Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/757

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737
SOCIAL SUSTENANCE.

specialization, which everybody might have observed by looking about him. Boys and women do a great many things that men could do better. The apprentice performs a task which the journeyman could do better; the journeyman, one at which the foreman excels him. Boy or man, the better he performs his task, the sooner he leaves it to some one who can not do it so well, while he rises to something higher. We all know that this is the rule. But we also know that there are exceptions. The exceptions are not only numerous, but interesting and instructive. They will be studied in their proper place. Just now we have on hand the preliminary business of citing examples of the operation of the rule.

We find it prevailing in the army, often to the salvation of a country. The best soldier is the first to be made something more than a mere soldier. The best captain is made a colonel, the best colonel a general, the best general a commander-in-chief. The best brakemen on the railroad are made conductors, the best firemen are made engineers, the best station-agents train-dispatchers or superintendents, or something still higher and further removed from their original work. Whoever is promoted leaves to others work in which he excels them. His very excellence in a task leads to his abandonment of it.

We have to note, however, that in all these cases the new specialty he adopts is rather nearly allied to the old one that he abandons. Success in the lower implies aptitudes available in the higher. There is another class of cases in which this is either not so important or not so apparent. The successful farmer first acquires enough capital to engage in some more agreeable business. The successful wage-worker in any line first gets money to buy a farm or a store or a factory, or something else that will give him an employment, perhaps totally unlike his own, and only more congenial because he can be its master and not its underling. Let it be admitted that frugality, judgment, or what not, has helped to bring about this result. They would all have failed if he had lacked aptitude for his original work, and it is not necessary that they should equal that aptitude in force. It is only necessary that the lack of them should not squander away the rewards of the aptitude. In all this class of cases capital is a prominent feature.

The most striking case of all, in which neither promotion by merit nor acquisition of capital has much to do, is that of women. That man could do most of her work better than she can is beyond doubt, since the experience has been tried. It may still be a question whether he can do all of it better. At any rate, we daily see that he does wash, iron, scrub, churn, sew, weave, knit, spin, and even cut and fit the woman's own clothes and dress her hair with such success that without any chance of favoritism he is able to make better wages than she can in the same employment. With few if any exceptions, whatever work man leaves to woman he leaves to one less capable in it, with the same training, than he. It needs only observation, not labored argument,