Leaves from the diary of a philanthropist

Oct. 16, 1908.—This day is the thirtieth anniversary of my marriage and the fortieth of my business career. I remember well even now, how I calculated that my ten-year-old business warranted the step. I always opined that £1,000 per year was the minimum sum upon which a cultivated man could take the step of holy matrimony. My wife’s dowry, of course, helped. As I look calmly back over the forty years I can estimate the relative values of various incidents and personal qualities which have contributed to my successful career. Minor factors in that success have been the building of a railroad near my native town, the growth of population in the district creating a market for my products ; a plentiful supply of cheap labour ; my good fortune in obtaining capable foremen at reasonable wages ; and, last of all, the use of my recognised mental qualities, famed business foresight, and a determination to find regular employment for my beloved workpeople. My native town has indeed prospered : its population must have quadrupled during the last fifty years.

Jan. 9, 1909,—The granting of a commission on sales (usually called profit-sharing) to my shop managers has been a remarkable success, resulting in a large increase in trade. At a dinner which I gave to my staff a few days ago, several of the men spoke in eulogy of the commission scheme. They said, speaking with much feeling, that it had been a continual stimulus to increased exertion, and that without it their efforts to increase trade could not have been so determined. Some of the managers of my retail shops who proved incapable of response to this reasonable stimulus I have been compelled to dismiss.

I received to-day an acknowledgment of the cheque sent to the Guild of Help. It is with deep humility that I thank the Giver of All Blessings for such opportunities to succour the fallen. I notice that the receipt was signed by the chairman of the I.L.P., who is, I hear, chairman of the Guild.

July 9, 1909.—Following the example of my competitors, I twelve months ago placed a suggestion box in each department of my works. This was my scheme. If an idea occurred to any employee which he or she thought would conduce to the more economical working of the department, it was to be written downn and placed in this box. For any adopted suggestion I promised a reward of 10s. The scheme has been fruitful–it is one more example of the value of that Mutual Aid which philanthropists see existing throughout all time.

Dec. 3. 1909.—I have been invited to woo the constituency in which I reside, in the Liberal interest. The city is an industrial one and important enough to warrant any expenditure. Have given my political agent £10,000 for charitable purposes, but I am on the horns of a dilemma as regards its distribution. If I give to both Liberal and Tory I shall be accused of trying to change Tory votes to Liberal ; if I give to Liberal alone I shall also be suspected of corruption. It is not my aim to debauch a constituency, but merely to help poor people with whom I hope to stand in intimate relationship.

The Trades Union Congress is being held here this year. I have invited the delegates to a dinner at my place, and also to visit my model factory and see how well-ventilated rooms make the girls work merrily and briskly. The local Liberal paper is sending a reporter to write up the delegates’ speeches. Have arranged for a series of whole page adverts in this paper—the proprietor is an earnest and useful man.

Feb. 6, 1910.—I learnt the value of sobriety and thrift at a Wesleyan Methodist Band of Hope. These cardinal virtues, having stood with me all possible tests, deserve wider recognition and acceptance, so, with this object in view, I purpose building a Wesleyan chapel. A suitable site, about half a mile from my factory, has been secured. It is in the centre of the city, between the Corporation Gas Works and Messrs. Tanquick’s large tanyard.

Hearing that about a dozen capable youths in this town, connected with the various religious bodies, were becoming infected with Socialism, and that in the ordinary way they may, perchance, become eloquent expositors of the Word, I have made arrangements to subsidise them and so allow them to attend a theological seminary. I often wonder why those Enemies of the Red Flag and similar organisations insist upon brazenly purchasing working-class talent : the bargain is too apparent. Clever working lads can be diverted from red ruin in far lees ostentatious ways.

May 28, 1911.—I have to-day been pondering over the position I am placed in by recent legislation—I mean of the type of Workmen’s Compensation and State Insurance. Certainly I cannot oppose such legislation, although the new insurance scheme will cost me £500 per year. I readily allow that an employer of labour ought to stand in a moral relationship to his “hands.” He ought not to think always of buying cheap and selling dear, and overlook human duties.

Well-meaning persons say that an increase in the price of my commodities must be the result of this legislation, but they speak rashly. The price I receive for my goods is not just what I desire, not any price I please to ask, but it is defined by well-known economic laws. If I am to save the £500 I must act on different lines. For instance, I buy labour-power, and as a check upon it I intend to purchase an Automatic Time Register. I check other commodities which I purchase, and there is no legitimate reason why I should not rigidly check labour-power. I also intend to economise in the office, first by purchasing an Addressing Machine and a Calculating Machine. I can now obtain an addressing Machine which will address 3,000 customers an hour. This is the track I must follow—economise so that I may ultimately be a helpful citizen. I have given instructions to the head of each department to keep a watchful eye on the machinery market, and to be in touch with all new mechanical improvements. If Lloyd George does not lessen my income he has certainly succeeded in quickening my faculties. But let us not forget the apostolic instruction : “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” If we strive to carry out this great teaching we shall help forward that greater and nobler day when it shall be said of us :

Then in no were for the Party ;
Then all were for the State ;
Then the great man helped the poor,
And the poor man loved the great.


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