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gether. When barking the nets, it will not do to wet them with bark alone, they must be wetted with a little spirits or beer. When putting them aboard the boat, they must again be wetted with a dram, in order to secure a prosperous season. When the foot line is measured and spliced together (which is attached to the nets) it is necessary to wet it with a little spirits that the splices may not draw. And the first time going to sea, it is highly desirable to have a bottle of spirits, as it may happen that some of the crew may be sea-sick, and every one knows that it is a valuable medicine. And when coming ashore, after severe fatigue and hardship in a gale of wind, then surely a dram is necessary. And when, as it sometimes happens, there has been a tolerably prosperous week, there must be a little spirits on dividing the money, for it will not do to break old customs; and so on through the different seasons of the year. But I am happy to say that these customs are beginning to lose their fame, and there is not half so much money spent with fishermen as formerly. Spirit drinking is, I hope, entirely done away with in pulling boats out of the water to lay them up for the winter season, and in launching them in the spring of the year: formerly that was a great custom. 101. or 12l. was saved last year in drawing up the boats, as the Temperance men declared they would use oxen rather than yield.”
Colliers.—Apprentice footing, 1s., with 6d. of backing. Journeyman's footing, the same. A bachelor pays 1s. a month, a married man 6d. Marriage 28. 6d., drunk on the pit bank. Birth, 18., with backing of 6d. Good Friday, 6d. each man.
There is much “mugging " for work. The people generally work only four or five days in the week.
The following note has been transmitted to me of the drink usages in the Staffordshire coal pits :
" When a man begins to work at a fresh pit, there is charged him 1s., with a backing from the rest, of 6d. Reckoning-drink, 6d. each. The men are often paid at a publichouse, and kept till ten at night before the money comes. Marriage, 2s. 6d. The first time the woman visits the pit after marriage, 1s., else she loses her shoes. With the exception of the woman's fine, and the reckoning-drink, usage money is exacted rigorously; and, on refusal, a sort of torture is used, denominated crowing.' The recusant is laid upon his bare back, upon a coal-rake with the teeth upwards, and a crow-bar is placed across his breast. While some hold his head, and others his feet and hands, a part press on the crow
bar, till he yields. Some men, rather than do so, have suffered severely. Many of the butty colliers (these are middlemen, who employ others) keep beer-shops, and expect the men to support them.
The tyranny and contrivances for forcing a continuous and ruinous practice of drinking, in this trade, exceed in evil and malignity all others in the neighbourhood.”
If the following had not been authenticated in a way I could not doubt of, I should not have believed it. It may serve to show the amount of error that intelligent men may be led to by never thinking of consequences. It is pleasant to know that in some parts of South Britain that portion of the population engaged in mining operations are by no means the worst part. In a coal district in another quarter of England than that above quoted, the author found a code of rules among certain colliers, intended, as the title-page bears, for their “ mutual peace and happiness.” Some of their rules are, in brief, as follows :—For swearing, lying, or using improper language, the forfeit is half a pint of ale; texts quoted, Jer. xxiii. 3; Col. iii. 9; Matt. xii. 36. For fighting, or challenging to fight; sitting down to dinner with head covered; not reading a portion of the Scriptures at dinnertime (if the individual can read); the forfeit is one week's ale in some cases, and a half pint in others. Seven texts of Scripture are quoted. Every person to attend the reading of the Scriptures at the appointed time, or forfeit one day's ale; three texts quoted. Every person to attend while prayer is offered up, or forfeit one day's ale; four texts quoted. Any one found sleeping while prayer is being offered up, shall forfeit half a pint of ale ; nine texts quoted.
Nothing can exceed the naïveté with which these excellent men tamper with one their worst enemies. We trust, ere long, that the above fines will be exchanged for sometbing less dangerous than strong drink.
Bookbinders.—Apprentice footing, one gallon, sometimes more. Loosing, the same. Marriage, 58.; birth, 2s. 6d., with backing; birth-day, a gallon ; at lighting candles, so much. The trade's society is kept in a public-house, with the usual results.
Millwrights.—The following communication was received, in writing, from a foreman in the trade :
“ When a millwright has a child born, it is a rule that he must wet its head, as it is called, by treating his shopmates to a glass, or more, of spirits, or other liquors. When a lad is bound, he must give iOs. to 208., and the journeymen add 18.
or 2s. each, and set a night apart for leaving it with the landlady ;' it is seldom that all hands get to work next day. When the apprentice has finished his time, the same is renewed again, only on a more extensive scale; this is called the loosing, and often lasts for some days.
“When a journeyman gets a job in a shop, he must pay what is called his footing, which is generally a day's wages ; the men in the shop add 6d. each to it; and this is often done before the man works an hour. I consider the custom of footings the greatest evil of any that belongs to the trade. I have known men to be out of work for two or three months at once ; and when they get a job they must consent to pay one day's wages, at least, out of the first week; and if they refuse to comply with the men's wishes, there is nothing but slander and contempt cast upon them. And this rule is not altogether confined to strange hands coming in; for if a man has worked in a shop for a number of years, and leaves only for short time, say a few weeks, he must pay for drink half a day's wages.
" When any new machinery is started, it is usual to have what is called the starting, given by the master and the
All the hands are taken to a public-house, and it often proves a loss of two or three days to many of them before they get to work again.
“ An engine-tender was dismissed from his situation, after repeated admonition, for intemperance. Amongst the applicants for the place, one was engaged in other respects well qualified) because he was specially recommended for sobriety,
as he came to his duty, the men gathered around him and demanded the sum of eighteen shillings for drink. He felt this peculiarly grievous, from his own respectable habits; and that, being out of place some time, he was very poor. He remonstrated with them. He told them that he had been three weeks without work, and was very badly off,' and could not find the money, and that as he was averse to liquor himself, he could not comply. But the tyranny practised on these occasions was soon brought to bear upon him. Systematic and relentless persecution, from that moment, was his portion. His tools were taken away and hidden; it was contrived to interrupt him continually; and means were effectually taken to obstruct the regular working of the engine. He was soon convinced that he must appear to his employers unequal to his duty, and be discharged. Indignant as he was at this treatment, he must either comply, or leave
this place to seek another, probably beset with the same objection. The struggle was a hard one; too lately had he been on the verge of want; his resolution could hold out no longer. With a heavy heart, he went to the overlooker, and borrowed of him ten shillings, to provide for the drunken revel.
“ It is common for millwrights to get paid on the Saturday night; and often one man receives three or four men's wages, and they must then go to the alehouse to get change. This is a strong temptation put in the men's way by the masters.
“When two or more workmen meet, who have not seen each other for some time, they cannot part without going to the alehouse, to show their friendship to each other.
“ I have long thought that the evils arising from the above customs might be lessened much, if masters and employers were to set their face against such evils, which bring poverty and distress on many families.”
Stable-yards.-A new comer pays 1s., and this is backed by 6d. from each other man. The penalty for non-performance is being sent to Coventry, and subjection to subsequent tyrannical procedure. On arriving from the country with a gentleman's family, the drink fine is ls.; for a new livery, 1s. On marriage, 28. 6d. The subsequent drinking of these mulcts frequently, in this trade, takes place in the morning, as being the more convenient time; and this leads to inebriation during the complete day, and, not unfrequently, to loss of situation in consequence.
In racing stables, for the first canter a lad pays for drink 6d.; first gallop, 1s.; first sweat, 1s. 6d.; private trial, 28. 6d. ;
Gardeners.— The journeyman's footing is one gallon of beer, backed with a pint or quart from every other man. A workman incurs a drink fine for digging on the ground allotted for his fellow-labourer; using another man's tools or apron without leave; neglecting to clean his tools when work is finished ; leaving tools on the garden ground at night; chopping the line, that is, indenting or cutting it through with the spade. At most of these occasions the other men are obliged to back. Sometimes chopping the line is fraudulently caused by another person slily altering its position with his foot. A raw young man is frequently misdirected to dig in the ground of another, in order that the drink fine may be legally incurred.
Fruiterers.—In cutting fruit, if a man wound his fingers, he is fined in half a gallon of beer. Strangers are enticed to
cut the fruit; and, in so doing, they incur a fine to the same amount.
Coal-carrying Trade.- When a coal-whipper wishes for employment, he cannot, in many cases, go, as other workmen do, and procure employment in ihe usual way; he must drink his way to a job,—he must go to a publican, and through his means procure employment. One informant had known of a coalheaver losing employment, merely for having attended a meeting of a Temperance Society. Charles Saunders, in his evidence before the Parliamentary Committee, 12 June, 1834, says: “I go (to the public-house) and sit down, and if I have 2d. in my pocket, of course I am obliged to spend it, with a view of getting a job; and, probably, when two or three hours have elapsed, by that time there are 50 or 60 people come on the same errand, to the same person.
He (the publican) keeps us three or four hours there; and then he comes out and looks round among us, and he knows those well who can drink the most, and those are the people who obtain employment first. Those that cannot drink a great deal, and who think more of their families than others do, cannot obtain any employment; those that drink most get most employment.” Many are found who are refused employment because of not contributing to the publican's demand for drink. People cannot engage to the captain of the ship without going to the publican, for some of these are shipowners, and they are all intermixed throughout the trade; so that the captain, as I am informed, “ gives the favour" to the publican to employ the whippers. A sum approaching to one half, sometimes, of the poor martyrs' wages are thus necessarily spent in drink!
“ In my last, I briefly told you that the coal-whippers were compelled to appear at the public-house in the morning before they went to work, and drink a portion of gin or rum very often before they have broken their fast. If the man will submit to pay to the publican his money, he goes to work; but if not, another man is sent off in his room. I have known several that have thus been thrown out of work, because they would not submit to such villany. Nine pots of rubbish are put into a bottle to take on board of ship, which the men frequently have to strain through a handkerchief, and sometimes throw overboard into the river. If more than forty-nine tons of coals are done they are obliged to send for nine pots more—some of the publicans only compel them to have a second nine pots if they do about 100 tons. A few years back it was thought