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the means of benefiting their inferiors, which Providence has placed at their command, are culpable in more ways than one. It would not, indeed, be easy to overrate the good that might eventually be accomplished were masters, who have the opportunity, generally to bestow some little attention on the character and conduct of those in their service; to assist them in establishing schools and useful libraries; and to satisfy them that those who distinguish themselves by the superior condition of their dwellings and families, their greater deposits in the savings' bank, &c., will not be overlooked or forgotten. In doing this, they would contribute to raise the character of the labouring class, and to strengthen the foundations of public peace and prosperity.

Much has latterly been said, and with great justice, in regard to the beneficial effects that could hardly fail to follow from an improvement in the dwellings of the poor. In towns, where the iujurious influence of the over-crowded, ill ventilated, and filthy habitations of the lower classes is especially evident, a good deal might probably be effected by judicious police regulations in regard to the building and occupation of inferior houses. And in the country, where cottages are often of a very miserable description, the landlords might, with a little attention and outlay, effect the greatest improvements. Besides the various benefits that it would confer on the cottiers, there are few things that would redound so much to the credit of the owners of estates, or add so much to the beauty of the latter, as having them studded with neat, clean, and comfortable cottages.1

But though the conduct of government and of the wealthier classes, as regards the poor, were all that could be desired, still its direct influence over individuals must necessarily be confined to a comparatively small number of cases, while its indirect influence over the mass is usually feeble and but

1 The Duke of Bedford, and some other noblemen and gentlemen, have done themselves much honour by the improvements they have effected in the cottages on their estates.

slowly manifested. What others can do for them is, in truth, but as the small dust of the balance compared with what they may do for themselves. The situation of most men not born to affluence, is always in great measure dependent on their own exertions. And this is most especially true of the labouring classes, the great majority of whom can owe nothing to patronage or favour. Industry, frugality, and forethought, are their only friends. But, happily, they are all-powerful. And how unpromising soever their situation, those who avail themselves of their willing assistance, are never disappointed, but secure in the end their own comfort and that of their families. Those, on the contrary, who neglect their aid, though otherwise placed under the most favourable circumstances, inevitably sink into a state of misery. The contrast between a well cultivated field and one that is neglected and overrun with thorns and brambles, is not greater than the contrast between the condition of the diligent and slothful, the careful and the wasteful labourers. The cottages of the former are clean, neat, and comfortable, their children well clothed and well instructed; whereas the cottages of the latter are slatternly and uncomfortable, being often little better than pig-styes, and their children in rags and ignorant. No increase of wages can be of any permanent advantage to the one class, while the smallest increase conduces to the well-being of the other. Vigilando, agendo, bene consulendo, prospere omnia cedunt. But on the other hand, ubi socordiæ te atque ignavia tradideris nequicquam deos implores; irati infestique sunt. "If," says Barrow, "wit or wisdom be the head, if honesty be the heart, industry is the right hand of every vocation: without which the shrewdest insight and best attention can execute nothing." (Second Sermon on Industry.)


Different Rates of Wages in Different Employments-Circumstances on which these Differences depend.

In the previous chapters of this Treatise, we have endeavoured to investigate the circumstances which determine wages in general. But every one is aware, that while their ordinary rate in some employments does not perhaps exceed 2s., 3s., or 4s. a-day, it may at the same time amount to 3s., 4s., 5s., or upwards in others. The consideration of the circumstances which occasion this inequality, will form the subject of this chapter.


Were all employments equally agreeable and healthy, the labour to be performed in each of the same intensity, and did they all require the same degree of dexterity and skill on the part of the labourer, it is evident, supposing industry to be quite free, that there would be no permanent or considerable difference in the wages paid to those engaged in them. if, on the one hand, the work-people engaged in a particular business earned more than their neighbours, the latter would gradually leave their employments to engage in it, until their influx had reduced wages to their common level; and if, on the other hand, those employed in a particular business earned less than their neighbours, there would be an efflux of hands from it, until, by their diminution, the wages of those who remained had been raised to the common level. In point of fact, however, the intensity of the labour in different employ. ments, the degree of skill and training required to carry them on, their healthiness, and the estimation in which they are held, differ exceedingly; and these varying circumstances necessarily occasion proportional differences in the wages of those engaged in them. Wages are a compensation paid to the labourer for the exertion of his physical powers, skill, and ingenuity. They, therefore, vary according to the severity of the labour to be performed, and to the skill and ingenuity

required. A jeweller or engraver, for example, must be paid higher wages than a common farm servant or day labourer. A long course of training is necessary to instruct a man in the business of a jeweller or engraver; and if the cost of this training were not made up to him by a higher rate of wages, instead of learning so difficult an art, he would addict himself, in preference, to such employments as hardly require any instruction. Hence the discrepancies that actually obtain in the rate of wages are confined within certain limits-increasing or diminishing it only in so far as may be necessary fully to equalize the unfavourable or favourable circumstances attending any employment.

The following have been stated by Smith as the principal circumstances which occasion the rate of wages in some employments, to fall below, and in others to rise above, the average rate of


1st. The agreeableness or disagreeableness of the employments.

2nd. The easiness or cheapness, or the difficulty and expense, of learning them.

3rd. The constancy or inconstancy of the employments. 4th. The small or great trust that must be reposed in those who carry them on.

5th. The probability or improbability of succeeding in them.

First. The agreeableness of an employment may arise either from physical or moral causes-from the lightness of the labour, its healthiness or cleanliness, the degree of estimation in which it is held, &c.; and its disagreeableness arises from the opposite circumstances-from the severity of the labour, its unhealthiness or dirtiness, the degree of odium attached to it, &c. The rate of wages must obviously vary with the variation of circumstances exerting so powerful an influence over labourers. It is not to be supposed that any individual should be so blind to his own interest as to engage or continue in an occupation considered as mean and disreputable, or where the labour is severe, if he obtain only the same rate of

wages that may be obtained by engaging in employments in higher estimation, or where the labour is comparatively light. The labour of a ploughman is not unhealthy, nor is it either irksome or disagreeable; but being more severe than that of the shepherd, it is uniformly better rewarded. This principle holds universally. Gilders, type-founders, smiths, distillers, and all who carry on unhealthy, disagreeable, and dangerous businesses, invariably obtain a higher rate of wages than those artificers who, having equal skill, are engaged in more desirable occupations. The unfavourable opinion entertained respecting some businesses, has a similar effect on wages as if the labour to be performed in them were unusually unhealthy or severe. The trade of a butcher, for example, is generally looked upon as low and discreditable, and this feeling causes such a disinclination on the part of young men to enter it, as can only be overcome by the high wages which butchers are said to earn, notwithstanding the lightness of their labour. This also is the reason why the keeper of a small inn or tavern, who is never master of his own house, and who is exposed to the brutality of every drunkard, exercises one of the most profitable of the common trades. The contrary circumstances have contrary effects. Hunting and fishing are, in an advanced stage of society, among the most agreeable amusements of the rich. But from their being held in this degree of estimation, and from the lightness of their labour, those who practise them as a trade generally receive very small wages, and are proverbially poor. The agreeableness and healthiness of their employments, rather than the lightness of their labour, or the little skill which they require, seem to be the principal cause of the redundant numbers, and consequent low wages, of the workmen employed in ordinary field labour.

The grinding of knives, razors, and other cutting instruments, is a very deleterious trade. The minute particles of steel thrown off from the metal in the process of grinding float in the atmosphere, and being taken into the lungs, occasion consumptions and other diseases of the respiratory sys. tem. Various contrivances have been suggested to obviate

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