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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/764

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742
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

trial Europe, there is not a single large manufacturing city which is free from a vast mass of people whose condition is exactly that described, and from a still greater mass who, living just on the edge of the social swamp, are liable to be precipitated into it by any lack of demand for their produce. And, with every addition to the population, the multitude already sunk in the pit and the number of the host sliding toward it continually increase.

Argumentation can hardly be needful to make it clear that no society in which the elements of decomposition are thus swiftly and surely accumulating can hope to win in the race of industries.

Intelligence, knowledge, and skill are undoubtedly conditions of success; but of what avail are they likely to be unless they are backed up by honesty, energy, good-will, and all the physical and moral faculties that go to the making of manhood, and unless they are stimulated by hope of such reward as men may fairly look to? And what dweller in the slough of misère, dwarfed in body and soul, demoralized, hopeless, can reasonably be expected to possess these qualities?

Any full and permanent development of the productive powers of an industrial population, then, must be compatible with, and, indeed, based upon a social organization which will secure a fair amount of physical and moral welfare to that population; which will make for good and not for evil. Natural science and religious enthusiasm rarely go hand in hand, but on this matter their concord is complete; and the least sympathetic of naturalists can but admire the insight and the devotion of such social reformers as the late Lord Shaftesbury, whose recently published "Life and Letters" gives a vivid picture of the condition of the working classes fifty years ago, and of the pit which our industry, ignoring these plain truths, was then digging under its own feet.

There is perhaps no more hopeful sign of progress among us in the last half-century than the steadily increasing devotion which has been and is directed to measures for promoting physical and moral welfare among the poorer classes. Sanitary reformers, like most other reformers whom I have had the advantage of knowing, seem to need a good dose of fanaticism, as a sort of moral coca, to keep them up to the mark, and, doubtless, they have made many mistakes; but that the endeavor to improve the condition under which our industrial population live, to amend the drainage of densely peopled streets, to provide baths, wash-houses, and gymnasia, to facilitate habits of thrift, to furnish some provision for instruction and amusement in public libraries and the like, is not only desirable from a philanthropic point of view, but an essential condition of safe industrial development, appears to me to be indisputable. It is by such means alone, so far as I can see, that we can hope to check the constant gravitation of industrial society toward la misère, until the general progress of intelligence and morality leads men to grapple with the sources of that tendency. If