Contemporary Reviews of Labour and the Poor 7

Contemporary reviews started appearing in other publications shortly after the “Labour and the Poor” investigation commenced, of which a number were reprinted in The Morning Chronicle.

We have transcribed a selection of these to give an idea of how the letters were being received at the time, which you can find below. Each article has links to the other articles at the top and bottom of the page.

The Morning Chronicle, Friday, December 7, 1849.

The Morning Chronicle is fast establishing its claim to be considered the Howard of the Press of this country. Stepping out of the sphere of its functions as a newspaper, it is doing the work of a Government. It may be said, indeed, that it is doing what no Government has yet done—that it is instituting a complete and searching inquiry into the moral and social condition of the poor of this country. It has been reserved for the conductors of The Morning Chronicle to handle the question in the only way in which it can be satisfactorily touched. They have commissioned a considerable number of talented and well-informed men to interpenetrate the labour world all over the country, and to publish, from day to day, the results of their investigations. That some of these gentlemen hold a distinguished position in contemporary literature gives us the double advantage of talent and character. Although the communications are anonymous the individual writers are more or less generally designated, and their position is too high to allow of their taking any liberties with facts, or of their rendering themselves the partisans of any theories. We will not spoil what we desire shall be a full and deserved acknowledgment to a political opponent, by looking at the results of these investigations on some of the great questions of politico-economic science which at present agitate the world. We observe that the editor of the paper studiously avoids drawing inferences, or building up theories prematurely. The object of this costly and munificent undertaking is, first, the storing up of facts; and in this the undertakers have succeeded, possibly beyond even their own most enlarged anticipations. Such harrowing details of the condition and sufferings of the labouring poor have been brought to light as must shame the conscience of a Christian people. Already the full tide of private charity and benevolence pours into the channel thus opened, until it requires the whole time and services of at least one responsible servant of the establishment merely to receive and distribute money. This is worthy the noble munificence and benevolent instincts of the British people, and many a half-starved, struggling sufferer has already been snatched from despair and sin. If the conductors of The Morning Chronicle had done nothing more, this alone would have earned for them praise and honour. But they have done better: they have boldly taken the lead on that which is the great and vital question of the age; and they have laid the foundation, alike in public opinion and in their stored granaries of facts, for speedy and comprehensive legislation, for the removal of that great stain on proud and wealthy England—the moral and social degradation of her labouring classes.—Liverpool Courier.

*   *   * This correspondence has been recalled to our mind by a series of letters which have recently appeared in The Morning Chronicle, on the state of the poor in the manufacturing, the agricultural, and metropolitan districts. Our London contemporary rejoices in three commissioners, although he does not designate them by so ambitious a term; and we must say that, on perusal of many of these letters, we have arrived at the conclusion that they do the industry of the writers great credit—that they are written with very considerable talent, and in a spirit of candour, truthfulness, if not forbearance, which reflects honour upon the writers. You take these letters up, with an assurance that none of the parties are wanting to make a case, much less a caricature—that each gives an honest picture of the scenes he witnessed—and, whether they be erroneous or not, that the opinions stated are honestly the opinions of the individuals who write. Amongst those letters, as more germain to our own country, we have read with very great interest those which have reference to the condition of the agricultural labourer—or, perhaps, we should rather say, the pauper population of the English counties.—Dublin Evening Post.

The “Morning Chronicle’s” Commissioners.—Our Hamburg correspondent speaks with great satisfaction of the sensation created throughout Germany by the gigantic exertions of The Morning Chronicle to inquire into the state of the poor labourers of various classes, and bring to light the grievances from which they suffer. Such efforts, ably directed as they are by The Morning Chronicle will effect more good for the English community than all the political expresses and “latest news” of the broadsheets.—Jewish Chronicle.

The Morning Chronicle, Friday, December 7, 1849.