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WILLIAM THOM, THE WEAVER POET. 167
dence. But upon none, in whom the divine spark of genius existed, did the burdens of life fall more heavily than upon William Thorn, or the tragedies of existence reach a blacker depth of misery. The story has been told by himself in The Rhymes and Recollections of a Handloom Weaver, his only volume, in nervous and vigorous prose, bearing traits of the declamatory style of Ebenezer Elliot and the radical writers of his school, but marked by native originality and strength. It has more than a personal value, as illustrating the condition of the life of factory hands in Scotland, when machines had multiplied to the complete degradation of labor, and when it was simply a question with the mill owners of extracting the largest amount of work for the smallest wages from the operatives, and before the government had interfered to regulate the hours of labor within endurable limits, and secure some of the conditions of health to the mill hands. A more appalling picture of hopeless poverty and starvation, and physical and moral degradation, has never been given in the annals of the civilized world, and of its truth there is abundant evidence in the writings of contemporary workingmen in England and Scotland, and in the testimony which led to the passage of the Factory Regulation acts by the English Parliament.
William Thorn was born in 1798 of parents