Introduction—Agricultural Laborers—General Laborers—Domestic Female Servants—Tailors and Shoemakers—The Manufacturing Classes—Dressmakers, Policemen and Porters—Colliers and Miners—Sailors and Soldiers—Thieves—Mendicants—Prostitutes


 Who are these?—How they use their Powers—Their Principles—Indulgence of the Passions—Effects— Socialism—Infidelity—Easy Men — Active Men— Christians — Imprudence — Isolated Class — These things cannot remain as they are.


  Effect on Society and those engaged—Nature sanctions this—Value of Man—The Masses—Their Power— Spirit of the Age—Great Change—Its Speed—Present Knowledge—Increasing Power—Remove their Grievances—Love of Class—Similar to Sick Men— Days of Action



To unite Society—Past pre-eminence of Britain—Economy—Special Position—Humility—Trial in getting Work—Association with all Characters—Idleness— Privations—Subject to sudden Accidents—Nature of Work—Many go Abroad—Cannot now serve God aright.


Churches—Tract and Bible Auxiliaries—Home and Town Missionary Societies—Temperance and Total Abstinence Movements



Sunday, Charity and Ragged Schools—Mechanics' Institutes—Sick Societies—Press


Free Chapels — County Lecturers — Free Lectures— Cheap Libraries—Schemes—Individual Treatment— Our Scheme—Friendly Visiting—Support from God—Conclusion




THE subject of the present work is one of no inconsiderable interest to the welfare of our country, and engages the anxious consideration of many benevolent individuals. It forms one of the chief topics in the family and in the senate, and the large annual addition to our population increases the necessity of an attention to their social state. When it is remembered that upon the working man falls the immediate effect of heaven’s first curse, “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread,” the object of the “Improvement of the working classes of England” justly claims the deepest sympathy. The sphere which has to be traversed in bringing this before our readers is as large as a correct knowledge of our national condition is important to every citizen. A casual observer or a stranger may be able to contract a wayside acquaintance with those who occasionally pass before them, but they cannot, from the complexity and varied circumstances of each class of the community, form so correct a view of British society as he who visits the families and is engaged in daily business with the people. The author having had this opportunity of becoming acquainted with the character and condition of the working classes, and feeling deeply interested in their welfare, has attempted the present sketch, in the hope that it may prove beneficial in adding to their happiness, and enable those who may be desirous of improving their condition, to adopt such methods as are practically suitable for the work. The extent of the population brought before the reader’s view in this limited space, has compelled him to confine his remarks to their condition, social, moral, and intellectual; while he may be permitted to observe, that he does not wish to be understood as conceiving that the moral character of an individual can be separated from his physical and political condition; but presuming that the moral and intellectual are of primary importance, he has endeavoured to bring out more prominently the characteristic features of this part of their condition. A just consideration of their physical and political state could not possibly be brought within the compass of so small a volume. In bringing to public observation the first and second parts of this work—the social state of the laboring population, with their sentiments—the author has several times felt disposed to give a more tasteful appearance to the facts as they have presented themselves; but however desirable this might have been, truth demands an impartial statement, in order that the reader may be urged to remove that which is unpleasant to his feelings, and not congenial to the national interests. To those persons who have not been brought into contact with, or visited, this class of the community, the statements here given may appear exaggerated; but a calm, rational, and practical investigation will convince them to the contrary. The writer would have preferred omitting these parts of the work, did they not form the only suitable commencement to the remarks which follow as to the importance of an improvement of the condition of the laboring classes, which is deduced as well from their relation to the other portion of the community, as from the peculiar position in which the workman is placed. Here the field is wide and extensive; yet he does not venture to adduce all the reasons that may be brought forward for so important an object, but to drop sparingly by the way the few that have more immediately presented themselves.

A review of the present means in operation for their improvement, with practical suggestions relative thereto, form the closing part of this little volume. In this, as in the former parts, the author has been compelled to be brief, in order to keep his remarks within those limits which might not be tedious to the general reader. While he has endeavoured to embrace the present circumstances of society, it has been his intention to regard no means of amelioration as good which are not based upon the everlasting principles of Christianity and nature.

With these few remarks the author begs to leave the subject in the hands of his readers; hoping that whatever may be their estimation of the value of his work, they will consider the cause he has attempted to advocate, one not unworthy of their best attention.




Introduction—Agricultural Laborers—General Laborers— Domestic Female Servants—Tailors and Shoemakers— The Manufacturing Classes—Dressmakers—Policemen and Porters—Colliers and Miners—Sailors and Soldiers— Thieves—Mendicants—Prostitutes.


THE class of people whose condition we propose now to consider is by no means the minority of the nation; and to define one general characteristic of this numerous portion, we may say, they are those who, having little, if any, of this world's goods, earn their bread by the sweat of their brow and the work of their own hands; being of necessity the servants of the richer part of the community. No less important because they are poor: no less important because they are servants.

Surveying the present condition of these in our own country, we find them of a varied character. Birth, education, religion, occupation and circumstances have operated to form this difference and mould their habits: as these have differed, so also do the working classes, though only residing perhaps a few miles, or a few doors, from each other. The man who tills the ground and guides the plough, who sows the seed and afterwards reaps the fruits of the earth, is in a very different position to the one who breaks up the ground and prepares it for the railroad and the steam-engine; or the workman in yonder factory who is preparing some of the earth’s productions for the use of society. The one lives where he was born, surrounded by none but his companions from his youth, seldom seeing, or seen by a stranger, and is what the past has made him: the other, wandering about from place to place and seeing his friends but for a short time, has to adapt himself to many changing scenes, and is what the present makes him: but the workman in the factory, having some new thing constantly brought before him, and whose task is to fashion the novelties of the age, looks to the future to make the man; and is what that impresses on his mind.

Under these circumstances, we have thought it well to classify the poor in the several sections of work in which they are engaged.

The agricultural laborer forms a very large and distinctive section, and to him we shall first give our attention. He lives with his partner, where he has been for many a year; they have both toiled together, neither having been idle when there was work to be done. They are generally employed by the farmer in whose cottage they reside; and are frequently blessed with several children, who are brought up to the same occupation as themselves: the boys to drive the horses at the plough, to weed the fields, or look after the cattle when needful; the girls to assist in the household work; though on a summer’s day all have their appointed places in the field. It is usual now to send the children to school for a short time, ere they are summoned to take part in the daily toil of life. In many cases the private schools are conducted by some old dame who happens to know how to read a little, and once learned to write. Her work is done, she can do no more than “teach the young idea how to shoot yet while she herself is hastening from the company of mortals, the children begin to occupy their place among mankind, with that instruction finished which has never been rightly begun; with that ended, the reality of which was by them never questioned, though it has long ago vanished into nothing. They may be able to read in their own way, and according to their age and generation; but as writing is scarcely ever needed, they seldom feel its loss; and as for ciphering, he is a wonderful lad who can go through the multiplication table. In the more populous districts there is generally a charity school dependant upon the landlord of the estate; but from the ignorance of the parents, and the low wages at which they are obliged to work, education makes little progress save amongst the careful and industrious of those residing near manufacturing districts, who are thereby stimulated to improve the minds of their children. One of the boys being sufficient either to take the father’s place or to work with him, the rest have to seek other occupation in some large neighbouring town; while the girls find employment with their needle or as domestic servants.

The old village church is not now attended as formerly, on account ..............


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