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limit, therefore, to the bringing in of workmen in this partieular line. And, in the third place, what they do work may also be stored. The muslin of very many months may lie in reserve for future demand-while bread cannot lie in reserve for as many days. Additional bakers, therefore, can never be admitted beyond what are sufficient for supplying the current consumption of this article: But additional weavers can be admitted for the purposes of future as well as of present consumption; and, to add to the elasticity of the latter concern, the wages of the operative weaver form a far larger ingredient of the price of muslin, than the wages of the operative baker do of the price of bread; so that if the wages of the former become much lower by the increase of the number of weavers, the muslin that they work becomes much cheaper, and the wearing of it becomes much more general; for, in the nature of things, the cheapness of an article of fine and ornamental dress will add much more to the consumption of that article, than the cheapness of bread can ever add to the consumption of bread.
Put together all these considerations, and it will be seen, how, though when an excess of competitors appears for any employment that requires a distinct and definite number of hands, the effect in reducing its wages is quite instantaneous-yet the same excess might appear for the weaving of muslin, without so instantaneous, or, at least for the time, so great a reduction in the wages. There ought, of course, on the very first appearance of this excess, to be a descending movement in the price of this labour; but, ere it has completed its course, it is met by a counter-movement on the part of capitalists and master-manufacturers, who will feel encouraged, for a time, by this cheapening of labour, and will store up its produce beyond the present demand of the market, and will accumulate goods for distant and future sales, under the present advantage of having these goods wrought at a rate which is gradually sinking. In this way, an increase in the supply of labour may for a time increase the demand for it; not so as to keep up its price, for then the very stimulus of the augmenting demand would be done away but so as to prevent the depression of wages from coming suddenly to its maximum-so as to smooth, and to graduate the descent by which the operatives are conducted from the level of sufficiency to an abyss of most pitiable degradation. Had their work been of such a nature, that, like that of cutting down the harvest, no more than a given quancity could be admitted within the limits of each month, then all at once would the excess of workmen have had its full effect in lowering the price of their work. But it is the power of producing and heaping up to any extent, which, apart from sudden fluctuations in the demand for the article, causes the price of the work to descend, not by a desultory, but by a continuous movement; and postpones the period when the remuneration of the workmen arrives at the lowest point in the line of its variation.
And when the price has arrived at this point, there are two peculiar causes why it should linger obstinately there. The article produced by operative bakers is carried off in a single day; and there is always a fresh recurring demand for the same quantity of work from them. Their work does not admit of being much extended; and therefore an excess of workmen must cause an immediate and certain fall of wages. But neither does the produce of their work admit of being accumulated, so that there is no intervening stock of their article between them and their consumers; and therefore, in parting with the excess of their hands, the restoration of their wages would be just as sudden as the fall. But the work of weavers does admit of being extended, and therefore the fall of their wages may be gradual The produce of their work admits also of being accumulated; and for this reason the reviving of their wages is gradual also. The stock on hand may be a barrier for many months between the need of the purchaser, and the work of the operative; and, in the declining prices of a glutted market, the inducement for keeping up this stock may be done away. In these circumstances, a much larger excess of weavers must go out of employment, that the matter may be righted speedily. It is not enough that the quantity of work be reduced to the current demand for the article. It must be reduced beneath this demand, so as to permit the stock to clear away. If more operatives can be taken on in this line of industry than in most others, without so immediate a reduction of their wages, more also must go off, for the purpose of bringing about a speedy restoration. So that we are not aware at present of any branch of employment whatever where the circumstances of the operatives, both in respect of the price of their work, and the number of workmen, are doomed to alternate along so extended an arch of vibration.
But there is still another cause by which this ascending process must be retarded. If the price of labour is reduced, while at the same time it is paid according to its quantity, the workmen will naturally strive to make up by the latter, what they lose in the former. It is in vain that a small fraction of the labourers be withdrawn, if they who remain shall, by increased application to their work, continue to throw off the same quantity of VOL. XXXIII. NO. 66.
charitable allowance put together, come in fact to make out no more than the scanty remuneration which is ever attendant on an overdone employment. Thus it is, that men who, with the clearing away of goods from the market, might in a few months have been earning an adequate subsistence for their families, and that in the shape of a fair and honourable recompense for their work, be forced to drivel out a much longer period in a penury composed of two stinted ingredients, and rendered more degrading by the contribution which charity has made to it.
This is just the operation of Poor-rates in England, when employed in supplying the inadequacy of wages. They ultimately displace as much in the shape of wages, as is rendered in the shape of eharity; and men who, if the regulation of their numbers had been left to natural causes, would have continued scarce enough to have dictated the remuneration of an entire maintenance for their work, have been collected in such multitudes, as to have stripped themselves of all control over this matter, and brought the question of their subsistence under the determination of Church-wardens and overseers. It is thus that this fallacious system has inflicted on the labouring classes of that 'country a permanent degradation. What the Legislature intended as a boon, has turned out to be a sore bereavement. Had they confined it to one class of labourers, as weavers for example, then weavers would just have sunk under the oppression of this apparent privilege, and been singled out to public notice as the miserable and degraded caste of our nation. They would thereby have descended beneath the level of all other labourers, and been, in our land, what hewers of wood, and drawers of water were in the land of Judea. And these are not the judicious friends of the poor, but their unwise advocates, or perhaps their designing agitators, who would plead, as a right of theirs, for that which passes in the first instance into the pockets of their employers, and then goes to stamp an unnatural cheapness on the produce of their employment.
Such works as those of Mr Cleland are of great value, and are well fitted to pioneer the way of the economist to a sound and experimental eonclusion on questions of great interest. He has extended his survey beyond the precincts of the immediate neighbourhood of Glasgow; or rather, instead of a survey, he has given an estimate of the country looms now employed by the manufacturers of Glasgow, and compares it with the number employed antecedently to the present depression in that branch of our manufactures. We should like to see a similar estimate for Manchester and its vicinity; as nothing could be more important than to learn the proportion between the em.
ployed and unemployed looms in the great weaving districts of England, and thus to ascertain what effect the Poor-laws have had in fixing the labourers of a declining branch of industry down to their employment, and so in increasing and accelerating its declension. It is quite clear, that neither the feeling nor the clamour of distress were at all less in the country where a compulsory provision has a full, than in the country where it has yet only obtained a partial operation. But it were desirable to know in how far, allured by the promise of their own institutions, the weavers of England were kept together at their work, instead of going off by those outlets which, in times of fluctuation and distress, enable the people of every country, in a certain degree, to shift their wonted employments.
And here we may state an inequality between Scotch and English operatives, to which many of our Southern neighbours may never perhaps have adverted. Should the Poor-rates of England reduce the nominal price of weaving there to five shillings a week, that becomes the real price to the operative in Scotland. This at least holds true, without any qualification, in as far as the Poor-rate for manufacturing workmen is contributed, not by the capitalists who employ them, but by other capitalists, or by the landed interest of the country. The manufacturers of Glasgow must be undersold by those of Manchester, if the latter can hire their workmen with a bounty upon their work, in the shape of a legal provision; and, to put the capitalists in both places on a footing, the whole hardship of the difference must fall on the weavers whom they employ. To obtain an equalization, there are only two methods; either to extend the Poor-rate to Scotland, or to abolish that part of the English practice, by which the fund is made applicable to a defect of work, or to a defect of wages. We are quite satisfied, that the effect of the former method would be, to sink the whole profession, as by a death-warrant, into a state of helpless and incurable degradation—and that the effect of the latter method would be, to raise the price of weaving to the rate of allowance that is now made up of its present nominal price, and of the supplemental charity which goes to the English operative. It would ultimately work out a great and a glorious emancipation for the weavers of England; and, to Scotland, it would come with all the force and charm of an immediate deliverance. And, placed as we are, in the pestilent neighbourhood of our sister country, we would plead for this partial abolition of her whole charitable system, as the prelude to a gradual and entire abolition; so that this worthless and pernicious nuisance which her