Richard Melson

July 2006

Charles Babbage Economy

Charles Babbage

Charles Babbage (26 December 179118 October 1871)

was an English mathematician, analytical philosopher, mechanical engineer and (proto-) computer scientist who originated the idea of a programmable computer.

Parts of his uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the London Science Museum. In 1991, working from Babbage's original plans, a difference engine was completed, and functioned perfectly. It was built to tolerances achievable in the 19th century, indicating that Babbage's machine would have worked. Nine years later, the Science Museum completed the printer Babbage had designed for the difference engine; it featured astonishing complexity for a 19th century device

Charles Babbage was born in England, most likely at 44 Crosby Row, Walworth Road, London. A blue plaque on the junction of Larcom Street and Walworth Road commemorates the event. There was a discrepancy regarding the date of Babbage's birth, which was published in The Times obituary as 26 December 1792. However, days later a nephew of Babbage wrote to say that Babbage was born precisely one year earlier, in 1791. The parish register of St. Mary's Newington, London, shows that Babbage was baptised on 6 January 1792 [1].

Babbage's father, Benjamin Babbage, was a banking partner of the Praeds who owned the Bitton Estate in Teignmouth. His mother was Betsy Plumleigh Babbage. In 1808, the Babbage family moved into the old Rowdens house in East Teignmouth, and Benjamin Babbage became a warden of the nearby St. Michael’s Church.


His father's money allowed Charles to receive instruction from several schools and tutors during the course of his elementary education. Around age eight he was sent to a country school to recover from a life-threatening fever. His parents ordered that his "brain was not to be taxed too much" and Babbage felt that "this great idleness may have led to some of my childish reasonings." For a short time he attended King Edward VI Grammar School in Totnes, South Devon, but his health forced him back to private tutors for a time. He then joined a 30-student Holmwood academy, in Baker Street, Enfield, Middlesex under Reverend Stephen Freeman. The academy had a well-stocked library that prompted Babbage's love of mathematics. He studied with two more private tutors after leaving the academy. Of the first, a clergyman near Cambridge, Babbage said, "I fear I did not derive from it all the advantages that I might have done." The second was an Oxford tutor from whom Babbage learned enough of the Classics to be accepted to Cambridge.

Babbage arrived at Trinity College, Cambridge in October 1810. He had read extensively in Leibniz, Lagrange, Simpson, and Lacroix and was seriously disappointed in the mathematical instruction available at Cambridge.

In response, he, John Herschel, George Peacock, and several other friends formed the Analytical Society.

In 1812 Babbage transferred to Peterhouse, Cambridge. He was the top mathematician at Peterhouse, but failed to graduate with honours. He instead received an honorary degree without examination in 1814.


On 25 July 1814, Babbage married Georgiana Whitmore at St. Michael's Church in Teignmouth, Devon. His father did not approve of the marriage. The couple lived happily at 5 Devonshire Street, Portland Place, London. They had seven children, but only three lived to adulthood. Charles' father, wife, and one son all died in 1827.


Design of computers

In recognition of the high error rate in the calculation of mathematical tables, Babbage wanted to find a method by which they could be calculated mechanically, removing human sources of error. Three different factors seem to have influenced him: a dislike of untidiness; his experience working on logarithmic tables; and existing work on calculating machines carried out by Wilhelm Schickard, Blaise Pascal, and Gottfried Leibniz. He first discussed the principles of a calculating engine in a letter to Sir Humphrey Davy in 1822.

Part of Babbage's difference engine,

assembled after his death by Babbage's son, using parts found in his laboratory.

Babbage's engines were among the first mechanical computers. His engines were not actually completed, largely because of funding problems and personality issues. Babbage realized that a machine could do the work better and more reliably than a human being. Babbage controlled building of some steam-powered machines that more or less did their job; calculations could be mechanized to an extent. Although Babbage's machines were mechanical monsters their basic architecture was astonishingly similar to a modern computer. The data and program memory were separated, operation was instruction based, control unit could make conditional jumps and the machine had a separate I/O unit.

Other inventions by Babbage that are not talked about here but are worth mentioning are: The cowcatcher, dynamometer, standard railroad gauge, uniform postal rates, occulting lights for lighthouses, Greenwich Time Signals, and heliograph ophthalmoscope.

Difference engine

In Babbage’s time numerical tables were calculated by humans called ‘computers’. At Cambridge he saw the high error rate of the people computing the tables and thus started his life’s work in trying to calculate the tables mechanically, removing all human error. He began in 1822 with what he called the difference engine, made to compute values of polynomial functions.

Unlike similar efforts of the time, Babbage's difference engine was created to calculate a series of values automatically. By using the method of finite differences, it was possible to avoid the need for multiplication and division.

London Science Museum's replica

Difference Engine, built from Babbage's design.

The first difference engine needed around 25,000 parts of a combined weight of fifteen tons standing eight feet high. Although he received much funding for the project, he did not complete it. He later designed an improved version, "Difference Engine No. 2". This was not constructed at the time, but was built using his plans in 1989-1991, to 19th century tolerances, and performed its first calculation at the London Science Museum bringing back results to 31 digits, far more than the average modern pocket calculator.


Babbage designed a printer for the second difference engine which had some remarkable features; it supported line-wrapping, variable column and row width, and programmable output formatting.

Analytical engine

Soon after the attempt at making the difference engine crumbled, Babbage started designing a different, more complex machine called the Analytical Engine. The engine is not a single physical machine but a succession of designs that he tinkered with until his death in 1871. The main difference between the two engines is that the Analytical Engine could be programmed using punch cards, an idea unheard of in his time. He realized that programs could be put on similar cards so the person had to only create the program initially, and then put the cards in the machine and let it run. The analytical engine was also proposed to use loops of Jacquard's punched cards to control a mechanical calculator, which could formulate results based on the results of preceding computations. This machine was also intended to employ several features subsequently used in modern computers, including sequential control, branching, and looping, and would have been the first mechanical device to be Turing-complete.

Ada Lovelace, an impressive mathematician and one of the few people who totally understood Babbage's vision, created a program for the Analytical Engine. Had the Analytical Engine ever actually been built, her program would have been able to calculate a numerical sequence known as the Bernoulli numbers. Based on this work, Ada is now credited as being the first computer programmer and, in 1979, a contemporary programming language was named Ada in her honour. Shortly afterward, in 1981, a satirical article in Datamation magazine described the Babbage programming language, the "language of the future".

Other accomplishments

In 1824, Babbage won the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society "for his invention of an engine for calculating mathematical and astronomical tables".

From 1828 to 1839 Babbage was Lucasian professor of mathematics at Cambridge. He contributed largely to several scientific periodicals, and was instrumental in founding the Astronomical Society in 1820 and the Statistical Society in 1834. However, he dreamt of designing mechanical calculating machines.

"... I was sitting in the rooms of the Analytical Society, at Cambridge, my head leaning forward on the table in a kind of dreamy mood, with a table of logarithms lying open before me. Another member, coming into the room, and seeing me half asleep, called out, "Well, Babbage, what are you dreaming about?" to which I replied "I am thinking that all these tables" (pointing to the logarithms) "might be calculated by machinery. "

In 1837, responding to the official eight Bridgewater Treatises "On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation", he published his Ninth Bridgewater Treatise putting forward the thesis that God had the omnipotence and foresight to create as a divine legislator, making laws (or programs) which then produced species at the appropriate times, rather than continually interfering with ad hoc miracles each time a new species was required. The book is a work of natural theology. The book incorporated extracts from correspondence he had been having with John Herschel on the subject.

Charles Babbage also achieved notable results in cryptography. He broke Vigenère's autokey cipher as well as the much weaker cipher that is called Vigenère cipher today. The autokey cipher was generally called "the undecipherable cipher", though owing to popular confusion, many thought that the weaker polyalphabetic cipher was the "undecipherable" one. Babbage's discovery was used to aid English military campaigns, and was not published until several years later; as a result credit for the development was instead given to Friedrich Kasiski, who made the same discovery some years after Babbage.

Babbage also invented the pilot (also called a cow-catcher), the metal frame attached to the front of locomotives that clears the tracks of obstacles in 1838. He also constructed a dynamometer car and performed several studies on Isambard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Railway in about 1838.

He only once endeavoured to enter public life, when, in 1832, he stood unsuccessfully for the borough of Finsbury. He came in last in the polls.


Babbage once counted all the broken panes of glass of a factory, publishing in 1857 a "Table of the Relative Frequency of the Causes of Breakage of Plate Glass Windows": 14 of 464 were caused by "drunken men, women or boys". His distaste for commoners ("the Mob") included writing "Observations of Street Nuisances" in 1864, as well as tallying up 165 "nuisances" over a period of 80 days; he especially hated street music. He was also obsessed with fire, once baking himself in an oven at 265°F (130°C) for four minutes "without any great discomfort" and to "see what would happen." Later, he arranged to be lowered into Mount Vesuvius in order to view molten lava for himself.


(On being questioned about his Difference Engine [computer]):"On two occasions I have been asked, 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question." –from Passages from the Life of a Philosopher. ISBN 1851960406.

Named after Babbage


See also

Charles Babbage at the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive.

The Economy of Machinery and Manufactures

by Charles Babbage



Economy of Machinery and Manufactures: Part 1

Economy of Machinery: Part 2

Economy of Machinery: Part 3

The present volume may be considered as one of the
consequences that have resulted from the calculating engine, the
construction of which I have been so long superintending. Having
been induced, during the last ten years, to visit a considerable
number of workshops and factories, both in England and on the
Continent, for the purpose of endeavouring to make myself
acquainted with the various resources of mechanical art, I was
insensibly led to apply to them those principles of
generalization to which my other pursuits had naturally given
rise. The increased number of curious processes and interesting
facts which thus came under my attention, as well as of the
reflections which they suggested, induced me to believe that the
publication of some of them might be of use to persons who
propose to bestow their attention on those enquiries which I have
only incidentally considered. With this view it was my intention
to have delivered the present work in the form of a course of
lectures at Cambridge; an intention which I was subsequently
induced to alter. The substance of a considerable portion of it
has, however, appeared among the preliminary chapters of the
mechanical part of the Encyclopedia Metropolitana.
I have not attempted to offer a complete enumeration of all
the mechanical principles which regulate the application of
machinery to arts and manufactures, but I have endeavoured to
present to the reader those which struck me as the most
important, either for understanding the actions of machines, or
for enabling the memory to classify and arrange the facts
connected with their employment. Still less have I attempted to
examine all the difficult questions of political economy which
are intimately connected with such enquiries. It was impossible
not to trace or to imagine, among the wide variety of facts
presented to me, some principles which seemed to pervade many
establishments; and having formed such conjectures, the desire to
refute or to verify them, gave an additional interest to the
pursuit. Several of the principles which I have proposed, appear
to me to have been unnoticed before. This was particularly the
case with respect to the explanation I have given of the division
of labour; but further enquiry satisfied me that I had been
anticipated by M. Gioja, and it is probable that additional
research would enable me to trace most of the other principles,
which I had thought original, to previous writers, to whose merit
I may perhaps be unjust, from my want of acquaintance with the
historical branch of the subject.
The truth however of the principles I have stated, is of much
more importance than their origin; and the utility of an enquiry
into them, and of establishing others more correct, if these
should be erroneous, can scarcely admit of a doubt.
The difficulty of understanding the processes of manufactures
has unfortunately been greatly overrated. To examine them with
the eye of a manufacturer, so as to be able to direct others to
repeat them, does undoubtedly require much skill and previous
acquaintance with the subject; but merely to apprehend their
general principles and mutual relations, is within the power of
almost every person possessing a tolerable education.
Those who possess rank in a manufacturing country, can
scarcely be excused if they are entirely ignorant of principles,
whose development has produced its greatness. The possessors of
wealth can scarcely be indifferent to processes which, nearly or
remotely have been the fertile source of their possessions. Those
who enjoy leisure can scarcely find a more interesting and
instructive pursuit than the examination of the workshops of
their own country, which contain within them a rich mine of
knowledge, too generally neglected by the wealthier classes.
It has been my endeavour, as much as possible, to avoid all
technical terms, and to describe, in concise language, the arts I
have had occasion to discuss. In touching on the more abstract
principles of political economy, after shortly stating the
reasons on which they are founded, I have endeavoured to support
them by facts and anecdotes; so that whilst young persons might
be amused and instructed by the illustrations, those of more
advanced judgement may find subject for meditation in the general
conclusions to which they point. I was anxious to support the
principles which I have advocated by the observations of others,
and in this respect I found myself peculiarly fortunate. The
reports of committees of the House of Commons, upon various
branches of commerce and manufactures, and the evidence which
they have at different periods published on those subjects, teem
with information of the most important kind, rendered doubly
valuable by the circumstances under which it has been collected.
From these sources I have freely taken, and I have derived some
additional confidence from the support they have afforded to my
views. *

Charles Babbage
Dorset Street
Manchester Square
8 June, 1832

Preface to the Second Edition

In two months from the publication of the first edition of
this volume, three thousand copies were in the hands of the
public. Very little was spent in advertisements; the booksellers,
instead of aiding, impeded its sale; * it formed no part of any
popular series and yet the public, in a few weeks, purchased the
whole edition. Some small part of this success, perhaps, was due
to the popular exposition of those curious processes which are
carried on in our workshops, and to the endeavour to take a short
view of the general principles which direct the manufactories of
the country. But the chief reason was the commanding attraction
of the subject, and the increasing desire to become acquainted
with the pursuits and interests of that portion of the people
which has recently acquired so large an accession of political
A greater degree of attention than I had expected has been
excited by what I have stated in the first edition, respecting
the 'Book-trade'. Until I had commenced the chapter, 'On the
separate cost of each process of a manufacture', I had no
intention of alluding to that subject: but the reader will
perceive that I have throughout this volume, wherever I could,
employed as illustrations, objects of easy access to the reader;
and, in accordance with that principle, I selected the volume
itself. When I arrived at the chapter, 'On combinations of
masters against the public', I was induced, for the same reason,
to expose a combination connected with literature, which, in my
opinion, is both morally and politically wrong. I entered upon
this enquiry without the slightest feeling of hostility to that
trade, nor have I any wish unfavourable to it; but I think a
complete reform in its system would add to its usefulness and
respectability. As the subject of that chapter has been much
discussed, I have thought it right to take a view of the various
arguments which have been advanced, and to offer my own opinion
respecting their validity - and there I should have left the
subject, content to allow my general character to plead for me
against insinuations respecting my motives - but as the remarks
of some of my critics affect the character of another person, I
think it but just to state circumstances which will clearly
disprove them.
Mr Fellowes, of Ludgate Street, who had previously been the
publisher of some other volumes for me, had undertaken the
publication of the first edition of the present work. A short
time previous to its completion, I thought it right to call his
attention to the chapter in which the book-trade is discussed;
with the view both of making him acquainted with what I had
stated, and also of availing myself of his knowledge in
correcting any accidental error as to the facts. Mr Fellowes,
'differing from me entirely respecting the conclusions I had
arrived at', then declined the publication of the volume. If I
had then chosen to apply to some of those other booksellers,
whose names appear in the Committee of 'The Trade', it is
probable that they also would have declined the office of
publishing for me; and, had my object been to make a case against
the trade, such a course would have assisted me. But I had no
such feeling; and having procured a complete copy of the whole
work, I called with it on Mr Knight, of Pall Mall East, whom
until that day I had never seen, and with whom I had never
previously had the slightest communication. I left the book in Mr
Knight's hands, with a request that, when he had read it, I might
be informed whether he would undertake the publication of it; and
this he consented to do. Mr Knight, therefore, is so far from
being responsible for a single opinion in the present volume,
that he saw it only, for a short time, a few days previous to its
It has been objected to me, that I have exposed too freely
the secrets of trade. The only real secrets of trade are
industry, integrity, and knowledge: to the possessors of these no
exposure can be injurious; and they never fail to produce respect
and wealth.
The alterations in the present edition are so frequent, that
I found it impossible to comprise them in a supplement. But the
three new chapters, 'On money as a medium of exchange'; 'On a new
system of manufacturing'; and 'On the effect of machinery in
reducing the demand for labour'; will shortly be printed
separately, for the use of the purchasers of the first edition.
I am inclined to attach some importance to the new system of
manufacturing; and venture to throw it out with the hope of its
receiving a full discussion among those who are most interested
in the subject. I believe that some such system of conducting
manufactories would greatly increase the productive powers of any
country adopting it; and that our own possesses much greater
facilities for its application than other countries, in the
greater intelligence and superior education of the working
classes. The system would naturally commence in some large town,
by the union of some of the most prudent and active workmen; and
their example, if successful, would be followed by others. The
small capitalist would next join them, and such factories would
go on increasing until competition compelled the large capitalist
to adopt the same system; and, ultimately, the whole faculties of
every man engaged in manufacture would be concentrated upon one
object - the art of producing a good article at the lowest
possible cost - whilst the moral effect on that class of the
population would be useful in the highest degree, since it would
render character of far greater value to the workman than it is
at present.
To one criticism which has been made, this volume is
perfectly open. I have dismissed the important subject of the
patent-laws in a few lines. The subject presents, in my opinion,
great difficulties, and I have been unwilling to write upon it,
because I do not see my way. I will only here advert to one
difficulty. What constitutes an invention? Few simple mechanical
contrivances are new; and most combinations may be viewed as
species, and classed under genera of more or less generality; and
may, in consequence, be pronounced old or new, according to the
mechanical knowledge of the person who gives his opinion.
Some of my critics have amused their readers with the
wildness of the schemes I have occasionally thrown out; and I
myself have sometimes smiled along with them. Perhaps it were
wiser for present reputation to offer nothing but profoundly
meditated plans, but I do not think knowledge will be most
advanced by that course; such sparks may kindle the energies of
other minds more favourably circumstanced for pursuing the
enquiries. Thus I have now ventured to give some speculations on
the mode of blowing furnaces for smelting iron; and even
supposing them to be visionary, it is of some importance thus to
call the attention of a large population, engaged in one of our
most extensive manufactures, to the singular fact, that
four-fifths of the steam power used to blow their furnaces
actually cools them.
I have collected, with some pains, the criticisms* on the
first edition of this work, and have availed myself of much
information which has been communicated to me by my friends, for
the improvement of the present volume. If I have succeeded in
expressing that I had to explain with perspicuity, I am aware
that much of this clearness is due to my friend, Dr Fitton, to
whom both the present and the former edition are indebted for
such an examination and correction, as an author himself has very
rarely the power to bestow.

22 November, 1832.


The object of the present volume is to point out the effects
and the advantages which arise from the use of tools and
machines; to endeavour to classify their modes of action; and to
trace both the causes and the consequences of applying machinery
to supersede the skill and power of the human arm.
A view of the mechanical part of the subject will, in the
first instance, occupy our attention, and to this the first
section of the work will be devoted. The first chapter of the
section will contain some remarks on the general sources from
whence the advantages of machinery are. derived, and the
succeeding nine chapters will contain a detailed examination of
principles of a less general character. The eleventh chapter
contains numerous subdivisions, and is important from the
extensive classification it affords of the arts in which copying
is so largely employed. The twelfth chapter, which completes the
first section, contains a few suggestions for the assistance of
those who propose visiting manufactories.
The second section, after an introductory chapter on the
difference between making and manufacturing, will contain, in the
succeeding chapters, a discussion of many of the questions which
relate to the political economy of the subject. It was found that
the domestic arrangement, or interior economy of factories, was
so interwoven with the more general questions, that it was deemed
unadvisable to separate the two subjects. The concluding chapter
of this section, and of the work itself, relates to the future
prospects of manufactures, as arising from the application of

Chapter 1

Sources of the Advantages arising from Machinery and Manufactures

1. There exists, perhaps, no single circumstance which
distinguishes our country more remarkably from all others, than
the vast extent and perfection to which we have carried the
contrivance of tools and machines for forming those conveniences
of which so large a quantity is consumed by almost every class of
the community. The amount of patient thought, of repeated
experiment, of happy exertion of genius, by which our
manufactures have been created and carried to their present
excellence, is scarcely to be imagined. If we look around the
rooms we inhabit, or through those storehouses of every
convenience, of every luxury that man can desire, which deck the
crowded streets of our larger cities, we shall find in the
history of each article, of every fabric, a series of failures
which have gradually led the way to excellence; and we shall
notice, in the art of making even the most insignificant of them,
processes calculated to excite our admiration by their
simplicity, or to rivet our attention by their unlooked-for
2. The accumulation of skill and science which has been
directed to diminish the difficulty of producing manufactured
goods, has not been beneficial to that country alone in which it
is concentrated; distant kingdoms have participated in its
advantages. The luxurious natives of the East,(1*) and the ruder
inhabitants of the African desert are alike indebted to our
looms. The produce of our factories has preceded even our most
enterprising travellers.(2*) The cotton of India is conveyed by
British ships round half our planet. to be woven by British skill
in the factories of Lancashire: it is again set in motion by
British capital; and, transported to the very plains whereon it
grew, is repurchased by the lords of the soil which gave it
birth, at a cheaper price than that at which their coarser
machinery enables them to manufacture it themselves.(3*)
3. The large proportion of the population of this country,
who are engaged in manufactures, appears from the following table
deduced from a statement in an Essay on the Distribution of
Wealth, by the Rev. R. Jones:

For every hundred persons employed in agriculture, there are:
Agriculturists Non-agriculturists

In Bengal          100              25
In Italy           100              31
In France          100              50
In England         100              200

The fact that the proportion of non-agricultural to
agricultural persons is continually increasing, appears both from
the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons upon
Manufacturers' Employment, July, l830, and from the still later
evidence of the last census; from which document the annexed
table of the increase of population in our great manufacturing
towns, has been deduced.

Increase of population per cent

Names of places    180l-11   1811-21   l821-31    Total
Manchester           22         40        47        151
Glasgow              30         46        38        161
Liverpool(4*)        26         31        44        138
Nottingham           19         18        25         75
Birmingham           16         24        33         90
Great Britain        14.2       15.7      15.5       52.5

Thus, in three periods of ten years, during each of which the
general population of the country has increased about 15 per
cent, or about 52 per cent upon the whole period of thirty years,
the population of these towns has, on the average, increased 132
per cent. After this statement, there requires no further
argument to demonstrate the vast importance to the well-being of
this country, of making the interests of its manufacturers well
understood and attended to.
4. The advantages which are derived from machinery and
manufactures seem to arise principally from three sources: The
addition which they make to human power. The economy they produce
of human time. The conversion of substances apparently common and
worthless into valuable products.
5. Of additions to human power. With respect to the first of
these causes, the forces derived from wind, from water, and from
steam, present themselves to the mind of every one; these are, in
fact, additions to human power, and will be considered in a
future page: there are, however, other sources of its increase,
by which the animal force of the individual is itself made to act
with far greater than its unassisted power; and to these we shall
at present confine our observations.
The construction of palaces, of temples, and of tombs, seems
to have occupied the earliest attention of nations just entering
on the career of civilization; and the enormous blocks of stone
moved from their native repositories to minister to the grandeur
or piety of the builders, have remained to excite the
astonishment of their posterity, long after the purposes of many
of these records, as well as the names of their founders, have
been forgotten. The different degrees of force necessary to move
these ponderous masses, will have varied according to the
mechanical knowledge of the people employed in their transport;
and that the extent of power required for this purpose is widely
different under different circumstances, will appear from the
following experiment, which is related by M. Rondelet, Sur L'Art
de Batir. A block of squared stone was taken for the subject of

1. Weight of stone 1080
2. In order to drag this stone along the floor of the quarry,
roughly chiselled, it required a force equal to 758
3. The same stone dragged over a floor of planks required 652
4. The same stone placed on a platform of wood, and dragged over
a floor of planks, required 606
5. After soaping the two surfaces of wood which slid over each
other, it required 182
6. The same stone was now placed upon rollers of three inches
diameter, when it required to put it in motion along the floor of
the quarry 34
7. To drag it by these rollers over a wooden floor 28
8. When the stone was mounted on a wooden platform, and the same
rollers placed between that and a plank floor, it required 22

From this experiment it results, that the force necessary to
move a stone along

Part of its weight

The roughly chiselled floor of its quarry is nearly 2/3
Along a wooden floor                                 3/5
By wood upon wood                                    5/9
If the wooden surfaces are soaped                    1/6
With rollers on the floor of the quarry              1/32
On rollers on wood                                   1/40
On rollers between wood                              1/50

At each increase of knowledge, as well as on the contrivance
of every new tool, human labour becomes abridged. The man who
contrived rollers, invented a tool by which his power was
quintupled. The workman who first suggested the employment of
soap or grease, was immediately enabled to move, without exerting
a greater effort, more than three times the weight he could
6. The economy of human time is the next advantage of
machinery in manufactures. So extensive and important is this
effect, that we might, if we were inclined to generalize, embrace
almost all the advantages under this single head: but the
elucidation of principles of less extent will contribute more
readily to a knowledge of the subject; and, as numerous examples
will be presented to the reader in the ensuing pages, we shall
restrict our illustrations upon this point.
As an example of the economy of time, the use of gunpowder in
blasting rocks may be noticed. Several pounds of powder may be
purchased for a sum acquired by a few days' labour: yet when this
is employed for the purpose alluded to, effects are frequently
produced which could not, even with the best tools, be
accomplished by other means in less than many months.
The dimensions of one of the blocks of limestone extracted
from the quarries worked for the formation of the breakwater at
Plymouth. were 26 1/2 ft long, 13 ft wide, and 16 ft deep. This
mass, containing above 4,800 cubic feet, and weighing about 400
tons, was blasted three times. Two charges of 50 lbs each were
successively exploded in a hole 13 feet deep, the bore being 3
inches at top and 2 1/2 inches at bottom: 100 lbs of powder were
afterwards exploded in the rent formed by those operations. Each
pound of gunpowder separated from the rock two tons of matter, or
nearly 4,500 times its own weight. The expense of the powder was
£6, or nearly 7 1/2d. per lb: the boring occupied two men during
a day and a half, and cost about 9s.; and the value of the
produce was, at that time, about £45.
7. The simple contrivance of tin tubes for speaking through,
communicating between different apartments, by which the
directions of the superintendent are instantly conveyed to the
remotest parts of an establishment, produces a considerable
economy of time. It is employed in the shops and manufactories in
London, and might with advantage be used in domestic
establishments, particularly in large houses, in conveying orders
from the nursery to the kitchen, or from the house to the stable.
Its convenience arises not merely from saving the servant or
workman useless journeys to receive directions, but from
relieving the master himself from that indisposition to give
trouble, which frequently induces him to forego a trifling want,
when he knows that his attendant must mount several flights of
stairs to ascertain his wishes, and, after descending, must mount
again to supply them. The distance to which such a mode of
communication can be extended, does not appear to have been
ascertained, and would be an interesting subject for enquiry.
Admitting it to be possible between London and Liverpool, about
seventeen minutes would elapse before the words spoken at one end
would reach the other extremity of the pipe.
8. The art of using the diamond for cutting glass has
undergone, within a few years, a very important improvement. A
glazier's apprentice, when using a diamond set in a conical
ferrule, as was always the practice about twenty years since,
found great difficulty in acquiring the art of using it with
certainty; and, at the end of a seven years' apprenticeship, many
were found but indifferently skilled in its employment. This
arose from the difficulty of finding the precise angle at which
the diamond cuts, and of guiding it along the glass at the proper
inclination when that angle is found. Almost the whole of the
time consumed and of the glass destroyed in acquiring the art of
cutting glass, may now be saved by the use of an improved tool.
The gem is set in a small piece of squared brass with its edges
nearly parallel to one side of the square. A person skilled in
its use now files away the brass on one side until, by trial, he
finds that the diamond will make a clean cut, when guided by
keeping this edge pressed against a ruler. The diamond and its
mounting are now attached to a stick like a pencil, by means of a
swivel allowing a small angular motion. Thus, even the beginner
at once applies the cutting edge at the proper angle, by pressing
the side of the brass against a ruler; and even though the part
he holds in his hand should deviate a little from the required
angle, it communicates no irregularity to the position of the
diamond, which rarely fails to do its office when thus employed.
The relative hardness of the diamond, in different
directions, is a singular fact. An experienced workman, on whose
judgement I can rely, informed me that he has seen a diamond
ground with diamond powder on a cast-iron mill for three hours
without its being at all worn, but that, on changing its
direction with respect to the grinding surface, the same edge was
ground away.
9. Employment of materials of little value. The skins used by
the goldbeater are produced from the offal of animals. The hoofs
of horses and cattle, and other horny refuse, are employed in the
production of the prussiate of potash, that beautiful, yellow,
crystallized salt, which is exhibited in the shops of some of our
chemists. The worn-out saucepans and tinware of our kitchens,
when beyond the reach of the tinker's art, are not utterly
worthless. We sometimes meet carts loaded with old tin kettles
and worn-out iron coal-skuttles traversing our streets. These
have not yet completed their useful course; the less corroded
parts are cut into strips, punched with small holes, and
varnished with a coarse black varnish for the use of the
trunk-maker, who protects the edges and angles of his boxes with
them; the remainder are conveyed to the manufacturing chemists in
the outskirts of the town, who employ them in combination with
pyroligneous acid, in making a black die for the use of calico
10. Of tools. The difference between a tool and a machine is
not capable of very precise distinction; nor is it necessary, in
a popular explanation of those terms, to limit very strictly
their acceptation. A tool is usually more simple than a machine;
it is generally used with the hand, whilst a machine is
frequently moved by animal or steam power. The simpler machines
are often merely one or more tools placed in a frame, and acted
on by a moving power. In pointing out the advantages of tools, we
shall commence with some of the simplest.
11. To arrange twenty thousand needles thrown promiscuously
into a box, mixed and entangled in every possible direction, in
such a form that they shall be all parallel to each other, would,
at first sight, appear a most tedious occupation; in fact, if
each needle were to be separated individually, many hours must be
consumed in the process. Yet this is an operation which must be
performed many times in the manufacture of needles; and it is
accomplished in a few minutes by a very simple tool; nothing more
being requisite than a small flat tray of sheet iron, slightly
concave at the bottom. In this the needles are placed, and shaken
in a peculiar manner, by throwing them up a very little, and
giving at the same time a slight longitudinal motion to the tray.
The shape of the needles assists their arrangement; for if two
needles cross each other (unless, which is exceedingly
improbable, they happen to be precisely balanced), they will,
when they fall on the bottom of the tray, tend to place
themselves side by side, and the hollow form of the tray assists
this disposition. As they have no projection in any part to
impede this tendency, or to entangle each other, they are, by
continually shaking, arranged lengthwise, in three or four
minutes. The direction of the shake is now changed, the needles
are but little thrown up, but the tray is shaken endways; the
result of which is, that in a minute or two the needles which
were previously arranged endways become heaped up in a wall, with
their ends against the extremity of the tray. They are then
removed, by hundreds at a time, with a broad iron spatula, on
which they are retained by the forefinger of the left hand. As
this parallel arrangement of the needles must be repeated many
times, if a cheap and expeditious method had not been devised,
the expense of the manufacture would have been considerably
12. Another process in the art of making needles furnishes an
example of one of the simplest contrivances which can come under
the denomination of a tool. After the needles have been arranged
in the manner just described, it is necessary to separate them
into two parcels, in order that their points may be all in one
direction. This is usually done by women and children. The
needles are placed sideways in a heap, on a table, in front of
each operator, just as they are arranged by the process above
described. From five to ten are rolled towards this person with
the forefinger of the left hand; this separates them a very small
space from each other, and each in its turn is pushed lengthwise
to the right or to the left, according to the direction of the
point. This is the usual process, and in it every needle passes
individually under the finger of the operator. A small alteration
expedites the process considerably: the child puts on the
forefinger of its right hand a small cloth cap or fingerstall,
and rolling out of the heap from six to twelve needles, he keeps
them down by the forefinger of the left hand, whilst he presses
the forefinger of the right hand gently against their ends: those
which have the points towards the right hand stick into the
fingerstall; and the child, removing the finger of the left hand,
slightly raises the needles sticking into the cloth, and then
pushes them towards the left side. Those needles which had their
eyes on the right hand do not stick into the finger cover, and
are pushed to the heap on the right side before the repetition of
this process. By means of this simple contrivance each movement
of the finger, from one side to the other, carries five or six
needles to their proper heap; whereas, in the former method,
frequently only one was moved, and rarely more than two or three
were transported at one movement to their place.
13. Various operations occur in the arts in which the
assistance of an additional hand would be a great convenience to
the workman, and in these cases tools or machines of the simplest
structure come to our aid: vices of different forms, in which the
material to be wrought is firmly grasped by screws, are of this
kind, and are used in almost every workshop; but a more striking
example may be found in the trade of the nail-maker.
Some kinds of nails, such as those used for defending the
soles of coarse shoes, called hobnails, require a particular form
of the head, which is made by the stroke of a die. The workman
holds one end of the rod of iron out of which he forms the nails
in his left hand; with his right hand he hammers the red-hot end
of it into a point, and cutting the proper length almost off,
bends it nearly at a right angle. He puts this into a hole in a
small stake-iron immediately under a hammer which is connected
with a treadle, and has a die sunk in its surface corresponding
to the intended form of the head; and having given one part of
the form to the head with the small hammer in his hand, he moves
the treadle with his foot, disengages the other hammer, and
completes the figure of the head; the returning stroke produced
by the movement of the treadle striking the finished nail out of
the hole in which it was retained. Without this substitution of
his foot for another hand, the workman would, probably, be
obliged to heat the nails twice over.
14. Another, though fortunately a less general substitution
of tools for human hands, is used to assist the labour of those
who are deprived by nature, or by accident, of some of their
limbs. Those who have had an opportunity of examining the
beautiful contrivances for the manufacture of shoes by machinery,
which we owe to the fertile invention of Mr Brunel, must have
noticed many instances in which the workmen were enabled to
execute their task with precision, although labouring under the
disadvantages of the loss of an arm or leg. A similar instance
occurs at Liverpool, in the Institution for the Blind, where a
machine is used by those afflicted with blindness, for weaving
sash-lines; it is said to have been the invention of a person
suffering under that calamity. Other examples might be mentioned
of contrivances for the use, the amusement, or the instruction of
the wealthier classes, who labour under the same natural
disadvantages. These triumphs of skill and ingenuity deserve a
double portion of our admiration when applied to mitigate the
severity of natural or accidental misfortune; when they supply
the rich with occupation and knowledge; when they relieve the
poor from the additional evils of poverty and want.
15. Division of the objects of machinery. There exists a
natural, although, in point of number, a very unequal division
amongst machines: they may be classed as; first, those which are
employed to produce power. and as, secondly, those which are
intended merely to transmit force and execute work. The first of
these divisions is of great importance, and is very limited in
the variety of its species, although some of those species
consist of numerous individuals.
Of that class of mechanical agents by which motion is
transmitted - the lever, the pulley, the wedge, and many others -
it has been demonstrated, that no power is gained by their use,
however combined. Whatever force is applied at one point can only
be exerted at some other, diminished by friction and other
incidental causes; and it has been further proved, that whatever
is gained in the rapidity of execution is compensated by the
necessity of exerting additional force. These two principles,
long since placed beyond the reach of doubt, cannot be too
constantly borne in mind. But in limiting our attempts to things
which are possible, we are still, as we hope to show, possessed
of a field of inexhaustible research, and of advantages derived
from mechanical skill, which have but just begun to exercise
their influence on our arts, and may be pursued without limit
contributing to the improvement, the wealth, and the happiness of
our race.
16. Of those machines by which we produce power, it may be
observed, that although they are to us immense acquisitions, yet
in regard to two of the sources of this power - the force of wind
and of water - we merely make use of bodies in a state of motion
by nature; we change the directions of their movement in order to
render them subservient to our purposes, but we neither add to
nor diminish the quantity of motion in existence. When we expose
the sails of a windmill obliquely to the gale, we check the
velocity of a small portion of the atmosphere, and convert its
own rectilinear motion into one of rotation in the sails; we thus
change the direction of force, but we create no power. The same
may be observed with regard to the sails of a vessel; the
quantity of motion given by them is precisely the same as that
which is destroyed in the atmosphere. If we avail ourselves of a
descending stream to turn a water-wheel, we are appropriating a
power which nature may appear, at first sight, to be uselessly
and irrecoverably wasting, but which, upon due examination, we
shall find she is ever regaining by other processes. The fluid
which is falling from a higher to a lower level, carries with it
the velocity due to its revolution with the earth at a greater
distance from its centre. It will therefore accelerate, although
to an almost infinitesimal extent, the earth's daily rotation.
The sum of all these increments of velocity, arising from the
descent of all the falling waters on the earth's surface, would
in time become perceptible, did not nature, by the process of
evaporation, convey the waters back to their sources; and thus
again, by removing matter to a greater distance from the centre,
destroy the velocity generated by its previous approach.
17. The force of vapour is another fertile source of moving
power; but even in this case it cannot be maintained that power
is created. Water is converted into elastic vapour by the
combustion of fuel. The chemical changes which thus take place
are constantly increasing the atmosphere by large quantities of
carbonic acid and other gases noxious to animal life. The means
by which nature decomposes these elements, or reconverts them
into a solid form, are not sufficiently known: but if the end
could be accomplished by mechanical force, it is almost certain
that the power necessary to produce it would at least equal that
which was generated by the original combustion. Man, therefore,
does not create power; but, availing himself of his knowledge of
nature's mysteries, he applies his talents to diverting a small
and limited portion of her energies to his own wants: and,
whether he employs the regulated action of steam, or the more
rapid and tremendous effects of gunpowder, he is only producing
on a small scale compositions and decompositions which nature is
incessantly at work in reversing, for the restoration of that
equilibrium which we cannot doubt is constantly maintained
throughout even the remotest limits of our system. The operations
of man participate in the character of their author; they are
diminutive, but energetic during the short period of their
existence: whilst those of nature, acting over vast spaces, and
unlimited by time, are ever pursuing their silent and resistless
18. In stating the broad principle, that all combinations of
mechanical art can only augment the force communicated to the
machine at the expense of the time employed in producing the
effect, it might, perhaps, be imagined, that the assistance
derived from such contrivances is small. This is, however, by no
means the case: since the almost unlimited variety they afford,
enables us to exert to the greatest advantage whatever force we
employ. There is, it is true, a limit beyond which it is
impossible to reduce the power necessary to produce any given
effect, but it very seldom happens that the methods first
employed at all approach that limit. In dividing the knotted root
of a tree for fuel, how very different will be the time consumed,
according to the nature of the tool made use of! The hatchet, or
the adze, will divide it into small parts, but will consume a
large portion of the workman's time. The saw will answer the same
purpose more quickly and more effectually. This, in its turn, is
superseded by the wedge, which rends it in a still shorter time.
If the circumstances are favourable, and the workman skilful, the
time and expense may be still further reduced by the use of a
small quantity of gunpowder exploded in holes judiciously placed
in the block.
19. When a mass of matter is to be removed a certain force
must be expended; and upon the proper economy of this force the
price of transport will depend. A country must, however, have
reached a high degree of civilization before it will have
approached the limit of this economy. The cotton of Java is
conveyed in junks to the coast of China; but from the seed not
being previously separated, three-quarters of the weight thus
carried is not cotton. This might, perhaps, be justified in Java
by the want of machinery to separate the seed, or by the relative
cost of the operation in the two countries. But the cotton
itself, as packed by the Chinese, occupies three times the bulk
of an equal quantity shipped by Europeans for their own markets.
Thus the freight of a given quantity of cotton costs the Chinese
nearly twelve times the price to which, by a proper attention to
mechanical methods, it might be reduced. *


1. 'The Bandana handkerchiefs manufactured at Glasgow have long
superseded the genuine ones, and are now committed in large
quantities both by the natives and Chines.' Crawford's Indian
Archipelago, vol. iii, p. 505.

2. 'Captain Clapperton, when on a visit at the court of the
Sultan Bello, states, that provisionswere regularly sent me from
the sultan's table on pewter dishes with the London stamp; and I
even had a piece of meat served up on a white wash-hand basin of
English manufacture.' Clapperton's Journey, p. 88.

3. At Calicut, in the East Indies (whence the cotton cloth caled
calico derivesits name), the price of labour is one-seventh of
that in England, yet the market is supplied from British looms.

4. Liverpool, though not itself a manufacturing town, has been
placed in this list, from its connection with Manchester, of
which it is the port.

5. So sensible are the effects of grease in diminishing friction,
that the drivers of sledges in Amsterdam, on which heavy goodsare
transported, cary in their hand a rope soaked in tallow, which
they thrown down from time to time before the sledge, in order
that, by passing over the rope, it may become greased.

Chapter 2

Accumulating Power

20. Whenever the work to be done requires more force for its
execution than can be generated in the time necessary for its
completion, recourse must be had to some mechanical method of
preserving and condensing a part of the power exerted previously
to the commencement of the process. This is most frequently
accomplished by a fly-wheel, which is in fact nothing more than a
wheel having a very heavy rim, so that the greater part of its
weight is near the circumference. It requires great power applied
for some time to put this into rapid motion; but when moving with
considerable velocity, the effects are exceedingly powerful, if
its force be concentrated upon a small object. In some of the
iron works where the power of the steam-engine is a little too
small for the rollers which it drives, it is usual to set the
engine at work a short time before the red-hot iron is ready to
be removed from the furnace to the rollers, and to allow it to
work with great rapidity until the fly has acquired a velocity
rather alarming to those unused to such establishments. On
passing the softened mass of iron through the first groove, the
engine receives a great and very perceptible check; and its speed
is diminished at the next and at each succeeding passage, until
the iron bar is reduced to such a size that the ordinary power of
the engine is sufficient to roll it.
21. The powerful effect of a large flywheel when its force
can be concentrated on a point, was curiously illustrated at one
of the largest of our manufactories. The proprietor was showing
to a friend the method of punching holes in iron plates for the
boilers of steam-engines. He held in his hand a piece of
sheet-iron three-eighths of an inch thick, which he placed under
the punch. Observing, after several holes had been made, that the
punch made its perforations more and more slowly, he called to
the engine-man to know what made the engine work so sluggishly,
when it was found that the flywheel and punching apparatus had
been detached from the steam-engine just at the commencement of
his experiment.
22. Another mode of accumulating power arises from lifting a
weight and then allowing it to fall. A man, even with a heavy
hammer, might strike repeated blows upon the head of a pile
without producing any effect. But if he raises a much heavier
hammer to a much greater height, its fall, though far less
frequently repeated, will produce the desired effect.
When a small blow is given to a large mass of matter, as to a
pile, the imperfect elasticity of the material causes a small
loss of momentum in the transmission of the motion from each
particle to the succeeding one; and, therefore, it may happen
that the whole force communicated shall be destroyed before it
reaches the opposite extremity.
23. The power accumulated within a small space by gunpowder
is well known; and, though not strictly an illustration of the
subject discussed in this chapter, some of its effects, under
peculiar circumstances, are so singular, that an attempt to
explain them may perhaps be excused. If a gun is loaded with ball
it will not kick so much as when loaded with small shot; and
amongst different kinds of shot, that which is the smallest,
causes the greatest recoil against the shoulder. A gun loaded
with a quantity of sand, equal in weight to a charge of
snipe-shot, kicks still more. If, in loading, a space is left
between the wadding and the charge, the gun either recoils
violently, or bursts. If the muzzle of a gun has accidentally
been stuck into the ground, so as to be stopped up with clay, or
even with snow, or if it be fired with its muzzle plunged into
water, the almost certain result is that it bursts.
The ultimate cause of these apparently inconsistent effects
is, that every force requires time to produce its effect; and if
the time requisite for the elastic vapour within to force out the
sides of the barrel, is less than that in which the condensation
of the air near the wadding is conveyed in sufficient force to
drive the impediment from the muzzle, then the barrel must burst.
If sometimes happens that these two forces are so nearly balanced
that the barrel only swells; the obstacle giving way before the
gun is actually burst.
The correctness of this explanation will appear by tracing
step by step the circumstances which arise on discharging a gun
loaded with powder confined by a cylindrical piece of wadding,
and having its muzzle filled with clay, or some other substance
having a moderate degree of resistance. In this case the first
effect of the explosion is to produce an enormous pressure on
everything confining it, and to advance the wadding through a
very small space. Here let us consider it as at rest for a
moment, and examine its condition. The portion of air in
immediate contact with the wadding is condensed; and if the
wadding were to remain at rest, the air throughout the tube would
soon acquire a uniform density. But this would require a small
interval of time; for the condensation next the wadding would
travel with the velocity of sound to the other end, from whence,
being reflected back, a series of waves would be generated,
which, aided by the friction of the tube, would ultimately
destroy the motion.
But until the first wave reaches the impediment at the
muzzle, the air can exert no pressure against it. Now if the
velocity communicated to the wadding is very much greater than
that of sound, the condensation of the air immediately in advance
of it may be very great before the resistance transmitted to the
muzzle is at all considerable; in which case the mutual repulsion
of the particles of air so compressed, will offer an absolute
barrier to the advance of the wadding.(1*)
If this explanation be correct, the additional recoil, when a
gun is loaded with small shot or sand, may arise in some measure
from the condensation of the air contained between their
particles; but chiefly from the velocity communicated by the
explosion to those particles of the substances in immediate
contact with the powder being greater than that with which a wave
can be transmitted through them. It also affords a reason for the
success of a method of blasting rocks by filling the upper part
of the hole above the powder with sand, instead of clay rammed
hard. That the destruction of the gun barrel does not arise from
the property possessed by fluids, and in some measure also by
sand and small shot, of pressing equally in all directions, and
thus exerting a force against a large portion of the interior
surface, seems to be proved by a circumstance mentioned by Le
Vaillant and other travellers, that, for the purpose of taking
birds without injuring their plumage, they filled the barrel of
their fowling pieces with water, instead of loading them with a
charge of shot.
24. The same reasoning explains a curious phenomenon which
occurs in firing a still more powerfully explosive substance. If
we put a small quantity of fulminating silver upon the face of an
anvil, and strike it slightly with a hammer, it explodes; but
instead of breaking either the hammer or the anvil, it is found
that that part of the face of each in contact with the
fulminating silver is damaged. In this case the velocity
communicated by the elastic matter disengaged may be greater than
the velocity of a wave traversing steel; so that the particles at
the surface are driven by the explosion so near to those next
adjacent, that when the compelling force is removed, the
repulsion of the particles within the mass drives back those
nearer to the surface, with such force, that they pass beyond the
limits of attraction, and are separated in the shape of powder.
25. i The success of the experiment of firing a tallow candle
through a deal board, would be explained in the same manner, by
supposing the velocity of a wave propagated through deal to be
greater than that of a wave passing through tallow.
25. ii The boiler of a steam-engine sometimes bursts even
during the escape of steam through the safety-valve. If the water
in the boiler is thrown upon any part which happens to be red
hot, the steam formed in the immediate neighbourhood of that part
expands with greater velocity than that with which a wave can be
transmitted through the less heated steam; consequently one
particle is urged against the next, and an almost invincible
obstacle is formed, in the same manner as described in the case
of the discharge of a gun. If the safety-valve is closed, it may
retain the pressure thus created for a short time, and even when
it is open the escape may not be sufficiently rapid to remove all
impediment; there may therefore exist momentarily within the
boiler pressures of various force, varying from that which can
just lift the safety-valve up to that which is sufficient, if
exerted during an extremely small space of time, to tear open the
boiler itself.
26. This reasoning ought, however, to be admitted with
caution; and perhaps some inducement to examine it carefully may
be presented by tracing it to extreme cases. It would seem, but
this is not a necessary consequence, that a gun might be made so
long, that it would burst although no obstacle filled up its
muzzle. It should also follow that if, after the gun is charged,
the air were extracted from the barrel, though the muzzle be then
left closed, the gun ought not to burst. It would also seem to
follow from the principle of the explanation, that a body might
be projected in air, or other elastic resisting medium, with such
force that, after advancing a very short space it should return
in the same direction in which it was projected.


1. See Poisson's remarks, Ecole Polytec. Cahier, xxi, p. 191.

Chapter 3

Regulating Power

27. Uniformity and steadiness in the rate at which machinery
works, are essential both for its effect and its duration. The
first illustration which presents itself is that beautiful
contrivance, the governor of the steam-engine. which must
immediately occur to all who are familiar with that admirable
engine. Wherever the increased speed of the engine would lead to
injurious or dangerous consequences, this is applied; and it is
equally the regulator of the water-wheel which drives a
spinning-jenny, or of the windmills which drain our fens. In the
dockyard at Chatham, the descending motion of a large platform,
on which timber is raised, is regulated by a governor; but as the
weight is very considerable, the velocity of this governor is
still further checked by causing its motion to take place in
28. Another very beautiful contrivance for regulating the
number of strokes made by a steam-engine, is used in Cornwall: it
is called the cataract, and depends on the time required to fill
a vessel plunged in water, the opening of the valve through which
the fluid is admitted being adjustable at the will of the
29. The regularity of the supply of fuel to the fire under
the boilers of steam-engines is another mode of contributing to
the uniformity of their rate, and also economizes the consumption
of coal. Several patents have been taken out for methods of
regulating this supply: the general principle being to make the
engine supply the fire with small quantities of fuel at regular
intervals by means of a hopper, and to make it diminish this
supply when the engine works too quickly. One of the incidental
advantages of this plan is, that by throwing on a very small
quantity of coal at a time, the smoke is almost entirely
consumed. The dampers of ashpits and chimneys are also, in some
cases, connected with machines in order to regulate their speed.
30. Another contrivance for regulating the effect of
machinery consists in a vane or fly, of little weight, but
presenting a large surface. This revolves rapidly, and soon
acquires a uniform rate, which it cannot greatly exceed, because
any addition to its velocity produces a much greater addition to
the resistance it meets with from the air. The interval between
the strokes on the bell of a clock is regulated in this way, and
the fly is so contrived, that the interval may be altered by
presenting the arms of it more or less obliquely to the direction
in which they move. This kind of fly, or vane, is generally used
in the smaller kinds of mechanism, and, unlike the heavy fly, it
is a destroyer instead of a preserver of force. It is the
regulator used in musical boxes, and in almost all mechanical
31. The action of a fly, or vane, suggests the principle of
an instrument for measuring the altitude of mountains, which
perhaps deserves a trial, since, if it succeed only tolerably, it
will form a much more portable instrument than the barometer. It
is well known that the barometer indicates the weight of a column
of the atmosphere above it, whose base is equal to the bore of
the tube. It is also known that the density of the air adjacent
to the instrument will depend both on the weight of air above it,
and on the heat of the air at that place. If, therefore, we can
measure the density of the air, and its temperature, the height
of a column of mercury which it would support in the barometer
can be found by calculation. Now the thermometer gives
information respecting the temperature of the air immediately;
and its density might be ascertained by means of a watch and a
small instrument, in which the number of turns made by a vane
moved by a constant force, should be registered. The less dense
the air in which the vane revolves, the greater will be the
number of its revolutions in a given time: and tables could be
formed from experiments in partially exhausted vessels, aided by
calculation, from which, if the temperature of the air, and the
number of revolutions of the vane are given, the corresponding
height of the barometer might be found.(1*)


1. To persons who may be inclined to experiment upon this or any
other instrument, I would beg to suggest the perusal of the
section 'On the art of Observing', Observations on the Decline of
Science in England, p. 170, Fellowes, 1828.

Chapter 4

Increase and Diminution of Velocity

32. The fatigue produced on the muscles of the human frame
does not altogether depend on the actual force employed in each
effort, but partly on the frequency with which it is exerted. The
exertion necessary to accomplish every operation consists of two
parts: one of these is the expenditure of force which is
necessary to drive the tool or instrument; and the other is the
effort required for the motion of some limb of the animal
producing the action. In driving a nail into a piece of wood, one
of these is lifting the hammer, and propelling its head against
the nail; the other is, raising the arm itself, and moving it in
order to use the hammer. If the weight of the hammer is
considerable, the former part will cause the greatest portion of
the exertion. If the hammer is light, the exertion of raising the
arm will produce the greatest part of the fatigue. It does
therefore happen, that operations requiring very trifling force,
if frequently repeated, will tire more effectually than more
laborious work. There is also a degree of rapidity beyond which
the action of the muscles cannot be pressed.
33. The most advantageous load for a porter who carries wood
up stairs on his shoulders, has been investigated by M. Coulomb;
but he found from experiment that a man walking up stairs without
any load, and raising his burden by means of his own weight in
descending, could do as much work in one day, as four men
employed in the ordinary way with the most favourable load.
34. The proportion between the velocity with which men or
animals move, and the weights they carry, is a matter of
considerable importance, particularly in military affairs. It is
also of great importance for the economy of labour, to adjust the
weight of that part of the animal's body which is moved, the
weight of the tool it urges, and the frequency of repetition of
these efforts, so as to produce the greatest effect. An instance
of the saving of time by making the same motion of the arm
execute two operations instead of one, occurs in the simple art
of making the tags of bootlaces: these tags are formed out of
very thin, tinned, sheet-iron, and were formerly cut out of long
strips of that material into pieces of such a breadth that when
bent round they just enclosed the lace. Two pieces of steel have
recently been fixed to the side of the shears, by which each
piece of tinned-iron as soon as it is cut is bent into a
semi-cylindrical form. The additional power required for this
operation is almost imperceptible. and it is executed by the same
motion of the arm which produces the cut. The work is usually
performed by women and children; and with the improved tool more
than three times the quantity of tags is produced in a given
35. Whenever the work is itself light, it becomes necessary,
in order to economize time, to increase the velocity. Twisting
the fibres of wool by the fingers would be a most tedious
operation: in the common spinning-wheel the velocity of the foot
is moderate, but by a very simple contrivance that of the thread
is most rapid. A piece of catgut passing round a large wheel, and
then round a small spindle, effects this change. This contrivance
is common to a multitude of machines, some of them very simple.
In large shops for the retail of ribands, it is necessary at
short intervals to 'take stock', that is, to measure and rewind
every piece of riband, an operation which, even with this mode of
shortening it, is sufficiently tiresome, but without it would be
almost impossible from its expense. The small balls of sewing
cotton, so cheap and so beautifully wound, are formed by a
machine on the same principle, and but a few steps more
36. In turning from the smaller instruments in frequent use
to the larger and more important machines, the economy arising
from the increase of velocity becomes more striking. In
converting cast into wrought-iron, a mass of metal, of about a
hundredweight, is heated almost to white heat, and placed under a
heavy hammer moved by water or steam power. This is raised by a
projection on a revolving axis; and if the hammer derived its
momentum only from the space through which it fell, it would
require a considerably greater time to give a blow. But as it is
important that the softened mass of red-hot iron should receive
as many blows as possible before it cools, the form of the cam or
projection on the axis is such, that the hammer, instead of being
lifted to a small height, is thrown up with a jerk, and almost
the instant after it strikes against a large beam, which acts as
a powerful spring, and drives it down on the iron with such
velocity that by these means about double the number of strokes
can be made in a given time. In the smaller tilt-hammers, this is
carried still further.. by striking the tail of the tilt-hammer
forcibly against a small steel anvil, it rebounds with such
velocity, that from three to five hundred strokes are made in a
minute. In the manufacture of anchors, an art in which a similar
contrivance is of still greater importance, it has only been
recently applied.
37. In the manufacture of scythes, the length of the blade
renders it necessary that the workman should move readily, so as
to bring every part of it on the anvil in quick succession. This
is effected by placing him in a seat suspended by ropes from the
ceiling: so that he is enabled, with little bodily exertion, to
vary his distance, by pressing his feet against the block which
supports the anvil, or against the floor.
38. An increase of velocity is sometimes necessary to render
operations possible: thus a person may skate with great rapidity
over ice which would not support his weight if he moved over it
more slowly. This arises from the fact, that time is requisite
for producing the fracture of the ice: as soon as the weight of
the skater begins to act on any point, the ice, supported by the
water, bends slowly under him; but if the skater's velocity is
considerable, he has passed off from the spot which was loaded
before the bending has reached the point which would cause the
ice to break.
39. An effect not very different from this might take place
if very great velocity were communicated to boats. Let us suppose
a flatbottomed boat, whose bow forms an inclined plane with the
bottom, at rest in still water. If we imagine some very great
force suddenly to propel this boat, the inclination of the plane
at the forepart would cause it to rise in the water; and if the
force were excessive, it might even rise out of the water, and
advance, by a series of leaps, like a piece of slate or an oyster
shell, thrown as a 'duck and drake'.
If the force were not sufficient to pull the boat out of the
water, but were just enough to bring its bottom to the surface,
it would be carried along with a kind of gliding motion with
great rapidity; for at every point of its course it would require
a certain time before. it could sink to its usual draft of water;
but before that time had elapsed, it would have advanced to
another point, and consequently have been raised by the reaction
of the water on the inclined plane at its forepart.
40. The same fact, that bodies moving with great velocity
have not time to exert the full effect of their weight, seems to
explain a circumstance which appears to be very unaccountable. It
sometimes happens that when foot-passengers are knocked down by
carriages, the wheels pass over them with scarcely any injury,
though, if the weight of the carriage had rested on their body,
even for a few seconds, it would have crushed them to death. If
the view above taken is correct, the injury in such circumstances
will chiefly happen to that part of the body which is struck by
the advancing wheel.
41. An operation in which rapidity is of essential importance
is in bringing the produce of mines up to the surface. The shafts
through which the produce is raised are sunk at a very great
expense, and it is, of course, desirable to sink as few of them
as possible. The matter to be extracted is therefore raised by
steam-engines with considerable, and without this many of our
mines could not be worked velocity, with profit.
42. The effect of great velocity in modifying the form of a
cohesive substance is beautifully shown in the process for making
window glass, termed flashing', which is one of the most striking
operations in our domestic arts. A workman having dipped his iron
tube into the glass pot, and loaded it with several pounds of the
melted 'metal', blows out a large globe, which is connected with
his rod by a short thick hollow neck. Another workman now fixes
to the globe immediately opposite to its neck, an iron rod, the
extremity of which has been dipped in the melted glass; and when
this is firmly attached, a few drops of water separate the neck
of the globe from the iron tube. The rod with the globe attached
to it is now held at the mouth of a glowing furnace: and by
turning the rod the globe is made to revolve slowly, so as to be
uniformly exposed to the heat: the first effect of this softening
is to make the glass contract upon itself and to enlarge the
opening of the neck. As the softening proceeds, the globe is
turned more quickly on its axis, and when very soft and almost
incandescent, it is removed from the fire, and the velocity of
rotation being still continually increased, the opening enlarges
from the effect of the centrifugal force, at first gradually,
until at last the mouth suddenly expands or flashes' out into one
large circular sheet of red hot glass. The neck of the original
globe, which is to become the outer part of the sheet, is left
thick to admit of this expansion, and forms the edge of the
circular plate of glass, which is called a 'Table'. The centre
presents the appearance of a thick boss or prominence, called the
'Bull's-eye', at the part by which it was attached to the iron
43. The most frequent reason for employing contrivances for
diminishing velocity, arises from the necessity of overcoming
great resistances with small power. Systems of pulleys, the
crane, and many other illustrations, might also be adduced here
as examples; but they belong more appropriately to some of the
other causes which we have assigned for the advantages of
machinery. The common smoke-jack is an instrument in which the
velocity communicated is too great for the purpose required, and
it is transmitted through wheels which reduce it to a more
moderate rate.
44. Telegraphs are machines for conveying information over
extensive lines with great rapidity. They have generally been
established for the purposes of transmitting information during
war, but the increasing wants of man will probably soon render
them subservient to more peaceful objects.
A few years since the telegraph conveyed to Paris information
of the discovery of a comet, by M. Gambart, at Marseilles: the
message arrived during a sitting of the French Board of
Longitude, and was sent in a note from the Minister of the
Interior to Laplace, the President, who received it whilst the
writer of these lines was sitting by his side. The object in this
instance was, to give the earliest publicity to the fact, and to
assure to M. Gambart the title of its first discoverer.
At Liverpool a system of signals is established for the
purposes of commerce, so that each merchant can communicate with
his own vessel long before she arrives in the port.


1. See Transactions of the Society of Arts, 1826.

Chapter 5

Extending the Time of Action of Forces

45. This is one of the most common and most useful of the
employments of machinery. The half minute which we daily devote
to the winding-up of our watches is an exertion of labour almost
insensible; yet, by the aid of a few wheels, its effect is spread
over the whole twenty-four hours. In our clocks, this extension
of the time of action of the original force impressed is carried
still further; the better kind usually require winding up once in
eight days, and some are occasionally made to continue in action
during a month, or even a year. Another familiar illustration may
be noticed in our domestic furniture: the common jack by which
our meat is roasted, is a contrivance to enable the cook in a few
minutes to exert a force which the machine retails out during the
succeeding hour in turning the loaded spit; thus enabling her to
bestow her undivided attention on the other important duties of
her vocation. A great number of automatons and mechanical toys
moved by springs, may be classed under this division.
46. A small moving power, in the shape of a jack or a spring
with a train of wheels, is often of great convenience to the
experimental philosopher, and has been used with advantage in
magnetic and electric experiments where the rotation of a disk of
metal or other body is necessary, thus allowing to the enquirer
the unimpeded use of both his hands. A vane connected by a train
of wheels, and set in motion by a heavy weight, has also, on some
occasions, been employed in chemical processes, to keep a
solution in a state of agitation. Another object to which a
similar apparatus may be applied, is the polishing of small
specimens of minerals for optical experiments.

Chapter 6

Saving time in Natural Operations

47. The process of tanning will furnish us with a striking
illustration of the power of machinery in accelerating certain
processes in which natural operations have a principal effect.
The object of this art is to combine a certain principle called
tanning with every particle of the skin to be tanned. This, in
the ordinary process, is accomplished by allowing the skins to
soak in pits containing a solution of tanning matter: they remain
in the pits six, twelve, or eighteen months; and in some
instances (if the hides are very thick), they are exposed to the
operation for two years, or even during a longer period. This
length of time is apparently required in order to allow the
tanning matter to penetrate into the interior of a thick hide.
The improved process consists in placing the hides with the
solution of tan in close vessels, and then exhausting the air.
The effect is to withdraw any air which may be contained in the
pores of the hides, and to aid capillary attraction by the
pressure of the atmosphere in forcing the tan into the interior
of the skins. The effect of the additional force thus brought
into action can be equal only to one atmosphere, but a further
improvement has been made: the vessel containing the hides is,
after exhaustion, filled up with a solution of tan; a small
additional quantity is then. injected with a forcing-pump. By
these means any degree of pressure may be given which the
containing vessel is capable of supporting; and it has been found
that. by employing such a method, the thickest hides may be
tanned in six weeks or two months.
48. The same process of injection might be applied to
impregnate timber with tar, or any other substance capable of
preserving it from decay. and if it were not too expensive, the
deal floors of houses might thus be impregnated with alumine or
other substances, which would render them much less liable to be
accidentally set on fire. In some cases it might be useful to
impregnate woods with resins, varnish, or oil; and wood saturated
with oil might, in some instances, be usefully employed in
machinery for giving a constant, but very minute supply of that
fluid to iron or steel, against which it is worked. Some idea of
the quantity of matter which can be injected into wood by great
pressure, may be formed, from considering the fact stated by Mr
Scoresby, respecting an accident which occurred to a boat of one
of our whaling-ships. The harpoon having been struck into the
fish, the whale in this instance, dived directly down, and
carried the boat along with him. On returning to the surface the
animal was killed, but the boat, instead of rising, was found
suspended beneath the whale by the rope of the harpoon; and on
drawing it up, every part of the wood was found to be so
completely saturated with water as to sink immediately to the
49. The operation of bleaching linen in the open air is one
for which considerable time is necessary; and although it does
not require much labour, yet, from the risk of damage and of
robbery from long /exposure, a mode of shortening the process was
highly desirable. The method now practised, although not
mechanical, is such a remarkable instance of the application of
science to the practical purposes of manufactures, that in
mentioning the advantages derived from shortening natural
operations, it would have been scarcely pardonable to have
omitted all allusion to the beautiful application of chlorine, in
combination with lime, to the art of bleaching.
50. Another instance more strictly mechanical occurs in some
countries where fuel is expensive, and the heat of the sun is not
sufficient to evaporate the water from brine springs. The water
is first pumped up to a reservoir, and then allowed to fall in
small streams through faggots. Thus it becomes divided; and,
presenting a large surface, evaporation is facilitated, and the.
brine which is collected in the vessels below the faggots is
stronger than that which was pumped up. After thus getting rid of
a large part of the water, the remaining portion is driven off by
boiling. The success of this process depends on the condition of
the atmosphere with respect to moisture. If the air, at the time
the brine falls through the faggots, holds in solution as much
moisture as it can contain in an invisible state, no more can be
absorbed from the salt water, and the labour expended in pumping
is entirely wasted. The state of the air, as to dryness, is
therefore an important consideration in fixing the time when this
operation is to be performed; and an attentive examination of its
state, by means of the hygrometer, might be productive of some
economy of labour.
51. In some countries, where wood is scarce, the evaporation
of salt water is carried on by a large collection of ropes which
are stretched perpendicularly. In passing down the ropes, the
water deposits the sulphate of lime which it held in solution,
and gradually incrusts them, so that in the course of twenty
years, when they are nearly rotten, they are still sustained by
the surrounding incrustation, thus presenting the appearance of a
vast collection of small columns.
52. Amongst natural operations perpetually altering the
surface of our globe, there are some which it would be
advantageous to accelerate. The wearing down of the rocks which
impede the rapids of navigable rivers, is one of this class. A
very beautiful process for accomplishing this object has been
employed in America. A boat is placed at the bottom of the rapid,
and kept in its position by a long rope which is firmly fixed on
the bank of the river near the top. An axis, having a wheel
similar to the paddle-wheel of a steamboat fixed at each end of
it, is placed across the boat; so that the two wheels and their
connecting axis shall revolve rapidly, being driven by the force
of the passing current. Let us now imagine several beams of wood
shod with pointed iron fixed at the ends of strong levers,
projecting beyond the bow of the boat, as in the annexed
If these levers are at liberty to move up and down, and if
one or more projecting pieces, called cams, are fixed on the axis
opposite to the end of each lever, the action of the stream upon
the wheels will keep up a perpetual succession of blows. The
sharp-pointed shoe striking upon the rock at the bottom, will
continually detach small pieces, which the stream will
immediately carry off. Thus, by the mere action of the river
itself, a constant and most effectual system of pounding the rock
at its bottom is established. A single workman may, by the aid of
a rudder, direct the boat to any required part of the stream; and
when it is necessary to move up the rapid, as the channel is cut,
he can easily cause the boat to advance by means of a capstan.
53. When the object of the machinery just described has been
accomplished, and the channel is sufficiently deep, a slight
alteration converts the apparatus to another purpose almost
equally advantageous. The stampers and the projecting pieces on
the axis are removed, and a barrel of wood or metal, surrounding
part of the axis, and capable, at pleasure, of being connected
with, or disconnected from the axis itself, is substituted. The
rope which hitherto fastened the boat, is now fixed to this
barrel; and if the barrel is loose upon the axis, the
paddle-wheel makes the axis only revolve, and the boat remains in
its place: but the moment the axis is attached to its surrounding
barrel, this begins to turn, and winding up the rope, the boat is
gradually drawn up against the stream; and may be employed as a
kind of tug-boat for vessels which have occasion to ascend the
rapid. When the tug-boat reaches the summit the barrel is
released from the axis, and friction being applied to moderate
its velocity, the boat is allowed to descend.
54. Clocks occupy a very high place amongst instruments by
means of which human time is economized: and their multiplication
in conspicuous places in large towns is attended with many
advantages. Their position, nevertheless, in London, is often
very ill chosen; and the usual place, halfway up on a high
steeple, in the midst of narrow streets, in a crowded city, is
very unfavourable, unless the church happen to stand out from the
houses which form the street. The most eligible situation for a
clock is, that it should project considerably into the street at
some elevation, with a dial-plate on each side, like that which
belonged to the old church of St Dunstan, in Fleet Street, so
that passengers in both directions would have their attention
directed to the hour.
55. A similar remark applies, with much greater force, to the
present defective mode of informing the public of the position of
the receiving houses for the twopenny and general post. In the
lowest corner of the window of some attractive shop is found a
small slit, with a brass plate indicating its important office so
obscurely. that it seems to be an object rather to prevent its
being conspicuous. No striking sign assists the anxious enquirer,
who, as the moments rapidly pass which precede the hour of
closing, torments the passenger with his enquiries for the
nearest post-office. He reaches it, perhaps, just as it is
closed; and must then either hasten to a distant part of the town
in order to procure the admission of his letters. or give up the
idea of forwarding them by that post; and thus, if they are
foreign letters, he may lose, perhaps, a week or a fortnight by
waiting for the next packet.
The inconvenience in this and in some other cases, is of
perpetual and everyday occurrence; and though, in the greater
part of the individual cases, it may be of trifling moment, the
sum of all these produces an amount, which it is always worthy of
the government of a large and active population to attend to. The
remedy is simple and obvious: it would only be necessary, at each
letter-box, to have a light frame of iron projecting from the
house over the pavement, and carrying the letters G. P., or T.
P., or any other distinctive sign. All private signs are at
present very properly prohibited from projecting into the street:
the passenger, therefore, would at once know where to direct his
attention, in order to discover a post-office; and those
letter-boxes which occurred in the great thoroughfares could not
fail to be generally known.

Chapter 7

Exerting Forces Too Great for Human Power, and Executing
Operations Too Delicate for Human Touch

56. It requires some skill and a considerable apparatus to
enable many men to exert their whole force at a given point; and
when this number amounts to hundreds or to thousands, additional
difficulties present themselves. If ten thousand men were hired
to act simultaneously, it would be exceedingly difficult to
discover whether each exerted his whole force, and consequently,
to be assured that each man did the duty for which he was paid.
And if still larger bodies of men or animals were necessary, not
only would the difficulty of directing them become greater, but
the expense would increase from the necessity of transporting
food for their subsistence.
The difficulty of enabling a large number of men to exert
their force at the same instant of time has been almost obviated
by the use of sound. The whistle of the boatswain performs this
service on board ships; and in removing, by manual force, the
vast mass of granite, weighing above 1,400 tons, on which the
equestrian figure of Peter the Great is placed at St Petersburgh,
a drummer was always stationed on its summit to give the signal
for the united efforts of the workmen.
An ancient Egyptian drawing was discovered a few years since,
by Champollion, in which a multitude of men appeared harnessed to
a huge block of stone, on the top of which stood a single
individual with his hands raised above his head, apparently in
the act of clapping them, for the purpose of insuring the
exertion of their combined force at the same moment of time.
57. In mines, it is sometimes necessary to raise or lower
great weights by capstans requiring the force of more than one
hundred men. These work upon the surface; but the directions must
be communicated from below, perhaps from the depth of two hundred
fathoms. This communication, however, is accomplished with ease
and certainty by signals: the usual apparatus is a kind of
clapper placed on the surface close to the capstan, so that every
man may hear, and put in motion from below by a rope passing up
the shaft.
At Wheal Friendship mine in Cornwall, a different contrivance
is employed: there is in that mine an inclined plane, passing
underground about two-thirds of a mile in length. Signals are
communicated by a continuous rod of metal. which being struck
below, the blow is distinctly heard on the surface.
58. In all our larger manufactories numerous instances occur
of the application of the power of steam to overcome resistances
which it would require far greater expense to surmount by means
of animal labour. The twisting of the largest cables, the
rolling, hammering, and cutting large masses of iron, the
draining of our mines, all require enormous exertions of physical
force continued for considerable periods of time. Other means are
had recourse to when the force required is great, and the space
through which it is to act is small. The hydraulic press of
Bramah can, by the exertion of one man, produce a pressure of
1,500 atmospheres; and with such an instrument a hollow cylinder
of wrought iron three inches thick has been burst. In rivetting
together the iron plates, out of which steam-engine boilers are
made, it is necessary to produce as close a joint as possible.
This is accomplished by using the rivets red-hot: while they are
in that state the two plates of iron are rivetted together, and
the contraction which the rivet undergoes in cooling draws them
together with a force which is only limited by the tenacity of
the metal of which the rivet itself is made.
59. It is not alone in the greater operations of the engineer
or the manufacturer, that those vast powers which man has called
into action, in availing himself of the agency of steam, are
fully developed. Wherever the individual operation demanding
little force for its own performance is to be multiplied in
almost endless repetition, commensurate power is required. It is
the same 'giant arm' which twists 'the largest cable', that spins
from the cotton plant an 'almost gossamer thread'. Obedient to
the hand which called into action its resistless powers, it
contends with the ocean and the storm, and rides triumphant
through dangers and difficulties unattempted by the older modes
of navigation. It is the same engine that, in its more regulated
action, weaves the canvas it may one day supersede. or, with
almost fairy fingers, entwines the meshes of the most delicate
fabric that adorns the female form.(1*)
60. The Fifth Report of the Select Committee of the House of
Commons on the Holyhead Roads furnishes ample proof of the great
superiority of steam vessels. The following extracts are taken
from the evidence of Captain Rogers, the commander of one of the

Question. Are you not perfectly satisfied. from the experience
you have had. that the steam vessel you command is capable of
performing what no sailing vessel can do?
Answer. Yes.

Question. During your passage from Gravesend to the Downs, could
any square-rigged vessel, from a first-rate down to a sloop of
war, have performed the voyage you did in the time you did it in
the steamboat?
Answer. No: it was impossible. In the Downs we passed several
Indiamen, and 150 sail there that could not move down the
channel: and at the back of Dungeness we passed 120 more.

Question. At the time you performed that voyage, with the weather
you have described, from the Downs to Milford. if that weather
had continued twelve months, would any square-rigged vessel have
performed it?
Answer. They would have been a long time about it: probably,
would have been weeks instead of days. A sailing vessel would not
have beat up to Milford, as we did, in twelve months.

61. The process of printing on the silver paper, which is
necessary for bank-notes, is attended with some inconvenience,
from the necessity of damping the paper previously to taking the
impression. It was difficult to do this uniformly. and in the old
process of dipping a parcel of several sheets together into a
vessel of water, the outside sheets becoming much more wet than
the others, were very apt to be torn. A method has been adopted
at the Bank of Ireland which obviates this inconvenience. The
whole quantity of paper to be damped is placed in a close vessel
from which the air is exhausted; water is then admitted, and
every leaf is completely wetted; the paper is then removed to a
press, and all the superfluous moisture is squeezed out.
62. The operation of pulverizing solid substances and of
separating the powders of various degrees of fineness, is common
in the arts: and as the best graduated sifting fails in effecting
this separation with sufficient delicacy, recourse is had to
suspension in a fluid medium. The substance when reduced by
grinding to the finest powder is agitated in water. which is then
drawn off: the coarsest portion of the suspended matter first
subsides, and that which requires the longest time to fall down
is the finest. In this manner even emery powder, a substance of
great density, is separated into the various degrees of fineness
which are required. Flints, after being burned and ground, are
suspended in water, in order to mix them intimately with clay,
which is also suspended in the same fluid. for the formation of
porcelain. The water is then in part evaporated by heat, and the
plastic compound, out of which our most beautiful porcelain is
formed, remains. It is a curious fact, and one which requires
further examination than it has yet received, that, if this
mixture be suffered to remain long at rest before it is worked
up, it becomes useless; for it is then found that the silex,
which at first was uniformly mixed, becomes aggregated together
in small lumps. This parallel to the formation of flints in the
chalk strata deserves attention.(2*)
63. The slowness with which powders subside, depends partly
on the specific gravity of the substance, and partly on the
magnitude of the particles themselves. Bodies, in falling through
a resisting medium, after a certain time acquire a uniform
velocity, which is called their terminal velocity, with which
they continue to descend: when the particles are very small, and
the medium dense, as water, this terminal velocity is soon
arrived at. Some of the finer powders even of emery require
several hours to subside through a few feet of water, and the mud
pumped up into our cisterns by some of the water companies is
suspended during a still longer time. These facts furnish us with
some idea of the great extent over which deposits of river mud
may be spread; for if the mud of any river whose waters enter the
Gulf Stream, sink through one foot in an hour, it might be
carried by that stream 1,500 miles before it had sunk to the
depth of 600 or 700 feet.
64. A number of small filaments of cotton project from even
the best spun thread, and when this thread is woven into muslin
they injure its appearance. To cut these off separately is quite
impossible, but they are easily removed by passing the muslin
rapidly over a cylinder of iron kept at a dull red heat: the time
during which each portion of the muslin is in contact with the
red-hot iron is too short to heat it to the burning point; but
the filaments being much finer, and being pressed close to the
hot metal, are burnt.
The removal of these filaments from patent net is still more
necessary for its perfection. The net is passed at a moderate
velocity through a flame of gas issuing from a very long and
narrow slit. Immediately above the flame a long funnel is fixed,
which is connected with a large air-pump worked by a
steam-engine. The flame is thus drawn forcibly through the net,
and all the filaments on both sides of it are burned off at one
operation. Previously to this application of the air-pump, the
net acting in the same way, although not to the same extent, as
the wire-gauze in Davy's safety lamp, cooled down the flame so as
to prevent the combustion of the filaments on the upper side: the
air-pump by quickening the current of ignited gas, removes this


1. The importance and diversified applications of the steam
engine were most ably enforced in the speeches made at a public
meeting held (June 1824) for the purpose of proposing the
ereection of a monument to the memory of James Watt; these were
subsequently printed.

2. Some observations on the subject, by Dr Fitton, occur in the
appendix to Captain King's Survey of the Coast of Australia, vol.
ii, p. 397. London, 1826.

Chapter 8

Registering Operations

65. One great advantage which we may derive from machinery is
from the check which it affords against the inattention, the
idleness, or the dishonesty of human agents. Few occupations are
more wearisome than counting a series of repetitions of the same
fact; the number of paces we walk affords a tolerably good
measure of distance passed over, but the value of this is much
enhanced by possessing an instrument, the pedometer, which will
count for us the number of steps we have made. A piece of
mechanism of this kind is sometimes applied to count the number
of turns made by the wheel of a carriage, and thus to indicate
the distance travelled: an instrument, similar in. Its object,
but differing in its construction, has been used for counting the
number of strokes made by a steam-engine, and the number of coins
struck in a press. One of the simplest instruments for counting
any series of operations, was contrived by Mr Donkin.(1*)
66. Another instrument for registering is used in some
establishments for calendering and embossing. Many hundred
thousand yards of calicoes and stuffs undergo these operations
weekly; and as the price paid for the process is small, the value
of the time spent in measuring them would bear a considerable
proportion to the profit. A machine has, therefore, been
contrived for measuring and registering the length of the goods
as they pass rapidly through the hands of the operator, by which
all chance of erroneous counting is avoided.
67. Perhaps the most useful contrivance of this kind, is one
for ascertaining the vigilance of a watchman. It is a piece of
mechanism connected with a clock placed in an apartment to which
the watchman has not access; but he is ordered to pull a string
situated in a certain part of his round once in every hour. The
instrument, aptly called a tell-tale, informs the owner whether
the man has missed any, and what hours during the night.
68. It is often of great importance, both for regulations of
excise as well as for the interest of the proprietor, to know the
quantity of spirits or of other liquors which have been drawn off
by those persons who are allowed to have access to the vessels
during the absence of the inspectors or principals. This may be
accomplished by a peculiar kind of stop-cock - which will, at
each opening, discharge only a certain measure of fluid the
number of times the cock has been turned being registered by a
counting apparatus accessible only to the master.
69. The time and labour consumed in gauging the contents of
casks partly filled, has led to an improvement which. by the
simplest means, obviates a considerable inconvenience, and
enables any person to read off, on a scale, the number of gallons
contained in any vessel, as readily as he does the degree of heat
indicated by his thermometer. A small stop-cock connects the
bottom of the cask with a glass tube of narrow bore fixed to a
scale on the side of the cask, and rising a little above its top.
The plug of the cock may be turned into three positions: in the
first, it cuts off all communication with the cask: in the
second, it opens a communication between the cask and the glass
tube: and, in the third. It cuts off the connection between the
cask and the tube, and opens a communication between the tube and
any vessel held beneath the cock to receive its contents. The
scale of the tube is graduated by pouring into the cask
successive quantities of water, while the communication between
the cask and the tube is open. Lines are then drawn on the scale
opposite the places in the tube to which the water rises at each
addition, and the scale being thus formed by actual
measurement,(2*) the contents of each cask are known by
inspection. and the tedious process of gauging is altogether
dispensed with. Other advantages accrue from this simple
contrivance, in the great economy of time which it introduces in
making mixtures of different spirits, in taking stock, and in
receiving spirit from the distiller.
70. The gas-meter, by which the quantity of gas used by each
consumer is ascertained, is another instrument of this kind. They
are of various forms, but all of them intended to register the
number of cubic feet of gas which has been delivered. It is very
desirable that these meters should be obtainable at a moderate
price, and that every consumer should employ them; because, by
making each purchaser pay only for what he consumes, and by
preventing that extravagant waste of gas which we frequently
observe, the manufacturer of gas will be enabled to make an equal
profit at a diminished price to the consumer.
71. The sale of water by the different companies in London,
might also, with advantage. be regulated by a meter. If such a
system were adopted, much water which is now allowed to run to
waste would be saved. and an unjust inequality between the rates
charged on different houses by the same company be avoided.
72. Another most important object to which a meter might be
applied, would be to register the quantity of water passing into
the boilers of steam-engines. Without this, our knowledge of the
quantity evaporated by different boilers, and with fireplaces of
different constructions, as well as our estimation of the duty of
steam-engines, must evidently be imperfect.
73. Another purpose to which machinery for registering
operations is applied with much advantage is the determination of
the average effect of natural or artificial agents. The mean
height of the barometer, for example, is ascertained by noting
its height at a certain number of intervals during the
twenty-four hours. The more these intervals are contracted. the
more correctly will the mean be ascertained; but the true mean
ought to be influenced by each momentary change which has
occurred. Clocks have been proposed and made with this object, by
which a sheet of paper is moved, slowly and uniformly, before a
pencil fixed to a float upon the surface of the mercury in the
cup of the barometer. Sir David Brewster proposed, several years
ago. to suspend a barometer, and swing it as a pendulum. The
variations in the atmosphere would thus alter the centre of
oscillation, and the comparison of such an instrument with a good
clock, would enable us to ascertain the mean altitude of the
barometer during any interval of the observer's absence.(3*)
An instrument for measuring and registering the quantity of
rain, was invented by Mr John Taylor, and described by him in the
Philosophical Magazine. It consists of an apparatus in which a
vessel that receives the rain falling into the reservoir tilts
over as soon as it is full, and then presents another similar
vessel to be filled, which in like manner, when full, tilts the
former one back again. The number of times these vessels are
emptied is registered by a train of wheels; and thus, without the
presence of the observer, the quantity of rain falling during a
whole year may be measured and recorded.
Instruments might also be contrived to determine the average
force of traction of horses - of the wind - of a stream or of any
irregular and fluctuating effort of animal or other natural
74. Clocks and watches may be considered as instruments for
registering the number of vibrations performed by a pendulum or a
balance. The mechanism by which these numbers are counted is
technically called a scapement. It is not easy to describe: but
the various contrivances which have been adopted for this
purpose, are amongst the most interesting and most ingenious to
which mechanical science has given birth. Working models, on an
enlarged scale, are almost necessary to make their action
understood by the unlearned reader; and, unfortunately, these are
not often to be met with. A very fine collection of such models
exists amongst the collection of instruments at the University of
Instruments of this kind have been made to extend their
action over considerable periods of time, and to register not
merely the hour of the day, but the days of the week, of the
month, of the year, and also to indicate the occurrence of
several astronomical phenomena.
Repeating clocks and watches may be considered as instruments
for registering time, which communicate their information only
when the owner requires it, by pulling a string, or by some
similar application.
An apparatus has recently been applied to watches, by which
the hand which indicates seconds leaves a small dot of ink on the
dial-plate whenever a certain stop or detent is pushed in. Thus,
whilst the eye is attentively fixed on the phenomenon to be
observed, the finger registers on the face of the watch-dial the
commencement and the end of its appearance.
75. Several instruments have been contrived for awakening the
attention of the observer at times previously fixed upon. The
various kinds of alarums connected with clocks and watches are of
this kind. In some instances it is desirable to be able to set
them so as to give notice at many successive and distant points
of time, such as those of the arrival of given stars on the
meridian. A clock of this kind is used at the Royal Observatory
at Greenwich.
76. An earthquake is a phenomenon of such frequent
occurrence, and so interesting, both from its fearful
devastations as well as from its connection with geological
theories, that it becomes important to possess an instrument
which shall, if possible, indicate the direction of the shock, as
well as its intensity. An observation made a few years since at
Odessa, after an earthquake which happened during the night,
suggests a simple instrument by which the direction of the shock
may be determined.
A glass vase, partly filled with water, stood on the table of
a room in a house at Odessa; and, from the coldness of the glass,
the inner part of the vessel above the water was coated with dew.
Several very perceptible shocks of an earthquake happened between
three and four o'clock in the morning; and when the observer got
up, he remarked that the dew was brushed off at two opposite
sides of the glass by a wave which the earthquake had caused in
the water. The line joining the two highest points of this wave
was, of course, that in which the shock travelled. This
circumstance, which was accidentally noticed by an engineer at
Odessa,(4*) suggests the plan of keeping, in countries subject to
earthquakes, glass vessels partly filled with treacle, or some
unctuous fluid, so that when any lateral motion is communicated
to them from the earth, the adhesion of the liquid to the glass
shall enable the observer, after some interval of time, to
determine the direction of the shock.
In order to obtain some measure of the vertical oscillation
of the earth, a weight might be attached to a spiral spring, or a
pendulum might be sustained in a horizontal position, and a
sliding index be moved by either of them, so that the extreme
deviations should be indicated by it. This, however, would not
give even the comparative measure accurately, because a
difference in the velocity of the rising or falling of the
earth's surface would affect the instrument.


1. Transactions of the Society of Arts, 1819, p. 116.

2. The contrivance is due to Mr Hencky, of High Holborn, in whose
establishment it is in constant use.

3. About seven or eight years since, without being aware of Sir
David Brewster's proposal. I adapted a barometer, as a pendulum,
to the works of a common eight day clock: it remained in my
library for several months, but I have mislaid the observations
which were made.

4. Memoires de l'Academie des Sciences de Petersburgh, 6e serie,
tom. i. p. 4.

Chapter 9

Economy of the Materials Employed

77. The precision with which all operations by machinery are
executed, and the exact similarity of the articles thus made,
produce a degree of economy in the consumption of the raw
material which is, in some cases, of great importance. The
earliest mode of cutting the trunk of a tree into planks, was by
the use of the hatchet or the adze. It might, perhaps, be first
split into three or four portions, and then each portion was
reduced to a uniform surface by those instruments. With such
means the quantity of plank produced would probably not equal the
quantity of the raw material wasted by the process: and, if the
planks were thin, would certainly fall far short of it. An
improved tool, completely reverses the case: in converting a tree
into thick planks, the saw causes a waste of a very small
fractional part; and even in reducing it to planks of only an
inch in thickness, does not waste more than an eighth part of the
raw material. When the thickness of the plank is still further
reduced, as is the case in cutting wood for veneering, the
quantity of material destroyed again begins to bear a
considerable proportion to that which is used; and hence circular
saws, having a very thin blade, have been employed for such
purposes. In order to economize still further the more valuable
woods, Mr Brunel contrived a machine which, by a system of
blades, cut off the veneer in a continuous shaving, thus
rendering the whole of the piece of timber available.
78. The rapid improvements which have taken place in the
printing press during the last twenty years, afford another
instance of saving in the materials consumed, which has been well
ascertained by measurement, and is interesting from its
connection with literature. In the old method of inking type, by
large hemispherical balls stuffed and covered with leather, the
printer. after taking a small portion of ink from the ink-block,
was continually rolling the balls in various directions against
each other, in order that a thin layer of ink might be uniformly
spread over their surface. This he again transferred to the type
by a kind of rolling action. In such a process, even admitting
considerable skill in the operator, it could not fail to happen
that a large quantity of ink should get near the edges of the
balls, which, not being transferred to the type, became hard and
useless, and was taken off in the form of a thick black crust.
Another inconvenience also arose - the quantity of ink spread on
the block not being regulated by measure, and the number and
direction of the transits of the inking-balls over each other
depending on the will of the operator, and being consequently
irregular, it was impossible to place on the type a uniform layer
of ink, of the quantity exactly sufficient for the impression.
The introduction of cylindrical rollers of an elastic substance,
formed by the mixture of glue and treacle, superseded the
inking-balls, and produced considerable saving in the consumption
of ink: but the most perfect economy was only to be produced by
mechanism. When printing-presses, moved by the power of steam,
were introduced, the action of these rollers was found to be well
adapted to their performance; and a reservoir of ink was formed,
from which a roller regularly abstracted a small quantity at each
impression. From three to five other rollers spread this portion
uniformly over a slab (by most ingenious contrivances varied in
almost each kind of press), and another travelling roller, having
fed itself on the slab, passed and repassed over the type just
before it gave the impression. to the paper.
In order to show that this plan of inking puts the proper
quantity of ink upon the type, we must prove, first - that the
quantity is not too little: this would soon have been discovered
from the complaints of the public and the booksellers; and,
secondly that it is not too great. This latter point was
satisfactorily established by an experiment. A few hours after
one side of a sheet of paper has been printed upon, the ink is
sufficiently dry to allow it to receive the impression upon the
other; and, as considerable pressure is made use of, the tympan
on which the side first printed is laid, is guarded from soiling
it by a sheet of paper called the set-off sheet. This paper
receives, in succession, every sheet of the work to be printed,
acquiring from them more or less of the ink, according to their
dryness, or the quantity upon them. lt was necessary in the
former process, after about one hundred impressions, to change
this set-off sheet, which then became too much soiled for further
use. In the new method of printing by machinery, no such sheet is
used, but a blanket is employed as its substitute; this does not
require changing above once in five thousand impressions, and
instances have occurred of its remaining sufficiently clean for
twenty thousand. Here, then, is a proof that the quantity of
superfluous ink put upon the paper in machine-printing is so
small, that, if multiplied by five thousand, and in some
instances even by twenty thousand, it is only sufficient to
render useless a single piece of clean cloth.(1*) The following
were the results of an accurate experiment upon the effect of the
process just described, made at one of the largest printing
establishments in the metropolis.(2*) Two hundred reams of paper
were printed off, the old method of inking with balls being
employed; two hundred reams of the same paper, and for the same
book, were then printed off in the presses which inked their own
type. The consumption of ink by the machine was to that by the
balls as four to nine, or rather less than one-half.


1. In the very best kind of printing, it is necessary, in the old
method, to change the set-off sheet once in twelve times. In
printing the same kind of work by machinery, the blanket is
changed once in 2000.

2. This experiment was made at the establishment of Mr Clowes, in
Stamford Street.

Chapter 10

Of the Identity of the Work When It is of the Same Kind, and its
Accuracy when of Different Kinds

79. Nothing is more remarkable, and yet less unexpected, than
the perfect identity of things manufactured by the same tool. If
the top of a circular box is to be made to fit over the lower
part, it may be done in the lathe by gradually advancing the tool
of the sliding-rest; the proper degree of tightness between the
box and its lid being found by trial. After this adjustment, if a
thousand boxes are made, no additional care is required; the tool
is always carried up to the stop, and each box will be equally
adapted to every lid. The same identity pervades all the arts of
printing; the impressions from the same block, or the same
copperplate, have a similarity which no labour could produce by
hand. The minutest traces are transferred to all the impressions,
and no omission can arise from the inattention or unskilfulness
of the operator. The steel punch, with which the cardwadding for
a fowling-piece is cut, if it once perform its office with
accuracy, constantly reproduces the same exact circle.
80. The accuracy with which machinery executes its work is,
perhaps, one of its most important advantages: it may, however,
be contended, that a considerable portion of this advantage may
be resolved into saving of time; for it generally happens, that
any improvement in tools increases the quantity of work done in a
given time. Without tools, that is, by the mere efforts of the
human hand, there are, undoubtedly, multitudes of things which it
would be impossible to make. Add to the human hand the rudest
cutting instrument, and its powers are enlarged: the fabrication
of many things then becomes easy, and that of others possible
with great labour. Add the saw to the knife or the hatchet, and
other works become possible, and a new course of difficult
operations is brought into view, whilst many of the former are
rendered easy. This observation is applicable even to the most
perfect tools or machines. It would be possible for a very
skilful workman, with files and polishing substances, to form a
cylinder out of a piece of steel; but the time which this would
require would be so considerable, and the number of failures
would probably be so great, that for all practical purposes such
a mode of producing a steel cylinder might be said to be
impossible. The same process by the aid of the lathe and the
sliding-rest is the everyday employment of hundreds of workmen.
81. Of all the operations of mechanical art, that of turning
is the most perfect. If two surfaces are worked against each
other, whatever may have been their figure at the commencement,
there exists a tendency in them both to become portions of
spheres. Either of them may become convex, and the other concave,
with various degrees of curvature. A plane surface is the line of
separation between convexity and concavity, and is most difficult
to hit; it is more easy to make a good circle than to produce a
straight line. A similar difficulty takes place in figuring
specula for telescopes; the parabola is the surface which
separates the hyperbolic from the elliptic figure, and is the
most difficult to form. If a spindle, not cylindrical at its end,
be pressed into a hole not circular, and kept constantly turning,
there is a tendency in these two bodies so situated to become
conical, or to iron be worked have circular sections. If a
triangular-pointed piece of. and it will round in a circular hole
the edges will gradually wear, become conical. These facts, if
they do not explain, at least illustrate the principles on which
the excellence of work formed in the lathe depends.

Chapter 11

Of Copying

82. The two last-mentioned sources of excellence in the work
produced by machinery depend on a principle which pervades a very
large portion of all manufactures, and is one upon which the
cheapness of the articles produced seems greatly to depend. The
principle alluded to is that of copying, taken in its most
extensive sense. Almost unlimited pains are, in some instances,
bestowed on the original, from which a series of copies is to be
produced; and the larger the number of these copies, the more
care and pains can the manufacturer afford to lavish upon the
original. It may thus happen, that the instrument or tool
actually producing the work, shall cost five or even ten thousand
times the price of each individual specimen of its power.
As the system of copying is of so much importance, and of
such extensive use in the arts, it will be convenient to classify
a considerable number of those processes in which it is employed.
The following enumeration however is not offered as a complete
list; and the explanations are restricted to the shortest
possible detail which is consistent with a due regard to making
the subject intelligible.
Operations of copying are effected under the following

by printing from cavities          by stamping
by printing from surface           by punching
by casting                          with elongation
by moulding                         with altered dimensions

Of printing from cavities

83. The art of printing. in all its numerous departments, is
essentially an art of copying. Under its two great divisions,
printing from hollow lines, as in copperplate, and printing from
surface, as in block printing, are comprised numerous arts.
84. Copperplate printing. In this instance, the copies are
made by transferring to paper, by means of pressure, a thick ink,
from the hollows and lines cut in the copper. An artist will
sometimes exhaust the labour of one or two years upon engraving a
plate, which will not, in some cases furnish above five hundred
copies in a state of perfection.
85. Engravings on steel. This art is like that of engraving
on copper, except that the number of copies is far less limited.
A bank-note engraved as a copperplate, will not give above three
thousand impressions without a sensible deterioration. Two
impressions of a bank-note engraved on steel were examined by one
of our most eminent artists,(1*) who found it difficult to
pronounce with any confidence, which was the earliest impression.
One of these was a proof from amongst the first thousand, the
other was taken after between seventy and eighty thousand had
been printed off.
86. Music printing. Music is usually printed from pewter
plates, on which the characters have been impressed by steel
punches. The metal being much softer than copper, is liable to
scratches, which detain a small portion of the ink. This is the
reason of the dirty appearance of printed music. A new process
has recently been invented by Mr Cowper, by which this
inconvenience will be avoided. The improved method, which give
sharpness to the characters, is still an art of copying; but it
is effected by surface printing, nearly in the same manner as
calico-printing from blocks, to be described hereafter, 96. The
method of printing music from pewter plates, although by far the
most frequently made use of, is not the only one employed, for
music is occasionally printed from stone. Sometimes also it is
printed with moveable type; and occasionally the musical
characters are printed on the paper, and the lines printed
afterwards. Specimens of both these latter modes of
music-printing may be seen in the splendid collection of
impressions from the types of the press of Bodoni at Parma: but
notwithstanding the great care bestowed on the execution of that
work, the perpetual interruption of continuity in the lines,
arising from the use of moveable types, when the characters and
lines are printed at the same time, is apparent.
87. Calico printing from cylinders. Many of the patterns on
printed calicos are copies by printing from copper cylinders
about four or five inches in diameter, on which the desired
pattern has been previously engraved. One portion of the
cylinders is exposed to the ink, whilst an elastic scraper of
very thin steel, by being pressed forcibly against another part,
removes all superfluous ink from the surface previously to its
reaching the cloth. A piece of calico twenty-eight yards in
length rolls through this press, and is printed in four or five
88. Printing from perforated sheets of metal, or stencilling.
Very thin brass is sometimes perforated in the form of letters,
usually those of a name; this is placed on any substance which it
is required to mark, and a brush dipped in some paint is passed
over the brass. Those parts which are cut away admit the paint.
and thus a copy of the name appears on the substance below. This
method, which affords rather a coarse copy, is sometimes used for
paper with which rooms are covered, and more especially for the
borders. If a portion be required to match an old pattern, this
is, perhaps the most economical way of producing it.
89. Coloured impressions of leaves upon paper may be made by
a kind of surface printing. Such leaves are chosen as have
considerable inequalities: the elevated parts of these are
covered, by means of an inking ball, with a mixture of some
pigment ground up in linseed oil; the leaf is then placed between
two sheets of paper, and being gently pressed, the impression
from the elevated parts on each side appear on the corresponding
sheets of paper.
90. The beautiful red cotton handkerchiefs dyed at Glasgow
have their pattern given to them by a process similar to
stencilling, except that instead of printing from a pattern, the
reverse operation that of discharging a part of the colour from a
cloth already dyed - is performed. A number of handkerchiefs are
pressed with very great force between two plates of metal, which
are similarly perforated with round or lozenge-shaped holes,
according to the intended pattern. The upper plate of metal is
surrounded by a rim, and a fluid which has the property of
discharging the red dye is poured upon that plate. This liquid
passes through the holes in the metal, and also through the
calico; but, owing to the great pressure opposite all the parts
of the plates not cut away, it does not spread itself beyond the
pattern. After this, the handkerchiefs are washed, and the
pattern of each is a copy of the perforations in the metal-plate
used in the process.
Another mode by which a pattern is formed by discharging
colour from a previously dyed cloth, is to print on it a pattern
with paste; then, passing it into the dying-vat, it comes out
dyed of one uniform colour But the paste has protected the fibres
of the cotton from the action of the dye or mordant; and when the
cloth so dyed is well washed, the paste is dissolved, and leaves
uncoloured all those parts of the cloth to which it was applied.

Printing from surface

91. This second department of printing is of more frequent
application in the arts than that which has just been considered.
92. Printing from wooden blocks. A block of box wood is, in
this instance, the substance out of which the pattern is formed:
the design being sketched upon it, the workman cuts away with
sharp tools every part except the lines to be represented in the
impression. This is exactly the reverse of the process of
engraving on copper, in which every line to be represented is cut
away. The ink, instead of filling the cavities cut in the wood,
is spread upon the surface which remains, and is thence
transferred to the paper.
93. Printing from moveable types. This is the most important
in its influence of all the arts of copying. It possesses a
singular peculiarity, in the immense subdivision of the parts
that form the pattern. After that pattern has furnished thousands
of copies, the same individual elements may be arranged again and
again in other forms, and thus supply multitudes of originals,
from each of which thousands of their copied impressions may
flow. It also possesses this advantage, that woodcuts may be used
along with the letterpress, and impressions taken from both at
the same operation.
94. Printing from stereotype. This mode of producing copies
is very similar to the preceding. There are two modes by which
stereotype plates are produced. In that most generally adopted a
mould is taken in plaster from the moveable types, and in this
the stereotype plate is cast. Another method has been employed in
France: instead of composing the work in moveable type, it was
set up in moveable copper matrices; each matrix being in fact a
piece of copper of the same size as the type, and having the
impression of the letter sunk into its surface. instead of
projecting in relief. A stereotype plate may, it is evident, be
obtained at once from this arrangement of matrices. The objection
to the plan is the great expense of keeping so large a collection
of matrices.
As the original composition does not readily admit of change,
stereotype plates can only be applied with advantage to cases
where an extraordinary number of copies are demanded. or where
the work consists of figures, and it is of great importance to
ensure accuracy. Trifling alterations may, however, be made in it
from time to time; and thus mathematical tables may, by the
gradual extirpation of error, at last become perfect. This mode
of producing copies possesses, in common with that by moveable
types, the advantage of admitting the use of woodcuts: the copy
of the woodcut in the stereotype plate being equally perfect.
with that of the moveable type. This union is of considerable
importance, and cannot be accomplished with engravings on copper.
95. Lettering books. The gilt letters on the backs of books
are formed by placing a piece of gold leaf upon the leather, and
pressing upon it brass letters previously heated: these cause the
gold immediately under them to adhere to the leather, whilst the
rest of the metal is easily brushed away. When a great number of
copies of the same volume are to be lettered, it is found to be
cheaper to have a brass pattern cut with the whole of the proper
title: this is placed in a press, and being kept hot, the covers,
each having a small bit of leaf-gold placed in the proper
position. are successively brought under the brass, and stamped.
The. lettering at the back of the volume in the reader's hand was
executed in this manner.
96. Calico printing from blocks. This is a mode of copying,
by surface printing. from the ends of small pieces of copper
wire, of various forms, fixed into a block of wood. They are all
of one uniform height, about the eighth part of an inch above the
surface of the wood, and are arranged by the maker into any
required pattern. If the block be placed upon a piece of fine
woollen cloth, on which ink of any colour has been uniformly
spread, the projecting copper wires receive a portion, which they
give up when applied to the calico to be printed. By the former
method of printing on calico, only one colour could be used; but
by this plan, after the flower of a rose, for example, has been
printed with one set of blocks, the leaves may be printed of
another colour by a different set.
97. Printing oilcloth. After the canvas, which forms the
basis of oilcloth, has been covered with paint of one uniform
tint, the remainder of the processes which it passes through, are
a series of copyings by surface printing, from patterns formed
upon wooden blocks very similar to those employed by the calico
printer. Each colour requiring a distinct set of blocks, those
oilcloths with the greatest variety of colours are most
There are several other varieties of printing which we shall
briefly notice as arts of copying; which, although not strictly
surface printing, yet are more allied to it than that from
98. Letter copying. In one of the modes of performing this
process, a sheet of very thin paper is damped, and placed upon
the writing to be copied. The two papers are then passed through
a rolling press, and a portion of the ink from one paper is
transferred to the other. The writing is, of course, reversed by
this process; but the paper to which it is transferred being
thin, the characters are seen through it on the other side, in
their proper position. Another common mode of copying letters is
by placing a sheet of paper covered on both sides with a
substance prepared from lamp-black, between a sheet of thin paper
and the paper on which the letter to be despatched is to be
written. If the upper or thin sheet be written upon with any hard
pointed substance, the word written with this style will be
impressed from the black paper upon both those adjoining it. The
translucency of the upper sheet, which is retained by the writer,
is in this instance necessary to render legible the writing which
is on the back of the paper. Both these arts are very limited in
their extent, the former affording two or three, the latter from
two to perhaps ten or fifteen copies at the same time.
99. Printing on china. This is an art of copying which is
carried to a very great extent. As the surfaces to which the
impression is to be conveyed are often curved, and sometimes even
fluted, the ink, or paint, is first transferred from the copper
to some flexible substance, such as paper, or an elastic compound
of glue and treacle. It is almost immediately conveyed from this
to the unbaked biscuit, to which it more readily adheres.
100. Lithographic printing. This is another mode of producing
copies in almost unlimited number. The original which supplies
the copies is a drawing made on a stone of a slightly porous
nature. the ink employed for tracing it is made of such greasy
materials that when water is poured over the stone it shall not
wet the lines of the drawing. When a roller covered with printing
ink, which is of an oily nature, is passed over the stone
previously wetted, the water prevents this ink from adhering to
the uncovered portions; whilst the ink used in the drawing is of
such a nature that the printing ink adheres to it. In this state,
if a sheet of paper be placed upon the stone, and then passed
under a press, the printing ink will be transferred to the paper,
leaving the ink used in the drawing still adhering to the stone.
101. There is one application of lithographic printing which
does not appear to have received sufficient attention, and
perhaps further experiments are necessary to bring it to
perfection. It is the reprinting of works which have just arrived
from other countries. A few years ago one of the Paris newspapers
was reprinted at Brussels as soon as it arrived by means of
lithography. Whilst the ink is yet fresh, this may easily be
accomplished: it is only necessary to place one copy of the
newspaper on a lithographic stone; and by means of great pressure
applied to it in a rolling press, a sufficient quantity of the
printing ink will be transferred to the stone. By similar means,
the other side of the newspaper may be copied on another stone,
and these stones will then furnish impressions in the usual way.
If printing from stone could be reduced to the same price per
thousand as that from moveable types, this process might be
adopted with great advantage for the supply of works for the use
of distant countries possessing the same language. For a single
copy might be printed off with transfer ink, and thus an English
work, for example, might be published in America from stone,
whilst the original, printed from moveable types, made its
appearance on the same day in England.
102. It is much to be wished that such a method were
applicable to the reprinting of facsimiles of old and scarce
books. This, however, would require the sacrifice of two copies,
since a leaf must be destroyed for each page. Such a method of
reproducing a small impression of an old work, is peculiarly
applicable to mathematical tables, the setting up of which in
type is always expensive and liable to error.. but how long ink
will continue to be transferable to stone, from paper on which it
has been printed, must be determined by experiment. The
destruction of the greasy or oily portion of the ink in the
character of old books, seems to present the greatest impediment;
if one constituent only of the ink were removed by time, it might
perhaps be hoped, that chemical means would ultimately be
discovered for restoring it: but if this be unsuccessful, an
attempt might be made to discover some substance having a strong
affinity for the carbon of the ink which remains on the paper,
and very little for the paper itself.(2*)
103. Lithographic prints have occasionally been executed in
colours. In such instances a separate stone seems to have been
required for each colour, and considerable care, or very good
mechanism, must have been employed to adjust the paper to each
stone. If any two kinds of ink should be discovered mutually
inadhesive, one stone might be employed for two inks; or if the
inking-roller for the second and subsequent colours had portions
cut away corresponding to those parts of the stone inked by the
previous ones, then several colours might be printed from the
same stone: but these principles do not appear to promise much,
except for coarse subjects.
104. Register printing. It is sometimes thought necessary to
print from a wooden block, or stereotype plate, the same pattern
reversed upon the opposite side of the paper. The effect of this,
which is technically called Register printing, is to make it
appear as if the ink had penetrated through the paper, and
rendered the pattern visible on the other side. If the subject
chosen contains many fine lines, it seems at first sight
extremely difficult to effect so exact a super position of the
two patterns, on opposite sides of the same piece of paper, that
it shall be impossible to detect the slightest deviation; yet the
process is extremely simple. The block which gives the impression
is always accurately brought down to the same place by means of a
hinge; this spot is covered by a piece of thin leather stretched
over it; the block is now inked, and being brought down to its
place, gives an impression of the pattern to the leather: it is
then turned back; and being inked a second time, the paper
intended to be printed is placed upon the leather, when the block
again descending, the upper surface of the paper is printed from
the block, and its undersurface takes up the impression from the
leather. It is evident that the perfection of this mode of
printing depends in a great measure on finding some soft
substance like leather, which will take as much ink as it ought
from the block, and which will give it up most completely to
paper. Impressions thus obtained are usually fainter on the lower
side; and in order in some measure to remedy this defect, rather
more ink is put on the block at the first than at the second

Of copying by casting

105. The art of casting, by pouring substances in a fluid
state into a would which retains them until they become solid, is
essentially an art of copying; the form of the thing produced
depending entirely upon that of the pattern from which it was
106. Of casting iron and other metals. Patterns of wood or
metal made from drawings are the originals from which the moulds
for casting are made: so that, in fact, the casting itself is a
copy of the mould; and the mould is a copy of the pattern. In
castings of iron and metals for the coarser purposes, and, if
they are afterwards to be worked. even for the finer machines,
the exact resemblance amongst the things produced, which takes
place in many of the arts to which we have alluded, is not
effected in the first instance, nor is this necessary. As the
metals shrink in cooling, the pattern is made larger than the
intended copy; and in extricating it from the sand in which it is
moulded, some little difference will occur in the size of the
cavity which it leaves. In smaller works. where accuracy is more
requisite, and where few or no after operations are to be
performed, a mould of metal is employed which has been formed
with considerable care. Thus, in casting bullets, which ought to
be perfectly spherical and smooth, an iron instrument is used, in
which a cavity has been cut and carefully ground; and, in order
to obviate the contraction in cooling, a jet is left which may
supply the deficiency of metal arising from that cause, and which
is afterwards cut off. The leaden toys for children are cast in
brass moulds which open, and in which have been graved or
chiselled the figures intended to be produced.
107. A very beautiful mode of representing small branches of
the most delicate vegetable productions in bronze has been
employed by Mr Chantrey. A small strip of a fir-tree, a branch of
holly, a curled leaf of broccoli, or any other vegetable
production, is suspended by one end in a small cylinder of paper
which is placed for support within a similarly formed tin case.
The finest river silt, carefully separated from all the coarser
particles. and mixed with water, so as to have the consistency of
cream. is poured into the paper cylinder by small portions at a
time. carefully shaking the plant a little after each addition,
in order that its leaves may be covered, and that no bubbles of
air may be left. The plant and its mould are now allowed to dry,
and the yielding nature of the paper allows the loamy coating to
shrink from the outside.  When this is dry it is surrounded by a
coarser substance; and, finally, we have the twig with all its
leaves embedded in a perfect mould. This mould is carefully
dried, and then gradually heated to a red heat. At the ends of
some of the leaves or shoots, wires have been left to afford
airholes by their removal, and in this state of strong ignition a
stream of air is directed into the hole formed by the end of the
branch. The consequence is, that the wood and leaves which had
been turned into charcoal by the fire, are now converted into
carbonic acid by the current of air; and, after some time, the
whole of the solid matter of which the plant consisted is
completely removed, leaving a hollow mould, bearing on its
interior all the minutest traces of its late vegetable occupant.
When this process is completed, the mould being still kept at
nearly a red heat, receives the fluid metal, which, by its
weight, either drives the very small quantity of air, which at
that high temperature remains behind, out very through the
airholes, or compresses it into the pores of very porous
substance of which the mould is formed.
108. When the form of the object intended to be cast is such
that the pattern cannot be extricated from its mould of sand or
plaster, it becomes necessary to make the pattern with wax, or
some other easily fusible substance. The sand or plaster is
moulded round this pattern, and, by the application of heat, the
wax is extricated through an opening left purposely for its
109. It is often desirable to ascertain the form of the
internal cavities, inhabited by molluscous animals, such as those
of spiral shells, and of the various corals. This may be
accomplished by filling them with fusible metal, and dissolving
the substance of the shell by muriatic acid; thus a metallic
solid will remain which exactly filled all the cavities. If such
forms are required in silver, or any other difficulty fusible
metal, the shells may be filled with wax or resin, then dissolved
away; and the remaining waxen form may serve as the pattern from
which a plaster mould may be made for casting the metal. Some
nicety will be required in these operations; and perhaps the
minuter cavities can only be filled under an exhausted receiver.
110. Casting in plaster. This is a mode of copying applied to
a variety of purposes: to produce accurate representations of the
human form - of statues - or of rare fossils - to which latter
purpose it has lately been applied with great advantage. In all
casting, the first process is to make the mould; and plaster is
the substance which is almost always employed for the purpose.
The property which it possesses of remaining for a short time in
a state of fluidity, renders it admirably adapted to this object,
and adhesion, even to an original of plaster, is effectually
prevented by oiling the surface on which it is poured. The mould
formed round the subject which is copied, removed in separate
pieces and then reunited, is that in which the copy is cast. This
process gives additional utility and value to the finest works of
art. The students of the Academy at Venice are thus enabled to
admire the sculptured figures of Egina, preserved in the gallery
at Munich; as well as the marbles of the Parthenon, the pride of
our own Museum. Casts in plaster of the Elgin marbles adorn many
of the academies of the Continent; and the liberal employment of
such presents affords us an inexpensive and permanent source of
111. Casting in wax. This mode of copying, aided by proper
colouring, offers the most successful imitations of many objects
of natural history, and gives an air of reality to them which
might deceive even the most instructed. Numerous figures of
remarkable persons, having the face and hands formed in wax, have
been exhibited at various times; and the resemblances have, in
some instances been most striking. But whoever would see the art
of copying in wax carried to the highest perfection, should
examine the beautiful collection of fruit at the house of the
Horticultural Society. the model of the magnificent flower of the
new genus Rafflesia - the waxen models of the internal parts of
the human body which adorn the anatomical gallery of the Jardin
des Plantes at Paris, and the Museum at Florence - or the
collection of morbid anatomy at the University of Bologna. The
art of imitation by wax does not usually afford the multitude of
copies which flow from many similar operations. This number is
checked by the subsequent stages of the process, which, ceasing
to have the character of copying by a tool or pattern, become
consequently more expensive. In each individual production, form
alone is given by casting; the colouring must be the work of the
pencil, guided by the skill of the artist.

Of copying by moulding

112. This method of producing multitudes of individuals
having an exact resemblance to each other in external shape, is
adopted very widely in the arts. The substances employed are,
either naturally or by artificial preparation, in a soft or
plastic state; they are then compressed by. mechanical force,
sometimes assisted by heat, into a mould of the required form.
113. Of bricks and tiles. An oblong box of wood fitting upon
a bottom fixed to the brickmaker's bench, is the mould from which
every brick is formed. A portion of the plastic mixture of which
the bricks consist is made ready by less skilful hands: the
workman first sprinkles a little sand into the mould, and then
throws the clay into it with some force; at the same time rapidly
working it with his fingers, so as to make it completely close up
to the corners. He next scrapes off, with a wetted stick, the
superfluous clay, and shakes the new-formed brick dexterously out
of its mould upon a piece of board, on which it is removed by
another workman to the place appointed for drying it. A very
skilful moulder has occasionally, in a long summer's day,
delivered from ten to eleven thousand bricks; but a fair average
day's work is from five to six thousand. Tiles of. various kinds
and forms are made of finer materials, but by the same system of
moulding. Among the ruins of the city of Gour, the ancient
capital of Bengal, bricks are found having projecting ornaments
in high relief: these appear to have been formed in a mould, and
subsequently glazed with a coloured glaze. In Germany, also,
brickwork has been executed with various ornaments. The cornice
of the church of St Stephano, at Berlin, is made of large blocks
of brick moulded into the form required by the architect. At the
establishment of Messrs Cubitt, in Gray's Inn Lane, vases,
cornices, and highly ornamented capitals of columns are thus
formed which rival stone itself in elasticity, hardness, and
114. Of embossed china. Many of the forms given to those
beautiful specimens of earthenware which constitute the equipage
of our breakfast and our dinner-tables, cannot be executed in the
lathe of the potter. The embossed ornaments on the edges of the
plates, their polygonal shape, the fluted surface of many of the
vases, would all be difficult and costly of execution by the
hand; but they become easy and comparatively cheap, when made by
pressing the soft material out of which they are formed into a
hard mould. The care and skill bestowed on the preparation of
that mould are repaid by the multitude it produces. In many of
the works of the china manufactory, one part only of the article
is moulded; the upper surface of the plate, for example, whilst
the under side is figured by the lathe. In some instances, the
handle, or only a few ornaments, are moulded, and the body of the
work is turned.
115. Glass seals. The process of engraving upon gems requires
considerable time and skill. The seals thus produced can
therefore never become common. Imitations, however, have been
made of various degrees of resemblance. The colour which is given
to glass is, perhaps, the most successful part of the imitation.
A small cylindrical rod of coloured glass is heated in the flame
of a blowpipe, until the extremity becomes soft. The operator
then pinches it between the ends of a pair of nippers, which are
formed of brass, and on one side of which the device intended for
the seal has been carved in relief. When the mould has been well
finished and care is taken in heating the glass properly, the
seals thus produced are not bad imitations; and by this system of
copying they are so multiplied, that the more ordinary kinds are
sold at Birmingham for three pence a dozen.
116. Square glass bottles. The round forms which are usually
given to vessels of glass are readily produced by the expansion
of the air with which they are blown. It is, however, necessary
in many cases to make bottles of a square form, and each capable
of holding exactly the same quantity of fluid. It is also
frequently desirable to have imprinted on them the name of the
maker of the medicine or other liquid they are destined to
contain. A mould of iron, or of copper, is provided of the
intended size, on the inside of which are engraved the names
required. This mould, which is used in a hot state, opens into
two parts, to allow the insertion of the round, unfinished
bottle, which is placed in it in a very soft state before it is
removed from the end of the iron tube with which it was blown.
The mould is now closed, and the glass is forced against its
sides, by blowing strongly into the bottle.
117. Wooden snuff boxes. Snuff boxes ornamented with devices,
in imitation of carved work or of rose engine turning, are sold
at a price which proves that they are only imitations. The wood,
or horn, out of which they are formed, is softened by long
boiling in water, and whilst in this state it is forced into
moulds of iron, or steel, on which are cut the requisite
patterns, where it remains exposed to great pressure until it is
118. Horn knife handles and umbrella handles. The property
which horn possesses of becoming soft by the action of water and
of heat, fits it for many useful purposes. It is pressed into
moulds, and becomes embossed with figures in relief, adapted to
the objects to which it is to be applied. If curved, it may be
straightened; or if straight, it may be bent into any forms which
ornament or utility may require; and by the use of the mould
these forms may be multiplied in endless variety. The commoner
sorts of knives, the crooked handles for umbrellas, and a
multitude of other articles to which horn is applied, attest the
cheapness which the art of copying gives to the things formed of
this material.
119. Moulding tortoise-shell. The same principle is applied
to things formed out of the shell of the turtle, or the land
tortoise. From the greatly superior price of the raw material,
this principle of copying is, however, more rarely employed upon
it; and the few carvings which are demanded, are usually
performed by hand.
120. Tobacco-pipe making. This simple art is almost entirely
one of copying. The moulds are formed of iron, in two parts, each
embracing one half of the stem; the line of junction of these
parts may generally be observed running lengthwise from one end
of the pipe to the other. The hole passing to the bowl is formed
by thrusting a long wire through the clay before it is enclosed
in the mould. Some of the moulds have figures, or names, sunk in
the inside, which give a corresponding figure in relief upon the
finished pipe.
121. Embossing upon calico. Calicoes of one colour, but
embossed all over with raised patterns, though not much worn in
this country, are in great demand in several foreign markets.
This appearance is produced by passing them between rollers, on
one of which is figured in intaglio the pattern to be transferred
to the calico. The substance of the cloth is pressed very
forcibly into the cavities thus formed, and retains its pattern
after considerable use. The watered appearance in the cover of
the volume in the reader's hands is produced in a similar manner.
A cylinder of gun-metal, on which the design of the watering is
previously cut, is pressed by screws against another cylinder,
formed out of pieces of brown paper which have been strongly
compressed together and accurately turned. The two cylinders are
made to revolve rapidly, the paper one being slightly damped,
and, after a few minutes, it takes an impression from the upper
or metal one. The glazed calico is now passed between the
rollers, its glossy surface being in contact with the metal
cylinder, which is kept hot by a heated iron enclosed within it.
Calicoes are sometimes watered by placing two pieces on each
other in such a position that the longitudinal threads of the one
are at right angles to those of the other, and compressing them
in this state between flat rollers. The threads of the one piece
produce indentations in those of the other, but they are not so
deep as when produced by the former method.
122. Embossing upon leather. This art of copying from
patterns previously engraved on steel rollers is in most respects
similar to the preceding. The leather is forced into the
cavities, and the parts which are not opposite to any cavity are
powerfully condensed between the rollers.
123. Swaging. This is an art of copying practised by the
smith. In order to fashion his iron and steel into the various
forms demanded by his customers, he has small blocks of steel
into which are sunk cavities of different shapes; these are
called swages, and are generally in pairs. Thus if he wants a
round bolt, terminating in a cylindrical head of larger diameter,
and having one or more projecting rims, he uses a corresponding
swaging tool; and having heated the end of his iron rod, and
thickened it by striking the end in the direction of the axis
(which is technically called upsetting), he places its head upon
one part of the lage; and whilst an assistant holds the other
part on the top of the hot iron, he strikes it several times with
his hammer, occasionally turning the head one quarter round. The
heated iron is thus forced by the blows to assume the form of the
mould into which it is impressed.
124. Engraving by pressure. This is one of the most beautiful
examples of the art of copying carried to an almost unlimited
extent; and the delicacy with which it can be executed, and the
precision with which the finest traces of the graving tool can be
transferred from steel to copper, or even from hard steel to soft
steel, is most unexpected. We are indebted to Mr Perkins for most
of the contrivances which have brought this art at once almost to
perfection. An engraving is first made upon soft steel, which is
hardened by a peculiar process without in the least injuring its
delicacy. A cylinder of soft steel, pressed with great force
against the hardened steel engraving, is now made to roll very
slowly backward and forward over it, thus receiving the design,
but in relief. The cylinder is in its turn hardened without
injury., and if it be slowly rolled to and fro with strong
pressure on successive plates of copper, it will imprint on a
thousand of them a perfect facsimile of the original steel
engraving from which it was made. Thus the number of copies
producible from the same design may be multiplied a
thousand-fold. But even this is very far short of the limits to
which the process may be extended. The hardened steel roller,
bearing the design upon it in relief may be employed to make a
few of its first impressions upon plates of soft steel, and these
being hardened become the representatives of the original
engraving, and may in their turn be made the parents of other
rollers, each generating copperplates like their prototype. The
possible extent to which facsimiles of one original engraving may
thus be multiplied, almost confounds the imagination, and appears
to be for all practical purposes unlimited.
This beautiful art was first proposed by Mr Perkins for the
purpose of rendering the forgery of bank notes a matter of great
difficulty; and there are two principles which peculiarly adapt
it to that object: first, the perfect identity of all the
impressions, so that any variation in the minutest line would at
once cause detection; secondly, that the original plates may be
formed by the united labours of several artists most eminent in
their respective departments; for as only one original of each
design is necessary, the expense, even of the most elaborate
engraving, will be trifling, compared with the multitude of
copies produced from it.
125. It must, however, be admitted that the principle of
copying itself furnishes an expedient for imitating any engraving
or printed pattern, however complicated; and thus presents a
difficulty which none of the schemes devised for the prevention
of forgery appear to have yet effectually obviated. In attempting
to imitate the most perfect banknote, the first process would be
to place it with the printed side downwards upon a stone or other
substance, on which, by passing it through a rolling-press, it
might be firmly fixed. The next object would be to discover some
solvent which should dissolve the paper, but neither affect the
printing-ink, nor injure the stone or substance to which it is
attached. Water does not seem to do this effectually, and perhaps
weak alkaline or acid solutions would be tried. If, however, this
could be fully accomplished, and if the stone or other substance,
used to retain the impression, had those properties which enable
us to print from it, innumerable facsimiles of the note might
obviously be made, and the imitation would be complete. Porcelain
biscuit, which has recently been used with a black lead pencil
for memorandum books, seems in some measure adapted for such
trials, since its porosity may be diminished to any required
extent by regulating the dilution of the glazing.
126. Gold and silver moulding. Many of the mouldings used by
jewellers consist of thin slips of metal, which have received
their form by passing between steel rollers, on which the pattern
is embossed or engraved; thus taking a succession of copies of
the devices intended.
127. Ornamental papers. Sheets of paper coloured or covered
with gold or silver leaf, and embossed with various patterns, are
used for covering books, and for many ornamental purposes. The
figures upon these are produced by the same process, that of
passing the sheets of paper between engraved rollers.

Of copying by stamping

128. This mode of copying is extensively employed in the
arts. It is generally executed by means of large presses worked
with a screw and heavy flywheel. The materials on which the
copies are impressed are most frequently metals, and the process
is sometimes executed when they are hot, and in one case when the
metal is in a state between solidity and fluidity.
129. Coins and medals. The whole of the coins which circulate
as money are produced by this mode of copying. The screw presses
are either worked by manual labour, by water, or by steam power.
The mint which was sent a few years since to Calcutta was capable
of coining 200,000 pieces a day. Medals, which usually have their
figures in higher relief than coins, are produced by similar
means; but a single blow is rarely sufficient to bring them to
perfection, and the compression of the metal which arises from
the first blow renders it too hard to receive many subsequent
blows without injury to the die. It is therefore, after being
struck, removed to a furnace, in which it is carefully heated
red-hot and annealed, after which operation it is again placed
between the dies, and receives additional blows. For medals, on
which the figures are very prominent, these processes must be
repeated many times. One of the largest medals hitherto struck
underwent them nearly a hundred times before it was completed.
130. Ornaments for military accoutrements, and furniture.
These are usually of brass, and are stamped up out of solid or
sheet brass by placing it between dies, and allowing a heavy
weight to drop upon the upper die from a height of from five to
fifteen feet.
131. Buttons and nail heads. Buttons embossed with crests or
other devices are produced by the same means; and some of those
which are plain receive their hemispherical form from the dies in
which they are struck. The heads of several kinds of nails which
are portions of spheres, or polyhedrons, are also formed by these
132. Of a process for copying, called in France clichee. This
curious method of copying by stamping is applied to medals, and
in some cases to forming stereotype plates. There exists a range
of temperature previous to the melting point of several of the
alloys of lead, tin, and antimony, in which the compound is
neither solid, nor yet fluid. In this kind of pasty state it is
placed in a box under a die, which descends upon it with
considerable force. The blow drives the metal into the finest
lines of the die, and the coldness of the latter immediately
solidifies the whole mass. A quantity of the half-melted metal is
scattered in all directions by the blow, and is retained by the
sides of the box in which the process is carried on. The work
thus produced is admirable for its sharpness, but has not the
finished form of a piece just leaving the coining-press: the
sides are ragged, and it must be trimmed, and its thickness
equalized in the lathe.

Of copying by punching

133. This mode of copying consists in driving a steel punch
through the substance to be cut, either by a blow or by pressure.
In some cases the object is to copy the aperture, and the
substance separated from the plate is rejected; in other cases
the small pieces cut out are the objects of the workman's labour.
134. Punching iron plate for boilers. The steel punch used
for this purpose is from three-eighths to three-quarters of an
inch in diameter, and drives out a circular disk from a plate of
iron from one-quarter to five eighths of an inch thick.
135. Punching tinned iron. The ornamental patterns of open
work which decorate the tinned and japanned wares in general use,
are rarely punched by the workman who makes them. In London the
art of punching out these patterns in screw-presses is carried on
as a separate trade; and large quantities of sheet tin are thus
perforated for cullenders, wine-strainers, borders of waiters,
and other similar purposes. The perfection and the precision to
which the art has been carried are remarkable. Sheets of copper,
too, are punched with small holes about the hundredth of an inch
in diameter, in such multitudes that more of the sheet metal is
removed than remains behind; and plates of tin have been
perforated with above three thousand holes in each square inch.
136. The inlaid plates of brass and rosewood, called buhl
work, which ornament our furniture, are, in some instances,
formed by punching; but in this case, both the parts cut out, and
those which remain, are in many cases employed. In the remaining
illustrations of the art of copying by punching, the part made
use of is that which is punched out.
137. Cards for guns. The substitution of a circular disk of
thin card instead of paper, for retaining in its place the charge
of a fowling-piece, is attended with considerable advantage. It
would, however, be of little avail, unless an easy method was
contrived of producing an unlimited number of cards, each exactly
fitting the bore of the barrel. The small steel tool used for
this purpose cuts out innumerable circles similar to its cutting
end, each of which precisely fills the barrel for which it was
138. Ornaments of gilt paper. The golden stars, leaves, and
other devices, sold in shops for the purpose of ornamenting
articles made of paper and pasteboard, and other fancy works, are
cut by punches of various forms out of sheets of gilt paper.
139. Steel chains. The chain used in connecting the
mainspring and fusee in watches and clocks, is composed of small
pieces of sheet steel, and it is of great importance that each of
these pieces should be of exactly the same size. The links are of
two sorts; one of them consisting of a single oblong piece of
steel with two holes in it, and the other formed by connecting
two of the same pieces of steel, placed parallel to each other,
and at a small distance apart, by two rivets. The two kinds of
links occur alternately in the chain: each end of the single
pieces being placed between the ends of two others, and connected
with them by a rivet passing through all three. If the rivet
holes in the pieces for the double links are not precisely at
equal distances, the chain will not be straight, and will,
consequently, be unfit for its purpose.

Copying with elongation

140. In this species of copying there exists but little
resemblance between the copy and the original. It is the
cross-section only of the thing produced which is similar to the
tool through which it passes. When the substances to be operated
upon are hard, they must frequently pass in succession through
several holes, and it is in some cases necessary to anneal them
at intervals.
141. Wire drawing. The metal to be converted into wire is
made of a cylindrical form, and drawn forcibly through circular
holes in plates of steel: at each passage it becomes smaller.
and, when finished, its section at any point is a precise copy of
the last hole through which it passed. Upon the larger kinds of
wire, fine lines may sometimes be traced, running longitudinally.
these arise from slight imperfections in the holes of the
draw-plates. For many purposes of the arts, wire, the section of
which is square or half round, is required: the same method of
making it is pursued, except that the holes through which it is
drawn are in such cases themselves square, or half-round, or of
whatever other form the wire is required to be. A species of wire
is made, the section of which resembles a star with from six to
twelve rays; this is called pinion wire, and is used by the
clockmakers. They file away all the rays from a short piece,
except from about half an inch near one end: this becomes a
pinion for a clock; and the leaves or teeth are already burnished
and finished, from having passed through the draw-plate.
142. Tube drawing. The art of forming tubes of uniform
diameter is nearly similar in its mode of execution to wire
drawing. The sheet brass is bent round and soldered so as to form
a hollow cylinder; and if the diameter outside is that which is
required to be uniform, it is drawn through a succession of
holes, as in wire drawing: If the inside diameter is to be
uniform, a succession of steel cylinders, called triblets, are
drawn through the brass tube. In making tubes for telescopes, it
is necessary that both the inside and outside should be uniform.
A steel triblet, therefore, is first passed into the tube, which
is then drawn through a succession of holes, until the outside
diameter is reduced to the required size. The metal of which the
tube is formed is condensed between these holes and the steel
cylinder within; and when the latter is withdrawn the internal
surface appears polished. The brass tube is considerably extended
by this process, sometimes even to double its first length.
143. Leaden pipes. Leaden pipes for the conveyance of water
were formerly made by casting; but it has been found that they
can be made both cheaper and better by drawing them through holes
in the manner last described. A cylinder of lead, of five or six
inches in diameter and about two feet long, is cast with a small
hole through its axis, and an iron triblet of about fifteen feet
in length is forced into the hole. It is then drawn through a
series of holes, until the lead is extended upon the triblet from
one end to the other, and is of the proper thickness in
proportion to the size of the pipe.
144. Iron rolling. When cylinders of iron of greater
thickness than wire are required, they are formed by passing
wrought iron between rollers, each of which has sunk in it a
semi-cylindrical groove; and as such rollers rarely touch
accurately, a longitudinal line will usually be observed in the
cylinders so manufactured. Bar iron is thus shaped into all the
various forms of round, square, half-round, oval, etc. in which
it occurs in commerce. A particular species of moulding is thus
made, which resembles, in its section, that part of the frame of
a window which separates two adjacent panes of glass. Being much
stronger than wood, it can be considerably reduced in thickness,
and consequently offers less obstruction to the light; it is much
used for skylights.
145. It is sometimes required that the iron thus produced
should not be of uniform thickness throughout. This is the case
in bars for railroads, where greater depth is required towards
the middle of the rail which is at the greatest distance from the
supports. This form is produced by cutting the groove in the
rollers deeper at those parts where additional strength is
required, so that the hollow which surrounds the roller would, if
it could be unwound, be a mould of the shape the iron is intended
to fit.
146. Vermicelli. The various forms into which this paste is
made are given by forcing it through holes in tin plate. It
passes through them, and appears on the other side in long
strings. The cook makes use of the same method in preparing
butter and ornamental pastry for the table, and the confectioner
in forming cylindrical lozenges of various composition.

Of copying with altered dimensions

147. Of the pentagraph. This mode of copying is chiefly used
for drawings or maps: the instrument is simple; and, although
usually employed in reducing, is capable of enlarging the size of
the copy. An automaton figure, exhibited in London a short time
since, which drew profiles of its visitors, was regulated by a
mechanism on this principle. A small aperture in the wall,
opposite the seat in which the person is placed whose profile is
taken, conceals a camera lucida, which is placed in an adjoining
apartment: and an assistant, by moving a point, connected by a
pentagraph with the hand of the automaton, over the outline of
the head, causes the figure to trace a corresponding profile.
148. By turning. The art of turning might perhaps itself be
classed amongst the arts of copying. A steel axis, called a
mandril, having a pulley attached to the middle of it, is
supported at one end either by a conical point, or by a
cylindrical collar, and at the other end by another collar,
through which it passes. The extremity which projects beyond this
last collar is formed into a screw, by which various instruments,
called chucks, can be attached to it. These chucks are intended
to hold the various materials to be submitted to the operation of
turning, and have a great variety of forms. The mandril with the
chuck is made to revolve by a strap which passes over the pulley
that is attached to it, and likewise over a larger wheel moved
either by the foot, or by its connection with steam or water
power. All work which is executed on a mandril partakes in some
measure of the irregularities in the form of that mandril; and
the perfect circularity of section which ought to exist in every
part of the work, can only be ensured by an equal accuracy in the
mandril and its collar.
149. Rose engine turning. This elegant art depends in a great
measure on copying. Circular plates of metal called rosettes,
having various indentations on the surfaces and edges, are fixed
on the mandril, which admits of a movement either end-wise or
laterally: a fixed obstacle called the 'touch', against which the
rosettes are pressed by a spring, obliges the mandril to follow
their indentations, and thus causes the cutting tool to trace out
the same pattern on the work. The distance of the cutting tool
from the centre being usually less than the radius of the
rosette, causes the copy to be much diminished.
150. Copying dies. A lathe has been long known in France, and
recently been used at the English mint for copying dies. A blunt
point is carried by a very slow spiral movement successively over
every part of the die to be copied, and is pressed by a weight
into all the cavities; while a cutting point connected with it by
the machine traverses the face of a piece of soft steel, in which
it cuts the device of the original die on the same or on a
diminished scale. The degree of excellence of the copy increases
in proportion as it is smaller than the original. The die of a
crown-piece will furnish by copy a very tolerable die for a
sixpence. But the chief use to be expected from this lathe is to
prepare all the coarser parts, and leave only the finer and more
expressive lines for the skill and genius of the artist.
151. Shoe-last making engine. An instrument not very unlike
in principle was proposed for the purpose of making shoe lasts. A
pattern last of a shoe for the right foot was placed in one part
of the apparatus, and when the machine was moved, two pieces of
wood, placed in another part which had been previously adjusted
by screws, were cut into lasts greater or less than the original,
as was desired; and although the pattern was for the right foot,
one of the lasts was for the left, an effect which was produced
by merely interposing a wheel which reversed the motion between
the two pieces of wood to be cut into lasts.
152. Engine for copying busts. Many years since, the late Mr
Watt amused himself with constructing an engine to produce copies
of busts or statues, either of the same size as the original, or
in a diminished proportion. The substances on which he operated
were various, and some of the results were shown to his friends,
but the mechanism by which they were made has never been
described. More recently, Mr Hawkins, who, nearly at the same
time, had also contrived a similar machine, has placed it in the
hands of an artist, who has made copies in ivory from a variety
of busts. The art of multiplying in different sizes the figures
of the sculptor, aided by that of rendering their acquisition
cheap through the art of casting, promises to give additional
value to his productions, and to diffuse more widely the pleasure
arising from their possession.
153. Screw cutting. When this operation is performed in the
lathe by means of a screw upon the mandril, it is essentially an
art of copying, but it is only the number of threads in a given
length which is copied; the form of the thread, and length as
well as the diameter of the screw to be cut, are entirely
independent of those from which the copy is made. There is
another method of cutting screws in a lathe by means of one
pattern screw, which, being connected by wheels with the mandril,
guides the cutting point. In this process, unless the time of
revolution of the mandril is the same as that of the screw which
guides the cutting point, the number of threads in a given length
will be different. If the mandril move quicker than the cutting
point, the screw which is produced will be finer than the
original; if it move slower, the copy will be more coarse than
the original. The screw thus generated may be finer or coarser -
it may be larger or smaller in diameter - it may have the same or
a greater number of threads than that from which it is copied;
yet all the defects which exist in the original will be
accurately transmitted, under the modified circumstances, to
every individual generated from it.
154. Printing from copper plates with altered dimensions.
Some very singular specimens of an art of copying, not yet made
public, were brought from Paris a few years since. A watchmaker
in that city, of the name of Gonord, had contrived a method by
which he could take from the same copperplate impressions of
different sizes, either larger or smaller than the original
design. Having procured four impressions of a parrot, surrounded
by a circle, executed in this manner, I showed them to the late
Mr Lowry, an engraver equally distinguished for his skill, and
for the many mechanical contrivances with which he enriched his
art. The relative dimensions of the several impressions were 5.5,
6.3, 8.4, 15.0, so that the largest was nearly three times the
linear size of the smallest; and Mr Lowry assured me, that he was
unable to detect any lines in one which had not corresponding
lines in the others. There appeared to be a difference in the
quantity of ink, but none in the traces of the engraving; and,
from the general appearance, it was conjectured that the largest
but one was the original impression from the copperplate.
The means by which this singular operation was executed have
not been published; but two conjectures were formed at the time
which merit notice. It was supposed that the artist was in
possession of some method of transferring the ink from the lines
of a copperplate to the surface of some fluid, and of
retransferring the impression from the fluid to paper. If this
could be accomplished, the print would, in the first instance, be
of exactly the same size as the copper from which it was derived;
but if the fluid were contained in a vessel having the form of an
inverted cone, with a small aperture at the bottom, the liquid
might be lowered or raised in the vessel by gradual abstraction
or addition through the apex of the cone; in this case, the
surface to which the printing-ink adhered would diminish or
enlarge, and in this altered state the impression might be
retransferred to paper. It must be admitted, that this
conjectural explanation is liable to very considerable
difficulties; for, although the converse operation of taking an
impression from a liquid surface has a parallel in the art of
marbling paper, the possibility of transferring the ink from the
copper to the fluid requires to be proved.
Another and more plausible explanation is founded on the
elastic nature of the compound of glue and treacle, a substance
already in use in transferring engravings to earthenware. It is
conjectured, that an impression from the copperplate is taken
upon a large sheet of this composition; that this sheet is then
stretched in both directions, and that the ink thus expanded is
transferred to paper. If the copy is required to be smaller than
the original, the elastic substance must first be stretched, and
then receive the impression from the copperplate: on removing the
tension it will contract, and thus reduce the size of the design.
It is possible that one transfer may not in all cases suffice; as
the extensibility of the composition of glue and treacle,
although considerable, is still limited. Perhaps sheets of India
rubber of uniform texture and thickness, may be found to answer
better than this composition; or possibly the ink might be
transferred from the copper plate to the surface of a bottle of
this gum, which bottle might, after being expanded by forcing air
into it, give up the enlarged impression to paper. As it would
require considerable time to produce impressions in this manner,
and there might arise some difficulty in making them all of
precisely the same size, the process might be rendered more
certain and expeditious by performing that part of the operation
which depends on the enlargement or diminution of the design only
once; and, instead of printing from the soft substance.
transferring the design from it to stone: thus a considerable
portion of the work would be reduced to an art already well
known, that of lithography. This idea receives some confirmation
from the fact, that in another set of specimens, consisting of a
map of St Petersburgh, of several sizes, a very short line,
evidently an accidental defect, occurs in all the impressions of
one particular size, but not in any of a different size.
155. Machine to produce engraving from medals. An instrument
was contrived, a long time ago, and is described in the Manuel de
Tourneur, by which copperplate engravings are produced from
medals and other objects in relief. The medal and the copper are
fixed on two sliding plates at right angles to each other, so
connected that, when the plate on which the medal is fixed is
raised vertically by a screw, the slide holding the copperplate
is advanced by an equal quantity in the horizontal direction. The
medal is fixed on the vertical slide with its face towards the
copperplate, and a little above it.
A bar, terminating at one end in a tracing point, and at the
other in a short arm, at right angles to the bar, and holding a
diamond point, is placed horizontally above the copper; so that
the tracing point shall touch the medal to which the bar is
perpendicular, and the diamond point shall touch the copperplate
to which the arm is perpendicular.
Under this arrangement, the bar being supposed to move
parallel to itself, and consequently to the copper, if the
tracing point pass over a flat part of the medal, the diamond
point will draw a straight line of equal length upon the copper;
but, if the tracing point pass over any projecting part of the
medal, the deviation from the straight line by the diamond point,
will be exactly equal to the elevation of the corresponding point
of the medal above the rest of the surface. Thus, by the transit
of this tracing point over any line upon the medal, the diamond
will draw upon the copper a section of the medal through that
A screw is attached to the apparatus, so that if the medal be
raised a very small quantity by the screw, the copperplate will
be advanced by the same quantity, and thus a new line of section
may be drawn: and, by continuing this process, the series of
sectional lines on the copper produces the representation of the
medal on a plane: the outline and the form of the figure arising
from the sinuosities of the lines, and from their greater or less
proximity. The effect of this kind of engraving is very striking;
and in some specimens gives a high degree of apparent relief. It
has been practised on plate glass, and is then additionally
curious from the circumstance of the fine lines traced by the
diamond being invisible, except in certain lights.
From this description, it will have been seen that the
engraving on copper must be distorted; that is to say, that the
projection on the copper cannot be the same as that which arises
from a perpendicular projection of each point of the medal upon a
plane parallel to itself. The position of the prominent parts
will be more altered than that of the less elevated; and the
greater the relief of the medal the more distorted will be its
engraved representation. Mr John Bate, son of Mr Bate, of the
Poultry, has contrived an improved machine, for which he has
taken a patent, in which this source of distortion is remedied.
The head, in the title page of the present volume, is copied from
a medal of Roger Bacon, which forms one of a series of medals of
eminent men, struck at the Royal Mint at Munich, and is the first
of the published productions of this new art.(3*)
The inconvenience which arises from too high a relief in the
medal, or in the bust, might be remedied by some mechanical
contrivance, by which the deviation of the diamond point from the
right line (which it would describe when the tracing point
traverses a plane), would be made proportional not to the
elevation of the corresponding point above the plane of the
medal, but to its elevation above some other parallel plane
removed to a fit distance behind it. Thus busts and statues might
be reduced to any required degree of relief.
156. The machine just described naturally suggests other
views which seem to deserve some consideration, and, perhaps,
some experiment. If a medal were placed under the tracing point
of a pentagraph, an engraving tool substituted for the pencil,
and a copperplate in the place of the paper; and if, by some
mechanism, the tracing point, which slides in a vertical plane,
could, as it is carried over the different elevations of the
medal, increase or diminish the depth of the engraved line
proportionally to the actual height of the corresponding point on
the medal, then an engraving would be produced, free at least
from any distortion, although it might be liable to objections of
a different kind. If, by any similar contrivance, instead of
lines, we could make on each point of the copper a dot, varying
in size or depth with the altitude of the corresponding point of
the medal above its plane, than a new species of engraving would
be produced: and the variety of these might again be increased,
by causing the graving point to describe very small circles, of
diameters, varying with the height of the point on the medal
above a given plane; or by making the graving tool consist of
three equidistant points, whose distance increased or diminished
according to some determinate law, dependent on the elevation of
the point represented above the plane of the medal. It would,
perhaps, be difficult to imagine the effects of some of these
kinds of engraving; but they would all possess, in common, the
property of being projections, by parallel lines, of the objects
represented, and the intensity of the shade of the ink would
either vary according to some function of the distance of the
point represented from some given plane, or it would be a little
modified by the distances from the same plane of a few of the
immediately contiguous points.
157. The system of shading maps by means of lines of equal
altitude above the sea bears some analogy to this mode of
representing medals, and if applied to them would produce a
different species of engraved resemblance. The projections on the
plane of the medal, of the section of an imaginary plane, placed
at successive distances above it, with the medal itself, would
produce a likeness of the figure on the medal, in which all the
inclined parts of it would be dark in proportion to their
inclination. Other species of engraving might be conceived by
substituting, instead of the imaginary plane, an imaginary sphere
or other solid, intersecting the figure in the medal.
158. Lace made by caterpillars. A most extraordinary species
of manufacture, which is in a slight degree connected with
copying, has been contrived by an officer of engineers residing
at Munich. It consists of lace, and veils, with open patterns in
them, made entirely by caterpillars. The following is the mode of
proceeding adopted: he makes a paste of the leaves of the plant,
which is the usual food of the species of caterpillar(4*) he
employs, and spreads it thinly over a stone, or other flat
substance. He then, with a camel-hair pencil dipped in olive oil,
draws upon the coating of paste the pattern he wishes the insects
to leave open. This stone is then placed in an inclined position,
and a number of the caterpillars are placed at the bottom. A
peculiar species is chosen, which spins a strong web; and the
animals commencing at the bottom, eat and spin their way up to
the top, carefully avoiding every part touched by the oil, but
devouring all the rest of the paste. The extreme lightness of
these veils, combined with some strength, is truly surprising.
One of them, measuring twenty-six and a half inches by seventeen
inches, weighed only 1.51 grains; a degree of lightness which
will appear more strongly by contrast with other fabrics. One
square yard of the substance of which these veils are made weighs
4 1/3 grains, whilst one square yard of silk gauze weighs 137
grains, and one square yard of the finest patent net weighs 262
1/2 grains. The ladies' coloured muslin dresses, mentioned in the
table subjoined, cost ten shillings per dress, and each weigh six
ounces; the cotton from which they are made weighing nearly six
and two-ninth ounces avoirdupois weight.

Weight of one square yard of each of the following articles(5*)

Weight of
Weight      cotton used
Value    finished of    in waking
per yard  one square    one square
Description of goods       measure      yard             yard

s. d.    Troy grains    Troy grains

Caterpillar veils           --          4 1/3            --
Silk gauze 3-4 wide        1  0          137             --
Finest patent net           --        262 1/2            --
Fine cambric muslin         --           551             --
6-4ths jaconet muslin      2  0          613            670
Ladies' coloured muslin dresses 3 0     788            875
6-4ths cambric             1   2         972           1069
9-8ths calico               0  9          988           1085
1/2-yard nankeen           0  8         2240           2432

159. This enumeration, which is far from complete, of the
arts in which copying is the foundation, may be terminated with
an example which has long been under the eye of the reader;
although few, perhaps, are aware of the number of repeated
copyings of which these very pages are the subject.
1. They are copies, by printing, from stereotype plates.
2. These stereotype plates are copied, by the art of casting,
from moulds formed of plaster of Paris.
3. These moulds are themselves copied by casting the plaster
in a liquid state upon the moveable types set up by the
[It is here that the union of the intellectual and the
mechanical departments takes place. The mysteries, however, of an
author's copying, form no part of our enquiry, although it may be
fairly remarked, that, in numerous instances, the mental far
eclipses the mechanical copyist.]
4. These moveable types, the obedient messengers of the most
opposite thoughts, the most conflicting theories, are themselves
copies by casting from moulds of copper called matrices.
5. The lower part of those matrices, bearing the impressions
of the letters or characters, are copies, by punching, from steel
punches on which the same characters exist in relief.
6. These steel punches are not themselves entirely exempted
from the great principle of art. Many of the cavities which exist
in them, such as those in the middle of the punches for the
letters a, b, d, e, g, etc., are produced from other steel
punches in which these parts are in relief.
We have thus traced through six successive stages of copying
the mechanical art of printing from stereotype plates: the
principle of copying contributing in this, as in every other
department of manufacture, to the uniformity and the cheapness of
the work produced.


1. The late Mr Lowry.

2. I posses a lithographic reprint of a page of a table, which
appears, from the from of the type, to have been several years

3. The construction of the engraving becomes evident on examining
it with a lens of sufficient power to show the continuity of the

4. The Phalaena pardilla, which feeds on the Prunus padus.

5. Some of these weights and measures are calculated from a
statement in the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons
on Printed Cotton Goods; and the widths of the pieces there given
are presumed to be the real widths, not those by which they are
called in the retail shops.

Chapter 12

On the Method of Observing Manufacturies

160. Having now reviewed the mechanical principles which
regulate the successful application of mechanical science to
great establishments for the production of manufactured goods, it
remains for us to suggest a few enquiries, and to offer a few
observations, to those whom an enlightened curiosity may lead to
examine the factories of this or of other countries.
The remark - that it is important to commit to writing all
information as soon as possible after it is received, especially
when numbers are concerned - applies to almost all enquiries. It
is frequently impossible to do this at the time of visiting an
establishment, although not the slightest jealousy may exist; the
mere act of writing information as it is communicated orally, is
a great interruption to the examination of machinery. In such
cases, therefore, it is advisable to have prepared beforehand the
questions to be asked, and to leave blanks for the answers, which
may be quickly inserted, as, in a multitude of cases, they are
merely numbers. Those who have not tried this plan will be
surprised at the quantity of information which may, through its
means, be acquired, even by a short examination. Each manufacture
requires its own list of questions, which will be better drawn up
after the first visit. The following outline, which is very
generally applicable, may suffice for an illustration; and to
save time, it may be convenient to have it printed; and to bind
up, in the form of a pocket-book, a hundred copies of the
skeleton forms for processes, with about twenty of the general

Outlines of a description of any of the mechanical arts ought to
contain information on the following points

Brief sketch of its history, particularly the date of its
invention, and of its introduction into England.
Short reference to the previous states through which the
material employed has passed: the places whence it is procured:
the price of a given quantity.
[The various processes must now be described successively
according to the plan which will be given in (161); after which
the following information should be given.]
Are various kinds of the same article made in one
establishment, or at different ones, and are there differences in
the processes?
To what defects are the goods liable?
What substitutes or adulterations are used?
What waste is allowed by the master?
What tests are there of the goodness of the manufactured
The weight of a given quantity, or number, and a comparison
with that of the raw material?
The wholesale price at the manufactory? (£  s. d.) per (  )
The usual retail price? (£  s. d.)
Who provide tools? Master, or men? Who repair tools? Master,
or men?
What is the expense of the machinery?
What is the annual wear and tear, and what its duration?
Is there any particular trade for making it? Where?
Is it made and repaired at the manufactory?
In any manufactory visited, state the number ( ) of
processes; and of the persons employed in each process; and the
quantity of manufactured produce.
What quantity is made annually in Great Britain?
Is the capital invested in manufactories large or small?
Mention the principal seats of this manufacture in England;
and if it flourishes abroad, the places where it is established.
The duty, excise. or bounty, if any, should be stated, and
any alterations in past years; and also the amount exported or
imported for a series of years.
Whether the same article, but of superior, equal, or inferior
make, is imported?
Does the manufacturer export, or sell, to a middleman, who
supplies the merchant?
To what countries is it chiefly sent? and in what goods are
the returns made?

161. Each process requires a separate skeleton, and the
following outline will be sufficient for many different

Process ( ) Manufacture ( )
Place ( ) Name ( )
date    183

The mode of executing it, with sketches of the tools or
machine if necessary.
The number of persons necessary to attend the machine. Are
the operatives men. ( ) women, ( ) or children? ( ) If mixed,
what are the proportions?
What is the pay of each? (s. d.) (s. d. ) (s. d.) per ( )
What number ( ) of hours do they work per day?
Is it usual, or necessary, to work night and day without
stopping? Is the labour performed by piece- or by day-work?
Who provide tools? Master, or men? Who repair tools? Master,
or men? What degree of skill is required, and how many years' ( )
The number of times ( ) the operation is repeated per day or
per hour?
The number of failures ( ) in a thousand?
Whether the workmen or the master loses by the broken or
damaged articles?
What is done with them?
If the same process is repeated several times, state the
diminution or increase of measure, and the loss, if any, at each

162. In this skeleton, the answers to the questions are in
some cases printed, as 'Who repair the tools? - Masters, Men'; in
order that the proper answer may be underlined with a pencil. In
filling up the answers which require numbers, some care should be
taken: for instance, if the observer stands with his watch in his
hand before a person heading a pin, the workman will almost
certainly increase his speed, and the estimate will be too large.
A much better average will result from enquiring what quantity is
considered a fair day's work. When this cannot be ascertained,
the number of operations performed in a given time may frequently
be counted when the workman is quite unconscious that any person
is observing him. Thus the sound made by the motion of a loom may
enable the observer to count the number of strokes per minute,
even though he is outside the building in which it is contained.
M. Coulomb, who had great experience in making such observations,
cautions those who may repeat his experiments against being
deceived by such circumstances: 'Je prie' (says he) 'ceux qui
voudront les repeter, s'ils n'ont pas le temps de mesurer les
resultats apres plusiers jours d'un travail continu, d'observer
les ouvriers a differentes reprises dans la journee, sans qu'ils
sachent qu'ils sont observes. L'on ne peut trop avertir combien
l'on risque de se tromper en calculant, soit la vitesse, soit le
temps effectif du travail, d'apres une observation de quelques
minutes.' Memoires de l'Institut. vol. II, p. 247. It frequently
happens, that in a series of answers to such questions, there are
some which, although given directly, may also be deduced by a
short calculation from others that are given or known; and
advantage should always be taken of these verifications, in order
to confirm the accuracy of the statements; or, in case they are
discordant, to correct the apparent anomalies. In putting lists
of questions into the hands of a person undertaking to give
information upon any subject, it is in some cases desirable to
have an estimate of the soundness of his judgement. The questions
can frequently be so shaped, that some of them may indirectly
depend on others; and one or two may be inserted whose answers
can be obtained by other methods: nor is this process without its
advantages in enabling us to determine the value of our own
judgement. The habit of forming an estimate of the magnitude of
any object or the frequency of any occurrence, immediately
previous to our applying to it measure or number, tends
materially to fix the attention and to improve the judgement.

The Economy of Machinery and Manufactures

by Charles Babbage


Section II

On the domestic and political economy of manufactures

Chapter 13

Distinction Between Making and Manufacturing

163. The economical principles which regulate the application
of machinery, and which govern the interior of all our great
factories, are quite as essential to the prosperity of a great
commercial country, as are those mechanical principles, the
operation of which has been illustrated in the preceding section.
The first object of every person who attempts to make any
article of consumption, is, or ought to be, to produce it in a
perfect form; but in order to secure to himself the greatest and
most permanent profit, he must endeavour, by every means in his
power, to render the new luxury or want which he has created,
cheap to those who consume it. The larger number of purchasers
thus obtained will, in some measure, secure him from the caprices
of fashion, whilst it furnishes a far greater amount of profit,
although the contribution of each individual is diminished. The
importance of collecting data, for the purpose of enabling the
manufacturer to ascertain how many additional customers he will
acquire by a given reduction in the price of the article he
makes, cannot be too strongly pressed upon the attention of those
who employ themselves in statistical enquiries. In some ranks of
society, no diminution of price can bring forward a great
additional number of customers; whilst, amongst other classes, a
very small reduction will so enlarge the sale, as to yield a
considerable increase of profit. Materials calculated to assist
in forming a table of the numbers of persons who possess incomes
of different amount, occur in the 14th Report of the
Commissioners of Revenue Inquiry., which includes a statement of
the amount of personal property proved at the legacy office
during one year; the number of the various classes of testators;
and an account of the number of persons receiving dividends from
funded property, distributed into classes. Such a table, formed
even approximately, and exhibited in the form of a curve, might
be of service.
164. A considerable difference exists between the terms
making and manufacturing. The former refers to the production of
a small, the latter to that of a very large number of
individuals; and the difference is well illustrated in the
evidence, given before the Committee of the House of Commons, on
the Export of Tools and Machinery. On that occasion Mr Maudslay
stated, that he had been applied to by the Navy Board to make
iron tanks for ships, and that he was rather unwilling to do so,
as he considered it to be out of his line of business; however,
he undertook to make one as a trial. The holes for the rivets
were punched by hand-punching with presses, and the 1680 holes
which each tank required cost seven shillings. The Navy Board,
who required a large number, proposed that he should supply forty
tanks a week for many months. The magnitude of the order made it
worth his while to commence manufacture, and to make tools for
the express business. Mr Maudslay therefore offered, if the Board
would give him an order for two thousand tanks, to supply them at
the rate of eighty per week. The order was given: he made tools,
by which the expense of punching the rivet-holes of each tank was
reduced from seven shillings to ninepence; he supplied
ninety-eight tanks a week for six months, and the price charged
for each was reduced from seventeen pounds to fifteen.
165. If, therefore, the maker of an article wish to become a
manufacturer, in the more extended sense of the term, he must
attend to other principles besides those mechanical ones on which
the successful execution of his work depends; and he must
carefully arrange the whole system of his factory in such a
manner, that the article he sells to the public may be produced
at as small a cost as possible. Should he not be actuated at
first by motives so remote, he will, in every highly civilized
country, be compelled, by the powerful stimulus of competition,
to attend to the principles of the domestic economy of
manufactures. At every reduction in price of the commodity he
makes, he will be driven to seek compensation in a saving of
expense in some of the processes; and his ingenuity will be
sharpened in this enquiry by the hope of being able in his turn
to undersell his rivals. The benefit of the improvements thus
engendered is, for a short time, confined to those from whose
ingenuity they derive their origin; but when a sufficient
experience has proved their value, they become generally adopted,
until in their turn they are superseded by other more economical

Chapter 14

Of Money as a Medium of Exchange

166. In the earlier stages of societies the interchange of
the few commodities required was conducted by barter. but as soon
as their wants became more varied and extensive, the necessity of
having some common measure of the value of all commodities -
itself capable of subdivision - became apparent: thus money was
introduced. In some countries shells have been employed for this
purpose; but civilized nations have, by common consent, adopted
the precious metals.(1*) The sovereign power has, in most
countries, assumed the right of coining; or, in other words, the
right of stamping with distinguishing marks, pieces of metal
having certain forms and weights and a certain degree of
fineness: the marks becoming a guarantee, to the people amongst
whom the money circulates, that each piece is of the required
weight and quality.
The expense of manufacturing gold into coin, and that of the
loss arising from wear, as well as of interest on the capital
invested in it, must either be defrayed by the State, or be
compensated by a small reduction in its weight, and is a far less
cost to the nation than the loss of time and inconvenience which
would arise from a system of exchange or barter.
167. These coins are liable to two inconveniences: they may
be manufactured privately by individuals, of the same quality,
and similarly stamped; or imitations may be made of inferior
metal, or of diminished weight. The first of these inconveniences
would be easily remedied by making the current value of the coin
nearly equal to that of the same weight of the metal; and the
second would be obviated by the caution of individuals in
examining the external characters of each coin, and partly by the
punishment inflicted by the State on the perpetrators of such
168. The subdivisions of money vary in different countries,
and much time may be lost by an inconvenient system of division.
The effect is felt in keeping extensive accounts, and
particularly in calculating the interest on loans, or the
discount upon bills of exchange. The decimal system is the best
adapted to facilitate all such calculations; and it becomes an
interesting question to consider whether our own currency might
not be converted into one decimally divided. The great step, that
of abolishing the guinea, has already been taken without any
inconvenience, and but little is now required to render the
change complete.
169. If, whenever it becomes necessary to call in the
half-crowns, a new coin of the value of two shillings were
issued, which should be called by some name implying a unit (a
prince, for instance), we should have the tenth part of a
sovereign. A few years after, when the public were familiar with
this coin, it might be divided into one hundred instead of
ninety-six farthings; and it would then consist of twenty-five
pence, each of which would be four per cent. less in value than
the former penny. The shillings and six-pences being then
withdrawn from circulation, their place might be supplied with
silver coins each worth five of the new pence, and by others of
ten-pence, and of twopence halfpenny; the latter coin, having a
distinct name, would be the tenth part of a prince.
170. The various manufactured commodities, and the various
property possessed by the inhabitants of a country, all become
measured by the standard thus introduced. But it must be observed
that the value of gold is itself variable; and that, like all
other commodities, its price depends on the extent of the demand
compared with that of the supply.
171. As transactions multiply, and the sums to be paid become
large, the actual transfer of the precious metals from one
individual to another is attended with inconvenience and
difficulty, and it is found more convenient to substitute written
promises to pay on demand specified quantities of gold. These
promises are called bank-notes; and when the person or body
issuing them is known to be able to fulfil the pledge, the note
will circulate for a long time before it gets into the hands of
any person who may wish to make use of the gold it represents.
These paper representatives supply the place of a certain
quantity of gold; and, being much cheaper, a large portion of the
expense of a metallic circulation is saved by their employment.
172. As commercial transactions increase, the transfer of
bank-notes is, to a considerable extent, superseded by shorter
processes. Banks are established, into which all monies are paid,
and out of which all payments are made, through written orders
called checks, drawn by those who keep accounts with them. In a
large capital, each bank receives, through its numerous
customers, checks payable by every other; and if clerks were sent
round to receive the amount in banknotes due from each, it would
occupy much time, and be attended with some risk and
173. Clearing house. In London this is avoided, by making all
checks paid in to bankers pass through what is technically called
The Clearing House. In a large room in Lombard Street, about
thirty clerks from the several London bankers take their
stations, in alphabetical order, at desks placed round the room;
each. having a small open box by his side, and the name of the
firm to which he belongs in large characters on the wall above
his head. From time to time other clerks from every house enter
the room, and, passing along, drop into the box the checks due by
that firm to the house from which this distributor is sent. The
clerk at the table enters the amount of the several checks in a
book previously prepared, under the name of the bank to which
they are respectively due.
Four o'clock in the afternoon is the latest hour to which the
boxes are open to receive checks; and at a few minutes before
that time, some signs of increased activity begin to appear in
this previously quiet and business-like scene. Numerous clerks
then arrive, anxious to distribute, up to the latest possible
moment, the checks which have been paid into the houses of their
At four o'clock all the boxes are removed, and each clerk
adds up the amount of the checks put into his box and payable by
his own to other houses. He also receives another book from his
own house, containing the amounts of the checks which their
distributing clerk has put into the box of every other banker.
Having compared these, he writes out the balances due to or from
his own house, opposite the name of each of the other banks; and
having verified this statement by a comparison with the similar
list made by the clerks of those houses, he sends to his own bank
the general balance resulting from this sheet, the amount of
which, if it is due from that to other houses, is sent back in
At five o'clock the Inspector takes his seat; when each
clerk, who has upon the result of all the transactions a balance
to pay to various other houses, pays it to the inspector, who
gives a ticket for the amount. The clerks of those houses to whom
money is due, then receive the several sums from the inspector,
who takes from them a ticket for the amount. Thus the whole of
these payments are made by a double system of balance, a very
small amount of bank-notes passing from hand to hand, and
scarcely any coin.
174. It is difficult to form a satisfactory estimate of the
sums which daily pass through this operation: they fluctuate from
two millions to perhaps fifteen. About two millions and a half
may possibly be considered as something like an average,
requiring for its adjustment, perhaps, £200,000 in bank notes and
£20 in specie. By an agreement between the different bankers, all
checks which have the name of any firm written across them must
pass through the clearing house: consequently, if any such check
should be lost, the firm on which it is drawn would refuse to pay
it at the counter; a circumstance which adds greatly to the
convenience of commerce.
The advantage of this system is such, that two meetings a day
have been recently established - one at twelve, the other at
three o'clock; but the payment of balances takes place once only,
at five o'clock.
If all the private banks kept accounts with the Bank of
England, it would be possible to carry on the whole of these
transactions with a still smaller quantity of circulating medium.
175. In reflecting on the facility with which these vast
transactions are accomplished - supposing, for the sake of
argument, that they form only the fourth part of the daily
transactions of the whole community - it is impossible not to be
struck with the importance of interfering as little as possible
with their natural adjustment. Each payment indicates a transfer
of property made for the benefit of both parties; and if it were
possible, which it is not, to place, by legal or other means,
some impediment in the way which only amounted to one-eighth per
cent, such a species of friction would produce a useless
expenditure of nearly four millions annually: a circumstance
which is deserving the attention of those who doubt the good
policy of the expense incurred by using the precious metals for
one portion of the currency of the country.
176. One of the most obvious differences between a metallic
and a paper circulation is, that the coin can never, by any panic
or national danger, be reduced below the value of bullion in
other civilized countries; whilst a paper currency may, from the
action of such causes, totally lose its value. Both metallic and
paper money, it is true, may be depreciated, but with very
different effects.
1. Depreciation of coin. The state may issue coin of the same
nominal value, but containing only half the original quantity of
gold, mixed with some cheap alloy; but every piece so issued
bears about with it internal evidence of the amount of the
depreciation: it is not necessary that every successive
proprietor should analyse the new coin; but a few having done so,
its intrinsic worth becomes publicly known. Of course the coin
previously in circulation is now more valuable as bullion, and
quickly disappears. All future purchases adjust themselves to the
new standard, and prices are quickly doubled; but all past
contracts also are vitiated, and all persons to whom money is
owing, if compelled to receive payment in the new coin, are
robbed of one-half of their debt, which is confiscated for the
benefit of the debtor.
2. Depreciation of paper. The depreciation of paper money
follows a different course. If, by any act of the Government
paper is ordained to be a legal tender for debts, and, at the
same time, ceases to be exchangeable for coin, those who have
occasion to purchase of foreigners, who are not compelled to take
the notes, will make some of their payments in gold; and if the
issue of paper, unchecked by the power of demanding the gold it
represents, be continued, the whole of the coin will soon
disappear. But the public, who are obliged to take the notes, are
unable, by any internal evidence, to detect the extent of their
depreciation; it varies with the amount in circulation, and may
go on till the notes shall be worth little more than the paper on
which they are printed. During the whole of this time every
creditor is suffering to an extent which he cannot measure; and
every bargain is rendered uncertain in its advantage, by the
continually changing value of the medium through which it is
conducted. This calamitous course has actually been run in
several countries: in France, it reached nearly its extreme limit
during the existence of assignats. We have ourselves experienced
some portion of the misery it creates; but by a return to sounder
principles, have happily escaped the destruction and ruin which
always attends the completion of that career.
177. Every person in a civilized country requires, according
to his station in life, the use of a certain quantity of money,
to make the ordinary purchases of the articles which he consumes.
The same individual pieces of coin, it is true, circulate again
and again, in the same district: the identical piece of silver,
received by the workman on Saturday night, passing through the
hands of the butcher, the baker, and the small tradesman, is,
perhaps, given by the latter to the manufacturer in exchange for
his check, and is again paid into the hands of the workman at the
end of the succeeding week. Any deficiency in this supply of
money is attended with considerable inconvenience to all parties.
If it be only in the smaller coins, the first effect is a
difficulty in procuring small change; then a disposition in the
shopkeepers to refuse change unless a purchase to a certain
amount be made; and, finally, a premium in money will be given
for changing the larger denominations of coin.
Thus money itself varies in price, when measured by other
money in larger masses: and this effect takes place whether the
circulating medium is metallic or of paper. These effects have
constantly occurred, and particularly during the late war; and,
in order to relieve it, silver tokens for various sums were
issued by the Bank of England.
The inconvenience and loss arising from a deficiency of small
money fall with greatest weight on the classes whose means are
least; for the wealthier buyers can readily procure credit for
their small purchases, until their bill amounts to one of the
larger coins.
178. As money, when kept in a drawer, produces nothing, few
people, in any situation of life, will keep, either in coin or in
notes, more than is immediately necessary for their use; when,
therefore, there are no profitable modes of employing money, a
superabundance of paper will return to the source from whence it
issued, and an excess of coin will be converted into bullion and
179. Since the worth of all property is measured by money, it
is obviously conducive to the general welfare of the community,
that fluctuations in its value should be rendered as small and as
gradual as possible.
The evils which result from sudden changes in the value of
money will perhaps become more sensible, if we trace their
effects in particular instances. Assuming, as we are quite at
liberty to do, an extreme case, let us suppose three persons,
each possessing a hundred pounds: one of these, a widow advanced
in years, and who, by the advice of her friends, purchases with
that sum an annuity of twenty pounds a year during her life: and
let the two others be workmen, who, by industry and economy, have
each saved a hundred pounds out of their wages; both these latter
persons proposing to procure machines for calendering, and to
commence that business. One of these invests his money in a
savings' bank; intending to make his own calendering machine, and
calculating that he shall expend twenty pounds in materials, and
the remaining eighty in supporting himself and in paying the
workmen who assist him in constructing it. The other workman,
meeting with a machine which he can buy for two hundred pounds,
agrees to pay for it a hundred pounds immediately, and the
remainder at the end of a twelvemonth. Let us now imagine some
alteration to take place in the currency, by which it is
depreciated one-half: prices soon adjust themselves to the new
circumstances, and the annuity of the widow, though nominally of
the same amount, will, in reality, purchase only half the
quantity of the necessaries of life which it did before. The
workman who had placed his money in the savings' bank, having
perhaps purchased ten pounds' worth of materials, and expended
ten pounds in labour applied to them, now finds himself, by this
alteration in the currency, possessed nominally of eighty pounds,
but in reality of a sum. which will purchase only half the labour
and materials required to finish his machine; and he can neither
complete it, from want of capital, nor dispose of what he has
already done in its unfinished state for the price it has cost
him. In the meantime, the other workman, who had incurred a debt
of a hundred pounds in order to complete the purchase of his
calendering machine, finds that the payments he receives for
calendering, have, like all other prices, doubled, in consequence
of the depreciation of the currency; and he has therefore, in
fact, obtained his machine for one hundred and fifty pounds.
Thus, without any fault or imprudence, and owing to circumstances
over which they have no control, the widow is reduced almost to
starve; one workman is obliged to renounce, for several years,
his hope of becoming a master; and another, without any superior
industry or skill, but in fact, from having made, with reference
to his circumstances, rather an imprudent bargain, finds himself
unexpectedly relieved from half his debt, and the possessor of a
valuable source of profit; whilst the former owner of the
machine, if he also has invested the money arising from its sale
in the savings' bank, finds his property suddenly reduced
180. These evils, to a greater or less extent, attend every
change in the value of the currency; and the importance of
preserving it as far as possible unaltered in value, cannot be
too strongly impressed upon all classes of the community.


1. In Russia platinum has been employed for coin; and it
possesses a peculiarity which deserves notice. Platinum cannot be
melted in our furnaces, and is chiefly valuable in commerce when
in the shape of ingots, from which it may be forged into useful
forms. But when a piece of platinum is cut into two parts, it
cannot easily be reunited except by means of a chemical process,
in which both parts are dissolved in an acid. Hence, when
platinum coin is too abundant, it cannot, like gold, be reduced
into masses by melting, but must pass through an expensive
process to render it useful.

Chapter 15

On the Influence of Verification on Price

181. The money price of an article at any given period is
usually stated to depend upon the proportion between the supply
and the demand. The average price of the same article during a
long period, is said to depend, ultimately, on the power of
producing and selling it with the ordinary profits of capital.
But these principles, although true in their general sense, are
yet so often modified by the influence of others, that it becomes
necessary to examine a little into the disturbing forces.
182. With respect to the first of these propositions, it may
be observed, that the cost of any article to the purchaser
includes, besides the ratio of the supply to the demand, another
element, which, though often of little importance, is, in many
cases, of great consequence. The cost, to the purchaser, is the
price he pays for any article, added to the cost of verifying the
fact of its having that degree of goodness for which he
contracts. In some cases the goodness of the article is evident
on mere inspection: and in those cases there is not much
difference of price at different shops. The goodness of loaf
sugar, for instance, can be discerned almost at a glance; and the
consequence is, that the price is so uniform, and the profit upon
it so small, that no grocer is at all anxious to sell it; whilst,
on the other hand, tea, of which it is exceedingly difficult to
judge, and which can be adulterated by mixture so as to deceive
the skill even of a practised eye, has a great variety of
different prices, and is that article which every grocer is most
anxious to sell to his customers.
The difficulty and expense of verification are, in some
instances, so great, as to justify the deviation from
well-established principles. Thus it is a general maxim that
Government can purchase any article at a cheaper rate than that
at which they can manufacture it themselves. But it has
nevertheless been considered more economical to build extensive
flour-mills (such are those at Deptford), and to grind their own
corn, than to verify each sack of purchased flour, and to employ
persons in devising methods of detecting the new modes of
adulteration which might be continually resorted to.
183. Some years since, a mode of preparing old clover and
trefoil seeds by a process called doctoring, became so prevalent
as to excite the attention of the House of Commons. It appeared
in evidence before a committee, that the old seed of the white
clover was doctored by first wetting it slightly, and then drying
it with the fumes of burning sulphur. and that the red clover
seed had its colour improved by shaking it in a sack with a small
quantity of indigo; but this being detected after a time, the
doctors then used a preparation of logwood, fined by a little
copperas, and sometimes by verdigris; thus at once improving the
appearance of the old seed, and diminishing, if not destroying,
its vegetative power already enfeebled by age. Supposing no
injury had resulted to good seed so prepared, it was proved that
from the improved appearance, the market price would be enhanced
by this process from five to twenty-five shillings a hundred
weight. But the greatest evil arose from the circumstance of
these processes rendering old and worthless seed equal in
appearance to the best. One witness had tried some doctored seed,
and found that not above one grain in a hundred grew, and that
those which did vegetate died away afterwards; whilst about
eighty or ninety per cent of good seed usually grows. The seed so
treated was sold to retail dealers in the country, who of course
endeavoured to purchase at the cheapest rate, and from them it
got into the hands of the farmers; neither of these classes being
capable of distinguishing the fraudulent from the genuine seed.
Many cultivators, in consequence, diminished their consumption of
the article; and others were obliged to pay a higher price to
those who had skill to distinguish the mixed seed, and who had
integrity and character to prevent them from dealing in it.
184. In the Irish flax trade, a similar example of the high
price paid for verification occurs. It is stated in the report of
the committee, 'That the natural excellent quality of Irish flax,
as contrasted with foreign or British, has been admitted.' Yet
from the evidence before that committee it appears that Irish
flax sells, in the market, from 1d. to 2d. per pound less than
other flax of equal or inferior quality. Part of this difference
of price arises from negligence in its preparation, but a part
also from the expense of ascertaining that each parcel is free
from useless matter to add to its weight: this appears from the
evidence of Mr J. Corry, who was, during twenty-seven years,
Secretary to the Irish Linen-Board:

The owners of the flax, who are almost always people in the lower
classes of life, believe that they can best advance their own
interests by imposing on the buyers. Flax being sold by weight,
various expedients are used to increase it; and every expedient
is injurious, particularly the damping of it; a very common
practice, which makes the flax afterwards heat. The inside of
every bundle (and the bundles all vary in bulk) is often full of
pebbles, or dirt of various kinds, to increase the weight. In
this state it is purchased, and exported to Great Britain. The
natural quality of Irish flax is admitted to be not inferior to
that produced by any foreign country; and yet the flax of every
foreign country, imported into Great Britain, obtains a
preference amongst the purchasers, because the foreign flax is
brought to the British market in a cleaner and more regular
state. The extent and value of the sales of foreign flax in Great
Britain can be seen by reference to the public accounts; and I am
induced to believe, that Ireland, by an adequate extension of her
flax tillage, and having her flax markets brought under good
regulations, could, without encroaching in the least degree upon
the quantity necessary for her home consumption, supply the whole
of the demand of the British market, to the exclusion of the

185. The lace trade affords other examples; and, in enquiring
into the complaints made to the House of Commons by the framework
knitters, the committee observe, that, 'It is singular that the
grievance most complained of one hundred and fifty years ago,
should, in the present improved state of the trade, be the same
grievance which is now most complained of: for it appears, by the
evidence given before your committee, that all the witnesses
attribute the decay of the trade more to the making of fraudulent
and bad articles, than to the war, or to any other cause., And it
is shown by the evidence, that a kind of lace called single-press
was manufactured, which, although good to the eye, became nearly
spoiled in washing by the slipping of the threads; that not one
person in a thousand could distinguish the difference between
single-press and double-press lace; and that, even workmen and
manufacturers were obliged to employ a magnifying glass for that
purpose; and that, in another similar article, called warp lace,
such aid was essential. It was also stated by one witness, that:

The trade had not yet ceased, excepting in those places where the
fraud had been discovered; and from those places no orders are
now sent for any sort of Nottingham lace, the credit being
totally ruined.

186. In the stocking trade similar frauds have been practised. It
appeared in evidence, that stockings were made of uniform width
from the knee down to the ankle, and being wetted and stretched
on frames at the calf, they retained their shape when dry. but
that the purchaser could not discover the fraud until, after the
first washing, the stockings hung like bags about his ankles.
l87. In the watch trade the practice of deceit, in forging
the marks and names of respectable makers, has been carried to a
great extent both by natives and foreigners; and the effect upon
our export trade has been most injurious, as the following
extract from the evidence before a committee of the House of
Commons will prove:

Question. How long have you been in the trade?
Answer. Nearly thirty years.
Question. The trade is at present much depressed?
Answer. Yes, sadly.
Question. What is your opinion of the cause of that distress?
Answer. I think it is owing to a number of watches that have been
made so exceedingly bad that they will hardly look at them in the
foreign markets; all with a handsome outside show, and the works
hardly fit for anything.
Question. Do you mean to say, that all the watches made in this
country are of that description?
Answer. No; only a number which are made up by some of the Jews,
and other low manufacturers. I recollect something of the sort
years ago, of a falloff of the East India work, owing to there
being a number of handsome-looking watches sent out, for
instance, with hands on and figures, as if they showed seconds,
and had not any work regular to show the seconds: the hand went
round, but it was not regular.
Question. They had no perfect movements?
Answer. No, they had not; that was a long time since, and we had
not any East India work for a long time afterwards.

In the home market, inferior but showy watches are made at a
cheap rate, which are not warranted by the maker to go above half
an hour; about the time occupied by the Jew pedlar in deluding
his country customer.
188. The practice, in retail linen-drapers' shops, of calling
certain articles yard wide when the real width is perhaps, only
seven-eighths or three-quarters, arose at first from fraud, which
being detected, custom was pleaded in its defence: but the result
is, that the vender is constantly obliged to measure the width of
his goods in the customer's presence. In all these instances the
object of the seller is to get a higher price than his goods
would really produce if their quality were known; and the
purchaser, if not himself a skilful judge (which rarely happens
to be the case), must pay some person, in the shape of an
additional money price, who has skill to distinguish, and
integrity to furnish, articles of the quality agreed on. But as
the confidence of persons in their own judgement is usually
great, large numbers will always flock to the cheap dealer, who
thus, attracting many customers from the honest tradesman,
obliges him to charge a higher price for his judgement and
character than, without such competition, he could afford to do.
189. There are few things which the public are less able to
judge of than the quality of drugs; and when these are compounded
into medicines it is scarcely possible, even for medical men, to
decide whether pure or adulterated ingredients have been
employed. This circumstance, concurring with the present
injudicious mode of paying for medical assistance, has produced a
curious effect on the price of medicines. Apothecaries, instead
of being paid for their services and skill, are remunerated by
being allowed to place a high charge upon their medicines, which
are confessedly of very small pecuniary value. The effect of such
a system is an inducement to prescribe more medicine than is
necessary; and in fact, even with the present charges, the
apothecary, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, cannot be
fairly remunerated unless the patient either takes, or pays for,
more physic than he really requires. The apparent extravagance of
the charge of eighteen pence for a two-ounce phial(1*) of
medicine, is obvious to many who do not reflect on the fact that
a great part of the charge is, in reality, payment for the
exercise of professional skill. As the same charge is made by the
apothecary, whether he attends the patient or merely prepares the
prescription of a physician, the chemist and druggist soon
offered to furnish the same commodity at a greatly diminished
price. But the eighteen pence charged by the apothecary might
have been fairly divided into two parts, three pence for medicine
and bottle, and fifteen pence for attendance. The chemist,
therefore, who never attends his customers, if he charges only a
shilling for the same medicine, realizes a profit of 200 or 300
per cent upon its value. This enormous profit has called into
existence a multitude of competitors; and in this instance the
impossibility of verifying has, in a great measure, counteracted
the beneficial effects of competition. The general adulteration
of drugs, even at the extremely high price at which they are
retailed as medicine, enables those who are supposed to sell them
in an unadulterated state to make large profits, whilst the same
evil frequently disappoints the expectation, and defeats the
skill, of the most eminent physician.
It is difficult to point out a remedy for this evil without
suggesting an almost total change in the system of medical
practice. If the apothecary were to charge for his visits, and to
reduce his medicines to one-fourth or one-fifth of their present
price, he would still have an interest in procuring the best
drugs, for the sake of his own reputation or skill. Or if the
medical attendant, who is paid more highly for his time, were to
have several pupils, he might himself supply the medicines
without a specific charge, and his pupils would derive
improvement from compounding them, as well as from examining the
purity of the drugs he would purchase. The public would gain
several advantages by this arrangement. In the first place, it
would be greatly for the interest of the medical practitioner to
have the best drugs; it would be in his interest also not to give
more physic than needful; and it would enable him, through some
of his more advanced pupils, to watch more frequently the changes
of any malady.
190. There are many articles of hardware which it is
impossible for the purchaser to verify at the time of purchase,
or even afterwards, without defacing them. Plated harness and
coach furniture may be adduced as examples: these are usually of
wrought iron covered with silver, owing their strength to the one
and a certain degree of permanent beauty to the other metal. Both
qualities are, occasionally, much impaired by substituting cast-
for wrought-iron, and by plating with soft solder (tin and lead)
instead of with hard solder (silver and brass). The loss of
strength is the greatest evil in this case; for cast iron, though
made for this purpose more tough than usual by careful annealing,
is still much weaker than wrought-iron, and serious accidents
often arise from harness giving way. In. plating with soft
solder, a very thin plate of silver is made to cover the iron,
but it is easily detached, particularly by a low degree of heat.
Hard soldering gives a better coat of silver, which is very
firmly attached, and is not easily injured unless by a very high
degree of heat. The inferior can be made to look nearly as well
as the better article, and the purchaser can scarcely discover
the difference without cutting into it.
191. The principle that price, at any moment, is dependent on
the relation of the supply to the demand, is true to the full
extent only when the whole supply is in the hands of a very large
number of small holders, and the demand is caused by the wants of
another set of persons, each of whom requires only a very small
quantity. And the reason appears to be, that it is only in such
circumstances that a uniform average can be struck between the
feelings, the passions, the prejudices, the opinions, and the
knowledge, of both parties. If the supply, or present stock in
hand, be entirely in the possession of one person, he will
naturally endeavour to put such a price upon it as shall produce
by its sale the greatest quantity of money; but he will be guided
in this estimate of the price at which he will sell, both by the
knowledge that increased price will cause a diminished
consumption, and by the desire to realize his profit before a new
supply shall reach the market from some other quarter. If,
however, the same stock is in the hands of several dealers, there
will be an immediate competition between them, arising partly
from their different views of the duration of the present state
of supply, and partly from their own peculiar circumstances with
respect to the employment of their capital.
192. The expense of ascertaining that the price charged is
that which is legally due is sometimes considerable. The
inconvenience which this verification produces in the case of
parcels sent by coaches is very great. The time lost in
recovering an overcharge generally amounts to so many times the
value of the sum recovered, that it is but rarely resorted to. It
seems worthy of consideration whether it would not be a
convenience to the public if government were to undertake the
general conveyance of parcels somewhat on the same system with
that on which the post is now conducted. The certainty of their
delivery, and the absence of all attempt at overcharge, would
render the prohibition of rival carriers unnecessary. Perhaps an
experiment might be made on this subject by enlarging the weight
allowed to be sent by the two-penny post, and by conveying works
in sheets by the general post.
This latter suggestion would be of great importance to
literature, and consequently to the circulation of knowledge. As
the post-office regulations stand at present, it constantly
happens that persons who have an extensive reputation for
science, receive by post, from foreign countries, works, or parts
of works, for which they are obliged to pay a most extravagant
rate of postage, or else refuse to take in some interesting
communication. In France and Germany, printed sheets of paper are
forwarded by post at a very moderate expense, and it is fit that
the science and literature of England should be equally favoured.
193. It is important, if possible, always to connect the name
of the workman with the work he has executed: this secures for
him the credit or the blame he may justly deserve; and
diminishes, in some cases, the necessity of verification. The
extent to which this is carried in literary works, published in
America, is remarkable. In the translation of the Mecanique
Celeste by Mr Bowditch, not merely the name of the printer, but
also those of the compositors, are mentioned in the work.
194. Again, if the commodity itself is of a perishable
nature, such. for example, as a cargo of ice imported into the
port of London from Norway a few summers since, then time will
supply the place of competition; and, whether the article is in
the possession of one or of many persons, it will scarcely reach
a monopoly price. The history of cajeput oil during the last few
months, offers a curious illustration of the effect of opinion
upon price. In July of last year, 1831, cajeput oil was sold,
exclusive of duty, at 7 d. per ounce. The disease which had
ravaged the East was then supposed to be approaching our shores,
and its proximity created alarm. At this period, the oil in
question began to be much talked of, as a powerful remedy in that
dreadful disorder; and in September it rose to the price of 3s.
and 4s. the ounce. In October there were few or no sales: but in
the early part of November, the speculations in this substance
reached their height, and between the 1st and the 15th it
realized the following prices: 3s. 9d., 5s., 6s. 6d., 7s. 6d.,
8s., 9s., 10s., 10s. 6d., 11s. After 15 November, the holders of
cajeput oil were anxious to sell at much lower rates; and in
December a fresh arrival was offered by public sale at 5s., and
withdrawn, being sold afterwards, as it was understood, by
private contract, at 4s. or 4s. 6d. per oz. Since that time, 1s.
6d. and 1s. have been realized; and a fresh arrival, which is
daily expected (March, 1832) will probably reduce it below the
price of July. Now it is important to notice, that in November,
the time of greatest speculation, the quantity in the market was
held by few persons, and that it frequently changed hands, each
holder being desirous to realize his profit. The quantity
imported since that time has also been considerable.(2*)
195. The effect of the equalization of price by an increased
number of dealers, may be observed in the price of the various
securities sold at the Stock Exchange. The number of persons who
deal in the 3 per cent stock being large, any one desirous of
selling can always dispose of his stock at one-eighth per cent
under the market price; but those who wish to dispose of bank
stock, or of any other securities of more limited circulation,
are obliged to make a sacrifice of eight or ten times this amount
upon each hundred pounds value.
196. The frequent speculations in oil, tallow, and other
commodities, which must occur to the memory of most of my
readers, were always founded on the principle of purchasing up
all the stock on hand, and agreeing for the purchase of the
expected arrivals; thus proving the opinion of capitalists to be,
that a larger average price may be procured by the stock being
held by few persons.


1. Apothecaries frequently purchase these phials at the old
bottle warehouses at ten shillings per gross; so that when their
servant has washed them, the cost of the phial is nearly one

2. I have understood that the price of camphor, at the same time,
suffered similar changes.

Chapter 16

On the Influence of Durability on Price

197. Having now considered the circumstances that modify what
may be called the momentary amount of price, we must next examine
a principle which seems to have an effect on its permanent
average. The durability of any commodity influences its cost in a
permanent manner. We have already stated that what may be called
the momentary price of any commodity depends upon the proportion
existing between the supply and demand, and also upon the cost of
verification. The average price, during a long period, will
depend upon the labour required for producing and bringing it to
market, as well as upon the average supply and demand; but it
will also be influenced by the durability of the article
Many things in common use are substantially consumed in
using: a phosphorus match, articles of food, and a cigar, are
examples of this description. Some things after use become
inapplicable to their former purposes, as paper which has been
printed upon: but it is yet available for the cheesemonger or the
trunk-maker. Some articles, as pens, are quickly worn out by use;
and some are still valuable after a long continued wear. There
are others, few perhaps in number, which never wear out; the
harder precious stones, when well cut and polished, are of this
later class: the fashion of the gold or silver mounting in which
they are set may vary with the taste of the age, and such
ornaments are constantly exposed for sale as second-hand, but the
gems themselves, when removed from their supports, are never so
considered. A brilliant which has successively graced the necks
of a hundred beauties, or glittered for a century upon patrician
brows, is weighed by the diamond merchant in the same scale with
another which has just escaped from the wheel of the lapidary,
and will be purchased or sold by him at the same price per carat.
The great mass of commodities is intermediate in its character
between these two extremes, and the periods of respective
duration are very various. It is evident that the average price
of those things which are consumed in the act of using them, can
never be less than that of the labour of bringing them to market.
They may for a short time be sold for less, but under such
circumstances their production must soon cease altogether. On the
other hand, if an article never wears out, its price may continue
permanently below the cost of the labour expended in producing
it; and the only consequence will be, that no further production
will take place: its price will continue to be regulated by the
relation of the supply to the demand; and should that at any
aftertime rise, for a considerable period, above the cost of
production, it will be again produced.
198. Articles become old from actual decay, or the wearing
out of their parts; from improved modes of constructing them; or
from changes in their form and fashion, required by the varying
taste of the age. In the two latter cases, their utility is but
little diminished; and, being less sought after by those who have
hitherto employed them, they are sold at a reduced price to a
class of society rather below that of their former possessors.
Many articles of furniture, such as well-made tables and chairs,
are thus found in the rooms of those who would have been quite
unable to have purchased them when new; and we find constantly,
even in the houses of the more opulent, large looking-glasses
which have passed successively through the hands of several
possessors, changing only the fashion of their frames; and in
some instances even this alteration is omitted, an additional
coat of gilding saving them from the character of being
second-hand. Thus a taste for luxuries is propagated downwards in
society'. and, after a short period, the numbers who have
acquired new wants become sufficient to excite the ingenuity of
the manufacturer to reduce the cost of supplying them, whilst he
is himself benefited by the extended scale of demand.
199. There is a peculiarity in looking-glasses with reference
to the principle just mentioned. The most frequent occasion of
injury to them arises from accidental violence; and the
peculiarity is, that, unlike most other articles, when broken
they are still of some value. If a large mirror is accidentally
cracked, it is immediately cut into two or more smaller ones,
each of which may be perfect. If the degree of violence is so
great as to break it into many fragments, these smaller pieces
may be cut into squares for dressing-glasses; and if the
silvering is injured, it can either be resilvered or used as
plate-glass for glazing windows. The addition from our
manufactories to the stock of plate-glass in the country is
annually about two hundred and fifty thousand square feet. It
would be very difficult to estimate the quantity annually
destroyed or exported, but it is probably small; and the effect
of these continual additions is seen in the diminished price and
increased consumption of the article. Almost all the better order
of shop fronts are now glazed with it. If it were quite
indestructible, the price would continually diminish; and unless
an increased demand arose from new uses, or from a greater number
of customers, a single manufactory, unchecked by competition,
would ultimately be compelled to shut up, driven out of the
market by the permanance of its own productions.
200. The metals are in some degree permanent, although
several of them are employed in such forms that they are
ultimately lost.
Copper is a metal of which a great proportion returns to use:
a part of that employed in sheathing ships and covering houses is
lost from corrosion; but the rest is generally remelted. Some is
lost in small brass articles, and some is consumed in the
formation of salts, Roman vitriol (sulphate of copper), verdigris
(acetate of copper), and verditer.
Gold is wasted in gilding and in embroidering; but a portion
of this is recovered by burning the old articles. Some portion is
lost by the wear of gold, but, upon the whole, it possesses
considerable permanence.
Iron. A proportion of this metal is wasted by oxidation, in
small nails, in fine wire; by the wear of tools, and of the tire
of wheels, and by the formation of some dyes: but much, both of
cast- and of wrought-iron, returns to use.
Lead is wasted in great quantities. Some portion of that
which is used in pipes and in sheets for covering roofs returns
to the melting-pot; but large quantities are consumed in the form
of small shot, or sometimes in that of musket balls, litharge,
and red lead, for white and red paints, for glass-making, for
glazing pottery, and for sugar of lead (acetate of lead).
Silver is rather a permanent metal. Some portion is consumed
in the wear of coin, in that of silver plate, and a portion in
silvering and embroidering.
Tin. The chief waste of this metal arises from tinned iron;
some is lost in solder and in solutions for the dyers.

Chapter 17

Of Price as Measured by Money

201. The money price at which an article sells furnishes us
with comparatively little information respecting its value, if we
compare distant intervals of time and different countries; for
gold and silver, in which price is usually measured, are
themselves subject, like all other commodities, to changes in
value; nor is there any standard to which these variations can be
referred. The average price of a certain quality of different
manufactured articles, or of raw produce, has been suggested as a
standard; but a new difficulty then presents itself; for the
improved methods of producing such articles render their money
price extremely variable within very limited periods. The annexed
table will afford a striking instance of this kind of change
within a period of only twelve years.

Prices of the following articles at Birmingham, in the
undermentioned years

Description 1818 1824 1828 1830
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Anvils cwt 25 0 20 0 16 0 13 0
Awls, polished, Liverpool gross 2 6 2 0 1 6 1 2
Bed-screws, 6 inches long gross 18 0 15 0 6 0 5 0
Bits, tinned. for bridles doz. 5 0 5 0 3 3 2 6
Bolts for doors, 6 inches doz. 6 0 5 0 2 3 1 6
Braces for carpenters, with 12 bits set 9 0 4 0 4 2 3 5
Buttons, for coats gross 4 6 6 3 3 0 2 2
Buttons, small, for waistcoats gross 2 6 2 0 1 2 0 8
Candlesticks, 6 in., brass pair 2 1 1 2 0 1 7 1 2
Curry-combs, six barred doz. 2 9 2 6 1 5 0 1 1
Frying-pans cwt 25 0 21 0 18 0 16 0
Gun-locks, single roller each 6 0 5 2 1 10 1 6
Hammers. shoe, No. 0 doz. 6 9 3 9 3 0 2 9

Description 1818 1824 1828 1830
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Hinges, cast-butts, 1 inch doz. 0 10 0 71/2 0 31/4 0 21/4
Knobs, brass, 2 inches for commodes doz. 4 0 3 6 1 6 1 2
Latches for doors, bright thumb doz. 2 3 2 2 1 0 0 9
Locks for doors, iron rim, 6 inches doz. 38 0 32 0 15 0 13 6
Sad-irons and other castings cwt 22 6 20 0 14 0 11 6
Shovel and tongs, fire-irons pair 1 0 1 0 0 9 0 6
Spoons, tinned table gross 17 6 15 0 10 0 7 0
Stirrups, plated pair 4 6 3 9 1 6 1 1
Trace-chains cwt 28 0 25 0 19 6 16 6
Trays, japanned tea, 30 inches each 4 6 3 0 2 0 1 5
Vices for blacksmiths cwt 30 0 28 0 22 0 19 6
Wire, brass lb. 1 10 1 4 1 0 0 9
--, iron, No. 6 bund. 16 0 13 0 9 0 7 00

202. I have taken some pains to assure myself of the accuracy
of the above table: at different periods of the years quoted the
prices may have varied; but I believe it may be considered as a
fair approximation. In the course of my enquiries I have been
favoured with another list, in which many of the same articles
occur., but in this last instance the prices quoted are separated
by an interval of twenty years. It is extracted from the books of
a highly respectable house at Birmingham; and the prices confirm
the accuracy of the former table, so far as they relate to the
articles which are found in that list.

Prices of 1812 and 1832
per cent in
price of
Description 1812 1832 1812
s. d. s. d.

Anvils cwt 25 0 14 0 44
Awls, Liverpool blades gross 3 6 1 0 71
Candlesticks, iron, plain 3 103/4 2 31/2 41
screwed 6 41/2 3 9 41
Bed screws, 6 inch square head gross 7 6 4 6 40
flat head gross 8 6 4 8 45
Curry-combs, 6 barred dozen 4 01/2 1 0 75

per cent in
price of
Description 1812 1832 1812
s. d. s. d.

Curry-combs, 8 barred dozen 5 51/2 1 5 74
patent, 6 barred dozen 7 11/2 1 5 80
8 barred dozen 8 63/4 1 10 79
Fire-irons, iron head, No. 1. 1 41/2 0 73/4 53
No. 2 1 6 0 81/2 53
No. 3 1 81/4 0 91/2 53
No. 4 1 101/2 0 101/2 53
Gun-locks, single roller each 7 21/2 1 11 73
Locks, 1 1/4 brass, port. pad 16 0 2 6 85
2 1/2 inch 3 keyed till-locks each 2 2 0 9 65
Shoe tacks gross 5 0 2 0 60
Spoons, tinned, iron table gross 22 6 7 0 69
Stirrups. com. tinned, 2 bar dozen 7 0 2 9 61
Trace-chains, iron cwt 46 91/2 15 0 68

Prices of the principal materials, used in mines in Cornwall, at
different periods [I am indebited to Mr John Taylor for this
interesting table]


Description 1800 1810 1820 1830 1832
s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d. s. d.
Coals wey 81 7 85 5 53 4 51 0 40 0
Timber (balk) foot 2 0 4 0 1 5 1 0 0 10
(oak) foot 3 31/2 3 0 3 6 3 3
Ropes cwt 66 0 84 0 48 6 40 0 40 0
Iron (common bar) cwt 20 6 14 6 11 0 7 0 6 6
Common castings cwt 16 0 15 0 8 0 6 6
Pumps cwt 16s. & 17s. 17s. & 18s. 12s. & 15s. 6 6 6 10
Gunpowder 100 lbs. 114 2 117 6 68 0 52 6 49 0
Candles 9 3 10 0 8 9 5 11 4 10
Tallow cwt 72 0 84 0 65 8 52 6 43 0
Leather lb. 2 4 2 3 24 22 21
Blistered steel cwt 50 0 44 0 38 0
2s. nails cwt 32 0 28 6 22 0 17 0 16 6

203. I cannot omit availing myself of this opportunity of
calling the attention of the manufacturers, merchants, and
factors, in all our manufacturing and commercial towns, to the
great importance, both for their own interests, and for that of
the population to which their capital gives employment, of
collecting with care such averages from the actual sales
registered in their books. Nor, perhaps, would it be without its
use to suggest, that such averages would be still more valuable
if collected from as many different quarters as possible; that
the quantity of the goods from which they are deduced, together
with the greatest deviations from the mean, ought to be given;
and that if a small committee were to undertake the task, it
would give great additional weight to the information. Political
economists have been reproached with too small a use of facts,
and too large an employment of theory. If facts are wanting, let
it be remembered that the closet-philosopher is unfortunately too
little acquainted with the admirable arrangements of the factory,
and that no class of persons can supply so readily, and with so
little sacrifice of time, the data on which all the reasonings of
political economists are founded, as the merchant and
manufacturer; and, unquestionably, to no class are the deductions
to which they give rise so important. Nor let it be feared that
erroneous deductions may be made from such recorded facts: the
errors which arise from the absence of facts are far more
numerous and more durable than those which result from unsound
reasoning respecting true data.
204. The great diminution in price of the articles here
enumerated may have arisen from several causes: 1. The alteration
in the value of the currency. 2. The increased value of gold in
consequence of the increased demand for coin. The first of these
causes may have had some influence. and the second may have had a
very small effect upon the two first quotations of prices, but
none at all upon the two latter ones. 3. The diminished rate of
profit produced by capital however employed. This may be
estimated by the average price of three per cents at the periods
stated. 4. The diminished price of the raw materials out of which
these articles were manufactured. The raw material is principally
brass and iron, and the reduction upon it may, in some measure,
be estimated by the diminished price of iron and brass wire, in
the cost of which articles, the labour bears a less proportion
than it does in many of the others. 5. The smaller quantity of
raw material employed, and perhaps, in some instances, an
inferior, quality of workmanship. 6. The improved means by which
the same effect was produced by diminished labour.
205. In order to afford the means of estimating the influence
of these several causes, the following table is subjoined:

1812 1818 1824 1828 1830 1832
Average Price of £ s d. £ s. d. £ s d £ s. d £ s d £ s. d
Gold. per oz 4 15 6 4 0 3 17 61/2 3 17 7 3 17 91/2 3 17 10 1/2
Value of currency. per cent 79 5 3 97 6 10 100 100 100 100
Price of 3 per cent consols 591/4 781/4 935/8 86 893/4 821/2
Wheat per quarter 6 5 0 4 1 0 3 2 l 3 1 1 10 3 14 6 2 19 3

English pig iron at Birmingham 7 l0 0 6 7 6 6 l0 0 5 10 0 4 l0 0

English bar iron at Birmingham 10 10 0 9 10 0 7 15 0 6 0 0 5 0 0
Swedish bar iron in London. excluding duty of from £4 to £6 10s
per ton 16 10 0 17 10 0 14 0 0 14 10 0 13 15 0 13 2 0

As this table, if unaccompanied by any explanation, might
possibly lead to erroneous conclusions, I subjoin the following
observations, for which I am indebted to the kindness of Mr
Tooke, who may yet, I hope, be induced to continue his valuable
work on High and Low Prices, through the important period which
has elapsed since its publication.
'The table commences with 1812, and exhibits a great falling
off in the price of wheat and iron coincidently with a fall in
the price of gold, and leading to the inference of cause and
effect. Now, as regards wheat, it so happened that in 1812 it
reached its highest price in consequence of a series of bad
harvests, when relief by importation was difficult and enormously
expensive. In December, 1813, whilst the price of gold had risen
to £5, the price of wheat had fallen to 73s., or 50 per cent
under what it had been in the spring of 1812; proving clearly
that the two articles were under the influence of opposite
'Again, in 1812, the freight and insurance on Swedish iron
were so much higher than at present as to account for nearly the
whole of the difference of price: and in 1818 there had been an
extensive speculation which had raised the price of all iron, so
that a part of the subsequent decline was a mere reaction from a
previously unfounded elevation. More recently, in 1825, there was
a great speculative rise in the article, which served as a strong
stimulus to increased production: this, aided by improved power
of machinery, has proceeded to such an extent as fully to account
for the fall of price.'
To these reflections I will only add, that the result of my
own observation leads me to believe that by far the most
influential of these causes has been the invention of cheaper
modes of manufacturing. The extent to which this can be carried,
while a profit can yet be realized at the reduced price, is truly
astonishing, as the following fact, which rests on good
authority, will prove. Twenty years since, a brass knob for the
locks of doors was made at Birmingham; the price, at that time,
being 13s. 4d. per dozen. The same article is now manufactured,
having the same weight of metal, and an equal, or in fact a
slightly superior finish, at 1s. 9 1/4d. per dozen. One
circumstance which has produced this economy in the manufacture
is, that the lathe on which these knobs are finished is now
turned by a steam-engine; so that the workman, relieved from that
labour, can make them twenty times as fast as he did formerly.
206. The difference of price of the same article, when of
various dimensions at different periods in the same country - and
in different countries - is curiously contrasted in the annexed

Comparative price of plate glass, at the manufactories of
London, Paris, Berlin, and Petersburg

Height Breadth 1771 1794 1832 1825 1835 1828 1825
in inches in inches £ s d £ s d £ s d £ s d £ s d £ s d £ s d
16 16 0103 0101 0176 087 076 081 0410
30 20 146 232 2610 11610 1710 0106 1210
50 30 24 2 4 11 5 0 6 12 10 9 0 5 5 0 3 8 13 0 5 15 0
60 40 67 14 10 27 0 0 13 9 6 22 7 5 10 4 3 21 18 0 12 9 0
76 40 43 6 0 19 2 9 36 4 5 14 17 5 35 2 11 17 5 0
90 50 84 8 0 34 12 9 71 3 8 28 13 4 33 18 7
100 75 275 0 0 74 5 10 210 13 3 70 9 7
120 75 97 15 9 354 3 2 98 3 10

The price of silvering these plates is twenty per cent on the
cost price for English glass; ten per cent on the cost price for
Paris plates; and twelve and a half on those of Berlin.
The following table shows the dimensions and price, when
silvered, of the largest plates of glass ever made by the British
Plate Glass Company, which are now at their warehouse in London:

Height Breadth Price when silvered
Inches Inches £ s. d.

132 84 200 8 0
146 81 220 7 0
149 84 239 1 6
131 83 239 10 7
160 8O 246 15 4

The prices of the largest glass in the Paris lists when
silvered, and reduced to English measure, were:

Year Inches Inches Price when silvered
£  s. d.
1825 128 80           629 12 0
1835 128 80           136 19 0

207. If we wish to compare the value of any article at
different periods of time, it is clear that neither any one
substance, nor even the combination of all manufactured goods,
can furnish us with an invariable unit by which to form our scale
of estimation. Mr Malthus has proposed for this purpose to
consider a day's labour of an agricultural labourer, as the unit
to which all value should be referred. Thus, if we wish to
compare the value of twenty yards of broad cloth in Saxony at the
present time, with that of the same kind and quantity of cloth
fabricated in England two centuries ago, we must find the number
of days' labour the cloth would have purchased in England at the
time mentioned, and compare it with the number of days' labour
which the same quantity of cloth will now purchase in Saxony.
Agricultural labour appears to have been selected, because it
exists in all countries, and employs a large number of persons,
and also because it requires a very small degree of previous
instruction. It seems, in fact, to be merely the exertion of a
man's physical force; and its value above that of a machine of
equal power arises from its portability, and from the facility of
directing its efforts to arbitrary and continually fluctuating
purposes. It may perhaps be worthy of enquiry, whether a more
constant average might not be deduced from combining with this
species of labour those trades which require but a moderate
exertion of skill and which likewise exist in all civilized
countries, such as those of the blacksmith and carpenter,
etc.(1*) In all such comparisons there is, however, another
element, which, though not essentially necessary, will yet add
much to our means of judging.
It is an estimate of the quantity of that food on which the
labourer usually subsists, which is necessary for his daily
support, compared with the quantity which his daily wages will
208. The existence of a class of middlemen, between small
producers and merchants, is frequently advantageous to both
parties; and there are certain periods in the history of several
manufactures which naturally call that class of traders into
existence. There are also times when the advantage ceasing, the
custom of employing them also terminates; the middlemen,
especially when numerous, as they sometimes are in retail trades,
enhancing the price without equivalent good. Thus, in the recent
examination by the House of Commons into the state of the coal
trade, it appears that five-sixths of the London public is
supplied by a class of middlemen who are called in the trade
Brass plate coal merchants: these consist principally of
merchants' clerks, gentlemen's servants, and others, who have no
wharfs of their own, but merely give their orders to some true
coal merchant, who sends in the coals from his wharf: the brass
plate coal merchants, of course, receiving a commission for his
209. In Italy this system is carried to a great extent
amongst the voituriers, or persons who undertake to convey
travellers. There are some possessed of greater fluency and a
more persuasive manner who frequent the inns where the English
resort, and who, as soon as they have made a bargain for the
conveyance of a traveller, go out amongst their countrymen and
procure some other voiturier to do the job for a considerably
smaller sum, themselves pocketing the difference. A short time
before the day of starting, the contractor appears before his
customer in great distress, regretting his inability to perform
the journey on account of the dangerous illness of a mother or
some relative, and requesting to have his cousin or brother
substituted for him. The English traveller rarely fails to
acquiesce in this change, and often praises the filial piety of
the rogue who has deceived him.


1. Much information for such an enquiry is to be found, for the
particular period to which it refers, in the Report of the
Committee of the House of Commons on Manufacturers' Employment, 2
July, 1830.

Chapter 18

Of Raw Materials

210. Although the cost of any article may be reduced in its
ultimate analysis to the quantity of labour by which it was
produced; yet it is usual, in a certain state of the manufacture
of most substances, to call them by the term raw material. Thus
iron, when reduced from the ore and rendered malleable, is in a
state fitted for application to a multitude of useful purposes,
and is the raw material out of which most of our tools are made.
In this stage of its manufacture, but a moderate quantity of
labour has been expended on the substance; and it becomes an
interesting subject to trace the various proportions in which raw
material, in this sense of the term, and labour unite to
constitute the value of many of the productions of the arts.
211. Gold leaf consists of a portion of the metal beaten out
to so great a degree of thinness, as to allow a greenish-blue
light to be transmitted through its pores. About 400 square
inches of this are sold, in the form of a small book containing
25 leaves of gold, for 1s. 6d. In this case, the raw material, or
gold, is worth rather less than two-thirds of the manufactured
article. In the case of silver leaf, the labour considerably
exceeds the value of the material. A book of fifty leaves, which
would cover above 1000 square inches, is sold for 1s. 3d.
212. We may trace the relative influence of the two causes
above referred to, in the prices of fine gold chains made at
Venice. The sizes of these chains are known by numbers, the
smallest having been (in 1828) No. 1, and the numbers 2, 3, 4,
etc., progressively increasing in size. The following table shows
the numbers and the prices of those made at that time.(1*) The
first column gives the number by which the chain is known; the
second expresses the weight in grains of one inch in length of
each chain; the third column the number of links in the same
length; and the last expresses the price, in francs worth
tenpence each, of a Venetian braccio, or about two English feet
of each chain.

Venetian gold chains
Price of a Venetian
Braccio, equal to
Weight of Number of links two feet 1/8 inch
No. one inch, in grains in one inch English
0.44 98 to 100 60 francs
1.56 92 40
1 1/2.77 88 26
2.99 84 20
3 1.46 72 20
4 1.61 64 21
5 2.09 64 23
6 2.61 60 24
7 3.36 56 27
8 3.65 56 29
9 3.72 56 32
10 5.35 50 34
24 9.71 32 60

Amongst these chains, that numbered 0 and that numbered 24
are exactly of the same price, although the quantity of gold in
the latter is twenty-two times as much as in the former. The
difficulty of making the smallest chain is so great, that the
women who make it cannot work above two hours at a time. As we
advance from the smaller chain, the proportionate value of the
work to the worth of the material becomes less and less, until at
the numbers 2 and 3, these two elements of cost balance each
other: after which, the difficulty of the work decreases, and the
value of the material increases.
213. The quantity of labour expended on these chains is,
however, incomparably less than that which is applied in some of
the manufactures of iron. In the case of the smallest Venetian
chain the value of the labour is not above thirty times that of
the gold. The pendulum spring of a watch, which governs the
vibrations of the balance, costs at the retail price two pence,
and weighs fifteen one-hundredths of a grain. whilst the retail
price of a pound of the best iron, the raw material out of which
fifty thousand such springs are made, is exactly the same sum of
two pence.
214. The comparative price of labour and of raw material
entering into the manufactures of France, has been ascertained
with so much care, in a memoir of M. A. M. Heron de Villefosse,
Recherches statistiques, sur les Metaux de France.(2*) that we
shall give an abstract of his results reduced to English
measures. The facts respecting the metals relate to the year
In France the quantity of raw material which can be purchased
for £1, when manufactured into

Silk goods is worth £2.37
Broad cloth and woollens 2.15
Hemp and cables 3.94
Linen comprising thread laces 5.00
Cotton goods 2.44

The price of pig-lead was £1 1s. per cwt; and lead of the value
of £1 sterling, became worth, when manufactured into

Sheets or pipes of moderate dimensions £ 1. 25
White lead 2.60
Ordinary printing characters 4.90
The smallest type 28.30

The price of copper was £5 2s. per cwt. Copper worth £1 became
when manufactured into

Copper sheeting £1.26
Household utensils 4.77
Common brass pins tinned 2.34
Rolled into plates covered with 1/20 silver 3.56
Woven into metallic cloth, each square inch of which contains
10,000 meshes 52.23

The price of tin was £4 12s. per cwt. Tin worth £1 when
manufactured into

Leaves for silvering glass became £1.73
Household utensils 1.85

Quicksilver cost £10 16s. per cwt. Quicksilver worth £1 when
manufactured into

Vermilion of average quality became £1.81

Metallic arsenic cost £1 4s. per cwt. Arsenic worth £1 when
manufactured into

White oxide of arsenic became £1.83
Sulphuret (orpiment) 4.26

The price of cast-iron was 8s. per cwt. Cast-iron worth £1
when manufactured into

Household utensils became £2.00
Machinery 4.00
Ornamental. as buckles. etc 45.00
Bracelets. figures, buttons. etc. 147.00

8ar-iron cost £1 6s. per cwt. Bar-iron worth £1 when
manufactured into

Agricultural instruments became £3.57
Barrels, musket 9. 10
Barrels of double-barrel guns. twisted and damasked 238.08
Blades of penknives 657.14
razor. cast steel 53.57 sabre, for cavalry. infantry, and
artillery. etc. from 9.25 to 16.07
of table knives 35.70
Buckles of polished steel, used as jewellery 896.66
Clothiers' pins 8.03
Door-latches and bolts from 4.85 to 8.50
Files, common 2.55 flat, cast steel 20.44
Horseshoes 2.55
Iron, small slit, for nails 1. 10
Metallic cloth, iron wire, No. 80 96.71
Needles of various sizes from 17.33 to 70.85
Reeds for weaving 3-4ths calico 21.87
Saws (frame) of steel 5. 12
for wood 14.28
Scissors, finest kind 446.94
Steel, cast 4.28
cast, in sheets 6.25
cemented 2.41
natural 1.42
Sword handles, polished steel 972.82
Tinned iron from 2.04 to 2.34
Wire, iron from 2. 14 to 10.71

215. The following is stated by M. de Villefosse to be the
price of bar-iron at the forges of various countries, in January,

per ton
£ s. d.
France 26 10 0
Belgium and Germany 16 14 0
Sweden and Russia, at Stockholm and St Petersburg 13 13 0
England, at Cardiff 10 1 0

The price of the article in 1832 was 5 0 0

M. De Villefosse states, that in France bar-iron, made as it
usually is with charcoal, costs three times the price of the
cast-iron out of which it is made; whilst in England, where it is
usually made with coke, the cost is only twice the price of
216. The present price (l832) of lead in England is £13 per
ton, and the worth of £1 of it manufactured into

Milled sheet lead becomes £l.08

The present price of cake copper is £84 per ton, and the
worth of £1 of it manufactured into

Sheet copper becomes £1.11


1. A still finer chain is now manufactured (1832).

2.  Memoires de l'Institut. 1826

Chapter 29

On the Division of Labour

217. Perhaps the most important principle on which the
economy of a manufacture depends, is the division of labour
amongst the persons who perform the work. The first application
of this principle must have been made in a very early stage of
society., for it must soon have been apparent, that a larger
number of comforts and conveniences could be acquired by each
individual, if one man restricted his occupation to the art of
making bows, another to that of building houses, a third boats,
and so on. This division of labour into trades was not, however,
the result of an opinion that the general riches of the community
would be increased by such an arrangement; but it must have
arisen from the circumstance of each individual so employed
discovering that he himself could thus make a greater profit of
his labour than by pursuing more varied occupations. Society must
have made considerable advances before this principle could have
been carried into the workshop; for it is only in countries which
have attained a high degree of civilization, and in articles in
which there is a great competition amongst the producers, that
the most perfect system of the division of labour is to be
observed. The various principles on which the advantages of this
system depend, have been much the subject of discussion amongst
writers on political economy; but the relative importance of
their influence does not appear, in all cases, to have been
estimated with sufficient precision. It is my intention, in the
first instance, to state shortly those principles, and then to
point out what appears to me to have been omitted by those who
have previously treated the subject.
218. 1. Of the time required for learning. It will readily be
admitted, that the portion of time occupied in the acquisition of
any art will depend on the difficulty of its execution; and that
the greater the number of distinct processes, the longer will be
the time which the apprentice must employ in acquiring it. Five
or seven years have been adopted, in a great many trades, as the
time considered requisite for a lad to acquire a sufficient
knowledge of his art, and to enable him to repay by his labour,
during the latter portion of his time, the expense incurred by
his master at its commencement. If, however, instead of learning
all the different processes for making a needle, for instance,
his attention be confined to one operation, the portion of time
consumed unprofitably at the commencement of his apprenticeship
will be small, and all the rest of it will be beneficial to his
master: and, consequently, if there be any competition amongst
the masters, the apprentice will be able to make better terms,
and diminish the period of his servitude. Again, the facility of
acquiring skill in a single process, and the early period of life
at which it can be made a source of profit, will induce a greater
number of parents to bring up their children to it; and from this
circumstance also, the number of workmen being increased, the
wages will soon fall.
219. 2. Of waste of materials in learning. A certain quantity
of material will, in all cases, be consumed unprofitably, or
spoiled by every person who learns an art; and as he applies
himself to each new process, he will waste some of the raw
material, or of the partly manufactured commodity. But if each
man commit this waste in acquiring successively every process,
the quantity of waste will be much greater than if each person
confine his attention to one process; in this view of the
subject, therefore, the division of labour will diminish the
price of production.
220. 3. Another advantage resulting from the division of
labour is, the saVing of that portion of time which is always
lost in changing from one occupation to another. When the human
hand, or the human head, has been for some time occupied in any
kind of work, it cannot instantly change its employment with full
effect. The muscles of the limbs employed have acquired a
flexibility during their exertion, and those not in action a
stiffness during rest. which renders every change slow and
unequal in the commencement. Long habit also produces in the
muscles exercised a capacity for enduring fatigue to a much
greater degree than they could support under other circumstances.
A similar result seems to take place in any change of mental
exertion; the attention bestowed on the new subject not being so
perfect at first as it becomes after some exercise.
221. 4. Change of tools. The employment of different tools in
the successive processes is another cause of the loss of time in
changing from one operation to another. If these tools are
simple, and the change is not frequent, the loss of time is not
considerable; but in many processes of the arts the tools are of
great delicacy, requiring accurate adjustment every time they are
used; and in many cases the time employed in adjusting bears a
large proportion to that employed in using the tool. The
sliding-rest, the dividing and the drilling-engine, are of this
kind; and hence, in manufactories of sufficient extent, it is
found to be good economy to keep one machine constantly employed
in one kind of work: one lathe, for example, having a screw
motion to its sliding-rest along the whole length of its bed, is
kept constantly making cylinders; another, having a motion for
equalizing the velocity of the work at the point at which it
passes the tool, is kept for facing surfaces; whilst a third is
constantly employed in cutting wheels.
222. 5. Skill acquired by frequent repetition of the same
processes. The constant repetition of the same process
necessarily produces in the workman a degree of excellence and
rapidity in his particular department, which is never possessed
by a person who is obliged to execute many different processes.
This rapidity is still further increased from the circumstance
that most of the operations in factories, where the division of
labour is carried to a considerable extent, are paid for as
piece-work. It is difficult to estimate in numbers the effect of
this cause upon production. In nail-making, Adam Smith has
stated, that it is almost three to one; for, he observes, that a
smith accustomed to make nails, but whose whole business has not
been that of a nailer, can make only from eight hundred to a
thousand per day; whilst a lad who had never exercised any other
trade, can make upwards of two thousand three hundred a day.
223. In different trades, the economy of production arising
from the last-mentioned cause will necessarily be different. The
case of nail-making is, perhaps, rather an extreme one. It must,
however, be observed, that, in one sense, this is not a permanent
source of advantage; for, though it acts at the commencement of
an establishment, yet every month adds to the skill of the
workmen; and at the end of three or four years they will not be
very far behind those who have never practised any other branch
of their art. Upon an occasion when a large issue of bank-notes
was required, a clerk at the Bank of England signed his name,
consisting of seven letters, including the initial of his
Christian name, five thousand three hundred times during eleven
working hours, besides arranging the notes he had signed in
parcels of fifty each.
224. 6. The division of labour suggests the contrivance of
tools and machinery to execute its processes. When each
processes, by which any article is produced, is the sole
occupation of one individual, his whole attention being devoted
to a very limited and simple operation, improvements in the form
of his tools, or in the mode of using them, are much more likely
to occur to his mind, than if it were distracted by a greater
variety of circumstances. Such an improvement in the tool is
generally the first step towards a machine. If a piece of metal
is to be cut in a lathe, for example, there is one particular
angle at which the cutting-tool must be held to insure the
cleanest cut; and it is quite natural that the idea of fixing the
tool at that angle should present itself to an intelligent
workman. The necessity of moving the tool slowly, and in a
direction parallel to itself, would suggest the use of a screw,
and thus arises the sliding-rest. It was probably the idea of
mounting a chisel in a frame, to prevent its cutting too deeply,
which gave rise to the common carpenter's plane. In cases where a
blow from a hammer is employed, experience teaches the proper
force required. The transition from the hammer held in the hand
to one mounted upon an axis, and lifted regularly to a certain
height by some mechanical contrivance, requires perhaps a greater
degree of invention than those just instanced; yet it is not
difficult to perceive, that, if the hammer always falls from the
same height, its effect must be always the same.
225. When each process has been reduced to the use of some
simple tool, the union of all these tools, actuated by one moving
power, constitutes a machine. In contriving tools and simplifying
processes, the operative workmen are, perhaps, most successful;
but it requires far other habits to combine into one machine
these scattered arts. A previous education as a workman in the
peculiar trade, is undoubtedly a valuable preliminary; but in
order to make such combinations with any reasonable expectation
of success, an extensive knowledge of machinery, and the power of
making mechanical drawings, are essentially requisite. These
accomplishments are now much more common than they were
formerly., and their absence was, perhaps, one of the causes of
the multitude of failures in the early history of many of our
226. Such are the principles usually assigned as the causes
of the advantage resulting from the division of labour. As in the
view I have taken of the question, the most important and
influential cause has been altogether unnoticed, I shall restate
those principles in the words of Adam Smith:

The great increase in the quantity of work, which. in consequence
of the division of labour, the same number of people are capable
of performing, is owing to three different circumstances: first.
to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman;
secondly. to the saving of time. which is commonly lost in
passing from one species of work to another; and, lastly. to the
invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and
abridge labour. and enable one man to do the work of many.

Now, although all these are important causes, and each has
its influence on the result; yet it appears to me, that any
explanation of the cheapness of manufactured articles, as
consequent upon the division of labour, would be incomplete if
the following principle were omitted to be stated.
That the master manufacturer, by dividing the work to be
executed into different processes, each requiring different
degrees of skill or of force, can purchase exactly that precise
quantity of both which is necessary for each process; whereas, if
the whole work were executed by one workman, that person must
possess sufficient skill to perform the most difficult, and
sufficient strength to execute the most laborious, of the
operations into which the art is divided.(1*)
227. As the clear apprehension of this principle, upon which
a great part of the economy arising from the division of labour
depends, is of considerable importance, it may be desirable to
point out its precise and numerical application in some specific
manufacture. The art of making needles is, perhaps, that which I
should have selected for this illustration, as comprehending a
very large number of processes remarkably different in their
nature; but the less difficult art of pinmaking, has some claim
to attention, from its having been used by Adam Smith; and I am
confirmed in the choice of it, by the circumstance of our
possessing a very accurate and minute description of that art, as
practised in France above half a century ago.
228. Pin-making. In the manufacture of pins in England the
following processes are employed:
1. Wire-drawing. (a) The brass wire used for making pins is
purchased by the manufacturer in coils of about twenty-two inches
in diameter, each weighing about thirty-six pounds. (b) The coils
are wound off into smaller ones of about six inches in diameter,
and between one and two pounds' weight. (c) The diameter of this
wire is now reduced, by drawing it repeatedly through holes in
steel plates, until it becomes of the size required for the sort
of pins intended to be made. During this process the wire is
hardened, and to prevent its breaking, it must be annealed two or
three times, according to the diminution of diameter required.
(d) The coils are then soaked in sulphuric acid, largely diluted
with water, in order to clean them, and are then beaten on stone,
for the purpose of removing any oxidated coating which may adhere
to them. These operations are usually performed by men, who draw
and clean from thirty to thirty-six pounds of wire a day. They
are paid at the rate of five farthings per pound, and generally
earn about 3s. 6d. per day.
M. Perronnet made some experiments on the extension the wire
undergoes in passing through each hole: he took a piece of thick
Swedish brass wire, and found

Feet Inches
Its length to be before drawing 3 8
After passing the first hole 5 5
second hole 7 2
third hole 7 8

It was now annealed, and the length became

After passing the fourth hole 10 8
fifth hole 13 1
sixth hole 16 8
And finally, after passing through six other holes 144 0

The holes through which the wire was drawn were not, in this
experiment, of regularly decreasing diameter: it is extremely
difficult to make such holes, and still more to preserve them in
their original dimensions.
229. 2. Straightening the wire. The coil of wire now passes
into the hands of a woman, assisted by a boy or girl. A few
nails, or iron pins, not quite in a line, are fixed into one end
of a wooden table about twenty feet in length; the end of the
wire is passed alternately between these nails, and is then
pulled to the other end of the table. The object of this process
is to straighten the wire, which had acquired a considerable
curvature in the small coils in which it had been wound. The
length thus straightened is cut off, and the remainder of the
coil is drawn into similar lengths. About seven nails or pins are
employed in straightening the wire, and their adjustment is a
matter of some nicety. It seems, that by passing the wire between
the first three nails or pins, a bend is produced in an opposite
direction to that which the wire had in the coil; this bend, by
passing the next two nails, is reduced to another less curved. in
the first direction, and so on till the curve of the wire may at
last be confounded with a straight line.
230. 3. Pointing. (a) A man next takes about three hundred of
these straightened pieces in a parcel, and putting them into a
gauge, cuts off from one end, by means of a pair of shears, moved
by his foot, a portion equal in length to rather more than SiX
pins. He continues this operation until the entire parcel is
reduced into similar pieces. (b) The next step is to sharpen the
ends: for this purpose the operator sits before a steel mill,
which is kept rapidly revolving: it consists of a cylinder about
six inches in diameter, and two and a half inches broad, faced
with steel, which is cut in the manner of a file. Another
cylinder is fixed on the same axis at a few inches distant; the
file on the edge of which is of a finer kind, and is used for
finishing off the points. The workman now takes up a parcel of
the wires between the finger and thumb of each hand, and presses
the ends obliquely on the mill, taking care with his fingers and
thumbs to make each wire slowly revolve upon its axis. Having
thus pointed all the pieces at one end, he reverses them, and
performs the same operation on the other. This process requires
considerable skill, but it is not unhealthy; whilst the similar
process in needlemaking is remarkably destructive of health. (c)
The pieces now pointed at both ends, are next placed in gauges,
and the pointed ends are cut off, by means of shears, to the
proper length of which the pins are to be made. The remaining
portions of the wire are now equal to about four pins in length,
and are again pointed at each end, and their lengths again cut
off. This process is repeated a third time, and the small portion
of wire left in the middle is thrown amongst the waste, to be
melted along with the dust arising from the sharpening. It is
usual for a man, his wife, and a child, to join in performing
these processes; and they are paid at the rate of five farthings
per pound. They can point from thirty-four to thirty-six and a
half pounds per day, and gain from 6s. 6d. to 7s., which may be
apportioned thus; 5s. 6d. the man. 1s. the woman, 6d. to the boy
or girl.
231. 4. Twisting and cutting the heads. The next process is
making the heads. For this purpose (a) a boy takes a piece of
wire, of the same diameter as the pin to be headed, which he
fixes on an axis that can be made to revolve rapidly by means of
a wheel and strap connected with it. This wire is called the
mould. He then takes a smaller wire, which having passed through
an eye in a small tool held in his left hand, he fixes close to
the bottom of the mould. The mould is now made to revolve rapidly
by means of the right hand, and the smaller wire coils round it
until it has covered the whole length of the mould. The boy now
cuts the end of the spiral connected with the foot of the mould,
and draws it off. (b) When a sufficient quantity of heading is
thus made, a man takes from thirteen to twenty of these spirals
in his left hand, between his thumb and three outer fingers:
these he places in such a manner that two turns of the spiral
shall be beyond the upper edge of a pair of shears, and with the
forefinger of the same hand he feels that only two turns do so
project. With his right hand he closes the shears; and the two
turns of the spiral being cut off, drop into a basin; the
position of the forefinger preventing the heads from flying about
when cut off. The workmen who cut the heads are usually paid at
the rate of 2 1/2d. to 3d. per pound for large heads, but a
higher price is given for the smaller heading. Out of this they
pay the boy who spins the spiral; he receives from 4d. to 6d. a
day. A good workman can cut from six to about thirty pounds of
heading per day, according to its size.
232. 5. Heading. The process of fixing the head on the body
of the pin is usually executed by women and children. Each
operator sits before a small steel stake, having a cavity, into
which one half of the intended head will fit; immediately above
is a steel die, having a corresponding cavity for the other half
of the head: this latter die can be raised by a pedal moved by
the foot. The weight of the hammer is from seven to ten pounds,
and it falls through a very small space, perhaps from one to two
inches. The cavities in the centre of these dies are connected
with the edge of a small groove, to admit of the body of the pin,
which is thus prevented from being flattened by the blow of the
die. (a) The operator with his left hand dips the pointed end of
the body of a pin into a tray of heads; having passed the point
through one of them, he carries it along to the other end with
the forefinger. He now takes the pin in the right hand, and
places the head in the cavity of the stake, and, lifting the die
with his foot, allows it to fall on the head. This blow tightens
the head on the shank, which is then turned round, and the head
receives three or four blows on different parts of its
circumference. The women and children who fix the heads are paid
at the rate of 1s. 6d. for every twenty thousand. A skilful
operator can with great exertion do twenty thousand per, day. but
from ten to fifteen thousand is the usual quantity: children head
a much smaller number: varying, of course, with the degree of
their skill. About one per cent of the pins are spoiled in the
process; these are picked out afterwards by women, and are
reserved, along with the waste from other processes, for the
melting-pot. The die in which the heads are struck is varied in
form according to the fashion of the time; but the repeated blows
to which it is subject render it necessary that it should be
repaired after it has been used for about thirty pounds of pins.
233. 6. Tinning. The pins are now fit to be tinned, a process
which is usually executed by a man, assisted by his wife, or by a
lad. The quantity of pins operated upon at this stage is usually
fifty-six pounds. (a) They are first placed in a pickle, in order
to remove any grease or dirt from their surface, and also to
render them rough, which facilitates the adherence of the tin
with which they are to be covered. (b) They are then placed in a
boiler full of a solution of tartar in water, in which they are
mixed with a quantity of tin in small grains. In this they are
generally kept boiling for about two hours and a half, and are
then removed into a tub of water into which some bran has been
thrown, for the purpose of washing off the acid liquor. (c) They
are then taken out, and, being placed in wooden trays, are well
shaken in dry bran: this removes any water adhering to them; and
by giving the wooden tray a peculiar kind of motion, the pins are
thrown up, and the bran gradually flies off, and leaves them
behind in the tray. The man who pickles and tins the pins usually
gets one penny per pound for the work, and employs himself,
during the boiling of one batch of pins, in drying those
previously tinned. He can earn about 9s. per day; but out of this
he pays about 3s. for his assistant.
234. 7. Papering. The pins come from the tinner in wooden
bowls, with the points projecting in all directions: the
arranging of them side by side in paper is generally performed by
women. (a) A woman takes up some, and places them on a comb, and
shaking them, some of the pins fall back into the bowl, and the
rest, being caught by their heads, are detained between the teeth
of the comb. (b) Having thus arranged them in a parallel
direction, she fixes the requisite number between two pieces of
iron, having twenty-five small grooves, at equal distances; (c)
and having previously doubled the paper, she presses it against
the points of the pins until they have passed through the two
folds which are to retain them. The pins are then relieved from
the grasp of the tool, and the process is repeated. A woman gains
about 1s. 6d. per day by papering; but children are sometimes
employed, who earn from 6d. per day, and upwards.
235. Having thus generally described the various processes of
pinmaking, and having stated the usual cost of each, it will be
convenient to present a tabular view of the time occupied by each
process, and its cost, as well as the sums which can be earned by
the persons who confine themselves solely to each process. As the
rate of wages is itself fluctuating, and as the prices paid and
quantities executed have been given only between certain limits,
it is not to be expected that this table can represent the cost
of each part of the work with the minutest accuracy, nor even
that it shall accord perfectly with the prices above given: but
it has been drawn up with some care, and will be quite sufficient
to serve as the basis of those reasonings which it is meant to
illustrate. A table nearly similar will be subjoined, which has
been deduced from a statement of M. Perronet, respecting the art
of pin-making in France, above seventy years ago.

English manufacture

236. Pins, Elevens, 5546 weigh one pound; one dozen = 6932
pins weigh twenty ounces, and require six ounces of paper.

Name of the process
Time for making 1 lb of pins Hours
Cost of making 1 lb of pins Pence
Workmen earns per day s. d.
Price of making each part of a single pin. in millionths of a

1. Drawing wire (224)        Man . 3636 1.2500    3 3  225
2. Straightening wire ( 225) Woman. 3000. 2840   1 0   51
Girl. 3000. 1420   0 6   26
3. Pointing (226)            Man . 3000 1.7750   5 3  319
4. Twisting and cutting heads Boy. 0400. 0147   0 4 1/2 3
(227)                       Man . 0400. 2103   5 4 1/2 38
5. Heading (228)            woman   4.0000 5.0000   1 3   901
6 Tinning or whitening       Man . 1071. 6666   6 0   12l
(229)                     woman . 1071. 3333   3 0    60
7. Papering (230)          Woman    2.1314 3.1973   1 6   576
7.6892 l2.8732  - -  2320
Number of persons employed: Men. 4; Women. 4; Children, 2.
Total, 10.

French manufacture

237. Cost of 12,000 pins, No. 6, each being eight-tenths of an
English inch in length as they were manufactured in France about
1760; with the cost of each operation: deduced from the
observations and statement of M. Perronet.

Name of the process
Time for making twelve thousand pins Hours
Cost of  making twelve thousand  pins Pence
Workman usually earns per day Pence
Expense of tools and materials Pence

1. Wire                       --    --   &nbbsp;  --    24.75
2. Straightening and cutting 1.2. 5     4.5       --
3. Coarse pointing           1.2. 625   10.0      --
Turning wheel(2*)         1.2. 875   7.0       --
Fine Pointing           . 8. 5      9.375    --
Turning wheel             1.2. 5     4.75     --
Cutting off pointed ends. 6. 375   7.5      --
4. Turning spiral          . 5. 125    3.0      --
Cutting off heads       . 8. 375   5.625     --
Fuel to anneal ditto      --   --       --   . 125
5. Heading                  12.0. 333   4.25     --
6. Tartar for cleaning       --   --       --   . 5
Tartar for whitening      --   --       --   . 5
7. Papering                  4.8. 5     2.0      --
Paper                      --    --   &nbbsp;  --     1.0
Wear of tools             --    --      --     2.0
24.3  4.708

The great expense of turning the wheel appears to have arisen
from the person so occupied being unemployed during half his
time, whilst the pointer went to another manufactory

338. It appears from the analysis we have given of the art of
pinmaking, that it occupies rather more than seven hours and a
half of time, for ten different individuals working in succession
on the same material, to convert it into a pound of pins; and
that the total expense of their labour, each being paid in the
joint ratio of his skill and of the time he is employed, amounts
very nearly to 1s. 1d. But from an examination of the first of
these tables, it appears that the wages earned by the persons
employed vary from 4 1/2d. per day up to 6s., and consequently
the skill which is required for their respective employments may
be measured by those sums. Now it is evident, that if one person
were required to make the whole pound of pins, he must have skill
enough to earn about 5s. 3d. per day, whilst he is pointing the
wires or cutting off the heads from the spiral coils - and 6s.
when he is whitening the pins; which three operations together
would occupy little more than the seventeenth part of his time.
It is also apparent, that during more than one half of his time
he must be earning only 1s. 3d, per day, in putting on the heads;
although his skill, if properly employed. would, in the same
time, produce nearly five times as much. If, therefore, we were
to employ, for all the processes, the man who whitens the pins,
and who earns 6s. per day, even supposing that he could make the
pound of pins in an equally short time, yet we must pay him for
his time 46. 14 pence, or about 3s. 10d. The pins would therefore
cost, in making, three times and three quarters as much as they
now do by the application of the division of labour.
The higher the skill required of the workman in any one
process of a manufacture, and the smaller the time during which
it is employed, so much the greater will be the advantage of
separating that process from the rest, and devoting one person's
attention entirely to it. Had we selected the art of
needle-making as our illustration, the economy arising from the
division of labour would have been still more striking; for the
process of tempering the needles requires great skill, attention,
and experience, and although from three to four thousand are
tempered at once, the workman is paid a very high rate of wages.
In another process of the same manufacture, dry-pointing, which
also is executed with great rapidity, the wages earned by the
workman reach from 7s. to 12s., 15s., and even, in some
instances, to 20s. per day; whilst other processes are carried on
by children paid at the rate of 6d. per day.
239. Some further reflections suggested by the preceding
analysis, will be reserved until we have placed before the reader
a brief description of a machine for making pins, invented by an
American. It is highly ingenious in point of contrivance, and, in
respect to its economical principles, will furnish a strong and
interesting contrast with the manufacture of pins by the human
hand. In this machine a coil of brass wire is placed on an axis;
one end of this wire is drawn by a pair of rollers through a
small hole in a plate of steel, and is held there by a forceps.
As soon as the machine is put in action -
1. The forceps draws the wire on to a distance equal in
length to one pin: a cutting edge of steel then descends close to
the hole through which the wire entered, and severs the piece
drawn out.
2. The forceps holding the piece thus separated moves on,
till it brings the wire to the centre of the chuck of a small
lathe, which opens to receive it. Whilst the forceps is returning
to fetch another piece of wire, the lathe revolves rapidly, and
grinds the projecting end of the wire upon a steel mill, which
advances towards it.
3. After this first or coarse pointing, the lathe stops, and
another forceps takes hold of the half-pointed pin, (which is
instantly released by the opening of the chuck), and conveys it
to a similar chuck of an adjacent lathe, which receives it, and
finishes the pointing on a finer steel mill.
4. This mill again stops, and another forceps removes the
pointed pin into a pair of strong steel clams, having a small
groove in them by which they hold the pin very firmly. A part of
this groove, which terminates at that edge of the steel clams
which is intended to form the head of the pin, is made conical. A
small round steel punch is now driven forcibly against the end of
the wire thus clamped, and the head of the pin is partially
formed by compressing the wire into the conical cavity.


1. I have already stated that this principle presented itself to
me after a personal examination of a number of manufactories and
workshops devoted to different purposes; but I have since found
that it had been distinctly pointed out. in the work of Gioja.
Nuovo Prospetto delle Scienze Economiche. 6 tom. 4to. Milano,
1815, tom. i. capo iv.

2. The great expense of turning the wheel appears to have arisen
from the person so occupied being unemployed during half his
time, whilst the pointer went to another manufactory.

Chapter 20

On the Division of Labour

241. We have already mentioned what may, perhaps, appear
paradoxical to some of our readers that the division of labour
can be applied with equal success to mental as to mechanical
operations, and that it ensures in both the same economy of time.
A short account of its practical application, in the most
extensive series of calculations ever executed, will offer an
interesting illustration of this fact, whilst at the same time it
will afford an occasion for showing that the arrangements which
ought to regulate the interior economy of a manufactory, are
founded on principles of deeper root than may have been supposed,
and are capable of being usefully employed in preparing the road
to some of the sublimest investigations of the human mind.
242. In the midst of that excitement which accompanied the
Revolution of France and the succeeding wars, the ambition of the
nation, unexhausted by its fatal passion for military renown, was
at the same time directed to some of the nobler and more
permanent triumphs which mark the era of a people's greatness and
which receive the applause of posterity long after their
conquests have been wrested from them, or even when their
existence as a nation may be told only by the page of history.
Amongst their enterprises of science, the French Government was
desirous of producing a series of mathematical tables, to
facilitate the application of the decimal system which they had
so recently adopted. They directed, therefore, their
mathematicians to construct such tables, on the most extensive
scale. Their most distinguished philosophers, responding fully to
the call of their country, invented new methods for this
laborious task; and a work, completely answering the large
demands of the Government, was produced in a remarkably short
period of time. M. Prony, to whom the superintendence of this
great undertaking was confided, in speaking of its commencement,
observes: Je m'y livrai avec toute l'ardeur dont j'etois capable,
et je m'occupai d'abord du plan general de l'execution. Toutes
les conditions que j'avois a remplir necessitoient l'emploi d'un
grand nombre de calculateurs; et il me vint bientot a la pensee
d'appliquer a la connection de ces Tables la division du travail,
dont les Arts de Commerce tirent un parti si avantageux pour
reunir a la pernection de main-d'oeuvre l'economie de la depense
et du temps. The circumstance which gave rise to this singular
application of the principle of the division on labour is so
interesting, that no apology is necessary for introducing it from
a small pamphlet printed at Paris a few years since, when a
proposition was made by the English to the French Government,
that the two countries should print these tables at their joint
243. The origin of the idea is related in the following
C'est a un chapitre d'un ouvrage Anglais,(1*) justement
celebre, (I.) qu'est probablement due l'existence de l'ouvrage
dont le gouvernement Britannique veut faire jouir le monde
Voici l'anecdote: M. de Prony s'etait engage. avec les
comites de gouvernement. a composer pour la division centesimale
du cercle, des tables logarithmiques et trigonometriques, qui,
non seulement ne laissassent rien a desirer quant a l'exactitude,
mais qui formassent le monument de calcul 1e plus vaste et le
plus imposant qui eut jamais ete execute, ou meme concu. Les
logarithmes des nombres de 1 a 200.000 formaient a ce travail un
supplement necessaire et exige. Il fut aise a M. de Prony de
s'assurer que meme en s'associant trois ou quatre habiles
co-operateurs. la plus grande duree presumable de sa vie ne lui
sufirai pas pour remplir ses engagements. Il etait occupe de
cette facheuse pensee lorsque. se trouvant devant la boutique
d'un marchand de livres. il appercut la belle edition Anglaise de
Smith, donnee a Londres en 1776: il ouvrit le livre au hazard. et
tomba sur le premier chapitre, qui traite de la division du
travail, et ou la fabrication des epingles est citee pour
exemple. A peine avait-il parcouru les premieres pages, que, par
une espece d'inspiration. il concut l'expedient de mettre ses
logarithmes en manufacture comme les epingles. Il faisait en ce
moment, a l'ecole polytechnique, des lecons sur une partie
d'analyse liee a ce genre de travail, la methode des differences,
et ses applications a 1'interpolation. Il alla passer quelques
jours a la campagne. et revint a Paris avec le plan de
fabrication. qui a ete suivi dans l'execution. Il rassembla deux
ateliers. qui faisai.ent separement les memes calculs, et se
servaient de verification reciproque.(2*)
244. The ancient methods of computing tables were altogether
inapplicable to such a proceeding. M. Prony, therefore, wishing
to avail himself of all the talent of his country in devising new
methods, formed the first section of those who were to take part
in this enterprise out of five or six of the most eminent
mathematicians in France.
First section. The duty of this first section was to
investigate, amongst the various analytical expressions which
could be found for the same function, that which was most readily
adapted to simple numerical calculation by many individuals
employed at the same time. This section had little or nothing to
do with the actual numerical work. When its labours were
concluded, the formulae on the use of which it had decided, were
delivered to the second section.
Second section. This section consisted of seven or eight
persons of considerable acquaintance with mathematics: and their
duty was to convert into numbers the formulae put into their
hands by the first section an operation of great labour; and then
to deliver out these formulae to the members of the third
section, and receive from them the finished calculations. The
members of this second section had certain means of verifying the
calculations without the necessity of repeating, or even of
examining, the whole of the work done by the third section.
Third section. The members of this section, whose number
varied from sixty to eighty, received certain numbers from the
second section, and, using nothing more than simple addition and
subtraction, they returned to that section the tables in a
finished state. It is remarkable that nine-tenths of this class
had no knowledge of arithmetic beyond the two first rules which
they were thus called upon to exercise, and that these persons
were usually found more correct in their calculations, than those
who possessed a more extensive knowledge of the subject.
245. When it is stated that the tables thus computed occupy
seventeen large folio volumes, some idea may perhaps be formed of
the labour. From that part executed by the third class, which may
almost be termed mechanical, requiring the least knowledge and by
far the greatest exertions, the first class were entirely exempt.
Such labour can always be purchased at an easy rate. The duties
of the second class, although requiring considerable skill in
arithmetical operations, were yet in some measure relieved by the
higher interest naturally felt in those more difficult
operations. The exertions of the first class are not likely to
require, upon another occasion, so much skill and labour as they
did upon the first attempt to introduce such a method; but when
the completion of a calculating engine shall have produced a
substitute for the whole of the third section of computers, the
attention of analysts will naturally be directed to simplifying
its application, by a new discussion of the methods of converting
analytical formulae into numbers.
246. The proceeding of M. Prony, in this celebrated system of
calculation, much resembles that of a skilful person about to
construct a cotton or silk mill, or any similar establishment.
Having, by his own genius, or through the aid of his friends,
found that some improved machinery may be successfully applied to
his pursuit, he makes drawings of his plans of the machinery, and
may himself be considered as constituting the first section. He
next requires the assistance of operative engineers capable of
executing the machinery he has designed, some of whom should
understand the nature of the processes to be carried on; and
these constitute his second section. When a sufficient number of
machines have been made, a multitude of other persons, possessed
of a lower degree of skill, must be employed in using them; these
form the third section: but their work, and the just performance
of the machines, must be still superintended by the second class.
247. As the possibility of performing arithmetical
calculations by machinery may appear to non-mathematical readers
to be rather too large a postulate, and as it is connected with
the subject of the division of labour, I shall here endeavour, in
a few lines, to give some slight perception of the manner in
which this can be done - and thus to remove a small portion of
the veil which covers that apparent mystery.
248. That nearly all tables of numbers which follow any law,
however complicated, may be formed, to a greater or less extent,
solely by the proper arrangement of the successive addition and
subtraction of numbers befitting each table, is a general
principle which can be demonstrated to those only who are well
acquainted with mathematics; but the mind, even of the reader who
is but very slightly acquainted with that science, will readily
conceive that it is not impossible, by attending to the following
The subjoined table is the beginning of one in very extensive
use, which has been printed and reprinted very frequently in many
countries, and is called a table of square numbers.

Terms of Table  A Table  B first Difference  C second Difference

1           1
2           4                            2
3           9                            2
4          16                            2
5          25                            2
6          36                            2
7          49

Any number in the table, column A, may be obtained, by
multiplying the number which expresses the distance of that term
from the commencement of the table by itself; thus, 25 is the
fifth term from the beginning of the table, and 5 multiplied by
itself, or by 5, is equal to 25. Let us now subtract each term of
this table from the next succeeding term, and place the results
in another column (B), which may be called first difference
column. If we again subtract each term of this first difference
from the succeeding term, we find the result is always the number
2, (column C); and that the same number will always recur in that
column, which may be called the second difference, will appear to
any person who takes the trouble to carry on the table a few
terms further. Now when once this is admitted, it is quite clear
that, provided the first term (1) of the table, the first term
(3) of the first differences, and the first term (2) of the
second or constant difference, are originally given, we can
continue the table of square numbers to any extent, merely by
addition: for the series of first differences may be formed by
repeatedly adding the constant difference (2) to (3) the first
number in column B, and we then have the series of numbers, 3, 5,
6, etc.: and again, by successively adding each of these to the
first number (1) of the table, we produce the square numbers.
249. Having thus, I hope, thrown some light upon the
theoretical part of the question, I shall endeavour to show that
the mechanical execution of such an engine, as would produce this
series of numbers, is not so far removed from that of ordinary
machinery as might be conceived.(3*) Let the reader imagine three
clocks, placed on a table side by side, each having only one
hand, and each having a thousand divisions instead of twelve
hours marked on the face; and every time a string is pulled, let
them strike on a bell the numbers of the divisions to which their
hands point. Let him further suppose that two of the clocks, for
the sake of distinction called B and C, have some mechanism by
which the clock C advances the hand of the clock B one division,
for each stroke it makes upon its own bell: and let the clock B
by a similar contrivance advance the hand of the clock A one
division, for each stroke it makes on its own bell. With such an
arrangement, having set the hand of the clock A to the division
I, that of B to III, and that of C to II, let the reader imagine
the repeating parts of the clocks to be set in motion continually
in the following order: viz. - pull the string of clock A; pull
the string of clock B; pull the string of clock C.
The table on the following page will then express the series
of movements and their results.
If now only those divisions struck or pointed at by the clock
A be attended to and written down, it will be found that they
produce the series of the squares of the natural numbers. Such a
series could, of course, be carried by this mechanism only so far
as the numbers which can be expressed by three figures; but this
may be sufficient to give some idea of the construction - and
was, in fact, the point to which the first model of the
calculating engine, now in progress, extended.
250. We have seen, then, that the effect of the division of
labour, both in mechanical and in mental operations, is, that it
enables us to purchase and apply to each process precisely that
quantity of skill and knowledge which is required for it: we
avoid employing any part of the time of a man who can get eight
or ten shillings a day by his skill in tempering needles, in
turning a wheel, which can be done for sixpence a day; and we
equally avoid the loss arising from the employment of an
accomplished mathematician in performing the lowest processes of
251. The division of labour cannot be successfully practised
unless there exists a great demand for its produce; and it
requires a large capital to be employed in those arts in which it
is used. In watchmaking it has been carried, perhaps, to the
greatest extent. It was stated in evidence before a committee of
the House of Commons, that there are a hundred and two distinct
branches of this art, to each of which a boy may be put
apprentice: and that he only learns his master's department, and
is unable, after his apprenticeship has expired, without
subsequent instruction, to work at any other branch. The
watch-finisher, whose business is to put together the scattered
parts, is the only one, out of the hundred and two persons, who
can work in any other department than his own.
252. In one of the most difficult arts, that of mining, great
improvements have resulted from the judicious distribution of the
duties; and under the arrangments which have gradually been
introduced, the whole system of the mine and its government is
now placed under the control of the following officers.

1. A manager, who has the general knowledge of all that is to
be done, and who may be assisted by one or more skilful persons.
2. Underground captains direct the proper mining operations,
and govern the working miners.
3. The purser and book-keeper manage the accounts.
4. The engineer erects the engines, and superintends the men
who work them.
5. A chief pitman has charge of the pumps and the apparatus
of the shafts.
6. A surface-captain, with assistants, receives the ores
raised, and directs the dressing department, the object of which
is to render them marketable.
7. The head carpenter superintends many constructions.
8. The foreman of the smiths regulates the ironwork and
9. A materials man selects, purchases, receives and delivers
all articles required.
10. The roper has charge of ropes and cordage of all sorts.


1. An Enquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of
Nations, by Adam Smith.

2. Note sur la publication, proposee par le gouvernement Anglais
des grandes tables logarithmiques et trigonometriques de M de
Prony De l'imprimerie de F. Didot, December 1, 1829, p. 7

3. Since the publication of the second edition of this work, one
portion of the engine which I have been constructing for some
years past has been put together. It calculates, in three
columns, a table with its first and second differences. Each
column can be expressed as far as five figures, so that these
fifteen figures constitute about one ninth part of the larger
engine. The ease and precision with which it works. leave no room
to doubt its success in the more extended form. Besides tables of
squares, cubes, and portions of logarithmic tables, it possesses
the power of calculating certain series whose differences are not
constant; and it has already tabulated parts of series formed
from the following equations:

The third differential of ux = units figur of delta ux

The third differential of ux = nearest whole no. to (1/10,000
delta ux)

The subjoined is one amongst the series which it has calculated:

0   3,486       42,972
0   4,991       50,532
1   6,907       58,813
14   9,295       67,826
70  12,236       77,602
230  15,741       88,202
495  19,861       99,627
916  24,597      111,928
1,504  30,010      125,116
2,340  36,131      139,272

The general term of this is,

ux = (x(x-1)(x-2))/(1 X 2 X 3) + the whole number in x/10 +
10 Sigma^3 (units figure of (x(x-1)/2)

Chapter 21

On the Cost of Each Separate Process in a Manufacture

253. The great competition introduced by machinery, and the
application of the principle of the subdivision of labour, render
it necessary for each producer to be continually on the watch, to
discover improved methods by which the cost of the article he
manufactures may be reduced; and, with this view, it is of great
importance to know the precise expense of every process, as well
as of the wear and tear of machinery which is due to it. The same
information is desirable for those by whom the manufactured goods
are distributed and sold; because it enables them to give
reasonable answers or explanations to the objections of
enquirers, and also affords them a better chance of suggesting to
the manufacturer changes in the fashion of his goods, which may
be suitable either to the tastes or to the finances of his
customers. To the statesman such knowledge is still more
important; for without it he must trust entirely to others, and
can form no judgement worthy of confidence, of the effect any tax
may produce, or of the injury the manufacturer or the country may
suffer by its imposition.
254. One of the first advantages which suggests itself as
likely to arise from a correct analysis of the expense of the
several processes of any manufacture, is the indication which it
would furnish of the course in which improvement should be
directed. If a method could be contrived of diminishing by one
fourth the time required for fixing on the heads of pins, the
expense of making them would be reduced about thirteen per cent;
whilst a reduction of one half the time employed in spinning the
coil of wire out of which the heads are cut, would scarcely make
any sensible difference. in the cost of manufacturing of the
whole article. It is therefore obvious, that the attention would
be much more advantageously directed to shortening the former
than the latter process.
255. The expense of manufacturing, in a country where
machinery is of the rudest kind, and manual labour is very cheap,
is curiously exhibited in the price of cotton cloth in the island
of Java. The cotton, in the seed, is sold by the picul, which is
a weight of about 133 lbs. Not above one fourth or one fifth of
this weight, however, is cotton: the natives, by means of rude
wooden rollers, can only separate about 1 1/4 lb. of cotton from
the seed by one day's labour. A picul of cleansed cotton,
therefore, is worth between four and five times the cost of the
impure article; and the prices of the same substance, in its
different stages of manufacture, are - for one picul:

Dollars Cotton in the seed 2 to 3
Clean cotton 10 to 11
Cotton thread 24
Cotton thread dyed blue 35
Good ordinary cotton cloth 50

Thus it appears that the expense of spinning in Java is 117
per cent on the value of the raw material; the expense of dying
thread blue is 45 per cent on its value; and that of weaving
cotton thread into cloth 117 per cent on its value. The expense
of spinning cotton into a fine thread is, in England, about 33
per cent. (1*)
256. As an example of the cost of the different processes of
a manufacture, perhaps an analytical statement of the expense of
the volume now in the reader's hands may not be uninteresting;
more especially as it will afford an insight into the nature and
extent of the taxes upon literature. It is found economical to
print it upon paper of a very large size, so that although
thirty-two pages, instead of sixteen, are really contained in
each sheet, this work iS still called octavo.

£ s. d.

To printer, for composing (per sheet of 32 pages) £3 ls. 101/2
sheets 32 0 6 [This relates to the ordinary size of the type used
in the volume.]

To printer for composing small type, as in extracts and 2 0 3
contents, extra per sheet, 3s. 10d.

To printer, for composing table work, extra per sheet, 2 17 9
5s. 6d.
Average charge for corrections, per sheet, £3 2s. 10d. 33 0 0
Press work, 3000 being printed off, per sheet, £3 10s. 36 15 0
Paper for 3000, at £1 11s. 6d. per ream, weighing 28 lbs: the
duty on paper at 3d. per lb. amounts to 7s. per ream, so that the
63 reams which are required for the work will cost:

Paper 77 3 6
Excise Duty 22 1 0
Total expense of paper 99 4 6

Total expense of printing and paper 205 18 0
Steel-plate for title-page 0 7 6
Engraving on ditto, Head of Bacon 2 2 0
Ditto letters 1 1 0
Total expense of title-page 3 10 6
Printing title-page, at 6s. per 100 9 0 0
Paper for ditto, at 1s. 9d. per 100 2 12 6
Expenses of advertising 40 0 0
Sundries. 5 0 0

Total expense in sheets 266 1 0

Cost of a single copy in sheets; 3052 being printed, including
the overplus 0 1 9
Extra boarding 0 0 6

Cost of each copy, boarded(2*) 0 2 3

257. This analysis requires some explanation. The printer
usually charges for composition by the sheet, supposing the type
to be all of one kind; and as this charge is regulated by the
size of the letter, on which the quantity in a sheet depends,
little dispute can arise after the price is agreed upon. If there
are but few extracts, or other parts of the work, which require
to be printed in smaller type; or if there are many notes, or
several passages in Greek, or in other languages, requiring a
different type, these are considered in the original contract,
and a small additional price per sheet allowed. If there is a
large portion of small type, it is better to have a specific
additional charge for it per sheet. If any work with irregular
lines and many figures, and what the printers call rules, occurs,
it is called table work, and is charged at an advanced price per
sheet. Examples of this are frequent in the present volume. a If
the page consists entirely of figures, as in mathematical tables,
which require very careful correction, the charge for composition
is usually doubled. A few years ago I printed a table of
logarithms, on a large-sized page, which required great
additional labour and care from the readers,(3*) in rendering the
proofs correct, and for which, although new punches were not
required, several new types were prepared, and for which
stereotype plates were cast, costing about £2 per sheet. In this
case £11 per sheet were charged, although ordinary composition,
with the same sized letter, in demy octavo, could have been
executed at thirty-eight shillings per sheet: but as the expense
was ascertained before commencing the work, it gave rise to no
258. The charge for corrections and alterations is one which,
from the difficulty of measuring them, gives rise to the greatest
inconvenience, and is as disagreeable to the publisher (if he be
the agent between the author and the printer), and to the master
printer or his foreman, as it is to the author himself. If the
author study economy, he should make the whole of his corrections
in the manuscript, and should copy it out fairly: it will then be
printed correctly, and he will have little to pay for
corrections. But it is scarcely possible to judge of the effect
of any passage correctly, without having it set up in type; and
there are few subjects, upon which an author does not find he can
add some details or explanation, when he sees his views in print.
If, therefore, he wish to save his own labour in transcribing,
and to give the last polish to the language, he must be content
to accomplish these objects at an increased expense. If the
printer possess a sufficient stock of type, it will contribute
still more to the convenience of the author to have his whole
work put up in what are technically called slips,(4*) and then to
make all the corrections, and to have as few revises as he can.
The present work was set up in slips, but the corrections have
been unusually large, and the revises frequent.
259. The press work, or printing off, is charged at a price
agreed upon for each two hundred and fifty sheets; and any broken
number is still considered as two hundred and fifty. When a large
edition is required, the price for two hundred and fifty is
reduced; thus, in the present volume, two hundred and fifty
copies, if printed alone, would have been charged eleven
shillings per sheet, instead of 5s. 10d., the actual charge. The
principle of this mode of charging is good, as it obviates all
disputes; but it is to be regretted that the custom of charging
the same price for any small number as for two hundred and fifty,
is so pertinaciously adhered to, that the workmen will not agree
to any other terms when only twenty or thirty copies are
required, or even when only three or four are wanted for the sake
of some experiment. Perhaps if all numbers above fifty were
charged as two hundred and fifty, and all below as for half two
hundred and fifty, both parties would derive an advantage.
260. The effect of the excise duty is to render the paper
thin, in order that it may weigh little; but this is counteracted
by the desire of the author to make his book look as thick as
possible, in order that he may charge the public as much as he
decently can; and so on that ground alone the duty is of no
importance. There is, however, another effect of this duty, which
both the public and the author feel; for they pay, not merely the
duty which is charged, but also the profit on that duty, which
the paper-maker requires for the use of additional capital; and
also the profit to the publisher and bookseller on the increased
price of the volume.
261. The estimated charge for advertisements is, in the
present case, about the usual allowance for such a volume; and,
as it is considered that advertisements in newspapers are the
most effectual, where the smallest pays a duty of 3s. 6d., nearly
one half of the charge of advertising is a tax.
262. It appears then, that, to an expenditure of £224
necessary to produce the present volume, £42 are added in the
shape of a direct tax. Whether the profits arising from such a
mode of manufacturing will justify such a rate of taxation, can
only be estimated when the returns from the volume are
considered, a subject that will be discussed in a subsequent
chapter.(5*) It is at present sufficient to observe, that the tax
on advertisements is an impolitic tax when contrasted with that
upon paper, and on other materials employed. The object of all
advertisements is, by making known articles for sale, to procure
for them a better price, if the sale is to be by auction; or a
larger extent of sale if by retail dealers. Now the more any
article is known, the more quickly it is discovered whether it
contributes to the comfort or advantage of the public; and the
more quickly its consumption is assured if it be found valuable.
It would appear, then, that every tax on communicating
information respecting articles which are the subjects of
taxation in another shape, is one which must reduce the amount
that would have been raised, had no impediment been placed in the
way of making known to the public their qualities and their


1. These facts are taken from Crawford's Indian Archipelago.

2. These charges refer to the edition prepared for the public,
and do not relate to the large paper copies in the hands of some
of the author's friends.

3. Readers are persons employed to correct the press at the
printing office.

4. Slips are long pieces of paper on which sufficient matter is
printed to form, when divided, from two to four pages of text.

5. Chapter 31.

Chapter 22

On the Causes and Consequences of Large Factories

263. On examining the analysis which has been given in
chapter XIX of the operations in the art of pin-making, it will
be observed, that ten individuals are employed in it, and also
that the time occupied in executing the several processes is very
different. In order, however, to render more simple the reasoning
which follows, it will be convenient to suppose that each of the
seven processes there described requires an equal quantity of
time. This being supposed, it is at once apparent, that, to
conduct an establishment for pin-making most profitably, the
number of persons employed must be a multiple of ten. For if a
person with small means has only sufficient capital to enable him
to employ half that number of persons, they cannot each of them
constantly adhere to the execution of the same process; and if a
manufacturer employs any number not a multiple of ten, a similar
result must ensue with respect to some portion of them. The same
reflection constantly presents itself on examining any
well-arranged factory. In that of Mr Mordan, the patentee of the
ever-pointed pencils, one room is devoted to some of the
processes by which steel pens are manufactured. Six fly-presses
are here constantly at work; in the first a sheet of thin steel
is brought by the workman under the die which at each blow cuts
out a flat piece of the metal, having the form intended for the
pen. Two other workmen are employed in placing these flat pieces
under two other presses, in which a steel chisel cuts the slit.
Three other workmen occupy other presses, in which the pieces so
prepared receive their semi-cylindrical form. The longer time
required for adjusting the small pieces in the two latter
operations renders them less rapid in execution than the first;
so that two workmen are fully occupied in slitting, and three in
bending the flat pieces, which one man can punch out of the sheet
of steel. If, therefore, it were necessary to enlarge this
factory, it is clear that twelve or eighteen presses would be
worked with more economy than any number not a multiple of six.
The same reasoning extends to every manufacture which is
conducted upon the principle of the division of labour, and we
arrive at this general conclusion: When the number of processes
into which it is most advantageous to divide it, and the number
of individuals to be employed in it, are ascertained, then all
factories which do not employ a direct multiple of this latter
number, will produce the article at a greater cost. This
principle ought always to be kept in view in great
establishments, although it is quite impossible, even with the
best division of the labour, to attend to it rigidly in practice.
The proportionate number of the persons who possess the greatest
skill, is of course to be first attended to. That exact ratio
which is more profitable for a factory employing a hundred
workmen, may not be quite the best where there are five hundred;
and the arrangements of both may probably admit of variations,
without materially increasing the cost of their produce. But it
is quite certain that no individual, nor in the case of
pin-making could any five individuals, ever hope to compete with
an extensive establishment. Hence arises one cause of the great
size of manufacturing establishments, which have increased with
the progress of civilization. Other circumstances, however,
contribute to the same end, and arise also from the same cause -
the division of labour.
264. The material out of which the manufactured article is
produced, must, in the several stages of its progress, be
conveyed from one operator to the next in succession: this can be
done at least expense when they are all working in the same
establishment. If the weight of the material is considerable,
this reason acts with additional force; but even where it is
light, the danger arising from frequent removal may render it
desirable to have all the processes carried on in the same
building. In the cutting and polishing of glass this is the case;
whilst in the art of needle-making several of the processes are
carried on in the cottages of the workmen. It is, however, clear
that the latter plan, which is attended with some advantages to
the family of the workmen, can be adopted only where there exists
a sure and quick method of knowing that the work has been well
done, and that the whole of the materials given out have been
really employed.
265. The inducement to contrive machines for any process of
manufacture increases with the demand for the article; and the
introduction of machinery, on the other hand, tends to increase
the quantity produced. and to lead to the establishment of large
factories. An illustration of these principles may be found in
the history of the manufacture of patent net.
The first machines for weaving this article were very
expensive, costing from a thousand to twelve or thirteen hundred
pounds. The possessor of one of these, though it greatly
increased the quantity he could produce, was nevertheless unable,
when working eight hours a day, to compete with the old methods.
This arose from the large capital invested in the machinery; but
he quickly perceived that with the same expense of fixed capital,
and a small addition to his circulating capital, he could work
the machine during the whole twenty-four hours. The profits thus
realized soon induced other persons to direct their attention to
the improvement of those machines; and the price was greatly
reduced, at the same time that the rapidity of production of the
patent net was increased. But if machines be kept working through
the twenty-four hours, it is necessary that some person shall
attend to admit the workmen at the time they relieve each other;
and whether the porter or other servant so employed admit one
person or twenty, his rest will be equally disturbed. It will
also be necessary occasionally to adjust or repair the machine;
and this can be done much better by a workman accustomed to
machine-making, than by the person who uses it. Now, since the
good performance and the duration of machines depend to a very
great extent upon correcting every shake or imperfection in their
parts as soon as they appear, the prompt attention of a workman
resident on the spot will considerably reduce the expenditure
arising from the wear and tear of the machinery. But in the case
of single lace frame, or a single loom, this would be too
expensive a plan. Here then arises another circumstance which
tends to enlarge the extent of a factory. It ought to consist of
such a number of machines as shall occupy the whole time of one
workman in keeping them in order: if extended beyond that number,
the same principle of economy would point out the necessity of
doubling or tripling the number of machines, in order to employ
the whole time of two or three skilful workmen.
266. Where one portion of the workman's labour consists in
the exertion of mere physical force, as in weaving and in many
similar arts, it will soon occur to the manufacturer, that if
that part were executed by a steam-engine, the same man might, in
the case of weaving, attend to two or more looms at once; and,
since we already suppose that one or more operative engineers
have been employed, the number of his looms may be so arranged
that their time shall be fully occupied in keeping the
steam-engine and the looms in order. One of the first results
will be, that the looms can be driven by the engine nearly twice
as fast as before: and as each man, when relieved from bodily
labour, can attend to two looms, one workman can now make almost
as much cloth as four. This increase of producing power is,
however, greater than that which really took place at first; the
velocity of some of the parts of the loom being limited by the
strength of the thread, and the quickness with which it commences
its motion: but an improvement was soon made, by which the motion
commenced slowly, and gradually acquired greater velocity than it
was safe to give it at once; and the speed was thus increased
from 100 to about 120 strokes per minute.
267. Pursuing the same principles, the manufactory becomes
gradually so enlarged, that the expense of lighting during the
night amounts to a considerable sum; and as there are already
attached to the establishment persons who are up all night, and
can therefore constantly attend to it, and also engineers to make
and keep in repair any machinery, the addition of an apparatus
for making gas to light the factory leads to a new extension, at
the same time that it contributes, by diminishing the expense of
lighting, and the risk of accidents from fire, to reduce the cost
of manufacturing.
268. Long before a factory has reached this extent, it will
have been found necessary to establish an accountant's
department, with clerks to pay the workmen, and to see that they
arrive at their stated times; and this department must be in
communication with the agents who purchase the raw produce, and
with those who sell the manufactured article.
269. We have seen that the application of the division of
labour tends to produce cheaper articles; that it thus increases
the demand; and gradually, by the effect of competition, or by
the hope of increased gain, that it causes large capitals to be
embarked in extensive factories. Let us now examine the influence
of this accumulation of capital directed to one object. In the
first place, it enables the most important principle on which the
advantages of the division of labour depends to be carried almost
to its extreme limits: not merely is the precise amount of skill
purchased which is necessary for the execution of each process,
but throughout every stage - from that in which the raw material
is procured, to that by which the finished produce is conveyed
into the hands of the consumer - the same economy of skill
prevails. The quantity of work produced by a given number of
people is greatly augmented by such an extended arrangement; and
the result is necessarily a great reduction in the cost of the
article which is brought to market.
270. Amongst the causes which tend to the cheap production of
any article, and which are connected with the employment of
additional capital, may be mentioned, the care which is taken to
prevent the absolute waste of any part of the raw material. An
attention to. this circumstance sometimes causes the union of two
trades in one factory, which otherwise might have been separated.
An enumeration of the arts to which the horns of cattle are
applicable, will furnish a striking example of this kind of
economy. The tanner who has purchased the raw hides, separates
the horns, and sells them to the makers of combs and lanterns.
The horn consists of two parts, an outward horny case, and an
inward conical substance, somewhat intermediate between indurated
hair and bone. The first process consists in separating these two
parts, by means of a blow against a block of wood. The horny
exterior is then cut into three portions with a frame-saw.
1. The lowest of these, next the root of the horn, after
undergoing several processes, by which it is flattened, is made
into combs.
2. The middle of the horn, after being flattened by heat, and
having its transparency improved by oil, is split into thin
layers, and forms a substitute for glass, in lanterns of the
commonest kind.
3. The tip of the horn is used by the makers of knife
handles, and of the tops of whips, and for other similar
4. The interior, or core of the horn, is boiled down in
water. A large quantity of fat rises to the surface; this is put
aside, and sold to the makers of yellow soap.
5. The liquid itself is used as a kind of glue, and is
purchased by cloth dressers for stiffening.
6. The insoluble substance, which remains behind, is then
sent to the mill, and, being ground down, is sold to the farmers
for manure.
7. Besides these various purposes to which the different
parts of the horn are applied, the clippings, which arise in comb
making, are sold to the farmer for manure. In the first year
after they are spread over the soil they have comparatively
little effect, but during the next four or five their efficiency
is considerable. The shavings which form the refuse of the
lantern maker, are of a much thinner texture: some of them are
cut into various figures and painted, and used as toys; for being
hygrometric, they curl up when placed on the palm of a warm hand.
But the greater part of these shavings also are sold for manure,
and from their extremely thin and divided form, the full effect
is produced upon the first crop.
271. Another event which has arisen, in one trade at least,
from the employment of large capital, is, that a class of
middlemen, formerly interposed between the maker and the
merchant, now no longer exist. When calico was woven in the
cottages of the workmen, there existed a class of persons who
travelled about and purchased the pieces so made, in large
numbers, for the purpose of selling them to the exporting
merchant. But the middlemen were obliged to examine every piece,
in order to know that it was perfect, and of full measure. The
greater number of the workmen, it is true, might be depended
upon, but the fraud of a few would render this examination
indispensable: for any single cottager, though detected by one
purchaser, might still hope that the fact would not become known
to all the rest.
The value of character, though great in all circumstances of
life, can never be so fully experienced by persons possessed of
small capital, as by those employing much larger sums: whilst
these larger sums of money for which the merchant deals, render
his character for punctuality more studied and known by others.
Thus it happens that high character supplies the place of an
additional portion of capital; and the merchant, in dealing with
the great manufacturer, is saved from the expense of
verification, by knowing that the loss, or even the impeachment,
of the manufacturer's character, would be attended with greater
injury to himself than any profit upon a single transaction could
272. The amount of well-grounded confidence, which exists in
the character of its merchants and manufacturers, is one of the
many advantages that an old manufacturing country always
possesses over its rivals. To such an extent is this confidence
in character carried in England, that, at one of our largest
towns, sales and purchases on a very extensive scale are made
daily in the course of business without any of the parties ever
exchanging a written document.
273. A breach of confidence of this kind, which might have
been attended with very serious embarrassment, occurred in the
recent expedition to the mouth of the Niger.
'We brought with us from England,' Mr Lander states, 'nearly
a hundred thousand needles of various sizes, and amongst them was
a great quantity of Whitechapel sharps warranted superfine, and
not to cut in the eye. Thus highly recommended, we imagined that
these needles must have been excellent indeed; but what was our
surprise, some time ago, when a number of them which we had
disposed of were returned to us, with a complaint that they were
all eyeless, thus redeeming with a vengeance the pledge of the
manufacturer, "that they would not cut in the eye". On
examination afterwards, we found the same fault with the
remainder of the "Whitechapel sharps", so that to save our credit
we have been obliged to throw them away.'(1*)
274. The influence of established character in producing
confidence operated in a very remarkable manner at the time of
the exclusion of British manufactures from the continent during
the last war. One of our largest establishments had been in the
habit of doing extensive business with a house in the centre of
Germany; but, on the closing of the continental ports against our
manufactures, heavy penalties were inflicted on all those who
contravened the Berlin and Milan decrees. The English
manufacturer continued, nevertheless, to receive orders, with
directions how to consign them, and appointments for the time and
mode of payment, in letters, the handwriting of which was known
to him, but which were never signed, except by the christian name
of one of the firm, and even in some. instances they were without
any signature at all. These orders were executed; and in no
instance was there the least irregularity in the payments.
275. Another circumstance may be noticed, which to a small
extent is more advantageous to large than to small factories. In
the export of several articles of manufacture, a drawback is
allowed by government, of a portion of the duty paid on the
importation of the raw material. In such circumstances, certain
forms must be gone through in order to protect the revenue from
fraud; and a clerk, or one of the partners, must attend at the
custom-house. The agent of the large establishment occupies
nearly the same time in receiving a drawback of several
thousands, as the smaller exporter does of a few shillings. But
if the quantity exported is inconsiderable, the small
manufacturer frequently does not find the drawback will repay him
for the loss of time.
276. In many of the large establishments of our manufacturing
districts, substances are employed which are the produce of
remote countries, and which are, in several instances, almost
peculiar to a few situations. The discovery of any new locality,
where such articles exist in abundance, is a matter of great
importance to any establishment which consumes them in large
quantities; and it has been found, in some instances, that the
expense of sending persons to great distances, purposely to
discover and to collect such produce, has been amply repaid. Thus
it has happened, that the snowy mountains of Sweden and Norway,
as well as the warmer hills of Corsica, have been almost stripped
of one of their vegetable productions, by agents sent expressly
from one of our largest establishments for the dying of calicos.
Owing to the same command of capital, and to the scale upon which
the operations of large factories are carried on, their returns
admit of the expense of sending out agents to examine into the
wants and tastes of distant countries, as well as of trying
experiments, which, although profitable to them, would be ruinous
to smaller establishments possessing more limited resources.
These opinions have been so well expressed in the Report of
the Committee of the House of Commons on the Woollen Trade, in
l806, that we shall close this chapter with an extract, in which
the advantages of great factories are summed up.

Your committee have the satisfaction of seeing, that the
apprehensions entertained of factories are not only vicious in
principle, but they are practically erroneous: to such a degree.
that even the very opposite principles might be reasonably
entertained. Nor would it be difficult to prove, that the
factories, to a certain extent at least, and in the present day,
seem absolutely necessary to the wellbeing of the domestic
system: supplying those very particulars wherein the domestic
system must be acknowledged to be inherently defective: for it is
obvious, that the little master manufacturers cannot afford. like
the man who possesses considerable capital, to try the
experiments which are requisite, and incur the risks, and even
losses, which almost always occur, in inventing and perfecting
new articles of manufacture, or in carrying to a state of greater
perfection articles already established. He cannot learn, by
personal inspection, the wants and habits, the arts,
manufactures, and improvements of foreign countries; diligence,
economy, and prudence, are the requisites of his character, not
invention, taste, and enterprise: nor would he be warranted in
hazarding the loss of any part of his small capital. He walks in
a sure road as long as he treads in the beaten track; but he must
not deviate into the paths of speculation. The owner of a
factory, on the contrary, being commonly possessed of a large
capital, and having all his workmen employed under his own
immediate superintendence, may make experiments, hazard
speculation, invent shorter or better modes of performing old
processes, may introduce new articles, and improve and perfect
old ones, thus giving the range to his taste and fancy, and,
thereby alone enabling our manufacturers to stand the competition
with their commercial rivals in other countries. Meanwhile, as is
well worthy of remark (and experience abundantly warrants the
assertion), many of these new fabrics and inventions, when their
success is once established, become general amongst the whole
body of manufacturers: the domestic manufacturers themselves thus
benefiting, in the end, from those very factories which had been
at first the objects of their jealousy. The history of almost all
our other manufactures, in which great improvements have been
made of late years in some cases at an immense expense, and after
numbers of unsuccessful experiments, strikingly illustrates and
enforces the above remarks. It is besides an acknowledged fact,
that the owners of factories are often amongst the most extensive
purchasers at the halls, where they buy from the domestic
clothier the established articles of manufacture, or are able at
once to answer a great and sudden order; whilst, at home, and
under their own superintendence, they make their fancy goods, and
any articles of a newer, more costly, or more delicate quality,
to which they are enabled by the domestic system to apply a much
larger proportion of their capital. Thus, the two systems,
instead of rivalling, are mutual aids to each other: each
supplying the other's defects, and promoting the other's


1. Lander's Journal of an Expedition to the Mouth of the Niger,
vol. ii., p. 42.

The Economy of Machinery and Manufactures

by Charles Babbage

Chapter 23

On the Position of Large Factories

277. It is found in every country, that the situation of
large manufacturing establishments is confined to particular
districts. In the earlier history of a manufacturing community,
before cheap modes of transport have been extensively introduced,
it will almost always be found that manufactories are placed near
those spots in which nature has produced the raw material:
especially in the case of articles of great weight, and in those
the value of which depends more upon the material than upon the
labour expended on it. Most of the metallic ores being
exceedingly heavy, and being mixed up with large quantities of
weighty and useless materials, must be smelted at no great
distance from the spot which affords them: fuel and power are the
requisites for reducing them; and any considerable fall of water
in the vicinity will naturally be resorted to for aid in the
coarser exertions of physical force; for pounding the ore, for
blowing the furnaces, or for hammering and rolling out the iron.
There are indeed peculiar circumstances which will modify this.
Iron, coal, and limestone, commonly occur in the same tracts; but
the union of the fuel in the same locality with the ore does not
exist with respect to other metals. The tracts generally the most
productive of metallic ores are, geologically speaking, different
from those affording coal: thus in Cornwall there are veins of
copper and of tin, but no beds of coal. The copper ore, which
requires a very large quantity of fuel for its reduction, is sent
by sea to the coalfields of Wales, and is smelted at Swansea;
whilst the vessels which convey it, take back coals to work the
steam-engines for draining the mines, and to smelt the tin, which
requires for that purpose a much smaller quantity of fuel than
278. Rivers passing through districts rich in coal and
metals, will form the first highroads for the conveyance of
weighty produce to stations in which other conveniences present
themselves for the further application of human skill. Canals
will succeed, or lend their aid to these; and the yet unexhausted
applications of steam and of gas, hold out a hope of attaining
almost the same advantages for countries to which nature seemed
for ever to have denied them. Manufactures, commerce, and
civilization, always follow the line of new and cheap
communications. Twenty years ago, the Mississippi poured the vast
volume of its waters in lavish profusion through thousands of
miles of countries, which scarcely supported a few wandering and
uncivilized tribes of Indians. The power of the stream seemed to
set at defiance the efforts of man to ascend its course; and, as
if to render the task still more hopeless, large trees, torn from
the surrounding forests, were planted like stakes in its bottom,
forming in some places barriers, in others the nucleus of banks;
and accumulating in the same spot, which but for accident would
have been free from both, the difficulties and dangers of shoals
and of rocks. Four months of incessant toil could scarcely convey
a small bark with its worn-out crew two thousand miles up this
stream. The same voyage is now performed in fifteen days by large
vessels impelled by steam, carrying hundreds of passengers
enjoying all the comforts and luxuries of civilized life. Instead
of the hut of the Indian, and the far more unfrequent log house
of the thinly scattered settlers - villages, towns, and cities,
have arisen on its banks; and the same engine which stems the
force of these powerful waters, will probably tear from their
bottom the obstructions which have hitherto impeded and rendered
dangerous their navigation.(1*)
279. The accumulation of many large manufacturing
establishments in the same district has a tendency to bring
together purchasers or their agents from great distances, and
thus to cause the institution of a public mart or exchange. This
contributes to diffuse information relative to the supply of raw
materials, and the state of demand for their produce, with which
it is necessary manufacturers should be well acquainted. The very
circumstance of collecting periodically, at one place, a large
number both of those who supply the market and of those who
require its produce, tends strongly to check the accidental
fluctuations to which a small market is always subject, as well
as to render the average of the prices much more uniform.
280. When capital has been invested in machinery, and in
buildings for its accommodation, and when the inhabitants of the
neighbourhood have acquired a knowledge of the modes of working
at the machines, reasons of considerable weight are required to
cause their removal. Such changes of position do however occur;
and they have been alluded to by the Committee on the Fluctuation
of Manufacturers' Employment, as one of the causes interfering
most materially with an uniform rate of wages: it is therefore of
particular importance to the workmen to be acquainted with the
real causes which have driven manufactures from their ancient

'The migration or change of place of any manufacture has
sometimes arisen from improvements of machinery not applicable to
the spot where such manufacture was carried on, as appears to
have been the case with the woollen manufacture, which has in
great measure migrated from Essex, Suffolk, and other southern
counties, to the northern districts, where coal for the use of
the steam-engine is much cheaper. But this change has, in some
instances, been caused or accelerated by the conduct of the
workmen, in refusing a reasonable reduction of wages, or opposing
the introduction of some kind of improved machinery or process;
so that, during the dispute, another spot has in great measure
supplied their place in the market. Any violence used by the
workmen against the property of their masters, and any
unreasonable combination on their part, is almost sure thus to be
injurious to themselves.'

281. These removals become of serious consequence when the
factories have been long established, because a population
commensurate with their wants invariably grows up around them.
The combinations in Nottinghamshire, of persons under the name of
Luddites, drove a great number of lace frames from that district,
and caused establishments to be formed in Devonshire. We ought
also to observe, that the effect of driving any establishment
into a new district, where similar works have not previously
existed, is not merely to place it out of the reach of such
combinations; but, after a few years, the example of its success
will most probably induce other capitalists in the new district
to engage in the same manufacture: and thus, although one
establishment only should be driven away, the workmen, through
whose combination its removal is effected, will not merely suffer
by the loss of that portion of demand for their labour which the
factory caused; but the value of that labour will itself be
reduced by the competition of a new field of production.
282. Another circumstance which has its influence on this
question, is the nature of the machinery. Heavy machinery, such
as stamping-mills, steam-engines, etc., cannot readily be moved,
and must always be taken to pieces for that purpose; but when the
machinery of a factory consists of a multitude of separate
engines, each complete in itself, and all put in motion by one
source of power, such as that of steam, then the removal is much
less inconvenient. Thus, stocking frames, lace machines, and
looms, can be transported to more favourable positions, with but
a small separation of their parts.
283. It is of great importance that the more intelligent
amongst the class of workmen should examine into the correctness
of these views; because, without having their attention directed
to them, the whole class may, in some instances, be led by
designing persons to pursue a course, which, although plausible
in appearance, is in reality at variance with their own best
interests. I confess I am not without a hope that this volume may
fall into the hands of workmen, perhaps better qualified than
myself to reason upon a subject which requires only plain common
sense, and whose powers are sharpened by its importance to their
personal happiness. In asking their attention to the preceding
remarks, and to those which I shall offer respecting
combinations, I can claim only one advantage over them; namely,
that I never have had, and in all human probability never shall
have, the slightest pecuniary interest, to influence even
remotely, or by anticipation, the judgements I have formed on the
facts which have come before me.


1. The amount of obstructions arising from the casual fixing of
trees in the bottom of the river, may be estimated from the
proportion of steamboats destroyed by running upon them. The
subjoined statement is taken from the American Almanack for 1832.
Between the years 1811 and 1831, three hundred and
forty-eight steamboats were built on the Mississippi and its
tributary streams. During that period a hundred and fifty were
lost or worn out.
Of this hundred and fifty: worn out         63
lost by snags    36
burnt            14
lost by collision 3
by accidents not ascertained 34
Thirty six or nearly one fourth, being destroyed by accidental
Snag is the name given in America to trees which stand nearly
upright in the stream with their roots fixed at the bottom.
It is usual to divide off at the bow of the steamboats a
watertight chamber, in order that when a hole is made in it by
running against the snags, the water may not enterthe rest of the
vessel and sink it intantly.

Chapter 24

On Over Manufacturing

284. One of the natural and almost inevitable consequences of
competition is the production of a supply much larger than the
demand requires. This result usually arises periodically; and it
is equally important, both to the masters and to the workmen, to
prevent its occurrence, or to foresee its arrival. In situations
where a great number of very small capitalists exist - where each
master works himself and is assisted by his own family, or by a
few journeymen - and where a variety of different articles is
produced, a curious system of compensation has arisen which in
some measure diminishes the extent to which fluctuations of wages
would otherwise reach. This is accomplished by a species of
middlemen or factors, persons possessing some capital, who,
whenever the price of any of the articles in which they deal is
greatly reduced, purchase it on their own account, in the hopes
of selling at a profit when the market is better. These persons,
in ordinary times, act as salesmen or agents, and make up
assortments of goods at the market price, for the use of the home
or foreign dealer. They possess large warehouses in which to make
up their orders, or keep in store articles purchased during
periods of depression; thus acting as a kind of flywheel in
equalizing the market price. 285. The effect of
over-manufacturing upon great establishments is different. When
an over supply has reduced prices, one of two events usually
occurs: the first is a diminished payment for labour; the other
is a diminution of the number of hours during which the labourers
work, together with a diminished rate of wages. In the former
case production continues to go on at its ordinary rate: in the
latter, the production itself being checked, the supply again
adjusts itself to the demand as soon as the stock on hand is
worked off, and prices then regain their former level. The latter
course appears, in the first instance, to be the best both for
masters and men; but there seems to be a difficulty in
accomplishing this, except where the trade is in few hands. In
fact, it is almost necessary, for its success, that there should
be a combination amongst the masters or amongst the men; or, what
is always far preferable to either, a mutual agreement for their
joint interests. Combination amongst the men is difficult, and is
always attended with the evils which arise from the ill-will
excited against any persons who, in the perfectly justifiable
exercise of their judgement, are disposed not to act with the
majority. The combination of the masters, on the other hand, is
unavailing, unless the whole body of them agree.. for if any one
master can procure more labour for his money than the rest, he
will be able to undersell them.
286. If we look only at the interests of the consumer, the
case is different. When too large a supply has produced a great
reduction of price, it opens the consumption of the article to a
new class, and increases the consumption of those who previously
employed it: it is therefore against the interest of both these
parties that a return to the former price should occur. It is
also certain, that by the diminution of profit which the
manufacturer suffers from the diminished price, his ingenuity
will be additionally stimulated; that he will apply himself to
discover other and cheaper sources for the supply of his raw
material; that he will endeavour to contrive improved machinery
which shall manufacture it at a cheaper rate; or try to introduce
new arrangements into his factory, which shall render the economy
of it more perfect. In the event of his success, by any of these
courses or by their joint effects, a real and substantial good
will be produced. A larger portion of the public will receive
advantage from the use of the article, and they will procure it
at a lower price; and the manufacturer, though his profit on each
operation is reduced, will yet, by the more frequent returns on
the larger produce of his factory, find his real gain at the end
of the year, nearly the same as it was before; whilst the wages
of the workman will return to their level, and both the
manufacturer and the workman will find the demand less
fluctuating, from its being dependent on a larger number of
287. It would be highly interesting, if we could trace, even
approximately, through the history of any great manufacture, the
effects of gluts in producing improvements in machinery, or in
methods of working; and if we could show what addition to the
annual quantity of goods previously manufactured, was produced by
each alteration. It would probably be found, that the increased
quantity manufactured by the same capital, when worked with the
new improvement, would produce nearly the same rate of profit as
other modes of investment.
Perhaps the manufacture of iron(1*) would furnish the best
illustration of this subject; because, by having the actual price
of pig and bar iron at the same place and at the same time, the
effect of a change in the value of currency, as well as several
other sources of irregularity, would be removed.
288. At the present moment, whilst the manufacturers of iron
are complaining of the ruinously low price of their produce, a
new mode of smelting iron is coming into use, which, if it
realizes the statement of the patentees, promises to reduce
greatly the cost of production.

The improvement consists in heating the air previously to
employing it for blowing the furnace. One of the results is. that
coal may be used instead of coke; and this, in its turn,
diminishes the quantity of limestone which is required for the
fusion of the iron stone.

The following statement by the proprietors of the patent is
extracted from Brewster's Journal, 1832, p. 349:

Comparative view of the quantity of materials required at the
Clyde iron works to smelt a ton of foundry pig-iron, and of the
quantity of foundry pig-iron smelted from each furnace weekly

Fuel in tons of 20 cwt each cwt 112 lbs; Iron-stone; Lime-stone
Cwt; Weekly produce in pig-iron Tons

1. With air not heated and coke; 7;3 1/4; 15; 45
2. With air heated and coke; 4 3/4; 3 1/4; 10; 60
3. With air heated and coals not coked; 2 1/4; 3 1/4; 7 1/2; 65

Notes. 1. To the coals stated in the second and third lines, must
be added 5 cwt of small coals. required to heat the air.
2. The expense of the apparatus for applying the heated air
will be from £200 to £300 per furnace.
3. No coals are now coked at the Clyde iron works; at all the
three furnaces the iron is smelted with coals.
4. The three furnaces are blown by a double-powered
steam-engine, with a steam cylinder 40 inches in diameter, and a
blowing cylinder 80 inches in diameter, which compresses the air
so as to carry 2 1/2 lbs per square inch. There are two tuyeres
to each furnace. The muzzles of the blowpipes are 3 inches in
5. The air heated to upwards of 600 degrees  of Fahrenheit.
It will melt lead at the distance of three inches from the
orifice through which it issues from the pipe.

289. The increased effect produced by thus heating the air is
by no means an obvious result; and an analysis of its action will
lead to some curious views respecting the future application of
machinery for blowing furnaces.
Every cubic foot of atmospheric air, driven into a furnace,
consists of two gases.(2*) about one-fifth being oxygen, and
four-fifths azote.
According to the present state of chemical knowledge, the
oxygen alone is effective in producing heat; and the operation of
blowing a furnace may be thus analysed.
1. The air is forced into the furnace in a condensed state,
and, immediately expanding, abstracts heat from the surrounding
2. Being itself of moderate temperature. it would, even
without expansion, still require heat to raise it to the
temperature of the hot substances to which it is to be applied.
3. On coming into contact with the ignited substances in the
furnace, the oxygen unites with them, parting at the same moment
with a large portion of its latent heat, and forming compounds
which have less specific heat than their separate constituents.
Some of these pass up the chimney in a gaseous state, whilst
others remain in the form of melted slags, floating on the
surface of the iron, which is fused by the heat thus set at
4. The effects of the azote are precisely similar to the
first and second of those above described; it seems to form no
combinations, and contributes nothing, in any stage, to augment
the heat.
The plan, therefore, of heating the air before driving it
into the furnace saves, obviously, the whole of that heat which
the fuel must have supplied in raising. it from the temperature
of the external air up to that of 600 degrees  Fahrenheit; thus
rendering the fire more intense, and the glassy slags more
fusible, and perhaps also more effectually decomposing the iron
ore. The same quantity of fuel, applied at once to the furnace,
would only prolong the duration of its heat, not augment its
290. The circumstance of so large a portion of the air(3*)
driven into furnaces being not merely useless, but acting really
as a cooling, instead of a heating, cause, added to so great a
waste of mechanical power in condensing it, amounting, in fact,
to four-fifths of the whole, clearly shows the defects of the
present method, and the want of some better mode of exciting
combustion on a large scale. The following suggestions are thrown
out as likely to lead to valuable results, even though they
should prove ineffectual for their professed object.
291. The great difficulty appears to be to separate the
oxygen, which aids combustion, from the azote which impedes it.
If either of those gases becomes liquid at a lower pressure than
the other, and if those pressures are within the limits of our
present powers of compression, the object might be accomplished.
Let us assume, for example, that oxygen becomes liquid under
a pressure of 200 atmospheres, whilst azote requires a pressure
of 250. Then if atmospheric air be condensed to the two hundredth
part of its bulk, the oxygen will be found in a liquid state at
the bottom of the vessel in which the condensation is effected,
and the upper part of the vessel will contain only azote in the
state of gas. The oxygen, now liquefied, may be drawn off for the
supply of the furnace; but as it ought when used, to have a very
moderate degree of condensation, its expansive force may be
previously employed in working a small engine. The compressed
azote also in the upper part of the vessel, though useless for
combustion, may be employed as a source of power, and, by its
expansion, work another engine. By these means the mechanical
force exerted in the original compression would all be restored,
except that small part retained for forcing the pure oxygen into
the furnace, and the much larger part lost in the friction of the
292. The principal difficulty to be apprehended in these
operations is that of packing a working piston. so as to bear the
pressure of 200 or 300 atmospheres: but this does not seem
insurmountable. It is possible also that the chemical combination
of the two gases which constitute common air may be effected by
such pressures: if this should be the case, it might offer a new
mode of manufacturing nitrous or nitric acids. The result of such
experiments might take another direction: if the condensation
were performed over liquids, it is possible that they might enter
into new chemical combinations. Thus, if air were highly
condensed in a vessel containing water, the latter might unite
with an additional dose of oxygen, (4*) which. might afterwards
be easily disengaged for the use of the furnace.
293. A further cause of the uncertainty of the results of
such an experiment arises from the possibility that azote may
really contribute to the fusion of the mixed mass in the furnace,
though its mode of operating is at present unknown. An
examination of the nature of the gases issuing from the chimneys
of iron-foundries, might perhaps assist in clearing up this
point; and, in fact, if such enquiries were also instituted upon
the various products of all furnaces, we might expect the
elucidation of many points in the economy of the metallurgic art.

294. It is very possible also, that the action of oxygen in a
liquid state might be exceedingly corrosive, and that the
containing vessels must be lined with platinum or some other
substance of very difficult oxydation; and most probably new and
unexpected compounds would be formed at such pressures. In some
experiments made by Count Rumford in 1797, on the force of fired
gunpowder, he noticed a solid compound, which always appeared in
the gunbarrel when the ignited powder had no means of escaping;
and, in those cases, the gas which escaped on removing the
restraining pressure was usually inconsiderable.
295. If the liquefied gases are used, the form of the iron
furnace must probably be changed, and perhaps it may be necessary
to direct the flame from the ignited fuel upon the ore to be
fused, instead of mixing that ore with the fuel itself: by a
proper regulation of the blast, an oxygenating or a deoxygenating
flame might be procured; and from the intensity of the flame,
combined with its chemical agency, we might expect the most
refractory ore to be smelted, and that ultimately the metals at
present almost infusible, such as platinum, titanium, and others,
might be brought into common use, and thus effect a revolution in
the arts.
296. Supposing, on the occurrence of a glut, that new and
cheaper modes of producing are not discovered, and that the
production continues to exceed the demand, then it is apparent
that too much capital is employed in the trade; and after a time,
the diminished rate of profit will drive some of the
manufacturers to other occupations. What particular individuals
will leave it must depend on a variety of circumstances. Superior
industry and attention will enable some factories to make a
profit rather beyond the rest; superior capital in others will
enable them, without these advantages, to support competition
longer, even at a loss, with the hope of driving the smaller
capitalists out of the market, and then reimbursing themselves by
an advanced price. It is, however, better for all parties, that
this contest should not last long; and it is important, that no
artificial restraint should interfere to prevent it. An instance
of such restriction, and of its injurious effect, occurs at the
port of Newcastle, where a particular Act of Parliament requires
that every ship shall be loaded in its turn. The Committee of the
House of Commons, in their Report on the Coal Trade, state that,

'Under the regulations contained in this Act, if more ships
enter into the trade than can be profitablv employed in it, the
loss produced by detention in port, and waiting for a cargo.
which must consequently take place, instead of falling, as it
naturally would, upon particular ships, and forcing them from the
trade, is now divided evenly amongst them; and the loss thus
created is shared by the whole number.' Report, p. 6.

297. It is not pretended, in this short view, to trace out all
the effects or remedies of over-manufacturing; the subject is
difficult, and, unlike some of the questions already treated,
requires a combined view of the relative influence of many
concurring causes.


1. The average price per ton of pig iron, bar iron, and coal,
together with the price paid for labour at the works, for a long
series of years, would be very valuable, and I shall feel much
indebted to anyone who will favour me with it for any, even
short, period.

2. The accurate proportions are, by measure, oxygen 21, azote 79.

3. A similar reasoning may be applied to lamps. An Argand burner,
whether used for consuming oil or gas, admits almost an unlimited
quantity of air. It would deserve enquiry, whether a smaller
quantity might not produce greater light; and, possibly, a
different supply furnish more heat with the same expenditure of

4. Deutoxide of hydrogen, the oxygenated water of Thenard.

Chapter 25

Enquiries Previous to Commencing any Manufactory

298. There are many enquiries which ought always to be made
previous to the commencement of the manufacture of any new
article. These chiefly relate to the expense of tools, machinery,
raw materials, and all the outgoings necessary for its
production; to the extent of demand which is likely to arise; to
the time in which the circulating capital will be replaced; and
to the quickness or slowness with which the new article will
supersede those already in use.
299. The expense of tools and of new machines will be more
difficult to ascertain, in proportion as they differ from those
already employed; but the variety in constant use in our various
manufactories, is such, that few inventions now occur in which
considerable resemblance may not be traced to others already
constructed. The cost of the raw material is usually less
difficult to determine; but cases occasionally arise in which it
becomes important to examine whether the supply, at the given
price, can be depended upon: for, in the case of a small
consumption, the additional demand arising from a factory may
produce a considerable temporary rise, though it may ultimately
reduce the price.
300. The quantity of any new article likely to be consumed is
a most important subject for the consideration of the projector
of a new manufacture. As these pages are not intended for the
instruction of the manufacturer, but rather for the purpose of
giving a general view of the subject, an illustration of the way
in which such questions are regarded by practical men, will,
perhaps, be most instructive. The following extract from the
evidence given before a Committee of the House of Commons, in the
Report on Artizans and Machinery, shows the extent to which
articles apparently the most insignificant, are consumed, and the
view which the manufacturer takes of them.
The person examined on this occasion was Mr Ostler, a
manufacturer of glass beads and other toys of the same substance,
from Birmingham. Several of the articles made by him were placed
upon the table, for the inspection of the Committee of the House
of Commons, which held its meetings in one of the

Question. Is there any thing else you have to state upon this
Answer. Gentlemen may consider the articles on the table as
extremely insignificant: but perhaps I may surprise them a
little, by mentioning the following fact. Eighteen years ago, on
my first journey to London, a respectable-looking man, in the
city, asked me if I could supply him with dolls' eyes; and I was
foolish enough to feel half offended; I thought it derogatory to
my new dignity as a manufacturer, to make dolls' eyes. He took me
into a room quite as wide, and perhaps twice the length of this,
and we had just room to walk between stacks, from the loor to the
ceiling, of parts of dolls. He said, 'These are only the legs and
arms; the trunks are below., But I saw enough to convince me,
that he wanted a great many eyes; and, as the article appeared
quite in my own line of business, I said I would take an order by
way of experiment; and he showed me several specimens. I copied
the order. He ordered various quantities, and of various sizes
and qualities. On returning to the Tavistock Hotel, I found that
the order amounted to upwards of £500. I went into the country,
and endeavoured to make them. I had some of the most ingenious
glass toymakers in the kingdom in my service; but when I showed
it to them, they shook their heads, and said they had often seen
the article before, but could not make it. I engaged them by
presents to use their best exertions; but after trying and
wasting a great deal of time for three or four weeks, I was
obliged to relinquish the attempt. Soon afterwards I engaged in
another branch of business (chandelier furniture), and took no
more notice of it. About eighteen months ago I resumed the
trinket trade, and then determined to think of the dolls' eyes;
and about eight months since, I accidentally met with a poor
fellow who had impoverished himself by drinking, and who was
dying in a consumption, in a state of great want. I showed him
ten sovereigns: and he said he would instruct me in the process.
He was in such a state that he could not bear the effluvia of his
own lamp. but though I was very conversant with the manual part
of the business, and it related to things I was daily in the
habit of seeing, I felt I could do nothing from his description.
(I mention this to show how difficult it is to convey, by
description, the mode of working.) He took me into his garret,
where the poor fellow had economized to such a degree, that he
actually used the entrails and fat of poultry from Leadenhall
market to save oil (the price of the article having been lately
so much reduced bv competition at home). In an instant. before I
had seen him make three, I felt competent to make a gross; and
the difference between his mode and that of my own workmen was so
trifling, that I felt the utmost astonishment.

Question. You can now make dolls' eyes?
Answer. I can. As it was eighteen years ago that I received the
order I have mentioned, and feeling doubtful of my own
recollection, though very strong, and suspecting that it could
[not] have been to the amount stated, I last night took the
present very reduced price of that article (less than half now of
what it was then), and calculating that every child in this
country not using a doll till two years old, and throwing it
aside at seven, and having a new one annually, I satisfied myself
that the eyes alone would produce a circulation of a great many
thousand pounds. I mention this merely to show the importance of
trifles; and to assign one reason, amongst many, for my
conviction. that nothing but personal communication can enable
our manufactures to be transplanted.

301. In many instances it is exceedingly difficult to
estimate beforehand the sale of an article, or the effects of a
machine; a case, however, occurred during a recent enquiry, which
although not quite appropriate as an illustration of probable
demand, is highly instructive as to the mode of conducting
investigations of this nature. A committee of the House of
Commons was appointed to enquire into the tolls proper to be
placed on steam-carriages; a question, apparently, of difficult
solution, and upon which widely different opinions had been
formed, if we may judge by the very different rate of tolls
imposed upon such carriages by different 'turnpike trusts'. The
principles on which the committee conducted the enquiry were,
that 'The only ground on which a fair claim to toll can be made
on any public road, is to raise a fund, which, with the strictest
economy, shall be just sufficient - first, to repay the expense
of its original formation; secondly, to maintain it in good and
sufficient repair.' They first endeavoured to ascertain, from
competent persons, the effect of the atmosphere alone in
deteriorating a well-constructed road. The next step was, to
determine the proportion in which the road was injured, by the
effect of the horses' feet compared with that of the wheels. Mr
Macneill, the superintendent, under Mr Telford, of the Holyhead
roads, was examined, and proposed to estimate the relative
injury, from the comparative quantities of iron worn off from the
shoes of the horses, and from the tire of the wheels. From the
data he possessed, respecting the consumption of iron for the
tire of the wheels, and for the shoes of the horses, of one of
the Birmingham day-coaches, he estimated the wear and tear of
roads, arising from the feet of the horses, to be three times as
great as that arising from the wheels. Supposing repairs
amounting to a hundred pounds to be required on a road travelled
over by a fast coach at the rate of ten miles an hour, and the
same amount of injury to occur on another road, used only by
waggons, moving at the rate of three miles an hour, Mr Macneill
divides the injuries in the following proportions:

Injuries arising from;  Fast coach; Heavy waggon
Atmospheric changes         20          20
Wheels                       20          35.5
Horses' feet drawing        60          44.5
Total injury                100         100

Supposing it, therefore, to be ascertained that the wheels of
steam carriages do no more injury to roads than other carriages
of equal weight travelling with the same velocity, the committee
now possessed the means of approximating to a just rate of toll
for steam carriages.(1*)
302. As connected with this subject, and as affording most
valuable information upon points in which, previous to
experiment, widely different opinions have been entertained; the
following extract is inserted from Mr Telford's Report on the
State of the Holyhead and Liverpool Roads. The instrument
employed for the comparison was invented by Mr Macneill; and the
road between London and Shrewsbury was selected for the place of
The general results, when a waggon weighing 21 cwt was used
on different sorts of roads, are as follows:

1. On well-made pavement, the draught is 33
2. On a broken stone surface, or old flint road 65
3. On a gravel road 147
4. On a broken stone road, upon a rough pavement foundation 46
5. On a broken stone surface, upon a bottoming of concrete,
formed of Parker's cement and gravel 46

The following statement relates to the force required to draw a
coach weighing 18 cwt. exclusive of seven passengers, up roads of
various inclinations:

Inclination; Force required at six miles per hour; Force at
eight miles per hour; Force at ten miles per hour

lbs     lbs     lbs
1 in  20   268     296     318
1 in  26   213     219     225
1 in  30   165     196     200
1 in  40   160     166     172
1 in 600   111     120     128

303. In establishing a new manufactory, the time in which the
goods produced can be brought to market and the returns be
realized, should be thoroughly considered, as well as the time
the new article will take to supersede those already in use. If
it is destroyed in using, the new produce will be much more
easily introduced. Steel pens readily took the place of quills;
and a new form of pen would, if it possessed any advantage, as
easily supersede the present one. A new lock, however secure, and
however cheap, would not so readily make its way. If less
expensive than the old, it would be employed in new work: but old
locks would rarely be removed to make way for it; and even if
perfectly secure, its advance would be slow.
304. Another element in this question which should not be
altogether omitted, is the opposition which the new manufacture
may create by its real or apparent injury to other interests, and
the probable effect of that opposition. This is not always
foreseen; and when anticipated is often inaccurately estimated.
On the first establishment of steamboats from London to Margate,
the proprietors of the coaches running on that line of road
petitioned the House of Commons against them, as likely to lead
to the ruin of the coach proprietors. It was, however, found that
the fear was imaginary; and in a very few years, the number of
coaches on that road was considerably increased, apparently
through the very means which were thought to be adverse to it.
The fear, which is now entertained, that steampower and railroads
may drive out of employment a large proportion of the horses at
present in use, is probably not less unfounded. On some
particular lines such an effect might be produced; but in all
probability the number of horses employed in conveying goods and
passengers to the great lines of railroad, would exceed that
which is at present used.


1. One of the results of these enquiries is, that every coach
which travels from London to Birmingham distributes about eleven
pounds of wrought iron, along with the line of road between the
two places.

Chapter 26

On a New System of Manufacturing

305. A most erroneous and unfortunate opinion prevails
amongst workmen in many manufacturing countries, that their own
interest and that of their employers are at variance. The
consequences are that valuable machinery is sometimes neglected,
and even privately injured - that new improvements, introduced by
the masters, do not receive a fair trial - and that the talents
and observations of the workmen are not directed to the
improvement of the processes in which they are employed. This
error is, perhaps, most prevalent where the establishment of
manufactories has been of recent origin, and where the number of
persons employed in them is not very large: thus, in some of the
Prussian provinces on the Rhine it prevails to a much greater
extent than in Lancashire. Perhaps its diminished prevalence in
our own manufacturing districts, arises partly from the superior
information spread amongst the workmen; and partly from the
frequent example of persons, who by good conduct and an attention
to the interests of their employers for a series of years, have
become foremen, or who have ultimately been admitted into
advantageous partnerships. Convinced as I am, from my own
observation, that the prosperity and success of the master
manufacturer is essential to the welfare of the workman, I am yet
compelled to admit that this connection is, in many cases, too
remote to be always understood by the latter. and whilst it is
perfectly true that workmen, as a class, derive advantage from
the prosperity of their employers, I do not think that each
individual partakes of that advantage exactly in proportion to
the extent to which he contributes towards it; nor do I perceive
that the resulting advantage is as immediate as it might become
under a different system.
306. It would be of great importance, if, in every large
establishment the mode of payment could be so arranged, that
every person employed should derive advantage from the success of
the whole; and that the profits of each individual should
advance, as the factory itself produced profit, without the
necessity of making any change in the wages. This is by no means
easy to effect, particularly amongst that class whose daily
labour procures for them their daily food. The system which has
long been pursued in working the Cornish mines, although not
exactly fulfilling these conditions, yet possesses advantages
which make it worthy of attention, as having nearly approached
towards them, and as tending to render fully effective the
faculties of all who are engaged in it. I am the more strongly
induced to place before the reader a short sketch of this system,
because its similarity to that which I shall afterwards recommend
for trial, will perhaps remove some objections to the latter, and
may also furnish some valuable hints for conducting any
experiment which might be undertaken.
307. In the mines of Cornwall, almost the whole of the
operations, both above and below ground, are contracted for. The
manner of making the contract is nearly as follows. At the end of
every two months, the work which it is proposed to carry on
during the next period is marked out. It is of three kinds. 1.
Tutwork, which consists in sinking shafts, driving levels, and
making excavations: this is paid for by the fathom in depth, or
in length, or by the cubic fathom. 2. Tribute, which is payment
for raising and dressing the ore, by means of a certain part of
its v alue when rendered merchantable. It is this mode of payment
which produces such admirable effects. The miners, who are to be
paid in proportion to the richness of the vein, and the quantity
of metal extracted from it, naturally become quicksighted in the
discovery of ore, and in estimating its value; and it is their
interest to avail themselves of every improvement that can bring
it more cheaply to market. 3. Dressing. The 'Tributors', who dig
and dress the ore, can seldom afford to dress the coarser parts
of what they raise, at their contract price; this portion,
therefore, is again let out to other persons, who agree to dress
it at an advanced price.
The lots of ore to be dressed, and the works to be carried
on, having been marked out some days before, and having been
examined by the men, a kind of auction is held by the captains of
the mine, in which each lot is put up, and bid for by different
gangs of men. The work is then offered, at a price usually below
that bid at the auction, to the lowest bidder, who rarely
declines it at the rate proposed. The tribute is a certain sum
out of every twenty shillings' worth of ore, raised. and may vary
from threepence to fourteen or fifteen shillings. The rate of
earnings in tribute is very uncertain: if a vein, which was poor
when taken, becomes rich, the men earn money rapidly; and
instances have occurred in which each miner of a gang has gained
a hundred pounds in the two months. These extraordinary cases,
are, perhaps, of more advantage to the owners of the mine than
even to the men; for whilst the skill and industry of the workmen
are greatly stimulated, the owner himself always derives still
greater advantage from the improvement of the vein.(1*) This
system has been introduced, by Mr Taylor, into the lead mines of
Flintshire, into those at Skipton in Yorkshire, and into some of
the copper mines of Cumberland; and it is desirable that it
should become general, because no other mode of payment affords
to the workmen a measure of success so directly proportioned to
the industry, the integrity, and the talent, which they exert.
308. I shall now present the outline of a system which
appears to me to be pregnant with the most important results,
both to the class of workmen and to the country at large; and
which, if acted upon, would, in my opinion, permanently raise the
working classes, and greatly extend the manufacturing system.
The general principles on which the proposed system is
founded, are
1. That a considerable part of the wages received by each
person employed should depend on the profits made by the
establishment; and,
2. That every person connected with it should derive more
advantage from applying any improvement he might discover, to the
factory in which he is employed, than he could by any other
309. It would be difficult to prevail on the large capitalist
to enter upon any system, which would change the division of the
profits arising from the employment of his capital in setting
skill and labour in action; any alteration, therefore, must be
expected rather from the small capitalist, or from the higher
class of workmen, who combine the two characters; and to these
latter classes, whose welfare will be first affected, the change
is most important. I shall therefore first point out the course
to be pursued in making the experiment; and then, taking a
particular branch of trade as an illustration, I shall examine
the merits and defects of the proposed system as applied to it.
310. Let us suppose, in some large manufacturing town, ten or
twelve of the most intelligent and skilful workmen to unite,
whose characters for sobriety and steadiness are good, and are
well known among their own class. Such persons will each possess
some small portion of capital; and let them join with one or two
others who have raised themselves into the class of small master
manufacturers, and, therefore possess rather a larger portion of
capital. Let these persons, after well considering the subject,
agree to establish a manufactory of fire-irons and fenders; and
let us suppose that each of the ten workmen can command forty
pounds, and each of the small capitalists possesses two hundred
pounds: thus they have a capital of £800 with which to commence
business; and, for the sake of simplifying, let us further
suppose the labour of each of these twelve persons to be worth
two pounds a week. One portion of their capital will be expended
in procuring the tools necessary for their trade, which we shall
take at £400, and this must be considered as their fixed capital.
The remaining £400 must be employed as circulating capital, in
purchasing the iron with which their articles are made, in paying
the rent of their workshops, and in supporting themselves and
their families until some portion of it is replaced by the sale
of the goods produced.
311. Now the first question to be settled is, what proportion
of the profit should be allowed for the use of capital, and what
for skill and labour? It does not seem possible to decide this
question by any abstract reasoning: if the capital supplied by
each partner is equal, all difficulty will be removed; if
otherwise, the proportion must be left to find its level, and
will be discovered by experience; and it is probable that it will
not fluctuate much. Let us suppose it to be agreed that the
capital of £800 shall receive the wages of one workman. At the
end of each week every workman is to receive one pound as wages,
and one pound is to be divided amongst the owners of the capital.
After a few weeks the returns will begin to come in; and they
will soon become nearly uniform. Accurate accounts should be kept
of every expense and of all the sales; and at the end of each
week the profit should be divided. A certain portion should be
laid aside as a reserved fund, another portion for repair of the
tools, and the remainder being divided into thirteen parts, one
of these parts would be divided amongst the capitalists and one
belong to each workman. Thus each man would, in ordinary
circumstances, make up his usual wages of two pounds weekly. If
the factory went on prosperously, the wages of the men would
increase; if the sales fell off they would be diminished. It is
important that every person employed in the establishment,
whatever might be the amount paid for his services, whether he
act as labourer or porter, as the clerk who keeps the accounts,
or as bookkeeper employed for a few hours once a week to
superintend them, should receive one half of what his service is
worth in fixed salary, the other part varying with the success of
the undertaking.
312. In such a factory, of course, division of labour would
be introduced: some of the workmen would be constantly employed
in forging the fire-irons, others in polishing them, others in
piercing and forming the fenders. It would be essential that the
time occupied in each process, and also its expense, should be
well ascertained; information which would soon be obtained very
precisely. Now, if a workman should find a mode of shortening any
of the processes, he would confer a benefit on the whole party,
even if they received but a small part of the resulting profit.
For the promotion of such discoveries, it would be desirable that
those who make them should either receive some reward, to be
determined after a sufficient trial by a committee assembling
periodically; or if they be of high importance, that the
discoverer should receive one-half, or twothirds, of the profit
resulting from them during the next year, or some other
determinate period, as might be found expedient. As the
advantages of such improvements would be clear gain to the
factory, it is obvious that such a share might be allowed to the
inventor, that it would be for his interest rather to give the
benefit of them to his partners, than to dispose of them in any
other way.
313. The result of such arrangements in a factory would be,
1. That every person engaged in it would have a direct
interest in its prosperity; since the effect of any success, or
falling off, would almost immediately produce a corresponding
change in his own weekly receipts.
2. Every person concerned in the factory would have an
immediate interest in preventing any waste or mismanagement in
all the departments.
3. The talents of all connected with it would be strongly
directed to its improvement in every department.
4. None but workmen of high character and qualifications
could obtain admission into such establishments; because when any
additional hands were required, it would be the common interest
of all to admit only the most respectable and skilful; and it
would be far less easy to impose upon a dozen workmen than upon
the single proprietor of a factory.
5. When any circumstance produced a glut in the market, more
skill would be directed to diminishing the cost of production;
and a portion of the time of the men might then be occupied in
repairing and improving their tools, for which a reserved fund
would pay, thus checking present, and at the same time
facilitating future production.
6. Another advantage, of no small importance, would be the
total removal of all real or imaginary causes for combinations.
The workmen and the capitalist would so shade into each other -
would so evidently have a common interest, and their difficulties
and distresses would be mutually so well understood that, instead
of combining to oppress one another, the only combination which
could exist would be a most powerful union between both parties
to overcome their common difficulties.

314. One of the difficulties attending such a system is, that
capitalists would at first fear to embark in it, imagining that
the workmen would receive too large a share of the profits: and
it is quite true that the workmen would have a larger share than
at present: but, at the same time, it is presumed the effect of
the whole system would be, that the total profits of the
establishment being much increased, the smaller proportion
allowed to capital under this system would yet be greater in
actual amount, than that which results to it from the larger
share in the system now existing.
315. It is possible that the present laws relating to
partnerships might interfere with factories so conducted. If this
interference could not be obviated by confining their purchases
under the proposed system to ready money, it would be desirable
to consider what changes in the law would be necessary to its
existence: and this furnishes another reason for entering into
the question of limited partnerships.
316. A difficulty would occur also in discharging workmen who
behaved ill, or who were not competent to their work; this would
arise from their having a certain interest in the reserved fund,
and, perhaps, from their possessing a certain portion of the
capital employed; but without entering into detail, it may be
observed, that such cases might be determined on by meetings of
the whole establishment; and that if the policy of the laws
favoured such establishments, it would scarcely be more difficult
to enforce just regulations, than it now is to enforce some which
are unjust. by means of combinations either amongst the masters
or the men.
317. Some approach to this system is already practised in
several trades: the mode of conducting the Cornish mines has
already been alluded to; the payment to the crew of whaling ships
is governed by this principle; the profits arising from fishing
with nets on the south coast of England are thus divided:
one-half the produce belongs to the owner of the boat and net;
the other half is divided in equal portions between the persons
using it, who are also bound to assist in repairing the net when


1. For a detailed account of the method of working the Cornish
mines, see a paper of Mr John Taylor's Transactions of the
Geological Society, vol. ii, p. 309.

Chapter 27

On Contriving Machinery

318. The power of inventing mechanical contrivances, and of
combining machinery, does not appear, if we may judge from the
frequency of its occurrence, to be a difficult or a rare gift. Of
the vast multitude of inventions which have been produced almost
daily for a series of years, a large part has failed from the
imperfect nature of the first trials; whilst a still larger
portion, which had escaped the mechanical difficulties, failed
only because the economy of their operations was not sufficiently
attended to.
The commissioners appointed to examine into the methods
proposed for preventing the forgery of bank-notes, state in their
report, that out of one hundred and seventy-eight projects
communicated to the bank and to the commissioners, there were
only twelve of superior skill, and nine which it was necessary
more particularly to examine.
319. It is however a curious circumstance, that although the
power of combining machinery is so common, yet the more beautiful
combinations are exceedingly rare. Those which command our
admiration equally by the perfection of their effects and the
simplicity of their means, are found only amongst the happiest
productions of genius.
To produce movements even of a complicated kind is not
difficult. There exist a great multitude of known contrivances
for all the more usual purposes, and if the exertion of moderate
power is the end of the mechanism to be contrived, it is possible
to construct the whole machine upon paper, and to judge of the
proper strength to be given to each part as well as to the
framework which supports it, and also of its ultimate effect,
long before a single part of it has been executed. ln fact, all
the contrivance, and all the improvements, ought first to be
represented in the drawings.
320. On the other hand, there are effects dependent upon
physical or chemical properties for the determination of which no
drawings will be of any use. These are the legitimate objects of
direct trial. For example; if the ultimate result of an engine is
to be that it shall impress letters on a copperplate by means of
steel punches forced into it, all the mechanism by which the
punches and the copper are to be moved at stated intervals, and
brought into contact, is within the province of drawing, and the
machinery may be arranged entirely upon paper. But a doubt may
reasonably spring up, whether the bur that will be raised round
the letter, which has been already punched upon the copper, may
not interfere with the proper action of the punch for the letter
which is to be punched next adjacent to it. It may also be feared
that the effect of punching the second letter, if it be
sufficiently near to the first, may distort the form of that
first figure. If neither of these evils should arise, still the
bur produced by the punching might be expected to interfere with
the goodness of the impression produced by the copperplate; and
the plate itself, after having all but its edge covered with
figures, might change its form, from the unequal condensation
which it must suffer in this process, so as to render it very
difficult to take impressions from it at all. It is impossible by
any drawings to solve difficulties such as these, experiment
alone can determine their effect. Such experiments having been
made, it is found that if the sides of the steel punch are nearly
at right angles to the face of the letter, the bur produced is
very inconsiderable; that at the depth which is sufficient for
copperplate printing, no distortion of the adjacent letters takes
place, although those letters are placed very close to each
other; that the small bur which arises may easily be scraped off;
and that the copperplate is not distorted by the condensation of
the metal in punching, but is perfectly fit to print from, after
it has undergone that process.
321. The next stage in the progress of an invention, after
the drawings are finished and the preliminary experiments have
been made, if any such should be requisite, is the execution of
the machine itself. It can never be too strongly. impressed upon
the minds of those who are devising new machines, that to make
the most perfect drawings of every part tends essentially both to
the success of the trial, and to economy in arriving at the
result. The actual execution from working drawings is
comparatively an easy task; provided always that good tools are
employed, and that methods of working are adopted, in which the
perfection of the part constructed depends less on the personal
skill of the workman, than upon the certainty of the method
322. The causes of failure in this stage most frequently
derive their origin from errors in the preceding one; and it is
sufficient merely to indicate a few of their sources. They
frequently arise from having neglected to take into consideration
that metals are not perfectly rigid but elastic. A steel cylinder
of small diameter must not be regarded as an inflexible rod; but
in order to ensure its perfect action as an axis, it must be
supported at proper intervals.
Again, the strength and stiffness of the framing which
supports the mechanism must be carefully attended to. It should
always be recollected, that the addition of superfluous matter to
the immovable parts of a machine produces no additional momentum,
and therefore is not accompanied with the same evil that arises
when the moving parts are increased in weight. The stiffness of
the framing in a machine produces an important advantage. If the
bearings of the axis (those places at which they are supported)
are once placed in a straight line, they will remain so, if the
framing be immovable; whereas if the framework changes its form,
though ever so slightly, considerable friction is immediately
produced. This effect is so well understood in the districts
where spinning factories are numerous, that, in estimating the
expense of working a new factory, it is allowed that five per
cent on the power of the steam-engine will be saved if the
building is fireproof: for the greater strength and rigidity of a
fireproof building prevents the movement of the long shafts or
axes which drive the machinery, from being impeded by the
friction that would arise from the slightest deviation in any of
the bearings.
323. In conducting experiments upon machinery, it is quite a
mistake to suppose that any imperfect mechanical work is good
enough for such a purpose. If the experiment is worth making, it
ought to be tried with all the advantages of which the state of
mechanical art admits; for an imperfect trial may cause an idea
to be given up, which better workmanship might have proved to be
practicable. On the other hand, when once the efficiency of a
contrivance has been established, with good workmanship. it will
be easy afterwards to ascertain the degree of perfection which
will suffice for its due action.
324. It is partly owing to the imperfection of the original
trials, and partly to the gradual improvements in the art of
making machinery, that many inventions which have been tried, and
given up in one state of art, have at another period been
eminently successful. The idea of printing by means of moveable
types had probably suggested itself to the imagination of many
persons conversant with impressions taken either from blocks or
seals. We find amongst the instruments discovered in the remains
of Pompeii and Herculaneum, stamps for words formed out of one
piece of metal, and including several letters. The idea of
separating these letters, and of recombining them into other
words, for the purpose of stamping a book, could scarcely have
failed to occur to many: but it would almost certainly have been
rejected by those best acquainted with the mechanical arts of
that time; for the workmen of those days must have instantly
perceived the impossibility of producing many thousand pieces of
wood or metal, fitting so perfectly and ranging so uniformly, as
the types or blocks of wood now used in the art of printing.
The principle of the press which bears the name of Bramah,
was known about a century and a half before the machine, to which
it gave rise, existed; but the imperfect state of mechanical art
in the time of the discoverer, would have effectually deterred
him, if the application of it had occurred to his mind, from
attempting to employ it in practice as an instrument for exerting
These considerations prove the propriety of repeating, at the
termination of intervals during which the art of making machinery
has received any great improvement, the trails of methods which,
although founded upon just principles, had previously failed.
325. When the drawings of a machine have been properly made,
and the parts have been well executed, and even when the work it
produces possesses all the qualities which were anticipated,
still the invention may fail; that is, it may fail of being
brought into general practice. This will most frequently arise
from the circumstance of its producing its work at a greater
expense than that at which it can be made by other methods.
326. Whenever the new, or improved machine, is intended to
become the basis of a manufacture, it is essentially requisite
that the whole expense attending its operations should be fully
considered before its construction is undertaken. It is almost
always very difficult to make this estimate of the expense: the
more complicated the mechanism, the less easy is the task; and in
cases of great complexity and extent of machinery it is almost
impossible. It has been estimated roughly, that the first
individual of any newly invented machine, will cost about five
times as much as the construction of the second. an estimate
which is, perhaps, sufficiently near the truth. If the second
machine is to be precisely like the first, the same drawings, and
the same patterns will answer for it; but if, as usually happens,
some improvements have been suggested by the experience of the
first, these must be more or less altered. When, however. two or
three machines have been completed, and many more are wanted,
they can usually be produced at much less than one-fifth of the
expense of the original invention.
327. The arts of contriving, of drawing, and of executing, do
not usually reside in their greatest perfection in one
individual; and in this, as in other arts, the division of labour
must be applied. The best advice which can be offered to a
projector of any mechanical invention, is to employ a respectable
draughtsman; who, if he has had a large experience in his
profession, will assist in finding out whether the contrivance is
new, and can then make working drawings of it. The first step,
however, the ascertaining whether the contrivance has the merit
of novelty, is most important; for it is a maxim equally just in
all the arts, and in every science, that the man who aspires to
fortune or to fame by new discoveries, must be content to examine
with care the knowledge of his contemporaries, or to exhaust his
efforts in inventing again, what he will most probably. find has
been better executed before.
328. This, nevertheless, is a subject upon which even
ingenious men are often singularly negligent. There is, perhaps,
no trade or profession existing in which there is so much
quackery, so much ignorance of the scientific principles, and of
the history of their own art, with respect to its resources and
extent, as are to be met with amongst mechanical projectors. The
self-constituted engineer, dazzled with the beauty of some,
perhaps, really original contrivance, assumes his new profession
with as little suspicion that previous instruction, that thought
and painful labour, are necessary to its successful exercise, as
does the statesman or the senator. Much of this false confidence
arises from the improper estimate which is entertained of the
difficulty of invention in mechanics. It is, therefore, of great
importance to the individuals and to the families of those who
are too often led away from more suitable pursuits, the dupes of
their own ingenuity and of the popular voice, to convince both
them and the public that the power of making new mechanical
combinations is a possession common to a multitude of minds, and
that the talents which it requires are by no means of the highest
order. It is still more important that they should be impressed
with the conviction that the great merit, and the great success
of those who have attained to eminence in such matters, was
almost entirely due to the unremitted perseverance with which
they concentrated upon their successful inventions the skill and
knowledge which years of study had matured.

Chapter 28

Proper Circumstances for the Application of Machinery

329. The first object of machinery, the chief cause of its
extensive utility, is the perfection and the cheap production of
the articles which it is intended to make. Whenever it is
required to produce a great multitude of things, all of exactly
the same kind, the proper time has arrived for the construction
of tools or machines by which they may be manufactured. If only a
few pairs of cotton stockings should be required, it would be an
absurd waste of time, and of capital, to construct a
stocking-frame to weave them, when, for a few pence, four steel
wires can be procured by which they may be knit. If, on the other
hand, many thousand pairs were wanted, the time employed, and the
expense incurred in constructing a stocking-frame, would be more
than repaid by the saving of time in making that large number of
stockings. The same principle is applicable to the copying of
letters: if three or four copies only are required, the pen and
the human hand furnish the cheapest means of obtaining them; if
hundreds are called for, lithography may be brought to our
assistance; but if hundreds of thousands are wanted, the
machinery of a printing establishment supplies the most
economical method of accomplishing the object.
330. There are, however, many cases in which machines or
tools must be made, in which economical production is not the
most important object. Whenever it is required to produce a few
articles parts of machinery, for instance, which must be executed
with the most rigid accuracy or be perfectly alike - it is nearly
impossible to fulfil this condition, even with the aid of the
most skilful hands: and it becomes necessary to make tools
expressly for the purpose, although those tools should, as
frequently happens, cost more in constructing than the things
they are destined to make.
331. Another instance of the just application of machinery,
even at an increased expense, arises where the shortness of time
in which the article is produced, has an important influence on
its value. In the publication of our daily newspapers, it
frequently happens that the debates in the Houses of Parliament
are carried on to three and four o'clock in the morning, that is.
to within a very few hours of the time for the publication of the
paper. The speeches must be taken down by reporters, conveyed by
them to the establishment of the newspaper, perhaps at the
distance of one or two miles. transcribed by them. in the office,
set up by the compositor, the press corrected. and the paper be
printed off and distributed, before the public can read them.
Some of these journals have a circulation of from five to ten
thousand daily. Supposing four thousand to be wanted, and that
they could be printed only at the rate of five hundred per hour
upon one side of the paper, (which was the greatest number two
journeymen and a boy could take off by the old hand presses),
sixteen hours would be required for printing the complete
edition; and the news conveyed to the purchasers of the latest
portion of the impression, would be out of date before they could
receive it. To obviate this difficulty, it was often necessary to
set up the paper in duplicate, and sometimes, when late, in
triplicate: but the improvements in the printing machines have
been so great, that four thousand copies are now printed on one
side in an hour.
332. The establishment of 'The Times' newspaper is an
example, on a large scale, of a manufactory in which the division
of labour, both mental and bodily, is admirably illustrated, and
in which also the effect of domestic economy is well exemplified.
It is scarcely imagined by the thousands who read that paper in
various quarters of the globe, what a scene of organized activity
the factory presents during the whole night, or what a quantity
of talent and mechanical skill is put in action for their
amusement and information. (1*) Nearly a hundred persons are
employed in this establishment; and, during the session of
Parliament, at least twelve reporters are constantly attending
the Houses of Commons and Lords; each in his turn retiring, after
about an hour's work, to translate into ordinary writing, the
speech he has just heard and noted in shorthand. In the meantime
fifty compositors are constantly at work, some of whom have
already set up the beginning, whilst others are committing to
type the yet undried manuscript of the continuation of a speech,
whose middle portion is travelling to the office in the pocket of
the hasty reporter, and whose eloquent conclusion is, perhaps, at
that very moment, making the walls of St Stephen's vibrate with
the applause of its hearers. These congregated types, as fast as
they are composed, are passed in portions to other hands; till at
last the scattered fragments of the debate, forming, when united
with the ordinary matter, eight-and-forty columns, reappear in
regular order on the platform of the printing-press. The hand of
man is now too slow for the demands of his curiosity, but the
power of steam comes to his assistance. Ink is rapidly supplied
to the moving types, by the most perfect mechanism; four
attendants incessantly introduce the edges of large sheets of
white paper to the junction of two great rollers, which seem to
devour them with unsated appetite; other rollers convey them to
the type already inked, and having brought them into rapid and
successive contact, redeliver them to four other assistants,
completely printed by the almost momentary touch. Thus, in one
hour, four thousand sheets of paper are printed on one side; and
an impression of twelve thousand copies, from above three hundred
thousand moveable pieces of metal, is produced for the public in
six hours.
333. The effect of machinery in printing other periodical
publications, and of due economy in distributing them, is so
important for the interests of knowledge, that it is worth
examining by what means it is possible to produce them at the
small price at which they are sold. 'Chambers' Journal', which is
published at Edinburgh, and sold at three halfpence a number,
will furnish an example. Soon after its commencement in 1832, the
sale in Scotland reached 30,000, and in order to supply the
demand in London it was reprinted; but on account of the expense
of 'composition' it was found that this plan would not produce
any profit, and the London edition was about to be given up, when
it occurred to the proprietor to stereotype it at Edinburgh, and
cast two copies of the plates. This is now done about three weeks
before the day of publication - one set of plates being sent up
to London by the mail, an impression is printed off by steam: the
London agent has then time to send packages by the cheapest
conveyances to several of the large towns, and other copies go
through the booksellers' parcels to all the smaller towns. Thus a
great saving is effected in the outlay of capital, and 20,000
copies are conveyed from London, as a centre, to all parts of
England, whilst there is no difficulty in completing imperfect
sets, nor any waste from printing more than the public demand.
334. The conveyance of letters is another case, in which the
importance of saving time would allow of great expense in any new
machinery for its accomplishment. There is a natural limit to the
speed of horses, which even the greatest improvements in the
breed, aided by an increased perfection in our roads, can never
surpass; and from which, perhaps, we are at present not very
remote. When we reflect upon the great expense of time and money
which the last refinements of a theory or an art usually require,
it is not unreasonable to suppose that the period has arrived in
which the substitution of machinery for such purposes ought to be
335. The post bag despatched every evening by the mail to one
of our largest cities, Bristol, usually weighs less than a
hundred pounds. Now, the first reflection which naturally
presents itself is, that, in order to transport these letters a
hundred and twenty miles, a coach and apparatus, weighing above
thirty hundredweight, are put in motion, and also conveyed over
the same space. (2*)
It is obvious that, amongst the conditions of machinery for
accomplishing such an object, it would be desirable to reduce the
weight of matter to be conveyed along with the letters: it would
also be desirable to reduce the velocity of the animal power
employed; because the faster a horse is driven, the less weight
he can draw. Amongst the variety of contrivances which might be
imagined for this purpose, we will mention one, which, although
by no means free from objections, fulfils some of the prescribed
conditions; and it is not a purely theoretical speculation. since
some few experiments have been made upon it, though on an
extremely limited scale.
336. Let us imagine a series of high pillars erected at
frequent intervals, perhaps every hundred feet, and as nearly as
possible in a straight line between two post towns. An iron or
steel wire must be stretched over proper supports, fixed on each
of these pillars, and terminating at the end of every three or
five miles, as may be found expedient, in a very strong support,
by which it may be stretched. At each of these latter points a
man ought to reside in a small stationhouse. A narrow cylindrical
tin case, to contain the letters, might be suspended by two
wheels rolling upon this wire; the cases being so constructed as
to enable the wheels to pass unimpeded by the fixed supports of
the wire. An endless wire of much smaller size must pass over two
drums, one at each end of the station. This wire should be
supported on rollers, fixed to the supports of the great wire,
and at a short distance below it. There would thus be two
branches of the smaller wire always accompanying the larger one;
and the attendant at either station, by turning the drum, might
cause them to move with great velocity in opposite directions. In
order to convey the cylinder which contains the letters, it would
only be necessary to attach it by a string, or by a catch, to
either of the branches of the endless wire. Thus it would be
conveyed speedily to the next station, where it would be removed
by the attendant to the commencement of the next wire, and so
forwarded. It is unnecessary to enter into the details which
this, or any similar plan, would require. The difficulties are
obvious; but if: these could be overcome, it would present many
advantages besides velocity; for if an attendant resided at each
station, the additional expense of having two or three deliveries
of letters every day, and even of sending expresses at any
moment, would be comparatively trifling; nor is it impossible
that the stretched wire might itself be available for a species
of telegraphic communication yet more rapid.
Perhaps if the steeples of churches, properly selected, were
made use of, connecting them by a few intermediate stations with
some great central building, as, for instance, with the top of St
Paul's; and if a similar apparatus were placed on the top of each
steeple, with a man to work it during the day, it might be
possible to diminish the expense of the two-penny post. and make
deliveries every half hour over the greater part of the
337. The power of steam, however, bids fair almost to rival
the velocity of these contrivances; and the fitness of its
application to the purposes of conveyance, particularly where
great rapidity is required, begins now to be generally admitted.
The following extract from the Report of the Committee of the
House of Commons on steamcarriages, explains clearly its various

Perhaps one of the principal advantages resulting from the use of
steam, will be, that it may be employed as cheaply at a quick as
at a slow rate; 'this is one of the advantages over horse labour.
which becomes more and more expensive as the speed is increased.
There is every reason to expect, that in the end the rate of
travelling by steam will be much quicker than the utmost speed of
travelling by horses; in short, the safety to travellers will
become the limit to speed.' In horse-draught the opposite result
takes place; 'in all cases horses lose power of draught in a much
greater proportion than they gain speed, and hence the work they
do becomes more expensive as they go quicker.'
Without increase of cost. then. we shall obtain a power which
will insure a rapidity of internal communication far beyond the
utmost speed of horses in draught; and although the performance
of these carriages may not have hitherto attained this point,
when once it has been established, that at equal speed we can use
steam more cheaply in draught than horses, we may fairly
anticipate that every day's increased experience in the
management of the engines, will induce greater skill, greater
confidence, and greater speed.
The cheapness of the conveyance will probably be, for some
time, a secondary consideration. If, at present, it can be used
as cheaply as horse power, the competition with the former modes
of conveyance will first take place as to speed. When once the
superiority of steam-carriages shall have been fullv established,
competition will induce economy in the cost of working them. The
evidence. however, of Mr Macneill. showing the greater
efficiency. with diminished expenditure of fuel, by locomotive
engines on railwavs, convinces the committee, that experience
will soon teach a better construction of the engines. and a less
costly mode of generating the requisite supply of steam.
Nor are the advantages of steam-power confined to the greater
velocitv attained, or to its greater cheapness than
horse-draught. In the latter, danger is increased. in as large a
proportion as expense. by greater speed. In steam-power, on the
contrary, 'there is no danger of being run away with, and that of
being overturned is greatly diminished. It is difficult to
control four such horses as can draw a heavy carriage ten miles
per hour, in case they are frightened, or choose to run away; and
for quick travelling they must be kept in that state of courage,
that they are always inclined for running away, particularly down
hills, and at sharp turns of the road. In steam, however, there
is little corresponding danger, being perfectly controllable, and
capable of exerting its power in reverse in going down hills.,
Every witness examined has given the fullest and most
satisfactory evidence of the perfect control which the conductor
has over the movement of the carriage. With the slightest
exertion it can be stopped or turned, under circumstances where
horses would be totally unmanageable.

338. Another instance may be mentioned in which the object to
be obtained is so important, that although it might be rarely
wanted, yet machinery for that purpose would justify considerable
expense. A vessel to contain men, and to be navigated at some
distance below the surface of the sea, would, in many
circumstances, be almost invaluable. Such a vessel, evidently,
could not be propelled by any engine requiring the aid of fire.
If, however, by condensing air into a liquid, and carrying it in
that state, a propelling power could be procured sufficient for
moving the vessel through a considerable space, the expense would
scarcely render its occasional employment impossible.(3*)
339. Slide of Alpnach. Amongst the forests which flank many
of the lofty mountains of Switzerland, some of the finest timber
is found in positions almost inaccessible. The expense of roads,
even if it were possible to make them in such situations, would
prevent the inhabitants from deriving any advantages from these
almost inexhaustible supplies. Placed by nature at a considerable
elevation above the spot at which they can be made use of, they
are precisely in fit circumstances for the application of
machinery to their removal; and the inhabitants avail themselves
of the force of gravity to relieve them from some portion of this
labour. The inclined planes which they have established in
various forests, by which the timber has been sent down to the
water courses, have excited the admiration of every traveller;
and in addition to the merit of simplicity, the construction
these slides requires scarcely anything beyond the material which
grows upon the spot.
Of all these specimens of carpentry, the Slide of Alpnach was
the most considerable, from its great length, and from the almost
inaccessible position from which it descended. The following
account of it is taken from Gilbert's Annalen, 1819, which is
translated in the second volume of Brewster's Journal:

For many centuries, the rugged flanks and the deep gorges of
Mount Pilatus were covered with impenetrable forests; which were
permitted to grow and to perish, without being of the least
utility to man, till a foreigner, who had been conducted into
their wild recesses in the pursuit of the chamois, directed the
attention of several Swiss gentlemen to the extent and
superiority of the timber. The most skilful individuals, however,
considered it quite impracticable to avail themselves of such
inaccessible stores. It was not till the end of 1816, that M.
Rupp, and three Swiss gentlemen, entertaining more sanguine
hopes, purchased a certain extent of the forests, and began the
construction of the slide, which was completed in the spring of
The Slide of Alpnach is formed entirely of about 25,000 large
pine trees, deprived of their bark. and united together in a very
ingenious manner, without the aid of iron. It occupied about 160
workmen during eighteen months, and cost nearly 100,000 francs,
or £4,250. It is about three leagues, or 44,000 English feet
long, and terminates in the Lake of Lucerne. It has the form of a
trough, about six feet broad, and from three to six feet deep.
Its bottom is formed of three trees, the middle one of which has
a groove cut out in the direction of its length, for receiving
small rills of water, which are conducted into it from various
places, for the purpose of diminishing the friction. The whole of
the slide is sustained by about 2,000 supports; and in many
places it is attached, in a very ingenious manner, to the rugged
precipices of granite.
The direction of the slide is sometimes straight, and
sometimes zig-zag, with an inclination of from 10 degrees to 18
degrees. It is often carried along the sides of hills and the
flanks of precipitous rocks, and sometimes passes over their
summits. Occasionally it goes under ground, and at other times it
is conducted over the deep gorges by scaffoldings 120 feet in
The boldness which characterizes this work, the sagacity and
skill displayed in all its arrangements. have excited the wonder
of every person who has seen it. Before any step could be taken
in its erection, it was necessary to cut several thousand trees
to obtain a passage through the impenetrable thickets. All these
difficulties, however, were surmounted, and the engineer had at
last the satisfaction of seeing the trees descend from the
mountain with the rapidity of lightning. The larger pines, which
were about a hundred feet long, and ten inches thick at their
smaller extremity. ran through the space of three leagues, or
nearly nine miles. in two minutes and a half. and during their
descent, they appeared to be only a few feet in length.
The arrangements for this part of the operation were
extremely simple. From the lower end of the slide to the upper
end, where the trees were introduced, workmen were posted at
regular distances, and as soon as everything was ready, the
workman at the lower end of the slide cried out to the one above
him, 'Lachez' (let go). The cry was repeated from one to another.
and reached the top of the slide in three minutes. The workmen at
the top of the slide then cried out to the one below him, 'Il
vient' (it comes), and the tree was instantly launched down the
slide, preceded by the crv which was repeated from post to post.
As soon as the tree had reached thebottom, and plunged into the
lake, the cry of lachez was repeated as before, and a new tree
was launched in a similar manner. By these means a tree descended
every five or six minutes, provided no accident happened to the
slide, which sometimes took place, but which was instantly
repaired when it did.
In order to show the enormous force which the trees acquired
from the great velocity of their descent, M. Rupp made
arrangements for causing some of the trees to spring from the
slide. They penetrated by their thickest extremities no less than
from eighteen to twenty-four feet into the earth; and one of the
trees having by accident struck against another, it instantly
cleft it through its whole length, as if it had been struck by
After the trees had descended the slide, they were collected
into rafts upon the lake. and conducted to Lucerne. From thence
they descended the Reuss, then the Aar to near Brugg, afterwards
to Waldshut by the Rhine. then to Basle. and even to the sea when
it was necessary.
It is to be regretted that this magnificent structure no
longer exists, and that scarcely a trace of it is to be seen upon
the flanks of Mount Pilatus. Political circumstances having taken
away the principal source of demand for the timber, and no other
market having been found, the operation of cutting and
transporting the trees necessarily ceased.(4*)

Professor Playfair, who visited this singular work, states,
that six minutes was the usual time occupied in the descent of a
tree; but that in wet weather, it reached the lake in three


1. The author of these pages, with one of his friends, was
recently induced to visit this most interesting establishment,
after midnight, during the progress of a very important debate.
The place was illuminated with gas, and was light as the day:
there was neither noise nor bustle; and the visitors were
received with such calm and polite attention, that they did not,
until afterwards, become sensible of the inconvenience which such
intruders, at a moment of the greatest pressure, must occasion,
nor reflect tha the tranquility which they admired, was the
result of intense and regulated occupation. But the effect of
such checks in the current of business will appear on
recollecting that, as four thousand newspapers are printed off on
one side within the hour, every minute is attended with a loss of
sixty-six impressions. The quarter of an hour, therefore, which
the stranger may think it not unreasonable to claim for the
gratification of his curiosity (and to him this time is but a
moment), may cause a failure in the delivery of a thousand
copies, and disappoint a proportionate number of expectant
readers, in some of our distant towns, to which the morning
papers are dispatched by the earliest and most rapid conveyances
of each day.
This note is inserted with the further and more general
purpose of calling the attention of those, especially foreigners,
who are desirous of inspecting our larger manufactories, to the
chief cause of the difficulty which frequently attends their
introduction. When the establishment is very extensive, and its
departments skilfully arranged, the exclusion of visitors arises,
not from any illiberal jealousy, nor, generally, from any desire
of concealment, which would, in most cases, be absurd, but from
the substantial inconvenience and loss of time, throughout an
entire series of well-combined operations, which must be
occasioned even by short and causual interruptions.

2. It is true that the transport of letters is not the only
object which this apparatus answers; but the transport of
passengers, which is a secondary object, does in fact put a limit
to the velocity of that of the letters, which is the primary one.

3. A proposal for such a vessel, and description of its
construction. by the author of this volume, may be found in the
Encyclopaedia Metropolitana, Art. Diving Bell.

4. The mines of Bolanos in Mexico are supplied with timber from
the adjacent mountains by a slide similar to that of Alpnach. It
was constructed by M. Floresi, a gentleman well acquainted with

Chapter 29

On the Duration of Machinery

340. The time during which a machine will continue to perform
its work effectually, will depend chiefly upon the perfection
with which it was originally constructed upon the care taken to
keep it in proper repair, particularly to correct every shake or
looseness in the axes - and upon the smallness of the mass and of
the velocity of its moving parts. Everything approaching to a
blow, all sudden change of direction, is injurious. Engines for
producing power, such as windmills, water-mills, and
steam-engines, usually last a long time.(1*)
341. Many of the improvements which have taken place in
steamengines, have arisen from an improved construction of the
boiler or the fireplace. The following table of the work done by
steam-engines in Cornwall, whilst it proves the importance of
constantly measuring the effects of machinery, shows also the
gradual advance which has been made in the art of constructing
and managing those engines.

A table of the duty performed by steam-engines in Cornwall,
showing the average of the whole for each year, and also the
average duty of the best engine in each monthly report

Years; Approximate number of engines reported; Average duty of
the whole; Average duty of the best engines

1813; 24; 19,456,000; 26,400,000
1814; 29; 20.534,232; 32,000,000
1815; 35; 20.526,160; 28,700,000
1816; 32; 22,907,110; 32,400,000
1817; 31; 26,502,259; 41,600,000
1818; 32; 25,433,783; 39,300,000
1819; 37; 26,252,620; 40,000,000
1820; 37; 28,736,398; 41,300,000
1821; 39; 28,223,382; 42,800,000
1822; 45; 28,887,216; 42,500.000
1823; 45; 28,156,162; 42,l22,000
1824; 45; 28,326,140; 43,500,000
1825; 50; 32,000,741; 45,400,000
1826; 48; 30,486,630; 45,200,000
1827; 47; 32,100,000; 59,700,000
1828; 54; 37,100,000; 76,763,000
1829; 52; 41,220,000; 76,234,307
1830; 55; 43,350,000; 75,885,519
1831; 55(2*); 44,700,000; 74,911,365
1832; 60; 44,400,000; 79,294,114
1833; 58; 46,000,000; 83,306,092

342. The advantage arising from registering the duty done by
steamengines in Cornwall has been so great that the proprietors
of one of the largest mines, on which there are several engines,
find it good economy to employ a man to measure the duty they
perform every day. This daily report is fixed up at a particular
hour, and the enginemen are always in waiting, anxious to know
the state of their engines. As the general reports are made
monthly, if accident should cause a partial stoppage in the flue
of any of the boilers, it might without this daily check continue
two or three weeks before it could be discovered by a falling off
of the duty of the engine. In several of the mines a certain
amount of duty is assigned to each engine; and if it does more,
the proprietors give a premium to the engineers according to its
amount. This is called million money, and is a great stimulus to
economy in working the engine.
343. Machinery for producing any commodity in great demand,
seldom actually wears out; new improvements, by which the same
operations can be executed either more quickly or better,
generally superseding it long before that period arrives: indeed,
to make such an improved machine profitable, it is usually
reckoned that in five years it ought to have paid itself, and in
ten to be superseded by a better.
'A cotton manufacturer,' says one of the witnesses before a
Committee of the House of Commons, '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
344. The effect of improvements in machinery, seems
incidentally to increase production, through a cause which may be
thus explained. A manufacturer making the usual profit upon his
capital, invested in looms or other machines in perfect
condition, the market price of making each of which is a hundred
pounds, invents some improvement. But this is of such a nature,
that it cannot be adapted to his present engines. He finds upon
calculation, that at the rate at which he can dispose of his
manufactured produce, each new engine would repay the cost of its
making, together with the ordinary profit of capital, in three
years: he also concludes from his experience of the trade, that
the improvement he is about to make, will not be generally
adopted by other manufacturers before that time. On these
considerations, it is clearly his interest to sell his present
engines, even at half-price, and construct new ones on the
improved principle. But the purchaser who gives only fifty pounds
for the old engines, has not so large a fixed capital invested in
his factory, as the person from whom he purchased them; and as he
produces the same quantity of the manufactured article, his
profits will be larger. Hence, the price of the commodity will
fall, not only in consequence of the cheaper production by the
new machines, but also by the more profitable working of the old,
thus purchased at a reduced price. This change, however, can be
only transient; for a time will arrive when the old machinery,
although in good repair, must become worthless. The improvement
which took place not long ago in frames for making patent-net was
so great, that a machine, in good repair, which had cost £1200,
sold a few years after for £60. During the great speculations in
that trade, the improvements succeeded each other so rapidly,
that machines which had never been finished were abandoned in the
hands of their makers, because new improvements had superseded
their utility.
345. The durability of watches, when well made, is very
remarkable. One was produced, in going order, before a committee
of the House of Commons to enquire into the watch trade, which
was made in the year 1660; and there are many of ancient date, in
the possession of the Clockmaker's Company, which are still
actually kept going. The number of watches manufactured for home
consumption was, in the year 1798, about 50,000 annually. If this
supply was for Great Britain only, it was consumed by about ten
and a half millions of persons.
346. Machines are, in some trades, let out to hire, and a
certain sum is paid for their use; in the manner of rent. This is
the case amongst the framework knitters: and Mr Henson, in
speaking of the rate of payment for the use of their frames,
states, that the proprietor receives such a rent that, besides
paying the full interest for his capital, he clears the value of
his frame in nine years. When the rapidity with which
improvements succeed each other is considered, this rent does not
appear exorbitant. Some of these frames have been worked for
thirteen years with little or no repair. But circumstances
occasionally arise which throw them out of employment, either
temporarily or permanently. Some years since, an article was
introduced called cut-up work, by which the price of
stocking-frames was greatly deteriorated. From the evidence of Mr
J. Rawson, it appears that, in consequence of this change in the
nature of the work, each frame could do the work of two, and many
stocking frames were thrown out of employment, and their value
reduced full threefourths.(3*)
This information is of great importance, if the numbers here
given are nearly correct, and if no other causes intervened to
diminish the price of frames; for it shows the numerical
connection between the increased production of those machines and
their diminished value.
347. The great importance of simplifying all transactions
between masters and workmen, and of dispassionately discussing
with the latter the influence of any proposed regulations
connected with their trade, is well examplified by a mistake into
which both parties unintentionally fell, and which was productive
of very great misery in the lace trade. Its history is so well
told by William Allen, a framework knitter, who was a party to
it, that an extract from his evidence, as given before the
Framework Knitters' Committee of 1812, will best explain it.

I beg to say a few words respecting the frame rent; the rent
paid for lace frames, until the year 1805, was 1s. 6d. a frame
per week; there then was not any very great inducement for
persons to buy frames and let them out by the hire, who did not
belong to the trade; at that time an attempt was made, by one or
two houses, to reduce the prices paid to the workmen, in
consequence of a dispute between these two houses and another
great house: some little difference being paid in the price
amongst the respective houses, I was one chosen by the workmen to
try if we could not remedy the impending evil: we consulted the
respective parties, and found them inflexible; these two houses
that were about to reduce the prices, said that they would either
immediately reduce the price of making net, or they would
increase the frame rent: the difference to the workmen was
considerable, between the one and the other; they would suffer
less, in the immediate operation of the thing, by having the rent
advanced, than the price of making net reduced. They chose at
that time, as they thought, the lesser evil, but it has turned
out to be otherwise; for, immediately as the rent was raised upon
the percentage laid out in frames, it induced almost every
person, who had got a little money, to lay it out in the purchase
of frames; these frames were placed in the hands of men who could
get work for them at the warehouses; they were generally
constrained to pay an enormous rent, and then they were
compelled, most likely, to buy of the persons that let them the
frames, their butcher's meat, their grocery, or their clothing:
the encumbrance of these frames became entailed upon them: if any
deadness took place in the work they must take it at a very
reduced price, for fear of the consequences that would fall upon
them from the person who bought the frame: thus the evil has been
daily increasing, till, in conjunction with the other evils crept
into the trade, they have almost crushed it to atoms.

348. The evil of not assigning fairly to each tool, or each
article produced, its proportionate value, or even of not having
a perfectly distinct, simple, and definite agreement between a
master and his workmen, is very considerable. Workmen find it
difficult in such cases to know the probable produce of their
labour; and both parties are often led to adopt arrangements,
which, had they been well examined, would have been rejected as
equally at variance in the results with the true interests of
349. At Birmingham, stamps and dies, and presses for a great
variety of articles, are let out: they are generally made by men
possessing small capital, and are rented by workmen. Power also
is rented at the same place. Steam-engines are erected in large
buildings containing a variety of rooms, in which each person may
hire one, two, or any other amount of horsepower, as his
occupation may require. If any mode could be discovered of
transmitting power, without much loss from friction, to
considerable distances, and at the same time of registering the
quantity made use of at any particular point, a considerable
change would probably take place in many departments of the
present system of manufacturing. A few central engines to produce
power, might then be erected in our great towns, and each
workman, hiring a quantity of power sufficient for his purpose,
might have it conveyed into his own house; and thus a transition
might in some instances be effected, if it should be found more
profitable, back again from the system of great factories to that
of domestic manufacture.
350. The transmission of water through a series of pipes,
might be employed for the distribution of power, but the friction
would consume a considerable portion. Another method has been
employed in some instances, and is practised at the Mint. It
consists in exhausting the air from a large vessel by means of a
steam-engine. This vessel is connected by pipes, with a small
piston which drives each coining press; and, on opening a valve,
the pressure of the external air forces in the piston. This air
is then admitted to the general reservoir, and pumped out by the
engine. The condensation of air might be employed for the same
purpose; but there are some unexplained facts relating to elastic
fluids, which require further observations and experiment before
they can be used for the conveyance of power to any considerable
distance. It has been found, for instance, in attempting to blow
a furnace by means of a powerful water-wheel driving air through
a cast-iron pipe of above a mile in length, that scarcely any
sensible effect was produced at the opposite extremity. In one
instance, some accidental obstruction being suspected, a cat put
in at one end found its way out without injury at the other, thus
proving that the phenomenon did not depend on interruption within
the pipe.
351. The most portable form in which power can be condensed
is, perhaps, by the liquefaction of the gases. It is known that,
under considerable pressure, several of these become liquid at
ordinary temperatures; carbonic acid, for example, is reduced to
a liquid state by a pressure of sixty atmospheres. One of the
advantages attending the use of these fluids, would be that the
pressure exerted by them would remain constant until the last
drop of liquid had assumed the form of gas. If either of the
elements of common air should be found to be capable of reduction
to a liquid state before it unites into a corrosive fluid with
the other ingredient, then we shall possess a ready means of
conveying power in any quantity and to any distance. Hydrogen
probably will require the strongest compressing force to render
it liquid, and may, therefore, possibly be applied where still
greater condensation of power is wanted. In all these cases the
condensed gases may be looked upon as springs of enormous force,
which have been wound up by the exertion of power, and which will
deliver the whole of it back again when required. These springs
of nature differ in some respects from the steel springs formed
by our art; for in the compression of the natural springs a vast
quantity of latent heat is forced out, and in their return to the
state of gas an equal quantity is absorbed. May not this very
property be employed with advantage in their application?
Part of the mechanical difficulty to be overcome in
constructing apparatus connected with liquefied gases, will
consist in the structure of the valves and packing necessary to
retain the fluids under the great pressure to which they must be
submitted. The effect of heat on these gases has not yet been
sufficiently tried, to lead us to any very precise notions of the
additional power which its application to them will supply.
The elasticity of air is sometimes employed as a spring,
instead of steel: in one of the large printing-machines in London
the momentum of a considerable mass of matter is destroyed by
making it condense the air included in a cylinder, by means of a
piston against which it impinges.
352. The effect of competition in cheapening articles of
manufacture sometimes operates in rendering them less durable.
When such articles are conveyed to a distance for consumption, if
they are broken, it often happens, from the price of labour being
higher where they are used than where they were made, that it is
more expensive to mend the old article, than to purchase a new.
Such is usually the case, in great cities, with some of the
commoner locks, with hinges, and with a variety of articles of


1. The amount of obstructions arising from the casual fixing of
trees in the bottom of the river, may be estimated from the
proportion of steamboats destroyed by running upon them, The
subjoined statement is taken from the American Almanack for 1832:

'Between the years 1811 and 1831, three hundred and
forty-eight steamboats were built on the Mississippi and its
tributary streams During that period a hundred and fifty were
lost or worn out,
'Of this hundred and fifty:
worn out            63
lost by snags       36
burnt                14
lost by collision    3
by accidents
not ascertained 34
Thirty-six, or nearly one fourth, being destroyed by accidental
Snag is the name given in America to trees which stand nearly
upright in the stream, with their roots fixed at the bottom.
It is usual to divide off at the bow of the steamboats a
watertight chamber, in order that when a hole is made in it by
running against the snags, the water may not enter the rest of
the vessel and sink it instantly.

2. This passage is not printed in italics in the original, but it
has been thus marked in the above extract, from its importance,
and from the conviction that the most extended discussion will
afford additional evidence of its truth.

3. Report from the Committee of the House of Commons on the
Framework Knitter's Petition, April, 1819.

Chapter 30

On Combinations Amongst Masters or Workmen against Each Other

353. There exist amongst the workmen of almost all classes,
certain rules or laws which govern their actions towards each
other, and towards their employers. But, besides these general
principles, there are frequently others peculiar to each factory,
which have derived their origin, in many instances, from the
mutual convenience of the parties engaged in them. Such rules are
little known except to those actually pursuing the several
trades; and, as it is of importance that their advantages and
disadvantages should be canvassed, we shall offer a few remarks
upon some of them.
354. The principles by which such laws should be tried are,
First. That they conduce to the general benefit of all the
persons employed.
Secondly. That they prevent fraud.
Thirdly. That they interfere as little as possible with the
free agency of each individual.
355. It is usual in many workshops, that, on the first
entrance of a new journeyman, he shall pay a small fine to the
rest of the men. It is clearly unjust to insist upon this
payment; and when it is spent in drinking, which is,
unfortunately, too often the case, it is injurious. The reason
assigned for the demand is. that the newcomer will require some
instruction in the habits of the shop, and in the places of the
different tools, and will thus waste the time of some of his
companions until he is instructed. If this fine were added to a
fund, managed by the workmen themselves, and either divided at
given periods, or reserved for their relief in sickness, it would
be less objectionable, since its tendency would be to check the
too frequent change of men from one shop to another. But it
ought, at all events, not to be compulsory. and the advantages to
be derived from the fund to which the workman is invited to
subscribe, ought to be his sole inducement to contribute.
356. In many workshops, the workmen, although employed on
totally different parts of the objects manufactured, are yet
dependent, in some measure, upon each other. Thus a single smith
may be able to forge, in one day, work enough to keep four or
five turners employed during the next. If, from idleness or
intemperance, the smith neglects his work, and does not furnish
the usual supply, the turners (supposing them to be paid by the
piece), will have their time partly unoccupied, and their gains
consequently diminished. It is reasonable, in such circumstances,
that a fine should be levied on the delinquent; but it is
desirable that the master should have concurred with his workmen
in establishing such a rule, and that it should be shown to each
individual previously to his engagement; and it is very desirable
that such fine should not be spent in drinking.
357. In some establishments, it is customary for the master
to give a small gratuity whenever any workman has exercised a
remarkable degree of skill, or has economized the material
employed. Thus, in splitting horn into layers for lanterns, one
horn usually furnishes from five to eight layers; but if a
workman split the horn into ten layers or more, he receives a
pint of ale from the master. These premiums should not be too
high, lest the material should be wasted in unsuccessful
attempts: but such regulations, when judiciously made, are
beneficial, as they tend to produce skill amongst the workmen,
profit to the masters, and diminished cost to the consumers.
358. In some few factories, in which the men are paid by the
piece, it is usual, when any portion of work, delivered in by a
workman, is rejected by the master on account of its being badly
executed, to fine the delinquent. Such a practice tends to remedy
one of the evils attendant upon that mode of payment, and greatly
assists the master, since his own judgement is thus supported by
competent and unprejudiced judges.
359. Societies exist amongst some of the larger bodies of
workmen, and others have been formed by the masters engaged in
the same branches of trade. These associations have different
objects in view; but it is very desirable that their effects
should be well understood by the individuals who compose them;
and that the advantages arising from them, which are certainly
great, should be separated as much as possible from the evils
which they have, unfortunately, too frequently introduced.
Associations of workmen and of masters may. with advantage, agree
upon rules to be observed by both parties, in estimating the
proportionate value of different kinds of work executed in their
trade, in order that time may be saved, and disputes be
prevented. They may also be most usefully employed in acquiring
accurate information as to the number of persons working in the
various departments of any manufacture, their rate of wages, the
number of machines in use, and other statistical details.
Information of this nature is highly valuable, both for the
guidance of the parties who are themselves most interested, and
to enable them, upon any application to government for
assistance, or with a view to legislative enactments, to supply
those details, without which the propriety of any proposed
measure cannot be duly estimated. Such details may be collected
by men actually engaged in any branch of trade, at a much smaller
expense of time, than by persons less acquainted with, and less
interested in it.
360. One of the most legitimate and most important objects of
such associations as we have just mentioned, is to agree upon
ready and certain modes of measuring the quantity of work done by
the workmen. For a long time a difficulty upon this point existed
in the lace trade, which was justly complained of by the men as a
serious grievance; but the introduction of the rack, which counts
the number of holes in the length of the piece, has entirely put
an end to the most fertile cause of disputes. This invention was
adverted to by the Committee of 1812, and a hope was expressed,
in their report, that the same contrivance would be applied to
stocking-frames. It would, indeed, be of great mutual advantage
to the industrious workman, and to the master manufacturer in
every trade, if the machines employed in it could register the
quantity of work which they perform, in the same manner as a
steam-engine does the number of strokes it makes. The
introduction of such contrivances gives a greater stimulus to
honest industry than can readily be imagined, and removes one of
the sources of disagreement between parties, whose real interests
must always suffer by any estrangement between them.
361. The effects arising from combinations amongst the
workmen, are almost always injurious to the parties themselves.
There are numerous instances, in which the public suffer by
increased price at the moment, but are ultimately gainers from
the permanent reduction which results; whilst, on the other hand,
the improvements which are often made in machinery in consequence
of 'a strike' amongst the workmen, most frequently do injury, of
greater or less duration, to that particular class which gave
rise to them. As the injury to the men and to their families is
almost always more serious than that which affects their
employers, it is of the utmost importance to the comfort and
happiness of the former class, that they should themselves
entertain sound views upon this question. For this purpose a few
illustrations of the principle which is here maintained, will
probably have greater weight than any reasoning of a more general
nature, though drawn from admitted principles of political
economy. Such instances will, moreover, present the advantage of
appealing to facts known to many individuals of those classes for
whose benefit these reflections are intended.
362. There is a process in the manufacture of gun barrels for
making what, in the language of the trade, are called skelps. The
skelp is a piece or bar of iron, about three feet long, and four
inches wide, but thicker and broader at one end than at the
other; and the barrel of a musket is formed by forging out such
pieces to the proper dimensions, and then folding or bending them
into a cylindrical form, until the edges overlap, so that they
can be welded together.
About twenty years ago, the workmen, employed at a very
extensive factory in forging these skelps out of bar-iron,
'struck' for an advance of wages; and as their demands were very
exorbitant, they were not immediately complied with. In the
meantime, the superintendent of the establishment directed his
attention to the subject; and it occurred to him, that if the
circumference of the rollers, between which the bar-iron was
rolled, were to be made equal to the length of a skelp, or of a
musket barrel, and if also the groove in which the iron was
compressed, instead of being of the same width and depth
throughout, were cut gradually deeper and wider from a point on
the rollers, until it returned to the same point, then the
bar-iron passing between such rollers, instead of being uniform
in width and thickness, would have the form of a skelp. On making
the trial, it was found to succeed perfectly; a great reduction
of human labour was effected by the process, and the workmen who
had acquired peculiar skill in performing it ceased to derive any
advantage from their dexterity.
363. It is somewhat singular that another and a still more
remarkable instance of the effect of combination amongst workmen,
should have occurred but a few years since in the very same
trade. The process of welding the skelps, so as to convert them
into gun barrels, required much skill, and after the termination
of the war, the demand for muskets having greatly diminished, the
number of persons employed in making them was very much reduced.
This circumstance rendered combination more easy; and upon one
occasion, when a contract had been entered into for a
considerable supply to be delivered on a fixed day, the men all
struck for such an advance of wages as would have caused the
completion of the contract to be attended with a very heavy loss.

In this difficulty, the contractors resorted to a mode of
welding the gun barrel, for which a patent had been taken out by
one of themselves some years before this event. The plan had not
then succeeded so well as to come into general use, in
consequence of the cheapness of the usual mode of welding by hand
labour, combined with some other difficulties with which the
patentee had to contend. But the stimulus produced by the
combination of the workmen, induced him to make new trials, and
he was enabled to introduce such a facility in welding gun
barrels by rollers, and such perfection in the work itself, that,
in all probability, very few will in future be welded by hand
This new process consisted in folding a bar of iron, about a
foot long, into the form of a cylinder, with the edges a little
overlapping. It was then placed in a furnace, and being taken out
when raised to a welding heat, a triblet, or cylinder of iron,
was placed in it, and the whole was passed quickly through a pair
of rollers. The effect of this was, that the welding was
performed at a single heating, and the remainder of the
elongation necessary for extending the skelps to the length of
the musket barrel, was performed in a similar manner, but at a
lower temperature. The workmen who had combined were, of course,
no longer wanted, and instead of benefiting themselves by their
combination, they were reduced permanently, by this improvement
in the art, to a considerably lower rate of wages: for as the
process of welding gun barrels by hand required peculiar skill
and considerable experience, they had hitherto been in the habit
of earning much higher wages than other workmen of their class.
On the other hand, the new method of welding was far less
injurious to the texture of the iron, which was now exposed only
once, instead of three or four times, to the welding heat, so
that the public derived advantage from the superiority, as well
as from the economy of the process. Another process has
subsequently been invented, applicable to the manufacture of a
lighter kind of iron tubes, which can thus be made at a price
which renders their employment very general. They are now to be
found in the shops of all our larger ironmongers. of various
lengths and diameters, with screws cut at each end; and are in
constant use for the conveyance of gas for lighting, or of water
for warming, our houses. 364. Similar examples must have
presented themselves to all those who are familiar with the
details of our manufactories, but these are sufficient to
illustrate one of the results of combinations. It would not,
however, be fair to push the conclusion deduced from these
instances to its extreme limit. Although it is very apparent,
that in the two cases which have been stated, the effects of
combination were permanently injurious to the workman, by almost
immediately placing him in a lower class (with respect to his
wages) than he occupied before; yet they do not prove that all
such combinations have this effect. It is quite evident that they
have all this tendency., it is also certain that considerable
stimulus must be applied to induce a man to contrive a new and
expensive process; and that in both these cases, unless the fear
of pecuniary loss had acted powerfully, the improvement would not
have been made. If, therefore, the workmen had in either case
combined for only a small advance of wages, they would, in all
probability, have been successful, and the public would have been
deprived, for many years, of the inventions to which these
combinations gave rise. It must, however, be observed, that the
same skill which enabled the men to obtain, after long practice,
higher wages than the rest of their class, would prevent many of
them from being permanently thrown back into the class of
ordinary workmen. Their diminished wages will continue only until
they have acquired, by practice, a facility of execution in some
other of the more difficult operations: but a diminution of
wages, even for a year or two, is still a very serious
inconvenience to any person who lives by his daily exertion. The
consequence of combination has then, in these instances, been, to
the workmen who combined - reduction of wages; to the public -
reduction of price; and to the manufacturer increased sale of his
commodity, resulting from that reduction.
365. It is, however, important to consider the effects of
combination in another and less obvious point of view. The fear
of combination amongst the men whom he employs, will have a
tendency to induce the manufacturer to conceal from his workmen
the extent of the orders he may at any time have received; and,
consequently, they will always be less acquainted with the extent
of the demand for their labour than they otherwise might be. This
is injurious to their interests; for instead of foreseeing, by
the gradual falling-off in the orders. the approach of a time
when they must be unemployed, and preparing accordingly, they are
liable to much more sudden changes than those to which they would
otherwise be exposed.
In the evidence given by Mr Galloway, the engineer, he
remarks, that,

When employers are competent to show their men that their
business is steady and certain, and when men find that they are
likely to have permanent employment, they have always better
habits, and more settled notions, which will make them better
men, and better workmen, and will produce great benefits to all
who are interested in their employment.

366. As the manufacturer, when he makes a contract, has no
security that a combination may not arise amongst the workmen,
which may render that contract a loss instead of a benefit;
besides taking precautions to prevent them from becoming
acquainted with it, he must also add to the price at which he
could otherwise sell the article, some small increase to cover
the risk of such an occurrence. If an establishment consist of
several branches which can only be carried on jointly, as, for
instance, of iron mines, blast furnaces, and a colliery, in which
there are distinct classes of workmen, it becomes necessary to
keep on hand a larger stock of materials than would be required,
if it were certain that no combinations would arise.
Suppose, for instance, the colliers were to 'strike' for an
advance of wages - unless there was a stock of coal above ground,
the furnaces must be stopped, and the miners also would be thrown
out of employ. Now the cost of keeping a stock of iron ore, or of
coals above ground, is just the same as that of keeping in a
drawer, unemployed, its value in money, (except, indeed, that the
coal suffers a small deterioration by exposure to the elements).
The interest of this sum must, therefore, be considered as the
price of an insurance against the risk of combination amongst the
workmen; and it must, so far as it goes, increase the price of
the manufactured article, and, consequently, limit the demand
which would otherwise exist for it. But every circumstance which
tends to limit the demand, is injurious to the workmen; because
the wider the demand, the less it is exposed to fluctuation.
The effect to which we have alluded, is by no means a
theoretical conclusion; the proprietors of one establishment in
the iron trade, within the author's knowledge, think it expedient
always to keep above ground a supply of coal for six months,
which is, in that instance, equal in value to about £10,000. When
we reflect that the quantity of capital throughout the country
thus kept unemployed merely from the fear of combinations amongst
the workmen, might, under other circumstances, be used for
keeping a larger number at work, the importance of introducing a
system in which there should exist no inducement to combine
becomes additionally evident.
367. That combinations are, while they last, productive of
serious inconveniences to the workmen themselves, is admitted by
all parties; and it is equally true, that, in most cases, a
successful result does not leave them in so good a condition as
they were in before 'the strike,. The little capital they
possessed, which ought to have been hoarded with care for days of
illness or distress, is exhausted; and frequently, in order to
gratify a pride, at the existence of which we cannot but rejoice,
even whilst we regret its misdirected energy, they will undergo
the severest privations rather than return to work at their
former wages. With many of the workmen, unfortunately, during
such periods, bad habits are formed which it is very difficult to
eradicate; and, in all those engaged in such transactions, the
kinder feelings of the heart are chilled, and passions are called
into action which are permanently injurious to the happiness of
the individual, and destructive of those sentiments of confidence
which it is equally the interest of the master manufacturer and
of his workman to maintain. If any of the trade refuse to join in
the strike, the majority too frequently forget, in the excitement
of their feelings, the dictates of justice, and endeavour to
exert a species of tyranny, which can never be permitted to exist
in a free country. In conceding therefore to the working classes,
that they have a right, if they consider it expedient, to combine
for the purpose of procuring higher wages (provided always, that
they have completed all their existing contracts), it ought ever
to be kept before their attention, that the same freedom which
they claim for themselves they are bound to allow to others, who
may have different views of the advantages of combination. Every
effort which reason and kindness can dictate, should be made, not
merely to remove their grievances, but to satisfy their own
reason and feelings, and to show them the consequences which will
probably result from their conduct: but the strong arm of the
law, backed, as in such cases it will always be, by public
opinion, should be instantly and unhesitatingly applied, to
prevent them from violating the liberty of a portion of their
own, or of any other class of society.
368. Amongst the evils which ultimately fall heavy on the
working classes themselves, when, through mistaken views, they
attempt to interfere with their employers in the mode of carrying
on their business, may be mentioned the removal of factories to
other situations, where the proprietors may be free from the
improper control of their men. The removal of a considerable
number of lace frames to the western counties, which took place,
in consequence of the combinations in Nottinghamshire, has
already been mentioned. Other instances have occurred, where
still greater injury has been produced by the removal of a
portion of the skill and capital of the country to a foreign
land. Such was the case at Glasgow. as stated in the fifth
Parliamentary Report respecting Artizans and Machinery. One of
the partners in an extensive cotton factory, disgusted by the
unprincipled conduct of the workmen, removed to the state of New
Y ork, where he re-established his machinery, and thus afforded,
to rivals already formidable to our trade, at once a pattern of
our best machinery, and an example of the most economical methods
of employing it.
369. When the nature of the work is such that it is not
possible to remove it, as happens with regard to mines, the
proprietors are more exposed to injury from combinations amongst
the workmen: but as the owners are generally possessed of a
larger capital, they generally succeed, if the reduction of wages
which they propose is really founded on the necessity of the
An extensive combination lately existed amongst the colliers
in the north of England, which unfortunately led, in several
instances, to acts of violence. The proprietors of the coalmines
were consequently obliged to procure the aid of miners from other
parts of England who were willing to work at the wages they could
afford to give; and the aid of the civil, and in some cases of
the military, power, was requisite for their protection. This
course was persisted in during several months, and the question
being, which party could support itself longest on the diminished
gains, as it might have readily been foreseen, the proprietors
ultimately succeeded.
370. One of the remedies employed by the masters against the
occurrence of combinations, is to make engagements with their men
for long periods and to arrange them in such a manner, that these
contracts shall not all terminate together. This has been done in
some cases at Sheffield, and in other places. It is attended with
the inconvenience to the masters that, during periods when the
demand for their produce is reduced, they are still obliged to
employ the same number of workmen. This circumstance, however,
frequently obliges the proprietors to direct their attention to
improvements in their works: and in one such instance, within the
author.s knowledge, a large reservoir was deepened, thus
affording a more constant supply to the water-wheel, whilst, at
the same time, the mud from the bottom gave permanent fertility
to a piece of land previously almost barren. In this case, not
merely was the supply of produce checked, when a glut existed.
but the labour was, in fact, applied more profitably than it
would have been in the usual course.
371. A mode of paying the wages of workmen in articles which
they consume, has been introduced into some of our manufacturing
districts, which has been called the truck system. As in many
instances this has nearly the effect of a combination of the
masters against the men, it is a fit subject for discussion in
the present chapter: but it should be carefully distinguished
from another system of a very different tendency, which will be
first described.
372. The principal necessaries for the support of a workman
and his family are few in number, and are usually purchased by
him in small quantities weekly. Upon such quantities, sold by the
retail dealer, a large profit is generally made; and if the
article is one whose quality, like that of tea, is not readily
estimated, then a great additional gain is made by the retail
dealer selling an inferior article.
Where the number of workmen living on the same spot is large,
it may be thought desirable that they should unite together and
have an agent, to purchase by wholesale those articles which are
most in demand, as tea, suger, bacon, etc., and to retail them at
prices, which will just repay the wholesale cost, together with
the expense of the agent who conducts their sale. If this be
managed wholly by a committee of workmen, aided perhaps by advice
from the master, and if the agent is paid in such a manner as to
have himself an interest in procuring good and reasonable
articles, it may be a benefit to the workmen: and if the plan
succeed in reducing the cost of articles of necessity to the men,
it is clearly the interest of the master to encourage it. The
master may indeed be enabled to afford them facilities in making
their wholesale purchases; but he ought never to have the least
interest in, or any connection with, the profit made by the
articles sold. The men, on the other hand, who subscribe to set
up the shop, ought not, in the slightest degree. to be compelled
to make their purchases there: the goodness and cheapness of the
article ought to be their sole inducements.
It may perhaps be objected, that this plan is only employing
a portion of the capital belonging to the workmen in a retail
trade; and that, without it, competition amongst small
shopkeepers will reduce the articles to nearly the same price.
This objection would be valid if the objects of consumption
required no verification; but combining what has been already
stated on that subject(1*) with the present argument, the plan
seems liable to no serious objections.
373. The truck system is entirely different in its effects.
The master manufacturer keeps a retail shop for articles required
by his men, and either pays their wages in goods, or compels them
by express agreement, or less directly, by unfair means, to
expend the whole or a certain part of their wages at his shop. If
the manufacturer kept this shop merely for the purpose of
securing good articles, at fair prices, to his workmen, and if he
offered no inducement to them to purchase at his shop, except the
superior cheapness of his articles, it would certainly be
advantageous to the men. But, unfortunately, this is not always
the case; and the temptation to the master, in times of
depression, to reduce in effect the wages which he pays (by
increasing the price of articles at his shop), without altering
the nominal rate of payment, is frequently too great to be
withstood. If the object be solely to procure for his workmen
better articles, it will be more effectually accomplished by the
master confining himself to supplying a small capital, at a
moderate rate of interest; leaving the details to be conducted by
a committee of workmen, in conjunction with his own agent, and
the books of the shop to be audited periodically by the men
374. Wherever the workmen are paid in goods, or are compelled
to purchase at the master's shop, much injustice is done to them,
and great misery results from it. Whatever may have been the
intentions of the master in such cases, the real effect is, to
deceive the workman as to the amount he receives in exchange for
his labour. Now, the principles on which the happiness of that
class of society depends, are difficult enough to be understood,
even by those who are blessed with far better opportunities of
investigating them: and the importance of their being well
acquainted with those principles which relate to themselves, is
of more vital consequence to workmen, than to many other classes.
It is therefore highly desirable to assist them in comprehending
the position in which they are placed, by rendering all the
relations in which they stand to each other, and to their
employers, as simple as possible. Workmen should be paid entirely
in money; their work should be measured by some unbiassed, some
unerring piece of mechanism; the time during which they are
employed should be defined, and punctually adhered to. The
payments they make to their benefit societies should be fixed on
such just principles, as not to require extraordinary
contributions. In short, the object of all who wish to promote
their happiness should be, to give them, in the simplest form,
the means of knowing beforehand, the sum they are likely to
acquire by their labour, and the money they will be obliged to
expend for their support: thus putting before them, in the
clearest light, the certain result of persevering industry.
375. The cruelty which is inflicted on the workman by the
payment of his wages in goods, is often very severe. The little
purchases necessary for the comfort of his wife and children,
perhaps the medicines he occasionally requires for them in
illness, must all be made through the medium of barter; and he is
obliged to waste his time in arranging an exchange, in which the
goods which he has been compelled to accept for his labour are
invariably taken at a lower price than that at which his master
charged them to him. The father of a family perhaps, writhing
under the agonies of the toothache, is obliged to make his hasty
bargain with the village surgeon, before he will remove the cause
of his pain; or the disconsolate mother is compelled to sacrifice
her depreciated goods in exchange for the last receptacle of her
departed offspring. The subjoined evidence from the Report of the
Committee of the House of Commons on Framework Knitters'
Petitions, shows that these are not exaggerated statements.

It has been so common in our town to pay goods instead of
money, that a number of my neighbours have been obliged to pay
articles for articles, to pay sugar for drugs out of the
druggist's shop; and others have been obliged to pay sugar for
drapery goods, and such things, and exchange in that way numbers
of times. I was credibly informed, that one person paid half a
pound of tenpenny sugar and a penny to have a tooth drawn; and
there is a credible neighbour of mine told me, that he had heard
that the sexton had been paid for digging a grave with sugar and
tea: and before I came off, knowing I had to give evidence upon
these things, I asked this friend to enquire ofthe sexton,
whether this was a fact: the sexton hesitated for a little time,
on account of bringing into discredit the person who paid these
goods: however, he said at last, 'I have received these articles
repeatedly - I know these things have been paid to a great extent
in this way.'


1. See Chapter XV, p. 87

Chapter 31

On Combinations of Masters against the public

376. A species of combination occasionally takes place
amongst manufacturers against persons having patents: and these
combinations are always injurious to the public, as well as
unjust to the inventors. Some years since, a gentleman invented a
machine, by which modellings and carvings were cut in mahogany,
and other fine woods. The machine resembled, in some measure, the
drilling apparatus employed in ornamental lathes; it produced
beautiful work at a very moderate expense: but the cabinetmakers
met together, and combined against it, and the patent has
consequently never been worked. A similar fate awaited a machine
for cutting veneers by means of a species of knife. In this
instance, the wood could be cut thinner than by the circular saw,
and no waste was incurred; but 'the trade' set themselves against
it, and after a heavy expense, it was given up.
The excuse alleged for this kind of combination, was the fear
entertained by the cabinetmakers that when the public became
acquainted with the article, the patentee would raise the price.
Similar examples of combination seem not to be unfrequent, as
appears by the Report of the Committee of the House of Commons on
Patents for Inventions, June, 1829. See the evidence of Mr
377. There occurs another kind of combination against the
public, with which it is difficult to deal. It usually ends in a
monopoly, and the public are then left to the discretion of the
monopolists not to charge them above the growling point - that
is, not to make them pay so much as to induce them actually to
combine against the imposition. This occurs when two companies
supply water or gas to consumers by means of pipes laid down
under the pavement in the street of cities: it may possibly occur
also in docks, canals, railroads, etc., and in other cases where
the capital required is very large, and the competition very
limited. If water or gas companies combine, the public
immediately loses all the advantage of competition, and it has
generally happened, that at the end of a period during which they
have undersold each other, the several companies have agreed to
divide the whole district supplied. into two or more parts, each
company then removing its pipes from all the streets except those
in its own portion. This removal causes great injury to the
pavement, and when the pressure of increased rates induces a new
company to start. the same inconvenience is again produced.
Perhaps one remedy against evils of this kind might be, when a
charter is granted to such companies, to restrict, to a certain
amount, the rate of profit on the shares, and to direct that any
profits beyond, shall accumulate for the repayment of the
original capital. This has been done in several late Acts of
Parliament establishing companies. The maximum rate of profit
allowed ought to be liberal, to compensate for the risk; the
public ought to have auditors on their part, and the accounts
should be annually published, for the purpose of preventing the
limitations from being exceeded. It must however be admitted,
that this would be an interference with capital, which, if
allowed, should, in the present state of our knowledge, be.
examined with great circumspection in each individual case, until
some general principle is established on well-admitted grounds.
378. An instrument called a gas-meter, which ascertains the
quantity of gas used by each consumer, has been introduced, and
furnishes a satisfactory mode of determining the payments to be
made by individuals to the gas companies. A contrivance somewhat
similar in its nature, might be used for the sale of water; but
in that case some public inconvenience might be apprehended, from
the diminished quantity which would then run to waste: the
streams of water running through the sewers in London, are
largely supplied from this source; and if this supply were
diminished, the drainage of the metropolis might be injuriously
379. In the north of England a powerful combination has long
existed among the coal-owners, by which the public has suffered
in the payment of increased price. The late examination of
evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, has
explained its mode of operation, and the Committee have
recommended, that for the present the sale of coal should be left
to the. competition of other districts.
380. A combination, of another kind, exists at this moment to
a great extent, and operates upon the price of the very pages
which are now communicating information respecting it. A subject
so interesting to every reader, and still more so to every
manufacturer ofthe article which the reader consumes, deserves an
attentive examination.
We have shown in Chapter XXI, p. 144, the component parts of
the expense of each copy of the present work; and we have seen
that the total amount of the cost of its production, exclusive of
any payment to the author for his labour, is 2s. 3d.(1*)
Another fact, with which the reader is more practically
familiar, is that he has paid, or is to pay, to his bookseller,
six shillings for the volume. Let us now examine into the
distribution of these six shillings, and then, having the facts
ofthe case before us, we shall be better able to judgeofthe
meritsofthe combinationjust mentioned, andtoexplainits effects.

Distribution of the profits on a six shilling book

Buys at; Sells at; Profit on capital expended
s. d.; s. d.

No. I - The publisher who accounts to the author for every copy
received; 3 10; 4 2; 10 per cent
No. II - The bookseller who retails to the public; 4 2; 6 0; 44
Or, 4 6; 6 0; 33 1/3

No. I, the publisher, is a bookseller; he is, in fact, the
author's agent. His duties are, to receive and take charge of the
stock, for which he supplies warehouse room; to advise the author
about the times and methods of advertising; and to insert the
advertisements. As he publishes other books, he will advertise
lists of those sold by himself; and thus, by combining many in
one advertisement, diminish the expense to each of his
principals. He pays the author only for the books actually sold;
consequently, he makes no outlav of capital, except that which he
pays for advertisements: but he is answerable for any bad debts
he may contract in disposing of them. His charge is usually ten
per cent on the returns.
No. II is the bookseller who retails the work to the public.
On the publication of a new book, the publisher sends round to
the trade, to receive 'subscriptions' from them for any number of
copies not less than two These copies are usually charged to the
'subscribers', on an average, at about four or five per cent less
than the wholesale price of the book: in the present case the
subscription price is 4s. 2d. for each copy. After the day of
publication, the price charged by the publisher to the
booksellers is 4s. 6d. With some works it is the custom to
deliver twentyfive copies to those who order twenty-four, thus
allowing a reduction of about four per cent. Such was the case
with the present volume. Different publishers offer different
terms to the subscribers; and it is usual, after intervals of
about six months, for the publisher again to open a subscription
list, so that if the work be one for which there is a steady
sale, the trade avail themselves of these opportunities
ofpurchasing, at the reduced rate, enough to supply their
probable demand.(2*)
381. The volume thus purchased of the publisher at 4s. 2d. or
4s. 6d. is retailed by the bookseller to the public at 6s. In the
first case he makes a profit of forty-four, in the second of
thirty-three per cent. Even the smaller of these two rates of
profit on the capital employed, appears to be much too large. It
may sometimes happen, that when a book is enquired for, the
retail dealer sends across the street to the wholesale agent, and
receives, for this trifling service, one fourth part of the money
paid by the purchaser; and perhaps the retail dealer takes also
six months' credit for the price which the volume actually cost
382. In section 256, the price of each process in
manufacturing the present volume was stated: we shall now give an
analysis of the whole expense of conveying it into the hands of
the public.

The retail price 6s. on 3052 produces 915 12 0

1. Total expense of printing and paper 207 5 8 7/11
2. Taxes on paper and advertisements 40 0 11
3. Commission to publisher as agent between author and printer 18
14 4 4/11 4 Commission to publisher as agent for sale of the book
63 11 8
5. Profit - the difference between subscription price and trade
price, 4d. per vol. 50 17 4
6. Profit the difference between trade price and retail price,
1s. 6d. per vol. 228 18 0
362 1 4
7. Remains for authorship 306 4 0

Total 915 12 0

This account appears to disagree with that in page 146. but
it will be observed that the three first articles amount to £266
1s., the sum there stated. The apparent difference arises from a
circumstance which was not noticed in the first edition of this
work. The bill amounting to £205 18s., as there given, and as
reprinted in the present volume, included an additional charge of
ten per cent upon the real charges of the printer and
383. It is usual for the publisher, when he is employed as
agent between the author and printer, to charge a commission of
ten per cent on all payments he makes. If the author is informed
of this custom previously to his commencing the work, as was the
case in the present instance, he can have no just cause of
complaint; for it is optional whether he himself employs the
printer, or communicates with him through the intervention of his
The services rendered for this payment are, the making
arrangements with the printer, the wood-cutter, and the engraver,
if required. There is a convenience in having some intermediate
person between the author and printer, in case the former should
consider any of the charges made by the latter as too high. When
the author himself is quite unacquainted with the details of the
art of printing, he may object to charges which, on a better
acquaintance with the subject, he might be convinced were very
moderate; and in such cases he ought to depend on the judgement
of his publisher, who is generally conversant with the art. This
is particularly the case in the charge for alterations and
corrections, some of which, although apparently trivial, occupy
the compositors much time in making. It should also be observed
that the publisher, in this case, becomes responsible for the
payments to those persons.
384. It is not necessary that the author should avail himself
of this intervention, although it is the interest of the
publisher that he should; and booksellers usually maintain that
the author cannot procure his paper or printing at a cheaper rate
if he go at once to the producers. This appears from the evidence
given before the Committee of the House of Commons in the
Copyright Acts, 8 May, 1818.
Mr O. Rees, bookseller, of the house of Longman and Co.,
Paternoster Row, examined:
Q. Suppose a gentleman to publish a work on his own account,
and to incur all the various expenses; could he get the paper at
30s. a ream?
A. I presume not; I presume a stationer would not sell the
paper at the same price to an indifferent gentleman as to the
Q. The Committee asked you if a private gentleman was to
publish a work on his own account, if he would not pay more for
the paper than persons in the trade; the Committee wish to be
informed whether a printer does not charge a gentleman a higher
rate than to a publisher.
A. I conceive they generally charge a profit on the paper.
Q. Do not the printers charge a higher price also for
printing, than they do to the trade?
A. I always understood that they do.

385. There appears to be little reason for this distinction
in charging for printing a larger price to the author than to the
publisher, provided the former is able to give equal security for
the payment. With respect to the additional charge on paper, if
the author employs either publisher or printer to purchase it,
they ought to receive a moderate remuneration for the risk, since
they become responsible for the payment; but there is no reason
why, if the author deals at once with the paper-maker, he should
not purchase on the same terms as the printer; and if he choose,
by paying ready money, not to avail himself of the long credit
allowed in those trades, he ought to procure his paper
considerably cheaper.
386. It is time, however, that such conventional combinations
between different trades should be done away with. In a country
so eminently depending for its wealth on its manufacturing
industry, it is of importance that there should exist no abrupt
distinction of classes, and that the highest of the aristocracy
should feel proud of being connected, either personally or
through their relatives, with those pursuits on which their
country's greatness depends. The wealthier manufacturers and
merchants already mix with those classes, and the larger and even
the middling tradesmen are frequently found associating with the
gentry of the land. It is good that this ambition should be
cultivated, not by any rivalry in expense, but by a rivalry in
knowledge and in liberal feelings; and few things would more
contribute to so desirable an effect, than the abolition of all
such contracted views as those to which we have alluded. The
advantage to the other classes, would be an increased
acquaintance with the productive arts of the country an increased
attention to the importance of acquiring habits of punctuality
and of business and, above all, a general feeling that it is
honourable, in any rank of life, to increase our own and our
country's riches, by employing our talents in the production or
in the distribution of wealth.
387. Another circumstance omitted to be noticed in the first
edition relates to what is technically called the overplus, which
may be now explained. When 500 copies of a work are to be
printed, each sheet of it requires one ream of paper. Now a ream,
as used by printers, consists of 21 1/2 quires, or 516 sheets.
This excess of sixteen sheets is necessary in order to allow for
'revises' - for preparing and adjusting the press for the due
performance of its work, and to supply the place of any sheets
which may be accidentally dirtied or destroyed in the processes
of printing, or injured by the binder in putting into boards. It
is found, however, that three per cent is more than the
proportion destroyed, and that damage is less frequent in
proportion to the skill and care of the workmen.
From the evidence of several highly respectable booksellers
and printers, before the Committee of the House of Commons on the
Copyright Act, May, 1818, it appears that the average number of
surplus copies, above 500, is between two and three; that on
smaller impressions it is less, whilst on larger editions it is
greater; that, in some instances, the complete number of 500 is
not made up, in which case the printer is obliged to pay for
completing it; and that in no instance have the whole sixteen
extra copies been completed. On the volume in the reader's hands,
the edition of which consisted of 3000, the surplus amounted to
fifty-two - a circumstance arising from the improvements in
printing and the increased care of the pressmen. Now this
overplus ought to be accounted for to the author - and I believe
it usually is so by all respectable publishers.
388. In order to prevent the printer from privately taking
off a larger number of impressions than he delivers to the author
or publisher, various expedients have been adopted. In some works
a particular watermark has been used in paper made purposely for
the book: thus the words 'Mecanique Celeste' appear in the
watermark of the two first volumes of the great work of Laplace.
In other cases, where the work is illustrated by engravings, such
a fraud would be useless without the concurrence of the
copperplate printer. In France it is usual to print a notice on
the back of the title page, that no copies are genuine without
the subjoined signature of the author: and attached to this
notice is the author's name, either written, or printed by hand
from a wooden block. But notwithstanding this precaution, I have
recently purchased a volume, printed at Paris, in which the
notice exists, but no signature is attached. In London there is
not much danger of such frauds, because the printers are men of
capital, to whom the profit on such a transaction would be
trifling, and the risk of the detection of a fact, which must of
necessity be known to many of their workmen, would be so great as
to render the attempt at it folly.
389. Perhaps the best advice to an author, if he publishes on
his own account, and is a reasonable person, possessed of common
sense, would be to go at once to a respectable printer and make
his arrangements with him.
390. If the author do not wish to print his work at his own
risk, then he should make an agreement with a publisher for an
edition of a limited number; but he should by no means sell the
copyright. If the work contains woodcuts or engravings, it would
be judicious to make it part of the contract that they shall
become the author's property, with the view to their use in a
subsequent edition of the works, if they should be required. An
agreement is frequently made by which the publisher advances the
money and incurs all the risk on condition of his sharing the
profits with the author. The profits alluded to are. for the
present work, the last item of section 382, or £306 4s.
391. Having now explained all the arrangements in printing
the present volume, let us return to section 382, and examine the
distribution of the £915 paid by the public. Of this sum £207 was
the cost of the book, £40 was taxes, £3S2 was the charges of the
bookseller in conveying it to the consumer, and £306 remained for
The largest portion, or £362 goes into the pockets of the
booksellers; and as they do not advance capital, and incur very
little risk, this certainly appears to be an unreasonable
allowance. The most extravagant part of the charge is the
thirty-three per cent which is allowed as profit on retailing the
It is stated, however, that all retail booksellers allow to
their customers a discount of ten per cent upon orders above
20s., and that consequently the nominal profit of forty-four or
thirty-three per cent is very much reduced. If this is the case,
it may fairly be enquired, why the price of £2 for example, is
printed upon the back of a book, when every bookseller is ready
to sell it at £1 16s., and why those who are unacquainted with
that circumstance should be made to pay more than others who are
better informed?
392. Several reasons have been alleged as justifying this
high rate of profit.
First, it has been alleged that the purchasers of books take
long credit. This, probably, is often the case, and admitting it,
no reasonable person can object to a proportionate increase of
price. But it is no less clear, that persons who do pay ready
money, should not be charged the same price as those who defer
their payments to a remote period.
Secondly, it has been urged that large profits are necessary
to pay for the great expenses of bookselling establishments; that
rents are high and taxes heavy; and that it would be impossible
for the great booksellers to compete with the smaller ones,
unless the retail profits were great. In reply to this it may be
observed that the booksellers are subject to no peculiar pressure
which does not attach to all other retail trades. It may also be
remarked that large establishments always have advantages over
smaller ones, in the economy arising from the division of labour;
and it is scarcely to be presumed that booksellers are the only
class who, in large concerns. neglect to avail themselves of
Thirdly, it has been pretended that this high rate of profit
is necessary to cover the risk of the bookseller's having some
copies left on his shelves; but he is not obliged to buy of the
publisher a single copy more than he has orders for: and if he do
purchase more, at the subscription price, he proves, by the very
fact, that he himself does not estimate that risk at more than
from four to eight per cent.
393. It has been truly observed, on the other hand, that many
copies of books are spoiled by persons who enter the shops of
booksellers without intending to make any purchase. But, not to
mention that such persons finding on the tables various new
publications, are frequently induced, by that opportunity of
inspecting them, to become purchasers: this damage does not apply
to all booksellers nor to all books; of course it is not
necessary to keep in the shop books of small probable demand or
great price. In the present case, the retail profit on three
copies only, namely, 4s. 6d., would pay the whole cost of the one
copy soiled in the shop; and even that copy might afterwards
produce, at an auction, half or a third of its cost price. The
argument, therefore, from disappointments in the sale of books,
and that arising from heavy stock, are totally groundless in the
question between publisher and author. It shold be remarked also,
that the publisher is generally a retail, as well as a wholesale,
bookseller; and that, besides his profit upon every copy which he
sells in his capacity of agent, he is allowed to charge the
author as if every copy had been subscribed for at 4s. 2d., and
of course he receives the same profit as the rest of the
wholesale traders for the books retailed in his own shop.
394. In the country, there is more reason for a considerable
allowance between the retail dealer and the public; because the
profit of the country bookseller is diminished by the expense of
the carriage of the books from London. He must also pay a
commission, usually five per cent, to his London agent, on all
those books which his correspondent does not himself publish. If
to this be added a discount of five per cent, allowed for ready
money to every customer, and of ten per cent to book clubs, the
profit of the bookseller in a small country town is by no means
too large.
Some of the writers, who have published criticisms on the
observations made in the first edition of this work, have
admitted that the apparent rate of profit to the booksellers is
too large. But they have, on the other hand, urged that too
favourable a case is taken in supposing the whole 3000 copies
sold. If the reader will turn back to section 382, he will find
that the expense of the three first items remains the same,
whatever be the number of copies sold; and on looking over the
remaining items he will perceive that the bookseller, who incurs
very little risk and no outlay, derives exactly the same profit
per cent on the copies sold, whatever their numbers may be. This,
however, is not the case with the unfortunate author, on whom
nearly the whole of the loss falls undivided. The same writers
have also maintained, that the profit is fixed at the rate
mentioned, in order to enable the bookseller to sustain losses,
unavoidably incurred in the purchase and retail of other books.
This is the weakest of all arguments. It would be equally just
that a merchant should charge an extravagant commission for an
undertaking unaccompanied with any risk, in order to repay
himself for the losses which his own want of skill might lead to
in his other mercantile transactions.
395. That the profit in retailing books is really too large,
is proved by several circumstances: First, that the same nominal
rate of profit has existed in the bookselling trade for a long
series of years, notwithstanding the great fluctuations in the
rate of profit on capital invested in every other business.
Secondly, that, until very lately, a multitude of booksellers, in
all parts of London, were content with a much smaller profit, and
were willing to sell for ready money, or at short credit, to
persons of undoubted character, at a profit of only ten per cent,
and in some instances even at a still smaller percentage, instead
of that of twenty-five per cent on the published prices. Thirdly,
that they are unable to maintain this rate of profit except by a
combination, the object of which is to put down all competition.
396. Some time ago a small number of the large London
booksellers entered into such a combination. One of their objects
was to prevent any bookseller from selling books for less than
ten per cent under the published prices; and in order to enforce
this principle, they refuse to sell books. except at the
publishing price, to any bookseller who declines. signing an
agreement to that effect. By degrees, many were prevailed upon to
join this combination; and the effect of the exclusion it
inflicted, left the small capitalist no option between signing or
having his business destroyed. Ultimately, nearly the whole
trade, comprising about two thousand four hundred persons, have
been compelled to sign the agreement.
As might be naturally expected from a compact so injurious to
many of the parties to it, disputes have arisen; several
booksellers have been placed under the ban of the combination,
who allege that they have not violated its rules, and who accuse
the opposite party of using spies, etc., to entrap them.(3*)
397. The origin of this combination has been explained by Mr
Pickering, of Chancery Lane, himself a publisher, in a printed
statement, entitled, 'Booksellers' Monopoly' and the following
list of booksellers, who form the committee for conducting this
combination, is copied from that printed at the head of each of
the cases published by Mr Pickering:

Allen, J., 7, Leadenhall Street.
Arch, J., 61, Cornhill.
Baldwin, R., 47, Paternoster Row.
Booth, J.
Duncan, J., 37, Paternoster Row.
Hatchard, J., Piccadilly.
Marshall, R., Stationers' Court.
Murray, J., Albemarle Street.
Rees, O., 39, Paternoster Row.
Richardson, J. M., 23, Cornhill.
Rivington, J., St. Paul's Churchyard.
Wilson, E., Royal Exchange.

398. In whatever manner the profits are divided between the
publisher and the retail bookseller, the fact remains, that the
reader pays for the volume in his hands 6s., and that the author
will receive only 3s. 10d.; out of which latter sum, the expense
of printing the volume must be paid: so that in passing through
two hands this book has produced a profit of forty-four per cent.
This excessive rate of profit has drawn into the book trade a
larger share of capital than was really advantageous; and the
competition between the different portions of that capital has
naturally led to the system of underselling, to which the
committee above mentioned are endeavouring to put a stop.(4*)
399. There are two parties who chiefly suffer from this
combination the public and authors. The first party can seldom be
induced to take an active part against any grievance; and in fact
little is required from it, except a cordial support of the
authors, in any attempt to destroy a combination so injurious to
the interests of both.
Many an industrious bookseller would be glad to sell for 5s.
the volume which the reader holds in his hand, and for which he
has paid 6s.; and, in doing so for ready money, the tradesman who
paid 4s. 6d. for the book, would realize, without the least risk,
a profit of eleven per cent on the money he had advanced. It is
one of the objects of the combination we are discussing, to
prevent the small capitalist from employing his capital at that
rate of profit which he thinks most advantageous to himself; and
such a proceeding is decidedly injurious to the public.
400. Having derived little pecuniary advantage from my own
literary productions; and being aware, that from the very nature
of their subjects, they can scarcely be expected to reimburse the
expense of preparing them, I may be permitted to offer an opinion
upon the subject, which I believe to be as little influenced by
any expectation of advantage from the future, as it is by any
disappointment at the past.
Before, however, we proceed to sketch the plan of a campaign
against Paternoster Row, it will be fit to inform the reader of
the nature of the enemies' forces, and of his means of attack and
defence. Several of the great publishers find it convenient to be
the proprietors of reviews, magazines, journals, and even of
newspapers. The editors are paid, in some instances very
handsomely, for their superintendence; and it is scarcely to be
expected that they should always mete out the severest justice on
works by the sale of which their employers are enriched. The
great and popular works of the day are, of course, reviewed with
some care, and with deference to public opinion. Without this,
the journals would not sell; and it is convenient to be able to
quote such articles as instances of impartiality. Under shelter
of this, a host of ephemeral productions are written into a
transitory popularity; and by the aid of this process, the
shelves of the booksellers, as well as the pockets of the public,
are disencumbered. To such an extent are these means employed,
that some of the periodical publications of the day ought to be
regarded merely as advertising machines. That the reader may be
in some measure on his guard against such modes of influencing
his judgement, he should examine whether the work reviewed is
published by the bookseller who is the proprietor of the review;
a fact which can sometimes be ascertained from the title of the
book as given at the head of the article. But this is by no means
a certain criterion, because partnerships in various publications
exist between houses in the book trade, which are not generally
known to the public; so that, in fact, until reviews are
established in which booksellers have no interest, they can never
be safely trusted.
401. In order to put down the combination of booksellers, no
plan appears so likely to succeed as a counter-association of
authors. If any considerable portion of the literary world were
to unite and form such an association; and if its affairs were
directed by an active committee, much might be accomplished. The
objects of such an union should be, to employ some person well
skilled in the printing, and in the bookselling trade; and to
establish him in some central situation as their agent. Each
member of the association to be at liberty to place any, or all
of his works in the hands of this agent for sale; to allow any
advertisements, or list of books published by members of the
association, to be stitched up at the end of each of his own
productions; the expense of preparing them being defrayed by the
proprietors of the books advertised.
The duties of the agent would be to retail to the public, for
ready money, copies of books published by members of the
association. To sell to the trade, at prices agreed upon, any
copies they may require. To cause to be inserted in the journals,
or at the end of works published. bv members. any advertisements
which the committee or authors may direct. To prepare a general
catalogue of the works of members. To be the agent for any member
of the association respecting the printing of any work.
Such a union would naturally present other advantages; and as
each author would retain the liberty of putting any price he
might think fit on his productions, the public would have the
advantage of reduction in price produced by competition between
authors on the same subject, as well as of that arising from a
cheaper mode of publishing the volumes sold to them.
402. Possibly, one of the consequences resulting from such an
association, would be the establishment of a good and an
impartial review, a work the want of which has been felt for
several years. The two long-established and celebrated reviews,
the unbending champions of the most opposite political opinions.
are, from widely differing causes. exhibiting unequivocal signs
of decrepitude and decay. The quarterly advocate of despotic
principles is fast receding from the advancing intelligence of
the age; the new strength and new position which that
intelligence has acquired, demands for its expression, new
organs, equally the representatives of its intellectual power,
and of its moral energies: whilst, on the other hand, the sceptre
of the northern critics has passed, from the vigorous grasp of
those who established its dominion, into feebler hands.
403. It may be stated as a difficulty in realizing this
suggestion, that those most competent to supply periodical
criticism, are already engaged. But it is to be observed, that
there are many who now supply literary criticisms to journals,
the political principles of which they disapprove; and that if
once a respectable and well-supported review(5*) were
established, capable of competing, in payment to its
contributors, with the wealthiest of its rivals. it would very
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,

l823 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 l817, 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 £3 to £6 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; £50 or £60 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 £3 to £4 per week..The forging smith, if
accustomed to his work. gained from £5 to £6 per week, and some
few earned £10 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 £3
to £4 per week. The setters-up - persons who put the parts of the
machine together - charged £20 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 £2 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
£2,000,000, 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
£120,000; this is manufactured into yarn, weighing 1,000,000
lbs., value £500,000.
There is also used 25,000 lbs. of raw silk, which costs
£30,000, and is doubled into 10,000 lbs. thrown, worth £40,000.

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

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; 1,89l,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 £250,000 a year. The
principal part of the remainder, i.e. about £1,050,000 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, £l20,000 original cost
of cotton becomes, when manufactured, of the ultimate value of
£3,242,700 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 embroiderv,
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 embroiderv 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 (£ 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; £6 to £30; 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 £10,000 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, £3000; and in laying
down iron pipes to supply his customers, costing £7000. 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 £4000 by the sale of his stock. Let
us suppose again that B, by the sale of his bobbin net factory
and machinery, could realize £8000 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, £1000 per annum, would still be greater than
that produced by investing £4000, (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 £800 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 tbe 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 boiiing

6 See section 351.

Charles Babbage

Economy of Machinery

July 10, 2006