Copyright
William Dealtry.

The laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society online

. (page 12 of 33)
Online LibraryWilliam DealtryThe laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society → online text (page 12 of 33)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


138 THE LABORER;

gives a bushel a month to 250,000 people. If the street-
sweepers, sewer-diggers, lamp-lighters, watchmen, and the
Members of the City Council were to work on Mr Green-
wood's hand-loom, they could make for each in Cincinnati
thirty-six yards of cloth. This is based on the calculation
that there are 1,000 of these persons to do the city work,
and they work for a year. This loom, it is said, can make
thirty yards in a day. It has been computed there are in
Cincinnati 4,000 persons engaged in selling beer, whisky,
and tobacco. These could make each in a year 1,000 bush-
els of corn. This will give to every one in Cincinnati, 195
pounds of hams, bacon, and lard. The corn will make
this quantity. It can be easily proved that 20,000 persons
can clothe and feed the 250,000 persons who live in -Cin-
cinnati. This proves that if each person were to work for
himself five-sixths of an hour in a day, directly at food and
clothes, he would have abundance of food, and plenty of
common clothing. It is by making many unnecessary pur-
suits that men are poor. Unproductive labor makes men
poor, and causes crime. A return to productive labor will
banish poverty and crime.

Thomas Jefferson was of the opinion u That no place
should be larger than the members of one's own family."
The New York Tribune, previous to the war of 1861,
says: "Many would hesitate to believe how small is the
compensation received by women for their labors, and the
amount of work exacted of them in return, if it were n
capable of strong proof. Even the skilled work of the pro-
fessed dressmaker, milliner, and tailoress, is very poorly re-
munerated. The sum received by that large class who do
plain sewing for a support is least of all, and it is often not
sufficient, even with the greatest economy and manage-
ment, to procure the commonest necessaries of life. We



A REMEDY FOR HIS WRONGS. 139

have now in our city women employed in making coarse
shirts at fourteen cents each. Two of these are as much
as they can possibly make in a day, sewing incessantly. In
a week the amount earned was not much over one dollar
and a half. Out of this they were to clothe, board, and
lodge themselves. And this was their only resource for a
livelihood, and a precarious one, too. A steady supply of
this kind of work can not be looked for."

"What is the position of the needlewoman? Far worse
than that of the servant. It matters not if she faints from

exhaustion and fatigue; Mrs wants her ball dress, and

the poor slave must labor, so that the gay robe may deck
the form of beauty. The hour of release has come at last.
The wearied girl walks feebly through the streets ; she
meets some one of her own sex bedecked with finery, the
thought flashes across the mind, they are better off than I
am. This thought is too often the precursor of her ruin.
We level the poor to the dust' by our general policy, and
take infinite credit to ourselves, for raising them up by the
grace of charity." *

" Great cities grow to be the nursing mothers of ignor-
ance, vice, and crime. The tendency in that direction,
being, as every-where, in the direct ratio of the exhaustion
of the soil. Every stage of this downward progress, is
marked by a growing tendency toward appropriation, as a
substitute for honest labor. As a consequence our Amer-
ican cities are rapidly sinking, in this respect, to a level with
the worst of those in Europe. During the last two years
the writer (Mr Brace) has had considerable opportunities of
observing, the degradation of Europe ; and to him it is
sadly ominous of evil, that our future society rests on such
a base of guilt. There is nothing in Europe worse than

* FoNTABLANQUE.






140 THE LABORER;

the back streets of New York. The lanes of Liverpool,
St. Giles, and Westminister, the faubourgs of the Seine, the
suburbs of Vienna do not, any of them, present such tnin-
gled poverty and vice as do our lowest wards." *

" In Boston there are 2,000 persons begging, or by fraud
getting their daily bread. In Cincinnati may be seen daily
600 persons during the winter asking for public relief. The
Federal Government has now adopted a system looking
toward the perpetual maintenance of an indirect tax. The
nation doubles the salaries of secretaries and ministers at a
time when the artisan finds a daily difficulty of obtaining
food and clothing for his children. Trading cities treble
their expenditures, and pauperism gaines with great strides.
The expenses of the city of New York have risen in seven
years, from $3,000,000 to $9,000,000, and the fees of the
city attorney have advanced, from a moderate amount to
the annual sum of 7 1,296. "f

This description of the sorVows of those who live in cities,
is from Charles Lamb's "Essays of Elia:" "The physi-
cal condition of the working classes, is more wretched than
we can bear to consider. The agricultural laborers are
subject to violent diseases, proceeding from acute inflamma-
tion, medical assistance is very remote, and negligently ad-
ministered ; their robust frames feed the diseases that at-
tack them; they are stricken down in the summer of their
days and die in the zenith of their vigorous health. Not
so with the mechanic; he has medical aid at hand ; acute
disorders fall light on the yielding relaxations of his frame ;
it is not that he dies sooner than the laborer ; he lives more
painfully ; he knows not what health is ; his whole life is
that of a man nourished on slow poisons ; disease sits at his
heart, and gnaws it at its cruel leisure. The incessant

* Rev. C. L. Brace. j" North American Review, No. 72 page 181.






A REMEDY FOR HIS WRONGS. 141



labor in some manufactories, the small deleterious parti-
cles that float upon the atmosphere, engendering painful
and embittering maladies, afflict with evils, even more
dreadful than the heritage of literary application. It is not
the disease to which the operative is subject ; he bears in
the fiber of his nerves, and in the marrow of his bones, the
terrible bequeathments of hereditary affliction. His parents
married under age, unfit for the cares, inadequate to the la-
bors which a rash and hasty connection has forced upon
them each, perhaps, having resort to ardent spirits in the
short intervals of rest. The mother engaged in the factory
during the period of child-bearing every hour she was so
employed added the seeds of a new infirmity to her new-
born offspring.

" Observe the young mother how wan and worn are her
cheeks ; how squalid her attire ; how mean her home, yet
her wages and those of her partner are sufficient, perhaps,
to smooth, with decorous comforts, the hours of rest, and to
provide for all the sudden necessities of toiling life. A slat-
tern and thriftless waste converts what ought to be compe-
tence into poverty ; and amid cheerless and unloving as-
pects the young victim is ushered into light.

"The innocent prattle of his children takes out the sting
of a man's poverty. The children of the very poor do not
prattle ! It is none of the least frightful features in that
condition that there is no childishness in its dwelling. A
sensible old nurse once said: 'Poor people do not bring up
their children ; they drag them up.' The little careless dar-
ling of the wealthier nursery, in their hovel is transformed
betimes into a premature reflecting person. No one has
time to dandle it, to toss it up and down, to coax it, to hu-
mor, to sooth it. There is none to kiss away its tears. If
it .cries, it can only be beaten. It has been prettily said,



142 THE LABORER;

'that a babe is fed with milk and praise.' The aliment of
this poor babe was thin and unnourishing. The return
for its little baby tricks, and its efforts to gain attention, is
bitter, ceaseless objurgation. It never had a toy, or knew
what a coral meant, it grew up without the lullaby of nurses ;
it was a stranger to the patient fondle, the blushing caress,
the attracting novelty, the costlier plaything, or the cheap
off-hand contrivance to divert the child, the prattled non-
sense (best sense to it), the wise impertinence, the whole-
some lies, the apt story interposed, that puts a stop to its
present sufferings, and awakens the passions of young won-
der. It was never sung too, or told a nursery tale.

"It was dragged up to live or die as it happened. It had
no young dreams. It broke at once into the iron realities
of life. A child of the very poor is not an object of dal-
liance ; it is only another mouth to be fed, a pair of little
hands to be innured to toil. It is the rival for the food of
the parents, till it becomes a co-operator with them. It is
never given to mirth, has no diversion or solace, it never
makes him young again, recalling his young times. It
makes the very heart bleed to overhear the casual street
talk between a poor woman and her little girl. It is not
of toys, of nursery books, of summer holidays, of the pro-
mised sight, or of the praised sufficiency at school. It is
on mangling and clear-starching, of the price of coal or of
potatoes. The questions of the child, that should be the
very outpourings of curiosity in idleness, are marked with
forecast and melancholy providence.

" It has come to be a woman before it was a child. It
has learned to go to market ; it chaffers, it haggles, it en-
vies, it murmurs ; it is knowing, acute, and sharpened. It
never prattles. Have we not reason to say, that the home
of the very poor is no home."



A REMEDY FOR HIS WRONGS. 143

One cause of the expense of living in large cities is the
waste of food. Hired girls, not being of a philosophic turn
of mind, cook too large a quantity, and then the excess is
thrown away. This will come to an end when the lady of
the house does her own cooking. In Cincinnati there are
hundreds of carts that go around and collect this wasted
food. Could the waste that is in a large city be put on
land, it doubles its fertility. These scavengers, were they to
cultivate land thus highly manured, would lessen the hard
toils of other cultivators.

There are in a large city many peddlers of peanuts, ap-
ples, soaps, needles, tape, and thread. Many of these as-
pired to be splendid merchants and failed. Some have been
clerks, their places were supplied by those younger than they
were. These consume. Do they produce ? Let the young
man look on them and be warned, and resolve to be a me-
chanic and farmer, and he will have something. If he la-
bors from twenty to sixty years of age, he will have done
12,000 days' work. At the close of life he may have 6,000
of these days' work around him, in the form of a beautiful
garden, farm, and home.

The laborer, who is the foundation of society, should ask
himself: Are all the classes in society useful? can not some
be dispensed with ? There are in large cities, eating up
the substance of the people, a class of men called Life In-
surance Companies. The managers say if a healthy per-
son gives a stipulated and annual sum for life, they will give
at his death, to surviving friends $1,000. The twenty-third
annual report of "The Mutual Life Insurance Company"
contains the names of 200 persons who died in 1865. A
person paid to them $7.62, and his friends received $1,000.
Another paid $193, his friends received $20,000. Another
paid $3,071, his friends received $3,000. The receipts of



144 THE LABORER;

the year 1865 were $2,998,130. The disbursements were
$1,540,130, which left a gain of $1,448,000. This is sup-
posed to be divided among the policy holders. The ex-
penses for postage, advertising, medical examinations, sa-
laries, stationery, and printing was $212,000. The mo-
tives in both parties is to make gain out of each other.
The Commercial tells us that these companies owe those
who have insured with them $800,000,000. These com-
panies have received $44,000,000. One thing is very cer-
tain, the people who own and manage these institutions,
must be paid for their work. For their share they probably
receive $15,000,000. As $500 will supply a person's wants
for a year, it follows that 30,000 persons are kept in idle-
ness, who can make on the Miles Greenwood loom in a
year 270,000,000 yards of cloth. Money obtained by life
insurance is soon gone, and then the family are as help-
less as ever. If the insurer had gone to the country, and
made a farm, taught his family spinning and weaving, they
would have a constant support.

Mary Wollstonecraft says: "Woman thus infallibly be-
comes the solace of men when they are so weak in body
and mind that they can not exert themselves, unless to
pursue some frothy pleasure or to invent some frivolous
fashion. What a melancholy sight it is to see numerous
Carriages that drive in the cities full of pale-faced ladies ! "
Many evils will cease when laborers leave the cities. They
are no longer places of refuge for fugitive slaves. Labor-
ers living in cities are slaves to landlords and merchants.





CHAPTER VII.



COMMERCE AND TRADE.




COMMERCE, ITS ORIGIN MANKIND NEEDED COMMERCE TO IMPROVE THEIR
CONDITION ITS EVILS AND REMEDY FRANKLIN'S OPINIONS OF COM-
MERCE REV. SIDNEY SMITH'S OPINIONS OF COMMERCE.

"The decay of commerce is a nation's strength." WILLIAM PITT.

INGS and nobles have started legislation, which
may be defined, the art of keeping mankind poor.
Commerce will do this most effectually. Frank-
lin defines commerce to be "The exchanging of the nec-
essaries of life for superfluities. It is giving our victuals
and clothes to the islands for rum and sugar."

That kings and courtiers believed in keeping the people
poor may be inferred from some of their expressions. Car-
dinal Richelieu says: "If the people were well off, it
would be difficult to keep them within legal bounds." In
the play of "Jane Shore" is this language: "The restive
knaves are overrun with ease, as plenty is the nurse of fac-
tion." Robert Owen was traveling in Europe ; a great din-
ner was made for the purpose of drawing him into a con-
troversy with M. Gentz, a famous politician, and a cham-
pion of a different school of reform. M. Gentz enjoyed
"the full confidence of the leading despots of Europe,"
and was secretary of the congress of sovereigns, then about
to assemble at Aix-la-Chapelle. Mr. Owen opened to the
company his scheme for the improvement of the human



146 THE LABORER;



race, and for arranging the social machinery, "so as to sat-
urate society at all times with wealth sufficient to amply
supply all its wants through life." M. Gentz was asked
for a reply ; and, to Mr. Owen's surprise, said : " We know
very well what you say is true ; but how can we govern
the masses if they were wealthy and so independent of us."
Mr. Owen had engraved a picture of what society might
be if reformed. He showed this to Lord Lauderdale, who
looked at it attentively, and then suddenly exclaimed, " Oh
I see it all ! Nothing could be more complete for the
poor and working classes. But what is to become of us ?'"

Bulwer, in his "England and the English," tells us of
a savage chief, who looked for some time at a printing press
in operation, and then said : " If that was among my people
I could not rule them." Montesquieu, in his "Spirit of the
Laws," tells us that the Turkish rulers plundered their sub-
jects as close as possible, to keep them from revolting. A
people must have some accumulations of food, when they
go to war.

Gov. Hammond, when he said "that in all social sys-
tems there must be a class to do the mean duties of life,"
knew that there must be some custom or usage, or some
acts of legislating, some carrying away of the people's food,
or selling away the public lands to favorites and specula-
tors-, or granting them to railroads which introduce habits
of luxury to the few at the expense of the many. These
acts make drudges of a part of the people. This senator
knew, and many of the others knew that a state of univer-
sal riches and equality would give them no needle drudges
to prepare for their wives and daughters costly robes, or
kitchen drudges to prepare highly-wrought and costly food.
A system that makes senators do drudgery will not do.

* Life of ROBERT OWEN, by Ashmead and Evans, Philadelphia, 1865.



A REMEDY FOR HIS WRONGS. 147

Says D'Israeli,in his "Curiosities of Literature :" "That
the Romans did not practice the art of printing can not but
excite our astonishment, since they really possessed the art,
and may be said to have enjoyed it, unconscious of their
rich possession. I have seen the Roman stereotypes, or
printing immovable types, with which they stamped their
pottery. How, in daily practicing the art, though confined
to this object, it did not occur to so ingenious a people to
print their literary works, is not easily accounted for. Did
the wise and grave senate dread those inconveniences which
attended its indiscriminate use?"

The Marquis D'Arginson says : "Trading centralization
tends to make the world a single kingdom, plundered by a
multitude of intendants" (superintendents.) From these
sentiments we may learn that legislation is a means to
keep the people poor and in ignorance, which commerce
can accomplish.

After the conquest of England the villains and vassals
of the nobility had only themselves and their masters to
support. The lord, to keep his people poor, had only to in-
crease the number of his retainers. As soon as commerce,
or rather ships, were invented, then the food could be car-
ried away. As seamen were wanted to navigate these ships,
they would be taken from the working classes, which would
lessen their number. The workers would have to feed and
clothe themselves, their masters, and the seamen. The
ship is laden with food and clothing, and it sails to Brazil.
The natives are engaged at those pursuits that are useful
they are creating food and clothes. The captain says to
the natives, " Quit your useful labors, and go to seeking dia-
monds, for which we will give you food and clothes." The
poor working people of England have now to clothe and
feed these diamond seekers. Another ship is laden with



148 THE LABORER;

food and clothing, requiring more sailors to be taken from
the industrious classes. The ship goes to Ceylon. The
captain says to the natives, " Your labor produces food and-
clothes, if you will quit that labor and dive for pearls, we
will give you food and clothes for your labor/' Another
ship is laden with food and clothing, requiring more sailors
from the industrious classes. This freight is taken away to
Mexico, and for it the people are set to work seeking for
silver, gold, dye-stuffs, sandal-wood, and many other use-
less things. The scholars of America, the men with cer-
tificates of learning written on sheepskin, can not deny
that sailors come from the working classes, and to feed and
clothe these lessens the scanty stores of those who remain
to do useful work. It can not be denied that those who
seek for gold, silver, diamonds, and pearls, are clothed and
fed at the expense of the poor workers of England. If all
this useless commerce were to come to an end, what a relief
it would bring. Those who produce the values that ob-
tain the products of the mines and the sea, do not enjoy
any part of them. To see a person bedecked with diamonds
ought to fill the just mind with indignation and sorrow.
To see so much labor wasted should give pain.

The Rev. Sidney Smith says : " Every rock in the ocean
where a cormorant can perch is occupied by British troops,
has a governor, deputy governor, store-keeper, and deputy
store-keeper, and will soon have an archdeacon and a bish-
op ; military college, with thirty-four professors, educating
seventeen ensigns per annum being half an ensign for
each professor with every species of nonsense, athletic,
sartorial, aud plumigerous. 'A just and necessary war*
costs this country above one hundred pounds per minute.
A pension for a man who broke his head at the pole to
another who had his leg shot at the Equator; subsidies to



A REMEDY FOR HIS WRON&S. 149

Persia ; secret service money to Thibet ; an annuity to Lady
Henry Somebody, and her seven daughters, the husband
having been shot at some place, where we ought never to
have had any soldiers at all. Such a scene of extravagance,
corruption, and expense, must paralyze industry, and mar
the fortunes of the most industrious people that have ever
existed."

The evils of commerce have been necessary to improve
mankind. There are inventions made all over the earth.
Visiting and intercourse with other nations gives us the
opportunities of obtaining these inventions, and it would be
the means of improveing navigation. No doubt the ancient
inhabitants felt themselves injured and impoverished to see
their numbers lessened, and their food and clothes taken to
foreign countries, to be exchanged for very foolish things.
Their sufferings were to confer a benefit on future genera-
tions it was to give to over-crowded nations the means of
going to other lands. Were commerce to be abolished the
poor would find some relief.

U A Chinese emperor, of the family of Tangs, said : ' Our
family held it as a maxim, that if there was a man who did
not work, or a woman that was idle, some one must suffer
cold or hunger in the empire.' On this principle he ordered
a number of the monasteries of the bonzes (priests) to be
destroyed.

" The third emperor of the twenty-first dynasty, to whom
some precious stones were brought that they had found in
a mine, he ordered it to be shut up, not choosing to fatigue
his people, in working for a thing that could neither clothe
nor feed them.

iC In employing so many persons in making clothes for
one person is the way to prevent a great many people from
getting clothes. There are ten men who eat the fruits of



150 * THE LABORER;

the earth to one employed in agriculture, and is the means
to prevent numbers from getting nourishment." *

Franklin wrote a letter to Benjamin Vaughan, Esq., in
1784: "It is wonderful how the affairs of the world are
managed. Naturally one would imagine that the interests
of a few individuals would give way to general interest.
But individuals manage their affairs with so much more ap-
plication, industry, and address than the public do theirs.
We assemble parliaments and councils, to have the benefit
of their collective wisdom, but we necessarily have at the
same time the inconvenience of their collective passions,
prejudices, and private interests. By the help of these, art-
ful men overpower wisdom and dupe its possessors ; and if
we may judge by the acts, arrets, and edicts, all the world
over, for regulating commerce, an assembly of wise men is
an assembly of the greatest fools on earth.

" I have not thought of a remedy for luxury. I am not
sure that, in a great state, it is capable of a remedy, nor that
it is so great an evil as represented. Suppose we include
in the definition of luxury all unnecessary expense, then let
us consider whether laws to prevent such expense are pos-
sible to be executed in a great country, and whether, if
they could be executed, our people would be happier or
even richer. Is not the hope of being one day able to pur-
chase and enjoy luxuries a great spur to labor and indus-
try? May not luxury produce more than it consumes,
if, without such a spur, people would be, as they naturally
are, inclined to be lazy and indolent? To this purpose I re-
member a circumstance: The skipper of a shallop, em-
ployed between Cape May and Philadelphia, had done us
some small service, for which he refused to be paid. My
wife, understanding he had a daughter, sent her as a present

* History of China, by Father Du HALDE, quoted in the " Spirit of the Laws."



A REMEDY FOR HIS WRONGS. 151

a new-fashioned cap. Three years after, this skipper was
at my house with an old farmer of Cape May, his passen-
ger. He mentioned the cap, and how much his daughter had
been pleased with it. Said he : c It proved a dear cap to our
congregation. When my daughter appeared with it at meet-
ing it was so much admired that all the girls resolved to get
such caps from Philadelphia ; and my wife and I computed
that they could not have cost less than one hundred pounds/
Said the farmer: c True, but you do not tell the whole
story. I think the cap was, nevertheless, an advantage to
us; for it was the first thing that set our girls to knitting
worsted mittens, for sale at Philadelphia, that they might
have wherewithal to buy caps and ribbons there ; and, do
you know, the industry has continued ever since, and is
likely to continue to increase in value, and answer better



Online LibraryWilliam DealtryThe laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society → online text (page 12 of 33)