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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/314

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

was not till the beginning of this century that the last trades were emancipated in England. While in North America and New South Wales the transition is plainly traceable, all vestiges of it have disappeared in the younger colonies. In these, almost from the first, the mechanic is master of the situation. The carpenter who can put up a wooden cottage commands regular work and high wages, while the preacher who builds him a house not made with hands is starved. The anomaly is in perfect consistency with the biological analogy; the brain is everywhere of late development. As the colony grows, wages fall, and the position of professional men becomes more tolerable, but, en revanche, the workman acquires and at length almost monopolizes political power. The premier and cabinet ministers are sometimes former peddlers, gold diggers, coal miners, shepherds, etc. The legislative bodies consist largely of labor representatives. Laws are passed in the interest of labor. Not content with a share of political power out of all proportion to their numbers or importance, the regimented trades, under the command of unscrupulous leaders, deliver a pitched battle against the employers, with the object of gaining practical possession of the agencies of production and distribution. They are necessarily defeated. The value of labor and the importance of the mechanic decline with the application of machinery to all industrial processes. Accumulated wealth, subsidizing inventions, acquires an increasing ascendency. The industrial system is in no greater danger from the onslaughts of labor than civilized countries from the invasion of barbarians.

Only the beginnings of the commercial epoch, or age of bronze, are to be found in colonies. In production we witness the same supersession of individual enterprise by the limited liability company. This is also the case in distribution, where many obsolete Old World stages are recapitulated. We may still see the long, slow bullock team, the wearied pack horse (the fur trade in Canada was carried on by "brigades of pack horses"), the hawker, purveyor of news and gossip. We easily trace the evolution of the shop: at first a ship, then landed, with everything inside—groceries, meat, bread, fruit, and vegetables, clothes, crockery, ironmongery, stationery, and tobacco; the butcher first hives off, then the baker, the grocer; in course of time reintegration takes place, and shops are to be found in the colonial cities which reduplicate Whiteley's in London, where everything may again be had as in the beginning. The processes of exchange likewise recapitulate the past. Barter is long universal, and is still common in colonial villages. Even then a standard is needed. In the Old English period the "currency" consisted of cattle, named by a facetious writer "the current kine of the realm." In Virginia and Maryland tobacco was the circulating medium for a