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field, have made bright the records of the fiery mines of Tyneside. It is from this race, essentially 'strong' both in its virtues and its vices, that Thomas Burt is descended. Born near North Shields in 1837, he was the son of a pitman who had achieved some local distinction as a Primitive Methodist preacher. From this father, and from a mother whom he regards with all the reverence and gratitude which good mothers deserve, he received not perhaps much in the way of book-learning, not certainly anything in the shape of social position or worldly wealth, but that which was more valuable than all besides, the benefit of a sound moral training and of a bright example of devotion to duty. At ten years of age he went into the pit, gaining the poor wages which helped to eke out the father's earnings by working as a 'trapper.' For nearly eighteen years he was a pitman.

and nothing more. Day after day, first as the tender child scarcely free from the weakness of infancy, next as the growing youth, and then as the strong man, he was doomed to spend most of the hours of daylight in the silence, the solitude, the darkness, and the perils of the coal mine. Do any of my readers know what is the life which the pitman leads, lost in the workings of the colliery, far away from the shaft which is the one means of exit from the horrible recesses of the murky labyrinth, far away also from all his fellowworkmen, as hour by hour he patiently and steadily 'hews' or 'puts' the coal which is, as it were, the very foundation-stone of our national life? Only those who are familiar with the interior of a coal mine can truly realise all that is involved in the pitman's work, the two most prominent characteristics of which are the darkness and the

isolation of the mine. Still, in these very features of the miner's life some compensation is to be found. The man who can think at all is forced to think long and deeply in the silence and solitude of the pit-workings; and he thus enjoys opportunities for self-communing which are too


now-a-days in the working world above his head. How well Thomas Burt profited by these opportunities, is now apparent to all who come in contact with him. Whilst still a mere boy he 'signed the pledge,' and thus freed himself from the greatest peril which besets the miner's path; and even in his earliest youth, when released from the black prison-house in which he earned his daily bread, he turned his steps homewards, and spent his few hours of leisure in studying the well-thumbed pages of Cassell's Popular Educator,' or, as his mind slowly expanded, in reading the best


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books that came within his reach. Yet it is not to be supposed that he devoted himself exclusively to the cultivation of his own mind. He had too much of the 'enthusiasm of humanity' in his nature, to allow his time and his strength to be absorbed in labours which, after all, might be regarded as purely personal, if not actually selfish. So the delicate lad, who had gone from his mother's side to the pit, and who had daily to over-tax his energies by those bodily exertions on which his living depended, gave up his Sabbath hours of rest to work in the Sunday School, and a portion even of the precious evenings which he might have devoted to reading, to labours in night-schools, temperance organisations, and similar enterprises for the benefit of his


When he was little more than two-andtwenty, and still working as a hewer at

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Seaton Delaval, close to that ill-fated Hartley New Pit which was, in 1862 the scene of the most tragical occurrence in the annals of coal-mining, Mr. Burt married, and gained a wife whose affectionate and sympathetic interest in his work and his career has been of no small advantage to him in all that he has since accomplished. Four or five years later, the opportunity of quitting the pit, and laying aside the 'pick' in favour of the pen, was presented to him. He was living at Choppington, within the borough of Morpeth, of which he is now the Parliamentary representative, when he was chosen as delegate for the men of his pit at the meetings of the Miners' Union. There was a big strike on hand, and the young man from Choppington, who took so quiet and unobtrusive a part in the somewhat stormy and distracted discussions of the members of the Union, speedily made

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