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the esprit and the dominating ideas of the national industry, determine the degree of efficiency which will be reached in the production of any country. Handiness, aptness, and fertility of resource become congenital ; in some communities the child is brought into the world half an artisan. Then, too, he becomes a better workman simply by reason of being accustomed, through the years of his own inability to labor, to see tools used with address, and through watching the alert movement, the prompt co-operation,' the precise manipulation, of bodies of workmen. The better part of industrial as of every other kind of education is unconsciously obtained. And when the boy is himself apprenticed to a trade, or sets himself at work, he finds all about him a thorough and minute organization of labor which conduces to the highest production ; he has examples on every side to imitate ; if he encounters special obstacles, he has only to stop, or hardly even to stop, to see some older hand deal with the same ; if he needs help, it is already at his elbow; and, above all, he comes under impulses and incitements to exertion and to the exercise of thoughtfulness and ingenuity, which are as powerful and unremitting as the impulses and incitements which a recruit experiences in a crack regiment from the moment he dons the uniform.
Very striking testimony is borne in many official reports to the differences in the industrial spirit of the different nations. Mr. Edwin Rose testified before the Factory Commission to the great superiority of the English laborer over his Continental rival in his habits of close and continuous application; and at a subsequent inquiry Mr. Thompson, of Clitheroe, spoke from a vast personal observation
"In a debate in the House of Lords in 1875, Earl Fortescue stated that Sir Joseph Whitworth, the eminent manufacturer of arms, had ex. pressed the opinion that "a workman who had acquired the habit of moving promptly at the word of command was worth on the average 18. 6d, a week inore than a man of equal manual dexterity who had not acquired the habit."-The Times.
of the “enduring, untiring, savage industry” of the English workman. “The labor of Alsace,” he says, “ the best and cheapest in France, is dearer than the labor of Lancashire.” That was forty years ago. To-day the esprit and the technique of industry on the Continent are perhaps advanced somewhat beyond where England was in 1835; but the English are looking back with not a little wonder at their own want of force and drive industrially, in the time of which Mr. Thompson speaks. Thus we find Dr. Bridges and Mr. Holmes, in their report to the Local Government Board of 1873, writing of the Scotch flax district as follows:
“We were struck by the easy and almost leisurely way in which labor was carried on in the spinning-rooms as compared with the unremitting application of the Lancashire operatives. All the spinners had seats provided for them, of which a large number availed themselves. The number of spindles assigned to each was small, varying from 50 to 80;' and the number of ends breaking was in no case such as to necessitate constant movement. Some of the women were knitting, and all appeared much at their ease. In fact, the work very much resembled the picture frequently drawn to us, whether truly or otherwise, of Lancashire weaving and spinning as it was 20 or 30 years
Now it is needless to say that some of this heightened
· The proportion of looms to weavers in England as contrasted with the proportion which obtains in Ireland and Scotland is significant in the same regard. Looms in Cotton Mfr.
3,372 . . . 1,864
71,533 Nearly three looms to 1 weaver in England; not quite 2 looms in
• Report, p. 27.
activity is of bad and not of good. Undoubtedly it involves in some degree overwork and the undue wear and tear of the muscular and the nervous system. But by no means all, or probably the greater part, comes to this. It is because manual dexterity and visual accuracy have been developed to a high point in one generation and bred into the next generation; because habits of subordination and co-operation have become instinctive; because organization and discipline have been brought nearly to perfection, that mechanical labor in England is so much more effective than on the Continent. Nor is keen, persistent activity necessarily injurious. Dawdling and loafing over one's work are not beneficial to health. Man was made for labor, for energetic, enthusiastic labor, and within certain limits, not narrow ones, industry brings rewards sanitary as well as economical.
I have spoken of the faculty of organization' as accounting for much of the difference in the efficiency of labor between England and France, for example. I beg to insist on this with reference to the point of the wear and tear of the laboring force. Those who are familiar with the movements of armies know that a body of troops may be marched thirty miles in a day if kept in a steady, equable motion, with measured periods of rest, and not be brought into camp, at night, so tired as another body of troops that have come only half the distance, but have been fretted and worried, now delayed and now crowded forward, every
The famous Committee of the House of Commons on the Exportation of Tools and Machinery dwelt on the "want of arrangement in foreign manufactories," as an important reason for the superior cheapness of production in England.
In the evidence given before them is found (p. 363) the following highly-suggestive remark : "A cotton manufacturer who left Manchester seven years ago would be driven out of the market by the men who are now living in it, provided his knowledge had not kept pace with those who have been during that time constantly profiting by the progressive improvements that have taken place in that period. This progressive knowledge and experience is our great power and advan
portion of the column balked by turns, and kept waiting for long periods in that most wearing expectation of instant movement. Now, this is not an extreme contrast as regards military movements; nor need any thing be taken from its extent when we come to apply it to the operations of industry. In an establishment where each person has his place and perfectly knows his duty, where work never chokes its channels and never runs low, where nothing ever comes out wrong end foremost, where there is no fretting or chafing, where there are no blunders and no catastrophes, where there is no clamor and no fuss, a pace may be maintained which would kill outright the operatives of a noisy, ill-disciplined, badly-organized shop. For, as was said in opening this subject of the efficiency of labor, there is in all industry a positive and a negative element. Waste is inseparable from work; but the proportions in which the two shall appear may be made to vary greatly. It is only when we see a perfectly-trained operative performing his task that we realize how much of what the undisciplined and ignorant call their work is merely waste; how little of their expenditure of muscular and nervous force really goes to the object; how much of it is aside from, or in opposition to, that object. And the remark applies not alone to the exertions of the individual but, in a still higher degree, to the operations of bodies of men..
“ It is not,” says Mr. Laing, “the expertness, dispatch, and skill of the operative himself that are concerned in the prodigious amount of his production in a given time, bat the laborer who wheels coals to his fire, the girl who makes ready his breakfast, the whole population, in short, from the pot-boy who brings his beer, to the banker who keeps his employer's cash, are in fact working to his hand with the same quickness and punctuality that he works with himself.”
We have some interesting instances in proof that such
* Notes of a Traveller, p. 290.
industrial superiority as has been described is not due alone to differences of stock and breeding or of general intelligence, but that strangers placed within the same industrial environment, and afforded opportunities of like technical education, tend steadily, and it may be rapidly, to advance towards the efficiency of the native laborer. Thus Mr. Brassey, after dwelling on the advantages of carrying out English navvies, at vast expense, even to Canada or to Queensland, adds significantly : “ The superiority of the English workmen was most conspicuous when they first commenced work in a conntry in which no railways had been previously constructed.”
The Commissioners (1867) on the Employment of Women and Children in Agriculture, in their second report, 1869, give the results of a very considerable experiment in draining in Northumberland, extended over a series of years, in which large numbers both of English and Irish were employed, from which it appears that “whereas the English beginner earns an average of four shillings a week more than the Irish beginner, better food and about ten years' practice reduce the difference to 18. 4d.” And Mr. Chadwick states' “ that agricultural laborers who have joined gangs of navvies and have been drilled, with them, into their energetic piece-work habits, on returning to farm labor will do their tasks of work in half the time of the common day-laborers. Examples,” he adds, “ of the highest order of agricultural piece-work, with increased wages closely approaching manufacturing wages, are presented in the market-garden culture near the metropolis.”
VI. The last reason which I shall assign for the superior efficiency of individual laborers, classes of laborers, or nations of laborers, is cheerfulness and hopefulness in labor, growing out of self-respect and social ambition and the laborer's personal interest in the result of his work.