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TitleThe land of living men
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Total Pages332
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146 TJic Land of Living Men

numbered centuries they were absolute slaves, belong-
ing to individuals ; then they belonged, as it were, to the

soil, and were known as serfs and, in time, in England
they may be said to have belonged to the county or
shire. . . .

" In 1360, during the reign of Edward III, it was
provided by law that if a laborer refused to work for
the wages fixed by law or by the justices of the county,

or if he went outside of the county he was to be brought

back by the sheriff, was to be imprisoned, and was to
have the letter ' F ' branded with a hot iron upon his
forehead in token of his falsity. If he sought by any

manner to increase the rate of wages, he was to be im-
prisoned. . . . From that time on, for four cen-
turies, the legislation in England is of uniform kind,

prohibiting by imprisonment all meetings of workmen,

and providing that the justice should fix the wages to be

paid in their county ; that if any laborer refused to work
for the wages fixed by the justices, he was to be put in

the stocks ; if any laborer was found idle and did not

apply himself to work, he was to have the letter ' V '
branded with a hot iron upon his cheek, and was to be
sold into slavery for two years, his children likewise to

be sold, and if cither he or they ran away they were to
have the letter ' S ' branded on the cheek with a hot

iron, and were to be sold into slavery for life, and were

to be fed on bread and water, and it was provided by

law that they were to be made to work by beating, by
chaining, etc., and if they ran away again they were to
suffer death. Children that had worked at husbandry

till they were twelve years old, were forbidden ever to

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The Land of Living Men 147

attempt to do anything else ; other children were re-

quired to follow the occupation of their parents or be

imprisoned. It is hard to conceive of a condition of the

laboring classes that could be much worse than that of
the English during these centuries."

And so far as the length of the work-day was con-
cerned, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, in 1562,
the following statute was enacted : " All artificers and
laborers being hired for wages by the day or week shall
betwixt the midst of the months of March and Septem-
ber be and continue at their work at or before five of
the clock in the morning and continue at work and not
depart until betwixt seven and eight of the clock at
night, except it be in the time of breakfast, dinner, or

drinking ; and all such artificers and laborers between
the midst of September and the midst of March shall
be and continue at their work from the spring of the
day in the morning until the night of the same day, ex-
cept in the time of breakfast and dinner."

So much then for the early conditions of both em-
ployer and wage-worker. We come on down then to
our own time. As the employer class became fully
emancipated they began to take matters into their own
hands, and in their relations with those who worked
for them and who Were the absolutely essential factor
in their business and who helped make their profits,
they had the entire say. They paid the wages they
chose. They laid down the conditions under which
those working for them did their work. The laborer
had practically nothing to say regarding anything.

The employers were organizing among themselves


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