Guest Journal / History / Journal

Newspapers in History: The Price of Modern Luxury

Peter L. Twohig.

History in Newspapers

Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth wrote a good deal about the poor and the working class. Indeed, his work was cited in Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England (1844). In this piece, James Kay (as he was known) mused upon the ‘cost of living in our artificial society.’ He was critical of the pursuit of luxury and the distraction it posed to higher pursuits. Source: Montreal Pilot 24 October 1857.

The Price of Modern LivingMODERN LUXURY, — The cost of living in our artificial society itself causes demands on exertion which have an imperious tendency. Besides the mere competition, the house-room, and the cost of provisions in a great city, the growth of luxury creates wants, and custom intrudes with fantastic demands tending to make the man of science and genius the slave of his station in society. The sweat of his brain ought to be spent for something better than merely to live in a fashionable square, to dress his family in the newest gauds, and enable them to appear in all places of public resort. May I, without presumption, counsel a greater simplicity of life to those whom I would fain look upon as among the witnesses and guides of their time? — Sir J.K.Shuttleworth in the Medical Time. ■

Image courtesy of Seth.

This article was initially published on Peter L. Twohig‘s terrific site, Weird S*** in Historic Newspapers. Needless to say we urge you to check it out if historical ephemera is your thing. Peter L. Twohig is also professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, NS Canada, where he teaches in the Department of History, Atlantic Canada Studies, and Irish Studies.

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