[Fnoat A CORRESPONDENT.] unenterprising that we doubt if dried mango
fish, the Indian deli- Lord Shaftesbury, in his letter to the Times entitled "The Dorset- cacy, are procurable in London, and American cranberries, the shire Labourers," makes statements which, however true as respects one " jam" a man may consider it no disgrace to like, never seem the village of St. Giles where his Lordship resides, the labourers to pass through Liverpool. Hot buttered toast, buttered rolls, even on other parts of his estate do not feel to be an accurate and soft buttered biscuits are all mistakes, partly for the reasons representation of their condition.
which should exclude hot meat, and partly from the fact that half- Lord Shaftesbury states that for 10 months in the year the hours baked flour heated and drowned in butter makes the eater heavy of labour are and for the remaining 2 months "he is paid for
for the day. Fruit is incomparably better at breakfast than at every hour beyond the 81 hours given in general, extra wages for any other time, though so rarely seen in England, where, having his extra work." The hours of labour on most parts of his Lord- the best fruit in the world, we studiously preserve it for the exact ship's estate, and throughout the neighbourhood generally, are moment when we do not want it, and when its flavour spoils that during the 4 winter months, i. e. (from November 8 to March 7) of the wine. We have seen human beings eat strawberries and from 7 a.m. to 5. p.m., which gives nine hours a day, an hour for cream with Lafitte. A little fresh fruit is at breakfast a perfect dinner being allowed. During the remaining 8 months of the digester, but in truth it is useless writing about fruit. English- year the hours are from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., a period of 91 hours, the men never will know anything about it, except how to grow the breakfast half-hour as well as the dinner hour being allowed. best fruits in the world. Nothing in the world comes near the These are the hours of regular labour, subject of course to the brown greengage, but between the perversity of public taste and variation which must arise from the occasional pressure of daily the indifference of the Duke of Bedford, who ought to be offered work —such for instance as when the steam thrashing-machine is the alternative of quadrupling Covent Garden or attending the used, which perhaps occurs twenty or more times in the course of House every night for a twelvemouth, a real dish of greengages, the year, on the large farms. Some of the masters give their men a heaped dish, with six or eight dozens of the fruit in it, costs as on these occasions a pint of beer, others a larger allowance, some much as half a dozen of champagne. Fruit should not be eaten none at all, but no payment is made in money for the extra time, in ones, but in masses, as the Americans eat it, and it would be, varying from 11 to 2 hours, which the men give.
did not London set the fashion, while labouring under a mo- The opportunities of piece work which many of the labourers nopoly which absolutely forbids even reasonable competition. have, but by no means all, extend through the months of June, The idea of breakfast in fact should be cold solids and bread July, August, and part of September. During the month of hay- flavoured with prepared meat, and within these limits it is pos- making the mowers, as they work by the acre, of course take their Bible, as Mr. Bentley's book shows, to secure an almost infinite own time, their usual hours being from 5 a.m., sometimes earlier, variety, and to compose a breakfast almost as carefully as a dinner. to 8 p.m. When the grass is being carried the labourers work as With three or four alternatives—say ham, cold chicken, potted long as daylight permits, and no extra money payment is made to fish, brawn, sardines, and perhaps mushrooms alone hot, the the ordinary daysman. The allowance of ale or cider is, on the joint cold, tea, coffee, and cocoa—the last injuriously neglected, average, a gallon per day. The average price of grass-mowing is owing chiefly to an idea current among cooks that it can be made 2s. 3d. per acre. with water, whereas water should never go near it—even an To the haymaking succeeds turnip hoeing, which the men also Englishman may rise to his opportunities, and perceive that take by the acre, and work about the same hours as in the previous month. The average amount of work done by each man is half an acre per day, at from 48. lid. to 5s. per acre.
The allowances of beer or cider vary on different farms, but are much smaller than in haymaking or harvest. For the first week or fortnight of harvest the mowers and reapers only are engaged. Their usual hours are from 44 or 5 a.m. to 8 p.m., deducting their own time for meals. When the carrying begins, all hands are employed, and during the last month of harvest the men are seldom home before 9, often not before 10 o'clock.
The average price paid for mowing wheat is 6s. per acre, for cutting it with the sickle 9s. This includes clearing the ground and tying the wheat ready for loading. A good workman with a woman to help him tie may get through an acre in the day. Many labourers have an allowance of malt and brew their own beer, the nominal rate being a gallon a day.
The mowing of the Lsnt corn averages from ls. 6d. to 2s. per acre, and a fair mower will mow about an acre and a half per day. The payments of the carters and ordinary daysmen during the harvest month vary on the different farms. Some farmers pay 11. for the month, in addition to the ordinary weekly wage. On other farms the men receive double wages, and the boys extra pay according to age.
The expression in Lord Shaftesbury's letter " money allow- ances" implies privileges granted beyond the fair earnings of a nlan, but when piece work is included in these so -called allowances, it is manifestly unjust, as the piece worker's gains, though larger, are earned at far greater expense to his physical strength, and cannot therefore be reckoned as privileges. These extra demands on his strength require more and better food than his ordinary fare. He has also to reckon on the uncertainty of weather. Besides the actual rain that will prevent him from working, he has to take into consideration the risk of having the corn beaten down by wind and storm, and thus the rapidity of his work materially hindered. He also has to find his own tools, which cannot be averaged at leas than 7s. per annum. The perquisites in money are stated by Lord Shaftesbury to amount to sums varying from 2s. to 4s. 6d. per week. It may be so at St. Giles's, but on other parts of his Lordship's property the statement is incorrect, and I do not believe that anywhere else in the neighbourhood such a system prevails.
Some of the farmers sell faggots to their labourers, and allow them the carriage free of expense, but this is by no means a rule. On some farms the labourers are allowed the privilege of buying bacon and cheese id. or ld. per lb. cheaper than market price, but they generally find it most advantageous to buy their provisions at the shops. Wages are usually paid monthly throughout this district. On one or two farms the men are paid fortnightly, and even weekly, and it is to be hoped that the latter system will soon be universal.
Lord Shaftesbury states that an allotment increases the labourer's income by ls. 6d. or 2s. per week. I do not deny that the quarter or half-acre is an immense boon to its possessor, but on careful investigation I cannot believe the profit to be so great as is stated.
I subjoin the statements of two allotments taken down very care- fully from those who rent them. It will be seen that the labour is reckoned at its market value, for though it is, generally speak- ing, not so much cash out of the workman's pocket, yet it is done in the evenings, when, having finished his day's work, he would otherwise rest and be with his family.
Rent £0 12 0 6 Bushels Wheat £1 10 0 20 Days' Labour at ls. 6d. 1 10 0 6 „ Barley 1 4 0 Manure 0 15 0 12 Bags Potatoes 3 12. 0 Seed Potatoes 0 12 0
„ Wheat 0 4 0
„ Barley 0 8 0
Balance being Profit 2 10 0
26 6 0
£6 6 0 B's
Rent £0 6 0 1 Sack Corn £0 15 4 11 Daya' Labour 0 16 6 12 Bags Potatoes 3 12 0 Seed Corn 0 3 0
„ Potatoes 0 12 0
Manure 0 10 0
Balance being Profit 1 19 6
£4 7 0
The discrepancy of the profits of the two allotments may be accounted for by a larger proportion of the smaller allotment being devoted to potatoes. It will thus be seen that A's half-acre is an increase to his income of 11d. per week, and B's quarter-acre adds 9d. per week to his usual earnings. These two statements are considered as fair examples by several labourers who have seen them.
As to the matter of cottages, the rental is low. Those on Lord Shaftesbury's estate which rent immediately under his Lordship are ordinarily 21. The farmers deduct one shilling a week from the wages of the labourers who live in the cottages which are attached to their farms. The present condition of many of the cottages is far from being what one could wish, and a walk through the district, to which his Lordship challenges the readera of his letter, would, I believe, convince any one that there is ample space for improvement.
I have only to state that in writing the above I have no desire to make things appear worse than they are. I have taken pains to arrive at the truth, though I have utterly failed to find that the income of the Dorset labourer is 14s. 6d. per week. The wages of the ordinary daysmen do not exceed 9s. per week, which, reckon- ing double wages in the harvest month, amount to 251. 4s. per annum. How he out of this sum pays his house-rent, buys fuel, provisions, clothes, and provides for all the expenses of his family, and honestly pays his debts, is a problem which it is difficult to solve, but that this sum is an income common to many of the Dorsetshire peasantry I am perfectly certain.