"For instance, the master who should set a dry-grinder to a trough without a fan, or put his wet-grinders on a mud floor and no fire, or his file-cutters in a room without taps and basins, or who should be convicted of willfully buying a faulty grindstone, might be made subject to a severe penalty; and the municipal authorities invested with rights of inspection, and encouraged to report.
"In restraint of the workmen, the Legislature ought to extend the Factory Acts to Hillsborough trades, and so check the heartless avarice of the parents. At present, no class of her Majesty's subjects cries so loud, and so vainly, to her motherly bosom, and the humanity of Parliament as these poor little children; their parents, the lowest and most degraded set of brutes in England, teach them swearing and indecency at home, and rob them of all decent education, and drive them to their death, in order to squeeze a few shillings out of their young lives; for what?--to waste in drink and debauchery. Count the public houses in this town.
"As to the fork-grinding trade, the Legislature might assist the masters to extinguish it. It numbers only about one hundred and fifty persons, all much poisoned, and little paid. The work could all be done by fifteen machines and thirty hands, and, in my opinion, without the expense of grindstones. The thirty men would get double wages: the odd hundred and twenty would, of course, be driven into other trades, after suffering much distress. And, on this account, I would call in Parliament, because then there would be a temporary compensation offered to the temporary sufferers by a far-sighted and, beneficent measure. Besides, without Parliament, I am afraid the masters could not do it. The fork-grinders would blow up the machines, and the men who worked them, and their wives and their children, and their lodgers, and their lodgers' visitors.
"For all that, if your theory of Life, Labor, and Capital is true, all incurably destructive handicrafts ought to give way to machinery, and will, as Man advances."
"Heaven forbid! Why, mother, I didn't say she was alone with him; her father was of the party."
"Then surely you are distressing yourself more than you need. She goes to London with her papa, and Mr. Coventry happens to go up the same day; that is really all."
"Oh, but, mother, it was no accident. I watched his face, and there was no surprise when he came up with his luggage and saw her."
Mrs. Little pondered for a minute, and then said, "I dare say all her friends knew she was going up to London to-day; and Mr. Coventry determined to go up the same day. Why, he is courting her: my dear Henry, you knew before to-day that you had a rival, and a determined one. If you go and blame her for his acts, it will be apt to end in his defeating you."