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So in the production of goods for foreign use, there would be no motive for the trade unless there was initially a difference, there would be no limit to the trade unless there was finally an equality, between comparative costs. The difference and the equality are opposite sides of the same shield ; and the whole dispute is as if one party should only insist that a body could not begin to fall through a fluid-a grain of shot in air, for instance-unless the attraction of gravitation was greater than the resistance offered by the medium, while the other party also pointed out that the equality of those opposite forces is the condition of steady motion. The fulfilment of that condition determines the cessation not of motion, but of acceleration.
These considerations are very abstract, but so is the problem to which they are applied. Enough has been said to show that under the circumstances described in Professor Bastable's volume, or the critique already referred to, the sudden introduction of Free Trade might reduce the working classes to beggary. Agricultural produce in A would now be more valuable than before, in that it would exchange for more manufactures, cheap importations from B. There would be a flow from manufacturing industry in A to agriculture. But this flow might very soon come to a stop, if the law of decreasing returns acted sharply in A. The point might very soon be reached at which the“ marginal shepherd" added to the total produce only just the amount of his wages, even though that amount in the new conditions of the labour market might be only the barest minimum of subsistence. Thus only a small proportion of the displaced artisans would be taken on as agricultural labourers. The statement that the manufacturers, both entrepreneurs and workmen, who cannot find employment in agriculture “are left to starve or emigrate" errs on the side of moderation, as it leaves out of sight the depression which even those who are employed in agriculture suffer owing to the competition of the unemployed.
So minute a point in so hypothetical a case might seem undeserving of attention, if it were not advisable to test every joint in the armour of reason now that we are threatened by sagacious prophets 2 with a renewal of the Protectionist movement in the British Empire. As to prospects of Protectionism we have an interesting sample of enlightened foreign opinion in the introduction which Professor SauvaireJourdan has prefixed to his translation of Professor Bastable's manual. The French economist holds fast to the English doctrine of international trade ; yet he seems to assimilate with special aptitude those passages in Professor Bastable's broad-minded exposition which show most allowance for the at least temporary retention of a protective system. Professor Sauvaire-Jourdan thus sums up :
1 Mathematically the condition that comparative costs should be finally equal is represented by Jevons's Equation of Exchange (Theory, Chap. IV.), or by its geometrical equivalent the contract-curve (adduced by Professor Marshall in Note XII. bis of his Principles of Economics); the functions being understood to involve the disutility of labour as well as the utility of consumption. The condition that comparative costs should be initially different is represented by the existence of a positive area contained between the contract-curve and the indifference-curves (cp. ECONOMIC JOURNAL, Vol. IV., p. 425). It is very intelligible that with altered conditions this space should become less and less, that the indifference curves should approach nearer and nearer, and ultimately pass each other. For instance, if the margin of flax culti. vations rise in our hypothetical country Q, the stage at which it ceased to be profitable to import flax would be reached sooner, it might ultimately become profitable to export flax. On this principle it does not seem to us " impossible to understand how the export agricultural product changes, as under a further development it would do into the export of manufactures ” (Professor Bastable, of country A., loc. cit).
2 Cf, above.
“Free trade as the end, the ideal that is not to be left out of sight (no one has expressed this idea more eloquently than Frederic List) ; but as long as national divisions (les divisions en nations) subsist, Protection in a certain number of exceptional and well-defined cases; these are conclusions which from the theoretical point of view seem hardly to admit of discussion.”
By his acute and learned introduction Professor Sauvaire-Jourdan has much enhanced the value of his accurate and spirited translation.
F. Y. EDGEWORTH
NOTES AND MEMORANDA
A SEVENTEENTH CENTURY TRADE UNION
AMONG existing Trade Unions there is probably none that better represents the older traditions of Unionism than that of the Journeymen Hatters of Great Britain and Ireland. In spite of the changes which this national organisation has inevitably undergone during its century of existence, its original features have to a remarkable extent been preserved. This is the more striking in that the hatting industry has during the same period passed through a revolution in technique. The present members of the “Fair Trade” Union are makers of silk hats, and follow a craft which has scarcely a single process in common with that of their predecessors of a century ago. Feltmaking, which was the hatter's original craft, has been largely taken over by machinery. It is carried on chiefly in the provinces, where new combinations among the workers have arisen, more adapted to the different conditions of employment. The silk hatters have inherited the traditions of the old felt- and beaver-makers, because, although the technical process of their craft is different, the economic conditions under which they work are almost precisely the same. There is practically no machinery, little division of labour, and the silk hat, like the old-fashioned beaver, is an article of fashion consumed by a limited class, which is mainly resident in large cities, or at any rate prefers to make its purchases there. Cheapness is not sought at the expense of style and quality; and consequently the skilled workman, if backed by an efficient combination, can command a high price for his labour. It is the continuity of those conditions which has given the Fair Trade Union so long a lease of life. This is clear from the fact that when the silk hat began to replace the beaver, the Union was able gradually to transfer its control from the old trade to the new. Its members learned the new processes, and little by little the making of felts was left to be undertaken by the perhaps less skilled, certainly less efficiently combined, workers in the provinces.
We need not be surprised to find that a combination of such tenacity has even a longer history than it claims for itself. The Union as a national organisation dates itself from 1798; but it had existed in London at any rate long before that period. A petition of the master hatmakers of London to the House of Commons in 1777 states that the journeymen have entered into a combination called a Congress, that they pass byelaws, inflict fines, and prevent the increase of apprentices; and one of the masters declared to a committee of the House that he had been compelled, on pain of a strike, to discharge five of his fifty journeymen who had refused to pay the 2d. a week levied by Congress. The power which, according to this and other similar evidence, the men's combination had already acquired, and which, through the trying times of the next half century, it steadily maintained, could scarcely have been of very recent growth. But with the exception of a reference to a strike in the “Annual Register for 1768," there seems to be no published evidence of the Union's previous existence. It occurred to the writer that this want might possibly be supplied by the records of the Feltmakers' Company. Some historic connection between the Union and the Company is suggested by the traditions of the journeymen hatters themselves. Amongst the Place MSS. in the British Museum there is preserved a list of resolutions agreed to by the journeymen during a dispute in 1820. At the head of this document is a curious device, representing a tramping hatter who has just arrived in town, and is receiving the refreshment and relief due to him by the rules of the Union. Around this device are printed several traditional or historic data :-“ Hats first invented, 1456; first made in London, 1510. The Feltmakers' Company were first incorporated in London, 1604 ; and again by charter, 1667. Blanks first instituted, 1798." The appropriation thus implied of the traditions of the Company by the Union is exceedingly characteristic of the conservative temper of the journeymen hatters. One cannot read the hatters' evidence before the Royal Commission of 1824 without being struck by the relations of friendliness and mutual respect which had evidently long prevailed between masters and men. The masters admit that the men's claims were generally reasonable, and that disputes had as a rule been settled by compromise. And an appeal made by the men to the masters during the strike of 1820 is clothed in the language of dignified remonstrance. The men repudiate the charge of idleness and drunkenness more in sorrow than in anger. “For are there not among you those who have toiled in our ranks, who have been raised by prudence above their fellows? .... we cannot suppose that the generality of our masters, from the generous manner in which we have been treated by them, could have engendered such evil against us." Moreover, the shock which the prosecutions for combination instituted by the masters in the following year occasioned to the feelings of the men, is a strong testimony to a long tradition of mutual tolerance. In spite of the element of antagonism which comes to a head now and then in a dispute, the normal attitude of the men to the masters is one of respect and emulation.
The facts which it is the purpose of this paper to present are taken mainly from the Book of Ordinances and the Court Books of the Feltmakers' Company, all of them subsequent to the second charter of 1667. A few words of explanation are therefore necessary, relative to the earlier history of the Company, and of the hatting industry in England.
The first two dates already referred to as embodied in the Union's traditions, though certainly not accurate, contain nevertheless an element of historical truth. Felt hats had been made on the Continent, and probably in England too, from the earliest times. But from the beginning of the sixteenth century two great changes combined to put such new life into the industry that it may almost be considered to have made a fresh start at that time. On the one hand the wearing of felts instead of caps became increasingly common; whilst, on the other, the better qualities of felts hitherto imported from abroad began to be made in England; this latter development being greatly assisted, if not entirely caused, by a considerable immigration of skilled workmen from Flanders and Normandy. London thus became the seat of a new and growing industry, whose interests were likely to conflict, not only with those of the old capping industry, but also with those of the dealers and importers who had hitherto controlled the hat and cap trade. These latter were mostly comprised in the Company of Merchant Haberdashers, which during the fifteenth century had, by a natural process first overshadowed and then absorbed the Hatters' and Cappers' gilds, whose Ordinances we meet with in the fourteenth century. In the cappers' industry division of labour had made great strides; which accounts in a great measure no doubt for the lowering of their status and their dependence upon the capital of merchants like the haberdashers. The new industry was from the first on a better footing. The feltmakers were, it is true, small masters, who sold their products to and even bought their materials from the haberdashers. But their work was more skilled, there was little or no division of labour, and the concentration of their trade in London made combination in their own interests comparatively easy. An Act of 1565, which, professedly in the interests of the old and threatened industry, laid restrictions as to apprenticeship, &c., on the new craft, would equally serve to maintain the status of the latter, and may even have been supported by the feltmakers, with that object. An unauthorised company of feltmakers which petitioned in vain for independence in 1576, continued to struggle against the control of the haberdashers till 1604, when it obtained a charter from James I. As, however, the validity of this charter was not acknowledged by the haberdashers or by the City government, the conflict continued till 1667, when Charles II. granted a new charter, which was duly enrolled by the City.
It is from this point that the records of the Company begin, and from the very first we have clear indications of the combined action of the journeymen. The charter was granted in June, 1667. In October