When spinning jennies and power looms were first, introduced into England, nothing would do with the outraged and insulted spinsters and weavers, but pulling down the factories and the breaking the machines. This" was a very fooKsh operation, but the machine-destructives thought it was a very wise one; they, no doubt, imagined they had slain their greatest enemy. Poor short-sighted mortals! how much they resembled Don Quixotte battling with the wind-mill. We do not say but the hand-spinners and hand-loom weavers of old enjoyed more of the comfortsjof life than they do now, and perhaps enjoyed the world with a more hearty relish, but this we do know, that those power machines which have superseded severe human toil, have greatly be-nefitted the very operatives who were ruthlessly opposed to their introduction. Gilbert; Burns, the brother oi the great poet, though not a poet himself, was a shrewd man, possessed of a sound head, and who had labored severely as a farmer, declared that the invention of the Threshing Machine was one of the greatest blessings ever conferred upon mankind. The terrible drudgery of the flail was as the life of a helot to him; he became a free man when the threshing machine was invented. There is the machine for planing wood, too ; its introduction was violently opposed by carpenters,—their occupation, like Othello's, was gone, and nothing would suit many of them but smashing up the planers. But are there any carpenters in our country, now, who do not look upon this machine as a blessing? It was tb,eir emancipation; it relieved them from a toil which, at best, is gross drudgery. The trip hammer, too, although a very simple innovation, was also looked upon with exceedingly jealous eyes, by the performers of heavy tragedy at the anvil; but what would we have done for the heavy shafting of our steamboats, had those tragedians still mo-- nopolized the stage of the stithy 1 We might go on and enumerate a great number of machines, and recount the benefits which they have conferred upon the operative classes; but we have said enough to direct attention to the point' which we wish to elucidate, and the doctrine which we wish to enforce. We are the advocates of all new and useful improvements in machinery, and we are the disseminators of information respecting new inventions and discoveries—this is our business; if we did not believe that machinery conferred blessings and benefits upon mankind, we could not conscientiously follow after such a profession. We believe that machinery has done wonders for the elevation of our race, and we also believe that it has but began to fulfil its mission; our heart and soul, therefore, is with this work of improvements in machinery. Some people have extolled the blessings of machinery, tor allowing more time for mental development; this is one benefit it has conferred upon mSttkind, but far be it from us to speak favorably of machinery on this account merely. Laziness is a vice, and a lazy idle man should not eat; every man and woman should do something for themselves. There are too many men and women who kill themselves with idleness. There are thousands in our cities who are not under the necessity of working to procure daily bread, who nevertheless, for their own health and pleasure, should labor, or take active exercise in the open air every day. On the other hand there are thousands who drudge away at unhealthy occupations, wearing out soul and body to win their daily bread. Improvements in machinery will benefit this latter class, and improve their condition. Improvements^ machinery tor the rapid and cheap construction, manufacture, and execution ol domestic utensils, goods, and labor, are the very things on which the attention of philanthropic inventors should be fixed. " They were good old days," say the old folks at home," when all i things Were made for the tamily on the plan-i tation and farm. Our clothes were not so fine , but nobody wanted; there was less pride and jk more ontento ent." There is much truth i ;his, and we are far from believing that large 'actories, and congregated hundreds laboring ;ogether in pent up workshops, is a higher development of humanity; we believe that, in the majority of cases, it is the very reverse, —men and women have become the servant s of machinery, instead of machinery having become their servants. Can we not look to a future of better things ? We cat at least point to the road which will lead to it; this is our present object. Sewing machines, simple and cheap machines for making boots and shoes, great improvements in small carding and spinningmachines, and weaving looms, together with other machines for doing different kinds ot domestic labor, would conduce to a greater elevation of our race; this is the climax of our remarks—improvements in machinery for the benefit of the toilers.
This article was originally published with the title "Power Machines a Benefit to Operatives" in Scientific American 8, 5, 37 (October 1852)