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RESULTS OF MACHINERY.
In the year 1827, a committee of the House of Commons was appointed to examine into the subject of Emigration—that is, to see whether it was desirable and practicable to remove distressed laborers from the United Kingdom to distant places, where their labor might be profitably employed to themselves and others. The first person examined before that committee was Joseph Foster, a working weaver of Glasgow. He told the committee, that he and many others, who had formed themselves into a society, were in great distress; that numbers of them worked at the hand-loom from eighteen to nineteen hours a day, and that their earnings, at the utmost, did not amount to more than seven shillings* a week, and
* The shilling sterling is equal in value to about twentyfour cents in money of the United States. The par value of a pound sterling is generally supposed to be four dollars and forty-four cents ; but this is a mistake. The intrinsic value of the English sovereign, a coin of twenty shillings, or one pound, is very near four dollars and eighty cents; and consequently a shilling sterling is very nearly equal to twenty-four cents, and a penny sterling is equal to two cents.-Am. Ed.
that sometimes they were as low as four shillings. That twenty years before that time they could readily earn a pound a week by the same industry ; and that as power-loom weaving had increased, the distress of the hand-weavers also had increased in the same proportion. A power-loom is one worked by machinery, and not by the hand of man, as most of our readers perhaps know. The committee then put to Joseph Foster the following questions, and received the following answers.
Q. " Are the Committee to understand that you attribute the insufficiency of your remuneration for your labor to the introduction of machinery?
Q. Do you consider, therefore, that the introduction of machinery is objectionable ?
A. We do not. The weavers in general, of Glasgow and its vicinity, do not consider that machinery can or ought to be stopped, or put down. They know perfectly well that machinery must go on, that it will go on, and that it is impossible to stop it. They are aware that every implement of agriculture or manufacture is a portion of machinery, and, indeed, every thing that goes beyond the teeth and nails, (if I may use the expression) is a machine. I am authorized, by the majority of our society, to say, that I speak their minds, as well as my own, in stating this."
If all, or if a large majority of the working-men of our country had come to the same sound opinions as Joseph Foster, we should not take the trouble, because it would be needless, now to address them. But when we hear on all sides that misguided men are violating the laws by which the rights of all are protected; that they are wickedly and ignorantly destroying the property of the farmer and the manufacturer, in the belief that machinery can be stopped or put down, that they do not know as the poor weavers of Glasgow did know, that machinery must go on, will go on, and that it is impossible to stop it; we think it our duty, having the means of appealing to their reason and to their regard for their own interest, to endeavor to bring their minds to the same conclusions as those of the respectable weaver, whose words we have repeated. He felt that, although he was in his own person a sufferer from the improvement of machinery, it was utterly out of his power, because it was contrary to his reason, and to the reason of all thinking people, whether working-men or not, to resist the progress of that improvement. There are many working-men who entertain the same sound opinions, which they have come to, probably, by an accurate and dispassionate observation of the facts which are within their own view. To such inen we hope to offer many new facts to strengthen their opinions; and we rely greatly upon their influence to point out their errors either to those who are violating the laws, or to those who think the viðlators of the laws have justice on their side. For the benefit of you all, the informed as well as the uninformed, we address you as men capable of reasoning. We give you a great body of facts to reason upon. We offer nothing to your passions or your prejudices. We shall attempt to make you feel, by bringing before you the same sort of facts by which that sensible man, Joseph Foster, convinced his own mind, that although your individual labor may be partially displaced, or unsettled for a time, by the use of a cheaper and a better power, which power is machinery, you are great gainers by the general use of that power. We shall strive to show you, that through this power you possess, however poor you may be, many of the comforts which make the difference between man in a civilized and man in a savage state; and further that, in consequence of machinery having rendered productions of all sorts cheaper, and therefore caused them to be more universally purchased, it has really increased the demand for that manual labor, which it appears to some of you, reasoning only from a few instances, it has a tendency to diminish. If we make out these propositions, we think you will
with Joseph Foster, that the introduction of machinery is not objectionable.
The difference between those of you who object to machines, and the persons who think with Joseph Foster, is, as it appears to us, a want of knowledge. We desire to impart to you that knowledge. Now, how shall we set about the business of imparting it ? You are many in number, and are scattered over a