Abbildungen der Seite

glow of health and joy; his dark locks clustering in long ringlets on his neck and shoulders, and his large eyes soft and glistening. He was always smiling or singing, and he was often seen with the sweetest-smelling flowers and fruits, arranged in fanciful forms before him, which his busy fingers were ever re-arranging, while delight was depicted on every feature. By and bye you might notice a lifting of the head on one side, as if, more intently, to listen to something, and a restless wandering of the eyes, that spoke, in touching though silent eloquence, of some sad calamity; and yet many persons left his presence and never discovered it-He was blind. The dilated pupil of the eye, which gave its intense blackness, contracted not on the approach of danger, or of a light too powerful for ordinary vision. He had been born with some organic defect in the eye or its accessories, which no human art could remedy. But maternal love guarded and guided his steps with unslumbering vigilance, and taught him many things; above all, it tenderly left untold, much of the nature of his misfortunes, so that as yet, the boy felt not that he was in any way deficient.

Just so have I also seen many a young bright being budding into life; the life of folly, of giddiness, and of this world; she had been instructed in religious truth, but she did not see its beauty, its importance; and yet she believed she lacked nothing. All who saw, admiredmany loved her—and neither did they guess that, after all, she was blind-blind to her own highest happiness and dearest interests.

What shall be the remedy for this hapless, but blessed be God, not hopeless, condition ; for there is balm in Gilead, and there is a physician there. Look once again at blind Bartimeus. He knew, he acutely felt, that he labored under a grievous misfortune beyond the reach of created skill, and therefore heedless of all other cares or interests, he believingly appeals to Him, of whom he has heard, that “ to many who were blind He gave sight;" and who, Oh! who, in a situation like his, would not plead equally, earnestly and importunately, were Jesus of Nazareth passing by?

Shall the more unfortunate, more benighted, more helpless victims of spiritual blindness, refuse to cry, and cry with a pathos and an importunity that will not fail to attract the notice,

and insure the pity and assistance of the Lord, “Son of David, have mercy on me.”

It needs but this. His ear is as open-His heart as compassionate, now on His throne, as when passing to Jericho ; and He still says, for the comfort of the needy, “Him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out."



(Concluded from page 134.) Having carried his workings as far as is deemed practicable, the miner returns upon his steps, and attacks the oblong pillars of coal hitherto left untouched. As he digs them away, he inserts strong props, to stay up the roof. This state of things, when a vast hollow in the earth is kept from collapsing by props, is called a “jud.” But as not even a prop is lost, if it can be helped, in a coal-pit, the workmen cautiously withdraw them, beginning of course at the furthest end. As the supports are removed, the roof falls in with more or less rapidity. Sometimes tons of earth come tumbling down at once. Sometimes the descent is more gradual. Thus, by degrees, successive rows of props are taken

and the

space in which they stood is occupied by a chaos of broken strata, heaped together with more or less solidity, but generally intersected with cracks, crevices, and hollow chambers, formed by the irregular shapes of the fallen rocks and stones. This dreary space is called a “goaf," and every mine which has been for some time worked possesses one, the dimensions of which, of course, are being daily added to. Old mines of great extent have several goafs, and sometimes they each include dozens of acres of space. A mine thoroughly worked out will be all goaf, and probably the majority of pits have a nucleus of fallen and crumbling strata. Our progress will be first along the rolley-way, our destination being of course the workings. The path is occupied by a single tramway, the space between the rails being taken up by short sleepers, laid as close as the rounds of a ladder. On one or both sides there trickle down to the well or " sunk,” near the shaft, driblets in some cases, and rivulets in others, of salt and muddy water. Presently you may meet a party of pitmen returning from work. You hear their voices, and see the glimmer of their light at a distance; and presently they pass you—in Indian file-a ghastlylooking procession, seen by the flickering light of the single candle half enclosed in the hollows of the leader's hand. You will not go far without hearing the noise of an approaching train of waggons. The sound rumbles and reverberates, so that it requires a practised ear to distinguish in which direction the convoy is proceeding. Presently, however, you see the gleam of a light approaching and very likely hear the shrill voice of a boy singing some popular ditty at the top of his voice. You stand aside, squeezing yourself against the damp wall, to allow the train to go by. It is drawn by a single horse at a walking pace, and may convey a dozen or fourteen loaded tubs. The platforms upon which these are placed are not more than two feet from the ground. The driver is usually a lad under eighteen. He always sits just behind the horse, with his legs extended upon the low shafts between which the animal is yoked. He has a single light swinging in a lamp from the top of the foremost tub, but so placed as to be invisible until you are close upon it. Oecasionally considerable portions of the way are inclined planes, where the services of horses are not required. The full waggons running down, pull the empty ones up. At either end of the inclined plane, a couple of individuals, generally a man and a boy, are stationed to arrange


waggons. There is a bell wire in many instances running along the roof of the passage, and a vigorous tug at this by the man below announces to his coadjutor above that he may start the loaded waggons, which come careering down like thunder, in the darkness. The glimmer of light at what may be called the station is commonly afforded by a candle, stuck by means of clay to a post or the wall.

In following the track of a rolley-way, you often observe examples of the “pitches” and “ troubles” with which miners have to contend. Sometimes the seam makes a sudden bend upwards or downwards, involving, unless it speedily returns to its former pitch, the necessity of a change of level in the workings; at other times a band of clayey stone or shale intersects it. It is curious to observe the thin layers of unworkable coal, perhaps two or three inches thick, glancing like a black riband along the lighter-colored strata through which the passage

has been cut. In some points props are fastened to strengthen and support the sides, and in others the corridor is regularly built in with masonry, so as to appear precisely like a railway tunnel. In moving with the current of air you feel its influence in a very small degree, and the reflux and agitation produced by the going by of a train is most refreshing. After having passed, it may be, several stations at the bottoms and tops of inclined planes-at each of which the attendants will probably be sitting upon lumps of coal or rude benches, or on the waggons, waiting for the moment when their services are called into operation--we reach a point whence we can diverge into the workings. A row of waggon-frames stand here, opposite an aperture in the wall which may measure, say from three to four feet square, and raised about two feet above the tramway, so as to allow the tubs pushed out of it to glide at once, without change of level, upon the framework. We now come, for the first time, upon the putters. You hear a shouting and a clattering in the black hole before you, and in a minute a coal-tub emerges, with a crash, upon the locomotive platform; and you perceive a figure, more than half naked, pouring with perspiration, and, of course, as black as a negro, who has looked out for a moment, exchanged a word with the driver, and then disappeared in the recesses of the “headway,” shoving an empty tub before him. This is the putter, and we shall follow him. Clambering over the waggons we find ourselves in a narrow passage, ruggedly cut among the coals, and the painful stooping position generally necessary to traverse which speedily makes one think of taking to all-fours as a luxury. At all events, you almost envy the putter the tub upon which he leans as he pushes it out and in. Here, as in the rolley-way, there is a tramroad, the rails being necessarily of a very narrow gauge. About half-way to where the board opens up, we pass an air door attended by a trapper. The poor little fellow sits squatted on the ground in a recess, holding a cord in his hand, with which he chucks-to the door after the putter and his tub have passed. If he can beg or pick up any candle-ends, the trapper has the luxury of light; if not, he must sit quietly in the darkness. Leaving the trapper behind, we can probably catch at length the faint click of the picks which the hewers are wielding, and presently the passage through which we are crawling opens into a sort of shallow chamber—the “board”_heaped with loose coal, the roof strengthened by short props and cross bars, and at the farther end of it gleam the glowworm-like sparks of the Davy lamps. We are now fairly in the recesses of the pit, and the eye being by this time pretty well accustomed to the darkness, we can watch the hewers at their work. The labor would be toilsome even in the fresh air, but in the deep recesses of a mine it must be very fagging. The toil of the hewer depends greatly upon the thickness of the seam, which prescribes the attitudes in which he is obliged chiefly to labor. Sometimes he stands; sometimes he works on his knees; sometimes he flings himself down on his side, to get at the lower part of the bed. The skill and endurance of the hewer are mostly shown by the facility with which he can accommodate his postures to the nature of the seam, and the vigour and effect with which he can labor in them all. The coal is always pretty compactly lodged, and requires a smart blow to bring down even any ordinary shovelfull; and this is the more felt from the cramping position, often among props and posts, in which the limbs have to be exerted. Close behind the hewer stand one or more empty tubs, which he has to fill; and the putter wheels it out, by main force through the narrow passages. The hewer enters the pit at two or three in the morning, and set to work; the putters come to their aid two hours from the time they have commenced, so as to find coals hewn and ready to be carried out.

In returning from the recesses of the mine, which we may do by the up-cast passages, we have an opportunity of seeing the furnace, used for ventilating the mine, attended by its solitary watchman. The rush of air close to an efficient furnace forms a current which a sailor would call a topgallant-sail-breeze. There are generally two fire-trimmers, who relieve each other night and day. The smoke of the furnace and the impure air escape by the up-cast shaft together. If you stand by its brink, you will observe the vapour rising like dense steam from the pit.

« ZurückWeiter »