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130

DISRAELI

"Bands of stalwart men—broad-chested and muscular, wet with toil, and black as the children of the tropics; troops of youth1), alas! of both sexes, though neither their raiment nor their language indicates the difference; all are clad in male attire; and oaths that men might shudderat, issue from lips borne to breathe words of sweetness. Yet these are to be, some are, the mothers of England! But can we wonder at the hideous coarseness of their language, when we remember the savage rudeness of their lives? Naked to the waist, an iron chain fastened to a belt of leather runs between their legs clad in canvas trousers, while on hands and feet an English girl, for twelve, sometimes for sixteen hours a day, hauls and hurries tubs of coals up subterranean roads, dark, precipitous and plashy; circumstances that seem to have escaped the notice of the Society for the abolition of Negro Slavery. Those worthy gentlemen too appear to have been singularly unconscióus of the sufferings of the little trappers, which was remarkable, as many of them were in their own employ.

See, too, these emerge from the bowels of the earth! Infants of four and five years of age, many of them girls, pretty and still soft and timid; entrusted with the fulfilment of responsible duties, and the nature of which entails on them the necessity of being the earliest to enter the mines and the latest to leave it. Their labour indeed is not severe, for that would be impossible, but it is passed in darkness and in solitude. They endure that punishment which philosophical philanthropy has invented for the direst criminals and which those criminals deern more terrible than the death for which it is substituted *)."

1. youth is taken collectively here in a way that is hardly possible in present-day English. It also refers to young men only in present English.

2. An allusion to cellulary imprisonment.

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