Hide Articles List

8 articles on this Page

MERTHYR.

CARDIFF.

BRECON.

LLANELLY.

THE TREDEGAR HOUNDS

RAILWAY TRAFFIC RETURNS.

EVENTS DURING THE WEEK.

News
Cite
Share

EVENTS DURING THE WEEK. [FROM OUR OWN REPORTER.] Those of our readers who have visited Aberdare only when business was in a prosperous state, and when all the immense works were in full operation, will be able to form but a very imperfect idea of the appear- ance the town and neighbourhood presents at this moment. The flame and glare which ordinarily illu- mines the place are gone the tramroads, usually in constant use, are deserted; and a deep and very pecu- liar silence rests upon almost every spot. At the corners of streets knots of colliers assemble, smoking pipes, or discussing notices printed in Welsh posted upon the wall, urging them to refuse to go to work on the terms offered by the masters. They have the appearance of men who find themselves unexpectedly in a novel position, and are made uncomfortable by the circumstance. Idleness is obviously oppressive to them, and the principle of activity which years of industry have infused into their natures evidently precludes them from the enjoyment of doing nothing. When a.train is due, they surround the station, and gaze listlessly, and apparently without interest, at the passengers who arrive by itâoffering them no insult, and, indeed, displaying no emotion whatever. They appear now to avoid going near the works, and find excitement at public meetiugs convened by them- selves, at which, it must be confessed, all the speakers are on one side. From personal observation this week, we may state that no indications towards a riot or disorderly conduct are shown. There does not seem to be a propensity for mischief, even in the smallest degree. On the contrary, the men. both in appearance and manner, are simply careless and indifferent, and, except at their large meetings, an air of extraordinary apathy is perceptible. There can be no doubt that they were at first inclined to com- mit acts of violence, and the attempt to fill the pits with water, which we chronicled last week, was undoubtedly made. But by far the larger portion of the number are indisposed to do anything but wait n quietly for the masters to give in, an expectation which they thoroughly rely upon. Others have de- cided upon leaving the place altogether rather than depend upon the precarious issue of the contest. During this week hundreds of men have gone away to other parts, and many of them were fortunately the most disaffected of the whole. This circumstance may probably tend to bring about a reconciliation, for there are numbers who would gladly return to work if they considered they could safely do so. We have said that in the neighbourhood of the town a singular stillness is observable, but in the streets this fact is still more striking to a stranger. Hardly a sound breaks upon the ear. Occasional groups in conversation may indeed be met with, but no signs of animation can be detected. The public houses are fuller than ordinary, but if any hilarity reigns in them it certainly is not of a boisterous de- scription. Many of the shops are closed, and some streets would suggest the idea that one was walking through a town in which a plague was raging. Out of hosier's and linen draper's doors gaudy ribbons and neckties are displayed, to entice the few remaining shillings from the collier's pocket, but no fear of rob- bery is entertained. Goods are exhibited as confi- dently as ever, and no one appears disposed to damage or rob them. The stranger who asks for direction to any of the works receives a civil reply, and in many cases additional information is even volunteered. If one of t! e masters is seen in the streets he is followed by curious eyes, but no sort of demonstration is made. That mysterious brute, the collier's dogâan animal distinct in race, habits, and natureâis now an object of special interest to his masters. Having more time to bestow upon him, his large fierce head is always being stroked, not always to his own gratification. To undrstaend fully the change which has taken place it is necessary to ascend an eminence from which the district may at once be viewed. From such a spot there is something unspeakably wretched in the aspect of the place. The deserted works look black and sombre, and this effect is heightened by the contrast they present with one or two other furnaces which are still at work. Two or three which have been alight night and day uninterruptedly for twenty years, are now extinguished, and wrapped in total darkness. At night, the reflection from Merthyr is the principal illumination. The inhabitants of Aberdare declare that the loss of the accustomed lights is the most oatwardly impressive feature of the strike, while many of the colliers themselves point with pride to these dreary results of their withdrawal from work. At the time we write, there cannot be a less num- ber than 6,500 men out on strike. Towards the close of last week rumours of intended violence alarmed the tradesmen, and the endeavour to prevent the engineers pumping the water out of the pits was thought to warrant an application to Government for a de- tachment of military. Accordingly, 108 of the 22nd regiment were despatched by special train from Weedon, in Northamptonshire, under the command of Capt. Smith. They passed through Newport on Sa. turday night, and arrived in Aberdare on the following morning, considerably to the astonishment, though not to the discomposure, of the colliers. They were lodged in the Town-hall, where, however, accommodation of the most miserable description was afforded, the men being obliged to sleep on straw in an ill-ventilated building. It was deemed unsafe to billet them on the public houses, and therefore nothing could be done to improve their situations. This arrival did not awaken the slightest ill-feeling in the minds of the colliers; on the contrary, they fraternised most amicably with the military, and the only annoyance to which the latter were subjected was chaff" in unlimited quan- tities. On Tuesday evening they were removed to Cardiff, where better facilities for their provision ex- ists, and from whence they may be readily despatched if occasion requires. The police force has been aug- mented by men from the neighbourhood of Swansea and other parts, and all the pits were guarded at the commencement of the week. Mr. H. A. Bruce, M.P., has made strenuous efforts this week to bring about a peaceable understanding between the masters and the men. On Monday he addressed a number of the men at Mountain Ash, and in consequence of what transpired on the occasion, the masters agreed on Tuesday that no further reduc- tion in wages should be announced for the present. Mr. Bruce, on Tuesday, reasoned with the men at Abergwawr, on the folly of the strike; and on Wed- nesday, a large gathering of colliers assembled at the Market-house, Aberdare, for the purpose of hearing an address on the same subject. We subjoin a report of this meeting, at which about fifteen hundred were present. The scene was a somewhat curious one. No platform had been erected, but on a stall Mr. Bruce and the Rev. Thos. Price stood together, sur- rounded by colliers, who climbed around them to listen. In the course of the proceedings the two speakers must have been incommoded by the great pressure but the most complete order prevailed. Mr. Bruce, who spoke forcibly and well, was listened to with extreme attention, and during the whole time ti lie was delivering his address, no interruption from any part took place. The men gave no indication of their feelings, either by applause or marks of disappro- bation. Mr. Price repeated Mr. Bruce's arguments in Welsh after that gentleman had closed, but the same "rave silence prevailed. Once, when a collier declared in Welsh that the men could not return to work at the proposed prices, a general clapping of hands took place, and this was repeated when Mr. Price proposed a vote of thanks ⢠r otherwise not the slightest expressio hPafd to caped the assembly. One of the men was heard1 to say to several of the others, after Mr. Bruce » We'll employ him the next time to speak lor us, and not let the masters have him;" but we trust that with the majority of the meeting Mr. Bruce's speech made a better impression than with this individual A large meeting of the colliers was held on the after- noon of the same day. Many of our readers will doubtless enquire what the real motives of the men have been in adopting their present course, and what their sentiments are with regard to the reduction in wages. From con- versations with some of the most intelligent of the colliers, we have gleaned some information on these subjects, which we believe is perfectly trustworthy. In the first place, it is ddubtless known that the pro- posed reduction is from Is. 9d. to Is. 6d. per ton of coal, and it is against this that the colliers have struck. They complain that this price is not only lower than the masters need offer, but also that it would be impossible for them to live upon it, on account of the stoppages which are constantly taking place. They also assert that" imperfect weighing- machines cause them considerable loss, and they moreover say that as their wages have not been in- creased when the price of coals was high, they ought not to be decreased now it is low. Many of the colliers, it must be understood, dissent from these views, and would prefer resuming work to stopping out any longer. At the large meetings, however, the following resolutions have been generally adopted :â 1st. To refuse to go back to work at the reduction proposed by the masters. 2nd. To call upon the engineers and labourers employed in pumping and ventilating the pits, to cease work; and 3rdly. That the tradesmen's accounts should not be paid. The latter resolution has caused a deal of distress to the small shopkeepers, while it has kept the majority of the men in possession of a little money. It is impossible to offer a reasonable conjecture when this miserable strike is likely to terminate. There is not the slightest probability of the masters yielding, and at present the men appear as obstinate as ever. It is the general opinion that unless some arrangement be entered into before the conclusion of this week, a very long separation between the matters and men will ensue. We are happy to add that a portion of Mr. Fothergill's colliers have re- turned to work, and it is to be hoped that the others will follow the good example.

PUBLIC MEETING OF THE COLLIERS.