Chapter 6 : Small Industries and Industrial Village
THE two sister arts of agriculture and industry were not always so estranged from one another as they are now. There was a time, and that time is not so far back, when both were thoroughly combined; the villages were then the seats of a variety of industries, and the artisans in the cities did not abandon agriculture; many towns were nothing else but industrial villages. If the medieval city was the cradle of those industries which bordered upon art and were intended to supply the wants of the richer classes, still it was the rural manufacture which supplied the wants of the million, as it does until the present day in Russia, and to a very great extent in Germany and France. But then came the water-motors, steam, the development of machinery, and they broke the link which formerly connected the farm with the workshop. Factories grew up and they abandoned the fields. They gathered where the sale of their produce was easiest, or the raw materials and fuel could be obtained with the greatest advantage. New cities rose, and the old ones rapidly enlarged; the fields were deserted. Millions of laborers, driven away by sheer force from the land, gathered in the cities in search of labor, and soon forgot the bonds which formerly attached them to the soil. And we, in our admiration of the prodigies achieved under the new factory system, overlooked the advantages of the old system under which the tiller of the soil was an industrial worker at the same time. We doomed to disappearance all those branches of industry which formerly used to prosper in the villages; we condemned in industry all that was not a big factory.
True, the results were grand as regards the increase of the productive powers of man. But they proved terrible as regards the millions of human beings who were plunged into misery and had to rely upon precarious means of living in our cities. Moreover, the system, as a whole, brought about those abnormal conditions which I have endeavored to sketch in the two first chapters. We were thus driven into a corner; and while a thorough change in the present relations between labor and capital is becoming an imperious necessity, a thorough remodeling of the whole of our industrial organization has also become unavoidable. The industrial nations are bound to revert to agriculture, they are compelled to find out the best means of combining it with industry, and they must do so without loss of time.
To examine the special question as to the possibility of such a combination is the aim of the following pages. Is it possible, from a technical point of view? Is it desirable? Are there, in our present industrial life, such features as might lead us to presume that a change in the above direction would find the necessary elements for its accomplishment? Such are the questions which rise before the mind. And to answer them, there is, I suppose, no better means than to study that immense but overlooked and underrated branch of industries which are described under the names of rural industries, domestic trades, and petty trades: to study them, not in the works of the economists who are too much inclined to consider them as obsolete types of industry, but in their life itself, in their struggles, their failures and achievements.
The variety of forms of organization which is found in the small industries is hardly suspected by those who have not made them a subject of special study. There are, first, two broad categories: those industries which are carried on in the villages, in connection with agriculture; and those which are carried on in towns or in villages, with no connection with the land-the workers depending for their earnings exclusively upon their industrial work.
In Russia, in France, in Germany, in Austria, and so on, millions and millions of workers are in the first case. They are owners or occupiers of the land, they keep one or two cows, very often horses, and they cultivate their fields, or their orchards, or gardens, considering industrial work as a by-occupation. In those regions especially, where the winter is long and no work on the land is possible for several months every year, this form of small industries is widely spread. In this country, on the contrary, we find the opposite extreme. Few small industries have survived in England in connection with land-culture; but hundreds of petty trades are found in the suburbs and the slums of the great cities, and large portions of the populations of several towns, such as Sheffield and Birmingham, find their living in a variety of petty trades. Between these two extremes there is evidently a mass of intermediate forms, according to the more or less close ties which continue to exist with the land. Large villages, and even towns, are thus peopled with workers who are engaged in small trades, but most of whom have a small garden, or an orchard, or a field, or only retain some rights of pasture on the commons, while part of them live exclusively upon their industrial earnings.
With regard to the sale of the produce, the small industries offer the same variety of organization. Here again there are two great branches. In one of them the worker sells his produce directly to the wholesale dealer; cabinetmakers, weavers, and workers in the toy trade are in this case. In the other great division the worker works for a "master" who either sells the produce to a wholesale dealer, or simply acts as a middleman who himself receives his orders from some big concern. This the "sweating system," property speaking, under which we find a mass of small trades. Part of the toy trade, the tailors who work for large clothing establishments-very often for those of the State-the women who sew and embroider the "uppers" for the boot and shoe factories, and who as often deal with the factory as with an intermediary "sweater," and so on, are in this case. All possible gradations of feudalization and subfeudalisation of labor are evidently found in that organization of the sale of the produce.
Again, when the industrial, or rather technical aspects of the small industries are considered, the same variety of types is soon discovered. Here also there are two great branched: those trades, on the one side, which are purely domestic -- that is, those which are carried on in the house of the worker, with the aid of his family, or of a couple of wage-workers; and those which are carried on in separate workshops -- all the just-mentioned varieties, as regards connection with land and the divers modes of disposing of the produce, being met with in both these branches. All possible trades -- weaving, workers in wood, in metals, in bone, in india-rubber, and so on -- may be found under the category of purely domestic trades, with all possible gradations between the purely domestic form of production and the workshop and the factory.
Thus, by the side of the trades which are carried on entirely at home by one or more members of the family, there are the trades in which the master keeps a small workshop attached to his house and works in it with his family, or with a few "assistants" -- that is, wage-workers. Or else the artisan has a separate workshop, supplied with wheel-power, as is the case with the Sheffield cutlers. Or several workers come together in a small factory which they maintain themselves, or hire in association, or where they are allowed to work for a certain weekly rent. And in each of these cases they work either directly for the dealer or for a small master, or for a middleman.
A further development of this system is the big factory, especially of ready-made clothes, in which hundreds of women pay so much for the sewing-machine, the gas, the gas-heated irons, and so on, and are paid themselves so much for each piece of the ready-made clothes they sew, or each part of it. Immense factories of this kind exist in England, and it appeared from testimony given before the "Sweating Committee" that women are fearfully "sweated" in such workshops -- the full price of each slightly spoiled piece of clothing being deducted from their very low piecework wages.
And, finally, there is the small workshop (often with hired wheel-power) in which a master employs three to ten workers, who are paid in wages, and sells his produce to a bigger employer or merchant -- there being all possible gradations between such a workshop and the small factory in which a few time workers (five, ten to twenty) are employed by an independent producer. In the textile trades, weaving is often done either by the family or by a master who employs one boy only, or several weavers, and after having received the yarn from a big employer, pays a skilled workman to put the yarn in the loom, invents what is necessary for weaving a given, sometimes very complicated pattern, and after having woven the cloth or the ribbons in his own loom or in a loom which he hires himself, he is paid for the piece of cloth according to a very complicated scale of wages agreed to between masters and workers. This last form, we shall see presently, is widely spread up to the present day, especially in the woolen and silk trades; it continues to exist by the side of big factories in which 50, 100, or 5,000 wage-workers, as the case may be, are working with the employers' machinery and are paid in time-wages so much the day or the week.
The small industries are thus quite a world,1which, remarkable enough, continues to exist even in the most industrial countries, side by side with the big factories. Into this world we must now penetrate to cast a glimpse upon it: a glimpse only, because it would take volumes to describe its infinite variety of pursuits and organizations, and its indefinitely varied connection, with agriculture as well as with other industries.
Most of the petty trades, except some of those which are connected with agriculture, are, we must admit, in a very precarious position. The earnings are very low, and the employment is often uncertain. The day of labor is by two, three, or four hours longer than it is in well-organized factories, and at certain seasons it reaches an almost incredible length. The crises are frequent and last for years. Altogether, the worker is much more at the mercy of the dealer or the employer, and the employer is at the mercy of the wholesale dealer. Both are liable to become enslaved to the latter, running into debt to him. In some of the petty trades, especially in the fabrication of the plain textiles, the workers are in dreadful misery. But those who pretend that such misery is the rule are totally wrong. Anyone who has lived among, let us say, the watch-makers in Switzerland and knows their inner family life, will recognize that the condition of these workers was out of all comparison superior, in every respect, material and moral, to the conditions of millions of factory hands. Even during such a crisis in the watch trade as was lived through in 1876-1880, their condition was preferable to the condition of factory hands during a crisis in the woolen or cotton trade; and the workers perfectly well know it themselves.
Whenever a crisis breaks out in some branch of the petty trades, there is no lack of writers to predict that that trade is going to disappear. During the crisis which I witnessed in 1877, living amid the Swiss watchmakers, the impossibility of a recovery of the trade in the face of the competition of machine-made watches was a current topic in the press. The same was said in 1882 with regard to the silk trade of Lyons, and, in fact, wherever a crisis has broken out in the petty trades. And yet, notwithstanding the gloomy predictions, and the still gloomier prospects of the workers, that form of industry does not disappear. Even when some branch of it disappears, there always remains something of it; some portions of it continue to exist as small industries (watchmaking of a high quality, best sorts of silks, high quality velvets, etc.), or new connected branches grow up instead of the old ones, or the small industry, taking advantage of a mechanical motor, assumes a new form. We thus find it endowed with an astonishing vitality. It undergoes various modifications, it adapts itself to new conditions, it struggles without losing hope of better times to come. Anyhow, it has not the characteristics of a decaying institution. In some industries the factory is undoubtedly victorious; but there are other branches in which the petty trades hold their own position. Even in the textile industries -- especially in consequence of the wide use of the labor of children and women -- which offer so many advantages for the factory system, the hand-loom still competes with the power-loom.
As a whole, the transformation of the petty trades into great industries goes on with a slowness which cannot fail to astonish even those who are convinced of its necessity. Nay, sometimes we may even see the reverse movement going on -- occasionally, of course, and only for a time. I cannot forget my amazement when I saw at Verviers, some thirty years ago, that most of the woolen cloth factories -- immense barracks facing the streets by more than a hundred windows each -- were silent, and their costly machinery was rusting, while cloth was woven in hand-looms in the weavers' houses, for the owners of those very same factories. Here we have of course, but a temporary fact, fully explained by the spasmodic character of the trade and the heavy losses sustained by the owners of the factories when they cannot run their mills all the year round. But it illustrates the obstacles which the transformation has to comply with. As to the silk trade, it continues to spread over Europe in its rural industry state; while hundreds of new petty trades appear every year, and when they find nobody to carry them on in the villages -- as is the case in this country -- they shelter themselves in the suburbs of the great cities, as we have lately learned from the inquiry into the "sweating system."
Now, the advantages offered by a large factory in comparison with hand work are self-evident as regards the economy of labor, and especially -- this is the main point -- the facilities both for sale and for having the raw produce at a lower price. How can we then explain the persistence of the petty trades? Many causes, however, most of which cannot be valued in shillings and pence, are at work in favor of the petty trades, and these causes will be best seen from the following illustrations. I must say, however, that even a brief sketch of the countless industries which are carried on on a small scale in this country, and on the Continent, would be far beyond the scope of this chapter. When I began to study the subject some thirty years ago, I never guessed, from the little attention devoted to it by the orthodox economists, what a wide, complex, important, and interesting organization would appear at the end of a close inquiry. So I see myself compelled to give here only a few typical illustrations, and to indicate the chief lines only of the subject.
We have not for the United Kingdom such statistical data as are obtained in France and Germany by periodical censuses of all the factories and workshops, and the numbers of the workpeople, foremen and clerks, employed on a given day n each industrial and commercial establishment. Consequently, up to the present time all the statements made by economists about the so-called "concentration:" of the industry in this country, and the consequent "unavoidable" disappearance of the small industries, have been based on mere impressions of the writers, -- not on statistical data. Up till now we cannot give, as it is done future in these pages for France and Germany, the exact numbers of factories and workshops employing, let us say, from 1,000 to 2,000 persons, from 500 to 1,000, from 50 to 500, less than 50, and so on. It is only since factory inspection has been introduced by the Factory Act of 1895 that we begin to find, in the Reports published since 1900 by the Factory Inspectors (Annual Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories and Workshops for the year 1898: London, 1900), information which permits us to get a general idea about the distribution of working men in factories of different sizes, and the extension that the petty trades have retained in this country up till now. 2 One may see it already from the following little table for the year 1897, which I take from the just-mentioned Report. These figures are not yet complete, especially as regards the workshops, but they contain already the greater part of the English industries.
|1897||Number of factories and workshops.||Number of operatives of both sexes.||Average number of operatives per establishment.|
Let me remark that the Factory Inspectors consider as a workshop every industrial establishment which has no mechanical motive power, and as a factory every establishment provided with steam, gas, water, or electric power.
These figures, however, are not complete, because only those workshops are included where women and children are employed, as also all the bakeries. The others were not submitted to inspection at the time when this table was compiled. There is, nevertheless, a means to find out the approximate numbers of workpeople employed in the workshops. The number of women and female children employed in the workshops in 1897 was 356,098 and the number of men and boys was 320,678. But, as the proportion of male workers to the female in all the factories was 2,654,716 males to 1,152,308 females, we may admit that the same proportion prevails in the workshops. This would give for the latter something like 820,000 male workers and 1,176,000 persons of both sexes, employed in 147,000 workshops. At the same time, the grand total of persons employed in industry (exclusive of mining) would be 4,983,000.
We can thus say that nearly one-fourth (24 per cent.) of all the industrial workers of this country are working in workshops having less than eight to ten workers per establishment. 3
It must also be pointed out that out of the 4,483,800 workpeople registered in the above-mentioned tables nearly 60,000 were children who were working half-days only, 401,000 were girls less than eighteen years old, 463,000 were boy from thirteen to eighteen who were making full working days like the adults, and 1,077,115 were considered as women (more than eighteen years old). In other words, one-fifth part of all the industrial workers of this country were girls and boys, and more than two-fifths (41 per cent.) were either women or children. All the industrial production of the United Kingdom, with its immense exports, was thus giving work to less than three million adult men--2,983,000 out of a population of 42,000,000, to whom we must add 972,200 persons working in the mines. As to the textile industry, which supplies almost one-half of the English exports, there are less than 300,000 adult men who find employment in it. The remainder is the work of children, boys, girls, and women.
A fact which strikes us is that the 1,051,564 workpeople--men, women and children--who worked in 1897 in the textile industries of the United Kingdom were distributed over 10,883 factories, which gives only an average of ninety-three persons per factory in all this great industry, notwithstanding the fact that "concentration" has progressed most in this industry, and that we find in it factories employing as many as 5,000 and 6,000 persons.
It is true that the Factory Inspectors represent each separate branch of a given industry as a special establisment. Thus, if an employer or a society owns a spinning mill, a weaving factory, and a special building for dressing and finishing, the three are represented as separate factories. But this is precisely what is wanted for giving us an exact idea about the degree of concentration of a given industry. Besides, it is also known that, for instance, in the cotton industry, in the neighborhood of Manchester, the spinning, the weaving, the dressing and so on belong very often to different employers, who send to each other the stuffs at different degrees of fabrication; those factories which combine under the same management all the three or four consecutive phases of the manufacture are an exception.
But it is especially in the division of the non-textile industries that we find an enormous development of small factories. The 2,755,460 workpeople who are employed in all the non-textile branches with the exception of mining, are scattered in 79,059 factories, each of which has only an average of thirty-five workers. Moreover, the Factory Inspectors had on their lists 676,776 workpeople employed in 88,814 workshops (without mechanical power), which makes an average of eight persons only per workshop. These last figures are, however, as we saw, below the real ones, as another sixty thousand workshops occupying half a million more workpeople were not yet tabulated.
Such averages as ninety-three and thirty-five workpeople per factory, and eight per workshop, distributed over 178,756 industrial establishments, destroy already the legend according to which the big factories have already absorbed most of the small ones. The figures show, on the contrary, what an immense number of small factories and workshops resist the absorption by the big factories, and how they multiply by the side of the great industry in various branches, especially those of recent origin.
If we had for the United Kingdom full statistics, giving lists of all the factories, with the number of workpeople employed in each of them, as we have for France and Germany (see below), it would have been easy to find the exact number of factories employing more than 1,000,000, 500, 100, and 50 workmen. But such lists are issued only for the mining industry. As to the statistics published by the Factory Inspectors, they do not contain such data, perhaps because the inspectors have no time to tabulate their figures, or have not the right to do so. Be it as it may, the Report of Mr. Whitelegge for 1897 gives the number of factories (textile and non-textile) and workshops for each of the 119 counties of the United Kingdom and for each of the nearly hundred sub-divisions of all the industries, as well as the number of workpeople in each of these more than 10,000 sub-divisions. So I was enabled to calculate the averages of persons employed in the factories and workshops for each separate branch of industry in each county. Besides, Mr Whitelegge has had the kindness to give me two very important figures--namely, the number of factories employing more than 1,000 workpeople, and the number of those factories where less than ten workers are employed.
Let us take, first of all, the TEXTILE industries, which include cotton, wool, silk, linen, jute, and hemp, as well as machine-made lace and knitting. Many of my readers will probably be astonished to learn that even in the cotton industry a great number of quite small factories continue to exist up to the present day. Even in the West Riding district, which is second only to Lancashire for the number of its cotton mills, and where we find nearly one-third of all the workpeople employed in the cotton industry (237,444 persons), the average for all the 3,210 factories of this district is only seventy-three persons per factory. And even in Lancashire, where we find nearly one-half of all the workpeople employed in the textiles, these 434,609 men, women, and children are scattered in 3,132 factories, each of which has thus an average of only 139 workers. If we remember that in this number there are factories employing from 2,000 to 6,000 persons, one cannot but be struck by the quantity of small factories employing less than 100 persons, and which continue to exist by the side of the great cotton mills. But we shall just see that the same is true for all industries.
As to the Nottinghamshire, which is a center for machine-made lace and knitting, its 18,434 workpeople are, most of them, working in small factories. The average for the 386 establishments of this county is only forty-eight persons per factory. The great industry is thus very far from having absorbed the small one.
The distribution of the textile factories in the other counties of the United Kingdom is even more instructive. We learn that there are nearly 2,000 textile factories in forty-nine counties, and everyone of these factories has much less than 100 workpeople; while a very considerable number of them employ only from forty to fifty, from ten to twenty, and even less than ten persons.4
This could have been foreseen by everyone who has some practical knowledge of industry, but it is overlooked by the theorists, who know industry mostly from books. In every country of the world there are by the side of the large factories a great number of small ones, the success of which is due to the variety of their produce and the facilities they offer to follow the vagaries of fashion. This is especially true with regard to the woolens and the mixed stuffs made of wool and cotton.
Besides, it is well known to British manufacturers that at the time when the big cotton mills were established, the manufacturers of spinning and weaving machinery, seeing that they had no more orders coming, after they had supplied this machinery to the great factories, began to offer it at a reduced price and on credit to the small weavers. These last associated--three, five, or more of them---to buy the machinery, and this is why we have now in Lancashire quite a region where a great number of small cotton mills continue to exist till nowadays, without there being any reason to foresee their disappearance. At times they are even quite prosperous.
On the other side, when we examine the various branches of textile industry (cotton, wool, silk jute, etc.), we see that if the great factories dominate in the spinning and weaving of cotton, worsted and flax, as well as in the spinning of silk (the result being that the average for these branches reaches 150 workers per factory for cotton, and 267 for the spinning of flax), all other textile industries belong to the domain of the middle-sized and the small industry. In other words, in the manufacture of woolens, shoddy, hemp, hair, machine-made lace, and mechanical knitting, as also in the weaving of silks, there are, of course, large factories; but the majority of these establishments belong to the domain of the small industry. Thus, for the 3,274 woolen factories, the average is only from twenty to fifty workers per factory; it is also from twenty-seven to thirty-eight for shoddy, and thirty-seven to seventy-six for the other branches. Only for knitting do the averages rise to ninety-three persons per factory; but we are just going to see that the small industry reappears in this branch in force under the name of workshops.
All these important branches of the British textile industry, which give work to more than 240,000 men and women, have thus remained up till now at the stage of a small and middle-sized industry.
If we take now the NON-TEXTILE industries, we find, on the one side, an immense number of small industries which have grown up around the great ones, and owing to them; and, on the other side, a large part of the fundamental industries have remained in the stage of small establishments. The average for all these branches, which give occupation to three-fourths of all the industrial workers of the United Kingdom--that is, 2,755,460 workers--hardly attains, we saw, thirty-five persons per factory--the workshops being not yet included in this division. However, it is especially when we go into details, and analyze the figures which I have calculated for each separate branch, that we fully realize the importance of the petty trades in England. This is what we are going to do, mentioning first what belongs here to the great industry, and studying next the small one.
Following the classification adopted by the Factory Inspectors, we see first that the gasworks belong to the domain of the fairly big establishments (seventy-eight people on the average). The india-rubber factories belong to the same category (125 workers on the average): and amid the 456 glass-works of the United Kingdom there must be some big ones, as the average is eighty-seven workpeople.
Next come mining and metallurgy, which are carried on, as a rule, on a great scale; but already in the iron foundries we find a great number of establishments belonging to the middle-sized and small industry. Thus at Sheffield I saw myself several foundries employing only from five to six workmen, For the making of huge machinery there is, of course, a number of very large works, such as those of Armstrong, Whitworth, or those of the State at Woolwich. But it is very instructive to see how very small works prosper by the side of big ones; they are numerous enough to reduce the average to seventy workers per establishment for the 5,318 works of this category.
Shipbuilding and the manufacture of metallic tubes evidently belong to the great industry (averages, 243 and 156 persons per establisment); and the same applies to the two great metallurgical works of the State, which employ between them 23,455 workmen.
Going over to the chemical works, we find again a great industry in the fabrication of alkalies and of matches (only twenty-five works); but, on the contrary, the fabrication of soap and candles, as well as manures and all other sorts of chemical produce, which represents nearly 2,000 factories, belongs almost entirely to the domain of the small industry. The average is only twenty-nine workpeople per factory. There are, of course, half a dozen of very large soap works--one knows them only too well by their advertisements on the cliffs and in the fields; but the low average of twenty-nine workmen proves how many small factories must exist by the side of the soap kings. The 2,500 works engaged in the fabrication of furniture, both in wood and in iron, belong again chiefly to the small industry. The small and very small factories swarm by the side of a few great ones, to say nothing of the thousands of the still smaller workshops. The great storehouses of our cities are for the most part mere exhibitions of furniture made in very small factories and workshops.
In the fabrication of food produce we find several great sugar, chocolate, and preserves works; but by their side we find also a very great number of small establishments, which seem not to complain of the proximity of the big ones, as they occupy nearly two-thirds of the workers employed in this branch. I do not speak, of course, of the village windmills, but one cannot fail to be struck by the immense number of small breweries (2,076 breweries have on the average only twenty-four workmen each) and of the establishments engaged in the fabrication of aerated waters (they number 3,365, and have on the average only eleven operatives per establishment).
In calico-printing we enter once more the domain of great factories; but by their side we find a pretty large number of small ones; so that the average for all this category is 144 workpeople per factory. We find also fourteen great factories, having an average of 394 workpeople each, for dyeing in Turkey red. But we find also by their side more than 100,000 working-men employed in 2,725 small establishments of this class--bleaching, dressing, packing, and so on--and this gives us one more illustration of numerous small industries growing round the main ones.
In the making of ready-made clothing and the fabrication of hats, linen, boots and shoes, and gloves, we see the averages for the factories of this description going up to 80, 100, and 150 persons per factory. But it is here also that countless small workshops come in. It must also be noticed that most of the factories of ready-made clothing have their own special character. The factory buys the cloth and makes the cutting by means of special machinery; but the sewing is done by women, who come to work in the factory. They pay so much the sewing-machine, so much the motor power (if there is one), so much the gas, so much the iron, and so on, and they are on piece work. Very often this becomes a "sweating system" on a large scale. Round the big factories a great number of small workshops are centered.
And, finally, we find great factories for the fabrication of gunpowder and explosives (they employ less than 12,000 workpeople), stuff buttons, and umbrellas (only 6,000 employes). But we find also in the table of workshops that in these last two branches there are thousands of them by the side of a few great factories.
All taken, Mr. Whitelegge writes to me that of factories employing more than 1,000 workpeople each, he finds only sixty-five in the textile industries(102,600 workpeople) and only 128 (355,208 workpeople) in all non-textile industries.
In this brief enumeration we have gone over all that belongs to the great industry. The remainder belongs almost entirely to the domain of the small, and often the very small industry. Such are all the factories for woodwork, which have on the average only fifteen men per establishment, but represent a contingent of more than 100,000 workmen and more than 6,000 employers. The tanneries, the manufacture of all sorts of little things in ivory and bone, and even the brick-works and the potteries, representing a total of 260,000 workpeople and 11,200 employers, belong, with a very few exception, to the small industry.
Then we have the factories dealing with the burnishing and enameling of metals, which also belong chiefly to the small industry--the average being only twenty-eight workpeople per factory. But what is especially striking is the development of the small and very small industry in the fabrication of agricultural machinery (thirty-two workers per factory), of all sorts of tools (twenty-two on the average), needles and pins (forty-three), ironmongery, sanitary apparatus, and various instruments (twenty-five), even of boilers (forty-eight per factory), chains, cables, and anchors (in many districts this work, as also the making of nails, is made by hand by women).
Needless to say that the fabrication of furniture, which occupies nearly 64,000 operatives, belongs chiefly--more than three-fourths of it--to the small industry. The average for the 1,979 factories of this branch is only twenty-one workpeople, the workshops not being included in this number. The same is true of the factories for the curing of fish, machine-made pastry, and so on, which occupy 38,030 workpeople in more than 2,700 factories, having thus an average of fourteen operatives each.
Jewelry and the manufacture of watches, photographic apparatus, and all sorts of luxury articles, again belong to the small and very small industry, and give occupation to 54,000 persons.
All that belongs to printing, lithography, bookbinding, and stationery again represents a vast field occupied by the small industry, which prospers by the side of a small number of very large establishments. More than 120,000 are employed in these branches in more than 6,000 factories (workshops not yet included).
And, finally, we find a large domain occupied by saddlery, brush-making, the making of sails, basket-making, and the fabrication of a thousand little things in leather, paper, wood, metal, and so on. This class is certainly not insignificant, as it contains more than 4,300 employers and nearly 130,000 workpeople, employed in a mass of very small factories by the side of a few very great ones, the average being only from twenty-five to thirty-five persons per factory.
In short, in the different non-textile industries, the inspectors have tabulated 32,042 factories employing, each of them, less than ten workpeople.
All taken, we find 270,000 workpeople employed in small factories having less than fifty and even twenty workers each, the result being that the very great industry (the factories employing more than 1,000 workpeople per factory) and the very small one (less than ten workers) employ nearly the same number of operatives.
The important part played by the small industry in this country fully appears from this rapid sketch. And I have not yet spoken of the workshops. The Factory Inspectors mentioned, as we saw, in their first report, 88,814 workshops, in which 676,776 workpeople (356,098 women) were employed in 1897. But, as we have already seen, these figures are incomplete. The number of workshops is about 147,000, and there must be about 1,200,000 persons employed in them (820,000 men and about 356,000 women and children).
It is evident that this class comprises a very considerable number of bakers, small carpenters, tailors, cobblers, cartwrights, village smiths, and so on. But there is also in this class an immense number of workshops belonging to industry, properly speaking-that is, workshops which manufacture for the great commercial market. Some of these workshops may of course employ fifty persons or more, but the immense majority employ only from five to twenty workpeople each.
We thus find in this class 1,348 small establishments, scattered both in the villages and the suburbs of great cities, where nearly 14,000 persons make lace, knitting, embroidery, and weaving in hand-looms; more than 100 small tanneries, more than 20,000 cartwrights, and 746 small bicycle makers. In cutlery, in the fabrication of tools and small arms, nails and screws, and even anchors and anchor chains, we find again many thousands of small work shops employing something like 60,000 workmen. All that, let us remember, without counting those workshops which employ no women or children, and therefore are not submitted to the Factory Inspectors. As to the fabrication of clothing, which gives work to more than 350,000 men and women, distributed over nearly 45,000 workshops, let it be noted that it is not small tailors that is spoken of here, but that mass of workshops which swarm in Whitechapel and the suburbs of all great cities, and where we find from five to fifty women and men making clothing for the tailor shops, big and small. In these shops the measure is taken, and sometimes the cutting is made; but the clothing is sewn in the small workshops, which are very often somewhere in the country. Even parts of the commands of linen and clothing for the army find their way to workshops in country places. As to the underclothing and mercery which are sold in the great stores, they are fabricated in small workshops, which must be counted by the thousand.
The same is true of furniture, mattresses and cushions, hats, artificial flowers, umbrellas, slippers, and even cheap jewelry. The great shops, even the largest stores, mostly keep only an assortment of samples. All is manufactured at a very low price, and day by day, in thousands of small workshops.
It can thus be said that if we exclude from the class of workshops' employes 100,000 or even 200,000 workpeople who do not work for industry properly speaking, and if we add on the other side the nearly 500,000 workers who have not yet been tabulated by the inspectors in 1897, we find a population of more than 1,000,000 men and women who belong entirely to the domain of the small industry, and so must be added to those whom we found working in the small factories. The artisans who are, working single-handed were not included in this sketch.
We thus see that even in this country, which may be considered as representing the highest development of the great industry, the number of persons employed in the small trade continues to be immense. The small industries are as much a distinctive feature of the British industry as its few immense factories and ironworks.
Going over now to what is known about the small industries of this country from direct observation, we find that the suburbs of London, Glasgow, and other great cities swarm with small workshops, and that there are regions where the petty trades are as developed as they are. in Switzerland or in Germany. Sheffield is a well known example in point. The Sheffield cutlery --one of the glories of England-is not. made by machinery: it is chiefly made by hand. There are at Sheffield a number of firms which manufacture cutlery right through from the making of steel to the finishing of tools, and employ wageworkers; and yet even these firms--I am told by Edward Carpenter, who kindly collected for me information about the Sheffield trade--let out some part of their work to the "small masters." But by far the greatest number of the cutlers work in their homes with their relatives, or in small workshops supplied with wheel-power, which they rent for a few shillings a week. Immense yards are covered with buildings, which are subdivided into numbers of small workshops. Some of these cover but a few square yards, and there I saw smiths hammering, all the day long, blades of knives on a small anvil, close by the blaze of their fires; occasionally the smith may have one helper, or two. In the upper stories, scores of small workshops are supplied with wheel-power, and in each of them, three, four, or five workers and a "master" fabricate, with the occasional aid of a few plain machines, every description of tools: files, saws, blades of knives, razors, and so on. Grinding and glazing are done in other small workshops, and even steel is cast in a small foundry, the working staff of which consists only of five or six men.
When I walked through these workshops I easily imagined myself in a Russian cutlery village, like Pavlovo or Vorsma. The Sheffield cutlery has thus maintained its olden organization, and the fact is the more remarkable as the earnings of the cutlers are low as a rule; but, even when they are reduced to a few shillings a week, the cutler prefers to vegetate on his small earnings than to enter as a waged laborer in a "house." The spirit of the old trade organizations, which were so much spoken of in the 'sixties of the nineteenth century, is thus still alive.
Until lately, Leeds and its environs were also the seat of extensive domestic industries. When Edward Baines wrote, in 1857, his first account of the Yorkshire industries (in Th. Baines's Yorkshire, Past and Present), most of the woolen cloth which was made in that region was woven by hand.5 Twice a week the hand-made cloth was brought to the Clothiers' Hall, and by noon it was sold to the merchants, who had it dressed in their factories. Joint-stock mills were run by combined clothiers in order to prepare and spin the wool, but it was woven in the hand-looms by the clothiers and the members of their families. Twelve years later the hand-loom was superseded to a great extent by the power-loom; but the clothiers, who were anxious to maintain their independence, resorted to a peculiar organization: they rented a room, or part of a room, and sometimes also the power-looms, and they worked independently -- a characteristic organization partly maintained until now, and well adapted to illustrate the efforts of the petty traders to keep their ground, notwithstanding the competition of the factory. And it must be said that the triumphs of the factory were too often achieved only by means of the most fraudulent adulteration and the underpaid labor of the children.
The variety of domestic industries carried on in the Lake District is much greater than might be expected,, but they still wait for careful explorers. I will only mention the hoop-makers, the basket trade, the charcoal-burners, the bobbin-makers, the small iron furnaces working with charcoal at Backbarrow, and so on.6 As a whole, we do not well know the petty trades of this country, and therefore we sometimes come across quite unexpected facts. Few continental writers on industrial topics would guess, indeed, that twenty-five years ago nails were made by hand by thousands of men, women, and children in the Black Country of South Staffordshire, as also in Derbyshire,7 and that some of this industry remains still in existence, or that the best needles are made by hand at Redditch. Chains are also made by hand at Dudley and Cradley, and although the Press is periodically moved to speak of the wretched conditions of the chain-makers, men and women, the trade still maintains itself; while nearly 7,000 men were busy in 1890 in their small workshops in making locks, even of the plainest description, at Walsall, Wolverhampton, and Willenhall. The various ironmongeries connected with horse-clothing -- bits, spurs, bridles, and so on-are also largely made by hand at Walsall.
The Birmingham gun and rifle trades, which also belong to the same domain of small industries, are well known. As to the various branches of dress, there are still important divisions of the United Kingdom where a variety of domestic trades connected with dress is carried on on a large scale. I need only mention the cottage industries of Ireland, as also some of them which have survived in the shires of Buckingham, Oxford, and Bedford; hosiery is a common occupation in the villages of the counties Of Nottingham and Derby; and several great London firms send out cloth to be made into dress in the villages of Sussex and Hampshire. Woolen hosiery is at home in the villages of Leicester, and especially in Scotland; straw-plaiting and hat-making in many parts of the country; while at Northampton, Leicester, Ipswich, and Stafford shoemaking was, till quite lately, a widely spread domestic occupation, or was carried on in small workshops; even at Norwich it remains a petty trade to some extent, notwithstanding the competition of the factories. It must also be said that the recent appearance of large boot and shoe factories has considerably increased the number of girls and women who sew the "uppers" and embroider the slippers, either in their own houses or in sweaters' workshops, while new small factories have developed of late for the making of heels, card-boxes, and so on.
The petty trades are thus an important factor of industrial life even in Great Britain, although many of them have gathered into the towns. But if we find in this country so many fewer rural, industries than on the Continent, we must -not imagine that their disappearance is due only to a keener competition of the factories. The chief cause was the compulsory exodus from the villages.
As everyone knows from Thorold Rogers' work, the growth of the factory system in England was intimately connected with that enforced exodus. Whole industries, which prospered till then, were killed downright by the forced clearing of estates.8 The workshops, much more even than the factories, multiply wherever they find cheap labor; and the specific feature of this country is, that the cheapest labor-that is, the greatest number of destitute people-is to be found in the great. cities. The agitation raised (with no result) in connection with the "Dwellings of the Poor," the "Unemployed," and the "Sweating System," has fully disclosed that characteristic feature of the economic life of England and Scotland; and the painstaking researches made by Mr. Charles Booth have shown that one-quarter of the population of London-that is, 1,000,000 out of the 3,800,000 who entered within the scope of his inquest-would be happy if the heads of their families could have regular earnings of something like 91 a week all the year round. Half of them would be satisfied with even less than that. The same state of things was found by Mr. Seebohm Rowntree at York.9 Cheap labor is offered in such quantities in the suburbs of all the great cities of Great Britain, that the petty and domestic trades, which are scattered on the Continent in the villages, gather in this country in the cities.
Exact figures as to the small industries are wanting, but a simple walk through the suburbs of London -would do much to realize the variety of petty trades which swarm in the metropolis, and, in fact, in all chief urban agglomerations. The evidence given before the "Sweating System Committee" has shown how far the furniture and ready-made clothing palaces and the "Bonheur des Dames" bazaars of London are mere exhibitions of samples, or markets for the sale of the produce of the small industries. Thousands of sweaters, some of them having their own workshops, and others merely distributing work to sub-sweaters who distribute it again amid the destitute, supply those palaces and bazaars with goods made in the slums or in very small workshops. The commerce is centralized in those bazaars-not the industry. The furniture palaces and bazaars are thus merely playing the part which the feudal castle formerly played in agriculture: they centralize the profits -not the production.
In reality, the extension of the petty trades, side by side with the great factories, is nothing to be wondered at. It is an economic necessity.
The absorption of the small workshops by bigger concerns is a fact which had struck the economists in the 'forties of the last century, especially in the textile trades. It is continued still in many other trades, and is especially striking in a number of very big concerns dealing with metals and war supplies for the different States. But there is another process which is going on parallel with the former, and which consists in the continuous creation of new industries, usually making their start on a small scale. Each new factory calls into existence a number of small workshops, partly to supply its own needs and partly to submit its produce to a further transformation. Thus, to quote but one instance, the cotton mills have created an immense demand for wooden bobbins and reels, and thousands of men in the Lake District set to manfuacture them-by hand first, and later on with the aid of some plain machinery. Only quite recently, after years had been spent in inventing and improving the machinery, the bobbins began to be made on a larger scale in factories. And even yet, as the machines are very costly, a great quantity of bobbins are made in small workshops, with but little aid from machines, while the factories themselves are relatively small, and seldom employ more than fifty operatives chiefly children. As to the reels of irregular shape, they are still made by hand, or partly with the aid of small machines, continually invented by the workers. New industries thus grow up to supplant the old ones; each of them passes through a preliminary stage on a small scale before reaching the great factory stage; and the more active the inventive genius of a nation is, the more it has of these budding industries. The countless small bicycle works which have lately grown up in this country, and are supplied with ready-made parts of the bicycle by the larger factories, are an instance in point. The domestic and small workshops fabrication of boxes for matches, boots, hats, confectionery, grocery and so on is another familiar instance.
Besides, the large factory stimulates the birth of now petty trades by creating new wants. The cheapness of cottons and woolens, of paper and brass, has created hundreds of new small industries. Our households are full of their produce--mostly things of quite modern invention. And while some of them already are turned out by the million in the great factory, all have passed through the small workshop stage, before the demand was great enough to require the great factory organization, The more we may have of new inventions, the more shall we have of such small industries; and again, the more we have of them, the more shall we have of the inventive genius, the want of which is so justly complained of in this country (by W. Armstrong, among many others). We must not wonder, therefore, if we see so many small trades in this country; but we must regret that the great number have abandoned the villages in consequence of the bad conditions of land tenure, and that they have migrated in such numbers to the cities, to the detriment of agriculture.
In England, as everywhere, the small industries are an important factor in the industrial life of the country ; and it is chiefly in the infinite variety of the small trades, which utilize the half-fabricated produce of the great industries, that inventive genius is developed, and the rudiments of the future great industries are elaborated. The small bicycle workshops, with the hundreds of small improvements which they introduced, have been under our very eyes the primary cells out of which the great industry of the motor cars, and later on of the airplanes, has grown up. The small village jam-makers were the precursors and the rudiments of the great factories of preserves which now employ hundreds of workers. And soon.
Consequently, to affirm that the small industries are doomed to disappear, while we see new ones appear every day, is merely to repeat a hasty generalization that was made in the earlier part of the nineteenth century by those who witnessed the absorption of hand-work by machinery work in the cotton industry--a generalization which, as we saw already, and are going still better to see on the following pages, finds no confirmation from the study of industries, great and small, and is upset by the censuses of the factories and workshops. Far from showing a tendency to disappear, the small industries show, on the contrary, a tendency towards making a further development, since the municipal supply of electrical power--such as we have, for instance, in Manchester--permits the owner of a small factory to have a cheap supply of motive power, exactly in the proportion required at a given time, and to pay only for what is really consumed.
Petty Trades in France.
Small industries are met with in France in a very great variety, and they represent a most important feature of national economy. it is estimated, in fact, that while one-half of the population of France live upon agriculture, and one-third upon industry, this third part is equally distributed between the great industry and the small one.10 This last occupies about 1,650,000 workers and supports from 4,000,000 to 5,000,000 persons. A considerable number of peasants who resort to small industries without abandoning agriculture would have to be added to the just-mentioned items, and the additional earnings which these peasants find in industry are so important that in several parts of France peasant proprietorship could not be maintained without the aid derived from the rural industries.
The small peasants know what they have to expect the day they become factory hands in a town; and so long as they have not been dispossessed by the money-lender of their lands and houses, and so long as the village rights in the communal grazing grounds or woods have not been lost, they cling to a combination of industry with agriculture. Having, in most cases, no horses to plow the land, they resort to an arrangement which is widely spread, if not universal, among small French landholders, even in purely rural districts (I saw it even in HauteSavoie). One of the peasants who keeps a plow and a team of horses tills all the, fields in turn. At the same time, owing to a wide maintenance of the communal spirit, which I have described elsewhere,11 further support is found in the communal shepherd, the communal wine-press, and various forms of "aids" among the peasants. And wherever the village-community spirit is maintained, the small industries persist, while no effort is spared to bring the small plots under higher culture.
Market-gardening and fruit culture often go hand in hand with small industries. And wherever well-being is found on a relatively unproductive soil, it is nearly always due to a combination of the two sister arts.
The most wonderful adaptations of the small industries to new requirements, and substantial technical progress in the methods of production, can be noted at the same time. It may even be said of France, as it has been said of Russia, that when a rural industry dies out, the cause of its decay is found much less in the competition of rival factories-in hundreds of localities the small industry undergoes a complete modification, or it changes its character in such cases-than in the decay of the population as agriculturists. Continually we see that only when the small landholders have been ruined, as such, by a group of causes-the loss of communal meadows, or abnormally high rents, or the havoc made in some locality by the marchands de biens (swindlers enticing the peasants to buy land on credit), or the bankruptcy of some shareholders' company whose shares had been eagerly taken by the peasants 12-only then do they abandon both the land and the rural industry and emigrate towards the towns.
Otherwise, a now industry always grows up when the competition of the factory becomes too acute -- a wonderful, hardly suspected adaptability being displayed by the small industries; or else the rural artisans resort to some form of intensive farming, gardening, etc., and in the meantime some other industry makes its appearance. A closer study of France under this aspect is instructive in a high degree.
It is evident that in most textile industries the power-loom supersedes the hand-loom, and the factory takes, or has taken already, the place of the cottage industry. Cottons, plain linen, and machine-made lace are now produced at such a low cost by machinery that hand-weaving evidently becomes an anachronism for the plainest descriptions of such goods. Consequently, though there were in France, in the year 1876, 328,300 hand-looms as against 121,340 power-looms, it may safely be taken that the number of the former has been considerably reduced within the next twenty years. However, the slowness with which this change is being accomplished is one of the most striking features of the present industrial organization of the textile trades of France.
The causes of this power of resistance of handloom-weaving become especially apparent when one consults such works as Reybaud's Le Coton, which was written in 1863, nearly half a century ago-that is, at a time when the cottage industries were still fully alive. Though an ardent admirer himself of the great industries, Reybaud faithfully noted the striking superiority of well-being in the weavers' cottages as compared with the misery of the factory hands in the cities. Already then, the cities of St. Quentin, Lille, Roubaix and Amiens were great centers for cotton-spinning Mills and cotton-weaving factories. But, at the same time, all sorts of cottons were woven in hand-looms, in the very suburbs of St. Quentin and in a hundred villages and hamlets around it, to be sold for finishing in the city. And Reybaud remarked that the horrible dwellings in town, and the general condition of the factory hands, stood in a wonderful contrast with the relative welfare of the rural weavers. Nearly every one of these last had his own house and a small field which he continued to cultivate.13
Even in such a branch as the fabrication of plain cotton velvets, in which the competition of the factories was especially keenly felt, homeweaving was widely spread, in 1863 and even in 1878, in the villages round Amiens. Although the earnings of the rural weavers were small, as a rule, the weavers preferred to keep to their own cottages, to their own crops and to their own cattle; and only repeated commercial crises, as well as several of the above-mentioned causes, hostile to the small peasant, compelled most of them to give up the struggle, and to seek employment in the factories, while part of them have, by this time, again returned to agriculture or taken to market-gardening.
Another important center for rural industries was in the neighborhood of Rouen, where no less than 110,000 persons were employed, in 1863, in weaving cottons for the finishing factories of that city. In the valley of the Andelle, in the department of Eure, each village was at that time an industrial bee-hive; each streamlet was utilized for setting into work a small factory. Reybaud described the condition of the peasants who combined agriculture with work at the rural factory as most satisfactory, especially in comparison with the condition of the slum-dwellers at Rouen, and he even mentioned a case or two in which the village factories belonged to the village communities.
Seventeen years later, Baudrillart14 depicted the same region in very much the same words; and although the rural factories bad had to yield to a great extent before the big factories, the rural industry was still valued as showing a yearly production of 85,000,000 francs (£2,400,000).
At the present time, the factories must have made further progress; but we still see from the excellent descriptions of M. Ardouin Dumazet, whose work will have in the future almost the same value as Arthur Young's Travels,15 that a considerable portion of the rural weavers has still survived; while at the same time one invariably meets, even nowadays, with the remark that relative well-being is prominent in the villages in which weaving is connected with agriculture.
Up to the present time, M. Ardouin Dumazet writes, "there is an industry which gives work to many hand-looms in the villages; it is the weaving of various stuffs for umbrellas and ladies' boots." Amiens is the chief center for this weaving.16 In other places they are making dresses out of Amiens velvet and various stuffs woven at Roubaix. It is a new industry; it has taken the place of the old one, which was making of Amiens a second Lyons.
In the district of Le Thelle, to the south of Beauvais, there is "a multitude of petty trades, of which one hardly imagines the importance. I have seen," M. Dumazet says, "small factories of buttons made from bone, ivory, or motherof-pearl, brushes, shoe-horns, keys for pianos, dominoes, counters and dice, spectacle-cases, small articles for the writing-table, handles for tools, measures, billiard keys-what not!
There is not one single village, however small, the population of which should not have its own industry."17 At the same time it must not be forgotten that thousands of small articles for the writing-table and for draftsmen are fabricated on a large scale in the small factories in the same region. Some of the workshops are situated in private houses, and in some of them artistic work is made; but most of them are located in special houses) where the necessary Power is hired by the owner of the workshop. You see here "a fantastic activity"--the word is M. Dumazet's; the division of labor is very great, and everywhere they invent new machine-tools.
Finally, in the villages of the Vermandois district (department of the Aisne), we find a considerable number of hand-looms (more than 3,000) upon which mixed stuffs made of cotton, wool and silk are Woven.18
Of course, it must be recognized that, as a rule, in northern France, Where cottons are fabricated on a large scale in factory towns, hand-weaving in the villages is nearly gone. But, as is seen already from the preceding, new small industries have grown up instead, and this is also the case in many other parts of France.
Taking the region situated between Rouen in the north-east, Orleans in the south-east, Rennes in the north-west, and Nantes in the south-west--that is, the old provinces of Normandy, Perche and Maine, and partly Touraine and Anjou, as they were seen by Ardouin Dumazet in 1895--we find there quite a variety of domestic and petty industries, both in the villages and in the towns.
At Laval (to the south-east of Rennes), where drills (coutils) were formerly woven out of flax in hand-looms, and at Alencon, formerly a great center for the cottage-weaving of linen, as well as for hand-made lace, Ardouin Dumazet found both the house and the factory linen industry in a lingering state. Cotton takes the lead. Drills are now made out of cotton in the factories, and the demand for flax goods is very small. Both domestic and factory weaving of flax goods are accordingly in a poor condition. The cottagers abandoned that branch of weaving, and the large factories, which had been erected at Alencon with the intention of creating a flax and hemp-cloth industry, had to be closed. Only one factory, occupying 250 hands, remains; while nearly 23,000 weavers, who found occupation at Mans, Fresnay and Alencon in hemp cloths and fine linen, had to abandon that industry. Those who worked in factories have emigrated to other towns, while those who had not broken with agriculture reverted to it. In this struggle of cotton versus flax and hemp, the former was victorious.
As to lace, it is made in such quantities by machinery at Calais, Caudry, St. Quentin and Tarare that only high-class artistic lace-making continues on a small scale at Alencon itself, but it still remains a by-occupation in the surrounding country. Besides, at Flers, and at Ferte Mace (a small town to the south of the former), hand-weaving is still carried on in about 5,400 hand-looms, although the whole trade, in factories and villages alike, is in a piteous state since the Spanish markets have been lost. Spain has now plenty of her own cotton mills. Twelve big spinning mills at Conde (where 4,000 tons of cotton were spun in 1883) were abandoned in 1893, and the workers were thrown into a most miserable condition.19
On the contrary, in an industry which supplies the home market-namely, in the fabrication of linen handkerchiefs, which itself is of a quite recent growth-we see that cottage-weaving is, even now, in full prosperity. Cholet (in Maineet-Loire, south-west of Angers) is the center of that trade. It has one spinning mill and one weaving mill, but both employ considerably fewer hands than domestic weaving, which is spread over no less than 200 villages of the surrounding region.20 Neither at Rouen nor in the industrial cities of Northern France are so many linen handkerchiefs fabricated as in this region in hand-looms, we are told by Ardouin Dumazet.
Within the curve made by the Loire as it flows past Orleans we find another prosperous center of domestic industries connected with cottons. "From Romorantin [in Loire-et-Cher, south of Orleans] to Argenton and Le Blanc," the same writer says, "we have one immense workshop where handkerchiefs are embroidered, and shirts, cuffs, collars and all sorts of ladies' linen are sewn or embroidered. There is not one house, even in the tiniest hamlets, where the women would not be occupied in that trade . . . and if this work is a mere passe-temps in vinegrowing regions, here it has become the chief resource of the population."21 Even at Romorantin itself, where 400 women and girls are employed in one factory, there are more than 1,000 women who sew linen in their houses.
The same must be said of a group of industrial villages peopled with clothiers in the neighborhood of another Normandy city, Elbaeuf. When Baudrillart visited them in 1878-1880, he was struck with the undoubted advantages offered by a combination of agriculture with industry. Clean houses, clean dresses, and a general stamp of well-being were characteristic of these villages.
Happily enough, weaving is not the only small industry of both this region and Brittany. On the contrary, scores of other small industries enliven the villages and burgs. At Fougeres (in Ille-et-Vilaine, to the north-east of Reims) one sees how the factory has contributed to the development of various small and domestic trades. In 1830 this town was a great center for the domestic fabrication of the so-called chaussons de tresse. The competition of the prisons killed, however, this primitive industry; but it was soon substituted by the fabrication of soft socks in felt (chaussons de feuter). This last industry also went down, and then the fabrication of boots and shoes was introduced, this last giving origin, in its turn, to the boot and shoe factories, of which there are now thirty-three at Fougeres, employing 8,000 workers22 (yearly production about 5,000,000 pairs). But at the same time domestic industries took a new development. Thousands of women are employed now in their houses in sewing the "uppers" and in embroidering fancy shoes. Moreover, quite a number of smaller workshops grew up in the neighborhood, for the fabrication of cardboard boxes, wooden heels, and so on, as well as a number of tanneries, big and small. And M. Ardouin Dumazet's remark is, that one is struck to find, owing to these industries, an undoubtedly higher level of well-being in the villages-quite unforeseen in the center of this purely agricultural region.23
In Brittany, in the neighborhood of Quimperle, a great number of small workshops for the fabrication of the felt hats which are worn by the peasants is scattered in the villages; and rapidly improving agriculture goes hand in hand with that trade. Well-being is a distinctive feature of these villages.24 At Hennebont (on the southern coast of Brittany) 1,400 workers are employed in an immense factory in the fabrication of tins for preserves, and every year twenty-two to twenty-three tons of iron are transformed into steel, and next into tins, which are sent to Paris, Bordeaux, Nantes, and so on. But the factory has created "quite a world of tiny workshops" in this purely agricultural region: small tin-ware workshops, tanneries, potteries, and so on, while the slags are transformed in small factories into manure.
Agriculture and industry are thus going here hand in hand, the importance of not severing the union being perhaps best seen at Loudeac, a small town in the midst of Brittany (department of Cotes-du-Nord). Formerly the villages in this neighborhood were industrial, all hamlets being peopled with weavers who fabricated the well-known Brittany linen. Now, this industry having gone down very much, the weavers have simply returned to the soil. Out of an industrial town, Loudeac has become an agricultural market town; 25 and, what is most interesting, these populations conquer new lands for agriculture and turn the formerly quite unproductive landes into rich corn fields; while on the northern coast of Brittany, around Dol, on land which began to be conquered from the sea in the twelfth century, market-gardening is now carried on to a very great extent for export to England.
Altogether, it is striking to observe, on perusing M. Ardouin Dumazet's little volumes, how domestic industries go hand in hand with all sorts of small industries in agriculturegardening, poultry-farming, fabrication of fruit preserves, and so on-and how all sorts of associations for sale and export are easily introduced. Mans is, as known, a great center for the export of geese and all sorts of poultry to England.
Part of Normandy (namely, the departments of Eure and Orne) is dotted with small workshops where all sorts of small brass goods and hardware are fabricated in the villages. Of course, the domestic fabrication of pins is nearly gone, and as for needles, polishing only, in a very primitive form, has been maintained in the villages. But all sorts of small hardware, including nails, lockets, etc., in great variety, are fabricated in the villages, especially round Laigle. Stays are also sewn in small workshops in many villages, notwithstanding the competition of prison work.26
Tinchebrai (to the west of Flers) is a real center for a great variety of smaller goods in iron, mother-of-pearl and horn. All sorts of hardware and locks are fabricated by the peasants during the time they can spare from agriculture, and real works of art, some of which were much admired at the exhibition of 1889, are produced by these humble peasant sculptors in horn, mother-of-pearl and iron. Farther south, the polishing of marble goods is carried on in numbers of small workshops, scattered round Solesmes and grouped round one central establishment where marble pieces are roughly shaped with the aid of steam, to be finished in the small village workshops. At Sable the workers in that branch, who all own their houses and gardens, enjoy a real well-being especially noticed by our traveler.27
In the woody regions of the Perche and the Maine we find all sorts of wooden industries which evidently could only be maintained owing to the communal possession of the woods. Near the forest of Perseigne there is a small burg, Fresnaye, which is entirely peopled with workers in wood.
"There is not one house," Ardouin Dumazet writes, "in which wooden goods would not be fabricated. Some years ago there was little variety in their produce; spoons, salt-boxes, shepherds' boxes, scales, various wooden pieces for weavers, flutes and hautboys, spindles, wooden measures, funnels, and wooden bowls were only made. But Paris wanted to have a thousand things in which wood was combined with iron: mouse-traps, cloak-pegs, spoons for jam, brooms. . . . And now every house has a workshop containing either a turninglathe, or some machine-tools for chopping wood, for making lattice-work, and so on. . . . Quite a new industry was born, and the most coquettish things are now fabricated. Owing to this industry the population is happy. The earnings are not high, but each worker owns his house and garden, and occasionally a bit of field." 28
At Neufchatel wooden shoes are made, and the hamlet, we are told, has a most smiling aspect. To every house a garden is attached,and none of the misery of big cities is to be seen. At Jupilles and in the surrounding country other varieties of wooden goods are produced: taps, boxes of different kinds, together with wooden shoes; while at the forest of Vibraye two workshops have been erected for turning out umbrella handles by the million for all France. One of these workshops having been founded by a worker sculptor, he has invented and introduced in his workshop the most ingenious machine-tools. About 150 men work at this factory; but it is evident that half a dozen smaller workshops, scattered in the villages, would have answered equally well.
Going now over to a quite different region, the Nievre, in the center of France, and Haute Marne, in the east-we find that both regions are great centers for a variety of small industries, some of which are maintained by associations of workers, while others have grown up in the shadow of factories. The small iron workshops which formerly covered the country have not disappeared: they have undergone a transformation; and now the country is covered with small workshops where agricultural machinery, chemical produce, and pottery are fabricated; "one ought to go as far as Guerigny and Fourchambault to find the great industry;" 29 while a number of small workshops for the fabrication of a variety of hardware flourish by the side of, and owing to the proximity of, the industrial centers.
Pottery makes the fortune of the valley of the Loire about Nevers. High-class art pottery is made in this town, while in the villages plain pottery is fabricated and exported by merchants who go about with their boats selling it. At Gien a large factory of china buttons (made out of felspar-powder cemented with milk) has lately been established, and employs 1,500 workmen, who produce from 3,500 to 4,500 lb. of buttons every day. And, as is often the case, part of the work is done in the villages. For many miles on both banks of the Loire, in all villages, old people, women and children sew the buttons to the cardboard pieces. Of course, that sort of work is wretchedly paid; but it is resorted to only because there is no other sort of industry in the neighborhood to which the peasants could give their leisure time.
In the same region of the Haute Marne, especially in the neighborhood of Nogent, we find cutlery as a by-occupation to agriculture, Landed property is very much subdivided in that part of France, and great numbers of peasants own but from two to three acres per family, or even less. Consequently, in thirty villages round Nogent, about 5,000 men are engaged in cutlery, chiefly of the highest sort (artistic knives are occasionally sold at as much as £20 a piece), while the lower sorts are fabricated in the neighborhoods of Thiers, in Puy-de-Dome (Auvergne). The Nogent industry has developed spontaneously, with no aid from without, and in its technical part it shows considerable progress. 30 At Thiers, where the cheapest sorts of cutlery are made, the division of labor, the cheapness of rent for small workshops supplied with motive power from the Durolle river, or from small gas motors, the aid of a great variety of specially invented machine-tools, and the existing combination of machine-work with hand-work have resulted in such a perfection of the technical part of the trade that it is considered doubtful whether the factory system could further economize labor. 31 For twelve miles round Thiers, in each direction, all the streamlets are dotted with small work-shops, in which peasants, who continue to cultivate their fields, are at work.
Basket-making is again an important cottage industry in several parts of France, namely in Aisne and in Haute Marne. In this last department, at Villaines, everyone is a basketmaker, "and all the basketmakers belong to a co-operative society," Ardouin Dumazet remarks.32 "There are no employers; all the produce is brought once a fortnight to the co-operative stores and there it is sold for the association. About 150 families belong to it, and each owns a house and some vineyards." At Fays-Billot, also in Haute Marne, 1,500 basket-makers belong to an association; while at Thiérache, where several thousand men are engaged in the same trade, no association has been formed, the earnings being in consequence extremely low.
Another very important center of petty trades is the French Jura, or the French part of the Jura Mountains, where the watch trade has attained, as known, a high development. When 1 visited these villages between the Swiss frontier and Besançon in the year 1878, I was struck by the high degree of relative well-being which I could observe, even though I was perfectly well acquainted with the Swiss villages in the Val de Saint Imier. It is very probable that the machine-made watches have brought about a crisis in French watch-making as they have in Switzerland. But it is known that part, at least, of the Swiss watch-makers have strenuously fought against the necessity of being enrolled in the factories, and that while watch factories grew up at Geneva and elsewhere, considerable numbers of the watchmakers have taken to divers other trades which continue to be carried on as domestic or small industries. I must only add that in the French Jura great numbers of watch-makers were at the same time owners of their houses and gardens, very often of bits of fields, and especially of communal meadows, and that the communal fruitièes, or creameries, for the common sale of butter and cheese, are widely spread in that part of France.
So far as I could ascertain, the development of the machine-made watch industry has not destroyed the small industries of the Jura hills. The watch-makers have taken to new branches, and, as in Switzerland, they have created various new industries. From Ardouin Dumazet's travels we can, at anyrate, borrow an insight into the present state of the southern part of this region. In the neighborhoods of Nantua and Cluses silks are woven in nearly all villages, the peasants giving to weaving their spare time from agriculture, while quite a number of small workshops (mostly less than twenty looms, one of 100 looms) are scattered in the little villages, on the streamlets running from the hills. Scores of small saw-mills have also been built along the streamlet Merloz, for the fabrication of all sorts of little pretty things in wood. At Oyonnax, a small town on the Ain, we have a big center for the fabrication of combs, an industry more than 200 years old, which took a now development since the last war through the invention of celluloid. No less than 100 or 120 "masters" employ from two to fifteen workers each, while over 1,200 persons work in their houses, making combs out of Irish horn and French celluloid. Wheelpower was formerly rented in small workshops, but electricity, generated by a waterfall, has lately been introduced, and is now distributed in the houses for bringing into motion small motors of from onequarter to twelve horsepower. And it is remarkable to notice that as soon as electricity gave the possibility to return to domestic work, 300 workers left at once the small workshops and took to work in their houses. Most of these workers have their own cottages and gardens, and they show a very interesting spirit of association. They have also erected four workshops for making cardboard boxes, and their production is valued at 2,000,000 fr. every year. 33
At St. Claude, which is a great center for brier pipes (sold in large quantities in London with English trade-marks, and therefore eagerly bought by those Frenchmen who visit London, as a souvenir from the other side of the Channel), both big and small workshops, supplied by motive force from the Tacon streamlet, prosper by the side of each other. Over 4,000 men and women are employed in this trade, while all sorts of small by-trades have grown by its side (amber and horn mouth-pieces, sheaths, etc.). Countless small workshops are busy besides, on the banks of the two streams, with the fabrication of all sorts of wooden things: match-boxes, beads, sheaths for spectacles, small things in horn, and so on, to say nothing of a rather large factory (200 workers) where metric measures are fabricated for the whole world. At the same time thousands of persons in St. Claude, in the neighboring villages and in the smallest mountain hamlets, are busy in cutting diamonds (an industry only fifteen years old in this region), and other thousands are busy in cutting various less precious stones. All this is done in quite small workshops supplied by water-power. 34
The extraction of ice from some lakes and the gathering of oak-bark for tanneries complete the picture of these busy villages, where industry joins hands with agriculture, and modern machines and appliances are so well put in the service of the small workshops.
On the other side, at Besançon, which was, in 1878, when I visited it, a great center for watch-making, "all taken, nothing has yet been changed in the habits of the workingclass," M. Dumazet wrote in 1901. The watchmakers continued to work in their houses or in small workshops. 35 Only there was no complete fabrication of the watch or the clock. Many important parts-the wheels, etc.--were imported from Switzerland or from different towns of France. And, as is always the case, numerous small secondary workshops for making the watch-cases, the hands, and so on, grew up in that neighborhood.
The same has to be said of Montbéliard--another important center of the watch trade. By the side of the manufactures, where all the parts of the mechanism of the watch are fabricated by machinery, there is quite a number of workshops where various parts of the watch are made by skilled workmen; and this industry has already given birth to a new branch--the making of various tools for these workshops, as also for different other trades.
In other parts of the same region, such as Héricourt, a variety of small industries has grown by the side of the great ironmongery factories. The city spreads into the villages, where the population are making coffee-mills, spice-mills, machines for crushing the grain for the cattle, as well as saddlery, small ironmongery, or even watches. Elsewhere the fabrication of different small parts of the watch having been monopolized by the factories, the workshops began to manufacture the small parts of the bicycles, and later on of the motor-cars. In short, we have here quite a world of industries of modern origin, and with them of inventions made to simplify the work of the band.
Finally, omitting a mass of small trades, I will only name the hat-makers of the Loire, the stationery of the Ardèche, the fabrication of hardware in the Doubs, the glove-makers of the Isère, the broom and brush-makers of the Oise (valued at £800,000 per annum), and the house machine-knitting in the neighborhoods of Troyes. But I must say a few words more about two important centers of small industries: the Lyons region and Paris.
At the present time the industrial region of which Lyons is the center 36 includes the departments of Rhône, Loire, Drôme, Saône-et-Loire, Ain, the southern part of the Jura department, and the western part of Savoy, as far as Annecy, while the silkworm is reared as far as the Alps, the Cévennes Mountains, and the neighborhoods of Macon. It contains, besides fertile plains, large billy tracks, also very fertile as a rule, but covered with snow during part of the winter, and the rural populations are therefore bound to resort to some industrial occupation in addition to agriculture; they find it in silk-weaving and various small industries. Altogether it may be said that the région lyonnaise is characterized as a separate center of French civilization and art, and that a remarkable spirit of research, discovery and invention has developed there in all directions--scientific and industrial.
The Croix Rousso at Lyons, where the silkweavers (canuts) have their chief quarters, is the center of that industry, and in IS95 the whole of that hill, thickly covered with houses, five, six, eight and ten stories high, resounded with the noise of the looms which were busily going in every department of that big agglomeration. Electricity has lately been brought into the service of this domestic industry, supplying motive power to the looms.
To the south of Lyons, in the city of Vienne, hand-weaving is disappearing. "Shoddy" is now the leading produce, and twenty-eight concerns only remain out of the 120 fabriques which existed thirty years ago. Old woolen rags, rags of carpets, and all the dust from the carding and spinning in the wool and cotton factories of Northern France, with a small addition of cotton, are transformed here into cloth which flows from Vienne to all the big cities of France--20,000 yards of "shoddy" every day-to supply the ready-made clothing factories, Hand-weaving has evidently nothing to do in that industry, and in 1890 only 1,300 hand-looms were at work out of the 4,000 which were in motion in 1870. Large factories, employing a total of 1,800 workers, have taken the place of these hand-weavers, while "shoddy" has taken the place of cloth. All sorts of flannels, felt hats, tissues of horse-hair, and so on, are fabricated at the same time. But while the great factory thus conquered the city of Vienne., its suburbs and its nearest surroundings became the center of a prosperous gardening and fruit culture, which has already been mentioned in chapter iv.
The banks of the Rhône, between Ampuis and Condrieu, are one of the wealthiest parts, of all France, owing to the shrubberies and nurseries, marketgardening, fruit-growing, vinegrowing, and cheese-making out of goats' milk. I-louse industries go there hand in hand with an intelligent culture of the soil; Condrieu, for instance, is a famous center for embroidery, which is made partly by hand, as of old, and partly by machinery.
In the west of Lyons, at I'Arbresles, factories have grown up for making silks and velvets; but a large part of the population still continue to weave in their houses; while farther west, Panissières is the center of quite a number of villages in which linen and silks are woven as a domestic industry. Not all these workers own their houses, but those, at least, who own or rent a small piece of land or garden, or keep a couple of cows, are said to be well off, and the land, as a rule, is said to be admirably cultivated by these weavers.
The chief industrial center of this part of the Lyons region is certainly Tarare. At the time when Reybaud wrote his already-mentioned work, Le Coton, it was a center for the manufacture of muslins and it occupied in this industry the same position as Leeds formerly occupied in this country in the woolen cloth trade. The spinning mills and the large finishing factories were at Tarare, while the weaving of the muslins and the embroidery of the same were made in the surrounding villages, especially in the hilly tracts of the Beaujolais and the Forez. Each peasant house, each farm and métayerie were small workshops at that time, and one could see, Reybaud wrote, the lad of twenty embroidering fine muslin after he had finished cleaning the farm stables, without the work suffering in its delicacy from a combination of two such varied pursuits. On the contrary, the delicacy of the work and the extreme variety of patterns were a distinctive feature of the Tarare muslins and a cause of their success. All testimonies agreed at the same time in recognizing that, while agriculture found support in the industry, the agricultural population enjoyed a relative well-being.
By this time the industry has undergone a thorough transformation, but still no less than 60,000 persons, representing a population of about 250,000 souls, work for Tarare in the hilly tracts, weaving all sorts of muslins for all parts of the world, and they earn every year £480,000 in this way.
Amplepuis, notwithstanding its own factories of silks and blankets, remains one of the local centers for such muslins; while close by, Thizy is a center for a variety of linings, flannels, "peruvian serges," "oxfords," and other mixed woolen-and-cotton stuffs which are woven in the mountains by the peasants. No less than 3,000 hand-looms are thus scattered in twentytwo villages., and about £600,000 worth of various stuffs are woven every year by the rural weavers in this neighborhood alone; while 15,000 powerlooms are at work in both Thizy and the great city of Roanne, in which two towns all varieties of cottons (linings, flannelettes, apron cloth) and. silk blankets are woven in factories by the million yards.
At Cours, 1,600 workers are employed in making "blankets," chiefly of the lowest sort (even such as are sold at 2s. and even 10d. a piece, for export to Brazil); all possible and imaginable rags and sweepings from all sorts of textile factories (jute, cotton, flax, hemp, wool and silk) are used for that industry, in which the factory is, of course, fully victorious. But even at Roanne, where the fabrication of cottons has attained a great degree of perfection and 9,000 power-looms are at work, producing every year more than 30,000,000 yards--even at Roanne one finds with astonishment that domestic industries are not dead, but yield every year the respectable amount of more than 10,000,000 yards of stuffs. At the same time, in the neighborhood of that big city the industry of fancylinitting has taken within the last thirty years a sudden development. Only 2,000 women were employed in it in 1864, but their numbers were estimated by M. Dumazet at 20,000; and, without abandoning their rural work, they find time to knit, with the aid of small knitting-machines, all sorts of fancy articles in wool, the annual value of which attains £6360,000. 37
It must not be thought, however, that textiles and connected trades are the only small industries in this locality. Scores of various rural industries continue to exist besides, and in nearly all of them the methods of production are continually improved. Thus, when the rural making of plain chairs became unprofitable, articles of luxury and stylish chairs began to be fabricated in the villages, and similar transformations are found everywhere.
More details about this extremely interesting region will be found in the Appendix, but one remark must be made in this place. Notwithstanding its big industries and coal mines, this part of France has entirely maintained its rural aspect, and is now one of the best cultivated parts of the country. What most deserves admiration is-not so much the development of the great industries, which, after all, here as elsewhere, are to a great extent international in their origins-as the creative and inventive powers and capacities of adaptation which appear among the great mass of these industrious populations. At every step, in the field, in the garden, in the orchard, in the dairy, in the industrial arts, in the hundreds of small inventions in these arts, one sees the creative genius of the folk. In these regions one best understands why France, taking the mass of its population, is considered the richest country of Europe.38
The chief center for petty trades in France is, however, Paris. There we find, by the side of the large factories, the greatest variety of petty trades for the fabrication of goods of every description, both for the home market and for export. The petty trades at Paris so much prevail over the factories that the average number of workmen employed in the 98,000 factories and workshops of Paris is less than ,six, while the number of persons employed in workshops which have less than five operatives is almost twice as big as the number of persons, employed in the larger establishments. 39 In fact, Paris is a great bee-hive where hundreds of thousands of men and women fabricate in small workshops all possible varieties of goods which require skill, taste and invention. These small workshops, in which artistic finish and rapidity of work are so much praised, necessarily stimulate the mental powers of the producers; and we may safely admit that if the Paris workmen are generally considered, and really are, more developed intellectually than the workers of any other European capital, this is due to a great extent to the character of the work they are engaged in--a work which implies artistic taste, skill, and especially inventiveness, always wide awake in order to invent now patterns of goods and steadily to increase and to perfect the technical methods of production. It also appears very probable that if we find a highly developed working population in Vienna and Warsaw, this depends again to a very great extent upon the very considerable development of similar small industries, which stimulate invention and so much contribute to develop the worker's intelligence.
The Galerie du travail at the Paris exhibitions is always a most remarkable sight. One can appreciate in it both the variety of the small. industries which are carried on in French towns and the skill and inventing powers of the workers. And the question necessarily arises: Must all this skill, all this intelligence, be swept away by the factory, instead of becoming a new fertile source of progress under a better organization of production? must all this independence and inventiveness of the worker disappear before the factory leveling? and, if it must, would such a transformation be a progress, as so many economists who have only studied figures and not human beings are ready to maintain?
At anyrate, it is quite certain that even if the absorption of the French petty trades by the big factories were possible-which seems extremely doubtful-the absorption would not be accomplished so soon as that. The small industry of Paris fights hard for its maintenance, and it shows its vitality by the numberless machine-tools which are continually invented by the workers for improving and cheapening the produce.
The numbers of motors which were exhibited at the last exhibitions in the Galerie du travail bear a testimony to the fact that a cheap motor, for the small industry, is one of the leading problems of the day. Motors weighing only forty-five lb., including the boiler, were exhibited in 1889 to answer that want. Small two-horsepower engines, fabricated by the engineers of the Jura (formerly watch-makers) in their small works-hops, were at that time another attempt to solve the problemto say nothing of the water, gas and. electrical motors. 40 The transmission of steam-power to 230 small workshops which was made by the Société des Immeubles industriels was another attempt in the same direction, and the increasing efforts of the French engineers for finding out the best means of transmitting and subdividing power by means of compressed air, "tole-dynamic cables," and electricity are indicative of the endeavors of the small industry to retain its ground in the face of the competition of the factories. (See Appendix V.)
Such are the small industries in France, as they have been described by observers who saw them on the spot. Is is, however, most interesting to have exact statistical items concerning the extension of the small industries, and to know their importance, in comparison with the, great industry. Fortunately enough, a general census of the French industries was made in the year 1896; its results have been published in full, under the title of Résultats statistiques du recensement des industries et des professions, and in the fourth volume of this capital work we find an excellent summing up of the main results of the census, written by M. Lucien March. I give a résumé of these results in the Appendix, as otherwise I should have been compelled, in speaking of the distribution of great and small industry in France, to repeat very much what I have said in this same chapter, speaking of the United Kingdom. There is so much in common in the distribution of small and large factories in the different branches of industry in both countries that it would have been a tedious repetition. So I give here only the main items and refer the reader to Appendix W.
The general distribution of the workers' population in large, middle-sized, and *small factories in the year 1896 was as follows. First of all there was the great division of independent artisans who worked single-banded, and working men and women who were without permanent employment on the day of the census. Part of this large division belongs to agriculture but, after having deducted the agricultural establishments, M. March arrives at the figures of 483,000 establishments belonging to this category in industry, and 1,047,000 persons of both sexes working in these establishments, or temporarily attached to some industrial establishment. To these we must add 37,705 industrial establishments, where no hired workmen are employed, but the head of the establishment works with the aid of the members of his own family. We have thus, in these two divisions, about 520,700 establishments and 1,084,700 persons which I inscribe in the following table under the head of "No hired operatives." The table then appears as follows:--
Number of oper-
atives and clerks.
|No hired operatives||520,700||1,084,700|
From 1 to 10 employes
From 11 to 50 "
From 51 to 100 "
From 101 to 500 "
From 501 to 1000 "
More than 1000 "
|Total (with first division)||1,096,229||4,196,400|
These figures speak for themselves and show what an immense importance the small industry has in France. More details, showing the distribution of the great, middle-sized and small industry in different branches will be found in the Appendix, and there the reader will also see what a striking resemblance is offered under this aspect by the industry of France and that of the United Kingdom. In the next chapter it will be seen from a similar census that Germany stands in absolutely the same position.
It would have been very interesting to compare the present distribution of industries in France with what it was previously. But M. Lucien March tells us that "no statistics previous to 1896 have given us a knowledge of that distribution." Still, an inquest made between 1840 and 1845, and which M. March considers "very complete for the more important establishments which employed more than fifty workmen," was worked out by him, and he found that such establishments numbered 3,300 in 1840; in 1896 they had already attained the number of 7,400, and they occupied more than fifty-five per cent. of all the workpeople employed in industry. As to the establishments which employed more than 500 persons and which -numbered 133 in 1840 (six per cent. of all the workpeople), they attained the number of 444 in 1896, and sixteen per cent. of all the workpeople were employed in them.
The conclusion to be drawn from these fact is thus worded by M. March: "To sum up, during the last fifty years a notable concentration of the factories took place in the big establishments; but the just-mentioned results, supported by the statistics of the patents, permit us to recognize that this concentration does not prevent the maintenance of a mass of -small enterprises, the average sizes of which increase but very slowly." This last is, in fact, what we have just seen from our brief sketch for the United Kingdom, and we can only ask ourselves whether--such being the facts--the word "concentration" is well chosen. What we see in reality is, the appearance, in some branches of industry, of a certain number of large establishments, and especially of middle-sized factories. But this does not prevent in the least that very great numbers of small factories should continue to exist, either in other branches, or in the very same branches where large factories have appeared (the textiles, work in metal), or in branches connected with the main ones, which take their origin in these main ones, as the industry of clothing takes its origin from that of the textiles.
This is the only conclusion which a serious analysis permits us to draw from the facts brought to light by the census of 1896 and subsequent observations. As to the large deductions about "concentration" made by certain economists, they are mere hypotheses--useful, of course, for stimulating research, but becoming quit obnoxious when they are represented as economical laws, when in reality they are not confirmed at all by the testimony of carefully observed facts.
Transport and various
52 per cent.
47 per cent.
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