Page:A short history of social life in England.djvu/381

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361
AN AGE OF ENQUIRY

sufferings of the artisan class were intense. In Manchester, a tenth of the whole population lived in cellars without sunlight and filled with a "horrible stench." Here dwelt whole families, the children lying on the "damp, nay wet, brick floor, through which the stagnant moisture oozed up." Overcrowding in the large towns added horrors to the already impossible conditions under which the poor lived. In London the same state of things existed. But this was an age of enquiry and action. Men were no longer satisfied that a section of their fellow-countrymen should live in misery and degradation. In 1838 there was an enquiry on "Combination of Workmen"; in 1840 a Commission sat to consider the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population of Great Britain and another to enquire into the physical and moral condition of children and young persons employed in mines and manufactures. Legislation had moved slowly with regard to the mining population, and little had been done since 1833, when the working hours for children under thirteen in factories were limited to eight So apathetic was public opinion on the subject that a Ten Hours Bill for mine children was