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added to the revenue of a country,
Nor is the gain to be estimated at simply what is thus earned. The whole community is thus acquiring those habits of industry and self-dependence, which are essential to its happiness and well-being, no less than to its rapid accumulation of capital.*
Nor are the benefits of the division of labor confined to mechanical processes. Their results have been equally interesting, in those cases where this principle has been applied to intellectual labor. The effect of such a division is seen in the following account, which I introduce here, not only because it very happily illustrates this whole subject, but also because it may suggest to scientific men, some other cases in which it may be again applied with similar benefit.
During the period of the French revolution, the government was desirous of producing a series of mathematical tables, in order to facilitate the extension of the decimal system, which had been recently adopted. They directed their mathematicians to construct such tables on the most extensive scale. The superintendence of the work was confined to
The following facts, respecting the manufacture of watches, illustrate very forcibly the extent to which the division of labor may be carried, and also the amount of value which may be conferred upon the cheapest substance by accumulated and high priced labor :
A watch consists of 992 pieces, and forty-three trades are employed in their construction; the chain, whose length is eight inches, has 165 links, three plates and two pins, in all 826 pieces, and passes through 15 hands, men, women, and children, of three trades, before it is complete : allowing then five hands in each trade, 215 persons find employment in making a watch. This extensive and numerous individuality will apply, more or less, to every manufactured
article in every day use ; but no branch of man. ufactures will afford such an illustration of the value of labor. The iron of which the balance spring is formed is valued at something less than a farthing; this produces an ounce of steel, worth 4 1-2d., which is drawn into 2,250 yards of spring wire, and represents in the market £13 4s.; but still another process of hardening this originally farthing's worth of iron renders it workable into 7,650 balance springs, which will realize, at the common price of 2s. 6d. each, £946 5s. the effect of labor alone.
M. Prony. It happened that shortly after he had undertaken it, he opened, in a bookstore, Adam Smith's “Wealth of Nations," and, by accident, turned to the chapter on division of labor. The thought immediately suggested itself, that this might be adopted in the work in which he was engaged. He immediately followed out the suggestion, and arranged his plan accordingly. He divided the persons who were to execute the labor, into three sections :
The first section was composed of five or six of the most eminent mathematicians of France. Their duty was to ascertain the analytical expressions which were most readily adapted to simple numerical calculation, and which could be performed by many individuals employed at the same time. The formulæ on the use of which it had decided, were to be delivered to the second section.
The second section consisted of seven or eight persons, of considerable aquaintance with mathematics, whose duty it was, to convert into numbers the formulæ put into their hands by the first section; and then to deliver out these numbers to the members of the third section, and to receive from them the finished calculations. These they could verify without repeating the work. The third section consisted of sixty or eighty per
They received the numbers from the second section, and, using nothing more than addition and subtraction, returned to that section, the finished tables. Nine-tenths of this class had no knowledge of arithmetic beyond its first two rules; and it is remarkable that these were usually found more correct in their calculations, than those who possessed a more extensive knowledge of the subject. The extent of the labor, which was thus executed in a remarkably short space of time, may be estimated, when it is stated that the tables thus formed are computed to occupy seventeen large folio volumes. And yet we see that the greatest part of the labor was actually accomplished by persons who might be employed at very small expense, and who could do the work assigned them, as perfectly as those whose labor was the most expensive.*
We thus see the manner in which the productiveness of human labor may be increased. 1st. By discovering the various agents of nature which God has created for our benefit; 2d. By applying these agents to the service of man; 3d. By so arranging and adjusting human industry, that the labor necessary to be employed, may operate with the greatest possible advantage. In one or other of these methods, must every improvement in the physical condition of mankind operate. And civilization advances just in proportion as all of them combined are brought to bear upon the work of production; that is, of creation of objects of desire, in other words, of means for human happiness.
LIMITATIONS TO THE DIVISION OF LABOR, BOTH INDIVIDU
AL AND NATIONAL.
We now proceed to another branch of the subject; the Limitations of the Divisions of Labor. These may be considered in reference to the individual and to society. In so far as the individual is concerned, these limitations arise from three causes. 1st. The Nature of the process; 2d. Deficiency of Capital; and 3d. Demand.
1. From the Nature of the Process. Every process can be analyzed into its ultimate elements; that is, into the various simple processes of which it is composed. Thus, the straightening of a wire is one operation, the cutting it into equal lengths is another,
* Babbage on Economy of Machinery.
the sharpening of the points is another, the heading of a pin is another, &c. But when we have reduced it to its simple operations, we can now proceed no farther. Hence, here is our necessary limit; for it is no division of labor to employ two men to perform precisely the same operation. Hence an establishment, which carries division to this limit, will be able, from what has been said, to undersell another which does not carry it to the same degree of perfection. And hence, in establishing a manufactory, it is important so to adjust the number and kind of workmen, that, when the different operations of a process have been assigned to different persons, these persons may be in such proportions as exactly and fully to employ each other. The more perfectly this is accomplished, the greater will be the economy. And, this having been once ascertained, it is also evident, that the establishment cannot be successfully enlarged, unless it employ multiples of this number of workmen.
2. Division of labor may be limited by deficiency of Capital. Division of labor, in manufactures, can not be carried on, unless the proprietor have sufficient capital to employ, at the same time, all the persons necessary to such a division, and to keep them so employed, until the proceeds of their work enable him to furnish them again with fresh material. This is, of course, à considerable outlay, and supposes a considerable accumulation of the proceeds of pre-exerted industry. Hence, in a poor or in a new country, there can be but little division of labor. No one has more than enough capital to employ himself, and, perhaps, one or two laborers; and hence, each individual performs all the operations of each process, and frequently those of several processes. The same individual is the farrier, blacksmith, cutler, and, perhaps, wheelwright, for a whole settlement. To illustrate this by a single instance: If a nailer be able to purchase no larger amount of iron and coal than he can use in the manufacture of nails in a day, he must perform all the parts of the process himself; and, of course, must labor very disadvantageously. As soon, however, as he is able to double his capital, he may employ another person to work with him, and they may then introduce a division of labor. When he has tripled his capital, he may employ another workman, and carry his division still farther. He may thus go on until he has reduced the process to its simplest elements. When he has gone thus far, the accumulation of his annual capital will enable him to invest something in fixed capital. He will thus be able to purchase some of the simpler machines, by which some of the parts of his process may be executed. To these he will add others, as he advances in wealth, until his accumulated means enable him to combine them into one machine, for completing the whole process. Thus he becomes a manufacturer, and derives the larger part of his revenue, from the use of his fixed capital. It is not pretended that all these changes always, or frequently, take place within the life-time of a single individual. The progress of society is not generally so rapid. Yet they sometimes occur in the manner which I have stated. I give the illustration, to show the tendency of things, and the power of accumulated capital. But, whether the results are comprised in the life-time of one, two, or three individuals, the principle is the same.
3. Division of labor may be limited by the demand for the article produced. Suppose that, in a given district, there is a demand for one hundred pounds of nails per day, and that these can be made by two men. If three men could, by division of labor, make two hundred pounds per day, there would be but small gain, either to the workmen or to the public; because these men would, of course, lie idle half of the time, and for this time they must be paid, as well as for the time in which they were employed. Or, if they did not lie absolutely idle, that portion of