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and life beginning to fade comes back invigorated on the wing of the tempest. The convulsions of society not only strengthen its frame, but are the throes of its noblest improvements.
The existence of the Class, which we call the poorer order, is thus inevitable. Power can be only in the hands of the few. Wealth easily is drawn towards power. These are mutually engrossing and subservient. Where wealth arises from the sudden discovery of the precious metals, the country must be poor. The barter is wanting which those metals may represent and facilitate, but cannot produce. Where the wealth is that of commerce, it will be more distributed : intermediate ranks also will be found, and not merely poor and rich. In this kingdom wealth is not generally deposit, but capital, —it is a traffic-stock. Population increases, by a law partly obvious and partly occult, with the progress of national affluence: and the result is, that the larger moiety must depend for their sustenance on labour. This result is not violent : affluence creates wants, and the more numerous the wants, the more numerous must be the workers to supply them. Let us now think of these as a great civil division.
It is too common-alas ! it is too natural, to entertain a prejudice against this rank of our fellow-countrymen. They think that labour is their all. Is it strange that they should set high store upon it? They have learnt, they see, that it is the spring of all value. Need we wonder that they do not underrate it ? They cannot but have marked what appalling effects its interruption and withdrawment can inflict on a community. Can we be amazed that they should sometimes wield this terrible power? In all these opinions there may be the infusion of error and mistake, because naked propositions seldom consist of perfect truth. Labour is not the poor man's all,—he has a vital benefit in the property around him, for otherwise his labour could not command its reward. It is not the spring of all value, because its quantity may be so redundant that it shall be thrown out of demand. Its refusal may shock the operations of the mart, but it is a self-destructive experiment, generally inducing the depression of wages, or the abandonment of enterprise, together with alienations which no time can heal. But do the operatives alone take partial views of such questions? If their ideas are of the one side alone, may they not plead the more ready apology? Are not their employers often convicted of the most perverse blunders, while having access to every means of information ? Happily do the elements of society settle themselves, wealth and labour being equally necessary to each other.
Now we can find in the pages of ancient history but little description of this class. It was overlooked and spurned. The priest only cared for it as it gave him dupes, the poet as it furnished him satires, the monarch as it raised him sinews. The people could not, however, be altogether gross and brutish. The veil is sometimes raised to allow us a faint glimpse of
their habits. Their huts are seen and their fire-nooks exposed. Their foci are as dear to them in the battle as their shrines. We just raise their latch and look into “pauperum tabernas,” and contemplate the scene while “arator gaudet igni.”* In every negation of history there is suffrage in their favour. Its silence is eloquent in their praise. Thinking upon their numbers, their rude forces, their formidable passions, it is impossible to deny them a large renown of virtues. Kindly affections built up their homestead. Contentment blessed their toils. Resignation lightened their rigours. And though their religion was harsh and evil, yet its few ingredients of truth and morality directed and soothed their lives. There are many reasons to believe that the principal leaders of Pagan philosophy were morally inferior to the people whom they despised.
But whatever may have degraded or redeemed the character of the ancient Poor, there gathers around us a stupendous specimen of this condition. On every side poverty,—often mocked by the hope of employment, sometimes sinking into the despair of support,
-exists. We think of this class with grateful pride. Ah, were they more closely studied, they would win our admiration! Then should we see the kindness with which they help one another under every ill. Then should we observe the hourly submission with which they bear unimaginable sufferings and privations. Then should we discover their indomitable industry
* Horat : Carm : lib. i. Od. 4.
and endurance. Then would there be revealed to us, not all the comfort which we can vividly fancy, but the struggle against a squalor which no fancy can conceive. Then would there be revealed to us, not all the order which we might fondly desire, but a restraint of lawlessness the temptation to which only poverty can understand. The house-side woodbine and the windowplant declare the simple taste of elegance. The better suit of apparel indicates a sense of station and the duty of appearance. When parental authority cannot be exercised, how cheerfully is it committed to more competent direction! If the children be for a time placed under the government of those who seek their welfare, how docile do they commonly approve themselves ! Though manner be distant and reserved, how soon does a true charity warm it into confidence and gratitude ! We suffer ourselves to wonder that long neglect of the poor should have provoked their distrust, that frequent oppression should have goaded their resentment, that hopeless failure should have broken their spirit.
The sympathy of the poor with each other,—their availing kindness, their true - hearted tenderness, towards all who are more needy and more sorrowing than themselves, form their characteristic trait as well as impress upon them a high nobility. Where the store is so scanty, where the supply of the merest wants is so anticipated, where the sleep of the midnight hours is so compelled, an animal selfishness might be expected to betray itself. Shall poverty share its crust and divide
its pallet ? Shall it gather the children of famine, the benighted and belated stranger, the tempest - driven wanderer, around its crumbs and embers ? Shall it attend on sickness ? Shall it give alms to the blind and decrepit? Shall it pour its balm on the heart of helpless age? These are not its excitements,—they are its traditionary usages, its holy superstitions, its very laws. And shall we despise those who thus bear one another's burdens ? who, weeping themselves, still weep for them who weep? Where else is this exalted philanthropy ?
“ The poorest poor
The panegyric of the poet is just: his reason does not comprehend all the amiableness of the fact. It is not a “single cause :” his is but one of many.
We may especially applaud the commonalty for their domestic virtues. The prejudice, we know, is against this exemplification. General charges are alleged of unthriftiness and dissipation. The fact, however, demonstrates itself. The cottage is furnished ; a weekly rent is paid ; food is provided ; clothing is obtained ; medical attendance is requited. The