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be sufficient to purchase that intelligence. It is therefore of importance to every seller of labor, that labor should be dear. But the effect of machinery is to diminish the necessity of those important elements of the price of labor, skill and strength,—and to supplant the labor of man by that of women and children. Machinery subdivides and simplifies every process, and carries the division of labor to the greatest extent. In numerous cases the workman has but to 'tent' the machine--i.e. to see that it performs its operations properly.
"The object of Machinery is to diminish the want, not only of physical, but of moral and intellectual qualities on the part of the workman. In many cases it enables the master to confine him to a narrow routine of similar operations, in which the least error or delay is capable of immediate detection. Judgment or intelligence are not required for processes which can be performed only in one mode, and which constant repitition has made mechanical. IIonesty is not necessary where all the property is under one roof, or in one enclosure, so that its abstraction would be very hazardous; and where it is by its incomplete state difficult of sale. Diligence is ensured by the presence of a comparatively small number of overlookers, and by the almost universal adoption of piece work.” e
It is therefore a disadvantage to the laborer, as such, to be compelled to adopt employments casily learned. It is no fault of the laborer if, in so universal an adoption of machinery, he is compelled to betake himself to an employment which can never return the wages of skilled labor. But it does form an ample ground for compensation. If he thus loses one of the most valuable trainings of his faculties, the loss should be made up to him by placing at his disposal the amplest means of education and development.
We alluded before to machine assisted employments. Compare them with those here machinery has made little or no progress. Common sense seems to declare that if wages are anywhere high, it should be in those employments where the power of production has been most increased. Is it so? On the contrary, it is in those employments only where machinery has not been introduced, or but very partially, that the highest wages are enjoyed. These employments yet demand the strength and intelligence of the full grown man to perform them, and therefore the price of that strength and intelligence must be paid for. In this class of handicraft's men,--the aristocracy of the working classes, -we do not find that discrepancy between the condition of the employer and employed. The master himself has been a journeyman whose superior intelligence and morality have enabled him to become an employer, and he still partakes of the labors of his men. It is this class of journeymen who still send their children to the day school till the age of apprenticeship; it is this class whose wives still stay at home, their true place, and continue to fulfil those domestic duties which so endear them to us, and make
Our hearth and wife, the orient pearl and gold of life.” It is true that their position is gradually becoming worse, owing to the competition of those with whose labor machinery and land monopolies have dispensed. But this action upon their condition has been only indirect. Bring it to bear
e Poor Law Commissioners' Report for 1834, p. 73.
directly upon them, and behold the results! Subdivide the labors of the mason, the carpenter, the tailor, the compositor, the shoemaker,-apply the factory system to them, and perform each process with the aid of a machine,--and that which has resulted in the textile manufactures, will not fail to exhibit itself here -immense wealth on the one hand, intense misery on the other. The child must quit the school, and the mother forsake her home, and entrust her babe to some child or superannuated woman.
--no helping hand
Nothing to praise, to teach, or to command ! f The sweetest charities of life will be trampled under foot, and for what? That a portion of society may be raised above the masses, as the feudal baron above the serf, without even a ' brass collar' bond of sympathy between them to atone for the harshness of the slavery.
It is a remarkable condemnation of the laissez-faire principle, that society has, in the mere instinct of self-defence, without any 'chimera’ or foregone theory to delude, been compelled to reject it--earliest and most completely in those departments where science has made the greatest progress,—where, consequently, one would expect à priori that the laborer should be well off, and most able to protect himself. We would ask our opponents, how it was that the machineassisted laborer alone, had to be prevented from employing his child of nine years for fourteen hours a day, nay twice or thrice that period, without intermission ? How is it, that he first education a do-nothing-government felt compelled to give, was to the child of the operative? If the present mode of employing machinery to compete with labor (instead of working for labor) be the correct one, whence the discrepancy between the laborer's immensely increased power of
production and his degraded condition ? The operative would have obtained the necessaries of existence if Watt and Arkwright and Wedgwood had never existed -how much more does he get now ?
Many writers on the machinery question have lugged in the doleful condition of the English laborer in former ages, to show the vast benefit he has derived from mechanical improvements. We would be the last to underrate those benefits, but they seem very much over-stated. There is a vague tradition that the people of this country were once weil off; we cannot think it is all a myth, arisen
f Wordsworth -'The Excursion.'
nobody knows when nor how. On the contrary there is evidence extant to show, that the English laborer was once in a comfortable condition. From the 13th to the 15th centuries various acts of parliament were passed to prevent wages from becoming too high. Mr. Thornton remarks of one made in the year 1482, that “considering the fall which has since taken place in the value of money, it was really much as if a law should now be necessary to prevent ploughmen from strutting about in velvet coats and silk stockings, with silver buckles in their shoes, and their wives from trimming their caps with Brussels lace." ! Indubitably they had plenty to eat. They had no Goatacre meetings, no Irishmen unable to lift the third sod from exhaustion, no mother poisoning her children to receive the funeral money from the death-club. If the luxuries and comforts of modern civilization were unknown, they were also undesired. The worst effect of our present civilization, is the disproportion between our stants and our means of satisfying them. In former days rich and poor fared much alike: in our day the poor are surrounded by an atmosphere of luxury. Then all was rude, there were no painful contrasts; now civilization dwells side by side with want and barbarism. Absolutely the laborer of those days was better off, relatively he was infinitely so. The fall of the laborer from this palmy state was owing to a cause precisely similar in character to the extensive introduction of machinery, viz., the aggregation of many small farms into large estates. This process of enlarging estates and diminishing the num' er of landholders has been going on for the last three centuries, and with an ever increasing impoverishment of the peasantry as the result. The material improvement was great,-i. e. an increase of wealth was the consequence,--but the laborer in ceasing to be lardholder, ceased to participate in the proceeds. The great lesson which runs thrö-out history,--one the Economists have altogether forgotten,-is, that so long as the laborer remains only a laborer, however much wealth may increase, his share depends upon the possibility of his selling his labor.
Wealth has indubitably increased in the country far faster than population. It is not that we have a less amount of necessary, useful, and agreeable commodities, in proportion to our numbers, than in the reign of Henry VI., when laws were made to restrict the extravagance of the laborer, -we have vast!y more, and scarcely any limit to our power of increasing them. In agriculture, which has made the slowest progress, the increase of the productive power of labor is manifold. But in manufactures it is so great that no comparison can be instituted. In many processes one person can do as much as one hundred, two hundred, and in some instances one thousand could formerly, and improvements are continually making. It was stated before a Committee of the House of Commons, that the introduction of machinery had so greatly facilitated production in the Cloth manufacture in the various processes which precede weaving, that thirty five persons were able to perform, in 1800, as much work as would have required sixteen hundred and thirty four persons to perform in 1785 (or forty six times as much, in five years). The employment of machinery in the single manufacture of cot
6 See also Eden's state of the Poor, vol. i. p. 59.
ton was calculated by the Quarterly Review in 1826 (twenty-four years ago), to save the country seven millions per annum, if the same results had to be attained by hand labor. The increase of population between 1831 and 1841 was 13.2 per cent. for the whole kingdom. The total value of our exports had increased 38.9 per cent., and of course our imports had also materially increased. Notwithstanding a duty of 200 per cent. on Fire Assurances, the amount insured increased 29.4 per cent. The increase in the value of all property, both real property and profits, was not less than 20 per cent. But the condition of the class dependent on daily labor for sustenance, did not improve. We know of no class of operatives whose wages have increased 20 per cent. We know of several whose wages were reduced, and we know too that pauperism increased, notwithstanding that the amount of relief was diminished nearly 50 per cent. Persons in commerce, trade, and manufactures increased in numbers 29 per cent. ; capitalists, bankers, professional, and other educated men, 32 per cent. We have a very significant hint as to the class to whom the increasing wealth of society accrues, in the fact that domestic servants increased 90 per cent. Population is not increasing faster than wealth, tho population is increasing faster than the fund for the payment of labor.
We have no wish to arrest the progress of Invention and Discovery, of Science, and Art. We have no sympathy with that short siglited benevolence which, to cure the evils of machinery, would deprive us of its advantages. As soon believe that the rain and the sunshine by which the teeming bosom of the earth is quickened into life, were sent as a curse, as that knowlege rightly applied should prove the bane of the humblest individual. The task is not to destroy the factory, but to Christianize it. The duty of society in relation to machinery seems very obvious. If invention increases the productive value of capital, it should increase that of labor no less. As the laborers are perhaps a thousand times more numerous, care should be taken to apportion to them their due share of the advantages. Instead of this, the capitalist builds his country house, buys wines, pictures, and costliest furniture, and then ostentatiously subscribes to relieve the distresses of his workmen; who are entitled to ten times more as a right, than he dispenses as a charity! The public,—good easy folk,-rejoice at cheap stockings, and when they read of great distress in the town of Leicester—are led to fancy that we only want a financial or representative reform! The first and most immediate duty of society, the absorbing of the unemployed laborers that machinery and the changes of fashion throw out of employment, they never think of at all. A rational system of Home Colonization, instead of the present brutal and costly poor law, might attain this object. i Society ought to have extended its protecting arm over the domestic hearth, far earlier and more completely than it has done, by rescuing females and infants from Factory labor. Thus would have been avoided that bitter feeling which has arisen at various times between employer and employed. There would have been no destruction of machinery.
Knight's Political Dictionary. Art. 'Census.'
· See Lecture iv. TRUTH-SEEKER, 1849. k The trade of Sheffield is said to be departing in consequence of the destruction of tools and machines by the Unionists,
There would have been no half-apologetic hesitancy in introducing new machinery on the part of the capitalist, till driven to it by the force of competition. If the laborer had shared in the benefit, the faster we improved the better—if he really had derived advantage, it would need no labored arguments to convince him of it. He would have had the greatest interest of any one in the increase of machinery, while that absurd state of things—idle machinery and idle men, too much clothing and too many half-clothed people,—would have been banished.
But we rest not here. The progress of invention opens to us still grander possibilities. It seems destined to rescue every man from the necessity of more labor than is needful for the preservation of health. When a man says he wants work, he simply employs a phrase in which the mean indicates the end. It is not work itself which he wants, but only the conveniences and enjoyments that cannot be produced without work. Those benefactors of the race who have toiled that we may reap, who have substituted Order for Chaos, and the light of intelligence for the night of barbarism, have not surely labored that a mere section of mankind should enjoy the great powers which they have been the means of bestowing. The right ‘Results of Machinery are, that all should enter, and if possible enlarge, the region which Genius has opened. The purpose of the Machine is to sare, not supersede, the Laborer. By performing tasks otherwise impossible, it should release him from constantly toiling for mere bodily wants, and enable each one to reach a higher culture, and thus lead a better and nobler life. Its business is to add leisure to labor, to lighten the toils of the feeble and the aged, to spare the woman and the child. Man has to 'subdue and inherit the earth,' and therefore the iron arms and sinews are to serve man, not to turn him into mere cogs and wheels; they are for him-not he for them. The blessings of machinery should be held with no monopolizing hand, but spread in broad and expanding streams over the whole surface of society. This might be accomplished by Association, but will not until a loftier Ideal of Society pervades the reading and reflecting classes. This state, however, seems rapidly approaching. Time was, when there was an aristocracy of knowlege,—when the larger portion of the race were esteemed the born-drudges of the few. The fashion has now so much changed, that the class who clung to the notion of some being born to work and some to think, is almost extinct. If one of these curiosities of Conservatism,fossils of a past generation,-still survives to refuse his subscriptionto a Mechanic's Institution or a People's College, he conceals his antiquated thoughts in some vague mutterings about 'leveling system. In a generation or two, we predict,
' the right and duty of Universal Culture will be fully recognized.
As with mental, so with material wealth. If we cannot endure an aristocracy in the greater, we shall cashier it in the less. We shall perceive that, by means of the wonderful powers of nature which we have subdued to our service, there need be no limit to the production of wealth; and hence, that to quarrel over it is as insane as to quarrel over the distribution of the air or the water. We shall learn that every child of earth has certain physical wants given to him, which may be adequately supplied,-faculties that need cultivating,--and tastes which may be refined. When we have learnt this great truth, we shall perceive that to do