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All authors may do more or less good or harm from the tendency of their works; but political writers should be more careful than others; they should bear in mind, that as in domestic life the sum total of trifles comprehend its happiness or misery, so their pen can be the means of public annoyance or benefit. The English constitution is as free as any man can possibly wish to see it; laws are as lenient as they are consistent with due regard for the right of property and liberty, and men in power ought to make justice the purest principle upon which to found their politics. A clever pen may be as despotic as a clever orator; Aristotle's favorite virtue prudence is never more essential than in political writings.
Let every politician remember, that if he show the people any particular grievance, he is the man to whom they look for redress, and a man must therefore ask himself if he can reform ere he sets the abuse before the people. The old saying might be applied,“What the eyes do not see, the heart cannot feel.”
Take, for example, Mr. D’Israeli’s ‘Sybil ;' how boldly grand is the pencilling, how impartially true the revealings, how fearlessly Mr. D’Israeli has brought forward that great national sin in our land—namely, the treatment of the poor in the factories !
A foreigner, if he asked, “What is a factory ?” would probably be answered,
“A factory is a public place where industrious hands are employed in honest toil, where children are kept from idleness and bad example; where young men and women have learned a useful trade, and can consequently settle in life without fear of starvation. They cannot be reckoned the useless part of an overgrown population.” Thus a factory ought to be described, -perhaps it is. But we must be ignorant of the facts recorded in one of the most extensively circulated books of the age, if we continue in this belief.
Upon reading "Sybil,' we find that a factory is a place where industry is goaded with worse shackles than ever burdened negroes' hands; that factories crush the spirits, and break the hearts of the poor; that no heathen can be more ignorant than factory children. Oh! crying shame, even their toil is not properly rewarded; no, their very wages are badly paid; not even paid in Victoria coin, but in mercenary bartering amongst the factory shops.
What a pity that factories should not be primitive, simple, happy places, where thankful hearts and smiling countenances are assembled ! What a pity that over-toiled limbs, pale, sickly, half-starved, half-clad beings should
learn to hate the rich, and consider him not the protector, but the oppressor! And, worse pity, that the immortal soul should be left there in ignorance of where it will wing its flight when it departs from the careworn frame ! The deceit of happiness in English factories— a deceit which has often deluded casual
observers,—may find a place in Shakspeare's general catalogue of deceptions :
The world is still deceived with ornament ;
Readers, the world has changed since the time of the Elizabethan bard,—the days are past when men were
And why should sixpence with the poor go further than a pound with the rich ? Since D’Israeli has so eloquently brought forward the miseries of a factory, we have every right to question why those miseries exist, and how they can be amended. How happy the labouring classes might be, if their superiors treated them with the respect,—yes, I say respect,— with which industry deserves to be treated.
This might be accomplished by the most simple deed.
Let the character of the man who wishes to be the master of a factory be most scrupulously investigated. Let it be as much a task of merit to obtain this post as