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The importance, even in this limited aspect, of popular education, is well worthy of the attention of politicians, especially in England; since competent observers, accustomed to employ laborers of various nations, testify that in the workmen of other countries they often find great intelligence wholly apart from instruction, but that if an English laborer is anything but a hewer of wood and drawer of water, he is indebted to education (though often to selfeducation) for it.*
• Extracts from the evidence of Mr. Escher, of Zurich, (an engineer and cotton manufacturer, employing nearly two thousand working men of many different nations,) annexed to the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners in 1840, on the training of pauper children.
"The Italians' quickness of perception is shown in rapidly comprehending any new descriptions of labor put into their hands, in a power of quickly comprehending the meaning of their employer, of adapting themselves to new circumstances, much beyond what any other classes have. The French workmen have the like natural characteristics, only in a somewhat lower degree. The English, Swiss, German, and Dutch workmen, we find have all much slower natural comprehension. As workmen only, the preference is undoubtedly due to the English ; because as we find them they are all trained to special branches, on which they have had comparatively superior training and have concentrated all their thoughts. As men of business or of general usefulness, and as men with whom an employer would best like to be surrounded, I should, however, decidedly prefer the Saxons and the Swiss, but more especially the Saxons, because they have had a very careful general education, which has extended their capacities beyond any special employment, and rendered them fit to take up, after a short preparation, any employment to which they may be called. If I have an English workman engaged in the erection of a steam engine, he will understand that, and nothing else; and for other circumstances or other branches of mechanics, however closely allied, he will be comparatively helpless to adapt himself to all the circumstances that may arise, to make arrangements for them, and give sound advice or write clear statements and letters on his work in the various related branches of mechanics."
On the connection between mental cultivation and moral trustworthiness in the laboring class, the same witness says, “The better educated workInen we find are distinguished by superior moral habits in every respect. In the first place, they are entirely sober; they are discreet in their enjoyments, which are of a more rational and refined kind; they have a taste for much better society, which they approach respectfully, and consequently
The moral qualities of the laborers are fully as important, to the efficiency and worth of their labor, as the intellectual. Independently of the effects of intemperance upon their bodily and mental faculties, and of fighty, unsteady habits upon the energy and continuity of their work, (points so easily understood as not to require being insisted upon,) it is well worthy of meditation, how much of the aggregate effect of their labor depends on their trustworthiness. All the labor expended in watching that they fulfil their engagement, or in verifying that they have fulfilled it, is so much withdrawn from the real business of production, to be devoted to a subsidiary function rendered needful, not by the necessity of things, but by the dishonesty of men. Nor are the greatest outward precautions comparable in efficacy
find much readier admittance to it; they cultivate music; they read; they enjoy the pleasures of scenery, and make parties for excursions into the country; they are economical, and their economy extends beyond their own purse to the stock of their master; they are consequently honest and trustworthy." And in answer to a question respecting the English workmen, “Whilst in respect to the work to which they have been specially trained they are the most skilful, they are in conduct the most disorderly, debauched, and unruly, and least respectable and trustworthy of any nation whatsoever whom we have employed, (and in saying this I express the experience of every manufacturer on the continent to whom I have spoken, and especially of the English manufacturers, who make the loudest complaints.) These characteristics of depravity do not apply to the English workmen who have received an education, but attach to the others in the degree in which they are in want of it. When the uneducated English workmen are released from the bonds of iron discipline in which they have been restrained by their employers in England, and are treated with the urbanity and friendly feeling which the more educated workmen on the continent expect and receive from their employers, they, the English workmen, completely lose their balance; they do not understand their position, and after a certain time become totally unmanageable and useless. The educated English workmen in a short time comprehend their position, and adopt an appropriate behavior."
The entire evidence of this intelligent and experienced employer of labor is deserving of attention; as well as much testimony on similar points by other witnesses, contained in the same volume.
to the monitor within. The advantage that it is to mankind to be able to trust one another, penetrates into every crevice and cranny of human life: the economical is perhaps the smallest part of it, yet even this is incalculable. To consider only the direct waste of wealth occasioned to society by human improbity; there is in all rich communities a predatory population, who live by pillaging or overreaching other people ; their numbers cannot be authentically ascertained, but on the lowest estimate, in a country like England, it is very large. The support of these persons is a direct burthen on the national industry. The police, and the whole apparatus of punishment, and of criminal and partly of civil justice, are a second burthen rendered necessary by the first. The highly paid profession of lawyers are required and supported principally by the dishonesty of mankind. As the standard of integrity in a community is higher, so are all these expenses less. But this positive saving is far outweighed by the increased spirit, the feeling of power and confidence, with which works of all sorts are planned and carried on by those who feel that all whose aid is required will do their part faithfully according to their contracts. Conjoint action is possible just in proportion as human beings can rely on each other. There are countries in Europe, of first-rate industrial capabilities, where the most serious impediment to conducting business concerns on a large scale, is the rarity of persons who are supposed fit to be trusted with the receipt and expenditure of large sums of money. There are nations whose commodities are looked shyly upon by merchants, because they cannot depend on finding the quality of the article conformable to that of the sample. Such short-sighted frauds are far from unexampled even in English exports. Every one has heard of "devil's dust ;” and among other instances given by Mr. Babbage is one in which a branch of export trade was for a long time actually stopped by the forgeries VOL. I.
and frauds which had occurred in it. On the other hand, the substantial advantage derived in business transactions from proved trustworthiness, is not less remarkably exemplified in the same work. “At one of our largest towns, sales and purchases on a very extensive scale are made daily in the course of business without any of the parties ever exchanging a written document.” Spread over a whole year's transactions, how great a return, in saving of time, trouble, and expense, is brought in to the producers and dealers of such a town from their own integrity. “The influence of established character in producing confidence operated in a very remarkable manner at the time of the exclusion of British manufactures from the continent during the last war. One of our largest establishments had been in the habit of doing extensive business with a house in the centre of Germany; but on the closing of the continental ports against our manufactures, heavy penalties were inflicted on all those who contravened the Berlin and Milan decrees. The English manufacturer continued, nevertheless, to receive orders, with directions how to consign them, and appointments for the time and mode of payment, in letters, the handwriting of which was known to him, but which were never signed, except by the Christian name of one of the firm, and even in some instances they were without any signature at all. These orders were executed, and in no instance was there the least irregularity in the payments."*
* Some minor instances noticed by Mr. Babbage may be cited, in further illustration of the waste occasioned to society through the inability of its members to trust one another.
“The cost to the purchaser, is the price he pays for any article, added to the cost of verifying the fact of its having that degree of goodness for which he contracts. In some cases the goodness of the article is evident on mere inspection; and in those cases there is not much difference of price at different shops. The goodness of loaf sugar, for instance, can be discerned almost at a glance; and the consequence is, that the price is so uniform, and the
$ 6. Among the secondary causes which determine the productiveness of productive agents, the most important is Security. By security I mean the completeness of the protection which society affords to its members. This consists of protection by the government and protection against the
profit upon it so small, that no grocer is at all anxious to sell it; whilst, on the other hand, tea, of which it is exceedingly difficult to judge, and which can be adulterated by mixture, so as to deceive the skill even of a practiced eye, has a great variety of different prices, and is that article which every grocer is most anxious to sell to his customers. The difficulty and expense of verification are in some instances so great as to justify the deviation from well-established principles. Thus it is a general maxim, that government can purchase any article at a cheaper rate than that at which they can manufacture it themselves. But it has, nevertheless, been considered more economical to build extensive flour mills, (such as those at Deptford,) and to grind their own corn, than to verify each sack of purchased flour, and to employ persons in devising methods of detecting the new modes of adulteration which might be continually resorted to.” A similar want of confidence might deprive a nation, such as the United States, of a large export trade in flour.
Again : “Some years since, a mode of preparing old clover and trefoil seeds by a process called doctoring, became so prevalent as to excite the attention of the House of Commons. It appeared in evidence before a committee, that the old seed of the white clover was doctored by first wetting it slightly, and then drying it by the fumes of burning sulphur; and that the red clover seed had its color improved by shaking it in a sack with a small quantity of indigo; but this being detected after a time, the doctors then used a preparation of logwood, fined by a little copperas, and sometimes by verdigris; thus at once improving the appearance of the old seed, and diminishing, if not destroying, its vegetative power, already enfeebled by age. Supposing no injury had resulted to good sced so prepared, it was proved that from the improved appearance, the market price would be enhanced by this process, from five to twenty-five shillings a hundred weight. But the greatest evil arose from the circumstance of these processes rendering old and worthless seed equal in appearance to the best. One witness had tried some doctored seed, and found that not above one grain in a hundred grew, and that those which did vegetate died away afterwards; whilst about eighty or ninety per cent. of good seed usually grows. The seed so treated was sold to retail dealers in the country, who of course endeavored to purchase at the cheapest rate, and from them it got into the hands of the farmers, neither of these classes being capable of distinguishing the fraudulent from the genuine seed. Many cultivators in consequence diminished their