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LOST IN THE PIT.

THAT, in South Wales, on the fifteenth of
last July, one hundred and fourteen working
men and boys were stifled in a half-ventilated
coal-mine, their lives being sacrificed through
the neglect of almost every sort of due regard
to the prevention of such accident, most of
our readers know. In an English coal-mine,
on the thirteenth of the month following,
they may have read also in the newspapers
how, as the result of gross neglect and
recklessness, ten men were horribly slain by an
explosion of foul air. They may have read
also how, after the lapse of another six
weeks, on the first of October, fifteen men, in
another mine, by the outbreak of a flood of
water that had been accumulating in old
workings, were either drowned or forced to fly
into unventilated levels, and there die of
suffocation. Of the first of the calamities here
specified, the details of a very full investigation
are before us; the investigation of the
second is before us also; while the third
case, as we write, awaits inquiry. We
propose to tell the story of the first calamity,
deducing it in every point from the published
evidence, but avoidinghowever notorious
the case may beany direct naming of places
or of persons. We desire that culpable
neglect should receive ample punishment.
On many occasions we have dwelt upon the
necessity of bringing home criminal responsibility
for loss of life to those who are accountable
for accidents which it was in their
power, by a right discharge of duty, to prevent.
Our argument, however, is not against
persons, but against customs,—against habits
of thought common throughout the country,
and, as we must needs say, plainly
inconsistent either with right knowledge or right
principle.

Right principle would certainly make it
appear the duty of a gentleman who lives at
ease upon the produce of a coal-mine to
know what is the nature of the property
over which he has an absolute control. We
do not say that he should manage it himself,
but hold that he should know more of what
is being done on his behalf than the mere
sum of the income annually raised for him.
If he will understand that the men who
work upon the coal in galleries underground,
often at a great distance from the pit-mouth,
require for the maintenance of health a certain
free supply of air which must be artificially
provided, with a due protection
against danger from accumulation of foul
gases; if he will have, as he must have, a
sense of the vast importance of free ventilation,
and that knowledge of the conditions
under which alone it is to be secured, which
it would cost a moderately educated person
scarcely a day to acquire,—the coal-owner
can easily learn for himself whether the
ventilation in his mine is of a kind to satisfy
his conscience. It is the main point of life
or death, of health or disease, to the persons
by whose industry he lives. He canat the
cost, probably, of less trouble than is incurred
in the course of any week's amusementbe
assured through his own scrutiny that from
year to year upon this point no negligence
arises among those who represent him; and
it is his duty to obtain for himself that
assurance.

But in this respect how did the case stand
with the mine which caused, through the
neglect of those who were in charge of it,
the destruction, in one hour, of more than a
hundred lives? According to the evidence
of the government inspector for the district
in which this accident occurred, the workings
in the fatal pit were last visited by him
eight and twenty months before the visits he
made subsequent to the catastrophe. They
had, during the interval, been increased one-
third in area, the number of men employed
upon them had been doubled, and no
additional precautions had been taken to secure a
proper ventilation. Yet the mine twenty-
eight months before the accident, when it
was yet small, had been declared unsafe by
the inspector, who, however, seems to have
communicated his suggestions not directly
or, at any rate, not with sufficient urgency to
the persons able to ensure their adoption.

In order that air enough may travel
through a mine to cleanse it from foul gases,
and supply properly the breath of life to the
men underground, it is essential that a free
current should be established. The air
entering at one point in abundant quantity
should sweep through the whole mine, and,
carrying away with it in dilution the foul gas
it finds, be sped out through a spacious

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