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THE Government Inspectors of Mines (a) have acted nobly and philanthropically by so repeatedly urging upon successive Governments the necessity for an amelioration of the miner's condition, as to awaken public sympathy, and, ultimately, to compel the passing of the recent statute
23 & 24 Vict. c. 151.
(a) The present inspectors are twelve in number, viz. : 1. MATTHIAS Dunn, Esquire, for Durham, Northumberland, and Cum
berland. 2. John J. ATKINSON, Esquire, for South Durham. 3. JOSEPH DICKENSON, Esquire, for North and East Lancashire or Man
chester. 4. PETER Higson, Esquire, for West Lancashire and North Wales District. 5. CHARLES MORTON, Esquire, for Yorkshire. 6. John HEDLEY, Esquire, for Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicester
shire, and Warwickshire. 7. THOMAS WYNNE, Esquire, for North Staffordshire, Cheshire, and
Shropshire. 8. LIONEL BROUGH, Esquire, for South Staffordshire and Worcestershire. 9. HENRY GORDON LONGRIDGE, Esquire, for South Staffordshire and East
Worcestershire. 10. Thomas Evans, Esquire, F.G.S., &c., for South Wales. 11. ROBERT WILLIAMS, Esquire, for the Eastern District of Scotland. 12. WILLIAM ALEXANDER, Esquire, for the Western District of Scotland.
That statute, by affecting in some degree all mines within England and Scotland, concerns a staple industry of this country, which enriches it to more than 30,000,0001. annually, through the labour of many hundreds of thousands of our countrymen (6) whose social position is very far below their deserts. It is their lot to labour unseen in the bowels of the earth, at a depth of several hundred fathoms below its surface, and to excavate miles of subterranean galleries,
under circumstances of such extreme and frequent peril, as
to be momentarily in danger of life and limb. Though
their deaths are called casualties, yet their lives are
By a sudden
IRRUPTION OF WATER " from the fore
breasts of a mine, scores of miners are often drowned before they can reach the shaft, and their bodies float about for days along the ways and drifts of the dark abyss in which they were overwhelmed, before they can be reclaimed by
Others, whilst holeing, or, it may be, whilst traversing the apparently well-secured ways, are suddenly crushed by a
(6) At the last Census the coal miners of Great Britain were stated to be 219,000 in number ; they now are probably 300,000.
“ FALL OF THE ROOF; or perhaps a CREEP or a “ FALL' interposes in a moment hundreds of tons of rock between
them and their escape-the shaft-and thus they are enclosed in a living tomb to die a lingering death by starvation.
Sometimes, when exhausted nature calls for rest, the unsuspecting miner turns from the main ways and seeks repose in an unfrequented working. In such cases his sleep is almost surely that of death; for " CHOKE DAMP creeps over its victim, and quietly and gradually stifles his life
But “FIRE DAMP," that murderous gas, that yearly has its hecatombs of victims, is present in all the workings out of the line of ventilation,-it lurks in goafs, in holes, in corners, and in roofs; it is omnipresent, and is for ever generating. A mine clear on one day, or during one hour, is explosive on the next. This scourge is a constant epidemic of the most deadly kind. It is the miners' plague, or rather their double plague, for it prepares the way for its equally lethal follower—“ AFTER DAMP.” These two are the "fire and the pestilence” of collieries.
These are a few, and but very few, of what may be termed
the “natural,” as distinguished from the “ negligent,” risks to which mining life is exposed. In former years, thousands of lives were annually sacrificed by these causes ; and even now, notwithstanding governmental inspection, the mortality approaches 1000 per annum. During the year 1859, which was a favourable one, no less than 905 miners, most of them in the prime of life, fell victims to their calling. Yes—a whole regiment of human beings met fearful deaths for the benefit and comfort of the survivors, and the advancement of our national position.
Is it, then, surprising, that the Government Inspectors, appalled by the daily accounts of the “perils of mining," " should have urged upon the Legislature the enacting of further provisions for the protection of miners ? Certainly not. But they have urged, ceaselessly urged,-and, God be thanked, successfully urged,—the miners' claims. They have passed, or caused to be passed, the statute 23 & 24 Vict. c. 151, which, by an extended and comprehensive code of general rules to be observed in all mines, and by the establishment of a special code for each mine, suited to the requirements thereof, and for the protection of those engaged therein, will doubtless be the means of enriching