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The demand for soup tickets continues unabated, and the very early hour at which many persons are accustomed to resort to the kitchen in Bale-street proves the extremity of their destitution. I was lately conversing with a poor man, who has a wife, three sons and a daughter, all of whom except the woman were then out of work, and he informed me that being unable to sleep or rest, he went for soup one morning so early as half-past one o'clock, and even then found 50 or 60 persons before him. At the time referred to in the above statement, though the more skilled of the hand-loom weavers and the out-door labourers had pretty regular employment, yet many other classes were suffering unusual depression. Such was the case with factory operatives and mechanics, and there were numbers of dyers, spinners, and the more common descriptions of weavers, who had long h ad nothing to do. I was myself acquainted with many individuals connected with these branches of industry, who had been almost without any work for periods varying from a few weeks to twelve months. When to all this is added the long continued depreciation of wages, we shall be convinced that the measure of human endurance was filled to the brim.
At length this measure was exceeded, and the waters of civil strife and commotion threatened to overflow the land, and sweep away the institutions of society. In the month of August, the general turn-out occurred. Such a course, however, only added to the existing distress, and involved many families in great difficulties and privations. This was peculiarly hard in the case of those who were kept out of employment by intimidation. I met with a considerable number of cases of this description, and will mention one of them.
A poor calico-weaver, whose family consisted of five individuals, had himself been nearly without work ever since Whitsuntide, and was chiefly dependent on his eldest daughter, who wrought at a power-loom factory, where they had for some time been employed but three or four days per week. When, therefore, she was kept entirely from her usual employment for several weeks In succession, the whole family were deprived of a sufficiency of the common necessaries of life, and were in danger of being ejected by the landlord from the house to which they had but lately removed. Yet these poor people are of remarkably peaceable habits, and would have been glad to have worked if they had been allowed.
FROM John Layhe's ninth Annual Report of the Ministry to the Poor, 30 April, 1843, pp. 7-8. describing conditions in Manchester in July and August 1842.
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