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named for the admittance of children into their manufactories; or to children being previously trained in good habits, and the rudiments of common learning; for, upón an experience abundantly sufficient to ascertain the fact, I have uniformly found it to be more profitable to admit children to constant daily employment at 10 years old, than at any earlier period; and that those children, or adults, who had been the best taught, made the best servants, and were by far the most easily directed to do every thing that was right and proper for them to perform. The proprietors of expensive establishments may object to the reduction of the now customary hours of labour. The utmost extent however of their argument is, that the rent or interest of capital expended in forming the establishment is chargeable on the quantity of its produce; --and if, instead of being permitted to employ their work-people within their manufactories so long as human nature can be tempted to continue its exertions, say for 14 or 15 hours per day, they shall be restricted to 12 hours of labour per day from their work-people, then the prime cost of the article which they manufacture will be increased by the greater proportion of rent or interest which attaches to the smaller quantity produced. If, however, this law shall be, as it is proposed, general over England, Scotland and Ireland, whatever difference may ultimately arise in the prime cost of the articles produced in these manufactories, will be borne by the consumers, and not by the proprietors of such establishments. And, in a national view, that labour which is exerted 12 hours per day will be obtained more economically than if stretched to a longer period. I doubt, however, whether any manufactory, so arranged, as to occupy the hands employed in it 12 hours per day, will not produce its fabric, even to the immediate proprietor, nearly if not altogether as cheap as those in which the exertions of the employed are continued to 14 or 15 hours per day. Should this, however, not prove to be the case to the extent mentioned, the improved health, the comforts, useful acquirements of the popula tion, and the diminution of poor's-rates naturally consequent on this change in the manners and habits of the people, will amply compensate to the country for a mere fractional addition to the prime cost of any commodity. And is it to be imagined that the British Government will ever put the chance of a trivial pecuniary
gain of a few, in competition with the solid welfare of so thatty millions of human beings? The employer cannot be injured by being obliged so to act towards his labourers as, for the interest of the country, he should act. Since the general introduction of expensive machinery, human nature has been forced far beyond its average strength; and much, very much private misery and public injury are the consequences.
It is indeed a measure more to be deplored in a national view than almost any other that has occurred for many centuries past. It has deranged, the domestic habits of the great mass of the people. It has deprived them of the time in which they might acquire instruction, or enjoy rational amusements. It has robbed them of their substantial advantages, and, by leading them into habits of the pot-house and inebriation, it has poisoned all their social comforts.
Shall we then make laws to imprison, transport, or condemn to death, those who purloin a few shillings of our property, injure any of our domestic animals, or even a growing twig; and shall we not make laws to restrain those, who otherwise will not be restrained, in their desire for gain, from robbing, in the pursuit of it, millions of our fellow-creatures of their health, their time for acquiring knowledge and future improvement,-of their social comforts, and of every rational enjoyment? This system of proceeding cannot continue long ;-it will work its own cure by the practical evils which it creates, and that in a most dangerous way to the public welfare, if the Government shall not give it a proper direction.
The public, however, are perhaps most interested in that part of the plan which recommends the training and educating of the lower orders under the direction and at the expense of the country. And it is much to be wished that the extended substantial advantages to be derived from this measure, were more generally considered and understood, in order that the mistaken ideas which now exist regarding it, in the most opposite quarters, may be entirely removed.
A slight general knowledge of the past occurrences of the world, with some experience of human nature, as it appears in the little sects and parties around us, is sufficient to make it evident to those, not very much misinstructed from infancy, that children may be
taught any habits and any sentiments; and that these, with the bodily and mental propensities and faculties existing at birth in each individual, combined with the general circumstances in which he is placed, constitute the whole character of the mau.
It is thence evident that human nature can be improved and formed into the character which it is for the interest and happiness of all it should possess, solely by directing the attention of mankind to the adoption of legislative measures judiciously calculated to give the best habits, and most just and useful sentiments to the rising generation; and in an especial manner to those who are placed in situations, which, without such measures, render them liable to be taught the worst habits, and the most useless and injurious sentiments.
I ask those who have studied the science of government upon those enlightened principles which alone ought to influence the statesman, What is the difference, in a national view, between an individual trained in habits which give him health, temperance, industry, correct principles of judging, foresight, and general good conduct; and one trained in ignorance, idleness, intemperance, defective powers of judging, and in general vicious habits? Is not one of the former of more real worth and political strength to the state than many of the latter?
Are there not millions in the British dominions on whom this difference can be made? And if a change, which so essentially affects the well-being of those individuals, and, through them, of every member of the empire, may be made, is it not the first duty of the government and the country to put into immediate practice the means which can effect the change?
• Shall then such important measures be waived, and the best interests of this country compromised, because one party wishes its own peculiar principles to be forced on the young mind; or because another is afraid that the advantages to be derived from this improved system of legislation will be so great as to give too much popularity and influence to the ministers who shall introduce it?
The termination of such errors in practice is, I trust, near at hand, and then Government will be no longer compelled to sacrifice the well-doing and the well-being of the great mass of the people
and of the empire, to the prejudices of comparatively a few individuals, trained to mistake even their own security and interests.
Surely a measure most obviously calculated to render a greater benefit to millions of our fellow-creatures than any other ever yet adopted, cannot be much longer suspended, because one party in the state may erroneously suppose it would weaken their influence over the public mind, unless that party shall alone direct the plan, but which direction, it is most obvious, the intelligence of the age will not commit to any party exclusively. Or because others, trained in very opposite principles, may imagine that a national system of education for the poor and lower orders, under the sanction of Government, but superintended and directed in its details by the country, would place a dangerous power in the hands of ministers of the Crown.
Such sentiments as these cannot exist in minds, divested of party considerations, who sincerely desire to benefit their fellow-men, who have no private views to accomplish, and who wish to support and strengthen the Government, that the Government may be be the better enabled to adopt decisive and effectual measures for the general amelioration of the people.
I now therefore, in the name of the millions of the neglected poor and ignorant, whose habits and sentiments have been hitherto formed to render them wretched, call upon the British government and the British nation to unite their efforts, to arrange a system to train and instruct those, who for any good or useful purpose, are now untrained and uninstructed; and to arrest by a clear, easy, and practical system of prevention, the ignorance and consequent poverty, vice and misery, which are rapidly increasing throughout. the empire; for, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."