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determined to find the cause. Upon investigation, man after man reported that the company was providing good food but poor cooks were spoiling it. The company, for their part, showed that they were paying high wages to their cooks. But they were not getting the service. Correction of the difficulty quickly cut the turnover. In two similar cases it was found that a brutal foreman was the cause of frequent quitting; in another, wages had fallen below the market rate. An office in continuous touch with the employers and men of a given labor market develops a surprisingly intimate knowledge of the conditions in the several establishments.
But most important of all the advantages are two that the market for labor would be centralized, and that those in charge would be interested in serving the needs of the employer and the employee rather than in personal profit. Centralization in the labor market has the same advantage that centralization in any market has. The buyer and seller have the maximum opportunity of getting in contact with some one with whom they can do business. At present, with a large number of unrelated employment offices operating in the same town, state, federal, commercial, philanthropic, trade union, and the rest, the employer who wants a certain kind of man frequently places his order in one office while the employee who seeks that kind of work files his application in another. The two fail to meet. With a single coördinated system of offices, the two will come together in every instance.
An employment system run for profit will never give either our industries, our workers, or the nation sound service. The profits of the employment agent come at so much per head. The more heads, the more dollars. The
greater the turnover, the larger the profits. The interests of the employer demand a small turnover. The interests of the laborer demand a steady job. The interests of the employment agent are exactly opposite: the more men he sends out, the greater the number of fees. Private agencies are daily shipping men by the thousands who they know will not stick. Frequently they know that the man's real intention is to jump the job he is sent to and go to some nearby work. But what's the difference? Large turnover means large fees, and large fees are the object.
The state and municipal offices as heretofore managed in this country have in most cases (not in all) developed a similar motive favoring turnover. In their case it is unconscious. They measure their efficiency by the cost per head to the state of the men sent out. They brag that it has cost the state but 30, or 25, or 19 cents per man sent out, as compared with the two-dollar fee collected from workmen by the private agencies. Since most of the state and municipal agencies have a set budget, say five or ten thousand dollars per year, approximately, all of which they spend, their average cost is lowered in proportion to the number of men sent out while spending the appropriation. The larger the business, the smaller the average cost per job filled, and the better the showing. The national result is an emphasis on the number of men sent out rather than on the quality of service rendered. Instead of studying their local market, to develop policies that will give the local workers the maximum continuity of employment and local employers the steadiest possible labor force, their effort has been concentrated upon getting orders for jobs vacated, and men to fill them. They have made no effective effort to decrease labor turnover, and if they do, they will impair their showing before
their legislative bodies by running up a higher per-capita cost for placement. Cheapness rather than quality has been the criterion thus far applied to their service. And it is the criterion that will continue to be applied until we establish a comprehensive system of employment offices, in charge of men who understand the employment problem and are technical experts in dealing with it, and who are independent of the annual and biennial criticism of local legislative bodies, not conversant with the problems being worked out. It is only under such conditions that the employment organization can attack and solve the vital problem of our labor market.
I have emphasized two points as fundamental to a successful organization of the labor market: first, a consolidation of all public employment agencies into a single system under the auspices of the Federal government, with sub-districts and clearing-houses just as we have in the Federal Reserve banking system; and, second, a monopoly of the labor market, so far as employment-agency work is concerned, by this Federal employment system. A further word on these two points is
The country had no lack of employment agencies when the war broke out; it has none now. The only trouble is that they are not of much use. The postmasters were acting as the employment agents. The Federal Immigration Bureau was also running a system of employment offices. This is now discontinued, and a new set of Federal offices, under an employment chief of the Department of Labor, is in process of establishment. More than one half of the states had state employment offices. Many municipali
ties had employment offices. Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A., charity societies, commercial associations, settlement houses, the Salvation Army, and other semi-public or charitable organizations, were running a host of agencies, more or less defiled with the taint of charity. Thousands of private profit-getting agencies were in operation in all of the labor centres.
The number of employment agencies in the country ran into the thousands, probably the ten-thousands. But each was a distinct unit. The postmasters had no effective system of coöperating with each other, and made no attempt to coöperate with the immigration bureau offices. The various immigration offices were distinctly local, and had no system of coöperating with one another. They had no clearing-houses. They were in no effective coöperation with state offices except in half a dozen cities. The state offices of each state were, as a rule, run as local offices and without any centralized management of the state labor market. The philanthropic agencies coöperated neither among themselves nor with the public offices. Decentralization, disorganization was and is the keynote of the situation.
The first essential step now is legislation that will weld all of the existing state and municipal offices into a Federal system, centralized, coördinated, systematically managed, and trolled by big, far-seeing policies. The same legislation should eliminate forever the private commercial agency, which has cursed our economic system far too long. Monopoly is essential in order to ensure that all orders for men and applications for work shall be brought to the same office, so that buyer and seller may have their needs met with maximum rapidity and efficiency. It is likewise essential to check turnover and migration. Philanthropic
agencies, operated without profit to their owners, might be permitted to continue if operated in close coöperation with the public system. But practically all of them would go out of business as soon as a proper organization of the market was established.
The plans suggested are not theoretical. England has for years been operating a system of employment offices not materially different from the plan suggested. Ohio is to-day operating a system of twenty-two offices on similar principles. A clearing-house for public non-commercial employment
agencies is now clearing for over seventy agencies in New York City. Many able men in this country are already sufficiently experienced in employmentoffice management and sufficiently conversant with the problems to be solved, to undertake the installation of an American system that will be an ideal for the world.
The war has revealed how acute is the need. The time is ripe. An aroused public should demand a termination of the suicidal labor policies which have been ruining the efficiency of American labor.
A LIGHT-BLUE STOCKING
BY A. EDWARD NEWTON
SOME time, when seated in your library, as it becomes too dark to read and is yet too light,-to ring for candles, I was going to say, but nowadays we simply touch a button, let your thoughts wander over the long list of women who have made for themselves a place in English literature, and see if you do not agree with me that the woman you would like most to meet in the flesh, were it possible, would be Mrs. Piozzi, born Hester Lynch Salusbury, but best known to us as Mrs. Thrale.
Let us argue the matter. It may at first seem almost absurd to mention the wife of the successful London brewer, Henry Thrale, in a list which would include the names of Fanny Burney, Jane Austen, George Eliot, the Brontës, and Mrs. Browning; but the woman whom
I have in mind should unite feminine charm with literary gift: she should be a woman whom you would honestly enjoy meeting and whom you would be glad to find yourself seated next to at dinner.
It may at once be admitted that as a mother Mrs. Thrale was not a conspicuous success; but she was a woman of charm, with a sound mind in a sound body. Although she could be brilliant in conversation, she would let you take the lead if you were able to; but she was quite prepared to take it herself rather than let the conversation flag, and she must have been a very exceptional woman to steady, as she did, a somewhat roving husband, to call Dr. Johnson to order, and upon occasion to reprove Burke, even while entertaining the most brilliant society of which London at the period could boast.
At the time when we first make her acquaintance, she was young and pretty, the mistress of a luxurious establishment; and if she was not possessed of literary gifts herself, it may fairly be said that she was the cause of literature in others.
In these days, when women, having everything else, want the vote also (and I would give it to them promptly and end the discussion), it may be suggested that to shine by a reflected light is to shine not at all. Frankly, Mrs. Thrale owes her position in English letters, not to anything important that she herself did or was capable of doing, but to the eminence of those she gathered about her. But her position is not the less secure: she was a charming and fluffy person; and as firmly as I believe that women have come to stay, so firmly am I of the opinion that, in spite of all the well-meaning efforts of some of their sex to prevent it, a certain, and, thank God, sufficient number of women will stay charming and fluffy to the end of the chapter.
On one subject only could Mrs. Thrale be tedious - her pedigree. I have it before me, written in her own bold hand, and I confess that it seems very exalted indeed. She would not have been herself had she not stopped in transcribing it to relate how one of her ancestors, Katherine Tudor de Berayne, cousin and ward of Queen Elizabeth and a famous heiress, was asked in marriage by Maurice Wynne of Gwydir as she was returning from the grave of her first husband, Sir John Salusbury, only to be told that he was too late as she had already engaged herself to Sir Richard Clough. But,' added the lady, 'if in the providence of God I am unfortunate enough to survive him, I consent to be the Lady of Gwydir.' Nor does the tale end here, for she married yet another, and having sons by all four husbands, she came
Hester Lynch Salusbury's birthplace was Bodvel, in Wales, and the year, 1741. She was an only child, very precocious, with a retentive memory. She soon became the plaything of the elderly people around her, who called her 'Fiddle.' Her father had the reputation of being a scamp, and it fell to her uncle's lot to direct, somewhat, her education. Handed about from one relation to another, she quickly adapted herself to her surroundings. Her mother taught her French; a tutor, Latin; Quin, the actor, taught her to recite. Hogarth painted her portrait, and the grooms of her grandmother, whom she visited occasionally, made of her an accomplished horsewoman. In those days education for a woman was highly irregular, but judging from the results in the case of Mrs. Thrale and her friends, who shall say that it was ineffective?
Study soon became little Hester's delight. At twelve years she wrote for the newspapers; also she used to rise at four in the morning to study, which her mother would not have allowed had she known of it. I have a letter written many years afterwards in which she
'My mother always told me I had
ruined my figure and stopt my growth by sitting too long at a writing desk, though she was ignorant how much time I spent at it. Dear Madam, was my saucy answer,
'Tho' I could reach from Pole to Pole
She is quoting Dr. Watts from memory evidently, and improving, perhaps, on the original.
But little girls grow up and husbands must be found for them. Henry Thrale, the son of a rich Southwark brewer, was brought forward by her uncle, while her father, protesting that he would not have his only child exchanged for a barrel of 'bitter,' fell into a rage and died of an apoplexy. Her dot was provided by the uncle, her mother did the courting, with little opposition on the part of the lady and no enthusiasm on the part of the suitor. So, without love on either side, she being twenty-two and her husband thirtyfive, she became Mrs. Thrale.
More happiness came from this marriage than might have been expected. Henry Thrale, besides his suburban residence, Streatham, had two other establishments—one adjoining the brewery in Southwark, where he lived in winter, and another, an unpretentious villa at the seaside. He also maintained a stable of horses and a pack of hounds at Croydon; but, although a good horsewoman, Mrs. Thrale was not permitted to join her husband in his equestrian diversions; indeed, her place in her husband's establishment was not unlike that of a woman in a seraglio. She was allowed few pleasures, and but one duty was impressed upon her, namely, that of supplying an heir to the estate; to this duty she devoted herself unremittingly.
In due time a child was born- -a daughter; and while this was of course VOL. 121 - NO. 6
recognized as a mistake, it was believed to be one which could be corrected. Meanwhile Thrale was surprised to find that his wife could think and talk
that she had a mind of her own. The discovery dawned slowly upon him, as did the idea that the pleasure of living in the country may be enhanced by hospitality. Finally the doors of Streatham Park were thrown open. For a time her husband's bachelor friends and companions were the only company. Included among these was one Arthur Murphy, who had been un maître de plaisir to Henry Thrale in the gay days before his marriage, when they had frequented the green rooms and Ranelagh together. It was Murphy who suggested that 'Dictionary Johnson' might be secured to enliven a dinner-party, and thereupon followed some discussion as to the excuse which should be given Johnson for inviting him to the table of the rich brewer. It was finally suggested that he be invited to meet a minor celebrity, James Woodhouse, the shoemaker poet.
Johnson rose to the bait, Johnson rose easily to any bait which would provide him a good dinner and lift him out of himself,—and the dinner passed off successfully. Mrs. Thrale records that they all liked each other so well that a dinner was arranged for the following week, without the shoemaker, who, having served his purpose, disappears from the record.
And now, and for twenty years thereafter, we find Johnson enjoying the hospitality of the Thrales, which opened for him a new world. When he was taken ill, not long after the introduction, Mrs. Thrale called on him in his stuffy lodgings in a court off Fleet Street, and suggested that the air of Streatham would be good for him. Would he come to them? He would. He was not the man to deny himself the care of a young, rich, and charming