Principles of Economics
1. Labour is classed as economic when it is "undergone partly or wholly with a view to some good other than the pleasure directly derived from it." See p. 65 and footnote. Such labour with the head as does not tend directly or indirectly to promote material production, as for instance the work of the schoolboy at his tasks, is left out of account, so long as we are confining our attention to production in the ordinary sense of the term. From some points of view, but not from all, the phrase Land, Labour, Capital would be more symmetrical if labour were interpreted to mean the labourers, i.e. mankind. See Walras, Économic Politique Pure, Leçon 17, and Prof. Fisher, Economic Journal, VI. p. 529.
2. We have seen (p. 124) that, if a person makes the whole of his purchases at the price which he would be just willing to pay for his last purchases, he gains a surplus of satisfaction on his earlier purchases; since he gets them for less than he would have paid rather than go without them. So, if the price paid to him for doing any work is an adequate reward for that part which he does most unwillingly; and if, as generally happens, the same payment is given for that part of the work which he does less unwillingly and at less real cost to himself; then from that part he obtains a producer's surplus. Some difficulties connected with this notion are considered in Appendix K.
The labourer's unwillingness to sell his labour for less than its normal price resembles the unwillingness of manufacturers to spoil their market by pushing goods for sale at a low price; even though, so far as the particular transaction is concerned, they would rather take the low price than let their works stand idle.
Book IV, Chapter II
6. In Ricardo's famous phrase "the original and indestructible powers of the soil." Von Thünen, in a noteworthy discussion of the basis of the theory of rent, and of the positions which Adam Smith and Ricardo took with regard to it, speaks of "Der Boden an sich"; a phrase which unfortunately cannot be translated, but which means the soil as it would be by itself, if not altered by the action of man (Der Isolirte Staat, I. i. 5).
Book IV, Chapter III
8. Increasing return in the earlier stages arises partly from economy of organization, similar to that which gives an advantage to manufacture on a large scale. But it is also partly due to the fact that where land is very slightly cultivated the farmer's crops are apt to be smothered by nature's crops of weeds. The relation between Diminishing and Increasing Return is discussed further in the last chapter of this Book.
11. Ricardo was well aware of this: though he did not emphasize it enough. Those opponents of his doctrine who have supposed that it has no application to places where all the land pays a rent, have mistaken the nature of his argument.
12. An illustration from recorded experiments may help to make clearer the notion of the return to a marginal dose of capital and labour. The Arkansas experimental station (see The Times, 18 Nov. 1889) reported that four plots of an acre each were treated exactly alike except in the matter of ploughing and harrowing, with the following result:—
This would show that the dose of capital and labour applied in harrowing a second time an acre which had already been ploughed twice gave a return of 1 7/12 bushels. And if the value of these bushels, after allowing for expenses of harvesting, etc. just replaced that dose with profits, then that dose was a marginal one; even though it was not the last in point of time, since those spent on harvesting must needs come later.
13. Let us seek a graphical illustration. It is to be remembered that graphical illustrations are not proofs. They are merely pictures corresponding very roughly to the main conditions of certain real problems. They obtain clearness of outline, by leaving out of account many considerations which vary from one practical problem to another, and of which the farmer must take full account in his own special case. If on any given field there were expended a capital of £50, a certain amount of produce would be raised from it: a certain amount larger than the former would be raised if there were expended on it a capital of £51. The difference between these two amounts may be regarded as the produce due to the fifty-first pound; and if we suppose the capital to be applied in successive doses of £1 each we may speak of this difference as the produce due to the fifty-first dose. Let the doses be represented in order by successive equal divisions of the line OD. Let there now be drawn from the division of this line representing the fifty-first dose M, a line MP at right angles to OD, in thickness equal to the length of one of the divisions, and such that its length represents the amount of the produce due to the fifty-first dose. Suppose this done for each separate division up to that corresponding to the last dose which it is found profitable to put on the land. Let this last dose be the 110th at D, and DC the corresponding return that only just remunerates the farmer. The extremities of such lines will lie on a curve APC. The gross produce will be represented by the sum of these lines: i.e., since the thickness of each line is equal to the length of the division on which it stands, by the area ODCA. Let CGH be drawn parallel to DO, cutting PM in G; then MG is equal to CD; and since DC just remunerates the farmer for one dose, MG will just remunerate him for another: and so for all the portions of the thick vertical lines cut off between OD and HC. Therefore the sum of these, that is, the area ODCH, represents the share of the produce that is required to remunerate him; while the remainder, AHGCPA, is the surplus produce, which under certain conditions becomes the rent.
14. That is, we may substitute (fig. 11) the dotted line BA' for BA and regard A'BPC as the typical curve for the return to capital and labour applied in English agriculture. No doubt crops of wheat and some other annuals cannot be raised at all without some considerable labour. But natural grasses which sow themselves will yield a good return of rough cattle to scarcely any labour.
It has already been noticed (Book III. ch. III. § 1), the law of diminishing return bears a close analogy to the law of demand. The return which land gives to a dose of capital and labour may be regarded as the price which land offers for that dose. Land's return to capital and labour is, so to speak, her effective demand for them: her return to any dose is her demand price for that dose, and the list of returns that she will give to successive doses may thus be regarded as her demand schedule: but to avoid confusion we shall call it her "Return Schedule." Corresponding to the case of the land in the text is that of a man who may be willing to pay a larger proportionate price for a paper that would cover the whole of the walls of his room than for one that would go only half way; and then his demand schedule would at one stage show an increase and not a diminution of demand price for an increased quantity. But in the aggregate demand of many individuals these unevennesses destroy one another; so that the aggregate demand schedule of a group of people always shows the demand price as falling steadily with every increase in the amount offered. In the same way, by grouping together many pieces of land we might obtain a return schedule that would show a constant diminution for every increase of capital and labour applied. But it is more easy to ascertain, and in some ways more important to take note of, the variations of individual demand in the case of plots of land than in the case of people. And therefore our typical return schedule is not drawn out so as to show as even and uniform a diminution of return as our typical demand schedule does of demand price.
15. This case may be represented by diagrams. If the produce rises in real value in the ratio of OH' to OH (so that the amount required to remunerate the farmer for a dose of capital and labour has fallen from OH to OH'), the surplus produce rises only to AH'C', which is not very much greater than its old amount AHC, fig. 12, representing the first case.
The second case is represented in fig. 13, where a similar change in the price of produce makes the new surplus produce AH'C' about three times as large as the old surplus, AHC; and the third in fig. 14. The earliest doses of capital and labour applied to the land give so poor a return, that it would not be worth while to apply them unless it were intended to carry the cultivation further. But later doses give an increasing return which culminates at P, and afterwards diminishes. If the price to be got for produce is so low that an amount OH" is required to remunerate the cultivator for a dose of capital and labour, it will then be only just profitable to cultivate the land. For then cultivation will be carried as far as D"; there will be a deficit on the earlier doses represented by the area H"AE", and a surplus on the later doses represented by the area E"PC": and as these two are about equal, the cultivation of the land so far will only just pay its way. But if the price of produce rises till OH is sufficient to remunerate the cultivator for a dose of capital and labour, the deficit on the earlier doses will sink to HAE, and the surplus on the later doses will rise to EPC: the net surplus (the true rent in case the land is hired out) will be the excess of EPC over HAE. Should the price rise further till OH' is sufficient to remunerate the cultivator for a dose of capital and labour, this net surplus will rise to the very large amount represented by the excess of E'PC' over H'AE'.
16. In such a case as this the earlier doses are pretty sure to be sunk in the land; and the actual rent paid, if the land is hired out, will then include profits on them in addition to the surplus produce or true rent thus shown. Provision can easily be made in the diagrams for the returns due to the landlord's capital.
17. Of course his return may diminish and then increase and then diminish again; and yet again increase when he is in a position to carry out some further extensive change, as was represented by fig. 11. But more extreme instances, of the kind represented by fig. 15, are not very rare.
18. If the price of produce is such that an amount of it OH (figs. 12, 13, 14) is required to pay the cultivator for one dose of capital and labour, the cultivation will be carried as far as D; and the produce raised, AODC, will be greatest in fig. 12, next greatest in fig. 13, and least in fig. 14. But if the demand for agricultural produce so rises that OH' is enough to repay the cultivator for a dose, the cultivation will be carried as far as D', and the produce raised will be AOD'C', which is greatest in fig. 14, next in fig. 13, and least in fig. 12. The contrast would have been even stronger if we had considered the surplus produce which remains after deducting what is sufficient to repay the cultivator, and which becomes under some conditions the rent of the land. For this is AHCin figs. 12 and 13 in the first case and AH'C' in the second; while in fig. 14 it is in the first case the excess of AODCPA over ODCH, i.e. the excess of PEC over AHE; and in the second case the excess of PE'C' over AH'E'.
19. Rogers (Six Centuries of Work and Wages, p. 73) calculates that rich meadow had about the same value, estimated in grain, five or six centuries ago as it has now; but that the value of arable land, similarly estimated, has increased about fivefold in the same time. This is partly due to the great importance of hay at a time when roots and other modern kinds of winter food for cattle were unknown.
20. Thus we may compare two pieces of land represented in figs. 16 and 17, with regard to which the law of diminishing return acts in a similar way, so that their produce curves have similar shapes, but the former has a higher fertility than the other for all degrees of intensity of cultivation. The value of the land may generally be represented by its surplus produce or rent, which is in each case represented by AHC when OH is required to repay a dose of capital and labour; and by AH'C' when the growth of numbers and wealth have made OH' sufficient. It is clear that AH'C' in fig. 17 bears a more favourable comparison with AH'C' in fig. 16 than does AHC in fig. 17 with AHC in fig. 16. In the same way, though not to the same extent, the total produce AOD'C' in fig. 17 bears a more favourable comparison with AOD'C' in fig. 16, than does AODC in fig. 17 with AODC in fig. 16. (It is ingeniously argued in Wicksteed's Coordinates of Laws of Distribution, pp. 51, 2 that rent may be negative. Of course taxes may absorb rent: but land which will not reward the plough will grow trees or rough grass. See above, pp. 157, 8.)
Leroy Beaulieu (Répartition des Richesses, chap. II.) has collected several facts illustrating this tendency of poor lands to rise in value relatively to rich. He quotes the following figures, showing the rental in francs per hectare (2½ acres) of five classes of land in several communes of the Départements de l'Eure et de l'Oise in 1829 and 1852 respectively:—
21. As Roscher says (Political Economy, Sect. CLV.), "In judging Ricardo, it must not be forgotten that it was not his intention to write a text-book on the science of Political Economy, but only to communicate to those versed in it the result of his researches in as brief a manner as possible. Hence he writes so frequently making certain assumptions, and his words are to be extended to other cases only after due consideration, or rather re-written to suit the changed case."
22. Carey claims to have proved that "in every quarter of the world cultivation has commenced on the sides of the hills where the soil was poorest, and where the natural advantages of situation were the least. With the growth of wealth and population, men have been seen descending from the high lands bounding the valley on either side, and coming together at its feet." (Principles of Social Science, chap. IV. § 4.) He has even argued that whenever a thickly peopled country is laid waste, "whenever population, wealth, and the power of association decline, it is the rich soil that is abandoned by men who fly again to the poor ones" (Ib. ch. V. § 3); the rich soils being rendered difficult and dangerous by the rapid growth of jungles which harbour wild beasts and banditti, and perhaps by malaria. The experience of more recent settlers in South Africa and elsewhere does not however generally support his conclusions, which are indeed based largely on facts relating to warm countries. But much of the apparent attractiveness of tropical countries is delusive: they would give a very rich return to hard work: but hard work in them is impossible at present, though some change in this respect may be made by the progress of medical and especially bacteriological science. A cool refreshing breeze is as much a necessary of vigorous life as food itself. Land that offers plenty of food but whose climate destroys energy, is not more productive of the raw material of human wellbeing, than land that supplies less food but has an invigorating climate.
The late Duke of Argyll described the influence of insecurity and poverty in compelling the cultivation of the hills before that of the valleys of the Highlands was feasible, Scotland as it is and was, II. 74, 5.
24. As Ricardo says (Principles, chap. II.) "The compensation given (by the lessee) for the mine or quarry is paid for the value of the coal or stone which can be removed from them, and has no connection with the original or indestructible powers of the land." But both he and others seem sometimes to lose sight of these distinctions in discussing the law of diminishing return in its application to mines. Especially is this the case in Ricardo's criticism of Adam Smith's theory of rent (Principles, chap. XXIV.).
25. Of course the return to capital spent in building increases for the earlier doses. Even where land can be had for almost nothing, it is cheaper to build houses two stories high than one; and hitherto it has been thought cheapest to build factories about four stories high. But a belief is growing up in America, that where land is not very dear factories should be only two stories high, partly in order to avoid the evil effects of vibration, and of the expensive foundations and walls required to prevent it in a high building: that is, it is found that the return of accommodation diminishes perceptibly after the capital and labour required to raise two stories have been spent on the land.
27. In this he will make large use of what is called below the "Substitution" of more for less appropriate means. Discussions bearing directly on this paragraph will be found in III. V. 1-3: IV. VII. 8; and XIII. 2: V. III. 3; IV. 1-4; V. 6-8; VIII. 1-5; X. 3: VI. I. 7; and II. 5.
The tendencies of diminishing utility and of diminishing return have their roots, the one in qualities of human nature, the other in the technical conditions of industry. But the distributions of resources, to which they point, are governed by exactly similar laws. In Mathematical phrase, the problems in maxima and minima to which they give rise are expressed by the same general equations; as may be seen by reference to Mathematical Note XIV.
28. The labour-part of the dose is of course current agricultural labour; the capital-part is itself also the product of labour in past times rendered by workers of many kinds and degrees, accompanied by "waiting."
Book IV, Chapter IV
30. Thus Aristotle (Politics, II. 6) objects to Plato's scheme for equalizing property and abolishing poverty on the ground that it would be unworkable unless the State exercised a firm control over the growth of numbers. And as Jowett points out, Plato himself was aware of this (see Laws, v. 740: also Aristotle, Politics, VII. 16). The opinion, formerly held that the population of Greece declined from the seventh century B.C., and that of Rome from the third, has recently been called in question, see "Die Bevölkerung des Altertums" by Edouard Meyer in the Handwörterbuch der Staatswissenschaften.
32. He argues that Holland is richer than it appears to be relatively to France, because its people have access to many advantages that cannot be had by those who live on poorer land, and are therefore more scattered. "Rich land is better than coarse land of the same Rent." Political Arithmetick, ch. I.
33. Discourses on Trade, ch. X. Harris, Essay on Coins, pp. 32, 3, argues to a similar effect, and proposes to "encourage matrimony among the lower classes by giving some privileges to those who have children," etc.
34. "Let us," said Pitt, "make relief, in cases where there are a large number of children, a matter of right and an honour, instead of a ground for opprobrium and contempt. This will make a large family a blessing and not a curse, and this will draw a proper line of distinction between those who are able to provide for themselves by labour, and those who after having enriched their country with a number of children have a claim on its assistance for their support." Of course he desired "to discourage relief where it was not wanted." Napoleon the First had offered to take under his own charge one member of any family which contained seven male children; and Louis XIV., his predecessor in the slaughter of men, had exempted from public taxes all those who married before the age of 20 or had more than ten legitimate children. A comparison of the rapid increase in the population of Germany with that of France was a chief motive of the order of the French Chamber in 1885 that education and board should be provided at the public expense for every seventh child in necessitous families: and in 1913 a law was passed giving bounties under certain conditions to parents of large families. The British Budget Bill of 1909 allowed a small abatement of income tax for fathers of families.
35. The Physiocratic doctrine with regard to the tendency of population to increase up to the margin of subsistence may be given in Turgot's words:—the employer "since he always has his choice of a great number of working men, will choose that one who will work most cheaply. Thus then the workers are compelled by mutual competition to lower their price; and with regard to every kind of labour the result is bound to be reached—and it is reached as a matter of fact—that the wages of the worker are limited to that which is necessary to procure his subsistence." (Sur la formation et la distribution des richesses, § VI.)
Similarly Sir James Steuart says (Inquiry, Bk. I. ch. III.), "The generative faculty resembles a spring loaded with a weight, which always exerts itself in proportion to the diminution of resistance: when food has remained some time without augmentation or diminution, generation will carry numbers as high as possible; if then food comes to be diminished the spring is overpowered; the force of it becomes less than nothing, inhabitants will diminish at least in proportion to the overcharge. If, on the other hand, food be increased, the spring which stood at 0, will begin to exert itself in proportion as the resistance diminishes; people will begin to be better fed; they will multiply, and in proportion as they increase in numbers the food will become scarce again." Sir James Steuart was much under the influence of the Physiocrats, and was indeed in some respects imbued with Continental rather than English notions of government: and his artificial schemes for regulating population seem very far off from us now. See his Inquiry, Bk. I. ch. XII., "Of the great advantage of combining a well-digested Theory and a perfect Knowledge of Facts with the Practical Part of Government in order to make a People multiply."
37. The average price of wheat in the decade 1771-1780 in which Adam Smith wrote was 34s. 7d.; in 1781-1790 it was 37s. 1d.; in 1791-1800 it was 63s. 6d.; in 1801-1810 it was 83s. 11d.; and in 1811-1820 it was 87s. 6d.
38. Early in the last century the Imperial taxes—for the greater part war taxes—amounted to one-fifth of the whole income of the country; whereas now they are not much more than a twentieth, and even of this a great part is spent on education and other benefits which Government did not then afford.
40. Especially Godwin in his Inquiry concerning Political Justice (1792). It is interesting to compare Malthus' criticism of this Essay (Bk. III. ch. II.) with Aristotle's comments on Plato's Republic (see especially Politics, II. 6).
41. But many of his critics suppose him to have stated his position much less unreservedly than he did; they have forgotten such passages as this:—"From a review of the state of society in former periods compared with the present I should certainly say that the evils resulting from the principle of population have rather diminished than increased, even under the disadvantage of an almost total ignorance of their real cause. And if we can indulge the hope that this ignorance will be gradually dissipated, it does not seem unreasonable to hope that they will be still further diminished. The increase of absolute population, which will of course take place, will evidently tend but little to weaken this expectation, as everything depends on the relative proportions between population and food, and not on the absolute number of the people. In the former part of this work it appeared that the countries which possessed the fewest people often suffered the most from the effects of the principle of population." Essay, Bk. IV. ch. XII.
42. In the first edition of his essay, 1798, Malthus gave his argument without any detailed statement of facts, though from the first he regarded it as needing to be treated in direct connection with a study of facts; as is shown by his having told Pryme (who afterwards became the first Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge) "that his theory was first suggested to his mind in an argumentative conversation which he had with his father on the state of some other countries" (Pryme's Recollections, p. 66). American experience showed that population if unchecked would double at least once in twenty-five years. He argued that a doubled population might, even in a country as thickly peopled as England was with its seven million inhabitants, conceivably though not probably double the subsistence raised from the English soil: but that labour doubled again would not suffice to double the produce again. "Let us then take this for our rule, though certainly far beyond the truth; and allow that the whole produce of the island might be increased every twenty-five years [that is with every doubling of the population] by a quantity of subsistence equal to that which it at present produces"; or in other words, in an arithmetical progression. His desire to make himself clearly understood made him, as Wagner says in his excellent introduction to the study of Population (Grundlegung, Ed. 3, p. 453), "put too sharp a point on his doctrine, and formulate it too absolutely." Thus he got into the habit of speaking of production as capable of increasing in an arithmetical ratio: and many writers think that he attached importance to the phrase itself: whereas it was really only a short way of stating the utmost that he thought any reasonable person could ask him to concede. What he meant, stated in modern language, was that the tendency to diminishing return, which is assumed throughout his argument, would begin to operate sharply after the produce of the island had been doubled. Doubled labour might give doubled produce: but quadrupled labour would hardly treble it: octupled labour would not quadruple it.
In the second edition, 1803, he based himself on so wide and careful a statement of facts as to claim a place among the founders of historical economics; he softened and explained away many of the "sharp points" of his old doctrine, though he did not abandon (as was implied in earlier editions of this work) the use of the phrase "arithmetical ratio." In particular he took a less despondent view of the future of the human race; and dwelt on the hope that moral restraint might hold population in check, and that "vice and misery," the old checks, might thus be kept in abeyance. Francis Place, who was not blind to his many faults, wrote in 1822 an apology for him, excellent in tone and judgment. Good accounts of his work are given in Bonar's Malthus and his Work, Cannan's Production and Distribution, 1776-1848, and Nicholson's Political Economy, Bk. I. ch. XII.
43. Taking the present population of the world at one and a half thousand millions; and assuming that its present rate of increase (about 8 per 1000 annually, see Ravenstein's paper before the British Association in 1890) will continue, we find that in less than two hundred years it will amount to six thousand millions; or at the rate of about 200 to the square mile of fairly fertile land (Ravenstein reckons 28 million square miles of fairly fertile land, and 14 millions of poor grass lands. The first estimate is thought by many to be too high: but, allowing for this, if the less fertile land be reckoned in for what it is worth, the result will be about thirty million square miles as assumed above). Meanwhile there will probably be great improvements in the arts of agriculture; and, if so, the pressure of population on the means of subsistence may be held in check for about two hundred years, but not longer.
44. Of course the length of a generation has itself some influence on the growth of population. If it is 25 years in one place and 20 in another; and if in each place population doubles once in two generations during a thousand years, the increase will be a million-fold in the first place, but thirty million-fold in the second.
45. Dr Ogle (Statistical Journal, Vol. 53) calculates that if the average age of marriage of women in England were postponed five years, the number of children to a marriage, which is now 4.2 would fall to 3.1. Korösi, basing himself on the facts of the relatively warm climate of Buda Pest, finds 18-20 the most prolific age for women, 24-26 that for men. But he concludes that a slight postponement of weddings beyond these ages is advisable mainly on the ground that the vitality of the children of women under 20 is generally small. See Proceedings of Congress of Hygiene and Demography, London 1892, and Statistical Journal, Vol. 57.
46. The term marriage in the text must be taken in a wide sense so as to include not only legal marriages, but all those informal unions which are sufficiently permanent in character to involve for several years at least the practical responsibilities of married life. They are often contracted at an early age, and not infrequently lead up to legal marriages after the lapse of some years. For this reason the average age at marriage in the broad sense of the term, with which alone we are here concerned, is below the average age at legal marriage. The allowance to be made on this head for the whole of the working classes is probably considerable; but it is very much greater in the case of unskilled labourers than of any other class. The following statistics must be interpreted in the light of this remark, and of the fact that all English industrial statistics are vitiated by the want of sufficient care in the classification of the working classes in our official returns. The Registrar-General's forty-ninth Annual Report states that in certain selected districts the returns of marriages for 1884-5 were examined with the following results; the number after each occupation being the average age of bachelors in it at marriage, and the following number, in brackets, being the average age of spinsters who married men of that occupation:—Miners 24.06 (22.46); Textile hands 24.38 (23.43); Shoemakers, Tailors 24.92 (24.31); Artisans 25.35 (23.70); Labourers 25.56 (23.66); Commercial Clerks 26.25 (24.43); Shopkeepers, Shopmen 26.67 (24.22); Farmers and sons 29.23 (26.91); Professional and Independent Class 31.22 (26.40).
Dr Ogle, in the paper already referred to, shows that the marriage-rate is greatest generally in those parts of England in which the percentage of those women between 15 and 25 years of age who are industrially occupied is the greatest. This is no doubt due, as he suggests, partly to the willingness of men to have their money incomes supplemented by those of their wives; but it may be partly due also to an excess of women of a marriageable age in those districts.
47. Thus a visit to the valley Jachenau in the Bavarian Alps about 1880 found this custom still in full force. Aided by a great recent rise in the value of their woods, with regard to which they had pursued a farseeing policy, the inhabitants lived prosperously in large houses, the younger brothers and sisters acting as servants in their old homes or elsewhere. They were of a different race from the workpeople in the neighbouring valleys, who lived poor and hard lives, but seemed to think that the Jachenau purchased its material prosperity at too great a cost.
49. The extreme prudence of peasant proprietors under stationary conditions was noticed by Malthus; see his account of Switzerland (Essay, Bk. II. ch. V.). Adam Smith remarked that poor Highland women frequently had twenty children of whom not more than two reached maturity (Wealth of Nations, Bk. I. ch. VIII.); and the notion that want stimulated fertility was insisted on by Doubleday, True Law of Population. See also Sadler, Law of Population. Herbert Spencer seemed to think it probable that the progress of civilization will of itself hold the growth of population completely in check. But Malthus' remark, that the reproductive power is less in barbarous than in civilized races, has been extended by Darwin to the animal and vegetable kingdom generally.
Mr Charles Booth (Statistical Journal,1893) has divided London into 27 districts (chiefly Registration districts); and arranged them in order of poverty, of overcrowding, of high birth-rate and of high death-rate. He finds that the four orders are generally the same. The excess of birth-rate over death-rate is lowest in the very rich and the very poor districts.
The birth-rate in England and Wales is nominally diminishing at about an equal rate in both town and country. But the continuous migration of young persons from rural to industrial areas has considerably depleted the ranks of young married women in the rural districts; and, when allowance is made for this fact, we find that the percentage of births to women of childbearing ages is much higher in them than in the towns: as is shown in the following table published by the Registrar-General in 1907.
The movements of the population of France have been studied with exceptiona care: and the great work on the subject by Levasseur, La Population Française, is a mine of valuable information as regards other nations besides France. Montesquieu, reasoning perhaps rather a priori, accused the law of primogeniture which ruled in his time in France of reducing the number of children in a family: and le Play brought the same charge against the law of compulsory division. Levasseur (l.c. Vol. III. pp. 171-7) calls attention to the contrast; and remarks that Malthus' expectations of the effect of the Civil Code on population were in harmony with Montesquieu's rather than le Play's diagnosis. But in fact the birthrate varies much from one part of France to another. It is generally lower where a large part of the population owns land than where it does not. If however the Departments of France be arranged in groups in ascending order of the property left at death (valeurs successorales par tête d'habitant), the corresponding birth-rate descends almost uniformly, being 23 per hundred married women between 15 and 50 years for the ten Departments in which the property left is 48-57 fr.; and 13.2 for the Seine, where it is 412 fr. And in Paris itself the arrondissements inhabited by the well-to-do show a smaller percentage of families with more than two children than the poorer arrondissements show. There is much interest in the careful analysis which Levasseur gives of the connection between economic conditions and birth-rate; his general conclusion being that it is not direct but indirect, through the mutual influence of the two on manners and the habit of life (mœurs). He appears to hold that, however much the decline in the numbers of the French relatively to surrounding nations may be regretted from the political and military points of view, there is much good mixed with the evil in its influences on material comfort and even social progress.
51. There is no certain knowledge to be had as to the density of population in England before the eighteenth century; but the following estimates, reproduced from Steffen (Geschichte der englischen Lohn-arbeiter, I. pp. 463 ff.), are probably the best as yet available. Domesday Book suggests that in 1086 the population of England was between two, and two-and-a-half millions. Just before the Black Death (1348) it may have been between three-and-a-half, and four-and-a-half millions; and just afterwards two-and-a-half millions. It began to recover quickly; but made slow progress between 1400 and 1550: it increased rather fast in the next hundred years, and reached five-and-a-half millions in 1700.
If we are to trust Harrison (Description of England, Bk. II. ch. XVI.), the muster of men able for service in 1574 amounted to 1,172,674.
The Black Death was England's only very great calamity. She was not, like the rest of Europe, liable to devastating wars, such as the Thirty Years' War, which destroyed more than half the population of Germany, a loss which it required a full century to recover. (See Rümelin's instructive article on Bevölkerungslehre in Schönberg's Handbuch.)
52. Adam Smith is justly indignant at this. (See Wealth of Nations, Bk. I. ch. X. Part II. and Book IV. ch. II.) The Act recites (14 Charles II. c. 12, A.D. 1662) that "by reason of some defects in the law, poor people are not restrained from going from one parish to another, and thereby do endeavour to settle themselves in those parishes where there is the best stock, the largest wastes or commons to build cottages, and the most woods for them to burn and destroy: etc." and it is therefore ordered "that upon complaint made ... within forty days after any such person or persons coming, so as to settle as aforesaid, in any tenement under the yearly value of ten pounds ... it shall be lawful for any two justices of the Peace ... to remove and convey such person or persons to such parish where he or they were last legally settled." Several Acts purporting to soften its harshness had been passed before Adam Smith's time; but they had been ineffective. In 1795 however it was ordered that no one should be removed until he became actually chargeable.
55. The following tables show the growth of the population of England and Wales from the beginning of the eighteenth century. The figures before 1801 are computed from the registers of births and deaths, and the poll and hearth tax returns: those since 1801 from Census returns. It will be noticed that the numbers increased nearly as much in the twenty years following 1760 as in the preceding sixty years. The pressure of the great war and the high price of corn is shown in the slow growth between 1790 and 1801; and the effects of indiscriminate poor law allowances, in spite of greater pressure, is shown by the rapid increase in the next ten years, and the still greater increase when that pressure was removed in the decade ending 1821. The third column shows the percentage which the increase during the preceding decade was of the population at the beginning of that decade.
The great growth of emigration during recent years makes it important to correct the figures for the last three decades so as to show the "natural increase," viz. that due to the excess of births over deaths. The net emigration from the United Kingdom during the decades 1871-81 and 1881-91 was 1,480,000, and 1,747,000 respectively.
57. For instance, representing the price of wheat in shillings and the number of marriages in England and Wales in thousands, we have for 1801 wheat at 119 and marriages at 67, for 1803 wheat at 59 and marriages at 94; for 1805 the numbers are 90 and 80, for 1807 they are 75 and 84, for 1812 they are 126 and 82, for 1815 they are 66 and 100, for 1817 they are 97 and 88, for 1822 they are 45 and 99.
58. Since 1820 the average price of wheat has seldom exceeded 60s. and never 75s.: and the successive inflations of commerce which culminated and broke in 1826, 1836-9, 1848, 1856, 1866 and 1873 exercised an influence on the marriage-rate about equal with changes in the price of corn. When the two causes act together the effects are very striking: thus between 1829 and 1834, there was a recovery of prosperity accompanied by a steady fall in the price of wheat and marriages rose from a hundred and four to a hundred and twenty-one thousand. The marriage-rate rose again rapidly between 1842 and 1845 when the price of wheat was a little lower than in the preceding years, and the business of the country was reviving; and again under similar circumstances between 1847 and 1853 and between 1862 and 1865.
A comparison of the marriage-rate with the harvests in Sweden for the years 1749 to 1883 is given by Sir Rawson Rawson in the Statistical Journal for December 1885. The harvest does not declare itself till part of the year's tale of marriages is made up; and further the inequalities of harvests are to some extent compensated for by the storage of grain; and therefore the individual harvest figures do not correspond closely with the marriage-rate. But when several good or bad harvests come together, the effect in increasing or diminishing the marriage-rate is very clearly marked.
59. Statistics of exports are among the most convenient indications of the fluctuations of commercial credit and industrial activity: and in the article already quoted, Ogle has shown a correspondence between the marriage-rate and the exports per head. Compare diagrams in Vol. II. p. 12 of Levasseur's La Population Française; and with regard to Massachusetts by Willcox in the Political Science Quarterly, Vol. VIII. pp. 76-82. Ogle's inquiries have been extended and corrected in a paper read by R. H. Hooker before the Manchester Statistical Society, in January 1898; who points out that if the marriage-rate fluctuates, the birth-rate during an ascending phase of the marriage-rate is apt to correspond to the marriage-rate not for that phase, but for the preceding phase when the marriage-rate was declining: and vice versâ. "Hence the ratio of births to marriages declines when the marriage-rate is rising and rises when the marriage-rate falls. A curve representing the ratio of births to marriages will move inversely to the marriage-rate." He points out that the decline in the ratio of births to marriages is not great, and is accounted for by the rapid decline of illegitimate births. The ratio of legitimate births to marriages is not declining perceptibly.
61. Much instructive and suggestive matter connected with the subject of this chapter is contained in the Statistical Memoranda and Charts relating to Public Health and Social Conditions published by the Local Government Board in 1909 [Cd. 4671.].
Book IV, Chapter V
62. This measure can be applied directly to most kinds of navvies' and porters' work, and indirectly to many kinds of agricultural work. In a controversy that was waged after the great agricultural lock-out as to the relative efficiency of unskilled labour in the South and North of England, the most trustworthy measure was found in the number of tons of material that a man would load into a cart in a day. Other measures have been found in the number of acres reaped or mown, or the number of bushels of corn reaped, etc.: but these are unsatisfactory, particularly for comparing different conditions of agriculture: since the implements used, the nature of the crop and the mode of doing the work all vary widely. Thus nearly all comparisons between mediæval and modern work and wages based on the wages of reaping, mowing, etc. are valueless until we have found means to allow for the effects of changes in the methods of agriculture. It costs for instance less labour than it did to reap by hand a crop that yields a hundred bushels of corn; because the implements used are better than they were: but it may not cost less labour to reap an acre of corn; because the crops are heavier than they were.
In backward countries, particularly where there is not much use of horses or other draught animals, a great part of men's and women's work may be measured fairly well by the muscular exertion involved in it. But in England less than one-sixth of the industrial classes are now engaged on work of this kind; while the force exerted by steam-engines alone is more than twenty times as much as could be exerted by the muscles of all Englishmen.
63. This must be distinguished from nervousness, which, as a rule, indicates a general deficiency of nervous strength; though sometimes it proceeds from nervous irritability or want of balance. A man who has great nervous strength in some directions may have but little in others; the artistic temperament in particular often develops one set of nerves at the expense of others: but it is the weakness of some of the nerves, not the strength of the others, that leads to nervousness. The most perfect artistic natures seem not to have been nervous: Leonardo da Vinci and Shakespeare for example. The term "nervous strength" corresponds in some measure to Heart in Engel's great division of the elements of efficiency into (a) Body, (b) Reason, and (c) Heart (Leib, Verstand und Herz). He classifies activities according to the permutations a, ab, ac, abc, acb; b, ba, bc, bca, bac; c, ca, cb, cab, cba: the order in each case being that of relative importance, and a letter being omitted where the corresponding element plays only a very small part.
In the war of 1870 Berlin University students, who seemed to be weaker than the average soldier, were found to be able to bear fatigue better.
64. A warm climate impairs vigour. It is not altogether hostile to high intellectual and artistic work: but it prevents people from being able to endure very hard exertion of any kind for a long time. More sustained hard work can be done in the cooler half of the temperate zone than anywhere else; and most of all in places such as England and her counterpart New Zealand, where sea-breezes keep the temperature nearly uniform. The summer heats and winter colds of many parts of Europe and America, where the mean temperature is moderate, have the effect of shortening the year for working purposes by about two months. Extreme and sustained cold is found to dull the energies, partly perhaps because it causes people to spend much of their time in close and confined quarters: inhabitants of the Arctic regions are generally incapable of long-continued severe exertion. In England popular opinion has insisted that a "warm Yule-tide makes a fat churchyard"; but statistics prove beyond question that it has the opposite effect: the average mortality is highest in the coldest quarter of the year, and higher in cold winters than in warm.
65. Race history is a fascinating but disappointing study for the economist: for conquering races generally incorporated the women of the conquered; they often carried with them many slaves of both sexes during their migrations, and slaves were less likely than freemen to be killed in battle or to adopt a monastic life. In consequence nearly every race had much servile, that is mixed blood in it: and as the share of servile blood was largest in the industrial classes, a race history of industrial habits seems impossible.
67. Freedom and hope increase not only man's willingness but also his power for work; physiologists tell us that a given exertion consumes less of the store of nervous energy if done under the stimulus of pleasure than of pain: and without hope there is no enterprise. Security of person and property are two conditions of this hopefulness and freedom; but security always involves restraints on freedom, and it is one of the most difficult problems of civilization to discover how to obtain the security which is a condition of freedom without too great a sacrifice of freedom itself. Changes of work, of scene, and of personal associations bring new thoughts, call attention to the imperfections of old methods, stimulate a "divine discontent," and in every way develop creative energy.
68. By converse with others who come from different places, and have different customs, travellers learn to put on its trial many a habit of thought or action which otherwise they would have always acquiesced in as though it were a law of nature. Moreover, a shifting of places enables the more powerful and original minds to find full scope for their energies and to rise to important positions: whereas those who stay at home are often over much kept in their places. Few men are prophets in their own land; neighbours and relations are generally the last to pardon the faults and to recognize the merits of those who are less docile and more enterprising than those around them. It is doubtless chiefly for this reason that in almost every part of England a disproportionately large share of the best energy and enterprise is to be found among those who were born elsewhere.
But change may be carried to excess; and when population shifts so rapidly, that a man is always shaking himself loose from his reputation, he loses some of the best external aids to the formation of a high moral character. The extreme hopefulness and restlessness of those who wander to new countries lead to much waste of effort in half acquiring technical skill, and half finishing tasks which are speedily abandoned in favour of some new occupation.
69. The rate of mortality is low among ministers of religion and schoolmasters; among the agricultural classes, and in some other industries such as those of wheelwrights, shipwrights and coal-miners. It is high in lead and tin mining, in file-making and earthenware manufacture. But neither these nor any other regular trade show as high a rate of mortality as is found among London general labourers and costermongers; while the highest of all is that of servants in inns. Such occupations are not directly injurious to health, but they attract those who are weak in physique and in character and they encourage irregular habits. A good account of the influence of occupation on death-rates is given in the supplement to the forty-fifth (1885) Annual Report of the Registrar-General, pp. xxv-lxiii. See also Farr's Vital Statistics, pp. 392-411, Humphreys' paper on Class Mortality Statistics in the Statistical Journal for June 1887, and the literature of the Factory Acts generally.
70. Davenant (Balance of Trade, A.D. 1699, p. 20), following Gregory King, proves that according to official figures. London has an excess of deaths over births of 2000 a year, but an immigration of 5000; which is more than half of what he calculates, by a rather risky method, to be the true net increase of the population of the country. He reckons that 530,000 people live in London, 870,000 in the other cities and market towns, and 4,100,000 in villages and hamlets. Compare these figures with the census of 1901 for England and Wales; where we find London with a population of over 4,500,000; five more towns with an average of over 500,000; and sixty-nine more exceeding 50,000 with an average of over 100,000. Nor is this all: for many suburbs whose population is not counted in, are often really parts of the big towns; and in some cases the suburbs of several adjacent towns run into one another, making them all into one gigantic, though rather scattered town. A suburb of Manchester is counted as a large town with 220,000 inhabitants; and the same is true of West Ham, a suburb of London with 275,000. The boundaries of some large towns are extended at irregular intervals to include such suburbs: and consequently the true population of a large town may be growing fast, while its nominal population grows slowly or even recedes, and then suddenly leaps forwards. Thus the nominal population of Liverpool was 552,000 in 1881; 518,000 in 1891; and 685,000 in 1901.
Similar changes are taking place elsewhere. Thus the population of Paris has grown twelve times as fast during the nineteenth century as that of France. The towns of Germany are increasing at the expense of the country by one half per cent. of the population yearly. In the United States there was in 1800 no town with more than 75,000 inhabitants; in 1905 there were three which together contained more than 7,000,000 and eleven more with above 300,000 each. More than a third of the population of Victoria are collected in Melbourne.
It must be recollected that the characteristics of town life increase in intensity for good and for evil with every increase in the size of a town, and its suburbs. Fresh country air has to pass over many more sources of noisome vapour before it reaches the average Londoner than before it reaches the average inhabitant of a small town. The Londoner has generally to go far before he can reach the freedom and the restful sounds and sights of the country. London therefore with 4,500,000 inhabitants adds to the urban character of England's life far more than a hundred times as much as a town of 45,000 inhabitants.
71. For reason of this kind Welton (Statistical Journal, 1897) makes the extreme proposal to omit all persons between 15 and 35 years of age in comparing the rates of mortality in different towns. The mortality of females in London between the ages of fifteen and thirty-five is, chiefly for this reason, abnormally low. If however a town has a stationary population its vital statistics are more easily interpreted; and selecting Coventry as a typical town, Galton has calculated that the adult children of artisan townsfolk are little more than half as numerous as those of labouring people who live in healthy country districts. When a place is decaying, the young and strong and hearty drift away from it; leaving the old and the infirm behind them, and consequently the birth-rate is generally low. On the other hand, a centre of industry that is attracting population is likely to have a very high birth-rate, because it has more than its share of people in the full vigour of life. This is especially the case in the coal and iron towns, partly because they do not suffer, as the textile towns do, from a deficiency of males; and partly because miners as a class marry early. In some of them, though the death-rate is high, the excess of the birth-rate over it exceeds 20 per thousand of the population. The death-rate is generally highest in towns of the second order, chiefly because their sanitary arrangements are not yet as good as those of the very largest towns.
Prof. Haycraft (Darwinism and Race Progress) argues in the opposite direction. He lays just stress on the dangers to the human race which would result from a diminution of those diseases, such as phthisis and scrofula, which attack chiefly people of weak constitution, and thus exercise a selective influence on the race, unless it were accompanied by corresponding improvements in other directions. But phthisis does not kill all its victims; there is some net gain in a diminution of its power of weakening them.
73. In the Southern States of America, manual work became disgraceful to the white man; so that, if unable to have slaves himself, he led a paltry degenerate life, and seldom married. Again, on the Pacific Slope, there were at one time just grounds for fearing that all but highly skilled work would be left to the Chinese; and that the white men would live in an artificial way in which a family became a great expense. In this case Chinese lives would have been substituted for American, and the average quality of the human race would have been lowered.
74. The extent of the infant mortality that arises from preventable causes may be inferred from the facts that the percentage of deaths under one year of age to births is generally about a third as much again in urban as in rural districts; and yet in many urban districts which have a well-to-do population it is lower than the average for the whole country (Registrar-General's Report for 1905, pp. xlii-xlv). A few years ago it was found that, while the annual death-rate of children under five years of age was only about two per cent. in the families of peers and was less than three per cent. for the whole of the upper classes, it was between six and seven per cent. for the whole of England. On the other hand Prof. Leroy Beaulieu says that in France the parents of but one or two children are apt to indulge them, and be over-careful about them to the detriment of their boldness, enterprise and endurance. (See Statistical Journal, Vol. 54, pp. 378, 9.)
Book IV, Chapter VI
75. In this connection it is worth while to notice that the full importance of an epoch-making idea is often not perceived in the generation in which it is made: it starts the thoughts of the world on a new track, but the change of direction is not obvious until the turning-point has been left some way behind. In the same way the mechanical inventions of every age are apt to be underrated relatively to those of earlier times. For a new discovery is seldom fully effective for practical purposes till many minor improvements and subsidiary discoveries have gathered themselves around it: an invention that makes an epoch is very often a generation older than the epoch which it makes. Thus it is that each generation seems to be chiefly occupied in working out the thoughts of the preceding one; while the full importance of its own thoughts is as yet not clearly seen.
76. According to Galton the statement that all great men have had great mothers goes too far: but that shows only that the mother's influence does not outweigh all others; not that it is not greater than any one of them. He says that the mother's influence is most easily traceable among theologians and men of science, because an earnest mother leads her child to feel deeply about great things; and a thoughtful mother does not repress, but encourages that childish curiosity which is the raw material of scientific habits of thought.
77. There are many fine natures among domestic servants. But those who live in very rich houses are apt to get self-indulgent habits, to overestimate the importance of wealth, and generally to put the lower aims of life above the higher, in a way that is not common with independent working people. The company in which the children of some of our best houses spend much of their time, is less ennobling than that of the average cottage. Yet in these very houses, no servant who is not specially qualified, is allowed to take charge of a young retriever or a young horse.
78. The absence of a careful general education for the children of the working classes, has been hardly less detrimental to industrial progress than the narrow range of the old grammar-school education of the middle classes. Till recently indeed it was the only one by which the average schoolmaster could induce his pupils to use their minds in anything higher than the absorption of knowledge. It was therefore rightly called liberal, because it was the best that was to be had. But it failed in its aim of familiarizing the citizen with the great thoughts of antiquity; it was generally forgotten as soon as school-time was over; and it raised an injurious antagonism between business and culture. Now however the advance of knowledge is enabling us to use science and art to supplement the curriculum of the grammar-school, and to give to those who can afford it an education that develops their best faculties, and starts them on the track of thoughts which will most stimulate the higher activities of their minds in after-life. The time spent on learning to spell is almost wasted: if spelling and pronunciation are brought into harmony in the English language as in most others, about a year will be added to the effective school education without any additional cost.
79. As Nasmyth says; if a lad, having dropped two peas at random on a table, can readily put a third pea midway in a line between them, he is on the way to become a good mechanic. Command over eye and hand is gained in the ordinary English games, no less than in the playful work of the Kinder-garten. Drawing has always been on the border line between work and play.
80. One of the weakest points of technical education is that it does not educate the sense of proportion and the desire for simplicity of detail. The English, and to an even greater extent, the Americans, have acquired in actual business the faculty of rejecting intricacies in machinery and processes, which are not worth what they cost, and practical instinct of this kind often enables them to succeed in competition with Continental rivals who are much better educated.
81. A good plan is that of spending the six winter months of several years after leaving school in learning science in College, and the six summer months as articled pupils in large workshops. The present writer introduced this plan about forty years ago at University College, Bristol (now the University of Bristol). But it has practical difficulties which can be overcome only by the cordial and generous co-operation of the heads of large firms with the College authorities. Another excellent plan is that adopted in the school attached to the works of Messrs Mather and Platt at Manchester. "The drawings made in the school are of work actually in progress in the shops. One day the teacher gives the necessary explanations and calculations, and the next day the scholars see, as it were on the anvil, the very thing which has been the subject of his lecture."
82. The employer binds himself to see that the apprentice is thoroughly taught in the workshop all the subdivisions of one great division of his trade, instead of letting him learn only one of these subdivisions, as too often happens now. The apprentice's training would then often be as broad as if he had been taught the whole of the trade as it existed a few generations ago; and it might be supplemented by a theoretical knowledge of all branches of the trade, acquired in a technical school. Something resembling the old apprenticeship system has recently come into vogue for young Englishmen who desire to learn the business of farming under the peculiar conditions of a new country: and there are some signs that the plan may be extended to the business of farming in this country, for which it is in many respects admirably adapted. But there remains a great deal of education suitable to the farmer and to the farm-labourer which can best be given in agricultural colleges and dairy schools.
Meanwhile many great agencies for the technical education of adults are being rapidly developed, such as public exhibitions, trade associations and congresses, and trade journals. Each of them has its own work to do. In agriculture and some other trades the greatest aid to progress is perhaps found in public shows. But those industries, which are more advanced and in the hands of persons of studious habits, owe more to the diffusion of practical and scientific knowledge by trade journals; which, aided by changes in the methods of industry and also in its social conditions, are breaking up trade secrets and helping men of small means in competition with their richer rivals.
83. The heads of almost every progressive firm on the Continent have carefully studied processes and machinery in foreign lands. The English are great travellers; but partly perhaps on account of their ignorance of other languages they seem hardly to set enough store on the technical education that can be gained by the wise use of travel.
84. In fact every designer in a primitive age is governed by precedent: only very daring people depart from it; even they do not depart far, and their innovations are subjected to the test of experience, which, in the long run, is infallible. For though the crudest and most ridiculous fashions in art and in literature will be accepted by the people for a time at the bidding of their social superiors, nothing but true artistic excellence has enabled a ballad or a melody, a style of dress or a pattern of furniture to retain its popularity among a whole nation for many generations together. These innovations, then, which were inconsistent with the true spirit of art were suppressed, and those that were on the right track were retained, and became the starting-point for further progress; and thus traditional instincts played a great part in preserving the purity of the industrial arts in Oriental countries, and to a less extent in mediæval Europe.
85. French designers find it best to live in Paris: if they stay for long out of contact with the central movements of fashion they seem to fall behindhand. Most of them have been educated as artists, but have failed of their highest ambition. It is only in exceptional cases, as for instance for the Sèvres china, that those who have succeeded as artists find it worth their while to design. Englishmen can, however, hold their own in designing for Oriental markets, and there is evidence that the English are at least equal to the French in originality, though they are inferior in quickness in seeing how to group forms and colours so as to obtain an effective result. (See the Report on Technical Education, Vol. I. pp. 256, 261, 324, 325 and Vol. III. pp. 151, 152, 202, 203, 211 and passim.) It is probable that the profession of the modern designer has not yet risen to the best position which it is capable of holding. For it has been to a disproportionate extent under the influence of one nation; and that nation is one whose works in the highest branches of art have seldom borne to be transplanted. They have indeed often been applauded and imitated at the time by other nations, but they have as yet seldom struck a key-note for the best work of later generations.
86. The painters themselves have put on record in the portrait-galleries the fact that in mediæval times, and even later, their art attracted a larger share of the best intellect than it does now; when the ambition of youth is tempted by the excitement of modern business, when its zeal for imperishable achievements finds a field in the discoveries of modern science, and, lastly, when a great deal of excellent talent is insensibly diverted from high aims by the ready pay to be got by hastily writing half-thoughts for periodical literature.
87. Mill was so much impressed by the difficulties that beset a parent in the attempt to bring up his son to an occupation widely different in character from his own, that he said (Principles, II. XIV. 2):—"So complete, indeed, has hitherto been the separation, so strongly marked the line of demarcation, between the different grades of labourers, as to be almost equivalent to an hereditary distinction of caste; each employment being chiefly recruited from the children of those already employed in it, or in employments of the same rank with it in social estimation, or from the children of persons who, if originally of a lower rank, have succeeded in raising themselves by their exertions. The liberal professions are mostly supplied by the sons of either the professional or the idle classes: the more highly skilled manual employments are filled up from the sons of skilled artisans or the class of tradesmen who rank with them: the lower classes of skilled employments are in a similar case; and unskilled labourers, with occasional exceptions, remain from father to son in their pristine condition. Consequently the wages of each class have hitherto been regulated by the increase of its own population, rather than that of the general population of the country." But he goes on, "The changes, however, now so rapidly taking place in usages and ideas are undermining all these distinctions."
His prescience has been vindicated by the progress of change since he wrote. The broad lines of division which he pointed out have been almost obliterated by the rapid action of those causes which, as we saw earlier in the chapter, are reducing the amount of skill and ability required in some occupations and increasing it in others. We cannot any longer regard different occupations as distributed among four great planes; but we may perhaps think of them as resembling a long flight of steps of unequal breadth, some of them being so broad as to act as landing stages. Or even better still we might picture to ourselves two flights of stairs, one representing the "hard-handed industries" and the other "the soft-handed industries"; because the vertical division between these two is in fact as broad and as clearly marked as the horizontal division between any two grades.
Mill's classification had lost a great part of its value when Cairnes adopted it (Leading Principles, p. 72). A classification more suited to our existing conditions is offered by Giddings (Political Science Quarterly, Vol. II. pp. 69-71). It is open to the objection that it draws broad lines of division where nature has made no broad lines; but it is perhaps as good as any division of industry into four grades can be. His divisions are (i) automatic manual labour, including common labourers and machine tenders; (ii) responsible manual labour, including those who can be entrusted with some responsibility and labour of self-direction; (iii) automatic brain workers, such as book-keepers, and (iv) responsible brain workers, including the superintendents and directors.
The conditions and methods of the large and incessant movement of the population upwards and downwards from grade to grade are studied more fully below, VI. IV. V. and VII.
The growing demand for boys to run errands, and to do other work that has no educational value, has increased the danger that parents may send their sons into avenues that have no outlook for good employment in later years: and something is being done by public agency, and more by the devotion and energy of men and women in unofficial association, in giving out notes of warning against such "blind alley" occupations, and assisting lads to prepare themselves for skilled work. These efforts may be of great national value. But care must be taken that this guidance and help is as accessible to the higher strains of the working class population when in need of it as to the lower; lest the race should degenerate.
Book IV, Chapter VII
89. Bagehot (Economic Studies, pp. 163-5), after quoting the evidence which Galton has collected on the keeping of pet animals by savage tribes, points out that we find here a good illustration of the fact that however careless a savage race may be for the future, it cannot avoid making some provision for it. A bow, a fishing-net, which will do its work well in getting food for to-day must be of service for many days to come: a horse or a canoe that will carry one well to-day, must be a stored-up source of many future enjoyments. The least provident of barbaric despots may raise a massive pile of buildings, because it is the most palpable proof of his present wealth and power.
90. The farm implements for a first class Ryot family, including six or seven adult males, are a few light ploughs and hoes chiefly of wood, of the total value of about 13 rupees (Sir G. Phear, Aryan Village, p. 233) or the equivalent of their work for about a month; while the value of the machinery alone on a well equipped large modern arable farm amounts to £3 an acre (Equipment of the Farm, edited by J. C. Morton) or say a year's work for each person employed. They include steam-engines, trench, subsoil and ordinary ploughs, some to be worked by steam and some by horse power; various grubbers, harrows, rollers, clod-crushers, seed and manure drills, horse hoes, rakes, hay-making, mowing and reaping machines, steam or horse threshing, chaff cutting, turnip cutting, hay-pressing machines and a multitude of others. Meanwhile there is an increasing use of silos and covered yards, and constant improvements in the fittings of the dairy and other farm buildings, all of which give great economy of effort in the long run, but require a larger share of it to be spent in preparing the way for the direct work of the farmer in raising agricultural produce.
91. For instance, improvements which have recently been made in some American cities indicate that by a sufficient outlay of capital each house could be supplied with what it does require, and relieved of what it does not, much more effectively than now, so as to enable a large part of the population to live in towns and yet be free from many of the present evils of town life. The first step is to make under all the streets large tunnels, in which many pipes and wires can be laid side by side, and repaired when they get out of order, without any interruption of the general traffic and without great expense. Motive power, and possibly even heat, might then be generated at great distances from the towns (in some cases in coal-mines), and laid on wherever wanted. Soft water and spring water, and perhaps even sea water and ozonized air, might be laid on in separate pipes to nearly every house; while steam-pipes might be used for giving warmth in winter, and compressed air for lowering the heat of summer; or the heat might be supplied by gas of great heating power laid on in special pipes, while light was derived from gas specially suited for the purpose or from electricity; and every house might be in electric communication with the rest of the town. All unwholesome vapours, including those given off by any domestic fires which were still used, might be carried away by strong draughts through long conduits, to be purified by passing through large furnaces and thence away through huge chimneys into the higher air. To carry out such a scheme in the towns of England would require the outlay of a much larger capital than has been absorbed by our railways. This conjecture as to the ultimate course of town improvement may be wide of the truth; but it serves to indicate one of very many ways in which the experience of the past foreshadows broad openings for investing present effort in providing the means of satisfying our wants in the future.
96. It must however be admitted that what passes by the name of public property is often only private wealth borrowed on a mortgage of future public revenue. Municipal gas-works for instance are not generally the results of public accumulations. They were built with wealth saved by private persons, and borrowed on public account.
98. The suggestion that the rate of interest may conceivably become a negative quantity was discussed by Foxwell in a paper on Some Social Aspects of Banking, read before the Bankers' Institute in January, 1886.
99. Karl Marx and his followers have found much amusement in contemplating the accumulations of wealth which result from the abstinence of Baron Rothschild, which they contrast with the extravagance of a labourer who feeds a family of seven on seven shillings a week; and who, living up to his full income, practises no economic abstinence at all. The argument that it is Waiting rather than Abstinence, which is rewarded by Interest and is a factor of production, was given by Macvane in the Harvard Jóurnal of Economics for July, 1887.
100. See also VI. VI. It may however be observed here that the dependence of the growth of capital on the high estimation of "future goods" appears to have been over-estimated by earlier writers; not under-estimated, as is argued by Prof. Böhm-Bawerk.
Book IV, Chapter VIII
102. Like all other doctrines of the same class, this requires to be interpreted in the light of the fact that the effective demand of a purchaser depends on his means, as well as on his wants: a small want on the part of a rich man often has more effective force in controlling the business arrangements of the world than a great want on the part of a poor man.
104. Man with his many motives, as he may set himself deliberately to encourage the growth of one peculiarity, may equally set himself to check the growth of another: the slowness of progress during the Middle Ages was partly due to a deliberate detestation of learning.
105. See Note XI. in the Mathematical Appendix. Considerations of this class have little application to the development of mere animals, such as mice; and none at all to that of peas and other vegetables. And therefore the marvellous arithmetical results which have been established, provisionally at all events, in regard to heredity in such cases, have very little bearing on the full problems of inheritance with which students of social science are concerned: and some negative utterances on this subject by eminent Mendelians seem to lack due reserve. Excellent remarks on the subject will be found in Prof. Pigou's Wealth and Welfare, Part I, ch. IV.
Book IV, Chapter IX
107. For instance, the first time a man attempts to skate he must give his whole attention to keeping his balance, his cerebrum has to exercise a direct control over every movement, and he has not much mental energy left for other things. But after a good deal of practice the action becomes semi-automatic, the local nerve centres undertake nearly all the work of regulating the muscles, the cerebrum is set free, and the man can carry on an independent train of thought; he can even alter his course to avoid an obstacle in his path, or to recover his balance after it has been disturbed by a slight unevenness, without in any way interrupting the course of his thoughts. It seems that the exercise of nerve force under the immediate direction of the thinking power residing in the cerebrum has gradually built up a set of connections, involving probably distinct physical change, between the nerves and nerve centres concerned; and these new connections may be regarded as a sort of capital of nerve force. There is probably something like an organized bureaucracy of the local nerve centres: the medulla, the spinal axis, and the larger ganglia generally acting the part of provincial authorities, and being able after a time to regulate the district and village authorities without troubling the supreme government. Very likely they send up messages as to what is going on: but if nothing much out of the way has happened, these are very little attended to. When however a new feat has to be accomplished, as for instance learning to skate backwards, the whole thinking force will be called into requisition for the time; and will now be able by aid of the special skating-organization of the nerves and nerve centres, which has been built up in ordinary skating, to do what would have been altogether impossible without such aid.
To take a higher instance: when an artist is painting at his best, his cerebrum is fully occupied with his work: his whole mental force is thrown into it, and the strain is too great to be kept up for a long time together. In a few hours of happy inspiration he may give utterance to thoughts that exert a perceptible influence on the character of coming generations. But his power of expression had been earned by numberless hours of plodding work in which he had gradually built up an intimate connection between eye and hand, sufficient to enable him to make good rough sketches of things with which he is tolerably familiar, even while he is engaged in an engrossing conversation and is scarcely conscious that he has a pencil in his hand.
108. J. S. Mill went so far as to maintain that his occupations at the India Office did not interfere with his pursuit of philosophical inquiries. But it seems probable that this diversion of his freshest powers lowered the quality of his best thought more than he was aware; and though it may have diminished but little his remarkable usefulness in his own generation, it probably affected very much his power of doing that kind of work which influences the course of thought in future generations. It was by husbanding every atom of his small physical strength that Darwin was enabled to do so much work of just that kind: and a social reformer who had succeeded in exploiting Darwin's leisure hours in useful work on behalf of the community, would have done a very bad piece of business for it.
109. The best and most expensive clothes are made by highly skilled and highly paid tailors, each of whom works right through first one garment and then another: while the cheapest and worst clothes are made for starvation wages by unskilled women who take the cloth to their own homes and do every part of the sewing themselves. But clothes of intermediate qualities are made in workshops or factories, in which the division and subdivision of labour are carried as far as the size of the staff will permit; and this method is rapidly gaining ground at both ends at the expense of the rival method. Lord Lauderdale (Inquiry, p. 282) quotes Xenophon's argument that the best work is done when each confines himself to one simple department, as when one man makes shoes for men, and another for women; or better when one man only sews shoes or garments, another cuts them out: the king's cooking is much better than anybody else's, because he has one cook who only boils, another who only roasts meat; one who only boils fish, another who only fries it: there is not one man to make all sorts of bread but a special man for special qualities.
110. One great inventor is rumoured to have spent £300,000 on experiments relating to textile machinery, and his outlay is said to have been abundantly returned to him. Some of his inventions were of such a kind as can be made only by a man of genius; and however great the need, they must have waited till the right man was found for them. He charged not unreasonably £1000 as royalty for each of his combing machines; and a worsted manufacturer, being full of work, found it worth his while to buy an additional machine, and pay this extra charge for it, only six months before the expiry of the patent. But such cases are exceptional: as a rule, patented machines are not very dear. In some cases the economy of having them all produced at one place by special machinery has been so great that the patentee has found it to his advantage to sell them at a price lower than the old price of the inferior machines which they displaced: for that old price gave him so high a profit, that it was worth his while to lower the price still further in order to induce the use of the machines for new purposes and in new markets. In almost every trade many things are done by hand, though it is well known that they could easily be done by some adaptations of machines that are already in use in that or some other trade, and which are not made only because there would not as yet be enough employment for them to remunerate the trouble and expense of making them.
112. The system owes its origin in great measure to Sir Joseph Whitworth's standard gauges; but it has been worked out with most enterprise and thoroughness in America. Standardization is most helpful in regard to things which are to be built up with others into complex machines, buildings, bridges, etc.
113. The perfection which the machinery has already attained is shown by the fact that at the Inventions Exhibition held in London in 1885, the representative of an American watch factory took to pieces fifty watches before some English representatives of the older system of manufacture, and after throwing the different parts into different heaps, asked them to select for him one piece from each heap in succession; he then set these pieces up in one of the watch-cases and handed them back a watch in perfect order.
114. "The type-founder was probably the first to secede from the concern; then printers delegated to others the making of presses; afterwards the ink and the rollers found separate and distinct manufacturers; and there arose a class of persons who, though belonging to other trades, made printing appliances a speciality, such as printers' smiths, printers' joiners and printers' engineers" (Mr Southward in the Article on Typography in the Encyclopædia Britannica).
115. For instance, Mr Southward tells us "a minder may understand only book machines or only news machines; he may know all about" machines that print from flat surfaces or those that print from cylinders; "or of cylinders he may know only one kind. Entirely novel machines create a new class of artisans. There are men perfectly competent to manage a Walter press who are ignorant how to work two-colour or fine book-work machines. In the compositor's department division of labour is carried out to a still minuter degree. An old-fashioned printer would set up indifferently a placard, a title-page, or a book. At the present day we have jobbing hands, book hands, and news hands, the word 'hand' suggesting the factory-like nature of the business. There are jobbing hands who confine themselves to posters. Book hands comprise those who set up the titles and those who set up the body of the work. Of these latter again, while one man composes, another, the 'maker-up,' arranges the pages."
116. Let us follow still further the progress of machinery in supplanting manual labour in some directions and opening out new fields for its employment in others. Let us watch the process by which large editions of a great newspaper are set up and printed off in a few hours. To begin with, a good part of the type-setting is itself often done by a machine; but in any case the types are in the first instance on a plane surface, from which it is impossible to print very rapidly. The next step therefore is to make a papier-maché cast of them, which is bent on to a cylinder, and is then used as the mould from which a new metal plate is cast that fits the cylinders of the printing machine. Fixed on these it rotates alternately against the inking cylinders and the paper. The paper is arranged in a huge roll at the bottom of the machine and unrolls itself automatically, first against the damping cylinders and then against the printing cylinders, the first of which prints it on one side, and the second on the other: thence to the cutting cylinders, which cut it into equal lengths, and thence to the folding apparatus, which folds it ready for sale.
More recently the casting of the type has been brought under the new methods. The compositor plays on a keyboard like that of the type-writer, and the matrix of a corresponding letter goes into line: then after spacing out, molten lead is poured on the line of matrices, and a solid line of type is ready. And in a further development each letter is cast separately from its matrix; the machine reckons up the space taken by the letters, stops when there are enough for a line, divides out the free space equally into the requisite number of small spaces between the words; and finally casts the line. It is claimed that one compositor can work several such machines simultaneously in distant towns by electric currents.
117. The jack-plane, used for making smooth large boards for floors and other purposes, used to cause heart disease, making carpenters as a rule old men by the time they were forty. Adam Smith tells us that "workmen, when they are liberally paid, are very apt to overwork themselves and to ruin their health and constitution in a few years. A carpenter in London, and in some other places, is not supposed to last in his utmost vigour above eight years.... Almost every class of artificers is subject to some particular infirmity occasioned by excessive application to their peculiar species of work." Wealth of Nations, Book I. chapter VII.
118. The efficiency of labour in weaving has been increased twelve-fold and that in spinning six-fold during the last seventy years. In the preceding seventy years the improvements in spinning had already increased the efficiency of labour two-hundred-fold (see Ellison's Cotton Trade of Great Britain, ch. IV. and V.).
119. Perhaps the textile industries afford the best instance of work that used to be done by hand and is now done by machinery. They are especially prominent in England, where they give employment to nearly half a million males and more than half a million females, or more than one in ten of those persons who are earning independent incomes. The strain that is taken off human muscles in dealing even with those soft materials is shown by the fact that for every one of these million operatives there is used about one horse-power of steam, that is, about ten times as much as they would themselves exert if they were all strong men; and the history of these industries will serve to remind us that many of those who perform the more monotonous parts of manufacturing work are as a rule not skilled workers who have come down to it from a higher class of work, but unskilled workers who have risen to it. A great number of those who work in the Lancashire cotton-mills have come there from poverty-stricken districts of Ireland, while others are the descendants of paupers and people of weak physique, who were sent there in large numbers early in the last century from the most miserable conditions of life in the poorest agricultural districts, where the labourers were fed and housed almost worse than the animals whom they tended. Again, when regret is expressed that the cotton factory hands of New England have not the high standard of culture which prevailed among them a century ago, we must remember that the descendants of those factory workers have moved up to higher and more responsible posts, and include many of the ablest and wealthiest of the citizens of America. Those who have taken their places are in the process of being raised; they are chiefly French Canadians and Irish, who though they may learn in their new homes some of the vices of civilization, are yet much better off and have on the whole better opportunities of developing the higher faculties of themselves and their children than they had in their old homes.
Book IV, Chapter X
120. Thus in the records of the Stourbridge Fair held near Cambridge we find an endless variety of light and precious goods from the older seats of civilization in the East and on the Mediterranean; some having been brought in Italian ships, and others having travelled by land as far as the shores of the North Sea.
121. Not very long ago travellers in western Tyrol could find a strange and characteristic relic of this habit in a village called Imst. The villagers had somehow acquired a special art in breeding canaries: and their young men started for a tour to distant parts of Europe each with about fifty small cages hung from a pole over his shoulder, and walked on till they had sold all.
122. There are for instance over 500 villages devoted to various branches of woodwork; one village makes nothing but spokes for the wheels of vehicles, another nothing but the bodies and so on; and indications of a like state of things are found in the histories of oriental civilizations and in the chronicles of mediæval Europe. Thus for instance we read (Rogers' Six Centuries of Work and Wages, ch. IV.) of a lawyer's handy book written about 1250, which makes note of scarlet at Lincoln; blanket at Bligh; burnet at Beverley; russet at Colchester; linen fabrics at Shaftesbury, Lewes, and Aylsham; cord at Warwick and Bridport; knives at Marstead; needles at Wilton; razors at Leicester; soap at Coventry; horse girths at Doncaster; skins and furs at Chester and Shrewsbury and so on.
The localization of trades in England at the beginning of the eighteenth century is well described by Defoe, Plan of English Commerce, 85-7; English Tradesman, II. 282-3.
123. The later wanderings of the iron industry from Wales, Staffordshire and Shropshire to Scotland and the North of England are well shown in the tables submitted by Sir Lowthian Bell to the recent Commission on the Depression of Trade and Industry. See their Second Report, Part I. p. 320.
124. Fuller says that Flemings started manufactures of cloths and fustians in Norwich, of baizes in Sudbury, of serges in Colchester and Taunton, of cloths in Kent, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Westmorland, Yorkshire, Hants, Berks and Sussex, of kerseys in Devonshire and of Levant cottons in Lancashire. Smiles' Huguenots in England and Ireland, p. 109. See also Lecky's History of England in the eighteenth century, ch. II.
125. The movement has been specially conspicuous in the case of the textile manufacturers. Manchester, Leeds and Lyons are still chief centres of the trade in cotton, woollen and silk stuffs, but they do not now themselves produce any great part of the goods to which they owe their chief fame. On the other hand London and Paris retain their positions as the two largest manufacturing towns of the world, Philadelphia coming third. The mutual influences of the localization of industry, the growth of towns and habits of town life, and the development of machinery are well discussed in Hobson's Evolution of Capitalism.
127. The percentage of the population occupied in the textile industries in the United Kingdom fell from 3.13 in 1881 to 2.43 in 1901; partly because much of the work done by them has been rendered so simple by semi-automatic machinery that it can be done fairly well by peoples that are in a relatively backward industrial condition; and partly because the chief textile goods retain nearly the same simple character as they had thirty or even three thousand years ago. On the other hand manufactures of iron and steel (including shipbuilding) have increased so greatly in complexity as well as in volume of output, that the percentage of the population occupied in them rose from 2.39 in 1881 to 3.01 in 1901; although much greater advance has been meanwhile made in the machinery and methods employed in them than in the textile group. The remaining manufacturing industries employed about the same percentage of the people in 1901 as in 1881. In the same time the tonnage of British shipping cleared from British ports increased by one half; and the number of dock labourers doubled, but that of seamen has slightly diminished. These facts are to be explained partly by vast improvements in the construction of ships and all appliances connected with them, and partly by the transference to dock labourers of nearly all tasks connected with handling the cargo some of which were even recently performed by the crew. Another marked change is the increased aggregate occupation of women in manufactures, though that of married women appears to have diminished, and that of children has certainly diminished greatly.
The Summary Tables of the Census of 1911, published in 1915, show so many changes in classification since 1901 that no general view of recent developments can be safely made. But Table 64 of that Report and Prof. D. Caradog Jones' paper read before the Royal Statistical Society in December 1914 show that the developments of 1901-1911 differ from their predecessors in detail rather than in general character.
Book IV, Chapter XI
128. "Manufacture" is a term which has long lost any connection with its original use: and is now applied to those branches of production where machine and not hand work is most prominent. Roscher made the attempt to bring it back nearer to its old use by applying it to domestic as opposed to factory industries: but it is too late to do this now.
130. Instances are the utilization of the waste from cotton, wool, silk and other textile materials; and of the by-products in the metallurgical industries, in the manufacture of soda and gas, and in the American mineral oil and meat packing industries.
132. The average time which a machine will last before being superseded is in many trades not more than fifteen years, while in some it is ten years or even less. There is often a loss on the use of a machine unless it earns every year twenty per cent. on its cost; and when the operation performed by such a machine costing £500 adds only a hundredth part to the value of the material that passes through it—and this is not an extreme case—there will be a loss on its use unless it can be applied in producing at least £10,000 worth of goods annually.
133. In many businesses only a small percentage of improvements are patented. They consist of many small steps, which it would not be worth while to patent one at a time. Or their chief point lies in noticing that a certain thing ought to be done; and to patent one way of doing it, is only to set other people to work to find out other ways of doing it against which the patent cannot guard. If one patent is taken out, it is often necessary to "block" it, by patenting other methods of arriving at the same result; the patentee does not expect to use them himself, but he wants to prevent others from using them. All this involves worry and loss of time and money: and the large manufacturer prefers to keep his improvement to himself and get what benefit he can by using it. While if the small manufacturer takes out a patent, he is likely to be harassed by infringements: and even though he may win "with costs" the actions in which he tries to defend himself, he is sure to be ruined by them if they are numerous. It is generally in the public interest that an improvement should be published, even though it is at the same time patented. But if it is patented in England and not in other countries, as is often the case, English manufacturers may not use it, even though they were just on the point of finding it out for themselves before it was patented; while foreign manufacturers learn all about it and can use it freely.
134. It is a remarkable fact that cotton and some other textile factories form an exception to the general rule that the capital required per head of the workers is generally greater in a large factory than in a small one. The reason is that in most other businesses the large factory has many things done by expensive machines which are done by hand in a small factory; so that while the wages bill is less in proportion to the output in a large factory than in a small one, the value of the machinery and the factory space occupied by the machinery is much greater. But in the simpler branches of the textile trades, small works have the same machinery as large works have; and since small steam-engines, etc. are proportionately more expensive than large ones, they require a greater fixed capital in proportion to their output than larger factories do; and they are likely to require a floating capital also rather greater in proportion.
136. Thus Boulton writing in 1770 when he had 700 or 800 persons employed as metallic artists and workers in tortoiseshell, stones, glass, and enamel, says:—"I have trained up many, and am training up more, plain country lads into good workmen; and wherever I find indications of skill and ability, I encourage them. I have likewise established correspondence with almost every mercantile town in Europe, and am thus regularly supplied with orders for the grosser articles in common demand, by which I am enabled to employ such a number of hands as to provide me with an ample choice of artists for the finer branches of work: and I am thus encouraged to erect and employ a more extensive apparatus than it would be prudent to employ for the production of the finer articles only." Smiles' Life of Boulton, p. 128.
138. A ship's carrying power varies as the cube of her dimensions, while the resistance offered by the water increases only a little faster than the square of her dimensions; so that a large ship requires less coal in proportion to its tonnage than a small one. It also requires less labour, especially that of navigation: while to passengers it offers greater safety and comfort, more choice of company and better professional attendance. In short, the small ship has no chance of competing with the large ship between ports which large ships can easily enter, and between which the traffic is sufficient to enable them to fill up quickly.
139. It is characteristic of the great economic change of the last hundred years that when the first railway bills were passed, provision was made for allowing private individuals to run their own conveyances on them, just as they do on a highway or a canal; and now we find it difficult to imagine how people could have expected, as they certainly did, that this plan would prove a practicable one
Book IV, Chapter XII
141. German economists call this "factory like" (fabrikmässig) house industry, as distinguished from the "national" house industry, which uses the intervals of other work (especially the winter interruptions of agriculture) for subsidiary work in making textile and other goods. (See Schönberg on Gewerbe in his Handbuch.) Domestic workers of this last class were common all over Europe in the Middle Ages but are now becoming rare except in the mountains and in eastern Europe. They are not always well advised in their choice of work; and much of what they make could be made better with far less labour in factories, so that it cannot be sold profitably in the open market: but for the most part they make for their own or their neighbours' use, and thus save the profits of a series of middlemen. Compare Survival of domestic industries by Gonner in the Economic Journal, Vol. II.
142. We have already noticed how almost the only perfect apprenticeships of modern times are those of the sons of manufacturers, who practice almost every important operation that is carried on in the works sufficiently to be able in after years to enter into the difficulties of all their employees and form a fair judgment on their work.
143. Until lately there has ever been in England a kind of antagonism between academic studies and business. This is now being diminished by the broadening of the spirit of our great universities, and by the growth of colleges in our chief business centres. The sons of business men when sent to the universities do not learn to despise their fathers' trades as often as they used to do even a generation ago. Many of them indeed are drawn away from business by the desire to extend the boundaries of knowledge. But the higher forms of mental activity, those which are constructive and not merely critical, tend to promote a just appreciation of the nobility of business work rightly done.
144. Much of the happiest romance of life, much that is most pleasant to dwell upon in the social history of England from the Middle Ages up to our own day is connected with the story of private partnerships of this class. Many a youth has been stimulated to a brave career by the influence of ballads and tales which narrate the difficulties and the ultimate triumph of the faithful apprentice, who has at length been taken into partnership, perhaps on marrying his employer's daughter. There are no influences on national character more far-reaching than those which thus give shape to the aims of aspiring youth.
145. Bagehot delighted to argue (see for instance English Constitution, ch. VII.) that a Cabinet Minister often derives some advantage from his want of technical knowledge of the business of his Department. For he can get information on matters of detail from the Permanent Secretary and other officials who are under his authority; and, while he is not likely to set his judgment against theirs on matters where their knowledge gives them the advantage, his unprejudiced common sense may well overrule the traditions of officialism in broad questions of public policy: and in like manner the interests of a company may possibly sometimes be most advanced by those Directors who have the least technical knowledge of the details of its business.
147. The Germans say that success in business requires "Geld, Geduld, Genie und Glück." The chances that a working man has of rising vary somewhat with the nature of the work, being greatest in those trades in which a careful attention to details counts for most, and a wide knowledge, whether of science or of the world movements of speculation, counts for least. Thus for instance "thrift and the knowledge of practical details" are the most important elements of success in the ordinary work of the pottery trade; and in consequence most of those who have done well in it "have risen from the bench like Josiah Wedgwood" (see G. Wedgwood's evidence before the Commission on Technical Education); and a similar statement might be made about many of the Sheffield trades. But some of the working classes develop a great faculty for taking speculative risks; and if the knowledge of facts by which successful speculation must be guided, comes within their reach, they will often push their way through competitors who have started above them. Some of the most successful wholesale dealers in perishable commodities such as fish and fruit have begun life as market porters.
148. The danger of not being able to renew his borrowings just at the time when he wants them most, puts him at a disadvantage relatively to those who use only their own capital, much greater than is represented by the mere interest on his borrowings: and, when we come to that part of the doctrine of distribution which deals with earnings of management, we shall find that, for this among other reasons, profits are something more than interest in addition to net earnings of management, i.e. those earnings which are properly to be ascribed to the abilities of business men.
Book IV, Chapter XIII
149. In an article on "The variation of productive forces" in the Quarterly Journal of Economics 1902, Professor Bullock suggests that the term "Economy of Organization" should be substituted for Increasing Return. He shows clearly that the forces which make for Increasing Return are not of the same order as those that make for Diminishing Return: and there are undoubtedly cases in which it is better to emphasize this difference by describing causes rather than results, and contrasting Economy of Organization with the Inelasticity of Nature's response to intensive cultivation.
150. There is no general rule that industries which yield increasing returns show also rising profits. No doubt a vigorous firm, which increases its scale of operations and obtains important (internal) economies which are peculiar to it, will show an increasing return and a rising rate of profit; because its increasing output will not materially affect the price of its produce. But profits tend to be low, as we shall see below (VI. VIII. 1, 2), in such industries as plain weaving, because their vast scale has enabled organization in production and marketing to be carried so far as to be almost dominated by routine.
151. The Englishman Mill bursts into unwonted enthusiasm when speaking (Political Economy, Book IV. ch. VI. § 2) of the pleasures of wandering alone in beautiful scenery: and many American writers give fervid descriptions of the growing richness of human life as the backwoodsman finds neighbours settling around him, as the backwoods settlement developes into a village, the village into a town, and the town into a vast city. (See for instance Carey's Principles of Social Science and Henry George's Progress and Poverty.)
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