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The climax of possible horror would seem to be reached in the description of the wynds of Edinburgh ; but I will not offend the reader's sensibilities by quoting from it. It will perhaps be quite as effective to compare the experience of sickness in these dens of abomination with that of other localities. The following table shows the average number of days' sickness suffered in a year by a family in the wynds in comparison (1) with the experience of the Benefit Societies in Scotland, and (2) with the experience of places under sanitary measures.
So much for the places where men live during the half of the day devoted to sleep and refreshment. In the places where they labor there is not such a dreary monotony of squalor and misery. Neither indifference nor malignity even, on the part of employers could succeed in placing the great majority of workingmen so wretchedly. The first occupation of man still employs by far the greater part of the race, and for them sunlight and air are provided by the indefeasible bounty of nature. If the Durham and Devon hind does not "sleep all night in Elysium,” he at least “sweats all day in the eye of Phæbus." Nor is it only the agriculturist who pursues his occupation in the open air. In no small proportion of the mechanical trades either the conditions of the work do not allow the laborer to be shut in between walls, or the expense of enclosure outweighs its advantages, and the trade, though it might be even better prosecuted under cover, is, in fact, carried on out-doors. After all deductions, however, there remain a melancholy multitude who are called to breathe the foul
air of mines; to labor in the stifling atmosphere of mills and factories, “hazy” or “cloudy” with particles irritating to the lungs or poisonous to the blood, and to pant through the hours of work in “sweating dens” like those which the indignant eloquence of Kingsley: has made so painfully familiar to his English and American readers, though all verbal description must fall short of the shocking reality.
I have not dwelt thus at length upon descriptions of human habitations unfit for cattle or for swine, for the purpose of harrowing the feelings of my readers, or even with a view to excite compassion for the condition of the working classes. My single object has been to afford illustration of the influence of the cause we are now considering, upon the efficiency of labor. A great part, if not the great majority, of the laborers of the world are to-day housed thus miserably; uncounted millions worse. Even of those whose lot is more fortunate but a very small proportion, in any of the older countries, have in their lodging the light and air which the least exacting hygiene declares to be essential to the harmonious development and adequate zustentation of the bodily powers.
It is in abodes such as have been described that children grow to maturity and get the size and strength which are to determine their quality as workers. It is in abodes like these that laboring men have to seek repose and refreshment after the complete exhaustion of a hard day's work ; that they breathe the air which is to oxydize their blood, and eat and undertake to digest the food on which to-morrow's work is to be done. What wonder that children grow up stunted and weazen and deformed; that the blood of manhood becomes foul and lethargic, the nerves unstrung, the sight, on which depends much of the use of all the
1 In his Alton Locke. * See Report Poor-Law Commission, 1842, pp. 98-104.
other powers, weakened or distorted, and the whole tone of life' and of labor depressed and intermittent ?
I have spoken of the dwellings too often inhabited by the laboring classes, and of the air which they have to breathe. As to the water they have to drink, it will suffice here to cite the results of an inspection and chemical analysis of 140 specimens of drinking-water made in a large number of the cities and towns of Scotland by Dr. Stevenson Macadam :: Number grossly contaminated by sewage matter
and decidedly unwholesome..................104 Number less contaminated and less unwholesome.... 32 Number tinged with sewage matter............... 4 Number free from all contamination...............
Total examined. ................ 140 IV. The general intelligence of the laborer is a factor of his industrial efficiency. This proposition is too well established and too familiar to need extended illustration. The intelligent laborer is more useful not merely because he knows how to apply his bodily force in his work with the greatest effect, but also because
(a) He requires a shorter apprenticeship and less techni
How, indeed, do human beings live at all under such circumstances? Fresh and vigorous constitutions would go off at a gallop in some form of active disease, under such ever-present infection. The only reason why the very miserable live under it is because they have taken on a lower type of being, which is compatible with existence in such surroundings but altogether incompatible with great exertions. “ Their freedom from specific evil is only evidence that they have subsided into a coarser and lower nature. The florid, strong-pulsed man, fresh from a wholesome country dwelling, would die right off when subjected to the deficient sanitary conditions which are innocuous to the lower physical development of the very poor vegetating in the purlieus of large towns or in mud-built country cottages."-Charles Lamport, Soc. Sc. Transactions, 1870, p. 532.
Soc. Sc. Transactions, 1867, p. 561. • "Le travail suppose 1. l'intelligence qui conçoit et 2. le main qui exécute."-Batbie.
cal instruction. “A recruit,” says Prof. Rogers, “ who knows how to read and write can learn his drill in half the time in which a totally ignorant person can.”'
(6) He requires far less superintendence. Superintendence is always costly. If an overseer is required for every ten men engaged on a piece of work, the product must pay for the time and labor, not of ten men but of eleven; and if the overseer obtains, as he most likely will, twice the wages of a common laborer, then the product must pay for the time and labor of twelve. The employer would just as soon pay his hands 20 per cent more if he could dispense with the overseer.
(c) He is far less wasteful of material. Even in agriculture no product can be obtained from labor without the sacrifice of pre-existing wealth. A bushel of wheat must be sown for every six or eight bushels to be reaped, and with it must be buried large quantities of costly manures. But in mechanical industry it often happens that the value of the materials used in a manufacture, being themselves the result of antecedent processes, far exceeds the value proposed to be added by labor. Thus, in the United States in 1870, we find a group of industries employing 101,504 hands, where the value of the materials was $707,361,378, while only $31,734,815 were paid in wages.' Now, waste is inevitable in all handling of material. It is merely a question of more or less; and in this respect the range between ignorant and intelligent labor is very great. By waste is not meant alone the total destruction of material, but its impairment in any degree so that the finished product takes a lower commercial value. So great are the possibilities of loss from this source that in all the higher branches of production unintelligent labor is not regarded as worth having at any price however low.
(d) He can use delicate and intricate machinery.
"Pol. Econ., p. 117.
Ninth Census of the United States, 1870. Industry and Wealth, p. 380.
The cost of repairing and replacing this with ignorant labor very soon eats up the profits of production, and not unfrequently the effect is to practically prohibit the use of all but the coarsest tools. “Experienced mechanicians assert that, notwithstanding the progress of machinery in agriculture, there is probably as much sound practical labor-saving invention and machinery unused as there is used; and that it is unused solely in consequence of the ignorance and incompetency of the workpeople.”
We have some striking testimony on this point from Asia and Eastern Europe. Wheeler, in his “Cotton Cultivation,” states that the women of India were accustomed to earn with the native “churka” from three farthings to a little over a penny a day, while with the Manchester cotton-gin they could have earned with ease three pence and possibly four and a half pence.' And H. B. M. Consul Stuart reports concerning the laborers of Epirus: “In dealing with weights and resistance they use direct physical force; the aids of the pulley or windlass are but seldom called in, while handbarrows and wheelbarrows are seen only on rare occasions. It is a singular fact that during the fifty years of British occupation in the Ionian Islands, not a single mechanical improvement crossed from Corfu to Epirus, if I may except the screw and the buckle, which found their way here some few years ago, and are now in limited use."
V. Still another reason for the large differences which exist in respect to industrial efficiency is found in technical education and industrial environment. Perhaps no one of the causes already mentioned contributes more to this result. Even more, I am disposed to believe, than stock and breeding, even more than national diet, do the inherited instincts of a people in respect to labor, and their habits and methods of work, consciously or unconsciously acquired,
'Hearn's Plutology, p. 59.
?P. 173. * Report on the Condition of the Industrial Classes, 1871, p. 775.