Front Page Titles (by Subject) THE CLAIMS OF LABOUR 1845 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume IV - Essays on Economics and Society Part I
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume IV - Essays on Economics and Society Part I
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
THE CLAIMS OF LABOUR 1845 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume IV - Essays on Economics and Society Part I 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume IV - Essays on Economics and Society Part I, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Lord Robbins (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1967).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
THE CLAIMS OF LABOUR
D&D, II (1867), 181-217. Headed: “The Claims of Labour”; with a footnote identifying the first publication, and adding: “Part of a review of the work by Mr. Helps, entitled ‘The Claims of Labour: an Essay on the Duties of the Employers to the Employed’ [London: Pickering, 1844].” (In 1859 the reading was “. . . review of a work, entitled ‘The . . . Employed.’ ”) Reprinted from Edinburgh Review, LXXXI (Apr., 1845), 498-525 (unsigned), where it appeared as Art. VII (with the title of Help’s work). Identified in JSM’s bibliography as “A review of a book entitled ‘The Claims of Labour’ (by Arthur Helps Esq.) in the Edinburgh review for April 1845” (MacMinn, 58).
This article, its subject still fresh in JSM’s mind when he wrote his Principles (see Book IV, Chaps. vi and vii), was conceived a year before the commencement of the Principles; on 9 Nov., 1844, he wrote to Macvey Napier, editor of the Edinburgh:
I have been feeling lately a very great inclination to write something on the doctrines & projects which are so rife just at present on the fashionable subject of the “Claims of Labour”—& the little book so called, would furnish an appropriate text, if you are inclined to the subject, & would not prefer seeing it in other hands. It appears to me that along with much of good intention, & something even of sound doctrine, the speculations now afloat are sadly deficient, on the whole, in sobriety & wisdom—forgetful, in general, of the lessons of universal experience, & of some of those fundamental principles which one did think had been put for ever out of the reach of controversy by Adam Smith, Malthus, & others. The general tendency is to rivet firmly in the minds of the labouring people the persuasion that it is the business of others to take care of their condition, without any self control on their own part—& that whatever is possessed by other people, more than they possess, is a wrong to them, or at least a kind of stewardship, of which an account is to be rendered to them. I am sure you will agree with me in thinking it very necessary to make a stand against this sort of spirit while it is at the same time highly necessary as well as right, to shew sympathy in all that is good of the new tendencies, & to avoid the hard, abstract mode of treating such questions which has brought discredit upon political economists & has enabled those who are in the wrong to claim, & generally to receive, exclusive credit for high & benevolent feeling.
I do not know of anything so important at the present time as to attempt to place these subjects in their right position before the public—& it can nowhere be done so well as in the Edinburgh review—where I hope it will be done even if it should not suit you that I should do it—although I know no reason for thinking that the manner in which I should treat the subject would be unsuitable to you. (Earlier Letters, Collected Works, XIII, 643-4.)
The following text is collated with that in D&D, II (1st ed.), and that in the Edinburgh. In the footnoted variants, the 2nd ed. is indicated by “67”; the 1st by “59”; the Edinburgh by “45”. Two corrections in JSM’s hand in the Somerville College copy (an off-print paged 1-28, but otherwise unaltered) are indicated at 387l-l and m-m.
The Claims of Labour
“persons of a thoughtful mind,” says the introduction to this little volume, “seeing closely the falsehood, the folly, and the arrogance of the age in which they live, are apt, occasionally, to have a great contempt for it; and I doubt not, that many a man looks upon the present time as one of feebleness and degeneracy. There are, however, signs of an increased solicitude for the aClaims of Laboura , which of itself is a thing of the highest promise, and more to be rejoiced over than all the mechanical triumphs which both those who would magnify, and those who would depreciate, the present age, would be apt to point to as containing its especial significance and merit.”[*]
It is true that many are now inquiring, more earnestly than heretofore, “how the great mass of the people are fed, clothed, and taught—and whether the improvement in their condition corresponds at all with the improvement of the condition of the middle and upper classes.” [P. 3.] And many are of opinion, with the writer from whom we quote, that the answer which can be given to these questions is an unsatisfactory one. Nor is the newly-awakened interest in the condition of the labouring people confined to persons, like this author, of feeling and reflection. To its claims upon the conscience and philanthropy of the more favoured classes, to its ever-strengthening demands upon their sense of self-interest, this cause now adds the more ephemeral attractions of the last new fashion. The bClaims of Labourb have become the question of the day: the current of public meetings, subscriptions, and associations, has for some time set strongly in that direction; and many minor topics which previously occupied the public mind, have either merged into that question, or been superseded by it. Even the Legislature, which seldom concerns itself much with new tendencies of opinion until they have grown too powerful to be safely overlooked, is invited, in each Session with increasing urgency, to provide that the labouring classes shall earn more, work less, or have their lot in some other manner alleviated; and in each Session yields more or less cheerfully, but still yields, though slowly yet increasingly, to the requisition.
That this impulse is salutary and promising, few will deny; but it would be idle to suppose that it has not its peculiar dangers, or that the business of doing good can be the only one for which czealc suffices, without dknowledged or circumspection. A change from wrong to right, even in little things, is not so easy to make, as to wish for, and to talk about. Society cannot with safety, in one of its gravest concerns, pass at once from selfish supineness to restless activity. It has a long and difficult apprenticeship yet to serve; during which we shall be often reminded of the dictum of Fontenelle, that mankind only settle into the right course after passing through and exhausting all the varieties of error.[*] But however this may be, the movement is not therefore to be damped or discouraged. If, in the attempt to benefit the labouring classes, we are destined to see great mistakes committed in practice, as so many errors are already advocated in theory, let us not lay the blame upon excess of zeal. The danger is, that epeoplee in general will care enough for the object, to be willing to sacrifice other people’s interest to it, but not their own; and that the few who lead will make the sacrifice of their money, their time, even their bodily ease, in the cause; but will not do for its sake what to most men is so much more difficult—undergo the formidable labour of thought.
For several reasons, it will be useful to trace back this philanthropic movement to its small and unobvious beginnings—to note its fountain-head, and show what mingled streams have from time to time swelled its course.
We are inclined to date its origin from an event which would in vulgar apprehension seem to have a less title to that than f any other honourable distinction—the appearance of Mr. Malthus’s Essay on Population. Though the assertion may be looked upon as a paradox, it is historically true, that only from that time has the economical condition of the labouring classes been regarded by thoughtful men as susceptible of permanent improvement. We know that this was not the inference originally drawn from the truth propounded by Mr. Malthus. Even by himself, that truth was at first announced as an inexorable law, which, by perpetuating the poverty and degradation of the mass of mankind, gave a quietus to the visions of indefinite social improvement which had agitated so fiercely a neighbouring nation. To these supposed corollaries from Mr. Malthus’s principle, it was, we believe, indebted for its early success with the more opulent classes, and for much of its lasting unpopularity with the poorer. But this view of its tendencies only continued to prevail while the theory itself was but imperfectly understood; and now lingers nowhere but in those dark corners into which no subsequent lights have penetrated. The first promulgator of a truth is not always the best judge of its tendencies and consequences; but Mr. Malthus early abandoned the mistaken inferences he had at first drawn from his celebrated principle, and adopted the very different views now almost unanimously professed by those who recognise his doctrine.
So long as the necessary relation between the numbers of the labouring population and their wages had escaped attention, the poverty, bordering on destitution, of the great mass of mankind, being an universal fact, was (by one of those natural illusions from which human reason is still so incompletely emancipated) conceived to be inevitable;—a provision of nature, and as some said, an ordinance of God; a part of human destiny, susceptible merely of partial alleviation in individual cases, from public or private charity. The only persons by whom any other opinion seemed to be entertained, were those who prophesied advancements in physical knowledge and mechanical art, sufficient to alter the fundamental conditions of man’s existence on earth; or who professed the doctrine, that poverty is a factitious thing, produced by the tyranny and rapacity of governments and of the rich. Even so recent a thinker, and one so much in advance of his predecessors, as Adam Smith, went no further than to say, that the labourers might be well off in a rapidly progressive state of the public wealth;[*] —a state which has never yet comprehended more than a small portion of the earth’s surface at once, and can nowhere last indefinitely; gbut thatg they must be pinched and in a condition of hardship in the stationary state, which in a finite world, composed of matter not changeable in its properties, is the state towards which things must be at all times tending. The ideas, therefore, of the most enlightened men, anterior to Mr. Malthus, led really to the discouraging anticipations for which his doctrine has been made accountable. But these anticipations vanished, so soon as the truths brought to light by Mr. Malthus were correctly understood. It was then seen that the capabilities of increase of the human species, as of animal nature in general (being far greater than those of subsistence under any except very unusual circumstances), must be, and are, controlled, everywhere else, by one of two limiting principles—starvation, or prudence and conscience: That, under the operation of this conflict, the reward of ordinary unskilled labour is always and everywhere (saving temporary variations, and rare conjunctions of circumstances) at the lowest point to which the labourers will consent to be reduced—the point below which they will not choose to propagate their species: That this hminimumh , though everywhere much too low for human happiness and dignity, is different in different places, and in different ages of the world; and, in an improving country, has on the whole a tendency to rise. These considerations furnished a sufficient iexplanationi of the state of extreme poverty in which the majority of mankind had almost everywhere been foundj , without supposing any inherent necessity in the case—any universal cause, other than the causes which have made human progress altogether so imperfect and slow as it is. And the explanation afforded a sure hope, that whatever accelerates that progress would tell with full effect upon the physical condition of the labouring classes. Whatever raises the civilization of the people at large—whatever accustoms them to require a higher standard of subsistence, comfort, taste, and enjoyment, affords of itself, according to this encouraging view of human prospects, the means of satisfying the wants which it engenders. In every moral or intellectual benefit conferred upon the mass of the people, this doctrine teaches us to see an assurance also of their physical advantage; a means of enabling them to improve their worldly circumstances—not in the vulgar way of “rising in the world,” so often recommended to them—not by endeavouring to escape out of their class, as if to live by manual labour were a fate only endurable as a step to something else; but by raising the class itself, in physical well-being and in self-estimation. These are the prospects which the vilified population principle has opened to mankind. True, indeed the doctrine teaches this further lesson, that any attempt to produce the same result by other means—any scheme of beneficence which trusts for its moving power to anything but to the influence over the minds and habits of the people, which it either directly aims at, or may happen indirectly to promote—might, for any general effect of a beneficial kind which it can produce, as well be let alone. And, the doctrine being brought thus into conflict with those plans of easy beneficence which accord so well with the inclinations of man, but so ill with the arrangements of nature, we need not wonder that the epithets of “Malthusians” and “Political Economists” are so often considered equivalent to hard-hearted, unfeeling, and enemies of the poor;—accusations so far from being true, that no thinkers, of any pretensions to sobriety, cherish such hopeful views of the future social position of labour, or have so long made the permanent increase of its remuneration the turning-point of their political speculations, as those who most broadly acknowledge the doctrine of Malthus.
But if the permanent place now occupied in the minds of thinking men by the question of improving the condition of the labouring classes, may be dated from the new light cast by Malthus’s speculations upon the determining laws of that condition, other causes are needful to account for the popularity of the subject as one of the topics of the day; and we believe they will be found in the stir and commotion of the national mind, consequent upon the passing of the Reform Bill.[*]
It was foretold during the Reform crisis, that when the consequences of the Bill should have had time to manifest themselves, the direct effects with which all mouths were filled, would prove unimportant compared with those indirect effects which were never mentioned in discussion, and which hardly any one seemed to think of. The prophecy has been signally verified. Considered as a great constitutional change, both friends and enemies now seem rather surprised that they should have ascribed so much efficacy to the Bill, for good or for evil. But its indirect consequences have surpassed every calculation. The series of events, commencing with Catholic Emancipation,[†] and consummated by the Reform Act, brought home for the first time to the existing generation a practical consciousness of living in a world of change. It gave the first great shock to old habits. It was to politics what the Reformation was to religion—it made reason the recognised standard, instead of authority. By making it evident to the public that they were on a new sea, it destroyed the force of the instinctive objection to new courses. Reforms have still to encounter opposition from those whose interests they affect, or seem to affect; but innovation is no longer under a ban, merely as innovation. The existing system has lost its prestige; it has ceased to be the system which Tories had been taught to venerate, and has not become that which Liberals were accustomed to desire. When any wide-spread social evil was brought before minds thus prepared, there was such a chance as there had not been for the last two hundred years, of its being examined with a real desire to find a remedy, or at least without a predetermination to leave things alone. That the evils of the condition of the working classes should be brought before the mind of the nation in the most emphatic manner, was the care of those classes themselves. Their “petition of grievances” was embodied in the People’s Charter.
The democratic movement among the operative classes, commonly known as Chartism, was the first open separation of interest, feeling, and opinion, between the labouring portion of the commonwealth and all above them. It was the revolt of nearly all the active talent, and a great part of the physical force, of the working classes, against their whole relation to society. Conscientious and sympathizing minds among the ruling classes, could not but be strongly impressed by such a protest. They could not but ask themselves, with misgiving, what there was to say in reply to it; how the existing social arrangements could best be justified to those who deemed themselves aggrieved by them. It seemed highly desirable that the benefits derived from those arrangements by the poor should be made less questionable—should be such as could not easily be overlooked. If the poor had reason for their complaints, the higher classes had not fulfilled their duties as governors; if they had no reason, neither had those classes fulfilled their duties in allowing them to grow up so ignorant and uncultivated as to be open to these mischievous delusions. While one sort of minds among the more fortunate classes were thus influenced by the political claims put forth by the operatives, there was another description upon whom that phenomenon acted in a different manner, leading, however, to the same result. While some, by the physical and moral circumstances which they saw around them, were made to feel that the condition of the labouring classes ought to be attended to, others were made to see that it would be attended to, whether they wished to be blind to it or not. The victory of 1832, due to the manifestation, though without the actual employment, of physical force, had taught a lesson to those who, from the nature of the case, have always the physical force on their side; and who only wanted the organization, which they were rapidly acquiring, to convert their physical power into a moral and social one. It was no longer disputable that something must be done to render the multitude more content with the existing state of things.
Ideas, unless outward circumstances conspire with them, have in general no very rapid or immediate efficacy in human affairs; and the most favourable outward circumstances may pass by, or remain inoperative, for want of ideas suitable to the conjuncture. But when the right circumstances and the right ideas meet, the effect is seldom slow in manifesting itself. In the posture of things which has been described, we attribute considerable effect to certain writers, by whom what many were either thinking or prepared to think, was for the first time expressly proclaimed. Among these must be reckoned Mr. Carlyle, whose “Chartism”[*] and “Past and Present”[†] were openly, what much of his previous writings had been incidentally, an indignant remonstrance with the higher classes on their sins of omission against the lower; contrasted with what he deemed the superior efficiency, in that relation, of the rulers in older times. On both these points, he has met with auxiliaries from a directly opposite point of the political horizon; from those whom a spirit of reaction against the democratic tendencies of the age, had flung off with the greatest violence in the direction of feudal and sacerdotal ascendancy. As, in the Stuart times, there were said to be Church Puritans and State Puritans, so there are now Church Puseyites, and what may be called State Puseyites; k men who look back with fondness to times when the poor had no notion of any other social state than to give obedience to the nearest great landholder, and receive protection; and who assert, in the meantime, the right of the poor to protection, in hopes that the obedience will follow.
To complete the explanation of this increase of sympathy for the poor, it ought to be noticed that, until lately, few were adequately aware of their real condition. The agitation against the Poor-Law,[*] bad as it was and is, both in its objects and in its effects, had in it this good, that it incessantly invited attention to the details of distress. The inquiries emanating from the Poor-Law Commission, and the official investigations of the last few years, brought to light many facts which made a great impression upon the public; and the poverty and wretchedness of great masses of people were incidentally unveiled by the struggles of parties respecting the Corn-Laws.[†] The Agriculturists attempted to turn the tables upon their opponents, by highly coloured pictures of the sufferings and degradation of the Factory loperativesl ; and the League repaid the attack with interest, by sending emissaries into the rural districts, and publishing the deplorable poverty of the agricultural labourers.
From these multifarious causes a feeling has been awakened, which would soon be as influential in elections as the anti-slavery movement some years ago, and dispose of funds equal to those of the missionary societies, had it but as definite an object. The stream at present flows in a multitude of small channels. Societies for the protection of needlewomen, of governesses—associations to improve the buildings of the labouring classes, to provide them with baths, with parks and promenades, have started into existence. Legislative interference to abridge the hours of labour in mmanufactoriesm has obtained large minorities, and once a passing majority, in the House of Commons; and attempts are multiplying to obtain, by the consent of employers, a similar abridgment in many departments of retail trade. In the rural districts, every expedient, practicable or not, for giving work to the unemployed, finds advocates; public meetings for the discussion and comparison of projects have lately been frequent; and the movement towards the “allotment system” is becoming general.
If these, and other modes of relieving distress, were looked upon simply in the light of ordinary charity, they would not fill the large space they do in public discussion, and would not demand any special comment. To give money in alms has never been, either in this country or in most others, a rare virtue. Charitable institutions, and subscriptions for relief of the destitute, already abounded: and if new forms of suffering, or classes of sufferers previously overlooked, were brought into notice, nothing was more natural than to do for them what had already been done for others. People usually give alms to gratify their feelings of compassion, or to discharge what they think their duty by giving of their superfluity to alleviate the wants of individual sufferers; and beyond this they do not, nor are they, in general, qualified to look. But it is not in this spirit that the new schemes of benevolence are conceived. They are propounded as instalments of a great social reform. They are celebrated as the beginning of a new moral order, or an old order revived, in which the possessors of property are to resume their place as the paternal guardians of those less fortunate; and which, when established, is to cause peace and union throughout society, and to extinguish, not indeed poverty—that hardly seems to be thought desirable—but the more abject forms of vice, destitution, and physical wretchedness. What has hitherto been done in this brilliant career of improvement, is of very little importance compared with what is said; with the objects held up to pursuit, and the theories avowed. These are not now confined to speculative men and professed philanthropists. They are made familiar to every reader of newspapers, by sedulous inculcation from day to day.
It is therefore not superfluous to consider whether these theories, and the expectations built upon them, are rational or chimerical; whether the attempt to carry them out would in the end be found to accord or conflict with the nature of man, and of the world in which he is cast. It would be unfair to the theorists to try them by anything which has been commenced, or even projected. Were they asked if they expect any good to the general interest of the labouring people, from a Labourers’ Friend Society, or a Society for Distressed Needlewomen, they would of course answer that they do not; that these are but the first leaf-buds of what they hope to nourish into a stately and spreading tree; that they do not limit their intentions to mitigating the evils of a low remuneration of labour, but must have a high remuneration; in the words of the operatives in the late disturbances—“a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work;”[*] —that they hope to secure this, and will be contented with nothing short of it. Here, then, is a ground on which we can fairly meet them. That object is ours also. The question is of means, not ends. Let us look a little into the means they propose.
Their theory appears to be, in few words, this—that it is the proper function of the possessors of wealth, and especially of the employers of labour and the owners of land, to take care that the labouring people are well off:—that they ought always to pay good wages;—that they ought to withdraw their custom, their patronage, and any other desirable thing at their disposal, from all employers who will not do the like;—that, at these good wages, they ought to give employment to as great a number of persons as they can afford; and to make them work for no greater number of hours in the twenty-four, than is compatible with comfort, and with leisure for recreation and improvement. That if they have land or houses to be let to tenants, they should require and accept no higher rents than can be paid with comfort; and should be ready to build, at such rents as can be conveniently paid, warm, airy, healthy, and spacious cottages, for any number of young couples who may ask for them.
All this is not said in direct terms; but something very little short of it is. These principles form the standard by which we daily see the conduct, both of classes and of individuals, measured and condemned; and if these principles are not true, the new doctrines are without a meaning. It is allowable to take this picture as a true likeness of the “new moral world”[*] which the present philanthropic movement aims at calling into existence.
Mankind are often cautioned by divines and moralists against unreasonableness in their expectations. We attach greater value to the more limited warning against inconsistency in them. The state of society which this picture represents, is a conceivable one. We shall not at present inquire if it is of all others the most eligible one, even as an Utopia. We only ask if its promoters are willing to accept this state of society, together with n its inevitable accompaniments.
It is quite possible to impose, as a moral or a legal obligation, upon the higher classes, that they shall be answerable for the well-doing and well-being of the lower. There have been times and places in which this has in some measure been done. States of society exist, in which it is the recognised duty of every owner of land, not only to see that all who dwell and work thereon are fed, clothed, and housed, in a sufficient manner; but to be, in so full a sense, responsible for their good conduct, as to indemnify all other persons for any damage they do, or offence they may commit. This must surely be the ideal state of society which the new philanthropists are contending for. Who are the happy labouring classes who enjoy the blessings of these wise ordinances? The Russian boors. There are other labourers, not merely tillers of the soil, but workers in great establishments partaking of the nature of omanufactorieso , for whom the laws of our own country, even in our own time, compelled their employers to find wholesome food, and sufficient lodging and clothing. Who were these? The slaves on a West pIndianp estate. The relation sought to be established between the landed and manufacturing classes and the labourers, is therefore by no means unexampled. The former have before now been forced to maintain the latter, and to provide work for them, or support them in idleness. But this obligation never has existed, and never will nor can exist, without, as a countervailing element, absolute power, or something approaching to it, in those who are bound to afford this support, over those entitled to receive it. Such a relation has never existed between human beings, without qimmediateq degradation to the character of the dependent class. Shall we take another example, in which things are not carried quite so far as this? There are governments in Europe who look upon it as part of their duty to take care of the physical well-being and comfort of the people. The Austrian government, in its German dominions, does so. Several of the minor German governments do so. But with paternal care is connected paternal authority. In these states we find severe restrictions on marriage. No one is permitted to marry, unless he satisfies the authorities that he has a rational prospect of being able to support a family.
Thus much, at least, it might have been expected that the apostles of the new theory would have been prepared for. They cannot mean that the working classes should combine the liberty of action of independent citizens, with the immunities of slaves. There are but two modes of social existence for human beings: they must be left to the natural consequences of their mistakes in life; or society must guard against the mistakes, by prevention or punishment. Which will the new philanthropists have? If it is really to be incumbent on whoever have more than a mere subsistence, to give, so far as their means enable them, good wages and comfortable homes to all who present themselves, it is not surely intended that these should be permitted to follow the instinct of multiplication at the expense of others, until all are reduced to the same level as themselves. We should therefore have expected that the philanthropists would have accepted the condition, and contended for such a measure of restriction as might prevent the good they meditate from producing an overbalance of evil. To our surprise, we find them the great sticklers for the domestic liberty of the poor. The outcry against the Poor-Law finds among them its principal organs. Far from being willing that a man should be subject, when out of the poorhouse, to any restraints other than his own prudence may dictate, they will not submit to its being imposed upon him while actually supported at the expense of others. It is they who talk of Union Bastiles. They cannot bear that even a workhouse should be a place of regulation and discipline; that any extrinsic restraint should be applied even there. Their bitterest quarrel with the present system of relief is, that it enforces the separation of the sexes.
The higher and middle classes might randr ought to be willing to submit to a very considerable sacrifice of their own means, for improving the condition of the existing generation of labourers, if by this they could hope to provide similar advantages for the generation to come. But why should they be called upon to make these sacrifices, merely that the country may contain a greater number of people, in as great poverty and as great liability to destitution as now? If whoever has too little, is to come to them to make it more, there is no alternative but restrictions on marriage, combined with such severe penalties on illegitimate births, as it would hardly be possible to enforce under a social system in which all grown persons are, nominally at least, their own masters. Without these provisions, the millennium promised would, in little more than a generation, sink the people of any country in Europe to one level of poverty. If, then, it is intended that the law, or the spersonss of property, should assume a control over the multiplication of the people, tell us so plainly, and inform us how you propose to do it. But it will doubtless be said, that nothing of this sort would be endurable; that such things are not to be dreamt of in the state of English society and opinion; that the spirit of equality, and the love of individual independence, have so pervaded even the poorest class, that they would not take plenty to eat and drink, at the price of having their most personal concerns regulated for them by others. If this be so, all schemes for withdrawing wages from the control of supply and demand, or raising the people by other means than by such changes in their minds and habits as shall make them fit guardians of their own physical condition, are schemes for combining incompatibilities. They ought ton proper conditionst to be shielded, we hope they already are so, by public or private charity, from actual want of mere necessaries, and from any other extreme of bodily suffering. But if the whole income of the country were divided among them in wages or poor-rates, still, until there is a change in themselves, there can be no lasting improvement in their outward condition.
And how is this change to be effected, while we continue inculcating upon them that their wages are to be regulated for them, and that to keep wages high is other people’s business and not theirs? All classes are ready enough, without prompting, to believe that whatever ails them is not their fault, but the crime of somebody else; and that they are granting an indemnity to the crime if they attempt to get rid of the evil by any effort or sacrifice of their own. The National Assembly of France has been much blamed for talking in a rhetorical style about the rights of man, and neglecting to say anything about the duties. The same error is now in the course of being repeated with respect to the rights of poverty. It would surely be no derogation from any one’s philanthropy to consider, that it is one thing to tell the rich that they ought to take care of the poor, and another thing to tell the poor that the rich ought to take care of them; and that it is rather idle in these days to suppose that a thing will not be overheard by the poor, because it is not designed for their ears. It is most true that the rich have much to answer for in their conduct to the poor. But in the matter of their poverty, there is no way in which the rich could have helped them, but by inducing them to help themselves; and if, while we stimulate the rich to repair this omission, we do all that depends on us to inculcate upon the poor that they need not attend to the lesson, we must be little aware of the sort of feelings and doctrines with which the minds of the poor are already filled. If we go on in this course, we may succeed in bursting society asunder by a Socialist revolution; but the poor, and their poverty, we shall leave worse than we found them.
The first remedy, then, is to abstain from directly counteracting our own end. The second, and most obvious, is Education. And this indeed is not the principal, but the sole remedy, if understood in its widest sense. Whatever acts upon the minds of the labouring classes, is properly their education. But their minds, like those of other people, are acted upon by the whole of their social circumstances; and often the part of their education which is least efficacious as such, is that which goes by the name.
Yet even in that comparatively narrow sense, too much stress can hardly be laid upon its importance. We have scarcely seen more than the small beginnings of what might be effected for the country even by mere schooling. The religious rivalries, which are the unhappy price the course of our history has compelled us to pay for such religious liberty as we possess, have as yet thwarted every attempt to make this benefit universal. But if the children of different religious bodies cannot be instructed together, each can be instructed apart. And if we may judge from the zeal manifested, and the sums raised, both by the Church and by Dissenters, since the abandonment of the Government measure two years ago, there is no deficiency of pecuniary means for the support of schools, even without the aid which the State certainly will not refuse. Unfortunately there is something wanting which pecuniary means will not supply. There is a lack of sincere desire to attain the end. There have been schools enough in England, these thirty years, to have regenerated the people, if, wherever the means were found, the end had been desired. But it is not always where there are schools that there is a wish to educate. There may be a wish that children should learn to read the Bible, and, in the Church Schools, to repeat the Catechism. In most cases, there is little desire that they should be taught more; in many, a decided objection to it. Schoolmasters, like other public officers, are seldom inclined to do more than is exacted from them; but we believe that teaching the poor is almost the only public duty in which the payers are more a check than a stimulant to the zeal of their own agents. A teacher whose heart is in the work, and who attempts any enlargement of the instruction, often finds his greatest obstacle in the fears of the patrons and managers lest the poor should be “over-educated;” and is driven to the most absolute evasions to obtain leave to teach the common rudiments of knowledge. The four rules of arithmetic are often only tolerated through ridiculous questions about Jacob’s lambs, or the number of the Apostles or uofu the Patriarchs; and geography can only be taught through maps of Palestine, to children who have yet to learn that the earth consists of Europe, Asia, Africa, and America. A person must be beyond being argued with, who believes that this is the way to teach religion, or that a child will be made to understand the Bible by being taught to understand nothing else. We forbear to comment on the instances in which Church Schools have been opened, solely that through the influence of superiors the children might be drawn away from a Dissenting School already existing; and, as soon as that was shut up, the rival establishment, having attained its end, has been allowed to fall into disuse.
This spirit could never be tolerated by any person of honest intentions, who knew the value of even the commonest knowledge to the poor. We know not how the case may be in other countries, among a more quick-witted people; but in England, it would hardly be believed to what a degree all that is morally objectionable in the lowest class of the working people is nourished, if not engendered, by the low state of their understandings. Their infantine credulity to what they hear, when it is from their own class; their incapacity to observe what is before their eyes; their inability to comprehend or believe purposes in others which they have not been taught to expect, and are not conscious of in themselves—are the known characteristics of persons of low intellectual faculties in all classes. But what would not be equally credible without experience, is an amount of deficiency in the power of reasoning and calculation, which makes them insensible to their own direct personal interests. Few have considered how any one who could instil into these people the commonest worldly wisdom—who could render them capable of even selfish prudential calculations—would improve their conduct in every relation of life, and clear the soil for the growth of right feelings and worthy propensities.
To know what schools may do, we have but to think of what vthev Scottish Parochial Schools have formerly done. The progress of wealth and population has outgrown the machinery of these schools, and, in the towns especially, they no longer produce their full fruits: but what do not the peasantry of Scotland owe to wthem!w For two centuries, the Scottish peasant, compared with the same class in other situations, has been a reflecting, an observing, and therefore naturally a self-governing, a moral, and a successful human being—because he has been a reading and a discussing one; and this he owes, above all other causes, to the parish schools. What during the same period have the English peasantry been?
Let us be assured that too much opportunity cannot be given to the poor of exercising their faculties, nor too great a variety of ideas placed within their reach. We hail, therefore, the cheap Libraries, which are supplying even the poorest with matter more or less instructive, and, what is of equal importance, calculated to interest their minds. But it is not only, or even principally, books and book learning, that constitutes education for the working or for any other class. Schools for reading are but imperfect things, unless systematically united with schools of industry; not to improve them as workmen merely, but as human beings. It is by action that the faculties are called forth, more than by words—more at least than by words unaccompanied by action. We want schools in which the children of the poor should learn to use not only their hands, but their minds, for the guidance of their hands; in which they should be trained to the actual adaptation of means to ends; should become familiar with the accomplishment of the same object by various processes, and be made to apprehend with their intellects in what consists the difference between the right way of performing industrial operations and the wrong. Meanwhile they would acquire, not only manual dexterity, but habits of order and regularity, of the utmost use in after-life, and which have more to do with the formation of character than many persons are aware of. x Such things would do much more than is usually believed towards converting these neglected creatures into rational beings—beings capable of foresight, accessible to reasons and motives addressed to their understanding; and therefore not governed by the utterly senseless modes of feeling and action, which so much astonish educated and observing persons ywheny brought into contact with them.
But when education, in this its narrow sense, has done its best, and even to enable it to do its best, an education of another sort is required, such as schools cannot give. What is taught to a child at school will be of little effect, if the circumstances which surround the grown man or woman contradict the lesson. zWez may cultivate his understanding, but what if he cannot employ it without becoming discontented with his position, and disaffected to the whole order of things in which he is cast? Society educates the poor, for good or for ill, by its conduct to them, even more than by direct teaching. A sense of this truth is the most valuable feature in the new philanthropic agitation; and the recognition of it is important, whatever mistakes may be at first made in practically applying it.
In the work before us, and in the best of the other writings which have appeared lately on the philanthropic side of the subject, a strong conviction is expressed, that there can be no healthful state of society, and no social or even physical welfare for the poor, where there is no relation between them and the rich except the payment of wages, and (we may add) the receipt of charity; no sense of co-operation and common interest between those natural associates who are now called the employers and the employed. In part of this we agree, though we think the case not a little overstated. A well-educated labouring class could, and we believe would, keep up its condition to a high standard of comfort, or at least at a great distance from physical destitution, by the exercise of the same degree of habitual prudence now commonly practised by the middle class; among whom the responsibilities of a family are rarely incurred without some prospect of being able to maintain it with the customary decencies of their station. We believe, too, that if this were the case, the poor could do very well without those incessant attentions on the part of the rich, which constitute the the new whole duty of man to his poorer neighbour. Seeing no necessary reason why the poor should be hopelessly dependent, we do not look upon them as permanent subjects for the exercise of those peculiar virtues which are essentially intended to mitigate the humiliation and misery of dependence. But the need of greater fellow-feeling and community of interest between the mass of the people and those who are by courtesy considered to guide and govern them, does not require the aid of exaggeration. We yield to no one in our wish that “cash payment” should be no longer “the universal nexus between man and man;”[*] that the employers and employed should have the feelings of friendly allies, not of hostile rivals whose gain is each other’s loss. But while we agree, so far, with the new doctrines, it seems to us that some of those who preach them are looking in the wrong quarter for what they seek. The social relations of former times, and those of the present, not only are not, but cannot possibly be, the same. The essential requirements of human nature may be alike in all ages, but each age has its own appropriate means of satisfying them. Feudality, in whatever manner we may conceive it modified, is not the type on which institutions or habits can now be moulded. The age that produces railroads which, for a few shillings, will convey a labourer and his family fifty miles to find work; in which agricultural labourers read newspapers, and make speeches at public meetings called by themselves to discuss low wages—is not an age in which a man can feel loyal and dutiful to another because he has been born on his estate. Obedience in return for protection, is a bargain only made when protection can be had on no other terms. Men now make that bargain with society, not with an individual. The law protects them, and they give their obedience to that. Obedience in return for wages is a different matter. They will make that bargain too, if necessity drives them to it. But good-will and gratitude form no part of the conditions of such a contract. The deference which a man now pays to his “brother of the earth,” merely because the one was born rich and the other poor, is either hypocrisy or servility. Real attachment, a genuine feeling of subordination, must now be the result of personal qualities, and requires them on both sides equally. Where these are wanting, in proportion to the enforced observances will be the concealed enmity; not, perhaps, towards the individual, for there will seldom be the extremes either of hatred or of affection in a relation so merely transitory; but that sourde animosity which is universal in this country towards the whole class of employers, in the whole class of the employed.
As one of the correctives to this deep-seated alienation of feeling, much stress is laid on the importance of personal demeanour. In the “Claims of Labour” this is the point most insisted upon. The book contains numerous aphorisms on this subject, and they are such as might be expected from the author of “Essays written in the Intervals of Business,”[*] and “Thoughts in the Cloister and the Crowd.”[†] A person disposed to criticise might indeed object, that these earnest and thoughtful sayings are chiefly illustrative of the duty of every one to every one; and are applicable to the formation of our own character, and to human relations generally, rather than to the special relation between the rich and the poor. It is not as concerning the poor specially, that these lessons are needed. The faults of the rich to the poor are the universal faults. The demeanour fitting towards the poor, is that which is fitting towards every one. It is a just charge against the English nation, considered generally, that they do not know how to be kind, courteous, and considerate of the feelings of others. It is their character throughout Europe. They have much to learn from other nations in the arts not only of being serviceable and amiable with grace, but of being so at all. Whatever brings the habitual feelings of human beings to one another nearer to the Christian standard, will produce a better demeanour to every one, and therefore to the poor. But it is not peculiarly towards them that the deficiency manifests itself. On the contrary, speaking of the rich individually (as distinguished from collective conduct in public life), there is generally, we believe, a very sincere desire to be amiable to the poor.
Where there exists the quality, so rare in England, of genuine sociability, combined with as much knowledge of the feelings and ways of the working classes as can enable any one to show interest in them to any useful purpose, the effects obtained are even now very valuable. The author of the “Claims of Labour” has done a useful thing by giving additional publicity to the proceedings of a generous and right-minded mill-owner, whom he does not name, but who is known to be Mr. Samuel Greg, from whose letters to Mr. Leonard Horner[*] he has quoted largely. Mr. Greg proceeded partly in the obvious course, of building good cottages, granting garden allotments, establishing schools, and so forth. But the essence of his plan consisted in becoming personally acquainted with the operatives, showing interest in their pursuits, taking part in their social amusements, and giving to the élite of them—men, women, and young persons—periodical access to the society and intercourse of his own home. He has afforded a specimen and model of what can be done for the people under the calumniated Factory System. And in nothing is he more to be commended, than in the steadiness with which he upholds the one essential principle of all effectual philanthropy. “The motto on our flag,” says he, “is Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera. It is the principle I endeavour to keep constantly in view. It is the only principle on which it is safe to help anybody, or which can prevent benevolence from being poisoned into a fountain of moral mischief.” [P. 26.] His experiment has, for many years, been well rewarded by success. But, for the cure of great social evils, too great stress must not be laid upon it. The originator of such a scheme is, most likely, a person peculiarly fitted by natural and acquired qualifications for winning the confidence and attachment of untutored minds. If the spirit should diffuse itself widely among the employers of labour, there might be, in every large neighbourhood, some such man; we could never expect that the majority would be such. Even Mr. Greg had to begin, as he tells us, by selecting his labourers. He had to “get rid of his aborigines.” He “endeavoured, as far as possible, to find such families as we knew to be respectable, or thought likely to be so, and who, we hoped, if they were made comfortable, would remain and settle upon the place; thus finding and making themselves a home, and losing by degrees that restless and migratory spirit which is one of the peculiar characteristics of the manufacturing population, and perhaps the greatest of all obstacles in the way of permanent improvement among them.”[*] It is in the nature of things that employers so much beyond the average should gather round them better labourers than the average, and retain them, while so eligible a lot is not to be had elsewhere. But ordinary human nature is so poor a thing, that the same attachment and influence would not, with the same certainty, attend similar conduct, if it no longer formed a contrast with the indifference of other employers. The gratitude of men is for things unusual and unexpected. This does not take from the value of Mr. Greg’s exertions. Whoever succeeds in improving a certain number of the working people, does so much towards raising the class; and all such good influences have a tendency to spread. But, for creating a permanent tie between employers and employed, we must not count upon the results manifested in cases of exception, which would probably lose a part of their beneficial efficacy if they became the rule.
If, on a subject on which almost every thinker has his Utopia, we might be permitted to have ours; if we might point to the principle on which, at some distant date, we place our chief hope for healing the widening breach between those who toil and those who live on the produce of former toil; it would be that of raising the labourer from a receiver of hire—a mere bought instrument in the work of production, having no residuary interest in the work itself—to the position of being, in some sort, a partner in it. The plan of remunerating subordinates in whom trust must be reposed, by a commission on the returns instead of only a fixed salary, is already familiar in mercantile concerns, on the ground of its utility to the employer. The wisdom, even in a worldly sense, of associating the interest of the agent with the end he is employed to attain, is so universally recognised in theory, that it is not chimerical to expect it may one day be more extensively exemplified in practice. In some form of this policy we see the only, or the most practicable, means of harmonizing the “rights of industry” and those of property; of making the employers the real chiefs of the people, leading and guiding them in a work in which they also are interested—a work of co-operation, not of mere hiring and service; and justifying, by the superior capacity in which they contribute to the work, the higher remuneration which they receive for their share of it.a
But without carrying our view forward to changes of manners, or changes in the relation of the different orders of society to one another, let us consider what can be done immediately, and by the legislature, to improve either the bodily or mental condition of the labouring people.
And let it here be remembered that we have to do with a class, a large portion of which reads, discusses, and forms opinions on public interests. Let it be remembered also, that we live in a political age; in which the desire of political rights, or the abuse of political privileges by the possessors of them, are the foremost ideas in the minds of most reading men—an age, too, the whole spirit of which instigates every one to demand fair play for helping himself, rather than to seek or expect help from others. In such an age, and in the treatment of minds so predisposed, justice is the one needful thing rather than kindness. We may at least say that kindness will be little appreciated, will have very little of the effect of kindness upon the objects of it, so long as injustice, or what they cannot but deem to be injustice, is persevered in. Apply this to several of the laws maintained by our legislature. Apply it, for example, to the Corn-Laws. Will the poor thank you for giving them money in alms; for subscribing to build baths and lay out parks for them, or, as Lord John Manners proposes, playing at cricket with them, if you are at the same time taxing their bread to swell your rents? b We could understand persons who said—the people will not be better off whatever we do, and why should we sacrifice our rents or open our purses for so meagre a cresult?c But we cannot understand men who give alms with one hand, and take away the bread of the labourer with the other. Can they wonder that the people say—Instead of doling out to us a small fragment of what is rightfully our own, why do you not disgorge your unjust gains? One of the evils of the matter is, that the gains are so enormously exaggerated. Those who have studied the question know that the landlords gain very little by the Corn-Laws; and would soon have even that little restored to them by the indirect consequences of the abrogation. The rankling sense of gross injustice, which renders any approximation of feeling between the classes impossible while even the remembrance of it lasts, is inflicted for a quite insignificant pecuniary advantage.
There are some other practices which, if the new doctrines are embraced in earnest, will require to be reconsidered. For example, it seems to us that mixing in the social assemblies of the country people, and joining in their sports, would dassortd exceedingly ill with the preserving of game. If cricketing is to be taken in common by e rich and poor, why not shooting? We confess that when we read of enormous game preserves, kept up that great personages may slaughter hundreds of wild animals in a day’s shooting, we are amazed at the puerility of taste which can call this a sport; as much as we lament the want of just feeling which, for the sake of sport, can keep open from generation to generation this source of crime and bitterness in the class which it is now so much the fashion to patronize.
We must needs think, also, that there is something out of joint, when so much is said of the value of refining and humanizing tastes to the labouring people—when it is proposed to plant parks and lay out gardens for them, that they may enjoy more freely nature’s gift alike to rich and poor, of sun, sky, and vegetation; and along with this a counter-progress is fconstantlyf going on, of stopping up paths and enclosing commonsg . Is not this another case of giving with one hand, and taking back more largely with the other? We look with the utmost jealously upon any further enclosure of commons. In the greater part of this island, exclusive of the mountain and moor districts, there certainly is not more land remaining in a state of natural wildness than is desirable. Those who would make England resemble many parts of the Continent, where every foot of soil is hemmed in by fences and covered over with the traces of human labour, should remember that where this is done, it is done for the use and benefit, not of the rich, but of the poor; and that in the countries where there remain no commons, the rich have no parks. The common is the peasant’s park. Every argument for ploughing it up to raise more produce, applies à fortiori to the park, which is generally far more fertile. The effect of either, when done in the manner proposed, is only to make the poor more numerous, not better offh . But what ought to be said when, as so often happens, the common is taken from the poor, that the whole or great part of it may be added to the enclosed pleasure domain of the rich? Is the miserable compensation, and though miserable inot alwaysi granted, of a small scrap of the land to each of the cottagers who had a goose on the common, any equivalent to the poor generally, to the lovers of nature, or to future generations, for this legalized spoliation?
These are things to be avoided. Among things to be done, the most obvious is to remove every restriction, every artificial hindrance, which legal and fiscal systems oppose to the attempts of the labouring classes to forward their own improvement. These hindrances are sometimes to be found in quarters in which they may not be looked for; as a few instances will show.
Some years ago the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, in a well-intended tract addressed to the working people, to correct the prejudices entertained by some of them against the “claims of capital,” gave some advice to the labourers, which produced considerable comment at the time. It exhorted them to “make themselves capitalists.”[*] To most labouring people who read it, this exhortation probably appeared ironical. But some of the more intelligent of the class found a meaning in it. It did occur to them that there was a mode in which they could make themselves capitalists. Not, of course, individually; but by bringing their small means into a common fund, by forming a numerous partnership or joint stock, they could, as it seemed to them, become their own employers—dispense with the agency of receivers of profit, and share among themselves the entire produce of their labour. This was a most desirable experiment. It would have been an excellent thing to have ascertained whether any great industrial enterprise, a manufactory for example, could be successfully carried on upon this principle. If it succeeded, the benefit was obvious; if, after sufficient trial, it was found impracticable, its failure also would be a valuable lesson. It would prove to the operatives that the profits of the employer are but the necessary price paid for the superiority of management produced by the stimulus of individual interest; and that if the capitalist be the costliest part of the machinery of production, he more than repays his cost. But it was found that the defects of the law of partnership, as applicable to numerous associations, presented difficulties rendering it impracticable to give this experiment a fair trial. Here, then, is a thing which Parliament might do for the labouring classes. The framing of a good law of Partnership, giving every attainable facility to the formation of large industrial capitals by the aggregation of small savings, would be a real boon. It would be the removal of no ideal grievance, but of one which we know to be felt, and felt deeply, by the most intelligent and right-thinking of the class—those who are most fitted to acquire, and best qualified to exercise, a beneficent influence over the rest.
Again, it is often complained of, as one of the saddest features of the constitution of society in the rural districts, that the class of yeomanry has died out; that there is no longer any intermediate connecting link between the mere labourer and the large farmer—no class somewhat above his own, into which, by industry and frugality, a labourer can hope to rise; that if he makes savings, they are less a benefit to him than a burden and an anxiety, from the absence of any local means of investment; unless indeed by becoming a shopkeeper in a town or village, where an additional shop is probably not wanted, where he has to form new habits, with great risk of failure, and, if he succeeds, does not remain an example and encouragement to others like himself. Is it not strange, then, that supposing him to have an opportunity of investing this money in a little patch of land, the Stamp-office would interfere and take a toll on the transaction? The tax, too, which the State levies on the transfer of small properties, is a trifling matter compared with the tax levied by the lawyers. The stampduty bears some proportion to the pecuniary amount; but the law charges are the same on the smallest transactions as on the greatest, and these are almost wholly occasioned by the defects of the law. There is no real reason why the transfer of land should be more difficult or costly than the transfer of three per cent stock, except thatj more of description is necessary to identify the subject-matter; all the rest is the consequence of mere technicalities, growing out of the obsolete incidents of the Feudal System.k
Many of the removable causes of ill-health are in the power of Government; but there is no need to enlarge upon a subject to which official Reports have drawn so much attention. The more effectual performance by Government of any of its acknowledged duties; the more zealous prosecution of any scheme tending to the general advantage, is beneficial to the labouring classes. Of schemes destined specially to give them employment, or add to their comforts, it may be said, once for all, that there is a simple test by which to judge them. Is the assistance of such a kind, and given in such a manner, as to render them ultimately independent of the continuance of similar assistance? If not, the best that can be said of the plans is, that they are harmless. To make them useful, it is an indispensable condition that there be a reasonable prospect of their being at some future time self-supporting. Even upon the best supposition, it appears to us that too much importance is attached to them. lGivenl education and just laws, the poorer class would be as competent as any other class to take care of their own personal habits and mrequirementsm .n
[a-a]45 [in italics]
[[*] ]Helps, Arthur. The Claims of Labour, pp. 2-3.
[b-b]45 [in italics]
[c-c]45 [in italics]
[d-d]45 [in italics]
[[*] ]Fontenelle, Bernard Le Bovier de. Digression sur les Anciens et les Modernes, in Oeuvres. New ed. Paris: Libraires associés, 1766, IV, p. 177.
[f]45, 59 to
[[*] ]Wealth of Nations, ed. Wakefield, I, pp. 179ff.
[h-h]45 [in italics]
[[*] ]2 & 3 William IV, c. 45.
[[†] ]See 10 George IV, c. 7.
[[*] ]London: Fraser, 1840.
[[†] ]London: Chapman and Hall, 1843.
[k]45 of whom the so-called “Young England” party aspires to be the parliamentary organ, and the Times newspaper makes itself to some extent the representative in the press:—
[[*] ]4 & 5 William IV, c. 76.
[[†] ]Ending with 9 & 10 Victoria, c. 22.
[[*] ]See Carlyle, Past and Present, p. 24, and passim.
[[*] ]See Owen, Robert. The Book of the New Moral World. London: Wilson, 1836.
[r-r]45 or [printer’s error?]
[w-w]45, 59 them?
[x]45 Mr. Aubin’s school at Norwood contains, if reports may be trusted, many features worthy of study and imitation; and there are others to which favourable testimony is borne by competent observers. But we are inculcating principles, not proposing models.
[y-y]45 who are
[[*] ]See Carlyle, Past and Present, p. 44, and passim.
[[*] ]London: Pickering, 1841.
[[†] ]London: Wix, 1835.
[[*] ]Two Letters to Leonard Horner, Esq., on the Capabilities of the Factory System. London: Taylor and Walton, 1840.
[[*] ]Greg, pp. 5-6.
[a]45 [footnote:] *In the able and interesting “Lettres Politiques” of M. Charles Duveyrier [Paris: Amyot, 1843, II, pp. 258 ff.], some account is given of an attempt which has been successfully made to carry this principle into practice, on a small scale, by an employer of labour at Paris. The name of the individual is Leclaire, his occupation that of a house-painter, and he has made his proceedings public in a pamphlet, entitled “Répartition des Bénéfices du Travail en 1842.” M. Leclaire pays his labourers, and other employés, by fixed salaries or weekly wages in the usual manner. He assigns also to himself a fixed allowance. When the year’s accounts are made up, the surplus profits are shared among all concerned, himself included, in the ratio of their fixed allowances. The result has been most prosperous both to himself and to his labourers, not one of whom, who worked as much as three hundred days, obtained, in the year of which he has published the accounts, less than 1500 francs (£60,) and some considerably more.
[b]45 We entreat “Young England” to believe, that as long as they vote for the Corn-Laws, people will never begin to take them and their professions au sérieux; they will be looked upon as they are now, as light-headed young men, momentarily more successful than other dandies in the line of peculiarity which they have chosen; but not as serious thinkers acting upon any consistent intellectual scheme, or from any real conscientious feeling.
[g]45 ; nay, a bill annually introduced into Parliament, with the prospect of success, offering new and unheard-of facilities to the latter operation
[h]45 ; and is particularly uncalled for in the face of a probable abolition of the Corn-Laws, rendering speculations upon the turning up of barren soils at this time especially precarious
[i-i]45 yet seldom
[[*] ]Knight, Charles. The Rights of Industry. London: Knight, 1831, p. 56 and passim.
[j]45 a trifle
[k]45 [paragraph] A great part of the revenue of the country is raised by imposts which stand directly between the labourers and their essential comforts. The window-tax operates to deprive them of light; the excise on soap is a tax on cleanliness; the duties on bricks and timber render building expensive, and directly counteract the attempt to improve the dwellings of the poor. The duty and port dues on coal, exacted by the corporation of London, aggravate, to the inhabitants of the metropolis and surrounding districts, the most distressing of the physical privations incident to poverty.
[l-l]45 Giving [printer’s error; corrected by JSM in Somerville College copy]
[m-m]45 acquirements [printer’s error; corrected by JSM in Somerville College copy]
[n]45 [paragraph] The plans of a more ambitious kind, having in view the alleviation of poverty on a considerable scale, are principally two—the Allotment System, as it is commonly called, and Colonization. The last of these is too complicated a subject, and involves considerations too special, to be properly introduced as a subordinate branch of a more extensive scheme. We may say here, that from it we do expect considerable benefit. Like the other projects, it is only a palliative; but of all palliatives it is attended with the fewest drawbacks, while it far surpasses all others in the measure of its efficiency. With this observation, we reserve the topic for separate treatment.