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fair prospect of maintaining a family is obtained. They marry later in life, and, as Mr Danson remarks, " they do not on an average leave children enough to replace them in the next generation; though of the children born to them, they rear, by better care, a larger proportion than are reared of the children of the lower classes." But this sentiment prevails in other classes in civilised countries. In England a few years of prosperous trade leads to a considerable increase of marriages among the working classes; when times are bad, and wages sink, marriages markedly decrease. In France and Switzerland the whole people pause before engaging in marriage. Irishmen, living on potatoes, and accustomed every year to fight starvation for a month between the old and the new crop, fell into the feeling that marriage could not make them worse off, and multiplied their numbers in utter recklessness. Under such circumstances the moral force was sadly weakened. The same temper prevails in a yet higher degree amongst the great populations of the East, whose numbers are pushed out to what the barest minimum of food will sustain in ordinary years, and are content to run the risk of dying of hunger under periodical visitations of famine. Moral restraint seems to be wholly wanting.
In this most grave matter, habit, one of the most powerful forces in human nature, plays an immense part. Habits can reconcile men to multiply down to the lowest margin of subsistence, though they well know that deficient harvests and consequent famines are regular events in their lives. They lack strength of character to commence a new habit. On the other hand, habit brings powerful help to communities differently constitutcd. It springs up amongst men who are conscious that life possesses for them comforts which thoughtlessness may destroy. They learn to make efforts to increase, or at least to maintain, this standard of comfort; and if the circumstances of the country admit of material progress —and rarely does it happen that they do not— the habit establishes itself of pausing before marriage till the prospect of a decent home seems to be secured. Advancing civilisation strengthens and enlarges the process. The desire and the will to work are developed, and bring fresh resources. As comfort expands, prudence unconsciously waxes stronger, and the relations of population to food steadily improve.
The chief moral to be drawn from these facts is the extreme importance of building up in a people a high, and if possible, an advancing standard of living. No force is comparable to this in combating the danger of over-multiplication of numbers. None calls forth in equal degree the best qualities of human nature, its selfcommand for a high purpose, its desire and its courage to make resolute efforts to sustain itself, its self-respect, and its progressive appreciation of the gifts of civilisation. Ireland passed through bitter suffering when the failure of the potato sentenced more than a million of her inhabitants to perish; but she obtained a fresh start in the race of life, and her position is at the present hour far loftier and safer than it was in the past. The vast development of trade has conferred similar benefit on the English people. There is no class but would recoil from the physical and material condition of the country half a century ago.
Thus in various ways, the supply of labour adjusts
itself to the demand although never without some amount of chronic suffering, even in the most prosperous nations. The quantity of births which the condition of a people will admit of without deterioration never can be known beforehand. It is learnt by experience, and instinct is too strong always to take its stand on prudence. We have also seen that the difficulty of adapting the supply of labourers to the power of rewarding them is severely aggravated for a country which has all the world for its customers. The ups and downs of trade, that is, the varying ability of its customers to purchase, bring great trouble on the labour market, and much suffering both on labourers and capitalists. Happily, however, modern civilisation has provided a relieving force of great power. Fresh lands are taken into cultivation in new or imperfectly developed countries, and they speedily raise up large resources for supporting population. Emigration brings help to an over-loaded supply of labour. Emigration saved many Irish lives in the day of her affliction, and bestowed very efficient relief on England during the long years of the recent commercial depression.
Such are the general forces which act upon the market for the hire of labour, and its reward, wages. They present numberless varying situations at different times. On each occasion the two parties, the buyers and the sellers must ascertain for themselves, by bargaining or otherwise, what is the value, then and there, of the article demanded, the services of working men.
But it is contended by large numbers of the labouring class that this is ii incomplete description of the condition of hiring labour. They maintain that there are irregular and disturbing forces which defeat justice and fairness, and give undue advantages to one side of the exchange. They assert that the buyers possess a power of combining which is capable of coercing the sellers of labour, and that consequently they need to organise special protection for themselves in order to attain what is their due. This will form the subject of the next chapter.
CHAPTER VII I.
In most industrial and commercial nations powerful associations have been organised for the protection of what they hold to be the rights of labourers in relation to those of capitalists. They are met by counter organisations of employers. The labourers have the command of large funds, contributed by multitudes of workmen. Elaborate machinery and rules for joint action are provided under leaders possessed of ability and energy. In thermarket for labour the buyers find that they have to deal with united combinations of labourers. Instead of settling with the men whom he wishes to engage the terms of hiring, the employer is often confronted with the whole body of workmen in his particular trade all over the kingdom. Thus, for the ordinary method of bargaining in the market is substituted a struggle founded upon force. Sometimes negotiation is had recourse to, with occasional success; but the more usual practice is open war. The labourers are withdrawn from the works of the masters: industry, the workmen themselves, the employers, and the whole community, are all injured together.
The relations between employers and labourers touch to the quick the welfare of every State. The interests