The Laboring Classes of England/Letter 17
WAGES—STRIKES AND TURN-OUTS FOR WAGES—MEANS USED BY THE MANUFACTURERS TO PREVENT THEM—TEN HOUR SYSTEM—CONCLUSION.
Wages. Smith, in his "Wealth of Nations," has the following important truth. "What are the common wages of labor, depends everywhere upon the contract usually made between two parties, whose interests are by no means the same; the workman desires to get as much, and the master to give as little as possible. The former is disposed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labor."
In no country has this truth been exemplified in a more striking manner, than in England. Trades Unions have been introduced, on the one hand, for the purpose of protecting the wages of the laborers; and combinations of the manufacturers on the other, to reduce wages to the lowest possible amount.
The following table will shew the amount of money lost in the following strikes.
|Cotton Spinners of Manchester, 1810,||£224,000|
|Spinners of Preston||74,313|
|Town of Preston||107,096|
|Glasgow Cotton Spinners||47,600|
|Loss to the City of Glasgow||200,000|
|Loss to the County of Lanarkshire||500,000|
|Strike in the Potteries||50,000|
|Leeds Mechanics' Strike, Twelve Months||187,000|
|Wool Combers of Bradford, Ten Months||400,000|
About eleven millions of dollars; and if all the other strikes and turn-outs were taken into account, it would swell the amount to over 20 millions of dollars, spent in a vain attempt to protect the wages of labor. Whilst the English capitalist can make use of the law to crush the producer, the producer can never make use of the law to protect himself; witness the case of the Dorchester laborers, and Glasgow cotton spinners, so well known; and, also, the case of the Stockport weavers, in 1840. The Stockport cotton masters offered a reduction of 2s. in the 12s.; and, availing themselves of the power given to them by the combination laws, caused several of the turn-out weavers to be arrested for conspiracy. For what? one count of the indictment was, "That they conspired to raise their wages." On this they were tried, convicted, and imprisoned. We might also instance the case of the six poor girls in the flax mills at Dundee, described on pages 91 and 92.
Let us see now what steps have been taken by the manufacturers to reduce wages.
In the appendix (C) to the first annual report of the Poor Law Commissioners, the reader will find a letter from Edmund Ashworth, Esq., a wealthy cotton manufacturer, from which I make the following extracts:
Turton, near Bolton, 9th of 6th month, 1834.
Respected friend, E. Chadwick:—I take the liberty of forwarding for consideration, a few observations on the new poor law bill; the leading principles of which I most cordially approve. * * * I would not venture to suggest an opinion to you, who have already so ample a store of evidence, were it not that I feel so much the vast importance of the subject.
Full employment in every department was never more easy to be found than now, consequently wages have advanced in most operative employments, and particularly so in the least skilful. * * * This bespeaks a scarcity of laborers here; at the same time, great complaints are made of surplus population in the agricultural counties, whilst here our deficiency is made up by a vast influx from Ireland, of ignorant, discontented, and turbulent people. * * * * It is often the practice here, if a mill owner is short of work-people, to apply to overseers of the poor and workhouses, for families supported by the parish; of late this has not always been attended with success; —— ——, (these manufacturers are supposed to be the Messrs. Gregg,) who are extensive cotton spinners and manufacturers, having two establishments in Cheshire and three in Lancashire, have, like ourselves, been in this practice many years; and being this spring short of hands at most of their establishments, sent a person who had occasionally gone out for them during a period of 20 years, to seek families in the neighboring parishes; but this year he could not find an overseer in all the county of Cheshire, who was willing to allow (compel) a family to leave his parish.
I am most anxious that every facility be given to the removal of laborers from one county to another, according to the demand for labor; this would have a tendency to equalize (reduce) wages, as well as prevent in degree, some of the turn-outs, &c., which have been of late so prevalent.
The following extracts are from a letter addressed by Robert Hyde Gregg, Esq., another cotton manufacturer, to Edwin Chad wick, Esq., Secretary to the Poor Law Commission.
Manchester, 17th September, 1834.
I have for some time thought of addressing you on the same matter as my friend Ashworth did, some time ago; viz., the propriety of opening a communication between our (strange to say) underpeopled districts and the southern overpeopled ones.
It is at this moment a most important suggestion, and deserves to be put into immediate operation.
At this moment our machinery in one mill has been standings for twelve months for want of hands. In another mill we cannot start our new machinery for the same want.
The suggestion I would make is this; that some official channel of communication should be opened in two or three of our large towns with your office, to which the overcharged parishes might transmit lists of their families. Manufacturers short of laborers, or starting new concerns, might look over the lists and select, as they might require (for the variety of our wants is great,) large families or small ones, young children or grown up, men or widows, or orphans, &c.
If this could be done, I doubt not, in a short time, as the thing became known and tried, we should gradually absorb a considerable number of the surplus laborers of the south.
The English laborers are much preferred to the Irish, and justly so. We cannot do with refuse population, and insubordinate paupers. Hard working men, or widows with families, would be in demand.
This gentleman concludes his letter by expressing a fear that should there be any increase in the demand for laborers, it will increase the trades unions, drunkenness and high wages.
A third extract I shall make from a letter of Henry Ashworth, Esq., a brother to the first mentioned; he is also a manufacturer.
Turton, near Bolton, 2d month 13th, 1835.
Respected friend, E. Chadwick:—I have received thy letter, and the published account of the destitute condition of 32 poor families. I wish they were here, or as many of them as are willing to work.
I may safely state that there is in this neighborhood a greater scarcity of work-people than I have ever known, and this fact was never more universally acknowledged.I am happy to say, that I never heard of any sort of privation among them, (the laborers) except what has been occasioned by their strikes on account of wages.
A great many other letters from manufacturers might be quoted, did our limits allow. They all express the same sentiments, viz., that it is impossible for too many hands to be sent—they are wanted, and must be had.
The Poor Law Commissioners, after deliberating upon the above suggestions, issued the following circular.
"The Poor Law Commissioners are desirous of facilitating it, (the removal of families) by every means in their power, and they therefore wish to acquaint you, (the manufacturers) that in case of your wanting the labor of even a single family, the commissioners proffer the use of the means at their disposal, for facilitating the supply of your wants in this respect."
Thus the reader will see that when the manufacturers could not induce a single overseer to give up their poor to be worked in the factories, they had recourse to the Poor Law Commissioners, who here offer them all the means at their disposal to enable them to effect their purpose. It would occupy too much of our space were we to follow in detail, this scheme of the manufacturers to reduce the wages of labor.
It will be sufficient for our purpose to say, that an office was opened in Manchester, under the superintendence of a Government Agent, R. M. Muggeridge, Esq.; that a printed circular invoice was sent to every parish where there was a surplus of poor families, which invoice was filled up by the parish officer and returned to Manchester. These invoices, containing the age, sex, &c. of each family, were kept in the office by Mr. Muggeridge, and exhibited to the manufacturers, who affixed their name and address to the invoice of such families as would suit them; after which, these precious documents were again transmitted to the parishes, with a request that they might be sent down to the manufacturers forthwith. The term of their engagement was for three years.
In this manner 10,000 persons, mostly agricultural laborers, were removed from their homes and the scenes of their childhood, and in a great majority of cases, entirely against their will, (being poor they were supposed to have no will,) to be immured in the cotton mills at Lancashire, &c.
Let us now turn our eyes to the closing scene in this tragedy. From the Report of Mr. Muggeridge, dated July, 1837, we learn that—"The condition of the laborers who were induced to migrate under your sanction, would, I am sure, at any time, be a subject of great interest and anxiety to you (the Commissioners); and at the present period, this interest and anxiety cannot but be increased by the altered circumstances in which the district is placed, compared with those which led to the introduction of migration."
"Nearly every one of the possible causes anticipated, as likely to lead to the ultimate ill success or defeat of this branch of the Commission, has been suddenly and unexpectedly realized. * * * The entire trade of the district was all at once paralyzed; distrust and want of confidence suspended for a season almost all commercial operations; the demand for additional labor ceased; large numbers of the native work-people were temporarily thrown out of occupation; and the extended preparations which had been made for increasing the means of employment, were deferred or abandoned."
I will not harass the feelings of my readers by going into a detail of the great hardships and sufferings endured by this class of poor people, in parting from friends and home, in their passage of 200 or 300 miles in open boats or wagons, in being herded together and lying on straw in the ware-houses of the manufacturers on their arrival, or arising from small pox, fevers, accidents by machinery, or a want of faith on the part of the manufacturers afterwards. They were such as would scarcely be credited as having taken place in England, a land always boasting of her humanity, and such as England herself would not have tolerated in any other country, without an effort to suppress or ameliorate them.
The reader may imagine the extent to which this evil had been carried, from the following remarks made by Sir Robert Peel, in Parliament, on Tuesday evening, January 27th, 1846.
"I will now," said he, "direct the attention of the house to a law which has been greatly complained of by the agricultural interest; I mean the present law of settlement. It happens under the present law, that a large portion of the population of rural districts are induced to move into the manufacturing; and it happens frequently, that the power, the labor, the best part of a man's life, who so removes, are consumed in that manufacturing district, and thus all the advantages of his strength and good conduct, and industry, are derived by the manufacturing districts during the period of his residence. A revulsion then takes place in trade; and what course is taken with respect to the man who moved there in more prosperous times? The man with his wife and family are sent back to the rural districts; and the individual who spent the best part of his life as a manufacturing operative, is returned to the place from whence he came; returned unfit for an agricultural operative. Under these circumstances the man is sent, against his will, to a new home, at a period when all his communications with that district have been interrupted, and with no means of earning an honest livelihood, a proceeding which must shock the feelings of every man who Witnesses it.
"At present, when a man, situated as the individual I have described, begins to fail in a manufacturing district—perhaps from having undergone extreme labor, or from sickness or accident, and apprehension begins to be entertained that he may become a permanent incumbrance on the parish, means are promptly taken for an early removal of that man. Again, immediately on the death of a laboring man in a manufacturing district, of which he happens not to be a native, his widow and children can be removed to the parish in which they had a previous settlement.
"We propose, that after a man has labored for a period of five years in a district, his settlement shall not be in the place where he had originally a settlement; but in the district to which his industry and labor had been given during that five years. That there shall not only be no power to remove that man, but that there shall be no power to remove his wife or his children, legitimate or illegitimate, under sixteen years of age."
In this manner the manufacturers gained their point with regard to breaking up trades unions, and reducing the wages.
The ten hour bill. I perceive by an accounts in the newspapers, that the English Parliament have at length agreed on a law for limiting the hours of labor in factories to ten per day; to go into operation in May, 1848. This ought to be a wise and good law, considering the length of time it has been before Parliament, (namely, 32 years,) the amount of talent employed in framing it, and the enormous sums of money expended in fostering it in its embryo state, till it became a thing of life. It may be useful and profitable to some, if we take a hasty retrospective glance at this bill in its various stages, from its first framing up to the present time.
In the year 1802, the late Sir Robert Peel, member of the House of Commons, and cotton manufacturer, procured an act (42 Geo. 3, c. 73) to regulate the labor of apprentice children worked in factories. At this time, the children in factories were mostly apprentices, obtained from parishes in London and other large towns.
The Apprentice Act, naturally, but gradually wore out the custom of taking apprentices, for as the masters would work the long hours, they now had recourse to the children of parents on the spot. This movement was hastened by the application of Watt's steam engine, which enabled the manufacturer to erect his factories in large towns, instead of, as formerly, on the banks of streams.
The evils sought to be remedied by the above act still continuing, Sir Robert again came before Parliament on the 13th of June, 1815, and proposed a ten hour bill, for regulating the hours of labor in cotton factories; and a committee of the House of Commons agreed to ten and a half. This was the first movement on record that I am acquainted with, for a ten hour bill.
In the following year, 1816, the same, or a similar bill was referred to a select committee of the House of Commons. The evidence taken before this committee established many important facts concerning the hardships and cruelties endured by the children employed in factories, both apprentices and those who were not apprentices.
The evidence of John Moss, overseer of Backbarrow Mill, is to this effect,—that the apprentice act was constantly set at naught. The witness did not even know of it. The children in the mill were almost all apprentices from London parishes; they were worked from 5 in the morning till 8 at night, all the year round, with only one hour for the two meals; in making up lost time, they frequently worked from 5 till 10 at night; and invariably they worked from 6 on the Sunday morning till 12, in cleaning the machinery for the week. In speaking of the consequent fatigue, the evidence is this:
"Did the children sit or stand at work?"
"The whole of their time?"
"Were there any seats in the mill?"
"Were they much fatigued at night?"
Yes, some of them were very much fatigued.
"Where did they sleep?"
In the apprentice house.
"Did you inspect their beds?"
Yes, every night.
"For what purpose?"
Because there were always some of them missing; some might be run away, others I have sometimes found asleep in the mill.
"Upon the mill floor?"
"Did the children frequently lie down upon the mill floor at night when their work was over, and fall asleep before their supper?"
I have found them frequently upon the mill floor asleep, after the time for bed.
This, and other similar evidence, was quite sufficient to justify Sir Robert in applying for a ten hour bill. The bill, however, did not pass then, but was suffered to slumber till July, 1819; but this (59 Geo. 3, c. 66) did not apply to any but cotton factories.
After the passing of this Act, there were four others to amend, to alter, or to render valid this one; but these were all repealed by the 1 and 2 William, 4. c. 39, commonly called Sir John Hobhouse's Act. The principal provision of this act is one which makes it unlawful to work in a factory, any child who is under 18 years of age, for more than 69 hours in a week; but this act also is confined to cotton factories.
In 1832, the late Mr. Sadler made great efforts in favor of the factory children. He brought a bill into Parliament to limit the hours of labor for all under 18 years of age, to 58 hours in the week; and the provisions of this bill were to extend to woollen, flax and silk, as well as cotton mills. On moving the second reading, on the 13th of March, he was met by strong opposition, and aery for investigation. He acceded to a committee being called out, of which he became the chairman. Before this committee, a mass of evidence was adduced which surprised and astonished all who heard it for the first time. Physicians, surgeons, manufacturers, overlookers and operatives, both male and female, were examined and the two large volumes of evidence thus collected, will stand as a lasting reproach to the country to the latest time. Mr. Sadler, although he labored almost day and night, till his health was greatly impaired, did not obtain his much desired object.
It is worthy of observation, that about this time, the. Parliament passed an act to abolish slavery in the English colonies, and not only the name, but the essence of slavery; for, in that act, it has taken care to provide that no negro shall work more hours in the week than 45, which is no more than 7 1-2 in a day. Now, if this act of humanity was necessary, which no one will doubt, how much more necessary the 58 hour act for the offspring of Englishmen!
On the meeting of the first reformed Parliament, Mr. Sadler not being a member, Lord Ashley was prompted to take the question in hand. He was beaten in the House of Commons, on the motion of Mr. Patten, because the ministers thought they could protect the children without interfering with the adults.
It would much exceed our present limits to examine in detail, all the various movements of the friends and foes of this bill for the last fifteen years. Motions and counter motions in the House, reports and counter reports out of it, have been constantly before the public. Sometimes one party have had the lead, and sometimes the other. One now proposing to "lay the axe at the root and cut it (the factory system) down;" another begging that the country would consider first what sort of a tree it was, and look at the fruit it had produced.
It is matter of congratulation, however, that the bill has been suffered to have an existence, if for nothing more than to test its merits in removing the evils of which the factory people complain. Of its success I have strong reasons to doubt.
If there is any merit in the ten hour system, the benevolent portion of the manufacturers will come in for their share. We find the first man to move in it was a manufacturer; and since then, many petitions have been sent to the House, and the ministers, for the bill, by manufacturers. Lord John Russell presented petitions signed by nearly 500 master manufacturers, employing 140,000 hands, for the bill.
It is also curious to observe that Sir Robert Peel opposed the measure, although he is the son of a cotton spinner, and a son of the very first man who brought forward the motion in Parliament in 1815!
Among the most prominent advocates for the bill, we find the name of Gould, Oastler, Fielden, Sadler, Rev. G. S. Bull, Lord Ashley, Wood, Walker and Brotherton; some of these men have spent large sums of money for their favorite object.
Let us now consider a few of the most prominent points to be effected by this measure.
It is expected, in the first place, that a great benefit will be gained by the laborers, in point of health. This, however, will be much greater in some instances than in others. A comparative view of the several branches of manufacture into which "the factory system" divides itself, will enable us to see this more clearly.
The material to be manufactured may be summed up under the following names: cotton, flax, tow, wool, worsted and silk. The three first of these are vegetable, the last three, animal substances. It is much more healthy to work the animal than the vegetable material.
Cotton, it is well known, is extremely light in weight, and its fibre is short and buoyant. It is, therefore, from the nature of its staple to be expected, that there will be a considerable portion of the "flyings," or waste of the cotton, held in suspension in the atmosphere of a cotton mill. These fine particles of cotton and dust being taken into the throat, lungs and stomach, at each inspiration of air by the laborers, engender a morbid irritability of those members, and ultimately induce a chronic disease called Gastraglia. A fixed and incurable asthma, consumption, or premature death, is frequently the result. It is also well known that cotton, but especially the finer sort, will be best manufactured at or about the same temperature as that in which it is grown; hence the artificial atmosphere of English cotton mills is extremely detrimental to health.
In flax and tow mills, the same results follow from much the same causes, viz: the breathing of the fine particles of flax and dust held in suspension in the atmosphere of these mills. There is one portion of fine flax mills which is exempt from these pernicious ingredients; but the female laborers in these rooms have to be constantly with their hands in hot water, surrounded by steam, which makes these rooms equally, or perhaps more unhealthy than the others. This is in consequence of each thread of fine linen yarn having to pass through hot water, in the act of spinning. This makes the fibres of flax move more freely among each other, and enables the manufacturer to produce much finer thread than he could possibly do without the artificial heat applied in this way.
The woolen and worsted mills are free from all the peculiarities of the foregoing branches of trade. In woolen mills, it is true, there is an effluvia arising from the oil, which is profusely used, in addition to the natural animal grease, or yolk of the wool; and likewise from the dye, in which, in some branches, the wool is prepared before its processes commence in the mill. But the worsted, which consists of the longest fibres of the fleece, must first be worked perfectly clean, and rendered as free as possible from the natural animal grease, and other impurities. This I think a material point of distinction in favor of the healthiness of the worsted trade.
The short fibres which are disengaged, and fly off as waste in the various processes of the woolen and worsted manufacture, are not of the like injurious nature as cotton "flyings," as they are too heavy to be held in suspension in the atmosphere, and accordingly, instead of floating in it, they fall to the ground.
Of the silk manufacture, I should think, from the nature of the material, and its great value, one might safely state it to be as cleanly and healthy an occupation as can be followed in a factory. Of this, however, my experience does not warrant me in speaking with certainty.
From these observations it will be clear, that to people working in factories all the year round, subject to these pernicious influences, it will be less dangerous to health to remain at work ten hours per day, than twelve or thirteen.
The second point of consideration for working classes is wages; for it is, beyond all doubt, well understood, that a proportionate reduction of wages will be generally adopted when the factory bill becomes law. The working classes, who, though often deluded upon points of speculative opinion, on account of their partial information, are generally shrewd and sound in their practical views, will see the cause of the change, and the alleged reason for it, and will ultimately, if not immediately, become convinced that a reduction of their wages, without a corresponding reduction in their taxation, and other grievous burdens, will not relieve them from the oppressive evils of which they complain.
Hence it follows, as a matter of course, that the great debt of the nation must in some way be cancelled, or removed, before the people will feel themselves much benefited by the ten hour bill.
I know there are some who will ask, what has debt, or taxation to do with the hours of labor? and what good can come of mixing up these questions with the factories bill? To such I would answer, that these evils are the very root of the matter; and the adequate causes of the effects in question; and so long as they continue to exist it matters not whether men work ten hours a day, or twelve; for these will hang like a mill-stone about their necks, weighing them down lower and lower—and not only laboring men, but all the productive classes, till the employers approach nearer and more near every year, to the condition of the employed.
The next question is, How are the people to employ their newly acquired leisure? If they resort to the alehouse to spend the evening, or to theatrical, and other places of amusement, or establishments for gambling, they will have gained but little by the change. The national system of education may do much for the rising generation, but will not affect the great body of factory operatives at present employed.
Here then is a great field for the exercise of the time and talent of the benevolent portion of the community, for the members of churches and temperance societies.
It would be presumption to suppose that the modern system of manufacturing industry, which concentrates hundreds of individuals in the same apartments, can be divested of its inevitably contingent evils and disadvantages by an act of Parliament; and that the dense manufacturing population of England can be reduced to a primitive state of simplicity and innocence of manners by a bill which leaves them in the very midst of all that is opposite and counteracting.
There are other important points connected with the ten hour factory bill—such as the commercial bearing of the question, the currency, the population, and a few others—but these I will leave to abler pens than mine, my chief object being to show the effect it will probably have on the working classes.
The bill, taken by itself, is not of so much importance as at first sight one might be led to suppose; but as a link in the great chain of improvements already introduced, and which must be introduced into the social system of England, it is of great importance.
In taking a hasty glance at the factory system, two things are evident to the most casual observer.
First, that the wealth of the country, and especially of certain districts, has increased greatly within the last forty years;—Second, that the race of Englishmen is dwindling down, and degenerating under the effects of the unremitting labor, and the insufficient and unwholesome food that their country's laws allows them to enjoy.
The creation of wealth, is, in many instances, the multiplication of happiness; but there are circumstances which render such creation anything but a blessing. When the wealth created is generally distributed, it is an unmixed good, and always associated with the progress of civilization. It is never generally distributed, but when the capitalists employed are the many, and not the few.
That the wealth of the country has greatly increased, is not a matter of doubt. This is not only an acknowledged truth, but it is the boast of the millocracy. It is at the head of all their demands—"Mark our wealth—our importance to the artisans gradually increased within the last quarter of a century? No! They have declined. Do the artisans live better? No! Many die, because they are not able to live. Do they clothe better? No! Thousands are confined at home on the Sabbath day for want of clothes. Have their dwellings become more comfortable? No! In some of the largest manufacturing towns, one seventh of the population live in cellars. Has the necessity for infant labor diminished with the accumulation of these riches? No! It has increased in successive years to such an alarming extent, that the legislature has been compelled to interfere, to arrest the sacrifice of the miserable infants. Are the artisans better educated? No! Two thirds cannot write their names, and the proportion that can read and write becomes less in each successive generation. Are they more moral? No! Crime has increased in a greater ratio than population. Has the average duration of life increased? No! It has greatly diminished. In one of the largest manufacturing towns in the kingdom, in 1822, 1 in 44 of the population died; but in 1837, 1 in 24½. The millocracy intrude on public consideration their importance as a wealthy class; they state in figures the immense capital which a small number can command; they also admit the misery, wretchedness, immorality, and degradation of the artisans.." This is the language in which their demands are urged. It is then agreed that they are opulent—that they have vast estates—that they are not only able to buy, but have actually bought up a portion of the aristocracy. We have now one point fully established, viz: that the millocracy abound in riches, which have been regularly accumulating for a series of years. This fact suggests a simple question. Have the artisans employed in those branches of trade participated in the benefits of these riches? Has their condition been progressively improving? To avoid misconception, we will descend to particulars. Have the wages of the
One of the favorite axioms of the millocracy is, "that capital owes no allegiance to soil," and, consequently, if not petted, will take wings and depart. The man was shrewd who asked what posterity had done for him; and the masses with equal shrewdness, may ask the millocracy, "what has this capital done for us?" We perceive it in abundance in your hands, but there is none in ours. You are legislators as well as manufacturers—evidence that capital has served your end, but pray how are we benefited, either by your capital or legislation? You are elegantly clothed, and sumptuously fed, whilst we are in rags, and struggling against difficulties to support existence. Luxuries and comfort await you in your mansion. A poisonous atmosphere and cheerless poverty await us in our miserable abode. You are a new order, influential from your wealth. We are an old order, who have become beggared and exhausted in giving birth to you. You are the patrons of charity. We are the recipients of it. Contemporaneous with the extension of your magnificent factories, is the establishment of a new system of parochial relief; new modes of punishment, and enlarged conveniences for the reception of felons. Capital may have given the soft pillow to your head, and a flowery path to your footsteps; to us it has made an easy transition from the factory to the prison and the poor-house! The doctrine, "that capital owes no allegiance to the soil," is one of the finest illustrations that ever presented itself to the mind, of the gross principle of selfishness pervading the thoughts, feelings, and visions of the millocracy. Capital has increased beyond the means of profitable employment—it has increased to overflowing; and contemporaneous with this excess is the augmentation of poverty, wretchedness, and crime, in the humble instruments of its creation. Does capital owe no allegiance to those who have produced it? Is it, after having been wrung out of their exertions, to depart to happier climes? Can no portion be spared to alleviate the misery which its production has occasioned? The doctrine, that capital owes no allegiance to the soil, is certainly perfectly new. It never, in any country or at any time, in its most shadowy or indistinct form, suggested itself to the mind. Important truths are generally got at piecemeal. One amount of discovery leads to another, until the truths, whole or in majestic fragments, break upon the understanding. This truth, however, sent no shadow before it, nor had it any labor-pains, though labor had produced it.
In ancient times, when capital abounded, the fine arts sprang into vigorous existence. The statuary made the marble all but breathe. The painter with his exquisite art, touched the canvass into life. The philosopher taught his spiritual and humanizing doctrines. The poet, fresh from nature and glowing with divine conceptions, awoke impassioned eloquence in the listening crowd. Capital produced these effects! Capital was encouragement, and owned an allegiance to every thing that was grand, refined, or elevated in nature.
In more modern times, when capital flowed abundantly into the lap of the Italian States, the poet, the sculptor, the painter, again felt its invigorating spirit, and threw life, beauty, and imagination over the gross realities of existence. Religion, the instinct of our nature, arose, adorned in all the captivating luxury of genius. But where is now this instinctive feeling—this love of the Deity, that prompts to noble deeds? We ask not for the form which shows where it is not. Why does the admiration of man live upon the achievements of the past? Is human nature stunted in its growth? Is it dwindling into insignificance for want of encouragement? What! remove the capital—leave the most glorious of all fields uncultivated—the boundless faculties of the human soul! Is there no duty involved in this capital? You acknowledge none. Capital, when its creation has been a blessing to its producers, has no tendency to escape. It feels the attractive influence of the soil, and remains with it. It is as loath to quit it, as fragrance the flower around which it lingers.
I have now brought to a close my remarks upon the English factory system; a system which is utterly at variance with the perfect law of God, and which contains within itself the means of its own destruction. It is now about seventy-seven years since it first commenced under Sir Richard Arkwright, and I believe there are few persons at the present day so sanguine as to believe that it will live till it is 100 years old. A new and a better system has commenced in America.
To the people in this country, therefore, the remarks contained in this book are of the utmost importance. There can be no doubt that America is destined to become the first manufacturing country in the earth. If through the good influence of the valuable institutions of this highly favored land, its inhabitants are led to choose the good and avoid the evil, as I am happy to perceive is the case in New England, the factory system, so far from being a curse, will be one of its greatest blessings. That such may be the case, may God in his infinite mercy grant.