Imatges de pàgina

since; but I have no doubt, wherever he is, he is a credit to himself and to the class to which he belongs.

We have in this instance evidence which will carry conviction to most minds that the man in fairly regular work with 258. a week net can save, without cheeseparing, a sum of 6l. 108. per year, which, invested in a Building Society, will amount in thirteen years, including principal and interest, to a capital sum of 1001.

As I have already indicated, it often happens that those who have the largest margin for saving save the least, and the next witness to be brought into court is as ' awful an example of this character as could be met with on a long day's march. He was a member of my own, the artisan class, a joiner, and a clever craftsman too, being the staircase hand for the firm by whom he was employed, and as this is a qualification that is not general, this fact doubtless caused his employers to endure his shortcomings in other respects with more equanimity than they otherwise would have done. Being a superior workman, he was paid a penny per hour more than the standard rate, his wages being 10d. per hour for fifty hours, or 21. 18. 8d. a week, but being a consistent devotee of St. Monday he never worked a full week during the many years I knew him. Even so, he would have scorned to be thought a drunkard, as he always said 'he only took a glass or two for the sake of good fellowship’; still, he was prone to allowing his drinking to interfere sadly too much with his business, and took far more than was good for his person or pocket, as he was invariably spent up by Monday or Tuesday morning; while, as for his worldly possessions, the clothes he stood up in more often than not were the whole of his wardrobe, and as for his home, even at a most generous valuation, it would not have sold for a five-pound note; and, except his tools, these were, of course, his whole worldly holding. And with the exception of what was given to his wife for the bare necessaries of existence, the rest of his earnings had been spent in baneful luxuries which benefited no one except the brewer, the spirit merchant, and their very limited number of employees. I am tempted to ask at this point : What use is such a family to the community as contributors to its well-being, or in the provision of employment for its members ? And the answer, I fear, must be they are mere cumberers of the ground in this respect. At the same time, I do not think a man need be a recluse, or deny himself of any form of rational enjoyment. I am not a teetotaler myself, nor at all straitlaced in this matter; still, even now, I believe it is quite possible to be pleasant and sociable with our friends, without it being necessary to be ‘Hail fellow, well met!' to all and sundry, or having to resort to the flowing bowl to cement the entente cordiale, with its resulting headache and inability to go to work in the morning. Yet this is one of the type of men who, earning from 358. to 508. a week when they can find time to work, declare they cannot save anything, or make any provision for themselves in their declining years! Why, this man, of whom this paragraph is but a page from his life's history, I have heard tell, almost boastingly, that he had regularly an 'ale-shot' of 5s. for the week to pay off as he went home on Saturday, a sum which would, if invested in two shares in a Building Society, amount in thirteen years to 2001. for principal and interest. And this, taking a man's working life as forty years would mean a sum total of 6001., which could have been saved from the wreckage of what has been practically a wasted life, the interest of which, invested at 31 per cent. would bring in 211., or 88. a week; and, this to my mind, would, with independence, be far preferable to a 58. dole from the State at the age of sixty-five, besides leaving the principal at his death for the benefit of his family.

Another aspect of the question which calls for brief comment is the mania for betting, not only on horse racing, but on every conceivable matter or sport which can be made to have a winning and a losing side. This passion for trying to win money they have not worked for has infected all classes of society, from the highest to the lowest, and none has fallen more effectually under its ban than the working class, for when they do win, which is not often, the money that has come easily is made to go easily in drink and questionable pleasures which sap their morality and leave them far worse off in the end. And I am strongly of opinion we have in the strict limitations of these two questions, drink and gambling, the readiest solution of the problem we are discussing. For were but a tithe of the 110,000,0001. per year which is said to be the workmen's share in the annual drink bill saved and used in the provision of more food, more adequate clothing, and better housing, it would at one stroke solve not only the question of work and wages for the masses, but also that of their physical and moral deterioration. And this reform the working classes can accomplish if they will.

' I have not deemed it necessary to take up space by giving another detailed family budget for the artisan class, as the one given—with an addition of from two to four shillings a week for providing such dainties, tasty bits, or sweets, as may be preferred-will amply set forth the cost of food, etc., in an artisan's home with gross wages of from thirty-five to fifty shillings a week.

The average wages of this class, after allowing for all causes of loss, may fairly be taken at a deduction of from 10 to 15 per cent.; in my own case the actual average for ten years was 10 per cent., but I was lucky in escaping depreciation from any cause, in a marked degree, during the whole of the decade. Thus, taking the wages, 378. 6d., as our basis, we have an average wage, after taking off 125 per cent., of 328. 10d. & week--that is, an addition of 8s. 5d. over the labourer's wages already given ; this, adding 3s. to the 17s. 6d., the cost of the labourer's food, &c., gives us 20s. 6d. for that of the artisan; and as he would want a rather smarter house in a better locality, with bath and separate w.c., he would have to pay 6s. 6d. per week for it, or 2s. 3d. over the rent of the labourer's dwelling. And in this way we arrive at the weekly expenditure of an artisan's family, consisting of himself, his wife, and two children of school age: Average wages, 32s. 10d.; cost of food, etc., and additional house-rent, 22s. 9d.; leaving a margin for clothing, &c., of 10s. 1d. per week, or 261. 4s. 4d. for the year; a sum which would, after allowing for contingencies, in capable bands mean a net saving of 151., after providing for a week's holiday by the sea.

Closely allied, though not exactly on all fours with the wastage we have been deliberating, is the lamentable want of knowledge of domestic economy which prevails in most working-class homes ; apparently people do not know how to make the most of their money when it has been earned. And this, I am well aware, is the reason why many of my class cannot save or even make ends meet and tie, whose poverty would not from observation be ascribed to either of the causes mentioned, but solely to the reckless way in which they lay out their earnings. Another great failing with these families is that they have fallen into the habit of living a week too fast. Instead of the wages of the past week being available for the expenses of the coming one, they have already been mortgaged to the shopkeeper, and must be used to pay off the old score, with the result that they are tied to one man, and not free to make their purchases in the best market. Thus, while they are constantly living from hand to mouth, and being made to pay dearly for the accommodation, they are habitually in debt even when in employment, and soon go backwards when thrown out of work. There is clearly a good opening here for a teacher of home economics, as no doubt even the men with the docker's modest'tanner' per hour, if fairly well employed, can save something by the proper husbanding of their resources. Nevertheless, while this feature is far too prevalent, there are notable exceptions in our homes where the goodwife could have given even Sydney Smith points in his essay in making sixpence do the work and assume the importance of a shilling, and who are, like Goldsmith's village pastor, ' passing rich on forty pounds a year.' While as regards those who are deficient in this quality and willing to be schooled, there can be no more useful or easier lesson than taking up & share in a Co-operative Society, and without making any further money payment, proceeding to eat themselves imperceptibly into a small competence by purchasing their household requirements at the stores, and leaving the interest and bonus to accumulate and add to their capital as savings. This is an easy method of inculcating the value of thrift, for as a rule ready money must be paid for all you buy, this fact alone rendering it a salutary exercise in the virtue of self-denial; for, as often has been seen, many a home has been crippled by a load of debt simply because it is so easy to obtain credit-notably young married people through the hire-purchase system. Another conceivable benefit which may flow from the connection with co-operation is that your dealings with the stores will tend to foster the home trade, and consequently enlarge the area of employment, as co-operators are to-day not only distributors but also producers in many of the industries. The mention of co-operation in the preceding paragraph opens up an avenue for employment which is well-nigh illimitable, and which would require nothing more than loyal adhesion to its principles to, In pursuance of my contention that it is the duty of all workmen to provide for themselves in the time of stress and trouble, it is advisable for them to join a Trade Union or a Friendly Society, not necessarily for aggressive purposes, but as a provision against sickness, disablement, lack of work, old-age pension, and for other benefits; while for those who are both able and willing to save, the Building Societies, as I have already pointed out, afford an admirable means for providing against a rainy day, as the investment, which may be made as little as sixpence a week, need not be expended on property but can be retained simply as savings, while the interest is better than that of the Savings Banks, the capital in well-managed societies is quite as safe, and can be withdrawn at short notice when required.

assure success,

To summarise my conclusions. With reference to the shortage of employment, it is more than probable that for years, owing to improvements that have been and will continue to be made in the methods of production, there will be an amount of surplus labour for which work cannot be found under existing conditions. The remedy nearest at hand for this state of affairs is to go back to the land; but as this cannot be made to pay under existing conditions, it seems almost futile to look for help in that quarter. The most hopeful prospect appears to be the acquisition of small holdings by those who are already on the land, thus stemming the tide of migration to the towns. And also, to my mind, it is equally futile to expect the State or the Municipalities to provide for this deficiency of employment, as unless the work to be done is carried out on strictly business lines, with an eye to its being made to pay, it can only be regarded as a specious form of outdoor relief, which all self-reliant workmen should be slow to engage in. In my opinion the only remedies which will prove satisfactory all round are such as will enable the toiling masses to help themselves. I have already pointed out how this can be done by effecting some drastic economies in their daily expenditure which will leave them better men and women in the making. A further decided advantage would be achieved by engaging whole-heartedly in business on their own account under the auspices of the Co-operative Societies. It is difficult to see any valid reason why these societies with their big capitals, largely owned by the workers themselves, cannot step into the breach and provide work at least for their own members as a beginning. Wherever this is not practicable there appears to be some shortcoming in the manage ment, as undoubtedly we have in this method of production the truest ideal form of the union of capital and labour, each working together for a common interest, without fear of labour being sweated from the greed of the employer, or capital treated unjustly through the indolence of the workman.

I adjure my fellow-workers to accept the advice here given in the spirit in which it is offered, as I am convinced we have as a body

the power, if we have the will, to save and improve our position, not by any skimping in either food, raiment, or housing, but by being, as we are enjoined to be, temperate in all things. In conclusion, I ask my workmen compatriots to make this effort for the good of the land we love so well—not from purely selfish motives, but in the spirit of the well-known lines of Burns :

Not for the sake of getting gear, nor for a train attendant,
But for the glorious privilege of being independent.


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