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All thofe improvements in the productive c HA P. powers of labour, which tend directly to reduce the real price of manufactures, tend indirectly to raise the real rent of land. The landlord exchanges that part of his rude produce, which is over and above his own confumption, or what comes to the fame thing, the price of that part of it, for manufactured produce. Whatever reduces the real price of the latter, raises that of the former. An equal quantity of the former becomes thereby equivalent to a greater quantity of the latter; and the landlord is enabled to purchase a greater quantity of the conveniencies, ornaments, or luxuries, which he has occafion for.
Every increase in the real wealth of the fociety, every increase in the quantity of ufeful labour employed within it, tends indirectly to raife the real rent of land. A certain proportion of this labour naturally goes to the land. A greater number of men and cattle are employed in its cultivation, the produce increases with the increafe of the ftock which is thus employed in raifing it, and the rent increases with the produce.
The contrary circumftances, the neglect of cultivation and improvement, the fall in the real price of any part of the rude produce of land, the rife in the real price of manufactures from the decay of manufacturing art and industry, the declenfion of the real wealth of the society, all tend, on the other hand, to lower the real rent of
BOOK of land, to reduce the real wealth of the land. lord, to diminish his power of purchafing either the labour, or the produce of the labour of other people.
The whole annual produce of the land and labour of every country, or what comes to the fame thing, the whole price of that annual produce, naturally divides itself, it has already been obferved, into three parts; the rent of land, the wages of labour, and the profits of stock; and conftitutes a revenue to three different orders of people; to those who live by rent, to thofe who live by wages, and to those who live by profit. Thefe are the three great, original and conftituent orders of every civilized fociety, from whose revenue that of every other order is ulti mately derived.
The intereft of the firft of thofe three great orders, it appears from what has been juft now faid, is strictly and infeparably connected with the general intereft of the fociety. Whatever either promotes or obftructs the one, neceffarily promotes or obftructs the other. When the public deliberates concerning any regulation of commerce or police, the proprietors of land never can mislead it, with a view to promote the interest of their own particular order; at least, if they have any tolerable knowledge of that intereft. They are, indeed, too often defective in this tolerable knowledge. They are the only one of the three orders whofe revenue costs them neither labour nor care, but comes to them, as
it were, of its own accord, and independent of CHA P. That indoany plan or project of their own. lence, which is the natural effect of the eafe and fecurity of their fituation, renders them too often, not only ignorant, but incapable of that application of mind which is neceffary in order to forefee and understand the confequences of any public regulation.
The intereft of the fecond order, that of those who live by wages, is as ftrictly connected with the intereft of the fociety as that of the firft. The wages of the labourer, it has already been shewn, are never fo high as when the demand for labour is continually rifing, or when the quantity employed is every year increafing confiderably. When this real wealth of the fociety becomes stationary, his wages are foon reduced to what is barely enough to enable him to bring up a fa mily, or to continue the race of labourers, When the fociety declines, they fall even below this. The order of proprietors may, perhaps, gain more by the profperity of the fociety, than that of labourers: but there is no order that fuffers fo cruelly from its decline. But though the intereft of the labourer is ftrictly connected with that of the fociety, he is incapable either or comprehending that intereft, or of underftanding its connexion with his own. His condition leaves him no time to receive the neceffary information, and his education and habits are commonly fuch as to render him unfit to judge even though he was fully informed.
BOOK public deliberations, therefore, his voice is little I. heard and lefs regarded, except upon fome par ticular occafions, when his clamour is animated, fet on, and fupported by his employers, not for his, but their own particular purposes.
His employers constitute the third order, that of those who live by profit. It is the stock that is employed for the fake of profit, which puts into motion the greater part of the useful labour of every fociety. The plans and projects of the employers of ftock regulate and direct all the most important operations of labour, and profit is the end proposed by all those plans and projects. But the rate of profit does not, like rent and wages, rife with the profperity, and fall with the declenfion, of the fociety. On the contrary, it is naturally low in rich, and high in poor countries, and it is always highest in the countries which are going fastest to ruin. The intereft of this third order, therefore, has not the fame connexion with the general intereft of the fociety as that of the other two. Merchants and mafter manufacturers are, in this order, the two claffes of people who commonly employ the largest capitals, and who by their wealth draw to themselves the greatest share of the public confideration. As during their whole lives they are engaged in plans and projects, they have frequently more acuteness of understanding than the greater part of country gentlemen. As their thoughts, however, are commonly exercised rather about the intereft of their own particular branch of
of business, than about that of the fociety, their c H A P. judgment, even when given with the greatest candour (which it has not been upon every occafion), is much more to be depended upon with regard to the former of those two objects, than with regard to the latter. Their fuperiority over the country gentleman is, not fo much in their knowledge of the public intereft, as in their having a better knowledge of their own interest than he has of his. It is by this fuperior knowledge of their own intereft that they have frequently impofed upon his generofity, and perfuaded him to give up both his own interest and that of the public, from a very fimple but honeft conviction, that their intereft, and not his, was the intereft of the public. The intereft of the dealers, however, in any particular branch of trade or manufactures, is always in fome respects different from, and even oppofite to, that of the public. To widen the market and to narrow the competition, is always the intereft of the dealers. To widen the market may frequently be agreeable enough to the interest of the public; but to narrow the competition must always be against it, and can ferve only to enable the dealers, by raifing their profits above what they naturally would be, to levy, for their own benefit, an abfurd tax upon the rest of their fellow-citizens. The propofal of any new law or regulation of commerce which comes from this order, ought always to be liftened to with great precaution, and ought never to be adopted