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CHAPTER XIV.- WASTE OF LABOUR CAUSED BY THE
LIMITED USE OF MACHINES.
tions, another great cause of the waste of labour. The sewing machine, for instance, ought to be in the hands of every tailor and tailoress; but as many of them are not able to defray the necessary outlay for the acquisition of this labour-saving agent and useful helpmate, labour is wasted in exact proportion to the power of the sewing machine, and the advantage this marvellous mechanical contrivance possesses over hand labour, by making an infinitely greater number of stitches, and more uniform, in a given fraction of time than the quickest plying of the needle by the tailor's fingers can accomplish. In passing the many repositories in which sewing machines are exposed for sale, and where their marvellous power lies spellbound by the inability of tailors to purchase them, the author is always induced to regard these unemployed machines as so many indicators of the waste of labour that is taking place in tailoring as long as they can find no purchasers.
The work of the tailor could, moreover, be greatly reduced by the application of machinery for cutting out the component parts of all kinds of garments of a similar pattern respectively; and it is rather strange that the inventive genius of this machine-building age has not yet turned its attention to this imperious demand, although the subject of waste occasioned by the absence of this and similar machinery in other trades has been repeatedly brought before the public by Mr. Riley in the Times and other prints.
In the manufacturing of shoes machinery is already employed with the greatest success, and it is much to be regretted that its cost prevents a more universal application of the same, especially by the poorer members of the trade, whose workshops are very often confined within such narrow limits that they scarcely afford room for the body and the action of the arms so peculiar in the craft of St. Crispin. The placing of machinery into the narrow stalls and rooms occupied by shoemakers is, therefore, impracticable, and as the acquisition of larger workshops would most likely swallow up the profits
derived from the benefits of machinery, he refuses to make use of it, and society experiences a waste of labour in exact proportion to the non-application of the power of these machines. In bread-baking an enormous waste of labour could be
prevented by a general introduction of machinery which has already stood the test of labour and time-saving quality.
Appliances and arrangements that might greatly reduce the labour of washerwomen are already taken advantage of to a certain degree by the use of the wringing and mangling machines, and even ironing has been done by the action of machinery alone. But the use of all these labour-saving helpmates is limited to the narrowest sphere of application by the almost universal poverty of washerwomen.
Instances of the neglected application of machinery might be pointed out in almost every trade. Even in such branches of modern industry where machinery is almost universally performing all the labour required, there is neglect of the use of machinery, and waste incurred by society from the tendency, certainly involuntary, of hand labour to continue struggling in a hopeless race with the giant strides of machinery. What can there be more lamentable than the continuance of handloom weaving for the production of cotton, linen, and silk cloth, in vain opposition to the marvellous achievements of the powerloom in these trades?
The social reformer also protests loudly against that kind of work which produces waste coupled with hardship of labour, and which instead of utilizing machinery, reduces men into mechanical implements, tools, and machines.
The saw pits and stoneyards are places in which human flesh and sinew are made to imitate to a nicety the vertical and horizontal and circular movements of levers, connecting rods, and cranks. They perform these imitations with a regularity and uniformity that would be great achievements were they not coupled with deadly monotony to the mind and painful exhaustion to the body of those whose unfortunate lot it is to perform these machine-like movements.
There can be very little excuse for not using steam or water power for the sawing of timber and stone more extensively than has hitherto been done; and it is a disgrace that in a country like England, where the manufacture of machinery and the power of capital has risen to the highest pitch, no very marked benefit should have accrued to the 31,000 sawyers who have to perform the heaviest and most monotonous of all hand labour. Were these human machines supplanted by iron ones, the waste of the labour of 31,000 sawyers and of several thousand stone-cutters would be avoided, as their number would become available for other employments.
Rivetting by hydraulic pressure would at once disengage many thousand working men who now, with their brawny arms and amidst the deafening noise of tinkering hammers, fix the innumerable rivets by which the ponderous metal plates of steam boilers, girders for bridges, and other constructions are firmly and securely attached to each other. The “Portable Rivetter,” lately in operation at the Great Eastern City Station Works, does its work with a pressure of from twenty to forty tons upon the square inch. The speed of its working is extraordinary. Three hundred rivets can be done by this machine in one hour—a good day's work for one gang of rivetters. Moreover, skilled men are not required, as any intelligent labourer can work the apparatus after a very little practice.
CHAPTER XV.- WASTE OF LABOUR IN THE ISOLATED
ONE other great source of the waste of labour is to be found
in the isolated private home, and takes its origin from that peculiar mode of living which assigns separate homes and households to all families. The waste of labour caused by this isolation chiefly occurs in the operations required for the preparation of food and heating of apartments, and is so irrational and uneconomical that it may be compared to the absurd supposition of a regulation in military barracks, by which every soldier should have a separate fireplace and separate cooking utensils for the preparation of his food. The eatinghouse that would have to make a new fire for each chop or steak ordered, or the coffee-shop that would be obliged to do the same for each cup of tea or coffee required, are fair examples
of the waste of labour that takes place by the living of families in isolated homes.
The coal and fuel wasted through this mode of living amounts to such an enormous quantity that apprehensions are even entertained of a not very distant exhaustion of the extensive coalfields now being worked. The waste of coal entails the waste of the precious work of the coal-miner, who spends his lifetime in the silent bosom of the earth in a recumbent and painful position, and in imminent peril of his life, in order to extract from the depth of the mine the precious fuel which, in the isolated households, is wasted in the most careless manner, and under the pressure of the most stupid economical system imaginable.
In order to show a more economical arrangement by which this deplorable waste can be avoided, we need only point to the cooking department of large hotels and eating-houses, where food is provided for a multitude of persons with the use of one kitchen, one fireplace, and the labour of one cook and a few other assistants.
The isolated domestic hearth and fireplace in which food is cooked, becomes, moreover, a great inconvenience in the hot seasons of the year, because it is frequently situated in the dwelling and sleeping room of the family, and in consequence becomes overheated, and has its air charged with smoke from badly burning fires and dust from the accumulation of ashes.
In introducing to public notice the advantages of the Unitary Home, now in operation in the city of New York, Mr. Underhill gave, as illustrations of the Unitary plan of organization, the following considerations :-“Everybody knows that by co-operation economical results can be and are attained, and the fact finds a practical recognition in every department of human industry where advanced civilization exists, except in the household and agriculture. We know that whereas the steamer New World is a magnificent unitary travelling apparatus, with a unitary parlour, a unitary table, a unitary kitchen, and a unitary means of locomotion, and that it is better for all concerned, for speed, comfort, and economy, to carry us to Albany than are 500 clam sloops, we yet fail to recognise the fact that the St. Nicholas Hotel, with its unitary parlours, its unitary table, its unitary halls, its unitary heater, and its machinery for economising labour, is infinitely better for 500 families than are 500 cramped houses with 500 seven-by-nine parlours, 500 little kitchens, 500 washtubs, 1,000 grates anā stoves, and in the whole, no modern machinery to economise manual labour; and we fail also to recognise the further fact that the wives and daughters residing permanently in the St. Nicholas Hotel, being absolved from domestic drudgery, are free to engage in productive employment if they wish, as, at most, one-fifth of the usual number of women is sufficient, in the unitary household, to perform the service which requires the full 500 in isolated households, while, at the same time, the quality of the work done in isolation is not so good.”
That cooking by gas may become a valuable element in the operation of the associated home can be adduced from the description of an improved cooking apparatus now in use at the London Hospital, Whitechapel. Its section for boiling consists of a frame eight feet long, two feet wide, three feet high. Its two ovens, each six feet high, three feet wide, and two feet deep, will bake 100 pies at one baking. Its boiling and frying apparatus will cook 120 chops in a few minutes. Its great roasting apparatus, or roasting well, will cook 500 pounds of meat in one operation, two hours being the time required.
CHAPTER XVI.—WASTE OF LABOUR BY Using ISOLATED
WORKSHOPS. THE whole series of cases of waste
receives one more addition from the isolated and private working of nearly all handicrafts in separate petty workshops. A most glaring instance of this wasteful mode of executing one and the same kind of work in innumerable workshops and localities is shoemaking. To provide the English nation with shoes, there are engaged in this work 250,000 persons, and of this great number nearly every individual—every cobbler, every shoemaker, every small shoe manufacturer and shoe machinist—has his own petty workshop, which in most cases serves him also as dwelling and sleeping
The distribution of leather and other materials to these