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Sir Titus Salt






I spent a day, with great interest, in visiting the worsted mills and
warehouses at Saltaire, just out from Bradford, England, which cover
about ten acres. The history of the proprietor, Sir Titus Salt, reads
like a romance. A poor boy, the son of a plain Yorkshire man, at
nineteen in a loose blouse he was sorting and washing wool; a little
later, a good salesman, a faithful Christian worker and the
superintendent of a Sunday school.

At thirty-three, happening to be in Liverpool, he observed on the docks
some huge pieces of dirty-looking alpaca wool. They had long lain in the
warehouses, and becoming a nuisance to the owners, were soon to be
reshipped to Peru. Young Salt took away a handful of the wool in his
handkerchief, scoured and combed it, and was amazed at its attractive
appearance. His father and friends advised him strongly to have nothing
to do with the dirty stuff, as he could sell it to no one; and if he
attempted to make cloth from it himself, he ran a great risk of failure.
Finally he said, "I am going into this alpaca affair right and left, and
I'll either make myself a man or a mouse."



Returning to Liverpool, he bought the whole three hundred bales for a
small sum, and toiled diligently till proper machinery was made for the
new material. The result was a great success. In three years over two
million pounds of alpaca wool were imported, and now four million pounds
are brought to Bradford alone. Employment was soon furnished to
thousands, laborers coming from all over Great Britain and Germany. Ten
years later Mr. Salt was made mayor of Bradford; ten years after this a
member of Parliament, and ten years later still a baronet by Queen
Victoria,--a great change from the boy in his soiled coarse blouse, but
he deserved it all. He was a remarkable man in many ways. Even when
worth his millions, and giving lavishly on every hand, he would save
blank leaves and scraps of paper for writing, and lay them aside for
future use. He was an early riser, always at the works before the
engines were started. It used to be said of him, "Titus Salt makes a
thousand pounds before others are out of bed." He was punctual to the
minute, most exact, and unostentatious. After he was knighted, it was no
uncommon thing for him to take a poor woman and her baby in the carriage
beside him, or a tired workman, or scatter hundreds of tracts in a
village where he happened to be. Once a gypsy, not knowing who he was,
asked him to buy a broom. To her astonishment, he bought all she was
carrying!

The best of his acts, one which he had thought out carefully, as he
said, "to do good to his fellow-men," was the building of Saltaire for
his four thousand workmen. When asked once what he had been reading of
late, he replied. "Alpaca. If you had four or five thousand people to
provide for every day, you would not have much time left for reading."
Saltaire is a beautiful place on the banks of the river Aire, clean and
restful. In the centre of the town stands the great six-story mill,
well-ventilated, lighted, and warmed, five hundred and forty-five feet
long, of light-colored stone, costing over a half million dollars. The
four engines of eighteen hundred horse-power consume fifteen thousand
tons of coal per year. The weaving shed, covering two acres, holds
twelve hundred looms, which make eighteen miles of fabric per day.

The homes of the work-people are an honor to the capitalist. They are of
light stone, like the mill, two stories high, each containing parlor,
kitchen, pantry, and three bedrooms or more, well ventilated and
tasteful. Flower beds are in every front yard, with a vegetable garden
in the rear. No broken carts or rubbish are to be seen. Not satisfied to
make Saltaire simply healthful, by proper sanitary measures, and
beautiful, for which Napoleon III. made him one of the Legion of Honor,
Mr. Salt provided school buildings at a cost of $200,000, a
Congregational church, costing $80,000, Italian in style,--as are the
other buildings,--a hospital for sick or injured, and forty-five pretty
almshouses, like Italian villas, where the aged and infirm have a
comfortable home. Each married man and his wife receive $2.50 weekly,
and each single man or woman $1.87 for expenses. Once a year Mr. Salt
and his family used to take tea with the inmates, which was a source of
great delight.

Believing that "indoor washing is most pernicious, and a fruitful source
of disease, especially to the young," he built twenty-four baths, at a
cost of $35,000, and public wash-houses. These are supplied with three
steam engines and six washing machines. Each person bringing clothes is
provided with a rubbing and boiling tub, into which steam and hot and
cold water are conveyed by pipes. The clothes are dried by hot air, and
can be washed, dried, mangled, and folded in an hour. In Sweden, I found
the same dislike to having washing done in the homes, and clothes are
usually carried to the public wash-houses.

Perhaps the most interesting of all Mr. Salt's gifts to his workmen is
the Saltaire Club and Institute, costing $125,000; a handsome building,
with large reading-room supplied with daily papers and current
literature, a library, lecture-hall for eight hundred persons, a "School
of Art," with models, drawings, and good teachers, a billiard-room with
four tables, a room for scientific study, each student having proper
appliances for laboratory work, a gymnasium and drill-room nearly sixty
feet square, an armory for rifle-practice, and a smoking-room, though
Mr. Salt did not smoke. The membership fee for all this study and
recreation is only thirty seven cents for each three months. Opposite
the great mill is a dining-hall, where a plate of meat can be purchased
for four cents, a bowl of soup for two cents, and a cup of tea or coffee
for one cent. If the men prefer to bring their own food, it is cooked
free of charge. The manager has a fixed salary, so that there is no
temptation to scrimp the buyers.

Still another gift was made to the work-people; a park of fourteen
acres, with croquet and archery grounds, music pavilion, places for
boating and swimming, and walks with beautiful flowers. No saloon has
ever been allowed in Saltaire. Without the temptation of the beer-shops,
the boys have grown to intelligent manhood, and the girls to virtuous
womanhood. Sir Titus Salt's last gift to his workmen was a Sunday-school
building costing $50,000, where are held the "model Sunday schools of
the country," say those who have attended the meetings. No wonder, at
the death of this man, 40,000 people came to his burial,--members of
Parliament, clergymen, workingmen's unions, and ragged schools. No
wonder that statues have been erected to his memory, and that thousands
go every year to Saltaire, to see what one capitalist has done for his
laborers. No fear of strikes in his workshops; no socialism talked in
the clean and pretty homes of the men; no squalid poverty, no depraving
ignorance.

That capital is feeling its responsibility in this matter of homes for
laborers is one of the hopeful signs of the times. We shall come,
sometime, to believe with the late President Chadbourne, "The rule now
commonly acted upon is that business must be cared for, and men must
care for themselves. The principle of action, in the end, must be that
men must be cared for, and business must be subservient to this great
work."

If, as Spurgeon has well said, "Home is the grandest of all
institutions," capital can do no better work than look to the homes of
the laborer. It is not the mansion which the employer builds for
himself, but the home which he builds for his employe, which will insure
a safe country for his children to dwell in. If discontent and poverty
surround his palace, its foundations are weak; if intelligence has been
disseminated, and comfort promoted by his unselfish thought for others,
then he leaves a goodly heritage for his children.









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