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BO O K chase it, it would require only half the quantity
of labour either to purchase or to produce it. The acquisition, therefore, would be twice as easy as before.
But this original state of things, in which the labourer enjoyed the whole produce of his own labour, could not laft beyond the first introduction of the appropriation of land and the accumulation of stock. It was at an end, therefore, long before the most considerable improvements were made in the productive powers of labour, and it would be to no purpose to trace further what might have been its effects upon the recompence or wages of labour,
As foon as land becomes private property, the landlord demands a share of almost all the produce which the labourer can either raise, or collect from it. His rent makes the first deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land.
It feldom happens that the person who tills the ground has wherewithal to maintain himself till he reaps the harvest. His maintenance is generally advanced to him from the stock of a mafter, the farmer who employs him, and who would have no interest to employ him, unless he was to share in the produce of his labour, or unless his stock was to be replaced to him with a profit. This profit makes a second deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land.
The produce of almost all other labour is liable to the like deduction of profit. In all arts
and manufactures the greater part of the work- C HA P.
VIII. men stand in need of a master to advance them the materials of their work, and their wages and maintenance till it be completed. He shares in the produce of their labour, or in the value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed; and in this share confifts his profit.
It sometimes happens, indeed, that a single independent workman has stock fufficient both to purchase the materials of his work, and to maintain himself till it be completed. He is both master and workman, and enjoys the whole produce of his own labour, or the whole value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed. It includes what are usually two diftinet revenues, belonging to two diftinet persons, the profits of stock, and the wages of labour.
Such cases, however, are not very frequent, and in every part of Europe, twenty workmen serve. under a master for one that is inde. pendent; and the wages of labour are every where understood to be, what they usually are, when the labourer is one person, and the owner of the stock which employs him another.
What are the common wages of labour, depends every where upon the contract usually made between those two parties, whose interests are by no means the same. The workmen defire to get as much, the masters to give as little as poflible. The former are difpofed to combine in order to raise, the latter in order to lower the wages of labour.
It is not, however, difficult to foresee which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occafions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorises, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of work ; but many against combining to raise it. In all such disputes the masters can hold out much longer. A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, or merchant, though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not fubfift a week, few could fubfist a month, and scarce any a year without employment. In the long-run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the neceffity is not fo immediate.
We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters; though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and every where in a fort of tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is every where a most unpopular action, and a fort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We
feldom, indeed, hear of this combination, be- C HA P.
VIII. cause it is the usual, and one may fay, the natural state of things which nobody ever hears of. Masters too sometimes enter into particular combinations to fink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost silence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people. Such combinations, however, are frequently refifted by a contrary defensive combination of the workmen; who sometimes too, without any provocation of this kind, combine of their own accord to raise the price of their labour. Their usual pretences are, sometimes the high price of provisions; sometimes the great profit which their masters make by their work. But whether their combinations be offensive or defensive, they are always abundantly heard of. In order to bring the point to a speedy decifion, they have always recourse to the loudest clamour,
and sometimes to the most shocking vio. lence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of desperate men, who must either starve, or frighten their masters into an immediate compliance with their de. mands. The masters upon these occasions are just as clamorous upon the other fide, and never cease to call aloud for the aslistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combinations of servants, la
BOOK bourers, and journeymen. The workmen, ac
cordingly, very seldom derive any advantage from the violence of those tumultuous combinations, which, partly from the interpofition of the civil magistrate, partly from the superior steadiness of the masters, partly from the necessity which the greater part of the workmen are under of submitting for the sake of present subsistence, generally end in nothing, but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.
But though in disputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage, there is however a certain rate, below which it seems impossible to reduce, for any considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest fpecies of labour.
A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at leaft be fufficient to maintain him. They must even upon most occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation. Mr. Cantillon seems, upon this account, to suppose that the lowest species of common labourers must every where earn at least double their own maintenance, in order that one with another they may be enabled to bring up two children; the labour of the wife, on aca count of her neceffary attendance on the chil. dren, being supposed no more than fufficient to provide for herself. But one-half the children born, it is computed, die before the age of man. hood. The poorest labourers, therefore, ac,