The latter portion we omit, because we entirely disagree “with Mr. Greely in the deduction “which he draws from the admitted facts, as we do with most of his socialistic and communistic notions. It is to the increase of demand, growing out of the increase and cheapness of production, that he must look for employment and profit, not to the catching at the empty bubble of ownership, or to the ambition of governing, with none to serve under him. “LABOR AND MACHINERY. A thoughtful laborer-for wages-sends us an account he finds current in the journals of the rapid progress of Printing by Machinery, as illustrated by a single cheap daily newspaper. That paper now prints 48,473 sheets-or 101 reams-per day, which it is enabled by rapid machinery to do from one set of types, whereas, if obliged to use the Hand-Press of former days, it would be obliged to set up its type twenty-nine times over for each daily edition, employing 812 compositors instead of barely 28, and 116 pressmen instead of some ten or twelve only.
Hereupon our correspondent comments as follows: MR.. GREELY:-It will be seen by the above, which I quote merely as a convenient text to illustrate the matter in hand, that in one establishment a difference is made of nearly or quite nine hundred men, in consequence of the invention or improvement of machinery, which has taken place within a less time than the last 23 years, from the number it would have been necessary to have employed 10 prosecute the same amount of business had no such progress been made. The same is true, I suppose, to an equal extent, of The Tribune and other Journals of large circulation. The same-i e, the alarming encroachment which machinery is every day making un what has heretofore been performed by human muscles alone-is not peculiar to anyone branch of employment.
The restless inquiry and invention of the present is rapidly and surely intruding iron muscles, which do not become hungry, or experience the depression of low wages and consequent low fare, into every department of human industry, crowding out and setting adrift thousands of the industrious, to seek new and untried means of subsistence, from which soon again to be driven, by-what many of them have come to look upon as their greatest, most persevering and relentless enemy-machinery.
Whither, I would thoughtfully and anxiously ask, do these facts, which stare us in the face from every quarter, end? What is their mighty significancy? The unprecedented increase of the most cunningly adapted, durable, and economical machinery-on the one hand- to perform, in great part, the work heretofore done by us-the laborers; and-on the other hand-the sure and certain increase of that most reliable portion of humanity which we represent, and whose only capital is their muscles, and whose hope of bread Jar themselves and children is in the performance, to a large extent, of that same labor thus snatched from us by the offspring of invention. What wonder that the honest laborer, who knows no cunning but the use of the physical force which God has given him, or the mechanic who plies his trade, should stand aghast, and feel his heart sink within him, as he is forced from his legitimate occupation, to another and still another, and at last finds his employment altogether fitful and uncertain from the number of his fellows driven to the same condition as himself. His labor is truly” a drug in the market,” and stem necessity is fast putting him, if it has not already, wholly at the mercy of capital.
I could not but sadly ponder, as one-while watching the nicely adjusted movements of a cheap engine, which had ejected him and his fellow, in like condition, from the place whence, for years, they had obtained a livelihood for themselves aud families -significantly observed to me that, “the best thing that could he done with that thing , would be to break it to pieces, and pitch it out of the window.” They saw wood about town now, when they can get it to do, as the machinery, which they have iIl such successful operation in Chicago and some other cities for that purpose has not yet been introduced here. Their daughters, too, who have, till within a six month back, had work at $2.30 per week, in the factories, are now out of employ. This, you know, is but one of countless similar illustrations which take place every day in poor families. H. “We have thus allowed our friend to state his whole case-though he only submitted it that we might comment on its substance-and we now solicit his attention to some thoughts by it suggested. Why does our friend go back only to the Hand Press to exhibit the disastrous effects of Machinery on the interests of Labor?
The hand-press itself is a labor-saving machine of immense capacity far more so in its day than the power-press which is now extensively superseding it. It threw wholly out of employment and reduced to absolute destitution thousands upon thousands of skillful, accurate, admirable penmen, who had given the best years of their lives to acquire skill in a profession, or pursuit, which the press almost extirpated, To be at all consistent, “H.” must demand, not the destruction of the power-press only, but of all printing or copying presses whatever. “Ah! but then there could be no newspapers ?”- Nay; that does not follow. Kossuth’s first gazette was not printed, but a carefully prepared abstract of the saying,; and doings of the Hungarian Diet, whereof copies were made by scribes for general diffusion. There have been many such instances of un-printed journals. ” Well; there could be no such journals as we now have.” No, nor could there he without the power-press. We could not afford such a paper as The Tribnne now is for four times its present price, if we were obliged to print it on hand-presses; in fact, no such paper could be supported at all. The subsisting truth, then, must be accepted and looked fairly in the face. The mountain will not come to Mahomet; he first go to the mountain. The existence and rapid progress of Machinery is a fact which cannot be set aside; the world will not, cannot go backward: Machinery cannot be destroyed; it cannot even be held where it is, but must move onward to further and vaster triumphs.
We may deplore this, but cannot prevent it. The perusal of this article would have determined us, had we not been resolved beforehand, to lay before our readers an account of the very remarkable works to which we have before alluded, by the proprietors of which the machinery mentioned in the letter of “the thoughtful laborer” was of course manufactured, as by them it was invented; being no other than the great eight-cylinder, type-revolving, fast-printing press. Similar machines, though varying in the number of cylinders, are employed by the New York Herald and Tribune, the eight-cylinder being used by the Sun, the Philadelphia Ledger, and other journals in the United States, as also by the Parisian La Patrie, the quasi organ of the present Prince President, and, according to present appearances, future Emperor of the French. broome street
These works are in truth one of the most remarkable sights, if not the most worthy of remark, of all that are shown to strangers in New York-and yet to how few are they shown. The changes to which they have already given birth are great enough, even now, “To overcome us like a summer cloud,”but the end of those changes is not yet, nor shall be, while we are. What they shall be, we may not even conjecture-perhaps the civilization, the christianizing of the world entire, and the reduction of all tongues and dialects to one universal English language.