Michael Quinn (ed.), The Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham: Writings on the Poor Laws, Vol. 2
The success and practicability of the proposed institution as far as expence is concerned will depend:
1. On the necessary quantum of the expence of the establishment.
2. On the obtainable quantum and value of the produce of the labour of the establishment.
3. On the probable goodness of the Management in point of economy:—that is, on the probability that a system of conduct will be observed, such as shall have the effect [of] establishing, as between the expenditure and production, the proportion requisite to denominate the management a successful one:—by reducing the actual quantum of expence as near to the least quantum necessary—and the actual quantum and value of produce as near to the greatest quantum obtainable, as shall be sufficient for the purpose.
Success will depend:
1. Upon the natural fertility of the sources of frugality and acquisition indicated as being at the Company's command.
2. Upon the probability of their being duly turned to account: i: e: that the management will preserve itself at such a pitch of perfection as to turn those sources to account to the degree expected so as to produce a quantum of profit equal to the estimate.
With regard to obtainable economy in respect of expence and produce, independent of extraordinary felicity of management, I have established the following positions:
1. That the average separate part of the expence, all ages included, need not be more than 3d a day, making in the year
£4 11s 3d
2. That the average number of persons requiring constant maintenance is not likely to be so great as
That, therefore, the annual total of the separate part of the expence is not, under good management, likely to be so much as
That the average obtainable value of the separate earnings of a Pauper incapable of earning a full maintenance for himself out of the House, taking the stock of persons thus incapacitated from 21 years of age to the extreme point of old age, all species and degrees of infirmity taken into the account, is not likely to be so little as half the amount of his or her separate part of the expence of maintenance: viz: ld ½ a day, making in the working year
1. 19. 0
That the number of individuals so circumstanced, supposing the total number to be as above (250,000), is not likely to be more than
That the total annual produce of the labour of these persons would, upon the above supposition, not be so little as
In proof of the position that the separate part of the expence per head of all ages included need not be so much as 3d a day, I offer the following considerations:
1. That in the lowest paid and most numerous class of the self-maintaining Poor, the actual average expence per head is little if any thing above that mark: and this upon an average of all parts of South Britain, those in which the necessaries of life are at the dearest price, and those in which they are at the cheapest price—those where the worst economy prevails in respect of the choice of articles of cheap quality, and those in which the best economy prevails.
2. That by the experiments made by Count Rumford and other gentlemen not more illustrious on the score of humanity than on that of economy, it appears that maintenance as to the principal and most expensive division of the separate part, viz: diet, may be afforded, in quantity and quality perfectly sufficient for the purposes of health and strength and every branch of bodily wellfare, very considerably under that mark—viz: for | |.2
Here then3 is a plain source of profit to the amount above stated: a pg 324profit the expectation of which is grounded on general and indubitable experience: a profit which needs no more than ordinary management, attended with ordinary success, to bring it into existence.
Is there any thing in the plan that should render this ordinary degree of good management, this ordinary degree of success, less to be expected in the instance of this joint-stock undertaking than in the instance of any the best grounded plan of private commercial enterprize?
On the contrary, we shall see in the present case efficient causes and pledges of success in abundance, many of them sufficient each of itself to create a decided preponderance in favour of this joint-stock undertaking, as compared with any private one, and at the same time peculiar either in toto, or at least in degree, to this undertaking in contradistinction to every other that has ever yet exhibited itself to view.
Expectation in this line has a surer basis than would readily be imagined—
Real indigence, real incapacity of productive labour, is a fixt quantity—it is not susceptible to be arbitrarily encreased or counterfeited. The number of the blind—of cripples—of ideots—of lunatics—of the deaf and dumb—of those rendered helpless by age or incurable infirmity—is a fixed invariable quantity—and taken the whole country [together] can not swerve far from the line of uniformity in respect of its amount.
Those who are capable of labour—capable of yielding a quantum of labour adequate or more than adequate to the expence of their maintenance on the score of relief—either will not make application for relief—or applying will, on the Self-liberation principle,1 make a compensation, and more than a bare compensation, for the expence.
Whether they be willing guests, such as Stagnation Hands, or unwilling ones, such as Unavowed-Employment Hands, makes, in regard to this point, no sort of difference.
In a word, to loss, there are known limits: to profit, there are none.2
pg 325§II. Advantages that would be possessed by the proposed scheme of Management, in comparison with private management on the one hand, and Government management on the other: including such advantages as are essentially peculiar to this scheme of management, being incapable of being assumed [by] any other, and such as, though accidentally peculiar to it, in as much as they have never yet been enjoy'd by any other, are not incapable of being transferred to others1
I. Advantages essentially peculiar to it, in degree at least, in contradistinction to private manufacturing concerns.
1. Benefit of the Cheapest-fare principle.2—Private employers having no command over the mode of maintenance of the working hands.
2. Benefit of the no-fermented-liquor principle.3—Private employers can not, unless in the instance of apprentices, prescribe to their workmen what they shall eat or what they shall drink.
3. All-employing or No-idle-hand principle.4—Private employers, by reason of the comparative narrowness of the scale on which their establishments are constructed, not having, at least in equal degree, the means of employing small fragments of ability on such terms as to make the profit pay for the variety of stock requisite, and the expence of superintendence. See farther on | | Labour-Division principle and Inspection-House principle.
4. Labour-Division principle5—essentially peculiar in degree. It would be a vast private concern that should have the command of a single thousand hands. But here is a concern which has the command of 2 or 300 times the number. The facility it will possess in respect of the splitting operations to the last pitch of simplicity, and pg 326adapting the nature of the operation to the ability of the hand, is altogether beyond example.
5. Mixt-employment principle.1—Combining concerns of totally different natures in one establishment, for the purpose of consigning the operations respectively belonging to them, to one and the same hand. Mixing out-door with in-door operations—sedentary with laborious—bad-weather with fair-weather—winter evening and morning with daylight operations—so that not a particle of time shall remain necessarily unemploy'd: and relaxation shall be measured out by reason and humanity, not commanded by necessity and blind chance.
Private establishments are more or less destitute of this advantage—partly because the employer can not find his account in thus splitting and diversifying his undertaking: partly because the workman can not find his account in thus diversifying his industry, or can not find the means of doing so, for want of being able to serve two masters.2
6. Many-use principle—and especially the particular application made of it by the Same or One-room principle.3 This is a head of advantage intimately connected with the Inspection-Architecture principle. The advantage derived from this application of the Many-use principle, though in its nature not absolutely peculiar to this concern in comparison of private ones, is, however, peculiar to it in a considerable degree.4 In the state of dependence attached to immaturity, the young may be at the disposal of the superintending authority with regard to all hours, and may submitt to terms allotting to them for all functions but one portion of covered space: but, in the instance of mature and independent hands, it is only a portion of the 24 hours that will in general be committed to the disposal of a master. His working hours he will make over to the manufactory: but more than these he will not part with, so long as he can obtain a home for refreshment, amusement, and repose.
7. Principle of self-supply—or Home-market principle.5 This is, of itself, little less than a certain security against failure. This head of advantage, this most important head of advantage, is altogether and for ever peculiar to this species of concern as distinguished from private ones. The consumers themselves being under command, the market is at command of course.6
pg 3278. Inspection-House principle.1 This architectural head of advantage, mechanical in its source, moral in its application, will never be estimated at any thing near its true value, till experience shall have held it up to public view. Its grand use applies to the management, in as far as it [is] trust-management, in the character [of] a security against abuse. In the present point of view its utility is confined to the lessening the charge, and raising up to its highest pitch the efficacy, of that portion of labour which is appropriated to the exercise of the business of superintendence.a
9. Ample-Scale principle.2 The advantages of this principle apply partly to the maintenance branch,3 as we have seen, partly to the employment branch: in which latter instance, they exemplify themselves in the facility they afford for the application of the Labour-Division principle, and in so far coincide therefore with the advantages referrable to that principle. In private establishments, this advantage is enjoy'd of course in proportion to the magnitude of the establishment: but in the largest not to any degree comparable to that in which they may be enjoy'd by this vast joint-stock establishment.
That the reasonable chance in favour of success in the management of the proposed Joint-Stock Company is not inferior to, but superior to, the reasonable prospect of success in the instance of any private undertaking whatsoever—of a private undertaking engaged in under the most favourable circumstances.
What individual capitalist has 250 Agents all of them employ'd on pg 328the same sort [of] business?1—all of them vying with each other which shall exhibit the fairest specimen of industry and intelligence—each of them certain that there is not a single act performed by him in the course of his management but what will meet the eyes not only of his employer, but of a curious and inspecting public.
10. Comparison-and-Selection principle.2
What individual Capitalist has 250 establishments of the same kind spread over the whole extent of the Country, presenting, in the instance of every head under which any variation is admissible, so many different modes of practice, with the faculty of introducing into the whole number whatever is best in the management of each?a
11. Principle of publicity—or Transparent-management principle.3 [12.] Tabular-Statement principle.4—Private establishments are essentially destitute of this advantage. No one Manufacturer or Master Employer has any means of commanding a communication of the practice of any other. No one private manufacturing establishment is open to the scrutiny of any other—much less of the world at large.5
Another advantageous property which may be considered as peculiar to this species of public management, in contradistinction as well to private management, as to government management, is that of steadiness. Whatever there is good in the plan of management in any one of the Houses at any one time may be expected to continue: to continue without change, unless any change has been discovered which would be for the better.
The tendency to relaxation that is so apt to manifest itself in the instance of trust management in general, has been matter of frequent observation, and forms a standing topic of objection against that species of management, or at least against the correctness of any inferences that are ever attempted to be drawn from past prosperity pg 329at an early period of the institution, in favour of the assurance of any such degree of prosperity for the future.1 Every such institution, it is observed, and justly, is the fruit of the zeal of some one individual or small assemblage of individuals, and while this efficient cause continues in existence and in full force, the effect continues to exist in a proportionable degree. In process of time, the founder or founders die off, or what comes to the same thing, the business having, along with its novelty, lost its charms, the zeal which animated them, and to which the prosperity of the establishment was indebted for its existence, dies off, the spirit evaporates, and nothing but the caput mortuum of indifference and negligence on the part of the managers, with its attendant effects on the part of management—relaxation and abuse in all its forms, remain behind.
In the character of a general observation, nothing can well be more just: few have received fuller confirmation, whether from theory or experience. But it is one of the characteristic properties of the institution proposed to be in this respect in a case exactly the reverse of the only one to which the observation in question applies. A circumstance which the observation assumes, and which has had place in all the instances by which it has ever been suggested, and in all to which it ever has applied, is that what there is good in the management depends upon this or that individual or small assemblage of individuals: upon the existence of those individuals, upon the existence of the same qualities on the part of those individuals. This assumption is just in all these instances: because in all [these]2 instances the cognizance of the business is locked up in the breasts of the individuals in question: no part of it communicates itself to the public at large. The modes of proceeding are not consigned to any fixed and written general rules: or, if they are, the knowledge of those rules does not extend itself beyond the particular spot which gave birth to them: at any rate if by accident it finds its way into a book, the work of some compiler, there it remains, unnoticed, unless it be in the way of transient curiosity, the public at large not being called upon by any special call of interest or affection to take cognizance of pg 330it. Again, supposing the rule itself ever so public, yet neither has the public any opportunity of noticing, or any call to notice, the effects produced by the observance of it, or so much as to notice whether in any instance it really is conformed to and observed.
In the present instance, every point of practice, as it occurrs, will be registered and presented to public notice: registered upon a plan universally and instantaneously intercommensurable, registered under a set of heads the same, and in the same order, in the instance of each of the 250 Houses or thereabouts which spread themselves over the face of the southern portion of the United Kingdom. This being the case, so long as each rule is observed, evidence will be regularly and constantly presenting itself of the observance; no sooner is it changed, than evidence will present itself of the change. No good rule can fall unobserved into disuse: no bad one can continue in the production of its bad effects, without their presenting themselves all along to universal notice. The Report of each House, being presented to the public at large, at short and perpetually recurring intervals, each House presents itself in a line of parallelism to every other: each House calls for examination, as well in its own instance, as for every other. Under a scrutiny thus sharpened by such a combination of emulous interests, under a scrutiny thus universal and perpetual, what is good can not evaporate, what is bad can not continue.
Publicity, especially when carried to a degree of perfection thus unprecedented, publicity considered as an instrument of good management, may be compared to a valve opening upwards and not downwards: suffering the management to be urged at any time up to any higher level in its ascent towards the pinnacle of perfection, but, whatever be the level to which at any given period it has attained, never suffering it to fall down to any lower.
The advantage possessed by the proposed institution will be found to adhere to it to a degree of peculiarity equally exclusive, whether it be compared to public management at large or to individual management.
In individual management, no such steadiness can be expected, because the individual, acting at his ease, out of the reach of the public eye, never finds himself called upon so much as to consign his practice to written rules, much less to exhibit the evidence of the observance or non-observance of such rules, or to exhibit the effects to which they appear from time to time to have given birth: and because whatever there is more particularly good in the mode of management pursued by the individual, is liable to die with the individual, or even before him, in consequence of any abatement pg 331which may take place in the measure of his attention or of his intelligence.
In government management, no such steadiness can reasonably be expected, at least with any thing like equal confidence—partly because the time of men in whose hands the powers of government are reposed, being already but too largely drawn upon by demands previously in existence, is not equal to the bestowing an adequate portion of itself upon this new subject: partly because the sort of talents without which a man cannot in this country rise to a share in the exercise of the superintending powers of government, are such as tend rather to render him so much the worse, rather than so much the better, qualified for the due administration of a concern of this sort: partly because the continuance of the management in the hands in which at any given period it finds itself reposed is still more precarious in the instance of this species of trust than in the instance of private management: and because, when a change in a situation of that sort does take place, the establishments of a predecessor in office are more apt to present themselves in the character of an abuse which calls for extirpation, than in that of a pattern which calls for adoption and adherence.
Steadiness is an endowment mentioned by Adam Smith as a virtue which experience as well as reason warrants us in attributing to the management of Joint-Stock companies in general. The constitution of Joint-Stock Companies renders them in general more tenacious of established rules than any private Copartnery.'a With respect to the securities for steadiness, what Joint-Stock Company that ever yet existed can compare with the proposed National-Charity Company? In comparison with this, what degree of dependence have the most public and most illustrious of those Companies had on the public eye?
II. Advantages not peculiar to the proposed Company's establishment: but in which it is a sharer—more or less—with individual undertakers.1
13. The Work-and-Eat principle, or Earn-first principle.2
14. Work-and-out principle, or Self-liberation principle.3
The head of advantage which these principles are calculated to communicate to the public concern in question has nothing in it pg 332which is peculiar to the public concern as contrasted with private ones. On the contrary, the use of them, and the utmost use of them, is to put the public concern upon that level in respect of the private concern, below which it would fall otherwise. In a private concern, the workman advances a whole week's labour before he is paid for any part of it. In this public concern, the workman, so pressing are his wants, is incapable of waiting any such length of time: but this incapacity affords no reason why he should not be made to wait a portion of the day, if necessary, for the securing on his part the retribution of whatever equivalent, adequate or inadequate, it lies in his power to give. The self-liberation principle is but the Earn-first principle continued in its operation to a greater length of time: viz: to such a length of time, as shall be sufficient to render the security for the retribution adequate to the necessary quantum of the value advanced in the way and for the purpose of relief.
15. Piece-work principle, or Proportionable-pay principle.1 In respect of this head of advantage, it would be the utmost ambition of the public concern in question to be upon a level with private ones:—and the nearer it can raise itself to such level, the better. The hands that private employers have to deal with are all able hands: the unripe hands able in point of bodily condition at least, the adult hands able, moreover, in point of skill. In respect of the unripe hands, such of them as are in the condition of apprentices, private concerns stand exactly in this respect on a par with the public one in question: invested with the necessary power over the workman, they employ this or any other method of extracting from him the maximum of his labour, according to the determinations of private ingenuity and prudence. In respect of the adult hands over whom he has no such power, the private employer is on the safe side. No doubt whether a given quantity of work can be done, for unless it not only can be done but has been done, the workman is not paid for it. In the instance of private concerns, the application of the piece-work principle is subject only to this question—whether the species of work be of the number of those which are in their own nature susceptible of it—meaning susceptible with advantage:—in the instance of the public concern in question, it is subject to that same question and another besides—viz: what quantity of work the workman is capable of performing? If the utmost quantity he is capable of performing be pg 333not equal to the expence of his maintenance while performing it, you can neither, in point of time, adjust pay to work, nor, in point of quantity, proportion it. For a certain period, the raw periods of instruction, this utmost quantity will in many instances be worth nothing at all: and in many more instances, it will never be susceptible of being raised to a level with the amount of the least expence that can be bestowed in the way of maintenance. In the sort of condition in respect of working-ability which will be most abundant in a Poor House, the field which this principle will have to range in will be rather narrow. Till the ability of the workman extends beyond the necessary expence of his maintenance, it will be absolutely inapplicable: and, under higher degrees of ability, supposing the nature of the work to admitt of it, it will always be a problem to solve, whether any spark of latent ability can be brought to light by this contrivance, beyond any that can be brought to light by the exercise of the other powers. On this question, no rational decision is to be given by general rules: every thing will depend upon individual disposition and temper on one side, upon sagacity and judgment, on the part of the individual, on the other.
[16.] Duty-and-Interest-Junction principle: and in particular the special application made of it in the instance of the Joint or Common-Interest principle—or Partnership principle.1 This head of advantage the public concern in question enjoys not in contradistinction to private concerns, but in common with them: and under this head, what difference [in advantage] there is between the two species of concern must be confessed to lie wholly on the side of the private concern.
Of all the heads of advantage which we have seen, this is the only one peculiar to the scheme of management in question in contradistinction to Government management: the only one which Government management might not take to itself, if such happened to be its pleasure:—but this unit is itself a host. It is not in the nature of government to avail itself of this, or any other head of economical advantage, so long as it is possible to forbear: the race between individual exertion and government exertion in the line of economical improvement is a race between the greyhound and the sloth. Should government ever be able to prevail upon itself to lend its sanction to a plan of projected economy brought forward by the industry of individuals, and to be tried at the expence of individuals, it will have made a prodigious effort, and earnt a torrent of applause.2
pg 334§III. Objections to the probability of so much of the profit as depends upon the Apprentice plan1
1. The Company's apprentices will not have the profits of their own labour—they will not have their earnings to themselves.—Youths and Girls of the same ages in a free state have their earnings, the whole of their earnings, to themselves.—With what reason can you expect as much work to be done—or any thing like as much work to be done, in the former case, as in the latter?
2. The idea of a child's having a positive value—of its being a benefit in a pecuniary way instead of burthen—is repugnant to universal consent and experience:—if it were true, then children would not only in a moral point of view be a comfort, but in an economical point of view an actual article of wealth, to their parents: and the larger the family of children, the greater the wealth: whereas, according [to] universal consent and experience, the larger the family, the greater the burthen—a burthen which, when the family has risen to a certain number, is known to be absolutely insupportable.
3. No such rate of earnings, nor any thing approaching to it, has ever yet been made in a Poor House—Work-house—House of Industry—or by whatever other name it may have been distinguished—not in the very best and most successfully managed of those most famed for good and successful management.
4. Even supposing success to attend the first exertions, such success can afford no reasonable presumption of its own continuance.2—Attention will slacken when the novelty is over, and when the prime movers and authors of the plan are gone.
Sub§ 1. Objection I. As to the want of motives to exertion3
The stimulus is not, it must be confessed, of that shape which stands the very highest of all in the scale of effection. To be at the highest, every stroke of work without exception should be paid for upon the piece-work principle, and paid for, as it may seem, on that principle at a rate as high as the same work would be paid for in the community at large.
pg 3351. But neither is the stimulus of that shape which stands the lowest in the scale. That which stands lowest is that which is applied in the shape of payment according to time: payment by the day, without regard to quantity or quality of work.
2. The application of the piece-work principle, so far from being excluded in this plan, is expressly recommended.
The exclusive employment of it, it is true, is not recommended: 1. because it is not every species of work that will admitt of it: 2. because if it were exclusively adopted, and the force of it screwed up to the highest possible pitch, it might be attended with a mischief, widely different indeed from the advantage, but much superior to it. Workmen paid by the piece are apt to overwork themselves: constitution suffers by the exertion, and life is shortened by it.
Nothing can be more notorious than this result.1 In the ordinary state of things it is not regarded: it is not an object of concern to any one. It is no concern of the Master's: neither the means of estimating the quantum of the danger, nor so much as the existence of it, are in his power. It rests with the workman himself, and with him only, to determine: and by the supposition, it is his choice to run the risk.
The situation which the Company occupy on the occasion is a very different one. They are not Masters only, but Guardians, to the Apprentice. To do any thing with their eyes open to the prejudice of his lasting welfare, more especially for their own emolument, would be a breach of trust: in the present instant, where health and even life are at stake, to produce such a result with their eyes open would be a species of slow murder: and like the murder of unnecessary war, a murder upon the largest scale.
Accordingly, in the calculation on which the prospect of success is grounded, the earnings of an apprentice are not taken at any such extra rate as the application of the piece-work principle, in its utmost force, is found to produce.
On the contrary, the value is taken at the lowest rate. The lowest rate is that which is produced in the lowest paid species of labour, paid for by the day: and this and no higher is the rate at which the earnings in question are taken here.
In the situation in which the Company's Apprentices stand, motives, principles of action, are not wanting adequate to the production of as high a degree of exertion as is compatible with their lasting welfare: adequate, in short, to the production of a degree of exertion as much too high as any that is produced in the world of industry at large by the application of the piece-work principle at its highest degree of force. The action of a reward is—not according to pg 336its absolute, but according to its relative magnitude: according as it is high or low—not in itself—not with reference to the habitual earnings and expences of others—but with reference to the habitual earnings and expences of the workman in question. Now the habitual earnings on the one hand, and habitual expences on the other, are both, and that in the most perfect degree, at the Company's command. On every account—on the account of the individual—on account of the Company—on account of present advantage to the one—on account [of] future comfort and affluence to the other—the expences of the individual will have been kept down as low as they can be kept down without prejudice to health, strength and cheerfulness. Four pence a day not only may be, but in multitudes of instances is known to be—more to one man than twenty shillings a day to another. For 2d a day is more to the common Soldier than 20s a day to the Commander-in-chief. By the 2d a day the one may be made to do his utmost: and by the 20s a man can not be made to do more. In the system of homicide which is carried on to such an extent in this country in the way of excessive labour, much depends no doubt upon the action of the intoxicating poisons: but even without the assistance of these instruments of death, the Company would be in no want of the means of carrying on this species of destruction were it to choose to profit by them. But profit is not so wanting to the Company, as that it should seek to add to them by slow murder.a
pg 337Sub§2. Objection II: As to the observation, that in a private labouring family an average child is, in the pecuniary sense, a burthen upon the parents, the fact is admitted, but the inference is denied1
Under the proposed state of things, according to the calculations which we have seen,2 each child (taking children upon an average) is a source of clear and certain profit:—thus much can not be disputed.
Why, then, not to its parents?—For two reasons.
[1.] The principal, and of itself a decisive, reason is—that for the most part only one side of the account—the disbursement side—falls to the Parent's share: the receipts, as soon at least as they amount to a maintenance, are reaped by the child. For the first five, six, seven or eight years of the one-and-twenty during which the labour of the child continues legally speaking in the disposition of the Parent, it is all loss: so long as the child, by its youth or otherwise, is unable to obtain a subsistence elsewhere than at home, it stays under the Parent's charge—its labour—what it is capable of yielding in that situation—is at the Parent's disposal—and the fruit of it is naturally retained in compensation or part compensation for the board. But no sooner is the child in a condition to obtain a subsistence elsewhere, than it puts itself in possession of that subsistence, and except the cessation of the charge, the Parent derives no benefit from it.a
pg 3382. The other reason is that to reap the quantum of profit carried by the proposed plan to the credit of the Company, advances to no small amount are requisite. These advances, the whole of them, the Company is, by the supposition, in a condition to make: but in the condition of life in question, it is a part of them only that the individual is in any condition to make.
Of the capital thus requisite to be advanced, subsistence forms one branch, means of employment the other: subsistence from birth to the end of the period: means of employment from the commencement of the working age to the end of the same period.
Subsistence the individual parent can advance and does advance most commonly, but not if the children succeed one another in an extraordinary number at a time—or though singly at the quickest rate, the number suffering no diminution or but little diminution in the mean time.
But subsistence, mere subsistence, without the means of employment—of profitable employment—is as nothing to the present purpose. These means the Company is also, by the supposition, in a condition to furnish. These means, in the condition of life in question, the individual, the Parent, is utterly unable to provide.
The means in question are neither more nor less than the system of requisites to a system of mercantile and manufacturing establishment upon a large scale. What these requisites are has been stated in another place:1 in which the want of them has been shewn to put an unsurmountable negative upon every plan for carrying on a product pg 339ive economy within any such precincts as those of the cottage of a labourer in husbandry, especially with either not perfectly willing, or with young and not perfectly steady, or not perfectly instructed, hands.
To give a more determinate view of the difference in point of productiveness between the two situations, the aid of figures may be called in: using round numbers all along, since these will serve for illustration, for precision in regard to shillings and pence would not repay the trouble.
Let us take the age of full earnings in the first place—stating the neat profit upon the labour of that age to the Company under the proposed state of things—and shewing what becomes of that profit—or at least of the capacity of yielding that profit—in the existing order of things.
Sex Male—Age 20
Gross profit of labour in the Year
20. 0. 0
Deduct expence of maintenance
5. 0. 0
Remains net profit
15. 0. 0
The Boy at service—employ'd in Husbandry—boarded in the
In the case of domestic
service, comprized in board.
In the case of domestic
service, comprized in wages.1
Let it never be forgotten—that for all this extra-expence—for the expence struck off by the frugal plan of maintenance pursued by the pg 340Company—the labouring youth is never the better—but to the whole of it, and in every respect, the worse.1
He is in no respect the better, not even in respect of present enjoyment—for, so long as necessaries are not wanting, expence is productive of enjoyment—not in proportion to its absolute quantum—but in proportion to its relative quantum—in proportion to the ratio it bears to the demand that results from experiences—habits—and expectations. The luxury of the workman at large will be as much unknown to the Company's Wards, as the luxury of the Peer is to the labourer at large.
He is in several respects the worse.
Every penny spent before marriage over and above what the individual can afford to expend upon his own personal consumption after marriage is a penny laid up in the formation of a store of privations and regrets. Before marriage, he has but one person to provide for—after marriage he has five. To a man who has thus been accustomed to spend upon one the subsistence of five, marriage will be as a fine amercing him of four-fifths of his income. The Company's guardianship saves him from this fine. Marriage, the period of penury and retrenchment to other labourers, will be a period even of personal luxury, as well as of social comfort, to their Wards.
Sub§3. Objection III. Magnitude of the loss (profit being altogether out of the question) and thence want of positive value per head in the best conducted Industry House under the existing order of things2
Answer: the fact is unquestionable: yet, no more than in the former case (that of the non-adult children of the self-maintained and homebred Poor) does it afford any just inference in prejudice of the rate of profit per head here assumed.
In this point of view, we must distinguish in the first place between the case of Workhouse management, and the case of Industry-House or Select-Vestry Management.3
pg 341In the first case, the constitution of the local government puts an absolute and irremediable negative upon every thing like profitable industry: the management depending upon a set of two, three or four Overseers, not one of them remaining in office more than a year together.1 In this state of things, it is a rare case for any thing in the way of productive industry to be attempted: and where it is, loss is the only result that can reasonably be expected.a
There remain the two cases of Industry-House Management and Select-Vestry Management, two cases which, for this purpose, may be considered without distinction: agreeing in their fundamental characteristic, permanence of authority: differing only in this, that the amplitude of scale which in the Metropolis is possessed by Parishes taken singly, is in the Country made up by the union of all the Parishes in a Hundred,2 or of some other numerous association of Parishes, having a common Work-house which, for distinction sake, has been termed a House of Industry.
In these Houses of Industry without exception, as well as in many, if not all, of the Select-Vestry Work-houses, the strength of the Non-adult part of the population is applied to industry: yet in no instance, it must be confessed, is there any reason for believing that, from the industry of this part of the population, a neat profit, or even any thing approaching to a neat profit, is derived.b
pg 342Yet from the want of neat profit in this case, no just inference to the prejudice of our calculation can be derived—for
1. Discharge at the self-maintaining age1
1. From these places of community maintenance the child, as soon as it is arrived at the self-maintaining age, is discharged of course; and that much more certainly and universally than from the parental pg 343Cottage. Beyond this period, the local government, even if it had the desire, would not have the power to detain him: nor, though they had the power, is it at all natural they should have the desire. The whole concern taken together, upon the whole population taken together, is every where, and to the knowledge of every body, a losing one: and, the method of Book-keeping pursued not exhibiting any distinction between the earnings of John and those of Peter, the natural conclusion is that, in the instance of every individual without exception, the value of that individual in a pecuniary sense can be no otherwise than on the negative side. A pretty general difficulty is to get custom for the small quantity of saleable goods that in these situations is produced, and a difficulty not unfrequently found to be unsurmountable. Under these circumstances, every hand without exception, working or not working, that can be got rid of, is naturally regarded as a burthen removed.
There remain, therefore, for the stock of hands from whose industry the profit in question is to be extracted, those, and those alone, the value of whose labour is at so low a pitch as not to be capable of finding a market, or supplying them with necessaries in any other situation.
But neither is this stock of refuse labour, composed thus of fragments of ability, employ'd to any thing near the best advantage to which it is capable of being employ'd. For in no instance does the goodness of the management approach to that standard to which, by a combination of economical principles, it would be capable of being brought:—in no instance, for example, does it approach to that degree of prosperity to which it could not fail of being brought by the comprehensive and steady application of the principles of management that have been above enumerated.1
As the discussion will not be uninstructive—I shall now take a general survey of the principles in question, and, applying them one after another to the branch of management in question, I shall state, and, where occasion calls for it, demonstrate, the privation to which these establishments have in general been subjected in respect of the benefit of the several principles, indicating at the same time, where occasion serves, the causes to which this privation is in each instance to be ascribed.
pg 3442. Want of the benefit of the Principles of Management
Causes of the greatness of the expence and the smallness of the produce in the existing Poor Houses, Industry Houses included, as compared with the Estimate here given of expence and profit under the proposed System.
I. First expence or money advanced in the shape of Capital.
Causes of disadvantage.
1. Building. Head of Disadvantage.—Smallness of the scale—the largest not calculated for more than about ¼ of the number which the proposed Industry Houses are calculated for—many for not more than ⅛th. See the amount of this disadvantage stated tabular-wise in Pauper Systems compared.1
Cause of the Disadvantage.—Narrowness of the District by the demands and pecuniary resources of which the quantum of the Building was to be determined.
2. Building.—Want of the application of the Many-use or Use-multiplying principle to the article of rooms—an application held forth to public view for the first time in the present work.2
Cause of the disadvantage.—The not having investigated the grounds of the demand on this score, in point of appropriate utility and real exigence.—Taking for models buildings planned by the affluent upon a scale proportioned to their affluence—rather than a Sea-faring habitation, in which, through the necessity of economy, the quantity of room allotted is reduced to the scale of real exigence.3
II. Recurrent or Annual Expence.
Heads of Disadvantage—
1. Non-observance of the Appropriate-fare principle—allowing to the burthensome Poor food so much more expensive in quality than what they had themselves been accustomed to in their self-maintaining state.4
Causes of the disadvantage.
Want of investigation into the real nature of the exigence—as before.—Affluence of the providitors. Obsequiousness to a natural principle of human nature, which without reflection suggests to the purveyor his own exigencies, founded on his own habits, as a measure, more or less adequate, of the exigencies of the persons to be provided for.—Natural humanity, not sufficiently corrected by pg 345reflection on the injury done to industry as well as economy by excess in the rate of gratuitous allowance.
Supposing the existing Industry-House system to take place all over the kingdom to the exclusion of the domestic-maintenance system, a revolution which, if it took place, would not be productive of any decrease, nor probably of any great diminution, in the expence, this article alone would be sufficient to account for one million out of the existing annual total of 3 million.
2. Non-observance of the No-fermented liquor principle.1—Giving in some instances even strong beer, in all instances Small Beer, a liquor which contributes nothing to nourishment—nothing to health—is sometimes, when ill-made, prejudicial to health—and—be it ever so small—is in some constitutions productive of intoxication.a
Cause of the disadvantage—
Taking for the guide custom (the custom predominant, though not universally prevalent, even among the affluent, much less among the self-maintaining Poor) instead of the dictates of health and real exigence.
3. Non-observance of the All-employing and Appropriate-Employment principles.2
Causes of the disadvantage—
In some instances, perhaps, want of attention and intelligence—but in all instances want of a sufficient stock of hands in each House to afford, in a sufficient number of instances, the various modifications of inadequate or confined ability with regard to employment—and want of a sufficient capital (not to speak of invention and intelligence) for the allotment of a system of employments adapted to those several modifications.
Add to which causes the want of a Stock of permanent already-instructed hands, whose continuance in the establishment can be depended upon, and from whose employments the several appropriate employments, adapted to the several fragments of ability, and modifications of inadequate or confined ability above mentioned, may, as it were, be detached. But of this afterwards.3
pg 3464. Head of Disadvantage. Want of the means of carrying the Labour-Division principle1 to a length productive of any advantage.
Causes of disadvantage—as under the former head.a
5. Head of Disadvantage.—Privation of the benefit of the Employment-mixing principle.2
Causes of this disadvantage.
i. Smallness of the scale. It has been matter of difficulty, difficulty seldom surmounted or surmountable, to find a single employment capable of being carried on in such a situation to advantage—much more to find a variety of employments, and those contrasted ones, such as manufacture and agriculture, house employment and field employment, requiring different assortments of fixed capital, and different plans of management.b
pg 347ii. Impermanence of the Stock of hands: and uncertainty in regard to the continuance of each hand.
iii.1 Inattention to any other guide than custom. In ordinary concerns, positive law2 concurrs with natural prudence in throwing obstacles in the way of a mixture of this kind: and to have noted the difference between the case of a private concern and a public concern of the nature in question, would have been to regard the subject with the rare acumen of a discriminating and inventive eye.3
1. The Earn-first principle.4
2. The Self-liberation principle.5
3. The Piece-work, or Proportionable-Pay, principle.6
4. The Prize-giving, or Competition, principle.7
5. The Honorary-Reward principle.8
6. The Separate-Work principle.9
Causes of the non-observance, or imperfect observance, of the above principles.
i. Want of an analytical survey of the principles of action that operate upon the human mind—and of the examples that lie dispersed in practice of the use made of these principles by persons occupying situations that place the conduct of others more or less under their command.
ii. Want of liberal education and general knowledge on the part of persons intrusted with the management of the burthensome Poor, except in a few scattered instances.
iii. In the instance of the Self-liberation principle, want of legal powers for the annexing of the condition in question to the administration of relief:—want of powers for the detaining the pauper to pg 348whom relief is afforded till the expence of it has been reimbursed by the value of his work.
N.B. The principle of Self-liberation excepted, the faculty of making advantage of the other principles is not peculiar to the proposed system. Under the existing order of things, application is made of them more or less, and might be made in a much higher degree, though never in a degree approaching to perfection, in an assemblage of unconnected, independent and uncommunicating establishments, scattered here and there over the country at unequal distances.
7. Head of disadvantage. Non-observance of the Refuse-employing or Save-all principle.1
Causes of disadvantage referable to this head.
i. Smallness of the scale on which the establishments, even the largest of them, in comparison of that of the proposed Industry Houses, have been constructed.—In many instances the refuse of the House might, as to several of its component parts, scarcely be in quantity sufficient to pay for the labour of collecting and preserving it.
ii. Want of education and general information on the part of the Head Managers, as before.—Want of the portion of scientific knowledge, in the line of Chemistry more especially, which teaches the art of drawing advantage from every modification of body, in every stage of its existence—more especially in the way of manure.
8. Head of disadvantage. Inattention to, or Incapacity of, pursuing to its full extent the principle of Self-supply.2
Causes of the Disadvantage.
i. Smallness of the Scale.
ii. Want of land in sufficient quantity for raising provisions and raw materials of manufacture.a
pg 3499. Head of disadvantage. Absence of the benefit of the Inspection-Architecture principle.1
Causes of this disadvantage.
Inattention to the end—
…. Required for the Managing body a situation such, from which the whole assemblage of the objects, things as well as persons, composing the subject-matter of the management may be survey'd and disposed of without change of place. This was a problem, which, long before my entrance into this arduous field of enquiry, I found ready solved to my hands.2
The problem once proposed, the solution follows of course. But that 60 centuries should have elapsed, and no such problem have presented itself till t'other day to any human mind!3
pg 350Amount [of the disadvantage].
Ever since this idea has been present to my mind, and it has been present with little intermission for these ten years, two questions, I will confess, have all along presented themselves in company with it—the one—How, in an economical concern expanded to a certain extent, embracing a multitude of persons to any such number, for instance, as 2,000, it can be possible that, with the advantage of a receptacle constructed upon the Inspection-Architecture principle, the management can be carried on any otherwise than well and regularly:—(experience having had time to afford its lessons)—the other question—how, without such advantage, a management to any such extent can be carried on otherwise than badly and irregularly. In the one case, you have a single room to govern—in the other case, a whole town: and a town by the supposition so composed, that on one account or other the majority of the inhabitants are unfit for governing themselves. The good Howard's Penitentiary House was, at its very foundation, a Town of 900 Houses, besides public buildings; in its progress the number of Houses would have encreased to thousands.1 Houses, each of which would, for a time at least, have required a separate superintendent to direct [it]2 at least, even had every thing of guarding and coercion been unnecesary.
Contemplating the difference between the Room and the Town, it seems to me that, by the substitution of the Room to the Town, a reduction were made in the demand for vigilance and intelligence in a ratio scarcely inferior to that of the two thousand to the one.3 Any thing almost would do for a soldier under the Frederician discipline:4 any thing almost will serve for a Manager, with the benefit of the Inspection principle.
How a person can keep directing where he is not present—or how a body, inanimate or animate, can be present in two thousand houses at a time, all separated from one another by untransparent walls, appear to my view of the matter mysteries equally unconceivable.
That 2,000 persons—that twice or thrice the number—should form a piece of clock-work, is what I can easily conceive: but in conceiving pg 351the clock put together, I take for granted all along, though scarce conscious of the assumption, that it has the Inspection-Architecture principle for the main spring.1
10. Head of disadvantage. Privation of the benefit of the Ample-scale principle—the Tabular-Statement principle—and its fruits, the Comparison-and-Selection principle—and the Uniform-Management principle—and their corrective, the Local-consideration principle.2
Causes of this disadvantage—mutual independency of the existing establishments.
In the existing order of things, each Pauper Establishment has always been a little world—though a too little one—by itself: under a distinct creation—a distinct government—and entertaining no correspondence with any other.—The good and bad points—the successes and the miscarriages—of each were alike lost to every other.—No common authority to compare the management of any one place with the management of any other—to sit in judgement over the management of any one, or to call for statements from which, and from which alone, a judgement could be formed.—The consequence has been—no sufficiently clear or full account of the management of any one: no such thing as regularity in any one: much less any such thing as uniformity in the whole assemblage of them taken together. Of the privation of the benefit of the Ample-Scale principle, we have already seen the effects in various points of view.3 In the economy of a single Poor-House—even upon the largest scale existing—few things exist in a quantity sufficient to give them value—few objects are considerable enough in magnitude to pay for the quantity of attention they would absorb if investigated to the bottom. In the proposed System, the minutest atom, by dint of repetition and extension, swells into importance.a
pg 352Tabular Statement is the stating upon a plan the most commodious for comparison—a plan in which conciseness and uniformity, as well in point of expression as in point of arrangement, are combined—the management pursued in a multitude of different establishments of the same kind—in all its branches—and, amongst other thing[s], exhibiting in each establishment the profit and loss upon each article. But in as far as manufacture is concerned, an instance is scarcely to be found, in any existing Poor-House, of books kept in any such manner by which the profit and loss upon any one article can be ascertained.
11. Head of Disadvantage. Privation to a more or less considerable extent, of the benefit of the Duty-and-Interest-Junction principle—with its capital exemplification—the Life-Assurance principle1—and its grand assistant and corrective, the principle of Publicity.a
pg 353[Cause]1 of the Disadvantage.
The cause of this disadvantage is neither more nor less than the smallness of the progress hitherto made in the arts of Government. To have compleated the junction between interest and duty in every line of human conduct would be neither more nor less than to have brought the science and art of government to perfection—to have established a perfect system of legislation. This most commanding of all arts is as yet but in its infancy even at the chief seat of government and intelligence: no wonder it should have made but small advance in the petty and obscure establishment of a Country Poor House.
This is not a place for exhibiting an exhaustive view of the several expedients capable of being employ'd for the effecting of this junction on the several occasions that call for it in the line either of official or of private conduct, because this is not a place for exhibiting an all-comprehensive system of legislation. Specimens which, however scattered and unconnected, may appear not altogether uninstructive, have been called for and exhibited for the particular purpose of the system of pauper government here proposed.2
12. Want of the benefit of the Transparent-management principle.3
Causes of the existence of this disadvantage.
pg 354i. Comparative smallness of the scale on which the several Pauper-provision establishments have been instituted: the very largest not excepted, which in no instance appear to have risen to so high a number as 600.
ii. Want of inducement on the part of the Managing Hands in any Poor-House to give transparency to the management observed—that is to give themselves the trouble and subject the trust fund to the expence necessary to the endeavour to engage the attention of the public at large to an object of so comparatively minute and local nature.a
Transparency, like beauty, is a faculty of a relative kind, the utility of which supposes the existence of an observing eye. To the eye of the public, an object might as well not be transparent if it be not of a certain magnitude. The Pauper accounts of this or that parish are that sort of object for which few readers could reasonably be expected even within the Parish itself, and scarce any out of it. But the Pauper Accounts of all England form an object of very different magnitude and importance. If this be not an object worth the attention of the public eye, nothing is: if this can not make sure of engaging that attention, nothing can.
In a cluster of small Pauper establishments, straggling over England, dispersed and unconnected—such as all that hitherto have been either instituted or projected, all is opacity and obscurity: in the proposed system of Industry Houses, all cemented together by pg 355one authority, the management might be, and if so ordained would unquestionably be, as universally transparent in the figurative sense, as each House, if constructed on the Inspection-Architecture principle, would be in the literal sense. In the one case we see a heap of sand, capable of being made into a gem by fusion, [representing]1 the existing order of things: in the other, the gem itself, the proposed order of things.
Amount [of the disadvantage].
Management, which can hope to elude observation, may be, and often is, extremely bad. Management which is sure to be looked at—and generally looked at—and constantly looked at—can scarcely fail of being as good as the managing hands know how to make it.
In the want of the benefi[t] of this single head of advantage we see, then, a perfectly adequate cause for every thing that can be bad in the way of management: in the assured presence of it, an equally adequate pledge for every degree of perfection that the subject-matter, according to the nature of it, [is] susceptible of. For if it be not accompanied, it will soon be followed, by every other.
3. Badness of the Parochial Constitution
The constitution of the governing authority is of itself sufficient to put a negative to every chance of profit as far as it has place. I am speaking of the original and ordinary constitution of the Parochial government, which remains now what it was in the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, with the exception of the comparatively few instances in which Industry-House government or Select-Vestry Government has been established by so many particular Acts of Parliament.
The hands in which this branch of Administration—this species of management—are reposed, are those of two, three, or four Overseers, chosen annually out of the Parishioners, by the Rateable Inhabitants of the Parish in Vestry assembled.2
pg 356In this one proposition, there are no less than four grounds of incompetency, some probably, some necessarily, included:
1. Impermanence of authority.
2. Plurality of hands, or in other words, division of authority.
3.1 Want of pecuniary interest in the success of the management.
4. Want of competency of education: unfitness for the sort of management in question, by reason of the want of appropriate or suitable education.
1. Impermanence of the Managing Hands. The hands entrusted with the Management of the concerns of the Pauper-community, viz: the Overseers of the Poor, being Officers elected every year, and never continuing in office two years together.
Ability and inclination are requisites, the union of which, in the hands intrusted with the management, is indispensably necessary to success. In the constitution of Parish government, the briefness of the authority is fatal to both these requisites. Before a man has had time to make himself any thing like master of the business, the business passes out of his hands—thus fares it with him in respect of ability.
A business which is not to continue in a man's hands above a year is not worth the trouble of learning—neither heart nor mind can buckle to it. The difference betwixt the best plan of management he could pursue, and the worst plan of management he is in danger of pursuing, would not for so short a time be worth his notice.
But it is not in the instance of this or that year only that the union of these requisites is necessary, but for every year alike. Let both of them be possessed in perfection in the year 1800; if in 1801 either of them fail, the work of 1800 is destroy'd. The work of ten years of good management, could ten years or one year of good management take place under such a system, would be destructible by a single year of bad management. But under such a system, a single year of good management is too much to expect. The cloud of uncertainty that is seen to hang over the management of 1801 is enough to nip in the bud the management of 1800.
From this necessary, universally and constantly experienced cause of bad management and ill-success, the management of the Company will be secured not by any extraordinary exertions of vigilance or wisdom—but what is much better, by its being what it is—a permanent body, one and the same company from the beginning to the end. pg 357Qualis ab incepto processerit—the sibi constet follows of course.1
2. Plurality of the managing hands.
Potentially, two, three or four: but necessarily more than one.2
The chances are numerous enough against the existence of a single hand competent in all points to such an undertaking. Where there are two hands, each invested with equal power, the adverse chances are much more than doubled. The same plan never originates at the same instance in two heads. Whatever the one proposes, it is almost of course that the other shall oppose. In the head of the author of the plan, along with the plan itself, stand the reasons which gave it birth: in the head of the colleague, these genial reasons find the door shut against them—while those on the negative side find ready entrance.—What business have I to embroil myself with this project? If it succeeds, the credit of it will be the author's: if it fails, the discredit of the result—and at any rate the obloquy that will attend it in its progress—will be not his only, but mine.
Quod dubitas ne feceris—what you are in doubt about, refrain from3—since[?] a rule of casuistical morality:—the same rule, where the proposition comes from without, never fails to be urged, and with great advantage, by the vis inertiæ4 of personal prudence.
Instead of plurality, I should have said duality, had it been a word in common use. In their being two, and but two, consists the great obstacle to effective action. A single voice in this case forms an effectual negative.
The power of this negative is again the stronger in proportion [to] the impermanence of the authority. The shorter the time for action, the greater the effect of opposition. If the execution of the measure would require ever so little above half of the year, a delay to the amount of half the year operates as a defeat. Dullness may have need of a certain time for examination, perverseness under the mask of prudence may pretend such need: but beyond that time, the mask might be no longer tenable.
3. Want of interest.5
I am an Overseer of the Poor—it is proposed to me to set up, that is to concurr with my Fellow Overseer or Overseers in setting up, a pg 358manufacture—for the employment of the stock of Parish Paupers—that is, for the benefit of the rateable Inhabitants—on the account of these my fellow parishioners, and not on my own account.
A branch of business presents itself to me as promising to be the most advantageous that can be pitched upon for the purpose.
Have I money enough of my own for the setting upon of this branch of business?
Is it a business that I already understand more or less of—or is it altogether new to me?
On every one of these possible suppositions, what should be my inducement to put myself to any such trouble?
Have I not capital enough of my own to set up the proposed branch of business?—little then can I afford to transfer my time from my own business to that of so many other people, from whom, if I fail, I shall get so much reproach, and, if I succeed, such little thanks.
Have I capital enough of my own?—then observe what follows—
Is my capital already embarked in any line of business? If not, then I am unacquainted with business in general.
Being embarked in business, is it embarked in the business proposed, or in a different one? If in a different one, then am I, comparatively speaking, more or less unfit for the carrying on of that business in particular. If in the business proposed—what then is the proposal made to me?—that I should withdraw my time from my own business on which I depend for my subsistence, to bestow it on a business which is to be carried on—and carried on by myself in competition with my own—which is to make me pay dearer for what I buy—sell the cheaper what I sell—or perhaps prevent me from selling at all—that to do [this],1 I should withdraw my time from a business which I have it in my power to carry on in my own way—without being subject to the controul of any body—without any body to debate with me—to wrangle with me—to delay me—to thwart me—to impede me beforehand—without any body to call me to account afterward—to bestow it on a business in which I can not take a step without being exposed to see frustrated by others whatever I have done?
Yet for all this, instances are not wanting where men, far from being incompetent in point of general education at least, are found willing to take upon them a task thus laborious, invidious and unprofitable.—True:—but why?—because under the terms in question, the risk is not their own. And why then do they take the task upon them? Because the risk of it not being their own, the business is a sort of amusement to them—it is a game at which not their money, pg 359but other people's, forms the stake.—It is the game of cross I win—pile you lose. Once more then—why do they undertake it? Because having credit as well as amusement to gain by it—and, comparatively speaking, nothing to lose, they find themselves at liberty to bestow just so much attention on it as their amusement requires, and no more.
What can be more notorious than that power, although the exercise of it be a labour, yet when cleared from risk is far, very far, from being without its charms?
The very circumstance—the want of an ordinary degree of interest-the very circumstance which renders them, comparatively speaking, incompetent to their situation, is the very circumstance that disposes them to enter upon it.1
4. Want of competent education.
Competence on the present occasion has no reference beyond the particular end here in view: viz: the extracting of a pecuniary profit from the labour of a stock of hands thus circumstanced. Endowments requisite with a view to still superior ends are considered elsewhere.2
The only species of education strictly and perfectly competent is that which includes experience in each particular branch of business which is thus to be carried on.
In proportion to the dissimilarity between employment and employment—between the employment a Manager of the Poor is already embarked in on his own account, and the employment which he is called upon for this purpose to embark in on the Parish account—are the degrees of incompetence. In general, it may be said that a man whose pg 360time has been bestowed upon some branch of manufacture will be less incompetent than a man whose time has been bestowed upon farming—the farmer less incompetent than the professor of some simple handicraft occupation which does not necessarily suppose a division of labour—such as that of a Carpenter, Smith or Taylor—and the handycraft perhaps upon the whole than the mere Shop-keeper, who, whatever number of sorts of things he may have sold, has neither made, nor superintended the making of, any one.
The chances against the least degree of incompetency in this respect, in comparison of the higher degrees, are practically speaking infinite. What the proportion is of Master manufacturers to other men of business can not be known, because none of those things in the way of statistics that ought to be known by every body can be known by any body. Not one to a hundred, or to several hundreds. In many parts of the country, ten or twenty Parishes together may not amongst them all afford any one such being. In these situations, the person who, for the public good and without any perceptible degree of pecuniary advantage to himself, is to convert himself into a master manufacturer, is either a Farmer, a Handicraftsman, or a Shopkeeper.
I do not say that either in the existence or the profitableness of such transitions there is any thing either impossible or even unexampled. All I mean to say is that it is extremely difficult for them to originate in so exalted a source, and still more so that the result should exhibit a degree of success at all approaching to that which is the result of a choice determined by considerations of an ordinary nature.
In the constitution of Incorporated Districts and Select Vestries, the diminution of disadvantage in this respect is, it must be confessed, prodigious indeed. Of the four heads of disadvantage in question, viz: Impermanence of authority, Division of authority, want of competent education, and want of adequate interest in success, impermanence of authority is got rid of altogether: the inconvenience from the division of authority is much reduced, since no negative is here lodged in any single hand: that of want of suitable education is also more or less reduced by the opportunities afforded by the condition and number of the Members for the intercommunication of intelligence. Want of interest in the success is at any rate not encreased.a
pg 361Comparing, however, this species of management on trust account with management on personal account, still there remains the grand disadvantage in respect of the deficiency in point of adequate interest in the success: a circumstance which of itself must ever remain sufficient to render the exertions comparatively feeble and unproductive: unless where the magnitude of the scale, as compared with the quality of the agents, should be such as to raise upon a level with considerable pecuniary interest that which is created by the possession of power, the hope of fame, and the satisfaction reaped from the exercise of beneficence.1
In an Industry-House establishment, or a Select-Vestry Establishment, the governing body may in general be expected to be made up, in chance proportions, of gentlemen without a profession, Clergymen, Considerable Farmers, Shop-keepers, Master Handicraftsmen, with a Master Manufacturer among them or not according to the situation—who—taking in general little cognizance of the details of management, but confiding it for the most part to some agent or agents chosen for that purpose—will club their intelligence, contributing such a portion of their time as each chooses to spare, to this secondary and comparatively uninteresting employment. But who does not see that in such a state of things much depends upon contingencies, and that in the most favourable combination of circumstances the chance of good economy must (to consider the matter upon the mere ground of the relation borne to the business by the hands that manage it, and laying out of the question all the other disadvantages which we have observed) fall very short of that which is possessed by ordinary economy carried on upon ordinary ground?
The parochial system in this respect was not originally so incompetent: it has been rendered so by change of circumstances—by the additions that have been made to it in another line. Plurality (one might say Duality, that being the common case)—Plurality, however, though not favourable to mercantile management—viz: to the production of a ballance of profit upon a pg 362great mass of profit and loss—is a check upon mismanagement on the mere disbursement side, as a check upon peculation, where mere relief, and either no employment or no employment upon a large-scale, constituted the business. But at the penning of the statute this single side of the account was all there was of it.1 Relief was to be administered because relief, regularly or irregularly, had been administered. Employment was a future concern—a matter not of experience, but speculation. Literature—even in its humblest form—the art of reading, writing and keeping accounts was too rare to be generally depended upon: had a single hand been intrusted with the management of the Parochial fund, there would in this state of things have been no check upon him. With views thus limited, jointenancy in trust was with reason preferred to severalty.2 By mutual privity, it established mutual controul.a
All this was very well while the charge of the Overseer of the Poor was confined to the business of relief. But where the attempt was made to graft employment upon relief, those who made the attempt engaged themselves unawares in a very intricate track, of which they saw not beyond the first steps.
Is not industry preferable to idleness? Doubtless. Does not justice itself require, that where so much is received, something, at any rate, should be done?—Indisputably. Be it so then—let them be set to work:—and set to work throughout the country. What could appear more unexceptionable than such reasoning?
Setting to work in the sense in which the expression presented itself to the legislator3—in the sense in which it was familiar to him not only in discourse but in experience—was a very simple business.—No Master could see any thing mysterious in it: for not so much as any Master could be a stranger to it. Thomas, saddle the black Surry: or John, cut grass for him. To say thus to Thomas and John was to set Thomas and John to work. What could be more simple?
pg 363This and every thing of this sort was indeed mighty simple within the limits of a private family—Thomas and John both willing—Thomas and John both able—the black horse ready to be saddled—and the grass fit to be cut, with a scythe in readiness to cut it. Of this sort were the only task, any clown converted by election into an Overseer—even any pair of Overseers, though linked together by the yoke of office—might have been competent to it.
But when Thomas[es] and Johns, and Margerys and Joans in scores, nay in hundreds—of both sexes—at all ages—in all states of body, of mind—of all degrees of ability and inability—of willingness and unwillingness—of honesty and dishonesty—were to be set to work, for the supply of a demand—not present, perhaps, and to be answered—but to be hunted for or even created—it would then turn out, that the words set to work were indeed the same words the legislator had been used to—but the things to be done in obedience to those words were by no means the same things.
The choice of employments in which the Poor could have been set generally to work throughout the Kingdom—lay between the two great branches—husbandry and manufacture.
Husbandry for such hands being then out of the question, for reasons too obvious to need mentioning, there remained manufactures.
Whatever be the branch of manufacture in question—and whatever be the stage in point of improvement to which that manufacture has attained in the hands of independent and already established manufacturers, with the same advantages at least must it be carried on by any new adventurers, whether on personal account or on trust account—or nothing but loss can follow. This must be the case even where the employment is at the commencement of the new adventure understocked, so that the demand has preceded the supply: much more necessarily must it be the case where the demand itself, as well as the supply, remains to be created. If the old-established manufacturers abridge labour, so must the new: if the old-established manufacturers use machinery, so must the new: if the old-established manufacturers call in the aid of adventitious moving powers, so must the new: if the old-established manufacturers pursue the division of labour into such a multitude of ramifications as to require 200 hands at the least to stock them all, less than some such number or thereabouts will not be sufficient for the new.a
pg 364In a word, a manufacture—be it of what kind it may—the most simple or the most complicated—a manufacture to be carried on in a Poor—House with profit—or even without loss—must be carried on with such advantages as those with which it is carried on out of a Poor-House: it must be carried on in an establishment provided with those requisites a list of which has been exhibited in another place.1
Under the existing order of things, no Poor-House having been possessed in any degree of perfection either of the whole stock of advantage or of any thing near the whole stock of advantage derivable from the sum of the principles of management above laid down2—or of the list of requisites to profitable management above alluded to, no Poor-House but has remained very far short of the summit of perfection in regard to the successfulness, productiveness and good economy of its management: in the proposed order of things, no Poor-House but what would be possessed of the whole stock of those advantages, each carried to the highest pitch. Good economy would, therefore, be as certain, morally speaking, under the one order of things, as the contrary is under the other.
4. Uncertain permanence of the Stock of Hands3
[Fourth]4 cause of the burthensomeness of the Pauper community under the existing system—[Fourth] obstacle to the establishment and maintenance of any considerable degree of profitable economy in any of the existing Poor-Houses—impermanence of the stock of hands—want of command over the stock of hands in point of numbers.
I have spoken elsewhere of the catalogue of requisites to the establishment of a manufacturing concern, and of the expence demanded [for] the acquisition and maintenance of that stock of requisites.5 Were the future advantage ever so certain, the present pg 365amount of this expence might in many instances be an insuperable bar to the acquisition of these requisites. But, under so great an uncertainty as that which, in the sort of situation in question, attends the prospect of being able to preserve the stock of hands necessary to the turning of the quantity of capital thus expended to account, prudence would in most cases forbid the hazarding any such quantity of capital, how great soever might be the facility of obtaining it.
What power, in the existing state of the law, has any Parish Overseer, or any Select Vestry, or any Board for the management of the concerns of the Poor in any Incorporated District—what power has any such authority to secure the continuance of its stock of pauper hands? None whatever: none in the instance of any single class or any single individual:—no power of detaining any one person for a single day.
No power to make any sort of terms with any one in respect of the time of service: maintenance he is entitled to whenever he wants it: liberty—the liberty of quitting the establishment—and quitting it without a moment's warning—he at all times possesses without so much [as] the trouble of laying claim to it, and will exercise whenever he sees before him a maintenance, industrious or unindustrious, which, to his manner of viewing it, appears more eligible. He may quit the House to day, and by his absence derange the whole system of manufacturing operations: he may return a week hence and, when the system has undergone a new arrangement adapted to the loss, load the house with an unexpected burthen, when the means of extracting compensation for it from his labour are at an end.
What becomes of him upon his departure may make a very important difference in respect of future welfare and morality to the individual—but in this point of view makes no sort of difference to the House. If he turns beggar or worse, apprehended or not apprehended, punished or not punished, this will make no sort of difference to the House. If he is confined any where, it will be in some Jail or House of Correction—not in the House he quitted. If he is whipped, whipping will not pay any thing towards the expences of the House.
If, retaining whatever spirit of industry he has imbibed, he obtains the same or any other sort of employment elsewhere, the transition may answer very well to the Emigrant as well as to his new employer, but it will not pay the House for the machinery and tools which had been appropriated to his use.
The prospect will appear equally unpromising whatever class of Pauper hands be considered in this view. Unripe hands the House is sure to lose, as soon as ever the value of their labour has risen to an pg 366equality with the burthen of their maintenance. Able-bodied hands, with tainted or untainted characters, choosing with or without necessity to apply for maintenance, may be still worse than simply unprofitable. The provision in the way of machinery and other manufacturing requisites, more or less ample, will at any rate be limited. Watching their time, while the stock in question is disengaged, so that work for them might be found, they may keep aloof: when the stock is pre-occupied, or out of order or laid by, they may crowd in on purpose to take the benefit of the holyday.
Paupers whose indigence is the result of bodily imperfection would, it might seem at first sight, be rather more to be depended upon.—By no means: take the case of the blind for an example.
An Industry House, including in its stock of hands four persons labouring under this infirmity, and thinking itself secure of them, has fixed upon a species of manufacture, and been at the expence of getting a system of appropriate machinery adapted to their case, invented and constructed, and engaged a person or persons qualified for instructing them in the use of it. What follows? One of them, averse to labour, and sensible of the value of the title which his infirmity gives him to the donations of inconsiderate charity, prevails upon a friend or relative to conduct him to a promising station, and leaves the House. The three others, having obtained by the assistance of the apparatus the faculty of doing as much work as others do with all their eyes, find friends to make known their case to some individual employer whom they offer to serve at an under price, and take their leave of the House with the assistance and applause of every body. In this way the apparatus loses the whole of its stock of hands. But perhaps the loss of but half the stock is enough to render it useless.
This disadvantage, it may be said, not being peculiar to the case of a Poor-House, ought not to be charged to account among the disadvantages peculiar to the economy of a Poor-House: for individual employers have no greater command over their stock of hands.
I answer—Yes, they have.
1. They have the faculty of making terms with them, and engaging them for a time certain, if they think it necessary. But generally speaking, it will not be necessary, nor will they think it necessary.
2. The working manufacturer, if he conceives himself tolerably well off—paid according to the value of his work at the common rate—will not in general be forward to quit his employer: because if he does, the probability is that his place will be filled up, and his employer will be either unable or uninclined, or both unable and uninclined, to take pg 367him back again. Nor can he compel this private employer to take him back again, as the settlemented Pauper can compel the Parish.
3. If, quitting such his former service, he either fails of obtaining, or loses a second, without being able to obtain another, he falls upon the Parish, that is falls from a higher state to the lowest. The apprehension of this degradation is a tie, which in the case of him who is already at the bottom has no place.
4. A degree of disrepute attaches among Master-Employers in the receiving, much more in the solliciting, of each other's working hands. This circumstance concurrs along with the rest in strengthening the hold which, in the economy of a private manufacturing concern, the employer possesses over his stock of hands. In the case of the Pauper, every private hand would be held out to promote his emancipation, his resurrection from that degraded state, nor would even the Governor of the Industry House or other Poor-house dare to be backward in contributing to so good a work.
The proposed Industry Houses need labour under no such difficulties.
In most, if not all, systems of manufacture, or other profit-seeking employment, may be distinguished a set of principal operations, for which either acquired skill, or considerable degree of strength, or both together, are requisite, and a set of subsidiary operations, for which a very inferior degree of both requisites may be made to serve. For the former, a set of permanent hands is indispensable: the others constitute the field of employment for a stock of coming-and-going hands: which, with such a basis to rest upon, may thus be provided for in considerable numbers with little or no loss.
Under the existing system, it has just been seen, no hands that in this point of view are good for any thing can ever be to be depended upon. Under the proposed system, the whole of the Apprentice Stock may, by the proposed terms of their binding, be altogether to be depended upon for a long series of years, including a year or two during which their ability will in every point of view be at the highest pitch. Here then we have the basis requisite: and not improbably it may of itself be found broad enough in this point of view, without receiving any accession from any other quarter.
As to the other classes, the object of the Company will be—because the honorary and sacred obligation imposed upon the Directors by the sanction of an Oath will be—to give every facility to free employment, to the emersion of its wards into the regions of independence and free employment, that the necessary attention to economy in the point of view just mentioned will admitt. Under this restriction, no extent of discretion with regard to the faculty of pg 368stipulating for such a length of time as may be necessary to this purpose, will surely be refused. In no case need the time of binding go beyond a year: in most cases a very small portion of that period, in many, a few days—a single day—or even a part of a day—will almost certainly be found sufficient. Under the injunction to make use of the latitude with as much reserve as possible, their discretion may surely be trusted to its own guidance within those bounds. The powers in this behalf already given by the existing [law]—given to every one who will vouchsafe to accept of them—know (as we have seen) no bounds.1
In this point of view, the vastness of the population put under one management, bestows upon the proposed system a vast advantage. A degree of inanition or super-saturation which would be fatal to the slender and delicate constitution of an existing Industry House, would produce no sensible effect on the proposed universally extensive and homogeneous system of Industry Houses. Under the existing system of helpless insulation, neither inanition nor super-saturation on the part of any one such House can receive relief from any other. Under the proposed system, every hollow may immediately be filled up as soon as made—every excrescence smoothed away. From this facility of transfusion arises a further facility in respect to the making a gentle use of whatever latitude of power may be conferred with regard to the time of the engagement. On this head, experience will soon indicate what no sagacity can anticipate.
Resting on a basis of such unexampled extent—provided with so vast a stock of permanent hands for the skilful part of the work, the system of movements in any line of manufacture may be broken down, and simplified to the very utmost: thus supported to a degree never yet exemplified or so much as conceived, mechanical ingenuity in this line may give itself the most unbounded range.
Employments for coming-and-going hands may thus be found, employments which, but for a basis of this kind, broader than the existing order of things has yet afforded, could never have existence.
Sub§4. Objection IV. Relaxation2
We come now to the fourth and last head of objection—the danger of indifference, and consequent negligence and mismanagement stealing on by degrees, as the flower of novelty fades away.
Yes, danger there would be, if the principle to which the plan pg 369happens to be indebted for its birth were the only support which it had to depend upon for its establishment and continuance. It is for this reason, that, without rejecting the support of that sublimer principle, on the contrary using my utmost endeavours to engage its assistance, I choose for the foundation of the plan principles more plentifully imparted in the heart of man, and materials of coarser and stronger texture.
The principles of which the force is apt to fail, the principles the efficiency of which can not be depended upon in a body of men, especially a fluctuating body of men, for any length of time, are the principle of pure benevolence, and the love of action.a A principle of which the force is never apt to fail, a principle the efficiency of which may be depended upon to the end of time, is that much more necessary and indispensable, though less amiable, principle, pecuniary interest, otherwise called the love of money.
To say that a plan requires and supposes on the part of those who are to execute it an uncommon share of benevolence, or of any other virtue, is, in other words, to say—that it is an ill-contrived one, and not likely to be a successful one. To give to a plan purposely such a texture as that without a more than ordinary dose of this amiable qualification it can not go on is at the same time to court miscarriage and to offer a premium for cant, hypocrisy and imposture. A fundamental law will naturally be that no man shall be admitted to a part in the execution of the plan, but a man possessed of a heart over-flowing with benevolence. But by what marks to distinguish a man thus qualified from the vulgar herd? The quantity of money given in the way of charity could never perform the office of a measure or a test: for by such a test, through lack of money on the one hand, or abundance of vanity, caprice or ambition on the other, the man the most abounding in this virtue might be rejected, the man least abounding in it admitted. The test, then, if not real, must be a verbal one: for there is no other: and to fill this exalted situation recourse must be had to the man who, in print or in oration, shall have made the most captivating exhibition in this division of the field of common-place.
A company purely charitable is and always must be in danger of relaxation: relaxation is the endemial disease of every body constituted upon such principles. But a Company formed upon mercantile principles is exposed to no such danger: the very word mercantile is enough to dispell every apprehension of it. The Directors of the Bank of England, the East India Company, are not less attentive to pg 370the business than the earliest of their predecessors. The business of those great bodies may at different periods have been conducted with different degrees of felicity, ability, probity: but as to attention to the business, no suspicion was ever entertained of its having undergone any perceptible variation from the first formation of each respective company to the present day.
I do not say that in the execution of this plan there will be no demand at all for the virtue of benevolence: but what I do say is that I have endeavoured to render the demand as small as possible.
On the part of those from whose contributions the fund is to be formed, I do not require the least spark of benevolence: if a man who otherwise would have employ'd his money elsewhere shall, by the principle of benevolence, be won over to bestow it here, so much is the plan advanced by and indebted to benevolence: but should another sum to the same amount have been attracted in to the fund by the mere hope of gain, the plan will have been equally served and promoted by the coarse as by the refined principle.
Nor even with those by whose labour the plan is to be executed do I make any such condition as that the principle of benevolence shall be their ruling motive: not that I should not wish to have reason to look upon them as actuated by that principle, not that the management is incapable of being profited by the prevalence of that principle, but because the attempt to impose such a condition seems likely to obstruct, full as much as to forward, the fulfillment of it.a
If attention to existing rules is not likely to suffer in the instance of a Joint-Stock Company constituted upon such principles, wanton change in the rules themselves is less to be apprehended, if the opinion of Adam Smith is to be trusted to, than in any other sort of hands in which management can be reposed.b If, then, the constitu- pg 371tion and plan of management laid down is good at the outset, there seems as little ground for apprehension, as in the instance of any the most flourishing political establishments now in existence, it should by length of time and experience become worse.1
Objections: Admission of Interested Motives2
A notion which, I have observed, seems to obtain with some—a notion more or less explicitly expressed—is that no man ought to bear any part in an institution which has charity for its object, on any such terms as that in a pecuniary sense he shall be at all the better for it.3 Were this proposition to be admitted in its utmost latitude and without any exceptions, it would be absolutely fatal [to] the formation of the proposed National Charity Company, as well as [to] every rational plan for the attainment of the same object on a large scale.
An exception may surely be made in favour of the subscribers to [the]4 fund—to those who merely contribute their money to the formation of the stock, without taking any part in the management of it. Their money will be neither better nor worse for the motive which happens to attract it into the fund.
Another exception, it is to be hoped, may be made in favour of the local managers of the several Industry Houses, who are to be responsible in chief for the conduct of the business in each House,5 and on whose exertions the goodness of the economy, as well as the success of the management in every moral point of view, is to depend.
The notion shews specious to a superficial glance—but when examined with a little attention, nothing can appear worse founded or more dangerous. It militates in the most irreconcileable degree pg 372against a principle which is the foundation of all good government, as far as choice of means is concerned, the principle which prescribes the junction of interest with Duty by every the closest tie.
It strikes out of the list of moral forces to be employ'd that which is of all others the most potent and efficacious on the reward side of the budget of inducements, the only one which can be depended on in the instance of all persons and at all times.
What the advantages are that are to result from the rejection of so powerful an assistance, we are left to guess: for the sort of mind to whom such notions are congenial is not, on moral subjects at least, much given to close reasoning.
What the disadvantages are that would result from the adoption of it, is a question the answer to which presents no difficulty. A spring of action the most powerful, the most constant, the most universal, is rejected: the only spring of the remuneratory class of which the action can be depended upon in the instance of all men and at all times.1
The concern is a mercantile one. That the inducement to embark in it should be that same sort of inducement by which men are engaged to embark in other concerns of a mercantile nature, personal interest, pecuniary interest, ought by no means to be considered as operating as an objection.
The question is—whether the measures a man [is] likely to be engaged in by the pursuit of his private interest in this line are such by which the interest of the public is likely to be promoted, or not?
If the public gains by a contract, that the individual who contracts with it is likewise a gainer, is an event which, so far from being prejudicial, is beneficial to the public: and the more he gains, so it be not at the expence of the public, the greater the benefit. For if he is not a member of the body stiled the public, who is? and how is the body to be advantaged but by the advantage of its members?
Make the best bargain with him which the nature of the case admitts of—but the bargain once made, then every penny he gets by it should, instead of being an object of regret, be an object of congratulation.
pg 373Between private and public interest there is no necessary opposition: on the contrary, there is a necessary connection: it is of private interests that the public interest is made up: if there were no private interests, there would be no public interest.
It is only by accident that private and public interest are at variance.
So far from being an objection, it ought to be considered as the highest of all possible recommendations.
Force and constancy and universality are the properties to be wished for on the part of those motives on the action of which the prosperity of an establishment is to depend. But in respect of any one of these properties, what motive is there that can compare with pecuniary interest?—What other motive so powerful, what so unremitting, what so sure to be found on the part of every reasonable creature?
Such is the nature of the case—such is the nature of man.—It is not so much as to be wished that it were otherwise. But if it were really to be wished that the care of B's interest should be lodged in the breast of A, and the care of A's interest in the breast of B, and so all the world over, what weakness would it not be to deal with man not according to what he is, but according to what it is to be wished he were?—what success could ever be to be expected from an establishment conducted on such principles?1
The having ensured by the strongest ties the union between interest and duty, meaning personal interest, in the breasts of those in whose hands the management is lodg'd, is the greatest praise [of] which the plan of any establishment can be susceptible. If an institution fails for want of either probity or diligence on the part of the managing hands, it is always because this union had not been made strong enough.2
pg 374§ IV. Concluding Observations1
On all other plans, all the existing ones included, a prodigious deal depends upon the zeal, assiduity and intelligence display'd by the managers for the time being in the judgment of allowance or disallowance passed on the claims of the candidates for relief: qualities the concurrence of which is rare even at the opening of an institution of this sort, much more the continuance of them after the stimulus of novelty has spent its force.
Under the present plan, this whole source of demand for extraordinary qualifications is cut off. Whether a man is or is not able to get his living out of the House makes no difference. If he is really unable to work to the amount of his maintenance, his claim is a just one, and the burthen of it is no more than what the Company are prepared for: if he is able, work he certainly will, and that to the value of his maintenance, since if he is stubborn he will not get any thing to eat, till the value of his work has paid for it.
Every plan which supposes the general and constant prevalence of any principle the prevalence of which, however respectable, is confessedly rare—a principle the more rare for being the more respectable—and the more respectable for being the more rare—every such plan may with strict propriety be termed Utopian.
The plan properly termed Utopian is—not the plan that proposes great effects—but the plan that supposes great effects without adequate causes.2
The foundation of the institution is the humanity, combined with the bad economy, of the existing system. It is from these joint sources that so large an annual fund has sprung as would be afforded by the Poor Rates: and without some such an annual fund, no such capital as would be requisite could well be expected to be raised.
pg 375But without such capital, no such Company: and without such Company, no such aggregate body of collateral establishments could well be expected to be ever brought into existence.
These considerations, while they serve to raise our expectation of seeing a system of this sort instituted and crowned with success in this Southern portion of the happily united kingdom, seem to be a bar to the entertaining of any sanguine hope of witnessing its adoption in any other country.1
On the other hand, while they damp our expectations of seeing it so much as attempted in any other country, they may serve by reflection to raise them with regard to this. In other countries, the pressure, though rather less severe, is perpetual and irremoveable: in ours, the very severity of the pressure is a means and an earnest not only of its diminution, but of its annihilation.
Problem.—Required to describe that plan of Pauper Economy which shall reduce the expence to its minimum—at the same time raising up the condition of the Pauper community to its maximum in point of comfort and morality—in point of present and future welfare—producing at the same time the several collateral advantages derivable from the same system to the community at large.
Theorem. The plan of Pauper Economy here delineated is capable of [reducing the expence to its minimum—at the same time raising up the condition of the Pauper community to its maximum in point of comfort and morality—in point of present and future welfare—producing at the same time the several collateral advantages derivable from the same system to the community at large.]
To solve that Problem—in other words to demonstrate this theorem—is what was to be done.
pg 376The theorem is, I flatter myself, now demonstrated—the problem solved.
In the formation of this plan, labour has not been grudged. If to thee it appears to have done what was required, Reader, grudge not thy assistance towards the bringing it into life.
The practicability of the above plan as far as concerns the first step which it requires to be taken, viz: the engaging of adventurers to embark in the enterprize, will of course depend on the apparent probability of a successful and profitable management. In forming an estimate of this probability, theory alone will hardly be trusted to by a prudent man who sees any thing in the way of experience within his reach.
A fortunate conjuncture presents the fairest opportunity of obtaining this experience: and obtaining it without either expence or risk.
An experiment is on the point of being made upon the largest scale, forming a perfect exemplification of the Large-Establishment system, at the charge and risk of government, on a subject-matter intimately connected with that in question—I mean the making of provision for the maintenance and employment of convicted criminals:2 for whether it be in the way of similarity or of contrast, nothing can well be closer than the analogy between the two branches of public service.3
By this experiment the power of the Inspection-House principle, in the character of an engine of economical management, will be put to the test and placed in the most conspicuous and incontestible light.
From the same institution, incalculable use might be reaped by the new system in another point of view:—in the character of a school of management—a nursery for the breeding of managers for the service. After the first bustle is a little subsided, the whole establishment will become a piece of clock-work; and all that will remain to be done at the opening of the Industry[-House] system, will be the putting up a similar piece of clock-work in each place.
If the experiment miscarries, if the institution fails of answering in point of economy its intended purpose, it will then rest with the pg 377numerous spectators to judge of the causes of the failure: whether owing to the system itself, or to the managing hand:—whether to a defect in principle, or to imbecillity in practice.
If the fault be determined to be in the principle—if the system of rules and principles above suggested appear incompetent to the purpose—the system of Industry-House management here proposed to be grounded on them will of course be laid aside.—No such Company as is proposed will be formed.—No adventurers will present themselves. Should success crown the experiment, the difficulty will be rather how to choose amidst competitors, than how to obtain offers.
Let but the prospect of success be but tolerably encouraging, the field of enterprize is such as presses into the service every imaginable motive [which] can act, or can be wished to act, upon the human mind: public spirit, humanity, pecuniary interest, love of novelty, love of experiment, love of distinction, love of power.
Such is the advantage offered by this fortunate coincidence—a trial without expence—and a trial sufficient to place the question between miscarriage and success—nay, even the question as between degrees of success, beyond the reach of doubt.
Another fortunate coincidence is the existence of a man, beyond all example fitted for the conduct of a business of this nature, by intellectual qualifications, moral qualities, rank, character and experience: a man in whose instance genius and benevolence contend as it were with each other which should do most towards fitting him for the task. After this description there can be little reason, either to the world of science, or to the public at large, by whom his writings as well as his works in a double sense are so well known, or to the circles of polished life, who to the knowledge of his works have the advantage of adding that of his person and conversation—to say that the man I am speaking of is Count Rumford.
For him I would venture to answer, not from any express authority, but from the same reason from which any man who has enjoyed the privilege of his acquaintance1 might venture to answer the same thing, that no assistance which it were in his power to render (and what assistance in the way of zeal, or talent, or trust-worthiness would it not be in his power to render?) to such an enterprize [would be refused]. The world his country, but Britain by a more especial title than any other portion of the world, the call of Britain would, in proportion of the claims of Bavaria, have weight as the number of pg 378servable beings in the one country to the number of servable beings in the other.1
Invited in a manner suitable to his station and character, he would fly hither at the first word.
It may be regarded surely as a circumstance of no ordinary felicity, the concurrence in point of time [of] the two men in the world the best qualified in such a concern for attracting public confidence, the one by talents and character, the other by situation. The qualification being thus confined to situation (for till the situation has been assumed, and the trials of it undergone, the proposition is purely hypothetical, the pretension rests in air) I need not scruple mentioning myself: the less when in naming myself I include a Brother,2 who, younger by nine years, is much more extensively as well as more deservedly known than the obscure author of these pages.
Thus much may not be improper, nor less than necessary, in answer to the observation—the work is a good work—but where are the hands in readiness for it?3
Success can not have crowned my labours in the one business without having proved my fitness for the other: success not having crowned my labours in the first business, it is in the way of warning, not of a pattern or a guide, that I shall serve the public in the second. The individual may endure the test or sink under it: but at any rate the public will gain experience: at any rate the public will have been served.
Two establishments commenced and going on at once, one under the conduct of the man already so well tried, the other under the conduct of him who by that time will have undergone his trial, might in some respects have their use: though the division would be little more than in name. For the first thing I should do wherever he were, were it but in a situation accessible to me, would be to fly [to]4 him for assistance: for an assistance which the experience of his particular kindness, but much more the knowledge of his pure and exalted benevolence, would give me as perfect a command of as if, instead of my master, he were my servant.
a This advantage, it is true, has nothing in it but what may be shared by private establishments, when the scale rises to a certain magnitude. It is an advantage that may in future be shared with the Company's establishments by many private ones: but it is an advantage that hitherto has not been shared with it by any one such establishment. It therefore may be added to the number of those advantages which contribute to raise the chance of success of the undertaking thus projected above the level of the most successful of any that have been hitherto projected.
a Excessive reward administered upon the piece-work principle attacks the constitution of the workman at both ends. The exertion produced is of itself more than the constitution could bear without injury: but to keep up the exertion, the stimulus of fermented liquors is called in, and the virulence of the poison is thus doubled.
The No-fermented-liquor principle, the grand safe-guard of health and morals in these regions of innocence and tranquillity, operates at the same time as a security against excess in labour.
Had I an establishment of this sort in charge, the mens sana in corpore sano,1 the securing to these my Wards a sound constitution, would, of temporal interests, be among the first objects of my care. The profit to my employers—the profit of the Company—large as the space is which it fills in the eye—would be but a secondary one.
In such a situation, were I to be understood to have a claim to reward, it should be, the assurance that, on the first Jubilee of the opening of the institution,2 a census should be taken of the survivors, and the number inscribed upon my tomb. If length of days be valuable, it is chiefly on account of the health which is its natural concomitant. Uninterrupted health may be found without long life. But long life is so seldom found without sound health, that the former may upon any large scale be regarded as the measure of the latter.
a If the child obtains an apprenticeship, the case is clear: the neat profit of its labour goes to the Master, in return for instruction in the business, and fare superior to that of the paternal Cottage.
If it obtains domestic service, the case is again clear: the wages, if superior to the necessary expence of cloathing, at the advanced rate of expence adapted to this higher situation, remain with the servant in the shape of pocket money: but a great part of the produce of his labour is paid for, in this case as in the former, by consumption on an encreased scale.
If it is from day labour that the child derives its subsistence, the wages of this labour, howsoever the matter might stand on the ground of law, rest in point of usage, and by the nature of the case, in the hands of him by whose labour they are earnt. Vigourous government on the one hand, duty and affection on the other, may, in here and there an instance, produce exceptions to the rule: but in general independence will produce self-maintenance: the wages a boy can earn he will have the spending of, or he will not earn them. A parent, were he able, would hardly think of appropriating to himself the disposition of them. It would appear to be in the whole what as to a part it would be, the appropriating them to his own use. The law of public opinion—I mean the opinion of the little circle in which he moves—would hardly bear him out in it.
I say the public opinion:—for, as to what is called the law of the land, it is altogether out of the question here. What is called the law of the land, the penal branch excepted, can scarcely be said to extend to above a tenth or a twentieth part or so of the dwellers in the land. The rest live in a state of general Outlawry. How and by whom they have been placed in that state, belongs not to the present purpose. For a man to take his chance for the assistance of this law would cost in advance from £25 to I know not how many times as much: many times as much as a man of the class in question ever has in his pocket at any one time throughout the whole compass of his life.a
The cessation of the burthen of maintaining the child is, of itself, regarded as a great advantage—and this is the only advantage the Parent is, in general, in a condition to make.
It may strike some readers as rather extraordinary that in an establishment, which holds itself out—and by no means without reason—as a pattern for good management, no precise rate of earnings per head should be given, although the question is expressly started.2 But such, it seems, is the state of national intelligence on the subject of Pauper Economy at the period at which I write. The question is started—but the method of Book-keeping observed in the establishment is not adequate to the task of furnishing an answer to it.
My grounds for this estimate are as follows.3
a The disadvantage of an Industry House built upon the scale of the Suffolk Industry Houses, as compared with an Industry House on the scale proposed, is, if one such House only be considered, as 1 to 10 and more:a if the whole field of the proposed Company's authority be considered, that is the whole of South Britain, as 1 to 2,500 in the first instance, without reckoning future probable extensions from the accumulation of the Apprentice Stock.
In ordinary cases, the extent of the advantage derivable from this principle will be limited by the local extent of the field within which the advantage may be reaped without being swallowed up by the expences of conveyance: I mean the conveyance necessary to the distribution of a stock of materials, connected by their relation to a common system of manufacture, amongst sets of hands, resident in different Industry Houses, and correspondent in number to the multitude of operations into which the principle carried to the length in question would require the labour to be divided.
But in the case of certain classes of hands labouring under peculiar species of infirmity, such as the Insane Hands, and some others, the necessity of distributing the materials between place and place to come at the different sets of hands may be narrowed by the assemblage made of the hands themselves in the same place.3
Complement of a proposed Industry House
Number observed by Mr Ruggles at a time in all the Suffolk Industry Houses put together
b The mixture here in question, it must be observed, is the alternate assignment of contrasted employments to the same hand—not the combination of such different employments in the same local Establishment or house.
a In some of the few existing Poor Houses upon a large scale, the principle of Self-supply has been applied to some of the articles comprized under the head of Cloathing: but in no instance to the whole.3 Where a branch of the woollen or any other such manufacture happened to be the staple manufacture of the neighbourhood, it was natural that such stock of ability for labour as the labouring strength of the House appeared to afford, should be turned into this channel. In this there could not be much difficulty: especially as in such a situation, if this or that stage of the manufacture happened to be incompetent to the strength of the House, the deficiency might be supplied from the private establishments round about.
But in the most copiously peopled of the existing Poor Houses, considering how the population of such a house must be composed, it would be impossible to find hands in sufficient number for embracing with any advantage either the whole field of demand, or even that comparatively small part of it which is comprized under the head of cloathing. Granting that hands could be found in sufficient number and of sufficient ability for embracing in all their stages the woollen, hempen and flaxen manufactures, it could scarcely be worth while, still less perhaps appear likely to be worth while, to set up a Tan Yard with its appendages, and engage a Master Tanner, to save the difference between buying and making shoes, two or three pair in a year for 500 or 600 persons at the most, of whom two or three hundred would be too young to have need of shoes.
Were this and every other branch of the whole business of cloathing for self-supply accomplished by the strength of the House, the grand article of diet, comprizing two-thirds or more of the necessary total of expenditure, and three-fourths or more of the customary total of expenditure, would still remain unprovided for. For this a farm would be requisite, adequate to the extent of the demand, with a proportionable addition, and that a most formidable one, to the quantum of capital necessary to be advanced, for so unpromising a chance of success as would be afforded by a stock of hands among which not a single able-bodied person would be to be found. That a system of agricultural operations might be devised in which a principal part of the business, in point of quantity, might be performed by such inferior degrees of strength and ability as the population of a Poor House may be expected to afford, I see no reason to doubt: but to accomplish such a task would require a system of economy contrived on purpose, and to attempt it, a spirit of enterprize much beyond any thing that in such circumstances ought naturally to be expected.
a The article which Vespasian was charged with having an eye to, for the purpose of taxation, would be of very substantial importance in a microcosm composed of from 400,000 to a million of movements. Ceres is not a fastidious Deity. Odours she does not quarrel with, any more than Vespasian, so that at bottom there be real use.4
1. Smallness of Scale.
2. Inattention to the end.
3. Want of intelligence and education.
In some of the existing Poor Houses, (some of the Houses of Industry of the number), the Manager—the Governor as he is stiled—is allowed a share in the earnings of the Pauper hands committed to his care.2 But this, though a very good expedient as far as it goes, is but one of a number of expedients which this principle, when examined under all its aspects, may be found to have in store. We have already seen those which apply to the situation of the labouring hand in the point of view now before us:3 and the principle would, if duly consulted, be found to furnish more than one expedient applicable to the respective situations of the Manager-in-chief and his various subordinates.
In a few instances, furnished by the metropolis, the head-spring of national intelligence—in here and there a few instances—that of the Foundling Hospital the most illustrious—the leading principle is applied to the preservation of infant life; and population, so far as the means possessed by that respectable institution extends, reaps the benefit of it.4 But the want of the genial influence of the principle
a Accounts of particular instances of bad management in this line have, in here and there an instance, been made public by individuals on whom principles of humanity, or public spirit or other motives have operated with sufficient force for the production of the effect.1 But in Industry-House management, the only account which either is or purports to be an account of good management is that of the management of the Shrewsbury House of Industry, for the publication of which we are indebted to Mr Wood.2 But even this account, to render it a compleat one, would require many more details such as perhaps the public is, in the judgment of the ingenious writer, scarce prepared to profit by or to prize according to their real value. Of Select-Vestry Management we have an illustrious example in the instance of St James's, Westminster. But this is but of yesterday, and it is but one.3
a The interest, whatever it may be, which each member of such a Board has in the good economy of the management, is in proportion to the magnitude of his contribution to the Poor Rate. Peculation out of the question, as it may be presumed to be under this species of government, nothing but that general good economy, by which all the Rateable Inhabitants profit alike, can lessen the contribution of any member, nor consequently [can any thing lessen] the interest which he has in the goodness of the economy: whereas, in the case of the ordinary Parochial government, supposing opportunities of peculation to be afforded, the separate profit thus made by purposed bad economy may be so considerable, as not merely to reduce, but to swallow up altogether, the joint interest which the peculator has in the goodness of the economy in common with his fellow-contributors to the Parish fund.
a With this controul, even reading was not necessary. The little fund as levied might be dropt into a box with a slit in it and two locks with different keys. On a certain day the Overseers might meet, open the box, and take out of it a certain and known sum in the presence of the Pauper crowd, and distribute it among the petitioners.
a In a rude country, such as Bulgaria for example, a manufactory of cotton cloth, from the seed pod to the bale, might be set up and carried on to more or less advantage (supposing the demand to keep pace with the supply) in any the smallest Poor-House: for in Bulgaria, as my own eyes have witnessed, a cotton manufactory thus compleat in all its stages, a Manufactory of Cotton Cloth such as it is, is actually carried on in any the smallest family.6 But in England, were a cotton manufactory to be carried on by such processes and with such implements—that would happen to the Cotton trade—one may predict it with confidence because it has so often happened in similar situations—[which has happened] to the woollen trade—the materials would, in point of sale, be but so much the worse, for all the labour they had undergone.
a By the love of action, I mean the love of the exercise of power: love of the possession of power is a very different thing, and much less apt to fade.
a Should it enter into the conception of any reader that these observations on the subject of benevolence have for their end, secret or avowed, the paving the way for a demand of large Salaries, or any Salaries, for the Directors, he will be much mistaken. The objection to fixt Salaries, considered as securities for diligence, is—not that the acceptance of them affords, in a case like the present, any proof of the absence—or the refusal of them any conclusive proof of the presence—of the principle of benevolence—but that the institution of them has no tendency to promote the attainment of the object in view. Not being dependent on success, or on exertion the means of success, it contributes nothing towards cementing the union of interest with duty. If you can not get a fit man without a Salary, a salary you must give, and it may be very well worth your while to give it. But if without a salary you can get as fit a man as with one, whatever you give in salary is just so much thrown away. The act which a salary pays a man for, the act in relation to which it operates as a motive—is—not the performance of the services attached to the business of the office, but the taking upon himself the obligation of performing them.
'Peculiar by accident.
'1. Private management on personal account.
'2. Parish management.
'3. Government management.'
'1. No loss of crops for want of Hands.
'2. No-extra charge for Hands.'