Council, which
took the part of the girls, and sent a deputation to press their
claims upon the firm. By thus gaining over public sympathy and winning
the open countenance of the official element in Trades Unionism the
match-girls’ strike may be said to have marked a new departure, for,
though similar help had often been rendered by Trades Councils before,
the publicity attached to this occasion made it specially noteworthy.
Public opinion, too, though a fickle friend, is still a friend worth
having, and whilst its frown is a penalty which employers do not
willingly incur, its restraining effect upon hasty action on the other
side is also not without benefit. A certain vague sentiment with regard
to the physical weakness of women and their patience under poverty and
suffering helps to keep public opinion favourable on the whole, while
their disorganized condition prevents them, as a rule, from adopting
the aggressive measures which shock and terrify society. So for the
present the outside world looks kindly upon women’s unions, the more so
as these organisations make no demands upon its purse.

=New Unions. Women’s Trades Union Association.=--Between 1888 and 1890
a number of new unions, including the Amalgamated Laundresses with
several branches, Matchbox-makers of Shoreditch and Bow, Box-makers
and Confectioners, were formed in London. Of these some were formed
under the auspices of the new association mentioned above, the Women’s
Trades Union Association. This society aims at promoting unions whose
funds shall be devoted solely to trade purposes, contributions for sick
and out-of-work benefits being either optional or non-existent. In
the opinion of those who formed the new society the starvation wages
paid to women in many trades render it difficult, if not impossible,
to secure subscriptions upon a scale high enough to allow for sick
benefits, and they consider it best therefore to devote attention
entirely to strengthening the workers’ position in their respective
trades. There is something to be said for this view of the question,
and it is possible that, following the lines of the “new unionism,”
women’s societies may come into existence which would hardly have been
formed upon any other method. Some belonging to the older organisation,
as, for instance, the Matchbox-makers’ Union, have already adopted a
purely trade basis for combination. The majority however give sick
and out-of-work benefits, and in many districts the “club” aspect of
a union is that which appeals most strongly to women unexperienced
in combination. The question is one with which men’s unions are much
occupied at present, and its final solution cannot be foretold as yet.

=Mixed Unions in the Provinces.=--Meanwhile unionism has been spreading
in the provinces, which offer a better field for combination than the
ill-paid trades of East London, to which the efforts of the League had
hitherto been directed. Some of the larger unions of men in the textile
trades, as already mentioned, had long admitted women as members,
such as the Northern Counties Weavers’ Association with 43,000 women
members, and the Card and Blowing-room Operatives with 21,000 women.
The Amalgamated Hosiery Union of Leicester has 2500, and the Scottish
Mill and Factory workers the same number. The Notts and Leicester
Cigar-makers’ union is an admirable example of a purely women’s society
which early learned to stand on its feet, and was able to gain signal
advantages for its members. It has a membership of 800, and is said
to contain a larger percentage of those engaged in the trade than
any other society. There are unions of women, either of a general or
special kind, in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Wakefield, Denton (where
a union in the hat trade contains 4290 members), Glasgow, Belfast, and
other towns. Particulars of their membership are given in an appendix.
It will be seen that by far the largest number of women unionists are
enrolled in the mixed societies of the textile trades. These constitute
the models to which in time unionism will probably more generally
conform in the future, since an organisation which includes both men
and women is free from the sources of weakness attaching to unions of
either sex singly. When the women of a trade are not included in the
union, they are liable to undersell the men, and unions of women alone
are necessarily weaker than the better equipped organisations of men.
For the present, however, it is necessary to be content with imperfect
forms of combination, and if women are ever to win a place in the older
and stronger societies of men they must first give evidence of their
quality by forming and managing their own unions. Every year those who
make the effort are gaining increased support from the men’s unions,
and in time there can be no doubt that the cause of labour will be seen
to have no distinction of sex.

=System of Tours.=--The growth of provincial unions has been much
quickened by the policy recently adopted by the League,--now called
the Women’s Trades Union League. A scheme of annual tours has been
mapped out, by which the officials of the League are enabled to visit
periodically districts in which unions are forming, or are likely to
be formed. Sometimes the men’s unions send to ask for the help of
the League to organise the women, whose readiness to accept lower
wages they recognise as a serious danger to the position of labour
as a whole. Often the women themselves send a request for help, and
occasionally outsiders have invited the League to come and rouse the
impoverished and helpless workers of a district. Interest in the
subject is sometimes awakened by a discussion at a political meeting,
and various clubs and associations have from time to time invited
a member of the League’s Committee to give an address upon women’s
unions. If after some such beginning the ground seems ready for
working, and especially if the local Trades Council advises, a meeting
of women is called, and the officials of the League, aided by such
friendly supporters as the district may afford, explain the advantages
of combination. Afterwards the names of those willing to join a union
are taken down, and a date is arranged for a business meeting, at
which officers are chosen and rules formed. Members of the Trades
Council are generally present at the second meeting, to put the women
in the way of arranging their affairs. The society is now formed, and
it may seem that everything is going well; but the difficulties in the
way of successful unionism among a class so poor and so unaccustomed
to the methods of combination as the majority of working-women are
very great, and it is often found that in a few months membership has
dwindled to a small number, and the hopeful prospects of the opening
weeks have entirely disappeared. Often the committee is not up to its
work, accounts are badly kept, or the collectors are unable to arrange
a good working method for getting in subscriptions, a matter which
is by no means easy when the employers or their managers and foremen
happen to view the formation of the union with disfavour. Then again,
if, as sometimes happens, suspicion arises that the hard-earned funds
are being mismanaged, the union will melt away as if by magic, to be
re-organised only with great difficulty. In order to avoid this danger
as far as may be, and to give the newly-formed union an incentive to
perseverance, the League promises a second visit at the end of a year
to those societies which affiliate themselves to the central body. A
plan of spring and autumn tours has been arranged, and by grouping a
number of industrial centres in one part of the country the emissaries
of the League have been enabled to cover much more ground than would
have been possible in a series of detached visits. In this manner Lady
Dilke, Miss Routledge, Miss Holyoake, and others, have visited most
of the manufacturing districts of England and Scotland, and have even
carried their missionary enterprise as far as Belfast, where, since
the Trades Congress of 1893 great efforts have been made to organise
the labour of the women working in the linen and flax mills. Many
of the unions thus formed are affiliated to the League, including a
number in Scotland and the large mixed union of West Riding Power-Loom
Weavers, who have joined the League as far as their women members
are concerned. Recently a further step has been taken, by sending
out working women who have had experience in their own unions, as
organisers into districts where new unions are being formed; and it is
expected that this plan will be found extremely useful, as women who
are already overworked and underpaid have little strength or leisure
for arranging the preliminaries of organisation.

=Difficulties of Combination.=--The difficulty of forming unions among
women is undeniably great. Women are inexperienced in combination,
and they entertain a lively and by no means groundless fear of the
resentment of their employers. Unionism does not, it is true, often
meet with opposition from the better class of employers, who recognise
in it a salutary check on the efforts of unscrupulous rivals to force
down both prices and wages. Experience shews them, too, that unionism
discourages rather than fosters strikes, and in cases of difficulty
they would often prefer to deal with the accredited representatives of
the workpeople. But in many cases the attempt to form a combination
among women meets with the open hostility of their employers. It is
not uncommon for a woman who has undertaken the secretaryship of a
union to be summarily dismissed. The manager of a confectionery factory
in a large provincial town recently attempted to turn away all those
who had given in their names to a newly-formed union. Under these
circumstances it is not surprising that women, especially in the worst
paid trades, are afraid to join a trade union, and that even after
joining they readily fall away from an undertaking which may possibly
involve so serious a risk. If working women throughout the country were
dominated by this fear the cause of unionism would be hopeless; but
fortunately this is not the case, and we can only admire the courage
which enables women earning a miserable pittance to risk its loss by
identifying themselves with an unpopular movement. If the union were
strong it would of course set its face against arbitrary dismissals,
which are in themselves a powerful argument in favour of organisation;
but the difficulty is to prevent their occurrence during the early
years of the union. On this account it is useful, where possible, to
collect a fund for the relief of women who may be temporarily thrown
out of work owing to their active connection with a trade union; and
the knowledge that such a fund exists helps in itself to prevent the
occasion for its employment arising. The general public has little idea
of the extent to which unscrupulous employers take advantage of the
helpless position of working women. So widely separated are classes in
this country that a man may grind the faces of the poor and pass for
a saint among those of his own class. An employer remarked recently
to a friend who was advocating unions for women that they were not
necessary in his factory, as the women had already a fund to which they
subscribed. Further questioning elicited the fact that the “fund” was
derived from fines wrung from the women, and was managed entirely by
the employers. The firm is known for zeal and munificence in connection
with religious bodies, and the case is by no means an isolated one.

It is impossible to read the Report of the Lady Assistant Commissioners
without becoming convinced that combination is absolutely necessary, if
working women are to secure a reasonable modification of the scandalous
fines and deductions to which their wages are subjected. The extent
to which these iniquities prevail is now fully revealed for the first
time, and if the unions could attack this one point alone with success
they would have done much to raise the economic status of working women.

=Attitude of Men’s Unions.=--Much may be hoped for the future of
unionism among women, from the increased support which it receives
from the leaders of men’s unions; indeed, it is not too much to say
that herein lies the key to the position. It has often been cast in
the teeth of Trades Unionists that while struggling for freedom for
themselves they have regarded with indifference the economic position
of their working sisters, and have exerted their influence rather for
the restriction of women’s labour than for the improvement of its
conditions. It is a question, however, whether unionism in its early
years, struggling hard to maintain its existence, could have undertaken
the additional burden of organising the women. Sometimes the objections
raised to women’s work were exceedingly flimsy, and it is small credit
to a section of working men that they have shown themselves ready
to raise the cry of impropriety, and even immorality, against women
upon grounds which cannot bear the test of examination. Even were the
conditions of women’s work such as ought not to be tolerated (and no
one who knows the facts would say that this is never the case), the
true cure lies in the formation of unions among the women, since one
of the first things which a strong union would do is to stand out for
decent arrangements and reasonable conditions of work. The general
public often joins in and swells the cry against some particular
employment for women, instead of casting about to see if its defects
cannot be remedied. Thus, when the agitation was raised a few years ago
against the employment of women at the pit brows in Lancashire, the
charge of immorality was most unjustly raised against them, and even
their peculiar but necessary costume was made the ground of serious
indictments. The force expended upon this agitation might, if more
wisely directed, have secured for the women improved arrangements
for their comfort, which in some cases were much needed; but nobody
thought of this. Wider views, however, are now beginning to prevail,
and the generous support which is given to the claims of women by the
responsible leaders of working men may be expected gradually to disarm
the hostility which undoubtedly exists among a section of their class.

Of late years Trades Councils have repeatedly come forward with both
money and personal help to organise the labour of women--notably the
Councils of Aberdeen, Liverpool, Oldham, Huddersfield, Leicester, and
the Midland Counties Trades Federation. The Manchester and Salford
Trades Council has also taken the matter up, and is engaged upon a
systematic attempt to organise the female labour of the district. The
result of the experiment will be watched with interest.

=Results Established.=--The history of unionism among women, brief
though it be, may claim to have established the following points:

(1) That unions can be formed and carried on upon a firm financial
basis even in trades in which wages are very low.

(2) That the demands of a trade union are often sufficient to secure
for the workers a rise in wages or equivalent advantages, such as
shorter hours or the abolition of fines. Miss Collet, in her report of
the Liverpool district, mentions a union of tailoresses which succeeded
in obtaining a shortening of eleven hours in the working week. In the
lace trade Miss Abraham notes that “In two instances where fines seem
to have been heavy, the formation of a trade union among the workers
has had the effect of checking the system.” Many other examples might
be given.

(3) That unless unions are established, wages, especially in the
less-skilled trades, tend to fall. The competition of one employer
against another is generally sufficient in itself to bring about this
result, unless the workers oppose a solid front to the pressure from
above. The older members of badly-paid trades know this well, and it is
among them that the keenest advocates of combination are found.

=Factory and Home Work.=--Trades carried on wholly in factories have
hitherto proved the most amenable to combination. Low wages and
irregular employment, though sufficiently serious obstacles, are not
so prejudicial as the division of a trade into factory and home work,
or the existence of domestic workshops. In those of Cradley Heath,
near Birmingham, the isolation of the workers keeps down wages, and
the home, instead of being saved by the workshop, as some would have
us believe, is, upon the testimony of Miss Orme, Senior Assistant
Commissioner, almost always “desolate.” Where work is done wholly at
home it is difficult to bring influence to bear upon the women to
induce them to combine, and yet it is here that combination is most
necessary, since the workers have neither the support of companionship
nor the protection of the Factory Acts. With regard to domestic
workshops, it seems probable that legislation will in time bring
these irregular divisions of the labour army into line with the main
body. The first step has already been taken in the regulation which
compels employers to post up a list of their outworkers. All progress
in this direction is an aid to combination. In the joint influence of
legislation and unionism, aided where necessary by a more efficient
system of inspection, lies the chief hope of improvement in the less
fortunate branches of labour.

An evil which appears to belong exclusively to women’s labour is the
custom, prevalent among girls whose parents are fairly well off, of
working for pocket-money. Even where the parents are poor the cheapness
of boarding at home often induces girls to work for a rate of wages
which would be cruelly low for those who have to maintain themselves
entirely. Miss Collet’s report to the Labour Commission lays great
stress on this point. In Bristol, girls working in a cigar factory
often earn no more than 7_s._ 6_d._ or 9_s._ a week, pay 4_s._ or
5_s._ to their parents for weekly board, and seem “quite content” with
their low wages. The disastrous effect of this policy upon the general
standard of women’s wages needs no explanation. It is sufficient to
point out here that the practice forms a serious obstacle to successful
combination among women.

=Foreign Competition.=--Foreign competition is often advanced as an
argument against raising wages, and it cannot be denied that in some
cases it has force. It is safe, however, to say that there is little
warrant for its employment in wholesale condemnation of attempts to
raise wages in the worst-paid trades. We are told, for instance,
that matches made in the east end of London are undersold by the
still cheaper products of Sweden; yet match factories often pay high
dividends, and it is well known that the profits in a trade bear little
relation as a rule to the rate of wages paid to the workers. It is
generally found that where work is concentrated in large factories
under employers possessed of considerable capital fair wages are
obtainable, and the wretched rate of payment which prevails in many
of the East London trades is probably due more than is supposed to
the hole-and-corner manner in which the business is carried on. Where
foreign competition is not pressing, the necessity for producing cheap
goods is often urged as a valid reason for abstaining from any efforts
to secure reasonable wages for the producers. Desirable, however,
as cheapness may be, it is possible to purchase its advantages too
dearly. If the effect of combination among workers were to be a rise
in the price of matches, slop clothing, or fancy boxes, the consumer
would have little cause of complaint, and would soon acquiesce
philosophically in the altered condition of things. Nor can purchasers,
however well disposed toward the working classes, effect any change on
their own account. Such devices as a “Consumers’ League,” whose members
would bind themselves to deal only with firms paying a fair rate of
wages, must obviously fail, or if conceivably successful must do as
much harm as good until our means of obtaining information are much
more perfect than they are at present. No such rough-and-ready way of
forcing on reforms is of the slightest use; the workers themselves must
improve their condition by slow and patient effort. Outsiders may aid
and stimulate, but they cannot do the work.


Unions marked with an asterisk enrol both men and women. The numbers
refer to women only.

                           _LONDON UNIONS._


    SHIRT AND COLLAR MAKERS’ SOCIETY.--Secretary, Mrs. Houlton. 50.

    UPHOLSTERESSES’ SOCIETY.--Secretary, Miss Mears. 35.

        Office for the above Societies,
        Club Union Buildings,
        Clerkenwell Road, E.C.

    TAILORESSES’ TRADE UNION.--Westminster and Pimlico Branch.
    Secretary, Mrs. Cooper, 7, Carnaby Street, W.

    TAILORESSES’ Auxiliary to the Amalgamated Society of
    Tailors.--Secretary, Miss Hicks. 260.

    Addis, 129, Marylebone Road, N.W. 30.

    CIGAR MAKERS’ UNION.--Secretary, Mrs. Stanmore. Office,
    Lockhart’s Cocoa Rooms, Commercial Street, Whitechapel. 800.

    MATCHBOX MAKERS’ UNION.--Shoreditch. Hon. Secretary, Mrs.
    Reilly, 63, Gloucester Street, Belgrave Road, S.W. 40.

    MATCHMAKERS’ UNION.--Hon. Secretary, Mrs. Besant, Avenue Road,

    ROPEMAKERS’ UNION.--Secretary, Mrs. Hicks, 28, Lyme Street, N.W.

                         _PROVINCIAL UNIONS._

    ABERDEEN: *Workmen and Workwomen’s Society. Secretary, W.
    Johnston, 47, Belmont Street, Aberdeen. 100.

    ALVA, N.B.: *Society of Associated Weavers. Secretary, John
    Jack, Town Hall, Alva. 220.

    BIRMINGHAM: Women employed in the Bedstead Trade. Secretary, W.
    Mills, 3, Ford Street, Hockley.

    BIRMINGHAM: Women’s Trade Society. Joint Secretaries, Mrs.
    Steele, 93, King Edward’s Road, and Mrs. Thomas, 112½, Govet

    BRIGHTON: Laundresses. Secretary, Mrs. Ford, 78, Livingstone

    BRISTOL Association of Working Women. Secretary, Miss Talbot,
    Oakfield Grove, Clifton. 39.

    General Secretary, W. Mullin, White’s Chambers, Blue Boar
    Court, Market Place, Manchester. (21 branches.) 21,000.

    DENTON: Association of Hat Trimmers and Wool
    Formers.--Secretary, G. Wilde, 27, Seymour Street, Hyde. 4290.

    DUNDEE: Mill and Factory Operatives’ Union. Office, 4, Mid

    EDINBURGH: Women’s Union.

    HEYWOOD BRANCH OF N.C.A.W. Secretary, J. W. Ogden, Argyle

    LEICESTER: *Amalgamated Hosiery Union. Secretary, J. Holmes,
    Exchange Buildings. 2,500.

    LEICESTER: *N. U. of Boot and Shoe Operatives. Secretary, W.
    Inskip, 17, Silver Street. 3,200.

    LEEDS: Tailoresses. Secretary, Mrs. Panther, Exeter Street,
    Woodhouse Lane. 140.

    LEEK: Union of Women Silk Workers. Secretary, William Stubbs;
    Assistant Secretary, Miss N. Shenton, 6, Haton Street.

    LIVERPOOL: Bookfolders. Secretary, Margaret McConnell, 25,
    Bewley Street.

    LIVERPOOL: Tailoresses’ Coatmaking Union. Secretary, Mrs.
    Walker, 15, Jessamine Street.

    LIVERPOOL: Tailoresses’ Trade Society. Secretary, Mrs. Skelley,
    28, Aber Street.

    LIVERPOOL: Upholsteresses’ Union. Secretary, Miss Owen, Cocoa
    Rooms, St. Luke’s Place, Bold Street.

    LIVERPOOL: *Cloth Cap and Hat Makers’ Union.

    MANCHESTER: Shirtmakers’ Union and Federation of Working Women.
    Secretary, Mrs. M. Stretton, 24, Nelson Terrace, Brooks Bar.

    Juggins, 20, New Street, Darlaston, Wednesbury. (9 branches.)

    NOTTINGHAM: Cigar Makers’ Union. Secretary, Mrs. Briant, 5,
    Birchin Street, Carrington. 800.

    NOTTINGHAM: Women’s Hosiery Union. Secretary, S. Bowers, East
    Street Schools.

    NOTTINGHAM: Tailoresses’ Union. Secretary, G. Noble, 11, St.
    Saviour’s Street.

    NOTTINGHAM: Women Lace Makers’ Union. Secretary, H. Bartellot,
    Great Freeman Street. 370.

    OXFORD: Protective and Provident Society of Women working in
    Trades. Secretary, Miss Farrant, 13, The Crescent. 80.

    Whyte, Templars’ Hall, Kirriemuir. 2,500.

    STAFFORDSHIRE: Hanley. Women’s Pottery Union. Secretary, James
    Bentley, Mission Hall Buildings, High Street, Hanley.

    STAFFORDSHIRE: Burslem. Women’s Pottery Union. Secretary, Mrs.
    Platt, 38, Brindley Street. 200.

    SUNDERLAND: Paper Mill Workers Union. Secretary, R. Dale, 5,
    Albany Terrace, Commercial Road.

    Secretary, 55, Chancery Lane, E.C. (30 branches.) 300.

    Secretary, W. H. Wilkinson. Head Office, Endbank Chambers,
    Accrington. (29 branches.) 43,000.

    OF. Secretary, Allen Gee. Head Office, Friendly and Trades
    Societies Club, Huddersfield. (20 branches.) 2,000.

    *WEAVERS, UNION OF. Secretary, Edwin Hill, 55, Park Street,

    *WEAVERS. Yeadon, Guiseley, and District. H. Lockwood, North
    Terrace, Yeadon. 276.

    WHITWORTH VALE BRANCH OF N.C.A.W. Secretary, Ralph Earlwood,
    Market Street, Shawforth.



    CENTRES OF TEXTILE INDUSTRY: Lancashire and Yorkshire--Changes
    in general conditions--Reforms not final--EXTENT OF
    COMBINATION: Mixed Unions--Equal wages paid to weavers in the
    cotton trade--Contrast between Lancashire and Yorkshire--Lower
    scale for women in Yorkshire--Fines--SUPERVISION:
    Immorality--SYSTEM OF FINES: Deductions from wages--SANITATION:
    Defective arrangements--High temperature in cotton
    mills--Dangerous machinery--LABOUR OF MARRIED WOMEN:
    Child labour--Reforms needed--OTHER TEXTILE TRADES:

=Centres of Textile Industry.=--By far the largest demand for women’s
labour, next to household service, comes from the textile industry;
and it is in Lancashire, Cheshire, and Yorkshire, where the cotton and
woollen trades are carried on, that women’s labour under the Factory
system can best be studied. There are several departments of the
textile trades, such as the silk industry, crape manufacturing, and
carpet making, in which women are also largely employed; but it is in
the great cotton mills of Rochdale, Oldham, Burnley, and Blackburn, the
woollen mills of Huddersfield and Dewsbury, and the worsted mills of
Bradford, that the great majority of women are to be found.

=Changes in General Conditions.=--The grievances of the women and
children employed in the mills in the cotton trade were the subject
of general discussion fifty years ago, and it was the exposure of the
terrible conditions under which they worked, the excessive hours,
the insanitary conditions, and their complete helplessness, that
forced the hand of the various governments of the day, and enabled
Lord Ashley to introduce his factory legislation. Since that time the
country has heard but little of the lot of the mill operatives, but
from time to time it appears that all is not as it should be. For
instance, evidence was laid before the Labour Commission which shewed
that the currently-accepted picture of the prosperity and comfort of
the mill operatives was much too highly coloured. The representatives
both of the women and of the men brought forward a mass of evidence
shewing that the grievances to which the workpeople were exposed
were of the most real and vital kind. The wages in certain districts
and departments might be good, but the over-driving, the speeding
up of machinery, the high temperature maintained in the mills, the
utterly inadequate provision made for the health of the workpeople,
and the prevalence of fines, all pointed to the conclusion that the
factory legislation contemplated by Lord Ashley and his successors,
and followed up from time to time almost to the present moment,
presented no finality. The conditions of labour have, it is true, been
transformed since those early days when we read of the operatives’
deputation to Lord Palmerston. In order to demonstrate that working a
mule was not an easy matter the operatives induced the Prime Minister
to push a chair up and down the room in imitation of a spinner’s
motions. The hours of labour have been shortened, but the intensity
of labour has increased at an even higher rate. The strain upon the
muscle and bodily strength may be less, but the nervous wear and tear,
the mental strain, the storm and stress of the mill, have been also
steadily increasing. The history of the troubles of the Lancashire
and Yorkshire operative is not then a closed chapter; for that matter
no department of industry in these days is or can be. Changes and
improvements in manufacturing processes and machinery are so constant
and sweeping that the worker is ever face to face with new problems,
many of which, indeed, are directly due to the rising standard of his
own life.

=Extent of Combination.=--Whilst Lancashire and Yorkshire afford
the most instructive field for studying the influence of factory
legislation upon labour, the information that may be gleaned there
respecting combination as an element in the economic and social life
of women is no less instructive. Side by side with one another you
find two great kindred industries--the woollen and the cotton--and
the level of one, so far as women are concerned, is far below that of
the other. No explanation based on competition, either in commercial
or labour markets, can account for this difference. The explanation
must be sought, not in the ability of the individual or the working of
the market, but in the extent and direction of the combination which
exists among the operatives. It is certain that the operatives of
Lancashire and Cheshire have shewn themselves far more alive to the
benefits of combination than those of Yorkshire. The worker in the
cotton mill, whether male or female, is a Trade Unionist almost as a
matter of course, and though, as in the best organized of trades, a
certain number still remain outside the pale of the union, those who
are inside are sufficiently strong, both in numbers and in practical
effectiveness, to formulate the labour policy of the trade. There
is a wide difference between formulating a policy and carrying it
out in practice, but the organizations of the spinners, weavers, and
cardroom-workers have been successful in making the two very nearly
synonymous. Their leaders have been fully alive to the absurdity
of attempting to carry through an heroic policy in the absence of
effective co-operation on the part of the majority. To ignore the
women workers would have been fatal in an industry which numbers them
by tens of thousands. Accordingly the policy of the Unionists has
been to bring men and women together into the same organization; to
treat their labour as one and the same; and to provide equal rules for
the remuneration and protection of all. The most notable result has
been that women weavers in the cotton trade are paid precisely the
same wages as the men; though indeed the fact is scarcely second in
importance that the co-operation of the women workers in every branch
of the cotton industry is absolutely secured for every trade movement.

The Northern Counties Weavers’ Association numbers 71,180 members,
and of these 43,000 are women and 28,180 men; whilst the Card and
Blowing-room Operatives’ Organization with its 35,000 members has
14,000 men and 21,000 women enrolled. There are no women in the
Amalgamated Association of Operative Cotton Spinners, but by the
federal arrangement I have referred to, on large questions of trade
policy, and even of state policy, where the interests of the cotton
trade are touched, men and women spinners, cardroom-workers, and
weavers, every component part of the labour of the cotton trade, may
be counted upon to “go solid.” Although the men are in a minority
in these unions they have not as yet seen their way to giving any
considerable share of the control to the women, and the managing bodies
consist almost exclusively of men. The fact that women have made no
move for representation would serve to show that their interests have
been well guarded by the various executive bodies. Nor does there
appear to be any jealousy or friction between the men and women in
the Cotton Trade. Mr. Mullen, Secretary of the Cardroom-workers’
Organization, giving evidence before the Labour Commission, spoke
emphatically on this point, and what he said is equally true of other
departments where men and women are employed together. It seems obvious
indeed that where absolutely equal conditions are claimed, and can be
maintained, for both sexes, the causes of ill-feeling and disagreement
are removed, inasmuch as the fatal element of competition between men
and women is no longer at work.

=Contrast between Yorkshire and Lancashire.=--At any rate we have
not the extraordinary anomaly which the woollen trade shews, of
work precisely similar in kind, and almost equal in quantity, being
blacklisted, as it were, because it is done by women. I have before me
a document entitled “Huddersfield Woollen Manufacturers’ and Spinners’
Association--Amended Weaving Scale,” in which the piece-work prices
for men and women respectively are given. The men have a table upon
one side, and upon an opposite side it is indicated under the heading
“Women. 15 per cent. to be deducted from men’s scale for woollens
and cotton warps reversibles. 20 per cent. to be deducted from men’s
scale for white-vested worsted mixture, or solid coloured worsteds
and woollen shawls. 25 per cent. to be deducted from men’s scale for
single white worsteds. 30 per cent. to be deducted from men’s scale
for serges and cotton warps. 15 per cent. to be deducted from men’s
scale for coloured worsteds.” The above applies to looms running fifty
picks per minute; for looms running seventy to eighty picks per minute
50 per cent. less than men’s scale is to be paid for wages, while in
other cases proportionate deductions are prescribed. For looms running
110 to 120 picks per minute the rate is briefly and compendiously set
out as one-third of men’s scale, which is equivalent to a penalty of
two-thirds of the wage. The women, it may be noted, are as skilful
and as rapid workers as the men, only less productive to the extent
of about 2½ per cent., a difference which is accounted for by the
inability of the women to readjust their looms when out of order.
The disparity which is put upon them has therefore no proportionate
foundation in fact. It is a purely artificial degradation of wages, a
system at once of fining the workers for being women, and of putting
women’s work and claims for an adequate standard of living at a
discount. To thoroughly appreciate what the Unions of the cotton trade
have done it is well to bear in mind this manner of dealing with
women’s labour, which is habitual in every trade where men and women
are jointly employed. Instances might be multiplied in the woollen
trade. Thus in a large Halifax carpet mill the women’s wages average
13_s._ 9_d._ per week, and the men’s £1 1_s._ 8_d._ for the same work.
And in the wool-combing trade of Bradford the average weekly earnings
of the women are 12_s._ against the men’s 18_s._

Nor is it only in the matter of wages that the Trade Unions have been
able to do so much for the women operatives of Lancashire. There is
abundant evidence to shew that public opinion has been brought to
bear by them upon the administration of the Factory Acts, and that a
standard of factory administration has been brought about through their
agency that could not possibly have been attained without it. Then
again in the matter of fines, with which I deal more fully later on,
the Unions have made themselves felt. Whilst fining is still far too
prevalent in the cotton factories it is less prevalent and arbitrary
than in the woollen and worsted trades.

=Supervision.=--But perhaps the question which touches women most
closely is the nature of the supervision to which they are subjected.
Unhappily this has sometimes been of the lowest kind. Not only have
bullying expedients been used for the purpose of “driving” the
workpeople--for instance, by exposing the names of those who had
fallen below the standard of the labour driver in the shed--but
immoral conduct has had to be submitted to. However, the Unions have
taken a firm attitude in this latter respect, and indeed two strikes
have recently taken place, one at Oldham and one at Nelson, with the
result that in each case the obnoxious overlooker was removed. In the
Nelson case the evidence was submitted to arbitrators, clergymen of
the neighbourhood, who, in giving their judgment, placed it on record
that the offences of which the man had been judged guilty “are not
uncommon among men who have the oversight of the female operatives in
other mills, and as ministers of religion we most earnestly appeal to
the employers of labour practically to recognise their duty in this
matter, and seriously consider how essential it is to the happiness and
well-being of those under their charge, as well as to their credit,
to make the moral conduct of their workpeople the subject of nearer
concern and of greater importance.” It is satisfactory to note that
this award has created an improvement in the behaviour of overlookers
generally, and has attracted the attention of employers.

=Fines.=--The system of fines is deeply felt and bitterly resented. The
fines may be divided generally into two classes; namely, disciplinary,
and those inflicted on account of damage done to the work. Under the
first head are included fines for late attendance in starting work, and
in returning to the mill after meal hours; being found in the wrong
shed or room; laughing, sitting down, etc. Fines for late attendance
range as a rule from 1_d._ for the first five minutes lost up to 3_d._
and 6_d._ according to the time lost; other disciplinary fines from
6_d._ to 2_s._ 6_d._ The deductions made for damages of various kinds
are even a more serious matter. After the work leaves the loom it is
examined and passed, and if any flaw is found in it the weaver is
liable to have the piece returned with the intimation that she must buy
it, or submit to a heavy deduction. In many cases the fines imposed
amount to the wages earned upon the piece. The injustices incident to
such a system--if system it can be called where no rule obtains--are
many. In the first place it gives an immense power into the hands of
the overlooker or cloth looker who examines the work, and this power
is often abused. Then again it enables the employers to shift from
themselves to the workpeople the loss sustained by the use of bad
material. The system of piece-work itself accomplishes this, as the
worse the material the longer and more troublesome the job, and the
less the wages. But in addition to this the worker’s own time has to be
lost in “mending,” and wages are deducted for mistakes which no amount
of watchfulness or skill could avert. Frequently too the operatives
are not even shewn the piece on account of which the fine is imposed.
The “Particulars Clause,” which was inserted in the Factory Act of
1891, had mainly its origin in what amounted to a fraudulent system of
deductions. The system is somewhat too technical for explanation here,
but it consists in giving weavers and other textile piece workers a
false basis on which to calculate the amount of work done, so that the
wages paid to them fall short of what they are entitled to receive.
It is now compulsory upon employers to furnish to certain classes of
operatives particulars of piece-work--another instance in which Trade
Unionism has suggested legislation, for the clause is entirely due to
the influence of the Textile Unions.

Among other forms of deduction are charges made for the use of hot
water, the oiling of looms, the renewal and repair of brushes and oil
cans, and the cleaning out of lavatories. I have known mills in which
the system of fines has been purely nominal; but unfortunately these
constitute a minority, the rule being that the workpeople have to
ensure the employer out of their own wages against all risks and damage
in the process of production, whether due to defects in material,
machinery, or workmanship.

=Sanitation.=--Although the Factory Acts have been in operation for
several years, the lamentable conditions to which reference has been
made in passing can scarcely be said to have been seriously grappled
with. It is necessary to distinguish between the conditions which
attach to the work-place, and those which are due to the nature of the
work itself. I have therefore considered them apart from one another.
There is abundant evidence to shew that throughout the textile trades
operatives are exposed in a very grave degree to evils arising from
defective sanitary arrangements. In the majority of mills the sanitary
arrangements are most unsatisfactory, both from the point of view of
health and decency. Evidence collected on this head by the Labour
Commission leaves no doubt whatever upon the matter. Whether it is due
to negligence, or ignorance, or both, the fact remains that, tried by
the lowest standard, the sanitary arrangements are grossly defective.
This part of the subject cannot be left without remarking upon the
altogether lower level of public health administration existing inside
the factory than that which is maintained outside. We must deal with
remedies later on, but the lack of symmetry and co-ordination in our
public health system stands out so glaringly in this particular as to
call for some notice here. Dealing with ventilation, it is equally
evident that the mills have been designed entirely without reference
to the workers. The consequence is, that where ventilation exists it
is often of the most haphazard description. Everything is subordinated
to the purposes of manufacture, and however vigilant and efficient a
factory inspector may be, it is often impossible to arrange in existing
buildings for the proper renewal of air.

=High Temperature in Cotton Mills.=--With regard to temperature and
atmosphere the woollen worker is better off than the cotton worker. The
practice of sizing the cotton has led to the introduction of excessive
heat and steam for the purpose of softening the fabric during the
process of weaving. It was to check this that the Cotton Cloth Act
was introduced; but, although a certain standard has now been laid
down, the operatives are still exposed to very injurious influences.
In many of the weaving sheds the temperature stands at 90°, whilst
steam jets are to be found within a few inches of the weavers’ heads.
Cotton weavers suffer in consequence from diseases of the chest brought
about by the sudden change from the hot, humid atmosphere to the
outside air. Rheumatism is also general, and cases of fainting are
not uncommon among the workers in these mills. But even where there
is no artificial production of a bad atmosphere, there always exists
the natural deterioration induced by the presence of large numbers of
workpeople penned together with a great mass of machinery. The great
heat and exhaustion of air, the constant showers of fibrous dust given
off by the fabric in course of construction, are elements which call
for a strenuous counterblast in the shape of abundant fresh air. In the
chapter upon diseases of occupation fuller reference is made to these

=Dangerous Machinery.=--Much has been done to secure the protection of
dangerous machinery, but accidents caused by flying shuttles are still
far too frequent, and are sometimes attended by the most distressing
results. In eighteen recent shuttle accidents the loss of an eye has
ensued. This is a risk which is quite preventable by the adoption of a
shuttle-guard. But the matter is left to the option of employers, and
guards are not in general use.

=Labour of Married Women.=--There are other sacrifices demanded of
the women who work in the textile trades besides those which can
be directly connected with their work. I am aware that many of the
workers themselves do not look upon their employment in this light. An
abundant demand for labour in which women can participate is generally
regarded as a great boon; but against the advantages must be set the
drawbacks--the comparative break-up of home life and the habitual
neglect of children. The problem is a grave one, and opinions are
conflicting, but most people agree that something should be done at any
rate to arrest the terrible infant mortality, which is to be found in
all the centres which give widespread employment for married women. It
is urged that it is impossible to legislate for comfortable homes, and
that the direct prohibition of the labour of those whose homes should
be their first charge is also impossible, but that yet some improvement
is necessary, and can, by more moderate measures, be secured. We
certainly cannot afford--the manufacturers themselves cannot afford--to
have generation after generation sapped of its strength, and thrown
upon life unfitted for its tasks. And much also may be said as to the
doubtful economy of the mother’s supplementary wage. It may sometimes
be the means of adding to the family income, but cases have come under
my notice in which the weekly payments made for looking after the home
and children, the extra expenses involved in mending and in washing
and in the preparation of food, outweigh the gain in wages. Then again
the payments for doctors and medicine are higher in families where the
mother works at the mill, and the children are left to themselves,
than in those where the children are constantly under a mother’s care.
If in addition to this we remember the tendency of women’s labour to
pull down the general standard of remuneration, it is apparent that we
must not hasten to accept the conclusion that the prohibition of the
labour of married women, either partially or entirely, would mean the
impoverishment of the family.

=Child Labour.=--Much attention has been given to the age of admission
of children to work in the textile trades. At the Berlin Conference
twelve was fixed as a sort of international minimum at which children
should be allowed to enter upon factory labour. The age fixed by the
British factory legislation of that time was ten for half-timers and
fourteen for full-timers, or thirteen if the child had passed the
prescribed educational standard. Our representatives, however, with
the concurrence of the Government, endorsed the proposal for raising
the age to twelve. When however the Factory Act of 1891 was being
passed through the House of Commons, the opposition of Lancashire and
Yorkshire overcame the good intentions of the Government. Instead
of proposing to raise the age to twelve, they refused to alter the
then existing law, with the result that they were beaten on Mr.
Sydney Buxton’s amendment to raise the age to eleven. And most
people--except of course directly interested parents and employers--who
are acquainted with the unhealthy surroundings of mill life, are of
opinion that eleven is too young an age at which to begin work, even
as a half-timer. It is true that the certifying surgeon is empowered
by the Factory Act to refuse a certificate to any child who appears to
him to be from physical causes unfit for work; but the children are
only submitted for examination once, either upon, or immediately after
beginning work, so that their fitness for employment must therefore be
more or less a matter of speculation. They are not again examined till
they have become “young persons,” and a certain number whose employers
manage to evade the law are never examined at all.

=Other Textile Trades.=--The other branches of the textile trades, and
the other districts in which those already referred to exist, are, with
the exception of the linen trade, comparatively unimportant. Of those
in the woollen-cloth trade, or such of it as still survives in the
West of England, we find women who work in the factories at Trowbridge
and Stroud earning about two-thirds of the wages of the Yorkshire
women. There is no effective combination either amongst the men or
the women. Wages have been fixed by custom, and they scarcely ever
fluctuate. The low-water mark of factory wages is to be found in the
Essex crape industry, where the women are in receipt of about 5_s._ a

The silk trade is carried on mostly at Macclesfield and Leek. The wages
earned by women vary according to the districts and employers. They
are for the most part very low; and as employment in the silk trade is
more intermittent than in any other textile industry, the average wages
per week for the year are miserably low. In the silk-throwing trade of
Macclesfield they amount to about 6_s._ a week if calculated throughout
the year. Women working power looms can command about 12_s._ a week
during the good season. Taking the various departments together, the
average wages in Leek are 11_s._ 6_d._, Derby 10_s._, and Congleton
7_s._ In Coventry, which is the principal centre of ribbon weaving,
much of the work is done by outdoor weavers; their looms are driven by
an engine which supplies the power to each block of houses. The weaver
owns the loom and pays rent for house and power together at the rate of
about 10_s._ per week; home workers are able to command better prices
than the factory workers.

In the carpet manufacture, of which Kidderminster is the centre, a
large number of women are employed, the wages ranging from 6_s._ a
week for the simplest work to 14_s._ 6_d._ for the more difficult. Men
are employed in the heaviest work and in the most skilled departments,
and they have been able to resist the introduction of women’s labour
Fourteen years ago an attempt was made to introduce women at the same
wages as those paid in Yorkshire, about 15_s._ a week, but the men held
their ground, and still retain the old standard of 35_s._

The hosiery and lace trades, which are carried on in Nottinghamshire
and Leicestershire, give employment to several thousand women. There
is no standard rate of wages in Nottingham; the small firms pay lower
wages than the large ones, whilst in the adjoining country districts
the rates are considerably lower than in Nottingham. A great deal of
finishing work is given out by middlemen to people in these districts,
and is paid for at a very low rate.

The lace trade is characterised by extreme irregularity of employment.
Wages range from 4_s._ a week for “dressing” lace to 24_s._ for making
it up. A quantity of work which was formerly done inside the factories
is now given out, with the result that prices have dropped heavily. As
in the hosiery trade, the sanitation and ventilation of the factories
vary very greatly. No standard appears to be recognized or enforced,
and as is the case in so many other industries, a few employers have
spared no trouble or expense to ensure the health and comfort of their
workpeople, whilst the majority have done little or nothing.

Belfast may claim to be the centre of the linen trade, which finds
habitation as well throughout the north of Ireland, and in the little
Scotch towns of Forfar, Brechin, and Dunfermline. But in Scotland
the linen industry and the jute industry are largely carried on
together, whilst in Belfast the linen trade almost unsupplemented
holds the field, and provides work for nearly 30,000 girls and women.
The processes of manufacture closely resemble those of the cotton
industry, but the wages are much lower, the unhealthy conditions far
more marked, the protective agencies supplied by the workers themselves
in the shape of trade unions altogether wanting, and a law similar to
that which regulates the heat and humidity in the weaving sheds of
Lancashire non-existent.[16]

It is extremely difficult to give the actual wages earned, for although
the supply of employment is usually regular, much loss of time is
occasioned by the exhausting and unhealthy nature of the work, and a
considerable lessening of wages is consequent upon the deductions and
penalties which are enforced. Thus if a woman loses half a day she is
deprived of half her bonus, whilst the loss of a whole day means the
disappearance of the bonus altogether. This so-called bonus on regular
employment is really a part of the time wages of the workers. In most
of the factories and mills it is 1_s._ 6_d._, in some 1_s._ a week.
As it is exceptional for a woman to be able to work the whole week
through, this bonus rarely finds its way in its integrity into her
pocket. In addition to this there are fines and deductions for damaged
work, just as there are in the cotton and woollen industries. Taking
all this into account, the average wages of the women can scarcely
amount to more than 8_s._ or 9_s._ a week. Further reference is made to
the grossly insanitary condition of the trade and the mills in another
chapter. So far no labour movements on the part of the women have ever
had the slightest success. The employers have been in the habit of
meeting any movements of the kind by the threat of a lock-out, which
has been carried into effect more than once.

    [16] The linen trade has since been classed among “dangerous
    trades,” and is now under “Special Rules.”



    Machinery and Women’s Labour--Demand for Cheap Labour--The
    Sweating System--Basis of Men’s and Women’s Wages--Women’s
    Wages merely Supplementary--Women’s Wages in various
    Industries--Difference between Men’s and Women’s Wages
    artificially kept up--Policy of Men’s Unions.

=Machinery and Women’s Labour.=--We have seen that in the textile
trades men and women do the same kind of work, and are almost equally
skilled. Where their labour is organised they can also in some
districts command the same rate of payment; but it is certainly true
that in most trades which have opened their doors to women, the idea
on the employer’s part has been to secure a supply of cheaper labour
than could be obtained if men alone were to be relied upon, and to
break down the male monopoly. While this may not form a conscious
and distinct motive on the part of employers, it is obvious that the
intense sub-division and specialisation of manufacturing processes has
made it possible as time has gone on to dispense more and more with
trained and skilled labour, and to call in women and children who, with
a little practice, could soon adapt themselves to the work. The more
labour has become impersonal, the more the machine has produced both
the muscular energy and the manual skill which were once purely human
in their origin, the simpler has the labour question become from the
manufacturer’s point of view. “If,” he says to himself, “my machine,
on which I have laid out so much capital, and which represents the
ingenuity and the experiments of long years of labour, can perform
all the movements of the human body a thousand times more swiftly and
surely; if my machine does the working and the thinking, it is not
likely that I am going to pay the people who watch and tend it as
though they did all the work.” It is in those industrial departments
where the human processes are most mechanical and lend themselves after
a short training to almost automatic performance, that the field of
women’s labour under the factory system for the most part lies. All
those who are at all conversant with the movements of industry and
mechanical invention will be able to call to mind examples in point. Of
course the same process is taking place where men only are employed.
The skilled artizan has become less of a necessity as the skilled
machine becomes more common; and, on the other hand, the unskilled
labourer, the man who does the rough lifting, hewing, and carrying work
is becoming more of a mechanic, as the mechanical stone-breaker, the
steam navvy, the grain elevator, and other contrivances of the kind,
come into use. Now, while we have these two sets of forces at work,
one superseding the muscular energy, and the other the manual skill
and the mental training, the bearing of these tendencies upon women’s
employment cannot be overlooked. It seems only reasonable to suppose
that the demand for women’s labour in connection with mechanical
industry will become greater and greater as the work becomes simpler
and lighter; whilst masculine labour, in so far as it stands for
special aptitude and skill, is likely to find itself in less request,
and may have to submit to accepting a lower standard of remuneration
fixed by women. The movement of labour in the United States, as well as
in this country, tends to confirm this view.

=The Sweating System.=--Attention, perhaps, has been too much fixed
upon certain incidents of the evolution of industry which, though
important, are, as it were, branch lines, to have fully grasped the
real economical trend of events. Amongst these is what is known as the
sweating system. But the sweating system is, after all, but a kind of
guerilla warfare carried on upon the flanks of the main engagement. You
find it at its height in certain exceptional communities like London,
where the cost of rent is so heavy as to make it more economical for
the employer to let the worker pay the rent instead of himself. Again,
the accumulation of human beings in a great centre like London is so
vast that the purchaser of labour is in a position to compete with
machinery without standing to lose. This is why the human pressure
becomes so intolerable. It is a race in which the individual has to
compete against organisation and machinery--usually under the most
depressing conditions--in which the worker, without receiving any
equivalent, carries a large responsibility, which, under organised
industry, is discharged by the employer. It is only necessary to
compare some great clothing factory where the sewing machines are
driven by machinery, and work goes on in a well-lighted and airy
building for a fixed number of hours daily at a fixed scale of payment,
with the dirty and cramped rooms in Whitechapel or Stepney, which
are rendered comfortless as a home by being turned into a workshop,
in which a ruinous price is paid for the sewing machine bought on
the hire system, and where there are no regular hours of work, but
alternations of high pressure and protracted idleness, and finally
where the rate of payment is a matter for constant haggling between the
unfortunate worker and the middleman who gives out the clothes from
the City warehouse to be made up--you have only to compare these two
methods of industry to realise the real nature of the struggle, and
the intolerable pressure to which the victim of high rents, abnormal
density of population, and correspondingly low standard of equipment is

The conclusions to be drawn from this brief survey seem to me to be not
unimportant. In the first place, it is because labour has become so
much lighter, and trades so much more easily learned, that the demand
for women’s labour has grown so immensely of late years; in the second
place, machinery, the great leveller, is tending to abolish rapidly
such differences as have existed between men’s and women’s labour;
and, in the third place, that whether legislation or organisation be
attempted in the interests of the workers, it must embrace men and
women alike.

=Basis of Men’s and Women’s Wages.=--But another condition which faces
one at every turn of the labour market, goes so far to differentiate
the work of men and women, that it may seem to make all the levelling
influences which we have just considered of no account. In the case
of men wages are based upon the cost of living. They approximate to a
man’s standard of existence and that of his family for the time being.
With the woman worker, on the other hand, though there are exceptions,
the rule is that her wages are of a supplementary character. If she
can add something to the nett weekly takings of the family, that is
the chief point. The daughter, who is apprenticed to the dressmaker
or milliner, or who begins life as a half-timer in the mills, is not
working for her living in the same way as the man who has to provide
himself with an independence; and it is obvious that this factor,
modified as it is by all the variations of the standard of family
living in different parts of the country, must be at the bottom of much
that is confusing, arbitrary, and inexplicable in the women’s labour
movement. For instance, cases are constantly to be found of a different
scale of payment for men and women for the same work. Thus, in the
French-polishing, printing, and many other trades, women are paid on a
lower scale at piece-work than men. We find that the average value of
a woman’s work is 9_s._ or 10_s._ a week, while that of a man is two
or three times as high. It is not that she does half or one-third as
much work, or that it is to that extent inferior in quality to men’s
work: the reason, I think, must in very many cases be looked for from
the domestic side. A woman considers what it will be worth while to
add to the family revenue, rather than what her work is really worth.
This fact more than anything else accounts for the immense difficulties
of introducing order and humanity into the field of woman’s labour;
for, obviously, if the woman worker is to acquire any form of economic
independence she must be able to earn such a rate of wages as will
enable her to maintain a decent standard of subsistence. But this
is rendered impossible so long as the effective remuneration of
women’s work is decided by conditions other than those which properly
attach to the work. With some girls working for pocket-money, others
literally exploited by their parents, and regarded as a mere means of
bringing grist to the mill; others again working to lay by something
to get married on, and a further great section of wives toiling to
add something to their husbands’ wages; it is only too clear that the
economic independence of women, which the advocates of _laisser faire_
in women’s labour hope to bring about, is very, very far from being

These conditions make it extremely unsafe to attempt generalizations
as to the wages earned by women in the various industries. There are,
however, certain fairly well-defined groups of trades, having wage
features in common, at which it will be interesting to glance. I will
take first the trades--very few in number--where women are organized.
Chief of these is the cotton industry; and here we find that where
men and women do the same work they receive, with a few unimportant
exceptions, the same wages. The payment for weavers, men or women, is
fixed according to the length and character of the piece of material,
and the looms are calculated to earn a certain sum for a full day’s
work according to their size and speed. The earnings, therefore, vary
with the time worked; but it is quite a common thing for a woman
weaver to earn 24_s._ a week all the year round. With spinners the
case is different. The mule spinners are men, and earn about 35_s._ a
week. The wages of ring and throstle spinners--women--rarely come to
more than 14_s._ or 15_s._ This kind of spinning has, in some cases,
displaced mule spinning, but only to a slight extent, as it is not
available for all varieties of material. The women and girls in the
cardroom departments earn about 18_s._ and 20_s._, warpers about the
same, and winders rather less. These rates may be compared with those
in the Yorkshire textile trade, where the workers’ organization is
less powerful, and consequently, in many cases, women are paid at a
considerably lower rate than men for similar work. This is markedly
the case with the Huddersfield weavers; also with the wool-combers
at Bradford, where women earn 12_s._ for work at which men make
18_s._ The Yorkshire weavers’ wages are in some cases as low as 8_s._
or 9_s._ a week, and seldom average more than 18_s._ A common plan
is to calculate all wages on a “women’s scale,” and pay the men so
much extra for the piece. The women in the Yorkshire textile trade,
on the whole, do not appear to be in any better position than the
ordinary class of unorganized female factory workers. In the West of
England cloth districts wages are even lower than in Yorkshire; for
a weaver earns only from 7_s._ to 14_s._ a week, taking the wages
all the year round. For a great mass of other factory workers these
figures would represent the usual earnings. Among this class are jam
makers, bookbinders, mineral-water operatives, bottle-washers, and
confectioners. Confectioners generally begin at 3_s._ 6_d._ a week, and
the average is about 8_s._ But in some trades, or branches of trades,
the earnings are still lower. The silk throwsters of Macclesfield, for
instance, and the Essex crape weavers, make about 6_s._ a week, and
the tobacco operatives 6_s._ or 7_s._ On the other hand, skilled cigar
makers can earn from 18_s._ to 30_s._ a week. And again, some of the
Birmingham trades are less badly paid. The button makers, for example,
earn 10_s._ to 15_s._ a week, and in the hosiery, boot and shoe, and
lace trades, the wages for the more skilled parts of the work are
fairly good, as women’s wages go, in times of full work; though when
the factories are working short time only 3_s._ or 4_s._ a week may
be the average. These last trades, which have their chief seats in
Leicester and Nottingham, all suffer from the competition of underpaid
labour in the neighbouring districts. The hosiery seamer in the factory
earns from 11_s._ to 16_s._ a week full time; but a home-worker at the
same business may work hard all the week and only make 2_s._ 6_d._ or
3_s._ Perhaps the worst paid group of trades is that in which home-work
is the leading feature, such as shirtmaking, mantle-making, tailoring,
matchbox-making. The earnings are not only low but uncertain, and it
is impossible to make any generalization as to their amount. There are
certain skilled occupations, such as dressmaking and millinery, in
which a superior worker can earn what are, for women, good wages. A
dressmaker will commonly make from 10_s._ to £1, and a milliner about
the same; but it must be remembered that there are women and girls
employed in the minor branches of such trades whose wages are much
less, and in provincial towns the superior workers too are paid on a
lower scale. Finally, there are the women employed in very toilsome,
disagreeable, or dangerous trades, and these are by no means highly
paid when the nature of their work is considered. Laundresses, in the
washing branch of the trade, get 2_s._ 6_d._ or 2_s._ 9_d._ a day,
and ironers 3_s._ to 3_s._ 6_d._, and in all branches of the laundry
trade employment is intermittent. Women are employed in tinplate works,
ironworks, and brickworks, for 7_s._ 6_d._ a week, or little more, and
white-lead workers’ wages are often only 2_s._ a day.

§ =Difference between Men’s and Women’s wages artificially kept
up.=--To sum up, then, the points we have been considering;--whilst
there are strong forces at work tending to abolish the distinctions
between men’s and women’s work and the industrial disabilities to
which women have been subject, such as lack of training and muscular
strength, these very distinctions are still kept up by the different
method of appraising the work performed. Even though a woman’s work
may be as good and as rapid as a man’s, we have seen that her scale of
payment is frequently far inferior to his. She may be working on the
same kind of machine, speeded at the same pace, turning out the same
commodity, and yet a heavy penalty is laid on her simply because she
is a woman. The experience gained in the cotton trade, however, seems
to shew that in an industry where machinery is largely employed, and
where the trade organization includes both men and women, the economic
disadvantages under which women labour tend to disappear.

It would seem, therefore, clearly to be in the true interest of workmen
to promote such legislation and such methods of organization as will
afford to women the same vantage-ground as men. A good deal of nonsense
is talked and written about men’s unions trampling on women’s labour.
It is not to women’s labour as such that the unions are opposed; but
they know from long experience that labour, whether it be men’s or
women’s, that yields to the slightest pressure, and whose remuneration
is subject to no given standard of living or efficiency, is the
greatest danger that they could have to meet. To blame men for their
action in trying to apply to women’s labour the conditions which they
have found absolutely essential to their own well-being, is really to
deny their own organizations any validity. It seems to me very certain
that by resisting the levelling down which would follow any surrender
of the standard of living as the minimum gauge of wages the men’s
unions have been fighting not only against the degradation of labour
generally, but for a better status for women’s labour.



    Economic Importance of Health--Causes of Ill-health--TEXTILE
    TRADES--COTTON: Steaming, Sizing, and Fluff--Children:
    Dr. Tarrop’s Report--LINEN: Dr. Purdon’s Report--Deaths
    of Belfast Mill-workers--Mortality among Women--SHODDY,
    LEAD: Examples of Injurious Effects--Effect on
    Offspring--Greater Susceptibility of Women--White Lead in other

§ =Economic Importance of Health.=--The economics of industry from
the point of view of wealth have quite a literature of their own;
but the more vital standpoint of health has been almost entirely
overlooked by the economist, the sociologist, and the physiologist.
It is a singular oversight, for one would have thought that the
conservation of industrial energy was a tolerably important element
in the field of production. But, along with certain other large
assumptions, we seem to have reckoned upon an inexhaustible supply
of labour. It may be considered somewhat fanciful to assume anything
else when in most trades the supply of labour exceeds the demand, and
machinery increasingly takes the place of physical labour. The number
of the labourers who present themselves is not, however, the only
matter for consideration, the quality of their labour is of the most
material importance. It is a matter of the greatest moment to secure
well-developed and healthy people for the industrial army.

§ =Causes of Ill-health.=--The main causes of industrial ill-health,
which apply equally to men and women, though with even greater
intensity to the latter, may be classified under two heads;--causes
which are incidental to the nature of the work itself, and injurious
circumstances connected with its surroundings. Under the first head
would come cases of poisoning from handling or breathing or absorbing
in some way the poisonous matter given off from material that was
being worked up; the inhalation of “dust”--a generic term which may
suffice to express an almost infinite variety of particles of a more
or less injurious character generated in working up textile fabrics
and in the various processes of manufacturing and finishing metallic
commodities; and, thirdly, the contact with noxious gases and vapours
which are encountered in not a few industries. Under the second head
would come all matters connected with the surroundings of the mill or
workshop, such as the extent to which fresh air is admitted and foul
air driven out, the cleanliness of the workrooms, the extent to which
gas is burned, the heat that has to be faced, whether from exposure to
furnaces, to the hot, moist atmosphere produced by hot water apparatus,
or by machinery, or from over-crowding. We should have to range more or
less under both heads such incidents of occupation as sedentariness, or
strain and pressure, as these may be partly inherent in the occupation,
and partly the result of custom, and therefore not necessarily
connected with the processes of the work to be performed.

But in considering women’s work we have to take into account not only
the immediate effect upon the worker, but the indirect consequences
that may follow from injury to the system; and here we are brought
almost at once into contact with all the grave questions connected with
the subject of married women’s labour. As to the extent and gravity of
the injuries to health arising from the general causes indicated, there
is no question whatever. The reader who wishes to ascertain for himself
full particulars as to diseases of occupation cannot do better than
read the work by Dr. Arlidge, in which he breaks the ground on this
immense subject. He will find no less than ninety occupations specified
as dangerous because of the amount of dust disseminated, and an equally
large category of trades in which the women employed suffer in one way
or another from contact with harmful materials, from emanations, or
from muscular or nervous troubles contracted in connection with their

§ =Textile Trades. Cotton.=--If we glance at some of the processes
connected with the textile trades, we shall be able to form some
idea of what their effects are upon the operatives. The manufacturer
in Burnley or Blackburn who steams his cotton in the weaving of
it produces a given result not only upon the fabric but upon the
operative, and the same statement applies to the process of sizing, of
which steaming is a subsidiary function. Both processes are entered
into for the purpose of weighting the cotton-cloth, which is sold
by the pound. The compound known as size is made up of chloride and
sulphate of zinc in conjunction with tallow and china clay, and this
size dust gets powdered over the operatives and finds its way into
their lungs. The temperature often exceeds 90° F. in the weaving sheds,
and the moist heat generated by the jets of steam is excessively
trying. In many weaving sheds the damp accumulates on the floor
and induces rheumatism and other troubles, and the clothes of the
women employed become saturated. So the adulteration of cotton cloth
carries with it the adulteration of human health and the break-up of
constitutions, and results in consumption, bronchitis, rheumatism, and
general depression of vital force. Again, in other branches of the
textile trades quantities of fluff and fine fibrous dust are generated,
and the workers must take their chance of its getting into their lungs.
This is especially true of the jute manufacturing and rope making
industries. It is not necessary here to enter very closely into the
technicalities of manufacturing; everyone will understand that the
preliminary processes of textile work, the “combing” and “carding,”
as it is called, are bound to set free quantities of dust, whilst,
later on, the heat and damp which prevail in much of the spinning and
weaving are the main health factors to be considered. For those who
live out of sight of this great industry, never hearing the rattle of
the clogs over the roads in the early morning, at the dinner hour, and
again when the bell rings for ceasing work; who only know from passing
them in the train the look of the huge and brilliantly lighted mills,
it may require some effort of imagination to realise the importance of
these matters to the operatives, who for 56½ hours every week are to a
greater or lesser extent working under trying conditions.

§ =Children.=--We must not forget too that for half a week many
thousands of young children are working in these places exposed
to precisely the same conditions; and besides the half-timers who
gravitate between the mill and the school many children of very tender
years spend the time when their whole future depends upon healthy
conditions from six o’clock in the morning till five o’clock at night
in the mills. If the work is trying for adults, what must it be for the
half-timers and young whole-timers? On this point Dr. Tarrop, one of
the certifying surgeons, has made some valuable researches, and I give
below his diagnosis of two thousand factory children examined by him.

    § =Dr. Tarrop’s Report.=--“Of the first two thousand cases
    noted 1771 may be described as specimens of the ordinary
    factory child, and I separate them into three classes--341
    superior, 1106 medium, and 324 distinctly below average.
    [Lancashire average, _nota bene_.] As to the rest of the
    2000, 151 were really fine children, of whom twenty-one were
    excellent examples of humanity, weighing 130 lbs., 126 lbs.,
    and 120 lbs. respectively. The balance of the 2000--78 in
    number--were a feeble folk, amongst whom were some eight
    veritable pigmies, ten to thirteen years old, and not scaling
    fifty pound a piece. It must be borne in mind that the medium
    average of Lancashire factory children is not equal to the
    average elsewhere. The latter standard is hardly reached by
    the 341 children described as superior, while the medium
    division is greatly below the standard of good health. This
    is much more distinctly marked amongst children of thirteen,
    ‘full-timers,’ who have passed some years in the factory, than
    it is in those of ten years of age. Of sixty healthy children,
    averaging thirteen and a half years, and taken as they came
    (thirty-one girls and twenty-nine boys), the average weight
    was seventy-four pound, or eighteen pound below the average of
    good health elsewhere. The lower division of 324 included many
    defective and diseased cases, and of course the seventy-eight
    residuum were poor indeed. The cases of defective or diseased
    children numbered 198.” He appends to these numerical
    particulars the observation that “Factory work is not so
    excessively laborious, it is the heat, impurity, and dust-laden
    state of the atmosphere that injures health. The promising
    child of ten degenerates into the lean and sallow person
    of thirteen, and this progress is continued until a whole
    population becomes stunted, and thus the conditions of life
    in factory towns become a real source of danger to England’s
    future. In addition to the loss of physique it is instructive
    to note the deterioration in personal appearance. Out of the
    2000 children under notice only sixteen could be described
    as handsome, and of these the larger portion were girls from

§ =Linen. Dr. Purdon’s Report.=--The conditions in the linen trade, the
head-quarters of which are at Belfast, are similar in kind to those in
the cotton trade. Careful inquiries were made nearly twenty years ago
by the late Dr. Purdon, certifying surgeon of Belfast, who has devoted
many years of his life to this investigation. He states that--

    “The skilled operatives amount to 25,759, and out of this
    number only five arrive at 70 years, and only one, a weaver,
    has been working 55 years (hand and power-loom).… Another
    class, to which I would draw special attention, is the
    _carders_, whose life averages 45·7, and the average length
    of time employed as such is only 16·8 years. I may mention
    that if a girl gets a card at 18 years, her life is generally
    terminated at 30 years.… The next class that suffers greatly
    from the pouce is the _preparers_, and the average time that
    they work is 28·7 years, and the longest time that any have
    been employed in the department is 48 years. I may say that
    when the workers that are employed in the unhealthy departments
    begin to feel that they are suffering from affections brought
    on by their employment, they at once select (if they can)
    the healthier processes, but the chest disease has already
    made too much progress, and their lives are only prolonged
    for a short time. The departments generally selected are the
    weaving, winding, and reeling. The _dressing_ department is
    … of special importance. The room … requires to be kept at a
    very high temperature, varying from 90 to 120 or 125 according
    to the character of the fabric. On account of the great
    heat, no one under 18 and not free from chest affections is
    engaged, and as it is considered that their days are shortened
    by several years they are paid very high wages. It is seen
    from the tables that the average time of employment is only
    16·6 years, and only one has worked for 30 years; they suffer
    greatly from the unhealthiness of their employment. I would
    recommend in addition to my former recommendations that the
    temperature of the mills should be especially attended to, and
    that at three o’clock each day steam fans should be set on (if
    the temperature has increased much), as the system that has
    been working for so many hours in an atmosphere of so high a
    temperature is still further exhausted by an increase of heat
    as well as by prolonged labour in the same; and also that males
    should be employed at the cards.

                       AND EIGHT COUNTRY MILLS.

                    AVERAGES. DR. PURDON’S TABLES.

                                Town.  Country.
                    Roughers    46·4     46·1
                    Sorters     52·7     56·4
                    Carders     44·9     46·5
                    Preparers   48·4     57·4
                    Spinners    44·8     49·1
                    Winders     45·3     65·7
                    Weavers     46·2     50
                    Warpers     40·2     36·7
                    Dressers    45·8     51
                    Reelers     52·6     55·5


   JUNE 21ST.             MONDAY.     |     TUESDAY.     |   WEDNESDAY.
                      8     1     5   |  8     1     5   |  8     1     5
                     a.m.  p.m.  p.m. | a.m.  p.m.  p.m. | a.m.  p.m.  p.m.
  Weaving Shed        72    82    87  |  74    79    86  |  75    82    86
  Dressing Shop       98   106   106  |  98   104   107  |  97   111   106
                                      |                  |
                         THURSDAY.    |     FRIDAY.      |   SATURDAY.
                      8     1     5   |  8     1     5   |      8
                     a.m.  p.m.  p.m. | a.m.  p.m.  p.m. |     a.m.
  Weaving Shed        74    82    84  |  72    85    85  |      77
  Dressing Shop       95   103   105  | 101   108   111  |      98
                                      |                  |
                          MONDAY.     |    TUESDAY.      |   WEDNESDAY.
                        9       3     |   9      3       |   9       3
                       a.m.    p.m.   |  a.m.   p.m.     |  a.m.    p.m.
  Outside Linen Hall    60      65    |   56     68      |   58½     65
  Inside Linen Hall     59      65    |   58     63      |   60      63½
                                      |                  |
                         THURSDAY.    |   FRIDAY.        |   SATURDAY.
                        9       3     |   9      3       |     9
                       a.m.    p.m.   |  a.m.   p.m.     |    a.m.
  Outside Linen Hall    60      64    |   60     44½     |     62
  Inside Linen Hall     59½     61½   |   58     62½     |     61½


    “It will be perceived that the flax manufacturing operatives
    suffer far more from phthisis and diseases of the respiratory
    organs than the other two classes--_i.e._ the rest of the
    artisan and labouring population, and the gentry and mercantile
    classes--nearly three-fifths of those that die annually being
    taken off by diseases of the respiratory organs, while in the
    other two classes the average amounts to about two-fifths.
    The death-rate among those employed in the preparing rooms is
    exceedingly high, being thirty-one per thousand; few of those
    employed in these rooms live beyond sixty years. The reason
    that the machine boys appear to suffer so little is that when
    they become ‘poucey’--_i.e._ asthmatic--from flax dust, numbers
    of them leave the mills on account of suffering from chest
    affections, and go to other trades, where they linger out a
    diseased existence, or die from phthisis, and their deaths have
    been placed in the second class.

    “In the machine and preparing rooms the atmosphere is
    constantly loaded with the flax dust called ‘pouce.’ … The
    irritating quality of the dust is felt upon the throat, which
    soon becomes dry. This irritation gradually creeps into the
    lungs and produces chronic inflammation of the lining membrane,
    which soon manifests its presence by the worker being attacked
    each morning with a paroxysm of dyspnœa and coughing. The
    dyspnœa is sometimes so great that he takes hold of the table
    of the machine in order to enable him to get over the attack
    more easily. This state is so well known that when a worker is
    seen suffering so he is said to be ‘poucey.’ Those employed in
    the roughing, sorting, hackling, and preparing of flax suffer
    from this affection, and in the great majority of cases die
    from phthisis, &c.… The spinners are frequently attacked with
    vertigo and fainting, and many accidents have occurred by their
    falling on the machinery. They also suffer from varicose veins
    and œdema of the ankles.” After describing the “mill fever”
    consequent on first employment, Dr. Purdon adds: “A peculiar
    eruption also attacks the uncovered parts of the body. This
    I call lichen. I have never seen an adult affected with it.
    The cause is said to be the effect of the flax water on the
    young person’s skin.” He recommends that no half-timers be
    employed in the unhealthy processes, and that those who are
    so employed should be at least fifteen years of age, healthy,
    and well developed; a thorough system of ventilation should be
    carried out in these rooms; the wearing of the Baker respirator
    made compulsory; a quarterly inspection of the mill by the
    certifying surgeon, who should see the effect the work has
    on the constitution of those engaged, and, if suffering from
    incipient disease, they should be obliged to cease working;
    also there should be an examination on every fresh engagement.
    “In order to lessen as much as possible the number of deaths
    that occur among children, each mother ought not to be allowed
    to resume work for at least two months after the birth of her
    child, and then should be obliged, when going to work each day,
    to bring her child to a public _crêche_, paying for its support
    a certain sum per week. She at present pays an old woman who
    farms them. The _crêche_ ought to be visited weekly by the
    certifying surgeon, who is to inspect each child, and if he
    finds any to be suffering from want of maternal nourishment,
    or from disease, he is then to send a printed notice to the
    employer of the mother, stating that she is required to take
    care of her sick child. She is not to be allowed to return to
    her work until the child ceases to require her attention. The
    _crêche_ to be under Government inspection.”

§ =Deaths of Belfast Mill Workers.=--Matters are substantially the same
to-day in Belfast as they were when Dr. Purdon wrote. The factories
were under the Act then as they are now, and, with the exception of
raising the age of half-timers and fixing the limit of a month after
confinement as the period during which a mother may not be legally
employed--amendments which apply to every branch of textile and
non-textile industries--no changes of any importance have been made.
I am enabled to give here the mortality returns extracted from the
Belfast register of the deaths of mill-workers during the year 1891,
and they will show in the most convincing manner the effect of this
occupation upon health.

          |              CAUSES OF DEATH.              ||
          |    ________________/ \________________     ||
          |   /                 |                 \    ||    OTHER CAUSES.
    AGE.  |      Phthisis.      | Respiratory Diseases.||
          |   Male.  |  Female. |   Male.   |  Female. ||  Male. | Female.
     10   |    --    |    --    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |    --
     11   |    --    |    --    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |     1
     12   |     1    |    --    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |    --
     13   |    --    |    --    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |    --
     14   |    --    |     5    |    --     |     1    ||   --   |     1
     15   |     1    |     7    |    --     |    --    ||    2   |     1
     16   |     3    |    14    |     2     |     1    ||    1   |     5
     17   |     1    |    13    |    --     |    --    ||    1   |     6
     18   |     3    |    17    |    --     |     3    ||   --   |     4
     19   |    --    |    17    |    --     |    --    ||    1   |     6
     20   |     2    |    11    |    --     |     1    ||   --   |     7
     21   |     2    |    14    |    --     |     1    ||    1   |     5
     22   |    --    |     9    |    --     |     1    ||   --   |     8
     23   |     1    |     5    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |     2
     24   |     2    |    12    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |     4
     25   |     2    |     6    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |    --
     26   |    --    |     7    |    --     |     2    ||    1   |     2
     27   |     1    |     9    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |     3
     28   |    --    |     5    |    --     |     2    ||   --   |     1
     29   |    --    |    10    |    --     |     2    ||   --   |     2
     30   |     1    |     5    |    --     |     4    ||   --   |     6
     31   |    --    |     6    |    --     |     2    ||   --   |     3
     32   |    --    |     4    |    --     |    --    ||    3   |     3
     33   |    --    |     3    |    --     |     1    ||    1   |     2
     34   |    --    |     4    |    --     |     3    ||   --   |     3
     35   |    --    |     6    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |     2
     36   |    --    |    --    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |     1
     37   |     3    |     5    |    --     |     2    ||    1   |     3
     38   |    --    |     2    |     2     |     1    ||   --   |     2
     39   |     1    |     1    |     2     |     1    ||    2   |    --
     40   |     1    |     4    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |     5
     41   |     2    |    --    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |     1
     42   |    --    |     2    |    --     |     4    ||   --   |     1
     43   |    --    |     1    |     1     |     2    ||   --   |     1
     44   |    --    |     1    |     1     |     1    ||    1   |     3
     45   |     2    |    --    |    --     |     2    ||    1   |     4
     46   |    --    |     1    |     2     |     2    ||    1   |    --
     47   |     1    |     1    |     2     |    --    ||    1   |     2
     48   |     1    |    --    |     4     |    --    ||    1   |     1
     49   |     1    |    --    |     1     |     2    ||   --   |     1
     50   |     1    |    --    |     1     |     5    ||    1   |     3
     51   |    --    |    --    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |    --
     52   |    --    |    --    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |     1
     53   |    --    |    --    |     2     |     1    ||    1   |    --
     54   |    --    |    --    |    --     |     1    ||   --   |     1
     55   |    --    |     1    |    --     |    --    ||   --   |     1
     56   |    --    |    --    |     1     |     2    ||    1   |     2
     57   |    --    |    --    |     1     |     1    ||   --   |     2
     58   |    --    |    --    |     3     |     2    ||    1   |    --
     59   |    --    |     1    |    --     |     1    ||    1   |    --
     60   |          |          |           |          ||        |
     and  |          |          |           |          ||        |
   upwards|    --    |    --    |    11     |    11    ||   18   |    20
   Total  |    32    |   210    |    42     |    71    ||   42   |   132

=Mortality among Women.=--It will be seen that of 413 women who died
in the course of the year, no fewer than 210, or more than one-half,
died of phthisis, and 125 of these were under the age of 25. Again,
there were 71 women who died from respiratory diseases, so that we get
a grand total of 281 deaths amongst the women from pulmonary disorders.
How closely this terrible state of things is connected with the nature
of the occupation may be judged from the following extract from the
report of the Medical Officer of Health for Belfast for the year 1892.
Commenting on the fact that of the 6,537 deaths registered during
1891, 1,017 were attributable to phthisis, and 1,784 to disease of the
respiratory organs, Dr. Whitaker remarks:

    “As is well known, a large proportion of our working class
    population is employed in mills and factories, and I would
    point out that the nature of their employment must cause
    any of them having a predisposition to chest affections to
    be ready sufferers therefrom. Breathing, as they must do, a
    close, heated atmosphere, laden with particles of flax-dust,
    fibrous and other matters irritating to the lungs; going from
    thence directly, it may be, into the cold, damp, or frosty air,
    poorly and lightly clad; often too young--especially the female
    workers--to bear the exposure to which they are subjected, it
    is scarcely to be wondered at that the mortality from these
    diseases is as great as it is. There is little doubt but that
    any arrangement by which these changes of temperature could
    be made less frequent or less trying would be attended with
    considerable benefit to the health of the workers. Unhealthy
    occupations principally affect the respiratory organs. The
    dust of the flax in the manufacture of our staple industry is
    a serious cause of bronchitis and phthisis, and should lead,
    if possible, to greater supervision in the ventilation or
    filtration of the air in our large spinning mills.”

The sickness in the linen and cotton trade is attributable to various
causes. There is the dust which rises from the material; the heat and
watery vapour; the dust from the Cornish clay which is used in the
weaving departments for sizing; the long standing; and the stooping
position which has to be maintained in some departments. And if we
add to these the strain on the attention throughout all the hours
of monotonous work, the great noise, and the bad air poisoned with
over-crowding and poor ventilation, we shall agree with Dr. Arlidge
that we have cause enough here for disease. Accidents abound in these
great mills, where the machines in rapid motion are placed so closely
together that the workers are constantly in danger from loose gearing,
and flying shuttles from the looms in motion often cause the loss of an
eye and sometimes even of life.

=Shoddy, Silk, and Lace.=--The manufacture of shoddy is attended by the
production of an amount of dust that is injurious to the operatives’
health, and the effluvium given off from the rags is another
excessively trying feature of this trade. Those who are engaged in it
almost invariably have to pass through the ordeal of what is known
as “shoddy fever,” a disagreeable though not dangerous illness, the
symptoms of which usually last for at least a week, and disappear as
the worker grows accustomed to the presence of the dust. Silk weaving
is on the whole the healthiest of the textile trades, though here we
find a process, which is resorted to also in some departments of the
cotton trade and largely in lace-making, which is most prejudicial to
health; it is known as “gassing.” This process consists in passing
the threads very rapidly through gas jets, the object being to burn
away any slight irregularities. Medical evidence shews strongly the
evils which befall the operatives who have to spend their time in an
atmosphere highly charged with the products of gas combustion, full of
fluff and exceedingly hot. The operatives in the lace trade, which
is carried on mostly at Nottingham, suffer in an especial degree from
“gassing.” There is not sufficient space at my disposal to go into the
numerous family of trades in which the worker is liable to suffer from
dust given off; but amongst them are carpet-making, hair-dressing, the
flock trade, and those departments of the upholstery trade in which
fluffy material is used. Unfortunately the drawback noticed by Dr.
Arlidge of the lack of precise medical evidence in the cotton trade
exists also in these industries.

=The Potteries.=--So far we have been considering dust of vegetable
origin; but this forms only one group, although it is with this group
especially that women are concerned. In the pottery trade, however, the
workers are exposed to mineral dust, and in this trade women are very
largely engaged. Experts differ somewhat in their view of the relative
injury caused by organic and inorganic dusts, though it seems to be
agreed that where the material is chiefly of a gelatinous character the
harm done is comparatively trivial. But we need not examine closely
into these matters, for the statistics of death and disease furnished
by the Pottery District are conclusive as to the injuries inflicted.
To a lesser degree women are employed in the subsidiary branches of
the Sheffield trades, but in this case it is the men who bear the full
brunt of the injury. Men and women work in the pottery trade, and the
dust given off is of such a fine character that it finds its way into
every corner of the factory. Thus women who may not be immediately
employed in the finishing processes which are attended to by men, may
still receive their share of the fine white penetrating powder. But
in certain parts of the work, and those the most dangerous, women
only are employed. Such are the china-scourers and the towers. It is
the towers’ business to put a smooth surface on the dry ware, which
is set in rapid rotation whilst sand paper or some other medium of
the kind is applied. The result is that in the course of the day the
workers get powdered all over with the dust that is given off, besides
inhaling a considerable quantity. Where no fans are at work to draw off
this dust the consequences are terribly destructive, and the tower,
unless she happens to be a person of exceptionally fine constitution,
succumbs in the course of a few years, sometimes of a few months, to
the accumulation of fine particles in the pulmonary passages. Even
where a fan is at work the presence of the white powder may be detected
on the person of the worker, and as the dust is constantly blown by her
from the ware, some portion of it is inevitably inhaled by the act of
inspiration. Dr. Greenhow, who was sent by Sir John Simon, the medical
officer of health for the Privy Council in 1861, to report on the
potters’ diseases, wrote as follows about the china scourers, and the
conditions to-day are precisely the same as they were then:

     “China scourers remove loose flint powder from the baked
    china, and in doing so, partly by brushing, partly by rubbing
    with sand paper, they send much flint dust into the atmosphere
    about them--a dust which is lighter and floats more obstinately
    in the air in proportion as the earthenware is fine. This dust
    inhaled into the lungs of the workpeople is a terrible irritant
    to the bronchial surface which it invades. The women (for the
    occupation is a female one) soon get habitual shortness of
    breath, with cough and expectoration; very often they have
    bleeding from the lungs, sometimes also from the nose, and
    their chronic disease is from time to time accelerated by
    more acute catarrhal attacks to which they are particularly
    subject. Comparatively few china scourers continue long at
    the employment; those who continue at it become sooner or
    later asthmatical, those who relinquish it in time are said
    occasionally to regain perfect health, but for the greater
    number the mischief is reported to be irretrievable. Against
    the danger of this occupation scarcely any provision has been
    made. A scourer who had worked eight years, and was suffering
    from chronic bronchitis, said that four other scourers who
    were employed in the same room had died from the effect of the
    occupation since she had commenced it, and that a fifth was
    then at the point of death. In a third pottery, a woman who had
    worked ten years at the occupation asserted that about twelve
    other scourers in the same shop had died since she entered
    it. Out of thirteen china scourers belonging to six or seven
    different potteries, whose evidence was taken, only four were
    in good health; nine were suffering in consequence of their

The evils caused by the dust are aggravated by the very close and
stuffy atmosphere in which much of the work is carried on.

=White Lead.=--We come now to consider some of the effects caused by
working poisonous materials. Foremost among these come the trades into
which lead enters. By some strange and perverse fate the manufacture
of this deadly commodity is, so far as this country is concerned,
undertaken largely by women. This is due in a great part to the fact
that their labour can be procured more cheaply than that of men, and
that the operations in which they are engaged require but little skill
or training. In the white lead works of Newcastle, Sheffield, and
East London the women are employed in carrying heavy weights on their
heads, climbing ladders while loaded in the same way, and in fact in
performing those operations which are usually done by means of trucks
and hoists and other mechanical appliances. Anyone who has watched the
white-lead women passing backwards and forwards in their long, weary
trampings under their heavy loads, clambering up and down the ladders,
or passing the lead from hand to hand up a staging beside the stoves
where it has to be heated, must realise how thoroughly retrograde in
its tendency, as well as mischievous in its physical and moral effects,
is the existence of a class of cheap and unresisting labour which the
manufacturer can bend into any shape, or turn to any purpose that he
chooses. The most ardent advocates of perfect freedom for women in
matters industrial will scarcely defend the system of transport, and
transport of a highly poisonous material, which depends upon the cheap
supply of women’s heads, or the system of elevators which is kept up in
the same fashion.

But the physically exacting and degrading conditions of the work,
though unmatched in this and probably any other European country,
are as nothing compared with the action of the lead poison upon the
health of the women. No woman working in the dangerous processes of a
white lead mill can escape attack, for the subtle poison permeates the
system, resulting in the slighter cases in faintness, sickness, and
weakness; in the graver instances in lead colic, epilepsy, paralysis,
blindness, madness, or death. After all the precautions that have
been adopted so far under the Factory Act, it has been demonstrated
too clearly that the lead poison retains the upper hand and finds its
way into the system in the form of dust, which is either swallowed,
absorbed through the pores of the skin, or works in under the finger
and toe nails in defiance of baths and nail brushes and the swallowing
of sulphuric acid drinks. In spite of the establishment of a sort of
hygienic police, which is maintained in the best works with a view to
enforcing regularity in the matter of baths, lead poisoning remains
to-day a common feature in white lead works. During five years 145
cases have been treated in the Newcastle Infirmary, in addition to
many others at the Newcastle Union and Gateshead Union, and whilst in
Poplar Workhouse 30 cases were treated in 1882, there were 28 cases in
1892. From Newcastle comes the report that the greatest human wrecks
which pass under the notice of the medical charities are workers from
the lead mills, and when we examine the following biographies of lead
workers we shall hardly marvel at Dr. Oliver’s emphatic view as to the
pernicious character of this trade for women.

=Injurious Effects of White Lead.=--Barbara R----, a married woman,
aged thirty-three years, was admitted to the infirmary on December
4th, 1890, and died the following day from lead poisoning. She had
never worked in the lead more than a few days at a time. Eliza H----,
aged twenty-five, after five months working in the “stacks” was seized
with colic and was ill for seven weeks. On recovery she worked for two
years in the stoves, and then had another attack of colic. On getting
better she was seized with a fit on her way to work at six o’clock in
the morning, and was unconscious for fifteen minutes. Her comrades then
helped her into the factory, where she worked all day, feeling very
shaky. During the two months that followed she was better, but at the
end of that time was seized with convulsions while at work. She became
unconscious, and was taken to the workhouse hospital, where she had a
succession of fits, followed by total blindness, and death was narrowly

=Effect on Offspring.=--Although the law prescribes eighteen years as
the minimum age at which women may follow this occupation, two cases
have occurred recently in which girls have died from lead poisoning
who were under the age. Nor does the suffering cease with the men and
women who work in the lead mills; they bequeath an awful legacy of
sickness to their children--an amount of suffering which is almost
disproportionate to their own. I came not long ago in contact with
a woman who had worked for the fifteen years of her married life
on the “pans” in a lead mill, a process which is considered to be
non-dangerous; during her employment she had suffered little, yet this
woman had never borne a living child. I give another dismal chronicle
in support of my remarks.[17] “C. E., twenty-seven years of age. There
was first a living child, then one miscarriage. She left the lead
works and went into the country, where a second child was born. She
then returned to the lead works and had two miscarriages. M. W., aged
thirty-nine, a lead worker for eighteen years, has had twelve children,
of whom four are now living. The remaining eight died at ages varying
from five days to four, six, and fourteen months, in convulsions. She
has had in addition five miscarriages, three in succession. In the
case of Mary A----, aged forty years, whose mother too had been a
lead worker, we have a history of eight children, all of whom died in
convulsions.” In one form or another paralysis too is common among the
workers. It is sometimes acute and sometimes chronic, and its commonest
manifestation is in “wrist-drop,”--loss of power in the wrist. The
victim of “wrist-drop” is incapacitated from lifting or moving anything
or in any way using the hands, and this crippled condition sometimes
lasts for life.

    [17] See DR. OLIVER, _Lead Poisoning_.

=Greater Susceptibility of Women.=--The greatest authorities on
the subject of lead-poisoning, notably Dr. Oliver, lay stress on
the greater liability to lead-poisoning which women show over men.
Not only do we find that women are more susceptible, but they are
susceptible earlier in life. Girls from 18 to 23 years of age are at
the most susceptible age, while with men the dangers of lead-poisoning
are greatest between 41 and 48. The fashion in which men and women
suffer differs also, for we note that, while young women suffer very
readily from “saturnian poison”--fall quickly victims to colic, and
recover to be again and more severely attacked--men may work for long
terms of years, suffering slightly and seldom, till they fall victims,
at the end of long service, to paralysis. It must be borne in mind,
however, that those women who have been the subject of Dr. Oliver’s
investigation have been brought more directly and constantly into
contact with the peculiarly dangerous processes of lead manufacture
than the men.

=White Lead in other Manufactures.=--But the actual manufacture of
white lead is only one and the first of the stages in this commodity’s
devastating course. We may trace its steps in the potteries, where
men and women in large numbers fall victims to the lead which is used
in the glazes; in the black country, where we find it applied to the
tin-sheet enamelling trade, which is now covering the railway stations
and other places with advertisements; and in the colour trade and many
other industries, to say nothing of that of painters and decorators.
Nearly 100 cases of lead-poisoning were treated in the Wolverhampton
Infirmary in 1892, the majority of which consisted of young girls who
were employed in the sheet-iron enamelling trade, and there have been
several cases of deaths in this industry of recent years.

=Lucifer Match Trade.=--Necrosis of the jaw is a disease of a
peculiarly horrible character, to be found in the match-making trade.
It is due to the use of phosphorus, and first attacks the jaw-bone,
working its way through the teeth and gums. Owing, however, to the
adoption of greater precautions and the substitution of other materials
for “white” phosphorus necrosis now counts fewer victims than formerly.

=Ventilation.=--But great as are the evils of trade diseases, these
are not general, and exist only in particular trades; whereas when
we turn to the question of factory ventilation and heating, and the
worker’s general environment, we find that in all directions health is
being undermined, and in nearly every occupation there is something
wrong. One of the worst evils of factory and workshop arrangements is
the absence of proper ventilation, and the consequent lack of a supply
of pure air. We may be met by the reply that the opposition of the
_employés_ is to a large extent responsible for the discomforts under
which they work, and that it is impossible to ventilate rooms properly
while the workpeople fill the ventilators with rags as soon as the
manager’s back is turned. Such stories as these belong to the same
class of anecdotes as those which detail the objection of the worker to
wearing some species of gag for keeping out dust, or to the incessant
repetition of the act of washing the hands or brushing the hair for
the removal of injurious particles, and they do not really affect the
general question. The fact is, that we are all creatures of habit more
or less, and if we are accustomed to working under certain conditions
the majority of us would be something more than human if ready to
preserve a high hygienic standard in face of constant daily exposure
to prejudicial surroundings. The sensible policy, therefore, is surely
not to neglect practicable remedies because of cases of individual
carelessness, but to recognise at once that the only effectual course
is to make the conditions on which the worker is so largely dependent
as healthy as possible. Besides, after all points of view have been
considered, there is a good deal to be said for workers’ objections.
Clumsy attempts at ventilation are largely responsible for the dislike
to fresh air which is to be found in many workshops; just as ill-made
respirators, which only succeed in checking free breathing without
excluding the dust or whatever it may be that is to be kept out, may
have induced a certain recklessness of precautions on the part of the
operatives in certain trades. But however that may be, until we come
to recognise that the hygienic condition of the factory and workshop
is a matter for the scientist and the community in precisely the same
way that the hygienic condition of the town is, it will be hopeless
to expect the maintenance or even the recognition of any industrial
standard of health. Employers are as much creatures of circumstances as
their workpeople, and it would be fatuous to the last degree to hope
for very much from the “moralisation of workshop environment.” If there
is to be any effective safeguard it must be found in the regulations
prescribed by the community as a whole, to which the enfeebling and
crippling of its workers represents a very real danger.



    The Registrar-General’s Returns--Town _versus_
    Country--Selected Districts--Age-periods and Mortality--Causes
    of Death--Preston, Leicester, Blackburn--Relation of Married
    Women’s Labour to Infant Mortality--Dr. Tatham’s Evidence--Dr.
    Farr’s Tables--Recent Statistics--Deterioration of Survivors.

=The Registrar-General’s Returns.=--It is obvious that the influence
of occupation upon the health of married women cannot be adequately
considered without some inquiry as to its effects upon the life and
health of their children. As is the case with so many other vitally
important branches of industrial life, there is but scanty information
of a statistical kind here to guide us, though there is enough
local information, taken in conjunction with the general statistics
which are published from time to time by the Registrar-General, to
establish a close relation between the employment of married women
and a high infantile rate of mortality. In his annual report, the
Registrar-General goes into the subject in some detail. He begins by
pointing out that the year 1891 showed that the proportion of deaths
of infants under one year to a thousand registered births was 149
per thousand, a proportion which was equalled in 1886, and slightly
exceeded in 1890, but was otherwise higher than in any year of the
preceding decennium. He remarks upon the wide differences to be found
between the rates in the various counties, and the persistence of these
differences from year to year; “the general rule being that the rate is
lowest in the purely agricultural, and highest in the mining counties
and those of the textile industries. It is in the towns of these latter
counties that the infantile mortality assumes the highest proportion;
the three towns which are invariably, or almost invariably, the worst
in this respect being Preston, Leicester, and Blackburn.”

This is highly significant, and but for the fact that statistics have
been successful in isolating several towns associated with certain
industries in which married women are very largely employed, it might
have been urged that the high rate of mortality in the towns was simply
due to density of population, lack of fresh air, space, and sunlight.
But the Registrar-General, by the tables which he has compiled in his
last report, enables us to judge as to the effect upon child life,
first, of country air and conditions; secondly, of the average urban
conditions; and thirdly, of urban conditions plus the employment of
women in factory labour. Seeing that Preston, Leicester, and Blackburn
had the highest infantile death-rates of all the towns included in the
weekly returns from 1881 to 1891, he has selected them for what we will
call Group III. Then he has taken five mining or industrial counties,
namely, Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire, West Riding, and
Durham; and three agricultural counties, namely, Hertfordshire,
Wiltshire, and Dorsetshire. With the help of the death registers of the
various counties and towns for the years 1889, 1890, and 1891, tables
have been prepared showing the causes of death and the exact ages of
infants under a year old who had died, out of one hundred thousand born
in each of the various districts.

           | Of 100,000 born, the numbers | Annual Death Rates per 1000
     Age.  |    surviving at each age.    |  living in each successive
           |                              |     interval of age.
           |  Three  |  Five    | Three   |  Three  |  Five   | Three
           |  Rural  |Mining and|Selected |  Rural  |Mining & |Selected
           |Counties.| Manuf’g  | Towns.  |Counties.|Manuf’g  | Towns.
           |         | Counties.|         |         |Counties.|
  ---------+---------+--- ------+---------+---------+---------+--------
  At Birth | 100,000 | 100,000  | 100,000 |   213   |   331   |   382
   3 mths. |  94,820 |  92,051  |  90,874 |    75   |   154   |   240
   6  ”    |  93,068 |  88,574  |  85,574 |    61   |   128   |   180
  12  ”    |  90,283 |  83,081  |  78,197 |    --   |    --   |    --

=Age-periods and Mortality.=--The table shews at a glance that there
are more than double as many deaths in the selected towns as in the
rural counties--22,000 as against 10,000, whilst the manufacturing
counties stand at 17,000. It must, however, be observed that this
last group contains the textile districts and various other typically
unhealthy trade areas, so that it is scarcely a fair criterion. An
examination of more detailed statistics which have been reduced to a
tabular shape shew, as the Registrar-General points out, that in the
rural counties and the three selected towns the mortality is at its
maximum in the first week, falls heavily in the second week, remains
at much the same level during the third week, and then shews a fresh
very considerable decline in the fourth. To summarise his conclusions
as to the points of likeness between counties and towns: “Both shew an
excessively high mortality in the earliest days of life, which becomes
less and less as days, weeks, and months pass by, until the seventh
or eighth month has elapsed, when the decline either is arrested or
becomes very much smaller. In both the mortality is so high in the
first three days, or even in the entire first week, that, were it
maintained without diminution, every infant would die without nearly
completing one year of its existence.” But now coming to the points
of difference. We have seen in the first place that the town rate is
more than twice as high as the country. But the town rate is not merely
higher for the whole period, but higher for each fraction of the year.
Moreover, the town rates are most in excess of the country ones, not
in the earliest weeks or months of infancy, but in the later months.
“In the first week of life, the town rate exceeds the rural rate by 23
per cent., in the second week by 64 per cent., in the third week by 83
per cent., and in the fourth week by 97 per cent. The same result comes
out when the rates for successive months in the counties and towns are
examined. In the first month the town mortality is 27 per cent. above
the rural rate, in the second month 121 above it, and the excess then
goes on increasing until in the sixth month it amounts to no less than
273 per cent. This is the month in which the difference is greatest,
though it remains throughout the rest of the year at a not very much
lower point.” This progressive increase is a most significant fact,
and it is much to be wished that instead of concluding his examination
at the limit of one year of age, the Registrar had continued it, say
up to five years, so that he might have been able to form some notion
of the further loss of life which falls upon the children in the
districts where their mothers are employed in the mills and factories.
There is not space here to reproduce the two tables in which the
Registrar-General enumerates the causes of death in the rural and town
districts, together with the ages at which death takes place. But
these tables are of such extreme importance that it may be well to
compare some of the more general causes of death.

                                 |          |   Preston,
             CAUSES.             |  Rural   |  Leicester,
                                 |Districts.|and Blackburn.
  Premature Birth                |   1381   |     2279
  Diarrhœal Diseases             |    481   |     3961
  Convulsions and Diseases of    |          |
    the Nervous System           |   1381   |     3776
  Diseases of Respiratory Organs |   2105   |     3701
  Atrophy                        |   1738   |     2734

The following table shews the period of death in the two districts

            |                |Preston, Leicester,
     Age.   |Rural Districts.|  and Blackburn.
            |    Deaths.     |     Deaths.
   1 Month  |     3488       |      4947
   2 Months |      985       |      2130
   3   ”    |      707       |      2049
   4   ”    |      673       |      1967
   5   ”    |      618       |      1749
   6   ”    |      461       |      1584
   7   ”    |      483       |      1475
   8   ”    |      483       |      1226
   9   ”    |      454       |      1317
  10   ”    |      476       |      1220
  11   ”    |      455       |      1110
  12   ”    |      434       |      1029

=Relation of Married Women’s labour to Infant Mortality. Dr. Tatham’s
Evidence.=--The most striking difference between the rural districts
and the selected towns is in the case of diarrhœa, which, taken with
enteritis, shews a mortality seven times as great in towns as in the
country. These figures tell their own tale, but it may be well to add
the testimony of Dr. Tatham, for many years the medical officer for
Manchester and Salford, as given before the labour Commission. “In the
year 1881 my attention was first seriously directed to the employment
of young mothers in factories, in the course of my investigations
concerning the causes of our abnormally heavy infant mortality, Salford
being one of the great English towns in which infant mortality was
year after year notoriously excessive. As a result of anxious inquiry,
extending over many years, I was, and still am, convinced that very
much of that excessive mortality was due to infant neglect, consequent
on the withdrawal of maternal care within a few weeks of the birth
of the children. In consequence of this practice the infants were
frequently consigned to the care of some ignorant neighbour, or were
nursed at home by an older child of the family. The children were
artificially and often improperly fed, and a heavy death-roll was the
ultimate result.”

Questioned by the Chairman as to the time, in his opinion, a mother
should remain at home after the birth of the child, Dr. Tatham said, “I
should not be consistent if I said less than six months.”

“That of course in your opinion would have a very important influence
upon the rate of mortality?” “I think it would.”

“And upon the nurture of the children?” “I think so.”

“Is it within your experience that a considerable number of young
married women work in factories?” “A very large number.”

“You speak of the effect upon infant mortality; could you say anything
of the effect upon the mothers themselves?” “I have no doubt that
the health of the mothers will be damaged. It must be so, I am sure;
that part of the subject has not engaged my attention so much as this
terrible question of infant mortality.”

It may also be interesting to add the one question which was asked
by the representative of the manufacturing interest, Mr. Tunstill, a
cotton spinner--“Have you considered the financial question that is
involved in this recommendation of yours?” And the answer, “I have
purposely avoided that; I leave that to those much better able to judge
of it than I am.”

=Dr. Farr’s Tables.=--It is most unfortunate that there should be such
a lack of medical and statistical evidence as to the effect of factory
labour upon the health of mothers. For this, I suppose, we shall have
to wait for the gradual development of the human element in statistical
science, though local medical evidence can be produced to shew the
mischief that is constantly caused to the mother’s health. This
question of infant mortality is at any rate beyond the region of the
speculative, and all schools of thought, however divided they may be
by the great controversy between freedom and the regulation of women’s
labour, must be agreed that it would be nothing short of a national
disgrace to allow matters to drift on year after year as they have
been doing for many years past. It is now twenty years since Dr. Farr,
the great health statistician, shewed the waste of life that was going
on in the textile centres. He took the towns of Oldham, Nottingham,
Manchester, Salford, Leeds, Norwich, Portsmouth, and London, found
the number of women of twenty years and upwards who were engaged in
the textile manufactures and household duties in each, and then worked
out the particulars of infant mortality from 1873 to 1875. The result,
which is to be found in a table in his work on _Vital Statistics_, is
extremely striking. Thus, in Oldham, where 11,178 women were set down
as engaged in textile manufacture, out of a total of 32,343 women of
twenty years of age and upwards, the infant death rate per thousand
births stood at 180; in Nottingham, where upwards of half the women
were similarly employed, at 200; in Manchester and Salford, where a
quarter of the women were engaged in textile manufacture, at 188; in
Portsmouth, where there is no textile work, 146; and in London, where
there is also none, 159.

=Recent Statistics.=--But in 1891 the infantile death rate in the
worst textile towns exceeded any of the figures produced by Dr. Farr.
Thus in Preston the mortality was 220. There is a slight improvement,
but only slight, in the other towns investigated by Dr. Farr. Thus
in Oldham the rate is 171 instead of 180, in Manchester 178 instead
of 188. None of the figures that have been published, however, give
anything like an adequate account of the real state of affairs. What we
want is a statement confined to the children of those employed in any
given industry where married women’s labour is prevalent. To take an
entire town like Manchester or Salford is only to approximate to the
facts. In both these towns there are healthy suburbs and large numbers
of well-to-do people whose children are taken away every year to the
seaside, and there are many industries which are healthy, and where no
women’s labour is employed. But anyone who cares to take the trouble
to examine the Registrar’s report, and to work out the death rates of
the poorer quarters of Manchester and Salford, Bradford, Burnley, and
Blackburn, or to take the Potteries and make similar calculations for
Hanley, Burslem, and Stoke will be appalled by the contrast between the
figures of those places and the rural death rate. He will find that,
instead of being twice as high, the rate of infant mortality is even
four or five times as high as in the country districts. Such figures
as we have however, are sufficient, as I have said, to shew the close
connection between the employment of mothers in mills and the death of

=Deterioration of Survivors.=--As to the deterioration of the survivors
there can be no question. The evidence of Dr. Tarrop, quoted before,
and of other certifying surgeons is conclusive on this point. That
school of thought which frames its industrial policy on the theory of
the survival of the fittest, can scarcely point to any very triumphant
results in the districts which we have been considering. They may
assert, and will no doubt continue to assert, that the wholesale
sweeping-off of damaged lives in the early months is a great boon
to the race, and that the survivors, having stood the ordeal, are
presumably more or less seasoned for the discharge of their functions.
It must be pointed out, however, that the tests applied are one and
all unnatural ones, and that if the laws of nature are to be consulted
we shall be right in assuming that the children who have died are
those who were best fitted to live. For what are we to think of the
standard of living which subjects all new-comers to their capacity
of assimilating adulterated and unhealthy food, dispensing with
maternal care, breathing air which is foul, and existing without
sunshine? Yet this is the kind of test which the pseudo-scientists of
the day are so proud of applying, and the result is a weedy, sickly,
unnatural generation, brought up without regard to any one of the
most fundamental laws of nature. It would be every bit as reasonable
to evolve a system of botany which rejected, as extinct or dying,
families of plants, which could not be cultivated in a dark chamber or
in a refrigerator, as to create conditions of industrial life without
reference to the laws of nature or the teachings of health, and then to
argue that the fitness of the race depends upon compliance with them.



    FACTORY LEGISLATION INCOMPLETE: Its intention--Sanitary and
    General Provisions--Causes of Inefficiency--Factory Acts a
    Compromise--Experts Required--Cubic Space Requirements--REFORMS
    NEEDED: HEALTH--Medical Examinations--Hygienic
    Regulations--Employment of Mothers--Need for Statistics--HOURS
    OF LABOUR: Abolition of Legal Overtime--Prevalence of
    Overtime--Overtime Unnecessary--Taking Work Home--REGULATION
    DESIRABLE--Laundresses--Nailmakers--Local and Imperial
    Authority--THE TRUCK ACT--Conclusion.

=Factory Legislation Incomplete.=--There is an idea abroad, which is
quite unwarranted, that our body of factory legislation is more or less
final in its character, and that it has, in fact, accomplished the
purpose for which it was intended by its authors. The provisions of the
Factory Acts range themselves for the most part under three heads. They
deal either with educational matters, with the regulation of the hours
of labour, or with sanitary conditions. It needs no argument to show
that great progress in public opinion has been taking place in respect
of these three points. The Public Health Act is sufficient evidence of
the progressing standard of health in surroundings and conditions; the
Education Act is certainly not of a final kind, and on no question has
public feeling developed more rapidly of recent years than on that of
the adaptation of the hours of labour to human capacity and health. If,
on the one hand, the standard by which we are to test the effectiveness
of such legislative provisions as come under these heads is much higher
than it was a few years luck; on the other hand, it must be remembered
that industrial conditions are not a hard and fixed quantity, that they
vary with the progress of invention, the incidence of competition, the
creation or alteration of tariff frontiers, and many other causes.
The knowledge of chemical methods alone has introduced revolutionary
changes into many industries, so that regulations which were drawn
up ten years ago to meet a given state of things may be out of place
or inoperative now. The Factory Acts, for instance, were designed in
large part to protect women and children from the exhausting effects
of prolonged toil, the idea at the root of the measures being the same
great principle which underlies our whole system of public health.
But when the agitation for the ten hours’ day culminated in the
Factory Act the question, after all, was not settled. It was within
the bounds of possibility that such mechanical contrivances could be
devised as to make the period of legalised toil quite as harmful to
the operatives, or, indeed, more so, than the longer day. The question
whether intense toil concentrated into a relatively short period, is
more or less trying to the human frame than if the same toil were
dispersed over a relatively longer period, cannot be settled off-hand.
But the fact undoubtedly remains, as I have shewn in the chapter on
textile industries, that machinery has been speeded up to a point which
is immensely in excess of that which prevailed when the hours were
longer. At the present time, therefore, the strain upon the attention
and the wear and tear of the nervous system are greatly in excess of
former times, and the worker must be “on the stretch” the whole time to
attend properly to the work. The illustration will serve to show how
the factors governing the industrial situation shift from time to time,
and act and react on one another, and that if factory legislation and
administration are to be really effective they must keep pace with the
times and adapt themselves to changing conditions.

The fact that so large a number of additions and modifications have
been made in our factory legislation since 1802, when the first
intervention of the State on behalf of factory children took place,
shews that some attempt at least has been made to grapple with this
part of the question. It may suffice for our immediate purpose to note
the clear intention and spirit of British factory legislation; viz.,
the protection of those who are unable to help themselves in the matter
of securing humane conditions of labour. Thus, the State does not allow
children to work all their time in a factory until they are thirteen
years of age, and not then unless they have attained to a standard of
school proficiency, which is fixed by the Secretary of State; nor does
it allow half-timers to begin work until they are eleven. Then again,
no child or young person of either sex under sixteen years of age is
allowed to enter a factory without obtaining a certificate from the
certifying surgeon as to his or her fitness for the work. If a fatal
accident happens in a workshop, or a serious or fatal accident in a
factory, the certifying surgeon has to give in his report on the case.
Then again, night-work is absolutely forbidden for women and children.
But the State contemplates much more than this. It provides that
workmen as well as women and children shall secure conditions such as
are not prejudicial to their health and well-being. There are clauses
in the Factory Acts--permissive, it is true, for the most part--bearing
upon the efficient ventilation of factories and workshops, and
providing for the installation of fans in certain cases; for the
purifying of the atmosphere where noxious, poisonous, or offensive
matter or injurious dusts are given off in the process of work; and for
a certain allowance of space and air. Anyone who goes through the Acts
carefully can have no doubt that the protection originally accorded
to women and children has now in certain important respects been
recognised by the State as a claim to be enforced on behalf of every
class of workmen. Nor must we forget, in estimating the functions of
the State in relation to labour, that the Factory Acts form one of an
entire class of legislation which is based on the principle that human
life and health are the direct care of the organised community, and can
under no circumstances become, whether by hire or sale or any other
form of contract, the property of the employing class. Thus the Mines
Regulation Act forbids the employment of women underground, and fixes
the age of twelve as that in which boys may go below ground; whilst
it formulates a complete and most elaborate code of precautionary
measures in the interests of the workmen. The Employers’ Liability
Act belongs to the same category, for it throws upon the employer in
a large number of cases the responsibility for injury done to his
workpeople in the course of their employment.[18] It is clear then
that the State is committed to a principle the maintenance of which
involves responsibilities of the profoundest importance, and for the
carrying out of which in their entirety not only vigilance and a highly
organised staff of trained inspectors are necessary, but close and
scientific acquaintance with various forms of industry, and with the
physiological effects of these various forms upon life and health--in
a word, administrative experience of an extremely high order. And this
brings us to an inquiry as to the administrative efficiency as well as
the legislative symmetry of these great industrial measures.

    [18] The Bill recently rejected by the House of Lords contained
    a clause enabling workpeople to claim compensation from
    employers who had omitted to take reasonable precautions for
    securing healthy conditions, in the event of such neglect
    injuring their health.

=Reasons for Inefficiency.=--But notwithstanding such admirable
intentions on the part of the State many abuses still thrive amongst
women workers, excessive hours are frequently worked, and hundreds and
thousands of women break down every year or become prematurely old
from overwork, or from the very unhealthy conditions which the Factory
Acts are designed to put an end to. In spite of certifying surgeons
and the code of public health enjoined by the Acts the children who
enter our factories turn out totally unfitted for the strain, and
grow up into half-developed beings or fall victims to some form of
industrial disease. To some the criticism may suggest itself that
these things cannot be cured by Act of Parliament or by encroaching on
the liberty of the individual. However, as modern States have agreed
that the protection of human life is one of the first reasons of their
existence, and as common-sense, to say nothing of humanity, does not
see much to regret in the limitation of the liberty of one class to
inflict grave hardships upon another, such an objection will not take
us much further. Moreover, there is a sufficient explanation of the
comparative breakdown of good intentions without laying the blame
upon Acts of Parliament. The gap between intention and performance,
which is presumably to be found in most of our institutions as well
as in individuals, is in truth not lacking in our protective labour
regulations, and the vaguer the intention the greater the gap. And it
would not be fair to lay the blame for the failure in giving substance
to the Acts altogether upon those who administer them.

=Factory Acts a Compromise.=--The Factory Acts are of the nature of a
compromise between two different social schools. The vague phraseology,
the lack of a definite standard, the readiness to grant exceptions to
certain trades, and, under certain conditions, the large discretion
left in the hands both of the Secretary of State and the Inspectors
of Factories, these are amongst the signs of the contending elements
among which the Acts represent a compromise. Where, as in the case
of the textile trades, a definite working day is laid down and
overtime is absolutely prohibited, the administration of the Acts is
a comparatively simple matter. The factory inspector and the factory
clock between them are a match for the employer who is disposed to
let his machinery run beyond the legal limit. On the other hand,
where the emphatic “shall” which applies to the textile trades is
changed into “may,” where overtime is permitted on account of a press
of orders, or of season requirements, or the perishable nature of
certain commodities, the standard of administration must inevitably
become relaxed like the Acts themselves. Several instances, somewhat
too technical perhaps to be given here, might be produced in which
the Acts have been so drafted as to place the staff of inspectors in
an almost impossible position. Thus they are supposed in a general
way to see that factories and workshops are properly ventilated, and
that conditions of health are favourable. When overtime is worked each
person is supposed to have an allowance of 400 cubic feet of space,
and the inspector is expected to be the judge of what is healthy or
injurious in various processes of manufacture. These surely are cases
in which a feeble and uninformed intention, rather than defective
executive measures, must be held responsible for lack of results. It is
obviously unreasonable to throw the responsibility upon an inspector
of introducing a variety of highly-technical hygienic appliances
into buildings which have been designed and erected without regard
to health, and in which plant and machinery have been laid down with
a single eye to production--just as unreasonable in fact as to try
to preserve a town from typhoid fever by taking precautions after a
defective drainage system has been completed instead of before.

=Experts Required.=--Again, a staff of experts is necessary for
carrying out the public health side of such an Act as this, and yet the
Home Secretary, with no experts to consult, is expected to preside as
a minister of industrial health over the welfare of the vast mass of
the working population, whilst duties are thrown upon the inspectors
which could only be efficiently discharged with the help of expert
sanitarians, engineers, architects, chemists, and medical men. The
requirement of 400 cubic feet of space is an instance of the official
brain working in a vacuum, and here again the administrative side is
not to be blamed. How is a factory inspector to see that every person
who works overtime gets his 400 feet? How can he calculate? Is he to
set his calculation against that of the manufacturer who is anxious
to keep all his hands working extra hours, and who assures him that,
after making due deduction for bench room, machinery, and the like,
each person will enjoy his allotted share? Assuming that it is a
physical possibility for the inspector with his measuring apparatus
to get round to every place of work where overtime is carried on, to
keep a record of all the alterations made in the workshop and the
number of persons occupied and so forth, is it to be supposed that
the inspector will carry out what is presumably the intention of the
law, namely, that each person shall have 400 feet of air to breathe--a
very different thing from 400 feet of space, inasmuch as furnaces and
gases breathe air just as much as human beings, whilst nearly every
trade sets up conditions which tend to pollute or deteriorate it to
some extent? Let us bear in mind that the life and health of multitudes
of people hang upon the distinction between a clear and definite
regulation which is framed to be carried out and a vague and misty one
which may represent a principle and an intention, but cannot be reduced
to practice in its clouded shape, and we shall understand the vital
importance of a clear, straightforward, and definite regulation.

=Reforms Needed.=--Our answer then to the question, “How is it that,
in spite of Factory Acts, things are still so bad to-day for many of
the most defenceless workers?” is, that the State has not troubled to
understand where the shoe pinches, and that in its eagerness to concede
something to supposed trading interests it has allowed confusion and
licence to interfere with the working of those humane enactments. I
therefore propose to examine briefly the various points which call
urgently for immediate reform.

(1) _In respect of Health._ (_a_) _Periodical medical examination_ in
trades where women and children are largely employed. The Certifying
Surgeon--who by the way ought to be employed directly by the State
and not by the manufacturers--at present only examines the children
and young persons before they begin work in the factory, and has no
jurisdiction over workshops except upon the special order of the
Secretary of State. His duties should be extended to workshops, and
periodical examination should be made of the women, children, and young
persons--especially of the two latter classes--where ground exists for
supposing that the conditions of any trade are injurious to health. A
body of experience should be brought together as to the special effects
of given industries upon health with a view to such improvements
and modifications being made in mechanical and other manufacturing
processes as to minimise injurious effects.

(_b_) _Definite Hygienic Regulations._ Each industry in which
injurious processes are carried on should be subjected to periodical
investigation by experts, working in conjunction with the Certifying
Surgeons and factory inspectors, whose duty it should be to recommend
such improvements as are feasible with a view to the protection of
health. Steps have already been taken under Section 8 of the Factory
Act, 1891, for drawing up special rules for injurious trades, but in
view of the constant changes which take place in manufacture, it seems
highly desirable that there should be a regular staff of experts in
connection with the Home Office, so that the Factory Department could
be in touch with such industrial changes and inventions as take place
from time to time. Another very necessary step seems to lie in the
direction of some system of licensing buildings erected for industrial
purposes, so that a proper survey by sanitary and architectural experts
may be made, and any necessary structural alterations carried out
before the work is begun. Just as the Education Department now lays
down definite hygienic regulations to be observed in the construction
of schools, so the Factory Department, in connection perhaps with the
local authorities, should seek to enforce a standard of healthiness.

(2) _The Employment of Mothers._ As the law stands at present, the
only regulation with regard to the employment of mothers is one which
forbids their employment in factories and workshops within a month
after the birth of a child. This was one of the recommendations made
by the Berlin Conference. In the opinion of Dr. Tatham, for many years
the medical officer of health for Manchester, and now head of the
Statistical Department in the office of the Registrar-General, as well
as of many other medical men who have studied this question for years
on the spot, this period is far too short in regard both to the health
of the mother and the welfare of the child--two points which it is
practically impossible to separate in considering this question.

Whilst it may be urged on the one hand that any further intervention
on the part of the State must proceed with the utmost caution in view
of the extent to which married women are employed, it is impossible to
regard with anything but feelings of alarm and even of consternation
such statistics on this matter as are already available, and it would
seem in the highest degree desirable that either a Select Committee
of the House of Commons, or a Departmental Committee representing the
Home Office and the Local Government Board, should without delay extend
and consolidate the researches which have been made, with a view to
furnishing in the most reliable manner data upon which any further
enactments may be laid down. That there will have to be a further and
considerable extension of the period referred to, and that in certain
occupations which are shewn to be peculiarly prejudicial to the health
of women the prohibition of their labour may be held to be necessary in
the public interest, are facts which no one acquainted with the growth
of public sentiment can fail to observe.

(3) _Regulation of Hours of Labour._ (_a_) _The Abolition of Legalised
Overtime._ Allusion has already been made to the grievous defect which
has gradually crept into and tended largely to destroy the efficiency
of the Factory Acts. Evidence given before the Labour Commission,
and furnished on many occasions in the annual report of the Chief
Inspector of Factories by Her Majesty’s factory inspectors, proves
conclusively that in the first place such overtime is injurious; in
the second place, that it is often totally unnecessary; and, in the
third place, that it is impossible to keep an effective check on the
period during which work is performed. The character of that section
of the Act which enables overtime to be worked may be judged from
the following extract: “Where it is proved to the satisfaction of
a Secretary of State that in any class of non-textile factories or
workshops or parts thereof, it is necessary by reason of the material
which is the subject of the manufacturing process or handicraft therein
being liable to be spoiled by the weather, or by reason of press of
work arising at certain recurring seasons of the year, or by reason
of the liability of the business to a sudden press of orders arising
from unforeseen events, to employ young persons and women in manner
authorised by this exception, and that such employment will not injure
the health of the young persons and women affected thereby, he may,
by order made under part of this Act, extend this exception to such
factories or workshops, or parts thereof.” Employers are thus permitted
to work women and young persons--and a child of thirteen bearing her
school certificate ranks as a “young person”--for forty-eight days in
any twelve months for fourteen hours a day exclusive of meal times, in
flax scutch mills, brick and tile making, parts of rope works carried
on in the open air, Turkey-red dyeing and glue making (overtime being
permissible in these cases because of considerations of weather),
letterpress printing, bookbinding, lithographic printing, Christmas
present making, firewood cutting, almanac making, ærated water making,
and playing-card making (these trades being licensed because “press of
work arises at certain recurring seasons of the year”), the making-up
of any article of wearing apparel and furniture hangings, artificial
flower making, fancy box making, biscuit making and job dyeing, and the
extensive class of workers who are employed in warehouses in polishing,
cleaning, wrapping, or packing up goods. The State itself also asks to
be exempted from its own laws, and we find that, by an order gazetted
September 16, 1889, the milling, perforating, and gumming of postage
and inland revenue stamps are made the subject of legalised overtime.
But the forty-eight days which are set as the limit in these cases
are doubled in respect to that category of trades which deals with
perishable articles, so that in processes connected with preserving
fruit or fish and the making of condensed milk, women are actually
allowed by the law to work for ninety-six days in the course of any
twelve months for fourteen hours a day.

The only objections that can be urged to putting factories in general
upon the same footing as those in the textile trades are the arguments
which were adduced against the principle of State regulation of the
hours of labour. If the textile trades can be conducted without
overtime--trades which are dominated by changes of fashion and season
just as much as any other trades--is it not absurd on the face of it
to allow printers, pork-pie makers, and a host of other manufacturers
whose business is supposed to be affected by liability to sudden
pressure of orders and by season demands to remain untouched by the
Act? Granted that excessively long hours are necessary for certain
periods in the case of operations that have to be conducted out of
doors, or such operations as fish curing and the like, the way to meet
the difficulty is not by over-taxing the strength of those employed,
but by working double or, if necessary, treble shifts. It cannot be
too strongly urged that these exceptions are entirely contrary to
the spirit of factory legislation, which is based upon the doctrine
that trade must adapt itself to what is necessary for the workers in
regard to their health and requirements as human beings, and that it
is entirely opposed to the theory that human beings must adapt their
standard of health and leisure to the conveniences and exigencies
of trade. Whether the maximum hours of labour fixed for the textile
trades, _viz._, fifty-six per week, are not too many is another
question. In the opinion of the operatives themselves forty-eight
hours are long enough, and the textile trades are promoting a bill to
give legislative force to their belief. It has been shewn in previous
chapters that the intensity of work has greatly increased, and that
the demands made upon the strength and endurance of the workers are
probably more severe than was the case before the passing of the
Acts. It must not be forgotten that a law which has been made by the
national legislature in such a matter as this imposes a responsibility
of the very gravest kind upon the nation. In other trades the hours of
labour are now, generally speaking, shorter than those in the textile
trades. London builders, taking the year round, do not work more than
an average of forty-eight hours a week, engineers work fifty-two and
a half, and so do boiler-makers and iron-founders. This is not the
place for a detailed treatment of the demand for a shorter day, but
the fact cannot be overlooked--a fact which was insisted upon in the
fifth chapter--that as motive power and machinery replace manual work
so the claim for longer periods of rest and leisure grows stronger.
There is a danger lest society in its intense pre-occupation with
the multiplication of commodities should take up a false position
simply by forgetting this fact. But if the arguments in favour of a
general reduction of the hours of labour are strong anywhere, they are
peculiarly strong in the case of women, for in a vast number of cases a
woman, when she leaves her daily work, has to begin a second spell of
work at home.

(_b_) _Continuation of Work at Home after Factory Hours._--This is
a practice which is openly encouraged by some manufacturers, and
more or less secretly by others. It is a common sight, for instance,
in Belfast, to see women returning home from the handkerchief or
other works in which they have been employed during the whole day,
with bundles of work to make up at night, so that the worker has to
stitch often till midnight, or later, in order to take the finished
bundle back the next morning. In London, too, this practice obtains.
Obviously, if such an infringement of the spirit of the Act is
allowed, the factory regulation becomes worthless in respect of hours.

(4) _The Regulation of Outwork._--By a clause in the Act of 1891 the
Home Secretary was empowered to schedule certain trades in which work
was given out by a middleman or manufacturer--either to contractors
or to workpeople direct--to be done off the premises; to enforce the
keeping of a register giving the names and addresses of such persons,
so as to enable the factory inspector or the sanitary authority to
investigate the conditions under which the work was being done. The
Home Secretary has made an order which brings the clothing trades, the
cabinet trade, and the electro-plating industry under this provision,
and energetic steps have been taken to trace the work thus given out.
Obviously, however, such a task involves a large staff of inspectors;
and in cases where the duty devolves upon the sanitary authority the
expense suddenly thrown upon the ratepayers to provide an adequate
staff, added to other considerations, has led to practically nothing
being done, so that the order remains inoperative. It is unquestionably
desirable that the person who gives out the work should be made
responsible for the sanitary and other conditions under which it is
performed, a provision which would act as a deterrent to a practice
which is admittedly full of hardships for the workers and of risks for
the consumers. As to the latter consideration, the whole question of
the administration of the workshops part of the Factory Acts by the
local authorities will have to be revised. As things are at present,
there is no power of compelling them to do the work, whilst the
division of authority which exists between the Factory Department and
the local sanitary authority is very far from tending to the efficient
carrying out of the measures laid down. The great thing is, however,
that the principle of throwing the responsibility for the conditions of
labour upon the person who practically employs such labour--whether by
means of the sweating system or not--should be recognised, and a first
step in this direction has undoubtedly been taken by the registration
order referred to.

(5) _Child Labour._--Both the educational and physiological experts who
have given attention to this question are agreed that two things should
be done. The system of half-time, under which a child spends half the
week in the factory and half in the school, is a double evil to the
half-timer, as both education and health suffer from the process. In
the opinion of many competent observers the system of half-time should
be abolished. So long, however, as it is permitted to continue, the
age of eleven which was fixed under the new Act is undoubtedly too
low, taking the general level of European nations as a standard, for,
after all, the work in school is to the average child as hard as work
in the factory, and it is too much to demand of young children the
double strain entailed by mental, nervous, and physical causes which is
involved in the school and factory _régime_. The age of thirteen, at
which the child passes into the “young person” stage--to use the legal
expression--and obtains the privilege of working full time, may be
warranted in certain trades, but it is highly desirable that the field
of occupation should be differentiated, and that occupations such as
the textile trades, which involve special strain upon the physique of
growing children, should be regulated by a scale of age.

(6) _Extension of the Factory Acts._--The Acts should be extended so
as to cover the case of laundresses, who ought never to have been left
out. The sanitary conditions under which vast numbers of these women
work are extremely bad, the hours of work are excessively long and far
above the standard set by the Factory Acts, and in steam laundries
there is a quantity of machinery used without any safeguards being
adopted for proper fencing, so that accidents are very frequent. The
arguments used for keeping laundries outside the Acts are, that it is
a more or less domestic industry, that any limitation would fall very
severely on the small employer, and that the nature of the trade is
such as to necessitate long working hours during the latter part of the
week, when most of the work is done. Against this, however, we must set
the facts that no attempt has really been made to organize the work,
which could as well be spread over a longer period as crowded into a
few days each week; that individual employers have successfully done
so; that for the protection of the women as well as of the public,
sanitary supervision is most essential; and, finally, that the health
and safety of those employed are severely compromised by the conditions
under which work is done at present.

(7) _Co-ordination of Local and Imperial Authority._--Reference has
been made to the difficulties which arise in the dual control exercised
by the Factory Department and the local sanitary authority, which
latter body is responsible for the sanitary conditions of workshops,
subject to a final reference to the Factory Department. Experience in
past years has proved that when it has been sought in the same way to
devolve upon the local authorities these important powers, general
neglect has been shown by a large number of districts, so much so
indeed, that after a trial it was found necessary for the Factory
Department to resume the work of inspection. This portion of the Act
has in fact been tossed backwards and forwards with results that can
scarcely be called satisfactory. It remains to be seen whether some
plan cannot be adopted by which the local authorities can be utilised
without the provisions of the Act being allowed to lapse--a plan which
should be checked by head-quarters either at the Local Government Board
or the Home Office, or by an executive Labour Department of the future,
so that a given standard of efficiency may be secured. There remain
certain administrative reforms which will no doubt be carried out as
time goes on. Already large additions have been made to the existing
staff of factory inspectors.[19]

Whilst much of the work is of a more or less routine and simple
character, and can be discharged best by those who are acquainted
with the technicalities and methods of the trade, there are certain
departments which call for the highest scientific skill, for full
statistical information, as well as for unceasing vigilance. A word
or two must be added as to the penalties which are inflicted under
the Acts. The scale suggested by the Acts is very low, and the
magistrates often inflict a merely nominal penalty, so that employers
who infringe the Acts have little to fear except from the annoyance
caused by proceedings being taken against them. This is a thoroughly
unsatisfactory state of things.

(8) _The Truck Act._--For the protection of women workers an amendment
to the Truck Act is sorely needed; the system of arbitrary fines and
deductions, to which reference has already been made, is an unmitigated
evil, and tends more than any other condition of labour to degrade the
workers, and hold them in bondage.

    [19] The appointment of Departmental Committees, consisting of
    scientific specialists and factory inspectors, shews that the
    Home Office is alive to the necessity of improving the quality
    of factory inspection in the case of injurious trades.

=Conclusion.=--During the next few years we are likely to see great
changes, for the agitation which has taken place in the labour world
in recent times is not of a spasmodic kind. It is the outcome of years
of struggle and suffering and thought, and of many defeats on the part
of the workers. For them the Factory Acts are of quite incalculable
importance. They stand for industrial health, for the safeguard of the
worker’s leisure and standard of life, for the civic principle in the
affairs of the labour market and the workshop. They stand, too, for the
ratification by the State of the will of the people as expressed by
their common voice and common organisations. It is not true to say that
they spare them the trouble of doing something which they might equally
well do for themselves. The Acts give a statutory validity to what the
workers have already decided upon in times past. They secure the ground
already won, so that the workers may go forward, and on that ground
raise their standard of living higher; so that the manufacturers may
put their houses in order, introducing better management and mechanical
methods; so that the standard of living and the standard of general
efficiency may advance together. Under the guiding intelligence of the
nation these great human enactments, which have been a godsend to the
people of this country in the past, will become ever more fruitful
as higher civic ideals and a deeper conception of human welfare and
industry take the place of the conceptions which have prevailed during
the transition period from which we are now emerging.



  Art, Difficulties in the pursuit of, 30.

  Army Clothing Factory, 74.

  Assistant Mistresses, in High Schools, 9.
    Salaries of, 10.
    in Elementary Schools, 16.


  Ballet, The, 33.

  Belfast Mill-workers, Deaths of, 127.

  Board Schools, Salaries in, 14.
    Compared with Voluntary Schools, 16.

  Bookbinders’ Union, 71.


  Carpet manufacture, 107.

  Certifying surgeon, Duties of, 152, 158.

  Child labour, 105, 122.
    in cotton trade, Dr. Tarrop’s report on, 123.
    Age limit too low, 165.

  Chromo lithography, 37.

  Cigar-makers Union, 74.
    Success of, 80.

  Civil Service, 41.
    Pensions in, 42.
    Women _versus_ men in, 42.
    The Post-office, 42.
    Complaints against women, 46.

  Clerks, National Union of, 64.

  Clerkships, Ordinary, 40.
    in shipping firms, 41.
    in Civil Service, 41.

  Commerce, Subordinate position of women in, 47.
    French and American women in, 48.

  Consumers’ League, 89.

  Cotton manufacture, 95 _et seq._
    Injurious processes in, 121.
    Child labour in, 122.
    Combination in, 90, 95.

  Crafts, Artistic, 36.
    Chromo-lithography, 37.
    Hostility of workmen in, 37.

  Crape trade, wages in, 106.


  Dentistry suitable for women, 26.

  Deterioration of population, 148.

  Directory of Women’s Trades Unions, 90.

  Domestic Subjects, 17.
    Demand for instruction in, 17.
    Lack of common standard, 18.
    Opening for women, 18.
    Compared with University training, 19.

  Dressmakers’, Milliners’, and Mantle-makers’ Union, 73.

  Dust, defined, 120.
    in shoddy mills, 130.
    in potteries, 131.
    in white lead, 132.
    Respirators against, 139.


  Elementary Schools, 14.
    Salaries of Certificated Mistresses in, 14.
    Other salaries, 15.
    Salaries under the London School Board, 16.
    Elementary _versus_ Secondary Schools, 16.
    Training Colleges for, 17.

  Employment of women, Blue Book on, 65, 85 _et passim_.

  Experts required in factory inspection, 156.


  Factory Acts, 150.
    Insufficiency of, 152.
    Reforms needed in, 157.
    Extension of, desirable, 166.

  Factory Department, 167.

  Farr, Dr., tables of Infant Mortality, 146.

  Fiction, 3.
    Its remuneration, 4.

  Fines, 85.
    in shops, 51.
    in textile trades, 100.
    in the linen trade, 109.

  Foreign competition, 88.


  Gassing in silk manufacture, 130.

  Governesses’ salaries, 8.
    compared with High Schools, 10.

  Greenhow’s, Dr., report on potteries, 132.


  Half-timers, 165.

  Handicrafts, Position of women in, 35.

  Health, Economic importance of, 119.
    Causes of ill-health, 120.
    In various trades, 119 _et seq._

  High Schools, 9.
    Homework in, 10.
    Salaries, 9.
    Report on salaries, 11.
    Agreements, 12.
    Church Schools, 12.
    Fees, 13.

  Home-work, 87.
    after factory hours, 163.
    Regulation of, 164.

  Hosiery trade, 107.
    Union, Amalgamated, 80.

  Hospital for Women, New, 24.


  India, Medical women in, 25.
    Native students, 25.

  Infant mortality, 140 _et seq._
    in Preston, Leicester, and Blackburn, 141.
    Causes of, 144.
    Dr. Tatham’s evidence, 145.
    Dr. Farr’s tables, 146.
    Recent statistics, 147.
    Employment of mothers, 160.


  Jex-Blake, Dr., _Medical Women_, 23.
    Opinion on medicine as a career for women, 24.

  Journalism, 6.
    Income attainable, 7.


  Lace trade, 107.

  Lancashire and Yorkshire contrasted, 97.

  _Lancet, The_, on seats for shop assistants, 56.

  Laundries, Extension of Factory Acts to, 166.

  Law, 21.
    Miss Orme’s summary, 21.
    Conveyancing, 22.
    Openings in India, 22.

  Lead, White, viii., 133 _et seq._
    in other manufactures, 137.

  Linen trade, 108.
    Dr. Purdon’s report on, 124.
    Deaths in, 127.
    Combination attempted, 82, 109.
    Dr. Whitaker’s report, 129.

  Literature, 3.

  Liverpool Tailoresses’ Union, 75, 87.

  London School Board, 16.

  Lucifer match trade, 137.


  Machinery, and women’s labour, 110, 113.
    Dangerous, 103.
    in laundries, 166.

  Married women’s labour, 103.
    Relation to infant mortality, 145.
    Regulation of, 160.

  Martineau, Harriet, 3.

  Match girls’ strike, 77.

  Medicine, 23.
    Appointments available, 24.
    in India, 25.

  Men’s Unions, Attitude of, 10, 37, 85, 117.

  Midwifery, present status of, 27.

  Midwives’ Institute, 27.

  Mines Regulation Act, 153.

  Miscellaneous trades, 110.

  Mixed Unions, 80.
    in Lancashire, 96.
    List of, 90.

  Mortality, in linen mills, 129.
    Infant, 141 _et seq._
    Age periods, 143.

  Mothers, Employment of, vii., 160.

  Music, 30.


  Nailmakers, 75.

  National Union of Teachers, 16.

  Necrosis in lucifer match trade, 137.

  Night-work forbidden, 152.

  Northern Counties Weavers’ Association, 80.

  Nurses’ salaries, 29.

  Nursing, conditions of work, 28.
    Mistaken notions as to, 28.
    Private, 30.
    Co-operative, 30.


  Outwork, Regulation of, 164.

  Overtime, 160.
    Regulations as to, 161.
    Abolition of, desirable, 162.

  Oxford Working Women’s Society, 75.


  Painting, 32.
    Black and white drawings, 32.

  Philanthropy, Remunerative employment connected with, 20.
    Settlements, 21.

  Paterson, Emma, 67.
    Death of, 76.

  Pit-brow women, xii., 86.

  Phthisis among linen workers, 129.

  Pharmacy, 26.

  Pocket money, Working for, 88.

  Post-office, The, 42.
    Number of women employed in, 42.
    Clerkships, 43.
    Sorterships, 45.
    Telegraph learnerships, 45.
    Counter-women, 46.
    Complaints against counter-women, 46.

  Potteries, 131.
    White lead in, 137.

  Pouce, The, 124.

  Preachers, Women, 20.

  Purdon’s, Dr., report on linen trade, 124.


  Religion, Remunerative employment connected with, 20.

  Routine clerical work, 39.

  Royalties on music, 32.


  Sanitation, in shops, 57.
    in textile trades, 101.
    Ventilation, 138.

  Shirt and Collar Makers’ Union, 72.

  Shoddy fever, 130.

  Shop work, Labour Commission Report on, 65.

  Shop Hours Regulation Act, 64.

  Shop Assistants, 49.
    Their grievances, 50.
    Wages compared with men’s, 50.
    Fines, 51.
    Bonuses, 52.
    Agreements, 52.
    Dismissal, Miss Collet on, note p. 52.
    Long hours, 53.
    Regulation of hours, 53.
    Standing, 56.
    _The Lancet_ on seats, 56.
    Insanitary conditions, 57.
    “Living in,” 58.
    Sundays, 59.
    Personal narratives, 60.
    Combination among, 63.

  Silk manufacture, 106.
    Health in, 130.

  Stage, The, 32.
    Prospects of, 33.
    Touring companies, 33.
    Remuneration, 33.
    Pantomime performers, 34.
    Difficulty of progress, 34.
    The ballet, 34.
    Salaries of dancers, 35.

  Supervision, Abuses of, 99.

  Sweating system, 77, 112.


  Tarrop, Dr., report on the cotton trade, 123.

  Tatham, Dr., evidence on infant mortality, 145.

  Teaching, 7.
    Private, 8.
    in High Schools, 9 _et seq._
    Domestic subjects, 17.
    Higher teaching posts, 19.
    Headships, 19.
    Lectureships, 20.

  Textile trades, 93.
    Lancashire and Yorkshire contrasted, 95.
    Other centres, 106.
    Overtime forbidden in, 162.

  Trade as a career, 48.
    The aristocracy in, 48.

  Trades Congress, Liverpool, 72.
    Women delegates to, 72.

  Trades Councils assist women, 78, 81, 86.

  Trade Unions, Women’s, 66.
    Origin of, 67.
    Provincial, 72.
    in 1882, 74.
    Mixed, in provinces, 80.
    Methods of forming, 81.
    Difficulties of, 83.
    Results, 86.
    Directory of, 90.
    in Lancashire, 97.

  Training, Necessity for, 37.

  Truck Act, 168.

  Type-writing, 39.
    in America, 40.
    with Shorthand, 40.


  Union of Shop Assistants, National, 64.

  United Shop Assistants’ Union, 64.

  Upholstresses’ Union, 73.


  Ventilation, 138.
    Objections of workers to, 139.


  Wages, Sketch of Women’s, 113.
    Women’s lower than men’s, 42, 50, 97.
    Reasons for difference, 112.
    Difference artificially kept up, 117.
    Results, ix.

  Warehouses, Conditions of life in, 63.
    Wages, 63.
    Combination in, 64.

  Whitaker’s, Dr., report on linen mills, 129.

  Women Factory Inspectors, 74 and note.

  Women’s Protective and Provident League, 69.

  Women’s Trades Union Association, 79.

  Women’s Trades Union League, 81.

  Women’s Trades Unions reviewed, 76.

  Women’s Union Journal, 76.

  Writers’ Club, 5.


  Yorkshire and Lancashire contrasted, 97.

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