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No. 6. Vol. 14.] London, Friday, Aug. 18, 1826. [Price 6d
Machinery- Population - Phrenology - Marriage-Burial-Jus
tice and Injustice-Sanity and Insanity. These are the topics discussed in the present Number of “ The Republican,” and ably discussed.
On machinery, the question is :-Does it lessen, in the aggregate, the amount of manual or human labour? Here we have arguments for and against. The subject may be illustrated in the observation, that hard labour is by no means, a desideratum to mankind, and that no objection would be made, could be rationally made to the lessening of labour, if the means of subsistence could be obtained with the less of labour. The injury to the labourer' arising from the lessening of his labour is not then to be attributed so much to the machinery that lessens, as to the machinery of government that taxes the produce, of his labour to a great extent, and that throws serious impediments in the way of his raising food from the land or of transferring his labour to other objects where it may be more advantageously used. Another thing to be said for machinery is, that it produces an article supce rior to that which can be produced by manual labour.
On population, that first of political and moral subjects, we quote an illustrative extract sent by a correspondent, and as phrenology is mixed up with it, we add a few words in explanation of that science. Much remains to be done for mankind in teaching' them the economy proper to be observed with respect to their physical powers, so as to increase their moral powers and to generate the greatest sum of happiness, to make the moral or intelligent passions predominate over the mere animal passions.
Marriage is not treated of as an evil in every sense; because it is of itself an indefinite word; but where evil is assorted, the relation is to the manner in which marriage is systematized and abused in this country.
On burial, the object of the correspondent is to attack the prejudices existing upon the disposal of dead bodies that in themselves are mere nuisances and that should, in all cases, wherever
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practicable, be applied to the benefit of, and in no case be allowed to become an injury to, the living.
The case of Mr. Gourlay, a case deserving more of public attention than it has yet received, is the one which embraces the other heads of this article, combined with the other points of persecution there mentioned.
Discussion embraces the whole range of disputed points, and utility can triumph only where discussion is most free. Wicked are they who have impeded or do impede discussion of any kind. The advocate of free discussion makes an easy triumph over every opponent; for he triumphs where he is defeated, he triumphs wherever his ignorance is removed.
(From The Bolton Chronicle.)
(We insert the following communication with much pleasure, because we think it relates to objects of vast importance at the present juncture. We are desirous of publishing every view of the great question of our national misery, that may be the result of research and thought, and which is discussed with temperance and ability. Discussion is now, for the most part, conducted with so little acrimony and invective, and a spirit of candour is becoming so prevalent, that we entertain hopes, eventually, to discover truth" by this very means. In former times, disputa, tion was the general signal for the disputants to become inveterately and enthusiastically wedded to the opinions which they: perhaps originally embraced with little or no reflection ; but we now hope better things--that mankind will not only agree to differ, but to embrace the sentiments of their opponents, if their opponents can shew that they are in error. -ED.) ·
No man can safely affirm, that he may not be mistaken on any of the important subjects which influence the destinies of mankind, and this should make us tolerant and lenient towards one another ; should teach us to “bear and forbear,” should leave us open to conviction, and ready to change any opinion the moment it is proved to be erroneous. Knowledge alone can be beneficial, ignorance must always be injurious; let us then reason to arrive at truth and not victory. On whatsoever subject meu differ in.
opinion, both oannot be riglit, both may be wrong. One must be wrong. Great and exceedingly mischievous errors have been committed by all classes, and from such errors the working classes have by no means been exempted. It is only within a very short period that any 'suspicion was entertained by any considerable number of them, that it was possible for them to form erroneous notions, and even now the opinion prevails pretty generally among them, that they are the best judges of the causes of their own poverty and want of consequence in the world. They attribute their condition to the conduct of the Government, to their employers, to machinery, to any thing which can at the moment be made to account for their situation, except the true cause: they never, suspect that this is to be found in their own conduct, and to be remedied only by their own prudenee. I have been led to these reflections by various essays
which have appeared in The Bolton Chronicle and other papers. In these essays, it is denied,
1. That machinery is the cause of a greater number of hands being employed, than otherwise could be employed, and it is asserted, on the contrary, that the use of machinery reduces the quantity of employment for human beings.
2. It is denied, that the great increase of the population is á principal cause of the present distress of the people,
3. It is maintained, “ that the increase of population cannot be the cause of any distress, so long as the great Creator of all things continues to send an adequate supply
of every necessary of life."
These three short paragraphs contain the substance of the speculations of the great body of the working people, and of a considerable portion of those who are not compelled to work for their daily bread. But are they correct? If they are, let them be as widely disseminated as possible ; if they are not, too much pains cannot be taken to prove how pernicious they must be. I maintain, that they are erroneous, and hope to induce some, at least, of those who indulge in them to reconsider, or rather, to re-examine the grounds which have induced them to believe them to be true.
That machinery is the means of employing a much greater number of persons than could otherwise be employed, has, I think, been proved by almost every writer on Political Economy, from Dr. Adam Smith, to Mr. Macculloch. Unfortunately, the books which contain the information, are least known to those whom they most concern. Three circumstances mainly contribute to prevent the working people obtaining knowledge. 1. The expense of books. 2. The want of leisure. 3. The want of desire for information. Several plans are in progress for the purpose of bringing information on some of the most important subjects withio the teach of the working people. The desire for informa
tion is every day increasing, and will, no doubt, be continually accelerated; as it becomes stronger, leisure will be found, and it is hardly too much to predict, that at no very distant period, the best informed among the working people will be instructed in every thing which relates to their condition in society.
As an elucidation of the first paragraph, let us take the cotton manufacture, it is the most recent of any
of our great manufactures, it has been more talked about than any other of those manufactures, and is better and more generally understood than any other of them. Almost within the memory of persons now living, a piece of printed cotton was as valuable as silk: and long within the memory of many, printed calicoes were sold 3s. 6d. a-yard, which in the usual way of trade, have, of late years, been sold for 1s. a-yard.
Now, the value of every commodity produced by the hand of man, is regulated by the quantity of labour it requires to produce it. When printed calicoes sold for 3s. 6d. a-yard, the high price was occasioned by the quantity of labour required to grow the cotton, to transport it in ships, and to manufacture it into cloth. If a certain quantity of this calico required the labour of a man for three months, it is plain that its price must be enough to keep the labourer for three months, and give the usual profit of trade to his employer; and that, consequently, a man working at any other common trade, would be three months producing another commodity which would exchange for the calico; so that if a workman wanted a piece of calico for his family, he must work for several months, say four months, to obtain it. But as this was more than the working people could afford to pay for a piece of calico, they were obliged to put up with a coarser and worse commodity. This was also the case with every family in a small way of business, with persons of very limited income, and with a multitude of other persons, as well at home as abroad. The quantity of labour, or the equivalent in money to the quantity of labour, to purchase a piece of cotton goods, compelled people, in almost every rank in life, to purchase, comparatively small quantities; and as the demand was small, the quantity manufactured to supply the demand, was also small.
But, when a piece of cotton goods could be manufactured with one week's labour instead of three months' labour, it is plain that if wages continued at the same amount, a week's labour would now enable the labourer to purchase a piece of cotton goods; and as the demand for cotion goods would be greatly increased, so the supply would be increased as greatly. It is not pretended that the sums and times are exactly correct, vor is it necessary that it should be ; they are approximations near enough to elucidate the fact alluded to. Those who are conversant with the manufacture, can state them more exactly.
That the introduction of machinery has lowered the price of
cotton goods, and brought them alinost within the reach of every body, and greatly extended the market, is admitted ; but, then, it is said, all this has been done by machinery alone, and not by manual labour, machinery bas superseded the workman, and is the cause of so many being unemployed. Nothing can, however, be more erroneous; the fact is precisely the reverse. Machinery has all along increased the quantity of hand labour, and has not now, nor at any time, been the cause of putting large numbers of people out of employment.
Let us calmly enquire how the quantity of hand labour has been increased by means of machinery. The spinning wheel and hand loom, both valuable machines, were in use when cotton goods were as dear as silk goods; and cotton goods must have remained as dear as silk goods, had there been no improvement in machinery. At the time of which I am speaking, less than 20,000 persons were employed in the cotton manufacture, and had no new machinery been introduced, the number of persons employed could not have greatly increased, since the price of colton goods, in consequence of the great quantity of labour necessary to produce them, would have prevented all but a small number of personis at home and abroad from becoming purchasers. But when by the introduction of machinery, the quantity of labour necessary to produce cotton goods, was lessened, and a piece of cotton goods could not be purchased with one month’s labour, or the wages of one month's labour, instead of, as formerly, with three or four month's labour, the number of purchasers were greatly increased, and as the price continued to fall as machinery was introduced, the time came, when instead of 20,000 persons being able to produce all the cotton goods which could be sold, 500,000 could not supply the demand, and had not a much larger number than 500,000 persons been produced and brought into the trade all would have found constant employment at good wages. Improvements in machinery went on, the prices of cotton goods continued to fall, the number of purchasers continually increased, and at length there 'was employment for nearly, or quite a million of hands, a thing which never could have taken place but for im; provements in machinery. It is very probable, that had no machinery been introduced, there would not have been employment for 50,000 people, that is, for one in twenty, which on an average of the last five years, have been actually employed. But, as was the case when employment was provided for 500,000, there were 600,000, or perhaps a larger number, found to do the work of the 500,000, so when employment was provided for a million of people, twelve hundred thousand or more were found to do the work of the million; and, to use a common mode of expressing. thc fact, “ they eat up one another.” By their own competition they reduced their own wages from 30s. a-week to 6s. a-week. It cannot be truly said that people were brought from other em