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two Dissenting educational unions, the Manchester Union supports 28 schools, with a total of about 10,000 scholars; the Salford Union about 15, with a total of 6000 or 7000 scholars. There are also Calvinistic and Roman Catholic Sunday - schools, so that the educational provision in this respect is, if not ample, at least a great and constantly working moral engine. Very many of the mill-owners take a strong and practical interest in the schools; a few have Sunday-schools specially connected with their own establishments; and of that few, there are several who labour in the work themselves, and pass several hours every Sabbath among the people whom they employ. These gentlemen are generally strenuous teetotallers, and a total abstinence society is frequently an accompaniment of the factory-school. Of the larger class of proprietors of mills, who do not possess the inclination for scholastic Sunday toil, a good many, nevertheless, encourage evening-classes, and behave liberally to reading-rooms and libraries for their work-people. Some of the larger mills have each an institution of the kind; and it is a general rule with factory owners, to pay such subscriptions to the local hospitals as will enable them at once to grant orders for admission to those of their people who are seriously ill.
Any notice of this great seat of manufacture would hardly be complete without some mention of the surrounding cotton towns, which encircle Manchester as satellites do a planet. We have stated, that in general features these bear a strong family resemblance to their parent. It would be difficult to tell which was the smokiest or the grimiest-the mother or her children while the general habits of life, both of masters and men, are almost identical. Still, the locally instructed know that the resemblance is not uncheckered by points of difference, both of a social and commercial character, which, though too subtile to meet a stranger's appreciation, are well known to the genuine Lancastrian. There are, for instance, the old cotton towns and the new. In the former, the coarsest stuffs are generally produced, the least improved machinery is used, the manufacturers carry on operations on a smaller scale than their more modern-idea'd brethren, and more of them have been working-men themselves. The accommodation for the operatives is also inferior in the old towns, and the whole social tone is lower. As examples, we may take Bolton in a certain degree, and Oldham to the fullest extent. The former town was early established as a manufacturing place, and is notorious for its proportion of cellar dwellings, from which fever is seldom or never absent. Bolton, too, in consequence of the peculiar nature of its productions, generally suffers severely in times of bad trade, and altogether its population seems beneath the social mark of average Manchester. In Oldham, the difference is more visible still. Oldham is the pariah of the cotton-trade. The refuse from all the other Lancashire towns is brought here, and worked up into the coarsest and trashiest of fabrics. The
'shoddy,' celebrated in the Factory-act debates, is manufactured by wholesale at Oldham; and the 'devil's dust,' in the rooms where the machinery tears rags to pieces, may be encountered in nearly as suffocating clouds as in a Yorkshire cheap cloth manufactory. Oldham is a straggling, miserable-looking place. Contrary to the general practice in the cotton districts, it is here common for several masters to rent the same mill-each having his portion, and each paying his proportion towards the steam-engine, which serves them all. These capitalists are frequently of the smallest, and in no respect of education or refinement differ from the working-men they employ. The filth, smell, and utter want of ventilation in many of their small mills, are dreadful; the wages for coarse work, too, run low; and altogether, Oldham is decidedly below par.
As opposite specimens to these two towns, may be cited Ashtonunder-Line, which is remarkable for its great capitalists, for the comfort of the mills, and the excellent accommodation for the operatives, presented by the new portion of the town; and Staleybridge, which, although much beloved of the low Irish,' boasts that it possesses the most perfect spinning-mules, both as to speed and number of spindles, in Lancashire. The go-aheadism, in this respect, of Staley bridge, is universally admitted. Mr Disraeli introduces the fact in a characteristic conversation between Coningsby and a Manchester bagman, and the superiority of the small to the big town in the speed of the spindles is still a matter of confession. Ashton is remarkable for the violent and extreme political and theological tendencies of its population. It was once a great stronghold of the believers in Joanna Southcote, and the long beards you sometimes see in the streets, shew that this singular sect is not yet extinct. The town was, indeed, to have been the 'New Jerusalem,' and one of the four towers which were to guard each corner of its quadrangular shape is now, or was lately, standing, and occupied, we believe, as a tavern.-Stockport may be called a mere suburb of Manchester. It will probably be soon united to it by continuous lines of houses, and in its present condition looks like a portion of the cotton metropolis removed from, but languishing for the rest. Here, as indeed in the whole of the cotton towns, the 'low Irish' congregate in fever and filth-spreading colonies. In Manchester, they principally inhabit a district, the very worst and most dilapidated in the town, curiously enough called Angel Meadow; and, indeed, all these northern towns have their Irish quartiers.
The Lancashire people contend, that it takes three generations before an Irish family will settle down to the steady labour of the mills. They are often tried, but as frequently, when the factorybell rings, found wanting. These people, when located in England, seem to acquire a strange Bedouin taste for irregular wanderings. It is estimated, that about two-thirds of them get a living by straying about the country in search of 'jobs' of the coarsest
labour, or by collecting rags for the dealers in that article; while the remainder eke out a scanty subsistence by cutting and forming into besoms the broom and ling from the heathy hills, which are never far distant from a Lancashire town. When not travelling, the Irish invariably herd together. The mill-hands never associate with them, and generally look upon them in the light of helots or pariahs; though, when an exception to the general run is found, he or she finds no difficulty in getting mill-employment, and the usual mill-society. Next to the Irish in social degradation are, probably, the few scattered cotton handloom-weavers, who still, more or less, by the help of the parish, manage to pursue their antiquated toil. None of these poor people can earn more than 5s. per week for the hardest and most unremitting work. They seem a meek and long-suffering race, acknowledging that the world has gone by them, but still obstinately refusing to follow in the track, and driving the weary shuttle disconsolately on, while steam drives scores of thousands at twenty times the speed.
Meantime the manufacturing world speeds bravely on around them. Lancashire, with all the minute differences between her towns to which we have alluded, works from one into the other so as to educe from each its necessary share in the whole scheme of production. There is no ill-natured rivalry or ruinous competition in the matter. A few good-humoured nicknames are, indeed, applied. The people of Bolton are 'Bolton billies;' those of Oldham, 'Oldham chaps; those of Ashton, Ashton fellows;' those of Liverpool (ironical honour), 'Liverpool gentlemen;' but those of Manchester, Manchester MEN.' The true man of the Irwell, indeed, looks down with no small degree of good-humoured and playful scorn on the true man of the Mersey. He is my carrier, my messenger, my ocean-wagoner,' he says. "He brings me my cotton, and he carries away my fabric. He fetches-I make.' And he of the Cotton Metropolis feels for the moment the greater personage of the two.
And the great Manchester merchant is indeed a great man. To be a leading person on Manchester 'Change, your wealth must be colossal, and your judgment in matters of commercial politics profound. You must have the nicest finger for 'feeling the pulse of the market,' and you must watch with the most enlightened calculating power the political and mercantile fluctuations and movements all over the world-wherever the sale of a yard of calico is to be kept up, or wherever it is to be introduced. The perfect practical knowledge of the condition and prospects of some little known corner of the world, some small South American state, or some German province, sometimes displayed by these gentlemen is marvellous, and convinces you at once of the enormous amount of real information privately transmitted to Manchester for the particulars you hear are neither to be found in newspapers nor books-and all for the purpose of spreading the sale of cotton. Almost the greatest achievement à Lancashire
mill-owner can perform, is the opening up of a new market. This, as may be conceived, is now a days a very difficult task; but wandering emissaries, furnished with the best introductions, and animated by the most zealous enterprise, do occasionally manage to send their employers a mass of orders from some out-ofthe-world locality, for which you would look in vain in the atlas.
The place to see the assembled industrial aristocracy of Manchester, is on the Exchange upon Tuesdays at noon. Then it is High 'Change. In the magnificent pillared hall move, almost like so many phantoms, a crowd of keen, anxious-looking men; portly, sixteenstone personages, with rosy cheeks, but with none of the vacant, aldermanic look about them; sallow Yankees, tall and lank, with oddly-shaped hats, and particularly well got-up about the boots; bustling agents, full of civility, and eager to do a bargain; and sharp Exchange clerks, who come to represent their employers' houses. The taciturnity of the crowd at first strikes you. You hear no vacant gossipping, no laughing, no loud talking whatever; yet an electric stream of intelligence seems to pervade the whole assembly, and every one, by a look, a gesture, perhaps with a muttered word or two, appears to make himself fully understood. Now, what does all the whispering, and nodding, and winking mean? Why don't they speak out? Why, because they are doing business-sounding each other, bargaining with each other, to an amount of money that would appear fabulous. Hundreds of thousands of pounds change hands in these broken words and unfinished sentences. A cotton-sale is soon effected. You may catch the words: 'Brand.' 'Ex Mary Jane.' 'Bales.' 'Three
thousand pounds.' 'Eh?' 'Yes.' Well-done;' and the
agreement is concluded.
On 'Change, then, a Manchester merchant is a perfectly adjusted business-machine. Off it, he very frequently assumes the character of a courteous and accomplished gentleman, taking just as much interest in literature and art as many a whippersnapper connoisseur who passes his life amid books, marbles, and canvas. His house is indeed tolerably sure to be crowded with objects of art. Painters, sculptors, authors, musicians, know well that in no town in Britain do they find a readier or a more appreciative market for their productions than in Manchester. Taste of all kinds indeed-not the mere fancies of the vulgar rich for pretty things, but taste based upon information and study-is more rapidly extending in the cotton city; and the aristocracy of wealth beneath the tall chimneys is becoming more thoroughly leavened with intelligence, and a cultivated perception of the beautiful in beautiful things, than is at all generally known or suspected.
As a general rule, the good understanding at present existing in Manchester between master and workmen is undoubted; and such institutions as the Great Public Library, inaugurated within the last few months, will go far to increase and solidify it.
Not, indeed, but that there is brooding in many hearts, and seething in many brains, the terrible problem of how it chances that the masters make vast fortunes, and retire to splendid villas and newly-purchased estates, while the carders, and the spinners, and the weavers-the perspiring foreheads and the working hands-generally close their career as poor as when they commenced it. In prosperous times, such querulous speculations evaporate in mere empty musings, or noisy speechifications. But when a glut comes; when no smoke pours from the tall chimneys; when the engine is motionless and cold; when there are no Saturday wages; when the houses are stripped, and the pawnbroker's cellars are full; when children are crying for bread, and groups of idle men gather thickly at the corners of the streets; then comes the time of excitement and of danger. Yet, in general, the people of Manchester bear hardship with wondrous and noble resignation. At certain epochs of distress, there have been outrages of a serious kind, but there is good reason to hope that no such unpleasant circumstances will again occur. Sounder views in political and social economy are making way. The work-people are beginning to see that no law prevents them from aspiring and attaining to the rank of capitalists themselves. There is no want of examples of the feat being performed: many of the Manchester mill-owners have been originally mill-hands; and, in the industrial career opened up to the producing regions of the north by our recent commercial revolution, it is to be hoped that the opportunity will be presented to many a young operative of rivalling the achievements of those who have gone before him, and of raising himself through the agencies of industry, probity, and intelligence-from the frame and the loom to the counting-house and the Exchange.