Flogging of young children in mills


1870 Courier & Argus

Wednesday, March 2nd.


                                                                   Arbroath, February 27th.

Sir, - I’m looking over a sort of diary kept by me when a boy at the mill more than a dozen years ago, I came upon the following true though imperfect sketch, for although I had long ago forgotten the rhyme I have still a vivid recollection of the scene I then attempted to describe. If you think it worthy of a corner in your paper you are welcome to it. I have no particular ambition to appear in print, but simply desire to add my testimony to the fact that such a thing as the taws was in common use in Dundee mills at the time, whatever may be the case now. – Yours truly,

                                                                       An Old Mill Boy.


See those little children toiling

In that noisy, dusty room;

All their spring time blossom spoiling,

Ere they have a chance to bloom.


There ‘mong spindled swift in motion,

Filling bobbins full of thread;

Lab’ring as with soul’s devotion

For a pittance, poor indeed.


All those bobbins must be shifted,

Each has her appointed share,

Thus from frame to frame they’re drifted,

Taws is lord and master there.


One frame done, another’s ready,

Off they run like hunted deer;

‘Tis a wonder they’re not giddy

With incessant toil and fear.


For their driver’s hanging o’er them,

In her hand she holds the lash,

Waving threateningly before them

As from frame to frame they dash.


To be hindmost yes! They fear it,

Pain resides within that thong;

One of them they know must be bear it,

Whether it be right or wrong.


Thus they’re with each other striving

All the day long in the mill;

How can they be strong and thriving,

‘Tis against Dame Nature’s will.