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our sagacious law-makers, or even law-reformers, seem to know anything at all of; at least they give, by no single attempt to introduce them, the slightest evidence of their knowledge of them.
And yet one would have imagined that amenities and innocent privileges contributing so much to the enjoyment of every-day life, and which have so eminently answered the purpose of German despots in keeping a great people tractable in their chains, would, as a matter of deep policy, have been, at least on this ground, rendered agreeable to despotic spirits at home. But no, our rulers and legislators have different notions. They are accustomed to regard the people, the great mass, not as the objects of government, but the objects of taxation; not as creatures who are created to enjoy themselves, but to pay as much as possible. Our government does not pretend to be PATERNAL; but conservative. It does not regard the people as children, who should be informed and advanced; but as a rude mass, whose rudeness must be conserved. Accordingly, have they taken a single step, instructed by what they have seen abroad, to reduce the excessive cost of living in this country? Have they abolished the corn laws, and the other restrictive laws which keep up the rate of rent, of taxation, of every other expense which presses with a direful weight on the whole population ? Have they sought thus to diffuse cheapness and comfort at home ? To check that rapidly rising manufacturing prosperity abroad, a prosperity which strikes its roots into our very vitals? A parasite plant, rooted on the branches and the very bole of our manufacturing tree of life? Have they been startled by the tarifs of America, of France, Russia, and Germany, all aiming at the same life? All as manifest declarations of war upon us, as if they were made with the menaces and attested with the bruit of cannon ? Have they sought thus to reduce the horrible masses of misery in our metropolis, and our manufacturing districts, such masses of misery as strike foreigners dumb, and have no parallel either in the present or the past world? Have they done any one thing in these urging and essential matters, to bring us to a nearer resemblance in popular comfort to Germany? Have they even done the slightest thing to make the means of popular refinement and outof-door enjoyments more accessible?
No! on the contrary, when Mr. Buckingham, in Parliament, brought in a bill to effect the creation of public walks in and about our populous towns, those very men scouted the idea as something visionary and childish. As Wyndham resisted the abolition of bull-baiting, dog-fighting, and such brutal pastimes, as something truly English, so our present legislators regard a vulgar, rude, unembellished, and unaccommodated existence, as something essentially English for the people. ACcordingly, our huge manufacturing towns swarm with a life which is crowded into the densest space
of dirt and squalor. They are bald masses of brick; stupendous manufacturing piles, where the most extensive of all manufactories is that of misery. They have great mills and little houses in abundance; a few fine mansions, and a swarm of petty and pestiferous dens. You may breathe as much fætid air there, in narrow lanes and still narrower dwellings, and amongst spindles and wheels, as you please ; but where shall you breathe the free air? Where are the public walks and the lime-shaded gardens where the hard-taxed and hard-worked people shall air themselves? Where shall they turn out from these grim and gloomy walls, and find seats awaiting them beneath the pendent boughs of green trees ? Where shall they escape from the rattle of machinery, and the cries of ill-fed children, to the scenes of Nature ? Nature exists not for them in any shape, at least in any good one. Free nature lies afar off, on moor and mountain; and there, if they extend their walks beyond the far-stretching limits of the brick wilderness, are still park and garden walls, and hedges of interminable enclosures, where the active QUARTER SESSIONs has closed up every ancient footpath. Good-nature they never experienced ; and human nature has only presented to them its elbows. Where is the cheap and pleasant cup of coffee, and the strain of glorious music sounding over the lamp-hung boughs, beneath which their poor but smiling wives and children sit?
The very question appears a mockery. What! the common people of England have public walks, and spreading trees, and public seats, and cheap coffee, and music! It is an idea enough to make the hair of aristocracy stand on end. These are the amenities of life. These are the exclusive privileges of wealth and station. The people,-at least, the English,-is a thing which has always been regarded solely as a beast of burden; as a mass of rude, raw, sturdy labourers, to whom knowledge and refined enjoyments are as unfitting as buns for brewers' horses. They have been, as it has been thought, most appropriately named, “the great unwashed,” the herd, the swinish multitude, the rascal rabble. Such a thing as that of the “common herd” of Englishmen, that is, of the mass and multitude of the country, having a cheap livelihood, and leisure to enjoy the “evenings of their days," in a few hours relaxation, with music, airy walks, and intelligent conversation,-in short, of becoming “the great washed," --has never entered the heads scarcely of the philosophical reformers. These refined relaxations, these social luxuries of creatures who, though labouring creatures, are yet God's CHILDREN, the highest title still upon earth,-pile up kingships and dukeships and lordships as you will,--are left to be the common enjoyments of those foreign peasants and artizans whom we so sagaciously warn our working classes against resembling. If those foreign people, whom we represent as living on black bread and getting no animal food, --who, our legislators gravely tell us, on the authority of Dr. Bowring, do not in Prussia eat more than thirty pounds of flesh each in a year, while the inmates of our union workhouses get fifty pounds, but as gravely forget to tell us how much of other good and substantial food they get, which our workingclasses do not and cannot get.
Accordingly, the English labouring classes, the most industrious, the most laborious, the most ingenious, the hardest worked, and hardest taxed, and hardest pinched class of people on the face of the earth, go on labouring when they can get labour, and starving when they cannot; they go on eating their fifty pounds of meat yearly, when they can get it, and suffering want of every thing besides-want of cheap bread, want of instruction and public sympathy, want of coal for the winter and of decent clothes in summer, want even of a spot where they can turn out on a holiday, or on an evening, and shake their rags in the wind, and scatter on it the baleful effluvia of their crowded factories, and their dismal dens, called houses.*
• Yet it would seem that, in 1840, Parliament actually did vote a sum of 10,0001. for “ Public Walks:" and the “ Morning Chronicle” states that 5001. of this money had been expended ; 3001. being advanced to the Provost of Dundee, for the improvement of Magdalen Yard, and 2001, for improvements in the neighbourhood of Arbroath; and that the remaining 9,5001. is still lying in the Exchequer! If this be fact,