Imagens das páginas
[ocr errors]

made by Hargreaves, Arkwright, and Crompton (1767-1779) enabled 20, 30, and even more threads to be spun where formerly only one was produced. This resulted in the manufacture of more yarn than the weavers could use, and therefore weaving must he speeded up. Hence came Cartwright's power loom (1785), which when driven by water or steam enabled weaving to be done nearly twice as quickly as before. These inventions were only the beginning, but they showed the great possibilities which lay ahead. By 1800 thirty-five people were able to prepare as much yarn as had been produced fifteen years before by 1,600 workers, and as subsequent improvements were made and new machines desised the output of cloth per worker steadily increased.

Machine production gradually flows over into other industries. About 1800 a device was invented by which woollen rags, tailors' clippings, and waste wool could be torn up into a fluffy mass, which was then spun and woven into cloth, called shoddy, and waich, because of its origin, could be sold at a very cheap price. Frames for knitting stockings were gradually brought to perfection. The invention of the sewing machine by an American, Elias Lowe (1846), revolutionized the making of clothes, and the ready-made clothing industry grew to great size, with hundreds of sewing machines working under one roof. A similar type of machine entered the bootmaking trade, and when supplemented by leather-cutting and other machines created the modern highly-specialized boot factory. Meanwhile machinery invaded the metal trades; lathes and cutting machines grew in complexity, and to-day every kind of metal work—drilling, turning, screw-making, motor work, “hand-beating” of vases, etc.—is done by machines, some of which are so automatic and perfect that human attention is almost superfluous. Of the linotype, the typewriter, the calculating machine, mention only need be made. They lus ate the universal tendency to pass from the hand to. the mechanical stage; human skill, with its possible inaccuracies and fluctuations, has been largely replaced by the scientific accuracy of the machine. The worker no longer needs the high degree of training formerly required: he is becoming a machine-tender, a semi-passive onlooker whose functions are chiefly feeding, starting, watching, and stopping the machine.

The Advent of Power. The conring of machinery created a problem, that of power. Human strength was inadequate for working the cumbrous new devices, and therefore some other source of power must be. tapped. Wind had long been used, cattle also; then came water-power, and the water-wheel became very popular in the 18th century. But water soon gave place to steam. The possibilities of steam had been known in the 17th century, and in 1710 a number of engines of a primitive type were being employed to punip water out of mines. In 1763 James Watt, when repairing a model of one of these early engines, thought out several vital improvements, and within 20 years the successful steam engine was in widespread use. By 1781 English manufacturers were “steam mill mad.” Wherever possible the engine became the staple source of power, although water wheels survived for decades in the river valleys.

Iron and Steel. But steam engines and machines cannot be made of wood. Iron was needed, and with iron went coal. Up to about 1740 the industrial use of coal had been small. The staple fuel was wood, but the steady exploitation of the forests had rendered wood very scarce by that date. Since iron was smelted by means of charcoal, the process was costly. Hence


the iron deposits of England remained practically untouched. In 1735, however, it was discovered that coke would serve excellently as a fuel, and from that time onward both coal and iron were eagerly sought for. At first little but cast-iron was produced, but as it was very brittle, experiments were made, as a result of which wrought or malleable iron could be obtained cheaply and in quantities, while at the same time rollers for making rails and plates were invented. Under the influence of the new knowledge the iron industry made phenomenal progress, meeting the demands of machine and engine makers, and, later, railway and ship builders. Coal mining grew at a similar pace, and the invention of the safety lamp by Davy in 1815 rendered the occupation much safer. But iron had still bigger changes ahead. In 1856 Sir Henry Bessemer showed how steel could be made quickly and cheaply from molten iron. At once steel replaced iron in many directions, and when in 1879 it was proved that steel could be made from lowgrade ores, containing large proportions of phosphorus, vast new supplies of ore, especially in Lorraine and Luxembourg, came into use, and laid the foundation of the Ge nan steel industry. Since that time the growth of metallurgical science has shown that by the addition of small quantities of other metals steel can be made to assume added strength, hardness, or resisting power, and to-day steel is doctored in various ways so as to fit it for its work in bridges, rails, machines, engines, tools, building structures, armour plates, shells, etc. The result is a world dependent upon steel both in the peaceful walks of life and in the hurling out of death.

Modern Aspects of Power. At first steam was generated with little regard to economy. Coal was plentiful and cheap, and therefore much of it was allowed to go up the chimney, providing a black pall of smoke over the town and a cloak of soot on the buildings. Gradually the folly of such waste came to be realized, and experiments were undertaken with a view to obtaining the greatest possible amount of heat from the fuel; better furnaces, better boilers, etc., helped to reduce the consumption of coal, while mechanical refinements made the engines less wasteful of energy. These improvements enabled great economies to be made in fuel, while at the same time other forms of power were being called into use. The gas engine, invented about 1860, was a boon to the small workshop, and the coming of the motor engine opened new vistas for land, sea, and air transit. In 1905 the United States made 34,000 passenger motor cars; in 1917 it made 1,800,000.

The greatest new power was electricity. From about 1830 onwards scientific investigation into electricity was very keen, and soon produced the telegraph (1840); in 1866 the first ocean cable was laid; in 1877 came the telephone, and by 1900 wireless telegraph was within the bounds of the commercially possible. Meanwhile the invention of large-powered economical dynamos enabled clectric tramcars to be run in the eighties; electric light came about the same time, and the competition between the incandescent mantle and the electric bulb occasioned a rivalry of scientific wits which has revolutionized lighting conditions within the last generation. Of electric cooking, traction and machine-driving we shall hear much more in this century, especially where the presence of falling water makes hydro-electrical generation possible. The wealth of motive power stored up in falling water was realized by a Frenchman in the sixties, and since that time engineers the world over have been harnessing waterfalls by leading the water into big pipes, out of the bottom of which it squirts with great force, and so drives machinery for the generation of electricity. The waters of Scandinavia, the Alps, Canada, and United States of America are now largely in the hands of the engineers, and from them is obtained a very large supply of cheap electricity. Tasmania and New Zealand are following in the same direction, the Launceston municipal hydro-electric works dating from the early nineties. This cheap power is used for lighting towns, driving machinery, trams, and trains. It is also specially employed in paper-making and chemical works, and promises to provide a cheap force for the treatment of our complex Australian ores. Already in Tasmania the trams are driven by hydro-electricity, the two chief towns illuminated, zinc is being extracted from its ore by electrolysis, and carbide, cocoa, and textile works are being erected (1920).

The Revolution in Transit. Modern economic activity depends largely upon quick, regular, safe, and easy transit of persons, goods, and news from place to place. Up to 1830 such facilities were being provided more and more by means of canals after 1760, and turnpike roads after 1740. The former reduced freight on heavy goods by three-fourths, while the macadamized roa:ls made rapid travel more possible. In 1830, however, the many experiments in railway engines culminated in Stephenson's “Rocket,” which pulled a train at the rate of 29 miles an hour. From this time onwards railway construction became general, first in England, and soon in almost every part of the world. By 1850 there were railways in fourteen countries. The first railway in Australia was opened in 1855; Sydney and Melbourne were linked up in 1883, Adelaide and Melbourne in 1887, Sydney and Brisbane in 1889; and the completion of the East-West railway in 1917 completed the connection between the five capitals. Throughout the world long-distance railway communication has been pushed ahead since the sixties. The first line across the United States was opened in 1869, the Canadian Pacific in 1885, the Trans-Siberian in 1901, while the Cape to Cairo, the Bagdad, and other projects indicate the bigness of modern railway ideas. In old countries the railways linked up existirg centres; in new countries they were flung out into the wilds and opened the way for settlement.

The application of steam to ships went on at the same time as the growth of the railway. In 1819 the Savannah crossed the Atlantic in 19 days, driven by steam and wind. In 1833 the first steamer proper crossed the same ocean in 17 days. For a time the clipper, an American type of sailing vessel, was faster than the best steamships, but with the coming of the iron, and later the steel ship, driven by propellers, the windjammer took second place. The first steamship to come froin Europe to Australia arrived in Adelaide in 1852, but on this boat, as on many later ones, sails were used as well as steam. The adoption of steel allowed bigger and faster boats to be built, and by 1914 vessels of 50,000 tons were crossing the Atlantic at a speed ranging up to 25 knots. Special cargo ships began to be built for ores, coal, cattle, wheat, oil, and perishable goods, and these vessels revolutionized sea trade even more than the fast liner. Henceforth goods of large bulk but small value could be shipped profitably balf-way round the world, and find a ready market in populous centres. The produce of America and Australasia assumed a new importance, and the fear of famine passed away from the western world—till 1914. Engineering skill not merely increased the speed and reduced the cost of ships, but also annihilated distance to some extent by making short cuts. The Suez Canal, opened in 1869, reduced the length of the journey to India by one-third, and the Panama Canal, ready for traffic in 1914, is giving a new turn to trade between the Pacific and the Atlantic.

The Achievements of Science. Many of the above inventions and discoveries have been due to scientific investigation, but there are other respects in which science has added its quota to human progress. The work of Pasteur (about 1856) laid the foundations of modern sanitation; Kelvin, Joule, Clerk-Maxwell, and others made possible the exploitation of electricity. Perkin, hunting ior something else, stumbled across aniline dyes in 1856, and his successors discovered that coal-tar, the refuse of gasworks, could be turned into many profitable commodities, from explosives and disinfectants to saccharine. Metallurgical science brought the treatment of metals and fuels to a high degree of perfection. The chemist has revolutionized the leather and textile trades; artificial silk is made from wool pulp or cotton waste, and on every hand men are trying to find some use for waste products and make every metal and plant into a commodity suitable to the wants of man. Finally, scientific observation has been turned to the details of business practice and organization. A science of management is being shaped, which aims at eliminating waste of time, labour, or material, increasing efficiency and economy, and reducing industrial fatigue.

Effects of the Revolution. The Industrial Revolution brought an enormous expansion of the volume of production, and a speeding up of every side of economic life. It involved a transition from old to new forms of industrial life and organization, and the transition brought probably as much misfortune in its train as any other in history. This was due not merely to changes in industrial methods, though these alone would have inflicted much suffering on the weak. In addition, we must remember that disruptive stages of the revolution were contemporaneous with the Napoleonic War, with its heavy loss of life and big burden of debt. Further, the revolution came at a period of undiluted individualism. No statesman saw what was happening, or whither the new system was leading. The prevailing political philosophy was laissez-faire-let alone, let things go their own way, free from interference or guidance from the state. Under the influence of this idea, and under the pressure of the manufacturing and mercantile interests, which were then strong in parliament, the state not merely repealed all the laws which had regulated the former system of industry, but refused to put any new ones in their place. Hence economic forces were left unchecked by any social or political humane considerations, and this was responsible for the crop of problems which the new order created.

The chief effects of the revolution were briefly as follows:-(1) Since water-power, coal, and iron were essential, industries and population migrated to those districts where these facilities were available. For instance, the textile trade of England, which formerly had been scattered over many parts of the country, now began to concentrate on the coalfields of Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire. (2) In these new industrial areas industry became concentrated in towns, near to railways, canals, and mineral deposits. Some old towns became big cities—e.g., Manchester and Birmingham; villages grew into big towns. They grew up quite unplanned, and presented to posterity legacies of dirt, slums, over-crowding, and bad health. (3) Industry passed from the home to the factory. The new machines and steam

[ocr errors]

engines could not be housed in the cottage, and therefore special buildings must be procured. At first barns, cart-houses, and out-buildings of all descriptions were utilized, but gradually bigger structures had to be erected. The early factories were built without any consideration of lighting, ventilation, safety or health. The sole aim was to crowd in as many machines as possible, regardless of anything but big profits. Into these factories workers were gathered; women and children could do much of the factory work, and so were extensively employed, often in place of men. Work was carried on night and day, and the workers often toiled for 12 to 14 hours at a time. The absence of humane provisions from the factories was also found in metal works, mines, and ships, the general policy being to get labour as cheaply as possible and to obtain the biggest return on one's capital. Hence women and children worked in inines, and men went to sea in overloaded, leaky ships. (4) The new conditions required large sums of capital; therefore the merchants, financiers, and wealthier manufacturers, who had the necessary sums of money, became the leaders of industry—the capitalists —and the rest had to come and work for wages in their factories. The small men fought hard to retain their independence, but their efforts were in vain. Thus aruse the clear distinction between the capitalist and the wage-earner, a distinction which became more marked with every advance in the size and complexity of industrial equipment. Capital pulled for big profits; labour for big wages. But as capitalists were for a time engaged in fierce competition with each other, trade at times was very brisk, until a financial crisis brought a period of stagnation, bankruptcy, and unemployment. And as labour for a time was unorganized, and men competed against men, women, and children, and machines, wages were low and industrial conditions bad. No wonder that men fought fiercely to resist the introduction of new machines. No wonder that, as the new system began to take form, they cried out for the removal of its worst evils, organized to improve their lot within the system, and from that passed on in many cases to demand its replacement by something better.

Books Recommended. Beard, C., “Industrial Revolution," chaps. 2-3; Toynbee, A., “Industrial Revolution,” chap. 8; Hobson, J. A., “Evolution of Modern Capitalism," chap. 4; Day, C., “History of Commerce," chaps. 28-31; Perris, G. H., “Industrial History of Modern England,' chaps. 1-3; Warner, T., “Landmarks in Industrial History," chap. 15; Knowles, L. C. A., “Industrial and Commercial Revolutions in Great Britain during the 19th Century.”

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »