Page images

appeal to him, to know if he really said so. He pleaded guilty to the charge, and related the followa ing circumstances : Did

your ladyship notice,” he asked, “about half an hour ago a very modest single rap at the door? It was given by a poor miserable looking aged female, who requested to speak with me.' I believe, sir,” she said, “you preached last evening at such a chapel ?" "Yes I did." “Ah sir, I was accidentally passiug the door of that chapel, and hearing the voice of some one preaching, I did what I have never been in the habit of doing, I went in; and one of the first things I heard you say was, that Jesus Christ was so willing to receive sinners that he did not object to receiving the devil's cast-aways. Now sir, I have been on the town for many years, and am so worn out in his service, that I think I may with truth be called one of the devil's castaways. Do you think sir, that Jesus Christ would receive me?” “I assured her,” said Mr. Whitfield, “there was no doubt of it, if she were willing to come to him.” From the sequel, it appeared this was the case, for this poor woman bore satisfactory testimony that though her sins had been of crimson hue, the atoning blood of Christ had washed them white as snow.

From the Life and Times of Lady Huntingdon."



(Continued from page 5.)

But the injury done to their health, is not the only evil which results from the deplorable situation of dress-makers' apprentices. Anxiety to escape from their bondage, disposes them to seize with eagerness on any offer of marriage which may be made to them, without bestowing much consideration on the disposition of the party, or his character or circumstances. Hence, innumerable unhappy marriages are the result.

Nor is this all. The unhappy condition of young dress-makers renders them an easy prey to the evil designs of the profligate of the other sex. An idle protestation of love, mendaciously made, is readily believed by them, and an immediate deviation from the paths of virtue follows. By-and-by this first and solitary aberration from the path of innocence, is succeeded by an entire abandonment to a guilty course of life, as a means of obtaining a livelihood. Those who have devoted much attention to the subject, assure us, that the number of dress-makers' apprentices to be found among the wretched creatures, who walk the streets, is very great.

Most of the young females, especially in the West End, have been brought up in circumstances of comparative comfort, and have received a fair, if not a finished education; but their parents being either dead, or not in a condition to provide for them any longer, they have been placed under the necessity of doing something for their own support, and hence, as the most likely means of earning a subsistence, have made up their minds to acquire a knowledge of dress-making. It need not be added, that, having been thus brought up in easy circumstances, and receiving the advantages of a respectable education—they are thereby rendered peculiarly sensitive to the hardships of their lot. Their delicate frames suffer greatly, and their susceptible feelings are keenly wounded where females of more robust constitutions and less cultivated minds, would neither receive injury or annoyance. Far preferable to their condition is that of the house-maid or the servant of all-work. The latter in most instances are not worse off now, than, in all probability they were during the whole of their lives; while they have usually the advantage of comfortable meals, and in all cases the benefit of more or less exercise.

But what perhaps constitutes the greatest aggravation of the miseries of the poor dress-maker's apprentice, is the fact of her pitiable condition being unpitied. The mistress, for whom she toils day and night, has no commiseration to expend on her, but, on the contrary, as before remarked, deepens the distress consequent on her monotonous, and irksome labours, by the tyranical conduct she practises to. wards her apprentice. Nor has the poor creature the most slender share in the sympathies of those, for the adornment of whose persons she exercises her taste, and wastes her energies. They think of the dresses which she is engaged in making for them, but have not a thought to bestow upon her. Ah! little does the high-born and high-bred beauty, who is to figure in the ball or at a drawing roomlittle does she think, while exulting in the anticipated conquests she will make, or the impression she will produce, of the jaded condition, the almost broken hearts of the poor delicate creatures, who at that moment, are not only wasting their strength, but it mav be their lives in the preparation of the dress in which she is to appear. It might serve to moderate, if it did not altogether extinguish, the

vanity of such persons, did they only reflect that the costly finery which deck their persons are often produced at the expense of the life, as well as of the health and happiness of the poor young females employed in their preparation.

We have thus glanced at the unfortunate condition of a large and helpless class of our fellow-creatures ; underrating rather than exaggerating the wretchedness of their condition. One question naturally suggests itself. That question is-Ought such a state of things to be suffered to exist ? The answer of every Christian and humane mind will be in the negative. A more legitimate matter or legislative interposition, it were impossible to imagine. British philanthropy, under the tutelary genius of Christianity, has snapped asunder the chains, by which 800,000 of our sable fellow-beings were, for a long succession of years, held in bondage to the proprietors of our West India possessions; and the same philanthropy has already accomplished something, and will ere long accomplish more, in the way of arneliorating the condition of our factory children. None can more sincerely rejoice in this than the writer of these lines. But let not British sympathy be limited to the negroes who inhabit the West India Islands or to the suffering children in our factories ; while there are so many equally legitimate objects of sympathy and of practical humanity in the dressmaking and millinery establishments of the metropolis. It is true that the poor creatures whose cause we are pleading are not goaded to their work by the application of the lash, as was too often the case with the now emancipated negroes; but not less painful to their more sensitive minds must be the frowning countenances, angry accents, insulting words, and general harshness of demeanour, of those in whose employment, the force of circumstances compels them to remain. They are young, dependent, helpless, unprotected: and too often entirely at the mercy of their mistresses ; and from the peculiarity of their position are doomed to sigh, and sorrow, and suffer, without even the poor consolation, of having some sympathizing ear into which they could whisper their complaints. They are in one sense exiles from the world, though living in the very centre of this vast metropolis : they are probably in the depths of solitude, though in the midst of society. They are, too, at that very period of life when the mind is most sensitive, and the physical frame most susceptible of injury. We know, indeed, of no class of persons in the community, whose position is more pitiable, or whose claims to the attention and interposition of the philanthropic portion of our society, are more numerous or urgent.

But in what way, it may be asked, can that sympathy be made available? We know of no more effectual way-indeed we know of no other effectual way at all—than that of bringing their condition under the consideration of Parliament, and petitioning for its interference on their behalf. The legislature has shortened the hours of labor in the case of the factory children : let it not refuse its protecting hand to the thousands of helpless girls, who suffer and sigh in silence, in the dress-making and millinery establishments with which the metropolis abounds. There may, we are aware, be some difficulties in the way of effectual legislation

this subject; but Parliament must not be frightened by these difficulties, they are not in. superable ; they are not even formidable. Let them


« PreviousContinue »