Page:A tour through the northern counties of England, and the borders of Scotland - Volume I.djvu/211

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[199]

to make the cast iron, malleable, it is necessary to refine it, to deprive it of its plumbago, carbo, and silicious substances, with which it is impregnated, (which is partly done in the reverberatory furnace, and partly under the forge-hammer)—so, in order to make it steel, it is necessary to restore a portion of what it was before deprived of; there seems, therefore, a great probability, that, in the advancement of the arts, a method will be discovered to make steel in the first instance out of the ore. This has, indeed, been already done to a certain degree, by Mr. Read, in a work near Whitehaven.

It would be difficult to give you an idea of the wages of the workmen in these branches, they vary so much in consequence of superior skill, piece-work, or difference of employments. The labourers in husbandry around Rotherham earn about 2s. a day. The poor in general live comfortably, their situation being much ameliorated by the cheapness of fuel. This gives a surprising cheerfulness to the appearance of their cottages in a winter's evening, warmed and lighted by the blaze of an excellent fire, contributing at the same time to their health as well as enjoyment; a circumstance to which may be probably attributed the remarkable healthiness of the town and neighbourhood, and the almost total absence of epidemic disorders.