Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

I.

BOOK one courfe of lectures, a number which will not appear extraordinary from fo great a city to fo famous a teacher, who taught too what was at that time the most fashionable of all fciences, rhetoric. He must have made, therefore, by each courfe of lectures, a thousand minæ, or 3,333l. 6s. 8d. A thousand minæ, accordingly, is faid by Plutarch in another place, to have been his Didactron, or ufual price of teaching. Many other eminent teachers in thofe times appear to have acquired great fortunes. Gorgias made a prefent to the temple of Delphi of his own ftatue in folid gold. We must not, I prefume, fuppofe that it was as large as the life. His way of living, as well as that of Hippias and Protagoras, two other eminent teachers of those times, is represented by Plato as splendid even to oftentation. Plato himself is faid to have lived with a good deal of magnificence. Ariftotle, after having been tutor to Alexander, and moft munificently rewarded, as it is univerfally agreed, both by him and his father Philip, thought it worth while, notwithstanding, to return to Athens, in order to resume the teaching of his fchool. Teachers of the fciences were probably in thofe times lefs common than they came to be in an age or two afterwards, when the competition had probably fomewhat reduced both the price of their labour and the admiration for their perfons. The most eminent of them, however, appear always to have enjoyed a degree of confideration much fuperior to any of the like profeffion in the prefent times. The Athenians

X.

fent Carneades the academic, and Diogenes the CHA P. stoic, upon a folemn embaffy to Rome; and though their city had then declined from its former grandeur, it was ftill an independent and confiderable republic. Carneades too was a Babylonian by birth, and as there never was a people more jealous of admitting foreigners to public offices than the Athenians, their confideration for him must have been very great.

This inequality is upon the whole, perhaps, rather advantageous than hurtful to the public. It may fomewhat degrade the profeffion of a public teacher; but the cheapnefs of literary education is furely an advantage which greatly over-balances this trifling inconveniency. The public too might derive still greater benefit from it, if the conftitution of those schools and colleges, in which education is carried on, was more reasonable than it is at present through the greater part of Europe.

Thirdly, The policy of Europe, by obftructing the free circulation of labour and ftock both from employment to employment, and from place to place, occafions in fome cafes a very inconvenient inequality in the whole of the advantages and difadvantages of their different employments,

The ftatute of apprenticeship obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment to another, even in the fame place. The exclufive privileges of corporations obftruct it from one place to another, even in the fame employment.

VOL. II.

.P

It

BOOK
I.

It frequently happens that while high wages are given to the workmen in one manufacture, those in another are obliged to content themfelves with bare fubfiftence. The one is in an advancing state, and has therefore a continual demand for new hands: the other is in a declining state, and the fuperabundance of hands is continually increafing. Those two manufactures may fometimes be in the fame town, and fometimes in the fame neighbourhood, without being able to lend the leaft affiftance to one another. The statute of apprenticeship may oppose it in the one cafe, and both that and an exclufive corporation in the other. In many different manufactures, however, the operations are fo much alike, that the workmen could easily change trades with one another, if thofe abfurd laws did not hinder them. The arts of weaving plain linen and plain filk, for example, are almost entirely the fame. That of weaving plain woollen is fomewhat different; but the difference is fo infignificant, that either a linen or a filk weaver might become a tolerable workman in a very few days. If any of thofe three capital manufactures, therefore, were decaying, the workmen might find a refource in one of the other two which was in a more profperous condition; and their wages would neither rife too high in the thriving, nor fink too low in the decaying manufacture. The linen manufacture indeed is, in England, by a particular statute, open to every body; but as it is not much cultivated through the greater part of the country,

X.

it can afford no general refource to the work- C HA P. men of other decaying manufactures, who, wherever the ftatute of apprenticeship takes place, have no other choice but either to come upon the parish, or to work as common labourers, for which, by their habits, they are much worfe qualified than for any fort of manufacture that bears any resemblance to their own. They generally, therefore, chufe to come upon the parish.

Whatever obftructs the free circulation of la bour from one employment to another, obftructs that of stock likewife; the quantity of stock which can be employed in any branch of business depending very much upon that of the labour which can be employed in it. Corporation laws, however, give lefs obftruction to the free circulation of flock from one place to another than to that of labour. It is every where much easier for a wealthy merchant to obtain the privilege of trading in a town corporate, than for a poor artificer to obtain that of working in it.

The obftruction which corporation laws give to the free circulation of labour is common, I believe, to every part of Europe. That which is given to it by the poor laws is, fo far as I know, peculiar to England. It confifts in the difficulty which a poor man finds in obtaining a fettlement, or even in being allowed to exercise his industry in any parish but that to which he belongs. It is the labour of artificers and manufacturers only of which the free circulation is obftructed by corporation laws. The difficulty

I.

common labour.

BOOK of obtaining fettlements obftructs even that of It may be worth while to give fome account of the rife, progrefs, and present state of this disorder, the greatest perhaps of any in the police of England.

When by the deftruction of monafteries the poor had been deprived of the charity of thofe religious houfes, after fome other ineffectual attempts for their relief, it was enacted by the 43d of Elizabeth, c. 2. that every parish should be bound to provide for its own poor; and that overfeers of the poor fhould be annually appointed, who, with the churchwardens, should raife, by a parish rate, competent fums for this purpose.

By this ftatute the neceffity of providing for their own poor was indifpenfably impofed upon every parish. Who were to be confidered as the poor of each parish, became, therefore, a queftion of fome importance. This question, after some variation, was at last determined by the 13th and 14th of Charles II. when it was enacted, that forty days undisturbed refidence fhould gain any perfon a settlement in any parish; but that within that time it fhould be lawful for two justices of the peace, upon complaint made by the churchwardens or overseers of the poor, to remove any new inhabitant to the parish where he was last legally fettled; unless he either rented a tenement of ten pounds a year, or could give fuch fecurity for the discharge of the parish where he was then living, as thofe juftices fhould judge fufficient.

Some

« AnteriorContinuar »