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FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS AMONG THE WORKING
CLASSES, I am about to offer for your consideration some comments upon your present, and some suggestions relative to your future, social position in Society; for the amelioration of which, I shall propose two or three plans which, in my opinion, will assist the development we must all desire.
Having for a long period resided in this neighbourhood, and had much intercourse with you which has almost invariably been of an agreeable nature to me, I have, trusting to our acquaintanceship, relied upon a welcome reception this evening. I shall not presume to dictate to or to censure you—but shall speak my mind plainly-give a "gradely” tale, with the hope my remarks will be estimated as emanations of a desire to act a friendly part towards you.
I have likewise been much influenced by the admonitions from that eminentlyłgood and learned man, Judge Talfourd, whose last address was replete with reflections so benevolent and so wise, that reference to them, and to the occasion, cannot be irrelevant or unwelcome to you. For he was an example most worthy of our imitation,--as a judge, he tempered justice with mercy; as a gentleman, he blended dignity with affability; as a man of the world, he was accurate and observing; as a man of feeling, he was charitable and sympathising: and, as if the crowning act of his public life should be in conformity with and illustrative of his opinions and his practice,-as if his spirit, so soon then to appear before its Maker, inspired him to breathe forth peace and good-will to all men,-he, on his last circuit at Stafford, and at the conclusion of his judicial duties, made the following observations, after alluding to the increase of crime in the neighbourhood :
** I cannot help myself thinking it may be in no small degree attributable to that separation between class and class, which is the great curse of British Society, and for wbich we are all, more or less, in our respective spheres, in some degree responsible, and which is more complete in these districts than in agricultural districts, where the resident gentry are enabled to shed around them the blessings arising from the exercise of benevolence, and the influence and example of active kindness. I am afraid we all of us keep too much aloof from those beneath us, and whom we thus encourage to look upon us with suspicion and dislike. Even to our servants, we think, per. haps, we fulfil our duty when we perform our contraet with them, when we pay them their wages, and treat them with the civility consistent with our habits and feelings ; when we curb our temper, and use no violent expression towards them. But how painful is the thought, that there are men and women growing up around us, ministering to our comforts and necessities, with whose affections and nature we are as much unacquainted as if tley were the inhabitants of some other sphere. This feeling, arising from that kind of reserve peculiar to the English character, does, I think, greatly tend to prevent that mingling of class with class, that reciprocation of kind words and gentle affections, gracious admonitions and kind enquiries
- which often, more than any book education, tend to the cul. ture of the affections of the heart, and the refinement and elevation of the character of those to whom they are addressed : and if I were to be asked--What is the great want of English Society? to mingle class with class, I would say in one word, the want is the want of Sympathy.”
Immediately after the utterance of these words, that good man became speechless, and shortly expired. Mr. Justice Coleridge, speaking of him, said that his learned brother had one ruling purpose of his life-the doing good to his fellow-creatures in his generation. I trust we all desire to benefit ourselves and others by such an example.
It must be evident to you, that society is composed of many classes-as labourers, artificers, weavers, manufacturers, merchants, professionalists, gentry, and nobility. But each has duties to perform; each is responsible to, and dependent upon the other; all co-operate for the general good and mutual benefit. For of what use would be our metals, if unwrought? and our raw textile materials, if unwoven ? A special blessing attends the honest results of labour, and the peacefully-gathered fruits of industry. There are few sounds sweeter to my ear than the chick of the shuttle, accompanied by some melody sustained by half-a-dozen voices, in a respectable loom-shop. The ALMIGHTY has mercifully given us all things for our happiness; but in such a state that they require the labour of man to render them beneficial to the real and artificial wants of society.
To work, therefore, in some form or another, is the lot and con: dition of all: so that it is our business to learn and labour truly-i.e., earnestly and honestly-to get our own living, "not slothful in business,"and to do our duty in that position in which it has pleased PROVIDENCE to place us.
Some homely proverbs to be found in “ Poor Richard's Almanack,” written by that celebrated man essentially a man of the people), Dr. Franklin, are well worth treasuring in our minds as rules of conduct. He says
“He that hath a trade, hath an estate." “Diligence is the mother of good luck; and God gives all things to industry.
“Then plough deep, while sluggards sleep,
And you shall have corn, both to sell and to keep." “Many without labour would live by their wits only; but they break for want of stock."
“He that by the plough would thrive
Himself must either hold or drive.” Thus in every respect, both divine and human, is labour commended; and it will not be difficult to de. monstrate that it possesses its equal share of happiness. So wisely and beneficently ordained are all the dispensations of ProvIDENCE, that each class of society has its proportionate share of jors and sorrows. No condition or rank of life is free from pain, or devoid of pleasure. The enjoyments of the afluent are more exciting; but their cares and their disappointments are more weighty and more oppressive than those of the poor.
As riches increase, ambition, pride, and covetousness too often follow, and occupy that place in our nature which previously was the abode of industry and contentment. The range of action with the opulent is wider, but the responsibilities are proportionate. “To whom much is given, from him much will be required." Your circle is more contracted, but your enjoyment of life is less artificial and less trammelled by the whims and caprices of fancy and fashion. In comparative poverty, you have something to wear; but there are some who, loaded with plenty, and puzzled with choice, declare they have nothing to wear; and well are they rebuked by an American poet, in the concluding moral of his beautiful poem, “Nothing to Wear;" "Oh, ladies, dear ladies, the next sunny day,
Please trundle your hoops just out of Broadway,
Have hunted their victims to gloom and despair;
Grope through the dark dens, climb the rickety stair
From the poor dying creature who writhes on the floor;
As you sicken and shudder and fly from the door:
Where the glare, and the glitter, and the tinsel of Time
Some of you may occasionally experience the pains of hunger, cold, and scanty clothing; but very many of the rich groan with the pains arising from excess and dissipation.
Do not, therefore, envy the rich. Remember the Divine remark, “How hard is it for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of Heaven !"
Such holy authority I quote with some reluctance, knowing we have others among us so pre-eminently qualified to explain and to teach the higher paths of righteousness. I can only offer more humble and more worldly advice.
“Vessels large may venture more,
But little boats should keep near shore." To be contented with our position is a virtue most difficult to attain ; but that it is w. wise to murmur, is humourously shewn by Addisin, in his " Mountain of Miseries.” The story is, thue Jupiter made a proclamation that every mortal night bring his troubles, and throw them into on heap with permission to exchange for any other fund therein. The old man threw in his aged partyju and got a yonng wife who soon made a fool of his. The young man got a wiser wife ; but she borts1 him out of his life. The labourer got money, which mon spent. The rich man, health and strength, which he speedily abused. The man who deplored 118 ignorance, got a heap of knowledge, which put him out of humour with his present lot, and qualifiei him for no other. The lonely man got friends, rom he quarrelled with. The busy man obtained retirement and was