'The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Class Employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester' by James Kay-Shuttleworth (1932)

A selection from The Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Class Employed in the Cotton Manufacture in Manchester by James Kay Shuttleworth, 1832.

James Kay-Shuttleworth was a physician and economist and founder of the Manchester Statistical Society, "the first organisation in Britain to study social problems systematically and to collect statistics for social purposes. In 1834 it was the first organisation to carry out a house-to-house social survey" (quoted from their website). He was a champion of the Poor Law Bill of 1834 and became a Poor Law Commissioner. He is also credited with helping to lay down the foundations for the national system-- publicly funded-- of elementary school instruction in England.

Self-knowledge, inculcated by the maxim of the ancient philosopher, is a precept not less appropriate to societies than to individuals. The physical and moral evils by which we are personally surrounded, may be more easily avoided when we are distinctly conscious of their existence; and the virtue and health of society may be preserved, with less difficulty, when we are acquainted with the sources of its errors and diseases.
The sensorium of the animal structure, to which converge the sensibilities of each organ, is endowed with a consciousness of every change in the sensations to which each member is liable; and few diseases are so subtle as to escape its delicate perceptive power. Pain thus reveals to us the existence of evils, which, unless arrested in their progress, might insidiously invade the sources of vital action.
Society were well preserved, did a similar faculty preside, with an equal sensibility, over its constitution; making every order immediately conscious of the evils affecting any portion of the general mass, and thus rendering their removal equally necessary for the immediate ease, as it is for the ultimate welfare of the whole social system. The mutual dependence of the individual members of society and of its various orders, for the supply of their necessities and the gratification of their desires, is acknowledged, and it imperfectly compensates for the want of a faculty, resembling that pervading consciousness which presides over the animal economy. But a knowledge of the moral and physical evils oppressing one order of the community, is by these means slowly communicated to those which are remote; and general efforts are seldom made for the relief of partial ills, until they threaten to convulse the whole social constitution.
Some governments have attempted to obtain, by specific measures, that knowledge for the acquisition of which there is no natural faculty.