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“None who were present can ever forget that impressive scene. The room is small and circular, with no windows, but a central skylight, and was filled, with the exception of a class of medical students and some eminent members of that profession, by friends, disciples, and admirers of the deceased philosopher, comprising many men celebrated for literary talent, scientific research, and political activity. The corpse was on the table in the centre of the room, directly under the light, clothed in a night-dress, with only the head and hands exposed. There was no rigidity in the features, but an expression of placid dignity and benevolence. This was at times rendered almost vital by the reflection of the lightning playing over them; for a storm arose just as the lecturer commenced, and the profound silence in which he was listened to was broken, and only broken, by loud peals of thunder, which continued to roll at intervals throughout the delivery of his most appropriate and often affecting address. With the feelings which touch the heart in the contemplation of departed greatness, and in the presence of death, there mingled a sense of the power which that lifeless body seemed to be exercising in the con quest of prejudice for the public good, thus cooperating with the triumphs of the spirit by which it had been animated. It was a worthy close of the personal career of the great philosopher and philanthropist. Never did corpse of hero on the battle-field, with his martial cloak around him, or funeral obsequies chanted by stoled and mitred priests in Gothic aisles, excite such emotions as the stern simplicity of that hour in which the principle of utility triumphed over the imagination and the heart."
In the year 1834 my grandfather published his book entitled “The Philosophy of Health,'1 the preparation of which had been a work of great care, and had occupied much time for several years before. This book, which was, perhaps, the first attempt to bring the truths of human physiology within the comprehension of the general reader, achieved a marked success. It was full of the clearness and force which characterised all the writings of its author. The strides of modern science have now, of course, left its physiological teaching far behind,
1 Longmans, 1834.
but at the time it did original educational work and added lustre to his name.
His life in chambers must have been an arduous one-first at 36 New Broad Street, afterwards at 38 Finsbury Square,—his days given up to his ever-increasing practice, his mornings and evenings to writing : the amount achieved was prodigious, and he allowed himself but little relaxation.
I may mention that it was at this time that my grandfather first visited at the house of old Mr Gillies, a city merchant of refined literary tastes and the father of the two distinguished women, Mary and Margaret Gillies (author and artist), who afterwards became the friends for life of himself, his wife, and daughters, and in whose home he—and I with him—had rooms in Kentish Town and afterwards at Highgate, though he occupied for professional purposes the rooms in the city to which I have before referred.
WORK ON THE FACTORY COMMISSION, 1833.
In the year 1833 it became clear that some legal interference was necessary with regard to Factories.
In order to understand the abuses which existed in factories in 1833, we must revert to the system of employment at the end of the last century and trace its gradual development.
At that period all the spinning and weaving of the country was domestic, the spinning being carried on in farmhouses and scattered cottages in rural places by the mothers and daughters of the families, and the weaving by men working in their own homes in towns and villages. This peaceful state of things did not last beyond the beginning of the present century. The “spinning-jenny” and “power-loom” were invented,
and changes occurred. Large buildings were now needed to carry on the work, and mills and factories sprang up beside the streams of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Lancashire, these places being chosen because water was required to turn the new machinery. The water-wheel now did much of the work which had formerly needed the strong arms of men, but the small and nimble fingers of children were henceforth called into play, as they were found to be specially fitted for much of that which remained to be done by hand. Thus it came about that children's labour, in consequence of its greater cheapness, was substituted for that of grown people.
In order to get a sufficient supply of children, which the scanty population near the mills could not afford, manufacturers applied to the managers of the workhouses in London and other large towns, for pauper children to be taken as apprentices. Hundreds, it is said even thousands, of children were thus taken away from even the slight protection which the tender mercies of the workhouse authorities of that day might afford, and placed entirely in the