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BOOK Chairmen in London, during the fummer feafon, are faid fometimes to be employed as bricklayers. The high wages of those workmen, therefore, are not fo much the recompence of their skill, as the compenfation for the incon ftancy of their employment.
A houfe carpenter feems to exercise rather a nicer and more ingenious trade than a mason. In moft places, however, for it is not univerfally fo, his day-wages are fomewhat lower. His employment, though it depends much, does not depend fo entirely upon the occafional calls of his customers; and it is not liable to be interrupted by the weather.
When the trades which generally afford conftant employment, happen in a particular place not to do fo, the wages of the workmen always rife a good deal above their ordinary proportion to thofe of common labour. In London almost all journeymen artificers are liable to be called upon and difmiffed by their mafters from day to day, and from week to week, in the fame manner as day-labourers in other places. The lowest order of artificers, journeymen taylors, accordingly, earn there half a crown a day, though eighteen pence may be reckoned the wages of common labour. In fmall towns and country villages, the wages of journeymen taylors frequently fcarce equal thofe of common labour; but in London they are often many weeks without employment, particularly during the fummer.
When the inconftancy of employment is com- c bined with the hardship, difagreeablenefs, and dirtinefs of the work, it fometimes raises the wages of the most common labour above those of the most skilful artificers. A collier working by the piece is fuppofed, at Newcastle, to earn commonly about double, and in many parts of Scotland about three times the wages of common labour. His high wages arise altogether from the hardship, difagreeablenefs, and dirtinefs of his work. His employment may, upon moft occafions, be as conftant as he pleafes. The coal-heavers in London exercise a trade which in hardship, dirtinefs, and difagreeablenefs, almost equals that of colliers; and from the unavoidable irregularity in the arrivals of coalfhips, the employment of the greater part of them is neceffarily very inconftant. If colliers, therefore, commonly earn double and triple the wages of common labour, it ought not to feem unreasonable that coal-heavers fhould fometimes earn four and five times thofe wages. In the enquiry made into their condition a few years ago, it was found that at the rate at which they were then paid, they could earn from fix to ten fhillings a day. Six fhillings are about four times the wages of common labour in London, and in every particular trade, the lowest common earnings may always be confidered as thofe of the far greater number. How extravagant foever thofe earnings may appear, if they were more than fufficient to compenfate all the dif agreeable circumftances of the bufinefs, there
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BOOK would foon be fo great a number of competitors as, in a trade which has no exclufive privilege, would quickly reduce them to a lower rate.
The conftancy or inconftancy of employment cannot affect the ordinary profits of stock in any particular trade. Whether the stock is or is not constantly employed depends, not upon the trade, but the trader.
Fourthly, The wages of labour vary according to the small or great truft which must be repofed in the workmen.
The wages of goldfimiths and jewellers are every-where fuperior to thofe of many other workmen, not only of equal, but of much fuperior ingenuity; on account of the precious materials with which they are intrusted.
We truft our health to the phyfician; our fortune and fometimes our life and reputation to the lawyer and attorney. Such confidence could not fafely be repofed in people of a very mean or low condition. Their reward muft be fuch, therefore, as may give them that rank in the fociety which fo important a truft requires. The long time and the great expence which must be laid out in their education, when combined with this circumstance, neceffarily enhance still further the price of their labour.
When a perfon employs only his own stock in trade, there is no truft; and the credit which he may get from other people, depends, not upon the nature of his trade, but upon their opinion of his fortune, probity, and prudence. The dif
ferent rates of profit, therefore, in the different CHA P. branches of trade, cannot arise from the different degrees of truft repofed in the traders.
Fifthly, The wages of labour in different employments vary according to the probability or improbability of fuccefs in them.
The probability that any particular perfon fhall ever be qualified for the employment to which he is educated, is very different in different occupations. In the greater part of mechanic trades, fuccefs is almoft certain; but very uncertain in the liberal profeffions. Put your fon apprentice to a shoemaker, there is little doubt of his learning to make a pair of fhoes: But fend him to study the law, it is at least twenty to one if ever he makes fuch a proficiency as will enable him to live by the business. In a perfectly fair lottery, those who draw the prizes ought to gain all that is loft by those who draw the blanks. In a profeffion where twenty fail for one that fucceeds, that one ought to gain all that should have been gained by the unfuccessful twenty. The counsellor at law, who, perhaps, at near forty years of age, begins to make fomething by his profeffion, ought to receive the retribution, not only of his own fo tedious and expenfive education, but of that of more than twenty others who are never likely to make any thing by it. How extravagant foever the fees of counsellors at law may fometimes appear, their real retribution is never equal to this. Compute in any particular place, what is likely to be annually gained, and what is likely to be annually spent,
BOOK all the different workmen in any common trade, I. fuch as that of fhoemakers or weavers, and you will find that the former fum will generally exceed the latter. But make the fame computation with regard to all the counfellors and ftudents of law, in all the different inns of court, and you will find that their annual gains bear but a very small proportion to their annual expence, even though you rate the former as high, and the latter as low, as can well be done. The lottery of the law, therefore, is very far from being a perfectly fair lottery; and that, as well as many other liberal and honourable profeffions, is, in point of pecuniary gain, evidently underrecompenced.
Thofe profeffions keep their level, however, with other occupations, and, notwithstanding thefe difcouragements, all the most generous and liberal fpirits are eager to crowd into them. Two different caufes contribute to recommend them. First, the defire of the reputation which attends upon fuperior excellence in any of them; and, fecondly, the natural confidence which every man has more or lefs, not only in his own abili ties, but in his own good fortune.
To excel in any profeffion, in which but few arrive at mediocrity, is the most decifive mark of what is called genius or fuperior talents. The public admiration which attends upon fuch diftinguished abilities, makes always a part of their reward; a greater or fmaller in proportion as it is higher or lower in degree. It makes a confiderable part of that reward in the profeffion of