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a Neapolitan censorship behind it. Commerce
is unproductive, or requires capital which is
not to be found, or is by many in this land
of small nobility considered degrading. There
is only public office left, and thus the great
body of the Neapolitan youth are trained
early in these improving and ennobling arts
at which I have glanced.


The tender stories which have gone abroad
of the flesh and blood seamstressstories
of which Hood's Song of the Shirt is at once
ihe most aflfecting and the most poetichave
often touched the hearts of all of us. They
were stories of hard work and scanty
requital: of suffering widows, and forlorn
orphans, doomed by necessity to ply the
needle or starve utterly: of early deaths,
bloodless cheeks, fleshless fingers, and sightless
eyes. To the least sensitive of men these
stories were often of that terrible desolation
which forces sympathy, which commands
commiseration. A horrible little instrument
of torture has this little needle been to
thousands of poor Englishwomen! It has worn
the flesh from their hands: it has driven the
blood from their cheeks: it has pierced their
hearts! Soft-natured people have wept
abundant tears over the pictures of misery,
drawn by this sharp little instrument. On
all sides people asked whether the poor
creatures doomed to hold it could not be
befriended: whether the wages of their labour
could not be increased. The manufacturer
answered, that he could employ only at those
prices, and that higher wages were incompatible
with reasonable profits. Again, the
Government contracts left so little margin to
the contractor, that seamstresses must work
on, and working to the last hour, find early
graves. Competition so harassed the
manufacturersdrove them on so relentlessly In
the general race for cheapnessthat they
could not possibly, without incurring a loss
on every manufactured article, afford their
seamstresses an additional penny per day.
And thus, the needle was left to do its terrible
workto furnish for the happy and the gay
the embroidered robe and the flowery bonnet,
while the worker grew sick and blind.
Yet, at intervals, tales of misery so fearful,
were forced upon public attention, that men
cried aloud, this state of things must cease
to be.

Needlewomen's Benevolent Societies were
formed, and some few poor women were
snatched from death. The cry for wives,
reaching England from Australia, also brought
good tidings to many faint hearts; and
hundreds of seamstresses were helped to ships that
would carry them to comfortable homes.
Some very delicate people were shocked to
think that wives should be exported like so
many bales of printed cotton: though the same
very delicate people were not found to object
to the genteel custom of sending moneyless
young ladies out to India, to shed the brightness
of domestic life around the persons of
many and divers wealthy gentlemen with a
considerable derangement of the liver. Yet
the system was pursued. Many seamstresses
did embark, and are now happily married to
prosperous colonists.

This change has operated for the general
good in England. Here, the seamstresses are
fewer, and have, of late, commanded higher
wages. Still, at the present moment, their
prospects and experience are not of the
brightest. Still the day's hard work brings
only the coarsest food and the coldest home.
While the advocates of emigration have been
whispering seductive stories; while
aristocratic patronesses have been forming
themselves into committees in aid; the thinning
(in a measure) of the human supplies has
turned the attention of one or two
ingenious men to the possibility of contriving
some kind of seamstress that would show no
pale cheeks, and demand no morsel of bread.
Flesh and blood seamstresses having become
insufficient instruments, it was time to see
whether a seamstress could not be formed of
solid iron. Accordingly, so long ago as
in the year eighteen hundred and forty-six,
Mr. Ellis Howe, of Boston, in the United
States, saw a way of "going ahead" in the
matter. He adopted the principle of the
shuttle, and conceived that, by combining
this with a needle and a double thread, he
could form an iron seamstress who would be
entirely free from the interference of any
benevolent society, and who would never lose
her sight or her flesh. Mr. Howe went
vigorously to work; spent much money in
cranks and cog-wheels, and iron fingers, and
ingenious needles, and in shuttles. He put
the anatomy of his iron seamstress together
in various ways; but she would not work.
No school-girl was ever so lazy as this iron
work-woman. At last, fairly tired out with
the iron obstinacy of his seamstress, Mr.
Howe gave her up as an incorrigible sloth and
dunce. Other men advanced to afford to the
iron seamstress that paternal protection and
improvement which Mr. Howe had
withdrawn from her; but all reformatory
discipline appeared to fail. Her stitches were
not good; her needle was never in the right
place; her threads were always tangled.

Of all refractory seamstresses this iron
seamstress was the worst, until the year eighteen
hundred and fifty-one, when Mr. C. T.
Judkins took her in hand. He had resolved
upon resorting to strong measures to subdue
her iron nature. He carefully examined the
means which his predecessors had taken to
reform her and make her an effective
seamstress; after considerable labour, he so
corrected her revolutionary tendencies that
she became docile, and began to work her
iron fingers admirably.

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