Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

BOOK niary gain in fome, and counter-balance a great I. one in others; and partly from the policy of Europe, which no-where leaves things at perfect liberty.

[ocr errors]

THE particular confideration of thofe circumstances and of that policy will divide this chapter into two parts,

great risk to life,

The bead o yourfect

[ocr errors]


Inequalities arifing from the Nature of the Employments themselves.


HE five following are the principal circumftances which, fo far as I have been able to obferve, make up for a small pecuniary gain in fome employments, and counter-balance a great one in others: first, the agreeableness or difagreeableness of the employments themselves; secondly, the cafinefs and cheapnefs, or the difficulty and expence of learning them; thirdly, the conftancy or inconftancy of employment in them; fourthly, the fmall or great truft which must be repofed in

thofe who exercife them; and fifthly, the probability or improbability of fuccefs in them.

FIRST, The wages of labour vary with the eafe or hardship, the cleanliness or dirtiness, the en honourablenefs or difhonourableness of the employment. Thus in moft places, take the year round, a journeyman taylor earns lefs than a His work is much eafier.

the sake or journeyman weaver. best capital A journeyman weaver earns lefs than a journey

man fmith. His work is not always eafier, but

it is much cleanlier. A journeyman blacksmith,



though an artificer, feldom earns fo much in CHA P. twelve hours as a collier, who is only a labourer, does in eight. His work is not quite fo dirty, is lefs dangerous, and is carried on in day-light, and above ground. Honour makes a great part of the reward of all honourable profeffions. In point of pecuniary gain, all things confidered, they are generally under-recompenfed, as I fhall endeavour to fhow by and by. Difgrace has the contrary effect. The trade of a butcher is a brutal and an odious business; but it is in most places more profitable than the greater part of common trades. The moft deteftable of all employments, that of public executioner, is, in proportion to the quantity of work done, better paid than any common trade whatever.

HUNTING and fishing, the most important employments of mankind in the rude ftate of fociety, become in its advanced state their most agreeable amusements, and they purfue for pleafure what they once followed from neceffity. In the advanced state of fociety, therefore, they are all very poor people who follow as a trade, what other people purfue as a pastime. Fishermen have been fo fince the time of* Theocritus. A poacher is every-where a very poor man in Great Britain. In countries where the rigour of the law fuffers no poachers, the licenfed hunter is not in a much better condition. The natural tafte for those employments makes more people follow them than can live comfortably by them, and the produce of their labour, in proportion * See Idyllium XXI.



BOOK to its quantity, comes always too cheap to market to afford any thing but the moft fcanty fubfiftence to the labourers.

DISAGREEABLENESS and difgrace affect the profits of stock in the fame manner as the wages of labour. The keeper of an inn or tavern, who is never master of his own houfe, and who is expofed to the brutality of every drunkard, exercifes neither a very agreeable nor a very creditable business. But there is fcarce any common trade in which a fmall ftock yields fo great" a profit.

SECONDLY, The wages of labour vary with the eafinefs and cheapnefs, or the difficulty and expence of learning the business.

WHEN any expenfive machine is erected, the extraordinary work to be performed by it before

is worn out, it must be expected, will replace the capital laid out upon it, with at least the ordinary profits. A man educated at the expence of much labour and time to any of thofe employments which require extraordinary dexterity and skill, may be compared to one of those expenfive machines. The work which he learns to perform, it must be expected, over and above the ufual wages of common labour, will replace to him the whole expence of his education, with at least the ordinary profits of an equally valuable capital. It must do this too in a reasonable time, regard being had to the very uncertain duration of human life, in the fame manner as to the more certain duration of the machine.



THE difference between the wages of fkilled CHA P. labour and those of common labour, is founded upon this principle.

THE policy of Europe confiders the labour of all mechanics, artificers, and manufacturers, as skilled labour; and that of all country labourers as common labour. It feems to suppose that of the former to be of a more nice and delicate nature than that of the latter. It is so perhaps in fome cases; but in the greater part it is quite otherwise, as I fhall endeavour to fhew by and by. The laws and cuftoms of Europe, therefore, in order to qualify any perfon for exercifing the one species of labour, impose the neces fity of an apprenticeship, though with different degrees of rigour in different places. They leave the other free and open to every body. During the continuance of the apprenticeship, the whole labour of the apprentice belongs to his mafter. In the mean time he muft, in many cafes, be maintained by his parents or relations, and in almost all cafes must be cloathed by them. Some money too is commonly given to the master for teaching him his trade. They who cannot give money, give time, or become bound for more than the usual number of years; a confideration which, though it is not always advantageous to the mafter, on account of the ufual idleness of apprentices, is always difadvantageous to the apprentice. In country labour, on the contrary, the labourer, while he is employed about the eafier, learns the more difficult parts of his business, and his own labour maintains him


BOOK through all the different ftages of his employ


ment. It is reasonable, therefore, that in Eu rope the wages of mechanics, artificers, and manufacturers, fhould be fomewhat higher than those of common labourers. They are fo accordingly, and their fuperior gains make them in moft places be confidered as a fuperior rank of people. This fuperiority, however, is generally very small; the daily or weekly earnings of journeymen in the more common forts of manufactures, fuch as thofe of plain linen and woollen cloth, computed at an average, are, in most places, very little more than the day wages of common labourers. Their employment, indeed, is more steady and uniform, and the superiority of their earnings, taking the whole year together, may be fomewhat greater. It seems evidently, however, to be no greater than what is fufficient to compenfate the fuperior expence of their education.

EDUCATION in the ingenious arts and in the liberal profeffions, is ftill more tedious and expenfive. The pecuniary recompence, therefore, of painters and fculptors, of lawyers and phyficians, ought to be much more liberal: and it is fo accordingly.

THE profits of stock feem to be very little affected by the eafinefs or difficulty of learning the trade in which it is employed. All the different ways in which stock is commonly employed in great towns feem, in reality, to be almost equally eafy and equally difficult to learn. One branch

« AnteriorContinuar »