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THE FRENCH LABORERS AND THE FRENCH
Each of the many French revolutions was sioned by destitution almost amounting to famine among the laboring classes. Each was the insurrection of labor against capital. But until the revolution of 1848, the revolutionists were unconscious alike of their motives and their objects. They believed, till then, that political changes would remedy the evils which oppressed them. After the revolution of 1830, philosophers and statesmen, seeing the inadequacy of change of dynasty or of political policy, to alleviate the distresses of the great working classes, began to search deeper for the causes of social embarrassment. Suddenly the discovery was made, not only in France, but throughout Western Europe, that the disease was social, not political. That it was owing to the too unequal distribution of capital, and to its exploitation of labor. The ablest minds saw, as well in England as in France, that in transferring the reins of government from the hands of hereditary royalty and nobility, to those of the capitalist class, that the people had exchanged a few masters
for thousands of extortioners. Never did so vast a moral, intellectual and social movement arise so suddenly, and spread so rapidly. The thing became the rage and fashion. Even in America, our Northern folks affected a disease, which they did not feel, just as Alexander's courtiers aped his wry neck; and anti-rentism and land monopoly became the constant theme of conversation, lectures, speeches, books and essays. In France and in England, prior to 1830, there had been a few Socialists, such as Fourier and St. Simon, Owen and Fanny Wright—but they were little heeded, and generally considered about half crazy. Immediately thereafter, by far the greater portion of the literary mind of Europe imbibed, in whole or in part, the doctrines of these early Socialists. The infection soon reached the lower classes, and occasioned revolution, intended to be social as well as political, throughout Western Europe. The Provisional Government in France, which immediately succeeded to the expulsion of Louis Philippe, was composed entirely of Socialists, and its programme and attempted measures were thoroughly socialistic.
The subject of the condition of the laboring classes in Europe, and especially in France, was handled with an accuracy of detail and a breadth of scientific expression in a review of our own work in the Literary Messenger of March, 1855, of which we are incapable. The author, Professor
H. of Virginia, is our corresponding acquaintance only. Informed by letter that he would review us, and that he concurred in the general truth of our theory, we suggested to him in reply, that he should, from his vast stores of learning, strengthen our main positions. He thought the suggestion a good one, and fulfilled our request, with an ability and learning, that no other man, on so short a notice, could have done. As we have prompted, if not caused his toil, we make no apology for appropriating so much of his review as seems to be a reply to our suggestion:
From the principles as laid down in theory and exemplified in practice, we proceed to the effects. That religion has been undermined, morals contaminated, crime increased, misery extended, deepened and multiplied, want and starvation augmented, society agitated, and orderly government endangered by the progress of the so-called prosperity of the free labor system, is evident, without further proof, to any one who reads contemporary literature, who pays attention to the statements of newspapers, and of Poor Law Reports, who notes the cases brought before the police or criminal courts, or is cognizant from any source of information, of the actual condition of the multitude and of the poor in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Germany, Prussia, and parts of Switzerland, and in New England and the Northern States. The connection of the results with the causes, is ably traced by Mr. Fitzhugh, but not with sufficient
care, minuteness and precision ; and the actual character and enormity of the results is exhibited by him, and by an indefinite array of the most various and unexceptionable testimony. The History of the Working Classes, by Robert du Var, which we have joined with the Sociology for the South, as the text for the present observations, is full of evidence to this effect with regard to France; and for the other countries specified, ample testimony may be easily obtained. The Boston papers will suffice to illustrate the wretchedness of the laboring classes in New England: the New York Herald and Tribune, the works of Stephen Pearl Andrews, and of Greeley himself, will render the same service for the other Northern States : Alton Locke, Mary Barton, Mayhew's London Labor and the London Poor, the debates in Parliament, the Reports of the Poor Law Commissioners, and the English Reviews, will amply illustrate the condition of Great Britain and Ireland; and for Germany, reference may be made to Hacklander's Europarsches Sclavenleben, a work which has followed the example of Uncle Tom's Cabin, and portrayed the condition of the inferior classes in Europe, as a much more legitimate object of European sympathy and consideration than American Slavery. Where the evidence is so abundant and voluminous, selection would be as unnecessary as it would be tedious. It is within the reach of every one who desires to consult it; and we need not load our pages with extracts to prove what has been frequently and sufficiently proved before, and what is so notoriously true as to be undeniable.
A few quotations to illustrate the condition of free labor societies we may
indeed quote at a later period, in connection with a different division of the argument; but they are wholly unnecessary to confirm the allegation of the wretchedness and depravity which are consuming the vitals of the principal free societies of the Nineteenth Century. They are rendered still more unnecessary by the fact that the acceptability of Socialism in all of those communities, betrays the extent of both the misery and the social disease to be cured; and the confession of the multitude of recent writers on social topics, admits not merely the evils which we have specified, and their dependence on the theory and practice of free societies, but acknowledges also the truth of the general conclusion, that the free societies enumerated have unquestionably failed, they have not produced the permanent or general blessings anticipated from them, they have produced overwhelming social disaster, multiplied indefinitely the woes and the vices of the poor, threatened all society and government and national existence in those communities, and announced a future so dark that little more than its gloom and spectral shapes can be distinctly recognized.
We regard Mr. Fitzhugh's employment of these admissions by European writers and Northern reformers, as constituting the most important position of his argument, and the most characteristic novelty in his defence of the South. The testimonies which he adduces are very strong and pointed, but they may be easily multiplied, and will gain an accession of strength from such multiplications. For years we have carefully collected similar acknowledgments from foreign writers, and cheerfully contribute them to the cause of the South, and the