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AND FRIEND OF THE
SONS OF TOIL
Published For the Editor by Messrs. PARTRIDGE & Co.; A. W. Bennett; W. Tweedie, London.
[Price One Penny.
CELEBRATED COLLIERS AND MINERS.
[To Colliers and Miners we are so much indebted for owe fireside comforts at this season, that we give them the first place in our New Year’s number.]
George Stephenson, the celebrated civil engineer and the father of the present Robert Stephenson, was, in the early part of his life, a miner. He was born in a collier village near Newcastle, in 1781. His father was an engine tenter at a pit, and George was taken when very young to earn twopence a day as an engine boy. In due time he became strong enough to work underground as a collier’s assistant; and, after serving such an apprenticeship as is usual, became a pit labourer, afterwards a breaksman. In this humble capacity he worked steadily, soberly, and cheerfully; drawing the attention of his immediate superiors by his intelligence and readiness of resource when anything went wrong in the pit and required amendment. He was also remarked for a vigilant habit of observation, and a constant regard for the interests of his employers. The engine at the pit mouth becoming unworkable, and the regular engineer having pronounced its condition hopeless, Stephenson came forward and offered to repair it. This he did completely, and he was forthwith installed by his employers in the place of engine man. Prom this he rose by various steps to the important position he ultimately occupied. He does not appear to have had any school education, and it is said that he could not readily read till he was twenty. He was a self-educated man, feeling his own deficiency he devoted himself to mental improvement by observation, experiment, reading, and study, at all times when he had the opportunity, and thus became useful, wealthy, and famous. About the same time that Sir Humphrey
“NOW LADS—I THINK I’VE GOT THE WHEAT, AND YOU’VE GOT THE CHAFF.” (See next page.)
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THE BRITISH WORKMAN.
Davy invented the safety lamp in London, Stephenson at Newcastle made one also. But his chief fame rests upon his improvements in locomotive engines and railways, and upon the lines of railway which he planned and carried out., He died at his residence, called Tapton House, near Chesterfield, August 22, 1848, aged 67. In the central hall of the Euston Square TErminus of the North Western Railway, there has recently been placed a marble statue, by Baily, in honor of this man, who, having fought manfully the battle of life, raised himself from obscurity to renown, and became the benefactor of his country and his age.
George Elliot, Esq., of Houghton Hall, Durham, viewer of the extensive mines of the Marchioness of Londonderry, a gentleman to whom the nation is indebted for a mass of most valuable evidence on coal mines, given before various committees of the House of Lords, and the House of Commons—whose untiring efforts for promoting the domestic comfort and social elevation of the colliers, have secured for him the affection of tens of thousands in the colliery districts, was originally a trapper boy in one of the very coalpits of which he is now the viewer! By industry, perseverance, and “ redeeming the time,” he has attained a position in society, which secures for him the regard of the nobles of the land.
William Llewellyn, a celebrated collier of Mangotsfield, Gloucestershire, who died December 2nd, 1773, aged 86 years.
He worked as a collier all his life for the support of himself and family; he was passionately fond of the study of astronomy—-he frequently spent whole nights in stargazing and the study of the heavenly bodies. He saved thirty pounds in his youth, and spent the whole in books of science. He read the works of Newton, Halley, and other great writers. He made telescopes and microscopes of every kind-—could calculate eclipses to the greatest nicety. He made an almanac, and when he died left behind him a name that will be long remembered.
Several of his descendants are now moving in highly respectable circles.
The following poetry was written by a friend after his death:—
For William Llewellyn, the learned collier of Mangotsfield, in Gloucestershire.
Beneath this humble turf there lies
An honest collier, learn’d and wise;
His mind by love of knowledge fired,
To wisdom more than wealth aspired:
And thought it was a happy lot
To dwell with knowledge in a cot.
To latest life from early youth,
His search was philosophic truth,
And oft from nightly rest he stole
To seek the charmer of his soul
In nature’s book; by nature taught
He learned to think as Newton thought;
And with an astronomic eye
Measured the rolling orbs on high.
He knew the courses, motions, reign.
Of all the planetary train,
And with precision just and clear
Marked out the order of the year.
To him were nature’s treasure’s known,
And science made them all his own.
What though not wealth nor honour’d birth
Distinguished him from men of earth—
What though no state nor ’lotted name
Enrolled him in the list of fame—
His soul aspired to nobler things.
And left the world to lords and kings;
Content to enjoy the better part,
A knowing head and honest heart.
Accept O sage, the tribute due.
To worth so simply great as thine;
And let the learn’d with candour view
What friendship offers at this shrine.
The Collier-Bishop.—-When Gregory conferred with the church at Comana respecting the choice of a pastor, several of the people were for having a man of rank and splendid abilities; but Gregory, recollecting that the prophet anointed David, a shepherd, to be King over Israel, he requested them to look amongst the lowest order of society, and see whether a person could not be found, possessed of piety and ministerial qualifications. This was received with indignation by many of the inhabitants of the city, and one high-minded man told the worthy bishop by way of derision, that if he wished them to take a person from the scum of the people, they might as well select Alexander the collier from their ranks. Gregory took the hint, and sent for Alexander, who appeared before them, ragged in his apparel, and besmeared with the dirt of bis employment, exciting the laughter of the less sedate among the assembly. The bishop soon perceived him to he a man of both talent and piety; and, after withdrawing with him, and instructing him how to act, returned to the assembly, and delivered a discourse on the pastoral office. It was not long before Alexander, who was a comely looking man, was again presented to the brethren, washed and attired in the canonicals of the episcopal order, and was chosen —collier as he had been—bishop of Comana, with only one dissenting voice!
John Opie.—Amongst the celebrated men who have risen from the ranks of the miners of Cornwall, may be mentioned , John Opie the artist, who was the son of a carpenter at St. Agnes, near Truro, and has left a name honourably remembered in English art. Opie was discovered in the tin mines of Cornwall by an equally celebrated man, Peter Pindar. Peter, or more truly. Dr. Walcot, found Opie to be rough and unpolished, but full of talent. Peter Pindar had many ways of making Opie known. He talked about him, and wrote about him, and printed about him, for this purpose. He introduced persons of importance to the artist’s rooms, and many of them sat for their portraits, while some few gave commissions. Opie soon became celebrated as the “ Cornish wonder,” and his fame soon spread eastward of Temple Bar; so, that, when Pitt and Nelson died, the “Cornish wonder” was in the full blaze of his reputation. He, therefore, made money more rapidly than spendthrifts consume it, was courted by all, and became a full Royal Academician, and better still, a good man. He was more blessed than many men of genius; for, almost as soon as he proved that he possessed genius, the world was on his side, and honours were awaiting him. Some – fifty years since, he died, leaving as his widow the “Amelia Opie” of thousands of admiring readers. Opie’s remains were deposited in St. Paul’s Cathedral, near to those of Wren, but nearer still to those of Sir Joshua Reynolds.
In the lead mines of the north of England is found another instance of intelligence among miners in Mr. Leithart, who has printed a small treatise on the formation and filling of metallic veins, in which he has ably discussed questions connected with their electrical origin. Mr. Leithart was a working miner, whose only education was at a Sunday school.
Samuel Drew, the Cornish metaphysician, may be traced hack to the mines, for at eight years of age he worked as a buddle-boy, that is, he was employed at the surface works of a mine in stirring up the fractured deposits in the buddies or pits, and in keeping them in ‘agitation until this part of the separating process was complete. This fact is narrated in that interesting book, “The Life, Character,(and Literary Labours of Samuel Drew,” by his eldest son.—From “Cornwall, its Mines and Miners.”
Martin Luther, the reformer, was born at Eisleben, in Saxony, in 1483. His par rents were poor, his father being a miner and worker in metals, and probably the hardships and struggles of his early years did much for the development of Martin’s character. Luther received his early education at Magdeburg, and was there so scantily supplied with the necessaries of life that he was compelled to beg his bread in the town from day to day. After this he went to a school of the Franciscans at Eisenach, and here, also, he, in common with the rest of the poor scholars, had to sing in the streets of the town in the evenings, in order to procure a daily maintenance; the convent only affording them lodging and education in return for all manner of domestic service. By his sweet voice and ingenuous manner young Luther frequently gained upon the regard of the good people of the town, and obtained food or money. He afterwards went to the University of Erfurt, and while here, the sudden death of a companion by lightning who was walking by his side in the country, impressed his mind so much as to cause him to determine to devote himself entirely to God’s service, instead of studying law as his friends desired. With this view he joined a monastery of Augustinian friars, and while here the discovery and reading of a Bible in the Latin language in the library was the means of enlightening his mind and gradually producing the important change in his views which influenced all his after life. He died Feb. 18th, 1546.
James Hann, Esq., a clever mathematical writer, “was, I believe,” says the author of Cornwall: its Mines and Miners, “a boy working with the late George Stephenson underground.” During some years of his early life he filled the situation of a fireman in one of the small steam vessels used in the Tyne for towing ships. Even in this humble position, however, he was acquiring knowledge, and overcoming difficulties of which few persons enjoying other opportunities of self-culture could readily form a conception, and while quite a young man he published his first work, “Mechanics for Practical Men,” still a standard work, which had the good fortune to draw attention to the position of its author, and contributed in no small degree to his success. For many years he was a resident of London, having been engaged as Professor of Mathematics in King’s College soon after its establishment, and his contributions to the mathematical works of the day have been exceedingly copious and important. He died in the year 1856.
PARKFIELD COLLIERY, near BRISTOL.
All honour to the toiling hand,
Or in the field or mine;
Or by the hissing steam machine,
Or on the heaving brine.
Whatever loom, or barb, or plough.
Hath wrought to bless our land;
Or wrought around, above, below,
We owe the toiling hand.
It battles with the elements;
It breaks the stubborn sward;
It rings the forge, the shuttle throws,
And shapes the social board.
It conquers clime; it stems the wave;
And bears from every strand,
The sweetest, best, of ail we have,—
Gifts of the toiling hand.
SONG OF THE MINERS.
Down in the mine which the sunbeams ne’er lighten,
We cheerfully labour our living to win;
For where are the hardships which hope cannot brighten,
What matters the gloom if there’s sunshine within!
On the home of our sovereign the light may be glowing,
Round the porch of the peasant the rosebuds may twine,
But both palace and cottage, their comforts are owing
To brave hands and busy hands down in the mine!
We toil here for all that in life is endearing,
We toil for the wives and the children we love,
Their smiles are as bright, and their words are as cheering
To miners below, as to peasants above.
Begrimed though the face he, and blackened. the fingers,
Pure lips, and a conscience unsullied be mine,
For sin is the dark thing that stains where it lingers,
And true hearts and pure hearts may beat in the mine!
Oh! yes, for the Spirit of mercy attending,
Brings tidings of pardon and peace even here,
And when humble prayer from the depths is ascending,
The snowy-winged angels are hovering near!
By the light which to all those who ask it is given,
Then search for the treasure of wisdom divine,
That the Lord may count up ’mid His jewels in heaven,
The humble—the faithful—who toil in the mine!
Authoress of the “Claremont Tales.”
THE STAFFORDSHIRE MINER.
John Roberts died about ten or twelve years since—a poor mechanical genius, who could never illuminate his own obscurity by the light which he kindled for richer men to bask in. It was John’s misfortune, without being other men’s fault, that he could husband neither fancies nor finances. As exuberant in the one as profuse with the other, John got money which he could not keep, and mixed up so many extravagant speculations with his really useful ones—-“cried wolf” so often when there was none, that people disbelieved him when there was one. He was the discoverer of the improvement in Sir Humphrey Davy’s safety lamp, which, by augmenting its luminosity, lighted the miner at his work, as well as warned him of its dangers. He invented the helmet and apparatus for encountering with impunity the “black damp” in mines and drains, and other close confinements, which, without his antidote, would be fatal to the workmen. The perforated cincture round the burner, afterwards applied to camphine and other lamps, was another happy hit of John’s. He parted with it to a Birmingham factor for a few pounds, and it became the patent which realized thousands. The earliest germ of the smoke consuming theory the writer ever met with, John Roberts expounded to him above twenty years since. I cannot recall all the evidences of poor John’s inventive genius; he was a man of weakly constitution, rendered weaklier by frequent exposure to wet and cold, and extremes of heat in mines and furnaces, relieved by the suicidal indemnity of ardent spirits, “to keep out a cold,” they said, but it let in death. John’s complexion was constitutionally pallid—“sickbed o’er” with the pale cast of thought; but his eye was singularly brilliant, and his expression unmistakeably intelligent. He could neither read, nor write, nor speak grammatically, yet his mode of explaining apparatus, and even arguing a predicament in mechanics or geometry, was all the clearer, perhaps, to amateurs, for the absence of technical terms, and the thorough insight of his oWn, which he could impart to others. He was a meek-tempered, kind-hearted man, with no enemy of his own making, except the drink, which was a host in itself, and curtailed his usefulness, squandered his resources, damaged his character, and abridged his life. Poor John! he died in the prime of manhood, leaving nothing but the memory of his genius to his family, whom, under better auspices, it might have raised from obscurity. He breathed his last in a low house in the back street of an iron township in the “black country.” Consumption set her icy hand upon his lungs, and withered them; and yet in mercy, for it afforded poor John time for reflection and repentance. During this, his last illness, I saw much of him. At my last visit he had seized my hand to hid me farewell, thanking me with tears of gratitude for what I had been permitted to do for him, and held my hand so tightly and so long, that not to withdraw it unkindly I left the hand in his, as I knelt with some of his family at his bedside to offer prayer. When the prayer was over, he for whom it had been offered was no, more; my hand was clasped in clay, qpd we had been kneeling for some minutes round a thing of dust and ashes!
He lies in St. Mary’s churchyard, in Bilston, and if I remember rightly, without even a stone, to mark where the collier genius sleeps.
Rev. J. B. Owen, M.A.
WHEAT AND CHAFF;
A WORD TO THE COALWHIPPERS.
(See engraving on 1st page.)
During the past few months there has been no small stir amongst the coalwhippers of London relative to the late repeal of the Act of Parliament which was passed for their protection a few years ago.
We are not in a position to judge how far the coalwhippers are in danger of being again brought under the fearful bondage of bygone days, but if there be well grounded fears of such being the case, we are sure that the Earl of Shaftesbury, who has so justly earned the title of the Working Man’s Friend, will soon raise his powerful voice on their behalf.
There is, however, a power possessed by the coalwhippers themselves, which no Act of Parliament can possibly bestow. The following fact communicated to us by Mr. Spriggs, of Holloway, will illustrate our meaning. A gang of coalwhippers, who were constantly in the habit of spending, when in full work, from four to six shillings a day each in the “Public ” — a rate of expenditure which hundreds of them in London can testify is a matter of common occurrence—had on© man of the number who wisely began to think; thinking led to resolving, and resolving to acting. Many a night had he paid his Saturday night score at the alehouse, amounting to twice and not unfrequently to three times as much as he carried home for the feeding and clothing of his wife and family, and he now began to think this was not right. Yielding to a gracious influence, he resolved one day that he would, by God’s help, spend no more of his hard-earned money so foolishly as he had done, but that he would strive to do his duty as a father to his family.
The next day, instead of going with his comrades to the public house at drinking time, he went to the nearest coffee shop and had a cup of coffee and a good slice of bread.
His mates jeered and cursed him, but he was as firm as a rock, for he happily sought God’s help. With good nutritious food and his coffee, he kept pace with the gang. Although they were obliged to admit, after a few days, that he got through his work as well as they did, yet they constantly “chaffed” him, but without effect.
The tables were turned when pay night came. The “score” for drink against every other man was so heavy that not one of them had more than thirteen shillings to receive. The man who had thought, resolved, and acted, now came forward, and the inquiry was made—
“What’s the score against you?”
“Nothing! sir,” was the reply.
The astonished paymaster could not credit the statement, but on inquiry, he of course found it to be quite correct.
He then handed to the brave British workman the sum of Two pounds, seven Shillings!
Turning round to those comrades who had been the loudest in ridiculing his wise conduct, and shewing them the two sovereigns, two half-crowns, and two shilling pieces, said, “Now lads, you’ve ‘chaffed’ me hard enough, but I think now I’ve got the wheat, and you’ve got the chaff.”
Let coalwhippers and others act as this wise man did, and they will do more for themselves, than a hundred Acts of Parliament can do for them.—God helps those who help themselves.
“HOE OUT YOUR ROW.”
One summer day, a farmer’s boy
Was hoeing out the corn;
And moodily had listened long
To hear the dinner horn.
The welcome blast was heard at last,
And down he dropped his hoe;
But the good man shouted in his ear.
“My boy hoe out your row.”
Although a hard one was the row,
To use a ploughman’s phrase;
And the boy, as sailors have it,
Begining well to “ haze.”
“I can,” he said, and manfully
Again he seized his hoe;
And the good man smiled to see
The boy hoe out his row.
The lad the text remembered,
And learned the lesson well,
That perseverance to the end
At last will nobly tell.
Take courage man, resolve you can,
And strike a vig’rous blow;
In life’s wide field of varied toil.
Always “ hoe out your row! ”
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THE BRITISH WORKMAN.
THE WIDOW’S SON.
A NIGHT WITH THE WASHINGTONIANS.
BY T. S. ARTHUR.
[The effort in America for the reclamation of drunkards termed “The Washington Movement,” is one of the most remarkable ever known. We trust that the following graphic narrative of one of the Washington meetings, will lead many of our readers to care for the poor inebriate.]
It had snowed heavily throughout the day, but towards evening the temperature moderated, and it commenced raining steadily with every appearance of the storm continuing for the night. The light snow now thoroughly saturated with water, made the walking so bad, that few individuals ventured forth, unless acted upon by the impulse of necessity, or seeking the gratification of some strong desire.
It was the last named motive that induced me to leave a comfortable fireside. So much had I become interested in the progress of the great Washingtonian movement, that I was eager to observe all its phases, I therefore availed myself of every opportunity to attend the meeting of these moral Reformers. This was the regular night, and I considered the question but a moment, before resolving to think but lightly of the storm.
As I picked my way through the streets, I observed a man staggering along before me evidently intoxicated. At the corner he paused and looked for some time, down towards the wharf, evidently debating an undecided question. While he thus stood I came up to him; I saw that he was a man in the prime of life, miserably clad, and shivering with the cold. The rain had penetrated his garments until they were dripping—his feet, upon which were a pair of worn stockings, and shoes full of holes, were, of course, thoroughly soaked with the snow water, and were, as I supposed, nearly frozen.
Hundreds of times before had I passed such miserable creatures in the street with a feeling of shrinking disgust, but now my heart yearned for the poor wretch, shivering and shrinking in the storm, even though he was a debased drunkard, and in a state of intoxication.
“What are you doing out on such a night as this my friend?” I said to him in a kind tone.
“I should think it would not take you long to guess” he replied, with some bitterness.
“Not after more of the accursed poison that has ruined you?” I said.
“What else do you think could bring me out such a night as this? But I have no money, and am burning up with thirst. Give me a few cents sir, in the name of Heaven!”
“I cannot do that, my friend, because it would do you harm. But why not drink water if you are so dry?” “Water! water! then give me some water, or I shall be consumed with the fire within me.”
I took hold of the wretched man’s arm, and led him along until I came near a little shop, into which I went, and procured for him a glass of water. He drank it off with trembling eagerness.
“Now, my friend,” I said kindly and encouragingly, “would’nt you give worlds, if you had them, to be able to break away from the bondage in which you now are?”
“Worlds!” he ejaculated with energy; “Yes, millions of worlds! But my case is hopeless. Hundreds and hundreds of times have I resolved to reform, and hundreds and hundreds of times have I endeavoured to put my good resolution into practice, but it was no use—I always went back again, and at every such relapse, became worse. There is no hope—no hope!”
O how sad and mournful were his tones as he uttered that brief sentence!
“There is hope my friend!” I remarked in a quick, confident, energetic voice, meant to inspire him if possible, with a new resolution. .
“How? where? Do not mock me, sir, he replied—-at first in a tone of confidence, that subsided into one of despondency and doubt.
“Have you not heard of the Washingtonians?”
“Washingtonians ? No; who are they?”
“Reformed drinkers. Many of them men who were as far gone as you are.”
“You are trifling with me, sir,” the poor man said, shaking his head slowly. No one ever heard of men like me reforming. Every body gives us over to destruction, and to destruction we go without a hand strong enough being reached out to save us.”
“I have heard of many such,” I replied, with emphatic earnestness, “and if you will go with me to-night, I will show you more than a hundred men once as bad, if not worse than you are, who are reformed. And they will tell you how you may reform. And not only tell you how, but will assist you to reform. Will you go with me?”
“I will,” was his prompt answer.
And then he walked along with me, much sobered, while I said every thing I could to encourage him. We soon arrived at the meeting house. Notwithstanding the very inclement night, there were several hundreds present. The meeting not being yet organized, many individuals came round the poor wretch I had brought in, and commenced talking to him. I pointed to the condition of his feet, when, on examination, it was found that they were benumbed, and nearly frozen. A bucket of pump water was immediately obtained and his feet plunged into it, and held there until sensation was restored. Then a pair of dry, warm stockings, and a pair of new, stout shoes were placed upon them, and some of his drenched1 clothes removed, and warm, dry coarse garments were given to him in their stead.
(To be continued.)
THE OLD MINER.
“There’s danger in the mines, old man,” I exclaimed to a miner, who, with his arms bent, leaned against the sides of the immense vault, absorbed in meditation—“it must he a frightful life.”
The old man looked with a steadfast, but somewhat vacant stare, and then, in half-broken sentences he muttered, “Danger— where is there not danger—on the earth or beneath it—on the mountain or in the valley—on the ocean or in the quiet of Nature’s most hidden spot — where hath not death left some token of his presence?”
“Truly,” I replied, “but the vicissitudes of life are Various; the sailor seeks his living on the waters, and he knows each moment that they might engulph him—the hunter seeks death in the wild woods—the soldier in the field of battle—and the miner knows not but that the spot where he now stands to-morrow may be his tomb.”
“It is so, indeed,” replied the old man, “we find death in the means we seek to perpetuate life, ’tis a strange riddle, who shall solve it?”
“Have you long followed this occupation?” I asked, somewhat struck with the old man’s manner.”
“From a boy; I drew my first breath in the mines—I shall yield it up in their gloom.”
“You have seen some of these vicissitudes,” I said, “to which you just now alluded.”
“Yes,” he replied, with a faltering voice, “I have. There was a time when three small boys looked up to me, and called me father; they were sturdy striplings. Now it seems but yesterday they stood before me in the pride of their strength, and I filled, too, with a father’s vanity! But the Lord chasteneth the proud heart—where are they now? I saw the youngest—he was the dearest of the flock, his mother’s spirit seemed to have settled on him—crushed at my feet, a bleeding mass; we were together, so near that his hot blood sprung up into my face. Molten lead had been’ more lasting than those fearful drops. One moment, and his light laugh was in my ears; the next, and the large mass came; there was no cry of terror, but transition to eternity as was the lightning’s flash, and my poor boy lay crushed beneath the fearful load. It was an awful moment! but time— that brought relief, and I still had two sons. But my cup of affliction was not yet full; they, too, were taken from me. Side by side they died, not as their brother, but the ‘firedamp’ caught their breath, and left them scorched and lifeless. They brought them home to the old man; his jewels, than whom earth’s richest treasures in his sight had no price, and told him he was childless and alone. It is a strange decree, that the old plant should thus survive the stripling things we shaded, and for whom it would have died a thousand times. Is it surprising that I should -wish to die here in the mines?”
“You have, indeed,” I replied, “drunk of affliction; whence do you derive consolation?”
The old man looked up—“From Heaven; God gave, and he taketh away, blessed be his name.”
I bowed my head to the miner’s pious prayer, and the old man passed on.
THE PIT BOY.
The sun is sinking fast, mother,
Behind the western hills;
The bell is tolling loud, mother,
The breeze of evening chills.
It calls me to the pit, mother,
My nightly toil to share;
One kiss before we part, mother,
For danger lingers there.
My father’s voice I hear, mother,
As near his grave I tread;
He bids me comfort thee, mother,
And share with thee my bread.
And whilst I see thee smile, mother,
My labour light shall be;
And, should his fate be mine, mother,
Then Heaven will comfort thee.
THE REV. BENJ. PARSONS PREACHING IN THE COAL PIT.
The late Rev. Benjamin Parsons, of Ebley, preached to the colliers in the employ of Messrs. Wethered, Cpssham, and Wethered, at Parkfield Colliery, in August, 1853.
Time—Six o’clock in the morning.
Place—Bottom of Cook’s pit.
Text—40th Psalm, 1st and 2nd verses.
Congregation—About two hundred.
Mr. Parsons stood with his back to the pit—the lads sat down round Mr. Parson’s feet—the young men formed the next ring, and the elder men sat at the sides of the branches. The greater portion sat on the ground, some few on their heels, and the rest on old hudges and tubs. About half the men and boys had their candles lighted. Mr. Parsons was dressed in pit clothes.
The men listened with the greatest attention, and were much pleased; many of them were deeply affected, and often advert to the sermon and incidents with sincere pleasure and delight.
The Sermon.—Mr. Parsons referred to the Psalmist having been lately brought out of trouble, and comparing it to a “horrible pit and miry clay.” He then showed that a life of sin and transgression might be compared to a “horrible pit and miry clay,” and proved that the religion of the Bible was designed to bring us “up out of this state,” and give stability to our characters, and firmness of purpose to our conduct and pursuits. He also told his hearers in what respect real religion might be compared to a man with his feet upon a rock.
1st. It supported the soul in trial and temptation.
2nd. It enabled the man under its influence to stand firm to principle amidst opposition and obloquy.
3rd. It would support and strengthen in the hour of death.
The whole sermon was marked by the peculiarities of style and manner so characteristic of Mr. Parsons. Many of his illustrations were taken from the place where he was preaching, and the circumstances connected with pit life.
He often referred with pleasure to this occasion, and his remark as he came up out of the pit, and saw the rays of light brighter and brighter as he neared the top was, “This is like it is with the Christian in death. Heaven looks brighter as he gets nearer.”
For the benefit of those of our readers who have not visited a coalpit, we give, in the previous page, a sketch of the surface works of the Parkfield Colliery. We do. so with the greater pleasure, as its spirited proprietors have exerted themselves so much to improve the social condition of their workpeople, and promote their temporal and eternal happiness.
On inquiry, we have been gratified to learn that the 350 men and boys employed at this colliery receive their wages on Friday afternoon—that they have a good free circulating library—an excellent sick fund —that a weekly Bible class for the children of the miners is conducted by one of the principals, and occasionally lectures are given.
The efforts of this firm to promote habits of temperance amongst their hands have been signally successful. About one third of the men are never known to touch spirits or malt liquor.
A striking illustration of the value of temperance to miners is furnished by the following fact which we extract from one of the volumes of “Anecdotes” published by the Religious Tract Society, some years ago.
“In the copper mines of Knockmahon, in Ireland, as we are informed by their manager, Captain Petherick, more than one thousand persons are daily employed, of whom eight hundred have taken the total abstinence pledge. Since doing so, the value of their productive industry has increased by nearly £5,000 per annum, and not only are they able to put forth more exertion, but their work is done better, and with less fatigue to themselves. Besides this, they save at least £6,000 every year, which had previously been expended in the purchase of alcoholic liquors.”
We trust that many miners will be led by this important testimony to take care of their hard-earned money, and not squander it at the ale house and dram shop.
We are glad to find that schools specially for the children of miners, are being established in various districts. Our attention has been called to the one in Bristol, under the superintendence of Mr. Mark Fryar, a gentleman thoroughly acquainted with practical mining in all its details. The course of instruction includes geology, mining, surveying, boring, sinking, pumping, winding, ventilation, lighting, timbering, drawing, book keeping, and the lowest possible rate is charged, so that all the working miners may have the opportunity of giving their children a little fortune in a good education.
As some of our readers may desire to know more of the Bristol Mining School, we beg to refer them to Handel Cossham, Esq., of Shortwood Lodge, near Bristol.
FOR WIVES AND MOTHERS.
“Do you call this pleasure! I never worked so hard, or felt so tired and vexed in my life!” These words were spoken by a mother to her two boys as they all three trudged along the bridge over the canal, and turned towards the Harrow Road. They had been by barge up the canal to a drinking and dancing booth at Harlesden Green. The woman was a widow, who earned a living as a laundress, and her two sons were errand boys at shops in Paddington. Instead of encouraging her children to go to a Sabbath school, or going with them herself to a place of worship, this weak and wicked mother yielded to their wishes and went with them pleasuring on the Sabbath. On their return the mother was tired and cross; the boys, both of whom had been drinking, were quarrelsome, and the day ended wretchedly.
Next morning one boy was too tired and poorly to rise in time for his work, and so lost his place; nor was that the worst, they wanted to go again to their Sunday sin and folly, and not long after the eldest boy was taken up for robbing his employer, and his brother as being an accomplice; both were convicted, and confessed that to get money for Sunday excursions had been their temptation. The wretched mother’s deepest grief arose from the thought that she had been the means of taking them first among a company of Sabbath breakers; and thus had — led the way to their ultimate ruin.
THE HALF-WAY HOUSE.
Two respectably dressed women were walking along the Harrow Road, when, as they were about to pass a gin palace at the corner of a street, one of them said, “Let’s go in here; I call this my half-way house,” and they accordingly went in, without a blush of shame, and without fear of consequences. These women were the wives of mechanics, and yet they would go to a place where the blasphemous oath, the indecent jest, the brutal word, were as common as the drams they drank.
These two women had the means of living comfortably out of their husbands’ wages; but they required to be careful and orderly in what they spent. Yet in that gin-shop, what they laid out for drink would have bought a loaf or the best part of a good meal. Could a thrifty saving wife go there?
Think, what a process of sin and folly must have gone on in the mind of a wife and mother before she could call a gin-palace “her Half-Way House,” Yes! She might well call it the “Half-way House.”
The gin-palace is the half-way to poverty. Ask the able-bodied pauper —he owns it with a sigh. It is the half-way to theft. Oh, that apprentice boy weeping at the prisoners’ bar, robbed his master’s till to go to the concert or the tavern garden. It is the half-way to murder. Strong drink must be taken to drawn the voice of conscience, and then the murderer can load the pistol, or sharpen the knife, or mix the poison Yes ! reader, it is half-way to the prison, the hulks, the scaffold.
“Avoid it—pass not by it—turn from it and pass away.”
THE TWO PARTINGS.
“You make a fellow’s life so miserable, Jane! that I don’t care if I never come home again, that I don’t,” said a stout young pitman as he flung out of his house, and made the best of his way out of the hearing of his wife’s shrill tongue.
Jane Dingwell, the wife, would have done very well-to govern her temper, if she had known how, and to use her fingers as nimbly as her tongue. She was always gossiping or quarreling with her neighbours, and when her husband came home from his work, he seldom found a meal ready, or the house in order. So there would be angry words, and Joe would go off to the public, when, if he had a decent table and a tidy dwelling, he would have gladly staid at home. With all their quarrels this couple were not without love for each other; when Jane was once sick, Joe watched over her bed as tender as a woman; and when Joe was slandered by a malicious fellow workman, Jane’s tears were shed far more freely than they ever would have been for herself. But she wanted the tidy, orderly, punctual ways, that make home homely. The three great acquirements of a woman—needlework, cooking, and housework, were not known to her, and when fault was found she flew in a passion, and so it was this morning, and poor Joe left with anger in his words, and sorrow in his heart, a despairing man.
That very morning, just a few doors beyond, there was another parting. An old woman, the grandmother of the family, was very ill, and her son, John Arnold, and his wife, and their three children, after a plain, comfortable breakfast, had gathered round the bed of the sufferer, and John read the
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THE BRITISH WORKMAN.
103rd Psalm, and knelt down, his family all kneeling round, and had prayer—the prayer of faith, and hope, and love. He rose, pressed the hand of the invalid, whose feeble lips moved with the words, “God be gracious to thee, my son.” John dashed a tear from his eye—his wife followed him to the door and kissed him—his little ones hung about him, and one rosy prattler ran after him down the lane, and said, “Father, father, one more kiss for Nelly.” Ah, clasp her close, poor child! for it is the last embrace her father will ever give her. He went with his heart overflowing with gratitude for all the sweet human ties that God had permitted to gather round him.
Hark! what is that? a shock! a rush! A sudden quiet, as if the hearts of the whole village had stood still—and then loud shouts and cries of men, and the wild scream of frantic women, Ah, it’s too true! there’s an explosion in the pit. Oh the agonies of wives, the terror of children, as they run in wild alarm to the place. Who can paint—nay, who imagine the scene; but what an added pang there is for those who have parted m anger, and in sin. “Ah,” said a widow in my hearing in South Wales, “if we had but parted in peace!” Oh, reader, try so to part with those you love, that the last words uttered on earth may be fit to echo in Heaven.
Don’t laugh dear reader! at the round high crowned black hat, worn by the tidy, hard working Welsh woman. That hat often covers a good sensible head, full of wise true thoughts. I’ve looked into the miners’ homes in Wales, and when religion and sobriety were there, there are no working men’s homes in wide Britain more comfortable.
The good wife has a decent pride in having nice, and sometimes handsome furniture in her house. There’s a row of houses all occupied by miners, that extends up hill out of the town of Merthyr Tydvil. There’s good mahogany presses, and tables there, that reflect from their polished surface the glow of the bright large fires. Plenty of hard work there must be to keep the rooms so neat and nice; and plenty of hard thrift to get such capital household gear; aye, and plenty of employment too, as at evening the wife spreads the plain plentiful meal, and waits her husband’s return. He steps into his house like a king! How bright and warm and neat it is. And more than all it is his own! His kingdom! Who would crawl into a tap-room smelling of saw-dust, tobacco smoke, stale beer and dirty clothes, who could cheerfully go to a decent, quiet, snug little house, kept orderly by a good wife’s hand, and lighted by her smile? But dear wife and mother, hear a word of advice from a friend. Have the fire, the meal, and the smile always ready; or the beer house keeper may cheat you of your husband.
The Rev. W. Hayward, M.A., late Chaplain at the Aldershott Camp, writes us from the Camp of the Curragh, thus:—“The ‘British Workman’ so liberally sent to Aldershott, has been most highly valued by the men. Some of the copies were placed in each ward of our hospitals and in every reading room. I have little hesitation in saying, that judging from their appearance (they mere literally thumbed till they came to pieces) and from comments I heard made about them, they are the most popular of the many illustrated magazines with which our hospitals have been furnished.”
The following beautiful anecdote illustrative of the power of gospel principles amongst converted Indians, is given in a note attached to the fine poem, by Judge Conrad:—
“It has been alleged by high authority that the Indians cannot be converted; the readiest answer to the impious and profane absurdity is, that they have been converted.
A large body of Indians have been converted by the Moravian missionaries, and settled in the West, where their simplicity, harmlessness, and happiness, seemed a renewal of the better days of Christianity. During the revolutionary war, these settlements, named Lichtenau and Gnadenhutten, being located in the seat of the former Indian contests, were exposed to outrage from both parties. Being, however, under the tuition and influence of the whites, and having adopted their religion and the virtuous portion of their habits, they naturally apprehended that the hostile Indians, sweeping down upon the American frontier, would take advantage of their helplessness, and destroy them as allies of the whites. Subsequent events enable us to compare the red and white man, and determine which is the savage. A party of two hundred hostile Hurons fiercely approached the Moravian Indian town. The Christian Indians conducted themselves in this trying extremity with meekness and firmness. They sent a deputation with refreshments to their approaching foes, and told them that by the word of God they were taught to be at peace with all men, and entreated for themselves and their white teachers peace and protection. And what replied the savage, fresh from the wilds and panting for blood? Did he mock to scorn the meek and Christian appeal? Did he answer with his war-whoop, and lead on his men to the easy slaughter of his foes? What else could be expected from an Indian? Yet such was wot the response of the red warrior. He said he was on a war party and ins heart had been evil, and his aim had been blood, but the words of his brethren had opened his eyes. He would do them no harm. ‘Obey your teachers,’ said he ‘worship your God, and be not afraid. No creature shall harm you.’”
THE PIT EXPLOSION.
Bilston is a smoky episode between Birmingham and Wolverhampton, a town of miners and japanners, and various workers in metals. Under many a coal-dusted face beats a thorough-going friendly heart, with as much of the milk of human kindness in it, as if it came naturally, like a moral secretion. We who have lived long and moved among them, have often had to admire their patient practical attention to one another—the poor to the poor, in those seasons of accident, sickness, or any other calamity to which the nature of their work exposes them. We have seen great .all muscular fellows carrying home a child from the house of a bruised fellow-workman, that “the woman (his wife) mote tak care on it till the feyther got round again.” We have known a neighbouring housewife dress the burn wounds of some bachelor man who had no wife nor mother to tend upon him, through the trying and repulsive period of such an accident as a pit-burning, and continue to wait upon him hand and foot, without fee or favour, for nine or ten weeks together. All this is in their favour greatly and nobly, but the drink ruins their other social virtues to a fearful extent, not to mention how awfully it tells upon their spiritual character and eternal destinies. Their wages are generallv considerable, in some branches very high, so much so that the few who work and don’t drink, realize enough in a few years to retire upon their means, or else become a new race of master employers of labour. The town possesses all the materials for civil, moral, and intellectual improvement, and he who writes this would be thankful to see all classes striving together to banish from among them vice, drunkenness, swearing, Sabbath-breaking, and their intolerable love of “justicing,” and seeking to promote each other’s social and religious welfare.
Rev. J. B. Owen, M.A.
A BILSTON MINER.
“They sent a deputation with refreshments to their approaching foes.”