Upton Sinclair, ed. (18781968). The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.
The Unemployed Problem (From Past and Present)
By Thomas Carlyle
(One of the most famous of British essayists, 17951881; historian of the French Revolution, and master of a vivid and picturesque prose-style)
AND truly this first practical form of the Sphinx-question, inarticulately and so audibly put there, is one of the most impressive ever asked in the world. Behold us here, so many thousands, millions, and increasing at the rate of fifty every hour. We are right willing and able to work; and on the Planet Earth is plenty of work and wages for a million times as many. We ask, If you mean to lead us towards work; to try to lead us,by ways new, never yet heard of till this new unheard-of Time? Or if you declare that you cannot lead us? And expect that we are to remain quietly unled, and in a composed manner perish of starvation? What is it you expect of us? What is it you mean to do with us? This question, I say, has been put in the hearing of all Britain; and will be again put, and ever again, till some answer be given it.