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and must be, at the expense of something else; and there is no plan, however good, which may not be greatly modified to suit the fancies of different people, as to what is most essential to comfort, and yet remain equally good : but there is such a thing as positive imperfection, and there are certain principles of comfortable arrangement, which, if they be neglected, the house must be a bad one, or an extravagantly expensive one. Such
are, for instance, that living rooms ought not to be passages, and that no space must be wasted on the chamber floor.
In the following plans I have aimed at economy of construction, but not at cheapness. The question of cost I have not gone into at all, partly because the difference of prices of all materials and labour in different parts of England is so great, that an estimate framed upon Yorkshire prices would be of very little value elsewhere; but much more have I not done so because I think that actual cost is a very secondary consideration. It is not usually thought so: it is very common to hear men insist upon the necessity of showing that your plans are such as will pay a good return for the outlay, in the shape of rent. I think that nothing can be more mistaken than their view of the subject : it has arisen chiefly from what I conceive to be a very pernicious state of things--from a very large proportion of the cottages that are provided for workmen, being built, not by the employers of labour or the large landowners, but by small builders and speculators, who have no interest in the tenants of their cottages except from the rent they pay, and who, therefore, must necessarily look principally to building at so low a cost as to receive a good return for their outlay. I hope and believe that this state of things is coming to an end; I trust that, every day, the duty of employers to provide decent dwellings for the people employed by them, is being more and more acknowledged. When this is the case, the whole question assumes a very different aspect. The houses of the workpeople are as necessary a part of the establishment for the cultivation of the estate, as the cowhouse and pigsty; as necessary a part of the establishment for the manufacture of calico, as the engine-house and factory. The question for the landlord is not whether the farm buildings will pay for the building of them, by themselves, but whether they be not wanted in order that the land should be made the most of; and cottages ought to be regarded in exactly the same light. I am certain, also, that an employer's money can in no way be employed more profitably, than in providing really good cottages for all whom he employs, even if they did not return a farthing directly in the shape of rent. The thing upon which the value of all property in a country of every kind ultimately depends, is the morality of the people of that country. Raise the standard of morality, lessen the percentage of crime, and the value of all property is increased; lower that standard, and the value of property becomes less.*
In the extreme case (which
* The not sufficiently taking into account this principle is the loose screw in all systems of political economy.
is, perhaps, not easily conceivable) of no one of a society being bound by any consideration whatever of justice or right, no one is secure of retaining property, and it becomes of no value whatever; and the same principle holds good to a great degree upon each estate in the same country, although its results cannot be traced to it so directly. But pauperism, as well as crime, is the legitimate child of a low state of morals; and, again, it is not easy to estimate the gain to an employer, of having workpeople who, from their character, can be trusted, or the loss and waste arising from having to watch the workman, lest he should defraud his employer, or do his work badly. And if all this be true in landed property, it is perhaps even more so in large manufacturing and mining concerns. Consider one thing only, the enormous waste and misery, ending not unfrequently in the utter ruin of the trade of a place, and of master and men together, occasioned by strikes, and see whether it be not the direct interest of the employer to make those whom he employs as comfortable as possible, and thus to attach them to him, so that they will prefer acting with him, to combining against him.
In one respect I consider the present time not an unfavourable one, for urging the duty of landlords to provide on their estate fit dwellings for all who are employed on it.
One obstacle to this has hitherto been the state of the Poor-laws. The fear of having paupers settled in their parish, has led many landed proprietors into the shortsighted and selfish policy, of pulling down cottages, and driving the people who are employed on the estate to live in some distant parish. There is now
no inducement to do this. The last statute by which the unhappy Poor-laws have been tinkered and patched, whatever its blunders and whatever other evils will result from it, has at least this merit, that it has removed every objection to having the workpeople living on an estate on account of the pauperism which may result amongst them, because from henceforth that will all fall upon the union, and not on the