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If any poor brother shall dye, the alderman and brethren shall see that his body be honourably buried, of the goods, or chattels of the house, or out of alms, if he has not wherewith to bury himself.*
It will be noticed that the gild, like the old clan, or the state, was good to those within, but quite indifferent or hostile to those without. But at least it made a new kind of a “we-group.” And it secured many privileges for its members which for a time, at least, helped the members, although it was often so selfish as to be shortsighted.
Later, besides the gild merchant, which included both merchants and craftsmen, separate gilds or companies” were formed by those belonging to special crafts. Thus at Andover sixty-one particular trades are enumerated. In some countries of Europe these craft gilds had violent struggles with the rich rulers of the towns. And still later there were, in Germany especially, divisions in the craft gilds between the masters,” or employing members, and journeymen, or workers. All classes were thus finding out the power of union. They were in training for democracy.
* Groos, The Gild Merchant, vol. II, pp. 161-162.
EFFECTS OF THE NEW COÖPERATION:
WEALTH, SKILL, A MIDDLE CLASS, A NEW
UT of town life with its trade, its crafts, its
middle class, and its new powers of united
action came three kinds of gains: wealth and comfort; knowledge and skill; liberty, and ideals of honesty and of the dignity of labor.
It is easy for us to see why trade and exchange of Increase wares produces wealth, and usually means a gain for of all concerned. For it makes it possible for men to do wealth different kinds of work, according to their various abilities. In this way, if each man does what he can do best, there ought to be more grain grown, better houses built, better clothes made. It also gives a chance for people in one place to get the advantage of metals, clothes, foods, and all sorts of articles produced in other places, and thus to exchange what they have a surplus of for what they lack.
Exchanges were at first made largely at fairs and markets. The towns were a sort of continuous market where buyers and sellers could always find each other. Wealth tended to accumulate in towns not only because merchants often made large profits on trade with distant countries, but also because in towns were made the fine cloth, the jewels, the other luxuries, which the rich lords and their ladies sought. The lords exacted rent and labor and dues of various sorts from their villeins.
Increase in skill
They had all the necessaries of life produced or made on their own estates. Their surplus of cattle or wheat or salt they could exchange for fine clothing and ornaments. The substantial houses, and especially the beautiful gild houses of many of the towns, showed that in this exchange the burghers got their share of gain. Increase of wealth, like increase of power through military coöperation, may be misused, but it is none the less a great gain for more men to have the power to live comfortably and independently.
Men in towns had a better chance to become skilful. In a village or on a manor there would be one smith or carpenter, and perhaps several who could do weaving or shoe-making, but there would not be the chance for one man to get ideas from others that there would be in a town where there could be several men plying each kind of trade. And in a village it would be seldom the case that a man could work at one trade steadily; there would not be demand enough to keep him busy. So he would not have a chance to become so expert as the town mechanic who would be in demand all the time. The town then favored division of labor and tended to make expert craftsmen.
The increase of wealth in towns and of skill among craftsmen together made possible beautiful buildings, paintings, and sculpture. The motives for building great or fine buildings or making various beautiful and useful articles might have nothing to do with trade or town life, but the skilled workmen were almost sure to be found in the towns and the wealth with which to employ them was likely to be there also. Thus it was religion which prompted Solomon to build his temple, but he had to send to Tyre for skilled masons and carpenters. So the beautiful cathedrals which were
built during the Middle Ages were built for religion, but they were built in towns of some importance. The very numbers of people made a difference in the size and grandeur of the building. So the beautiful temples and statues of the Greeks were largely for their cities.
Growth of towns and growth of trade favored knowl- Increase edge directly. Any one who lives entirely by himself in is usually satisfied to remain at about the same stage knowledge of knowledge. So any small group or even a whole people, if cut off from intercourse with other people, is apt to settle down in its own ways of thinking and living, and regard these as best. We fall into a rut, as the phrase goes, unless we in some way meet other people, or learn about their ideas and ways of living. Nowadays, books, magazines, and newspapers keep us informed of what goes on elsewhere. But before printing was known people were generally dependent upon traders, soldiers from foreign wars, or wayfarers to carry news. And of these, traders were probably the most important. More than the others, they helped to give people new wants, and so to raise their standards of living. As compared with soldiers, they tended to break down the old suspicions which in the tribal life always made a wall between people. And town life, where people from different places meet, tends also to break down old traditions which are a sort of weight on progress. If today you want to find traces of old customs and beliefs you look in country places.
It is interesting, too, to see how some of our branches of science grew out of the needs of trade. Geography was of course necessary.
Arithmetic was closely connected with trade and industry. Some of the
measures » in arithmetic—furlongs, acres, roods,
rods-grew up with farming, but various kinds of weights—Avoirdupois and Troy-and liquid measures, the processes of measuring lumber and computing percentage and interest, were due to the needs of buyers and sellers, borrowers and lenders. Indeed, arithmetic was in early days in this country regarded as so " commercial ” a subject that it was not taught in the “
grammar schools” which fitted boys for college. Further, it was necessary for the trader in ships to study the sky; and although astronomy began earlier, it was among such a trading people as the Greeks that it made its greatest advance in early times. It is interesting, too, that our alphabet came from the great traders, the Phænicians, and it was from them that the Greeks learned it and passed it on to Rome and through Rome to us.
It was indeed in the trading cities of Greece that science had its greatest growth in the Old World, and while we cannot say that trade deserved the credit for the wonderful genius of such men as Euclid, the geometer, or Democritus, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the philosophers, or Thales, who foretold an eclipse, yet the general exchange of thought and knowledge which trade favored had much to do with giving oppor
tunity for science to develop. Defects It is in some respects surprising that there was so
much ignorance in some matters in the mediæval towns knowledge where there was such knowledge, taste, and skill in other
matters. The cathedrals, the castles, the furnishings and carvings, the glass of early times were wonderful. On the other hand, men believed in magic and astrology. In medicine their remedies were often more dangerous than the disease; and they had almost no knowledge of chemistry which is so important today. One great