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On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures by Charles Babbage

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soon be supplied with the best materials the country can produce.
(6*) It may also be apprehended that such a combination of
authors would be favourable to each other. There are two
temptations to which an editor of a review is commonly exposed:
the first is, a tendency to consult too much, in the works he
criticizes, the interest of the proprietor of his review; the
second, a similar inclination to consult the interests of his
friends. The plan which has been proposed removes one of these
temptations, but it would be very difficult, if not impossible,
to destroy the other.


1. The whole of the subsequent details relate to the first
edition of this work.

2. These details vary with different books and different
publishers; those given in the text are believed to substantially
correct, and are applicable to works like the present.

3. It is now understood that the use of spies has been given up;
and it is also known that the system of underselling is again
privately resorted to by many, so that the injury arising from
this arbitrary system, pursued by the great booksellers, affects
only, or most severely, those whose adherence to an extorted
promise most deserves respect. Note to the second edition.

4 The monopoly cases. Nos. 1. 2. and 3. of those published by Mr
Pickering, should be consulted upon this point; and, as the
public will be better able to form a judgement by hearing the
other side of the question, it is to be hoped the Chairman of the
Committee (Mr Richardson) will publish those regulations
respecting the trade, a copy of which. Mr Pickering states, is
refused by the Committee even to those who sign them.

5. At the moment when this opinion as to the necessity for a new
review was passing through the press. I was informed that the
elements of such an undertaking were already organized.

6. I have been suggested to me, that the doctrines maintained in
this chapter may subject the present volume to the opposition of
that combination which it has opposed. I do not entertain that
opinion; and for this reason, that the booksellers are too shrewd
a class to supply such an admirable passport to publicity as
their opposition would prove to be if generally suspected. But
should my readers take a different view of the question, they can
easily assist in remedying the evil, by each mentioning the
existence of this little volume to two of his friends.

{I was wrong in this conjecture; all booksellers are not so
shrewd as I had imagined, for some did refuse to sell this
volume; consequently others sold a larger number of copies.

In the preface to the second edition, at the commencement of
this volume, the reader will find some further observation on the
effect of the booksellers' combination.}

Chapter 23

On the Effect of Machinery in Reducing the Demand for Labour

404. One of the objections most frequently urged against
machinery is, that it has a tendency to supersede much of the
hand labour which was previously employed; and in fact unless a
machine diminished the labour necessary to make an article, it
could never come into use. But if it have that effect, its owner,
in order to extend the sale of his produce, will be obliged to
undersell his competitors; this will induce them also to
introduce the new machine, and the effect of this competition
will soon cause the article to fall, until the profits on
capital, under the new system, shall be reduced to the same rate
as under the old. Although, therefore, the use of machinery has
at first a tendency to throw labour out of employment, yet the
increased demand consequent upon the reduced price, almost
immediately absorbs a considerable portion of that labour, and
perhaps, in some cases, the whole of what would otherwise have
been displaced.

That the effect of a new machine is to diminish the labour
required for the production of the same quantity of manufactured
commodities may beclearlyperceived, byimaginingasociety,
inwhichoccupation are not divided, each man himself manufacturing
all the articles he consumes. Supposing each individual to labour
during ten hours daily, one of which is devoted to making shoes,
it is evident that if any tool or machine be introduced, by the
use ofwhich his shoes can be made in halfthe usual time, then
each member ofthe community will enjoy the same comforts as
before by only nine and one-half hours' labour.

405. If, therefore, we wish to prove that the total quantity
oflabourisnot diminished by the introduction of machines, we must
have recourse to some other principle of our nature. But the same
motive which urges a man to activity will become additionally
powerful, when he finds his comforts procured with diminished
labour; and in such circumstances, it is probable, that many
would employ the time thus redeemed in contriving new tools for
other branches of their occupations. He who has habitually worked
ten hours a day, will employ the half hour saved by the new
machine in gratifying some other want; and as each new machine
adds to these gratifications, new luxuries will open to his view,
which continued enjoyment will as surely render necessary to his

406. In countries where occupations are divided, and where
the division of labour is practised, the ultimate consequence of
improvements in machinery is almost invariably to cause a greater
demand for labour. Frequently the new labour requires, at its
commencement, a higher degree of skill than the old; and,
unfortunately, the class of persons driven out of the old
employment are not always qualified for the new one; so that a
certain interval must elapse before the whole of their labour is
wanted. This, for a time, produces considerable suffering amongst
the working classes; and it is of great importance for their
happiness that they should be aware of these effects, and be
enabled to foresee them at an early period, in order to diminish,
as much as possible, the injury resulting from them.

407. One very important enquiry which this subject presents
is the question whether it is more for the interest of the
working classes, that improved machinery should be so perfect as
to defy the competition of hand labour; and that they should thus
be at once driven out of the trade by it; or be gradually forced
to quit it by the slow and successive advances of the machine?
The suffering which arises from a quick transition is undoubtedly
more intense; but it is also much less permanent than that which
results from the slower process: and if the competition is
perceived to be perfectly hopeless, the workman will at once set
himself to learn a new department of his art. On the other hand,
although new machinery causes an increased demand for skill in
those who make and repair it, and in those who first superintend
its use; yet there are other cases in which it enables children
and inferior workmen to execute work that previously required
greater skill. In such circumstances, even though the increased
demand for the article, produced by its diminished price, should
speedily give occupation to all who were before employed, yet the
very diminution of the skill required, would open a wider field
of competition amongst the working classes themselves.

That machines do not, even at their first introduction,
invariably throw human labour out of employment, must be
admitted; and it has been maintained, by persons very competent
to form an opinion on the subject, that they never produce that
effect. The solution of this question depends on facts, which,
unfortunately, have not yet been collected: and the circumstance
of our not possessing the data necessary for the full examination
of so important a subject, supplies an additional reason for
impressing, upon the minds of all who are interested in such
enquiries, the importance of procuring accurate registries, at
various times, of the number of persons employed in particular
branches of manufacture, of the number of machines used by them.
and of the wages they receive.

408. In relation to the enquiry just mentioned, I shall offer
some remarks upon the facts within my knowledge; and only regret
that those which I can support by numerical statement are so few.
When the crushing mill, used in Cornwall and other mining
countries, superseded the labour of a great number of young
women, who worked very hard in breaking ores with flat hammers,
no distress followed. The reason of this appears to have been,
that the proprietors of the mines, having one portion of their
capital released by the superior cheapness of the process
executed by the mills, found it their interest to apply more
labour to other operations. The women, disengaged from mere
drudgery, were thus profitably employed in dressing the ores, a
work which required skill and judgement in the selection.

409. The increased production arising from alterations in the
machinery, or from improved modes of using it, appears from the
following table. A machine called in the cotton manufacture a
'stretcher', worked by one man, produced as follows:

Year; Pounds of cotton spun; Roving wages per score; Rate of
earning per week
s. d. s. d.

1810 400 1 31/2 25 10(1*)
1811 600 0 10 25 0
1813 850 0 9 31 101/2
1823 1000 0 71/2 31 3

The same man working at another stretcher, the roving a little
finer, produced,

1823 900 0 71/2 28 11/2
1825 1000 0 7 27 6
1827 1200 0 6 30 0
1832 1200 0 6 30 0

In this instance, production has gradually increased until, at
the end of twenty-two years, three times as much work is done as
at the commencement, although the manual labour employed remains
the same. The weekly earnings of the workmen have not fluctuated
very much, and appear, on the whole, to have advanced: but it
would be imprudent to push too far reasonings founded upon a
single instance.

410. The produce of 480 spindles of 'mule yarn spinning', at
different periods, was as follows:

Year; Hanks about 40 to the pound; Wages per thousand (s. d.)

1806; 6668; 9 2
1823; 8000; 6 3
1832; 10,000; 3 8

411. The subjoined view of the state of weaving by hand- and
by power-looms, at Stockport, in the years 1822 and 1832, is
taken from an enumeration of the machines contained in 65
factories, and was collected for the purpose of being given in
evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons.

In 1822 In 1832
Hand-loom weavers 2800 800 2000 decrease
Persons using power-looms 657 3059 2402 increase
Persons to dress the warp 98 388 290 increase
Total persons employed 3555 4247 692 increase
Power-looms 1970 9177 8207 increase

During this period, the number of hand-looms in employment has
diminished to less than one-third, whilst that of power-looms has
increased to more than five times its former amount. The total
number of workmen has increased about one-third; but the amount
of manufactured goods (supposing each power-loom to do only the
work of three hand-looms) is three and a half times as large as
it was before.

412. In considering this increase of employment, it must be
admitted, that the two thousand persons thrown out of work are
not exactly of the same class as those called into employment by
the power-looms. A hand-weaver must possess bodily strength,
which is not essential for a person attending a power-loom;
consequently, women and young persons of both sexes, from fifteen
to seventeen years of age, find employment in power-loom
factories. This, however, would be a very limited view of the
employment arising from the introduction of power-looms: the
skill called into action in building the new factories, in
constructing the new machinery, in making the steam-engines to
drive it, and in devising improvements in the structure of the
looms, as well as in regulating the economy of the establishment,
is of a much higher order than that which it had assisted in
superseding; and if we possessed any means of measuring this, it
would probably be found larger in amount. Nor, in this view of
the subject, must we omit the fact, that although hand-looms
would have increased in number if those moved by steam had not
been invented, yet it is the cheapness of the article
manufactured by power-looms which has caused this great extension
of their employment, and that by diminishing the price of one
article of commerce, we always call into additional activity the
energy of those who produce others. It appears that the number of
hand-looms in use in England and Scotland in 1830, was about
240,000; nearly the same number existed in the year 1820: whereas
the number of power-looms which, in 1830, was 55,000, had, in
1820, been 14,000. When it is considered that each of these
powerlooms did as much work as three worked by hand, the
increased producing power was equal to that of 123,000
hand-looms. During the whole of this period the wages and
employment of hand-loom weavers have been very precarious.

413. Increased intelligence amongst the working classes, may
enable them to foresee some of those improvements which are
likely for a time to affect the value of their labour; and the
assistance of savings banks and friendly societies, (the
advantages of which can never be too frequently, or too strongly,
pressed upon their attention), may be of some avail in remedying
the evil: but it may be useful also to suggest to them, that a
diversity of employments amongst the members of one family will
tend, in some measure, to mitigate the privations which arise
from fluctuation in the value of labour.


1. In 1810, the workman's wages were guaranteed not to be less
than 26s.

Chapter 33

On the Effect of Taxes and of Legal Restrictions upon

414. As soon as a tax is put upon any article, the ingenuity
of those who make, and of those who use it, is directed to the
means of evading as large a part of the tax as they can; and this
may often be accomplished in ways which are perfectly fair and
legal. An excise duty exists at present of 3d.(1*) per pound upon
all writing paper. The effect of this impost is, that much of the
paper which is employed, is made extremely thin, in order that
the weight of a given number of sheets may be as small as
possible. Soon after the first imposition of the tax upon
windows, which depended upon their number, and not upon their
size, new-built houses began to have fewer windows and those of
larger dimensions than before. Staircases were lighted by
extremely long windows, illuminating three or four flights of
stairs. When the tax was increased, and the size of windows
charged as single was limited, then still greater care was taken
to have as few windows as possible, and internal lights became
frequent. These internal lights in their turn became the subject
of taxation; but it was easy to evade the discovery of them, and
in the last Act of Parliament reducing the assessed taxes, they
ceased to be chargeable. From the changes thus successively
introduced in the number the forms, and the positions of the
windows, a tolerable conjecture might, in some instances, be
formed of the age of a house.

415. A tax on windows is exposed to objection on the double
ground of its excluding air and light, and it is on both accounts
injurious to health. The importance of light to the enjoyment of
health is not perhaps sufficiently appreciated: in the cold and
more variable climates, it is of still greater importance than in
warmer countries.

416. The effects of regulations of excise upon our home
manufactures are often productive of great inconvenience; and
check, materially, the natural progress of improvement. It is
frequently necessary, for the purposes of revenue, to oblige
manufacturers to take out a license, and to compel them to work
according to certain rules, and to make certain stated quantities
at each operation. When these quantities are large, as in general
they are, they deter manufacturers from making experiments, and
thus impede improvements both in the mode of conducting the
processes and in the introduction of new materials. Difficulties
of this nature have occurred in experimenting upon glass for
optical purposes; but in this case, permission has been obtained
by fit persons to make experiments, without the interference of
the excise. It ought, however, to be remembered, that such
permission, if frequently or indiscriminately granted, might be
abused: the greatest protection against such an abuse will be
found, in bringing the force of public opinion to bear upon
scientific men and thus enabling the proper authorities, although
themselves but moderately conversant with science, to judge of
the propriety of the permission, from the public character of the

417. From the evidence given, in 1808, before the Committee
of the House of Commons, On Distillation from Sugar and Molasses,
it appeared that, by a different mode of working from that
prescribed by the Excise, the spirits from a given weight of
corn, which then produced eighteen gallons, might easily have
been increased to twenty gallons. Nothing more is required for
this purpose, than to make what is called the wash weaker, the
consequence of which is, that fermentation goes on to a greater
extent. It was stated, however, that such a deviation would
render the collection of the duty liable to great difficulties;
and that it would not benefit the distiller much, since his price
was enhanced to the customer by any increase of expense in the
fabrication. Here then is a case in which a quantity, amounting
to one-ninth of the total produce, is actually lost to the
country. A similar effect arises in the coal trade, from the
effect of a duty, for, according to the evidence before the
House of Commons, it appears that a considerable quantity of the
very best coal is actually wasted. The extent of this waste is
very various in different mines; but in some cases it amounts to

418. The effects of duties upon the import of foreign
manufactures are equally curious. A singular instance occurred in
the United States, where bar-iron was, on its introduction.
liable to a duty of 140 per cent ad valorem, whilst hardware was
charged at 25 per cent only. In consequence of this tax, large
quantities of malleable iron rails for railroads were imported
into America under the denomination of hardware; the difference
of 115 per cent in duty more than counter balancing the expense
of fashioning the iron into rails prior to its importation.

419. Duties, drawbacks, and bounties, when considerable in
amount, are all liable to objections of a very serious nature,
from the frauds to which they give rise. It has been stated
before Committees of the House of Commons, that calicoes made up
in the form, and with the appearance of linen, have frequently
been exported for the purpose of obtaining the bounty, for
calico made up in this way sells only at 1s. 4d. per yard,
whereas linen of equal fineness is worth from 2s. 8d. to 2s. 10d.
per yard. It appeared from the evidence, that one house in six
months sold five hundred such pieces of calico.

In almost all cases heavy duties, or prohibitions, are
ineffective as well as injurious; for unless the articles
excluded are of very large dimensions, there constantly arises a
price at which they will be clandestinely imported by the
smuggler. The extent, therefore, to which smuggling can be
carried, should always be considered in the imposition of new
duties, or in the alteration of old ones. Unfortunately it has
been pushed so far, and is so systematically conducted between
this country and France, that the price per cent at which most
contraband articles can be procured is perfectly well known. From
the evidence of Mr Galloway, it appears that, from 30 to 40 per
cent was the rate of insurance on exporting prohibited machinery
from England, and that the larger the quantity the less was the
percentage demanded. From evidence given in the Report of the
Watch and Clock-makers' Committee, in 1817, it appears that
persons were constantly in the habit of receiving in France
watches, lace, silks, and other articles of value easily
portable, and delivering them in England at ten per cent on their
estimated worth, in which sum the cost of transport and the risk
of smuggling were included.

420. The process employed in manufacturing often depends upon
the mode in which a tax is levied on the materials, or on the
article produced. W atch glasses are made in England by workmen
who purchase from the glass house globes of five or six inches in
diameter, out of which, by means of a piece of red-hot tobacco
pipe, guided round a pattern watch glass placed on the globe,
they crack five others: these are afterwards ground and smoothed
on the edges. In the Tyrol the rough watch glasses are supplied
at once from the glass house; the workman, applying a thick ring
of cold glass to each globe as soon as it is blown, causes a
piece, of the size of a watch glass, to be cracked out. The
remaining portion of the globe is immediately broken, and returns
to the melting pot. This process could not be adopted in England
with the same economy, because the whole of the glass taken out
of the pot is subject to the excise duty.

421. The objections thus stated as incidental to particular
modes of taxation are not raised with a view to the removal of
those particular taxes; their fitness or unfitness must be
decided by a much wider enquiry, into which it is not the object
of this volume to enter. Taxes are essential for the security
both of liberty and property, and the evils which have been
mentioned may be the least amongst those which might have been
chosen. It is, however, important that the various effects of
every tax should be studied, and that those should be adopted
which, upon the whole, are found to give the least check to the
productive industry of the country.

422. In enquiring into the effect produced, or to be
apprehended from any particular mode of taxation, it is necessary
to examine a little into the interests of the parties who approve
of the plan in question, as well as of those who object to it.
Instances have occurred where the persons paying a tax into the
hands of government have themselves been adverse to any
reduction. This happened in the case of one class of
calico-printers, whose interest really was injured by a removal
of the tax on the printing: they received from the manufacturers,
payment for the duty, about two months before they were
themselves called on to pay it to government; and the consequence
was, that a considerable capital always remained in their hands.
The evidence which states this circumstance is well calculated to
promote a reasonable circumspection in such enquiries.

Question. Do you happen to know anything of an opposition
from calicoprinters to the repeal of the tax on printed calicoes?

Answer. I have certainly heard of such an opposition, and am
not surprised at it. There are very few individuals who are, in
fact, interested in the nonrepeal of the tax; there are two
classes of calico-printers; one, who print their own cloth, send
their goods into the market, and sell them on their own account;
they frequently advance the duty to government, and pay it in
cash before their goods are sold, but generally before the goods
are paid for, being most commonly sold on a credit of six months:
they are of course interested on that account, as well as on
others that have been stated, in the repeal of the tax. The other
class of calico-printers print the cloth of other people; they
print for hire, and on re-delivery of the cloth when printed,
they receive the amount of the duty, which they are not called
upon to pay to government sooner, on an average, than nine weeks
from the stamping of the goods. Where the business is carried on
upon a large scale, the arrears of duty due to government often
amount to eight, or even ten thousand pounds, and furnish a
capital with which these gentlemen carry on their business; it is
not, therefore, to be wondered at that they should be opposed to
the prayer of our petition.

423. The policy of giving bounties upon home productions, and
of enforcing restrictions against those which can be produced
more cheaply in other countries, is of a very questionable
nature: and, except for the purpose of introducing a new
manufacture, in a country where there is not much commercial or
manufacturing spirit, is scarcely to be defended. All incidental
modes of taxing one class of the community, the consumers, to an
unknown extent, for the sake of supporting another class, the
manufacturers, who would otherwise abandon that mode of employing
their capital, are highly objectionable. One part of the price of
any article produced under such circumstances, consists of the
expenditure, together with the ordinary profits of capital: the
other part of its price may be looked upon as charity, given to
induce the manufacturer to continue an unprofitable use of his
capital, in order to give employment to his workmen. If the sum
of what the consumers are thus forced to pay, merely on account
of these artificial restrictions, where generally known, its
amount would astonish even those who advocate them; and it would
be evident to both parties, that the employment of capital in
those branches of trade ought to be abandoned.

424. The restriction of articles produced in a manufactory to
certain sizes, is attended with some good effect in an economical
view, arising chiefly from the smaller number of different tools
required in making them, as well as from less frequent change in
the adjustment of those tools. A similar source of economy is
employed in the Navy: by having ships divided into a certain
number of classes, each of which comprises vessels of the same
dimensions, the rigging made for one vessel will fit any other of
its class; a circumstance which renders the supply of distant
stations more easy.

425. The effects of the removal of a monopoly are often very
important, and they were perhaps never more remarkable than in
the bobbin net trade, in the years 1824 and 1825. These effects
were, however, considerably enhanced by the general rage for
speculation which was so prevalent during that singular period.
One of the patents of Mr Heathcote for a bobbin net machine had
just then expired, whilst another, for an improvement in a
particular part of such machines, called a turn again, had yet a
few years to run. Many licenses had been granted to use the
former patent, which were charged at the rate of about five
pounds per annum for each quarter of a yard in width, so that
what is termed a six-quarter frame (which makes bobbin net a yard
and a half wide) paid thirty pounds a year. The second patent was
ultimately abandoned in August, 1823, infringements of it having
taken place.

It was not surprising that, on the removal of the monopoly
arising from this patent, a multitude of persons became desirous
of embarking in a trade which had hitherto yielded a very large
profit. The bobbin net machine occupies little space; and is,
from that circumstance, well adapted for a domestic manufacture.
The machines which already existed, were principally in the hands
of the manufacturers; but, a kind of mania for obtaining them
seized on persons of all descriptions, who could raise a small
capital; and, under its influence, butchers, bakers, small
farmers, publicans, gentlemen's servants, and, in some cases,
even clergymen, became anxious to possess bobbin net machines.

Some few machines were rented; but, in most of these cases,
the workman purchased the machine he employed, by instalments of
from L3 to L6 weekly, for a six quarter machine; and many
individuals, unacquainted with the mode of using the machines so
purchased, paid others of more experience for instructing them in
their use; L50 or L60 being sometimes given for this instruction.
The success of the first speculators induced others to follow the
example; and the machine-makers were almost overwhelmed with
orders for lace frames. Such was the desire to procure them, that
many persons deposited a large part, or the whole, of the price,
in the hands of the frame-makers, in order to insure their having
the earliest supply. This, as might naturally be expected, raised
the price of wages amongst the workmen employed in
machine-making; and the effect was felt at a considerable
distance from Nottingham, which was the centre of this mania.
Smiths not used to flat filing, coming from distant parts, earned
from 30s. to 42s. per week. Finishing smiths, accustomed to the
work, gained from L3 to L4 per week..The forging smith, if
accustomed to his work, gained from L5 to L6 per week, and some
few earned L10 per week. In making what are technically called
insides, those who were best paid, were generally clock- and
watchmakers, from all the districts round, who received from L3
to L4 per week. The setters-up--persons who put the parts of the
machine together--charged L20 for their assistance; and, a six
quarter machine, could be put together in a fortnight or three

426. Good workmen, being thus induced to desert less
profitable branches of their business, in order to supply this
extraordinary demand, the masters, in other trades, soon found
their men leaving them, without being aware of the immediate
reason: some of the more intelligent, however, ascertained the
cause. They went from Birmingham to Nottingham, in order to
examine into the circumstances which had seduced almost all the
journeymen clockmakers from their own workshops; and it was soon
apparent, that the men who had been working as clockmakers in
Birmingham, at the rate of 25s. a week, could earn L2 by working
at lace frame-making in Nottingham.

On examining the nature of this profitable work, the master
clockmakers perceived that one part of the bobbin net machines,
that which held the bobbins, could easily be made in their own
workshops. They therefore contracted with the machine-makers, who
had already more work ordered than they could execute, to supply
the bobbin carriers, at a price which enabled them, on their
return home, to give such increased wages as were sufficient to
retain their own workmen, as well as yield themselves a good
profit. Thus an additional facility was afforded for the
construction of these bobbin net machines: and the conclusion was
not difficult to be foreseen. The immense supply of bobbin net
thus poured into the market, speedily reduced its price; this
reduction in price, rendered the machines by which the net was
made, less valuable; some few of the earliest producers, for a
short time, carried on a profitable trade; but multitudes were
disappointed, and many ruined. The low price at which the fabric
sold, together with its lightness and beauty, combined to extend
the sale; and ultimately, new improvements in the machines,
rendered the older ones still less valuable.

427. The bobbin net trade is, at present, both extensive and
increasing; and, as it may, probably, claim a larger portion of
public attention at some future time, it will be interesting to
describe briefly its actual state.

A lace frame on the most improved principle, at the present
day, manufacturing a piece of net two yards wide, when worked
night and day, will produce six hundred and twenty racks per
week. A rack is two hundred and forty holes; and as in the
machine to which we refer, three racks are equal in length to one
yard, it will produce 21,493 square yards of bobbin net annually.
Three men keep this machine constantly working; and, they were
paid (by piece-work) about 25s. each per week, in 1830. Two boys,
working only in the day-time, can prepare the bobbins for this
machine, and are paid from 2s. to 4s. per week, according to
their skill. Forty-six square yards of this net weigh two pounds
three ounces; so that each square yard weighs a little more than
three-quarters of an ounce.

428. For a condensed and general view of the present state of
this trade, we shall avail ourselves of a statement by Mr William
Felkin, of Nottingham, dated September, 1831, and entitled Facts
and Calculations illustrative of the Present State of the Bobbin
Net Trade. It appears to have been collected with care, and
contains, in a single sheet of paper, a body of facts of the
greatest importance. *

429. The total capital employed in the factories, for
preparing the cotton, in those for weaving the bobbin net, and in
various processes to which it is subject, is estimated at above
L2,000,000, and the number of persons who receive wages, at above
two hundred thousand.

Comparison of the value of the raw material imported, with the
value of the goods manufactured therefrom

Amount of Sea Island cotton annually used 1,600,000 lbs., value
L120,000; this is manufactured into yarn, weighing 1,000,000
lbs., value L500,000.

There is also used 25,000 lbs. of raw silk, which costs
L30,000, and is doubled into 10,000 lbs. thrown, worth L40,000.

Raw Material; Manufacture; Square yards produced; Value per sq.
yd.(s. d.); Total value (L)

Cotton 1,600,000; lbs; Power Net; 6,750,000; 1 3; 421,875
Hand ditto; 15,750,000; 1 9; 1,378,125
Fancy ditto; 150,000; 3 6; 26,250
Silk, 25,000 lbs; Silk Goods; 750,000; 1 9; 65,625

23,400,000; 1,891,875

* I cannot omit the opportunity of expressing my hope that this
example will be followed in other trades. We should thus obtain a
body ofinformation equally important to the workman, the
capitalist, the philosopher, and the statesman.

The brown nets which are sold in the Nottingham market are
in part disposed of by the agents of twelve or fifteen of the
larger makers, i.e. to the amount of about L250,000 a year. The
principal part of the remainder, i.e. about L1,050,000 a year, is
sold by about two hundred agents, who take the goods from one
warehouse to another for sale.

Of this production, about half is exported in the
unembroidered state. The exports of bobbin net are in great part
to Hamburgh, for sale at home and at Leipzic and Frankfort fairs.
Antwerp, and the rest of Belgium; to France, by contraband; to
Italy, and North and South America. Though a very suitable
article, yet the quantity sent eastward of the Cape of Good Hope,
has hitherto been too trifling for notice. Three-eighths of the
whole production are sold unembroidered at home. The remaining
one-eighth is embroidered in this country, and increases the
ultimate value as under, viz.

Embroidery Increases value Ultimate worth
On power net 131,840 553,715
On hand net 1,205,860 2,583.985
On fancy net 78,750 105,000
On silk net 109,375 175,000

Total embroidery, wages and profits 1,525,825
Ultimate total value 3,417,700

From this it appears, that in the operations of this trade,
which had no existence twenty years ago, L120,000 original cost
of cotton becomes, when manufactured, of the ultimate value of
L3,242,700 sterling.

As to weekly wages paid, I hazard the following as the
judgement of those conversant with the respective branches, viz.

In fine spinning and doubling, adults 25s.; children 7s.:
work twelve hours per day.

In bobbin net making; men working machines, 18s.;
apprentices, youths of fifteen or more, 10s.; by power, fifteen
hours; by hand, eight to twelve hours, according to width.

In mending; children 4s.; women 8s.; work nine to fourteen
hours ad libitum.

In winding, threading, etc., children and young women, 5s.:
irregular work, according to the progress of machines.

In embroidery; children seven years old and upwards, 1s. to
3s.; work ten to twelve hours; women, if regularly at work, 5s.
to 7s. 6d.; twelve to fourteen hours.

As an example of the effect of the wages of lace embroidery,
etc., it may be observed, it is often the case that a stocking
weaver in a country village will earn only 7s. a week, and his
wife and children 7s. to 14s. more at the embroidery frame.

430. The principal part of the hand-machines employed in the
bobbin net manufacture are worked in shops, forming part of, or
attached to, private houses. The subjoined list will show the
kinds of machinery employed, and classes of persons to whom it

Bobbin net machinery now at work in the Kingdom

Hand levers 6 quarter 500 Hand circulars 6 quarter 100
7 quarter 200 7 quarter 300
8 quarter 300 8 quarter 400
10 quarter 300 9 quarter 100
12 quarter 30 10 quarter 300
16 quarter 20 12 quarter 100
20 quarter 1 Hand transverse, pusher,
Hand rotary 10 quarter 50 straight bolt, etc. averaging 5
quarters 750
12 quarter 50
2050 1451

Total hand machines 3501

Power 6 quarter 100
7 quarter 40
8 quarter 350
10 quarter 270
12 quarter 220
16 quarter 20
Total power machines 1000

Total number of machines 4501

700 persons own 1 machine, 700 machines.
226 2 452
181 3 543
96 4 384
40 5 200
21 6 126
17 7 119
19 8 152
17 9 153
12 10 120
8 11 88
6 12 72
5 13 65
5 14 70
4 16 64
25 own respectively 18,
19, 20, 21,
23, 24, 25,
26, 27, 28,
29, 30, 32,
33, 35, 36,
37, 50, 60,
68, 70, 75,
95, 105, 206

Number of owners of machines--1382 Holding together 4500

The hand workmen consist of the above-named owners 1000
And of journeymen and apprentices 4000

These machines are distributed as follows
Nottingham 1240
New Radford 140
Old Radford and Bloomsgrove 240
Ison Green 160
Beeston and Chilwell 130
New and Old Snenton 180
Derby and its vicinity 185
Loughborough and its vicinity 385
Leicester 95
Mansfield 85
Tiverton 220
Barnstable l80
Chard 190
Isle of Wight 80
In sundry other places 990


Of the above owners, one thousand work in their own machines,
and enter into the class of journeymen as well as that of masters
in operating on the rate of wages. If they reduce the price of
their goods in the market, they reduce their own wages first;
and, of course, eventually the rate of wages throughout the
trade. It is a very lamentable fact, that one-half, or more, of
the one thousand one hundred persons specified in the list as
owning one, two, and three machines, have been compelled to
mortgage their machines for more than their worth in the market,
and are in many cases totally insolvent. Their machines are
principally narrow and making short pieces, while the absurd
system of bleaching at so much a piece goods of all lengths and
widths, and dressing at so much all widths, has caused the new
machines to be all wide, and capable of producing long pieces; of
course to the serious disadvantage, if not utter ruin, of the
small owner of narrow machines.

It has been observed above, that wages have been reduced, say
25 per cent in the last two years, or from 24s. to 18s. a week.
Machines have increased in the same time one-eighth in number, or
from four thousand to four thousand five hundred, and one-sixth
in capacity of production. It is deserving the serious notice of
all proprietors of existing machines, that machines are now
introducing into the trade of such power of production as must
still more than ever depreciate (in the absence of an immensely
increased demand) the value of their property.

431. From this abstract, we may form some judgement of the
importance of the bobbin net trade. But the extent to which it
bids fair to be carried in future, when the eastern markets shall
be more open to our industry, may be conjectured from the fact
which Mr Felkin subsequently states that 'We can export a durable
and elegant article in cotton bobbin net, at 4d. per square yard,
proper for certain useful and ornamental purposes, as curtains,
etc.; and another article used for many purposes in female dress
at 6d. the square yard.'

432. Of patents. In order to encourage the invention, the
improvement, or the importation of machines, and of discoveries
relating to manufactures, it has been the practice in many
countries, to grant to the inventors or first introducers, an
exclusive privilege for a term of years. Such monopolies are
termed patents; and they are granted, on the payment of certain
fees, for different periods, from five to twenty years.

The following table, compiled from the Report of the
Committee of the House of Commons on Patents, 1829, shows the
expense and duration of patents in various countries:

Countries; Expense (L s. d.); Term of years; Number granted in
six years, ending in 1826.(Rep. p. 243.)

England; 120 0 0; 14; 914
Ireland; 125 0 0; 14;
Scotland; 100 0 0; 14;
America; 6 15 0; 14;
France; 12 0 0; 5;
32 0 0; 10;
60 0 0; 15; 1091
Netherlands; L6 to L30; 5, 10. 15
Austria; 42 10 0; 15; 1099
Spain(3*) Inventor; 20 9 4; 15;
Improver; 12 5 7; 10;
Importer; 10 4 8; 6;

433. It is clearly of importance to preserve to each inventor
the sole use of his invention, until he shall have been amply
repaid for the risk and expense to which he has been exposed, as
well as for the talent he has exerted in completing it. But, the
degrees of merit are so various, and the difficulties of
legislating upon the subject so great, that it has been found
almost impossible to frame a law which shall not, practically, be
open to the most serious objections.

The difficulty of defending an English patent in any judicial
trial, is very great; and the number of instances on record in
which the defence has succeeded, are comparatively few. This
circumstance has induced some manufacturers, no longer to regard
a patent as a privilege by which a monopoly price may be secured:
but they sell the patent article at such a price, as will merely
produce the ordinary profits of capital; and thus secure to
themselves the fabrication of it, because no competitors can
derive a profit from invading a patent so exercised.

434. The law of copyright, is, in some measure, allied to
that of patents; and it is curious to observe, that those species
of property which require the highest talent, and the greatest
cultivation--which are, more than any other, the pure creations
of mind--should have been the latest to be recognized by the
State. Fortunately, the means of deciding on an infringement of
property in regard to a literary production, are not verv
difficult; but the present laws are, in some cases, productive of
considerable hardship, as well as of impediment to the
advancement of knowledge.

435. Whilst discussing the general expediency of limitations
and restrictions, it may be desirable to point out one which
seems to promise advantage, though by no means free from grave
objections. The question of permitting by law, the existence of
partnerships in which the responsibility of one or more of the
partners is limited in amount, is peculiarly important in a
manufacturing, as well as a commercial point of view. In the
former light, it appears calculated to aid that division of
labour, which we have already proved to be as advantageous in
mental as it is in bodily operations; and it might possibly give
rise to a more advantageous distribution of talent, and its
combinations, than at present exists. There are in this country,
many persons possessed of moderate capital, who do not
themselves enjoy the power of invention in the mechanical and
chemical arts, but who are tolerable judges of such inventions,
and excellent judges of human character. Such persons might, with
great success, employ themselves in finding out inventive
workmen, whose want of capital prevents them from realizing their
projects. If they could enter into a limited partnership with
persons so circumstanced, they might restrain within proper
bounds the imagination of the inventor, and by supplying capital
to judicious schemes, render a service to the country, and secure
a profit for themselves.

436. Amongst the restrictions intended for the general
benefit of our manufacturers, there existed a few years ago one
by which workmen were forbidden to go out of the country. A law
so completely at variance with everv principle of liberty, ought
never to have been enacted. It was not, however, until experience
had convinced the legislature of its inefficiency, that it was
repealed. * When, after the last war, the renewed intercourse
between England and the Continent became extensive, it was soon
found that it was impossible to discover the various disguises
which the workmen could assume; and the effect of the law was
rather, by the fear of punishment, to deter those who had left
the country from returning, than to check their disposition to

436. (4*) The principle, that government Ought to interfere
as little as possible between workmen and their employers, is so
well established, that it is important to guard against its
misapplication. It is not inconsistent with this principle to
insist on the workmen being paid in money--for this is merely to
protect them from being deceived; and still less is it a
deviation from it to limit the number of hours during which
children shall work in factories, or the age at which they shall
commence that species of labour--for they are not free agents,
nor are they capable of judging, if they were; and both policy
and humanity concur in demanding for them some legislative
protection. In both cases it is as right and politic to protect
the weaker party from fraud or force, as it would be impolitic
and unjust to interfere with the amount of the wages of either.


1. Twenty eight shillings per cwt for the finer, twenty one
shillings per cwt for the coarser papers.

2. I cannot omit the opportunity of expressing my hope that this
example will be followed in other trades. We should thus obtain a
body of information equally important to the workman, the
capitalist, the philosopher, and the stateman.

3. The expense of a patent in Spain is stated in the report to be
respecitivly 2000, 1200 and 1000 reals. If these are reals of
vellon, in which accounts are usually kept at Madrid, the above
sums are correct; but if they are reals of plate, the above sums
ought to be nearly doubled.

4. In the year 1824 the law against workmen going abroad, as well
as the laws preventing them from combining, were repealed, after
the fullest enquiry by a Committee of the House of Commons. In
1825 an attempt to re-enact some of the most objectionable was
made, but it failed.

Chapter 34

On the Exportation of Machinery

437. A few years only have elapsed, since our workmen were
not merely prohibited by Act of Parliament from transporting
themselves to countries in which their industry would produce for
them higher wages, but were forbidden to export the greater part
of the machinery which they were employed to manufacture at home.
The reason assigned for this prohibition was, the apprehension
that foreigners might av ail themselves of our improved
machinery, and thus compete with our manufacturers. It was, in
fact, a sacrifice of the interests of one class of persons, the
makers of machinery, for the imagined benefit of another class,
those who use it. Now, independently of the impolicy of
interfering, without necessity, between these two classes, it may
be observed, that the first class, or the makers of machinery,
are, as a body, far more intelligent than those who only use it;
and though, at present, they are not nearly so numerous, yet,
when the removal of the prohibition which cramps their ingenuity
shall have had time to operate, there appears good reason to
believe, that their number will be greatly increased, and may, in
time, even surpass that of those who use machinery.

438. The advocates of these prohibitions in England seem to
rely greatly upon the possibility of preventing the knowledge of
new contrivances from being conveyed to other countries; and they
take much too limited a view of the possible, and even probable,
improvements in mechanics.

439. For the purpose of examining this question, let us
consider the case of two manufacturers of the same article, one
situated in a country in which labour is very cheap, the
machinery bad, and the modes of transport slow and expensive; the
other engaged in manufacturing in a country in which the price of
labour is very high, the machinery excellent, and the means of
transport expeditious and economical. Let them both send their
produce to the same market, and let each receive such a price as
shall give to him the profit ordinarily produced by capital in
his own country. It is almost certain that in such circumstances
the first improvement in machinery will occur in the country
which is most advanced in civilization; because, even admitting
that the ingenuity to contrive were the same in the two
countries, the means of execution are very different. The effect
of improved machinery in the rich country will be perceived in
the common market, by a small fall in the price of the
manufactured article. This will be the first intimation to the
manufacturer of the poor country, who will endeavour to meet the
diminution in the selling price of his article by increased
industry and economy in his factory, but he will soon find that
this remedy is temporary, and that the market-price continues to
fall. He will thus be induced to examine the rival fabric, in
order to detect, from its structure, any improved mode of making
it. If, as would most usually happen, he should be unsuccessful
in this attempt, he must endeavour to contrive improvements in
his own machinery, or to acquire information respecting those
which have been made in the factories of the richer country.
Perhaps after an ineffectual attempt to obtain by letters the
information he requires, he sets out to visit in person the
factories of his competitors. To a foreigner and rival
manufacturer such establishments are not easily accessible, and
the more recent the improvements, the less likely he will be to
gain access to them. His next step, therefore, will be to obtain
the knowledge he is in search of from the workmen employed in
using or making the machines. Without drawings, or an examination
of the machines themselves, this process will be slow and
tedious; and he will be liable, after all, to be deceived by
artful and designing workmen, and be exposed to many chances of
failure. But suppose he returns to his own country with perfect
drawings and instructions, he must then begin to construct his
improved machines: and these he cannot execute either so cheaply
or so well as his rivals in the richer countries. But after the
lapse of some time, we shall suppose the machines thus
laboriously improved, to be at last completed, and in working

440. Let us now consider what will have occurred to the
manufacturer in the rich country. He will, in the first instance,
have realized a profit by supplying the home market, at the usual
price, with an article which it costs him less to produce; he
will then reduce the price both in the home and foreign market,
in order to produce a more extended sale. It is in this stage
that the manufacturer in the poor country first feels the effect
of the competition; and if we suppose only two or three years to
elapse between the first application of the new improvement in
the rich country, and the commencement of its employment in the
poor country, yet will the manufacturer who contrived the
improvement (even supposing that during the whole of this time he
has made only one step) have realized so large a portion of the
outlay which it required, that he can afford to make a much
greater reduction in the price of his produce, and thus to render
the gains of his rivals quite inferior to his own.

441. It is contended that by admitting the exportation of
machinery, foreign manufacturers will be supplied with machines
equal to our own. The first answer which presents itself to this
argument is supplied by almost the whole of the present volume;
That in order to succeed in a manufacture, it is necessary not
merely to possess good machinery, but that the domestic economy
of the factory should be most carefully regulated.

The truth, as well as the importance of this principle, is so
well established in the Report of a Committee of the House of
Commons 'On the Export of Tools and Machinery', that I shall
avail myself of the opinions and evidence there stated, before I
offer any observations of my own:

Supposing, indeed, that the same machinery which is used in
England could be obtained on the Continent, it is the opinion of
some of the most intelligent of the witnesses that a want of
arrangement in foreign manufactories, of division of labour in
their work, of skill and perseverance in their workmen, and of
enterprise in the masters, together with the comparatively low
estimation in which the master manufacturers are held on the
Continent, and with the comparative want of capital, and of many
other advantageous circumstances detailed in the evidence, would
prevent foreigners from interfering in any great degree by
competition with our principal manufacturers; on which subject
the Committee submit the following evidence as worthy the
attention of the House:

I would ask whether, upon the whole, you consider any danger
likely to arise to our manufactures from competition, even if the
French were supplied with machinery equally good and cheap as our
own? They will always be behind us until their general habits
approximate to ours; and they must be behind us for many reasons
that I have before given.

Why must they be behind us? One other reason is, that a
cotton manufacturer who left Manchester seven years ago, would be
driven out of the market by the men who are now living in it,
provided his knowledge had not kept pace with those who have been
during that time constantly profiting by the progressive
improvements that have taken place in that period: this
progressive knowledge and experience is our great power and

It should also be observed, that the constant, nay, almost
daily, improvements which take place in our machinery itself, as
well as in the mode of its application, require that all those
means and advantages alluded to above should be in constant
operation: and that, in the opinion of several of the witnesses,
although Europe were possessed of every tool now used in the
United Kingdom, along with the assistance of English artisans,
which she may have in any number, yet, from the natural and
acquired advantages possessed by this country, the manufacturers
of the United Kingdom would for ages continue to retain the
superiority they now enjoy. It is indeed the opinion of many,
that if the exportation of machinery were permitted, the
exportation would often consist of those tools and machines,
which, although already superseded by new inventions, still
continue to be employed, from want of opportunity to get rid of
them: to the detriment, in many instances, of the trade and
manufactures of the country: and it is matter worthy of
consideration, and fully borne out by the evidence, that by such
increased foreign demand for machinery, the ingenuity and skill
of our workmen would have greater scope; and that, important as
the improvements in machinery have lately been, they might, under
such circumstances, be fairly expected to increase to a degree
beyond all precedent.

The many important facilities for the construction of
machines and the manufacturing of commodities which we possess,
are enjoyed by no other country; nor is it likely that any
country can enjoy them to an equal extent for an indefinite
period. It is admitted by everyone, that our skill is unrivalled;
the industry and power of our people unequalled; their
ingenuity, as displayed in the continuol improvement in
machinery, and production of commodities, without parallel; and
apparently, without limit. The freedom which, under our
government, every man has, to use his capital, his labour, and
his talents, in the manner most conducive to his interests, is an
inestimable advantage; canals are cut, and railroads constructed,
by the voluntary association of persons whose local knowledge
enables them to place them in the most desirable situations; and
these great advantages cannot exist under less free governments.
These circumstances, when taken together, give such a decided
superiority to our people, that no injurious rivalry, either in
the construction of machinery or the manufacture of commodities,
can reasonably be anticipated.

442. But, even if it were desirable to prevent the
exportation of a certain class of machinery, it is abdundantly
evident, that, whilst the exportation of other classes is
allowed, it is impossible to prevent the forbidden one from being
smuggled out; and that, in point of fact, the additional risk has
been well calculated by the smuggler.

443. It would appear, also, from various circumstances, that
the immediate exportation of improved machinery is not quite so
certain as has been assumed; and that the powerful principle of
self-interest will urge the makers of it, rather to push the sale
in a different direction. When a great maker of machinery has
contrived a new machine for any particular process, or has made
some great improvement upon those in common use, to whom will he
naturally apply for the purpose of selling his new machines?
Undoubtedly, in by far the majority of cases, to his nearest and
best customers, those to whom he has immediate and personal
access, and whose capability to fulfil any contract is best known
to him. With these, he will communicate and offer to take their
orders for the new machine; nor will he think of writing to
foreign customers, so long as he finds the home demand sufficient
to employ the whole force of his establishment. Thus, therefore,
the machine-maker is himself interested in giving the first
advantage of any new improvement to his own countrymen.

444. In point of fact, the machine-makers in London greatly
prefer home orders, and do usually charge an additional price to
their foreign customers. Even the measure of this preference may
be found in the evidence before the Committee on the Export of
Machinery. It is differently estimated by various engineers; but
appears to vary from five up to twenty-five per cent on the
amount of the order. The reasons are: 1. If the machinery be
complicated, one of the best workmen, well accustomed to the mode
of work in the factory, must be sent out to put it up; and there
is always a considerable chance of his having offers that will
induce him to remain abroad. 2. If the work be of a more simple
kind, and can be put up without the help of an English workman,
yet for the credit of the house which supplies it, and to prevent
the accidents likely to occur from the want of sufficient
instruction in those who use it, the parts are frequently made
stronger, and examined more attentively, than they would be for
an English purchaser. Any defect or accident also would be
attended with more expense to repair, if it occurred abroad, than
in England.

445. The class of workmen who make machinery, possess much
more skill, and are paid much more highly than that class who
merely use it; and, if a free exportation were allowed, the more
valuable class would, undoubtedly, be greatly increased; for,
notwithstanding the high rate of wages, there is no country in
whichit can at this moment be made, either so well or so cheaply
as in England. We might, therefore, supply the whole world with
machinery, at an evident advantage, both to ourselves and our
customers. In Manchester, and the surrounding district, many
thousand men are wholly occupied in making the machinery, which
gives employment to many hundred thousands who use it; but the
period is not very remote, when the whole number of those who
used machines, was not greater than the number of those who at
present manufacture them. Hence, then, if England should ever
become a great exporter of machinery, she would necessarily
contain a large class of workmen, to whom skill would be
indispensable, and, consequently, to whom high wages would be
paid; and although her manufacturers might probably be
comparatively fewer in number, yet they would undoubtedly have
the advantage of being the first to derive profit from
improvement. Under such circumstances, any diminution in the
demand for machinery, would, in the first instance, be felt by a
class much better able to meet it, than that which now suffers
upon every check in the consumption of manufactured goods; and
the resulting misery would therefore assume a mitigated

446. It has been feared, that when other countries have
purchased our machines, they will cease to demand new ones: but
the statement which has been given of the usual progress in the
improvement of the machinery employed in any manufacture, and of
the average time which elapses before it is superseded by such
improvements, is a complete reply to this objection. If our
customers abroad did not adopt the new machinery contrived by us
as soon as they could procure it, then our manufacturers would
extend their establishments, and undersell their rivals in their
own markets.

447. It may also be urged, that in each kind of machinery a
maximum of perfection may be imagined, beyond which it is
impossible to advance; and certainly the last advances are
usually the smallest when compared with those which precede them:
but it should be observed, that these advances are generally made
when the number of machines in employment is already large; and
when, consequently, their effects on the power of producing are
very considerable. But though it should be admitted that any one
species of machinery may, after a long period, arrive at a degree
of perfection which would render further improvement nearly
hopeless, yet it is impossible to suppose that this can be the
case with respect to all kinds of mechanism. In fact the limit of
improvement is rarely approached, except in extensive branches of
national manufactures; and the number of such branches is, even
at present, very small.

448. Another argument in favour of the exportation of
machinery, is, that it would facilitate the transfer of capital
to any more advantageous mode of employment which might present
itself. If the exportation of machinery were permitted, there
would doubtless arise a new and increased demand; and, supposing
any particular branch of our manufactures to cease to produce the
average rate of profit, the loss to the capitalist would be much
less, if a market were open for the sale of his machinery to
customers more favourably circumstanced for its employment. If,
on the other hand, new improvements in machinery should be
imagined, the manufacturer would be more readily enabled to carry
them into effect, by having the foreign market opened where he
could sell his old machines. The fact, that England can,
notwithstanding her taxation and her high rate of wages, actually
undersell other nations, seems to be well established: and it
appears to depend on the superior goodness and cheapness of those
raw materials of machinery the metals--on the excellence of the
tools--and on the admirable arrangements of the domestic economy
of our factories.

449. The different degrees of facility with which capital can
be transferred from one mode of employment to another, has an
important effect on the rate of profits in different trades and
in different countries. Supposing all the other causes which
influence the rate of profit at any period, to act equally on
capital employed in different occupations, yet the real rates of
profit would soon alter, on account of the different degrees of
loss incurred by removing the capital from one mode of investment
to another, or of any variation in the action of those causes.

450. This principle will appear more clearly by taking an
example. Let two capitalists have embarked L10,000 each, in two
trades: A in supplying a district with water, by means of a
steam-engine and iron pipes; B in manufacturing bobbin net. The
capital of A will be expended in building a house and erecting a
steam-engine, which costs, we shall suppose, L3000; and in laying
down iron pipes to supply his customers, costing L7000. The
greatest part of this latter expense is payment for labour, and
if the pipes were to be taken up, the damage arising from that
operation would render them of little value, except as old metal;
whilst the expense of their removal would be considerable. Let
us, therefore, suppose, that if A were obliged to give up his
trade, he could realize only L4000 by the sale of his stock. Let
us suppose again that B, by the sale of his bobbin net factory
and machinery, could realize L8000 and let the usual profit on
the capital employed by each party be the same, say 20 per cent:
then we have

Capital invested; Money which would arise from sale of machinery;
Annual rate of profit per cent; Income

Water works 10,000 4000 20 2000
Bobbin net Factory 10,000 8000 20 2000

Now, if, from competition, or any other cause, the rate of
profit arising from water-works should fall to 20 per cent, that
circumstance would not cause a transfer of capital from the
water-works to bobbin net making; because the reduced income from
the water-works, L1000 per annum, would still be greater than
that produced by investing L4000, (the whole sum arising from the
sale of the materials of the water-works), in a bobbin net
factory, which sum, at 20 per cent, would yield only L800 per
annum. In fact, the rate of profit, arising from the water-works,
must fall to less than 8 per cent before the proprietor could
increase his income by removing his capital into the bobbin net

451. In any enquiry into the probability of the injury
arising to our manufacturers from the competition of foreign
countries, particular regard should be had to the facilities of
transport, and to the existence in our own country of a mass of
capital in roads, canals, machinery, etc., the greater portion of
which may fairly be considered as having repaid the expense of
its outlay, and also to the cheap rate at which the abundance of
our fuel enables us to produce iron, the basis of almost all
machinery. It has been justly remarked by M. de Villefosse, in
the memoir before alluded to, that Ce que l'on nomme en France,
la question du prix des fers, est, a proprement parler, la
question du prix des bois, et la question, des moyens de
communications interieures par les routes, fleuves, rivieres et

The price of iron in various countries in Europe has been
stated in section 215 of the present volume; and it appears, that
in England it is produced at the least expense, and in France at
the greatest. The length of the roads which cover England and
Wales may be estimated roughly at twenty thousand miles of
turnpike, and one hundred thousand miles of road not turnpike.
The internal water communication of England and France, as far as
I have been able to collect information on the subject, may be
stated as follows:

In France

Miles in length

Navigable rivers 4668
Navigable canals 915.5
Navigable canals in progress of execution (1824) 1388

6971.5 (1*)

But, if we reduce these numbers in the proportion of 3.7 to 1,
which is the relative area of France as compared with England and
Wales, then we shall have the following comparison:

Portion of France equal in size to England and Wales

Miles Miles

Navigable rivers 1275.5 1261.6
Tidal navigation(3*) 545.9
Canals, direct 2023.5
Canals, branch 150.6

2174.1 2174.1 247.4
Canals commenced --- 375.1

Total 3995.5 1884.1

Population in 1831 13,894,500 8,608,500

This comparison, between the internal communications of the
two countries, is not offered as complete; nor is it a fair view,
to contrast the wealthiest portion of one country with the whole
of the other: but it is inserted with the hope of inducing those
who possess more extensive information on the subject, to supply
the facts on which a better comparison may be instituted. The
information to be added, would consist of the number of miles in
each country, of seacoast, of public roads, of railroads, of
railroads on which locomotive engines are used.

452. One point of view, in which rapid modes of conveyance
increase the power of a country, deserves attention. On the
Manchester Railroad, for example, above half a million of persons
travel annually; and supposing each person to save only one hour
in the time of transit, between Manchester and Liverpool, a
saving of five hundred thousand hours, or of fifty thousand
working days, of ten hours each, is effected. Now this is
equivalent to an addition to the actual power of the country of
one hundred and sixty-seven men, without increasing the quantity
of food consumed; and it should also be remarked, that the time
of the class of men thus supplied, is far more valuable than that
of mere labourers.


1. This table is extracted and reduced from one of Ravinet,
Dictionnaire Hydrographique. 2 vols. 8vo. Paris. 1824.

2. I am indebted to F. Page. Esq. of Speen, for that portion of
this table which relates to the internal navigation of England.
Those only who have themselves collected statistical details can
be aware of the expense of time and labour, of which the few
lines it contains are the result.

3. The tidal navigation includes: the Thames, from the mouth of
the Medway; the Severn, from the Holmes: the Trent, from Trent
Falls in the Humber; the Mersey from Runcorn Gap.

Chapter 35

On the Future Prospects of Manufactures, as Connected with

453. In reviewing the various processes offered as
illustrations of those general principles which it has been the
main object of the present volume to support and establish, it is
impossible not to perceive that the arts and manufactures of the
country are intimately connected with the progress of the severer
sciences; and that, as we advance in the career of improvement,
every step requires, for its success, that this connection should
be rendered more intimate.

The applied sciences derive their facts from experiment; but
the reasonings, on which their chief utility depends, are the
province of what is called abstract science. It has been shown,
that the division of labour is no less applicable to mental
productions than to those in which material bodies are concerned;
and it follows, that the efforts for the improvement of its
manufactures which any country can make with the greatest
probability of success, must arise from the combined exertions of
all those most skilled in the theory, as well as in the practice
of the arts; each labouring in that department for which his
natural capacity and acquired habits have rendered him most fit.

454. The profit arising from the successful application to
practice of theoretical principles, will, in most cases, amply
reward, in a pecuniary sense, those by whom they are first
employed; yet even here, what has been stated with respect to
patents, will prove that there is room for considerable amendment
in our legislative enactments: but the discovery of the great
principles of nature demands a mind almost exclusively devoted to
such investigations; and these, in the present state of science,
frequently require costly apparatus, and exact an expense of time
quite incompatible with professional avocations. It becomes,
therefore, a fit subject for consideration, whether it would not
be politic in the State to compensate for some of those
privations, to which the cultivators of the higher departments of
science are exposed; and the best mode of effecting this
compensation, is a question which interests both the philosopher
and the statesman. Such considerations appear to have had their
just influence in other countries, where the pursuit of science
is regarded as a profession, and where those who are successful
in its cultivation are not shut out from almost every object of
honourable ambition to which their fellow countrymen may aspire.
Having, however, already expressed some opinion upon these
subjects in another publication,(1*) I shall here content myself
with referring to that work.

455. There was, indeed, in our own country, one single
position to which science, when concurring with independent
fortune, might aspire, as conferring rank and station, an office
deriving, in the estimation of the public, more than half its
value from the commanding knowledge of its possessor; and it is
extraordinary, that even that solitary dignity--that barony by
tenure in the world of British science--the chair of the Royal
Society, should have been coveted for adventitious rank. It is
more extraordinary, that a Prince, distinguished by the liberal
views he has invariably taken of public affairs--and eminent for
his patronage of every institution calculated to alleviate those
miseries from which, by his rank, he is himself exempted--who is
stated by his friends to be the warm admirer of knowledge, and
most anxious for its advancement, should have been so imperfectly
informed by those friends, as to have wrested from the head of
science, the only civic wreath which could adorn its brow.(2*)

In the meanwhile the President may learn, through the only
medium by which his elevated station admits approach, that those
evils which were anticipated from his election, have not proved
to be imaginary, and that the advantages by some expected to
result from it, have not yet become apparent. It may be right
also to state, that whilst many of the inconveniences, which have
been experienced by the President of the Royal Society, have
resulted from the conduct of his own supporters, those who were
compelled to differ from him, have subsequently offered no
vexatious opposition: they wait in patience, convinced that the
force of truth must ultimately work its certain, though silent
course; not doubting that when His Royal Highness is correctly
informed, he will himself be amongst the first to be influenced
by its power.

456. But younger institutions have arisen to supply the
deficiencies of the old; and very recently a new combination,
differing entirely from the older societies, promises to give
additional steadiness to the future march of science. The British
Association for the Advancement of Science, which held its first
meeting at York(3*) in the year 1831, would have acted as a
powerful ally, even if the Royal Society were all that it might
be: but in the present state of that body such an association is
almost necessary for the purposes of science. The periodical
assemblage of persons, pursuing the same or different branches of
knowledge, always produces an excitement which is favourable to
the development of new ideas; whilst the long period of repose
which succeeds, is advantageous for the prosecution of the
reasonings or the experiments then suggested; and the recurrence
of the meeting in the succeeding year, will stimulate the
activity of the enquirer, by the hope of being then enabled to
produce the successful result of his labours. Another advantage
is, that such meetings bring together a much larger number of
persons actively engaged in science, or placed in positions in
which they can contribute to it, than can ever be found at the
ordinary meetings of other institutions, even in the most
populous capitals; and combined effort towards any particular
object can thus be more easily arranged.

457. But perhaps the greatest benefit which will accrue from
these assemblies, is the intercourse which they cannot fail to
promote between the different classes of society. The man of
science will derive practical information from the great
manufacturers the chemist will be indebted to the same source for
substances which exist in such minute quantity, as only to become
visible in most extensive operations--and persons of wealth and
property, resident in each neighbourhood visited by these
migratory assemblies, will derive greater advantages than either
of those classes, from the real instruction they may procure
respecting the produce and manufactures of their country, and the
enlightened gratification which is ever attendant on the
acquisition of knowledge.(4*)

458. Thus it may be hoped that public opinion shall be
brought to bear upon the world of science; and that by this
intercourse light will be thrown upon the characters of men, and
the pretender and the charlatan be driven into merited obscurity.
Without the action of public opinion, any administration, however
anxious to countenance the pursuits of science, and however ready
toreward, by wealth or honours, those whom they might think most
eminent, would run the risk of acting like the blind man recently
couched, who, having no mode of estimating degrees of distance,
mistook the nearest and most insignificant for the largest
objects in nature: it becomes, therefore, doubly important, that
the man of science should mix with the world.

459. It is highly probable that in the next generation, the
race of scientific men in England will spring from a class of
persons altogether different from that which has hitherto
scantily supplied them. Requiring, for the success of their
pursuits, previous education, leisure, and fortune, few are so
likely to unite these essentials as the sons of our wealthy
manufacturers, who, having been enriched by their own exertions,
in a field connected with science, will be ambitious of having
their children distinguished in its ranks. It must, however, be
admitted, that this desire in the parents would acquire great
additional intensity, if worldly honours occasionally followed
successful efforts; and that the country would thus gain for
science, talents which are frequently rendered useless by the
unsuitable situations in which they are placed.

460. The discoverers of iodine and bromine, two substances
hitherto undecompounded, were both amongst the class of
manufacturers, one being a maker of saltpetre at Paris, the other
a manufacturing chemist at Marseilles; and the inventor of
balloons filled with rarefied air, was a paper manufacturer near
Lyons. The descendants of Mongolfier, the first aerial traveller,
still carry onthe establishment of their progenitor, and combine
great scientific knowledge with skill in various departments of
the arts, to which the different branches of the family have
applied themselves.

461. Chemical science may, in many instances, be of great
importance to the manufacturer, as well as to the merchant. The
quantity of Peruvian bark which is imported into Europe is very
considerable; but chemistry has recently proved that a large
portion of the bark itself is useless. The alkali Quinia which
has been extracted from it, possesses all the properties for
which the bark is valuable, and only forty ounces of this
substance, when in combination with sulphuric acid, can be
extracted from a hundred pounds of the bark. In this instance
then, with every ton of useful matter, thirty-nine tons of
rubbish are transported across the Atlantic.

The greatest part of the sulphate of quinia now used in this
country is imported from France, where the low price of the
alcohol, by which it is extracted from the bark, renders the
process cheap; but it cannot be doubted, that when more settled
forms of government shall have given security to capital, and
when advancing civilization shall have spread itself over the
states of Southern America, the alkaline medicine will be
extracted from the woody matter by which its efficacy is
impaired, and that it will be exported in its most condensed

462. The aid of chemistry, in extracting and in concentrating
substances used for human food, is of great use in distant
voyages, where the space occupied by the stores must be
economized with the greatest care. Thus the essential oils supply
the voyager with flavour; the concentrated and crystallized
vegetable acids preserve his health; and alcohol, when
sufficiently diluted, supplies the spirit necessary for his daily

463. When we reflect on the very small number of species of
plants, compared with the multitude that are known to exist,
which have hitherto been cultivated, and rendered useful to man;
and when we apply the same observation to the animal world, and
even to the mineral kingdom, the field that natural science opens
to our view seems to be indeed unlimited. These productions of
nature, varied and innumerable as they are, may each, in some
future day, become the basis of extensive manufactures, and give
life, employment, and wealth, to millions of human beings. But
the crude treasures perpetually exposed before our eyes, contain
within them other and more valuable principles. All these,
likewise, in their numberless combinations, which ages of labour
and research can never exhaust, may be destined to furnish, in
perpetual succession, new sources of our wealth and of our
happiness. Science and knowledge are subject, in their extension
and increase, to laws quite opposite to those which regulate the
material world. Unlike the forces of molecular attraction, which
cease at sensible distances; or that of gravity, which decreases
rapidly with the increasing distance from the point of its
origin; the further we advance from the origin of our knowledge,
the larger it becomes, and the greater power it bestows upon its
cultivators, to add new fields to its dominions. Yet, does this
continually and rapidly increasing power, instead of giving us
any reason to anticipate the exhaustion of so fertile a field,
place us at each advance, on some higher eminence, from which the
mind contemplates the past, and feels irresistibly convinced,
that the whole, already gained, bears a constantly diminishing
ratio to that which is contained within the still more rapidly
expanding horizon of our knowledge.

464. But, if the knowledge of the chemical and physical
properties of the bodies which surround us, as well as our
imperfect acquaintance with the less tangible elements, light,
electricity, and heat, which mysteriously modify or change their
combinations, concur to convince us of the same fact; we must
remember that another and a higher science, itself still more
boundless, is also advancing with a giant's stride, and having
grasped the mightier masses of the universe, and reduced their
wanderings to laws, has given to us in its own condensed
language, expressions, which are to the past as history, to the
future as prophecy. It is the same science which is now preparing
its fetters for the minutest atoms that nature has created:
already it has nearly chained the ethereal fluid, and bound in
one harmonious system all the intricate and splendid phenomena of
light. It is the science of calculation--which becomes
continually more necessary at each step of our progress, and
which must ultimately govern the whole of the applications of
science to the arts of life.

465. But perhaps a doubt may arise in the mind, whilst
contemplating the continually increasing field of human
knowledge, that the weak arm of man may want the physical force
required to render that knowledge available. The experience of
the past, has stamped with the indelible character of truth, the
maxim, that knowledge is power. It not merely gives to its
votaries control over the mental faculties of their species, but
is itself the generator of physical force. The discovery of the
expansive power of steam, its condensation, and the doctrine of
latent heat, has already added to the population of this small
island, millions of hands. But the source of this power is not
without limit, and the coal-mines of the world may ultimately be
exhausted. Without adverting to the theory, that new deposits of
that mineral are not accumulating under the sea, at the estuaries
of some of our larger rivers; without anticipating the
application of other fluids requiring a less supply of caloric
than water--we may remark that the sea itself offers a perennial
source of power hitherto almost unapplied. The tides, twice in
each day, raise a vast mass of water, which might be made
available for driving machinery. But supposing heat still to
remain necessary, when the exhausted state of our coal fields
renders it expensive: long before that period arrives, other
methods will probably have been invented for producing it. In
some districts, there are springs of hot water, which have flowed
for centuries unchanged in temperature. In many parts of the
island of Ischia, by deepening the sources of the hot springs
only a few feet, the water boils; and there can be little doubt
that, by boring a short distance, steam of high pressure would
issue from the orifice.(5*)

In Iceland, the sources of heat are still more plentiful; and
their proximity to large masses of ice, seems almost to point out
the future destiny of that island. The ice of its glaciers may
enable its inhabitants to liquefy the gases with the least
expenditure of mechanical force; and the heat of its volcanoes
may supply the power necessary for their condensation. Thus, in a
future age, power may become the staple commodity of the
Icelanders, and of the inhabitants of other volcanic
districts;(6*) and possibly the very process by which they will
procure this article of exchange for the luxuries of happier
climates may, in some measure, tame the tremendous element which
occasionally devastates their provinces.

466. Perhaps to the sober eye of inductive philosophy, these
anticipations of the future may appear too faintly connected with
the history of the past. When time shall have revealed the future
progress of our race, those laws which are now obscurely
indicated, will then become distinctly apparent; and it may
possibly be found that the dominion of mind over the material
world advances with an everaccelerating force.

Even now, the imprisoned winds which the earliest poet made
the Grecian warrior bear for the protection of his fragile bark;
or those which, in more modern times, the Lapland wizards sold to
the deluded sailors--these, the unreal creations of fancy or of
fraud, called at the command of science, from their shadowy
existence, obey a holier spell: and the unruly masters of the
poet and the seer become the obedient slaves of civilized man.

Nor have the wild imaginings of the satirist been quite
unrivalled by the realities of after years: as if in mockery of
the College of Laputa, light almost solar has been extracted from
the refuse of fish; fire has been sifted by the lamp of Davy, and
machinery has been taught arithmetic instead of poetry.

467. In whatever light we examine the triumphs and
achievements of our species over the creation submitted to its
power, we explore new sources of wonder. But if science has
called into real existence the visions of the poet--if the
accumulating knowledge of ages has blunted the sharpest and
distanced the loftiest of the shafts of the satirist, the
philosopher has conferred on the moralist an obligation of
surpassing weight. In unveiling to him the living miracles which
teem in rich exuberance around the minutest atom, as well as
throughout the largest masses of ever-active matter, he has
placed before him resistless evidence of immeasurable design.
Surrounded by every form of animate and inanimate existence, the
sun of science has yet penetrated but through the outer fold of
nature's majestic robe; but if the philosopher were required to
separate, from amongst those countless evidences of creative
power, one being, the masterpiece of its skill; and from that
being to select one gift, the choicest of all the attributes of
life; turning within his own breast, and conscious of those
powers which have subjugated to his race the external world, and
of those higher powers by which he has subjugated to himself that
creative faculty which aids his faltering conceptions of a deity,
the humble worshipper at the altar of truth would pronounce that
being, man; that endowment, human reason.

But however large the interval that separates the lowest from
the highest of those sentient beings which inhabit our planet,
all the results of observation, enlightened by all the reasonings
of the philosopher, combine to render it probable that, in the
vast extent of creation, the proudest attribute of our race is
but, perchance, the lowest step in the gradation of intellectual
existence. For, since every portion of our own material globe,
and every animated being it supports, afford, on more
scrutinizing enquiry, more perfect evidence of design, it would
indeed be most unphilosophical to believe that those sister
spheres, obedient to the same law, and glowing with light and
heat radiant from the same central source--and that the members
of those kindred systems, almost lost in the remoteness of space,
and perceptible only from the countless multitude of their
congregated globes should each be no more than a floating chaos
of unformed matter; or, being all the work of the same Almighty
Architect, that no living eye should be gladdened by their forms
of beauty, that no intellectual being should expand its faculties
in decyphering their laws.


1. Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on some
of its Causes. 8vo. 1830. Fellowes.

2. The Duke of Sussex was proposed as President of the Royal
Society in opposition to the wish of the Council in opposition to
the public declaration of a body of Fellows, comprising the
largest portion of those by whose labours the character of
English science had been maintained The aristocracy of rank and
of power, aided by such allies as it can always command, set
itself in array against the prouder aristocracy of science. Out
of about seven hundred members, only two hundred and thirty
balloted; and the Duke of Sussex had a majority of eight. Under
such circumstances, it was indeed extraordinary, that His Royal
Highness should have condescended to accept the fruits of that
doubtful and inauspicious victory.

The circumstances preceding and attending this singular
contest have been most ably detailed in a pamphlet entitled A
Statement of the Circumstances connected with the late Election
for the, Presidency of the Royal Society, 1831, printed by R.
Taylor, Red Lion Court, Fleet Street. The whole tone of the tract
is strikingly contrasted with that of the productions of some of
those persons by whom it was His Royal Highness's misfortune to
be supported.

3. The second meeting took place at Oxford in June, 1932, and
surpassed even the sanguine anticipations of its friends. The
third annual meeting will take place at Cambridge in June 1833.

4 The advantages likely to arise from such an association, have
been so clearly stated in the address delivered by the Rev. Mr
Vernon Harcourt, at its first meeting, that I would strongly
recommend its perusal by all those who feel interested in the
success of English science. Vide First Report of the British
Association for the Advancement of Science, York. 1832.

5 In 1828, the author of these pages visited Ischia, with a
committee of the Royal Academy of Naples, deputed to examine the
temperature and chrmical constitution of the springs in that
island. During the few first days, several springs which had been
represented in the instructions as under the boiling temperature,
were found, on deepening the excavations, to rise to the boiling

6 See section 351.


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