The Reality of Progress
There is no subject about which so many contradictory assertions are made, by those pretending to be acquainted with it, as the state of the middle and lower classes in all parts of the country. We, in fact, Have no real knowledge of the matter. There are no authentic accounts of the qualities and current prices of articles in any great market, the rent of houses and lodgings, the rate of wages in proportion to the work done, and a variety of other particulars, indispensable to be known before anyone can pretend to estimate the condition of the bulk of the people, or to compare their state at one period with their state at another. . . . Ministers are quite as much in the dark as to these matters as other people. The Secretary for the Home Department is about as well informed respecting the demand for labour, wages, diet, dress and other accommodations of the people of Canton and Manilla, as of those of Manchester and Paisley.