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BOOK chase it, it would require only half the quantity of labour either to purchase or to produce it. The acquifition, therefore, would be twice as eafy as before.
But this original ftate of things, in which the labourer enjoyed the whole produce of his own labour, could not laft beyond the first introduction of the appropriation of land and the accumulation of stock. It was at an end, therefore, long before the most confiderable improvements were made in the productive powers of labour, and it would be to no purpose to trace further what might have been its effects upon the recompence or wages of labour.
As foon as land becomes private property, the landlord demands a fhare of almost all the produce which the labourer can either raise, or collect from it. His rent makes the firft deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land.
It feldom happens that the person who tills the ground has wherewithal to maintain himself till he reaps the harveft. His maintenance is generally advanced to him from the stock of a mafter, the farmer who employs him, and who would have no intereft to employ him, unless he was to fhare in the produce of his labour, or unless his stock was to be replaced to him with a profit. This profit makes a fecond deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land.
The produce of almost all other labour is liable to the like deduction of profit. In all arts and
and manufactures the greater part of the work- CHA P. men ftand in need of a master to advance them the materials of their work, and their wages and maintenance till it be completed. He fhares in the produce of their labour, or in the value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed; and in this share consists his profit.
It fometimes happens, indeed, that a fingle independent workman has ftock fufficient both to purchase the materials of his work, and to maintain himself till it be completed. He is both mafter and workman, and enjoys the whole produce of his own labour, or the whole value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed. It includes what are ufually two diftinct revenues, belonging to two diftinct perfons, the profits of ftock, and the wages of labour.
Such cafes, however, are not very frequent, and in every part of Europe, twenty workmen ferve under a mafter for one that is independent; and the wages of labour are every where understood to be, what they ufually are, when the labourer is one perfon, and the owner of the stock which employs him another.
What are the common wages of labour, depends every where upon the contract ufually made between thofe two parties, whofe interefts are by no means the fame. The workmen defire to get as much, the masters to give as little as poffible. The former are difpofed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour.
It is not, however, difficult to forefee which of the two parties muft, upon all ordinary occafions, have the advantage in the difpute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more eafily; and the law, befides, authorises, or at leaft does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of work; but many againft combining to raife it. In all fuch difputes the mafters can hold out much longer. A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, or merchant, though they did not employ a fingle workman, could generally live a year or two upon the ftocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not fubfift a week, few could fubfift a month, and fcarce any a year without employment. In the long-run the workman may be as neceffary to his master as his master is to him; but the neceffity is not fo immediate.
We rarely hear, it has been faid, of the combinations of masters; though frequently of thofe of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the fubject. Mafters are always and every where in a fort of tacit, but conftant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is every where a moft unpopular action, and a fort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We
feldom, indeed, hear of this combination, be- c HA P. cause it is the ufual, and one may fay, the natural state of things which nobody ever hears of. Masters too fometimes enter into particular com. binations to fink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost filence and fecrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they fometimes do, without refiftance, though feverely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people. Such combinations, however, are frequently refifted by a contrary defenfive combination of the workmen; who fometimes too, without any provocation of this kind, combine of their own accord to raise the price of their labour. Their ufual pretences are, fometimes the high price of provifions; fometimes the great profit which their masters make by their work. But whether their combinations be offenfive or defenfive, they are always abundantly heard of. In order to bring the point to a speedy decifion, they have always recourfe to the loudeft clamour, and fometimes to the moft shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of defperate men, who must either ftarve, or frighten their mafters into an immediate compliance with their demands. The mafters upon thefe occafions are just as clamorous upon the other fide, and never cease to call aloud for the affiftance of the civil magiftrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with fo much feverity against the combinations of fervants, labourers,
BOOK bourers, and journeymen. The workmen, accordingly, very feldom derive any advantage from the violence of thofe tumultuous combinations, which, partly from the interpofition of the civil magistrate, partly from the superior steadiness of the masters, partly from the neceffity which the greater part of the workmen are under of fubmitting for the fake of present subsistence, generally end in nothing, but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.
But though in difputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage, there is however a certain rate, below which it seems impoffible to reduce, for any confiderable time, the ordinary wages even of the loweft fpecies of labour.
A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at leaft be fufficient to maintain him. They muft even upon most occafions be fomewhat more; otherwise it would be impoffible for him to bring up a family, and the race of fuch workmen could not laft beyond the first generation. Mr. Cantillon seems, upon this account, to fuppofe that the loweft fpecies of common labourers must every where earn at least double their own maintenance, in order that one with another they may be enabled to bring up two children; the labour of the wife, on account of her neceffary attendance on the chil dren, being supposed no more than fufficient to provide for herfelf. But one-half the children born, it is computed, die before the age of man. hood. The pooreft labourers, therefore, aç,