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fields where they grow, to our houses, to become aware that we eat and drink, and wear perjury and fraud in a hundred commodities. How many articles of daily consumption are furnished us from the West Indies; yet it is said that, in the Spanish islands, the venality of the officers of the Government has passed into usage, and that no article passes into our ships which has not been fraudulently cheapened. In the Spanish islands, every agent or factor of the Americans, unless he be a consul, has taken oath that he is a Catholic, or has caused a priest to make that declaration for him. The abolitionist has shown us our dreadful debt to the southern negro. In the Island of Cuba, in addition to the ordinary abominations of slavery, it appears, only men are bought for the plantations, and one dies in ten every year of these miserable bachelors, to yield us sugar. I leave for those who have the knowledge the part of sifting the oaths of our custom-houses ; I will not inquire into the oppression of the sailors; I will not pry into the usages of our retail trade. I content myself with the fact, that the general system of our trade, (apart from the blacker traits, which, I hope, are exceptions denounced and unshared by all reputable men,) is a system of selfishness; is not dictated by the high sentiments of human nature; is not measured by the exact law of reciprocity, much less by the sentiments of love and heroism: but is a system of distrust, of concealment, of superior keenness, not of giving but of taking advantage. It is not that which a man delights to unlock to a noble friend; which he meditates on with joy and self-approval in his hour of love and aspiration; but rather that which he then puts out of sight, only showing the brilliant result, and atoning for the manner of acquiring, by the manner of expending it. I do not charge the merchant or the manufacturer. The sins of our trade belong to no class, to no individual. One plucks, one distributes, one eats. Everybody partakes, everybody confesses—with cap and knee volunteers his confession, yet none feels himself accountable. He did
not create the abuse; he cannot alter it; what is he? an obscure private person who must get his bread. That is the vice, that no one feels himself called to act for man, but only as a fraction of man. It happens, therefore, that all such ingenuous souls as feel within themselves the irrepressible strivings of a noble aim; who, by the law of their nature, must act for man; find these ways of trade unfit for them, and they come forth from it. Such cases are becoming more numerous every year.
But by coming out of trade you have not cleared yourself. The trail of the serpent reaches into all the lucrative professions and practices of man. Each has its own wrongs. Each finds a tender and very intelligent conscience a disqualification for success. Each requires of the practitioner a certain shutting of the eyes, a certain dapperness and compliance, an acceptance of customs, a sequestration from the sentiments of generosity and love, a compromise of private opinion and lofty integrity. Nay, the evil custom reaches into the whole institution of property, until our laws, which establish and protect it, seem not to be the issue of love and reason, but of selfishness. Suppose a man is so unhappy as to be born a saint, with keen perceptions, but with the conscience and love of an angel, and he is to get his living in the world, he finds himself excluded from all lucrative works; he has no farm, and he cannot get one; for, to earn money to buy one, requires a sort of concentration toward money, which is the selling himself for a number of years, and to him the present hour is as sacred and inviolable as any future hour. Of course, whilst another man has no land, my title to mine, your title to yours, is at once vitiated. Inextricable seem to be the twinings and tendrils of this evil, and we all involve ourselves in it the deeper by forming connexions, by wives and children, by benefits and debts.
It is considerations of this kind which have turned the attention of many philanthropic and intelligent persons to the claims of manual labour as a part of the education of every young man. If the accumulated
wealth of the past generations is thus tainted—no matter how much of it is offered to us—we must begin to consider if it were not the nobler part to renounce it, and to put ourselves into primary relations with the soil and nature; and abstaining from whatever is dishonest and unclean, to take each of us bravely his part, with his own hands, in the manual labour of the world.
But it is said, “What! will you give up the immense advantages reaped from the division of labour, and set every man to make his own shoes, bureau, knife,wagon, sails, and needle? This would be to put men back into barbarism by their own act." I see no instant prospect of a virtuous revolution; yet I confess, I should not be pained at a change which threatened a loss of some of the luxuries or conveniences of society, if it proceeded from a preference of the agricultural life, out of the belief that our primary duties as men could be better discharged in that calling. Who could regret to see a high conscience, and a purer taste, exercising a sensible effect on young men in their choice of occupation, and thinning the ranks of competition in the labours of commerce, of law, and of state? It is easy to see that the inconvenience would last but a short time. This would be great action, which always opens the eyes of men. When many persons shall have done this, when the majority shall admit the necessity of reform in all these institutions, their abuses will be redressed, and the way will be open again to the advantages which arise from the division of labour, and a man may select the fittest employment for his peculiar talent again, without compromise.
But quite apart from the emphasis which the times give to the doctrine, that the manual labour of society ought to be shared among all the members, there are reasons proper to every individual, why he should not be deprived of it. The use of manual labour is one which never grows obsolete, and which is inapplicable to no person. A man should have a farm or a mechanical craft for his culture. We must have a basis for our higher accomplishments, our delicate entertainments of poetry and philosophy, in the work of our hands. We must have an antagonism in the tough world for all the variety of our spiritual faculties, or they will not be born. Manual labour is the study of the external world. The advantage of riches remains with him who procured them, not with the heir. When I go into my garden with a spade, and dig a bed, I feel such an exhilaration and health, that I discover that I have been defrauding myself all this time in letting others do for me what I should have done with my own hands. But not only health but education is in the work. Is it possible that I who get indefinite quantities of sugar, hominy, cotton, buckets, crockery-ware, and letter-paper, by simply signing my name, once in three months, to a cheque in favour of John Smith & Co., traders, get the fair share of exercise to my faculties by that act, which Nature intended for me in making all these far-fetched matters important to my comfort? It is Smith himself, and his carriers, and dealers, and manufacturers; it is the sailor, and the hide-drogher, the butcher, the negro, the hunter, and the planter, who have intercepted the sugar of the sugar, and the cotton of the cotton. They have got the education, I only the commodity. This were all very well if I were necessarily absent, being detained by work of my own, like theirs—work of the same faculties; then should I be sure of my hands and feet, but now I feel some shame before my wood-chopper, my ploughman, and my cook, for they have some sort of self-sufficiency: they can contrive without my aid to bring the day and year round, but I depend on them, and have not earned by use a right to my arms and feet.
Consider further the difference between the first and second owner of property. Every species of property is preyed on by its own enemies, as iron by rust, timber by rot, cloth by moths, provisions by mould, putridity, or vermin, money by thieves, an orchard by insects, a planted field by weeds or the inroad of cattle, a stock of
cattle by hunger, a road by rain and frost, a bridge by freshets. And whoever takes any of these things into his possession, takes the charge of defending them from this troop of enemies, or of keeping them in repair. A man who supplies his own want, who builds a raft or a boat to go a-fishing, finds it easy to caulk it, or put in a thole pin, or mend the rudder. What he gets only as fast as he wants for his own ends, does not embarrass him, or take away his sleep with looking after. But when he comes to give all the goods he has year after year collected in one estate to his son, house, orchard, ploughed land, cattle, bridges, hard-ware, wooden-ware, carpets, cloths, provisions, books, money, and cannot give him the skill and experience which made and collected these, and the method and place they have in his own life, the son finds his hands full—not to use these things, but to look after them and defend them from their natural enemies. To him they are not means, but masters. Their enemies will not remit : rust, mould, vermin, rain, sun, freshet, fire, all seize their own, fill him with vexation, and he is converted from the owner into a watchman, or watch-dog, to this magazine of old and new chattels. What a change! Instead of the masterly good humour, and sense of power, and fertility of resource in himself; instead of those strong and learned hands, those piercing and learned eyes, that supple body, and that mighty and prevailing heart, which the father had, whom Nature loved and feared, whom snow and rain, water and land, beast and fish, seemed all to know and to serve, we have now a puny, protected person, guarded by walls and curtains, stoves and down beds, coaches, and men-servants and womenservants, from the earth and the sky; and who, bred to depend on all these, is made anxious by all that endangers those possessions, and is forced to spend so much time in guarding them, that he has quite lost sight of their original use, namely, to help him to his ends—to the prosecution of his love: to the helping of his friend, to the worship of his God, to the enlargement of his know