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The New Forces at Work.

Modern History. (a.d. 1492-1898). Europe from 1815 to 1898.
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The history of the 19th century is emphatically a history of vast and unexampled progress due to the extended and developed work of old, or the operation of new, forces in the physical, moral, political, and intellectual spheres of human life and labour. A long period of diplomatic intrigue and of monarchical misrule, a time of wars, treaties, and revolutions, has been succeeded by nearly a century of material, mental, and social change affecting every class, and most of all the great body of the people, in every civilised community. Wars there have been in Europe, but of very limited scope and duration compared with the struggles of the past. Still confining ourselves to Europe, we find that many new states have been created. One new empire exists in Germany. Six new kingdoms - Greece, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Roumania, and Servia - have arisen. Two new principalities - Montenegro and Bulgaria - are found on the map. Many petty states in Germany - to the great relief of geographical students and Continental travellers - have been absorbed by Prussia and vanished from independent existence. Change after change has taken place in the form of government in France. All these changes of frontier and of rulers are trivial compared with those caused by the transcendent and transforming power of steam and electricity, and by the working of the democratic spirit which had its first strong modern expression in the American colonies of Great Britain and, for Europe, in the great French Revolution. The agency of steam, as applied to manufactures, navigation, and land-locomotion, has exceeded, in the character and degree of the changes thereby wrought, that of all other human inventions. The first real steam-engine was due to the Devonshire man named Newcomen early in the 18th century. The first really valuable production, rendering the application of steam possible in all industries, came from the Scottish James Watt, about 70 years later. The first British steamboat was probably one built by Symington at Edinburgh in 1786, but the first regular service of vessels driven by steam arose in the United States about the same time. Railroads of iron were first used in England of all countries, and that about 1770. The first application of steam to railroads was due, in 1813, to William Hedley, but it was George Stephenson who, in 1814, vastly improved the locomotive-engine, and constructed, 15 years later, the Rocket engine which was first really efficient for a high speed. We need not dwell on the marvellous effects of steam-locomotion on human life in times of peace and on the work of soldiers in war. It is quite certain that war has lost half its horrors in the swift decision between combatant nations rendered possible by the improved means of transport to fields of battle.

As railways are the arteries, so the electric wires are the nerves, of the modern social, economical, and political organism, annihilating time in the transmission of news, and bringing the whole civilised world into the compass of a single parish for the interchange of sympathy and thought. For this use of electricity mankind are indebted conjointly to Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. The first really efficient land-telegraph by means of wires was used in England in the year of Queen Victoria's accession; the first submarine-cable was laid in 1850 between Dover and Cape Grisnez; the first efficient and permanent ocean-line was laid in 1866 between Ireland and Newfoundland., Volumes would be needed to deal with the changes wrought on the conditions of life in civilised countries by scientific discovery, by ingenious invention, and by the energetic development of resources which had previously been only in partial use. The mere names of things are sufficient for the thoughtful - lucifer matches, gas, the cheap postal system, the penny and halfpenny newspaper, cheap popular literature, the sewing-machine, the omnibus, the tram-car, and many other improvements. The greatest triumphs of human skill and organisation are to be found in that moving palatial hotel, the great ocean-liner, and in the production and contents of the daily newspaper. The revolution in naval and military warfare due to scientific invention and improvement needs no detailed description here. The peaceful achievements of the 19th century are before us, in the last years of the last decade of that period, in the shape of changes beyond all comparison the greatest in the world's history for abiding and far-reaching influence. The conquest of natural forces has been followed by an enormous increase of wealth and population; by the colonisation of vast regions of the earth which were once either void or peopled only by a few savages; by the extension of the span of human life; by the wider distribution, in many countries, of the necessaries, the comforts, and some of the luxuries of life among those who are the creators of all wealth by the work of their hands. The existence of old and the rise of new evils along with material improvements, have been met by fresh activity in philanthropic work, and by the creation of a great and complex system of charitable agencies dealing with every phase of the mischief which keen competition, the unequal distribution of wealth human greed, and human mental, physical, and moral frailty, have created in the midst of what is called our "modern civilisation." We turn from this tempting subject, and from any effort to deal with the domain of philosophy, science, theology, literature, and art, to the special subject of this work, political development and change.

The chief note of the 19th century is the vast increase of popular power, the rise and progress of the democracy, in which term is here included the great middle class, that below the titled and landed aristocracy and above the manual workers. The growth of the people, attended by a great increase of political, religious, and personal freedom, and by the application of more beneficent methods of rule, has given rise to new political and social problems concerning representative government, local self-government, the rights of labour, national and technical education, and other matters, causing, from time to time, minor revolutions, insurrections, riots, strikes, political and social congresses, endlessly various' hostile and friendly conflict, discussion, and debate. It was the French Revolution which, for good or ill, swept away old ideas along with antiquated institutions; which taught governments of all kinds that they exist, not for themselves or for a class, but for the benefit of the community at large; which made the masses of the people know their power, and strive to impress it, in lawful or unlawful ways, by remonstrance or appeal or peaceful agitation, or by threats or violence, on the holders of rule. To the principles established by the French Revolution, when the first evil effects of excess had passed away from the terrorised minds of moderate men, are due the rise of Italy, the freedom of Greece, the final abolition of serfdom; with the advance of religious toleration, a large measure of liberty for the press, and a great share of self-government, in all European countries except Russia and Turkey. The evil attendant on the great political earthquake, that "open violent rebellion, and victory, of dis-imprisoned anarchy against corrupt worn-out authority," that volcanic outburst of disintegrating rage, which occurred more than a century ago in France, has passed away, and the good, in many forms, survives, likely to last as long as the world endures. The advance of modern democracy has overthrown in western and central Europe the remains of the feudal system, and replaced absolute government, in most countries, by one based on either universal or extensive suffrage. Its main features are those of complete personal freedom, with a career open to character and ability; equality before the law; and political power in the suffrage exercised through a representative parliamentary system. Along with these go universal education, and, on the European continent, general liability to military service. The growth of democratic power has been parallel with that of every other factor in the social life of mankind - the development of the art of printing, of industrial activity, of improvement in man's technical skill and resources, of human mastery over nature. The average standard of intelligence and morality has been greatly raised, and with the continuous education which exists in modern life in the elementary school, the workshop, the municipal and political agitation and discussion which culminate in the dropping of papers in a ballot-box, there has come to the great body of citizens a sense of responsibility forming the best safeguard against the evils connected with communism, socialism, nihilism, anarchism, and other schemes. These, originating in the minds of benevolent theorists, have been too often perverted by wild fanatics or by mere idle miscreants to the worst uses.

The socialism which aimed at social reconstruction and renovation on an optimistic basis of belief in human perfectibility has been discredited. The scientific socialism of Ferdinand Lassalle, the founder of the social-democratic movement in Germany, and, partly, of Karl Marx, the originator of the international socialistic movement, involves a reorganisation of matters between the worker, or receiver of wages, and the capitalist, with a view to a fairer distribution of the wealth produced by work, through the intervention of the state as an organiser in the new capacity of the promoter of freedom, culture, morality, and progress, instead of its former function as a mere policeman or protector of property. In this form, socialistic theory has already had a great influence on the labour-movement in every part of the civilised world. The famous "International" or "International Working-Men's Association" was founded in London, in 1864, chiefly by Karl Marx, but, after the holding of congresses in Geneva, Lausanne, Brussels, Basle, and other towns, this organisation came to an end in 1873- The socialist parties, however, in different countries, regard the movement as international, and their views and feelings have repeatedly found expression at congresses, as at Ghent in 1877, and at Paris in 1889, the centenary year of the French Revolution. In Germany the movement has made great political progress. It was in 1875 that German socialists drew together at Gotha. Eight years previously five members of the party had been elected to the North German Reichstag or Parliament. At the elections, in 1871, to the first Reichstag of the new Empire, the socialists polled only 120,000 votes; in 1877 this number had grown to nearly 500,000. Exceptional legislation against the rising party did not prevent the increase of votes in 1890 to nearly 1,500,000, or about 20 per cent, of the total poll, with a considerable progress shown in rural and Catholic districts hitherto almost untouched by the movement. Denmark also now has a large number of socialists, and outside these two countries there is no very large known class of active and avowed adherents. The chief permanent result, at present, of the socialistic movement has been the development of wider and better views of political economy as that which should be subordinate to the welfare of mankind. The cause of the poor has thus been brought with great influence before society, and that which is styled "Christian socialism" seeks to remedy the inequalities of the distribution of wealth by insisting persuasively on liberal contributions from the rich towards all schemes devised for the benefit of the impoverished and suffering.

The working of modern democracy is very favourably seen on the side of thrift, provident insurance, and co-operation. The "Friendly Societies," "Industrial Assurance Companies," and other mutual provident associations of the British Isles possess funds probably exceeding 25,000,000 pounds sterling. Co-operation, meaning generally the association of workers for the management of their own industrial interests, in the store, the workshop, or other undertaking, with a fair distribution of profits among those who earn them, has been largely adopted in various forms. In Great Britain the movement has had its chief success in the way of distribution through stores supplying the household needs of workmen and their families. Since the establishment of the society called the Rochdale Pioneers, in 1844, vast progress has been made, and many hundreds of such organisations are now at work, selling goods at the current prices of shopkeepers, and sharing the net profits quarterly among members in proportion to the amount of their purchases. The benefit to the working-class obviously consists in their capture, by this means, of the profits of the "middleman" and of the retail-shopkeeper, by direct purchase in the wholesale market, and direct transmission to the consumer. The "Wholesale Society," which is a federation of retail societies, confers further benefit by co-operative production on a large scale, the annual value of goods now reaching several millions sterling. The Civil Service Associations and Army and Navy Stores render like service to the middle classes, and the whole community has received advantage in the enforced reduction of shopkeepers' charges through the competition due to the co-operative principle. This established institution had its origin with the better class of workmen, the more enlightened part of the new democracy, aided by the intelligence and philanthropy of such men as Robert Owen, the Rev. J. F. D. Maurice, the Rev. Charles Kingsley, and other social reformers, among whom we must not forget to name George Jacob Holyoake, the veteran historian of Co-operation, Thomas Hughes ("Tom Brown"), and the marquis of Ripon. It is remarkable that in the United States, the greatest of democracies, the co-operative system has not made great progress, perhaps owing to the large scope there afforded for individual energy and enterprise. In France the chief development of the system has been in the form of industrial partnership, whereby the workmen share in the profits of the capitalist. In Germany, Austria, and Hungary the principle has been chiefly active in the form of people's banks, along with many hundreds of societies for distribution of goods, the purchase of raw material, and other beneficial ends. Germany and Denmark have applied co-operation with great success to dairies, and England, Sweden, Switzerland, and Holland have also followed the lead of the United States and Canada, where the factory-system of production, or associated dairying, exists on an enormous scale. In Italy co-operation has made great progress in the form of people's banks, and there are also many co-operative bakeries and dairies, the movement being actively supported by the government. Belgium has also developed the system in the way of co-operative bakeries, fisheries, and stores. It is in these institutions that the democratic movement is seen at its best, the people managing their own affairs, acquiring intelligence, commercial skill, and higher moral character, and deriving benefit from foresight, thrift, and self-control, in alliance for truly legitimate and peaceful aims.

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