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prophets may easily be proved short-sighted by a few years' experience. Still, we are not among the number of those who deprecate experiments in emigration; we would have then tried in earnest, and on a vast scale. It is as good an employment of the surplus revenue of the nations as many others, and must benefit those who leave the mother-country, whatever disappointment may result to those who remain behind.
SUPPLEMENTAL REMARKS, 1862.
THE course which public opinion has followed since this essay was printed, can scarcely be said to have changed its character during the interval—now twelve years. To expect, therefore, that my views will meet with any more favour—I ought to say with any less disfavour—at the present day, would be vain. It seems to me, on the contrary, that the English people become more and more determined to disregard the operation of general laws, and to assume that, so long as the wealth of the country goes on augmenting, it matters little how rapidly the demands of indigence and the necessities of the afflicted multiply upon us.* The young men of the rural districts are, at the present time, being gradually drawn away from farm work, by the temptation afforded by higher-paid employments, such as the railways, the police force, the Government works, the arsenals, the army, domestic service, the constabulary, the “navvy” line, and the like. All these modes of employing working hands, being more remumerative, absorb a considerable amount of able-bodied men. The farmers, accordingly, complain of an insufficient supply of husbandry labourers, and of being compelled to pay higher wages to those whose services they do obtain. If such increased “wage” led to permanent benefit, by raising the standard of comfort in this class, and improving their way of living, it would be a welcome sign. But the fact is, that the price of every one of the articles required for the family of a poor working man has risen to a level above his means. Bread, it is true, continues at a moderate price, because it is easy to obtain breadstuffs for our market from foreign countries. But go one step farther: ask the village shopkeeper what is now the value of bacon, cheese, butter, candles, cocoa. He will tell you that they have each risen 30 per cent, within the last seven or eight years. Ask the butcher, and he will reply that mutton has advanced from 6d. and 7d. to 96, and 10d. per pound. Thus it is evident that the slight rise which has taken place in agricultural wages is insufficient to balance the increase in the value of commodities. Again, the excessive anxiety of benevolent persons to keep village boys at school beyond the age at which their labour becomes available, tends to the disadvantage of their parents. Complaints are made, by education commissioners and others, that parents are unwilling to keep their boys at school beyond the age of ten and eleven years (just when, as they affirm, their education is taking a higher character), seeing that “Billy” or “Jemmy” ought to begin to earn his own living. Yet what can be more unreasonable than to expect a labouring man, who has, by the sweat of his brow, won the bread for the infant during eight or nine long years, to forego the relief which his boy's labour might bring to the cottage purse ! Moreover, a lad of eleven to thirteen, who has never been “put to work,” but who has filled up his playhours with nothing harder than a game of cricket, is indisposed to become a farm servant. He is unused to bear hardships, to sit shivering under a hedge “crow-keeping,” to walk to work through the snow, to travel home alone after dark, to get wet through, and, in short, shrinks from the rough apprenticeship inseparable from husbandry life. Many kind-hearted people, when they come to know what the life of a farm boy is, rather rejoice than not that “poor little Bobby” should avoid its hardships, and should, instead, get a snug berth in the “Eagle Brewery Company’s” employ, or get work in making cartridges, for the manufacturer of those articles. One gentle, fair philanthropist of my acquaintance, commiserating the ennui of a cow-keeping boy in my parish, kindly took him “a story-book” to relieve the weight of it. Of course the “Nanny Cow” broke through the neighbour's hedge into the clover, for want of being watched. But to be serious. This interposition of the rich in behalf of the youthful members of the population is, to call it by its right name, an attempt to prevent the play of a general social principle: and that, by applying their money and their personal influence towards the unsettling of the natural relations between demand and supply. In other words, educating the children in such fashion as shall render them unfitted for those employments in which their fathers and mothers before them earned their living; causing humble labour to be regarded with aversion, and diminishing the supply of such labour to what I believe to be an inconvenient extent. The excuse for all this interference with the distribution of employment, is, ever, that it leads to a desire on the part of the boy or girl, as it may be, to better their condition. Now, it may be questioned whether this ardour, to be shown in the struggle to rise in the scale, be altogether a wholesome feeling to inculcate. Beneficial to certain well-endowed individuals it certainly has been, and always will be; but whether it be a desirable thing to cultivate, in every humble breast, a dissatisfaction with their actual condition: to inspire an ordinary rustic with a restless longing for change, for the excitement of town life, for gain, and for the means of indulging his appetites, does, in my view, admit of grave doubts. Indeed, whilst the lessons imparted by the Scripture readings and the catechisms of the Church, enjoin humility and contentment under the dispensations of Providence, the education enthusiasts would fain teach that, not to exert the faculties we possess to “get on in the world,” is to be foolish and contemptible. To return to the point where I note the causes which seem to be conducing to the increased burthen of pauperism. The extreme dearness of provisions weighs down the cottager. The boys eat, and earn nothing. The girls do the same. The young men marry early to obtain a fireside (no longer afforded, as heretofore, under their employer's roof), and have numerous families. For the summer Semestré all goes well enough ; but winter brings slackened employment, savings are rarely forthcoming, nay, are almost impossible. The rich step in with charitable aid, but cannot wholly mitigate the pressure of want, and the parish does the rest. Thus the rich, in the first place, intercept the action of the natural law, by which I mean the efforts of the children to assist in maintaining the family, by insisting on their staying at school. Next, the boys, for the reasons given above, quit the district, thinning the parish of local “bread-winners;” sick and infirm women press upon their adult male kindred at home. Need outstrips the means of relief, and hunger gradually assumes the tone of importunity. The parish finally supports those who cannot support themselves, and “the union” becomes crowded with recipients of public bounty. This is the circle in which English rural affairs commonly revolve. That it is far from a healthy circle will not be contested. The point to be considered is, how far the evil of pauperism is referable to the faults of the poor, and how far to the mischievous action of the rich. In a country so advanced in artificial modes of living as England is, nothing is more difficult than to specify and follow out the effects of any one cause in bringing about social changes. Nevertheless I must select a feature in our domestic history, to which it seems to me fair to attribute a sensible influence over the well-being of our rural population. I mean the enormous increase in the consumption of meat in England, consequent upon the introduction of the “Norfolk system.” Formerly- perhaps even within the memory of man—fresh meat in winter was a luxury confined to the wealthy classes. In the north of England, assuredly, salted legs of mutton were as common as salted pork. There being no food to give animals in winter except hay and corn, horses and cows could
* The proportion in which the amount of Pauperism now stands to the population in England, according to returns quoted in the Times newspaper of July 18th, 1862, is “one in 21 of the population, or 48 per cent, showing an increase of 6 per cent, over that of 1861.”