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Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day.
M. Say furnishes a still stronger example of the effects of division of labour—from a not very important branch of industry certainly, the manufacture of playing cards. “It is said by those engaged in the business, that each card, that is, a piece of pasteboard of the size of the hand, before being ready for sale, does not undergo fewer than seventy operations,* every one of which might be the occupation of a distinct class of workmen. And if there are not seventy classes of work-people in each card manufactory, it is because the division of labour is not carried so far as it might be; because the same workman is charged with two, three, or four distinct operations. The influence of this distribution of employments is immense. I have seen a card manufactory where thirty workmen produced daily fifteen thousand five hundred cards, being above five hundred cards for each labourer; and it may be presumed that if each of these workmen were obliged to perform all the operations himself, even supposing him a practised hand, he would not perhaps complete two cards in a day: and the thirty workmen, instead of fifteen thousand five hundred cards, would make only sixty.”
*“Ce ne sont point les mêmes ouvriers qui préparent le papier dont on fait les cartes, ni les couleurs dont on les empreint; et en ne fesant attention qu'au seul emploi de ces matières, nous trouverons qu'un jeu de cartes est le résultat de plusieurs opérations dont chacune occupe une série distincte d'ouvriers et d'ouvrières qui s'appliquent toujours à la même opération. Ce sont des personnes différentes, et toujours les mêmes, qui épluchent les bouchons et grosseurs qui se trouvent dans le papier et nuiraient à l'égalité d'épaisseur; les mêmes qui collent ensemble les trois feuilles de papier dont se compose le carton et qui le mettent en presse ; les mêmes qui impriment en noir le dessin des figures; d'autres ouvriers impriment les couleurs des mêmes figures ; d'autres font sécher au réchaud les cartons une fois qu'ils sont imprimés; d'autres s'occupent de les lisser dessus et dessous. C'est une occupation particulière qui de les couper d'égale dimension; c'en est une autre de les assembler pour en former des jeux; une autre encore d'imprimer les enveloppes des jeux, et une autre encore de les envelopper; sans compter les fonctions des personnes chargées des ventes et des achats, de payer les ouvriers et de tenir les écritures.”—Say, Cours d'Economie Politique Pratique, vol. i. p. 340.
It is a remarkable proof of the economy of labour occasioned by this minute division of occupations, that an article, the production of which is the result of such a multitude of manual operations, can be sold for a trifling sum.
In watchmaking, as Mr. Babbage observes, “it was stated in evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, that there are a hundred and two distinct branches of this art, to each of which a boy may be put apprentice; and that he only learns his master's department, and is unable, after his apprenticeship has expired, without subsequent instruction, to work at any other branch. The watch-finisher, whose business it is to put together the scattered parts, is the only one, out of the hundred and two persons, who can work in any other department than his own.”*
§ 5. The causes of the increased efficiency given to labour by the division of employments are some of them too familiar to require specification; but it is worth while to attempt a complete enumeration of them. By Adam Smith they are reduced to three. “First, the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, the saving of the time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and lastly, the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many."
Of these, the increase of dexterity of the individual worknian is the most obvious and universal. It does not follow that because a thing has been done oftener it will be done better. That depends on the intelligence of the workman, and on the degree in which his mind works along with his hands. But it will be done more easily. The organs themselves acquire greater power: the muscles employed grow stronger by frequent exercise, the sinews more pliant, and the mental powers more efficient, and less sensible of fatigue. What can be done easily has at least a better chance of being done well, and is sure to be done more expeditiously. What was at first done slowly comes to be done quickly; what was at first done slowly with accuracy is at last done quickly with equal accuracy. This is as true of mental operations as of bodily. Even a child, after much practice, sums up a column of figures with a rapidity which resembles intuition. The act of speaking any language, of reading fluently, of playing music at sight, are cases as remarkable as they are familiar. Among bodily acts, dancing, gymnastic exercises, ease and brilliancy of execution on a musical instrument, are examples of the rapidity and facility acquired by repetition. In simpler manual operations the effect is of course still sooner produced. “The rapidity,” Adam Smith observes, “ with which some of the operations of certain manufactures are performed, exceeds what the human hand could, by those who had never seen them, be supposed capable of acquiring.”* This skill is, naturally, attained after shorter practice, in proportion as the division of labour is more minute; and will not be attained in the same degree at all, if the
* Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, 3rd Edition, p. 201.
* “In astronomical observations, the senses of the operator are rendered so acute by habit, that he can estimate differences of time to the tenth of a second ; and adjust his measuring instrument to graduations of which five thousand occupy only an inch. It is the same throughout the commonest processes of manufacture. A child who fastens on the heads of pins will repeat an operation requiring several distinct motions of the muscles one hundred times a minute for several successive hours. In a recent Manchester paper it was stated that a peculiar sort of twist or 'gimp,' which cost three shillings making when first introduced, was now manufactured for one penny; and this not, as usually, by the invention of a new machine, but solely through the increased dexterity of the workman." -Edinburgh Review for January, 1849, p. 81.
workman has a greater variety of operations to execute than allows of a sufficiently frequent repetition of each. The advantage is not confined to the greater efficiency ultimately attained, but includes also the diminished loss of time, and waste of material, in learning the art. “A certain quantity of material,” says Mr. Babbage, * "will in all cases be consumed unprofitably, or spoiled, by every person who learns an art; and as he applies himself to each new process, he will waste some of the raw material, or of the partly manufactured commodity. But if each man commit this waste in acquiring successively every process, the quantity of waste will be much greater than if each person confine his attention to one process.” And in general each will be much sooner qualified to execute his one process, if he be not distracted while learning it, by the necessity of learning others.
The second advantage enumerated by Adam Smith as arising from the division of labour, is one on which I cannot help thinking that more stress is laid by him and others than it deserves. To do full justice to his opinion, I will quote his own exposition of it. “The advantage which is gained by saving the time commonly lost in passing from one sort of work to another, is much greater than we should at first view be apt to imagine it. It is impossible to pass very quickly from one kind of work to another, that is carried on in a different place, and with quite different tools. A country weaver, who cultivates a small farm, must lose a good deal of time in passing from his loom to the field, and from the field to his loom. When the two trades can be carried on in the same workhouse, the loss of time is no doubt much less. It is even in this case, however, very considerable. A man commonly saunters a little in turning his hand from one sort of employment to another. When he first begins the new work, he is seldorn very keen and hearty ; his mind, as they say, does not go to it, and for some time he rather trifles than applies to good purpose.
* Page 171.
The habit of sauntering and of indolent careless application, which is naturally, or rather necessarily acquired by every country workman who is obliged to change his work and his tools every half hour, and to apply his hand in twenty different ways almost every day of his life, renders him almost always slothful and lazy, and incapable of any vigorous application even on the most pressing occasions.” This is surely a most exaggerated description of the inefficiency of country labour, where it has any adequate motive to exertion. Few workmen change their work and their tools oftener than a gardener; is he usually incapable of vigorous application ? Many of the higher description of artisans have to perform a great multiplicity of operations with a variety of tools. They do not execute each of these with the rapidity with which a factory workman performs his single operation; but they are, except in a merely manual sense, more skilful labourers, and in all senses whatever more energetic.
Mr. Babbage, following in the track of Adam Smith, says, “When the human hand, or the human head, has been for some time occupied in any kind of work, it cannot instantly change its employment with full effect. The muscles of the limbs employed have acquired a flexibility during their exertion, and those not in action a stiffness during rest, which renders every change slow and unequal in the commencement. Long habit also produces in the muscles exercised a capacity for enduring fatigue to a much greater degree than they could support under other circumstances. A similar result seems to take place in any change of inental exertion; the attention bestowed on the new subject not being so perfect at first as it becomes after some exercise. The employment of different tools in the succes· sive processes, is another cause of the loss of time in changing from one operation to another. If these tools are simple, and the change is not frequent, the loss of time is not considerable; but in many processes of the arts, the tools are of great delicacy, requiring accurate adjustment every