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task, without the least prospect of being delivered from it ; they subsist upon the coarsest and worst sort of fare ; they have their health miserably impaired, and their lives cut short, by being perpetually confined in the close vapour of these malignant minerals. An hundred thousand more at least are tortured without remission by the suffocating smoke, intense fires, and constant drudgery necessary in refining and managing the products of those mines. If any man informed us that two hundred thousand innocent persons were condemned to so intolerable slavery, how should we pity the unhappy sufferers, and how great would be our just indignation against those who inflicted so cruel and ignominious a punishment? This is an instance, I could not wish a stronger, of the numberless things which we pass by in their common dress, yet which shock us when they are nakedly represented. But this number, considerable as it is, and the slavery, with all its baseness and horror, which we have at home, is nothing to what the rest of the world affords of the same nature. Millions daily bathed in the poisonous damps and destructive effluvia of lead, silver, copper, and arsenic. To say nothing of those other employments, those stations of wretchedness and contempt in which civil society has placed the numerous enfans perdus of her army. Would any rational man submit to one of the most tolerable of these drudgeries, for all the artificial enjoyments which policy has made to result from them? By
no means. And yet need I suggest, that those who find the means, and those who arrive at the end, are not at all the same persons. On considering the strange and unaccountable fancies and contrivances of artificial reason, I have [i. e. Lord Bolingbroke] somewhere called this earth the Bedlam of our systein. Looking now upon the effects of some of those fancies, may we not with equal reason call it likewise the Newgate and the Bridewell of the universe ? Indeed the blindness of one part of mankind co-operating with the frenzy and villany of the other, has been the real builder of this respectable fabric of political so. ciety. And as the blindness of mankind has caused their slavery, in return their state of slavery is made a pretence for continuing them in a state of blindness ; for the politician will tell you gravely, that their life of servitude disqualifies the greater part of the race of man for a search of truth, and supplies them with no other than mean and insufficient ideas. This is but too true; and this is one of the reasons for which I blame such insti. tutions.
In a misery of this sort, admitting some few le. nities, and those too but a few, nine parts in ten of the whole race of mankind drudge through life.
Vindication of Natural Society, p. 93. In the most refined states of Europe the inequa
lity of property has risen to an alarming height. :Vast numbers of their inhabitants are deprived of
almost every accommodation that can render life tolerable or secure. Their utmost industry scarcely suffices for their support. The women and children lean with an insupportable weight upon the efforts of the man, so that a large family has in the lower order of life become a proverbial ex-' pression for an uncommon degree of poverty and wretchedness. If sickness, or some of those casu. álties which are perpetually incident to an active and laborious life, be super-added to these burthens, the distress is still greater. * It seems to be agreed that in England there is less wretchedness and distress than in most of the kingdoms of the continent. In England the poor's rates amount to the sum of two millions sterling per annum. It has been calculated, that one person in seven of the inhabitants of this country derives at some period of his life assistance from this fund. If to this we add the persons, who, from pride, a spirit of independence, or the want of a legal settlement, though in equal distress, receive no such assistance, the proportion will be considerably increased..
I lay no stress upon the accuracy of this calculation; the general fact is sufficient to give us an idea of the greatness of the evil.
Political Justice, b. i. ch. v. . It is impossible that a society can long subsist,
and suffer many of its members to live in idleness, and enjoy all the ease and pleasure they can in
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RICH" AND POOR. vent, without having at the same time great mul-, titudes of people that, to make good this defect, will condescend to be quite the reverse, and by use and patience inure their bodies to work for others and themselves besides.
Abundance of hard and dirty labour is to be done, and coarse living is to be complied with : where shall we find a better nursery for these necessities than the children of the poor? None certainly are nearer to it, or fitter for it. Besides, that, the things I call hardships neither seem nor are such to those that have been brought up to them.
As the greatest part of the drudgery is to be done by day light, so it is by this only that the poor actually measure the time of their labour without any thought of the hours they are employed, or the weariness they feel ; and the hireling in the country must get up in the morning, not because he has rested enough, but because the sun is going to rise. This last article alone would be an intolerable hardship to grown people under thirty, who during nonage had been used to lie a bed as long as they could sleep: but all these together make up such a condition of life as a man more mildly educated would hardly chuse, though it should deliver him from a gaol or a shrew. : If such people there must be, as no great nation can be happy without vast numbers of them, would not a wise legislature cultivate the breed of
them with all imaginable care, and provide against, their scarcity as he would prevent the scarcity of provision itself? No man would be poor and fatigue himself for a livelihood, if he could help it: the absolute necessity all stand in for victuals and drink, and in cold climates for clothes and lodgings, makes them submit to any thing that can be bore with. If no body did want, nobody would work; but the greatest hardships are looked upon as solid pleasures when they keep a man from starving. '
To make the people, easy under the meanest circumstances, it is requisite, that great numbers of them should be ignorant as well as poor. Knowledge both enlarges and multiplies our desires, and the fewer things a man wishes for, the more easily his necessities may be supplied.
The welfare and felicity therefore of every state and kingdom require that the knowledge of the working poor should be confined within the verge of their occupations, and never extended beyond what relates to their calling.
Reading, writing, and arithmetic, are very necessary to those whose business require such qualifications; but where people's livelihood has no dependence on these arts, they are very per, nicious to the poor, who are forced to get their daily bread by their daily labour. · A man who has had some education, may follow husbandry by choice, and be diligent at the dirtiest and most laborious work ; but then the concern must be his own; but he won't make a