Page images



ART. I.-Special Report by the Directors to the Proprietors of Price's Patent Candle Company. April 5, 1852.

THERE is a kind of egotism which puts on the air of sym

[ocr errors]

pathy and affects its speech. Men lacking pastime for their unoccupied intellects, or eager to get recognized as burning and shining lights, are apt now-a-days to take up the masses' as the subject-matter of their speculations, treating them with scarcely different or deeper feeling than if they were a sort of raw material from which to manufacture a book, a pamphlet, or a speech-a song or a sermon-in short, as the stalking-horse for the advancement of their own literary or political ambition. Under the attractive title of the People's Friends, they have often succeeded in embroiling master and man; in drying up the resources of the one and sending the other supperless to bed. While the capital of employers (as for example in the late engineers' strike) suffered losses not easily, if ever, to be made up, and while penury was sharpening the features of wife and child, who did not read the pamphlet or hear the speech-the mechanic's sorry compensation for weeks of family distresssuch sympathisers have withdrawn from the troubled scene to their well-cooked dinners and easy chairs, convinced in all modesty that their only misfortune was being before their age,' or dismissing any little suggestion of self-distrust by the espousal of some fresh 'cause' that is, capering forth again upon another equally unsound hobby.


We cannot doubt that much substantial improvement has been checked by the day-dreams and ideals with which sentimental philanthropists on the one hand and calculating demagogues on the other have warmed the fancies of the artisan. It is dull work, after being whisked by an express train' of Imagination far into Utopia, to return to plans which aim at less than perfection, and which do not pretend to plane down all the knots and difficulties in the social system. Having in past times looked upon mechanics as no better than live machinery, and now, after the horrors of Factory Reports, having subjected ourselves




to Factory legislation, we are in danger of a re-action that will carry us into the profitless extreme of plausible impracticabilities.


Sober people, sickened with so many selfish or silly manifestations, or mockeries, of the spirit of the age,' will, we believe, enter into the pleasure with which we have read the pamphlet now before us. This Report by the Directors to the Proprietary of Price's Patent Candle Company' gives a sample of a different species of philanthropy. We are neither inclined nor qualified to enter deeply into the biography of this patent candle, though by no means underrating its rapid success as a sign of economic change-contemplating on the contrary with a cordial satisfaction the increase of that class who are entitled in prudence to rise above the use of tallow, although not exactly, except on state occasions, to afford themselves the lustre of aristocratic wax. It appears that, the demand for these candles having become too great to be met by the original patentees alone, there was formed some years back a joint stock company on a large scale, and that its concerns have been prosperously carried on in a now vast establishment, at Belmont, Vauxhall. It also appears that the managing director, Mr. James Wilson— (whose Letter is embodied in the pamphlet)-ere long felt that such a co-operative work had other elements to be considered beside the successful sale of a valuable article and the regular payment of wages. He looked upon such a body of men thus brought together as something more than mere profitable instruments called into existence to promote the illumination of drawing-rooms. He thought it possible, without loss or hurt to the texture of the candles, to humanise and Christianise the hands' that made them; and circumstances enabled him and a brother, his co-manager-both of them still young-to carry such views into practice in a manner which deserves, we think, the attention of statesmen and churchmen, as well as of our merchants and manufacturers.

According to Mr. Wilson's statement, the first step in the movement began among the young, who had almost from the outset been employed in considerable numbers at Belmont. This movement was quickly and warmly encouraged by him; nay more—we have reason to believe that he had paved the way for it by many quiet and unpretending measures-above all, by so exercising his patronage in the distribution of superior posts as to impress every observant member of the community with the importance of some educational acquirement. But he carefully avoided making himself prominent as the founder of a new system. He desired, if possible, to avail himself of the voluntary action of the minds committed to his care. His great ambition


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »