William Dealtry.

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

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customs, and rights peculiar to ourselves.'

"People. 'And what labor do you perform in society ? '
"Privileged Class. "-None; we were not made to work.'
"People. 'How, then, have you acquired these riches ? '
"Privileged Class. 'By taking pains to govern you.'
"People. 'What ! we toil and you enjoy ! we produce and
you dissipate ! Wealth proceeds from us, you absorb it ;
you call this governing ! Privileged class, a distinct body
not belonging to us ! Form your nation apart, and we shall
see how you will subsist ! '

"Then the smaller group deliberated on this state of
things. Some just and generous men said: 'We must join
the people, and bear a part of their burdens, for they are like
ourselves, and our riches come from them.' Others, arro-


gantly, exclaimed: 'It would be a shame, an infamy for us
to mingle with the crowd; they are born to serve us. Are
we not the noble and pure descendants of the conquerors of
this empire? This multitude must be reminded of our own
rights and of their origin.'

" The Nobles. * People ! know you not that our ances-
tors conquered this land, and your race was only spared on
condition of serving us? This is our social compact, the
government is constituted by custom, and prescribed by

"People. ' O conquerors, pure of blood, show us your
genealogies ! we shall then see if the robbery and plunder
that is in an individual, can be virtuous in a nation/

"And forthwith voices were heard in every quarter, call-
ing out the nobles by their names ; and they related their
origin, parentage, how their great-grandfather, grandfather,
or even father, were born traders and mechanics. After
acquiring wealth in every way, they then purchased their
nobility with money, so that very few families were of the
original stock. Said these voices: 'See those purse-proud
commoners, who deny their parents! See those plebeian re-
cruits who look on themselves as illustrious veterans!'

41 To stifle them, audacious men cried out: 'Mild and
faithful people acknowledge the legitimate authority, the
king's will. The law ordains.'

"People. ' Privileged classes, explain the word legitimate!
if it means conforming to the law, say who made the law ?
Can the law ordain any thing else than our preservation?'

"Then the military governor said : 'The multitude will
only submit to force. We must chastise them. Soldiers,
strike this rebellious people!'

"People. 'Soldiers ! you are of pur blood, will you strike
your brothers, your relations? If the people perish, who


will nourish the army?' And the soldiers grounded their

arms, and said : 'We are likewise the people, show us the

enemy ! '

Then the ecclesiastical governors said : 'There is but one

resource left, the people are superstitious; we must frighten

them with the names of God and religion.'

'"Our dear brethren! our children! God has ordained

us to govern you!'

"People. 'Show us your power from God!'

"Priests. 'You must have faith ; reason leads astray.'

"People. 'Do you govern without reason?'

"Priests. 'God commands peace. Religion prescribes


"People. 'Peace supposes justice. Obedience implies

conviction of duty.'

"Priests. ' Suffering is the business of this world.'
"People. 'Show us an example.'
"Priests. 'Would you live without gods and kings?'
"People. 'We would live without oppressors.'
''Priests. 'You must have mediators, intercessors.'
"People. ' Mediators with God, kings, courtiers, and

priests! Your services are too expensive, we will manage

our own affairs.'

" Then the little group said : 'All is lost the multitude

are enlightened.'

" The people answered : 'All is safe. Since we are en-
lightened, we will commit no violence; we only claim our

rights. We feel resentments, but we must forget them.

We were slaves, we must command, we only wish to be

free, and liberty is but justice.' "

Volney, a French nobleman, was born in 1753, and

died in 1797. He maintained that the force of the State

was in proportion to those who tilled the soil and owned it.


Dr. Franklin wrote this on a margin of one of Jefferson's
pamplets: "Happiness is more generally diffused among sav-
ages than in civilized societies. No European, who has once
tasted savage life, can ever afterward bear to live in our so-
cieties. The care of providing for artifical wants the sight
of so many rich wallowing in superfluous plenty, whereby
many are kept poor and distressed by want the insolence
of office the snares and plague of law, and the restraints of
custom, all contribute to disgust them with what we call
civilized society."

Archbishop Fenelon, a Catholic divine, offended the king
of France by his u Telemachus," which reproved him for
his misrule. The morals in this book are sublime. Its po-
litical maxims are for the happiness of mankind. This good
man died in 1715. These are extracts from his book:

"If he is qualified to govern in peace, it must follow that
he should be governed by the wisest laws. He must restrain
pride and luxury, and suppress all arts which can only grati-
fy vice. He must only encourage those which supply the
necessaries of life, especially agriculture, to which the prin-
cipal attention of the people should be turned.

"Whatever is necessary will become abundant. The
people being inured to labor, simple in their manners, ha-
bituated to live upon a little, and therefore easily gaining a
subsistence from the fields, will multiply without end. The
people will be healthy and vigorous, not effeminated by lux-
ury, veterans in virtue, not slavishly attached to a life of vo-
luptuous idleness.

"When they [savages] were told of nations who have the
art of erecting superb buildings, and making splendid furni-
ture of silver and gold, stuffs adorned with embroidery and
jewels, exquisite perfumes, costly meats, and instruments of
music, they replied that the people of such nations are ex-


tremely unhappy in employing so much labor and ingenuity
to render themselves at once corrupt and wretched. Su-
perfluities effeminate, intoxicate, and torment those who pos-
sess them. They tempt those who do not possess them to
acquire them by fraud and violence. Can that superfluity
be good which tends only to make men evil ? Are people
of these countries more healthy or more robust than we are?
Do they live longer, agree better with each other. Are
not their hearts corroded with envy, and agitated with am-
bition and terror ? Are they not incapable of pleasures that
are pure and simple? And is not this incapacity the una-
voidable consequence of the innumerable artificial wants to
which they are enslaved, and upon which they make all
their happiness depend.

"These were the sentiments of a people who acquired
wisdom by the study of nature. They considered refine-
ments with abhorrence, and it must be confessed that, in their
simplicity, they were great. They lived in common, having
no partnership in the land. The head of every family is a

Helvetius, in his "Essay on Man," says: U A small for-
tune will suffice a busy man. The largest will not supply
him that has no employ. A hundred villages must be laid
in waste to amuse an idle wretch. The greatest princes
have not sufficient riches to supply the avidity of a woman,
an idle courtier, or a prelate. It is not the poor, but the idle
rich that feel the want of immense riches, for which nations
are loaded with taxes and ruined. How many citizens are
deprived of necessaries, merely to support the expense of a
few discontented mortals! When riches have stupefied the
faculty in man, he gives himself up to idleness. He feels
at once a pain in serving himself. If a man were truly noble
and honest he would spend his time in tears."


Douglas Jerrold, in his "St. Giles and St. James," con-
trasts the condition of the rich and poor. "In the streets
of London an infant is found on a door step. The by-stand-
ers exclaim l God help it,' and with this easy adjuration we
consign thousands and tens of thousands of human beings
to want and ignorance; doom, when yet sleeping the sleep
of guiltlessness, to future devils their own misguided pas-
sions. We make them outcasts, wretches, and punish them
in their wickedness for our own selfishness and neglect.

"The child is before us. May we not see about it, con-
tending for it, the principles of good and evil ? a contest
between the angels and the fiends ? Come hither, states-
men ; you who live within a party circle ; you, who fight
some miserable fight; continually strive in some selfish
struggle for power and place, considering men only as tools 9
the merest instruments of your aggrandizement; come here,
in the wintry street, and look upon God's image in its baby-
hood! Consider this little man. Are not creatures such
as these the noblest, grandest things of earth? Have they
not solemn natures are they not subtly touched for the
highest purposes of human life? Come they not into this
world to grace and dignify it? There is no spot, no coarser
stuff in the pauper flesh before you, that indicates a lower
nature. There is no felon mark upon it no natural forma-
tion indicating the thief in its baby fingers no inevitable
blasphemy upon its lips. It lies before you a fair and un-
sullied thing, fresh from the hand of God. Will you, with-
out an effort, let the great fiend stamp his fiery brand upon
it ? Shall it, even in its sleeping innocence, be made a
trading thing by misery and vice? a creature borne from
street to street, a piece of living merchandise for mingling
beggary and crime? Say; what, with its awakening soul,
shall it learn ? What lessons whereby to pass through life,


making an item in the social sum ? Why, cunning will be
wisdom ; hypocrisy its truth ; theft its natural law of self-
preservation. To this child, so nurtured, so taught, your
whole code of morals, nay, your brief right and wrong, are
writ in stranger figures than Egyptian hieroglyphics, and
time passes and you scourge the creature never taught,
for the heinous guilt of knowing nought but ill ! The good
has been a sealed book to him, and the dunce is punished
with the jail."

Rev. Sidney Smith, in 1820, said : "In what four quarters
of the globe, who reads an American book?'* H. C. Carey,
of Philadelphia, has written 3,000 pages on political econo-
my. His books, for truth and clearness, exceed all that has
been written on this subject. His books are, an " Essay on
Wages," "Past, Present, and Future," in two volumes, and
" Social Science," in three volumes. He teaches earnestly
that the farmer and mechanic should be together, so as to
save the middleman. In his "Social Science" is this lan-
guage: "Why does misery and crime exist? Why, when
so large a portion of the earth is yet unoccupied ? Human
beings are suffering for food, and crowded together in un-
wholesome dens, to the sacrifice of comfort, decency, and
health. Why does one nation export food, of which its
own members are in need, while another nation sends its
manufactures throughout the world, although hundreds of
thousands at home are scarcely clothed ? In short, what is
the cause of the measureless woe that exists on the earth ?
* * * * * Seeing the great disparity there is between the
different conditions of human life, we ought to raise each
lower class to a class above it. This is the true equaliza-
tion of mankind not to pull down those who are exalted
and reduce all to a naked equality, but to raise those who
are abased, to communicate to every man genuine pleasures,


to elevate every man to all true wisdom, and to make men
participators of a comprehensive benevolence. This is the
path which the reformers of mankind ought to travel. This
is the path they should pursue. Do you tell me that soci-
ety can never arrive at this improvement? I tell you we
can come nearer and nearer yet."

Charles Fourier was born in 1772, and died in 183.
He was, at five years of age, punished for telling the truth in
his father's shop, which he never forgot. It led to this truth,
that agricultural association and wholesale dealings were
the only means of neutralizing fraud and falsehood in com-
mercial dealings. His father left him $20,000, which he in-
vested in rice, sugar, tea and coffee. This was taken from
him for the use of the hospital troops of the Convention.
A vessel laden with goods, belonging to him, was wrecked,
which made him poor. Being fond of fruit, he was obliged
to pay sevenpence for an apple in a town, which were sold
for three farthings a dozen in the country. These and some
other causes led him to frame his system of " phalanstery,
social husbandry, and attractive industry." He waited for
a large capitalist to carry out his plans ; none offered him-
self to put them in practice.

His ideas were based on reasoning like this: A piece of
ground takes one person twenty-four hours to dig it. If
twelve men are put at it they will be "-joyous and happy,
and do it in an hour and a half." Groups were to take care
of the poultry, others to work in the kitchen, workshops,
and gardens, "under movable canvas canopies." All these
groups have made free choice of the functions they are en-
gaged at. If a shower of rain came up, those who worked
in the house were to go to the fields with carriages after the
distant laborers.

Says the translator of Fourier's book: "Large cities engulf


vast masses of men in a kind of a living death, and doom
them to wear away their lives in a wilderness of brick and
mortar, amid the tumult and traffic of crowded streets, while
all nature is robing herself in magnificence, as it were, to
regale the senses of her lord, and raising her glad anthems
to Him who arrays the earth in loveliness. The artisan is
a stranger to scenes like these. The trees may be clothed
in beauty unknown to him, the groves may be resonant with
music that sounds unheeded by ears attuned only to the dis-
cord of creaking machinery.

"I do not call mere wages an index to the happiness of
man. He may vote for a representative unbiased by threats,
and yet be a slave in soul, ground to the dust. If he suc-
ceeds in getting a little capital, it is at the expense of worn
limbs and an aching brow. Something must be wrong in
our political schemes, to reduce men so low in the scale of
happiness. Man was undoubtedly placed on the earth to cul-
tivate and embellish it. He is invited, by its infinite variety,
to satisfy his ever-multiplying wants, and encircle himself
with its choicest beauties and costliest varieties. The
earth, with all its boundless riches, is a waste, a wilderness,
an unreclaimed desert.

" Labor is the lot of man. Without toil he could not sup-
port his body. That vast multitudes of men should be
doomed to the soul-deadening drudgery of beasts of burden,
is a libel on humanity. No agrarian scheme of division and
anarchy is proposed to rob the rich and aggrandize the
poor. The system now introduced seeks to show how
multitudes may be released from heart-wearing toil, and the
rich from corrupting and corroding idleness. The poverty-
stricken may be raised to opulence, while the rich may be
surrounded with additional magnificence."

Harriet Martineau has shown what a woman can do, in


grappling with this difficult subject, which few men under-
stand, nor do two men understand it alike. This lady treats
political science in the same way as Ricardo and others.
She believed that there should be distinct classes to receive
rents and create capital. Her books are called "Illustra-
tions of Political Economy," in which are interwoven the
incidents of domestic life, with its cares and struggles, its
hopes and fears. She has given to this dry, tedious science
the novelty of fiction and the pleasures of romance. Her
"Tales and Sketches" show that women can think as well
as men. Her " Manchester Strike" describes the distress
of families, and how the factory children enjoyed their long
holiday at first to be succeeded by pinching want. She very
clearly points out that employers lose the rents of their shop,
and how their capital yields no profits ; or, if the capital was
partially borrowed, how the interest diminished the fund of
the employer. This book shows how the work they might
have done was made in other countries,* and how other peo-
ple became skilled at the same work, and their competitors.
When the workmen are ready to go to work, after losing
their wages, the employer can not give work to as many
as he did, his capital, stock, and machinery have wasted.

Her books teach that laborers receive wages, capitalists
profits, and land owners rents. What mankind want is a
plan whereby they can all alike receive wages, profits, and
rents. For useless labor this talented woman had no con-
demnation. These two examples, or others like them,
should afford satire for the pens of philosophers. The pal-

* There was a strike among Paris hatters. English workmen gave to them
money for their support. During this strike English hatters were supplying
Paris with hats. If a hatter strikes and makes a $2.00 hat worth $2,25 j
if the shoemaker strikes, and make shoes at $2,00, worth $2,25 a pair,what
will the hatter gain ? Nothing. When one class strikes all should strike.


ace of Versailles was repaired at a cost of $200,000,000, for
the accommodation of 100,000 philosophers, pensioners, no-
bility, and statesmen, who were to surround the king. A
single monument cost $10,000,000. The utility of these
may be shown by the conversation of two weavers in the
streets of Hull. One said to the other: "There is Wil-
berforce's monument, it has given work to a great many
mechanics." Said the other: "If the labor on it were in
implements of industry, or on cottages for the poor, the la-
bor would be of some utility, and promote the happiness of
the human race."

Wayland has given to us "The Elements of Political
Economy" in three divisions on " Production," "Distribu-
tion," and "Consumption," which,when analyzed, say to la-
borers : You are an inferior class ; it i-s your duty to produce
and distribute, to be consumed by a superior class, clothing,
food, and other things. This is from his book: "Consump-
tion is the destruction of values. By this is not meant
the annihilation of the material^ but only of a particular form
of utility. Thus, if gunpowder be burned, if bread be eaten,
if a tree be felled, the particular utility each originally pos-
sessed is destroyed forever. And the destruction of value
takes place altogether independently of the result which
may in different cases ensue, because that destruction is as
truly effected in one case as in another. A load of wood
that has been burned, as truly loses its utility its power of
creating heat when it is destroyed by a conflagration as
when it is consumed under a steam-boiler, or in a fireplace,
though the result in the two cases may be very dissimilar.
If bread be thrown into the sea, its utility is destroyed just
as much as if it were eaten ; though, in the one case, there
is no result from the consumption, in the other, it is the
means of creating the vigor necessary for labor."


It is self-evident, that if a person spends his day-time in
learning this, he will be poor or make some one else poor.
It will bring about the result mentioned by Say the laborer
will get none of the comforts of life. Thousands have
been taught out of these books, yet they can not prevent
the increase of want and crime.

The Rev. Mr. Blake, author of "Political Economy for
the use of American Schools," u thinks it very improper to
teach the poor the nature of political economy. * * * The
rich and the poor are necessary to each other ; because,
without the rich, the poor would starve, and without the
poor the rich would have to work. * * * If, besides fur-
nishing subsistence for himself, the wages of the laborer do
not enable him to maintain a wife and bring up a family,
the laborers will gradually diminish, and the scarcity of la-
borers will raise their own wages, which will enable them
to live with more comfort and rear a family; but, as the
capitalist will always keep wages as low as he can, the la-
borer and his family can seldom command more than the
necessaries of life."

Bulwer, in his writings, seems to plead for the poor crim-
inals, and to blame society for their many crimes. In his
" Eugene Aram," he puts this complaint in the mouth of
one of them: "Why is this? The world is my treasury;
I live upon my kind ; society is my foe ; laws order me
to starve: but self-preservation is an instinct more sacred
than society, more imperious than laws."

Bulwer seems to look upon the governing powers as no
better than thieves. His " Paul Clifford," the tenth chapter
reads as follows : "'Listen to me, Paul,' answered Augus-
tus ; 'all crime and excellence depend upon a choice of
words. I see you look puzzled. I will explain. If you
take money from the public and say you have been robbed,


you have undoubtedly committed a great crime ; but if you
say you have been relieving the necessities of the poor, you have
done an excellent action. If, afterward when dividing this
money with your companions, you say you have been shar-
ing booty, you have committed an offense against the laws
of your country. But if you observe that you have been
sharing with your friends the gains of your industry, you have
performed one of the noblest actions of humanity. To
knock a man on the head is neither virtuous nor guilty, but
it depends upon the language applied to the action to make
it murder or glory. Why not say, then, that you have shown
the courage of a hero, rather than the atrocity of a ruffian ?
This is perfectly clear, is it not ? '

'"It seems so,' answered Paul.

"'It is so self-evident, it is the way all governments are
carried on. If you want to rectify an abuse those in power
call you disaffected. Oppression is law and order* Extor-
tion is a religious establishment; and the taxes are the blessed
constitution. Therefore, my good Paul, we only do what
all other legislators do. We are never rogues so long as
we call ourselves honest fellows, and we never commit a
crime so long as we can call it a virtue! What say you

"'My dear Tomlinson, there is very little doubt but that
you are wrong; yet if you are, so are all the rest of the
world. It is to no use to be the only white sheep in the
flock. Wherefore, I will in future be an excellent citizen,
by relieving the necessities of the poor, and sharing the gains
of my industry with my friends.' "

This same author, in this book, says: "The learned pro-
fessions are masks to your pauper rogues ; they give respec-
tability to cheating, and a diploma to feed on others."

Joseph Kay, in his "Social Condition of England," tells


us of scenes that no benevolent mind can bear to read of, a
father and mother and six children in one bed. In a room
in Church Lane were found two widows with four children,
three single women and one man, two husbands and their
wives. These were respectable people. Houses are so of-
fensive that persons can not visit them with medicines or
consolation. There are scenes so depraved that they can
not occur in savage life.'*

Chateaubriand, in his "American Travels," says: "The
mercantile spirit is beginning to carry them away ; interest
is fast becoming with them a great national vice. A gold-
bearing aristocracy is ready to spring up, with a love of dis-
tinctions and a passion for titles. People imagine there is a
universal level in the United States ; it is a complete error.
There are circles that disdain each other, and between them
there is not any connection. The enormous inequality of
fortune threatens still more seriously to destroy the spirit of
equality. A cold and hard selfishness reigns in the large

Fortesque, Lord High Chancellor under Henry VI, says:
" Every inhabitant is at liberty to fully use and enjoy the
fruits of the earth, products of the farm, and the increase
of his flocks. All the improvement he makes by his own
personal industry, or of those he retains in his service, are his
own, to use and enjoy, without the let, interruption, or de-
nial of any man. If he be injured, he shall have satisfac-
tion against the party offending. Hence it is that the in-

Online LibraryWilliam DealtryThe laborer; a remedy for his wrongs; or, A disquisition on the usages of society → online text (page 29 of 33)