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holden for any such considerations. Some persons,' says Major Thomas Moody,* may withhold it, but others said, they never deferred, for one moment, any improvement that they could make in their machinery; the desire of competing with others induced them instantly to use it.' The manufacturers of machinery deliver an opinion, that it will still be increased, to the substitution of human labour.' That system, like the car of Jaggernaut, will move on, and be thrust forward, whatever may be crushed in its course! And as to any benefit which the manufacturing workmen might expect from a reduction in the price of food, (in other words, from the ruin of the landed interest,) the Glasgow deputies plainly stated, that if the coarse food, whereon they then subsisted, ( the coarsest that is used by human beings, and of which the wages that they at that time received were not sufficient to procure a sufficient quantity,') should become cheaper, they should be compelled to take a lower rate of wages, in proportion to the reduction; and, therefore, it would be no relief to them.'+ There are. certain writers, who will not believe that cannibalism is, at this time, or ever has been practised, by any savages, however ferocious; and yet they live in a country where man thus preys upon man! But this opinion was calmly stated before the committee, and with a just conviction, that the inhumanity belonged to the system, not to the individuals who are engaged in it.

These evils have no tendency to bring about their own cure. Formerly, when commercial speculation and competition were kept within the bounds of prudence and probity, our merchants contented themselves with the certain profits of a settled trade, and took care never to glut the foreign markets.‡ A market is now no sooner opened, in any part of the world, than adventurers pour in their goods in such profusion, that it is instantly overstocked. They run a race of ruin with each other, such as we sometimes see stage-coach proprietors engage in—to the benefit of a traveller's pocket, and the risk of his limbs and life. For a season, the manufacturers are in full employ, the sum of exports mounts up, there is a great increase in the customs for the quarter, trade is alive everywhere, and we congratulate ourselves upon the state of the country. Then comes the cold fit: returns are looked for in vain; bills are dishonoured; the goods are unpaid for-sold at a loss, damaged, wasted, spoiled, or, perhaps,

*Second Report, 33.

+ Ibid. p. 13.

Yet, even then, more goods were produced than there was vent for; most commodities and manufactories, it was complained, were brought to so low an ebb, that slow workmen could not get their living. Many such were become the poor of the parishes wherein they dwelt; and poor tradesmen, with their families, had grown to be a far greater tax to the nation than all that the king's customs amounted to.'-Harl. Misc., 8vo. edit., xii. 250.


re-shipped for England, like property snatched from the ravages of fire or flood week after week the list of bankrupts lengthens, and lofty fabrics of credit fall like a child's house of cards. After a while, what with waste, loss, and rapid wear, (the goods, like the razors in the story, being made for sale and not for service,) the foreign warehouses begin to be cleared; there is an opening; trade revives; the pulse of our prosperity quickens; a new race of merchant-adventurers (in the modern acceptation of that word) comes forward to speculate, or, rather, to gamble with the capital of others; the same desperate game is again played with the same ruinous, but certain consequences, and thus the burning and the shivering fits alternate. Meantime, the population, which has been produced by the manufacturing system, has increased, is increasing, and will continue to increase. The check of prudence, which operates so powerfully (sometimes even with more than its due weight) in the middle class, has, upon this, no effect; and, as for misery, miserable experience has manifestly shown, that here, as well as in Ireland, it acts as an incentive. One of the witnesses before the committee, who said, that he never could have imagined the possibility of such distress as he had beheld, unless he had seen it, added, that amidst the distress population went on increasing,

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inasmuch as the unfortunate beings become reckless, and desperate, and marry without thought.' In proportion,' says this witness,tas people become more wretched, the population increases. I mean to say, that where men are reckless and desperate in their character, they do not look for improvement in their social condition, and they take the only enjoyment they have in their power-they marry. Hence, in the worst parts of Ireland, and in Lancashire, population more rapidly increases than in places where the people are better off.'

The excellent Bishop Berkeley among those Queries, many of which are as pertinent to existing circumstances as they were when first propounded, asks, whether one may not be allowed to conceive and suppose a society or nation of human creatures, clad in woollen cloths and stuffs; eating good bread, beef, and mutton, poultry and fish, in great plenty; drinking ale, mead, and cyder; inhabiting decent houses, built of brick and marble; taking their pleasure in fair parks and gardens; depending on no foreign imports for food and raiment?' He had at that time, and could have, no anticipation of a state of things in which a portion of the community, fearfully large, would depend for subsistence, not upon the imports of a nation but upon its exports; and depend thus upon the foreign market so wholly and miserably as to afford an answer, equally unforeseen, to another of his queries,§ 'Whether *Second Report, p. 54. + Ibid. P. 61. ‡ Query 223. § Query 325.


there may not be found a people who so contrive as to be impoverished by their trade?' In the case which Berkeley had in view, stirring industry was all that was required for rendering a nation independent, and securing the comfortable subsistence of the people. More difficult is it to find the remedy for a state in which, with the ability and the will to work, the labourer cannot obtain employment. Let us not be deceived by seasons of prosperity, which are only the intervals of the disease. Machinery must enter still further into competition with human labour; this is certain. It will not be withheld by moral considerations, nor by any foresight of the consequences, on the part of those whose sole object is their own immediate profit. It will not-it is not to be checked by legislative enactments, were there even a thought of so checking it. The desire of gain, 'acuens mortalin corda,” causes a continual and intense application of inventive ingenuity in this direction, and a power which might have satisfied the ambition of Archimedes is now at its command. But in proportion as improvements in machinery are effected, the competition becomes greater; over-production is the sure result; the increase of population goes on; increase of pauperism, and all its attendant evils, follow;-and who can tell where the misery, and the danger, and the ruin, are to end?

We must now look to the agricultural part of the community. He who expects to find the husbandmen flourishing while the manufacturers are out of employ; or the tradesman, on the other hand, in prosperity while the farmer is in distress, ‘let him,' as Fuller says, 'try whether one side of his face can smile while the other is pinched.'

Mr. Gourlay, whose name, unfortunately for himself, has been often before the public, but to whom the praise of good intentions is due, however erroneous he may be in some of his views, and however eccentric in some of his actions, asserts in one of his works, that the English poor were civilized and independent an hundred years ago, and that no people ever lived in greater comfort than they did in those days. In the warmth of his benevolence and of his fancy, he seems to have persuaded himself that our labourers had once actually been in a state in which he so earnestly desired that they should at this time be. Yet nothing is more certain than that no evidence, no indication, of any such former state, is to be found in our histories or in our laws; one might as well look there for the constitution of the parliamentary reformers. Our poor,' says Sir Josiah Child, have always been in a most sad and wretched condition.' In one point, however, and that a very important one, the condition of the agricultural labourer has been deteriorated; his wages have not, at any time, been advanced in


any equitable relation to the increased price of every thing which he has to purchase or to pay for; and in aggravation of this evil (an evil of injustice) the introduction of machinery into our manufactories has silenced the spinning-wheel, which used to be in summer the music of his threshold, and in winter of his hearth. A day labourer, in the middle of the last century, commonly received six shillings a week; and his wife, by easy industry, could earn five at this domestic and then certain employment-an employment which was cheerful to the contented spirit and soothing to the sad. There has been, indeed, an enormous disproportion between the wages of the manufacturing and agricultural classes. The manufacturer is, properly, entitled to more, because he is more constantly employed in an unhealthy and irksome employment, and requires in consequence, as the Bishop of Chester has justly observed, bodily comforts of a different description from those which are wanted by the husbandman. But the disproportion is greater than it ought to be; not that the manufacturer, at his highest wages, is paid too much, but that the husbandman is paid too little. The wages of labour ought to be such as would enable an industrious and prudent man, marrying at the age of five-andtwenty, to bring up a family, or to lay by a decent and comfortable provision for his old age if he remain single. When they fall short of this they are iniquitously low; and the circumstances which have rendered the agricultural wages miserably short of it are now to be considered.

This injustice is traceable in its origin to the laws, which, in their relation to the inferior classes of society, were, throughout all European governments, made by the strong against the weak, the natural consequence of government founded upon conquest. It is the honourable peculiarity of our laws, that they inclined always to the merciful side in doubtful cases, concerning personal freedom; but they bore with great injustice upon the free labourers, when that class became numerous enough to be noticed in the statutes. The first notice which was taken of wages was for the purpose of reducing them. A pestilence having thinned the land, about the middle of Edward III.'s reign, and the mortality having been greatest among the labouring people, the survivors found that their services were greatly in demand, and demanded in consequence what were called excessive wages. The statute of labourers was therefore passed, whereby every man or woman, of whatever condition, free or bond, being under threescore years of age, of able body, and having no visible means of honest subsistence, was bound to serve the person who might choose to hire

Quia magna pars populi, et maxime operariorum et servientium jam in istá pesfilentia est defuncta.

him, or her, and restrained from taking any higher wages than had been customarily paid before the pestilence. The penalty for refusing to serve on these terms was strict durance in the nearest jail, till the recusant should consent to the engagement, and find security for performing it. A penalty of double the stipulated wages was recoverable by any informer, from any person who should engage to give more than the intended maximum; and if the offender were lord of the town or manor, it was then a treble penalty. The statute extended to artificers of every description; and it was also made punishable to exact more than a reasonable price for any kind of food. For the purpose, perhaps, of exciting a more general interest in the enforcement of these penalties, and transferring to the assessors in the discharge of their duty, an office which is always and justly obnoxious, when performed by an informer, the penalties were afterwards applied in aid of the tenths and fifteenths assessed upon the parish.

This statute having been disregarded, a grant damage des grantz, another act was passed by the said great men, for enforcing it, and for restraining the malice of servants, who were not satisfied unless the livery and wages were double or treble of what they had been four years before. The new act allowed servants to hire by the year, or other customary terms, but not by the day; a restriction which may probably have been intended against roving labourers. The maximum of wages was left, as before, to vary in different places; but where it had been the custom to give wheat, wheat might still be given, or ten-pence per bushel in its stead, till it should be otherwise ordained, at the option of the master. There are, nevertheless, certain works of husbandry, for which a daily price was fixed: five-pence for mowing, either by the acre or the day; one penny for hay-making; two-pence for reaping in the first week of August, three-pence in the after weeks. Were the seasons then more regular than they have since become, or were our lawgivers as little informed concerning some points on which they legislate, as they have occasionally been found in later times? Threshing, two-pence farthing the quarter of wheat or rye; a penny farthing for the same quantity of beans, peas, barley, and oats. In all these cases this was the maximum, and less was to be taken in those places where less had been the usual rate; and neither meat, drink, nor other courtesy was to be demanded, given, or taken. Twice in the year servants to be sworn before lords, seneschals, bailiffs, and constables of every town to observe this ordinance, and not to leave their winter places of abode, for the purpose of seeking work in the summer, if employment were to be had at the fixed rates at home. There was, however, a saving for certain counties


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