Imágenes de páginas


BOOK led to converfe much with both. In China and Indoftan accordingly both the rank and the wages of country labourers are faid to be fuperior to thofe of the greater part of artificers and manufacturers. They would probably be fo every-where, if corporation laws and the corporation fpirit did not prevent it.

The fuperiority which the industry of the towns has every-where in Europe over that of the country, is not altogether owing to corporations, and corporation laws. It is fupported by many other regulations. The high duties upon foreign manufactures and upon all goods imported by alien merchants, all tend to the fame purpose. Corporation laws enable the inhabitants of towns to raise their prices, without fearing to be under-fold by the free competition of their own countrymen. Thofe other regulations fecure them equally against that of foreigners. The enhancement of price occafioned by both is every-where finally paid by the landlords, farmers, and labourers of the country, who have feldom opposed the establishment of fuch monopolies. They have commonly neither inclination nor fitness to enter into combinations; and the clamour and fophiftry of merchants and manufacturers eafily perfuade them that the private intereft of a part, and of a subordinate part of the fociety, is the general intereft of the whole.

In Great Britain the fuperiority of the industry of the towns over that of the country feems to have been greater formerly than in the present times. The wages of country labour approach



nearer to thofe of manufacturing labour, and the C HA P. profits of stock employed in agriculture to those of trading and manufacturing ftock, than they are faid to have done in the last century, or in the beginning of the prefent. This change may be regarded as the neceffary, though very late confequence of the extraordinary encouragement given to the industry of the towns. The stock accumulated in them comes in time to be fo great, that it can no longer be employed with the ancient profit in that fpecies of industry which is peculiar to them. That induftry has its limits like every other; and the increase of ftock, by increafing the competition, neceffarily reduces the profit. The lowering of profit in the town forces out ftock to the country, where, by creating a new demand for country labour, it neceffarily raises its wages. It then fpreads itself, if I may fay fo, over the face of the land, and by being employed in agriculture is in part restored to the country, at the expence 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 fuch overflowings of the ftock originally accumulated in the towns, I fhall endeavour to fhow hereafter; and at the fame time to demonftrate, that though fome countries have by this courfe attained to a confiderable degree of opulence, it is in itself neceffarily flow, uncertain, liable to be difturbed and interrupted by innumerable accidents, and in every refpect contrary to the order of nature


BOOK and of reafon. The interefts, prejudices, laws and customs which have given occafion to it, I shall endeavour to explain as fully and diftinctly as I can in the third and fourth books of this inquiry.

People of the fame trade feldom meet together, even for merriment and diverfion, but the converfation ends in a confpiracy against the public, or in fome contrivance to raise prices. It is impoffible indeed to prevent fuch meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be confiftent with liberty and juftice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the fame trade from fometimes affembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate fuch affemblies; much lefs to render them neceffary.

A regulation which obliges all those of the fame trade in a particular town to enter their names and places of abode in a public register, facilitates fuch affemblies. It connects individuals who might never otherwife 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 thofe of the fame trade to tax themselves in order to provide for their poor, their fick, their widows and orphans, by giving them a common intereft to manage, renders fuch affemblies neceffary.

An incorporation not only renders them neceffary, 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 confent of every fingle trader, and it



cannot laft longer than every fingle trader CHA P. continues of the fame 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 neceffary for the better government of the trade, is without any foundation. The real and effectual difcipline which is exercised over a workman, is not that of his corporation, but that of his customers. It is the fear of lofing their employment which reftrains his frauds and corrects his negligence. An exclufive corporation neceffarily weakens the force of this discipline. A particular fet 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 fome of the most neceffary trades. If you would have your work tolerably executed,


it must be done in the suburbs, where the workmen, having no exclufive privilege, have nothing but their character to depend upon, and you muft then smuggle it into the town as well as you can.

It is in this manner that the policy of Europe, by reftraining the competition in fome employments to a smaller number than would otherwife be disposed to enter into them, occafions 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 increafing the competition in fome employments beyond what it naturally would be, occafions another inequality of an oppofite kind in the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the different employments of labour and ftock.

It has been confidered as of fo much importance that a proper number of young people fhould be educated for certain profeffions, that, fometimes the public, and fometimes the piety of private founders have established many penfions, scholarships, exhibitions, burfaries, &c. for this purpose, which draw many more people into thofe trades than could otherwife pretend to follow them. In all chriftian 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 expence. The long, tedious and expenfive education, therefore, of thofe who are, will not always procure them a fuitable reward, the church being crowded with people who, in order to get employment, are willing to accept of a much fmaller recompence than, what fuch an education would otherwife 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 confidered as of the fame nature with the wages of a journeyman. They are, all three, paid for their work according to the con tract


« AnteriorContinuar »