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I. The Doctrine of Proportion, or Geometrical Admeasurement by Similar
Triangles, practically applied to Expanding or Diminishing Draw
ings. London, Ackermann, 1836. We are sorry we cannot say anything in commendation of this work, notwithstanding its gay and prepossessing exterior; but the author is obviously little conversant with geometrical, or indeed with drawing of
Most of our readers are aware that artists and draughtsmen employ a method for copying drawings, technically termed squaring; that is, they cover the surface of the original with a net-work of rectangles; and, having constructed another set of similar figures in the requisite proportion, according as the outline is to be reduced or enlarged, they trace in the corresponding spaces, the portion of the contour of the original design that falls within each rectangle. The advantages of this mode of proceeding are, that from the simplicity of the geometrical elements employed, the right angle and parallel right lines, the construction is easy, and admits of the utmost, attainable, practical accuracy.
The object of the work before us, is to recommend the substitution for this, of another equally well-known geometrical principle, namely, that of drawing right lines from any assumed point, through all the principal ones of the original outline, and then making the corresponding segments of the legs of an equal series of the angles thus formed, constructed on the copy, in the requisite proportion to those, intercepted between each point of the original and the assumed vertex. Now every practical geometrician is aware that, to construct a series of angles at a point equal to another set, is an extremely nice operation; and that unless it be done with great exactness, the copy obtained by means of them would be very inaccurate, more especially if the original drawing were to be enlarged. In addition to this fatal defect in principle, the proposed plan of proceeding is excessively complicated, and requires a great number of lines to be drawn, to the obvious injury of both copy and original; and further, the method is totally inapplicable to the copying of paintings or drawings, on the surfaces of which no such operations of any kind can be allowed. In these cases the artist either divides the edge of the frame into equal parts, and placing pins in the points of division, stretches threads across the face of the picture, to form the rectangles or squares; or he uses a light frame, which admits of this proceeding, and is then applied to the original picture.
The eighth plate in the work under notice is intended to illustrate what the author terms “ a new rule in perspective;" to the discovery of which he, rather unluckily, urges his claim. We venture to assure him that it will never be disputed by any one conversant with simplest elements of that branch of practical geometry; this rule being, in fact, false in principle, and worse than useless in practice. The author imagines that equal, equidistant, rectilinear figures, the planes of which are not
parallel to that of the picture, are perspectively projected into similar* figures, decreasing in size in a simple geometrical ratio, as the originale recede from the point of sight. Now, as every one knows, this is not the fact; such projections being similar only in the case of the planes of the original, and that of projection being parallel. To expose the second and more general part of the error, let the reader take AB to be an original line, divided equally by the points CDE, &c.; let abcde, 8c., be the corresponding projections of the original points, and let v be the vanishing point. Then a v, cv, dv,---6 v will form an harmonical progression, and not a simple geometrical one, as the author's construction would make them; or av:ac :: bv: bc, and not av :cv :: CV : bv, as he imagines.
But in short, any artist, who is a geometrician, has only to look at the plate in question, to see such an unfortunate complication of error, as will fully establish the truth of our first assertion. The examples given throughout the work, both as regards the taste of their selection and their execution, cannot fail to excite a smile.
Where did the author acquire such phraseology as “demonstrating" for determining ; " point of occurse;" “ proportionality,” cum multis aliis? The language throughout is singularly incorrect.
II. Artisans and Machinery: the moral and physical Condition of the
Manufacturing Population considered with reference to Mechanical
London, Parker. 1836. Artisans and Machinery! the title is too mitigated. Had it been called, “ MACHINERY AND ITS VICTIMS,” it had been nearer the truth.
This is, indeed, a bold and original work. Its author has had the courage to oppose himself to prejudice and sophistry; to search for truth without regard to the claims or assumptions of national vanity. Readers and writers on the state of Great Britain, in reference to her commerce and manufactures, have been deluded and misled by the splendour of the mechanical and other scientific operations which distinguish the present day.
The “ Results of Machinery" have been paraded through two hundred and odd pages, small, but closely packed,—of a work which assumes the benign and friendly title of the “Working-man's Companion." Its “ Economy' has been displayed by Mr. Babbage, in a fairly sized duodecimo, consisting of a perfect galaxy of wonders. The power of science to supersede the human labourer is proudly emblazoned; and the useless operatives are bidden, to become capitalists, and go out of the market;" and after all, only one side of the picture is properly displayed.
Cheap! Cheap!” is the cry; but there may come a time, when the bubble may be blown too tight. The Minerva of manufactures and commerce rejoices in the success of her system, and dazzles our eyes by the effulgence of her golden shield. This will one day, perhaps, be turned, and the reverse may then be discovered to be of baser metal.
* Throughout this notice the word similar is used in its strict geometrical meaning -the angles equal, and the sides proportional.
“It is a new era,” says Mr. Gaskell, “in the history of commerce that an active and increasing trade should be the index, not to the improvement of the condition of the working classes, but to their poverty and degradation : it is an era at which Great Britain has arrived; and it behoves every man, anxious for the well-being of his country, to turn his attention to this extraordinary fact.”-(p. xi.)
“The enormous export trade which has grown up, has filled the minds of many people with the most extraordinary delusions. Let us, however, see how and upon what terms it has grown to its present magnitude.
“ The terms oficial and declared value must be explained before we can make ourselves understood. Official value indicates quantity only: it is the quantity of any given export, reduced to money by a fixed and unvarying scale, adopted by the Custom House many years ago. Thus, in speaking of the official value of an exported article, we say, in 1800 it was 1,000,0001.; in 1835, 10,000,0001.; that is, a certain number of yards were valued in 1800 at one million, and another certain number of yards at ten millions in 1835, both upon the same scale; and this advance points out at once that ten times more yards were exported at the last period than the first.
“ Declared value, on the contrary, is the real price of the exported article, according to the declaration of the exporter. This signifies, therefore, the absolute worth of the article; and hence, the official value and the declared value, when compared, show at a glance the increase or decrease in the worth of the article. If the official value rises, whilst the declared remains stationary or declines, it is obvious that a greater quantity of goods are disposed of, without any correspondent return in money.
“The condition of the export trade, connected with our cotton manufactures, is singularly instructive as to the effects of machinery upon production and value. In 1814, the official value of the cotton exports was 17,655,3781.; the declared value, 20,033,1321. In 1833, the official value of cotton exports was 46,337,2101.; the declared value, 18,459,0001.
“It is worth while to pause a moment, and reflect on this extraordinary statement, founded as it is on Parliamentary Papers and Finance Accounts. The clearest way of showing the depreciation in value to the non-commercial reader, is to call the pound, (money,) in official value, yards, when it will stand thus
1814, sold 17,655,378 yards for £20,033,132.
1833, sold 46,337,210 yards for £18,459,000. so that, notwithstanding we have almost trebled our export trade since 1814, its absolute return is nearly 2,000,0001. less in 1833 than 1814.
Who does not glory in the progress of science? Who would stint or stay the advance of human intellect? Would say to invention, “thus far, and no farther, shalt thou go.” Viewing the action of “the Iron Man,” as the self-acting mule is fitly called in Manchester by the operatives, —the wondrous invention of Roberts, “a machine apparently instinct with the thought, feeling, and tact, of the experienced workman; calculated to perfect the function of a finished and adult spinner; and to restore order among
the industrious classes.” Who does not feel a throb and glow of proud satisfaction at the victory obtained by thought and inventive skill? Seeing a single workman--attached to the gentle giant of
steam-producing as much of a given article as two hundred and seventy could effect with the more ancient assistants of labour,—150,000 workmen wielding the force of 40,000,000*. Who would not rejoice at the leisure and enjoyment which must surely be the lot of the operatives, where such powers prevail? But is it so? The true answer, we fear, is given in the following table, inserted by Mr. Gaskell, p. 375.
“ This table shows the average wages paid for weaving a six quarter sixty reed cambric, 120 picks in one inch, the average price of flour, meal, potatoes per load (240 lb. to the load), butcher's meat per lb., together with the average price of rents, paid for a four and two-loom dwelling-house, during the last thirty-eight years, in the borough of Bolton. This table is well deserving a. very careful examination, as it shows at one view the elements of the domestic condition of the hand-loom weaver:
£ s. d. £ s. d. £ 8. d.
5 0 3 0 0 2 0 0
8 6 2 2 0 1 14 0
8 6 2 7 0 1 16 0 0 7 0 2 12 0 2 4 0 0 6 6 8 0 1 14 0 0 6 0 2 6 6 1 12 0 0 5 6 2 2 0 1 126 0 5 6 2 1 1 11 0 0 5 6 2 1 6 1 14 0 0 5 6 1 15 1 4 0 0 5 6 1 14 6 1 4 6 0 5 6 1 14 6
1797 1798 1799 1800 1801 1802 1803 1804 1805 1806 1807 1808 1809 1810 1811 1812 1813 1814 1815 1816 1817 1818 1819 1820 1821 1822 1823 1824 1825 1826 1827 1828 1829 1830 1831 1832 1833 1834
Have, therefore, increased powers, in fact, produced increased bappiness, advanced intelligence, higher moral attainments? These are questions which are not usually agitated when artisans and machinery are the subject of discussion; and yet it is these points which ought to engage the attention, if the condition and prospects of the great majority of mankind be considered. These accordingly are the topics which form the staple of Mr. Gaskell’s volume. Fully appreciating our national skill, and our national enterprise, he yet, with unsparing and unflinching hand, tears off the veil that covers the defects of our national system. Rejoicing in our means of producing universal, diffusive happiness, he essays to disabuse us of the fallacious conclusion that such happiness is produced. Not cheated by the beauty of the vase, he has carefully analyzed its contents. He has examined the sparkling draught, and having, as Shakspeare says, seen the spider there," proclaims, in tones not loud and petulant, but deep, decided, and impressive,--the poison he has discovered.
* Artisans and Machinery, p. 316.
It is in this manner that Mr. Gaskell intrepidly proceeds, dividing his work into a number of chapters: on Domestic Manufacture; the Factory System; Social Condition and Morals; Infant Labour; Female Labour; Physical Condition; Health; Education, Religion, Crime, Combination, Subjugation of Labourers, Influence of Machinery, Its Extent and ultimate Consequences. We cannot trace his course, but the details he presents are appalling yet incontrovertible, and may suffice to make the most rigid economist pause, before he proceeds further to urge
forward his iron system. Will he, if he cannot deny the following terrific summary, have the nerve "to shut the gates of mercy on mankind ?"
“The first fact which meets us is—that the poor rates of the kingdom have risen, during the progress of mechanical adaptation to processes hitherto demanding human labour, to the enormous sum of nearly 8,000,0001. sterling per annum. The second fact is—that a tide of demoralization has swept over the land, displaying itself in the agricultural districts by incendiarism and other forms, the details of which have been rendered familiar to the public by the Report of the Poor Law Commission *, and in the manufacturing districts, in the shapes we have already spoken of. The third fact is—that from the impossibility of finding adequate remuneration for labour, no less than 351,056 persons have left our shores for Canada between 1812 and 1832; and that from the 7th of May, 1833, to the 24th of September, 1834, upwards of 30,000 emigrants departed from the port of Liverpool alone. The fourth fact is—that there are one million of human beings dependent on hand-manufacture, who are literally starving in the midst of the magnificent edifices housing the steam-engine and its workers, without the slightest hope or chance of improving their industrial conditiont. The fifth fact is—that two millions of hand-loom weavers in Hindostan have been driven from their labour by machinery here, multitudes of whom have perished by famine I. The sixth fact is that there are hundreds of thousands of domestic manufacturers connected with the bobbin-net, woollen, silk, flax, linen, and iron trades, now suffering extreme privations, and who will shortly be driven from their peculiar province of industry by competition with steam-production. The seventh fact is—that the absorption of the household manufacture of the kingdom into factories, has completely deranged the social system of our labouring community. The eighth fact is—that the breaking up of the indus
* Vide Report, passim.
Minutes of Évidence. Select Committee on Hand-loom Weavers, p. 311.