"Respectable Professors of the Dismal Science, soft you a little. Alas, I know what you would say. For my sins, I have read much in those inimitable volumes of yours,--really I should think, some barrowfuls of them in my time,--and, in these last forty years of theory and practice, have pretty well seized what of Divine Message you were sent with to me. Perhaps as small a message, give me leave to say, as ever there was such a noise made about before. Trust me, I have not forgotten it, shall never forget it. Those Laws of the Shop-till are indisputable to me; and practically useful in certain departments of the Universe, as the multiplication-table itself. Once I even tried to sail through the Immensities with them, and to front the big coming Eternities with them; but I found it would not do. As the Supreme Rule of Statesmanship, or Government of Men,--since this Universe is not wholly a Shop,--no. You rejoice in my improved tariffs, free-trade movements and the like, on every hand; for which be thankful, and even sing litanies if you choose. But here at last, in the Idle-Workhouse movement,--unexampled yet on Earth or in the waters under the Earth,--I am fairly brought to a stand; and have had to make reflections, of the most alarming, and indeed awful, and as it were religious nature! Professors of the Dismal Science, I perceive that the length of your tether is now pretty well run; and that I must request you to talk a little lower in future. By the side of the shop-till,--see, your small 'Law of God' is hung up, along with the multiplication-table itself. But beyond and above the shop-till, allow me to say, you shall as good as hold your peace. Respectable Professors, I perceive it is not now the Gigantic Hucksters, but it is the Immortal Gods, yes they, in their terror and their beauty, in their wrath and their beneficence, that are coming into play in the affairs of this world! Soft you a little. Do not you interrupt me, but try to understand and help me!--
--"Work, was I saying? My indigent unguided friends, I should think some work might be discoverable for you. Enlist, stand drill; become, from a nomadic Banditti of Idleness, Soldiers of Industry! I will lead you to the Irish Bogs, to the vacant desolations of Connaught now falling into Cannibalism, to mistilled Connaught, to ditto Munster, Leinster, Ulster, I will lead you: to the English fox-covers, furze-grown Commons, New Forests, Salisbury Plains: likewise to the Scotch Hill-sides, and bare rushy slopes, which as yet feed only sheep,--moist uplands, thousands of square miles in extent, which are destined yet to grow green crops, and fresh butter and milk and beef without limit (wherein no 'Foreigner can compete with us'), were the Glasgow sewers once opened on them, and you with your Colonels carried thither. In the Three Kingdoms, or in the Forty Colonies, depend upon it, you shall be led to your work!
"To each of you I will then say: Here is work for you; strike into it with manlike, soldier-like obedience and heartiness, according to the methods here prescribed,--wages follow for you without difficulty; all manner of just remuneration, and at length emancipation itself follows. Refuse to strike into it; shirk the heavy labor, disobey the rules,--I will admonish and endeavor to incite you; if in vain, I will flog you; if still in vain, I will at last shoot you,--and make God's Earth, and the forlorn-hope in God's Battle, free of you. Understand it, I advise you! The Organization of Labor"--[_Left speaking_, says our reporter.]
"Left speaking:" alas, that he should have to "speak" so much! There are things that should be done, not spoken; that till the doing of them is begun, cannot well be spoken. He may have to "speak" seven years yet, before a spade be struck into the Bog of Allen; and then perhaps it will be too late!-
You perceive, my friends, we have actually got into the "New Era" there has been such prophesying of: here we all are, arrived at last;--and it is by no means the land flowing with milk and honey we were led to expect! Very much the reverse. A terrible _new_ country this: no neighbors in it yet, that I can see, but irrational flabby monsters (philanthropic and other) of the giant species; hyenas, laughing hyenas, predatory wolves; probably _devils_, blue (or perhaps blue-and-yellow) devils, as St. Guthlac found in Croyland long ago. A huge untrodden haggard country, the "chaotic battle-field of Frost and Fire;" a country of savage glaciers, granite mountains, of foul jungles, unhewed forests, quaking bogs;--which we shall have our own ados to make arable and habitable, I think! We must stick by it, however;--of all enterprises the impossiblest is that of getting out of it, and shifting into another. To work, then, one and all; hands to work!
[March 1, 1850.] No. II. MODEL PRISONS.
The deranged condition of our affairs is a universal topic among men at present; and the heavy miseries pressing, in their rudest shape, on the great dumb inarticulate class, and from this, by a sure law, spreading upwards, in a less palpable but not less certain and perhaps still more fatal shape on all classes to the very highest, are admitted everywhere to be great, increasing and now almost unendurable. How to diminish them,--this is every man's question. For in fact they do imperatively need diminution; and unless they can be diminished, there are many other things that cannot very long continue to exist beside them. A serious question indeed, How to diminish them!
Among the articulate classes, as they may be called, there are two ways of proceeding in regard to this. One large body of the intelligent and influential, busied mainly in personal affairs, accepts the social iniquities, or whatever you may call them, and the miseries consequent thereupon; accepts them, admits them to be extremely miserable, pronounces them entirely inevitable, incurable except by Heaven, and eats its pudding with as little thought of them as possible. Not a very noble class of citizens these; not a very hopeful or salutary method of dealing with social iniquities this of theirs, however it may answer in respect to themselves and their personal affairs! But now there is the select small minority, in whom some sentiment of public spirit and human pity still survives, among whom, or not anywhere, the Good Cause may expect to find soldiers and servants: their method of proceeding, in these times, is also very strange. They embark in the "philanthropic movement;" they calculate that the miseries of the world can be cured by bringing the philanthropic movement to bear on them. To universal public misery, and universal neglect of the clearest public duties, let private charity superadd itself: there will thus be some balance restored, and maintained again; thus,--or by what conceivable method? On these terms they, for their part, embark in the sacred cause; resolute to cure a world's woes by rose-water; desperately bent on trying to the uttermost that mild method. It seems not to have struck these good men that no world, or thing here below, ever fell into misery, without having first fallen into folly, into sin against the Supreme Ruler of it, by adopting as a law of conduct what was not a law, but the reverse of one; and that, till its folly, till its sin be cast out of it, there is not the smallest hope of its misery going,--that not for all the charity and rose-water in the world will its misery try to go till then!