Commentary on Self Help by Smiles

989 Words4 Pages
This document is an excerpt of the very beginning of the book entitled Self Help and written by Samuel Smiles in 1859. Samuel Smiles was born in a family of a papermaker and shopkeeper, he had a medical degree, and worked as a journalist in Leeds, and then in the railroad industry. He wrote many works and achieved his worldwide fame through books on morality and personal behaviour. He published Self Help in 1859, the same year Darwin published Origin of the Species. While Darwin demonstrates how closer adaptation to environment refines life, Smiles advocates self-help and the spirit of personal responsibility as a source of advances and improvement. He addresses to a popular audience to show the best way to take advantage of the changes that happened with the Industrial Revolution. In Smiles' lifetime, the Old Poor Law was characterised by paternalism, that is to say that people in power were responsible for their workers. Thanks to the Old Poor Law, people in poverty were provided out-relief in addition to their wages. However, with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the 1830s, capitalism became the leading system. Paternalism was replaced by the notion of self-help. Description/Summary: This document tells us about this new form of attitude, part of Victorian values, that is self-help. According to the author, men have their destinies in their hands, they are the only one who can decide for their futures. Laws or government do not constitute the strength of a nation, but the individuals. However, there are limits. I/ Victorians values. A) Poverty is not a fatality His second insight is that people should look to themselves rather than to institutions or the state in order to prosper. People have to find the will within themselves to work with the views to have a better life and improve themselves. In Smiles' lifetime, the British Empire
Open Document