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'Britain's Hope': An Appreciation (S641: 1907)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A notice of Julie Sutter's Britain's Hope printed on page 73 of the Land and Labour issue of June 1907. To link directly to this page connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S641.htm

     'Britain's Hope' is the most powerful book Miss Sutter has yet written. Two very instructive and exceedingly important works have recently appeared dealing with the systematic over-working and under-feeding of women and of children--Miss Malvery's 'The Soul Market,' and Mr. John Spargo's 'The Bitter Cry of the Children.' Never have the damning facts of this failure of modern civilisation in both England and America been more clearly, more authoritatively and more pathetically set forth than by these two writers; but neither of them go far beyond the facts, or even attempt to offer anything but a few wholly inadequate suggestions as to the remedies needed for these terrible and race-deteriorating evils.

     It is here that Miss Sutter shows her great superiority as a clear thinker and at once a practical and a philosophical social reformer. In the guise of an open letter to the Rt. Hon. John Burns she gives us a wonderfully luminous outline of the vast social problem with which we are confronted; and, with an amount of knowledge which no other English writer possesses, shows us how successfully very similar problems have been solved--largely, if not wholly,--in various parts of Germany. Above all things she protests against any partial or trial remedies, any mere tinkering with symptoms, any mere alleviation of isolated hardships. What she asks for is 'a national handling of the problem, a comprehensive undertaking, scientifically devised, scientifically applied.'

     In the first chapter of this book the only sound foundations of such a system are clearly laid down and forcibly reasoned out as being the total abolition of married women's industrial labour, and likewise of all child-labour--at least, under the age of sixteen. I ask anyone who is interested in this great question--and who is not?--to read this short opening chapter, and I think that very few indeed will lay down the book till they have read and pondered over every word of it.

     This is followed by an equally lucid exposition of the necessity for Training Colonies for the young and for the unfit: for Civic Guilds of Help; for various forms of National Insurance (including old-age pensions, but not our proposed system, which she wholly, and I think rightly, condemns); for Labour Bureaux over the whole country; for public employment and cheap Transport (including the Nationalisation of Railways and thorough reinstatement of our Canals, both forcibly reasoned out); lastly, for a truer Education, the abolition of 'Homelessness,' and the providing of health conditions for infants and school children.

     All these varied proposals are treated briefly but with full knowledge, and they are shown to be parts of that 'scientific and comprehensive handling of the problem' which the author advocates. The book is permeated with sympathy and true humanity; it treats every aspect of the social disease with a broad and statesmanlike appreciation of its relative importance, and it is throughout studded with fruitful ideas and with fine thoughts finely expressed. It is packed with valuable information to be found in no other work that I am acquainted with; it contains much acute criticism and wise suggestion and is altogether a book to be read and re-read by everyone interested in those great problems which must be satisfactorily dealt with if we are to keep our place among the civilised nations of the world. So far as my knowledge extends this admirably-written volume is the best and most trustworthy guide for the attainment of this result that has yet been given to the public.

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