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SOME years ago, the inhabitants of a small
English country town were astonished by a
very extraordinary circumstance. A new
fishmonger from London suddenly plunged
into the calm waters of the local trade, set up
a magnificent shop, and sold his delicate
goods at amazingly reasonable prices. The
town, being by no means populous enough to
support any two tradespeople who dealt in the
same article, and the patronage of the fickle
public being soon almost exclusively bestowed
upon the new fishmonger, the old-established
shop, which did business in the old-
established way, was soon shut up; and the
proprietor was reported to have left the place in
disgust, with the intention of trying his luck
in any other district of England, in which he
could hope for the common justice of meeting
with fair play.

No sooner had the new fishmonger got the
public all to himself, than a gradual, steady,
unintermitting rise began to take place in
his prices. He was a very intelligent man,
and he explained this alarming phenomenon
clearly and fluently, on the soundest commercial
principles. Nobody who objected to
his bills, ever got the better of him in argument.
Week after week his prices grew
higher, and his train of reasoning in support
of them more and more brilliantly convincing
and conclusive. At last, the charges rose to
such an exorbitant rate, and the monopoly
enjoyed by the new fishmonger asserted itself
so unendurably, as well as so logically, over
the purses of his helpless customers, that the
public spirit of the townspeople rose in
resistance. A private meeting of the respectable
classes was summoned at the house
of the daring patriot who led the local
struggle for the twin-blessings of freedom
and cheap fish. Resolutions were proposed
and passed, binding all the persons present,
representing the rank, the respectability and
the fish-consumption of the town, to make
the sacrifice of at once abstaining from eating
fish, on any pretence whatever, until absolute
want of custom should have had the effect of
starving the rogue who had impudently
cheated the whole community, out of the

It is gratifying to be able to report that
no member of the League thus formed,
proved unfaithful to the common cause;
that the exorbitant fishmonger, after desperately
resisting the combination against him
for two whole months, and after vainly
proposing a compromise with his outraged
customers, fairly evacuated the town under
stress of circumstances; that the old-
established tradesman was sought for, was
recalled, and was set up in his former business;
and that the inhabitants have eaten their fish
at reasonable prices, from that eventful
period to the present day.

The anecdote which I have just related is
not only true, but is also, as I have every
reason to think, unique. Trifling as it may
appear, it affords, I believe, the only instance
on record, in which the middle classes
of England have been found capable of
combining together for the sake of
promoting their own social advantage. If this
conclusion be the true oneand I shall
presently offer a few striking proofs in
support of itsome rather serious considerations
arise, in reference to the share which,
little as we may think it, we ourselves have,
in perpetuating some of the most vexatious
and unpopular abuses of our own time.

Englishmen of the middle classes have
combined together, and will probably again
combine together, for the promotion of
religious and of political reforms. Some very
great victories in both these directions, have
been won already by the influence of that
united self-denial and united perseverance
which is described by the word League. We,
the respectable people, when we have a
religious want or a political want, thoroughly
understand the necessity of carrying out the
desired object by sacrificing our own individual
convenience to the first great consideration
of the general benefit. When we have
a social want, however, do we recognise the
same principle ? I rather think that we
become, in this case, suddenly incapable of
seeing it at all. The principle of a Strike, as
understood and practised by the artisan,
when he feels (whether rightly or wrongly, it
is not my present business to inquire) that he is
suffering under an abuse which nothing but
self-devotion can help to remedy, seems to be,
as to all social difficulties, a complete mystery

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