Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/491

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sideration, which almost threatened the whole fabric of society; and, finally, with a long-continued indisposition on the part of the governing classes to make any concessions looking to the betterment of the masses, except under the pressure of influences which they had little or no share in creating. And yet, without any "violent specifics," or radical societary changes, and apart from any force of statute law, except so far as statute law has been an instrumentality for making previously-existing changes in public sentiment effective; but rather through the steady working of economic laws under continually increasing industrial and commercial freedom, the working masses of Great Britain, "in place of being a dependent class, without future and without hope, have come into a position from which they may reasonably expect to advance to any degree of comfort and civilization."

Now, with humanity occupying a higher vantage ground in every respect than ever before; with a remarkable increase in recent years in its knowledge and control of the forces of Nature—the direct and constant outcome of which is to increase the abundance of all useful and desirable commodities in a greater degree than the world has ever before experienced, and to mitigate the asperities and diminish the hours of toil—is it reasonable to expect that further progress in this direction is to be arrested? Is the present generation to be less successful in solving the difficult social problems that confront it than were a former generation in solving like problems which for their time were more difficult and embarrassing? If the answer is in the negative, then there is certainly small basis for pessimistic views respecting the effect of the recent industrial and social transitions in the future.

But, in view of these conclusions, what are the reasons for the almost universal discontent of labor?



THE persistent survival of weather-lore in these days of intellectual emancipation is not at all remarkable when we consider the extent to which the vulgar sayings embody real truths. A few years ago Messrs. Abercromby and Marriott embarked on an extremely interesting inquiry with a view to determine, by actual comparison, how far the popular proverbs express relations, or sequences, which the results of meteorological science show to be real. The investigation proved that something like a hundred of the more popular sayings are, under ordinary conditions, trustworthy. Such being the case, we need not be surprised that simple country folk prefer familiar couplets to all the "isobars," "cyclones," and "synchronous charts," in the world.