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An Inquiry Into The Nature And Causes Of The Wealth Of Nations - Chapter 10 continue

1. Introduction And Plan Of The Work

2. Book 1, Chapter 1

3. Chapter 2

4. Chapter 3

5. Chapter 4

6. Chapter 5

7. Chapter 6

8. Chapter 7

9. Chapter 8

10. Chapter 8 continue

11. Chapter 9

12. Chapter 10

13. Chapter 10 continue

14. Chapter 11

15. Chapter 11 continue

16. Chapter 11 continue.

17. Chapter 11 continue..

18. Chapter 11 continue...

19. Conclusion of the Chapter 11

20. Book 2 Introduction

21. Chapter 1

22. Chapter II

23. Chapter II continue

24. Chapter II continue

25. Chapter 3

26. Chapter 4

27. Chapter 5

28. Book 3, Chapter 1

29. Chapter 2

30. Chapter 3

31. Chapter 4

32. Book 4, Chapter 1

33. Chapter 1 continue

34. Chapter 2

35. Chapter 3, Part 1

36. Chapter 3, Part 2

37. Chapter 4

38. Chapter 5

39. Chapter 5 continue

40. Chapter 6

41. Chapter 7, Part 1

42. Chapter 7, Part 2

43. Chapter 7, Part 3

44. Chapter 7, Part 3 continue

45. Chapter 8

46. Chapter 9

47. Book 5, Chapter 1, Part 1

48. Chapter 1, Part 2

49. Chapter 1, Part 3

50. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue

51. Chapter 1, Part 3 continue B

52. Chapter 1, Part 4

53. Chapter 2, Part 1

54. Chapter 2, Part 2

55. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue

56. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue B

57. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue C

58. Chapter 2, Part 2 continue D

59. Chapter 3

60. Chapter 3 continue

PART II.--Inequalities occasioned by the Policy of Europe.

Such are the inequalities in the whole of the advantages and
disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock, which
the defect of any of the three requisites above mentioned must occasion,
even where there is the most perfect liberty. But the policy of Europe,
by not leaving things at perfect liberty, occasions other inequalities
of much greater importance.

It does this chiefly in the three following ways. First, by restraining
the competition in some employments to a smaller number than would
otherwise be disposed to enter into them; secondly, by increasing it in
others beyond what it naturally would be; and, thirdly, by obstructing
the free circulation of labour and stock, both from employment to
employment, and from place to place.

First, The policy of Europe occasions a very important inequality in the
whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the different employments
of labour and stock, by restraining the competition in some employments
to a smaller number than might otherwise be disposed to enter into them.

The exclusive privileges of corporations are the principal means it
makes use of for this purpose.

The exclusive privilege of an incorporated trade necessarily restrains
the competition, in the town where it is established, to those who are
free of the trade. To have served an apprenticeship in the town, under
a master properly qualified, is commonly the necessary requisite
for obtaining this freedom. The bye-laws of the corporation regulate
sometimes the number of apprentices which any master is allowed to have,
and almost always the number of years which each apprentice is
obliged to serve. The intention of both regulations is to restrain the
competition to a much smaller number than might otherwise be disposed
to enter into the trade. The limitation of the number of apprentices
restrains it directly. A long term of apprenticeship restrains it more
indirectly, but as effectually, by increasing the expense of education.

In Sheffield, no master cutler can have more than one apprentice at a
time, by a bye-law of the corporation. In Norfolk and Norwich, no master
weaver can have more than two apprentices, under pain of forfeiting
five pounds a-month to the king. No master hatter can have more than two
apprentices anywhere in England, or in the English plantations, under
pain of forfeiting; five pounds a-month, half to the king, and half to
him who shall sue in any court of record. Both these regulations, though
they have been confirmed by a public law of the kingdom, are evidently
dictated by the same corporation-spirit which enacted the bye-law of
Sheffield. The silk-weavers in London had scarce been incorporated a
year, when they enacted a bye-law, restraining any master from having
more than two apprentices at a time. It required a particular act of
parliament to rescind this bye-law.

Seven years seem anciently to have been, all over Europe, the usual term
established for the duration of apprenticeships in the greater part
of incorporated trades. All such incorporations were anciently
called universities, which, indeed, is the proper Latin name for any
incorporation whatever. The university of smiths, the university of
tailors, etc. are expressions which we commonly meet with in the old
charters of ancient towns. When those particular incorporations, which
are now peculiarly called universities, were first established, the term
of years which it was necessary to study, in order to obtain the degree
of master of arts, appears evidently to have been copied from the term
of apprenticeship in common trades, of which the incorporations were
much more ancient. As to have wrought seven years under a master
properly qualified, was necessary, in order to entitle my person to
become a master, and to have himself apprentices in a common trade;
so to have studied seven years under a master properly qualified, was
necessary to entitle him to become a master, teacher, or doctor (words
anciently synonymous), in the liberal arts, and to have scholars or
apprentices (words likewise originally synonymous) to study under him.

By the 5th of Elizabeth, commonly called the Statute of Apprenticeship,
it was enacted, that no person should, for the future, exercise any
trade, craft, or mystery, at that time exercised in England, unless he
had previously served to it an apprenticeship of seven years at least;
and what before had been the bye-law of many particular corporations,
became in England the general and public law of all trades carried on in
market towns. For though the words of the statute are very general,
and seem plainly to include the whole kingdom, by interpretation its
operation has been limited to market towns; it having been held that, in
country villages, a person may exercise several different trades, though
he has not served a seven years apprenticeship to each, they being
necessary for the conveniency of the inhabitants, and the number of
people frequently not being sufficient to supply each with a particular
set of hands. By a strict interpretation of the words, too, the
operation of this statute has been limited to those trades which were
established in England before the 5th of Elizabeth, and has never
been extended to such as have been introduced since that time. This
limitation has given occasion to several distinctions, which, considered
as rules of police, appear as foolish as can well be imagined. It has
been adjudged, for example, that a coach-maker can neither himself make
nor employ journeymen to make his coach-wheels, but must buy them of a
master wheel-wright; this latter trade having been exercised in England
before the 5th of Elizabeth. But a wheel-wright, though he has never
served an apprenticeship to a coachmaker, may either himself make or
employ journeymen to make coaches; the trade of a coachmaker not being
within the statute, because not exercised in England at the time when it
was made. The manufactures of Manchester, Birmingham, and Wolverhampton,
are many of them, upon this account, not within the statute, not having
been exercised in England before the 5th of Elizabeth.

In France, the duration of apprenticeships is different in different
towns and in different trades. In Paris, five years is the term required
in a great number; but, before any person can be qualified to exercise
the trade as a master, he must, in many of them, serve five years more
as a journeyman. During this latter term, he is called the companion of
his master, and the term itself is called his companionship.

In Scotland, there is no general law which regulates universally
the duration of apprenticeships. The term is different in different
corporations. Where it is long, a part of it may generally be redeemed
by paying a small fine. In most towns, too, a very small fine is
sufficient to purchase the freedom of any corporation. The weavers of
linen and hempen cloth, the principal manufactures of the country,
as well as all other artificers subservient to them, wheel-makers,
reel-makers, etc. may exercise their trades in any town-corporate
without paying any fine. In all towns-corporate, all persons are free to
sell butchers' meat upon any lawful day of the week. Three years is,
in Scotland, a common term of apprenticeship, even in some very nice
trades; and, in general, I know of no country in Europe, in which
corporation laws are so little oppressive.

The property which every man has in his own labour, as it is the
original foundation of all other property, so it is the most sacred
and inviolable. The patrimony of a poor man lies in the strength and
dexterity of his hands; and to hinder him from employing this strength
and dexterity in what manner he thinks proper, without injury to his
neighbour, is a plain violation of this most sacred property. It is a
manifest encroachment upon the just liberty, both of the workman, and
of those who might be disposed to employ him. As it hinders the one
from working at what he thinks proper, so it hinders the others from
employing whom they think proper. To judge whether he is fit to be
employed, may surely be trusted to the discretion of the employers,
whose interest it so much concerns. The affected anxiety of the
lawgiver, lest they should employ an improper person, is evidently as
impertinent as it is oppressive.

The institution of long apprenticeships can give no security that
insufficient workmanship shall not frequently be exposed to public
sale. When this is done, it is generally the effect of fraud, and not of
inability; and the longest apprenticeship can give no security against
fraud. Quite different regulations are necessary to prevent this abuse.
The sterling mark upon plate, and the stamps upon linen and woollen
cloth, give the purchaser much greater security than any statute of
apprenticeship. He generally looks at these, but never thinks it
worth while to enquire whether the workman had served a seven years

The institution of long apprenticeships has no tendency to form young
people to industry. A journeyman who works by the piece is likely to
be industrious, because he derives a benefit from every exertion of his
industry. An apprentice is likely to be idle, and almost always is so,
because he has no immediate interest to be otherwise. In the inferior
employments, the sweets of labour consist altogether in the recompence
of labour. They who are soonest in a condition to enjoy the sweets of
it, are likely soonest to conceive a relish for it, and to acquire the
early habit of industry. A young man naturally conceives an aversion to
labour, when for a long time he receives no benefit from it. The boys
who are put out apprentices from public charities are generally bound
for more than the usual number of years, and they generally turn out
very idle and worthless.

Apprenticeships were altogether unknown to the ancients. The reciprocal
duties of master and apprentice make a considerable article in every
modern code. The Roman law is perfectly silent with regard to them. I
know no Greek or Latin word (I might venture, I believe, to assert
that there is none) which expresses the idea we now annex to the word
apprentice, a servant bound to work at a particular trade for the
benefit of a master, during a term of years, upon condition that the
master shall teach him that trade.

Long apprenticeships are altogether unnecessary. The arts, which are
much superior to common trades, such as those of making clocks and
watches, contain no such mystery as to require a long course of
instruction. The first invention of such beautiful machines, indeed, and
even that of some of the instruments employed in making them, must no
doubt have been the work of deep thought and long time, and may justly
be considered as among the happiest efforts of human ingenuity. But when
both have been fairly invented, and are well understood, to explain to
any young man, in the completest manner, how to apply the instruments,
and how to construct the machines, cannot well require more than the
lessons of a few weeks; perhaps those of a few days might be sufficient.
In the common mechanic trades, those of a few days might certainly be
sufficient. The dexterity of hand, indeed, even in common trades, cannot
be acquired without much practice and experience. But a young man would
practice with much more diligence and attention, if from the beginning
he wrought as a journeyman, being paid in proportion to the little work
which he could execute, and paying in his turn for the materials which
he might sometimes spoil through awkwardness and inexperience. His
education would generally in this way be more effectual, and always less
tedious and expensive. The master, indeed, would be a loser. He would
lose all the wages of the apprentice, which he now saves, for seven
years together. In the end, perhaps, the apprentice himself would be a
loser. In a trade so easily learnt he would have more competitors, and
his wages, when he came to be a complete workman, would be much less
than at present. The same increase of competition would reduce the
profits of the masters, as well as the wages of workmen. The trades, the
crafts, the mysteries, would all be losers. But the public would be a
gainer, the work of all artificers coming in this way much cheaper to

It is to prevent his reduction of price, and consequently of wages and
profit, by restraining that free competition which would most certainly
occasion it, that all corporations, and the greater part of corporation
laws have been established. In order to erect a corporation, no other
authority in ancient times was requisite, in many parts of Europe, but
that of the town-corporate in which it was established. In England,
indeed, a charter from the king was likewise necessary. But this
prerogative of the crown seems to have been reserved rather for
extorting money from the subject, than for the defence of the common
liberty against such oppressive monopolies. Upon paying a fine to the
king, the charter seems generally to have been readily granted; and when
any particular class of artificers or traders thought proper to act as
a corporation, without a charter, such adulterine guilds, as they were
called, were not always disfranchised upon that account, but obliged
to fine annually to the king, for permission to exercise their usurped
privileges {See Madox Firma Burgi p. 26 etc.}. The immediate inspection
of all corporations, and of the bye-laws which they might think proper
to enact for their own government, belonged to the town-corporate in
which they were established; and whatever discipline was exercised
over them, proceeded commonly, not from the king, but from that greater
incorporation of which those subordinate ones were only parts or

The government of towns-corporate was altogether in the hands of traders
and artificers, and it was the manifest interest of every particular
class of them, to prevent the market from being overstocked, as they
commonly express it, with their own particular species of industry;
which is in reality to keep it always understocked. Each class was eager
to establish regulations proper for this purpose, and, provided it was
allowed to do so, was willing to consent that every other class should
do the same. In consequence of such regulations, indeed, each class was
obliged to buy the goods they had occasion for from every other within
the town, somewhat dearer than they otherwise might have done. But, in
recompence, they were enabled to sell their own just as much dearer; so
that, so far it was as broad as long, as they say; and in the dealings
of the different classes within the town with one another, none of them
were losers by these regulations. But in their dealings with the country
they were all great gainers; and in these latter dealings consist the
whole trade which supports and enriches every town.

Every town draws its whole subsistence, and all the materials of its
industry, from the: country. It pays for these chiefly in two ways.
First, by sending back to the country a part of those materials wrought
up and manufactured; in which case, their price is augmented by the
wages of the workmen, and the profits of their masters or immediate
employers; secondly, by sending to it a part both of the rude and
manufactured produce, either of other countries, or of distant parts
of the same country, imported into the town; in which case, too, the
original price of those goods is augmented by the wages of the carriers
or sailors, and by the profits of the merchants who employ them. In what
is gained upon the first of those branches of commerce, consists the
advantage which the town makes by its manufactures; in what is gained
upon the second, 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. Whatever regulations,
therefore, tend to increase those wages and profits beyond what they
otherwise: would be, tend to enable the town to purchase, with a smaller
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 otherwise take place in
the commerce which is carried on between them. The whole annual produce
of the labour of the society is annually divided between those two
different sets of people. By means of those regulations, a greater share
of it is given to the inhabitants of the town than would otherwise fall
to them, and a less 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 sold, the
cheaper the former are bought. The industry of the town becomes more,
and that of the country less advantageous.

That the industry which is carried on in towns is, everywhere in Europe,
more advantageous than that which is carried on in the country, without
entering into any very nice computations, we may satisfy ourselves by
one very simple and obvious observation. In every country of Europe, we
find at least a hundred people who have acquired great fortunes, from
small beginnings, by trade and manufactures, the industry which properly
belongs to towns, for one who has done so by that which properly belongs
to the country, the raising 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 situation than in the other. But stock and labour naturally seek
the most advantageous employment. They naturally, therefore, resort as
much as they can to the town, and desert the country.

The inhabitants of a town being collected into one place, can easily
combine together. The most insignificant trades carried on in towns
have, accordingly, in some place or other, been incorporated; and even
where they have never been incorporated, yet the corporation-spirit,
the jealousy of strangers, the aversion to take apprentices, or to
communicate the secret of their trade, generally prevail in them, and
often teach them, by voluntary associations 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 easily into such
combinations. Half-a-dozen wool-combers, perhaps, are necessary 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 sort of slavery to themselves, and raise the
price of their labour much above what is due to the nature of their

The inhabitants of the country, dispersed in distant places, cannot
easily combine together. They have not only never been incorporated,
but the incorporation spirit never has prevailed among them. No
apprenticeship has ever been thought necessary to qualify for husbandry,
the great trade of the country. After what are called the fine arts,
and the liberal professions, however, there is perhaps no trade which
requires so great a variety of knowledge and experience. The innumerable
volumes which have been written upon it in all languages, may satisfy
us, that among the wisest and most learned nations, it has never been
regarded as a matter very easily understood. And from all those volumes
we shall in vain attempt to collect that knowledge of its various and
complicated operations which is commonly possessed even by the common
farmer; how contemptuously soever the very contemptible authors of some
of them may sometimes affect to speak of him. There is scarce 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 possible for words illustrated by figures to explain
them. In the history of the arts, now publishing by the French Academy
of Sciences, several of them are actually explained in this manner. The
direction of operations, besides, which must be varied with every change
of the weather, as well as with many other accidents, requires much more
judgment and discretion, than that of those which are always the same,
or very nearly the same.

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 instruments, and upon
materials of which the temper is always the same, or very nearly the
same. But the man who ploughs the ground with a team of horses or oxen,
works with instruments of which the health, strength, and temper, are
very different upon different occasions. The condition of the materials
which he works upon, too, is as variable as that of the instruments
which he works with, and both require to be managed with much judgment
and discretion. The common ploughman, though generally regarded as the
pattern of stupidity and ignorance, is seldom defective in this judgment
and discretion. He is less accustomed, indeed, to social intercourse,
than the mechanic who lives in a town. His voice and language are more
uncouth, and more difficult to be understood by those who are not used
to them. His understanding, however, being accustomed to consider a
greater variety of objects, is generally much superior to that of the
other, whose whole attention, from morning till night, is commonly
occupied in performing one or two very simple operations. How much the
lower ranks of people in the country are really superior to those of the
town, is well known to every man whom either business or curiosity has
led to converse much with both. In China and Indostan, accordingly, both
the rank and the wages of country labourers are said to be superior to
those of the greater part of artificers and manufacturers. They would
probably be so everywhere, if corporation laws and the corporation
spirit did not prevent it.

The superiority which the industry of the towns has everywhere in Europe
over that of the country, is not altogether owing to corporations and
corporation laws. It is supported by many other regulations. The high
duties upon foreign manufactures, and upon all goods imported by alien
merchants, all tend to the same purpose. Corporation laws enable the
inhabitants of towns to raise their prices, without fearing to be
undersold by the free competition of their own countrymen. Those
other regulations secure them equally against that of foreigners. The
enhancement of price occasioned by both is everywhere finally paid by
the landlords, farmers, and labourers, of the country, who have seldom
opposed the establishment of such monopolies. They have commonly neither
inclination nor fitness to enter into combinations; and the clamour and
sophistry of merchants and manufacturers easily persuade them, that the
private interest of a part, and of a subordinate part, of the society,
is the general interest of the whole.

In Great Britain, the superiority of the industry of the towns over that
of the country seems to have been greater formerly than in the
present times. The wages of country labour approach nearer to those of
manufacturing labour, and the profits of stock employed in agriculture
to those of trading and manufacturing stock, than they are said to
have none in the last century, or in the beginning of the present. This
change may be regarded as the necessary, though very late consequence of
the extraordinary encouragement given to the industry of the towns. The
stocks accumulated in them come in time to be so great, that it can no
longer be employed with the ancient profit in that species of industry
which is peculiar to them. That industry has its limits like every
other; and the increase of stock, by increasing the competition,
necessarily reduces the profit. The lowering of profit in the town
forces out stock to the country, where, by creating a new demand for
country labour, it necessarily raises its wages. It then spreads itself,
if I my say so, over the face of the land, and, by being employed in
agriculture, is in part restored to the country, at the expense of
which, in a great measure, it had originally been accumulated in the
town. That everywhere in Europe the greatest improvements of the
country have been owing to such over flowings of the stock originally
accumulated in the towns, I shall endeavour to shew hereafter, and at
the same time to demonstrate, that though some countries have, by this
course, attained to a considerable degree of opulence, it is in itself
necessarily slow, uncertain, liable to be disturbed and interrupted by
innumerable accidents, and, in every respect, contrary to the order of
nature and of reason The interests, prejudices, laws, and customs, which
have given occasion to it, I shall endeavour to explain as fully and
distinctly as I can in the third and fourth books of this Inquiry.

People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and
diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public,
or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible, indeed, to
prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or
would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot
hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it
ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less to render
them necessary.

A regulation which obliges all those of the same trade in a particular
town to enter their names and places of abode in a public register,
facilitates such assemblies. It connects individuals who might never
otherwise be known to one another, and gives every man of the trade a
direction where to find every other man of it.

A regulation which enables those of the same trade to tax themselves, in
order to provide for their poor, their sick, their widows and orphans,
by giving them a common interest to manage, renders such assemblies

An incorporation not only renders them necessary, but makes the act
of the majority binding upon the whole. In a free trade, an effectual
combination cannot be established but by the unanimous consent of
every single trader, and it cannot last longer than every single trader
continues of the same mind. The majority of a corporation can enact a
bye-law, with proper penalties, which will limit the competition more
effectually and more durably than any voluntary combination whatever.

The pretence that corporations are necessary for the better government
of the trade, is without any foundation. The real and effectual
discipline which is exercised over a workman, is not that of his
corporation, but that of his customers. It is the fear of losing their
employment which restrains his frauds and corrects his negligence. An
exclusive corporation necessarily weakens the force of this discipline.
A particular set of workmen must then be employed, let them behave well
or ill. It is upon this account that, in many large incorporated towns,
no tolerable workmen are to be found, even in some of the most necessary
trades. If you would have your work tolerably executed, it must be done
in the suburbs, where the workmen, having no exclusive privilege, have
nothing but their character to depend upon, and you must then smuggle it
into the town as well as you can.

It is in this manner that the policy of Europe, by restraining the
competition in some employments to a smaller number than would otherwise
be disposed to enter into them, occasions a very important inequality
in the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of the different
employments of labour and stock.

Secondly, The policy of Europe, by increasing the competition in
some employments beyond what it naturally would be, occasions another
inequality, of an opposite kind, in the whole of the advantages and
disadvantages of the different employments of labour and stock.

It has been considered as of so much importance that a proper number of
young people should be educated for certain professions, that
sometimes the public, and sometimes the piety of private founders, have
established many pensions, scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries, etc.
for this purpose, which draw many more people into those trades than
could otherwise pretend to follow them. In all Christian countries, I
believe, the education of the greater part of churchmen is paid for
in this manner. Very few of them are educated altogether at their own
expense. The long, tedious, and expensive education, therefore, of those
who are, will not always procure them a suitable reward, the church
being crowded with people, who, in order to get employment, are willing
to accept of a much smaller recompence than what such an education would
otherwise have entitled them to; and in this manner the competition of
the poor takes away the reward of the rich. It would be indecent, no
doubt, to compare either a curate or a chaplain with a journeyman in
any common trade. The pay of a curate or chaplain, however, may very
properly be considered as of the same nature with the wages of a
journeyman. They are all three paid for their work according to the
contract which they may happen to make with their respective superiors.
Till after the middle of the fourteenth century, five merks, containing
about as much silver as ten pounds of our present money, was in England
the usual pay of a curate or a stipendiary parish priest, as we find it
regulated by the decrees of several different national councils. At the
same period, fourpence a-day, containing the same quantity of silver as
a shilling of our present money, was declared to be the pay of a master
mason; and threepence a-day, equal to ninepence of our present money,
that of a journeyman mason. {See the Statute of Labourers, 25, Ed. III.}
The wages of both these labourer's, therefore, supposing them to have
been constantly employed, were much superior to those of the curate. The
wages of the master mason, supposing him to have been without employment
one-third of the year, would have fully equalled them. By the 12th of
Queen Anne, c. 12. it is declared, "That whereas, for want of sufficient
maintenance and encouragement to curates, the cures have, in several
places, been meanly supplied, the bishop is, therefore, empowered
to appoint, by writing under his hand and seal, a sufficient certain
stipend or allowance, not exceeding fifty, and not less than twenty
pounds a-year". Forty pounds a-year is reckoned at present very good
pay for a curate; and, notwithstanding this act of parliament, there
are many curacies under twenty pounds a-year. There are journeymen
shoemakers in London who earn forty pounds a-year, and there is scarce
an industrious workman of any kind in that metropolis who does not earn
more than twenty. This last sum, indeed, does not exceed what frequently
earned by common labourers in many country parishes. Whenever the law
has attempted to regulate the wages of workmen, it has always been
rather to lower them than to raise them. But the law has, upon many
occasions, attempted to raise the wages of curates, and, for the dignity
of the church, to oblige the rectors of parishes to give them more
than the wretched maintenance which they themselves might be willing
to accept of. And, in both cases, the law seems to have been equally
ineffectual, and has never either been able to raise the wages of
curates, or to sink those of labourers to the degree that was intended;
because it has never been able to hinder either the one from being
willing to accept of less than the legal allowance, on account of the
indigence of their situation and the multitude of their competitors, or
the other from receiving more, on account of the contrary competition
of those who expected to derive either profit or pleasure from employing

The great benefices and other ecclesiastical dignities support the
honour of the church, notwithstanding the mean circumstances of some
of its inferior members. The respect paid to the profession, too, makes
some compensation even to them for the meanness of their pecuniary
recompence. In England, and in all Roman catholic countries, the lottery
of the church is in reality much more advantageous than is necessary.
The example of the churches of Scotland, of Geneva, and of several other
protestant churches, may satisfy us, that in so creditable a profession,
in which education is so easily procured, the hopes of much more
moderate benefices will draw a sufficient number of learned, decent, and
respectable men into holy orders.

In professions in which there are no benefices, such as law and physic,
if an equal proportion of people were educated at the public expense,
the competition would soon be so great as to sink very much their
pecuniary reward. It might then not be worth any man's while to educate
his son to either of those professions at his own expense. They would
be entirely abandoned to such as had been educated by those public
charities, whose numbers and necessities would oblige them in general
to content themselves with a very miserable recompence, to the entire
degradation of the now respectable professions of law and physic.

That unprosperous race of men, commonly called men of letters, are
pretty much in the situation which lawyers and physicians probably would
be in, upon the foregoing supposition. In every part of Europe, the
greater part of them have been educated for the church, but have been
hindered by different reasons from entering into holy orders. They have
generally, therefore, been educated at the public expense; and their
numbers are everywhere so great, as commonly to reduce the price of
their labour to a very paltry recompence.

Before the invention of the art of printing, the only employment by
which a man of letters could make any thing by his talents, was that
of a public or private teacher, or by communicating to other people the
curious and useful knowledge which he had acquired himself; and this is
still surely a more honourable, a more useful, and, in general, even a
more profitable employment than that other of writing for a bookseller,
to which the art of printing has given occasion. The time and study,
the genius, knowledge, and application requisite to qualify an eminent
teacher of the sciences, are at least equal to what is necessary for the
greatest practitioners in law and physic. But the usual reward of the
eminent teacher bears no proportion to that of the lawyer or physician,
because the trade of the one is crowded with indigent people, who have
been brought up to it at the public expense; whereas those of the other
two are encumbered with very few who have not been educated at their
own. The usual recompence, however, of public and private teachers,
small as it may appear, would undoubtedly be less than it is, if the
competition of those yet more indigent men of letters, who write for
bread, was not taken out of the market. Before the invention of the art
of printing, a scholar and a beggar seem to have been terms very nearly
synonymous. The different governors of the universities, before that
time, appear to have often granted licences to their scholars to beg.

In ancient times, before any charities of this kind had been established
for the education of indigent people to the learned professions, the
rewards of eminent teachers appear to have been much more considerable.
Isocrates, in what is called his discourse against the sophists,
reproaches the teachers of his own times with inconsistency. "They
make the most magnificent promises to their scholars," says he, "and
undertake to teach them to be wise, to be happy, and to be just; and, in
return for so important a service, they stipulate the paltry reward
of four or five minae." "They who teach wisdom," continues he, "ought
certainly to be wise themselves; but if any man were to sell such a
bargain for such a price, he would be convicted of the most evident
folly." He certainly does not mean here to exaggerate the reward, and
we may be assured that it was not less than he represents it. Four minae
were equal to thirteen pounds six shillings and eightpence; five minae
to sixteen pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence. Something not less
than the largest of those two sums, therefore, must at that time have
been usually paid to the most eminent teachers at Athens. Isocrates
himself demanded ten minae, or 33:6:8 from each scholar. When
he taught at Athens, he is said to have had a hundred scholars. I
understand this to be the number whom he taught at one time, or who
attended what we would call one course of lectures; a number which will
not appear extraordinary from so great a city to so famous a teacher,
who taught, too, what was at that time the most fashionable of all
sciences, rhetoric. He must have made, therefore, by each course
of lectures, a thousand minae, or 3335:6:8. A thousand minae,
accordingly, is said by Plutarch, in another place, to have been his
didactron, or usual price of teaching. Many other eminent teachers in
those times appear to have acquired great fortunes. Georgias made a
present to the temple of Delphi of his own statue in solid gold. We must
not, I presume, suppose 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
ostentation. Plato himself is said to have lived with a good deal of
magnificence. Aristotle, after having been tutor to Alexander, and most
munificently rewarded, as it is universally 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 school. Teachers of the
sciences were probably in those times less common than they came to be
in an age or two afterwards, when the competition had probably somewhat
reduced both the price of their labour and the admiration for their
persons. The most eminent of them, however, appear always to have
enjoyed a degree of consideration much superior to any of the like
profession in the present times. The Athenians sent Carneades the
academic, and Diogenes the stoic, upon a solemn embassy to Rome; and
though their city had then declined from its former grandeur, it was
still an independent and considerable 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 consideration for him must have been very great.

This inequality is, upon the whole, perhaps rather advantageous than
hurtful to the public. It may somewhat degrade the profession of a
public teacher; but the cheapness of literary education is surely an
advantage which greatly overbalances this trifling inconveniency.
The public, too, might derive still greater benefit from it, if the
constitution 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 obstructing the free circulation of
labour and stock, both from employment to employment, and from place to
place, occasions, in some cases, a very inconvenient inequality in
the whole of the advantages and disadvantages of their different

The statute of apprenticeship obstructs the free circulation of labour
from one employment to another, even in the same place. The exclusive
privileges of corporations obstruct it from one place to another, even
in the same employment.

It frequently happens, that while high wages are given to the workmen in
one manufacture, those in another are obliged to content themselves with
bare subsistence. 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 superabundance of hands is continually increasing. Those two
manufactures may sometimes be in the same town, and sometimes in the
same neighbourhood, without being able to lend the least assistance
to one another. The statute of apprenticeship may oppose it in the one
case, and both that and an exclusive corporation in the other. In many
different manufactures, however, the operations are so much alike, that
the workmen could easily change trades with one another, if those absurd
laws did not hinder them. The arts of weaving plain linen and plain
silk, for example, are almost entirely the same. That of weaving plain
woollen is somewhat different; but the difference is so insignificant,
that either a linen or a silk weaver might become a tolerable workman in
a very few days. If any of those three capital manufactures, therefore,
were decaying, the workmen might find a resource in one of the other two
which was in a more prosperous condition; and their wages would
neither rise too high in the thriving, nor sink 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, it can afford no general
resource to the work men of other decaying manufactures, who, wherever
the statute of apprenticeship takes place, have no other choice, but
dither to come upon the parish, or to work as common labourers; for
which, by their habits, they are much worse qualified than for any sort
of manufacture that bears any resemblance to their own. They generally,
therefore, chuse to come upon the parish.

Whatever obstructs the free circulation of labour from one employment to
another, obstructs that of stock likewise; 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 less obstruction to the free circulation of stock from one place
to another, than to that of labour. It is everywhere 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 obstruction 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, so far as I know, peculiar to England.
It consists in the difficulty which a poor man finds in obtaining a
settlement, 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 obstructed by
corporation laws. The difficulty of obtaining settlements obstructs even
that of common labour. It may be worth while to give some account of
the rise, progress, and present state of this disorder, the greatest,
perhaps, of any in the police of England.

When, by the destruction of monasteries, the poor had been deprived
of the charity of those religious houses, after some 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 overseers of the poor should be annually appointed, who, with the
church-wardens, should raise, by a parish rate, competent sums for this

By this statute, the necessity of providing for their own poor was
indispensably imposed upon every parish. Who were to be considered
as the poor of each parish became, therefore, a question of some
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 residence should gain any person a settlement in any parish;
but that within that time it should be lawful for two justices of the
peace, upon complaint made by the church-wardens or overseers of the
poor, to remove any new inhabitant to the parish where he was last
legally settled; unless he either rented a tenement of ten pounds
a-year, or could give such security for the discharge of the parish
where he was then living, as those justices should judge sufficient.

Some frauds, it is said, were committed in consequence of this statute;
parish officers sometime's bribing their own poor to go clandestinely to
another parish, and, by keeping themselves concealed for forty days, to
gain a settlement there, to the discharge of that to which they properly
belonged. It was enacted, therefore, by the 1st of James II. that the
forty days undisturbed residence of any person necessary to gain a
settlement, should be accounted only from the time of his delivering
notice, in writing, of the place of his abode and the number of his
family, to one of the church-wardens or overseers of the parish where he
came to dwell.

But parish officers, it seems, were not always more honest with regard
to their own than they had been with regard to other parishes, and
sometimes connived at such intrusions, receiving the notice, and taking
no proper steps in consequence of it. As every person in a parish,
therefore, was supposed to have an interest to prevent as much as
possible their being burdened by such intruders, it was further enacted
by the 3rd of William III. that the forty days residence should be
accounted only from the publication of such notice in writing on Sunday
in the church, immediately after divine service.

"After all," says Doctor Burn, "this kind of settlement, by continuing
forty days after publication of notice in writing, is very seldom
obtained; and the design of the acts is not so much for gaining of
settlements, as for the avoiding of them by persons coming into a parish
clandestinely, for the giving of notice is only putting a force upon
the parish to remove. But if a person's situation is such, that it is
doubtful whether he is actually removable or not, he shall, by giving of
notice, compel the parish either to allow him a settlement uncontested,
by suffering him to continue forty days, or by removing him to try the

This statute, therefore, rendered it almost impracticable for a poor man
to gain a new settlement in the old way, by forty days inhabitancy. But
that it might not appear to preclude altogether the common people of
one' parish from ever establishing themselves with security in another,
it appointed four other ways by which a settlement might be gained
without any notice delivered or published. The first was, by being taxed
to parish rates and paying them; the second, by being elected into an
annual parish office, and serving in it a year; the third, by serving
an apprenticeship in the parish; the fourth, by being hired into service
there for a year, and continuing in the same service during the whole of
it. Nobody can gain a settlement by either of the two first ways, but
by the public deed of the whole parish, who are too well aware of the
consequences to adopt any new-comer, who has nothing but his labour to
support him, either by taxing him to parish rates, or by electing him
into a parish office.

No married man can well gain any settlement in either of the two last
ways. An apprentice is scarce ever married; and it is expressly enacted,
that no married servant shall gain any settlement by being hired for
a year. The principal effect of introducing settlement by service, has
been to put out in a great measure the old fashion of hiring for a year;
which before had been so customary in England, that even at this day, if
no particular term is agreed upon, the law intends that every servant
is hired for a year. But masters are not always willing to give their
servants a settlement by hiring them in this manner; and servants are
not always willing to be so hired, because, as every last settlement
discharges all the foregoing, they might thereby lose their original
settlement in the places of their nativity, the habitation of their
parents and relations.

No independent workman, it is evident, whether labourer or artificer,
is likely to gain any new settlement, either by apprenticeship or by
service. When such a person, therefore, carried his industry to a new
parish, he was liable to be removed, how healthy and industrious soever,
at the caprice of any churchwarden or overseer, unless he either rented
a tenement of ten pounds a-year, a thing impossible for one who has
nothing but his labour to live by, or could give such security for
the discharge of the parish as two justices of the peace should judge

What security they shall require, indeed, is left altogether to their
discretion; but they cannot well require less than thirty pounds, it
having been enacted, that the purchase even of a freehold estate of less
than thirty pounds value, shall not gain any person a settlement, as not
being sufficient for the discharge of the parish. But this is a security
which scarce any man who lives by labour can give; and much greater
security is frequently demanded.

In order to restore, in some measure, that free circulation of labour
which those different statutes had almost entirely taken away, the
invention of certificates was fallen upon. By the 8th and 9th of William
III. it was enacted that if any person should bring a certificate
from the parish where he was last legally settled, subscribed by the
church-wardens and overseers of the poor, and allowed by two justices
of the peace, that every other parish should be obliged to receive him;
that he should not be removable merely upon account of his being likely
to become chargeable, but only upon his becoming actually chargeable;
and that then the parish which granted the certificate should be obliged
to pay the expense both of his maintenance and of his removal. And
in order to give the most perfect security to the parish where such
certificated man should come to reside, it was further enacted by the
same statute, that he should gain no settlement there by any means
whatever, except either by renting a tenement of ten pounds a-year, or
by serving upon his own account in an annual parish office for one
whole year; and consequently neither by notice nor by service, nor by
apprenticeship, nor by paying parish rates. By the 12th of Queen Anne,
too, stat. 1, c.18, it was further enacted, that neither the servants
nor apprentices of such certificated man should gain any settlement in
the parish where he resided under such certificate.

How far this invention has restored that free circulation of labour,
which the preceding statutes had almost entirely taken away, we may
learn from the following very judicious observation of Doctor Burn. "It
is obvious," says he, "that there are divers good reasons for requiring
certificates with persons coming to settle in any place; namely,
that persons residing under them can gain no settlement, neither by
apprenticeship, nor by service, nor by giving notice, nor by paying
parish rates; that they can settle neither apprentices nor servants;
that if they become chargeable, it is certainly known whither to remove
them, and the parish shall be paid for the removal, and for their
maintenance in the mean time; and that, if they fall sick, and cannot be
removed, the parish which gave the certificate must maintain them;
none of all which can be without a certificate. Which reasons will hold
proportionably for parishes not granting certificates in ordinary cases;
for it is far more than an equal chance, but that they will have the
certificated persons again, and in a worse condition." The moral of this
observation seems to be, that certificates ought always to be required
by the parish where any poor man comes to reside, and that they ought
very seldom to be granted by that which he purposes to leave. "There is
somewhat of hardship in this matter of certificates," says the same very
intelligent author, in his History of the Poor Laws, "by putting it in
the power of a parish officer to imprison a man as it were for life,
however inconvenient it may be for him to continue at that place where
he has had the misfortune to acquire what is called a settlement, or
whatever advantage he may propose himself by living elsewhere."

Though a certificate carries along with it no testimonial of good
behaviour, and certifies nothing but that the person belongs to the
parish to which he really does belong, it is altogether discretionary in
the parish officers either to grant or to refuse it. A mandamus was once
moved for, says Doctor Burn, to compel the church-wardens and overseers
to sign a certificate; but the Court of King's Bench rejected the motion
as a very strange attempt.

The very unequal price of labour which we frequently find in England, in
places at no great distance from one another, is probably owing to the
obstruction which the law of settlements gives to a poor man who would
carry his industry from one parish to another without a certificate. A
single man, indeed who is healthy and industrious, may sometimes reside
by sufferance without one; but a man with a wife and family who should
attempt to do so, would, in most parishes, be sure of being removed;
and, if the single man should afterwards marry, he would generally be
removed likewise. The scarcity of hands in one parish, therefore,
cannot always be relieved by their superabundance in another, as it is
constantly in Scotland, and I believe, in all other countries where
there is no difficulty of settlement. In such countries, though wages
may sometimes rise a little in the neighbourhood of a great town, or
wherever else there is an extraordinary demand for labour, and sink
gradually as the distance from such places increases, till they fall
back to the common rate of the country; yet we never meet with those
sudden and unaccountable differences in the wages of neighbouring places
which we sometimes find in England, where it is often more difficult for
a poor man to pass the artificial boundary of a parish, than an arm
of the sea, or a ridge of high mountains, natural boundaries which
sometimes separate very distinctly different rates of wages in other

To remove a man who has committed no misdemeanour, from the parish where
he chooses to reside, is an evident violation of natural liberty and
justice. The common people of England, however, so jealous of their
liberty, but like the common people of most other countries, never
rightly understanding wherein it consists, have now, for more than a
century together, suffered themselves to be exposed to this oppression
without a remedy. Though men of reflection, too, have some times
complained of the law of settlements as a public grievance; yet it
has never been the object of any general popular clamour, such as that
against general warrants, an abusive practice undoubtedly, but such
a one as was not likely to occasion any general oppression. There is
scarce a poor man in England, of forty years of age, I will venture to
say, who has not, in some part of his life, felt himself most cruelly
oppressed by this ill-contrived law of settlements.

I shall conclude this long chapter with observing, that though anciently
it was usual to rate wages, first by general laws extending over the
whole kingdom, and afterwards by particular orders of the justices of
peace in every particular county, both these practices have now gone
entirely into disuse. "By the experience of above four hundred years,"
says Doctor Burn, "it seems time to lay aside all endeavours to bring
under strict regulations, what in its own nature seems incapable of
minute limitation; for if all persons in the same kind of work were to
receive equal wages, there would be no emulation, and no room left for
industry or ingenuity."

Particular acts of parliament, however, still attempt sometimes to
regulate wages in particular trades, and in particular places. Thus the
8th of George III. prohibits, under heavy penalties, all master tailors
in London, and five miles round it, from giving, and their workmen
from accepting, more than two shillings and sevenpence halfpenny a-day,
except in the case of a general mourning. Whenever the legislature
attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen,
its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore,
is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is
sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters. Thus the law which
obliges the masters in several different trades to pay their workmen in
money, and not in goods, is quite just and equitable. It imposes no real
hardship upon the masters. It only obliges them to pay that value in
money, which they pretended to pay, but did not always really pay, in
goods. This law is in favour of the workmen; but the 8th of George III.
is in favour of the masters. When masters combine together, in order to
reduce the wages of their workmen, they commonly enter into a private
bond or agreement, not to give more than a certain wage, under a certain
penalty. Were the workmen to enter into a contrary combination of the
same kind, not to accept of a certain wage, under a certain penalty, the
law would punish them very severely; and, if it dealt impartially, it
would treat the masters in the same manner. But the 8th of George III.
enforces by law that very regulation which masters sometimes attempt to
establish by such combinations. The complaint of the workmen, that
it puts the ablest and most industrious upon the same footing with an
ordinary workman, seems perfectly well founded.

In ancient times, too, it was usual to attempt to regulate the profits
of merchants and other dealers, by regulating the price of provisions
and ether goods. The assize of bread is, so far as I know, the only
remnant of this ancient usage. Where there is an exclusive corporation,
it may, perhaps, be proper to regulate the price of the first necessary
of life; but, where there is none, the competition will regulate it
much better than any assize. The method of fixing the assize of bread,
established by the 31st of George II. could not be put in practice in
Scotland, on account of a defect in the law, its execution depending
upon the office of clerk of the market, which does not exist there. This
defect was not remedied till the third of George III. The want of an
assize occasioned no sensible inconveniency; and the establishment
of one in the few places where it has yet taken place has produced
no sensible advantage. In the greater part of the towns in Scotland,
however, there is an incorporation of bakers, who claim exclusive
privileges, though they are not very strictly guarded. The proportion
between the different rates, both of wages and profit, in the different
employments of labour and stock, seems not to be much affected, as
has already been observed, by the riches or poverty, the advancing,
stationary, or declining state of the society. Such revolutions in the
public welfare, though they affect the general rates both of wages
and profit, must, in the end, affect them equally in all different
employments. The proportion between them, therefore, must remain the
same, and cannot well be altered, at least for any considerable time, by
any such revolutions.

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