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Peculiar views may be entertained of certain communities, of many populations. In various districts their number extends to a surprising degree. Locality, giving rise to occupation, strangely influences the fact. A coal, or an iron, field gathers upon it a manufacturing race. No immigration can account for the sudden rise. It is a nidus of a new commonwealth. The births, contrary to general hypothesis, seem to be in proportion to the density of the population. Every resistance of atmosphere, health, employment, counterworks it in vain. It is an ebbless tide. Some hitherto barren territory is piled with factories, covered with families, studded with habitations. The question is determined, -no light one to the serious mind,—that more or less of human beings may be produced. Tens of thousands owe their existence to these circumstances. But for the rich minerals beneath, these had not breathed among us. Difficulties, vast and even awful, beset the statement: but there is the fact. The gates of life are more suddenly and widely thrown open. From the time of Hargreaves and Arkwright, from the years 1767-1770, this increase has been manifest. From the opening of the present century, it may be shown to be at the rate of one and a half per cent. a year, or fifteen per cent. each ten years. It cannot be less than a quarter of a million per annum on the present population.
The state of the present population in Great Britain awakens anxious emotions in every thoughtful and benevolent mind. Its ocean-ramparts restrain it from pressing outwards. This restriction does not, however, prevent frequent discharges of it. From the Returns furnished by the Emigration Board, we learn that the number of emigrants, in the seven years, from 1825 to 1831, was 103,218, or an average of 14,745 yearly: in the ten years, from 1832 to 1841, 429,775, or 42,977 per annum. During, therefore, the last seventeen years, the total number has been 532,993, or an average for that period of 31,352 each year. This is a great efflux: but what sensible vacuum is effected ? The difference is seen in other parts of the United Empire, as when the estate is cleared, or some clan is deported. But in England and Wales, to which this Report is confined, great as is the withdrawment, it is scarcely possible, except by arguing what otherwise must have been, to prove a substantial and practical relief. A perplexity arises as to the employment of so many ready and willing labourers. Could it be shown that Machinery throws out of work any number of hands, it would be vain to do more than deplore the consequence. Arrest its powers, and what hands could you employ? The demonstration is easy, that it not only is necessary to help us to produce at all, but that it creates demands for manipulation and resources of handicraft, which otherwise could not be known. Manufacture is not a misnomer, when most indebted to mechanical contrivance. There is nothing in the labour of civilised man,
but requires some implement, — another term for a machine. When he ceased to tear up the ground with his nails,—if he ever did that brutal or menial act,he called for artificial aid. The spade, the hoe, the share, the harrow, are all abridgments of manual power. It would be difficult to prove that what was good in its incipient use, became a violent evil when it was a little more elaborated. Man, in the different branches of his manufacturing skill, hesitates not to call himself, — and feels that there is no opprobrium in it, the artizan and the mechanic.
There are hardships, indubitably, connected with sudden transitions in mechanical improvement. A large class, perhaps indentured to that division of labour which is now superseded, feels itself aggrieved. In disgust and revenge, it will give no assistance to the improved instrument. Most conceivable is it that these men should feel that society has cast them off. They apply, with reluctance, to any sort of occupation. Regular habits being broken, they henceforth prefer the most desultory. They rapidly begin to sink. They have refused to avail themselves of the increased labour which the innovation has really introduced, because their original, and somewhat exclusive, privilege has been disturbed. There was no necessity for this abandonment to physical and moral degeneracy: but the result might be too confidently expected, and may be too naturally explained. The spectacle of whole bodies of workmen, thus pauperised and thus blotted out, is, happily, very rare ; it is a stage of things which some of us have known, and which cannot happen without a heart-rending commiseration.
Several of those vents of population, which the contests of kingdoms and other national convulsions. furnish, have failed to thin the present generation, though they were most active with that which preceded it. Then was there such a havoc of our youth, such a blight upon the flower of our population, that the middle-aged “went among men for an old man.” Then a conscription was virtually at work. — The wastes of fever were ten - fold of those which now destroy our poor. Variolous disease made sure of its hapless victims. — No comparison can be maintained between the quality of the food and clothing of the former, and present, operative. The cockle and the rag of his father he would despise. Inconvenience in higher wants, and suffering from greater numbers, are inevitable. But what would we recall ?
* « Thou praisest the condition and manners of the ancient multitude, and yet wouldst decline any return to them, if Providence gave thee the means : showing, either that thou dost not think what thou declarest to be right, or hast not the courage to defend it." Horat : Satir : lib. ii. 7.
The whole population of this Country is this Country's trust. No man has home, above the meanest hut, but that home is a security for the support of his poorer compatriots. He must share his citizenship with them as equal citizens. The whole law, — not a particular statute or enactment,—both written and traditionary, — the virtue of the entire code, - constitutes this benefit of property as much the right of the pauper as the holding of that property is the right of its possessor. It is not contended that this claim is never opposed, is never harshly conceded, is never niggardly supplied. It is not contended that the ablebodied are, by any just construction of the law, entitled to a fare of comfort and abundance which the self-supported cottier does not know. The luxurious diet is not the due of any: decent subsistence is the claim of all. This demands conditions ; it is not desirable to make it so easy that it should not be indefatigably sought; the support it holds out should be accompanied with a feeling that every expedient needs to be tried before this shall be accepted. But it is no inhospitable shelter. It is no precarious inhabitation. It is not the fiction of which we sometimes speak. It is not the hypothetical right in which the enthusiastic Constitutionalist will often boast. No tribute is more impartially levied, more strictly collected, more fully disbursed. The Exchequer of the State is not more certainly supplied than the chest of the poor. Its relief is not of sufferance, but of consti