Page images
PDF
EPUB

new uses.

range of technical knowledge. They require to have their trade drill extended, to be—as well as their tools-easily convertible' to

It is desirable that as troops they should be made capable of more varied movement and combination, that they should by being more technically intelligent be more plastic in the hands of their commanders. And the needed plasticity, the more ready adaptability to the circumstances arising out of revolutionary movements or abnormal developments in industrial operations, can only be gained under a national system of technical instruction.

If our artisans were educated to a higher, more intelligent comprehension of the arts and mysteries of their crafts, if they understood in a broad and practical way the scientific rationale and mechanical organisation underlying and governing the ultimate results in which their individual pieces of work are subdivisional processes—if our artisans were technically educated up to this point, they would as a body really feel the vivifying interest in their work which at present they are only supposed to experience. They would also have a greater belief and pride in their callings than is entertained by many of them under the existing condition of affairs. This may seem to outsiders a merely sentimental consideration, but as a matter of fact it is of vital importance as affecting the quality of workmen and workmanship.

In every workshop there are numbers of croakers. They are the men who tell you that the trade'is over-stocked, that it is done for, has had its day, is no longer a trade to put a boy to. This is the sort of stuff they do talk to boys who have been put to the trade, often with disastrous effects. According to this stamp of man the times are permanently out of joint, and this world no longer a place for mechanics if they will suicidally persist in adding to their numbers. Look at me,' such a man will say; 'I speak from experience, I am in the trade, and I know. I have never a penny to bless myself with till pay-day comes; I am as much out of work as in, and never certain of employment from one week to another. This is quite right of himself, and he can point to plenty more like himself. His home is miserable, his family slatternly, himself of poverty-stricken appearance. Foremen are 'down upon him, and more successful—or as he puts it more lucky-fellow-workmen regard him with a contemptuous pity.

If he were an average specimen of the trade,' he would indeed be a warning against coming into it, an argument for getting out of it. But he is not an average specimen. Though he tries to figure as a martyr, he is only that stock character, the horrid example. He is one of the hard bargains of his craft, is either a duffer, a slouch, or a boozer, incapable, lazy or drunken, or perhaps all three. The men of this stamp are the residuum of the artisan classes, and among the other beneficial effects of the higher training would be its tendency to squeeze out the residuum. The residual type of workman would not exert himself to move up, and, as a consequence, his relative worthlessness would be so increased that he would no longer be found worth his salt, even in busy times. He would gradually find himself pressed to a lower than the artisan level, and his loss would be the gain of the trade to which he had been attached.

While the croaker is ever ready to call upon you to look upon this picture as embodied in himself, he is careful not to direct attention to that, as illustrated by the better, more truly representative artisan. The latter, in times of anything like average briskness in trade, can command good work and good pay all the year round, has a comfortable home, saves money, provides through his benefit and trade clubs for the proverbial rainy day, is in his degree respected because self-respecting, and on the whole is a person rather to be envied than pitied.

It may safely be asserted that there never was a time when there were such opportunities for the mechanic as there are at the present day. Every new discovery or development in the resources of civilisation increases the demand for his services. If by such misfortunes as do sometimes befall he finds himself crowded out or superseded in an old country, he is better qualified than most other men to make his way in new countries. In the work of colonisation the practical artificer is required almost contemporaneously with the agriculturist, and the need for him increases with every advancing stage of the work. There are plenty of openings for him. The instances in which workmen rise to be masters or managers are innumerable, while even should he remain a journeyman all his life he may still be happy and in all essential respects a gentleman. If he has madliness enough to keep himself free from the taint of the depraving social competition to keep up appearances, he may live comfortably, have leisure to cultivate the graces, and means to enjoy a fair share of the rational pleasures of life.

The working classes of the country could be confidently relied upon to contribute to the success of any movement for once more making the brand 'Of English Manufacture'a proud and profitable trade device--a guarantee for trustworthy workmanship and honest material, for the articles so branded being what they professed to be, or doing what they were supposed to do. There can be no reasonable doubt either that our artisans might with equal confidence be relied upon-again on grounds of self-interest, if from no higher motive-to play the important part that would fall to them in the successful working out of any national scheme for technical education. It is sometimes contended that while English mechanics are undoubtedly more skilful and self-assured than any others in point of manual skill, they are inferior in point of artistic feeling and capacity for assimilating and applying technical knowledge. This opinion must, however, be regarded as merely theoretic, seeing that it is of necessity founded largely if not wholly upon surmise. Save in individual instances, English artisans have had no opportunity of showing to what extent they may be endowed with artistic feeling or perception or a faculty for technical knowledge. It appears to me quite fair to suppose that such perception and faculty, so far as they relate to mechanical work, are very likely to be found in latent association with the admittedly superior natural aptitudes for handicraft skill.

In any case, the time has fully arrived when the subject of a higher training for our artisans should be taken up as a matter involving national welfare. Though it does not blaze forth in agitation, it is nevertheless a burning question. Prolonged inactivity with respect to it will certainly not prove to be masterly. If the national value of our artisan classes is to remain unrealised or unacted upon; if their position and power is to be determined solely by a cutting-down competition, in which the chief weapons employed are adulteration and scamping; if, in short, things are to be allowed to go on as they have been going, they must in the nature of events go from bad to worse, and the decline and fall of our manufacturing empire is inevitable. If as a nation we shirk our duty, neglect our interest in this matter, we may cynically or selfishly console ourselves with the reflection that sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.' We may with a good show of reason hope and believe that the decline will be slow, that the momentum we have acquired will carry us on for at least our time, and that the after-time is for those who live in it to deal with. None the less we shall be tottering to our fall, and in this age of rapid changes and the frequent occurrence of the unexpected, the fall or something approaching it might come suddenly.

THOMAS WRIGHT. (Journeyman Engineer.)

NOT AT HOME.

DESPITE the Malthusian checks’ upon population, such as misery, disease, war, vice, and “moral restraint,' most of the races and nations of the world continue to increase and multiply. The fruits of the earth, which are directly or indirectly their food, do not, according to the well-known axiom, increase locally in proportion, and so—to employ the simplest expressions—many mouths have to be separated from the parent community in the quest for the needful bits to put into them. The enormous facilities for locomotion, by which modern science has proceeded so far in reducing the obstacles of earthly space and time, serve to promote this search for subsistence in its practical forms of emigration and travel, and the present century has opened up to us a perfectly new phase of the history of the human race and its breeds. The vast scale of the emigration of the Teutonic, Scandinavian, and Latin races of Europe, and of the Chinese, must inevitably, as the years roll on, become still more gigantic. Even now it is almost hopeless to endeavour by any system of statistics to keep pace with the eternal come and go of all the millions of human beings of all countries and all languages who are constantly crossing and recrossing the oceans and continents of this globe.

Some effort is made in this essay roughly to gauge the extent to which emigration is scattering and mingling the current generations of the leading European nations, and at least to lay the foundations for those more elaborate and complete statistics which may be won at some future time. The following table displays in one directionthe horizontal-the numbers of born natives of each country who are now living out of that country; and at the same time in the vertical columns the numbers of foreigners who reside in each such country. It is important to bear in mind that in the table only the born natives of the parent countries have been considered, descendants of such emigrants becoming absorbed among the natural population of their adopted countries.

It is much to be desired that among the many international arrangements which slowly advancing civilisation gradually brings about-such as the postal union, the telegraph, longitude, universal time, astronomic, currency, and a host of other congresses-statesmen, or at least men of science, would devoţe some attention to the establishment of well-devised, universal, and consistent regulations for a periodical and contemporaneous census, accompanied by trustworthy and uniform statistics of emigration, immigration, and reemigration. The value of such a system, in regard to its influence on economics, would prove incalculable, and it is desired here to direct especial attention to the excellence of the Italian statistics of this nature.

Imperfect as the table now here given admittedly must be, it still analyses and apportions among a score of nations or groups of nations no less a total than 18,741,000 of human beings who are not at home' to those who may search for them in their native lands; and this large total lends some importance to the conclusions that may be drawn from its analysis.

The first postulate to be laid down in considering the table is that a country which sends abroad a greater number of human beings than it receives from other nations must be considered as contributing the difference to the general total of the population of the rest of the globe. But such a country must not alone be credited with her emigrants, who furnish a real and active proof of the vitality of her population ; she must likewise be debited with the foreigners who live within her borders; for they are proof, pro tanto, that at least an equal number of her own native population might have continued to exist at home without seeking their fortunes in other lands. Let us now go through the table, commenting first upon the Austrian empire.

Austria-Hungary. In the census tables of other countries are found 337,000 Austrians and Hungarians living out of their own lands. Of these Germany claims 118,000, and the United States 135,500. These figures are but insignificant when compared with the total population of 37,883,000, and this dual State must be set down as contributing the least proportion-only 0.89 per cent. upon that total of all the great States to the population of the rest of the world. At the same time, the number of foreigners resident in the united monarchy falls short of 183,000, being only about 1 to every 208 of the native population. The Germans in Austria reckon up to some 99,000, as against 118,000 Austrians in Germany; and in spite of the long-standing strife of the Carbonari and the white-coated soldiery, 45,000 Italians now reside on Austrian soil, while only 16,000 Austrians are to be found in Italy.

Belgium.—Next comes Belgium, with which little Luxembourg is grouped for convenience, showing a net total population of over 5,800,000, or 485 to the square mile-a ratio of destiny which is only surpassed by Saxony with 514; England and Wales showed 446 in 1881. Of these, 145,500, or 1 in every 39, are foreigners;

· Emigrazione italiana all'estero; Movimento dello stato civile, and Censimento degli Italiani all'estero, Roma,

own General Report of the Census of 1881, vol. iv., 1883, is full and interesting.

« PreviousContinue »