Travelling down to Preston a week from
this date, I chanced to sit opposite to a very
acute, very determined, very emphatic personage,
with a stout railway rug so drawn over
his chest that he looked as if he were sitting up
in bed with his great coat, hat, and gloves on,
severely contemplating your humble servant
from behind a large blue and grey checked
counterpane. In calling him emphatic, I do
not mean that he was warm; he was coldly
and bitingly emphatic as a frosty wind is.
"You are going through to Preston, sir?"
says he, as soon as we were clear of the
Primrose Hill tunnel.
The receipt of this question was like the
receipt of a jerk of the nose; he was so short
"This Preston strike is a nice piece of
business!" said the gentleman. "A pretty
piece of business!"
"It is very much to be deplored," said I,
"on all accounts."
"They want to be ground. That's what
they want to bring 'em to their senses," said
the gentleman; whom I had already began
to call in my own mind Mr. Snapper, and
whom I may as well call by that name here
as by any other. *
I deferentially enquired, who wanted to be
"The hands," said Mr. Snapper. " The
hands on strike, and the hands who help 'em."
I remarked that if that was all they wanted,
they must be a very unreasonable people,
for surely they had had a little grinding, one
way and another, already. Mr. Snapper
eyed me with sternness, and after opening
and shutting his leathern-gloved hands several
times outside his counterpane, asked me
abruptly, " Was I a delegate?"
I set Mr. Snapper right on that point, and
told him I was no delegate.
"I am glad to hear it," said Mr. Snapper.
"But a friend to the Strike, I believe?"
"Not at all," said I.
"A friend to the Lock-out?" pursued Mr.
"Not in the least," said I,
Mr. Snapper's rising opinion of me fell
again, and he gave me to understand that a
man must either be a friend to the Masters or
a friend to the Hands.
"He may be a friend to both," said I.
Mr. Snapper didn't see that; there was no
medium in the Political Economy of the
subject. I retorted on Mr. Snapper, that
Political Economy was a great and useful science
in its own way and its own place; but that I
did not transplant my definition of it from the
Common Prayer Book, and make it a great
king above all gods. Mr. Snapper tucked
himself up as if to keep me off, folded his
arms on the top of his counterpane, leaned
back and looked out of the window.
"Pray what would you have, sir," enquired
Mr. Snapper, suddenly withdrawing his eyes
from the prospect to me, "in the relations
between Capital and Labour, but Political
I always avoid the stereotyped terms in
these discussions as much as I can, for I have
observed, in my little way, that they often
supply the place of sense and moderation. I
therefore took my gentletnan up with tlie
words employers and employed, in preference
to Capital and Labour."
"I believe," said I, "that into the relations
between employers and employed, as into
all the relations of this life, there must enter
something of feeling and sentiment;
something of mutual explanation, forbearance, and
consideration; something which is not to be
found in Mr. M'CulIoch's dictionary, and is
not exactly stateable in figures; otherwise
those relations are wrong and rotten at the
core and will never bear sound fruit."
Mr. Snapper laughed at me. As I thought
I had just as good reason to laugh at Mr.
Snapper, I did so, and we were both contented.
"Ah!" said Mr. Snapper, patting his
counterpane with a hard touch. " You know
very little of the improvident and
unreasoning habits of the common people, I see."
"Yet I know something of those people
too," was my reply. " In fact Mr. ——," I
had so nearly called him Snapper! "in fact,
sir, I doubt the existence at this present time
of many faults that are merely class faults.
In the main, I am disposed to think that
whatever faults you may find to exist, in your
own neighbourhood for instance, among the
hands, you will find tolerably equal in amount
among the masters also, and even among the
"Yet I know something of those people
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