To those who think and speak thus, may it not be said, If you think thus, and speak thus, then do thus. It is by no means the object to form a great joint-stock charity-doing monopoly: the more numerous and the more active those are whose names do not appear, the better satisfied, I am sure, will be those whose names do appear. If you do not like charity by association, see that private charity is energetic; and those you complain of, will not complain of you.
But I think they will flatter themselves that at the same time your private efforts will be powerfully seconded by the organisation you dislike. Will it not be easier for you to retrench now that retrenchment is not likely to be mistaken? Breakfast parties, and wine parties, &c., &c., are as it were the currency of hospitality: you cannot alter this ‘coin of the realm’ of entertainments without coming to some common understanding. And to come to that common understanding some degree of undesirable publicity may surely be endured.
A second objection, of a different kind, rests upon the statement that a great number of undergraduates receive no fixed allowance from home; what they do not spend, they do not receive. Of course in those cases, where all that can be saved is welcome at home, nothing further can be said: no retrenchment can be urged, because it is presumed no retrenchment can be made. In all others may it not be asked, Is it true that you have not, in point of fact, what comes to the same thing as an allowance? a sum of money which you are expected to call for, beyond which you are expected not to go, and up to which you would think yourself justified in spending for your own gratification. The sum which last year the paternal purse would have freely given for ices, will it this year refuse for almsgiving? What with a safe conscience you would have asked for then, will not your conscience suffer you to petition for now? But be this as it may—for economy is a duty towards friends and parents sadly enough neglected in Oxford—one thing may and must be said. Do not, in the name of common sense, first refuse to give, because the money is not yours, and then go and spend on yourself, because it is your father’s.
You are not called upon, you think, to be your father’s almoner: he is his own almoner: ‘let it be so. But may it not be at this season permitted you to strengthen his hands in this capacity? Will not the money which your economy here will leave at his disposal, find its way, think you, into the hands and mouths and hungry stomachs, if not of Irish, yet of English labourers? We shall find, I think, soon, some reason to believe that for the sake of all it is at this present time most incumbent on all, if not to give, at any rate not to consume. Why are operatives out of work in Yorkshire and Lancashire? Why are farm labourers receiving in these midland and southern counties wages at all times small, at this time and with these prices of corn, barely enough to keep soul and body together? why is not work, more and more than enough, provided, as was expected, by railways? Pendent opera interrupta. Why—why is it, or how? Not because there is no useful work to be done; no orders from abroad for cotton goods; no agricultural improvements possible; no lines of railway worth the making. No. Why indeed, or how, but because there is not money to pay the expenses of the working; to buy cotton for the operatives to turn into calicoes; to buy tiles for draining; or iron and bricks and mortar for railways. God, by a sudden visitation, has withdrawn from the income He yearly sends us in the fruits of His earth, sixteen millions sterling. Withdrawn it, and from whom? On whom falls the loss? Not on the rich and luxurious, but on those whose labour makes the rich man rich and gives the luxurious his luxury. Shall not we then, the affluent and indulgent, spare somewhat of our affluence, curtail somewhat of our indulgence, that these (for our wealth too and our indulgence in the end) may have food while they work, and have work to gain them food? He who at this moment saves money (I say not to send to Skibbereen, but) to lay out in some profitable investment, to lend to master manufacturers for buying cotton, or landlords for draining, or railway companies for excavating—yes, he who but buys into the funds, does more a great deal—yea, more, as something is more than nothing, as plus is more than minus, than he who spends, albeit for the benefit of the trade, in wines, and ices, and waistcoats.
So is it, as a general rule, and must be; he who eats his cake, cannot have it; he who saves it may change it for bread, and that bread may maintain men at work. So is it as a general rule: yet there are surely modifications. And here we come to the great objection, ‘the tradesman’s’ objection I may call it, which is the most important by far of all that have been urged against this system of retrenchment. You are taking the bread out of the mouths not of ‘wealthy tradesmen’ only, but ‘wealthy tradesmen’s’ far-from-wealthy work-people. Do you think all that tailoring, and man-millinery making, that cooking, and that horse-tending, that serving and waiting was done by nobody? Will nobody stand idle and hungry, because you have changed your mind? Had you not, as it were, rung your bell for them, and now when they wait your commands have you nothing to say? Had you not, in point of fact, engaged their service, and now do you, without warning, dismiss them? If they suffer by it, are you not in the wrong? If they starve, is not yours the guilt? Doubtless, indeed, if in this country any man in any place starve, a verdict of guilt, less or greater, must I fear be brought, not, as in Irish juries, against Lord John Russell, but against the wealthy and luxurious of this wealthy and luxurious land. ‘We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul when he besought us and we would not hear.’ Their suffering is on our heads. But the question is, Who had best suffer? those who are working to bring things right, or those whom we could not save from suffering without crippling our means for all? Which must be put on shortest allowance, the able soldier or the camp-follower? Which must be dismissed, in this household that must be reduced, the farm labourers or the valets and lady’s maids?
Surely Irish newspapers long ere this should have made us see how reproductive labour differs from unreproductive. Most true it is that the indulgences of Members of this University are the means of providing a livelihood for a large staff of shopkeepers and shopkeepers’ work-people, tailors and confectioners, ostlers and waiters. Most true it is. Yet except for the mere enjoyment so received by us, the customers, our money is a mere waste. We are employing for our enjoyments, men who might by devoting their skill and their strength to the farm, the factory, the ship, and the railway, increase our stock of food, and our facilities for obtaining and transmitting it. Or, ultimately, if useful employment fail here, we should have money in our hands for removing superfluous labourers to a field where not labourers but land is superfluous.
At no time whatever, I believe, can our large expenditure upon objects of luxury be justified: at a time like this, when we know that wages paid to those who work in the farm and the factory will bring us corn, while wages paid to Oxford tradesmen will only increase our own useless consumption, I see not how any doubt can be felt.
The ship is stranded and short of provisions, but a port full of supplies is at hand; and they who control the matter will not victual the boat’s crew that should go to obtain them, because forsooth it would straiten the allowance of their cabin boys, and cooks, and waiters. And that these forsooth may earn their food, and their masters have an excuse for feeding them, these masters bid them continue their functions—consume precious flour in pies and pasties—precious meats in wasteful made-dishes—for their own over-eating. Alas, that mutato nomine de nobis fabula narratur.
You will say, I am pleading the cause not of Irish peasants, but of English factory people and excavators. I am pleading the cause of both. Is it not English labour that has this year kept Ireland alive? What is to do the kind office in the next year? Mainly, I fear, English labour again. Yet may we not hope, too, that if we keep alive Irishmen in their wretched Skibbereens, we shall preserve not only hungry mouths, but also strong hands that in the end will do work. But it is true; I plead for both.
And for the tradesmen and the tradesmen’s work-people, what can be done? Surely it is idle to keep up an unnatural and vicious demand which finds no better means of feeding one set of men than wasting food on another. We are guilty, I think, in having brought this state of things upon ourselves, that many families depend for their present sustenance on the continuance of such a system. One thing however there is, which will relieve at any rate the tradesmen, and through them perhaps do something for their dependents: and that is, paying bills. I for my part urge no man to give alms at this time, till he has paid his debts. It is not, I think, due to the tradesmen to go on spending; but to pay for what has been received, I think is due.
Here then we come to another objection, the soundness of which I have at once admitted. It is said, If I save at all, I must save to pay my debts; we must be just before we are generous. It is said, and said most fairly. But is it never added (how fairly, I will not ask), I will therefore not save at all. Why should I, this year more than last year? My savings will not go to the Irish; why need I have savings at all? And therefore while others starve I will surfeit; while others cry out for husks, and submit if they cannot have them, I, no less loudly, will clamour for a new pleasure, and be indignant if it is not found me. And therefore if this affliction should be, as in some degree it surely will be, continued into another year, or extended, no unlikely event, in some form or other into England itself, I shall still be helpless, still have the same ready plea for doing nothing, the same happy excuse for self-indulgence. Verily it is to be feared there are some, who with money in their pockets will refuse to give to the Irish, because they owe sums to tradesmen; neglect to pay their tradesmen, because paying tradesmen is not giving to Ireland; and so in the end will do neither, will let their bills go on increasing, and spend their ready money on extra amusements not to be had without it. It is not impossible there are men, who will say, What money I have I owe to Bennett, or Bickerstaff; however, as Bennett and Bickerstaff are not famishing, they may as well wait; and then I shall have my money to take me up to town, to carry me to the opera, to pay my way in my long vacation continental excursion.
What then! truly, indeed, if Bennett and Bickerstaff are not famishing and may as well wait, why, you may as well not go to the opera, and pay your opera’s price to keep your countrymen alive. But do not suppose it is I who so advise. Pay your debts by all means. Surprise Bennett with bank-notes, and gratify Bickerstaff with gold. There is need, as we saw just now. I ask you not to be generous before you are just; I only bid you make haste and be just that you may be generous the sooner. I only beseech you not to say (they are indeed ‘vain words’), I cannot be generous, and as for being just, that will do a year hence. Pay if you can; if you cannot, why, cripple not at any rate your means for generosity alike and justice in years to come. In any case and every case, let not the sky which in Ireland looks upon famishment and fever, see us here at Oxford in the midst of health and strength over-eating, overdrinking, and over-enjoying. Let us not scoff at eternal justice with our champagne and our claret, our breakfasts and suppers, our club-dinners, and desserts, wasteful even to the worst taste, luxurious even to unwholesomeness,—or yet again by our silly and fantastic frippery of dandyism, in the hazardous elaboration of which the hundred who fail are sneered at, and the one who succeeds is smiled at.
I know not if there be any who venture on the bold declaration, The money is mine, and I will have the good of it; I have got, and I will spend; the Irish have not, and they must do without. Something too much however approaching to this feeling undoubtedly does exist. In the ravelled and tangled skein, of which is constituted the content and quietness of conscience enjoyed by us, the purse-aristocracy of England, this thread, I think, may here and there be detected even by unskilful fingers. To these sticklers for the rights of property it is worth while putting one question. If you had been wrecked the other day in the Tweed steamer, and had been successful in reaching the place of safety in the rocks, would you, if the articles of food secured there from the waters had happened to belong to your own peculiar private storeswould you, I ask, have entertained a thought that to you exclusively belonged the right to enjoy them? This barrel of biscuits is marked with my letters, and was always known to be mine; did I not pay for it? mine has come, all the better for me, yours has not, all the worse for you.
O ye, born to be rich, or at least born not to be poor; ye young men of Oxford, who gallop your horses over Bullingdon, and ventilate your fopperies arm-in-arm up the High Street, abuse if you will to the full that other plea of the spirits and thoughtlessness of youth, but let me advise you to hesitate ere you venture the question, May I not do what I like with my own? ere you meddle with such edge-tools as the subject of property. Some one, I fear, might be found to look up your title-deeds, and to quote inconvenient Scriptures.
The Institution of Property, he might urge, is all well enough as a human expedient to secure its reward to industry, and protect the provident labourer against the careless and idle. But for half-million-per-annum fortunes, fifty-mile-long estates, and may-I-not-do-what-I-please-with-my-own proprietors, some other justification, it would seem, must be sought. Sought and found. Found it must be by owners, or looked for it will be by others.
For consider it, he might say, a little more closely. How come you to have money? It comes from your father. Then your father or your father’s father, we hope—(for by begging, stealing, or serving, all men live, said Mirabeau)—your ancestor, we hope, in time past, did service to receive it; worked for it; earned it. And who gave him that work to do? Many a strong man have we known in our days begging for work, no matter what, to save him from starving. The will to work, plain enough, is not all: Archimedes must have his που στω the workman his somewhat to work at: man labours not ‘as one that beateth the air.’ Who was it then, who, when your father or father’s father asked for work, gave it him? Ultimately you most likely will find it was He who gave us the earth. Ultimately it is the earth that forms our wealth and our subsistence. Philosophers and merchants, poets and shopkeepers, soldiers, sailors, tinkers, tailors—in our most spiritual, as in our most material productions, we all alike start in this, in the earth have our που στω and ποθεν εσθιω, our work to work at.
And ‘the earth hath He given to the children of men.’
Not, says the Scripture, to the children of the rich, or of the noble, or of those who have had it hitherto; not to the well-bred and well-educated—rather, it might seem, to the children of those by the sweat of whose brow it is subdued.
So might some one put it. And far more near to the truth do I deem it would be to declare, that whoever is born into the world has a just claim to demand therein and therefrom work and wages for work; is bound to do his part in the labour, and entitled to expect his proportion in the fruits; even as in some Alacran shipwreck; each new-comer, sævis projectus ab undis (it is the old Lucretian image), may be called upon to share in the toils, and may demand to share in the food; and no old citizen of the rocks shall dare to say, We may monopolise the work alike and the pay; we have hands enough for the work, and we will have no new mouth for the victuals;—far truer, though not the whole truth, I think would this be than the fairest human-law theory of sacred indefeasible monopoly vested in hereditary lords of creation. We have heard of the old oppression of ‘the lord’s mill.’ Even so, if a capitalist now should buy all the cotton factories of the land, and then say, ‘I have you in my power, and you must pay me what price I will,’ would modern society bear it? How much more when, not for cotton-twist, but for meat and drink and all things, there is one sole machine, not made with hands, not capable of duplication, this terraqueous globe that moves incommunicably tied to one unchanging orbit.
Nor need we fear to acknowledge this principle freely. There is enough sense of fairness in the world to let the sacred institution of property find itself a basis secure and unassailed in that other great principle, ‘If a man will not work, neither let him eat.’ Let that apostolic limitation of that primitive-Christian state of things where ‘they had all things common,’ be our guide and interpreter. Let us find in it the Christian exposition of the old covenant eighth commandment. So far, as without encouraging present idleness and improvidence, without encroaching unduly on provisions for posterity, it were possible to equalise the distribution of labour, so far were that equalisation a duty. And, as it is, when we punish the starving man who steals the loaf, it is not because either the baker or we have an exclusive right to it, but because society at all hazards must avoid putting a premium on laziness.
It is of course utterly foreign to my meaning to do anything but find a secure basis for the rights of property; to impugn them were idle. But as legal justice must be corrected by equity, so must justice as administered by the laws of property be modified by the equity of a higher though less definite rule; and as the distinction between legal and equitable justice was considered worthy of observation, so too let not this be despised. Let it be fairly felt that what we call bounty and charity is not, as we fain would persuade ourselves, a matter of gratuitous uncalled-for condescension—as of God to men, or men to meaner animals, as of children feeding the robins, or ladies watering their flowers, but on the contrary a supplementary but integral part of fair dealing; the payment of a debt of honour. Let however this conviction be treated as it may, it cannot at least be denied that in great calamities a higher law, ‘a law within the law,’ steps in to supersede that of property. What we should feel to be right on an Alacran reef is, in its measure, applicable to a Skibbereen famine; to appropriate is to steal. As a matter of pure justice and not of generosity, England is bound to share her last crust with Ireland, and the rich men to fare as the poor.
Some things perhaps might be found to modify this: of that anon: meantime have we not a nearer objection in the fact of Irish idleness and Irish improvidence? To this I shall only answer that the failure of the potato crop was surely a matter beyond the province of human foresight, and that with respect to the labouring classes it may be greatly questioned whether they have ever yet been anything like fairly tried.
And now then some one will tell us—that society has higher objects than the preservation of the lives of individual members. A great heritage of civilisation, of law, and thought, and religion has come to our hands: shame upon this generation, if for the sake of prolonging to some wretched and short-lived beings their brief tenure of misery, we sacrifice our father’s hard-won gains. Better that many perish than that the nation lose a Bacon, a Burke, or a Shakspeare. There are things worse than starving. True indeed it is, and in this, or something like this, is founded the justification of inequality of ranks. True indeed, and truly well worth the knowing. As ignorant and unrefined parents stint themselves to secure knowledge and refinement for their children, so the laborious poor of the land support, at their painful cost, the aristocracy of the rich and educated. And so long as it is indeed an aristocracy—forgetful though it may be and unfilial too—they do it, and do it with joy, as of a parent. But if cultivation be so great a thing, has it no such ingredients as mercy and justice? Enjoyment is good; and refined enjoyment better than coarse. Wine is better than gin; and the alehouse inferior to the opera: vilius argentum est auro, but also virtutibus aurum. As it is the pure service of God, so may it not be also the true cultivation of man, ‘to visit the orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world?’ If there are things worse than starving, there are also things better than eating and drinking.
And as this our English aristocracy draws its recruits almost exclusively from the newly rich, what, may we ask, is the most fitting lesson it should inculcate upon them, what discipline and what drill should it place them under? Shall it meet them half way with the precept of, Expense and ostentation? Shall it say, Your business as a member of the best part of the English nation is to entertain, to give good dinners, and see the world, to have houses larger than you want, servants more than you want, carriages more than you use, horses more than you have work for? Is this to be the talismanic tradition handed down from chivalrous days to the new generation; is this the torch of wisdom and honour which our feudal aristocracy transmits to the new one that succeeds it? Is this all which they can give us whose boast it is to belong to the historic being of England—to be the conducting medium through which the past sends its electric power into the present, Eating and drinking, and (we must remember that, I suppose) a dash of gentlemanly manner?
To what result then do we come? To something like this.
First of all, that the welfare of the nation does undoubtedly require the existence of a class free for the most part to follow their own devices; that it is right that there should be men with time at their disposal, and money in their purses, and large liberty in public opinion; men who, though thousands and tens of thousands perish by starvation, stoically meanwhile in books and in study, in reading, and thinking, and travelling, and—it would seem too, enjoying, in hunting, videlicet, and shooting, in duets, and dancing, by ball-going and grousing, by dejeuners and deer-stalking, by foie-gras and Johannisberger, by February strawberries and December green peas, by turbot, and turtle, and venison, should pioneer the route of the armies of mankind; should, any intrepid forlorn hope, lead the way up the breach of human destiny to the citadel of truth; and, devoted priests and prophets, solve some more than ‘Asian mystery’ by pilgrimage to the Palestine of Cockaigne! But that how-ever essential be these higher classes, still there remains the question, Is there not a holier land than Cockaigne; is not temperance as efficient a sapper and miner as wine of Burgundy; is not labour better than enjoyment; is it not higher cultivation ‘to do justice and mercy, and walk humbly,’ than to ‘eat and drink and be drunken;’ and though thought and study be glorious, may we not combine ‘plain living and high thinking;’ though science, and art, and philosophy be divine, is not charity ‘yet a more excellent way?’
In the second place, looking backward through our discussion, we recur to the thought that property is scarcely, by law or gospel, that inalienable personal, individual thing, which we that have it would believe it to be. As in the dangers and distresses of society great characters are for the first time seen, and as soon as seen are recognised, while rank, and wealth, and titles are forgotten; even so in calamities and horrors the old laws of meum and tuum shrink to nothing, while a loftier principle reveals itself, and no man gainsays it.
The sons of deceased public servants—yea, the living workers themselves—possess no indefeasible title to those lands, and goods, and monies, which they call their earnings. Their lands come to them saddled with indefinite rent-charges, reservations, and reversional interests—the poor and the needy that are, and that shall be, have a lien on their monies and their chattels. Beyond the reach of all statutes of limitation there are bills that must be liquidated, creditors that must not be deferred. Many yet shall come in from the highways and hedges, and join in the meal with us that came early: a posthumous brother is yet to be born, to share and share alike in our father’s bequests.
|Terraque mancipio nulli datur, omnibus usu.|
He from whom came man’s primal raw material—that Pharaoh, who fed while the harvest yet was lacking;—He retains, and to those whom He shall send his due, in their proportion, that which hath come of it. Without Him we could not have laboured: that which His gift was to us, it is His will our labour should be found to others. ‘The earth hath He given to the children of men.’
No such thing can there be as a right to do what you will with your own. The property is not your own: scarcely your own at any time; during times of calamity in no wise, except to do good with and distribute. Neither again can you plead the good it does you: who made thee to differ? you cannot even plead the good which your cultivation, so obtained, does the nation; that cultivation could be better obtained without it. Nor yet that you are patronizing arts and sciences; genius, and skill, and knowledge. You are so, no doubt—but the thing could be done as well and better if you employed painters and architects—engravers and jewellers—builders and engineers—not upon your own dining-rooms and drawing-rooms; but upon churches, and schools, and hospitals, public works and public institutions. And that patronage would be as superior to the present, as the patronage of painting, properly so called, to that of the painting of portraits. Yet even for that higher kind this is hardly the season. Neither, again, can you defend yourselves on the ground of the ‘benefit of trade.’ Burn your candles, if you please, at both ends—to make your blanket longer cut off from the top to piece on at the bottom; but this is too serious a matter for playing with transparent fallacies.
But I am running into idle repetitions, and telling a twicetold tale: what is it then that I call upon you to do? Join the Association? Not I. Do as you please about that. But about one thing you must not do as you please. You must not insult God alike and man with the spectacle of your sublime indifference. The angels of heaven, one might believe, as they pass above those devoted shores, in gazing on that ordained destruction let fall untasted from their immortal lips the morsel of ambrosial sustenance. If we, as they, were nurtured on other food than our brothers, if no gift of ours could help to allay those pangs of famine, still methinks this undisturbed, unrestrained fruition were not wholly free of guilt. How much more when every crumb we touch is abstracted from that common stock, which in the eternal registers is set down, I fear, as scarcely less theirs than ours.
If then it is really the case that past extravagance has brought upon you present helplessness, if all you have and all you can this year expect is forfeit, ere it come to your hands, to the purveyors of past indulgence, wherefore, I beseech you, go on in that same foolish course? You need not, you ought not, you must not. Pay if you can: it is the tradesman’s due; he too has his difficulties, he too has his duties of charity: pay if you can; if you cannot, retrench in any wise; let no childish fear of alarming suspicions, of awakening unpleasant importunities, withhold you; in the end it will surely be the best for creditor alike and debtor. Let not duns or imagination of duns frighten you into folly redoubled. Join, if you please, the Association: it professes no more than retrenchment for the sake of the Irish: you need not, in my judgment, pay one farthing to the box, you are serving its purposes otherwise. And it may perhaps be some assistance to your purposes of economy, it may give you a sort of vantage-ground of joint recognition, to place your name, either in manuscript or print, among its members. But about this I profess a most supreme incuriousness. Only, for Ireland’s sake, and England’s, and your own,—abstain, be temperate, and save.
Will you tell me that the little we can do is too little to be worth doing at all? Surely for our own satisfaction simply it should be done. But further: do you not know that through increase of consumption in the year before last, the returns of customs and duties were raised by hundreds of thousands of pounds? I say, the mere customs and duties upon the increase. What is true of increase in the one way, will I think be admitted true of decrease in the other. If by the mere tax on our increased eating and drinking the exchequer filled so fast: will the total decrease amount to so very small a trifle?
Will you tell me finally that all this is the hot fume of a distempered imagination? that I am rather letting my fancy rest on what one saw in Oxford during last summer term, than looking steadily on what is occurring in this? that I am haunted by the ghosts of forgotten champagne bottles, the spectra of long-worn-out waistcoats, the simulacra of the fruits and the ices of Whitsuntide ’46?
The shopkeepers, I am told, profess to feel a difference. Surely they did not count on exactly the same thing again! I trust indeed there is a difference. But then the weather has been so bad. Who wants ices with the wind N.N.E.; who likes Nuneham or Godstowe in the rain? When all the watering-pots of heaven are playing upon High-street, there will hardly be a quorum for examining one’s toilet. I only wish one could feel any sort of security that five or six fine warm suns would not make a great difference the other way; would not provoke the same exuberance of extravagant pleasure-hunting which shot up with such rank vegetation in the heats of last June. With the roses and the May will come out, I greatly fear, the champagne and the claret. For my own part, if the corn could only ripen in it, I could wish for rain and cold to the end of the chapter.
Or will you say this is all rhetoric and declamation. There is, I dare say, something too much in that kind. What with criticising style and correcting exercises, we college tutors perhaps may be likely, in the heat of composition, to lose sight of realities, and pass into the limbo of the factitious. Especially when the thing must be done at odd times, in any case, and if at all, quickly. The term is half over; while I write, the barometer rises; ere I correct the proof sheet, the hot weather may be here. But if I have been obliged to write hurriedly, believe me, I have obliged myself to think not hastily. And believe me too, though I have desired to succeed in putting vividly and forcibly that which vividly and forcibly I felt and saw, still the graces and splendours of composition were thoughts far less present to my mind than Irish poor men’s miseries, English poor men’s hardships, and your unthinking indifference. Shocking enough the first and the second, almost more shocking the third.
One word more. Nothing that is said here is intended to go against enjoyment, as such. It is perhaps scarcely natural for young men to feel strongly that which they do not see. It were absurd to affect a gloom which does not exist. But it is not absurd to avoid in our enjoyments that which a little reflection can show us to be wrong, to be hurtful or unfitting: it is not absurd to lay down a few rules beforehand which will keep up in our minds the general impression that those unseen miseries are, though unseen, not unreal: it is not absurd to do, with or without sensation and sentiment, those acts which tend to their alleviation; to avoid, simply because it has been shown to be the right course, expensive and ostentatious gratifications. And simple enjoyments are, if not the most voluptuous and delicately refined, assuredly the manliest and healthiest, the most honest and rational and permanent.
I may as well end by copying a document which shows that an example has been set for us in high places. It is an order issued by the Lord Steward of the Queen’s household.
Her Majesty taking into consideration the present high and increasing price of provisions, and especially of all kinds of bread and flour, has been graciously pleased to command that from the date of the order, no description of flour except seconds shall be used for any purpose in her Majesty’s household; and that the daily allowance of bread shall be restricted to one pound per head for every person dieted in the palace.
|It may simplify the subject of ‘benefit of trade,’ to observe the following distinctions. If I buy old books or pictures from a friend, the money is merely transferred: the country suffers no loss, and may indeed be the gainer, if my friend is more economical and a better distributor than I. If I give a man a shilling for holding my horse, the country suffers in case the man could have been doing something else; for instance, if I have called him off from mowing or reaping. Thirdly, if I give a confectioner half-a-crown for sweetmeats, which I could have done without, I have wasted the substance of the country, certainly in one way, by consuming without requiring it; perhaps in two, that is, if the confectioner’s work could have been spent upon somebody who did require it. All that is gone into my stomach is a pure waste, and the paltry percentage which goes to the vendor as profit is very likely waste also. He might have got the same for doing what was really wanted.|