2 SEPTEMBER 1843, Page 14



The Vital Statistics of Sheffield. By 0. Calvert Holland, Esq., M.D., Physician Extraordinary to the Sheffield General Infirmary, &c. &c.

Tgas; Greases, Sheffield.


The President's Daughters; including Nina. By Frederika Bremer. Translated

by Mary Hewitt. In three volumes Longman and Co.


William Shakspere, a Biography. By Charles Knight. Knight and Co.


THERE is in Sheffield an incorporated body that has existed for centuries, called the Town Trust, whose funds are expended on local improvements, charitable objects, and the encouragement of

undertakings having a relation to the interests of the town. Dr. CALVERT HOLLAND, an eminent physician of Sheffield, and further

known as a medical writer and statist, had for some years directed his attention to the social and physical condition of the working- classes of the district, and had made some progress in his inquiries, when be was requested to extend his examination, at the expense of the Town Trust ; and the result has been the volume before us.

The phrase Vital Statistics hardly conveys an idea of the subject of the work, unless by a meaning so extended as to embrace every thing connected with the social life of the masses, and perhaps something more than that. The rates of increase in the popula- tion since 1736, an inquiry into its physical condition as deducible from births and mortality, and a most interesting examination into the state and character of the artisans in some of the principal manufactures, are indeed strictly connected with vital statistics. So is a view of the house-accommodation possessed by the work- men of Sheffield in comparison with that of some other great towns, and of the surface-condition and drainage of the streets, as well perhaps as a comparison between the past and present periods of manufacturing distress, and a general description of the town and neighbourhood. But besides these topics, more strictly relating to vitality, Dr. C. HOLLAND handles others, which, though statistical, are only vital as they are connected with life. Such are an elabo- rate account of the depositors and deposits in savings banks—an inquiry into the causes of unoccupied houses, involving an exposi- tion of speculative over-building--a comparison of the cost of paving and road-making in the different subdivisions of the township of Sheffield, with a view of various institutions, some indeed charitable, but many educational, literary, or philosophical. The facts on all these subjects are full, and variously exhibited, with the object of exhausting the conclusions they may contain; and though Dr. HOLLAND states that he has met with obstacles in procuring the facts from some benefit and other class societies, yet the work must be considered as a very valuable and complete contribution to local statistics. The main interest of the book, however, arises from the character of the author, and the views he is induced to take of several mooted questions of considerable public interest. Not unacquainted with utilitarian studies, well versed in statistics, and practically familiar with the different classes of a large manufacturing town, Dr. C. HOLLAND in his heart of hearts is a combination of "Old" and "Young England." Apparently a member of the Anglican Church, and very tolerant about mere religious differences, he is adverse to the Dissenters for their intolerance, and their introduction of religious bigotry into institutions designed for the common benefit of humanity. Surrounded by manufactures, and connected, we imagine, in some degree with manufacturers and those dependent on them, he yet looks upon the class and their boasted wealth with an old-fashioned eye ; contrasts the parvenu splendour of the few with the squalid poverty and suffering of the many ; and defends the well-conducted unions of workmen to check their employers,—maintaining that they are not only beneficial to the men, but even to the masters, by preventing the mania for over-production in times of "prosperity." It will be gathered from this last remark, that Dr. HOLLAND is an advocate of Sir ROBERT PEEL's view in attributing much of our economical distress to "over-production.". This he asserts as re- gards manufactures at large, but rather as a general conclusion than as a result proveable by his statistics. In one point that has been much dwelt upon both as a proof and a measure of the pre- sent distress, the number of unoccupied houses in Sheffield, he is much more conclusive in his facts.

"The amount of unoccupied houses has been seized with avidity by parties, not only as evidence of the existing distress, but as an exact measure of it. It is a measure rather of previous prosperity than of commercial stagnation. It is no just indication of the latter. The amount, however, will always be some- what proportionate to the existing depression; not because the one is the con- sequence of the other, which is the argument, but from both being effects of the same general causes. They are not to be viewed in relation to each other strictly as cane and effect, but as having the same common origin—unrestrained and reckless over-production. "In a period of prosperity, the manufacturer is as little guided in the crea- tion of productive power, by any natural demand, as the speculative builder is by the gradual augmentation of the population. They both equally neglect all calculations of the probable necessities of the future, enlightened by the data of the past. Neither acknowledges the lessons of experience. The manufacturer feels the impulse of improved trade, and not only at once adapts his means to it, but concenkrates both capital and credit to the enlargement of them ; and every additional impulse calls into existence far more than a cor- responding proportion of productive power. The demand, when on the ad- vance, always carries the mind beyond it. The imagination is awakened, and the future presents itself in inexhaustible resources ; and hence the invariable consequence of stimulated enterprise—glutted markets—the supply having overstepped the demand. If admitted that the productive power can exceed a legitimate demand—and this will scarcely be called in question—the surplus power thus created, and unemployed in a period of depression, cannot Certainly be referred to as a measure of the diminution of any natural demand : it Is evidence not of existing distress, but of previous prosperity. The conduct, however, which led to the creation of this surplus power, produced also the depression of commerce; and thus misery and a vast amount of unemployed power always coexist, but, clearly, to a considerable extent as effects of the same general causes. The same reasoning will apply to the speculative builder. His actions are not regulated by the gradual increase of population, which, were it possible to ascertain it, would be the only just guide. In common with the manufacturer, he feels the impulse of improved demand, and the growing abundance of money necessarily directs a large amount of capital towards building objects ; hence the formation of new streets, the erection of houses, manufactories, and public edifices. A spirit of activity is observed in all directions. The town enlarges, and the immediate neighbourhood becomes studded with elegant and attractive villas. At length, however, the productive power becomes an ungovernable impulse, throws aside all sober restraint, all calculations as to the necessities of the population—a mania for building per- vades all classes. New master-builders spring up with questionable capital, and boldly project new streets. The houses erected letting, either from their cheapness or the desirableness of the situation, fresh means are acquired, and especially credit, to feed the speculative spirit : thus, impulse added to impulse, creates, in the course of a few years, dwellings far exceeding the wants of the intoxicated times; and at last, the evils of the excess retard the rate of pro- duction."

"Table showing the Progress of New Streets in the Borough of Sheffield, from 1831 to 1836.

Set out and Entirely Townships, built. Partly built

made Building- Laud only.

Prolected only Total.

Sheffield 4 29 23 20 76 Ecelesall Bierlow 0 13 13 26 52 Brightside Bierlow 1 6 5 2 14 Attereliffe.cum.Darnall... 0 II 1 ..... 0. ..... 2 Nether Hallam .. ...... .. 0 6 5 1 12 Upper Hallam

o o . o 0 0

Total ...... ... 5 55 47 49 156 Townships. Entirely built. Partly built.

made Building- Laud only.

Projected only. Total.

Sheffield 1


12 15 45 Ecclesall Bierlow


13 9 10 32 Brightaide Bierlow


4 4 2

10 Attereliffe-eum.Darnall..


o o 0

Nether Hallam 0 6 0 0 6 Upper Hallam 0 0 I) 0 0

— Total 1 40 25 27 93

"The results of the latter five years are very different from those of the former. Forty streets are partially built, and the number set out twenty. five, while in the first period there were forty-seven ; the projected are only twenty. seven; and of this number about thirteen are in the Park District, the property a his Grace the Duke of Norfolk. According to these tables, the streets built, partially built, set out as building-land, and projected, amount in ten years to two hundred and forty-nine. Will it for one moment lw doubted, after the consideration of these facts, that a mania for building has been carried to a reckless extent ? Can evidence of a more satisfactory kind be required in confirmation of the assertion? This vast increase must have had a cause. Was the gradual progress of the population the cause ? Certainly not. It exceeded the present and the immediately future wants of the populit, tion. There was less sobriety of conduct exhibited in the production of houses than in the extension of manufactures. Legislative interference cannot augment the population to the unnatual supply of accommodation."

Over-production at home and failures abroad have been dwelt upon by Sir ROBERT PEEL and his followers, with something like a cuckoo pertinacity. But, granting that the Anti-Corn-law people are altogether wrong and the Minister altogether right as to the causes of the distress, is it fitting, either as regards prudence or humanity, to leave a nation like this in a condition which constantly exposes it to such evils as are now besetting it ? Under a healthy state of things, over-production could not take place to any great extent, on account of the checks that very health would interpose. With "a fair day's wages for a fair day's work," hands could not he found to supply the reckless demands of manufacturing cupidity, for the requisite number of workmen could not be procured without such an increase of wages as would defeat the object of the manufacturers, or at least materially check it.

But let us quit controversy, for topics better calculated to ex- hibit the more interesting parts of Dr. C. HOLLAND'S book. Here is a comparison of machinery with hand-labour in manufactures, exalting the writer's own town, and throwing some new light upon a much-mooted question.


The population [of Sheffield] differs in several important respects from that of many other manufacturing districts. The labouring classes are higher in intelligence, morality, and physical condition, than where machinery is exten- sively used, as in Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, and Stockport. The middle classes are a greater proportion of the population than in these towns. The merchants and manufacturers among us are not men of large capital, ex- ercising immense influence. They are very far from treading on the heels of the aristocracy. These striking differences may be traced to the degree in which machinery is employed in the several important branches of manufac- ture. In this town, no improvements cau supersede, to any great extent, the necessity for adult manual labour, as in the cotton, the woollen, and the silk departments; consequently we perceive less misery, destitution, and ignorance among the artisans, and also less of the other extreme—opulence and its ex- travagances—than in situations where the machine cheapens to the starving- "These facts exhibit, with unerring fidelity, the speculative spirit of the times. In the short space of five years, the new streets entirely built, partly built, set out and made building-land, and projected, amount to the extra- ordinary number of one hundred and fifty-six, and independently i of the nume- rous erections in different parts of the town. It is stated, n the second column, that fifty-five streets are partly built. If the extension of building was at all regulated by the necessities of the population, it would naturally be imagined that the fifty-five streets would have been amply sufficient to satisfy such necessities; but while these are only partially built, forty-seven are setout

and forty-nine are projected. .

"The following Table gives the same Particulars from 1836 to 1841.

Set out and • point the labour of the industrious mechanic. Many facts will be adduced in • • the subsequent pages in confirmation of these assertions. •

The artisans have usually an entire house for themselves, and the cases are indeed rare in which two families are found under the same roof. In Man- chester, nearly twelve per cent of the population live in cellars ; and in the borough of Liverpool there is the immense number of 7,862 inhabited cellars. In this town we do not know of one, and we are informed by the intelligent Superintendent of the Police that there is not an inhabited cellar. This is somewhat remarkable. It would naturally be supposed, that where the largest fortunes were accumulated, where wealth in fact most abounded, the condition of the labouring classes would be the most independent and comfortable. Such, however, appears not to be the case. We have no hesitation in asserting, that the artisans here, as a body, are vastly superior in intelligence, independence, and in the command of the necessaries and luxuries of life, to the same class in the above-mentioned towns.


The peculiar effects of these rapid improvements are perceived not only in the condition of the artisans, but in the character of the manufacturers. Men spring up suddenly into a commanding position in society, with immense energies and determined enterprise, stimulated by one feeling—the thirst to make a fortune. The success of their exertions is in no degree retarded by any refined or delicate considerations concerning the mode ; education gives no relish to participate in the pleasures of social life ; time is too valuable to be wasted in the interchange of thought, or in the discussion of matters which have not an immediate and obvious practical application. No field opens to seduce the intellect to look abroad, or to impart the first elements of taste, by which the mind might be tempted to forget its rigid duty—which is action, and not contemplation. Thus, fortunes so created are too generally associated with little that is generous in sentiment, liberal in principle, or elevated in view. The manufacturer is an animated machine, and as regular in the routine of his operations, and often as insensible of the condition and necessities of the artisans. The success which results engenders an intolerant and overbearing disposition. The individual claims for wealth what belongs to mind, and looks upon all acquirements as things of no use in this world unless they throw light on the process of money-making; the secret of which depends not on large cultivated mental powers, but on determined energy, and the concentra- tion of a few faculties. A comprehensive and educated understanding would throw obstacles in the way ; it would suggest considerations interfering with the operations of tact, shrewdness, and cunning. We have previously re- marked that the manufactures of this town do not allow of the rapid accu- mulation of immense masses of wealth ; hence, the evils to which we allude exist here in a modified degree compared with many other places. The slow creation of riches is accompanied with the gradual refinement and enlargement of the understanding, and the duties which an improved position imposes are not forgotten in the one absorbing feeling of self.

There is, however, one employment in Sheffield more fearful in its immediate effects and its ultimate results than almost any other. That vocation is dry-grinding ; but before we enter upon it we will take a word or two about


We will briefly explain the nature of this branch. Forks are either forged or cast. By the former process, they are hammered into the required form ; by the latter, the metal in a liquid state runs into moulds having the impres- sion of the article, and thus it is at once fashioned. The forged fork is durable and useful. The cast fork is brittle and useless, and may be regarded as a gross imposition upon the purchaser. The former is often made of the best steel, the latter of the basest metal. It is computed by good authorities, that about half the forks are cast : hence some idea may be formed of the roguery which is practised upon the public, for indeed it deserves no milder term. The next step in the manufacture is grinding, and this is performed always on a dry stone. Several articles of cutlery are in the first place ground on a dry stone, and afterwards on a wet one. The former is a more expeditious operation than the latter, as will readily be conceived. Fork-grinding is always performed on a dry stone; and in this consists the peculiarly destructive character of the branch. In the room in which it is carried on there are generally from eight to ten individuals at work ; and the dust which is created, composed of the fine particles of stone and metal, rises in clouds and pervades the atmosphere to which they are confined. The dust which is thus every moment inhaled gradually undermines the vigour of the constitution, and produces permanent disease of the lungs, accom- panied by difficulty of breathing, cough, and a wasting of the animal frame, often at the early age of twenty-five.


In confirmation of this fact, it is found, on examination, that among the ninety-seven men, about thirty at this moment are suffering, in various de- grees, from the disease peculiar to this occupation, and which is known by the name grinder's asthma. The disease is seated in the lungs and the air- passages, and the progress of it is accompanied with the gradual disorganisation of these important organs. In its advanced stages, it admits neither of cure nor of any material alleviation. In the early stages, the only efficient remedy is the withdrawal from the influence of the exciting cause : but how is this to be effected by men who depend from day to day upon their labour, and whose industry from early life has been confined to one particular branch ? Here, then, is the melancholy truth, that nearly one-third of this class of artisans, in addition to the poverty and wretchedness common to the whole, is in a state of actual disease—and disease which no art can cure. Fiction can add no colour or touches to a picture like this. Truth transcends the gaudy embel- lishments of imagination. The distempered fancy has here no room to exercise her powers.


In 1,000 deaths of persons above 20 years of age, the proportion between 20 and 29 years, in England and Wales, is annually 160. In Sheffield, 184; but among the fork-grinders, the proportion is the appalling number 475; so that between these two periods, three in this trade die to one in the kingdom gene- rally. Between the ages of 30 and 39, a still greater disparity presents itself. In the kingdom, 136 only in the 1,000 die annually between these two periods. In Sheffield, 164; but in the fork-grinding branch, 410: so that between 20 and 40 years of age, in this trade, 885 perish out of the 1,000; while in the kingdom at large, only 296. Another step iii the analysis, and we perceive that between 40 and 49, in the kingdom, 126 die ; in this town, 155; and in this branch, 115, which completes the 1,000. They are all killed off. For in carrying forward the inquiry, we observe that between 50 and 59, in the king- dom, 127 die; and in Sheffield, 155; but among the fork-grinders, there is not a single individual left. After this period of life, there are remaining in the kingdom, of the 1,000, 441; and in the town, 339; but none in this branch of manufacture,

Tale high rate of mortality does not, however, mark the exact difference in the suffering of the parties compared. Bow various are the causes of death among mankind at every period of lifel How great is the proportion swept away by acute dingoes, in which there is neither much pain nor protracted misery. But this is not the case with the fork-grinders. The rate at which they perish shows that they are not subject to the ordinary causes of death. The dust which they every moment inhale, the poisonous atmosphere which they breathe, gradually destroys the functions of the lungs, rendering existence one continued series of distress, pain, and anxiety. The inability to work, and yet the necessity to labour, creates a degree of wretchedness and suffering easier to imagine than describe.