Page:Poverty, its effects on the political condition of the people.djvu/5

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foot. But even this paltry oppression is unneeded. Duke Despicable is in unholy alliance with King Poverty, who mocks at the poor mother and her wretched, ragged family, when from the garret or cellar in a great Babylon wilderness they set out to find green fields and new life. Work days are sacred to bread, and clothes, and rent; hunger, inclement weather, and pressing landlord forbid the study of nature 'twixt Monday morn and Saturday night, and on Sunday God's ministers require to teach a weary people how to die, as if the lesson were not unceasingly inculcated in their incessant toil. Oh! horrid mockery; men need teaching how to live. According to religionists, this world's bitter misery is a dark and certain preface, "just published," to a volume of eternal happiness, which for 2000 years has been advertised as in the press and ready for publication, but which after all may never appear. And notwithstanding that every-day misery is so very potent, mankind seem to heed it but very little. The second edition of a paper containing the account of a battle in which some 5000 were killed and 10,000 wounded, is eagerly perused, but the battle in which poverty kills and maims hundreds of thousands, is allowed to rage without the uplifting of a weapon against the common enemy. "If a war or a pestilence threatens us, every one is excited at the prospect of the misery which may result; prayers are put up, and every solemn and mournful feeling called forth; but these evils are to poverty but as a grain of sand in the desert, as the light waves that ruffle a dark sea of despair. Wars come, and go, and perhaps their greatest evils consist in their aggravation of poverty by the high prices they cause; pestilences last a season and then leave us; but poverty, the grim tyrant of our race, abides with us through all ages and in all circumstances. For each victim that war and pestilence have slain, for each heart that they have racked with suffering, poverty has slain its millions whom it has first condemned to drag out wearily a life of bondage and degradation."

The poor in France were awakened by Rousseau's startling declaration that property was spoliation, they knew they had been spoiled, the logic of the stomach was conclusive, empty bellies and aching brains were the predecessors of a revolution which sought vengeance when justice was denied, but which full-stomached and empty-headed Tories of later days have calumniated and denounced.