Page images
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

"* 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 which 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 froin 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, perhaps, we fulfil our duty when we perform our contract with them, when we pay them their wages, and treat them with the civility consistent with our habits and feelings; when we cub our temper, and use no violent expression towards them. Bat bow 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 culture of the affections of the heart, and the refirement 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 those 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 niust 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,

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 demonstrate that it possesses its equal share of happi

So wisely and beneficently ordained are all the dispensations of PROVIDENCE, that each class of society has it proportionate share of jors and sor

And you


rows. No condition or rank of life is free from pain,
or devoid of pleasure. The enjoyments of the afllu-
ent are more exciting; but their cares and their dis-
appointments are more weighty and more oppressive
than those of the poor. As riches increase, ambi-
tion, 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 pov-
erty, 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 con-
cluding moral of his beautiful poem, "Nothing to
“Oh, ladies, dear ladies, the next sunny day,

Please trundle your hoops just out of Broadway,,
From its whirl and its bustle, its fashion and pride,
And the temples of Trade which tower on each side,
To the alleys and lanes, where Misfortune and Guilt
Their children have gathered, their city have built ;
Where Hunger and Vice, like twin beasts of prey,

Have hunted their victims to gloom and despair ;
Raise the rich, dainty dress, and the fine broidered skirt,
Pick your delicate way through the dampness and dirt, .-

Grope through the dark dens, climb the rickety stair
To the garret, where wretches the young and the old,
Half-starved and half-naked, lie crouched from the cold.
Sve those skeleton Kimbs, those frost-bitten feet,
All bleeding and bruised by the stones of the street;
Hear the sharp cry of childhood, the deep groans that swell

From the poor dying creature who writhes on the floor;
Hear the curses that sound like the echoes of Hell,

As you sicken and shudder and fly from the door:
Then bome to your wardrobes, and

Spoiled children of Fashion-you've nothing to wear!
And oh! if perchance there should be a sphere
Where all is mede right which so puzzles us here, -

say, if


Where the glare, and the glitter, and the tinsel of Time
Fade and die in the light of that region sublime, --
Where the soul, disenchanted of flesh and of sense,
Unscreened by its trappings, and shows, and pretence,
Must be clothed for the life and the service above,
With purity, truth, faith, meekness, and love ;-
Oh, daughters of Earth ! foolish virgins, beware!
Lest in that upper realm you have nothing to wear!"

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-eminenly 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,

Lut 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 Addiso), in his “ Mountain of Miseries.” . The story is, tint Jupiter made a proclamation that every moral wight bring his troubles, and

ow them into one is all with permission to exchange for any other fill therein. The old man threw in his aged pilltop".Pi un got a yonng wife who soon made a fool of li. The young man got a wiser wife; but she bore un out of his life. The labourer got money, which has soon spent. The rich man, health and strength trich ho speedily abused. The man who deployed oss ignorance, got a heap of knowledge, which pet loin out of humour with his present lot, and qualis him for no other. The lonely man got friends, -! in he quarrelled with. The busy man obtained retirement and was

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

soon sick of it. When all was distributed, the lamentations and regrets were so loud, that Jupiter permitted each man to resume his own burden; which each gladly did, and so marched off infinitely more satisfied than when he came.

Now, we need not in these enlightened days pass through such an unpleasant ordeal, but we may derive a good lesson not to repine at our misfortunes or to envy the happiness of others.

"The swelling of an outward fortune can
Create a prosperous--not a happy-man;
A peaceful conscience is the true content,

And wealth is but her golden ornament.”
Having partially considered the quality and duty
of labour, let us consider the quality and duty of
wealth, and inquire what its possessors, the richer
classes, give to the working classes in exchange for
their labour. Now, whence and what is wealth ?
It is the aggregate surplus of labour realised. We
receive the raw commodity; we work it up into
form and shape; and we dispose of it to the consu-
mer, whose payment in excess of the total cost of the
material and the labour expended thereon, forms the
wealth of the community, or, in other words, the
profit of our labour economised by our skill and in-
dustry; and which in this country is computed by
Lord Overstone to considerably exceed fifty millions
per annum, after payment of all taxes. Such is the
reward of educated industry. Contrast it with igno-
rant labour. The poor Indian has his cotton grow-
ing abundantly about his dwelling; but such are his
ignorance and apathy, that although a little rice sa-
tisfies his daily wants,—although a penny or two-
pence per day will cover all his expenses, --still, he
cannot compete with you in the markets of the world;
and therefore, subsisting upon his own actual work
only, and making no profit, his one talent remains
without increase ; that is, he consumes the value or
equivalent of his labour, and therefore does not accu-

« EelmineJätka »