Page:The Chartist Movement.djvu/56

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CHAPTER II


THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION AND ITS CONSEQUENCES


The years 1815-1840 represent the critical years of the Industrial Revolution. The inventions and discoveries of the previous century had provided the framework of a new industrial society, but the real social development, with the ideas, political and economic, and the new social relationships which grew out of it, appeared in full force only in the generation which followed the battle of Waterloo. It was then that the victory of machine production became an acknowledged fact, and with it the supremacy of large-scale production and large-scale organisation over domestic production and organisation. The rapid growth of production for the foreign .market gave to industry a more speculative and competitive character, whilst the lack of real knowledge and experience gave rise to rash and ill-considered ventures which helped to give so alarming a character to the crises of 1816, 1826, and 1836. Though fluctuation in trade was not the creation of the Industrial Revolution, it seems clear that the increase of large-scale production for distant markets, with a demand which was seldom gauged with any exactitude, caused these fluctuations to be enormously emphasised, so that the crises above mentioned (with the last of which the Chartist Movement is closely connected) were proportionately far more destructive than depressions in trade now are. The rapid accumulation of capital and the development of credit facilities aided in the rise of a class of employers who were not the owners of the capital which they controlled. Thus the social distance which separated employers and employed was widened as capital seemed to become more and more impersonal. Under the old domestic system the employer resided as a rule in the neighbourhood of his work-people, but the new

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