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lies—that of corn; 'ils high price being, as Mr Laing justly remarks, no longer, in our social system, a check upon increase of population (which would be the best argument in favour of the corn-laws), but a check upon the subsistence of an already existing population, increasing from a cause not controlled by • the dearness of food—that of the demands for the products of
their industry by other nations ;' in the second case, from the want of due caution by the labouring classes themselves, in adjusting their numbers to the demands of the labour market in average years. Under the restrictive system, the living and • estimation of a tradesman does not depend, as with us, mainly
upon his character and moral worth in his social station, but on • his privilege-on his right to exclude a better workman, and
a better man, from enjoying any portion of public favour in • the exertion of the same trade, where the competition would • be- injurious to his means of living. The consequence naturally follows, that such a man may be idle, profligate, and inexpert, with impunity. One part of the system seems to lead the way to all these consequences. Every young artisan, before he is entitled to set up in his trade, . must travel as a journeyman • for at least two, in some trades for four or more years, working • at his trade for improvement.' Thus, at the period of life, 'when • he should be acquiring manual dexterity, and habits of steady
industry and application, he is wandering like a vagabond from ! town to town, without fixed home or constant work, and is subsisted, like a pauper, from the box of his trade, in the towns through which he passes.' In Germany, where this system prevails, national character and other causes prevent these seeds of ill from growing up into any permanent and deep-rooted mischief. Neither, in Sweden, can the charge of demoralization be fixed particularly on this class. But it may not be too much to say, that meeting with fewer obstacles in the social system to check and counteract them, the above-mentioned causes may be regarded as contributing to the unsatisfactory moral condition of Swedish society.
But it is in the state of the agricultural classes, composing fourfifths of the whole population, and in the influences to which they are subject, that we must look for a large proportion of the causes which swell the amount of crime in that country.
Mr Laing thus speaks of them :- They are trained to obedience, and, in • the labouring classes, to consider nothing their own but what " is left to them by the clergy and government, to whom, in • the first place, their labour, time, and property must belong.' One of the foulest blots that can mark any society, still adheres to the Swedish institutions. Corporal punishment, at
the will of the masters, can still be inflicted on the whole class of agricultural servants; and this punishment is sanctioned by law to any extent short of killing or maiming. Except that they are able to change their service after six month's notice, these • servants in busbandry' are not far removed from the condition of serfs. The existence of such a power must demoralize those who possess, not less than those who are subject to it. This class, and the one immediately above it, the married servants in • husbandry, having houses and land on lease, are also subject to a poll-tax, the ancient badge of personal servitude. Upon the entire class of tenants, and upon the peasant proprietors, many customs and state regulations operate very injuriously. The growth of that self-respect, which arises from the uncontrolled command over property, time, and industry, is obstructed, and a state as well as a feeling of dependence is perpetuated, by the prevalence of the right of pre-emption exercised by the
government, fixing also its own price, in the neighbourhood of all mines and public works; and by the very general habit of paying rent in labour, either daily, or a certain number of days in the year. The posting system is also justly pointed out by Mr Laing as one of the active causes of the low state of morals among the agricultural population. The farmers in the district round every post station are obliged, according to a regular course of duty, 10 furnish horses for the use of the station. A lad, sometimes a
girl, comes with horse and cart—there are generally three or • four at once in the yard of the public-house—and lounges about ' in the gin-shop or in the yard till a traveller arrives, or until their time of waiting is out. They are then relieved by another
If not drinking, they are idling and wasting • time to no purpose, for three or four hours, two or three times
each week.' For the use of his horses, the farmer receives only a nominal compensation. The moral evils resulting from this system are beyond recompense. He is compelled to submit to the violation of the first of all rights—the right of
every man to his own property, time, and industry, without • infringement, on any pretext, for the convenience of others, not
even of the public, but for the fullest compensation, and on • the most urgent state necessity. The moral sense of the country cannot but be disturbed by the public sanction thus given to a disregard for one of the main principles on which society rests—the principle of the sacredness of property. Several other instances are given of peculiarities of social arrangement and legislation, which carry their evil effects through the whole community. We will only advert to one connected with the administralion of justice :
· The almost indiscriminate use of the lash, and the legal commutation of the heaviest corporal punishment of this kind into a fine, or the fine, if not paid, into the corporal punishment~so many dollars for so many lashes-is demoralizing to a dreadful degree on the mind of the people. It makes, in fact, one law for the rich and another for the poor, and money the equivalent for morality. A host of functionaries also, from the judge himself downwards, have an interest in the fines, fees, writings, and multiplication of cases of criminal offences.'—P. 327.
Keeping in view, therefore, these various agencies at work throughout this ill-constructed social system-the influence of the class of nobility, felt as much in the memory of deeds of violence and fraud, undisguised and unpunished, as in the example of the actual race presenting no high standard of excellence or virtue, but vices in abundance for a base zeal to imitate and exaggerate--the influence of the privileged trading classes, diffusing itself in customs which encourage dependence on other than the true distinctions of moral worth, and introduce habits adverse to steady industry and active virtue—the degrading remnants of feudal oppressions weighing upon the peasantry and agricultural population-barbarous legislation, to the extent of permitting the commutation of corporal punishment for money, and the frequent and unjustifiable interference with the rights of person and property ;-looking at all these aids and instruments of immorality and injustice, it may safely be inferred, that to them may be attributed much of the demoralization that has infected the Swedish people. Mr Laing has, however, in his estimate, rested, we think, too exclusively on these moral causes. Two striking physical causes he has not, indeed, failed to notice -the poverty that is overspreading the country, and the drunkenness that is the prevailing vice. But he has not, we think, taken them sufficiently into account in the course of his speculations; and, in his summary of the causes affecting the moral condition of the people, he has omitted them altogether.
Amongst the first things he remarked, on entering Sweden, was the fact of agricultural labourers going to Norway in search of work. He observed, also, the ill state of repair of the farmhouses, and the want of comfort and neatness in the labourer's cottages. He shows that the subdivision of land has been going on as in Ireland, and that the Legislature has in vain interposed to check it. Pauperism is stated to have increased fifty per cent during the last twenty years of peace, while the population has increased only twenty per cent.
The standard of sufficiency of a labouring man's family in the midst of Sweden, he places at only six dollars above zero in the standard of living --taking pauperism as zero in the scale.'-Having enumerated
these circumstances, nevertheless, on again adverting to the calculation just mentioned, he states, “That it is evidently not
owing to any defect or inferiority in their physical condi• tion, in their food, or comforts, that this mass of population
is demoralized.' In his zeal for his theory, he has allowed himself, in this instance, to be betrayed into a forgetfulness of his facts. The agricultural labourer and the small farmer are plainly, on his own showing, in a low physical condition ; and from the severity of the climate, frequently liable to be thrown back into a state bordering on destitution. It is said that one kind of
is expected to fail every year; and the average total failure is one harvest in seven. But let us hear M. Forsell, to whose authority Mr Laing often refers. serts that one-fourth of the population are very poor, and an
other fourth not much better off. In 1825, one-fifth of the population required relief.' In the towns, the condition of the labouring classes is equally low and precarious. In them, pauperism has increased more rapidly than in the country. With reference to Stockholm, Mr Laing admits that the necessity in which a labouring man is placed, to earn during summer what is to keep him in food and fuel in winter, and the consequent difficulty of supporting a family, will account for much of the immorality that prevails there. This is equally applicable to the rest of Sweden. Hence the crimes that recklessness engenders of physical suffering. · In this we may recognise the cause of a large portion of the crime existing in Sweden. But we cannot thus account satisfactorily for all. Ireland is much nearer the point of destitution than Sweden, yet with a much less amount of crime. The other causes already enumerated, may be justly taken to make up the difference. Their deteriorating agency corrupts the life-blood of the social system, and is well calculated to infect and vitiate whatever poverty has not stricken. It may be very true that much of the poverty results from bad laws. Norway, under nearly the same conditions as to climate. and with an inferior soil, enjoys a high degree of physical wellbeing, and is favourably distinguished in point of morality.* In Sweden, however much the arrangements of her social may contribute to her low moral condition, there can be little doubt that the wide-spread poverty is amongst the most active and immediate causes of crime.
Mr Laing shows some anxiety to get rid of the fact of the
The flat lands of Sweden are somewhat more exposed to the blighting effects of the cold in spring, than the Norwegian valleys.
great prevalence of drunkenness, notwithstanding the universal testimony to its existence, and the following pieces of evidence; one of which he notices, but without the accompanying illustration; the other he might bave found on referring to M. Forsell's tables. The consumption of brandy was, in 1785, when Finland was united to Sweden, 5,400,000 kanns. In 1829, it had amounted to 22,000,000 kanns, without Finland. It had thus increased considerably more than 400 per cent in that period; while the population, has, within the last twenty years, during a favourable period of peace, increased only 20 per cent. Again, of the convictions in 1830, one in every eleven was for crimes committed under the influence of intoxication.
But what is there in Sweden to counteract these various elements of moral disease ? Mr Laing says education and a full and complete church establishment. He adds, that even these are ineffectual; and proceeds with his theory, attributing the low state of morals exclusively to the low civil condition of the great mass of the people. Here, again, his facts fail to support his conclusions. He reasons as if the church establishment in Sweden were in the position to enable and dispose it to fulfil all the purposes generally expected from such an institution. In numbers, the Swedish clergy are indeed fully adequate to the work. Their ecclesiastical discipline is unexceptionable. In temporal position they occupy a high place. They elect from their own order one of the Chambers of the Diet. They possess, according to Mr Laing, more influence than any other body in Sweden; and he speaks highly of their personal qualities. Yet what is his account of the actual effect produced upon the people? They are educated
up to a certain point—that of being able to read • and understand the church catechism, so as to be entitled to con! firmation, and to be received as communicants. Here the working of the establishment seems to stop. All beyond this
is mere attention to ceremonial; to saints' days; to high mass; . to church forms; to the decorations of the altar; to offerings, • and such observances,' (p. 248.) The power of a priesthood being in the inverse ratio to the spirit of enquiry among the people, such a spirit is checked and discouraged by all means short of active persecution. No offices being open to those who do not take the sacrament, and offices being numerous, and, in a poor country, much coveted, an unreasoning conformity is produced. Few enquire at the risk of temporal loss. The public mind in Sweden was never thoroughly stirred by the doctrines of the Reformation. The secession from the Church of Rome was the work of a few; the people at large being unacquainted with the nature of the change. They are consequently as su