Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/55

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ment which can only be advocated for the sake of cheapness in the first cost. I believe this economy would be at the expense of security, and that the cable of the future will be even heavier, more perfect, and more costly, than the cable of the present day.—Abstract of Address before the Statistical Society.



X.—The Class-Bias.

MANY years ago, a solicitor, sitting by me at dinner, complained bitterly of the injury which the then lately-established County Courts were doing his profession. He enlarged on the topic in a way implying that he expected me to agree with him in therefore condemning them. So incapable was he of going beyond the professional point of view, that what he regarded as a grievance he thought I also ought to regard as a grievance: oblivious of the fact that the more economical administration of justice, of which his lamentation gave me proof, was to me, not being a lawyer, matter for rejoicing.

The bias thus exemplified is a bias by which nearly all have their opinions warped. Naval officers disclose the unhesitating belief that we are in imminent danger because the cry for more fighting-ships and more sailors has not been met to their satisfaction. The debates on the purchase-system proved how strong was the conviction of military men that our national safety depended on the maintenance of an army-organization like that in which they were brought up, and had attained their respective ranks. Clerical opposition to the repeal of the Corn-laws showed how completely that view which Christian ministers might have been expected to take, was shut out by a view more congruous with their interests and alliances. In all classes and sub-classes it is the same. Hear the murmurs uttered when, because of the Queen's absence, there is less expenditure in entertainments and the so-called gayeties of the season, and you perceive that London traders think the nation suffers if the consumption of superfluities is checked. Study the pending controversy about cooperative stores versus retail shops, and you find the shopkeeping mind possessed by the idea that society commits a wrong if it deserts shops and goes to stores—is quite unconscious that the present distributing system rightly exists only as a means of economically and conveniently supplying consumers, and must yield to another system if that should prove more economical and convenient. Similarly with the other trading bodies, general and special—similarly with the merchants who opposed the repeal of the Navigation Laws; similarly with the Coventry weavers, who like free-trade in all things save ribbons.