An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations
Adam Smith

Part 3 out of 19

by it. In the state lotteries, the tickets are really not worth the
price which is paid by the original subscribers, and yet commonly sell
in the market for twenty, thirty, and sometimes forty per cent.
advance. The vain hopes of gaining some of the great prizes is the
sole cause of this demand. The soberest people scarce look upon it as
a folly to pay a small sum for the chance of gaining ten or twenty
thousand pounds, though they know that even that small sum is perhaps
twenty or thirty per cent. more than the chance is worth. In a lottery
in which no prize exceeded twenty pounds, though in other respects it
approached much nearer to a perfectly fair one than the common state
lotteries, there would not be the same demand for tickets. In order to
have a better chance for some of the great prizes, some people
purchase several tickets; and others, small shares in a still greater
number. There is not, however, a more certain proposition in
mathematics, than that the more tickets you adventure upon, the more
likely you are to be a loser. Adventure upon all the tickets in the
lottery, and you lose for certain; and the greater the number of your
tickets, the nearer you approach to this certainty.

That the chance of loss is frequently undervalued, and scarce ever
valued more than it is worth, we may learn from the very moderate
profit of insurers. In order to make insurance, either from fire or
sea-risk, a trade at all, the common premium must be sufficient to
compensate the common losses, to pay the expense of management, and to
afford such a profit as might have been drawn from an equal capital
employed in any common trade. The person who pays no more than this,
evidently pays no more than the real value of the risk, or the lowest
price at which he can reasonably expect to insure it. But though many
people have made a little money by insurance, very few have made a
great fortune; and, from this consideration alone, it seems evident
enough that the ordinary balance of profit and loss is not more
advantageous in this than in other common trades, by which so many
people make fortunes. Moderate, however, as the premium of insurance
commonly is, many people despise the risk too much to care to pay it.
Taking the whole kingdom at an average, nineteen houses in twenty, or
rather, perhaps, ninety-nine in a hundred, are not insured from fire.
Sea-risk is more alarming to the greater part of people; and the
proportion of ships insured to those not insured is much greater. Many
sail, however, at all seasons, and even in time of war, without any
insurance. This may sometimes, perhaps, be done without any
imprudence. When a great company, or even a great merchant, has twenty
or thirty ships at sea, they may, as it were, insure one another. The
premium saved up on them all may more than compensate such losses as
they are likely to meet with in the common course of chances. The
neglect of insurance upon shipping, however, in the same manner as
upon houses, is, in most cases, the effect of no such nice
calculation, but of mere thoughtless rashness, and presumptuous
contempt of the risk.

The contempt of risk, and the presumptuous hope of success, are in no
period of life more active than at the age at which young people
choose their professions. How little the fear of misfortune is then
capable of balancing the hope of good luck, appears still more
evidently in the readiness of the common people to enlist as soldiers,
or to go to sea, than in the eagerness of those of better fashion to
enter into what are called the liberal professions.

What a common soldier may lose is obvious enough. Without regarding
the danger, however, young volunteers never enlist so readily as at
the beginning of a new war; and though they have scarce any chance of
preferment, they figure to themselves, in their youthful fancies, a
thousand occasions of acquiring honour and distinction which never
occur. These romantic hopes make the whole price of their blood. Their
pay is less than that of common labourers, and, in actual service,
their fatigues are much greater.

The lottery of the sea is not altogether so disadvantageous as that of
the army. The son of a creditable labourer or artificer may frequently
go to sea with his father's consent; but if he enlists as a soldier,
it is always without it. Other people see some chance of his making
something by the one trade; nobody but himself sees any of his making
any thing by the other. The great admiral is less the object of public
admiration than the great general; and the highest success in the sea
service promises a less brilliant fortune and reputation than equal
success in the land. The same difference runs through all the inferior
degrees of preferment in both. By the rules of precedency, a captain
in the navy ranks with a colonel in the army; but he does not rank
with him in the common estimation. As the great prizes in the lottery
are less, the smaller ones must be more numerous. Common sailors,
therefore, more frequently get some fortune and preferment than common
soldiers; and the hope of those prizes is what principally recommends
the trade. Though their skill and dexterity are much superior to that
of almost any artificers; and though their whole life is one continual
scene of hardship and danger; yet for all this dexterity and skill,
for all those hardships and dangers, while they remain in the
condition of common sailors, they receive scarce any other recompence
but the pleasure of exercising the one and of surmounting the other.
Their wages are not greater than those of common labourers at the port
which regulates the rate of seamen's wages. As they are continually
going from port to port, the monthly pay of those who sail from all
the different ports of Great Britain, is more nearly upon a level than
that of any other workmen in those different places; and the rate of
the port to and from which the greatest number sail, that is, the port
of London, regulates that of all the rest. At London, the wages of the
greater part of the different classes of workmen are about double
those of the same classes at Edinburgh. But the sailors who sail from
the port of London, seldom earn above three or four shillings a month
more than those who sail from the port of Leith, and the difference is
frequently not so great. In time of peace, and in the
merchant-service, the London price is from a guinea to about
seven-and-twenty shillings the calendar month. A common labourer in
London, at the rate of nine or ten shillings a week, may earn in the
calendar month from forty to five-and-forty shillings. The sailor,
indeed, over and above his pay, is supplied with provisions. Their
value, however, may not perhaps always exceed the difference between
his pay and that of the common labourer; and though it sometimes
should, the excess will not be clear gain to the sailor, because he
cannot share it with his wife and family, whom he must maintain out of
his wages at home.

The dangers and hair-breadth escapes of a life of adventures, instead
of disheartening young people, seem frequently to recommend a trade to
them. A tender mother, among the inferior ranks of people, is often
afraid to send her son to school at a sea-port town, lest the sight of
the ships, and the conversation and adventures of the sailors, should
entice him to go to sea. The distant prospect of hazards, from which
we can hope to extricate ourselves by courage and address, is not
disagreeable to us, and does not raise the wages of labour in any
employment. It is otherwise with those in which courage and address
can be of no avail. In trades which are known to be very unwholesome,
the wages of labour are always remarkably high. Unwholesomeness is a
species of disagreeableness, and its effects upon the wages of labour
are to be ranked under that general head.

In all the different employments of stock, the ordinary rate of profit
varies more or less with the certainty or uncertainty of the returns.
These are, in general, less uncertain in the inland than in the
foreign trade, and in some branches of foreign trade than in others;
in the trade to North America, for example, than in that to Jamaica.
The ordinary rate of profit always rises more or less with the risk.
it does not, however, seem to rise in proportion to it, or so as to
compensate it completely. Bankruptcies are most frequent in the most
hazardous trades. The most hazardous of all trades, that of a
smuggler, though, when the adventure succeeds, it is likewise the most
profitable, is the infallible road to bankruptcy. The presumptuous
hope of success seems to act here as upon all other occasions, and to
entice so many adventurers into those hazardous trades, that their
competition reduces the profit below what is sufficient to compensate
the risk. To compensate it completely, the common returns ought, over
and above the ordinary profits of stock, not only to make up for all
occasional losses, but to afford a surplus profit to the adventurers,
of the same nature with the profit of insurers. But if the common
returns were sufficient for all this, bankruptcies would not be more
frequent in these than in other trades.

Of the five circumstances, therefore, which vary the wages of labour,
two only affect the profits of stock; the agreeableness or
disagreeableness of the business, and the risk or security with which
it is attended. In point of agreeableness or disagreeableness, there
is little or no difference in the far greater part of the different
employments of stock, but a great deal in those of labour; and the
ordinary profit of stock, though it rises with the risk, does not
always seem to rise in proportion to it. It should follow from all
this, that, in the same society or neighbourhood, the average and
ordinary rates of profit in the different employments of stock should
be more nearly upon a level than the pecuniary wages of the different
sorts of labour.

They are so accordingly. The difference between the earnings of a
common labourer and those of a well employed lawyer or physician, is
evidently much greater than that between the ordinary profits in any
two different branches of trade. The apparent difference, besides, in
the profits of different trades, is generally a deception arising from
our not always distinguishing what ought to be considered as wages,
from what ought to be considered as profit.

Apothecaries' profit is become a bye-word, denoting something
uncommonly extravagant. This great apparent profit, however, is
frequently no more than the reasonable wages of labour. The skill of
an apothecary is a much nicer and more delicate matter than that of
any artificer whatever; and the trust which is reposed in him is of
much greater importance. He is the physician of the poor in all cases,
and of the rich when the distress or danger is not very great. His
reward, therefore, ought to be suitable to his skill and his trust;
and it arises generally from the price at which he sells his drugs.
But the whole drugs which the best employed apothecary in a large
market-town, will sell in a year, may not perhaps cost him above
thirty or forty pounds. Though he should sell them, therefore, for
three or four hundred, or at a thousand per cent. profit, this may
frequently be no more than the reasonable wages of his labour,
charged, in the only way in which he can charge them, upon the price
of his drugs. The greater part of the apparent profit is real wages
disguised in the garb of profit.

In a small sea-port town, a little grocer will make forty or fifty per
cent. upon a stock of a single hundred pounds, while a considerable
wholesale merchant in the same place will scarce make eight or ten per
cent. upon a stock of ten thousand. The trade of the grocer may be
necessary for the conveniency of the inhabitants, and the narrowness
of the market may not admit the employment of a larger capital in the
business. The man, however, must not only live by his trade, but live
by it suitably to the qualifications which it requires. Besides
possessing a little capital, he must be able to read, write, and
account and must be a tolerable judge, too, of perhaps fifty or sixty
different sorts of goods, their prices, qualities, and the markets
where they are to be had cheapest. He must have all the knowledge, in
short, that is necessary for a great merchant, which nothing hinders
him from becoming but the want of a sufficient capital. Thirty or
forty pounds a year cannot be considered as too great a recompence for
the labour of a person so accomplished. Deduct this from the seemingly
great profits of his capital, and little more will remain, perhaps,
than the ordinary profits of stock. The greater part of the apparent
profit is, in this case too, real wages.

The difference between the apparent profit of the retail and that of
the wholesale trade, is much less in the capital than in small towns
and country villages. Where ten thousand pounds can be employed in the
grocery trade, the wages of the grocer's labour must be a very
trifling addition to the real profits of so great a stock. The
apparent profits of the wealthy retailer, therefore, are there more
nearly upon a level with those of the wholesale merchant. It is upon
this account that goods sold by retail are generally as cheap, and
frequently much cheaper, in the capital than in small towns and
country villages. Grocery goods, for example, are generally much
cheaper; bread and butchers' meat frequently as cheap. It costs no
more to bring grocery goods to the great town than to the country
village; but it costs a great deal more to bring corn and cattle, as
the greater part of them must be brought from a much greater distance.
The prime cost of grocery goods, therefore, being the same in both
places, they are cheapest where the least profit is charged upon them.
The prime cost of bread and butchers' meat is greater in the great
town than in the country village; and though the profit is less,
therefore they are not always cheaper there, but often equally cheap.
In such articles as bread and butchers' meat, the same cause which
diminishes apparent profit, increases prime cost. The extent of the
market, by giving employment to greater stocks, diminishes apparent
profit; but by requiring supplies from a greater distance, it
increases prime cost. This diminution of the one and increase of the
other, seem, in most cases, nearly to counterbalance one another;
which is probably the reason that, though the prices of corn and
cattle are commonly very different in different parts of the kingdom,
those of bread and butchers' meat are generally very nearly the same
through the greater part of it.

Though the profits of stock, both in the wholesale and retail trade,
are generally less in the capital than in small towns and country
villages, yet great fortunes are frequently acquired from small
beginnings in the former, and scarce ever in the latter. In small
towns and country villages, on account of the narrowness of the
market, trade cannot always be extended as stock extends. In such
places, therefore, though the rate of a particular person's profits
may be very high, the sum or amount of them can never be very great,
nor consequently that of his annual accumulation. In great towns, on
the contrary, trade can be extended as stock increases, and the credit
of a frugal and thriving man increases much faster than his stock. His
trade is extended in proportion to the amount of both; and the sum or
amount of his profits is in proportion to the extent of his trade, and
his annual accumulation in proportion to the amount of his profits. It
seldom happens, however, that great fortunes are made, even in great
towns, by any one regular, established, and well-known branch of
business, but in consequence of a long life of industry, frugality,
and attention. Sudden fortunes, indeed, are sometimes made in such
places, by what is called the trade of speculation. The speculative
merchant exercises no one regular, established, or well-known branch
of business. He is a corn merchant this year, and a wine merchant the
next, and a sugar, tobacco, or tea merchant the year after. He enters
into every trade, when he foresees that it is likely to lie more than
commonly profitable, and he quits it when he foresees that its profits
are likely to return to the level of other trades. His profits and
losses, therefore, can bear no regular proportion to those of any one
established and well-known branch of business. A bold adventurer may
sometimes acquire a considerable fortune by two or three successful
speculations, but is just as likely to lose one by two or three
unsuccessful ones. This trade can be carried on nowhere but in great
towns. It is only in places of the most extensive commerce and
correspondence that the intelligence requisite for it can be had.

The five circumstances above mentioned, though they occasion
considerable inequalities in the wages of labour and profits of stock,
occasion none in the whole of the advantages and disadvantages, real
or imaginary, of the different employments of either. The nature of
those circumstances is such, that they make up for a small pecuniary
gain in some, and counterbalance a great one in others.

In order, however, that this equality may take place in the whole of
their advantages or disadvantages, three things are requisite, even
where there is the most perfect freedom. First the employments must be
well known and long established in the neighbourhood; secondly, they
must be in their ordinary, or what may be called their natural state;
and, thirdly, they must be the sole or principal employments of those
who occupy them.

First, This equality can take place only in those employments which
are well known, and have been long established in the neighbourhood.

Where all other circumstances are equal, wages are generally higher in
new than in old trades. When a projector attempts to establish a new
manufacture, he must at first entice his workmen from other
employments, by higher wages than they can either earn in their own
trades, or than the nature of his work would otherwise require; and a
considerable time must pass away before he can venture to reduce them
to the common level. Manufactures for which the demand arises
altogether from fashion and fancy, are continually changing, and
seldom last long enough to be considered as old established
manufactures. Those, on the contrary, for which the demand arises
chiefly from use or necessity, are less liable to change, and the same
form or fabric may continue in demand for whole centuries together.
The wages of labour, therefore, are likely to be higher in
manufactures of the former, than in those of the latter kind.
Birmingham deals chiefly in manufactures of the former kind; Sheffield
in those of the latter; and the wages of labour in those two different
places are said to be suitable to this difference in the nature of
their manufactures.

The establishment of any new manufacture, of any new branch of
commerce, or of any new practice in agriculture, is always a
speculation from which the projector promises himself extraordinary
profits. These profits sometimes are very great, and sometimes, more
frequently, perhaps, they are quite otherwise; but, in general, they
bear no regular proportion to those of other old trades in the
neighbourhood. If the project succeeds, they are commonly at first
very high. When the trade or practice becomes thoroughly established
and well known, the competition reduces them to the level of other

Secondly, this equality in the whole of the advantages and
disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock, can
take place only in the ordinary, or what may be called the natural
state of those employments.

The demand for almost every different species of labour is sometimes
greater, and sometimes less than usual. In the one case, the
advantages of the employment rise above, in the other they fall below
the common level. The demand for country labour is greater at hay-time
and harvest than during the greater part of the year; and wages rise
with the demand. In time of war, when forty or fifty thousand sailors
are forced from the merchant service into that of the king, the demand
for sailors to merchant ships necessarily rises with their scarcity;
and their wages, upon such occasions, commonly rise from a guinea and
seven-and-twenty shillings to forty shilling's and three pounds
a-month. In a decaying manufacture, on the contrary, many workmen,
rather than quit their own trade, are contented with smaller wages
than would otherwise be suitable to the nature of their employment.

The profits of stock vary with the price of the commodities in which
it is employed. As the price of any commodity rises above the ordinary
or average rate, the profits of at least some part of the stock that
is employed in bringing it to market, rise above their proper level,
and as it falls they sink below it. All commodities are more or less
liable to variations of price, but some are much more so than others.
In all commodities which are produced by human industry, the quantity
of industry annually employed is necessarily regulated by the annual
demand, in such a manner that the average annual produce may, as
nearly as possible, be equal to the average annual consumption. In
some employments, it has already been observed, the same quantity of
industry will always produce the same, or very nearly the same
quantity of commodities. In the linen or woollen manufactures, for
example, the same number of hands will annually work up very nearly
the same quantity of linen and woollen cloth. The variations in the
market price of such commodities, therefore, can arise only from some
accidental variation in the demand. A public mourning raises the price
of black cloth. But as the demand for most sorts of plain linen and
woollen cloth is pretty uniform, so is likewise the price. But there
are other employments in which the same quantity of industry will not
always produce the same quantity of commodities. The same quantity of
industry, for example, will, in different years, produce very
different quantities of corn, wine, hops, sugar tobacco, etc. The
price of such commodities, therefore, varies not only with the
variations of demand, but with the much greater and more frequent
variations of quantity, and is consequently extremely fluctuating; but
the profit of some of the dealers must necessarily fluctuate with the
price of the commodities. The operations of the speculative merchant
are principally employed about such commodities. He endeavours to buy
them up when he foresees that their price is likely to rise, and to
sell them when it is likely to fall.

Thirdly, this equality in the whole of the advantages and
disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock, can
take place only in such as are the sole or principal employments of
those who occupy them.

When a person derives his subsistence from one employment, which does
not occupy the greater part of his time, in the intervals of his
leisure he is often willing to work at another for less wages than
would otherwise suit the nature of the employment.

There still subsists, in many parts of Scotland, a set of people
called cottars or cottagers, though they were more frequent some years
ago than they are now. They are a sort of out-servants of the
landlords and farmers. The usual reward which they receive from their
master is a house, a small garden for pot-herbs, as much grass as will
feed a cow, and, perhaps, an acre or two of bad arable land. When
their master has occasion for their labour, he gives them, besides,
two pecks of oatmeal a-week, worth about sixteen pence sterling.
During a great part of the year, he has little or no occasion for
their labour, and the cultivation of their own little possession is
not sufficient to occupy the time which is left at their own disposal.
When such occupiers were more numerous than they are at present, they
are said to have been willing to give their spare time for a very
small recompence to any body, and to have wrought for less wages than
other labourers. In ancient times, they seem to have been common all
over Europe. In countries ill cultivated, and worse inhabited, the
greater part of landlords and farmers could not otherwise provide
themselves with the extraordinary number of hands which country labour
requires at certain seasons. The daily or weekly recompence which such
labourers occasionally received from their masters, was evidently not
the whole price of their labour. Their small tenement made a
considerable part of it. This daily or weekly recompence, however,
seems to have been considered as the whole of it, by many writers who
have collected the prices of labour and provisions in ancient times,
and who have taken pleasure in representing both as wonderfully low.

The produce of such labour comes frequently cheaper to market than
would otherwise be suitable to its nature. Stockings, in many parts of
Scotland, are knit much cheaper than they can anywhere be wrought upon
the loom. They are the work of servants and labourers who derive the
principal part of their subsistence from some other employment. More
than a thousand pair of Shetland stockings are annually imported into
Leith, of which the price is from fivepence to seven-pence a pair. At
Lerwick, the small capital of the Shetland islands, tenpence a-day, I
have been assured, is a common price of common labour. In the same
islands, they knit worsted stockings to the value of a guinea a pair
and upwards.

The spinning of linen yarn is carried on in Scotland nearly in the
same way as the knitting of stockings, by servants, who are chiefly
hired for other purposes. They earn but a very scanty subsistence, who
endeavour to get their livelihood by either of those trades. In most
parts of Scotland, she is a good spinner who can earn twentypence

In opulent countries, the market is generally so extensive, that any
one trade is sufficient to employ the whole labour and stock of those
who occupy it. Instances of people living by one employment, and, at
the same time, deriving some little advantage from another, occur
chiefly in pour countries. The following instance, however, of
something of the same kind, is to be found in the capital of a very
rich one. There is no city in Europe, I believe, in which house-rent
is dearer than in London, and yet I know no capital in which a
furnished apartment can be hired so cheap. Lodging is not only much
cheaper in London than in Paris; it is much cheaper than in Edinburgh,
of the same degree of goodness; and, what may seem extraordinary, the
dearness of house-rent is the cause of the cheapness of lodging. The
dearness of house-rent in London arises, not only from those causes
which render it dear in all great capitals, the dearness of labour,
the dearness of all the materials of building, which must generally be
brought from a great distance, and, above all, the dearness of
ground-rent, every landlord acting the part of a monopolist, and
frequently exacting a higher rent for a single acre of bad land in a
town, than can be had for a hundred of the best in the country; but it
arises in part from the peculiar manners and customs of the people,
which oblige every master of a family to hire a whole house from top
to bottom. A dwelling-house in England means every thing that is
contained under the same roof. In France, Scotland, and many other
parts of Europe, it frequently means no more than a single storey. A
tradesman in London is obliged to hire a whole house in that part of
the town where his customers live. His shop is upon the ground floor,
and he and his family sleep in the garret; and he endeavours to pay a
part of his house-rent by letting the two middle storeys to lodgers.
He expects to maintain his family by his trade, and not by his
lodgers. Whereas at Paris and Edinburgh, people who let lodgings have
commonly no other means of subsistence; and the price of the lodging
must pay, not only the rent of the house, but the whole expense of the

PART II. -- Inequalities occasioned by the Policy of Europe.

Such are the inequalities in the whole of the advantages and
disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock, which
the defect of any of the three requisites above mentioned must
occasion, even where there is the most perfect liberty. But the policy
of Europe, by not leaving things at perfect liberty, occasions other
inequalities of much greater importance.

It does this chiefly in the three following ways. First, by
restraining the competition in some employments to a smaller number
than would otherwise be disposed to enter into them; secondly, by
increasing it in others beyond what it naturally would be; and,
thirdly, by obstructing the free circulation of labour and stock, both
from employment to employment, and from place to place.

First, The policy of Europe occasions a very important inequality in
the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the different
employments of labour and stock, by restraining the competition in
some employments to a smaller number than might otherwise be disposed
to enter into them.

The exclusive privileges of corporations are the principal means it
makes use of for this purpose.

The exclusive privilege of an incorporated trade necessarily restrains
the competition, in the town where it is established, to those who are
free of the trade. To have served an apprenticeship in the town, under
a master properly qualified, is commonly the necessary requisite for
obtaining this freedom. The bye-laws of the corporation regulate
sometimes the number of apprentices which any master is allowed to
have, and almost always the number of years which each apprentice is
obliged to serve. The intention of both regulations is to restrain the
competition to a much smaller number than might otherwise be disposed
to enter into the trade. The limitation of the number of apprentices
restrains it directly. A long term of apprenticeship restrains it more
indirectly, but as effectually, by increasing the expense of

In Sheffield, no master cutler can have more than one apprentice at a
time, by a bye-law of the corporation. In Norfolk and Norwich, no
master weaver can have more than two apprentices, under pain of
forfeiting five pounds a-month to the king. No master hatter can have
more than two apprentices anywhere in England, or in the English
plantations, under pain of forfeiting; five pounds a-month, half to
the king, and half to him who shall sue in any court of record. Both
these regulations, though they have been confirmed by a public law of
the kingdom, are evidently dictated by the same corporation-spirit
which enacted the bye-law of Sheffield. The silk-weavers in London had
scarce been incorporated a year, when they enacted a bye-law,
restraining any master from having more than two apprentices at a
time. It required a particular act of parliament to rescind this

Seven years seem anciently to have been, all over Europe, the usual
term established for the duration of apprenticeships in the greater
part of incorporated trades. All such incorporations were anciently
called universities, which, indeed, is the proper Latin name for any
incorporation whatever. The university of smiths, the university of
tailors, etc. are expressions which we commonly meet with in the old
charters of ancient towns. When those particular incorporations, which
are now peculiarly called universities, were first established, the
term of years which it was necessary to study, in order to obtain the
degree of master of arts, appears evidently to have been copied from
the term of apprenticeship in common trades, of which the
incorporations were much more ancient. As to have wrought seven years
under a master properly qualified, was necessary, in order to entitle
my person to become a master, and to have himself apprentices in a
common trade; so to have studied seven years under a master properly
qualified, was necessary to entitle him to become a master, teacher,
or doctor (words anciently synonymous), in the liberal arts, and to
have scholars or apprentices (words likewise originally synonymous) to
study under him.

By the 5th of Elizabeth, commonly called the Statute of
Apprenticeship, it was enacted, that no person should, for the future,
exercise any trade, craft, or mystery, at that time exercised in
England, unless he had previously served to it an apprenticeship of
seven years at least; and what before had been the bye-law of many
particular corporations, became in England the general and public law
of all trades carried on in market towns. For though the words of the
statute are very general, and seem plainly to include the whole
kingdom, by interpretation its operation has been limited to market
towns; it having been held that, in country villages, a person may
exercise several different trades, though he has not served a seven
years apprenticeship to each, they being necessary for the conveniency
of the inhabitants, and the number of people frequently not being
sufficient to supply each with a particular set of hands. By a strict
interpretation of the words, too, the operation of this statute has
been limited to those trades which were established in England before
the 5th of Elizabeth, and has never been extended to such as have been
introduced since that time. This limitation has given occasion to
several distinctions, which, considered as rules of police, appear as
foolish as can well be imagined. It has been adjudged, for example,
that a coach-maker can neither himself make nor employ journeymen to
make his coach-wheels, but must buy them of a master wheel-wright;
this latter trade having been exercised in England before the 5th of
Elizabeth. But a wheel-wright, though he has never served an
apprenticeship to a coachmaker, may either himself make or employ
journeymen to make coaches; the trade of a coachmaker not being within
the statute, because not exercised in England at the time when it was
made. The manufactures of Manchester, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton,
are many of them, upon this account, not within the statute, not
having been exercised in England before the 5th of Elizabeth.

In France, the duration of apprenticeships is different in different
towns and in different trades. In Paris, five years is the term
required in a great number; but, before any person can be qualified to
exercise the trade as a master, he must, in many of them, serve five
years more as a journeyman. During this latter term, he is called the
companion of his master, and the term itself is called his

In Scotland, there is no general law which regulates universally the
duration of apprenticeships. The term is different in different
corporations. Where it is long, a part of it may generally be redeemed
by paying a small fine. In most towns, too, a very small fine is
sufficient to purchase the freedom of any corporation. The weavers of
linen and hempen cloth, the principal manufactures of the country, as
well as all other artificers subservient to them, wheel-makers,
reel-makers, etc. may exercise their trades in any town-corporate
without paying any fine. In all towns-corporate, all persons are free
to sell butchers' meat upon any lawful day of the week. Three years
is, in Scotland, a common term of apprenticeship, even in some very
nice trades; and, in general, I know of no country in Europe, in which
corporation laws are so little oppressive.

The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the
original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred
and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and
dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength
and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper, without injury to his
neighbour, is a plain violation of this most sacred property. It is a
manifest encroachment upon the just liberty, both of the workman, and
of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one
from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from
employing whom they think proper. To judge whether he is fit to be
employed, may surely be trusted to the discretion of the employers,
whose interest it so much concerns. The affected anxiety of the
lawgiver, lest they should employ an improper person, is evidently as
impertinent as it is oppressive.

The institution of long apprenticeships can give no security that
insufficient workmanship shall not frequently be exposed to public
sale. When this is done, it is generally the effect of fraud, and not
of inability; and the longest apprenticeship can give no security
against fraud. Quite different regulations are necessary to prevent
this abuse. The sterling mark upon plate, and the stamps upon linen
and woollen cloth, give the purchaser much greater security than any
statute of apprenticeship. He generally looks at these, but never
thinks it worth while to enquire whether the workman had served a
seven years apprenticeship.

The institution of long apprenticeships has no tendency to form young
people to industry. A journeyman who works by the piece is likely to
be industrious, because he derives a benefit from every exertion of
his industry. An apprentice is likely to be idle, and almost always is
so, because he has no immediate interest to be otherwise. In the
inferior employments, the sweets of labour consist altogether in the
recompence of labour. They who are soonest in a condition to enjoy the
sweets of it, are likely soonest to conceive a relish for it, and to
acquire the early habit of industry. A young man naturally conceives
an aversion to labour, when for a long time he receives no benefit
from it. The boys who are put out apprentices from public charities
are generally bound for more than the usual number of years, and they
generally turn out very idle and worthless.

Apprenticeships were altogether unknown to the ancients. The
reciprocal duties of master and apprentice make a considerable article
in every modern code. The Roman law is perfectly silent with regard to
them. I know no Greek or Latin word (I might venture, I believe, to
assert that there is none) which expresses the idea we now annex to
the word apprentice, a servant bound to work at a particular trade for
the benefit of a master, during a term of years, upon condition that
the master shall teach him that trade.

Long apprenticeships are altogether unnecessary. The arts, which are
much superior to common trades, such as those of making clocks and
watches, contain no such mystery as to require a long course of
instruction. The first invention of such beautiful machines, indeed,
and even that of some of the instruments employed in making them, must
no doubt have been the work of deep thought and long time, and may
justly be considered as among the happiest efforts of human ingenuity.
But when both have been fairly invented, and are well understood, to
explain to any young man, in the completest manner, how to apply the
instruments, and how to construct the machines, cannot well require
more than the lessons of a few weeks; perhaps those of a few days
might be sufficient. In the common mechanic trades, those of a few
days might certainly be sufficient. The dexterity of hand, indeed,
even in common trades, cannot be acquired without much practice and
experience. But a young man would practice with much more diligence
and attention, if from the beginning he wrought as a journeyman, being
paid in proportion to the little work which he could execute, and
paying in his turn for the materials which he might sometimes spoil
through awkwardness and inexperience. His education would generally in
this way be more effectual, and always less tedious and expensive. The
master, indeed, would be a loser. He would lose all the wages of the
apprentice, which he now saves, for seven years together. In the end,
perhaps, the apprentice himself would be a loser. In a trade so easily
learnt he would have more competitors, and his wages, when he came to
be a complete workman, would be much less than at present. The same
increase of competition would reduce the profits of the masters, as
well as the wages of workmen. The trades, the crafts, the mysteries,
would all be losers. But the public would be a gainer, the work of all
artificers coming in this way much cheaper to market.

It is to prevent his reduction of price, and consequently of wages and
profit, by restraining that free competition which would most
certainly occasion it, that all corporations, and the greater part of
corporation laws have been established. In order to erect a
corporation, no other authority in ancient times was requisite, in
many parts of Europe, but that of the town-corporate in which it was
established. In England, indeed, a charter from the king was likewise
necessary. But this prerogative of the crown seems to have been
reserved rather for extorting money from the subject, than for the
defence of the common liberty against such oppressive monopolies. Upon
paying a fine to the king, the charter seems generally to have been
readily granted; and when any particular class of artificers or
traders thought proper to act as a corporation, without a charter,
such adulterine guilds, as they were called, were not always
disfranchised upon that account, but obliged to fine annually to the
king, for permission to exercise their usurped privileges {See Madox
Firma Burgi p. 26 etc.}. The immediate inspection of all corporations,
and of the bye-laws which they might think proper to enact for their
own government, belonged to the town-corporate in which they were
established; and whatever discipline was exercised over them,
proceeded commonly, not from the king, but from that greater
incorporation of which those subordinate ones were only parts or

The government of towns-corporate was altogether in the hands of
traders and artificers, and it was the manifest interest of every
particular class of them, to prevent the market from being
overstocked, as they commonly express it, with their own particular
species of industry; which is in reality to keep it always
understocked. Each class was eager to establish regulations proper for
this purpose, and, provided it was allowed to do so, was willing to
consent that every other class should do the same. In consequence of
such regulations, indeed, each class was obliged to buy the goods they
had occasion for from every other within the town, somewhat dearer
than they otherwise might have done. But, in recompence, they were
enabled to sell their own just as much dearer; so that, so far it was
as broad as long, as they say; and in the dealings of the different
classes within the town with one another, none of them were losers by
these regulations. But in their dealings with the country they were
all great gainers; and in these latter dealings consist the whole
trade which supports and enriches every town.

Every town draws its whole subsistence, and all the materials of its
industry, from the: country. It pays for these chiefly in two ways.
First, by sending back to the country a part of those materials
wrought up and manufactured; in which case, their price is augmented
by the wages of the workmen, and the profits of their masters or
immediate employers; secondly, by sending to it a part both of the
rude and manufactured produce, either of other countries, or of
distant parts of the same country, imported into the town; in which
case, too, the original price of those goods is augmented by the wages
of the carriers or sailors, and by the profits of the merchants who
employ them. In what is gained upon the first of those branches of
commerce, consists the advantage which the town makes by its
manufactures; in what is gained upon the second, the advantage of its
inland and foreign trade. The wages of the workmen, and the profits of
their different employers, make up the whole of what is gained upon
both. Whatever regulations, therefore, tend to increase those wages
and profits beyond what they otherwise: would be, tend to enable the
town to purchase, with a smaller quantity of its labour, the produce
of a greater quantity of the labour of the country. They give the
traders and artificers in the town an advantage over the landlords,
farmers, and labourers, in the country, and break down that natural
equality which would otherwise take place in the commerce which is
carried on between them. The whole annual produce of the labour of the
society is annually divided between those two different sets of
people. By means of those regulations, a greater share of it is given
to the inhabitants of the town than would otherwise fall to them, and
a less to those of' the country.

The price which the town really pays for the provisions and materials
annually imported into it, is the quantity of manufactures and other
goods annually exported from it. The dearer the latter are sold, the
cheaper the former are bought. The industry of the town becomes more,
and that of the country less advantageous.

That the industry which is carried on in towns is, everywhere in
Europe, more advantageous than that which is carried on in the
country, without entering into any very nice computations, we may
satisfy ourselves by one very simple and obvious observation. In every
country of Europe, we find at least a hundred people who have acquired
great fortunes, from small beginnings, by trade and manufactures, the
industry which properly belongs to towns, for one who has done so by
that which properly belongs to the country, the raising of rude
produce by the improvement and cultivation of land. Industry,
therefore, must be better rewarded, the wages of labour and the
profits of stock must evidently be greater, in the one situation than
in the other. But stock and labour naturally seek the most
advantageous employment. They naturally, therefore, resort as much as
they can to the town, and desert the country.

The inhabitants of a town being collected into one place, can easily
combine together. The most insignificant trades carried on in towns
have, accordingly, in some place or other, been incorporated; and even
where they have never been incorporated, yet the corporation-spirit,
the jealousy of strangers, the aversion to take apprentices, or to
communicate the secret of their trade, generally prevail in them, and
often teach them, by voluntary associations and agreements, to prevent
that free competition which they cannot prohibit by bye-laws. The
trades which employ but a small number of hands, run most easily into
such combinations. Half-a-dozen wool-combers, perhaps, are necessary
to keep a thousand spinners and weavers at work. By combining not to
take apprentices, they can not only engross the employment, but reduce
the whole manufacture into a sort of slavery to themselves, and raise
the price of their labour much above what is due to the nature of
their work.

The inhabitants of the country, dispersed in distant places, cannot
easily combine together. They have not only never been incorporated,
but the incorporation spirit never has prevailed among them. No
apprenticeship has ever been thought necessary to qualify for
husbandry, the great trade of the country. After what are called the
fine arts, and the liberal professions, however, there is perhaps no
trade which requires so great a variety of knowledge and experience.
The innumerable volumes which have been written upon it in all
languages, may satisfy us, that among the wisest and most learned
nations, it has never been regarded as a matter very easily
understood. And from all those volumes we shall in vain attempt to
collect that knowledge of its various and complicated operations which
is commonly possessed even by the common farmer; how contemptuously
soever the very contemptible authors of some of them may sometimes
affect to speak of him. There is scarce any common mechanic trade, on
the contrary, of which all the operations may not be as completely and
distinctly explained in a pamphlet of a very few pages, as it is
possible for words illustrated by figures to explain them. In the
history of the arts, now publishing by the French Academy of Sciences,
several of them are actually explained in this manner. The direction
of operations, besides, which must be varied with every change of the
weather, as well as with many other accidents, requires much more
judgment and discretion, than that of those which are always the same,
or very nearly the same.

Not only the art of the farmer, the general direction of the
operations of husbandry, but many inferior branches of country labour
require much more skill and experience than the greater part of
mechanic trades. The man who works upon brass and iron, works with
instruments, and upon materials of which the temper is always the
same, or very nearly the same. But the man who ploughs the ground with
a team of horses or oxen, works with instruments of which the health,
strength, and temper, are very different upon different occasions. The
condition of the materials which he works upon, too, is as variable as
that of the instruments which he works with, and both require to be
managed with much judgment and discretion. The common ploughman,
though generally regarded as the pattern of stupidity and ignorance,
is seldom defective in this judgment and discretion. He is less
accustomed, indeed, to social intercourse, than the mechanic who lives
in a town. His voice and language are more uncouth, and more difficult
to be understood by those who are not used to them. His understanding,
however, being accustomed to consider a greater variety of objects, is
generally much superior to that of the other, whose whole attention,
from morning till night, is commonly occupied in performing one or two
very simple operations. How much the lower ranks of people in the
country are really superior to those of the town, is well known to
every man whom either business or curiosity has led to converse much
with both. In China and Indostan, accordingly, both the rank and the
wages of country labourers are said to be superior to those of the
greater part of artificers and manufacturers. They would probably be
so everywhere, if corporation laws and the corporation spirit did not
prevent it.

The superiority which the industry of the towns has everywhere in
Europe over that of the country, is not altogether owing to
corporations and corporation laws. It is supported by many other
regulations. The high duties upon foreign manufactures, and upon all
goods imported by alien merchants, all tend to the same purpose.
Corporation laws enable the inhabitants of towns to raise their
prices, without fearing to be undersold by the free competition of
their own countrymen. Those other regulations secure them equally
against that of foreigners. The enhancement of price occasioned by
both is everywhere finally paid by the landlords, farmers, and
labourers, of the country, who have seldom opposed the establishment
of such monopolies. They have commonly neither inclination nor fitness
to enter into combinations; and the clamour and sophistry of merchants
and manufacturers easily persuade them, that the private interest of a
part, and of a subordinate part, of the society, is the general
interest of the whole.

In Great Britain, the superiority of the industry of the towns over
that of the country seems to have been greater formerly than in the
present times. The wages of country labour approach nearer to those of
manufacturing labour, and the profits of stock employed in agriculture
to those of trading and manufacturing stock, than they are said to
have none in the last century, or in the beginning of the present.
This change may be regarded as the necessary, though very late
consequence of the extraordinary encouragement given to the industry
of the towns. The stocks accumulated in them come in time to be so
great, that it can no longer be employed with the ancient profit in
that species of industry which is peculiar to them. That industry has
its limits like every other; and the increase of stock, by increasing
the competition, necessarily reduces the profit. The lowering of
profit in the town forces out stock to the country, where, by creating
a new demand for country labour, it necessarily raises its wages. It
then spreads itself, if I my say so, over the face of the land, and,
by being employed in agriculture, is in part restored to the country,
at the expense of which, in a great measure, it had originally been
accumulated in the town. That everywhere in Europe the greatest
improvements of the country have been owing to such over flowings of
the stock originally accumulated in the towns, I shall endeavour to
shew hereafter, and at the same time to demonstrate, that though some
countries have, by this course, attained to a considerable degree of
opulence, it is in itself necessarily slow, uncertain, liable to be
disturbed and interrupted by innumerable accidents, and, in every
respect, contrary to the order of nature and of reason The interests,
prejudices, laws, and customs, which have given occasion to it, I
shall endeavour to explain as fully and distinctly as I can in the
third and fourth books of this Inquiry.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and
diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the
public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible,
indeed, to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be
executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though
the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes
assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such
assemblies, much less to render them necessary.

A regulation which obliges all those of the same trade in a particular
town to enter their names and places of abode in a public register,
facilitates such assemblies. It connects individuals who might never
otherwise be known to one another, and gives every man of the trade a
direction where to find every other man of it.

A regulation which enables those of the same trade to tax themselves,
in order to provide for their poor, their sick, their widows and
orphans, by giving them a common interest to manage, renders such
assemblies necessary.

An incorporation not only renders them necessary, but makes the act of
the majority binding upon the whole. In a free trade, an effectual
combination cannot be established but by the unanimous consent of
every single trader, and it cannot last longer than every single
trader continues of the same mind. The majority of a corporation can
enact a bye-law, with proper penalties, which will limit the
competition more effectually and more durably than any voluntary
combination whatever.

The pretence that corporations are necessary for the better government
of the trade, is without any foundation. The real and effectual
discipline which is exercised over a workman, is not that of his
corporation, but that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their
employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence. An
exclusive corporation necessarily weakens the force of this
discipline. A particular set of workmen must then be employed, let
them behave well or ill. It is upon this account that, in many large
incorporated towns, no tolerable workmen are to be found, even in some
of the most necessary trades. If you would have your work tolerably
executed, it must be done in the suburbs, where the workmen, having no
exclusive privilege, have nothing but their character to depend upon,
and you must then smuggle it into the town as well as you can.

It is in this manner that the policy of Europe, by restraining the
competition in some employments to a smaller number than would
otherwise be disposed to enter into them, occasions a very important
inequality in the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the
different employments of labour and stock.

Secondly, The policy of Europe, by increasing the competition in some
employments beyond what it naturally would be, occasions another
inequality, of an opposite kind, in the whole of the advantages and
disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock.

It has been considered as of so much importance that a proper number
of young people should be educated for certain professions, that
sometimes the public, and sometimes the piety of private founders,
have established many pensions, scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries,
etc. for this purpose, which draw many more people into those trades
than could otherwise pretend to follow them. In all Christian
countries, I believe, the education of the greater part of churchmen
is paid for in this manner. Very few of them are educated altogether
at their own expense. The long, tedious, and expensive education,
therefore, of those who are, will not always procure them a suitable
reward, the church being crowded with people, who, in order to get
employment, are willing to accept of a much smaller recompence than
what such an education would otherwise have entitled them to; and in
this manner the competition of the poor takes away the reward of the
rich. It would be indecent, no doubt, to compare either a curate or a
chaplain with a journeyman in any common trade. The pay of a curate or
chaplain, however, may very properly be considered as of the same
nature with the wages of a journeyman. They are all three paid for
their work according to the contract which they may happen to make
with their respective superiors. Till after the middle of the
fourteenth century, five merks, containing about as much silver as ten
pounds of our present money, was in England the usual pay of a curate
or a stipendiary parish priest, as we find it regulated by the decrees
of several different national councils. At the same period, fourpence
a-day, containing the same quantity of silver as a shilling of our
present money, was declared to be the pay of a master mason; and
threepence a-day, equal to ninepence of our present money, that of a
journeyman mason. {See the Statute of Labourers, 25, Ed. III.} The
wages of both these labourer's, therefore, supposing them to have been
constantly employed, were much superior to those of the curate. The
wages of the master mason, supposing him to have been without
employment one-third of the year, would have fully equalled them. By
the 12th of Queen Anne, c. 12. it is declared, "That whereas, for want
of sufficient maintenance and encouragement to curates, the cures
have, in several places, been meanly supplied, the bishop is,
therefore, empowered to appoint, by writing under his hand and seal, a
sufficient certain stipend or allowance, not exceeding fifty, and not
less than twenty pounds a-year". Forty pounds a-year is reckoned at
present very good pay for a curate; and, notwithstanding this act of
parliament, there are many curacies under twenty pounds a-year. There
are journeymen shoemakers in London who earn forty pounds a-year, and
there is scarce an industrious workman of any kind in that metropolis
who does not earn more than twenty. This last sum, indeed, does not
exceed what frequently earned by common labourers in many country
parishes. Whenever the law has attempted to regulate the wages of
workmen, it has always been rather to lower them than to raise them.
But the law has, upon many occasions, attempted to raise the wages of
curates, and, for the dignity of the church, to oblige the rectors of
parishes to give them more than the wretched maintenance which they
themselves might be willing to accept of. And, in both cases, the law
seems to have been equally ineffectual, and has never either been able
to raise the wages of curates, or to sink those of labourers to the
degree that was intended; because it has never been able to hinder
either the one from being willing to accept of less than the legal
allowance, on account of the indigence of their situation and the
multitude of their competitors, or the other from receiving more, on
account of the contrary competition of those who expected to derive
either profit or pleasure from employing them.

The great benefices and other ecclesiastical dignities support the
honour of the church, notwithstanding the mean circumstances of some
of its inferior members. The respect paid to the profession, too,
makes some compensation even to them for the meanness of their
pecuniary recompence. In England, and in all Roman catholic countries,
the lottery of the church is in reality much more advantageous than is
necessary. The example of the churches of Scotland, of Geneva, and of
several other protestant churches, may satisfy us, that in so
creditable a profession, in which education is so easily procured, the
hopes of much more moderate benefices will draw a sufficient number of
learned, decent, and respectable men into holy orders.

In professions in which there are no benefices, such as law and
physic, if an equal proportion of people were educated at the public
expense, the competition would soon be so great as to sink very much
their pecuniary reward. It might then not be worth any man's while to
educate his son to either of those professions at his own expense.
They would be entirely abandoned to such as had been educated by those
public charities, whose numbers and necessities would oblige them in
general to content themselves with a very miserable recompence, to the
entire degradation of the now respectable professions of law and

That unprosperous race of men, commonly called men of letters, are
pretty much in the situation which lawyers and physicians probably
would be in, upon the foregoing supposition. In every part of Europe,
the greater part of them have been educated for the church, but have
been hindered by different reasons from entering into holy orders.
They have generally, therefore, been educated at the public expense;
and their numbers are everywhere so great, as commonly to reduce the
price of their labour to a very paltry recompence.

Before the invention of the art of printing, the only employment by
which a man of letters could make any thing by his talents, was that
of a public or private teacher, or by communicating to other people
the curious and useful knowledge which he had acquired himself; and
this is still surely a more honourable, a more useful, and, in
general, even a more profitable employment than that other of writing
for a bookseller, to which the art of printing has given occasion. The
time and study, the genius, knowledge, and application requisite to
qualify an eminent teacher of the sciences, are at least equal to what
is necessary for the greatest practitioners in law and physic. But the
usual reward of the eminent teacher bears no proportion to that of the
lawyer or physician, because the trade of the one is crowded with
indigent people, who have been brought up to it at the public expense;
whereas those of the other two are encumbered with very few who have
not been educated at their own. The usual recompence, however, of
public and private teachers, small as it may appear, would undoubtedly
be less than it is, if the competition of those yet more indigent men
of letters, who write for bread, was not taken out of the market.
Before the invention of the art of printing, a scholar and a beggar
seem to have been terms very nearly synonymous. The different
governors of the universities, before that time, appear to have often
granted licences to their scholars to beg.

In ancient times, before any charities of this kind had been
established for the education of indigent people to the learned
professions, the rewards of eminent teachers appear to have been much
more considerable. Isocrates, in what is called his discourse against
the sophists, reproaches the teachers of his own times with
inconsistency. "They make the most magnificent promises to their
scholars," says he, "and undertake to teach them to be wise, to be
happy, and to be just; and, in return for so important a service, they
stipulate the paltry reward of four or five minae." "They who teach
wisdom," continues he, "ought certainly to be wise themselves; but if
any man were to sell such a bargain for such a price, he would be
convicted of the most evident folly." He certainly does not mean here
to exaggerate the reward, and we may be assured that it was not less
than he represents it. Four minae were equal to thirteen pounds six
shillings and eightpence; five minae to sixteen pounds thirteen
shillings and fourpence. Something not less than the largest of those
two sums, therefore, must at that time have been usually paid to the
most eminent teachers at Athens. Isocrates himself demanded ten minae,
or 33:6:8 from each scholar. When he taught at Athens, he is said to
have had a hundred scholars. I understand this to be the number whom
he taught at one time, or who attended what we would call one course
of lectures; a number which will not appear extraordinary from so
great a city to so famous a teacher, who taught, too, what was at that
time the most fashionable of all sciences, rhetoric. He must have
made, therefore, by each course of lectures, a thousand minae, or
3335:6:8. A thousand minae, accordingly, is said by Plutarch, in
another place, to have been his didactron, or usual price of teaching.
Many other eminent teachers in those times appear to have acquired
great fortunes. Georgias made a present to the temple of Delphi of his
own statue in solid gold. We must not, I presume, suppose that it was
as large as the life. His way of living, as well as that of Hippias
and Protagoras, two other eminent teachers of those times, is
represented by Plato as splendid, even to ostentation. Plato himself
is said to have lived with a good deal of magnificence. Aristotle,
after having been tutor to Alexander, and most munificently rewarded,
as it is universally agreed, both by him and his father, Philip,
thought it worth while, notwithstanding, to return to Athens, in order
to resume the teaching of his school. Teachers of the sciences were
probably in those times less common than they came to be in an age or
two afterwards, when the competition had probably somewhat reduced
both the price of their labour and the admiration for their persons.
The most eminent of them, however, appear always to have enjoyed a
degree of consideration much superior to any of the like profession in
the present times. The Athenians sent Carneades the academic, and
Diogenes the stoic, upon a solemn embassy to Rome; and though their
city had then declined from its former grandeur, it was still an
independent and considerable republic.

Carneades, too, was a Babylonian by birth; and as there never was a
people more jealous of admitting foreigners to public offices than the
Athenians, their consideration for him must have been very great.

This inequality is, upon the whole, perhaps rather advantageous than
hurtful to the public. It may somewhat degrade the profession of a
public teacher; but the cheapness of literary education is surely an
advantage which greatly overbalances this trifling inconveniency. The
public, too, might derive still greater benefit from it, if the
constitution of those schools and colleges, in which education is
carried on, was more reasonable than it is at present through the
greater part of Europe.

Thirdly, the policy of Europe, by obstructing the free circulation of
labour and stock, both from employment to employment, and from place
to place, occasions, in some cases, a very inconvenient inequality in
the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of their different

The statute of apprenticeship obstructs the free circulation of labour
from one employment to another, even in the same place. The exclusive
privileges of corporations obstruct it from one place to another, even
in the same employment.

It frequently happens, that while high wages are given to the workmen
in one manufacture, those in another are obliged to content themselves
with bare subsistence. The one is in an advancing state, and has
therefore a continual demand for new hands; the other is in a
declining state, and the superabundance of hands is continually
increasing. Those two manufactures may sometimes be in the same town,
and sometimes in the same neighbourhood, without being able to lend
the least assistance to one another. The statute of apprenticeship may
oppose it in the one case, and both that and an exclusive corporation
in the other. In many different manufactures, however, the operations
are so much alike, that the workmen could easily change trades with
one another, if those absurd laws did not hinder them. The arts of
weaving plain linen and plain silk, for example, are almost entirely
the same. That of weaving plain woollen is somewhat different; but the
difference is so insignificant, that either a linen or a silk weaver
might become a tolerable workman in a very few days. If any of those
three capital manufactures, therefore, were decaying, the workmen
might find a resource in one of the other two which was in a more
prosperous condition; and their wages would neither rise too high in
the thriving, nor sink too low in the decaying manufacture. The linen
manufacture, indeed, is in England, by a particular statute, open to
every body; but as it is not much cultivated through the greater part
of the country, it can afford no general resource to the work men of
other decaying manufactures, who, wherever the statute of
apprenticeship takes place, have no other choice, but dither to come
upon the parish, or to work as common labourers; for which, by their
habits, they are much worse qualified than for any sort of manufacture
that bears any resemblance to their own. They generally, therefore,
chuse to come upon the parish.

Whatever obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment
to another, obstructs that of stock likewise; the quantity of stock
which can be employed in any branch of business depending very much
upon that of the labour which can be employed in it. Corporation laws,
however, give less obstruction to the free circulation of stock from
one place to another, than to that of labour. It is everywhere much
easier for a wealthy merchant to obtain the privilege of trading in a
town-corporate, than for a poor artificer to obtain that of working in

The obstruction which corporation laws give to the free circulation of
labour is common, I believe, to every part of Europe. That which is
given to it by the poor laws is, so far as I know, peculiar to
England. It consists in the difficulty which a poor man finds in
obtaining a settlement, or even in being allowed to exercise his
industry in any parish but that to which he belongs. It is the labour
of artificers and manufacturers only of which the free circulation is
obstructed by corporation laws. The difficulty of obtaining
settlements obstructs even that of common labour. It may be worth
while to give some account of the rise, progress, and present state of
this disorder, the greatest, perhaps, of any in the police of England.

When, by the destruction of monasteries, the poor had been deprived of
the charity of those religious houses, after some other ineffectual
attempts for their relief, it was enacted, by the 43d of Elizabeth, c.
2. that every parish should be bound to provide for its own poor, and
that overseers of the poor should be annually appointed, who, with the
church-wardens, should raise, by a parish rate, competent sums for
this purpose.

By this statute, the necessity of providing for their own poor was
indispensably imposed upon every parish. Who were to be considered as
the poor of each parish became, therefore, a question of some
importance. This question, after some variation, was at last
determined by the 13th and 14th of Charles II. when it was enacted,
that forty days undisturbed residence should gain any person a
settlement in any parish; but that within that time it should be
lawful for two justices of the peace, upon complaint made by the
church-wardens or overseers of the poor, to remove any new inhabitant
to the parish where he was last legally settled; unless he either
rented a tenement of ten pounds a-year, or could give such security
for the discharge of the parish where he was then living, as those
justices should judge sufficient.

Some frauds, it is said, were committed in consequence of this
statute; parish officers sometime's bribing their own poor to go
clandestinely to another parish, and, by keeping themselves concealed
for forty days, to gain a settlement there, to the discharge of that
to which they properly belonged. It was enacted, therefore, by the 1st
of James II. that the forty days undisturbed residence of any person
necessary to gain a settlement, should be accounted only from the time
of his delivering notice, in writing, of the place of his abode and
the number of his family, to one of the church-wardens or overseers of
the parish where he came to dwell.

But parish officers, it seems, were not always more honest with regard
to their own than they had been with regard to other parishes, and
sometimes connived at such intrusions, receiving the notice, and
taking no proper steps in consequence of it. As every person in a
parish, therefore, was supposed to have an interest to prevent as much
as possible their being burdened by such intruders, it was further
enacted by the 3rd of William III. that the forty days residence
should be accounted only from the publication of such notice in
writing on Sunday in the church, immediately after divine service.

"After all," says Doctor Burn, "this kind of settlement, by continuing
forty days after publication of notice in writing, is very seldom
obtained; and the design of the acts is not so much for gaining of
settlements, as for the avoiding of them by persons coming into a
parish clandestinely, for the giving of notice is only putting a force
upon the parish to remove. But if a person's situation is such, that
it is doubtful whether he is actually removable or not, he shall, by
giving of notice, compel the parish either to allow him a settlement
uncontested, by suffering him to continue forty days, or by removing
him to try the right."

This statute, therefore, rendered it almost impracticable for a poor
man to gain a new settlement in the old way, by forty days
inhabitancy. But that it might not appear to preclude altogether the
common people of one' parish from ever establishing themselves with
security in another, it appointed four other ways by which a
settlement might be gained without any notice delivered or published.
The first was, by being taxed to parish rates and paying them; the
second, by being elected into an annual parish office, and serving in
it a year; the third, by serving an apprenticeship in the parish; the
fourth, by being hired into service there for a year, and continuing
in the same service during the whole of it. Nobody can gain a
settlement by either of the two first ways, but by the public deed of
the whole parish, who are too well aware of the consequences to adopt
any new-comer, who has nothing but his labour to support him, either
by taxing him to parish rates, or by electing him into a parish

No married man can well gain any settlement in either of the two last
ways. An apprentice is scarce ever married; and it is expressly
enacted, that no married servant shall gain any settlement by being
hired for a year. The principal effect of introducing settlement by
service, has been to put out in a great measure the old fashion of
hiring for a year; which before had been so customary in England, that
even at this day, if no particular term is agreed upon, the law
intends that every servant is hired for a year. But masters are not
always willing to give their servants a settlement by hiring them in
this manner; and servants are not always willing to be so hired,
because, as every last settlement discharges all the foregoing, they
might thereby lose their original settlement in the places of their
nativity, the habitation of their parents and relations.

No independent workman, it is evident, whether labourer or artificer,
is likely to gain any new settlement, either by apprenticeship or by
service. When such a person, therefore, carried his industry to a new
parish, he was liable to be removed, how healthy and industrious
soever, at the caprice of any churchwarden or overseer, unless he
either rented a tenement of ten pounds a-year, a thing impossible for
one who has nothing but his labour to live by, or could give such
security for the discharge of the parish as two justices of the peace
should judge sufficient.

What security they shall require, indeed, is left altogether to their
discretion; but they cannot well require less than thirty pounds, it
having been enacted, that the purchase even of a freehold estate of
less than thirty pounds value, shall not gain any person a settlement,
as not being sufficient for the discharge of the parish. But this is a
security which scarce any man who lives by labour can give; and much
greater security is frequently demanded.

In order to restore, in some measure, that free circulation of labour
which those different statutes had almost entirely taken away, the
invention of certificates was fallen upon. By the 8th and 9th of
William III. it was enacted that if any person should bring a
certificate from the parish where he was last legally settled,
subscribed by the church-wardens and overseers of the poor, and
allowed by two justices of the peace, that every other parish should
be obliged to receive him; that he should not be removable merely upon
account of his being likely to become chargeable, but only upon his
becoming actually chargeable; and that then the parish which granted
the certificate should be obliged to pay the expense both of his
maintenance and of his removal. And in order to give the most perfect
security to the parish where such certificated man should come to
reside, it was further enacted by the same statute, that he should
gain no settlement there by any means whatever, except either by
renting a tenement of ten pounds a-year, or by serving upon his own
account in an annual parish office for one whole year; and
consequently neither by notice nor by service, nor by apprenticeship,
nor by paying parish rates. By the 12th of Queen Anne, too, stat. 1,
c.18, it was further enacted, that neither the servants nor
apprentices of such certificated man should gain any settlement in the
parish where he resided under such certificate.

How far this invention has restored that free circulation of labour,
which the preceding statutes had almost entirely taken away, we may
learn from the following very judicious observation of Doctor Burn.
"It is obvious," says he, "that there are divers good reasons for
requiring certificates with persons coming to settle in any place;
namely, that persons residing under them can gain no settlement,
neither by apprenticeship, nor by service, nor by giving notice, nor
by paying parish rates; that they can settle neither apprentices nor
servants; that if they become chargeable, it is certainly known
whither to remove them, and the parish shall be paid for the removal,
and for their maintenance in the mean time; and that, if they fall
sick, and cannot be removed, the parish which gave the certificate
must maintain them; none of all which can be without a certificate.
Which reasons will hold proportionably for parishes not granting
certificates in ordinary cases; for it is far more than an equal
chance, but that they will have the certificated persons again, and in
a worse condition." The moral of this observation seems to be, that
certificates ought always to be required by the parish where any poor
man comes to reside, and that they ought very seldom to be granted by
that which he purposes to leave. "There is somewhat of hardship in
this matter of certificates," says the same very intelligent author,
in his History of the Poor Laws, "by putting it in the power of a
parish officer to imprison a man as it were for life, however
inconvenient it may be for him to continue at that place where he has
had the misfortune to acquire what is called a settlement, or whatever
advantage he may propose himself by living elsewhere."

Though a certificate carries along with it no testimonial of good
behaviour, and certifies nothing but that the person belongs to the
parish to which he really does belong, it is altogether discretionary
in the parish officers either to grant or to refuse it. A mandamus was
once moved for, says Doctor Burn, to compel the church-wardens and
overseers to sign a certificate; but the Court of King's Bench
rejected the motion as a very strange attempt.

The very unequal price of labour which we frequently find in England,
in places at no great distance from one another, is probably owing to
the obstruction which the law of settlements gives to a poor man who
would carry his industry from one parish to another without a
certificate. A single man, indeed who is healthy and industrious, may
sometimes reside by sufferance without one; but a man with a wife and
family who should attempt to do so, would, in most parishes, be sure
of being removed; and, if the single man should afterwards marry, he
would generally be removed likewise. The scarcity of hands in one
parish, therefore, cannot always be relieved by their superabundance
in another, as it is constantly in Scotland, and. I believe, in all
other countries where there is no difficulty of settlement. In such
countries, though wages may sometimes rise a little in the
neighbourhood of a great town, or wherever else there is an
extraordinary demand for labour, and sink gradually as the distance
from such places increases, till they fall back to the common rate of
the country; yet we never meet with those sudden and unaccountable
differences in the wages of neighbouring places which we sometimes
find in England, where it is often more difficult for a poor man to
pass the artificial boundary of a parish, than an arm of the sea, or a
ridge of high mountains, natural boundaries which sometimes separate
very distinctly different rates of wages in other countries.

To remove a man who has committed no misdemeanour, from the parish
where he chooses to reside, is an evident violation of natural liberty
and justice. The common people of England, however, so jealous of
their liberty, but like the common people of most other countries,
never rightly understanding wherein it consists, have now, for more
than a century together, suffered themselves to be exposed to this
oppression without a remedy. Though men of reflection, too, have some.
times complained of the law of settlements as a public grievance; yet
it has never been the object of any general popular clamour, such as
that against general warrants, an abusive practice undoubtedly, but
such a one as was not likely to occasion any general oppression. There
is scarce a poor man in England, of forty years of age, I will venture
to say, who has not, in some part of his life, felt himself most
cruelly oppressed by this ill-contrived law of settlements.

I shall conclude this long chapter with observing, that though
anciently it was usual to rate wages, first by general laws extending
over the whole kingdom, and afterwards by particular orders of the
justices of peace in every particular county, both these practices
have now gone entirely into disuse. "By the experience of above four
hundred years," says Doctor Burn, "it seems time to lay aside all
endeavours to bring under strict regulations, what in its own nature
seems incapable of minute limitation; for if all persons in the same
kind of work were to receive equal wages, there would be no emulation,
and no room left for industry or ingenuity."

Particular acts of parliament, however, still attempt sometimes to
regulate wages in particular trades, and in particular places. Thus
the 8th of George III. prohibits, under heavy penalties, all master
tailors in London, and five miles round it, from giving, and their
workmen from accepting, more than two shillings and sevenpence
halfpenny a-day, except in the case of a general mourning. Whenever
the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters
and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the
regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just
and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the
masters. Thus the law which obliges the masters in several different
trades to pay their workmen in money, and not in goods, is quite just
and equitable. It imposes no real hardship upon the masters. It only
obliges them to pay that value in money, which they pretended to pay,
but did not always really pay, in goods. This law is in favour of the
workmen; but the 8th of George III. is in favour of the masters. When
masters combine together, in order to reduce the wages of their
workmen, they commonly enter into a private bond or agreement, not to
give more than a certain wage, under a certain penalty. Were the
workmen to enter into a contrary combination of the same kind, not to
accept of a certain wage, under a certain penalty, the law would
punish them very severely; and, if it dealt impartially, it would
treat the masters in the same manner. But the 8th of George III.
enforces by law that very regulation which masters sometimes attempt
to establish by such combinations. The complaint of the workmen, that
it puts the ablest and most industrious upon the same footing with an
ordinary workman, seems perfectly well founded.

In ancient times, too, it was usual to attempt to regulate the profits
of merchants and other dealers, by regulating the price of provisions
and ether goods. The assize of bread is, so far as I know, the only
remnant of this ancient usage. Where there is an exclusive
corporation, it may, perhaps, be proper to regulate the price of the
first necessary of life; but, where there is none, the competition
will regulate it much better than any assize. The method of fixing the
assize of bread, established by the 31st of George II. could not be
put in practice in Scotland, on account of a defect in the law, its
execution depending upon the office of clerk of the market, which does
not exist there. This defect was not remedied till the third of George
III. The want of an assize occasioned no sensible inconveniency; and
the establishment of one in the few places where it has yet taken
place has produced no sensible advantage. In the greater part of the
towns in Scotland, however, there is an incorporation of bakers, who
claim exclusive privileges, though they are not very strictly guarded.
The proportion between the different rates, both of wages and profit,
in the different employments of labour and stock, seems not to be much
affected, as has already been observed, by the riches or poverty, the
advancing, stationary, or declining state of the society. Such
revolutions in the public welfare, though they affect the general
rates both of wages and profit, must, in the end, affect them equally
in all different employments. The proportion between them, therefore,
must remain the same, and cannot well be altered, at least for any
considerable time, by any such revolutions.



Rent, considered as the price paid for the use of land, is naturally
the highest which the tenant can afford to pay in the actual
circumstances of the land. In adjusting the terms of the lease, the
landlord endeavours to leave him no greater share of the produce than
what is sufficient to keep up the stock from which he furnishes the
seed, pays the labour, and purchases and maintains the cattle and
other instruments of husbandry, together with the ordinary profits of
farming stock in the neighbourhood. This is evidently the smallest
share with which the tenant can content himself, without being a
loser, and the landlord seldom means to leave him any more. Whatever
part of the produce, or, what is the same thing, whatever part of its
price, is over and above this share, he naturally endeavours to
reserve to himself as the rent of his land, which is evidently the
highest the tenant can afford to pay in the actual circumstances of
the land. Sometimes, indeed, the liberality, more frequently the
ignorance, of the landlord, makes him accept of somewhat less than
this portion; and sometimes, too, though more rarely, the ignorance of
the tenant makes him undertake to pay somewhat more, or to content
himself with somewhat less, than the ordinary profits of farming stock
in the neighbourhood. This portion, however, may still be considered
as the natural rent of land, or the rent at which it is naturally
meant that land should, for the most part, be let.

The rent of land, it may be thought, is frequently no more than a
reasonable profit or interest for the stock laid out by the landlord
upon its improvement. This, no doubt, may be partly the case upon some
occasions; for it can scarce ever be more than partly the case. The
landlord demands a rent even for unimproved land, and the supposed
interest or profit upon the expense of improvement is generally an
addition to this original rent. Those improvements, besides, are not
always made by the stock of the landlord, but sometimes by that of the
tenant. When the lease comes to be renewed, however, the landlord
commonly demands the same augmentation of rent as if they had been all
made by his own.

He sometimes demands rent for what is altogether incapable of human
improvements. Kelp is a species of sea-weed, which, when burnt, yields
an alkaline salt, useful for making glass, soap, and for several other
purposes. It grows in several parts of Great Britain, particularly in
Scotland, upon such rocks only as lie within the high-water mark,
which are twice every day covered with the sea, and of which the
produce, therefore, was never augmented by human industry. The
landlord, however, whose estate is bounded by a kelp shore of this
kind, demands a rent for it as much as for his corn-fields.

The sea in the neighbourhood of the islands of Shetland is more than
commonly abundant in fish, which makes a great part of the subsistence
of their inhabitants. But, in order to profit by the produce of the
water, they must have a habitation upon the neighbouring land. The
rent of the landlord is in proportion, not to what the farmer can make
by the land, but to what he can make both by the land and the water.
It is partly paid in sea-fish; and one of the very few instances in
which rent makes a part of the price of that commodity, is to be found
in that country.

The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use
of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all
proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the
improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take, but to what
the farmer can afford to give.

Such parts only of the produce of land can commonly be brought to
market, of which the ordinary price is sufficient to replace the stock
which must be employed in bringing them thither, together with its
ordinary profits. If the ordinary price is more than this, the surplus
part of it will naturally go to the rent of the land. If it is not
more, though the commodity may be brought to market, it can afford no
rent to the landlord. Whether the price is, or is not more, depends
upon the demand.

There are some parts of the produce of land, for which the demand must
always be such as to afford a greater price than what is sufficient to
bring them to market; and there are others for which it either may or
may not be such as to afford this greater price. The former must
always afford a rent to the landlord. The latter sometimes may and
sometimes may not, according to different circumstances.

Rent, it is to be observed, therefore, enters into the composition of
the price of commodities in a different way from wages and profit.
High or low wages and profit are the causes of high or low price; high
or low rent is the effect of it. It is because high or low wages and
profit must be paid, in order to bring a particular commodity to
market, that its price is high or low. But it is because its price is
high or low, a great deal more, or very little more, or no more, than
what is sufficient to pay those wages and profit, that it affords a
high rent, or a low rent, or no rent at all.

The particular consideration, first, of those parts of the produce of
land which always afford some rent; secondly, of those which sometimes
may and sometimes may not afford rent; and, thirdly, of the variations
which, in the different periods of improvement, naturally take place
in the relative value of those two different sorts of rude produce,
when compared both with one another and with manufactured commodities,
will divide this chapter into three parts.

PART I. -- Of the Produce of Land which always affords Rent.

As men, like all other animals, naturally multiply in proportion to
the means of their subsistence, food is always more or less in demand.
It can always purchase or command a greater or smaller quantity of
labour, and somebody can always be found who is willing to do
something in order to obtain it. The quantity of labour, indeed, which
it can purchase, is not always equal to what it could maintain, if
managed in the most economical manner, on account of the high wages
which are sometimes given to labour; but it can always purchase such a
quantity of labour as it can maintain, according to the rate at which
that sort of labour is commonly maintained in the neighbourhood.

But land, in almost any situation, produces a greater quantity of food
than what is sufficient to maintain all the labour necessary for
bringing it to market, in the most liberal way in which that labour is
ever maintained. The surplus, too, is always more than sufficient to
replace the stock which employed that labour, together with its
profits. Something, therefore, always remains for a rent to the

The most desert moors in Norway and Scotland produce some sort of
pasture for cattle, of which the milk and the increase are always more
than sufficient, not only to maintain all the labour necessary for
tending them, and to pay the ordinary profit to the farmer or the
owner of the herd or flock, but to afford some small rent to the
landlord. The rent increases in proportion to the goodness of the
pasture. The same extent of ground not only maintains a greater number
of cattle, but as they we brought within a smaller compass, less
labour becomes requisite to tend them, and to collect their produce.
The landlord gains both ways; by the increase of the produce, and by
the diminution of the labour which must be maintained out of it.

The rent of land not only varies with its fertility, whatever be its
produce, but with its situation, whatever be its fertility. Land in
the neighbourhood of a town gives a greater rent than land equally
fertile in a distant part of the country. Though it may cost no more
labour to cultivate the one than the other, it must always cost more
to bring the produce of the distant land to market. A greater quantity
of labour, therefore, must be maintained out of it; and the surplus,
from which are drawn both the profit of the farmer and the rent of the
landlord, must be diminished. But in remote parts of the country, the
rate of profit, as has already been shewn, is generally higher than in
the neighbourhood of a large town. A smaller proportion of this
diminished surplus, therefore, must belong to the landlord.

Good roads, canals, and navigable rivers, by diminishing the expense
of carriage, put the remote parts of the country more nearly upon a
level with those in the neighbourhood of the town. They are upon that
account the greatest of all improvements. They encourage the
cultivation of the remote, which must always be the most extensive
circle of the country. They are advantageous to the town by breaking
down the monopoly of the country in its neighbourhood. They are
advantageous even to that part of the country. Though they introduce
some rival commodities into the old market, they open many new markets
to its produce. Monopoly, besides, is a great enemy to good
management, which can never be universally established, but in
consequence of that free and universal competition which forces every
body to have recourse to it for the sake of self defence. It is not
more than fifty years ago, that some of the counties in the
neighbourhood of London petitioned the parliament against the
extension of the turnpike roads into the remoter counties. Those
remoter counties, they pretended, from the cheapness of labour, would
be able to sell their grass and corn cheaper in the London market than
themselves, and would thereby reduce their rents, and ruin their
cultivation. Their rents, however, have risen, and their cultivation
has been improved since that time.

A corn field of moderate fertility produces a much greater quantity of
food for man, than the best pasture of equal extent. Though its
cultivation requires much more labour, yet the surplus which remains
after replacing the seed and maintaining all that labour, is likewise
much greater. If a pound of butcher's meat, therefore, was never
supposed to be worth more than a pound of bread, this greater surplus
would everywhere be of greater value and constitute a greater fund,
both for the profit of the farmer and the rent of the landlord. It
seems to have done so universally in the rude beginnings of

But the relative values of those two different species of food, bread
and butcher's meat, are very different in the different periods of
agriculture. In its rude beginnings, the unimproved wilds, which then
occupy the far greater part of the country, are all abandoned to
cattle. There is more butcher's meat than bread; and bread, therefore,
is the food for which there is the greatest competition, and which
consequently brings the greatest price. At Buenos Ayres, we are told
by Ulloa, four reals, one-and-twenty pence halfpenny sterling, was,
forty or fifty years ago, the ordinary price of an ox, chosen from a
herd of two or three hundred. He says nothing of the price of bread,
probably because he found nothing remarkable about it. An ox there, he
says, costs little more than the labour of catching him. But corn can
nowhere be raised without a great deal of labour; and in a country
which lies upon the river Plate, at that time the direct road from
Europe to the silver mines of Potosi, the money-price of labour could
be very cheap. It is otherwise when cultivation is extended over the
greater part of the country. There is then more bread than butcher's
meat. The competition changes its direction, and the price of
butcher's meat becomes greater than the price of bread.

By the extension, besides, of cultivation, the unimproved wilds become
insufficient to supply the demand for butcher's meat. A great part of
the cultivated lands must be employed in rearing and fattening cattle;
of which the price, therefore, must be sufficient to pay, not only the
labour necessary for tending them, but the rent which the landlord,
and the profit which the farmer, could have drawn from such land
employed in tillage. The cattle bred upon the most uncultivated moors,
when brought to the same market, are, in proportion to their weight or
goodness, sold at the same price as those which are reared upon the
most improved land. The proprietors of those moors profit by it, and
raise the rent of their land in proportion to the price of their
cattle. It is not more than a century ago, that in many parts of the
Highlands of Scotland, butcher's meat was as cheap or cheaper than
even bread made of oatmeal The Union opened the market of England to
the Highland cattle. Their ordinary price, at present, is about three
times greater than at the beginning of the century, and the rents of
many Highland estates have been tripled and quadrupled in the same
time. In almost every part of Great Britain, a pound of the best
butcher's meat is, in the present times, generally worth more than two
pounds of the best white bread; and in plentiful years it is sometimes
worth three or four pounds.

It is thus that, in the progress of improvement, the rent and profit
of unimproved pasture come to be regulated in some measure by the rent
and profit of what is improved, and these again by the rent and profit
of corn. Corn is an annual crop; butcher's meat, a crop which requires
four or five years to grow. As an acre of land, therefore, will
produce a much smaller quantity of the one species of food than of the
other, the inferiority of the quantity must be compensated by the
superiority of the price. If it was more than compensated, more
corn-land would be turned into pasture; and if it was not compensated,
part of what was in pasture would be brought back into corn.

This equality, however, between the rent and profit of grass and those
of corn; of the land of which the immediate produce is food for
cattle, and of that of which the immediate produce is food for men,
must be understood to take place only through the greater part of the
improved lands of a great country. In some particular local situations
it is quite otherwise, and the rent and profit of grass are much
superior to what can be made by corn.

Thus, in the neighbourhood of a great town, the demand for milk, and
for forage to horses, frequently contribute, together with the high
price of butcher's meat, to raise the value of grass above what may be
called its natural proportion to that of corn. This local advantage,
it is evident, cannot be communicated to the lands at a distance.

Particular circumstances have sometimes rendered some countries so
populous, that the whole territory, like the lands in the
neighbourhood of a great town, has not been sufficient to produce both
the grass and the corn necessary for the subsistence of their
inhabitants. Their lands, therefore, have been principally employed in
the production of grass, the more bulky commodity, and which cannot be
so easily brought from a great distance; and corn, the food of the
great body of the people, has been chiefly imported from foreign
countries. Holland is at present in this situation; and a considerable
part of ancient Italy seems to have been so during the prosperity of
the Romans. To feed well, old Cato said, as we are told by Cicero, was
the first and most profitable thing in the management of a private
estate; to feed tolerably well, the second; and to feed ill, the
third. To plough, he ranked only in the fourth place of profit and
advantage. Tillage, indeed, in that part of ancient Italy which lay in
the neighbour hood of Rome, must have been very much discouraged by
the distributions of corn which were frequently made to the people,
either gratuitously, or at a very low price. This corn was brought
from the conquered provinces, of which several, instead of taxes, were
obliged to furnish a tenth part of their produce at a stated price,
about sixpence a-peck, to the republic. The low price at which this
corn was distributed to the people, must necessarily have sunk the
price of what could be brought to the Roman market from Latium, or the
ancient territory of Rome, and must have discouraged its cultivation
in that country.

In an open country, too, of which the principal produce is corn, a
well-inclosed piece of grass will frequently rent higher than any corn
field in its neighbourhood. It is convenient for the maintenance of
the cattle employed in the cultivation of the corn; and its high rent
is, in this case, not so properly paid from the value of its own
produce, as from that of the corn lands which are cultivated by means
of it. It is likely to fall, if ever the neighbouring lands are
completely inclosed. The present high rent of inclosed land in
Scotland seems owing to the scarcity of inclosure, and will probably
last no longer than that scarcity. The advantage of inclosure is
greater for pasture than for corn. It saves the labour of guarding the
cattle, which feed better, too, when they are not liable to be
disturbed by their keeper or his dog.

But where there is no local advantage of this kind, the rent and
profit of corn, or whatever else is the common vegetable food of the
people, must naturally regulate upon the land which is fit for
producing it, the rent and profit of pasture.

The use of the artificial grasses, of turnips, carrots, cabbages, and
the other expedients which have been fallen upon to make an equal
quantity of land feed a greater number of cattle than when in natural
grass, should somewhat reduce, it might be expected, the superiority
which, in an improved country, the price of butcher's meat naturally
has over that of bread. It seems accordingly to have done so; and
there is some reason for believing that, at least in the London
market, the price of butcher's meat, in proportion to the price of
bread, is a good deal lower in the present times than it was in the
beginning of the last century.

In the Appendix to the life of Prince Henry, Doctor Birch has given us
an account of the prices of butcher's meat as commonly paid by that
prince. It is there said, that the four quarters of an ox, weighing
six hundred pounds, usually cost him nine pounds ten shillings, or
thereabouts; that is thirty-one shillings and eight-pence per hundred
pounds weight. Prince Henry died on the 6th of November 1612, in the
nineteenth year of his age.

In March 1764, there was a parliamentary inquiry into the causes of
the high price of provisions at that time. It was then, among other
proof to the same purpose, given in evidence by a Virginia merchant,
that in March 1763, he had victualled his ships for twentyfour or
twenty-five shillings the hundred weight of beef, which he considered
as the ordinary price; whereas, in that dear year, he had paid
twenty-seven shillings for the same weight and sort. This high price
in 1764 is, however, four shillings and eight-pence cheaper than the
ordinary price paid by Prince Henry; and it is the best beef only, it
must be observed, which is fit to be salted for those distant voyages.

The price paid by Prince Henry amounts to 3d. 4/5ths per pound weight
of the whole carcase, coarse and choice pieces taken together; and at
that rate the choice pieces could not have been sold by retail for
less than 4d. or 5d. the pound.

In the parliamentary inquiry in 1764, the witnesses stated the price
of the choice pieces of the best beef to be to the consumer 4d. and
4d. the pound; and the coarse pieces in general to be from seven
farthings to 2d. and 2d.; and this, they said, was in general one
halfpenny dearer than the same sort of pieces had usually been sold in
the month of March. But even this high price is still a good deal
cheaper than what we can well suppose the ordinary retail price to
have been in the time of Prince Henry.

During the first twelve years of the last century, the average price
of the best wheat at the Windsor market was 1:18:3d. the quarter of
nine Winchester bushels.

But in the twelve years preceding 1764 including that year, the
average price of the same measure of the best wheat at the same market
was 2:1:9d.

In the first twelve years of the last century, therefore, wheat
appears to have been a good deal cheaper, and butcher's meat a good
deal dearer, than in the twelve years preceding 1764, including that

In all great countries, the greater part of the cultivated lands are
employed in producing either food for men or food for cattle. The rent
and profit of these regulate the rent and profit of all other
cultivated land. If any particular produce afforded less, the land
would soon be turned into corn or pasture; and if any afforded more,
some part of the lands in corn or pasture would soon be turned to that

Those productions, indeed, which require either a greater original
expense of improvement, or a greater annual expense of cultivation in
order to fit the land for them, appear commonly to afford, the one a
greater rent, the other a greater profit, than corn or pasture. This
superiority, however, will seldom be found to amount to more than a
reasonable interest or compensation for this superior expense.

In a hop garden, a fruit garden, a kitchen garden, both the rent of
the landlord, and the profit of the farmer, are generally greater than
in acorn or grass field. But to bring the ground into this condition
requires more expense. Hence a greater rent becomes due to the
landlord. It requires, too, a more attentive and skilful management.
Hence a greater profit becomes due to the farmer. The crop, too, at
least in the hop and fruit garden, is more precarious. Its price,
therefore, besides compensating all occasional losses, must afford
something like the profit of insurance. The circumstances of
gardeners, generally mean, and always moderate, may satisfy us that
their great ingenuity is not commonly over-recompensed. Their
delightful art is practised by so many rich people for amusement, that
little advantage is to be made by those who practise it for profit;
because the persons who should naturally be their best customers,
supply themselves with all their most precious productions.

The advantage which the landlord derives from such improvements, seems
at no time to have been greater than what was sufficient to compensate
the original expense of making them. In the ancient husbandry, after
the vineyard, a well-watered kitchen garden seems to have been the
part of the farm which was supposed to yield the most valuable
produce. But Democritus, who wrote upon husbandry about two thousand
years ago, and who was regarded by the ancients as one of the fathers
of the art, thought they did not act wisely who inclosed a kitchen
garden. The profit, he said, would not compensate the expense of a
stone-wall: and bricks (he meant, I suppose, bricks baked in the sun)
mouldered with the rain and the winter-storm, and required continual
repairs. Columella, who reports this judgment of Democritus, does not
controvert it, but proposes a very frugal method of inclosing with a
hedge of brambles and briars, which he says he had found by experience
to be both a lasting and an impenetrable fence; but which, it seems,
was not commonly known in the time of Democritus. Palladius adopts the
opinion of Columella, which had before been recommended by Varro. In
the judgment of those ancient improvers, the produce of a kitchen
garden had, it seems, been little more than sufficient to pay the
extraordinary culture and the expense of watering; for in countries so
near the sun, it was thought proper, in those times as in the present,
to have the command of a stream of water, which could be conducted to
every bed in the garden. Through the greater part of Europe, a kitchen
garden is not at present supposed to deserve a better inclosure than
mat recommended by Columella. In Great Britain, and some other
northern countries, the finer fruits cannot Be brought to perfection
but by the assistance of a wall. Their price, therefore, in such
countries, must be sufficient to pay the expense of building and
maintaining what they cannot be had without. The fruit-wall frequently
surrounds the kitchen garden, which thus enjoys the benefit of an
inclosure which its own produce could seldom pay for.

That the vineyard, when properly planted and brought to perfection,
was the most valuable part of the farm, seems to have been an
undoubted maxim in the ancient agriculture, as it is in the modern,
through all the wine countries. But whether it was advantageous to
plant a new vineyard, was a matter of dispute among the ancient
Italian husbandmen, as we learn from Columella. He decides, like a
true lover of all curious cultivation, in favour of the vineyard; and
endeavours to shew, by a comparison of the profit and expense, that it
was a most advantageous improvement. Such comparisons, however,
between the profit and expense of new projects are commonly very
fallacious; and in nothing more so than in agriculture. Had the gain
actually made by such plantations been commonly as great as he
imagined it might have been, there could have been no dispute about
it. The same point is frequently at this day a matter of controversy
in the wine countries. Their writers on agriculture, indeed, the
lovers and promoters of high cultivation, seem generally disposed to
decide with Columella in favour of the vineyard. In France, the
anxiety of the proprietors of the old vineyards to prevent the
planting of any new ones, seems to favour their opinion, and to
indicate a consciousness in those who must have the experience, that
this species of cultivation is at present in that country more
profitable than any other. It seems, at the same time, however, to
indicate another opinion, that this superior profit can last no longer
than the laws which at present restrain the free cultivation of the
vine. In 1731, they obtained an order of council, prohibiting both the
planting of new vineyards, and the renewal of these old ones, of which
the cultivation had been interrupted for two years, without a
particular permission from the king, to be granted only in consequence
of an information from the intendant of the province, certifying that
he had examined the land, and that it was incapable of any other
culture. The pretence of this order was the scarcity of corn and
pasture, and the superabundance of wine. But had this superabundance
been real, it would, without any order of council, have effectually
prevented the plantation of new vineyards, by reducing the profits of
this species of cultivation below their natural proportion to those of
corn and pasture. With regard to the supposed scarcity of corn
occasioned by the multiplication of vineyards, corn is nowhere in
France more carefully cultivated than in the wine provinces, where the
land is fit for producing it: as in Burgundy, Guienne, and the Upper
Languedoc. The numerous hands employed in the one species of
cultivation necessarily encourage the other, by affording a ready
market for its produce. To diminish the number of those who are
capable of paying it, is surely a most unpromising expedient for
encouraging the cultivation of corn. It is like the policy which would
promote agriculture, by discouraging manufactures.

The rent and profit of those productions, therefore, which require
either a greater original expense of improvement in order to fit the
land for them, or a greater annual expense of cultivation, though
often much superior to those of corn and pasture, yet when they do no
more than compensate such extraordinary expense, are in reality
regulated by the rent and profit of those common crops.

It sometimes happens, indeed, that the quantity of land which can be
fitted for some particular produce, is too small to supply the
effectual demand. The whole produce can be disposed of to those who
are willing to give somewhat more than what is sufficient to pay the
whole rent, wages, and profit, necessary for raising and bringing it
to market, according to their natural rates, or according to the rates
at which they are paid in the greater part of other cultivated land.
The surplus part of the price which remains after defraying the whole
expense of improvement and cultivation, may commonly, in this case,
and in this case only, bear no regular proportion to the like surplus
in corn or pasture, but may exceed it in almost any degree; and the
greater part of this excess naturally goes to the rent of the

The usual and natural proportion, for example, between the rent and
profit of wine, and those of corn and pasture, must be understood to
take place only with regard to those vineyards which produce nothing
but good common wine, such as can be raised almost anywhere, upon any
light, gravelly, or sandy soil, and which has nothing to recommend it
but its strength and wholesomeness. It is with such vineyards only,
that the common land of the country can be brought into competition;
for with those of a peculiar quality it is evident that it cannot.

The vine is more affected by the difference of soils than any other
fruit-tree. From some it derives a flavour which no culture or
management can equal, it is supposed, upon any other. This flavour,
real or imaginary, is sometimes peculiar to the produce of a few
vineyards; sometimes it extends through the greater part of a small
district, and sometimes through a considerable part of a large
province. The whole quantity of such wines that is brought to market
falls short of the effectual demand, or the demand of those who would
be willing to pay the whole rent, profit, and wages, necessary for
preparing and bringing them thither, according to the ordinary rate,
or according to the rate at which they are paid in common vineyards.
The whole quantity, therefore, can be disposed of to those who are
willing to pay more, which necessarily raises their price above that
of common wine. The difference is greater or less, according as the
fashionableness and scarcity of the wine render the competition of the
buyers more or less eager. Whatever it be, the greater part of it goes
to the rent of the landlord. For though such vineyards are in general
more carefully cultivated than most others, the high price of the wine
seems to be, not so much the effect, as the cause of this careful
cultivation. In so valuable a produce, the loss occasioned by
negligence is so great, as to force even the most careless to
attention. A small part of this high price, therefore, is sufficient
to pay the wages of the extraordinary labour bestowed upon their
cultivation, and the profits of the extraordinary stock which puts
that labour into motion.

The sugar colonies possessed by the European nations in the West
Indies may be compared to those precious vineyards. Their whole
produce falls short of the effectual demand of Europe, and can be
disposed of to those who are willing to give more than what is
sufficient to pay the whole rent, profit, and wages, necessary for
preparing and bringing it to market, according to the rate at which
they are commonly paid by any other produce. In Cochin China, the
finest white sugar generally sells for three piastres the quintal,
about thirteen shillings and sixpence of our money, as we are told by
Mr Poivre {Voyages d'un Philosophe.}, a very careful observer of the
agriculture of that country. What is there called the quintal, weighs
from a hundred and fifty to two hundred Paris pounds, or a hundred and
seventy-five Paris pounds at a medium, which reduces the price of the
hundred weight English to about eight shillings sterling; not a fourth
part of what is commonly paid for the brown or muscovada sugars
imported from our colonies, and not a sixth part of what is paid for
the finest white sugar. The greater part of the cultivated lands in
Cochin China are employed in producing corn and rice, the food of the
great body of the people. The respective prices of corn, rice, and
sugar, are there probably in the natural proportion, or in that which
naturally takes place in the different crops of the greater part of
cultivated land, and which recompenses the landlord and farmer, as
nearly as can be computed, according to what is usually the original
expense of improvement, and the annual expense of cultivation. But in
our sugar colonies, the price of sugar bears no such proportion to
that of the produce of a rice or corn field either in Europe or
America. It is commonly said that a sugar planter expects that the rum
and the molasses should defray the whole expense of his cultivation,
and that his sugar should be all clear profit. If this be true, for I
pretend not to affirm it, it is as if a corn farmer expected to defray
the expense of his cultivation with the chaff and the straw, and that
the grain should be all clear profit. We see frequently societies of
merchants in London, and other trading towns, purchase waste lands in
our sugar colonies, which they expect to improve and cultivate with
profit, by means of factors and agents, notwithstanding the great
distance and the uncertain returns, from the defective administration
of justice in those countries. Nobody will attempt to improve and
cultivate in the same manner the most fertile lands of Scotland,
Ireland, or the corn provinces of North America, though, from the more
exact administration of justice in these countries, more regular
returns might be expected.

In Virginia and Maryland, the cultivation of tobacco is preferred, as
most profitable, to that of corn. Tobacco might be cultivated with
advantage through the greater part of Europe; but, in almost every
part of Europe, it has become a principal subject of taxation; and to
collect a tax from every different farm in the country where this
plant might happen to be cultivated, would be more difficult, it has
been supposed, than to levy one upon its importation at the
custom-house. The cultivation of tobacco has, upon this account, been
most absurdly prohibited through the greater part of Europe, which
necessarily gives a sort of monopoly to the countries where it is
allowed; and as Virginia and Maryland produce the greatest quantity of
it, they share largely, though with some competitors, in the advantage
of this monopoly. The cultivation of tobacco, however, seems not to be
so advantageous as that of sugar. I have never even heard of any
tobacco plantation that was improved and cultivated by the capital of
merchants who resided in Great Britain; and our tobacco colonies send
us home no such wealthy planters as we see frequently arrive from our


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