Page images
PDF
EPUB

imposed on children under sixteen years of age employed in cotton mills. And though we are decidedly adverse to all interference on the part of government as to the terms of the contract between workmen and their employers, still we think that the legislature acted right in interfering to limit the number of hours during which children should be kept at work. It is for the public advantage that those who are unable, from their immature years, to protect themselves, should be protected by the legislature. But no farther interference onght, on any account, to be either attempted or tolerated. If any particular business or process be peculiarly noxious, no one who has attained to the years of discretion will engage in it, unless he obtains comparatively high wages. And this circumstance will always prevent such employments from being carried to a greater extent than is required for the general advantage of society.

With respect, in the second place, to the state of Morals in the manufacturing districts; this is a point as to which it is much more difficult to obtain accurate information, than as to the state of health. We have no doubt, however, were the means of making a correct estimate equally accessible in both cases, that it would be found that the morals of the people have been as much improved, during the last 50 years, as their health. It is admitted on all hands, that crimes of violence have greatly diminished since the accession of his late Majesty; and the increased sobriety and cleanliness of the people-habits which cannot easily be strengthened without improving morality, are invariably assigned as prominent causes of the late increase of healthiness. There is, to say the least, as much moral restraint evinced in the intercourse between the sexes in Lancashire, as in most agricultural districts of England. The latter, indeed, would be but an indifferent standard of comparison, if we sup pose that the morality of other districts bears any considerable resemblance to that of a purely agricultural district in Norfolk, where, we are told by the Reverend Mr Brereton, there were 77 births in a given period, of which 23 only were legitimate!* No such picture of profligacy, or anything approaching to it, can be exhibited in any quarter of Lancashire.

In comparing the state of morals in the manufacturing districts, as Lancashire in England, and Lanarkshire in Scotland, with their state in the agricultural districts, it must not be forgotten that the former are exposed to a most prolific source

* Brereton on the Administration of the Poor Laws, p. 50.

of crime and demoralization, from which the latter are comparatively exempted-we allude to the excessive influx of Irish Tabourers that has taken place of late years. These miserable creatures, without property, without connexions, and most frequently ignorant in the extreme, are in all respects decidedly more profligate and immoral than the native inhabitants-And the only thing to be wondered at is, that, notwithstanding the vast influx of Irish poor into Manchester and Glasgow, the morals and habits of the people should have been so greatly improved. We are satisfied, that had it not been for this influx, the inhabitants of these cities would have had but little to fear, in comparing themselves with those of any agricultural district in the empire, with respect to health, and nothing with respect to morality.

With respect, in the third place, to the Intelligence of the manufacturing population: we apprehend our readers would deem it a mere waste of labour were we to set about making any lengthened statements to prove their infinite superiority in this respect over the peasantry of the country. This, indeed, is only what every unprejudiced inquirer would a priori have anticipated would be the case. The elementary instruction of the lower classes in towns and villages is, generally speaking, preferable to the elementary instruction of the same classes in the country. But it is in after-life that the superior advantages of the former, for acquiring a greater extent of information, are chiefly observable. The peasantry dispersed over a wide extent of country, are without the means of assembling, except on some rare occasions, for the purposes either of amusement or instruction. But, by working together, the workmen in manufacturing establishments have, what the agriculturists almost uniformly want, constant opportunities of discussing all topics of interest and importance. They are thus gradually trained to habits of thinking and reflection; their intellects are sharpened by the collision of conAicting opinions; and a small contribution from each individual enables them to establish lectureships and libraries, and to obtain a large supply of the cheaper class of periodical publications. But whatever difference of opinion may exist as to the cause, there can be no doubt of the fact, that the intelligence of the workmen employed in manufactures has increased according as their numbers have increased, and as their employments have been more and more subdivided—And this circumstance would of itself go far to account for the more rapid increase of healthiness and of better morals amongst them. "Nine-tenths of the evils that afflict the mass of society have their source in ignorance; and when it has been shown that the intelligence of any class

of people has increased, it is next to certain that their condition in other respects must at the same time have improved.

It has sometimes been objected to manufactures, that when anything occurs togive them a check, or to throw the immense population dependent on them out of employment, or when, owing to a scarcity, a sudden rise takes place in the price of provisions, the public tranquillity, and the security of property, are apt to be endangered. It is said that demagogues, and those mock orators so frequently to be met with in the manufacturing districts, take advantage of the feverish excitement generated in the public mind by these circumstances, to vilify the institutions of the country; and represent the public distress as proceeding, not from accidental and uncontrollable causes, but from measures adopted by government, or the master manufacturers, on purpose to advance their own interests at the expense of the workmen, and thus occasion outrages which can only be repressed by the employment of a large military force, and by the adoption of measures that are not always very consistent with the principles of a free government. Now, we do not mean to say, that, though exaggerated, there is not a great deal of truth in this statement. At the same time, however, we think it would not be difficult to show that, even in a political point of view, the establishment of manufactures, on a great scale, is most decidedly advantageous. That the population dependent on them is most commonly turbulent, inflammable, and apt to be misled, is true; but, on the other hand, men seldom entertain a just sense of their own importance, or acquire a knowledge of their rights, or are able to defend them with courage and effect, until they have been congregated into masses. An agricultural population, thinly distributed over the surface of a country, and without any point of reunion, rarely opposes any vigorous resistance to the most oppressive and arbitrary measures. But such is not the case with the population of towns. Their inhabitants are all actuated by the same spirit; they derive courage from their numbers and union; the bold animate the timid; the resolute confirm the wavering; the redress of an injury done to a single citizen, becomes, in some measure, the business of the whole body; they take their measures in common, and prosecute them with a vigour and resolution that generally makes the boldest minister pause in an unpopular career.* Where, in point of fact, has private independence and public freedom been best

[graphic]

* For some rather striking remarks on this subject, see Miller on the Government of England, vol. iv. p. 133.

secured, and most vigilantly protected ? Is it in agricultural France, Spain, or Poland, or in manufacturing and commercial England, Holland, and the United States ? There is no struggle to be compared, either for duration, for the sacrifices it imposed on the weaker party, or for its beneficial consequences, to the struggle made by the Hollanders to emancipate themselves from the blind and brutal despotism of Old Spain. And it was mainly to the efforts of our manufacturers and merchants---for the agricultural population sided almost entirely with the House of Stuart— to their wealth, patriotism, and zeal, that we are indebted for our free constitution, and consequently for the high and conspicuous place we now hold among the nations of the earth.

It should also be remembered, that the violent and unjustifiable proceedings of which the manufacturing population have occasionally been guilty, may be expected to disappear, according as they become more intelligent. Hitherto, the higher classes have been strangely indifferent to the effect that might be produced by the better education of their inferiors. Latterly, indeed, considerable efforts have been made, and with the best success, to instruct workmen in the principles of mechanical philosophy, and in a knowledge of the arts. But this, though an important, is not by any means the most important class of subjects, with respect to which they stand in need of instruction. We do not object to giving them lectures on Hydraulics and Hydrodynamics; but we see no reason why such subjects should be taught, to the exclusion of others. If we would really improve the condition of the lower classes-if we would give them better habits, as well as make them more expert workmenwe ought to endeavour to make them acquainted with the principles that must determine their condition in life. The poor ought to be taught, that they are in a great measure the architects of their own fortune; that what others can do for them is trifling indeed, compared with what they can do for themselves ; that they are infinitely more interested in the preservation of the public tranquillity than any other class of society; that mechanical inventions and discoveries are always supremely advantageous to them; and that their real interests can only be effectually promoted by their displaying greater prudence and forethought. Such subjects ought to form a prominent part of every well digested system of public instruction. And if they were clearly explained, and enforced with that earnestness which their vast importance requires, we should have the best attainable security for the maintenance of the public tranquillity, and the well-being and comfort of the community. But we must hasten to a close. The remarks we have now made are, we hope, sufficient to prove that the charges brought against manufactures are quite untenable; and that, consequently, they are in everyway worthy of, and ought in all cases to receive, equal favour and protection as agriculture. Nodoubt, there are disadvantages incident to them, as there are to every pursuit in which man can engage. But the good of which they are productive infinitely outweighs these disadvantages. “ They infuse," to use the words of Mr Malthus, whose leanings, it ought to be observed, are all on the side of agriculture, " fresh life and activity into all classes of the state, afford opportunities to the inferior orders to rise by personal merit and exertion, and stimulate the higher orders to depend for distinction upon other grounds than mere rank and riches. They excite invention, encourage science and the useful arts, spread intelligence and spirit, inspire a taste for conveniences and comforts among the labouring classes, and, above all, give a new and happier structure to society, by increasing the proportion of the middle classes—that body on which the liberty, public spirit, and good government of every country must always mainly depend.”

[graphic]

ART. II. Memoirs of Zehir-ed-din Muhammed Baber, Emperor

of Hindustan, written by himself, in the Jaghatai Turki, and translated, partly by the late John LEYDEN, Esq. M.D. partly by WILLIAM ERSKINE, Esq. With Notes and a Geographical and Historical Introduction : Together with a Map of the Countries between the Oxus and Jaxartes, and a Memoir regarding its Construction, by CHARLES WADDINGTON, Esq. of the East India Company's Engineers. London, 1826.

This is a very curious, and admirably edited work. But the

I strongest impression which the perusal of it has left on our minds is the boundlessness of authentic history, and, if we might venture to say it, the uselessness of all history which does not relate to our own fraternity of nations, or even bear, in some way or other, on our own present or future condition.

We have here a distinct and faithful account of some hundreds of battles, sieges, and great military expeditions, and a character of a prodigious number of eminent individuals,- men famous in their day, over wide regions, for genius or fortune

« PreviousContinue »