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workman to be absorbed in some other occupation not greatly different from that in which he was originally employed; but the value of his labour will be depreciated; he will not receive the same wages he received in the employment from which he has been ejected by the substitution of machinery.

Some branches of industry, within the last thirty years, have been wholly, others partially, superseded by the application of machinery; as those of shearmen in the woollen, and of flax-dressers in the linen manufacture. The introduction of the power-loom is a striking example of loss of employment from mechanical invention. Every power-loom can do at least as much work as three hand-looms; and it appears that the number of the latter in 1830 were about the same as in 1820, namely, 24,000 ;* whereas the former, which in 1820 amounted to about 14,000, had increased to above 55,000, showing an increase in the amount of work done by power-looms equal to the work afforded by 123,000 hand-looms. Hitherto the use of the power-loom has been confined chiefly to the cotton manufacture; should it ever be found practicable to make use of it extensively in the fabrics of woollen and silk, it is probable its effects would not be less important.

While the use of the power-loom has been extending, it is almost unnecessary to observe that the wages and employment of the hand-loom weavers have been fluctuating. It is better to concede thus much than, as has been usual, to disguise the

* Parliamentary Paper, No. 590. Sess. 1830.

question, and suffer erroneous notions to be propagated of the tendency of mechanical improvements. The direct tendency of them is to substitute cheap for dear labour; and by it being known that this is not a temporary but permanent change, the workman is apprized of his altered circumstances and the best means of providing against them. In pursuing this course the evil is not aggravated, since the policy of giving full scope to the application of machinery is no longer contested. Master and workman are alike entitled to freedom, and in the maintenance of this principle the interests of society are best consulted. If commodities can be produced cheaper by machinery than manual labour, the plainest understanding revolts at the idea of compelling the whole community to buy dear merely that a single class of workmen may be guaranteed in the monopoly of high wages: they had better be pensioned off by the public. There would be no limit to interference with machinery; it extends through every operation of life, and if we once began to control its application, we could " never stop, till we came," as significantly expressed by a Glasgow weaver, to a committee of the House of Commons, " to our teeth and nails."

The three most important advantages which result from the application of machinery are the following:

1. It tends to benefit the whole community by facilitating the production of commodities, and thereby rendering them cheaper and more accessible to all classes of consumers. 2. It tends to lessen

fluctuations in employment; for a manufacturer, with a large capital invested in machinery, would sustain a double loss by its standing idle : a loss of profit on the capital so invested, and a loss by the damage his machinery would sustain by being inactive. In consequence, his interest consists in keeping it in constant action; and this he can only do by regulating its productive power agreeably with the average demand of a long series of years rather than a particular season. The third is an advantage I have not before seen noticed; it consists in the change the introduction of machinery must ultimately effect in the relative proportions or composition of society: the working classes are usually considered the least favourably situated for the enjoyment of independence and happiness: if so, the aggregate happiness of communities must be augmented, since the effect of machinery is finally to lessen the proportion of individuals dependent on labour for support.

The general conclusions from the inquiries of this chapter are that all employments, whether agricultural or manufacturing, are liable to fluctuation, and that, therefore, it is expedient to make provision for such alternations of prosperity and adversity.

Employments in agriculture appear less subject to vicissitude than in manufactures; in the former they are periodic, arising chiefly from changes of the seasons and the different demands for labour in winter and summer. As these variations are of annual occurrence, the evils resulting from them would be averted by any arrangement between the labourer and em

ployer which provided for the maintenance of the former throughout the year. The practice of hiring for a twelvemonth is an arrangement of this nature, and was formerly the general usage in husbandry.

The causes which influence manufacturing employments are more various and complicated, depending not only on the season of the year, on fluctuations of fashion, and fertility of mechanical inventions, but also on the stimulus of high and low prices on the production of commodities. Some of the former causes cannot be subjected to calculation; but the latter, though not returning annually, or at any fixed intervals, yet return with so much certainty and almost regularity as to be entitled to be considered periodic. It is for fluctuations of this description, at least, that the workman ought to be prepared; he ought to be prepared to encounter a scarcity of employment after a previous redundancy, and the intensity and duration of this scarcity will mostly be proportioned to the preceding excess.

It never happens that all branches of industry are simultaneously depressed, and one method of meeting the varying demands for labour in different trades would be for a workman not to depend on any single occupation for support. He ought to be so instructed, it has been suggested (Westminster Review, No. 35, Jan. 1833), as to be able to shift his position with the shifting requirements of the market. But this is an expedient more easily suggested than practised. It might suit particular individuals; but to learn one trade and become expert therein is sufficient

for the generality of mankind. There could be no obstacle, however, to the several members of a family learning different trades; so that they may not be all out of work together.

To provide for changes in employment occasioned by periodic alternations of prosperity and depression two suggestions may be offered. First, the workman, by saving out of his high wages during years of brisk demand for labour, might lay by a fund for a period of stagnation of trade; or, secondly, he might enter into an agreement with his master to serve at an average rate of wages for such a term of years as would embrace the ordinary commercial cycle of depression and prosperity. Various other expedients might be suggested; but it appears superfluous, as they must be either generally obvious, or are already partly acted upon. The object sought is to make the good years cover the bad ones, and vice versa. That this is partly possible there does not appear any doubt; since it appears, from the inquiries made into the rate of wages in the principal trades and manufactures (see Appendix), that the earnings of workmen are sufficient, on an average of years (if the earnings could by any means be spread over the whole period), to maintain their families in comfort and independence.

In some of the trades of London (particularly the tailors) all the journeymen are in organized clubs for mutual support during want of work; and out of the general fund, to which they all contribute

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