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must substitute the parochial for the public school,
and as I am writing this chapter, this attempt is
being made by the Conservative party in England.
It is certainly true that China's school system is
older ; it is probably true that Germany's school
system is better organized. I believe it to be true
that the American school system imperatively
needs an infusion of moral and religious education,
which we have either carelessly allowed to drop

^ See W. A. P. Martin, The Chinese, their Education, Philoso-
phy, and Letters, pp. 85-90 ; Gray's China, vol. i. p. 178.


out, or carefully excluded. Nevertheless, if the
school systems of China, Germany, Italy, France,
Great Britain, and the United States are com-
pared, or if in the United States the denomina-
tional schools, whether Protestant or Roman Cath-
olic, are compared with the public schools, by
comparing, not their courses of instruction, but
the pupils who graduate from them, the public
school system will not suffer by the comparison.
With all his defects, the American boy, product of
the American public school system, is a more in-
telligent workman, a more patriotic citizen, more
catholic in his sympathies, more versatile in his
abilities, more fitted for all the exigencies of life,
than the graduate of the more ancient Chinese
system, the more scholarly German system, or the
more religious parochial system.^

As the church, the state, and the school are to
be measured by the character which they produce,
so is the industrial system. One standard of value
cannot be applied in one case and another standard
of value in another. The social and industrial
system is to be measured, not by the wealth it pro-
duces, but by the men it produces ; not by the
abundance of the material things, but by the kind
of men developed in the process. Man is the
standard of value, not things. An industrial sys-
tem, then, must produce good men and good

1 See Hist, of the Civil War in America, by the Comte de
Paris, vol. i. pp. 277. 278, for illustration of the versatility of
the American soldier.


women, or tend to produce them. If it does not,
it fails, measured by Christ's standard. The evil
of slavery was not that sometimes slaves were ill-
treated ; that they were poorly housed and fed ;
that they were not paid wages. It was this : their
manhood was suppressed ; there was no true home,
no permanent and protected family, no permission
of education, no hope for development, no real
stimulant and inspiration to life in its higher and
nobler forms. The justification of emancipation
is found in such characters as Frederick Douglas
and Booker T. Washington. Slavery might feed,
clothe, and house the slave, but it could never
make a noble specimen of manhood.

The modern industrial system, measured by this
standard, is far better than that which it sup-
planted. The wages system is far better than
slavery. If there were no other advantage to the
laborer, there would be this, that he is a free man.
No master can maim or imprison or kill him, or
sell his wife or his children away from him, or
drive him to unrewarded labor with a lash. If he
were worse housed, worse clothed, worse fed, than
the feudal villein or the Southern slave, he would
still be in better condition. What American would
exchange the freedom of ill-paid but free labor for
the comforts, assuming for the moment that they
existed, of slave labor ? The wages system is far
better than feudalism ; better in the independence
which it has created, the spirit of liberty which it
nourishes, the comforts which it affords. Even in


a purely material point of view, the free laborer of
to-day is in far better condition than the villein of
olden time. The man who inveighs against the
white slave of to-day, declaring his condition worse
than that of the negro slave of the South or the
serf of the Middle Ages, displays either his igno-
rance of history or his indifference to truth. " If,"
says Mr. Daniel Pidgeon,^ " there was something-
idyllic about the picture of the old English weaver
working at his loom with his family around him,
carding and spinning wool or cotton for his use,
that home of industry was very different in fact
and fiction. Huddled together in a hut whose liv-
ing and sleeping accommodations w^ere curtailed, by
the tools of his trade, to limits which left little
room for decency, the weaver's family lived and
worked without comfort, convenience, good food, or
good air. The children became toilers from their
earliest youth, and grew up quite ignorant, no one
having yet conceived of education, except as a lux-
ury of the rich. Theft of materials and drunken-
ness made almost every cottage a scene of crime,
want, and disorder. The grossest superstitions
took the place of intelligence, health was impossi-
ble in the absence of cleanliness and pure air, and
such was the moral atmosphere of labor that, if
some family with more virtue than common tried
to conduct themselves so as to save their self-re-
spect, they were abused or ostracized by their

1 Daniel Pidg-eon, Old World Questions and New World xin-
swers, ch. xv. p. 254 (133 f. Harper's Handy Series ed.).


neighbors. It was under this system that there
arose in England that pauper class, the reproach
of civilization, which, once created, continued to
grow until a fourth of the national income scarcely
sufficed to support the nation's poor. Against the
spread of pauperism, indeed, legislation and phi-
lanthropy seemed alike powerless, and the evil was
only at last checked by the rise of those manufac-
turing industries which followed upon the inven-
tions of Arkwright, Hargreaves, Crompton, and
the enterprise of men like Wedgwood. The in-
fluence of the newly-born factory system alone 23re~
vented England from being overrun during the
latter half of the eighteenth century by the most
ignorant and depraved of men, and it was only in
the factory districts that the demoralizing agency
of pauperism could be effectually resisted. . . .
The two systems were simultaneously in force in
France down to a very late period ; domestic in-
dustry being even now the rule in the country
around Amiens, while the factory reigns in the city
itself. There, however, the rural workers have a
very bad reputation as compared with that of the
town operatives. Their homes are worse and worse
kept ; beginning work at no regular hour, they
idle more, and earn more precarious wages, than do
factory hands, and they are inveterate drunkards."
The introduction of machinery and of orga-
nized labor, the two great industrial changes of
the present century, have operated in three ways
to improve the condition of the laboring man.


They have lowered tlie price of manufactured
goods, and brought within the reach of great
classes of men comforts which before were the
special privilege of the few. They have increased
both the demand for labor and the waoes of the
laborer, and so their power to purchase comforts.
And they have compelled a higher degree of intel-
ligence in industry by transferring to machinery
the work which formerly was done by human
muscles, and calling on human brain to superin-
tend the machinery, which can act, but cannot
think, and therefore cannot superintend itself.

It is true that in individual instances the in-
vention of machinery has thrown workingmen out
of employment, but the general effect of this
machinery has been greatly to increase the de-
mand for labor, as well as to make a demand for
greater intelligence in labor. New occupations
have been brought into existence by invention.
Thousands of emjiloyees are to-day engaged in
telegraphy, who before would have been without
employment, or would have been entering into
competition with, and reducing the wages of, other
employees. The displacement of the stage-coach
and the substitution of the railroad, by increasing
the convenience of travel and transportation, has
multij^lied the number of travelers and of articles
to be transported, and multiplied many fold the
number of men employed in transportation. The
invention of the steam printing-press, creating the
cheap newspaper, and in turn a great reading con-


stituency, has multiplied the demand for editors,
reporters, printers, and pressmen. Stenography
and the typewriter have called into existence a
new class of clerical assistants. The invention
and application of electricity have necessitated
and so produced electrical workers of every grade,
from Nicolas Tesla to the lineman. The chapter
might be indefinitely extended : there is no notable
addition to the machinery of the world which has
not increased the demand for laborers ; and there
are few such additions which have not made a
demand for educated, experienced, and skilled
laborers.^ With this increase in demand for labor
has come an increase in its remuneration. Robert
Giffin, in his ''Progress of the Working Classes,"
and Carroll D. Wright, in his " Industrial Evolu-
tion in the United States," have given in great
detail the evidence which justifies this general
assertion. The increase in the wages of factory
operatives and mechanics in England ranges from
20 per cent, to 150 per cent. The food products
of the English laborer remain in price, on the
average, about what they were forty or fifty years
ago, but clothing is materially cheaper. Rent
has increased, but this is because the houses are
better. Making allowance for the increase in rent,
Dr. Giffin estimates the wages available for other
purposes, in England, as nearly double what they
were fifty years ago, — a gain from about fifteen

1 See Carroll D. Wright, Industrial Evolution in the United
States, ehs. xxvii. and xxviii.


shillings in 1835 to twenty-seven shillings sixpence
in 1885. Carroll D. Wright, on the basis of
reports from twenty industries and nearly one
hundred distinct establishments, reports, on the
basis of the wage rate in 1860, a rise in wages in
the United States from 87.7 per cent, in 1840 to
160.7 in 1891.1 Never before in human his-
tory — nowhere else in the world, except perhaps
in Australia — shall we find the laborer as well
housed, fed, and clothed as in this close of the
nineteenth century in the United States. Never
before has he had as much opportunity for lei-
sure, education, and moral advancement. " The

1 See, for detailed and elaborate statistics on tliis point, The
Progress of the Working Classes in the last Half Century, by
Robert Giffin, Esq., I.L. D., and Industrial Evolution in the
United States, by C. D. Wright, eh. xvii. See, also, on this
subject, L. J. Brentano, Hours and Wages in Relation to Pro-
duction. Two extracts must suffice to give concrete illustration
of his conclusions, and the data on which they are based : " The
poor hand-loom weaver makes a martyr of himself in vain with
his thirteen to sixteen hours a day, and a weekly wage of three
to seven shillings, in order to compete with the factory operative
working short hours for high pay,'' p. 67. " What, then, has the
development of the English cotton industry to show us ? Before
all things, it shows a concentration of factories in the places
possessing the most favorable conditions for production. And
what are these places ? Those where wages are the cheapest ?
Among such was, for instance, Ireland, with a few spinning
factories employing about o,000 hands at wages half as high as
in England. But for that very reason labor in that country was
far too dear for English capital to seek investment there. The
place it chose was where the highest paid labor gave assurance
of the most energetic utilization of the other favorable condi-
tions of production. Lancashire became the centre of the cotton
industry." Soe. Sc. Ser. ed. p. 59.


higher wage rate per diem," writes Schoenhof,i
" ruling in the United States, enables the opera-
tives to enjoy a better mode of living, and better
nutrition of body and mind. They eat more and
better food than any of the operatives of Europe,
and their general mode of living is upon a higher

Nor has the introduction of machinery and
organized labor promoted intellectual develop-
ment only by indirection. Machine labor requires
gTeater intelligence in most industries than hand
labor. The attrition of mind with mind in factory
employments has in it a power to quicken life, of
which the solitary worker under the old system
had no experience. In both ways the modern
system has conduced to human development. Mr.
W. H. Mallock,2 in '' Labor and the Popular Wel-
fare," gives some striking illustrations of the direct
educational effect of the introduction of machinery,
from which we select one instance ; " When Watt
had perfected his steam-engine in structure, design,
and princi])le, and was able to make a model which
was triumphantly successful in its working, he en-
countered an obstacle of which few people are
aware, and which, had it not been overcome, would
have made the development of steam-power, as
we know it now, an utter impossibility. It was,

1 J. Sehoenhof, Economy of High Wages, p. 84 ; quoted by L.
J. Brentano, Hours and Wages in Belation to Production, Soc. Se.
Ser. p. 5o.

2 W. H. Mallock, Labor and the Popular Welfare, L. 1894,
p. 185 f.


indeed, in the opinion of the engineer Smeaton,
fatal to the success of Watt's steam-engine alto-
gether. This obstacle was the difficulty of making
cylinders, of any useful size, sufficiently true to
keep the pistons steam-tight. Watt, with indomi-
table perseverance, endeavored to train men to the
degree of accuracy required, by setting them to
vfovk. at cylinders and nothing else, and by in-
ducing fathers to bring up their sons with them
to the workshop, and thus from their earliest
youth habituate them to this single task. By this
means, in time, a band of laborers was secured in
whom skill was raised to the highest point of which
it is capable."

In vain Carlyle and Ruskin call on us to turn
about and march with our faces to the past and
our backs to the future. The question whether
the wages system is better than feudalism or slav-
ery has been settled ; it remains to decide whether
it is the final system, whether it is producing the
best men that a true industrial system could pro-
duce. I believe it is not.

I. Our present industrial system is not giving
steady and permanent employment to all willing
laborers. Mr. Charles Booth, the London sta-
tistician, and one the value of whose reports on
the condition of London is recognized by all scien-
tific men, shows us that from ten to twenty per
cent, of the population of London are living on
the verge of starvation, the large majority of them
willing to work, but finding only casual work, or


finding none at all, and living on charity. This is
the famons submerged tenth. No industrial sys-
tem is producing the right kind of men and women
which leaves from ten to fifteen per cent, of the
population of its greatest city without the oppor-
tunity to earn an honest livelihood. In Paris the
conditions are not so bad, but they are prevented
from going in the same direction with great rapid-
ity only by governmental action providing work
for the unemployed. The best-informed students
of the conditions of life in New York and Brook-
lyn testify that there are hundreds, and oftentimes
thousands, of men vainly seeking employment in
these great cities. Beside the tramps, who do not
want to work and think they do, and the invalids,
who would but cannot work, in our great cities
there are tens of thousands of men and women
who would gladly earn their bread by the sweat
of their brow and cannot do it. The opportunity
is not afforded to them. In the year 1885 a care-
ful statistician estimated that there were nearly a
million willing workers out of employment in the
United States ; and the United States has been
called the Eldorado of the workingmen.^ Com-

1 See the statement of Mrs. Josephine Shaw Lowell, quoted ch.
iv. p. 112. While engaged on this volume, I find in the Brook-
lyn Eagle a letter by Darwin J. Meserole (March 9, 1896), the
superintendent of the Brooklyn Home of Industry, conducted
under the auspices of the City Mission and Tract Society, who
says " an average of 150 men a month are turned from the doors
of the industrial department of the City Mission alone. These
men will work if given the opportunity, and for the lowest wages,


mercial crises recur with frightful rapidity, taking
money out of the pockets of capitalists, and bread
out of the mouths of children of workinainen.
That is not a healthful state of society which
makes such recurrences possible. Whether they
are due to unjust taxation, to ill-advised labor
organization, to spendthrift habits, to a poorly
managed currency, to misdirection of energies, or
to all combined, is not the question ; the simple
question now is this : Is that labor system perfect
which makes it possible that thousands of men
should be thrust out of the possibility of earning
a livelihood ? " In the sweat of thy face thou
shalt eat bread," said God. Then every man has
a right to earn his daily bread in the sweat of his
face, and society will not be organized on a truly
Christian basis until it is so organized that every
willing worker wall have an opportunity to earn
enough to support, maintain, and educate himself
and his household.

II. The present industrial system not only fails
to give employment to all, but fails also to give to
all those who are employed under it wages ade-
quate for true livelihood. If by life is meant life
of the mind and spirit as well as of the body,
wages are often not living wages. The system
out of which we are gradually emerging, the sys-

namely, food and shelter. During- the four years of tlie existence
of the Home of Industry, thousands of homeless men have applied
for assistance, and we have yet to hear the first refusal to work
from the hundreds to whom we have been able to offer employ-


tern of individualism, the system of the Manchester
school, affirms that the capitalist should hire labor
in the cheapest market, and the laborer should sell
his labor in the highest market ; in other words,
that every man who hires labor is to pay the least
possible price, and every laborer is to extort the
largest possible price. Under this system the ten-
dency is to a depression of wages and a deteriora-
tion of manhood. To ascertain this tendency we
only need to consider the condition of workingmen
in those connnunities where labor has not oroan-
ized, where legislation has not interfered, where all
labor conditions and labor remuneration have been
left to be settled solely by free competition.

At one time, when emigration was taking place
from Italy, an appeal was made to the Italians
not to emigrate, but to remain in their fatherland
and help to build up their nation. This was their
reply ^ : —

" What do you mean by ' the nation ' ? Do you refer
to the most miserable of the inhabitants of the land?
If so, we are indeed the nation. Look at our pale and
emaciated faces, our bodies worn out with over-fatigue
and insufficient food. We sow and reap corn, but never
taste white bread ; we cultivate the vine, but a drop of
wine never touches our lips. We raise cattle, but never
eat meat ; we are covered with rags, we live in wretched
hovels ; in winter we suffer from the cold, and both
winter and summer from the pangs of hunger. Can a
land which does not provide its inhabitants, who are

1 Quoted by Emile de Laveleye, Contemporary Review, vol. xlvii.
p. 498, April, 1885.


Trilling to work, with sufficient to live upon, be con-
sidered bv tlieni as a fatherland ? "

Philip Gilbert Hamerton has described the
intellectiial and moral starvation of the French
peasantry.^ The condition of the German peas-
antry is but little better. ^lore than half the
population of Prussia had in 1ST5 an income less
than one hundred and five dollars a year each, and
only 140.000 persons incomes above seven hundred
and fifty dollars.- Perhaps the most significant
and appalling indication of the effect of this system
is seen in the death rate. Says Elisee Eeclus'^ : —

•• The mean mortality among the well-to-do is. at the
utmost, one to sixty. !Now. the population of Europe
being a third of a thousand millions, the average deaths,
according to the rate of mortalits-. among the fortunate,
should not exceed five millions. They are three times
five millions. What liave we done with these ten mil-
lion human beings killed before their time ? If it be
true that we have duties one towards the other, are we
not responsible for the servitude, the cold, the hunger,
the miseries of every sort, which doom the unfortunate
to untimely deaths ? Race of Cains, what have we
done with our brothers ? "

The conditions produced by freedom of contract
have been but little better in England. Francis
A. AValker. in *• The AVages Question." ^ portrays

^ P. G. Hamerton. Bound mj/ Htvne. chs. xi. and sii.

- John Rae. Cont. Socialism, p. :>4.

■^ Contdiiporary Eevinr. vol. xlv. p. (>j-. Mav. 1SS4, " The
Anarchy of an Anarchist."

^ Pages oO and (31. The authorities cited for his statements
are modern English observers.


these conditions in graphic detail, and confirms his
report by unquestionable authorities. A few sen-
tences must suffice here to illustrate pages of de-
scription in his volume : —

" To-day, in the West of England, it is impossible for
an agricultural laborer to eat meat more than once a
week. ... In Devon, the laborer breakfasts on tea-kettle
broth, — hot water poured on bread and flavored with
onions ; dines on bread and hard cheese at 2d. a pound,
with cider very washy and sour ; and sups on potatoes
or cabbage greased with a tiny bit of fat bacon. He
seldom more than sees or smells butcher's meat. . . .
The cottages, as a rule, are not fit to house pigs in. Of
309 cottages at Ramsbottom, one of the best districts in
Lancashire, 137 had but one bedroom each, the aggre-
gate occupants being 777 ! " ^

In the United States this theory of industrial life
as a perpetual struggle between conflicting classes,
this economic doctrine that labor is a commodity to
be purchased in the cheapest market, this wages
system with its tools all belonging to one class and
used by another class, has not had time to bring
forth its full fruition. But even in the United
States we have the spectacle of a tool-owner getting
control, by ways not above suspicion, of some of
the great highways of the nation, and receiving,
for twenty-five years, an income of thirteen thou-

1 It does not come within the province of this volume to pre-
sent in detail and with any fullness the indictment against the
modern industrial system. This has heen amply done by others :
Laveleye. Groveland, John Rae. F. A. Walker, John Stuart Mill,
Thomas Carhle, and others. See notes to eh. iv. ante.


sand dollars a day, and paying" the brakenian from
a dollar to a dollar and a half a day. It is not
strange that the brakenian thinks the disparity too
gi'eat. !Most impartial Americans agree with him.

I believe that the system which divides society
into two classes, capitalists and laborers, is but a
temporary one, and that the industrial unrest of
our time is the result of a blind struggle toward a
democracy of wealth, in which the tool-users will
also be the tool-owneis : in which labor will hire
capital, not capital labor; in which men, not money,
will control in industry, as they now control in
government. But the doctrine that labor is a com-
modity, and that capital is to buy it in the cheapest
market,^ is not even temporarily sound ; it is eco-
nomically false as it is ethically unjust.

There is no such commodity as labor ; it does not
exist. When a workingman comes to the factory
on a Monday morning he lias nothing to sell, he is
empty-handed : he has come in order to jiroduce
something by his exertion, and that something,
when it is ]n-oduced, is to be sold, and part of the

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Online LibraryLyman AbbottChristianaity and social problems → online text (page 13 of 25)