22 DECEMBER 1866, Page 3

The English ironmasbere are complaining bitterly of the successful Belgian

competition which is springing up against them. Two of them have gone to Belgium to inquire into the -causes, and they report that the application of " rude labour " to the extraction of iron at very cheap rates,—wages in the best paid districts not exceeding 2s. 8d. a day for men, ls. 8d. a day for women, and ls. 2id. a day for boys,—is one of the main reasons why Belgium can at present undersell England. This brought out a very sensible letter from Professor Stanley Jevons, of 'O wen's College, Manchester, published in Monday's Times, in which he remarks very wisely, that if the operatives in the iron trade really knew the condition of their masters' accounts,—as they may know it in co-operative societies,—they would not be so unreasonable about reductions of wages in 'a time of 'low prices,—a reduction- of wages which may be almost essential to a continuance of pro- duction at all. To this -letter there;is a rather excited and silly reply from an ironmaster in yesterday's Times, asserting that im- mense fluctuations of profit are necessary in this trade, and that for a year or two together there must even be losses which no -workmen *would consent to bear. The trade can only be worked by ".mind and knowledge," and "mind and knowledge " can only belong to the masters. Well, is not that exactly the point that required proof? Mr. Jevons 'thinks operatives, frankly trusted, may be reasonable beings. An ironmaster thinks not.