« ZurückWeiter »
now are either in boarding schools or other educational establishments, and whose present occupation in this branch of labour is almost nil.
The census of 1861 returns the total of all children living between the ages of five to fifteen as amounting to 4,432,000; being composed of 2,600,000 scholars, 1,194,000 children at home, and 638,000 occupied in work. The whole of these children will in the future social state be placed in national boarding-schools, where they will be taught in all branches of learning, as well as in the various trades and manufactures, and where they will also be obliged to participate in all the domestic labour requisite for their comfort, for the cleanliness of their own persons as well as of the place they inhabit.
The following table gives a summary statement of the amount of domestic labour performed in the various orders of the domestic class belonging to the old social state :—
Wives, widows, daughters, sisters at home
Wives otherwise employed
Innkeepers', butchers', shoemakers' wives
NUMBER OF WORKING DAYS PER ANNUM.
From these two grand totals it is seen that 800,000,000 working days are annually spent in domestic labour by 9,000,000 persons, at the rate of SS working days on an average per individual.
It may, however, safely be assumed that under the influence of the Associated Home and of other economical arrangements, the time spent in domestic labour by each individual will not exceed ten working days per annum, which for 16,000,000 people (4,000,000 being deducted from the 20,000,000 for the very young children) would only amount to 160,000,000 work
ing days, or only one-fifth part of the amount now performed. This great reduction in domestic labour will be chiefly owing to the institution of the Associated Home, and is nowhere to be better demonstrated than in the daily preparation of food as carried on in the present and as economized in the future state of society. In the Associated Home, five cooks will, with the greatest ease, be able to cook for 1,000 persons; and at this rate it will only require 100,000 cooks to prepare food for the whole of 20,000,000 people, whereas the present isolated homes want for the same purpose the labour of 77,000 professional cooks, and the cooking done by at least 2,000,000 of the 3,488,000 housewives.
CHAPTER XXIX.-AGRICULTURAL LABOUR.
THIS kind of labour will, in all countries, and under all social systems, be the principal source of production from which the people obtain their means of subsistence. Although nearly all kinds of agricultural operations are at present carried on in a very economic and even scientific manner, by which the greatest amount of produce is secured with the least employment of labour, and with the most extensive use of machinery, there are, notwithstanding, circumstances connected with the existing system of land tenure in this country, which detract a great deal from the excellency of the achievements in modern agriculture.
The present system, which employs too small a number of agricultural labourers, permits at the same time too large a number of epiphytes to live, directly or indirectly, upon the work of the real agricultural operatives.
In England these useless parasites are still very numerous; but in all neighbouring foreign countries they have either undergone a gradual process of extirpation, or have, as in France, been violently rooted out.
To these non-producers must first be reckoned the 30,000 landed proprietors, as returned by the census of 1861. But although this number, representing so many useless feeders
and idle members of the community, is a very large one, the enormity of this parasitical vegetation is, however, only brought to light in its terrible extent by multiplying the number of 30,000 by 10, which gives 300,000; that is, 30,000 landowners, with their servants and attendants, calculated at ten individuals per family, who live in a state of utter uselessness, and feed upon the fat of the land that others cultivate for them. This state of things becomes still more shocking when one considers that the number 30,000, as given in the census, does not nearly include all the landed proprietors; for Lord Shaftesbury, a well-informed and truth-loving gentleman, maintains that 300,000* would be a more exact estimate of their number, which, with only five members to a household-representing children, attendants, and servants-would swell the enormous figure of idle consumers to 1,500,000.
The English system of agricultural landlordism has, moreover, to be maintained by a staff of agents, of whom the following are the most numerous :
If calculated at only four persons per family, their total will represent 160,000 persons, and these added to the 1,500,000 of landlords and landholders, will still further increase the number of those who live upon the industry of others to the enormous figure of 1,660,000; which will thus reach, within a very small fraction, the total number of the real agricultural labourers set down by the census at 1,650,000.
The real useful work performed by the 1,650,000 agriculturists is shared by different classes of workers in the following proportions:
* A parliamentary return states that there are in Scotland above 131,530 owners of land and heritages, possessing 18,946,694 acres, a , and the annual income from which is £18,698,804.
This total number of agriculturists and agricultural labourers is an exceedingly small one, when compared with the actual extent of land under cultivation, which, including all grass lands, is generally set down at 30,000,000 acres.
According to this estimate of the extent of arable land, each agricultural labourer does, single handed, the gigantic work of cultivating thirty acres of land,—a marvellous performance, that, however, is easily explained by the fact that it is by the assistance of machinery and the use of improved agricultural implements he accomplishes his wonderful task.
A statement of the number of persons being located on the land and cultivating it in other countries, where they give to the agricultural districts a most luxuriant and animated appearance by the numerous farm homesteads of the peasant proprietors, and their villages full of joyful people, will at once explain the desolate and depopulated aspect of the country in England. In France, for instance, out of a population of 30,000,000 inhabitants, 24,000,000 are located on the land; whilst in England out of a population of 20,000,000, 18,000,000 are inhabitants of towns, and only 2,000,000 dwell in the country.
The employment of agricultural labourers being in many instances not permanent, but irregular, in England, and few farmers performing real hard work in the field or in the barn, although they are most instrumental in the superintendence and direction of agricultural operations, the amount of the whole work of 1,650,000 labourers and farmers can only be estimated at 200 working days per individual; which shows the total amount of labour to be 330,000,000 working days per
year. This grand total contains, however, a great amount of waste labour, chiefly owing to the fact that, even in those agricultural operations for which machinery has been invented and successfully introduced, handlabour is still performed to a large extent; and it is a great discredit to modern civilization that after having invented the steam plough, the drilling, reaping, and mowing machines, these marvellous contrivances which the inventive genius of the age presented to the husbandman, should stand idle, because the farmers have not the means or the pluck to make use of them.*
But although it is to be regretted, in the interest of the inventors and patentees of these machines, as well as an account of the loss of economical advantages to the farmers and to the public at large, that a more extensive use is not made of farming by mechanical and chemical means, it is, nevertheless, on the other hand, a lamentable fact, that even their partial employment has caused great injury to the once numerous class of agricultural labourers, who, by having become supplanted by machinery, have been driven from a healthy country life into the unhealthy back slums of large cities, or have been forced to take refuge in emigration which cast them into the virgin forests of America, where, after years of heavy labour, they at last find an abode and place of rest for the very short remainder of their disturbed and harassed lives. It is owing to this gradual introduction of machinery, that the number of agricultural labourers decreases at the annual rate of 8,000; and it demonstrates at the same time the existence of a capital defect in the present social organization which does not permit the introduction of improvements beneficial for the whole people, without injuring certain classes of the community.
How different will, in this respect, be the state of things in the new social system, when all hinderances to the universal application of machinery will be removed, when its evil effects will be neutralized, and when the benefits of inventions will be equally spread amongst all the members of the community, without injuring anyone.
* Mr. Laird asserts that the whole corn crop of Great Britain might be cut down in twelve days by 80,000 reaping machines. Only half that
number is now in existence.