« AnteriorContinuar »
BOOK upon fuch occafions commonly rife from a guinea I. and feven-and-twenty fhillings, to forty fhillings. and three pounds a month. In a decaying manufacture, on the contrary, many workmen, rather than quit their old trade, are contented with fmaller wages than would otherwise be suitable to the nature of their employment.
The profits of ftock vary with the price of the commodities in which it is employed. As the price of any commodity rifes above the ordinary or average rate, the profits of at least fome part of the stock that is employed in bringing it to market, rife above their proper level, and as it falls they fink below it. All commodities are more or less liable to variations of price, but fome are much more fo than others. In all commodities which are produced by human industry, the quantity of industry annually employed is neceffarily regulated by the annual demand, in fuch a manner that the average annual produce may, as nearly as poffible, be equal to the average annual confumption. In fome employments, it has already been obferved, the fame quantity of industry will always produce the fame, or very nearly the fame quantity of commodities. In the linen or woollen manufactures, for example, the fame number of hands will annually work up very nearly the fame quantity of linen and woollen cloth. The variations in the market price of fuch commodities, therefore, can arife only from fome accidental variation in the demand. A public mourning raises the price of black cloth. But as the demand
mand for moft forts of plain linen and woollen CHA P. cloth is pretty uniform, fo is likewise the price. But there are other employments in which the fame quantity of industry will not always produce the fame quantity of commodities. The fame quantity of industry, for example, will, in different years, produce very different quantities of corn, wine, hops, fugar, tobacco, &c. The price of fuch commodities, therefore, varies not only with the variations of demand, but with the much greater and more frequent variations of quantity, and is confequently extremely fluctuating. But the profit of fome of the dealers must neceffarily fluctuate with the price of the commodities. The operations of the fpeculative merchant are principally employed about fuch commodities. He endeavours to buy them up when he forefees that their price is likely to rife, and to fell them when it is likely to fall.
Thirdly, This equality in the whole of the ada vantages and difadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock, can take place only in fuch as are the fole or principal employments of those who occupy them.
When a perfon derives his fubftence from one employment, which does not occupy the greater part of his time; in the intervals of his leifure he is often willing to work at another for lefs wages than would otherwise suit the nature of the employment.
There still fubfifts in many parts of Scotland a fet of people called Cotters or Cottagers, though they were more frequent fome years ago
BOOK than they are now. They are a fort of outI. fervants of the landlords and farmers. The ufual reward which they receive from their masters is a house, a fmall garden for pot herbs, as much grafs as will feed a cow, and, perhaps, an acre or two of bad arable land. When their mafter has occafion for their labour, he gives them, befides, two pecks of oatmeal a week, worth about fixteen pence fterling. During a great part of the year he has little or no occafion for their labour, and the cultivation of their own little poffeffion is not fufficient to occupy the time which is left at their own difpofal. When fuch occupiers were more numerous than they are at prefent, they are faid to have been willing to give their spare time for a very small recompence to any body, and to have wrought for lefs. wages than other labourers. In ancient times they feem to have been common all over Europe. In countries ill cultivated and worse inhabited, the greater part of landlords and farmers could not otherwife provide themselves with the extraordinary number of hands, which country labour requires at certain seasons. The daily or weekly recompence which fuch labourers occafionally received from their masters, was evidently not the whole price of their labour. Their fmall tenement made a confiderable part ofit. This daily or weekly recompence, however, feems to have been confidered as the whole of it, by many writers who have collected the prices of labour and provifions in ancient times, and who have taken pleasure in representing both as wonderfully low. The
The produce of fuch labour comes frequently CHA P. cheaper to market than would otherwise be fuitable to its nature. Stockings in many parts of Scotland are knit much cheaper than they can any-where be wrought upon the loom. They are the work of fervants and labourers, who derive the principal part of their fubfiftence from fome other employment. More than a thousand pair of Shetland stockings are annually imported into Leith, of which the price is from five pence to feven pence a pair. At Learwick, the small capital of the Shetland islands, ten pence a day, I have been affured, is a common price of common labour. In the fame iflands they knit worsted stockings to the value of a guinea a pair and upwards.
The fpinning of linen yarn is carried on in Scotland nearly in the fame way as the knitting of stockings by fervants who are chiefly hired for other purposes. They earn but a very fcanty fubfiftence, who endeavour to get their whole livelihood by either of thofe trades. In most parts of Scotland fhe is a good spinner who can earn twenty pence a week.
In opulent countries the market is generally fo extenfive, that any one trade is fufficient to employ the whole labour and ftock of those who occupy it. Inftances of people's living by one employment, and at the fame time deriving fome little advantage from another, occur chiefly in poor countries. The following inftance, however, of fomething of the fame kind is to be found in the capital of a very rich one. There
BOOK is no city in Europe, I believe, in which houferent is dearer than in London, and yet I know no capital in which a furnished apartment can be hired fo cheap. Lodging is not only much cheaper in London than in Paris; it is much cheaper than in Edinburgh of the fame degree of goodness; and what may feem extraordinary, the dearnefs of houfe-rent is the caufe of the cheapnefs of lodging. The dearnefs of houferent in London arifes, not only from those causes which render it dear in all great capitals, the dearness of labour, the dearnefs of all the materials of building, which muft generally be brought from a great distance, and above all the dearnefs of ground-rent, every landlord acting the part of a monopolift, and frequently exacting a higher rent for a fingle acre of bad land in a town, than can be had for a hundred of the beft in the country; but it arifes in part from the peculiar manners and customs of the people, which oblige every master of a family to hire a whole houfe from top to bottom. A dwellinghoufe in England means every thing that is contained under the fame roof. In France, Scotland, and many other parts of Europe, it frequently means no more than a fingle ftory. A tradesman in London is obliged to hire a whole house in that part of the town where his customers live. His fhop is upon the ground-floor, and he and his family fleep in the garret; and he endeavours to pay a part of his houfe-rent by letting the two middle ftories to lodgers. He expects to maintain his family by his trade, and not