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istry-these words sound dry and forbidding to the man who knows nothing at all of science; but to the student they are more fascinating, more thrilling, and more marvelous than any
But science is only one branch of knowledge. There is literature, there is history, there are foreign countries and peoples, there are languages, and laws, and philosophies to interest and to inform us. Solomon spoke well when he said that wisd is better than rubies. As a mere amusement the acquirement of knowledge is above price. But it has another value-it enables us to help our fellow-creatures, and to leave the world better than we found it.
As for pleasures their name is legion. There are such pleasures as walking, rowing, swimming, football, cricket. There are the arts and the drama. There are the beauties of nature. There are travel and adventure. Mere words cannot convey an idea of the intensity of these pleasures. Music alone is more delightful and more precious than all the vanities wealth can buy, or all the carnal luxuries that folly can desire. The varieties of pure and healthy pleasures are infinite.
Then as to intercourse. · I mean by that all the exaltation and all the happiness that we can get from friendship, from love, from comradeship, and from family ties. These are among the best and the sweetest things that life can give.
Now, Mr. Smith, you are a practical and a sensible man. I ask you to look about you and to think, and then to tell me what share of all these things falls to the share of the bulk of the British people; but especially to the share of the great working
In the average lot of the average British workman how much knowledge and culture, and science and art, and music and the drama, and literature and poetry, and field sports and exercise, and travel and change of scene?
You know very well that our working people get little of these things, and you know that such as they get are of inferior quality.
Now, I say to you that the people do not get enough of the things needful for body and mind, that they do not get them of the best, and that they do not get them because they have neither money to pay for them nor leisure to enjoy them.
Í say, further, that they ought to have and might have abund. ance of these things, and I undertake to show you how they can obtain them.
We hear a great deal, Mr. Smith, about the “struggle for existence."
Well, 'I say there is no need for any struggle for existence." I have shown you what things are necessary to a happy and noble existence, and I say to you' now that all these things can be easily and abundantly produced.
Given our country and our people, I maintain that the people, if rightly organized and directed, can get from the country all that is good for them, with very little labor.
The work needed to supply the bodily and mental needs above named is very slight. The best things of life-knowledge, art, recreation, friendship, and love-all are cheap; that is to say, they can all be got with little labor.
Why, then, the “struggle for existence"?
So far, Mr. Smith, I have, I hope, been practical and plain. I have indulged in no fine writing, I have used no hard words, I have kept close to facts. There has been nothing "windy" or ** sentimental" up to now. I shall be still more practical as we
In the meantime, if you can find Ruskin's. “Modern Painters" in your free library, I should advise you to read it.
There are two other books that would be valuable; these are "England's Ideal,” by Edward Carpenter, and “Signs of Change," by Wm. Morris.
TOWN AGAINST COUNTRY. I would not have the laborer sacrificed to the result. I would not have the laborer sacrificed to my convenience and pride, nor to that of a great class of such as me. Let there be worse cotton and better men. The weaver should not be bereaved of his superiority to his work.- Emerson,
The substantial wealth of man consists in the earth he cultivates, with its pleasant or serviceable animals and plants, and in the rightly produced work of his own hands.
The material wealth of any country is the portion of its possessions which feeds and educates good men and women in it. In fact, it may be discovered that the true veins of wealth are purple--and not in rock, but in flesh-perhaps even that the final outcome and consummation of all wealth is in the producing as many as possible full-breathed, bright-eyed, and happy-hearted human creatures.- Ruskin.
Before we begin this chapter I must ask you to keep in mind the fact that a man's bodily wants are few.
I shall be well outside the mark if I say that a full-grown, healthy man can be well fed upon a daily ration of 1 lb. of bread, 1 lb. of vegetables, 1 lb. of meat. Add toʻthis a few groceries, a little fruit, some luxuries, a shelter, a bed, some clothing, and a few tools and articles of furniture, and you have all the material things you need.
Remember, also, that when you have these things you have all the material things you can use. A millionaire or a monarch
could hardly use more, or if he did use more would use them to his hurt and not to his advantage.
You live in Oldham and work in the factory in order to get a living. A living" consists of the the things above named.
I ask you, as a practical, sensible man, whether it is not possible to get those few simple things with less labor; and whether it is not possible to add to them health and the leisure to enjoy life and develop the mind ?
The Manchester school will tell you that you are very fortunate to get as much as you do, and that he is a dreamer or a knave who persuades you that you can get more.
The Manchester school is the commercial school. porters of that school will tell you that you cannot prosper, that is to say, you cannot “get a living,” without the capitalist, without open competition, and without a great foreign trade.
They will tell you that you would be very foolish to raise your own food stuffs here in England so long as you can buy them more cheaply from foreign nations. They will tell you that this country is incapable of producing enough food for her present population, and that therefore your very existence depends upon keeping the foreign trade in your hands.
Now, I shall try to prove to you that every one of these statements is untrue. I shall try to satisfy you that
1. The capitalist is a curse, and not a blessing.
than we can produce it; and
her present population. We hear a great deal about the value and extent of our foreign trade, and are always being reminded how much we owe to our factory system, and how proud of it we ought to be.
I despise the factory system, and denounce it as a hideous, futile, and false thing. This is one of the reasons why the Manchester school call me a dreamer and a dangerous agitator. I will state my case to you plainly, and ask you for a verdict in accordance with the evidence. My reasons for attacking the factory system are:
1. Because it is ugly, disagreeable, and mechanical,
4. Because it is a danger to the national existence. The Manchester school will tell you that the destiny of this country is to become “the workshop of the world."
I say that is not true; and that it would be a thing to deplore if it were true. The idea that this country is to be the “work
shop of the world” is a wilder dream than any that the wildest socialist ever cherished. But if this country did become the “workshop of the world " it would at the same time become the most horrible and the most miserable country the world has ever known.
Let us be practical, and look at the facts.
First, as to the question of beauty and pleasantness. You know the factory districts of Lancashire. I ask you is it not true that they are ugly, and dirty, and smoky, and disagreeable? Compare the busy towns of Lancashire, of Staffordshire, of Durham, and of South Wales, with the country towns of Surrey, Suffolk, and Hants.
In the latter counties you will get pure air, bright skies, clear rivers, clean streets, and beautiful fields, woods, and gardens; you wili get cattle and streams, and birds and flowers; and you know that all these things are well worth having, and that none of them can exist side by side with the factory system.
I know that the Manchester school will tell you that this is mere “sentiment.” But compare their actions with their words.
Do you find the champions of the factory system despising nature, and beauty, and art, and health-except in their speeches and lectures to you?
No. You will find these people living as far from the factories as they can get; and you will find them spending their long holidays in the most beautiful parts of England, Scotland, Ireland, or the Continent.
The pleasures they enjoy are denied to you. They preach the advantages of the factory system because they reap the benefits while you bear the evils.
To make wealth for themselves they destroy the beauty and the health of your dwelling-places; and then they sit in their suburban villas, or on the hills and terraces of the lovely southern countries, and sneer at the “sentimentality” of the men who ask you to cherish beauty and to prize health.
Or they point out to you the value of the “wages which the factory system brings you, reminding you that you have carpets on your floors, and pianos in your parlors, and a week's holiday at Blackpool once a year.
But how much health or pleasure can you get out of a cheap and vulgar carpet? And what is the use of a piano if you have neither leisure nor means to learn to play it? And why should you prize that one week in the crowded, noisy watering-place, if health and fresh air and the great salt sea are mere sentimental follies ?
And let me ask you is any carpet so beautiful or so pleasant as a carpet of grass and daisies? Is the fifth-rate music you play upon your cheap pianos as sweet as the songs of the gushing streams and joyous birds ? And does a week at a spoiled and vulgar watering-place repay you for fifty-one weeks' toil and smother in a hideous and stinking town?
As a practical man, would you of your own choice convert a healthy and beautiful country like Surrey into an unhealthy and hideous country like Wigan or Cradley, just for the sake of being able once a year to go to Blackpool, and once a night to listen to a cracked piano?
Now, I tell you, my practical friend, that you ought to have, and may have, good music, and good homes, and a fair and healthy country, and more of all the things that make life sweet; that you may have them at less cost of labor than you now pay for the privilege of existing in Oldham; and that you can never have them if England becomes “the workshop of the world.
But the relative beauty and pleasantness of the factory and country districts do not need demonstration. The ugliness of Widnes and Sheffield and the beauty of Dorking and Monsal Dale are not matters of sentiment nor of argument-they are matters of fact. The value of beauty is not a matter of sentiment: it is a fact. You would rather see a squirrel than a sewer rat. You would rather bathe in the Avon than in the Irwell. You would prefer the fragrance of a rose-garden to the stench of . a sewage works.
You would prefer Bolton woods to Ancoats slums.
As for those who sneer at beauty, as they spend fortunes on. pictures, on architecture, and on foreign tours, they put themselves out of court.
Sentiment or no sentiment, beauty is better than ugliness, and health is better than disease.
Now, 'under the factory system you must sacrifice both health and beauty.
As to my second objection-the evil effect of the factory system on the public health. What are the chief means to health?
Pure air, pure water, pure and sufficient food, cleanliness, exercise, rest, warmth, and ease of mind. What are the invariable accompaniments of the factory system?
Foul air, foul water, adulterated foods, dirt, long hours of sedentary labor, and continual anxiety as to wages and employment in the present, added to a terrible uncertainty as to existence in the future.
Look through any great industrial town in the colliery, the iron, the silk, the cotton, or the woolen industries, and you will find hard work, unhealthy work, vile air, overerowding, disease,