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WILLIAM THOM, THE WEAVER POET. 173
in the School Hill factory, and then removed to the small hamlet of Newtyle, near Dundee, where a cotton factory had been recently established. He now had a family of a wife and four children. In the commercial crash of 1836, after he had been there but a short time, the factory was suspended, only sufficient work being found for the operatives with families to allow them five shillings a week. Five shillings a week for six persons meant starvation and creeping death, " an empty armry and a cold hearthstone." Thorn and his family waited week after week, " hoping that times would mend," and with no prospect before them, if they abandoned their miserable pittance, but roadside beggary. He gives the picture of the scene that drove them to the latter alternative.
"Imagine a cold spring forenoon. It is eleven o'clock, but our little dwelling shows none of the signs of that time of day. The four children were still asleep. There is a bed cover hung before the window to keep all within as much like night as possible ; and the mother sits beside the beds of her children to lull them back to sleep whenever any one shows an inclination to awake. For this there is a cause, for our weekly five shillings have not come as expected, and the only food in the house consists of a handful of oatmeal saved from the supper of last night. Our fuel is also exhausted.