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1854. Bronght from the Lords, Uth August, 1854.
1853. London: Longman and Co. 1851 and 1854.
IRISH QUARTERLY REVIEW.
No. XVI-DECEMBER, 1854.
ART. I.--THE FUTURE OF THE WORKING CLASSES.
An Essay on the Relations Between Labour and Capital. By
C. Morrison. London: Longman, Brown, Green, and
Longmans. 1854. Although we, of the present day, can hardly compete with those golden ages of literature which have preceded, there is yet one cause of pride and congratulation peculiar to us, sufficient to more than outweigh in true glory all that the distinguished works of our literary predecessors could lay claim to. Within the last few years, the noblest object which could occupy the mind or pen of man,
the moral and social reformation of the humbler classes, the elevation of his fellow man, has been the subject of enquiry and discussion, of thought and industry. Even our writers of fiction have, with a singular zeal and earnestness, forced upon the public mind the monstrous anomalies in our social system, and exercised an influence for good, the importance of which it is impossible to estimate. Until but very recently there was an utter absence of inforination on matters connected with the well being of the great masses. No doubt, individuals amongst those who have preceded us have done much, and in some instances might almost put us to the blush in dispensing charity, in relieving the sick, the destitute and the needy.
Occasionally too the sufferings of the ill-paid and over worked artizan have, incidentally to the developement of their plots, been painted by dramatists and novelists. It has, however, been reserved for the present generation to inaugurate a species of literature, in its fiction systematically aiming at the education of our humbler fellow men, by calling attention with painful accuracy to their privations and mental and physical wretchedness, and in its more serious works upon VOL IV.- NO XVI.
the social frame work discussing, and pointing out the means by which these privations and this wretchedness may be avoided, and a great and natural amelioration of the vast human family may be effected. In offering these observations we do not lose sight of the immense number of tracts and essays, purporting to have this object in view, produced by the French Revolution; we look upon these however, (as all who have considered them with care and as experience bas proved them,) as the lucubrations, in most instances, of designing knaves, for political or selfish purposes, and in the few cases, of hot-headed fanatics and visionaries, actuated more by a desire of putting some private scheme into practice and of experimentalizing, than by motives of pure humanity and christian charity,
There is one prejudice in the public mind which must be removed, one general misconception which must be set rightthat with regard to what is called Political Economy. It is generally supposed to be one of those abstruse sciences, the difficulties of which are enhanced by the use of peculiar terms with arbitrary meanings, much more difficult and uninteresting and much less important to the public at large, than cubic equations, the differential calculus, or the theory regarding the polarization of light. Not alone the humbler classes know nothing of it, but with the exception of those who have received a University education, but very few of the middle or upper classes are at all acquainted even with its more general principles. That with several of its branches there is some accuracy in these notions, as to its difficulty, is true; but with regard to those great and immutable laws which regulate the prices of human food, and raiment, and all other articles necessary for man's support or comfort, which fix the rate of wages, and the remuneration which the workman shall receive from his employer, whether domestic servant, farm laborer, manufacturing operative, or skilled tradesman and mechanic, those great truths which elucidate the problems as to the causes of want and plenty, of brisk employment and consequent prosperity to the middle class, and comfort to the masses, and of stagnation of trade, and consequent bank
, ruptcy and suffering to one class, and of actual famine to the other, to acquire a general knowledge, nay more to understand the reasons and universality of these rules, is within the grasp of the ordinary intelligence of mankind, and requires for a