Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

small workshops requires innumerable errands on the part of the cobbler and shoemaker, and causes great loss of time. This waste could, however, easily be obviated by bringing the establishments of the leather cutters and those of the shoemakers into close proximity, by uniting all the separate petty workshops of the shoemakers into a few large establishments, and connecting with it, if possible, under the same roof, the repository of leather and other materials, and also of the tools used in the handicraft of the shoemaker.

The same economical arrangements carried out with regard to the workshops of tailors, hatters, cabinet-makers, and, in fact, with all those trades that are now carried on in isolated petty workshops, would lead to a great saving of time; and the author is convinced that by a close concentration of every trade into a few national workshops, and by bringing these into immediate connection with the storerooms of raw materials and repositories of tools used by the respective trades, the amount of labour now performed by the whole of the nation might become reduced by one-half of its present total.

CHAPTER XVII.-WASTE CAUSED BY DOWNRIGHT IDLENESS.

“All times are times to be diligent ; for there is no more contemptible creature upon the face of the earth than the idle man. An idle man in the ranks of men must be compared to the reptile in the ranks of the animal creation."—W. E. GLADSTONE.

NOB
TOBODY will dispute that idleness is loss of time, but the

loss of labour it causes is not so palpable at first sight. It is, nevertheless, caused by idleness; for as the existence of any member in a civilized community can only be maintained by the united labour of all, the idler, who does no work, lives at the expense of the labour of others; he wastes their Jabour.

The great amount of idleness that prevails amongst the populations of all civilized countries, but which is greatest in England, proceeds from various causes. The idle vagrant and sturdy beggar are kept in idleness by the receipt of alms from

the hands of charitable persons. The one million of paupers who in this wealthy country receive in-door and out-door relief to the amount of £10,000,000 sterling annually, are kept in a kind of forced idleness, for they are not allowed to execute any kind of profitable work, lest such labour should interfere with the free and independent labour of other trades and occupations.

The picturesque Tourist, quoted by Carlyle, gives us the following sad description of the aspect which the inmates of a workhouse presented to him :-“I saw sitting on wooden benches, in front of their Bastille, and within their ring-wall and its railing, some hundred or more of these men—tall, robust figures, young mostly, or of middle age; of honest countenance, thoughtful and even intelligent-looking men. They sat there by one another, but in a kind of torpor, especially in silence which was very striking. In silence, for, alas ! what word was to be said ?. An earth all round crying, 'Come and till me ! come and reap me!' yet we sit here enchanted. In the eyes and brows of these men hung the gloomiest expression, not of anger, but of grief, shame, and manifold inarticulate distress and weariness. They returned my glance with a glance that seemed to say : Do not look at us. We sit enchanted here; we know not why. The sun shines, and the earth calls, and by the governing powers and impotence of England we are forbidden to obey. It is impossible, they tell us. There was something that reminded me of Dante's Hell in the look of all this, and I rode swiftly away.”

The soldiers are also idlers to a great extent; for when they have been once efficiently drilled, they would have plenty of time to be kept at work in useful trades and manufactures. But all Governments that have standing armies are afraid of employing them in remunerative work for the same reasons that keep paupers in workhouses at unprofitable occupations. This was also the reason why the employment of soldiers in assisting farmers at harvest time came lately into serious collision with the interests of the agricultural labourers, whose bitter remonstrances at last compelled the military authorities to grant no more permission to soldiers being employed in open competition with the already ill-paid agricultural labourers.

As idlers must also be regarded all grown-up children, adult sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, who are staying at their paternal and family homes, where they are kept in comfort and ease by the means possessed by their parents and relatives.

The number of persons idly staying at home is given by the census of 1861 as follows:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Half the time of all scholars, numbering 1,552,000, and who in the census are returned as not at home, is spent in idleness; for in a well-organized social state all children and grown-up scholars would have to employ a good part of their time in apprenticeship, and also in the partial performance of useful industrial and skilled labour.

The independent gentleman * and gentlewoman, and the tradesman who retires from active industry or commerce at an early period of his life, indulge very commonly in a species of idleness, whose time is filled up with the enjoyment of travelling, yachting, fishing, riding, driving, visiting, hunting, and taking part in various other sports and amusements. They never think that all the time they have been enjoying themselves, others had to work hard. The wealthy tradesman who retires with an ample competency excuses his idleness by saying that others may, by dint of thristiness and hard work, get independent like himself, and having accumulated wealth, can then likewise indulge in the pleasure of idleness; but he does not consider that all cannot get rich. The nobleman supports the excuse of his idleness by saying that his wealth was bestowed upon him by the state, or that the foundation of his estates was laid centuries ago by his ancestors; that therefore

* Lord Coleridge says that a gentleman is a person who has no need to earn his own livelihood.

his idleness is a privileged one. He admits that he is a stranger to physical work, but urges in compensation for it his amateur pursuits in sciences, arts, and politics, and points with pride to those great men of the aristocracy who built harbours and canals, erected monster telescopes, wrote treatises on mechanics and mathematics, composed sublime poetry, and became eminent statesmen and renowned warriors.

But the nobleman in advancing these arguments in defence of his exemption from physical work does not consider the fact that there are few of his class who have, by their amateur pursuits in sciences and arts, attained any pre-eminent degree of celebrity, and he entirely loses sight of the enormous and vital difference between the pleasurable task of scientific and artistic pursuits, and the irksomeness and hardships of physical labour. The one is leisure, ease, and fame; the other monotony, pain, and disregard.

The occupation of the statesman has sometimes been called labour, and Lord Palmerston used to boast in these words 'I am also a working man.” This title assumed by the great statesman would have been a just one if his statemanship had been as monotonous and dangerous as the labour of the mechanic and factory operative, and if its results had not secured to him great satisfaction, honour, and fame; of which the common workman will never experience the great enjoyment, for his lot will be oblivion.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

OF
F the hardships a working man has to undergo none is

greater than the monotony of labour arising either from the minute sub-division of labour, or from the repeated production of the same article or kind of work, over and over again. The refreshing variation combined with the production of a diversity of articles by one and the same handicraftsman is gradually disappearing from every trade. Tailoring, shoemaking, cabinetmaking, and many other skilled trades have to submit to the same rigorous law of the saving of labour by sub-dividing it into numerous branches of employment. The pleasure a tailor, for instance, might experience by the alternate exertion of his skill and ingenuity in making in turn coats, waistcoats, trousers, and different other garments, is destroyed; he is constrained to produce and reproduce one of these garments in innumerable repetitions during the whole time of his natural life, and takes the name of either coatmaker, waistcoat-maker, or trouser-maker. Even the use of the shears is taken out of his hand, and assigned to the professional cutter, or the cutting-machine ; thus depriving him of that wholesome relaxation from a sitting to a standing position, The work of the shoemaker is, likewise, beginning to be subdivided into many branches. There is the sub-division of the craft into ladies' and mens' bootmakers, and the term bootcloser and clicker very significantly points to a sub-divided operation of the trade. The work of the cabinet-maker is split up in a similar manner.

There are certain members of the trade who make chairs only, whilst others make nothing else but tables; and it is to be feared that the machine called "A

« ZurückWeiter »