« ElőzőTovább »
turns from the capital were not so high in reality as in appearance, because the wages of labour ought to be deducted, and probably the same exertion now would produce from the same beginnings ten times the fortune. The improvements in the mode of carrying on commerce, and its increase, may be attributed in a great degree to the increased facility of communication, and the difference between the times I have alluded to, and the present, is nearly as great as that between a packhorse and a steam-carriage. What will be the progress fifty years hence defies calculation. I lately heard a striking instance of the advantages of steam in towing vessels. An Indiaman used sometimes to lie at Black wall six weeks before she could get to Gravesend, because she had to wait for the combination of spring tides and a favourable wind. Now the same sized vessel could get down with certainty in three hours,
Before I conclude this article, I will relate, that in the earlier days of the merchant abovementioned, the wine merchant, who supplied Manchester, resided at Preston, then always called Proud Preston, because exclusively inhabited by gentry. The wine was carried on horses, and a gallon was considered a large order. Men in business confined themselves generally to punch and ale, using wine only as a medicine, or on very extraordinary occasions; so that a considerable tradesman somewhat injured his credit amongst his neighbours, by being so extravagant as to send to a tavern for wine even to entertain a London customer. Before Preston itself existed, in the time of the Romans the only port in Lancashire was a few miles higher up the river Ribble, and was called Rerigonium, of which there is now scarcely any, or no trace. If I rightly recollect my reading, the chief exports to Rome consisted of willow baskets, bull-dogs, and slaves. Rerigonium was the Liverpool of the present day.
Many people give themselves great uneasiness respecting the treatment they meet with from acquaintance; and that which should be a source of pleasure is rather one of continual mortification and disappointment. This arises from a want of reflection, or want of knowledge of the world, or from not taking pains to strike a balance, or not knowing how to do it. The strongest, and, at the same time, the rarest reason for acquaintance, is sympathy of disposition, and that operates under all circumstances. Other reasons are merely accidental, and it requires judgment and temper to understand their force; as they seldom equally affect both parties, and consequently, one party is very apt, on any change taking place, to feel aggrieved. Accidental reasons for acquaintance, are neighbourhood, equality of station or fortune, similarity of trade, profession, or pursuit, the connecting link of a third person, a common interest on
some particular occasion, tempurary residence, and others not necessary to be enumerated. When a change takes place with respect to one party, and that party either is the superior, or, by the change obtains any advantage of position, it is difficult, except amongst the very reasonable, to regulate future intercourse. There is danger of too much being expected on one side, and too little, either from apprehension or disinclination, being accorded on the other. For instance, if two people are acquainted from living in the same neighbourhood, and one quits for a better, the other will probably, without sufficiently adverting to circumstances, fancy neglect; if they both quitted for a better, the balance would adjust itself, and their intercourse would continue, cease, or be weakened, according to mutual convenience. The same may be said of equality of station or fortune. Similarity of trade, profession, or pursuit, are great causes of acquaintance; but being subject to change, the intercourse, arising from them, is liable, in like manner, to change. People are acquainted because they are merchants, lawyers, geologists, or fox-hunters, and their acquaintance varies with their occupation. New pursuits bring new connexions, and almost necessarily weaken the old ones. Acquaintance, arising from the connecting link of a third person, may very often be reasonably discontinued by the link being broken, though the inferior party may not be reasonable enough to admit it. A common interest on some particular occasion, as on an election, causes acquaintance, which it is frequently a matter of some difficulty to arrange
after the occasion is over. That arising from temporary residence is the most subject to produce dissatisfaction in its continuanee under altered circumstances ; as, to put one of the strongest cases, if a person, distinguished or sought after in London, visits some remote part of the country, where society is scarce, and the means of hospitality abundant, the mode of return is not very easy, from a want of knowledge of the world on one side, and an apprehension of annoyance on the other. The truth is, the society of the stranger ought to be considered as balancing, or nearly so, the cordiality of his reception; but his fear that it will not be so, prevents him from being commonly civil when he meets his entertainers on his own ground, and bitter are the mortifications in consequence. I could enlarge upon these instances, or add to them, but I think they are sufficient for illustration; and my purpose is to turn the attention of those of my readers, who have been sufferers, to the subject, in order that they may revolve in their minds how much of what they have attributed to want of consideration, or to slight, has been the almost necessary result of circumstances, and I hope that in consequence they may be able to enjoy the advantages of acquaintance without any painful drawbacks. I will conclude with an anecdote in point, but which I do not recommend for imitation. A distinguished ornament of London society, about half a century since being at Bath, was accustomed to converse familiarly with a sort of small gentleman, who frequented the same bookseller's shop. Some time after his return to town, he was accosted in St. James's Street by his watering-place acquaintance. “I beg your pardon, sir,” he replied, “but really I do not recollect to have seen “ Oh yes, you saw me at Bath.”
66 I shall be most happy to see you at Bath again.”
ADDRESS TO LABOURERS.
Now let us return to the other parish, where the labourer receives for his wages only 1s. 6d. a day of his 2s., and where the 6d. is put into a fund, and suppose the conditions upon which he is to receive any thing from the fund to be, 1st, He must not have saved any thing for himself, or if he has, he must have spent it all before he can have any claim ; 2dly, He must be unable to get work; or he must be unable to perform it from sickness, accident, or old age; or 3dly, He must have a larger family than he can possibly keep upon his slender wages. How will a man live then ? He will begin by saying, what is the use of my saving ?-besides, how can I save out of 1s. 6d. a day? So if he gets more by any chance he will spend it all, because he has given up all thoughts of saving. As he knows that if he cannot get work, the fund must keep him, he will not so much mind getting a constant place, or giving satisfaction in any place. As whilst he is young, he does not see much cause why he should be steady, having the fund to look to, he will take little care of himself; and as he knows that he can manage to keep a small family somehow or other, and that if he has a large one he shall have help, he will marry without thought, and perhaps repent as soon as he is married. Then he must work hard, and live poorly ; sickness comes upon himself and his family; he applies to the fund, and gets his pittance. Having once begun, he is ever after contriving how to keep on, by throwing himself out of work, pretending to be ill, or wasting his means. His claims are disputed; he goes backward and forward, loses his time, drinks for vexation, and is a ruined man to the end of his life. His example ruins his children, who follow the same course of improvidence, marry without thought, and spend their whole lives in misery. This course makes people increase faster than they are wanted; less money is paid in wages, and more into the fund, and things grow worse and worse. The few, who are inclined to be industrious and saving, are discouraged, and at last find it impossible. Their wages are taken from them, and given to the worthless, and they see they have no chance of getting any part back, but by doing as others do. And is not parish relief just this ? Not money, as you supposed, all taken out of the pockets of the rich to be given to the poor, but, in a great measure, a tax upon the wages of the labouring classes themselves, of which the most undeserving get the most, and the very meritorious get nothing at all, and of which a great deal is spent in law, or wasted in mismanagment. I am sure that in many parishes the occupiers of the land could better afford to give one-third more wages to good workmen, than to pay their poors' rates; and that here 12s. a week for daily labour to steady labourers would be cheaper to the farmers than 9s. in the present state of things. Now, I will put it to you—Would it be better to start in life with 12s. a week, and manage your own concerns, or have 38. a week kept back to be given to you only if you fall into want, and if you have any luck in life never to be given to you at all ? who takes care of himself, may well earn full wages for forty years of his time. Now, 38. a week for forty years amounts to 3121., which large sum the Poor Laws take from the man who honestly earns it, and give it to the overseer—to distribute to whom? To the idle and improvident, to destitute children,