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good sense, which renders the majority of the labouring class such bad calculators—which makes, for instance, their domestic economy so improvident, lax, and irregular—must disqualify them for any but a low grade of intelligent labour, and render their industry far less productive than with equal energy it otherwise might be. 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 labourers of various nations, testify that in the workman of other countries they often find great intelligence wholly apart from instruction, but that if an English labourer is anything but a hewer of wood and a drawer of water, he is indebted for it to education, which in his case is almost always self-education. Mr. Escher, of Zurich (an engineer and cotton manufacturer employing nearly two thousand working men of many different nations), in his evidence annexed to the Report of the Poor Law Commissioners, in 1840, on the training of pauper children, gives a character of English as contrasted with Continental workmen, which all persons of similar experience will, I believe, confirm.
"The Italians' quickness of perception is shown in rapidly comprehending any new descriptions of labour 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 Ms work in the various related branches of mechanics."
On the connexion between mental cultivation and moral trustworthiness in the labouring class, the same witness says, "The better educated workmen, 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 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." * This result of observation is borne out by experience in England itself. As soon as any idea of equality enters the mind of an uneducated English working man, his head^is turned by it.1 When he ceases to be servile, he becomes insolent.
The moral qualities of the labourers are fully as important to the efficiency and worth of their labour, as the intellectual. Independently of the effects of intemperance upon their bodily and
* The whole evidence of this intelligent and experienced employer of labour is deserving of attention; as well as much testimony on similar points by other witnesses, contained in the same volume.
1 [This comjnent was */Med in the 3rd ed. (1852).!
mental faculties, and of flighty, 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 labour depends on their trustworthiness. All the labour now 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 more than very imperfectly efficacious, where, as is now almost invariably the case with hired labourers, the slightest relaxation of vigilance is an opportunity eagerly seized for eluding performance of their contract.1 The advantage to mankind of being 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 most obvious part of the 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 exorbitantly-paid profession of lawyers, so far as their work is not created by defects in the law, of their own contriving, are required and supported prmcipaDy by the dishonesty of mankind. As the standard of integrity in a community rises higher, all these expenses become less. But this positive saving would be far outweighed by the immense increase in the produce of all kinds of labour, and saving of time and expenditure, which would be obtained if the labourers honestly performed what they undertake; and by the increased spirit, the feeling of power and confidence, with which works of all sorts would be planned and carried on by those who felt that all whose aid was required would 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
1 [This statement took the place in the 3rd ed. (1852) of the sentence: "Nor are the greatest outward precautions comparable in efficacy to the monitor within."]
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 shily 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 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 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 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 profit upon it so small, that no grocer is at all anxious to sell it; whilst on the other
§ 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 government. The latter is the more important. Where a person known to possess anything worth taking away, can expect nothing but to have it torn from him, with every circumstance of tyrannical violence, by the agents of a rapacious government, it is not likely that many will exert themselves to produce much more than necessaries. This is the acknowledged explanation of the poverty of many fertile tracts of Asia, which were once prosperous and populous. From this to the degree of security enjoyed in the best governed parts of Europe, there are numerous gradations. In many provinces of France before the Revolution, a vicious system of taxation on the land, and still more the absence of redress against the arbitrary exactions which were made under colour of the taxes, rendered it the interest of every cultivator to appear poor, and therefore to cultivate badly. The only insecurity which is altogether paralysing
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 practised 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. '.„. i
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 colour 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 seed 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 circumstances 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 percent, of good seed usually grows.