Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

per week, $347,750 for a year. Balance in favor of the workmen, $324,650.

In 1875, from a total of 9,400 men, 1,050 struck. Loss in wages at $9.00 per week for 4 weeks, $37,800. Strike pay at $3.75 per week, $15,750. Advance in wages at 62} cents each per week, $305,500 for a year. Balance in favor of the workmen, $283,450.

In 1876, from a total of 10,500 men, 1,075 struck. Loss in wages, at $9 each per week, 4 weeks, $38,700. Strike pay at $3.75 each per week, $16,125 advance in wages at 663 cents each per week, $364,035 for a year. Balance in favor of the workmen, $326,335.

In 1877, from a total of 6,500 men, 900 struck. Loss in wages at $9 each per week 4 weeks, $32,400. Strike pay at $3.75 each per week, $13,500. Advance in wages at 58} cents each per week, $197,145 for a year. Balance in favor of the workmen, $178,245.

In 1878, from a total of 1,300 men, 500 struck. Loss in wages at $9 each per week 4 weeks, $18,000. Strike pay at $3.75 each per week, $7,500. Advance in wages at 564 cents each per week, $38,025 for a year. Balance in favor of the workmen, $27,525. (See Frazer's Mag., vol. c., p. 777.)

The figures here given do not represent all the strikes which occurred in the years mentioned. They were taken from the successful strikes only. During the same years there were very many strikes' that were wholly or partially unsuccessful and they were a total loss to the strikers as well as to the community in general. It will be observed that the amount of gain in each case is for one year only. The favorable balance will have the more significance when we consider that in most cases the gain was permanent.

This is the very best showing that can be made from a few of the most successful strikes, and the gain derived is wholly onesided. We must always remember, however, that this gain is fully counterbalanced by the losses of the unsuccessful strikes. Very many, especially of the more recent strikes, are unsuccessful and result not only in a loss of time and wages while the strike is in progress, but often large numbers of workmen are thrown out of employment and forced to remain for a long time

in idleness or to seek other work to which they are unaccustomed. Such an unsuccessful strike occurred recently in the coke regions of Pennsylvania. The strikers lost $100,000 in wages, and of the 12,000 men who went out, 5,000 were permanently discharged. The engineers’ strike on the C. B. & Q. railroad was also a total failure. The waste of three million dollars brought no gain at all to the strikers, but only resulted in a complete victory for the management of the road, and the loss of their positions for the greater portion of the men. Such has been the fate of nearly every great strike in America, so that were we to draw up a balance sheet the results of this method of settling labor disputes would be found to tell heavily against the working men.

A strike organized without sufficient cause seldom succeeds. It ought not to succeed, since it is apt to disturb the peace of an entire community and cause greatest discomfort to those who are in no way concerned in the dispute from which it sprung. An ill-advised or an unjust strike may by its losses more than counterbalance the gain derived from one that is successful. From this point of view strikes pay in the inverse ratio of their frequency: but at best they pay one class of society at the expense of others.

This fact ought ever to be kept in mind. In a certain limited sense peaceful and successful strikes are profitable to the workmen. But every strike, whether successful or not, is a total loss to the community as a whole. Thus, referring to the illustrations given above, in the year 1873 the community lost $36,000 plus the profit thereon in productive labor. In 1874 the loss was $39,600, plus profit. In 1875, the loss was $37,800, plus profit. And so through all the years. This is the loss as it appears in the figures given, and no one can tell how much of incidental loss should be added. And this loss can never be made up in any way. It is like so much wealth cast into the flames and utterly consumed.

A strike is a war measure which may at times be necessary (if war is ever necessary) to meet oppression and dishonesty, and to secure the rights of a particular class of men ; but the time wasted, the property destroyed, and the production hindered are an absolute loss to the world at large. They are the indemnity which society pays for injustice.

By draining the treasury of our land at the rate of more than ten millions of dollars every year, strikes have become a prominent factor among the causes of poverty. They have increased the evil they were designed to cure. They have opened a wide avenue of waste whose effects are felt most keenly by laboring men. Surely their day is nearly past. The intelligence of American working men will not long permit them to use so expensive and barbarous a remedy for social diseases. The progressive spirit of the age demands the use of methods which shall be at once more economical and more permanent in their results.

G. H. HUBBARD.

ARTICLE III.-THE COMMONPLACE IN FICTION.

No fact strikes more often or more keenly the observer of modern fiction than its tendency toward the commonplace. Both authorship and criticism abound in the signs of its steadily increasing influence. Even so great a lover of marvel as Sir Walter Scott professes to make his exploits and wonders subsidiary to the delineation of manners and customs, and the same feeling has been more or less handed down to later romance. Macaulay, in his essay on Madame d'Arblay, censures her excessive use of oddities, and notes with favor the comparatively every-day types from whom Miss Austen drew her more delicate portraits. George Eliot began her literary career, in her Scenes from Clerical Life, by invoking the interest and sympathy of her readers for the great mass of common people whose joys and sorrows make up everywhere the bulk of life. With courage augmented by success she repeated and emphasized this protest in Adam Bede. In this country Mr. Howells has based much of his fiction and criticism on the idea expressed by one of his characters that “the common place is just that light, impalpable, aerial essence which they've never got into their confounded books yet.” “The novelist,” he goes on, “who could interpret the common feelings of common people would have the answer to the riddle of the painful earth' on his tongue.” The Russian novel, meanwhile, has been giving actuality to ideas which on English and American soil were still largely theoretic. In Count Tolstoï's writings the commonplace is not merely powerful; it is dominant, and its complete supremacy produces a change from the older fiction which amounts almost to revolution. He describes a common thunder storm in the same spirit that another man would describe a meteoric shower. He paints the routine of life as exactly as others do its crises. He approaches the common influences of his own age and nation, such as, for example, the hunt, the theatre, the ball, in the same temper that other men approach the corresponding influences of foreign nations and

remote ages. Every incident which presents itself to him for treatment grounds its claim for respect on the share which it has in the universal life of man. The commonplace, in his hands, is no longer a theory which the world can afford to slight or smile at; it is a reality, whose claim to the consideration and judgment of mankind, like that of all realities, is peremptory and undisputed.

When one first meets this idea, one is inclined to think it at war with human nature. It is certainly so far at war with the past that fiction in accepting it disowns and denies the feelings from which its own origin is derived. Under whatever name it has disguised itself, whether as the supernatural, the marvelous, the odd, the rare, or the eminent, it has always been the exceptional, that which violates the ordinary structure of things or reverses the normal course of events, which has delighted and allured mankind. The Middle Ages, among whose narrations we must grope to find the roots of our modern fiction, never dreamed of admiring the commonplace.

The group of eager faces that bent their dilated eyes on the monk or palmer rehearsing his saintly legend prized his narrative only for the marvels it contained. The squires and yeomen who left the wine-glass half drained and the shield half burnished to throng the hall where the wandering harper sang the deeds of chivalry, were moved by no higher feeling than a love of the marvelous. It was the same in the simpler pursuits of life. The host of the wayside inn, delaying with yet one more hurried question the already mounted traveler at his door, craved from him only the rarities which had marked his journey. These good people have transmitted to their modern descendants not a little of their own way of thinking. If in our times the passion is not so great, yet the devices for its gratification have so multiplied as to render it even more conspicuous. The immense majority of the fictions which are poured out from our teeming presses are written, published, and read for no other reason than their capacity to gratify this feeling. Its influence here is only one phase of its universal ascendancy. The aim of most conversation, as of most letterwriting, is to sift out of the great mass of things the few rarities which have brightened their monotony.

The newsboy

« AnteriorContinuar »