Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter IX: EACH FOR ALL. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4
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Chapter IX: EACH FOR ALL. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 4.
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EACH FOR ALL.
Lady F——remained a few hours in London to learn the physician's opinion of Waldie's state, and to give notice at home of her approach. She had no rest, in town or on the road, from the visions which haunted her of what she had lately seen. Waldie's countenance of fierce glee was for ever before her; his raised voice startled her imagination perpetually. She had no repose till her husband met her some miles from Weston, suffered her to alight at the parkgates, and invited her to wander with him to the ruin, and through the autumnal woods, to her beloved seat beside the stream that fed the lake. Refreshed aud composed, she joined her guests at the dinner table, and was warmly welcomed back again: not the less so for no one but the earl and lady Frances having an idea what had caused her'absence. All were ready with that delicate homage which may be supposed to have been as gratifying in its way to Letitia as, it is to many who relish a grosser flattery than she would ever endure. All were ready with tidings of her protegés, from pheasants to men and women. One could assure her that a very favourite plant had not suffered from the frosts of the night after she left Weston. Another had tasted the cream of her dairy; a third admired her bantams; a fourth amused himself with Nanny White; a fifth conversed with the old sexton; and lady Frances herself condescended to hope that that good girl, Thèrése, had not been left behind in London. She was such a treasure! Thereby hung a confession, afterwards given in private, that Philips was really very much spoiled, and becoming a great trouble. Her manners were anything but improved, to say nothing of her temper. Miss Falconbridge, whom she knew to be as intimate as a sister with lady Frances, had taken a fancy to lady Frances's style of hair; and as the easiest way of gratifying her, lady Frances had ordered Philips to dress Miss Falconbridge's hair the day before; whereupon Phitips sent word through Miss Falconbridge's maid that she must beg to decline the honour! Lady Frances had insisted, and her maid in some sort obeyed: but never was anything seen so absurd as the young lady's head. What was lady Frances to do? To part with Philips was altogether impossible; and to bear with her now was scarcely less so. Letitia could not answer for what she should do if compelled to retain such a person as Philips: she could only appeal to her own management of Thèrése as a proof of how easy a matter it is to make a valuable friend out of a hired attendant.
“O yes! by taking the trouble of educating her,”no doubt. But that is a task I could not submit to. That reminds me—how does Thèrése get on with politics? I remember her one day, so eloquent about the revolution her father remembers, and the prospect of another revolution, and the glory of having seen Lafayette.”
“She knows more than she would probably have learned in the very heart of Paris. She has left off assuring me that all the kings of France have been royalists.”
“I suppose it is for the sake of keeping her innocent of some things which lady's maids learn soon enough that you let her read and talk politics as she does?”
“Partly; and partly with a more direct view to my own interest. It will be of very great consequence to me that she should be, not only pure in her conduct, but well educated up to as high a point as I can carry her.'
“Ah! you mean for the sake of your little heir. I see Thèrése is as busy about the preparations as if she had taken her office upon her already. But you began your care of Thèrése from the day you knew her, she tells me.”
“I did; and so I should do still, if there were no heir in prospect. Should I be justified, think you, in placing any one where I myself order the circumstances which are to form her character, and at tile same time neglecting to order those circumstances well?—It is perfectly true that, those in engaging servants, we undertake a great task. In the case of Thèrése, however, the task has been all pleasure.”
“Well, for your reward, I suppose you will keep her always. You will not let her marry, I conclude; or, if she marries, will insist on her remaining with you. It would be too hard to lose all your pains.”
“Whenever Thèrése loves,—and I think I can trust her to commit no folly with that sound heart of hers,—she shall marry; and she shall enter upon her new state as I entered upon mine. with the view of being all and doing all for society of which that state admits. This may best be done by being wholly her husband's, and a fixture in his home. I shall surrender my part in her on her marriage day.”
“By Which, I suppose, you hope to retain at least half her heart, if none of her services. But, my dear, what a prospect for you!”
“A goodly prospect indeed, either way. Either a friend at hand, and a fit guardian of my children in my absence; or a successful experiment in happiness-making, ever before my eyes. 1 hope ever to rejoice in Thèrése.”
Lady Frances sighed, and began to ponder whether, even if she could learn to live without Philips, she could make to herself a maid in whom she might rejoice.
Not only from her husband did Letitia learn how welcome she was back to Weston. The days of her absence had passed like other days, when people who prefer the town, and whose lives are formed for that destination, are thrown together in the country. There were means of enjoyment in abundance; but not of a kind to be permanently relished by those before whom they lay. Letitia's music was wanted in the evenings; Letitia's conversation, artless and sprightly as a girl's, rich as a matured woman's, and entertaining enough to suit everybody, was sighed for at table, and when it rained, and especially when the ladies were called upon to amuse each other in the absence of the gentlemen. It was only on rare occasions, however, that she relinquished her privilege of reserving several hours of the morning for herself and her husband. On one desperately rainy day, she was found ready for chess or music before dinner; and at another time, when all tile gentlemen were absent for the whole day at a political meeting in the neighbouring city, she did not leave her guests at all. But these occasions were rare. On the last mentioned one, she had some view to her own interest as well as that of her guests. Lord
F——meant to speak at the meeting; his speech
must, from his office, be one of the most important of the day; and he was doubtful both how he should accquit himself, and how that which he had to say would be received. Letitia was, of course, far from being at ease, and was glad to conceal, and to carry off some of her anxiety at the same time by being “on hospitable thoughts intent.” It was the last day of the last of her visiters; the gentlemen having waited only for this meeting. Their carriages were ordered for the next morning, and they did not return till late at night.
They were nearly as eloquent in describing the effect of lord F——'s speech, as, by their account, had been the speech itself.—One swore by his soul that it was the most good-natured sort of thing he had ever heard in his life: another, that the government and the government candidate ought to feel themselves much obliged to him; another, ought that lord F—'s constituents would be more proud of trim than ever; another, an M.P., a representative of the commercial interest, that lord F—— had enlightened the people not a little on the question when low profits were harmless, and when bad things, and why; and all, with the earl among them, that this day might prove the beginning of a new era in lord F——'s public life. He would now have as potent a voice out of the house as his friends had ever hoped he would in time have in it.
“How happens all this, Henry?” asked Letitia, aside, with a glowing smile. “You gave me no expectation of anything like this.”
“Because I had none myself. The charm lay in the burden which I adopted from our neighbours down in the village;— ' for each and for all.'”
“I see; I understand. Now leave the rest till you can give it me all in order.”
It was accordingly given, all in order, when the last carriage had driven off, the next morning, and Henry and Letitia shut themselves into the library, to enjoy the uninterruptedness of the first fall of snow. This was no day for the approach of deputations, for the visits of clergyman, lawyer, lady callers, gentleman loungers, or even petitioners from the village. The guests had been urged to stay for finer weather; but, as peremptory in their plans as people of real business, provided change of place is the object, business, they could on no account delay an hour; and, to be sure, the snow signified little to any but the postilions and the horses.
“Well, now, the speech, the speech!” cried Letitia.
“I told the people that nobody doubts that changes”are wanted, in order to remedy the evils so large a portion of society is justly complaining of; and that the thing needed is a wider agreement as to what those changes must be, and therefore a sounder and more general knowledge of the causes of existing evils. I led them, as an instance, into the consideration of the common complaint of low profits and low wages, and showed them, I hope, that proportional wages are much higher at present than some complainers suppose; the fact being lost sight of from the enormous increase of those among whom the wages -fund in divided. However little each labourer may, from this cause, obtain for his own share, the division of produce between capitalist and labourer, —that is, the proportion of profits and wages, is more equable than is supposed by capitalists who more equable of their low profits, and labourers of their l wages. Neither of them will gain by demanding a larger share of the other, which neither can afford. They must look elsewhere for a remedy; and I directed them where to look by giving them the example of Holland and its commercial vicissitudes.”
“Rich to overflowing in the fifteenth century; since, well nigh ruined. How was this? From too much capital leaving the country?”
“From the causes which led to such transfer of capital. While Holland was accumulating its wealth, profits were first high, and then gradually lowered in proportion to wages, though still increasing in total amount. It was not till heavy taxation reduced the rate of profits below that of other countries . . . .”
“But does not taxation affect wages too?” “Assuredly; but the labourer uses fewer commodities than the capitalist, and therefore there is a limit to the labourer's taxation, beyond which taxes must fall on profits, and reduce them as effectually as a deterioration of the land could do. Well; this being the case in Holland, more than in the neighbouring countries, Dutch capital flowed into those countries; and the Dutch have engaged largely in the carrying trade, in foreign funds, and in loans to the merchants of other countries, because all this capital could be less advantageously employed at home. No country need or ought to come to such a pass as this; for, where there is an economical government, taxation may be a trifle compared with what it was in Holland after the wars of the Republic; and where there is a liberal commercial system, —that is, no unnecessary check upon the supply of food, accumulation may proceed to an undefinable extent without an injurious fall of wages and profits. Thus may the cultivation of poor soils be rendered needless, the consequent rise of rent be checked, and the fall of profits and wages obviated.”
“What we want then is, a regulation of the supply of the labour market, a lightening of taxation, and a liberal commercial system. But, Henry, where is the eloquence of all this?—that which is commonly called eloquence? It seems to me more like a lecture than a speech.”
“And so it was; but these are days when, to the people, naked truth is the best eloquence. They are sufferers; they look for a way out of their sufferings; and the plainest way is to them the fairest. However, I said to them much that there is no need to say to you,—because you know it already,—of my views of what the spirit of society ought to be, in contrast with what it is. I enlarged,—whether eloquently I know not,— but I am sure fervently,—as fervently as ever any advocate of co-operation spoke,—on the rule 'for each and for all;' showing that there is actual co-operation wherever individual interests are righteously pursued, since the general interest is made up of individual interests. I showed that justice requires the individual appropriation of the fruits of individual effort; that is, the maintenance of the institution of property; and that producers do as much for all, as well as for each, by carrying their produce to market themselves, as by casting it into a common stock.”
“For instance, that A. does as great a public service by bringing a hundred hats to exchange for tables and stockings, and whatever else he may happen to want, as B. by letting the exchange be conducted as an affair of partnership.”
“Yes. Let people have partnerships as large as they like, and make savings thereby, if they find they can. But let them beware of the notion that any competition but the struggle for food is the cause of hardship; and that struggle must take place under both systems, unless the same means are used by both to prevent it. As for the question of time, the struggle will take place soonest under that system which affords the least stimulus to productive industry. “And, now, love, you have the pith of my speech, except of those best parts which you have many a time rehearsed to me, and I to you. Of the ' hear, hears,' and clappings, you learned enough last night.”
“I wish I could have been there,” sighed the wife.
“So do I. Well as you know the aspect of an attentive crowd, you can have little idea of the stimulating excitement of political meetings just now.”
“I can imagine it. The true romance of human life lies among the poorer classes; the most rapid vicissitudes, the strongest passions, the most undiluted emotions, the most eloquent deportment, the truest experience are there. These things are marked on their countenances, and displayed by their gestures; and yet these things are almost untouched by our artists; be they dramatists, painters, or novelists. The richest know best what is meant by the monotony of existence, however little this may appear to their poor neighbours who see them driving about as if life depended of their speed, and traversing kingdoms and continents. Yet from the upper and middling classes are the fine arts mainly furnished with their subjects. This is wrong; for life in its reality cannot become known by hearsay; and by hearsay only is there any notion of it among those who feel themselves set above its struggles and its toils: that is, by the greater part of tile aristocracy.”
“Thank heaven! not by you or me,” replied her husband. “An uninformed observer might think that there is monotony before us at present, sitting as we are, watching the snow-flakes fall with tile few leaves which had lingered aloft till now,—with weeks of retirement in prospect, and nothing apparent to wish or work for. Yet you have had enough, love, of struggle and toil to know what real life is; and I have, of late, begun to learn the same lesson. No fear of monotony for us!”
“No fear; since there are all to live for as well as each, and each other. But, Henry, how is it that there is so little made known where it most wants to be known, of what real life is when trained by that best of educations, vicissitude?”
“Because our painters of life do not take into the account,—in fact know little of,—some of the most important circumstances which constitute life, in the best sense of the word. They lay hold of the great circumstances which happen to all, the landmarks of universal human existence, and overlook those which are not less interesting, though not universal. They take Love; and think it more becoming to describe a Letltia going to the altar with a lord F——, than a weaver and his thoughtful bride taking possession of their two rooms, after long waiting and anxiety. They take Bereavement; and think it the same thing whether they describe the manly grief of an Ormond for his gailant Ossory, or the silent woe of a poverty-stricken widow for her laborious and dutiful son. They take Birth; and would rather have a lady F——bending over tile infant heir of a lordly house, with a Thèrése in waiting .... (My dear, why not describe that which shall be as well as that which has been?)—a lady E——and her infant, I say, than some rustic Mary holding up her boy to smile in father's face when he comes home from the plough. There is no harm in all this, provided the mighty remainder is not overlooked, which is at the bottom of the most portentous heavings of society, —which explains all that is to many unaccountable in the doings of the world they live in. If the aristocracy cannot, by their own experience, get to know all that life is,—though they are born, love, marry, suffer, enjoy, and die, let some idea be given them of it by true images held up in the mirror of their studies.”
“Yes; let humble life be shown to them in all its strong and strange varieties; not only in faithful butlers and housekeepers,—in pretty dairy-maids and gossiping barbers. Let us have in books, in pictures, and on the stage, working men and women, in the various periods of their struggles through life. In the meanwhile, these people should in fairness know that the aristocracy are less aware than is supposed,— less than they will be,—of what is being done and suffered on each side of their smooth and dull path.”
“Let the artists be compassionately considered too, I pray,” said lord F——, smiling. “Granting all that can be urged about their limiting their choice of objects, let us be considerate till they have placed themselves at large. What, for instance, could a weaver of fiction make of our present life?”
“Nothing of a story; only a picture; there being, as you said just now, apparent monotony without, and deep stirrings within. Such a writer, if wishing to make a narrative, must take either my former life, — its perplexities, its poverty, its struggles under its first publicity, its labours, its love, and migration into a new state; —or your future one,—the statesman's honourable toils, joined with the patriot's conflicts and consolations.”
“But if there was good reason for taking up precisely the interval,—-from our marriage till this hour;—what then?”
“Then writer and readers must be contented with little narrative; contented to know what passes within us, since so little happens to us. Would there be nothing to instruct and gratify in pictures of our position, in revelations of our hearts, and records of our conversations?”
“Let us comfort ourselves, Letitia, with deciding that it must be the fault of the recorder if there were not.”