« AnteriorContinuar »
from every other within the town, fomewhat C HA P. dearer than they otherwife might have done. But in recompence, they were enabled to fell their own juft as much dearer; so that so far it was as broad as long, as they fay; and in the dealings of the different claffes within the town with one another, none of them were lofers by thefe regulations. But in their dealings with the country they were all great gainers; and in thefe latter dealings confifts the whole trade which fupports and enriches every town.
Every town draws its whole fubfiftence, and all the materials of its induftry, from the country. pays for these chiefly in two ways: first, by fending back to the country a part of those materials wrought up and manufactured; in which cafe their price is augmented by the wages of the workmen, and the profits of their mafters or immediate employers: fecondly, by fending to it a part both of the rude and manufactured produce, either of other countries, or of distant parts of the fame country, imported into the town: in which cafe too the original price of those goods is augmented by the wages of the carriers or failors, and by the profits of the merchants who employ them. In what is gained upon the firft of thofe two branches of commerce, confifts the advantage which the town makes by its manufactures; in what is gained upon the fecond, the advantage of its inland and foreign trade. The wages of the workmen, and the profits of their different employers, make up the whole of what is gained upon both. What
BOOK ever regulations, therefore, tend to increase those I. wages and profits beyond what they otherwife would be, tend to enable the town to purchase, with a fmaller quantity of its labour, the produce of a greater quantity of the labour of the country. They give the traders and artificers in the town an advantage over the landlords, farmers, and labourers in the country, and break down that natural equality which would otherwife take place in the commerce which is carried on between them. The whole annual produce of the labour of the fociety is annually divided between thofe two different fets of people. By means of those regulations a greater fhare of it is given to the inhabitants of the town than would otherwife fall to them; and a lefs to those of the country.
The price which the town really pays for the provisions and materials annually imported into it, is the quantity of manufactures and other goods annually exported from it. The dearer the latter are fold, the cheaper the former are bought. The induftry of the town becomes more, and that of the country lefs advantageous.
That the induftry which is carried on in towns is, every-where in Europe, more advantageous than that which is carried on in the country, without entering into any very nice computations, we may fatisfy ourselves by one very fimple and obvious obfervation. In every country of Europe we find, at least, a hundred people who have acquired great fortunes from finall
beginnings by trade and manufactures, the in- C HA P. duftry which properly belongs to towns, for one who has done fo by that which properly belongs to the country, the raifing of rude produce by the improvement and cultivation of land. Industry, therefore, must be better rewarded, the wages of labour and the profits of stock must evidently be greater in the one fituation than in the other. But ftock and labour naturally feek the most advantageous employment. They naturally, therefore, refort as much as they can to the town, and defert the country.
The inhabitants of a town, being collected into one place, can eafily combine together. The most infignificant trades carried on in towns have accordingly, in fome place or other, been incorporated; and even where they have never been incorporated, yet the corporation spirit, the jealoufy of ftrangers, the averfion to take apprentices, or to communicate the fecret of their trade, generally prevail in them, and often teach them, by voluntary affociations and agreements, to prevent that free competition which they cannot prohibit, by bye-laws. The trades which employ but a small number of hands, run most eafily into fuch combinations. Half a dozen wool-combers, perhaps, are neceffary to keep a thousand spinners and weavers at work. By combining not to take apprentices they can not only engross the employment, but reduce the whole manufacture into a fort of flavery to themfelves, and raise the price of their labour much above what is due to the nature of their work.
The inhabitants of the country, difperfed in diftant places, cannot eafily combine together. They have not only never been incorporated, but the corporation spirit never has prevailed among them. No apprenticeship has ever been thought neceffary to qualify for husbandry, the great trade of the country. After what are called the fine arts, and the liberal profeffions, however, there is perhaps no trade which requires fo great a variety of knowledge and experience. The innumerable volumes which have been written upon it in all languages, may fatisfy us, that among the wifeft and most learned nations, it has never been regarded as a matter very eafily understood. And from all thofe volumes we shall in vain attempt to collect that knowledge of its various and complicated operations, which is commonly poffeffed even by the common farmer; how contemptuously foever the very contemptible authors of fome of them may fometimes affect to speak of him. There is fcarce any common mechanic trade, on the contrary, of which all the operations may not be as completely and distinctly explained in a pamphlet of a very few pages, as it is poffible for words illuftrated by figures to explain them. In the history of the arts, now publishing by the French academy of fciences, feveral of them are actually explained in this manner. The direction of operations, befides, which must be varied with every change of the weather, as well as with many other accidents, requires much more judgment and difcretion, than that of those
which are always the fame or very nearly the CHA P. fame.
Not only the art of the farmer, the general direction of the operations of husbandry, but many inferior branches of country labour, require much more skill and experience than the greater part of mechanic trades. The man who works upon brass and iron, works with inftruments and upon materials of which the temper is always the fame, or very nearly the fame. But the man who ploughs the ground with a team of horfes or oxen, works with inftruments of which the health, ftrength, and temper, are very dif ferent upon different occafions. The condition of the materials which he works upon too is as variable as that of the inftruments which he works with, and both require to be managed with much judgment and difcretion. The common ploughman, though generally regarded as the pattern of stupidity and ignorance, is feldom defective in this judgment and difcretion. He is lefs accustomed, indeed, to focial intercourfe than the mechanic who lives in a town. His voice and language are more uncouth and more difficult to be understood by thofe who are not ufed to them. His understanding, however, being accustomed to confider a greater variety of objects, is generally much fuperior to that of the other, whofe whole attention from morning till night is commonly occupied in performing one or two very fimple operations. How much the lower ranks of people in the country are really fuperior to thofe of the town, is well known to every man whom either business or curiofity has