Sunday, November 13, 2011

"Whilst the CITATION Engine Runs..."

"Whilst the engine runs the people must work men, women, and children are yoked together with iron and steam. The animal machine breakable in the best case, subject to a thousand sources of suffering is chained fast to the iron machine, which knows no suffering and no weariness." -- mistakenly attributed to James Phillips Kay, The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes in the Cotton Manufacture, "page 24"
The origin of the above error was apparently A History of Factory Legislation by B. L. Hutchins and A. Harrison, published in 1903. Subsequent authors have cited Kay as the source, often without acknowledging where they actually read the quote. The two quotes below were presented consecutively in The History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain by Edward Baines, 1835.
While the engine works, the people must work. Men, women, and children, are thus yokefellows with iron and steam; the animal machine – fragile at best, subject to a thousand sources of suffering, and doomed by nature, in its best state to a short-lived existence, changing every moment, and hastening to decay – is matched with an iron machine insensible to suffering and fatigue; all this moreover, in an atmosphere of flax-dust, for 12 or 13 hours a day, and for six days in a week. -- Charles Turner Thackrah, The effects of arts, trades and professions and of civic states and habits of living on health and longevity : with suggestions for the removal of many of the agents which produce disease and shorten the duration of life- 2d ed., 1832.
The operatives are congregated in rooms and workshops during twelve hours in the day, in an enervating, heated atmosphere, which is frequently loaded with dust or filaments of cotton, or impure from constant respiration, or from other causes. They are engaged in an employment which absorbs their attention, and unremittingly employs their physical energies. They are drudges who watch the movements, and assist the operations, of a mighty material force, which toils with an energy ever unconscious of fatigue. The persevering labour of the operative must rival the mathematical precision, in incessant motion, and the exhaustless power of the machine. -- James Phillips Kay, The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes in the Cotton Manufacture, 2d ed., 1832

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