Factory Production in Nineteenth-Century Britain

By Elaine Freedgood | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
INVESTIGATORS

CHARLES BABBAGE


ON THE METHOD OF OBSERVING MANUFACTORIES

(160.) Having now reviewed the mechanical principles which regulate the successful application of mechanical science to great establishments for the production of manufactured goods, it remains for us to suggest a few inquiries, and to offer a few observations, to those whom an enlightened curiosity may lead to examine the factories of this or of other countries.

The remark,—that it is important to commit to writing all information as soon as possible after it is received, especially when numbers are concerned,—applies to almost all inquiries. It is frequently impossible to do this at the time of visiting an establishment, although not the slightest jealousy may exist; the mere act of writing information as it is communicated orally, is a great interruption to the examination of machinery. In such cases, therefore, it is advisable to have prepared beforehand the questions to be asked, and to leave blanks for the answers, which may be quickly inserted, as, in a multitude of cases, they are merely numbers. Those who have not tried this plan will be surprised at the quantity of information which may, through its means, be acquired, even by a short examination. Each manufacture requires its own list of questions, which will be better drawn up after the first visit. The following outline, which is very generally applicable, may suffice for an illustration; and to save time, it may be convenient to have it printed; and to bind

From On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. Philadelphia: Carey and Lea, 1832.

-61-

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