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describe the social and political system of any period, it must be with the realisation of the fact that the system of that time contained both the germs of growth and expansion; decay and contraction. However, the simpler the life, the easier is accurate description. This being true, social and political forms of the eighteenth century are more readily described than those of our own time. In 1760 the economic, political, religious,
and social organisation in England was essentially mediaeval, presenting the two chief and all-pervading
characteristics—rigidity of structure and immutability of function. We may accept Monsieur Seignobos'
definition of these terms: “By the structure of society we mean the rules and the customs which distribute i occupations and enjoyments among its members; and ( by the functions of society we mean the habitual actions by which each man enters into relations with the others.” Rigidity of structure is illustrated by the last chapter of the Constitution of Clarendon (1164): “Sons of rustics ought not to be ordained without the consent of the lords on whose land they are known to have been born.” This one clause fairly exemplifies the character of the mediaeval social structure. . . Men were compelled to
o of contract being as yet almost unknown. e whole
social fabric was keyed together by the king, upon whose personality depended law, order, international relations, social and industrial changes. The various classes, from the king to the serf, took their places in society under arbitrary and hereditary contracts. The villein was bound to the soil; the lord of the soil to his overlord or directly to the king. However, at no time can we say that this order was absolute. Irresponsible kings,
anarchy, foreign influence, the growth of towns and cities, and the rise of an artisan class, had been shaking the stability of the rigid fabric. Peasants' revolts, famines, and the rise of a free labouring class had the same tendency, and the commercial development, which began in the Tudor-age, also contributed to the destruction of the feudal organism. But by 1760 there had been no upheavals violent and far-reaching enough to affect the general character of the social hierarchy. Agriculture yet retained the form of the village community; nominally, at least, prices and wages were regulated by law and trades were controlled by the town guilds ; international commerce was carried on by privileged and chartered companies and restricted by legislative enactments. On the eve of the Industrial Revolution, though the king had been rendered nominally subservient to Parliament, the Government was in reality in the hands of a landed aristocracy more or less subject to royal dictates, while the mass of the people, “bowed by the weight of centuries,” were obedient to the heritage of laws, traditions, and customs which the ages had given them. Sec. 15. —International Commerce. Though Italy, Portugal, Spain, Holland, and England were successively enriched by Eastern trade during the several centuries preceding the Industrial Revolution, yet in 1760 the export of the various nations represented a very small proportion of the total produce. Just as the communities were isolated and largely self-sufficing, so nations were more independent and self-sustaining. The idea of any nation becoming the workshop of the world had not entered the human mind. As late as the beginning of the eighteenth century, England's exports amounted
to less than one-sixth the value of the home trade, while the imports amounted to only one-twelfth of the home consumption. Sec. 16.—Conclusion. We have now gone over the main outlines of English industrial conditions at the eve of the Great Revolution.) We have noted the prevalence of the primitive agricultural system: 'the use of crude mechanical contrivance%the comparative simplicity of the industrial structure ond the mediaeval character of politics and government. This chapter is at best only suggestive of the rich field for investigation open to the student. However, all the principal features have been emphasised, and the student who has thoroughly grasped their significance has laid the foundation for an intelligent understanding of subsequent developments.
THE MECHANICAL REVOLUTION AND ITS ECONOMIC EFFECTS
Sec. 1.-Review. The last chapter was devoted to the industrial and social conditions which existed in England on the eve of the Industrial Revolution. Viewed from a political as well as an economic standpoint, agriculture was of supreme importance! It furnished a large portion of the national income, and the great land-owners occupied official positions which yielded them an immense administrative and political power. The factory system had not yet taken possession of industry and supplanted domestic manufacture. According to Defoe, many of the manufactures were organised by the guilds for home consumption, and only those whose raw material was the produce of home agriculture showed any considerable export. There was . tion in industry; foreign trade was comparatively small; nations and Communities were largely self-sustaining; the workers were less dependent upon capital; trade was steadier because production was carried on for the purpose of supplying a small and well-known demand; and
the tools required in most industries were so simple and
vo easily secured, and the power utilised in their opera.
tion so largely human, that there was little need for
vast aggregations of capital. Though the amount of _----- 22
machinery which had been invented up to that time must not be under-estimated, it is apparent that man was | limited and cramped in his activities on account of his ignorance of the tremendous forces of the natural world. in fact, England of the first part of the eighteenth century was virtually a mediaeval England, quiet, primeval, and undisturbed by the roar of trade and commerce. Suddenly, almost like a thunderbolt from a clear sky, were ushered in the storm and stress of the Industrial Revolution. The mechanical inventions of the centuries were eclipsed in less than one hundred years. Sec. 2.--The Mechanics of the Revolution. So vast is the field which we are about to investigate, so complex are the forces, and so multitudinous are the details, that we are compelled to set our limitations somewhat arbitrarily, and to establish divisions even where they do not exist in reality. It is apparently advisable to begin with the tangible developments: (1) those which found expression in mechanical inventions, and (2) those which can be stated in figures. We can then proceed to the more intangible and subtle changes, known as social which touch upon every phase of human life. Following this plan, we shall first devote our attention to the mechanical phase of the subject. It is impossible, even if it were desirable, to give here an extended account of the mechanical inventions and improvements which have been made during the last one hundred and fifty years. The story of mechanical development, from the wooden canoe of primitive man to the modern 16,000 tons trans-Atlantic steamship, from the distaff to the marvellous spinning jenny, with its myriads of swiftlyflying fingers, possesses a fascination in itself; but it