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borrowing and bequeathing, would almost argue a perfect man.”
On the other hand, infinite care needs to be taken to keep money in its proper place——as a means to good, but not the good--as a servant, not a master. Economy is a good thing, but like other good qualities, it is apt to degenerate. Forethought in providing against coming evil is a good thing; but unless it be guided by a Christian spirit, it degenerates into mere confidence in the creature and independence of the Creator. Let no care bestowed on worldly concerns lead any to forget that, apart from the favour and blessing of God, this world can profit nothing. Never did our blessed Saviour ask a more solemn question than this, What is a man profited, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?
MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR MONEY.
“That nothing be lost.”—JOHN vi. 12.
Our last chapter has made it pretty plain (to ourselves at least) that there is no royal road by which the working people of this, or of any other country, can spring at a bound to a position of much greater social comfort. At the same time we have seen that, though there is no royal road, there is a path by which, if they choose, they may gradually rise to a higher level, and enjoy an enlarged amount of social prosperity. One side of this road, one part of this plan, we have already tried to describe; but the description is incomplete until we speak of another.
The leading principle that we would now lay down is, that the social elevation of workmen as a class does not depend merely on their earning higher wages, but also on their turning to the best account what they actually earn; in other words, if workmen would rise as a class, they should look, not only
to their earnings, but also to their expenditure. If they do so, we believe they are likely to find, in the first place, that what they actually earn may, as a general rule, be spent more profitably; and, in the second place, that this wiser expenditure will react favourably upon their earnings, and make these considerably greater than they are.
In entering on this subject, we know that we are treading on delicate ground. We are liable to leave behind us a very erroneous impression of our meaning. We may be represented as bringing promiscuous charges against a whole class, while we have in view but a portion of that class. Our honest endeavour to offer useful suggestions may be interpreted as an impertinent attempt to dictate. Any expression of grief at the recklessness of some, may be resented as an insult to the character of all. Knowing these dangers, we crave indulgence; and we do so the more confidently, that we believe that our general tone must make it clear that nothing can be further from our purpose than to dictate or to misrepresent.
It is impossible to deny that a vast amount of workmen's earnings, squeezed from human thews and sinews, is put, as soon as earned, into a bag with holes. First and foremost among the causes of this gigantic mis-spending are the drinking habits of a large proportion of workmen. The facts that have again and again been given to the public in illustration of this, are utterly overwhelming. At a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held in Edinburgh in 1851, Mr. Porter first gave publicity to a fact that ever since has, in forms innumerable, been exciting the amazement of the world. It is, that the working men of the United Kingdom consume every year upwards of twenty millions' worth of spirits, upwards of twenty-five millions' worth of beer, and upwards of seven millions' worth of tobacco--making, in all, £53,413,165 sterling!
Mr. Clay, of Preston, in analysing carefully the expenditure of 131 workmen employed in one mill, found that their gross earnings were £154, 165. a week, and that of that sum £34, 15s. was spent in liquors. Excluding twelve, who were teetotallers, it was found that the average yearly expenditure of the rest was £11, 7s. 9d. each, while fifteen spent upwards of 25 per cent. of their earnings on drink, and forty-one more from 25 to 75 per cent. Mr. William Chambers mentions, in his tract on Mis-expenditure, that several years ago, in visiting a large printingoffice in London, he was struck with the amount of beer supplied for the workmen, and ascertained that few of them spent less than a shilling a day on beer,
making an expenditure for each, on that article alone, of £18 a year. In an ironwork at Sunderland, a man was pointed out to him, who at one time earned a guinea a day, or from £300 to £400 a year, but having spent all on drink, he was reduced to a lower department, with a guinea a week in place of a day. In another work, a Frenchman was pointed out to him who earned £5, 10s. a week, but by exercising economy, he was on the way to realize a competency, with which he would probably return soon to his native country.
Of all wasteful and improvident workmen, none perhaps can surpass the navvy. A civil engineer, acquainted with railway undertakings, has calculated that navvies usually spend on drink from 7s. to 88. a week each, and that on an average, for every mile of railway, upwards of £1000 has been squandered in liquor. If the railways of the United Kingdom extend to 10,000 miles, this would give the vast sum of ten millions as thrown away on drink in their construction. We say deliberately, thrown away (and if thrown away, it is worse than
1 French and German workmen have frequently more economy and forethought than British. The author of Workmen and their Difficulties mentions a remarkable instance of this. A French workman, in the employment of Chance Brothers, Birmingham, receiving the unusually high wages of £10 a week, was found on leaving to have accumulated in the liands of his master no less a sum than £5000, while no Englishman at the time had more than £50.—(P. 150.)