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THE prevailing want of the present day seems to be a want of correct information as to the true interests of society. The progress of popular education has already infused a mind into masses heretofore but passive instruments in the hands of those who were the exclusive possessors of knowledge. The people now read; the people reason; the people think for themselves. What do they read? What are their thoughts? From what principles do they reason? These are questions of deep import. For the answers to them must determine the ultimate result of the revolution, hitherto a tranquil and bloodless, but yet a complete revolution, which has long since commenced, and is in active progress throughout Europe. By education the people are everywhere acquiring knowledge; and knowledge is power.

Whilst education was nearly confined to the few whose position led them to cultivate literature as a recreation, an amusement, or a resource against vacancy, the subjects which attracted the greatest attention were naturally of a correspond

ing character-light, unsubstantial, and objectless. The refinements of classical literature-the charm of poesy-the studied graces of composition-the subtle logic of the schools-the idealisms of metaphysics-the abstract speculations of exact science and the nice distinctions of theological dissent these were, in turn or together, the engrossing subjects of study and controversy. But the thirst of the people for knowledge is not to be slaked at such fountains. Those whose daily labour wins their daily bread, with whom comforts are scarce, and necessaries not abundant; whose very means of existence are in the highest degree precarious,-this class no sooner begins to read, to think, to reason, and to inquire, than their reading, their thoughts, their reasoning, and their inquiries run into channels of vital interest to themselves, and immediately connected with their own position. They ask themselves, they interrogate each other, they consult all publications to which they have access, upon the to them allimportant question, 'How it happens that their condition is so depressed-their position so precarious? Whether this state of things is necessary, and, if so, why? If not, then how it may be ameliorated?' For to tolerate it any longer than appears to them unavoidable, assuredly they will not submit.

Hence it is that the subjects we have mentioned,

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as once engrossing the attention of the reading public, are now comparatively neglected; and even the more useful branches of information on natural history, and the arts and sciences, fail in obtaining much regard, to the discomfiture of their wondering teachers and professors. The prevailing stream of thought and argument sets towards questions of deeper moment, of more urgent and immediate bearing on the interests of mankind. A strong, though as yet scarcely recognized feeling has in fact begun to pervade society, that the wellbeing of its component members is the object most deserving of its attention, and should be its first and most prominent study; that the physical and mental happiness of man may be most materially influenced by his social arrangements; and that these arrangements are susceptible of great and indefinite, if not infinite improvement, so as to bring about a proportionate increase of happiness to the individuals united under them, by the simple application to their study and perfection of the same sagacity, foresight, and powers of reasoning, which have effected such prodigious advances in the arts and sciences.

This feeling exhibits itself in the political excitement, which more or less pervades every nation of Europe; and still more in the subjects discussed by the periodical press of every state where freedom of discussion is allowed. The

questions agitated in all assemblies-indeed, wherever two or three are gathered together-in the hovel no less than in the palace--in the village pot-house, as in the brilliant circles of metropolitan rank and fashion-in the factory, as well as the club have a direct practical relation to the constitution and interests of society. The conduct, the character, and the structure of governments and legislatures-the nature and probable results of laws to be enacted or repealed-taxation, the public debt, poor-laws, free trade-the condition and prospects of the great leading interests of the state, agricultural, commercial, and manufacturing -and, above all, of the labouring class, comprehending, as it does, the numerical majority, and, consequently, the physical powers of the community-these are now matters familiar to our ears as household words,' the topics of daily, hourly conversation and discussion, in every corner of almost every land;—often ignorantly, stupidly, blunderingly treated, it may be; but still canvassed, spoken, written, read, THOUGHT upon.

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The spirit that so occupies and agitates the general mind is not, as some pretend, one of causeless and casually excited dissatisfaction; it is no paroxysm of feverish irritation or chronic restlessness it is the natural consequence of the progress which the many have made in the know

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ledge of facts, and in the power of reasoning from them. It is not symptomatic of disease, but rather of that period in the growth of the human intellect when it passes from adolescence to maturity it indicates the approaching transition of society into a state of greater health and vigour.

The ideas of many who occupy themselves with such subjects are, no doubt, vague and indistinct; their opinions are fluctuating, and often contradictory; prejudice obscures the sight of numbers; false lights and visionary alarms deceive and distract the attention of more; the views of some are narrow, mean, and selfish; of others, wildly speculative and theoretical; of a few, destructive and criminal; but there is an average of correct apprehension, sound judgment, and virtuous intention, from which much may be expected. Above all, there is a common desire, nay, a determination to inquire into, and thoroughly sift the arrangements of society, and a valuable acknowledgment. from all sides that the object of these arrangements, and the end sought for in their discussion, is the benefit, not of one, or a few individuals, but of the mass of the associated community-in the quaint phrase of the Utilitarian sage, • the greatest happiness of the greatest number.' From the concussion of such elements good can scarcely fail to be elicited. Confiding, as I do, in the

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