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opening in a strong upward current, which
can only be established by means of a well-
managed furnace at the bottom of the upcast
shaft. Where the air passing in at a single
entrance has to find its way through a long
range of galleries, lessened in quantity by
leakage as it goes upon its way, and at the
same time becoming adulterated more and
more with noxious gases, it is absolutely
necessary that the single shaft, which is the
air-hole to perhaps miles of subterranean
gallery, should be of ample size.

Twenty-eight months ago the air-way
for the colliery of which we speak was insufficient,
and it was recommended to the overmen
by the inspector, that the ventilation of the
mine should be in sections, with a distinct
current to each heading or panel. If an
explosion were to occur in a mine so
arranged, it would be almost certainly
confined to the heading in which it began.
That was one recommendation made; but it
was not acted upon. When the accident
occurred, twenty-eight months afterwards,
one thin current of air for the whole ventilation
of the south workings of the mine was
coursed through five or six miles of gallery,
diverted in its course by many barriers of
gob, or rubbish, and no less than six dozen
wooden doors, some of these in the most
important positions, being single, so that
through them pure air could leak out, and
foul air could leak in.

Men worked in galleries, so ventilated,
upon coal from which at certain points the
gas could be heard rushing in a stream, with
a sound called in the language of the miners,
music. They cut cells in the coal, to which
air came in so dull a current that it scarcely
bent the flame of a candle; and they worked
with naked candles, over the wick of which
there played habitually a corpse-light of foul
gas, varying from half an inch to two inches
in height. They were not warned by it;
they called the light a cap, and as it was
never absent, they grew used to it, and were

The workings were pushed on; the want
of air became every week greater; the supply
was still the same. It only required, said
one of the inspectors, at the inquest on the
one hundred and fourteen men who were
destroyed; "it only required an unfavourable
day for ventilation, or a little increased leakage,
or even the opening of the many doors
by the men going to their work, to turn the
balance, and bring the air to the explosive

Another suggestion that had been made
twenty-eight months before the accident, by
the government inspector, and which had
occurred naturally to other men, was, that
the ventilation of the pit should be improved
by the establishment of a communication
with the air-shaft of an adjacent set of workings,
which was part of the same property.
Practical colliers agreed that this should
have been done, and it was said that it would
only take two or three weeks to do it. It
was not done; something appears to have
been thought about, but there was nothing
done. And it is to be remembered that in a
half-ventilated mine there is not only a risk
of the manifest calamity of an explosion, but
there is the certainty of daily secret hurt
done to the health of all the men employed.

Now, let us observe the relation in which
the owner of this pit stands towards his
property: again saying, that as to him and as to
all other persons concerned in the matter of
which we speak, we do not believe that there
attaches any blame which does not attach
equally to hundreds of men in the same
position. He has taken no part, he testifies
of himself, in the management of the mine,
but in compliance with the requisitions of the
Act of Parliament, he, as owner, directed the
manager to give a copy of the rules to every
collier in his employment. The persons
responsible for the working of the mine were
the officers; he himself entrusted everything
to the general manager, and held no
communication with the other officers. He knew
the names of two successive colliery agents,
of the over man, and the three fire-men;
those were all the names he knew. He
knew that great responsibility rested upon
the firemen, but could not detail their duties.
Two years ago, he dismissed two firemen by
the desire of his general manager, and
appointed two others in whom the men had no
confidence, and against whom they struck.
The government inspector having reverted to
the time of the explosion, which, four years
ago, destroyed sixty-five lives, at the Middle
Dufferin Colliery, and inquired concerning a
letter from him, dated the eighth of July,
eighteen hundred and fifty-two, pointing out
the great loss of life that might occur in the
mine now under question, from the want of
proper ventilation, the owner does not recollect
having received such a letter; does not
recollect that there was sent to him a
printed report of the causes of the Middle
Dufferin explosion; does not recollect a letter
sent to him by the government inspector in
the year eighteen hundred and fifty-four,
pointing out the risk of an explosion on his
own works, and suggesting the adoption of
certain rules to avoid its occurrence. He
sometimes visited his colliery, and occasionally
looked at the plans, but has never seen any
alterations marked as suggestions of improvement
in the ventilation. Last year there
was an explosion in his pit, and one person
was killed by fire-damp; but, the verdict was
not officially communicated to him, neither
did his coal-agent send to him any notes of
what was said upon the occasion.

Now, we will do so much violence to our
own sense of right as to assume that the
owner of a colliery, or factory, or any great
establishment to which there are attached
serious responsibilities, is entitled to shift

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