Charles Babbage.

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GIFT OF
MICHAEL RES





TJSIVBBSXTY




8ttitomttp of CamfiriOgr,

THIS VOLUME

IS INSCRIBED

AS A TRIBUTE OF RESPECT
AND GRATITUDE

BY

THE AUTHOR.



PREFACE.



THE present volume may be considered as one of the con-
sequences that have resulted from the Calculating- Engine, the
construction of which I have been so long superintending.
Having been induced, during the last ten years, to visit a con-
siderable number of workshops and factories, ootfi in England
and on the Continent, for the purpose of endeavouring to rcake
myself acquainted with the various resources of mechanical art,
I was insensibly led to apply to them those principles of gene-
ralization to which my other pursuits had naturally given rise.
The increased number of curious processes and interesting
facts which thus came under my attention, as well as of the
reflections which they suggested, induced me to believe that
the publication of some of them might be of use to persons
who propose to bestow their attention on those inquiries which
I have only incidentally considered. With this view it was my
intention to have delivered the present work in the form of a
course of lectures at Cambridge; an intention which I was
subsequently induced to alter. The substance of a consider-
able portion of it has, however, appeared among the preli-
minary chapters of the mechanical part of the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana.

I have not attempted to offer a complete enumeration of all
the mechanical principles which regulate the application ot
machinery to arts and manufactures, but I have endeavoured
to present to the reader those which struck me as the most
important, either for understanding the actions of machines, or



IV PREFACE.

for enabling the memory to classify and arrange the facts
connected with their employment. Still less have I attempted
to examine all the difficult questions of political economy which
are intimately connected with such inquiries. It was impos-
sible not to trace or to imagine, among the wide variety of facts
presented m me, some principles which seemed to pervade
many establishments; and having formed such conjectures,
the desire to refute or to verify them, gave an additional
interest to the pursuit. Several of the principles which I have
proposed, appear to me to have been unnoticed before. This
was particularly the case with respect to the explanation I
have given of the division of labour ; but further inquiry satis-
fied me that I had been anticipated by M. Gioja, and it is
probable that additional research would enable me to trace
most of the other principles, which I had thought original, to
previous writers, to whose merit I may perhaps be unjust, from
my want of acquaintance with the historical branch of the
subject.

The truth however of the principles I have stated, is of
much more importance than their origin ; and the utility of an
inquiry into them, and of establishing others more correct, if
these should be erroneous, can scarcely admit of a doubt.

The difficulty of understanding the processes of manufactures
has unfortunately been greatly overrated. To examine them
with the eye of a manufacturer, so as to be able to direct
others to repeat them, does undoubtedly require much skill
and previous acquaintance with the subject ; but merely to
apprehend their general principles and mutual relations, is
within the power of almost every person possessing a tolerable
education.

Those who possess rank in a manufacturing country, can
scarcely be excused if they are entirely ignorant of principles,
whose development has produced its greatness. The possessors
of wealth can scarcely be indifferent to processes which, nearly



or remotely, have been the fertile source of their possessions.
Those who enjoy leisure can scarcely find a more interest-
ing and instructive pursuit than the examination of the work-
shops of their own country, which contain within them a rich
mine of knowledge, too generally neglected by the wealthier
classes.

It has been my endeavour, as much as possible, to avoid all
technical terms, and to describe, in concise language, the arts
I have had occasion to discuss. In touching on the more
abstract principles of political economy, after shortly stating
the reasons on which they are founded, I have endeavoured to
support them by facts and anecdotes; so that whilst young
persons might be amused and instructed by the illustrations,
those of more advanced judgment may find subject for medi-
tation in the general conclusions to which they point. I was
anxious to support the principles which I have advocated by
the observations of others, and in this respect I found myself
peculiarly fortunate. The Reports of Committees of the
House of Commons, upon various branches of commerce and
manufactures, and the evidence which they have at different
periods published on those subjects, teem with information of
the most important kind, rendered doubly valuable by the
circumstances under which it has been collected. From these
sources I have freely taken, and I have derived some addi-
tional confidence from the support they have afforded to my
views.*

CHARLES BABBAGE.

DORSET STREET, MANCHESTER SQUARE,
June 8, 1832.

* I am happy to avail myself of this occasion of expressing my obli-
gations to the Right Hon. Manners Sutton, the Speaker of the House of
Commons, to whom I am indebted for copies of a considerable collection
of those reports.



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION.



IN two months from the publication of the first edition of
this volume, three thousand copies were in the hands of the
public. Very little was spent in advertisements ; the book-
sellers, instead of aiding, impeded its sale ; * it formed no part
of any popular series, and yet the public, in a few weeks, pur-
chased the whole edition. Some small part of this success,
perhaps, was due to the popular exposition of those curious
processes which are carried on in our workshops, and to the
endeavour to take a short view of the general principles which
direct the manufactories of the country. But the chief reason
was the commanding attraction of the subject, and the
increasing desire to become acquainted with the pursuits and
interests of that portion of the people which has recently
acquired so large an accession of political influence.

A greater degree of attention than I had expected has been
excited by what I have stated in the first edition, respecting
the "Book-trade." Until I had commenced the chapter, "On
the Separate Cost of each Process of a Manufacture," I had
no intention of alluding to that subject : but the reader will
perceive that I have Jhroughout this volume, wherever I
could, employed as illustrations, objects of easy access to the
reader ; and, in accordance with that principle, I selected the
volume itself. When I arrived at the chapter, " On Combi-
nations of Masters against the Public," I was induced, for
the same reason, to expose a combination connected with
literature, which, in my opinion, is both morally and politically
wrong. I entered upon this inquiry without the slightest feeling
of hostility to that trade, nor have I any wish unfavourable to

* I had good evidence of this fact from various quarters ; and being
desirous of verifying it, I myself applied for a copy at the shop of a book
seller of respectability, who is probably not aware that he refused to
procure one even for its author.



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITIOJS. Vll

it; but I think a complete reform in its system would add to
its usefulness and respectability. As the subject of that chapter
has been much discussed, I have thought it right to take a view
of the various arguments which have been advanced, and to offer
my own opinion respecting their validity: and there I should
have left the subject, content to allow niy general character
to plead for me against insinuations respecting my motives ;
but as the remarks of some of my critics affect the character
of another person, I think it but just to state circumstances
which will clearly disprove them.

Mr. Fellowes, of Ludgate- street, who had previously been the
publisher of some other volumes for me, had undertaken the
publication of the first edition of the present work. A short time
previous to its completion, I thought it right to call his atten-
tion to the chapter in which the book-trade is discussed ; with
the view both of making him acquainted with what I had
stated, and also of availing myself of his knowledge in cor-
recting any accidental error as to the facts. Mr. Fellowes,
" differing from me entirely respecting the conclusions I had
"arrived at," then declined the publication of the volume.
If I had then chosen to apply to some of those other
booksellers, whose names appear in the Committee of
" The Trade," it is probable tha\ they also would have
declined the office of publishing for me ; and, had my object
been to make a case against the trade, such a course would
have assisted me. But I had no such feeling; and having
procured a complete copy of the whole work, I called with it on
Mr. Knight, of Pall Mall East, whom until that day I had never
seen, and with whom I had never previously had the slightest
communication. I left the book in Mr, Knight's hands, with a
request that, when he had read it, I might be informed whether
he would undertake the publication of it ; and this he consented
to do. Mr. Knight, therefore, is so far from being responsible
for a single opinion in the present volume, that he saw it
onlv. for a short time, a few days previous to its publication. ^



V1U PREFACE TO THE

It has been objected to me, that I have exposed too freely
the secrets of trade. The only real secrets of trade are industry,
integrity, and knowledge : to the possessors of these no expo-
sure can be injurious ; and they never fail to produce respect
and wealth.

The alterations in the present edition are so frequent,
that I found it impossible to comprise them in a supplement.
But the three new chapters, " On Money as a Medium of
Exchange;" " On a New System of Manufacturing;" and
"On the Effect of Machinery in reducing the Demand for
Labour ; " will shortly be printed separately, for the use of the
purchasers of the first edition.

"" I am inclined to attach some importance to the new system
ojjnanufacturing ; and venture to throw it out with the hope
of its receiving a full discussion amongst those who are most
interested in the subject I believe that some such system of
conducting manufactories would greatly increase the produc-
tive powers of any country adopting it ; and that our own pos-
sesses much greater facilities for its application than other
countries, in the greater intelligence and superior education of
the working classes. The system would naturally commence in
some large town, by the union of some of the most prudent and
active workmen ; and their example, if successful, would be
followed by others. The small capitalist would next join them,
and such factories would go on increasing until competition
compelled the large capitalist to adopt the same system ; and,
ultimately, the whole faculties of every man engaged in manu-
facture would be concentrated upon one object the art of pro-
ducing a good article at the lowest possible cost : whilst the
moral effect on that class of the population would be useful
in the highest degree, since it would render character of
far greater value to the workman than it is at present.

To one criticism which has been made, this volume is per-
fectly open. I have dismissed the important subject of the
Patent-laws in a few lines. The subject presents, in my opinion,



SECOND EDITION. Ix

great difficulties, and I have been unwilling to write upon it,
because I do not see my way. I will only here advert to one
difficulty. What constitutes an invention ? Few simple me-
chanical contrivances are new; and most combinations may
be viewed as species, and classed under genera of more or less
generality; and may, in consequence, be pronounced old or
new, according to the mechanical knowledge of the person who
gives his opinion.

Some of my critics have amused their readers with the
wildness of the schemes I have occasionally thrown out ; and I
myself have sometimes smiled along with them. Perhaps it
were wiser for present reputation to offer nothing but pro-
foundly meditated plans, but I do not think knowledge will be
most advanced by that course ; such sparks may kindle the
energies of other minds more favourably circumstanced for
pursuing the inquiries. Thus I have now ventured to give some
speculations on the mode of blowing furnaces for smelting
iron ; and even supposing them to be visionary, it is of some
importance thus to call the attention of a large population,
engaged in one of our most extensive manufactures, to the
singular fact, that four-fifths of the steam power used to blow
their furnaces actually cools them.

I have collected, with some pains, the criticisms* on the first
edition of this work, and have availed myself of much informa-
tion which has been communicated to me by my friends, for the
improvement of the present volume. If I have succeeded in
expressing what I had to explain with perspicuity, I am aware
that much of this clearness is due to my friend, Dr. FITTON, to
whom both the present and the former edition are indebted
for such an examination and correction, as an author himself
has very rarely the power to bestow.

* Several of these have probably escaped me, and I shall feel indebted
to any one who will inform my publisher of any future remarks.

Nov. 22, 1832.



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.



THE alterations in this Third Edition are few, and the addi-
tions are not extensive. The only subject upon which it may
be necessary to ofler any remark, is one which has already,
perhaps, occupied a larger space than it deserves.

Shortly after the publication of the Second Edition, I re-
ceived an anonymous letter, containing a printed page, entitled
" REPLY TO MR. BABBAGE ;" and I was soon informed that
many of the most respectable houses in the book trade inserted
this paper in every copy of my work which they sold.

In the First Edition, I had censured, as I think deservedly,
a combination amongst the larger booksellers, to keep the
price of books above the level to which competition would
naturally reduce it ; and I pointed out the evil and oppres-
sion it produced. Of the numerous critics who noticed the
subject, scarcely one has attempted to defend the monopoly ;
and those who deny the truth of my conclusions, have not
impeached the accuracy of a single figure in the statements on
which they rest. I have extracted from that reply the fol-
lowing



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.

List of the Number of Copies of the First Edition, purchased by
a frw of the Trade on speculation."

Number really pur-
AS stated by the Booksellers. *Z3~

" Messrs. Simpkin and Co. . . 460 " 100

" Messrs. Longman and Co. . . 450 " 50

" Messrs. Sherwood and Co. . . 350 " 50

" Messrs. Hamilton and Co. . . 50" 8

" Mr. James Duncan .... 125 " 25

" Messrs. Whittaker and Co. . . 300 " 50

" Messrs. Baldwin and Co. . . 75 " 25

" Mr. Effingham Wilson ... 6 " 6

" Mr. J. M. Richardson ... 25" 25

Messrs. J. and A. Arch ... 12" 6

*" Messrs. Parbury and Co. . . 12" 12

" Mr. Groombridge 25 " 6

*" Messrs. Rivington .... 12" 12

" Mr. W. Mason 50 " 25

" Mr. B. Fellowes 25" 25

Total .... 1977 425

The author of the Reply, although he has not actually stated
that these 1977 copies were " subscribed" has yet left the
public to make that inference, and has actually suggested it by
stating that this number of copies was "purchased on specula-
tion" a statement which would have been perfectly true if the
whole number had been purchased in the first instance, and at
once. On reading the paper, therefore, I wrote to my publisher
to obtain a copy of the "subscription" list, from which the
column annexed to the above extract has been taken.

After the day of publication, the demand for the " Economy
of Manufactures" was rapid and regular, until the whole edition
was exhausted. There can, therefore, be no pretence for
asserting that any copies, taken afterwards, were purchased



Xll PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION.

"on speculation," they were purchased because the public
demanded them. The two first houses on the list, for in-
stance, subscribed 150, and if they will publish the dates of
their orders, the world will be able to judge whether they
took the remaining 760 " on speculation."

I have put an asterisk against the names of five houses,
whose numbers taken " on speculation" are correctly stated.

It is right that I should add, that the delay which many
have experienced in procuring the volume, has arisen from
the unexpected rapidity of the sale of both Editions. I have
made such arrangements that no disappointment of this nature
is likely to arise again.

The main question, and the only important one to the public,
is the COMBINATION, and the Booksellers have yet advanced
nothing in its defence. The principles of " free trade," and
the importance of diffusing information at a cheap rate, are
now too well understood to render the result of that combina-
tion doubtful; and the wisest course in this, as in all such cases,
is timely concession to public opinion. I shall now dismiss
the subject, without fear that my motives for calling attention
to it can be misunderstood, and hoping that the facts which I
have elicited will advance the interests of knowledge.

DORSET STREET, MANCHESTER SQUARE,
February 11, 1833.



CONTENTS.



SECTION I.
INTRODUCTION.

STATEMENT OF THE OBJECT AND PLAN OF THE WORK.

[Pages 1, 2.]

CHAPTER I. ^

SOURCES OF THE ADVANTAGES ARISING FROM MACHINERY

AND MANUFACTURES.

[Page 320,]

England peculiarly a Manufacturing Country, 1. Its Manu-
factures spread throughout the World, 2. Proportions of
Agricultural Population in various Countries ;(its gradual
Increase in England/ 3. Sources of the advantages derived

from Machinery and Manufactures, 4. Additions to Human

Power. Experiment on Force to move a Block of Stone, 5.

Economy of Time. Gunpowder, 6. Convenience of

Speaking Tubes, 7. Diamond for cutting Glass ; its Hard-
ness, 8. Employment of Materials of little Value. Gold-
beaters' Skin ; horny Refuse ; old Tin Ware, 9. Of Tools,

10. To arrange Needles, 11. To place their Points in
one Direction, 12. Substitute for Hand; Nail making, 13.

Shoe-machinery ; Sash-lines, 14. Division of the Objects

of Machinery. To produce Power ; to transmit Force and
execute Work ; general Principles, 15. Wind; Water, 16.
Steam ; Force not created, 17. Economy of Time in various
Modes of dividing the Root of a Tree, 18. Chinese Mode of
conveying Cotton compared with European, 19.



XIV CONTENTS.

CHAPTER II.

ACCUMULATING POWER.

[Page 2126.]

When the Work requires more Force than can be produced
in the time allowed for its Operation. Fiy-wheel, Rolling-
iron, 20. Anecdote of punching Plate-iron, 21. Pile-
engine, 22. Effects of the power of Gunpowder in expelling
different charges. Le Vaillant's experiment with water sub-
stituted for shot, 23. Phenomenon of Fulminating Powder,
24. Velocity o f a Wave passing through Deal, supposed
to be greater than through Tallow, 25. Existence of Mo-
mentary pressures of various force in the boiler of a steam-
engine, 25*. Reasoning on the Theory of Explosion, 26.

CHAPTER III.

REGULATING POWER.
[Page 2729.]

Governor of Steam-engine. Ditto moving in Water at Chatham,
27. Cataract for regulating Engines in Cornish Mines, 28.
Uniform supply of Fuel to Steam-engine. Consuming
Smoke, 29. Vane regulated by Resistance of Air. Striking
Clock, 30. Suggestions for the adaptation of a Vane or Fly to
an instrument for measuring the altitude of Mountains, 31.

CHAPTER IV.

INCREASE AND DIMINUTION OF VELOCITY.

[Page 3037.]

Fatigue arising from Rapidity of muscular Exertion, contrasted
with its Magnitude, 32. Most advantageous Load for a
Porter, 33. Tags of Boot-laces, 34. Spinning by Hand and
by Wheel. Machines to wind Riband and Sewing Cotton,
35. Tilt-hammer driven down by a Spring, 36. Sithe-
making, 37. Safety of Velocity in Skating, 38. Applica
tion of sudden force to a flat-bottomed Boat to increase the
speed. Reaction of the W T ater, 39. Great Velocity of moving
bodies an impediment to the full effect of their weight, 40.
Essential importance of Rapidity in Mining Operations, 41.
Window glass, 42. Smoke-jack, 43. Telegraphs, 44.



CONTENTS. XV

CHAPTER V.

EXTENDING THE TIME OF ACTION OF FORCES.

[Pages 38, 39.]

Watches and Clocks. Common Jack. Automatons, 45.
Jack useful for physical Experiments, also to agitate Che-
mical Solutions, and Polish Mineral Specimens, 46.

CHAPTER VI.

SAVING TIME IN NATURAL OPERATIONS.

[Page 4046.]

Tanning, 47. Impregnation of Timber with Tar, &c. Ac-
cident to Boat of a Whaling Ship, 48. Bleaching Linen, 49.
Evaporation of Water of Brine Springs, 50, 51. Deepening
of Rivers in America, 52. Ascending Rapids, 53. Position
of Church Clocks, 54. Defective arrangement of the Post-
Office Letter-Boxes. Proposition for the remedy, 55.

CHAPTER VII.

EXERTING FORCES TOO GREAT FOR HUMAN POWER, AND EXE-
CUTING OPERATIONS TOO DELICATE FOR HUMAN TOUCH.
[Page 4753.]

Difficulty of making a large Number of Men act simultane-
ously. Statue of Peter the Great. Egyptian Drawing, 56.
Communication by Signals ; Clapper of the Capstan ; Rod
of Iron, 57. Rivets used when Red-hot, 58. Spinning
Cotton. Steam- boats, 59, 60. Damping Paper for Bank
Notes, 61. Separation of dense Particles by Fluid suspen-
sion, 62, 63. Application of Heat for removing the filaments
of Cotton in Muslin and Patent Net, 64.

CHAPTER VIII.

REGISTERING OPERATIONS.

[Page 5461.]

Pedometer. Counting Machines for Carriages. Steam-engine,-
65. Machine for measuring Calicoes, 66. Tell-tale, 67.
Instrument to measure Liquor drawn from Casks, 68. To
measure Liquor remaining in Casks, 69. Gas-meter, 70.
Water-meter, 71, 72. Machine for registering the Average of



XIV CONTENTS.

CHAPTER II.

ACCUMULATING POWER.
[Page 2126.]

When the Work requires more Force than can be produced
in the time allowed for its Operation. FJy-wheel, Rolling-
iron, 20. Anecdote of punching Plate-iron, 21. Pile-
engine, 22. Effects of the power of Gunpowder in expelling
different charges. Le Vaillant's experiment with water sub-
stituted for shot, 23. Phenomenon of Fulminating Powder,
24. Velocity o f a Wave passing through Deal, supposed
to be greater than through Tallow, 25. Existence of Mo-
mentary pressures of various force in the boiler of a steam-
engine, 25*. Reasoning on the Theory of Explosion, 26.

CHAPTER III.

REGULATING POWER.

{Page 2729.]

Governor of Steam-engine. Ditto moving in Water at Chatham,
27. Cataract for regulating Engines in Cornish Mines, 28.
Uniform supply of Fuel to Steam-engine. Consuming
Smoke, 29. Vane regulated by Resistance of Air. Striking
Clock, 30. Suggestions for the adaptation of a Vane or Fly to
an instrument for measuring the altitude of Mountains, 31.

CHAPTER IV.

INCREASE AND DIMINUTION OF VELOCITY.

{Page 3037.]

Fatigue arising from Rapidity of muscular Exertion, contrasted
with its Magnitude, 32. Most advantageous Load for a
Porter, 33. Tags of Boot-laces, 34. Spinning by Hand and
by Wheel. Machines to wind Riband and Sewing Cotton,
35. Tilt-hammer driven down by a Spring, 36. Sithe-
making, 37. Safety of Velocity in Skating, 38. Applica
tion of sudden force to a flat-bottomed Boat to increase the
speed. Reaction of the Water, 39. Great Velocity of moving
bodies an impediment to the full effect of their weight, 40.
Essential importance of Rapidity in Mining Operations, 41.
Window glass, 42. Smoke-jack, 43. Telegraphs, 44.



CONTENTS. XV

CHAPTER V.

EXTENDING THE TIME OF ACTION OF FORCES.

[Pages 38, 39.]

Watches and Clocks. Common Jack. Automatons, 45.
Jack useful for physical Experiments, also to agitate Che-
mical Solutions, and Polish Mineral Specimens, 46.

CHAPTER VI.

SAVING TIME IN NATURAL OPERATIONS.

[Page 4046.]

Tanning, 47. Impregnation of Timber with Tar, &c. Ac-
cident to Boat of a Whaling Ship, 48. Bleaching Linen, 49.
Evaporation of Water of Brine Springs, 50, 51. Deepening
of Rivers in America, 52. Ascending Rapids, 53. Position
of Church Clocks, 54. Defective arrangement of the Post-
Office Letter-Boxes. Proposition for the remedy, 55.

CHAPTER VII.

EXERTING FORCES TOO GREAT FOR HUMAN POWER, AND EXE-
CUTING OPERATIONS TOO DELICATE FOR HUMAN TOUCH.



Online LibraryCharles BabbageOn the economy of machinery and manufactures → online text (page 1 of 29)