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9
practice and two assistants. The Inspector of Nuisances is an il-
literate ex-police constable, and is' stated to be an ineflicient oiiicer. "
Much valuable information as to the condition of villages, etc.,
can be obtained from the various Reports of the Assistant­Commis­
sioners for the Royal Commission on the Agricultural Laborer, 1892.
· But as these Reports are now seven years old, and also take a good
deal of reading, I would advise those who are interested in the ·
’ Cottage Question to obtain one or other of the short reports
` ‘ made last year for the Local Government Board by Dr. St. George
Mivart, on the sanitary circumstances connected with the Rural
Districts of Axminster, Devonshire, and of Biggleswade (Beds.).
These pamphlets can be supplied by Messrs. Eyre and Spottiswoode
for 6d. and 9d. respectively, and will give a good idea of the con-
ditions of a large number of rural districts in England. All are
by no means so universally bad as these two ; but in all with which
I am in any way acquainted, there are certain villages and a large
number of individual cottages in quite as deplorable a condition.
That no action has been taken by the Government-or the Local
Government Board as a natural sequel to the evidence given in the
Reports of the Royal Commission on the Agricultural Laborer, 1892,
and the strong recommendations made by the Assistant­Commis­
sioners, is only one more proof of the uselessness of Commissions
of Inquiry, unless they are backed up by the public demand that
some action shall be taken.
Besides the filled-in circulars, I have received a large number of
, letters, some of them from farm laborers and their wives, giving the
most pathetic accounts of homes falling into ruins, and asking for
p advice and help, and where they are to go, andoften urging me to
" come and see."
Indeed, the whole question is full of sadness to those who are
familiar with the lives and homes of the poor, and the public
conscience has yet to be awakened to a realization of how much
silent and often unconscious suffering is borne in many ways by the
laborers’ wives in consequence of the wretched condition and sur-
roundings of their homes.
It is because I am a woman, and feel for these sister women,
that I have taken up the cottage question and have ventured to
address you to­day.
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