(Questionable?) Thoughts for summer – 4

An historian has written of “the disasters of the industrial revolution.” If by this he means that the years 1760-1830 were darkened by wars and made cheerless by dearth, no objection can be made to the phrase. But if he means that the technical and economic changes were themselves the source of the calamity the opinion is surely perverse. The central problem of the age was how to feed and clothe and employ generations of children outnumbering by far those of any earlier time. Ireland was faced with the same problem.220px-TS_ashton Failing to solve it, she lost in the forties about a fifth of her people by emigration or starvation and disease. If England had remained a nation of cultivators and craftsmen, she could hardly have escaped the same fate, and, at best, the weight of a growing population must have pressed down the spring of her spirit. She was delivered, not by her rulers, but by those who, seeking no doubt their own narrow ends, had the wit and resource to devise new instruments of production and new methods of administering industry. There are today [ 1947 ] on the plains of India and China industrial-revolution-1760-1830-t-s-ashton-paperback-cover-artmen and women, plague ridden and hungry, living lives little better to outward appearance, than those of the cattle that toil with them by day and share their place of sheep by night. Such Asiatic standards, and such un-mechanized horrors, are the lot of those who increase their numbers without passing through an industrial revolution.

T.S. Ashton