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This cause of variation chiefly affects the wages of the higher class of labourers, or of those who practise what are usually denominated liberal professions.

If a young man be bound apprentice to a shoemaker or tailor, there is hardly any doubt of his attaining to an ordinary degree of proficiency and expertness in his business, and that he will be able to live by it; whereas if he be bound apprentice to a lawyer, painter, sculptor, or player, there are perhaps three or four chances to one that he never attains to such a degree of proficiency in any of these callings as will enable him to subsist on his earnings. But in professions where many fail for one who succeeds, the fortunate one should not only gain such a rate of wages as may indemnify him for the expenses incurred in his education, but also for all that has been expended on the education of his unsuccessful competitors. It is abundantly certain, however, that the wages of lawyers, players, sculptors, &c., taken in the aggregate, never amount to so large a sum. The lottery of the law, and of the other liberal professions, has many great prizes, but there is, notwithstanding, a large excess of blanks. "Compute," says Adam Smith, " in any particular place, what is likely to be annually gained, and what is likely to be annually spent, by all the different workmen in any common trade, such as that of shoemakers or weavers, and you will find that the former sum will generally exceed the latter. But make the same computation with regard to all the counsellors and students of law, in all the different Inns of Court, and you will find that their annual gains bear but a very small proportion to their annual expense, even though you rate the former as high, and the latter as low, as can well be done. The lottery of the law, therefore, is very far from being a perfectly fair lottery; and that, as well as many other liberal and honourable professions, is, in point of pecuniary gain, evidently under-recompensed."

But the power, wealth, and consideration, which most commonly attend superior excellence in the liberal professions, and the overweening confidence placed by each individual in

his own good fortune, are sufficient to overbalance all the disadvantages and drawbacks that attend them, and never fail to crowd their ranks with all the most generous and aspiring spirits.

It is unnecessary to enter upon any farther details with respect to this part of our subject. It has been sufficiently proved, that wherever industry is free and unfettered, the permanent differences that obtain in the wages of those engaged in different employments, merely suffice to balance the favourable or unfavourable circumstances by which they are attended. When the cost of their education, the chances of their success, and the various disadvantages incident to their callings, have been taken into account, those who receive the highest wages are not really better paid than those who receive the lowest. The wages earned by different classes of workmen are equal, not when each individual earns the same number of shillings, or of pence, in a given space of time, but when each is paid in proportion to the severity of the labour he has to perform, the degree of previous education and skill that it requires, and the other causes of variation already specified. Wherever, indeed, the principle of competition is allowed to operate without restraint, and individuals may employ themselves as they please, we may be assured that the higgling of the market will always adjust the rate of wages, in different employments, on the principle now stated, and that they will be, all things considered, nearly equal. If wages in one employment be depressed below the common level, labourers will leave it to go to others; and if they be raised above that level, labourers will be attracted to it from those departments where wages are lower, until their increased competition has sunk them to their average standard. We do not, however, mean to affirm, that this equalization is in all cases immediately or speedily brought about. On the contrary, it often happens that, owing to an attachment to the trade, or the locality in which they have been bred, or the difficulty of learning other trades,

individuals will continue, for a lengthened period, to practise their peculiar trades, or will remain in the same district, when other trades in that district, and the same trades in other districts, yield better wages to those engaged in them. But how slowly soever, wages, taking everything into account, are sure to be equalized in the end. And the extraor dinary facilities that are now afforded for becoming minutely acquainted with the various branches of industry carried on in all parts of the country, and of travelling from one point to another, will no doubt hasten the adjustment of wages, according to the advantages and disadvantages incident to different businesses and localities. Without, however, insisting on these considerations, it is enough to state, that all inquiries, like those in which we are now engaged, that have the establishment of general principles for their object, should be founded on periods of average duration; and whenever such is the case, we may always, without occasioning any material error, assume that the wages earned in different employments are, all things taken into account, about equal.

It may farther be observed, in reference to these principles, that wherever industry is unfettered, and knowledge generally diffused, the talents of all are turned to the best account. Indeed, it may be safely affirmed, that of the myriads of individuals engaged in industrious undertakings in Great Britain, as conductors, overseers, or workmen, the situation occupied by each is, in the vast majority of cases, that which is best suited to his capacity, and his salary or wages such as he is fairly entitled to by his services. Agriculturists, manufacturers, and merchants, whether their businesses be large or small, are always most anxious to give the greatest efficacy to their establishments, to adapt their means properly to their ends, and to select the parties that are, all things considered, the most suit

able for their purposes. The prosperity of all industrious undertakings principally depends on the skill with which this selection is made, on the proper parties being placed in the proper situations, and their wages adjusted according to their

merits and the confidence reposed in them. Mistakes in a matter of such primary importance as the proper distribution of the labour employed, in any considerable undertaking, would be so very fatal to its success, that we may be sure they will be carefully guarded against. The principle of detur digniori is the only one on which their managers can act with safety or advantage to themselves. And it is quite as much for the interest of the employed as of the employers that this distribution should be fairly made; for otherwise trickery, ignorance, and sloth, might carry off the rewards due to integrity, skill, and diligence. The society in which we live has its disadvantages and drawbacks; but, at all events, it must be said of masters and capitalists engaged in business, that they never willingly fail duly to appreciate and reward the superior talents and industry of the lower classes; and never suffer, or, if ever, only through error and for a moment, that the fund which should feed and support labour should be misemployed to support idleness. And yet there have been, and still are, persons, calling themselves social reformers and friends to the poor, who propose that this natural and admirable system should be subverted, and that the employment and the wages of every man should be determined by agents nominated by government for the purpose! We should show but little respect for our readers, were we to waste their time by exposing in detail the palpable quackery of such a scheme. The innumerable abuses to which it would infallibly lead, were any attempt made to act upon it, would be such that it could not be maintained for six weeks. If it were, it would destroy industry, and fill the land with bankruptcy and beggary.


Hiring by Time and by Piece Work.—Advantages of the latter. -Inexpediency of making Wages depend on the Result of Undertakings.

WAGES are sometimes paid by the day, week, month, year, or other term, and sometimes by the piece or job, that is, by the quantity of work done. Domestic servants are usually hired in the former mode, or by time; but large amounts of manufacturing, agricultural, and other labour are performed by the piece, and wherever it can be adopted, this is the preferable mode of hiring work-people. Their strength, skill, and assiduity are widely different. And when they are hired by time, it is often impracticable, and is always a difficult, troublesome, and invidious task to arrange them in classes, and adjust the wages of each according to their real deserts. Hiring by the piece or job does away with these difficulties; and, by exactly apportioning the reward to the amount of labour, not only takes away all temptation to idleness, but prompts workmen to put forth all their energies. It makes their own immediate interest, and not their duty to their employers, the mainspring of their exertions. Laborious and skilful workmen are no longer underpaid, as compared with those who are slothful and ignorant. The system admits of no partiality on the part of the masters, and of no pretence or shirking on the part of the employed. It is thoroughly honest and equitable. The wages earned under it may be low or high; but whatever may be their amount, they are distributed in the exact ratio of the services that have been performed. The labourer who executes twice the work that is executed by another, receives double wages, and so in proportion.

The stimulus which this plan of hiring gives to exertion, is so very powerful, that in some cases it has been thought ne

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