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Then I will dash the tear away, and when misfortunes roll
Their dark and gloomy clouds across my almost sinking soul,
When all my hopes have faded, and my friends deserted me,
Here on thy grave I'll breathe my last, and join myself with thee.
ON A MORNING IN SPRING.
Nor murmur disturbing my sileut repose;
And echo returned where the bramble-bush grows.
l arose from my pillow, as light as the morning, And tript o'er the meadows, by yon gurgling rill;
Intending to meet splendid Phoebus returning,
Ere his splendour shone forth on the brow of the hill.
The sweet-noted throstle tuned often and gaily,
From the neighb'ring coppice, where lovers meet daily,
The stream glided gently amongst the green bushes,
And Jown in the valley surrounded with rushes,
No spot could I see, but there something was glowing,
The birds sweetly singing, the meadow grass growiDg, Afforded me pleasure and constant delight.
But man of himself seemed surrounded with sorrow,
Impatient he looks for the dawn of the morrow,
EUand. Johannes S.
A VISIT TO A COAL MINE. Being in the immediate neighbourhood of Newcastle, I determined to venture into the sable world, from the materials of which the good people of London derive one source, at least, of considerable comfort. The viewer, on my arrival at the mouth of the pit, having politely complied with my request, I, along with several others, prepared to dress for a subterranean excursion. We were soon enveloped in capacious coats, which, by their size and cut, one might verv reasonably conjecture had originally been made for either Sir John Falstaff, or that no less renowned gentleman the worthy Daniel Lambert. Having each procured a fur cap, and a candle to light us through the dusky regions, one of the miners, who was preparing to descend, observing that we were strangers, proffered his services to guide us. We gladly accepted his assistance. Having put into the corbe or hasket, in which the coals are raised, his working implements, he got into it himself, and requested us to follow. We obeyed, and were immediately lowered, amidst the grim smiles of the piuuen, who wished us a safe journey of six hundred feet to the bottom, hinting, at the same time, their fears as to the strength of the rope, which they assured us, with a malicious earnestness, had been 'nearly two years in wear. Our fears were soon dissipated: in a few minutes we reached the bottom, and were handed by some of the men out of our novel travelling machine, to a short distance from the shaft, until we recovered the use of our eyes, which were much dimmed by our sudden transition from the splendour of day to the gloom of night.
Having lighted the candles, our guide led us through a small trap-door to see the immense furnace which is kept constantly burning to circulate the fresh air around the pit, and destroy that which is foul- We next proceeded to view the stables and horses; the animals, considering that many of them had not seen the light of day, or the green fields, for several years, seemed in a most healthy condition. Pursuing out way along the main passage of the pit, we came to a kind of trap-door, which, to the utter amazement of the party, opened, as if by magic, at our approach, reminding us of the famous one in the tale of the Forty Thieves, which I was ever wont to read with so much delight in the days of my boyhood. There were along the passage several of these doors, which serve for the purpose of preventing the accumulation of the foul airs of the mine; they are opened by little boys stationed behind them, who close them the instant the passenger goes through. I could not help pitying the poor little fellows, whose lives are never, while following the occupation, a moment in safety: they live in a state of the most dismal solitude, having no light allowed them, nor any one near them with whom they can beguile the dreary hours by play or conversation. We soon found ourselves about half a mile from the shaft, and here was situated the board where the work of our conductor lay. He assured us it would be scarcely worth our while to travel any further, as there was nothing more interesting to be seen.
We, therefore, sar ourselves down to rest on a huge block of coal, while the miners were preparing to begin operations. You will, perhaps, smile at the idea of our requiring rest at the period of so short a journey, but I assure you we found it more tiresome, in the close, and frequently very low, passage underground, than we should one of twenty times the distance on the earth's surface. Having finished the pipe which he had been smoking, our guide and his mate stripped themselves, and began their work, inviting us, as they do most strangers, to join with them, that we might be enabled to take to our friends, as a curiosity, a piece of coal dug by ourselves.
The labour is exceedingly hard, and the pay but indifferent, a good workman seldom being able to earn more than 3s 6d. a day, which, considering the risk that the poor fellows run of losing their lives, is but a slight compensation. A considerable quantity of coal being loosened, the largest pieces were put into acorbe, and subsequently pushed away, on a kind of truck, to the shaft, by a man termed a putter. The corbes of coal are raised from the pit by means of a powerful engine. From the corbe it is discharged upon a large screen or sieve, and the coal falls into the waggons waiting to receive it. It is conveyed by the waggons to the river or sea-side, and there discharged again into the keels or lighters which are to convey it to the ship.
I have often heard it observed by persons in London, that to them it appeared surprising the pits never fall in. The means resorted to to prevent tbia accident are a considerable number of strong poles. With these the men, as they proceed on their work, shore up the pit at about every three feet. In addition to these there ia between every board or working passage in the pit, a space of about twelve feet left untouched. Notwithstanding all this it sometimes' happens that the pit creeps, as it is termed by the workmen, i. e. the upper and lower parts close together, as though the board had nejer been worked: the men are frequently crushed to death in this manner, owing to the suddenness of the accident.
The coals are extracted from between the immense strata of stone which enclose them by means of pickaxes and wedges; when these prove ineffectual recourse is had to gunpowder, but this is never used excepting in times of great necessity.
I should have informed the reader that the boards are passages of about nine feet wide.
Unlike the coalheavers of London, who are ' riggler out-and-outers' at beer drinking, the pitmen seldom think of indulging themselves in any other liquid refreshment than milk or water, while engaged in their dusty occupation. They, however, I am informed, can play their parts pretty well, when the day's work is over, at a tankard of Shields' ale, or Newcastle beer, of which Cuuningham sung with so much delight.
Every pitman has a cottage.and a good garden, suf
ficient to grow vegetables for the use of his family, and as much coal as he can burn. These are provided by the pit-owner, and for the whole the miner has to pay from his wages the sum of sixpence a week. They are in general very well clad on holidays and Sundays, when attending divine service at the chapel or church. Indeed I was quite astonished by their respectable appearance when I first saw them, as when following their work they are, as might be supposed, none of the most smart or trim. Their cottages are generally extremely neat in the interior, and well-furnished: scarcely one out of some scores into which I peeped, (like Paul Pry,) but had an excellent mahogany fourpost bedstead, and an eight-day clock, with a case of the same description of wood.
October, 1829. W. Gibson.
Let poets say whate'er they will,