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being sunk in buildings and machinery, could only be made available by the successful working of the COI) Cern. The higher price of coals in Ireland must have had some effect in discouraging the erection of factories; but Sir Robert Kane has clearly shown that this is of far less importance than has usually been supposed.* There are important manufactures in many parts of England, where the price of coals is considerably higher than in the seaport towns of Ireland. The manufacture of flax has more slowly adapted itself to the factory system, than either that of cotton or wool. Linen is still woven by hand, and flax continued to be spun by hand until recently; the machinery for spinning flax by power not having been invented, until long after that for spinning cotton had been brought to nearly its present state of perfection. The factory system had therefore sufficient time to develope itself in England, as applied to the manufacture of cotton, woollen, and worsted goods, before the linen trade was exposed to its influence. When the contest between the spinning-wheel and the flax-mill commenced, the linen trade of Ulster might have experienced the same fate as the cotton and woollen trades of the south of Ireland, but that it was still necessary to weave by hand, and also that large capitals had been sunk in bleaching establishments, which would be useless unless the linen manufacture were supported. The habits and inclinations of the possessors of capital in many parts of Ulster must also be taken into account, as rendering them more willing to embark in manufactures, and to devote the requisite care and attention to the management of their business. Formerly there were bleach greens in several places in the other three provinces, and a considerable quantity of linen manufactured; now, this trade is almost wholly confined to Ulster. By a recent return presented to the house of commons, the number of persons employed in flax-mills in the kingdom appears to be as follows, viz. –
* See Kane's Industrial Resources of Ireland.
In Ulster - - - - - - - 15,292
In the rest of Ireland—the mills being all situated
The trade and manufactures of Ireland have been more impeded by combinations among the work-people than in England. They have not had much direct influence on factory labour, but have affected handicraft trades to a great extent, raising the price, deteriorating the quality of the work, and creating uncertainty as respects the time and manner of its completion, which have inflicted very serious injury on many branches of trade.* Combinations of workmen have proved more powerful than in England, from the greater difficulty of enforcing the execution of the laws in Ireland, and also because the want of capital on the part of the master manufacturers has left them more dependent on those they employ. The result is, that there is much more difference between the wages of skilled and unskilled labour in Ireland than in England, as will appear from the rates of wages subjoined:
Carpenters' Wages Bricklayers' Wages Labourers' Wages
Combinations among workmen are but endeavours to support the exclusive privileges, at one time given by law to the legal members of each particular trade, who had served an apprenticeship, and were supposed to have been instructed in all the mysteries of the craft. Perhaps the most effectual means used to maintain the wages of any trade, is limiting the number of apprentices, and thus supporting wages by preventing competition. This was carried some time since to such an extent, by the shipwrights of Dublin, and the number of journeymen was so reduced, that they were thus enabled to secure high wages, whenever it became necessary to repair a vessel; but at the same time, any trade in ship-building which might have existed, was effectually prevented. It seems very questionable whether the system of apprenticeship be not injurious to all trade in which it exists, and a very serious loss to the productive industry of the country. Young lads are often bound to a business for which they have no inclination or capacity, and five or seven of the most valuable years of their lives are passed without improvement, as regards their future profession. The apprentice, knowing that his master must employ him, and pay him the stipulated wages, or perhaps receiving no wages at all, has no immediate interest in being industrious; and too frequently wastes his time, feeling little desire to serve his master, or to learn his trade, and being only anxious for the termination of his “servitude,” that he may become “his own master.” Why should not the labour of a young lad be fairly remunerated 2 and if, by industry and attention, he is able to acquire a full knowledge of his business in less time than others, why should he not get wages in proportion to his skill as a workman 2 The consciousness of reaping the reward of industry, the feeling that he works for himself, is an incentive to youthful exertion, which must exercise its influence upon all the future years of life; while the deadening effect of apprenticeship is not only felt at the time, but the idle habits produced by it frequently extend through the whole course of life. The cotton manufacture is carried on without apprentices, and no where does the workman more quickly learn his business, and in no other trade does he more surely obtain a fair remuneration for the skill and industry he exerts. From nearly the first, the factory system of manufacturing has been free from the restrictions and benumbing effect of apprenticeships; and its progress has been proportionately rapid. The ingenuity of all employed is taxed to the utmost, and many are the improvements and inventions which have been suggested by the workmen themselves. That an increase of manufacturing industry in Ireland would be of the greatest value, is evident to all. It would relieve the labour market by the
* Arthur Young remarked, in 1776, that “artizans and manufacturers “of all sorts were as well paid by the day as in England;” but that “the “quantity of work they gave for it, and in many cases the quality, dif“fered exceedingly,” and that “husbandry labour was very low priced, “but by no means cheap.” The same remark is applicable to the present day.