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diminished. Mr. Wyvill was anxious that it should die formally, and steps were taken to carry this into effect, but the suggestion met with opposition, and the Association gradually came to an end, as the intention of meeting together was tacitly but generally given up.

When the jealousies and fears of those concerned are regarded, and the heterogeneous elements of which the reformers were composed are considered, it is evident that there never was any likelihood of parliamentary reform becoming an accomplished fact in the last century. When Lord Lansdowne died, his sentiments, according to Mr. Wyvill, respecting the best mode for effecting political reform, were never explained. “He intimated he had formed an opinion peculiar to himself upon that subject, but the peculiar principle which he approved as most likely to produce a sure and honourable reform in all probability will remain a secret and be the subject of uncertain conjecture. The Duke of Richmond represented himself many years later to have supported the popular demand for reformation during the war with America, not that Parliament might be reformed, but that the close of the American war might be accelerated.

Fox himself is reported to have said to Lord Stanhope that parliamentary reform was a fit thing to be made use of in argument in the House of Commons, but not to be carried into execution.

If these were the real sentiments of the leaders, the followers had little prospect of success. Lord Grey said in 1810 that whenever the question of reform should be taken up by the people seriously and affectionately there would be a fair prospect of accomplishing it. The Yorkshire Association for six years demanded it affectionately! and met with no success. When the people demanded it angrily they attained their object.

After 1786 the task of those who endeavoured to keep alive the agitation for reform became still harder. Major Cartwright was one of the very few who never lost hope. When Wilberforce, meeting him, said he trusted they should meet in a better world, he answered that he hoped they should first mend the world they were in. He formed, however, one of a rapidly diminishing number. In 1796 York, Sheffield, and Huddersfield alone were inclined to oppose the Government. The French Revolution, the ascendency of Mr. Pitt, the broken fortunes of the Whigs, had created apathy and despair. An attempt to hold a county meeting in 1795 had strengthened instead of weakening ministers. The Church, the bulk of the country gentlemen, the manufacturers, the ship-owners, the county members and the peers, were hostile to the principles of the Association.

In May 1797 Mr. Wyvill wrote to the Duke of Norfolk for his support to a proposal for another county meeting, at which a petition was to be drawn up for the dismissal of ministers; the Duke despaired of success and returned no answer to the application. Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire were to be united in one association, but

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Yorkshire displayed no interest in the movement, and this attempt shared the fate of many other unsuccessful ones. Hope, however, sprang eternal in Mr. Wyvill's breast. In 1807 took place the great contest in Yorkshire, the first for sixty-six years, when a quarter of a million of money was spent and Lord Milton obtained a majority of 188 over Mr. Lascelles, rescuing the Whigs,' in Lord Holland's words, from the reproach of universal failure. With a view to the elections a central fund of six hundred pounds had been raised by the Whigs in London, but of this sum more than a third was wasted before even a committee was organised. Writing in the next year to Major Cartwright, Mr. Wyvill says : “ The time may come when Yorkshire may be reanimated with that patriotic zeal which the minister Pitt took so much pains to quench; when, under the guidance of such men as Sir William Strickland, Mr. Wrightson, Mr. Fawkes, and, above all, of our excellent representative the friend of Fox, and follower of Sir G. Savile, Yorkshire may resume the cause of political reformation, not with a view to destroy, but to preserve and perpetuate the constitution. More than sixty years have passed since the death of Mr. Wyvill and his friend Major Cartwright, and a great part of the programme of the latter remains even still unfulfilled.

CHARLES MILNES GASKELL.

EIGHT YEARS OF CO-OPERATIVE

SHIRTMAKING.

SOMEWHERE about December, 1874, the attention of the present writer was attracted by a short paragraph in the Echo, giving an account of a public meeting attended by working women, who made speeches and passed resolutions advocating the formation of a trade union for the women employed in bookbinding. This was remarkable, not to say epoch-making. The intelligent workingman’ is an old friend—was it possible that some one had discovered the intelligent working-woman'? This and nothing less proved to be the purport of the newspaper report. Under the inspiration of Mrs. Paterson, not only the bookbinders, but upholsteresses, shirtmakers, dressmakers, sewing machinists, tailoresses, and others, were successively invited and encouraged to form themselves into societies having the same objects as the trade unions of workmen, which had only been fully legalised three years before. And for the first time, at the Trades Congress held at Glasgow in 1875, bonâ fide trade unions of women were represented in the industrial parliament by women delegates, who still remember with pleasure the fraternal welcome accorded them.

Then and subsequently interesting and instructive conferences were held in different places with ladies of the above-named trades, as well as with hatmakers, umbrella-makers, nailmakers, staymakers, laundresses, and others. But space forbids us to dwell on these, which have no direct bearing upon the experiment in cooperative shirtmaking which grew out of the third women's union, established in that trade, at a public meeting held on the 1st of July, 1875, by the kindness of a clerical friend, in St. Martin's Schoolroom near Covent Garden. As it happened, public opinion had just been scandalised by two police cases, from which it had appeared that shirts were made at such prices as d. and 1 d. a piece; and it was almost a matter of course that no meeting of shirtmakers would pass without allusions to, or quotations from, the Song

Then, and still, honorary secretary of the Women's Protective and Provident League (36 Great Queen Street, W.C.), a society for promoting the formation of independent self-supporting trade and benefit associations of women.

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of the Shirt. But these allusions, it was soon seen, were not regarded with unmixed favour. The plainly dressed, mostly middle-aged, somewhat hard-featured, ready-witted, and on the whole eminently

respectable' looking women present, were clearly not of a class to feel flattered by allusions to poverty, hunger, and dirt, as the normal conditions of their existence.

It is a well-known fact that the audience at a public meeting has nearly as much hand in the speeches made as the orators themselves, who can rarely resist the temptation to develope most fully the sentiments which elicit the most intelligent applause. The audience may be wrong, and in that case the orator is led astray; but when well-meaning amateurs undertake to represent the interests of the working classes, a little wholesome docility among the speakers has its advantages. The women present were not starving slop-workers, but they responded heartily to the suggestion that organisation must begin in the best paid part of the trade, in which, moreover, wages and prices were always tending to go down owing to the competition of the cheap slop-work. Somewhat to our surprise, they also gave a warm welcome to the suggestion that if shirts had to be made at a price which would not afford a subsistence both for the maker and the dealer, the makers must co-operate and do away with the dealer.

Another point upon which light was thrown by the conversational remarks of the audience was the inequality of the wages paid for substantially similar work in the West End itself. A respectable Piccadilly hosier, keeping a workroom of his own, will pay the women he employs as good wages as women of the same class can earn at any other trade. But competition is keen even among the arbiters of fashion, with whom extravagant youth delights to clothe itself on tick;' rents are high in the angle between Regent Street and Piccadilly where these arbiters do mostly congregate; and in the hands of a respectable tradesman who is accustomed to pay fair wages, and to spend money when necessary on his drains, a workroom does not pay. The cost of keeping up the room,' distributed over the few thousand shirts per annum made in it, represents a charge per dozen for the making alone considerably higher than the price at which a professional shirtmaker, contractor, or middle man will offer to manufacture shirts for the trade. These shirtmakers or sweaters are sometimes ex-shopmen or shirt-cutters, sometimes women of the lower middle class with a turn for managing and driving ; they live mostly in Soho or similar neighbourhoods, and take in work from several shops at a time. Their expenses for rent may of course be legitimately lower than those of the hosiers; but to realise a commercial profit out of less than the bare cost of production in the comparatively scrupulous hands of the shopkeeper, the middle man is obviously compelled to bring all his expenses down to the lowest possible limit; to pack his work people in one or two rooms of a

crowded house, with drainage and water-supply adapted to the requirements of one family fifty years ago; to pay them low wages for long hours when work is abundant; and to turn them on the streets the moment it is slack.'

All this was set forth with much vivacity and graphic detail in the picturesque language of which London shirtmakers have a great command. Our suggestion of a co-operative workshop, where the shirtmakers should be their own employers, and divide amongst themselves the whole price paid by the hosier to the contractor, was not allowed to drop. We were pressed to say how it was to be carried out: one and another said she would like to join if it could be carried out; and as each discussion left the ladies of the trade more hopefully interested in the project, it left the rash reformers, who were not (yet) of the trade more nearly pledged to realise the hopes they had helped to raise. Moreover, we had other theories as to the employment of women, which made the vision of a co-operative workshop seductive. Idleness is the mother of misery and megrims, but not all women can go to Girton or make books, and we maintained that the true solution of the problemówhat to do with our girls' lay in an affirmative answer to good Bishop Berkeley's query, whether it is not to be wished that the finding of employment for themselves and others were a fashionable distinction among the ladies.' Why should not the labours of women in all feminine arts be directed by hupane and intelligent persons of their own sex, instead of being abandoned to the lowest class of speculators, of which the worst-paid work seems always doomed to maintain the greatest number? Why, again, if a score of such speculators can make a living for themselves out of the labour of two or three hundred women, could not one staff of civilised managers be maintained at a less cost out of the same labour, so as to leave a margin available for raising the workers' wages? We knew that attempts had been made by Miss Barlee and others to establish workrooms for the unemployed, where government contracts could be taken, and the prices for the coarsest work given unreduced to the workers. But these were mostly charitable expedients, presupposing gratuitous management and a subscription list, and intended rather to mitigate temporary distress than to grapple with its chronic causes. Our dream was of a strictly self-supporting clothes-making factory, where women should do all the work, and divide the profits among them.

The shirtmakers had no money in hand, but they were willing to back their opinions to the extent of throwing up their present situations to join the Co-operative Society, if any of their friends would provide rooms, sewing-machines, and work for them; and in the face of this call it seemed that to refuse our own co-operation would be to earn a place with him

Che fece per viltate il gran rifiuto.

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