Imágenes de páginas


years of age shall work more, in any description of employment whatever, than twelve hours in one day, nor more than nine hours on a Saturday; and that every such person be allowed, in the course of one day, one hour and a half for meals.

The utility of this act is much impaired by its provisions extending only to apprentices and children employed in cotton factories, and not also to those in other employments, especially to the woollen, linen, and silk manufactories. The disgusting atrocities revealed by a parliamentary committee of last session, show that sharp legislation is indispensable to restrain the cupidity of mill-owners, whose cruelties in the pursuit of gain have hardly been exceeded by those perpetrated by the Spaniards on the conquest of America, in the pursuit of gold!

A. D. 1832. The 21st annual report of the National School Society shows that education, on the principles of the church establishment, is rapidly extending. In 1826 the number of schools was computed to amount to 8399, and the number of scholars to 550,424. In 1832 the schools are computed to have increased to 12,973, and the scholars to 900,025.

[ocr errors]







Subject Defined-Different kinds and Progress of Industry— Labour the only source of Wealth.

LABOUR is the exertion of power for the production of utility.

It is of three kinds: if applied to the appropriating or raising of the produce of the earth, it is agricultural; if to the conversion of that produce into articles of use, it is manufacturing; if to the conveyance of that produce, either in its raw or wrought state, from one place or country to another, it is commercial.

There is a fourth species, called intellectual labour, without the co-operation of which physical power is

not exerted; and it is the exertion of this intellectual labour that constitutes the science and art of the agriculturist, manufacturer, and merchant.

Besides the labour occupied in the production of commodities, there is another sort not less valuable, namely, that of legislators and magistrates, men of science, literature, and the arts, the medical classes, and domestic servants: all these are occupied in the production of utility, and contribute, like the husbandman and operative, to increase and multiply the comforts, enjoyments, and conveniences of social life.

Without the application of labour, the earth is a "steril promontory." It offers no spontaneous gifts; the mineral treasures contained in its bosom, the seas and rivers by which it is watered, and the animals, fruits, and vegetables, that cover its surface, are not directly useful till they have been subdued, gathered, and combined by human industry. The coals that warm us, the candle that lights us, our clothes, our food, our habitation; in short, every thing we eat, drink, see, or rest upon, afford evidence of the all-conquering power of industry.j

As the comforts of man augment, his labours multiply. The savage, whose occupation is limited to the gathering of fruits or the picking up of shellfish, is placed on the verge of social existence. To increase his enjoyments, he must increase his dangers and exertions. The first step in his progress is to hunt wild animals, to feed himself with their flesh, and clothe himself with their skins. But the pro

ceeds of the chase are uncertain, aud, in lieu of depending on such a toilsome and precarious source of subsistence, he tries to domesticate animals; from a hunter he becomes a shepherd and herdsman-a transition that softens the rudeness of his nature, as well as guarantees him a more unfailing supply of food. His next advance in civilization is to agriculture. Flesh alone forms an unsatisfactory repast, and to obtain a supply of vegetable he must till the ground. With flocks and herds, and the produce of the soil, his hunger may be appeased: but this is only one of his wants; he requires variety of diet, of clothing, and lodging. To attain these he must become a manufacturer. He has now reached the last stage of improvement; he has triumphed over the evils that surrounded him, and acquired a power to minister to his desires, however varied and multiplied, that is only limited by his industry and intelligence.

An interest is felt in tracing the progress of society, analogous to that felt in reverting to the days of childhood. It is the season of hope, of trial, and enterprise. Whether mankind have really advanced in the order I have indicated, can only be matter of conjecture. Nations that grow up in the natural way can, no more than individuals, describe the first stages of existence. One writer (Torrens's Essay on the Production of Wealth, p. 83) thinks, that manufacturing preceded agricultural iudustry; as neither the chase, pasturage, nor husbandry could begin, without the previous contrivance of some implement

adapted to the pursuit. It is, however, an inquiry more suited to poetry than science. History shows, that new communities have been mostly propagated by slips or grafts from parent states, and started on their course with all the social advantages of the mother country from which they had emigrated. In this manner, the ancient Greek colonies spread over Italy and Asia Minor, and the republics of 'North and South America have been founded. To return to our subject.

Although labour is the great architect of our enjoyments and conveniences in diet, dress, and habitation, it is not a creator of them; like a skilful chemist or artist, it only separates, fashions, and combines, and does not add a particle to the matter of the world previously existing. Nature is the great capitalist, that, from the beginning of time, has furnished the raw material on which industry has been exercised.

The culture of the human mind keeps pace with the culture of the material products, by which it is surrounded. When the earth has been reclaimed by industry, it ceases to be an appropriate domain for savage life; it requires an occupant whose passions have been softened down, and reason cultivated. Man uncivilized, and the earth uncultivated, are in their infancy; what labour effects for one, education accomplishes for the other.

So omnipotent is labour, that it is considered by political economists, to be the only source of wealth; or of those riches which, apart from the spontaneous

« AnteriorContinuar »