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labour only gives an endurance which results in a settled power, next to omnipotent.
Let me not be misunderstood in these assertions, nor deemed a tyro in experience, for although my head has not become grey in the pursuit of science; nor my physical man wan and pale by midnight application; yet I can assure the young of this—all my peculiar opportunities of observation, conjoined to my own personal acquaintance with the matter, have gone to establish the conviction—that laziness is the bugbear and lion in the way; and that the Siren sloth has shorn the head, and taken away the strength of scores, who, nevertheless like Adam, grossly and wickedly place the imputation elsewhere, and say-nature was at fault.
The hare and tortoise will be a true and living fable for ever. The plodder, in harmony with the order of nature, makes slow but sure progression; whilst he, who depends upon his intellectual swiftness, and only moves on by impulse, will soon find himself sadly contrasted and infinitely distanced.
I reckon it rather a blessing than not, to have, what is called, mediocre talents; and especially, if joined with a fixed habit of industrious thought. It is ten to one, but a person liberally endowed by nature, will rest satisfied with the mere dower : like many others in the world, who take born-rank as the only thing wanted; whereas, in each case, the very reverse is true ;
for both God and the world, expect that this high position, should only be a starting post to higher fame.
The man of uncommon gifts, often becomes like a giant in a caravan, a mere object of exhibition. His great powers are useless here, but vulgar praise keeps him under restraint, until effort is irksome, and labour is impossible. How different is the case of the diffident and diligent. He neither sparkles, nor carries bustle in his career : knowing that his ability depends upon his sustained courage, he is too fearful of himself to become proud ; and the very quiet of his movements, and the fact of his humility, are safeguards against paltry praise, and idle compliment. Like the sun, in the early dawn, he hardly rises above a hillock, and for long seems but a slow traveller ; clouds and disadvantages mark his path; till gaining his bright meridian he destroys the force of opposing circumstances, and causes thousands, who once looked down with scorn and enquiry, now to gaze upwards for him, with constrained delight and admiration.
Take twenty boys, of like ages, from the form of any school in the kingdom, and their Preceptor will instantly tell you, that the chief difference in their mental progress is the result of industry ; nay more, that, in the majority of cases, the promising boy not only defeats his expectations, but seldom draws an equal trace with his steady fellow; and as rarely reaches his repute for sound and solid acquirement. This constitution of mind is not desirable ; as it is mostly the indicator of a restlessness, which can never dig long enough to reach the ore; if it be done at all, it must be by explosion : a sort of mental blast. This restlessness often degenerates into a vague and wandering mind, that begs at no door long enough to get gold, and departs satisfied with the merest trifle. It is flighty and changeful; and never sees more of a country, than its first blush of beauty and sunshine ; leaving the real possession and true value to be entered upon, and realized by others.
I have said all this, not only to remove a general and erroneous belief, that the precocious and promising are the best subjects for the Educator, and that great things can only be accomplished by great and uncommon gifts; but especially to encourage the diffident, and to offer a guarantee to every order of mind, that the KEY OF INDUSTRY will find its way into all the wards of the lock, that keeps fast the Treasury of Knowedge.
In all small towns and villages, as well as in cities and large towns, numerous social evils are allowed to exist, whose extinction would greatly improve the condition, and increase the happiness of the inhabitants. No one, therefore, will deny that to endeavour to remove them would be the course of true wisdom and of sound policy; or that the honour which such a course would reflect upon the inhabitants of a place would be equal to the advantage they would derive from it. It is equally obvious, that, as all social evils, whilst they are nourished and extended by the influence of association, originate with individuals, the corrective process must have a similar origination: nor will the most gloomy and cynical observer of human affairs, or the most sceptical enquirer into the mysterious relation between the agency of man and the Providence of the Sovereign Spirit doubt, that the influence which would be put forth by the determined and simultaneous effort of all the individuals concerned, would blend and grow into such a force as would soon expel the evils in question, even though their nature were demoniacal and their name Legion.
These remarks will apply equally to the corresponding forms of positive good, which the inhabitants of every town would do well to unite in securing, with as much ardour and diligence as a colony of bees evince, during the hours of sunshine, in storing their cells with the delicious nectar.
By the epithet social, as applied to evil in these remarks, it is intended to designate those forms of it which, originating with individual conduct, become, through association, injurious to the public interests. There is, again, an obvious
No. 1. Vol. I.
distinction of such evils into two classes the secular and the moral; the former including whatever interferes with the well-being of the present life strictly speaking; the latter comprehending whatever affects, on the more general and extended scale, the interests of men considered as accountable and immortal beings. It were easy to perceive, before hand, that these classes of evils would, and to a certain extent in what manner they should, exert a reciprocal influence, tending to promote the growth of each other : the observation of every one will have furnished him with numerous instances of proof that such is the case.
It were, further, obviously difficult to discriminate between private and social evils, in any number of particulars, tending to shew a difference between them intrinsically. They are so blended together as to suggest the course of a great river, from its original diminutiveness as it springs from the mountain side; or they would be more properly represented, in the social form, by the dark and threatning thunder cloud, whose portentous bulk has been composed by the gathering together of the smaller masses, scattered over the heavens.
Evils, of all sorts and proportions, grow and multiply their species with as much rapidity as weeds in a garden, or the baneful couch-grass of the field. With respect to the latter, every one knows that the timely use of the hoe and the plough is requisite to preserve the garden and the field from becoming, not only useless, but unsightly and noxious ; and who will question that with regard to the former the application of a suitable and timely check is equally necessary to preserve individuals and society from ruin? And, as a high degree of cultivation is required to render land productive on a large scale; so, private and social happiness will be secured in a degree corresponding to the advancement of the process of moral improvement.
Petty evils, (if indeed anything evil will bear such a designation) often disregarded because they are viewed in that light, grow, if not prevented, into the form and dimensions of great ones; and, not unfrequently, gender still greater ones of another sort. In how many instances has a slight cold, for example, for no other reason than that it was “ only a slight cold,” been suffered to insinuate its fatal influence, by an imperceptible but certain process, through the constitution, until it had succeeded in poisoning the springs of life, and in sowing the seeds of premature decay. An ominous subsidence of the bloom and vivacity of youth; the irrevocable departure of health and vigour; general emaciation of a robust frame and an untimely death have formed the punishment awarded to the neglect; whereas a due attention to the incipient cause might have prevented the so sad a catastrophe. How often, in the domestic circle, have' irritating differences, at first slight and infrequent, grown, through mutual unforbearance, into turbulent disputes and biting recriminations, until, through the frequency and violence of domestic broils, the angel of peace has been banished from what had been the abode of happiness and tranquility. Pestilence and death have grown out of the gradual and almost imperceptible accumulation of filth. And the effect of abused power, appearing at first in the smothered uneasiness of passive resistance, but diffusing and swelling, like the volcanic element, in proportion to the increased pressure of the external cause, (for tyranny will grow, if it be not crushed in the bud, until it has reached the point, at which, by its very excess, its destruction becomes inevitable) has, at length, burst forth with overwhelming violence, in the desolating plague of civil warfare.
There is a characteristic resemblance of principle and modes of operation, in all the forms and degrees of evil. Proceeding from one source and tending to one final issue, it maintains a character of uniformity in all its fearfully diversified and multiplying varieties. The progress of disease in the human frame; of error in the operations of the intellect; and of depravity in the dispositions and sentiments of the heart: the internal discords of states and of their subdivisions in counties, towns, villages, and families display a striking similarity in their principles, modes and results.
To be continued.
OUR LETTER BOX.
The Editors do not wish to be considered responsible for all the sentiments
of their Correspondents.
VOLUNTARY LABOUR RATE.
To the Editor of the Soham Magazine. SIR,
AMONGST the various schemes for improving the condition of the Labourers, during a period of the year when there is a dearth of employment, none has appeared to me to be more effectual than a Labour Rate, when it has been judiciously and with fairness carried into effect.
The Act of Parliament which made a labour rate compulsory, if adopted by a majority of three-fourths of the rate payers present at a general vestry meeting, expired in 1834; but the occupiers of land in any parish, have still the opportunity of adopting, if they so please, a valid agreement amongst themselves, so as to bind each party to expend during the winter, a certain sum per week in labour, in proportion to the extent of his occupation.
Property has its duties as well as its rights,” and the substitution of the word
property” would not impair the justice of the motto, and a Tenant is guilty of injustice to society, if he refuse to take his share of the burden of maintaining the labouring population of his parish, who must otherwise be almost uselessly employed on the roads, or driven to the unwelcome necessity of resorting to the workhouse, an alternative which causes dangerous discontent in the minds of the men, who may justly complain of being placed in the position of paupers, when they are willing to earn bread for themselves and their families, by honest and industrious labour, if employment be afforded to them.
I am aware that it will be asserted that it is impracticable to obtain a general concurrence in a proposition of this kind, and that it would be unjust to impose an additional tax on a few liberal minded men, who are already expending their full quota in labour; but I assert, and I may point to the example of a neighbouring parish to prove, that the difficulty will disappear if it is energetically encountered, and if a meeting of the occupiers is convened for the purpose of considering the propriety of effecting an equitable distribution of the surplus labourers; few persons will be inclined to incur the odium of dissenting from so reasonable a proposition.
A few hints on the practical details of such a plan may not be unacceptable to your readers :
Ist. The rate in fairness should be calculated on the “
gross estimated rental” of the parish valuation, and not on the net annual value,” otherwise the occupier of fen lands which generally afford the greater opportunity of profitable employment in claying, &c., would, if the taxes were deducted from his assessment, be exempted from a portion of the expenditure, which the occupier of a similar area of upland of equal quality would be obliged to bear.
2ndly. The amount of weekly rate must of course depend on the circumstances of each parish, but there are many reasons why it should not be fixed too high. An extreme labour rate so as to include the whole of the labouring population, would possibly be objected to by many occupiers whose means would not allow of a large addition to their expenditure, and it would induce the labourers to rely in future, more on the exertions of others, than on their own resources, and there are always a certain number of men in every parish, to whom it is desirable to teach the lesson, that idleness, improvidence and misconduct, can only result in misery and the degradation of the workhouse, and it may also be urged that some farms afford a greater degree of profitable employment than others, so that a rate which would not increase the expenditure of one occupier, might be ruinous in its operation on another occupier, who has no opportunity of expending a large increased amount in labour, with advantage to himself and his family. I am an advocate only of a moderate labour rate, which would oblige each occupier to employ such a portion of regular labour as would be advantageous to all parties, and in the parish to which I have alluded, a rate of 4d. in the pound, per week, on the gross estimated rental, has been found to be sufficient.
3rdly. The smaller occupiers should be permitted to return as labourers their unmarried sons, living with, and employed by them, to the extent of about 10s. in a rental under £50., and 20s. under £100.
4thly. Schedules containing the names, ages, &c. of the labourers employed, should be submitted weekly to the inspection of a committee to be appointed for that purpose, as it would be useless to adopt any measure, unless it were conducted in a proper and business-like manner.
I have submitted these observations to you with great diffidence and not with the object of figuring in your columns as an elegant writer, to which title I am fully aware I have no pretensions ; but solely with the view of communicating practical information which I have found useful, and which I hope may prove so to all parties who are inclined to take advantage of it.
Your obedient Servant.