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a grand admiral, but I cannot imagine him a success as a Lancashire weaver, with £1 a week and two holidays a year. Turn these restless spirits loose in a congenial sphere, and they will do much good work, as, indeed, much good work has been done by such. But dullness and monotony, task-work and tracts, are not food hot enough for their palates. And so they seek such change and such excitement as lie in their way. And the dealer in doctored gin and the retailer of racing “morals" find their profit in them; but they might have been fine factors in the sum of human progress.
To tell these people that they shall have help and love when they quit their vices is like telling a sick man that he shall be sent to the seaside as soon as he recovers his health.
Sow some wheat on sterile land, and it will give a poor harvest. Would you say,
“While there are poor harvests there must be sterile lands”? Put a fish into a small and dirty globe, and he will sicken. Wonld you say that while there are sick fishes there must be small globes and impure water? Yet you say while there are vice and improvidence there must be poverty.
Why do the middle and upper classes take so much trouble with the nursing and education of their children? Why do they instil into their young minds principles of honesty, of industry, of virtue, of culture? Why do they send their sons and daughters to school and to college? Why do they teach them cleanliness and sobriety? Why do they so jealously watch over their morals? Why do they take such trouble and incur such expense in the effort to shield them from all that is vicious, and indecent, and unhealthy? Is it not to ensure their moral and mental and physical welfare? You will say, “Of course.”
It seems, then, that even the children of educated, honest, and virtuous parents need to be carefully trained and guarded to prevent them falling into idleness and vice. For if children would grow up good without watchfulness and cultivation, it would be mere folly and waste of time and means to trouble about teaching them. Now if all this care is necessary to ensure moral excellence, it follows that without such care moral excellence could not be ensured. That is to say, that in our colleges, in our Sunday schools, in our home lessons, in the tender and earnest solicitude of good parents, we find an acknowledgment of the fact that a child is what he is taught to be.
Now suppose a child is deprived of this education. Suppose it is born in a poor hovel, in a poor slum. Suppose its home surroundings are such that cleanliness and modesty are well-nigh impossible. Suppose the gutter is its playground; the ginshop its nursery; the factory its college; the drunkard its exemplar; the ruffian and the thief its instructors! Suppose bad nursing, bad air, bad water, bad food, dirt, hunger, ill-usage, foul language, and hard work are its daily portion. Suppose it has inherited poor blood, dull spirits, enfeebled wit and stunted stature, from its ill-fed, untaught, overworked, miserable, ignorant, and unhealthy parents, can you expect that child to be clever, and moral, and thrifty, and clean, and sober?
Again: What, next to their education and surroundings, makes well-bred and well-taught children happy and good and industrious? Simply their good and pleasant environment. Life is to them worth living. They have comfort and love and knowledge and-hope. But the child of “the great unwashed" has none of these things. His lot is labor and poverty, his pleasure is in drunkenness and gambling, his future is gloomier than his horrible present. You talk about the social virtues! These poor creatures have not even food, or rest, or air, or light! Now, I say, give them food and air, and light and leisure; give them education, and give them hope, and they will cease to be vicious and improvident.
The poor! The poor! The poor! The thriftlessness of the poor! The intemperance of the poor! The idleness of the poor ! How long yet have we to listen to this cackle? How long have we to hear men prate about the poor and about the working classes who never knew what poverty is, who never knew what hunger means, who never did a stroke of manual work, and whose knowledge of “the poor” is got from the poems and the novels and the essays of university “swells," or from furtive and unch itable glances at the public-house steps or the pawnshop door as their excellencies' carriages are hurrying them through the outskirts of the slums!
Perhaps you will say, John, that if the surroundings make the man, then all the denizens of the slums, and all the workers in the mines, would drink. But, no. You would not say that the bad drainage of a district would give all the inhabitants the fever, but only that it would give those the fever whose health made them most amenable to the germs of the disease.
I am not urging that poverty inevitably leads to drink, but only that it is the chief cause of drunkenness.
There is a common belief to the effect that if the poor were all industrious, sober, and thrifty they would cease to be poor. This error arises from confusion of thought.
It is quite true that a sober man will succeed better than a drunken man; but it is not true that if all the people were sober their wages would increase.
Suppose there are ten clerks in an office, nine of whom are unsteady and one steady. The steady man will very likely becoine head clerk. But this is not because he is steady, but because the others are not steady. For you will observe that no one thinks of promoting a clerk because he is honest, for very few clerks being dishonest the honest clerk is not singular.
You must not suppose that because a sober and industrious man will succeed-in some trades-better than a drunken and a lazy man that therefore the whole trade would succeed better by becoming abstainers and hard workers.
You are fond of “facts." What are the facts with regard to thrift and industry among the workers ?
The Hindoos are among the most abstemious and industrious people; and they are about the worst-paid people in the world.
The immigrant Jews in the tailoring and slipper trades are wonderfully thrifty, sober, and industrious, and they work terribly long hours for shamefully low wages.
Under competition the workers do not gain any advantage by being sober and industrious. They gain a lower depth of serfdom and a harder task of slavery. If the Englishman will work for fifteen hours and live on bread and cheese, the foreigner will have to work for eighteen hours and eat grass; and that is what your capitalists mean when they tell you that Englishmen are being pushed out of the market by foreigners because foreigners will work harder and take less pay.
But allow me to quote the statement of this case given by me in my reply to the Bishop of Manchester:
“In all foreign nations where the standard of living is lower than in England, your lordship will find that the wages are lower also.
“Has not your lordship often heard our manufacturers tell the English workers that if they would emulate the thrift and sobriety of the foreigner they might successfully compete against foreign competition in the foreign markets? My lord, what does that mean, but that thrift would enable our people to live on less, and so to accept less wages ?
“Your lordship knows that our shirtmakers here in Manchester are miserably paid.
“This is because capitalism always keeps the wages down to the lowest standard of subsistence which the people will accept.
“So long as our English women will consent to work long hours, and live on tea and bread, the 'law of supply and demand' will maintain the present condition of sweating in the shirt trade.
“If all our women became firmly convinced that they could not exist without chops and bottled stout, the wages must go up to a price to pay for those things
· Because there would be no women offering to live on tea and bread; and shirts must be had.
“But what, my lord, is the result of the abstinence of these poor sisters of ours? Low wages for themselves, and, for others?
“A young merchant wants a dozen shirts. He pays ios. each for them. He meets a friend who only gave 8s. for his. He goes to the 8s. shop and saves 24s. This is clear profit, and he spends it in cigars, or champagne, or in some other luxury; and the poor seamstress lives on toast and tea."
Many shallow thinkers assert that if a man is determined to succeed he will succeed. This is not true, but if it were true it would not prove that the quaiities of energy, talent, and selfdenial which enable one man to improve his condition would enable all men to improve their conditions. For the one man only succeeds because of his superior strength and skill; but if all men displayed strength and skill equal to his he could not rise.
There is a panic in a theater and a fight for egress. A big strong man will force his way out over the bodies of the weak.
Now don't you see how foolish it is for that man to tell the weak that if they were as strong as he they could get out? If they were as strong as he, he could not get out.
A short time ago a certain writer, much esteemed for his graceful style of saying silly things, informed us that the poor remain poor because they show no efficient desire to be anything else. Is that true? Are only the idle poor? Come with me and I will show you where men and women work from morning till night, from week to week, from year to year, at the full stretch of their powers, in dim and foetid dens, and yet are poor-ay, destitute-have for their wages a crust of bread and rags. I will show you where men work in dirt and heat, using the strength of brutes, for a dozen hours a day, and sleep at night in styes, until brain and muscle are exhausted, and fresh slaves are yoked to the golden car of commerce, and the broken drudges filter through the union or the prison to a felon's or a pauper's grave! And I will show you how men and women thus work and suffer and faint and die, generation after generation; and I will show you how the longer and the harder these wretches toil the worse their lot becomes; and I will show you the graves, and find witnesses to the histories of brave and noble and industrious poor men whose lives were lives of toil, and poverty, and whose deaths were tragedies.
And all these things are due to sin—but it is to the sin of the smug hypocrites who grow rich upon the robbery and the ruin of their fellow-creatures.
THE RIGHTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL. I think that my contention, which I see quoted by Mr. Goschen, could be exhaustively proved, that every act of the legislature which seems to interfere with the doctrine of laissez. faire, and has stood the test of experience, has been endorsed because it has added to the general efficiency of labor, and, therefore, to the general well-being of society. - Thorold Rogers.
Law was made for property alone.-- Macaulay. You have, very likely, heard of the thing called Individualism. You may have read articles or heard speeches in which socialism has been assailed as an interference with the rights of the indi. vidual. You may have wondered why, among the rights of the individual, no place was given to the right to live; or that the apostles of individualism should be so strangely blind to the danger of leaving private enterprise un-curbed. But you need 2ot wonder about these things, for individualism is a relic of savagery, and its apologists would be agitating for the return of the good old individual right of carrying a stone club and living by promiscuous robbery and murder, were they not convinced that the law of supply and demand, although a more cowardly and brutal weapon that the cannibal's club, is infinitely more deadly and effective.
Society consists of individuals-so Herbert Spencer says. And that dogma, if it means anything, means that society is a concourse of independent atoms and not a united whole. But you know that statement is not in accord with fact or reasonnot to speak of morality. You know that society consists of a number of more or less antagonistic parties, united among themselves for purposes of social warfare, and that where an independent individual is found he is always either a good man, trying to persuade the combatants to reason and righteousness, or a bad man, trying to fleece them that his own nest may be
How, indeed, can society be a multitude of unconnected units? I look in my dictionary, and I find the word “society” defined as a union of persons in one interest; fellowship.” And, clearly, society means a number of men joined by interest or affection. For how can that be a society which has no social connections ? A mob of antagonistic individuals is a chaos, not a society.
And with regard to that claim that men should be left free to fight each for his own hand-is that civilization or anarchy ? And will it result in peace or in war, in prosperity or in disaster? Not civilization, but savagery; not christianity, but cannibalism,