Bonar Law's refusal to receive a delegation of unemployed is by no means an indication that they are down and out or that they have reached the starvation stage of bad times. Probably a good many of them, willing and anxious to secure work, are seriously distressed by England's overpopulation, but the remaining lot of professional benchwarmers have never before experienced such prosperity.
In the old days when the English town criers used to call, "No lazar nor infecte paupers or poor shall come within the town", a delegation of unemployed would never have come within the town gate, let alone seen the king. Then all good English citizens thought the poor man the scum of the earth and would sing, "Rattle his bones over the stones": he's only a pauper whom nobody owns," and think nothing more of him.
But now the English gentlemen of the road feed off the fat of the land: they have arrived at a state of well being almost as ideal as that of the Roman mob in the period of Corn laws and competitions in Praetorian generosity. They are given their regular doles of food, and everything is done to make their lives carefree and easy. Now and then the terrible spectre of road-building, railway construction, or shipment to Australia, where good wholesome work is free and plentiful, makes a shadow in their dreams. But so far the bug-a-boo has done nothing more than to cry, "Boo!" and the Englishman of leisure is still able to sleep sweetly on a full stomach and say to himself, "Oh England, 'my merry England, my most kindly nurse".
In America the "unemployed" are equally well off. Only the other day the newspapers printed the story of a tramp who rang the back doorbell of a Connecticut house and to the lady there of said, "Can you let me have a little food, mam, for a pore, hongry man, or just a few pennies, or some of your husband's old clothes." She refused his request and thereupon he went out to the street, stepped into his powerful car, and rode off in high dudgeon.
The I. W. W. too, at its recent convention in Seattle, voted that any man who could show his little red card to a freight train employe should be given a free ride. And the hobos, as such, held high revel not long ago in a well known New York hotel with tomato soup for punch and Irish stew for supper. Remarkable transformation! Fifty years ago the unemployed could do nothing but die quick deaths in the "workus". Now they go abroad in private cars and high-powered automobiles, and dine as guests of the government.