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It is not sufficient for these purposes that man should be endowed with this great force, however versatile it may be. It needs to be directed and measured, so that a blow shall be in the proper direction, reach the intended point, and produce the desired effect. The hammer must hit the head of the nail, the axe the place where the wood is to be divided, the spade the soil that is to be broken. The blow must be struck with the appropriate momentum: not too great, which
may crush and injure; nor too little, which will fail of effect and be lost.
The old fashioned trip hammer always struck its blows in one invariable course and inevitably reached its object if that was in the line of its motion. It dealt its blows with unvarying force upon whatever was in its way, whether it was the largest bioom or the smallest wire. The later improvements of lifting by steam enable the workman to measure and control the momentum, but the direction is ever the same.
The living worker has no such limit as to direction of movement or as to momentum, but he can vary the first indefinitely and the last within the limit of his strength. The muscles are so distributed and arranged that man can move his limbs in any line. He can strike upward and downward, forward and backward, to the right and to the left, and at any angle between these directions. He can give these movements any degree of force, between that which is only sufficient to produce the slightest touch and that which is given with all his might.
All this animal force is under the control of the brain and the mind. These, through the nervous system, govern the contraction of the muscles and guide the movements of the hands and feet in any desired direction; they measure the force of blows and apply them to all purposes.
It is this control of the brain and muscular force that gives the limbs of the animal superiority over the trip hammer. It is the control of the mind over the brain that makes the hand of man more effective than the foot of the lion. It is the mental development and culture, the discipline and certainty of physical actions, that make the skilful workman superior to the awkward and unskilful in the application of muscular force to the business of life.
CONDITIONS OF SUCCESSFUL LABOR.
In the performance of all labor of the body, there are two things to be considered: (1) the nature and character of the material on which the operation is to be done; (2) the force by which this is to be effected. It is necessary to adapt the force to the condition of the matter in which changes are to be made, and to apply it in such a way as to produce the desired results without injury to the operator or the subject of the work. The carpenter works on wood, the smith on metals, the brickmaker on clay, and the farmer on the soil. Each must comprehend the nature and condition of the substance to which he applies his hands or his tools, and the best way of making this application in order to accomplish his purposes. This necessity is attached to all the labor of the world. Mechanics of every grade, the coarsest as well as the most refined, the wood sawyer, the coal heaver, the shoveller of gravel, all come under this law; all need to study, observe, and reflect, and in proportion as their minds coöperate with their hands, in ratio of the activity and correctness of their perceptive powers and the carefulness of their conclusions, will they succeed in their attempts at work. The difference in the degree of this coöperation of brain with muscle or the habits of observation and reasoning with the physical movement constitutes the difference between the successful and the unsuccessful in every sphere of employment.
Intelligent workmen, with their eyes ever open, clearly comprehending the nature and character of the materials on which they are to oper: ate, and the changes that they are to make, next consider the manner in which they can best apply their powers for this purpose. Having thus laid their plans, they use their power discreetly and effectively. They strike their blows in the direction that will give them the best effect. They waste no time nor strength in striking where no change can or need be made.
When a succession of blows is needed to produce a definite result, they are so given that their effect is cumulative. Each adds to the effect of the preceding. The skilful woodcutter strikes the second blow with his axe in the plane and the place of the first. The third and the fourth follow in the same plane, until the parts are severed.
The observant workman does not run needlessly against obstructions; or, if he meets them, he at once discovers whether they can be overcome; and if not he expends no force in the struggle to remove the immovable. He arranges and performs the successive processes of his work with appropriateness. Each exertion seems to grow necessarily out of its predecessor and to add to its effect. As soon as one process is completed, the next suggests itself, with a manifest fitness; no time is lost in doubt as to what shall be done next or in the transition from one step to another. No mistakes are made in the order or propriety of these movements.
Such men do not depend merely upon their bodily force in effecting their purposes. They take advantage of all the natural aids which are offered in the position and relation of the substance on which they wish to operate. They take hold of things in the way they can be most conveniently moved. They do their work easily and with comparative grace. They are what are commonly called handy men. They have an aptitude for whatever they undertake to do. Without superior
strength, they use what they have with such tact that they accomplish large results.
A skilful builder of rude stone walls in a rural district was rather a slight man as to stature and weight, yet he was noted for his power to place on a wall, unaided, a larger stone than any other man in his town. His neighbors said he knew how to take advantage of it and could handle heavy stones easily. Unconsciously, he was a practical natural philosopher in his work. He availed himself of the facilities of means and position that nature afforded him, the lever, inclined plane, &c. Such men in their several ways experid and apply their forces economically and successfully, without exhaustion or even great fatigue.
The unthinking, unskilful worker may be large and heavy; he may be able to lift great weights and strike hard blows, yet his exertions are uncertainly directed and may be misapplied, and consequently partially or entirely lost. While this paper was in preparation, two untaught laborers were seen endeavoring to lift out of its bed in a quarry a large stone loosened by powder. They placed their iron bars in such a manner that nearly the whole of their force was expended in pressing the loose stone against the fixed ledge on the opposite side, and no part of it would tend to lift the stone from its place. A better observer then removed the bars to another side of the fragment of rock, where their movement would be in the only line in which the stone could be taken from its position. These are awkward and comparatively unprofitable laborers. They may be very strong, and expend more force, and become more fatigued, and yet, with all their great endeavors, they accomplish less than their more intelligent associates.
These differences in the application of personal force may be seen everywhere in the world, in all departments of labor, among mechanics of every occupation, cultivators of the earth, the bewers of wood, all who use their hands, tools, or machines to effect changes in the position, relation, or condition of material substance. Even the laborer, whose occupation would seem to require no thought nor skill, the scavenger who scrapes the mud in the streets, the shoveller who fills a cart with gravel or manure, the man who digs the garden with his spade, the boy that turns a grindstone to sharpen an axe: among all there is a manifest and practical difference as to the manner of applying their forces to their work, and as to the effect of their exertions, between the thoughtful and the thoughtless; between those whose quickened mind lends its aid to their muscular efforts and the duller workmen, whose hands alone are given to their possessors and who take their chance of moving in the best and easiest or in the harder and less appropriate way.
ANALYSIS OF PROCESSES OF LABOR.
In this view of the matter, it is interesting and profitable to watch the movements of workmen, mechanics, farmers, laborers, and analyze their successive processes, and see their relations to each other, to the material on which they operate, and to the result which they attempt to produce.
It seems to be a very simple matter to saw wood for fuel. Anybody without intellect, apparently, can do this work. Nevertheless, the intelligent and thoughtful can do it better and more rapidly than the ignorant and careless. The sawhorse must stand firmly on all its four legs. The log or stick must be placed securely in it, well bala nced and supported; otherwise it yields, rolls, shakes, or recedes before the pressure of the saw. If it be so placed that the cut is in the middle of the horse, between the legs, when the division is nearly made the stick bends down. ward, the two inner ends of the partially divided parts are brought together, they press upon the saw and render its movements very difficult and often impossible. If the stick be so placed that the cut is made outside of the horse, unless the part that rests upon the horse is long and heavy and is held firmly in its place by its own weight or by the foot of the sawyer, or unless the saw is run close to the horse, the pressure will turn the outer part of the stick downward, and bend or twist the saw and prevent its running. By proper movement of the saw, forward and backward, the teeth cut off particles of the fibres of the wood and make a narrow fissure through the log. The power that does this is the result of the twofold force, that which would move the saw in the direct line of its length and that which would press it into the wood. If the first act alone, the saw moves over the log without cutting; if the second act alone, the saw is immovable. It is therefore needful to combine these forces in such proportions and to bear upon the saw at such an angle that the teeth be pressed sufficiently into the wood to cut off the superficial particles but not sufficiently to arrest its movement.
The thoughtful workman recognizes all these necessities, and makes his arrangements accordingly. He finds no difficulty in sawing his wood; he meets with no accidents, loses no time nor force in restoring his disturbed log, or in difficult motion of the saw, nor does he injure it by endeavoring to push it when pressed, bent, or twisted. All his exertions are made with advantage; every movement of his saw deepens the fissure in the log. He works rapidly and without needless fatigue.
The duller workman does not understand these conditions or comprehend their connection with his purpose. He places his horse at random, and his wood upon it as it may happen to fall. So his horse may shake, his log may roll, his sticks tip up, his saw may be impeded, and the labor increased or even suspended. He has frequent difficulties; his work is interrupted; his progress is slow. He expends needless force, and his tools require more frequent reparation than those of the more observing and more successful wood cutter.
There are great differences in the divisibility of logs of wood and equally great in the manner of men's attempts to divide them. They must rest on firm foundation of earth or other logs; for otherwise they tremble or give way beneath the axe, and the blows are partly or entirely wasted. The log is more easily split in one side and at one end than the other, in the line of the knots rather than across their fibres. The in: telligent splitter comprehends all these conditions and makes suitable preparations, and then he strikes in the place and direction that give the best promise of division. If the first blow with the axe is insufficient to sever the parts, he follows it with others in the same line, so that the effect shall be cumulative, until the log shall be divided.
The thoughtless splitter has no such comprehension of the best means of applying his forces to their work. He begins without guide. He places his log on whatever foundation may be at hand, whether suitable or not. He strikes his axe into any part that chance may present. If the first blow fails to sever the parts, he may strike again in the same place and complete the division, or in other places and lose the advantage of adding the effects of successive blows to those which he had previously struck. He may make as great efforts as the better workman; he may strike as heavy blows; but, for want of intelligent direction, some are wasted and some produce little effect.
Turning a grindstone is among the labor that requires apparently no mental coöperation : so it is with the dull turner. When the crank is uppermost, he pushes it from him and downward until it reaches its most distant point; then he draws it toward himself and downward, until it is at its lowest point; then he lifts and draws it, until it is nearest to his body, and lastly he lifts and pushes it to the highest elevation. These efforts are repeated at every revolution, by the unbroken strain of the muscles of the arms, back, and legs, through the successive circles of motion.
The brighter turner soon discovers that the weight of his body, pressing on the crank in its downward course, will not only carry the stone through that part of the revolution, but will give so much momentum to the movement of the stone that with but little aid from the muscles it completes the revolution. So he makes gravitation do most of the work, and his principal labor is in lifting his body to the erect position and in throwing it on the desernding crank.
The coal heaver, the digger of the earth, the shoveller of gravel at the bank or of manure in the barnyard, seem to need mere muscular force for their work, and to do it without assistance from the intellect. But,