… is from public-health reformer Edwin Chadwick’s May 1842 Report On the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population and On the Means Of Its Improvement:
I shall here only observe, as to the depressing effects assumed from the admitted tendencies of an increase of population, that the fact is, that hitherto, in England, wages, or the means of obtaining the necessaries of life for the whole mass of the labouring community, have advanced, and the comforts within the reach of the labouring classes have increased with the late increase of population.
DBx: This observation was offered by Chadwick in May 1842 – a year and a half before the December 1843 publication of Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol and of Thomas Hood’s poem “Song of the Shirt.” Chadwick’s observation suggests that, contrary to the impressions conveyed by Dickens and Hood – and contrary also to the countless assertions of historians such as Arnold Toynbee and E.P. Thompson – the lives of the ordinary people of Britain were improved, not made hellish, by Britain’s expanding and industrializing market economy of the era.
Pictured above is Chadwick (1800-1890), who was greatly admired by my late PhD thesis advisor, Bob Ekelund.