Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/116

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it. I convey you to X—— Street, where at another work-table sits a microscope-maker. He is accurately adjusting an objective of high power. What is he? Like the user of the microscope just mentioned, he requires the utmost delicacy of touch, the highest manipulative skill. Like the microscopist, also, his brain performs the essential part of the task. But you will probably call him a hand-worker or muscle worker, because he is a mechanic!

Surely, then, we must admit that there is no hard and fast boundary between the brain-worker and the muscle-worker. There is no muscle-work without brain-work; there is little brain-work of a high order without muscle-work.

There are, however, gradations. There are kinds of muscle-work, so simple, so monotonous or uniform in their character, that they are, with very little practice, performed automatically, with no conscious effort of the brain. Such, for instance, is the work of the agricultural laborer in digging, mowing, thrashing, etc., or of the hodman carrying bricks and mortar up a ladder. All such work, it is generally found, can be performed by means of machinery. Perhaps this may enable us to find a definition, or rather a limit, for muscle-work.

I must now ask what classes of society can rank as brain-workers. Dr. Beard seems to include here, clergymen, lawyers, physicians, merchants, scientists, and men of letters. He does not make any mention of artists, teachers of different branches of knowledge, manufacturers, etc. Now, if the merchant, the man who distributes, fetches, and carries, is to rank as a brain-worker, surely must the producer, who much more frequently originates out of his own mind something new to the world. We may also ask, Does the term merchant include the retail dealer, the clerk, and the commercial assistant? If so, we find the brain-working class re-enforced by a number of persons who certainly have little need for muscular exertion, but little also for brain-work, and many of whose tasks and duties might be performed by machinery. Again, where are we to place the speculator, the gambler, and the forger? Muscle-workers they are only to a very small extent, though the forger requires a wonderful amount of manipulative skill. He must, however, be regarded as a doomed species, since the Nesbit patent safety-check carries in it the germs of his destruction.

It becomes very difficult to say with accuracy who are to be classed as brain-workers and who as muscle-workers, and, still more, who are to be referred to Dr. Beard's third class, "those who follow occupations that call both muscle and brain into exercise." This class, as I have endeavored to show, includes almost every one who works at all. Until we are able to furnish a correct classification of mankind as brain-' workers and muscle-workers, it will be very difficult to enunciate any true and valuable proposition concerning either group.

Twenty years ago, Dr. Beard laid down among others the following set of propositions: That the brain-working classes—clergymen,