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secured to them by the early English law. So recently as the reign of Charles I., the wife retained, at marriage, all her own real estate, while entitled to claim a life estate in a third of the property, real and personal, of her husband, at his death. Since then, those rights have wholly disappeared—the law giving the husband the whole of the wife's property, while securing to her nothing whatsoever. However profligate may be the husband, the wife can have no separate property — all her earnings belonging to her partner, and being liable to be taken for payment of his debts. In no part of the world, claiming to be held as civilized, is the wife so entirely at the mercy of the husband—so much his slave—as in England. Looking now to the countries that follow in the train of Britain, we find, in all of them, a movement directly the reverse of that observed in those which follow in the train of Colbert and of France — the societary proportions of the middlemen class constantly increasing, when they should decrease. All of them are moving steadily towards societary dissolution—the process being that of gradual decay, to end, and that inevitably, in social death. In all such cases, it is the woman who suffers most—the man being able to change his place, while wife and children must remain at home.—The annihilation of Irish manufactures having deprived tens of thousands of Irish females, of the employments to which they had been accustomed, where could they then seek to sell their labor 7. The whole Irish people having been reduced to the condition of mere “starvers upon potatoes and water,” the men could yet roam abroad—seeking employment in England, or even beyond the ocean; but who were left to furnish food to hundreds of thousands of wives and mothers, daughters and sisters, left behind 7–Where “popular starvation,” as we are told by a distinguished English writer, had become “the condition” of a whole people, what could be done with those who were weak of body or of mind 7 – It is under such circumstances that man becomes a slave to nature, and woman a slave to man. Looking next to India, we find a change to have been effected in the societary arrangements, tending, as in Ireland, to the annihilation of domestic commerce, and attended with an amount of ruin and distress, to which “there is no parallel to be found in the annals of commerce.” Who were, here, the severest sufferers ? Sons and husbands might find employment in the Company's service, but in what direction could wives and daughters look for food 7 Men could emigrate to the Mauritius, but women and children must remain at home. Driven to despair, by a series of oppressions unparalleled in the history of the world, the unfortunate people have recently attempted a revolution, and the country has, for two years past, been made the theatre of a civil war, in the course of which, the country has been ravaged, towns and villages burned, and great cities plundered, even when not almost destroyed. What, in this state of things, has been the condition of the wives and mothers, the sisters and the daughters, every where exposed, as they must have been, to the vilest ontrages.* Passing now to Turkey, we are there presented with a picture, drawn by an English traveller, of the “hopeless competition” of industrious women and children, with the machinery of England— the latter working assiduously, “from the moment their little fingers can turn the spindle,” and the former giving the unremitting labor of a week for the miserable pittance of an English shilling, even where not wholly deprived of employment, by reason of inability to dispose of the yarn which they have spun.f Turkey and India exhausted, we now witness a persistent effort, during half a century, at the demoralization of China, by means of opium, forced into that country in defiance of governmental opposition. For the accomplishment of that object, we have now had two wars, in which cities have been stormed, men have been , killed, and women have been violated. How far such measures tend towards the advancement of civilization, may be judged by the women of this country, who see in the dram-shop the greatest foe to domestic happiness and peace.* It is in the face of all this, that the women of England address those of America in relation to the evils of slavery, while an English clergyman congratulates his readers on the facts, that “no civilized power” has ever been “engaged in such constant and multitudinous wars”—there having been “no month or week in the history of the last two hundred years, in which it could be said '' that they were “not interchanging shot or sabre stroke, somewhere or other on the surface of the globe.” Look when we may at the Times, as he further says, we find that the “meteor flag is waved in bloody advance”—that, too, “being,” as we are assured, “an indispensable part of the British position.”f The British system gives us, thus, perpetual war upon the nations of the world, by means of soldiers and sailors, guns and gunpowder; and a perpetual “warfare” within the bosom of all those nations — this last being carried on by aid of those great capitalists, who can afford to make the “sacrifices required for gaining and keeping possession of foreign markets.”—Against whom, however, is this double warfare chiefly carried on ? It is against those who are unfit for labor in the field — against the weaker sex. Unfit to dig the earth, they find themselves driven from the light labor of conversion, in every country subject to the system, “from Smyrna to Canton, Madras to Samarcand.” What, then, remains to them 7 In millions of cases, little else than prostitution; yet are we constantly assured of the civilizing effects of that trading system, to which the term “commerce” is so erroneously applied.—How it tends to the amelioration of the condition of the English women themselves, we may now inquire.
* The following picture of the scenes which followed the storming of Badajos, in 1812, is by an English officer, who was present on the occasion, and may enable the reader to form some idea of the probable condition of the women of Delhi and Lucknow, and of India at large, throughout the last two years:
“A convent at the end of the strada of St. John was in flames, and I saw more than one wretched nun in the arms of a drunken soldier. Further on, the confusion seemed greater. Brandy and wine casks were rolled out before the stores; some were full, some half drunk out, but more staved in, in mere wantonness, and the liquors running through the kennel. Many a harrowing scream saluted the ear of the passer-by; many a female supplication was heard asking in vain for mercy. . How could it be otherwise, when it is remembered that twenty thousand furious and licentious madmen were loosed upon an immense population, among which many of the loveliest women upon earth might be found? All within that devoted city was at the disposal of an infuriated army, over whom, for the time, control was lost, aided by an infamous collection of camp-followers, who were, if possible, more sanguinary and pitiless even than those who had survived the storm. It is useless to dwell upon a scene from which the heart revolts. Few females in this beautiful town were saved that night from insult. The noblest and the beggar—the nun, and the wife and daughter of the artisan—youth and age, all were involved in general ruin. None were respected, and consequently few escaped.”
f See ante, vol. i., p. 814.
* “Never, perhaps, was there a nearer approach to a hell upon earth, than within the precincts of those vile hovels,” the opium dens.—Rev. E. B. SQUIRE.
“We have little reason to wonder at the reluctance of China to extend her intercourse with foreigners, when such intercourse brings upon her pestilence, poverty, crime, and disturbance. No person can describe the horrors of the opium trade.”—Rev. HowARD MALcol M.
+ Rev. I. White: The Eighteen Christian Centuries, p. 482. — It is within the two centuries above described, that the English woman has lost all her previous claims to either her own property, or that of her husband.
§ 4. Since the days of Adam Smith, more than 160,000 small proprietors have disappeared from England — so many homes having lost the husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers, who, less than a century since, stood upon their own land, and among their own children. So has it been throughout Great Britain — the customary right of clansman having wholly disappeared, and their clearance from the land having been effected with a rudeness to which it would be difficult to find a parallel, except in Ireland.* Driven from the land, the parents seek for homes in the towns and cities — wives and children seeking employment in mines and factories. Simultaneously, however, with the consolidation of the land we have the consolidation of great capitals, ever ready to crush domestic or foreign competition for the purchase of labor, or the sale of labor's products. The result is seen in the many harrowing Reports of Parliamentary Committees — reports in which we are presented with females working like slaves, and perfectly naked, among boys and men, in the mines; with wives and daughters subjected to an amount of physical effort, for which they were not intended by the Creator to whom they owe their miserable existence.* Recently, there has been an effort at improvement; the working of females in the mines having been, under certain circumstances, prohibited, and the hours of employment for children having been limited by law—the very fact, however, of the necessity for such laws, furnishing evidence of the absence of that competition for the purchase of labor, which would enable the laborer to obtain a fair day's wages for a fair day's work. The “wasting shop,” in which women are compelled to work 16 or 20 hours per day, and under a temperature so high as far to exceed the heat of the Torrid Zone — the shop in which their lives are “expended like those of cattle on a farm”— still exists; and all attempts at interference, with a view to the protection of these helpless women, is resisted, because of the “keenness of the competition” for the sale of cloth.f What, however, is the object of this competition ? That of preventing the women of India, of Ireland, and of America, from finding purchasers for
* “Will you ask the oldest inhabitants of the bare rock sides along the bleak and rugged shores of the West, how it happens that they starve out a drizzling existence on these unproductive wastes, while, for scores of miles, ten thousand times ten thousand available acres lie in bleak and barren desolation ? Will you ask them to tell you how it happens that whole straths and glens, once vocal with the merry laugh of hundreds of happy cotters' children, now echo naught save the bleating of sheep, or the huntsman's horn, or the sportsman's rifle? Will you inquire how it happens that the Fo of Lairg is only a third of what it could boast of in 1801; how
oth has diminished a third; Kildonan, by three-fourths; Creich, by 1500; and other parishes to a less extent; so that the whole county of Sutherland has not increased 7 per cent during the whole of the last fifty years?—Will you ask if it be true that the county which obtained a distinguished niche in the annals of this country, for the number and prowess of its soldiers, cannot now get half a dozen of its sons to recruit it even for the militia, or to act as volunteers in being merely trained for the defence of the coast; if it be a fact that, since the commencement of the present century, more than 15,000 of the aboriginal inhabitants of Sutherland have been thrust out from the land which their ancestors from traditionary ages occupied, and thrust out —not because convicted of crime, not because guilty of laziness, not because of arrears of rent, not because of immoral conduct, but to convert their holdings into monster sheep-walks and grouse-grounds.”—Douglas JERRold: Iletter to Mrs. Stowe.
* “My attention was drawn to one public house, much frequented by factory workers; I accordingly called about nine o'clock one evening, and found in the tap-room six females, three married and three single; also five men. The women were all workers at one factory. I entered into conversation with one of these women, as follows:– “What time do you go to work in a morning?” “We begin work at six, but I generally get up at five o'clock, as I have upwards of a mile to go?”—“Do you get your breakfast before you go, or is it brought to you afterwards?’ ‘No, I carry it with me, and also my dinner and drinking.’” — ‘What time have you allowed for breakfast?” “Fifteen minutes.”—“What time for dinner?” “One hour.”—“What time for drinking?” “Fifteen minutes.”—“What time do you leave at night?’ ‘Halfpast seven o'clock.”—“Do you feel fatigued after your day's work o’ ‘I can assure you, sir, I do; for ours is very hard work: we have to lift above our heads four combs a minute, each weighing twenty-four pounds.”—“You mean to say, then, that you lift ninety-six pounds per minute, the day through o' “Yes, sir, and week about. That is the reason you see us here drinking; for we cannot eat much, and we must have something. I brought this bread and butter with me this morning, and you see I have not eaten it.”—“Is your husband in work?’ ‘No, nor has not been these eighteen months.”—“Does he get up in a morning when you do?”—“No, I leave him in bed with the youngest child.”—“How many children have you?’ ‘Three.”—“What age are they?’ ‘Five, three, and one: that at three I have not seen sometimes from Monday morning to Saturday night; for it is put to bed before I get home, and I leave it in bed in the morning.”—“What do you generally get for this sort of employment?’ ‘Our wages vary from six to eight shillings per week.’— ‘How long have you been a factory worker ?’ “Since I had my second child.”—“How many females are there working in your factory?’ ‘Thirty.” —‘How many of them are married ?’ ‘Ten.”—“How many of the others have had children?’ ‘Nearly the whole; and them that have not will, if they remain there long; for they are wicked places. I wish I had never known them, for the sake of my children! I can assure you, sir, I have known better days.’”— Wrongs of Women, p. 134.
# See ante, vol. i., p. 474, note.
* “Drinking is the term used for their tea.”