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going on, this is a heavy loss, and makes coal
cost twice as much to get to the surface? and,
as this preacher has the knack of getting 'em
to work, what I say is, let the owners buy up
his Doortose shop, and jest plant him down
here to look after the men."

"Wouldn't answer, Muster Black! wouldn't
answer, sir!" interposed an underviewer,
respectfully; "the instant they found out he'd
ought to do with t' owners they wouldn't
listen to him. They know he don't get a penny
by coming among 'em, ' all for love of their
poor souls,' as he says; and once they knew
he was planted here to coax 'em to work, he
might whistle and pray until he were blue."

We are in a northern county of England;
and are holding this conversation in the dark,
and thousands of feet underground. I am called
over the coals* for the second time, and am
exploring one of the largest and deepest pits in
the kingdom. Above us is a village with a
population of two thousand souls, every one of
whom is directly dependent upon the pit.
Twelve years ago, not one of those symmetrically
ranged dwellings was to be seen, and the
schools and chapels, shops and taverns, which
have rapidly followed in their wake, are of
still more recent date. Take a section of
Aldershott or Shorncliff, and spread their huts
over a larger space; or magnify the toy-houses
of your children until their monotonously even
sides and sloping roofs are large enough to hold
men and women; plant your dwellings in long
rows so as to make a succession of streets
leading to and coming from nowhere in particular;
let your pathways be unpaved and muddy, your
public-houses numerous, and your shops of a
decidedly "general" kind; throw in several
chapels, and some well-built schools, and you
have the pit-village of Cornope.
* See page 112 of the present volume.

It is early morning, and we have driven miles
to be with the chief viewer before he sets out on
his inspection for the day. At his house we
have doffed our clothes and hats, for blue flannel
garments and black leather skull-caps. Divining-rods,
or wands of a prescribed length, and without
handle or curve, are put into our hands, and
in a few minutes we are crouching in the "cage,"
and descending swiftly down a bricked shaft
into the earth. The descent is not unpleasant.
There is none of that foul hot stench, that
oppressive sensation of being choked with sulphur,
that parched scorching of lungs, and eyes, and
tongue, which distinguished my first visit. Nor
does the mingled wet and coal-dust come down
in great black blobs upon our face and hands.
It is rather warm and close, but nothing more.
The crouching attitude, the darkness, the
creaks and grunts of the machinery, the very
knowledge that we were bottoming one of the
deepest pits in England, make the jaunt remarkable;
but its pleasures exceed its pain. A
passing jangle of chains and the other cage
passes us on its upward way, and a short time
afterwards I am handed out by two grimy giants
in waiting.

A tremendous draught, which whistles by
our ears and gives our beards the sensation of
being brushed by machinery, is the first feeling.
Many pairs of mighty bellows are focused at our
legs and bodies, and we mechanically turn up
our pea-jacket collars, stamp upon the ground,
and fold our arms sturdily, like the wind-beset
traveller in the fable. "Nice ventilation, you
see!" sounds like a mockery, but it is given in
good faith, and we plod our way along
underground tramways for miles. There is very little
stooping; for the excavations are a goodly
height, and we pass from workings to stables,
and to the brick-work where new shafts are
being sunk, noticing little more than that the
gradations from heat to cold are sudden, and
that we are treading on a jointed tramway which
has a tendency to trip one up every twenty
yards or so. Changes from gusty windiness
to tropical heat are sudden. Lifting a coarse
canvas curtain, and passing under it, takes us
at once from Siberia to the torrid zone. In
the first we are among vast currents of air
coming fresh and cold into the pit; in the
second we stand amid hot and exhausted air
which is being forced outwards by the furnace.
Canvas or "brattice-work" divides the two, and
the vast labyrinthian passages along which coal
has been or is being worked are cold or hot
according to the turn the ventilation has been
made to take. It is in a particularly hot
passage, and after I have knocked my head
against a cross-beam, in obedience to the cry,
"No need to stoop, sir, plenty of room heresix-
foot heading this," that I am favoured with an
explanation of the talk about the preacher. "He
has made 'em serious for a time, like the revival
people did; and while it lasts, which won't be
long, they'll work betterthat's all. Our men
are a roughish lot; good fellows in the main,
you know, but fond of their own way, and liking
their own pleasures. Cock-fighting (in a whisper,
as if even underground walls might have
ears) is a favourite sport of theirs; many of 'em
have dogs they'll match for a ten-pound note
for fighting, you know; and here and there is
a boxer who'll back himself, and get his friends
to back him for money. Times aren't good just
now, and the coal trade's flat; but when work's
plentiful, and wages high, you can't prevent
them indulging as they like. T' owners set their
faces again' it, t' parson preaches again' it,
t' children are taught t's wrong. But it takes
a long time to alter t' habits which have grown
and got strong all along t' country-side. We're
doing it, however, we're doing of it. Billiards
was a foine thing fort' pitmen, foine thing. No,
sir, I dawn't mean skittles, and I dawn't mean
lorn-billiards, as ye call 'em. I'm just meaning
a green table, and the long sticks they ca'
' kews,' and balls, and pockets, and cushions,
and such like. A regular billiard-table such
as t' gentlefolks play on, that's what I mean.
They've got 'em in cottages knocked into one
happen, or a hoose older and bigger than the
rest, and a small subscription of a few pennies
a week, and the men jest play when they like.
They're let smoke, and they can have coffee and