|Share page||Visit Us On FB|
168 WILLIAM THOM, THE WEAVER POET.
steeped in poverty, in a tenement in one of the narrow closes of Aberdeen, and at the age of ten began his apprenticeship to life in a cotton factory. At the age of fifteen or sixteen he entered the " School Hill Factory," — a building since swept away, — as a weaver hand, and remained there for seventeen years. The wages of the best operatives averaged through good and bad times from six to nine shillings weekly, and of the second-class from three to five shillings. The daily hours of labor were fourteen. What that meant, not in poverty, but in absolute want of food, warmth, and the means for the sustenance of life, the degradation of rags, the shutting out of all glimpses of heaven and earth, leaving the only alleviation to the hours of toil at the rattling machines, and the squalid suffering in the reeking tenements, in the cheap and fiery stimulants of the taprooms, can be only faintly imagined. An inheritance of bad habits had also descended to the weaving class. When the factories were first established in 1770, after the invention of the spinning jenny, the wages of skillful workmen were forty shillings a week, and the operatives usually remained drunk from Saturday night until Wednesday morning, wore frilled shirts and powdered hair, sported canes, and quoted Volney in their discussions on the rights of man in the taprooms. The overplus