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folks can form no notion of, darkness that may be felt, odors that may be handled, faintness that can hardly be resisted, hold despotic rule in these dens of despair.”i In respect to the other allowances, perquisites, and privileges, as we have classed them, which go so largely to make up the wages of the laborer in agriculture in all countries, there is perhaps not quite so great range as in the board or cottage rent furnished; yet differences in the quality of the articles allowed, or in their adaptation to the wants of the laborer, or in the generosity with which traditional or stipulated privileges are interpreted, may still go far to contract or expand the apparent wages. Thus Mr. Heath in his work, “ The English Peasantry," charges that the hauling of turf for the laborer's fuel is often a delusion and a snare, the turf when cut and piled up on the moors frequently being spoiled by the rain before the farmer finds it convenient to lend the horse and cart;" also that the oft-cited “grist-corn” perquisite is of little or of no value to the laborer, the corn for this purpose being frequently taken from the “rakings” of the field. It is upon the cider allowance, however, that Mr. Heath expends the main force of his indignation, and he quotes with effect the testimony of Mr. Austin, one of the Assistant Poor-Law Commissioners of 1813, as to the very inferior quality of the article supplied by the farmers of the western counties “under the ironical name of cider."
The “cow" and the “pig” as elements of wages deserve a brief mention. It will be noted that we have placed them under different heads in our classification. The entire “ keep" of the cow is furnished by the employer over whose land she grazes; the food of the pig, on the other hand, is supposed to be furnished by the laborer himself, though a natural doubt on that point leads many em
* Address as President Br. Soc. Sc. Association, 1866. Transaotions, p. 9. 'P. 94.
*P. 95, cf. 140, 141. * Pp. 55, 56, 86, 87.
ployers to refuse this highly valued privilege. “For. merly,” said Mr. Inglis, writing of the peasants' rent in Ireland in 1834,“ the pig was sufficient for this; but the market has so fallen that something is wanted besides the pig to make up the rent." In England Mr. Heath assigns the pig a somewhat different function. It is at once “ to the farm laborer a kind of savings-bank, in which he puts the few scraps he can save out of his scanty fare," and also “a kind of surety with the petty village tradesman. Poor Hodge could get no credit if he had not some such security as a pig affords.”
The keep of a cow is of course a much larger concession from the employer, and is proportionally rare. Sir Baldwyn Leighton declares it to be not less than " the solution of the whole question of the agricultural laborer.” The net weekly profit Sir Baldwyn estimates at 5 or 6 shillings, the entire labor being performed by the wife and younger children. It will, of course, be urged that such a concession would amount simply to a proportionate reduction of money wages. This is a question which we shall perhaps be in a better position to discuss hereafter. The concession of “cow-land” is only mentioned here as one of the many ways in which, even in wealthy communities, laborers in agriculture are still paid, rendering it a work of extreme difficulty to reduce the wages prevailing in different sections to any thing like equal terms.
III. Nominal and Real Wages inay further differ by reason of opportunities for extra earnings in some occupations and in some localities.
It has been said that the true measure of wages is to be found not in the money received, but in the amount of the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries of life which that money will purchase. But it often happens that the amount of money received by the laborer as wages does not express the sum of his own earnings, while, again, the resources of the family—which, rather than the individual, ought to be the unit of income as it is of expenditure—may be, in many cases, largely augmented by the earnings of other members. Such opportunities vary greatly as among localities and as among occupations, and hence we may find a substantial equality of family income where a great difference in wages apparently exists; or, in other cases, the apparent difference may be much enhanced through the operation of the same cause.
1" In Dumfriesshire even the keeping of a pig is often prohibited on the ground that it affords inducements to little acts of peculation." Fourth Report (1870) on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, p. 85. * A Journey throughout Ireland (4th ed.), p. 371. English Peasantry, p. 113.
*Ibid., p. 115. • Soc. Sc. Transactions, 1872, pp. 395-8.
An example of the first means of adding to real wages is found in the Allotment system, which already prevails to a considerable extent in England and has been highly approved by economists of reputation ;1 though there are not wanting those who argue that this is merely another means of reducing money wages. By the Allotment system the laborer is enabled to rent a piece of ground large enough to employ him for but a portion of his time, with a view to its being carefully worked by spade culture as a garden.
An example of the second means of adding to real wages is given by Prof. Senior when he says, “ The earnings of the wife and children of many a Manchester weaver or spinner exceed or equal those of himself. Those of the wife and children of an agricultural laborer, or of a carpenter or a coal-heaver, are generally unimportant—while the husband in each case receives 15 shillings a week, the weekly income of the one family may be 30 shillings, and that of the other only 17 or 18 shillings.” The income of the family, it is evident, therefore, should be taken as the unit in estimating wages.
1 H. Fawcett, Pol. Econ., pp. 254, 255. W. T. Thornton on Over Population, chap. viii.
The Commissioners of 1843 reported strongly in favor of the Allotment system ; they declared that it did not tend to reduce wages, but that all the proceeds of the land thus cultivated constituted “a clear addition to wages."
On the other side, Mr. Mill, in his Principles of Pol. Econ., wrote, “ The scheme, as it seems to me, must be either nugatory or mischievous." --I. 441,442.
* The industrial disadvantages of the employment of married women in factories will be spoken of hereafter. To their full extent, whatever that may be, the superiority claimed by Prof. Senior for the
IV. No consideration is more needful to be observed in the reduction of Nominal to Real Wages than that of the greater or less regularity of employment; yet none is more neglected, not only in comparison of the remuneration of labor in different occupations and localities, but also in a still more important use of the statistics of wages, namely, the comparison of different periods to ascertain whether strikes and trades unions have been really successful in advancing the condition of the working classes. It is not unusual to see the fact of an increase of wages in certain occupations following a threatened or accomplished strike, put forward as proof positive of the efficiency of this instrumentality, without the question being raised whether the certainty and continuity of work may not have been affected injuriously in consequence. Yet it is clear that a nominal increase of wages may be offset by irregularity of employment so as not only
spinner or weaver must be discounted. Again, so far as the employ. ment of the female head of the family in outside labor, or of very young children in any sort of labor, tends to reduce health and strength or to shorten life, this must be set off against the advantage of increased present earnings, in accordance with the principles to be noted in the paragraphs which immediately follow.
'Lectures on Wages, pp. 8–9.
It is not only true that the opportunities for extra earnings vary greatly as between different occupations, as shown by Prof. Senior's illustration, but such opportunities vary greatly within the same occupation in different localities. Thus Mr. Purdy's tables of Irish agricultural wages show that the "harvest wages" for men range from 2 shillings 6d. a week above ordinary wages, all the way up to 11 shillings.-Statistical Journal, xxv, 448–50.
to render the advance nugatory, but, through the influence on the laborer's habits of industry, temperance, and frugality, to make the change highly pernicious. The neglect to make account of the regularity of employment is probably due not to want of candor in argument, but to the lack of a popular recognition of the vital importance of this consideration. Yet it ought to be evident to the earliest writer on comparative wages that the true time-unit is not less than the entire year. The hourly, daily, or weekly rate of payment is but one factor of wages; the number of hours, days, and weeks throughout the year for which that rate of wages can be obtained is the other.
Varying regularity of employment is due to (1) the nature of the individual occupation, (2) the force of the seasons, (3) social causes, (4) industrial causes of a general character.
In agriculture, for example, we find the first two causes operating to produce great variations in the monthly rate of wages. It is not alone the difference of seasons which makes agricultural wages so irregular ;' it is in part the
"This irregularity may be greater or less according to climate or the character of the crops. Some crops require far more days of labor in the year than others. Some countries are locked in frost half the year; in others the ground opens early and freezes late. “ In the countries on the Danube, these operations are spread over seven months; in the countries on the north of the Volga they must be concluded in four months.”—Hearn's Plutology, pp. 74, 75. An English farmer is ploughing while a New England farmer is hauling wood on the ice and snow. Mr. Purdy's valuable tables (Statistical Jour. nal, xxiv. 352, 353) show that February is the worst month for employment in agriculture in England ; August, the best.
Mr. Purdy gives a table which he deems fairly representative, exhibiting the divisions of agricultural wages between the seasons as follows:
Paid for Labor:
. . . . . . . 22.1
. . . . 38.6 Fourth“ . . . . . . . 20.4