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cording to this account, must, one with another, C HAP. attempt to rear at least four children, in order that two may have an equal chance of living to that age. But the necessary maintenance of four children, it is supposed, may be nearly equal to that of one man. The labour of an able-bodied slave, the fame author adds, is computed to be worth double his maintenance; and that of the meanest labourer, he thinks, cannot be worth lefs than that of an able-bodied flave. Thus far at least feems certain, that, in order to bring up a family, the labour of the husband and wife together must, even in the lowest species of com. mon labour, be able to earn something more than what is precisely neceffary for their own maintenance; but in what proportion, whether in that above mentioned, or in any other, I shall not take upon me to determine.
There are certain circumstances, however, which sometimes give the labourers an advantage, and enable them to raise their wages con. fiderably above this rate; evidently the lowest which is consistent with common humanity,
When in any country the demand for those who live by wages ; labourers, journeymen, fer. vants of every kind, is continually increasing ; when every year furnishes employment for a greater number than had been employed the year before, the workmen have no occasion to combine in order to raise their wages. The fcarcity of hands occasions a competition among masters, who bid against one another, in order to get workmen, and thus voluntarily break
BOOK through the natural combination of masters not
to raise wages.
The demand for those who live by wages, it is evident, cannot increase but in proportion to the increase of the funds which are destined for the payment of wages. These funds are of two kinds: first, the revenue which is over and above what is necessary for the maintenance ; and, secondly, the stock which is over and above what is necessary for the employment of their masters.
When the landlord, annuitant, or monied man, has a greater revenue than what he judges sufficient to maintain his own family, he employs either the whole or a part of the surplus in maintaining one or more menial servants. Increase this surplus, and he will naturally increase the number of those servants.
When an independent workman, such as a weaver or shoe-maker, has got more stock than what is sufficient to purchase the materials of his own work, and to maintain himself till he can dispose of it, he naturally employs one or more journeymen with the furplus, in order to make a profit by their work. Increase this furplus, and he will naturally increase the number of his journeymen.
The demand for those who live by wages, therefore, necessarily increases with the increase of the revenue and stock of every country, and cannot possibly increase without it. The increase of revenue and stock is the increase of national wealth. The demand for those who live by
wages, therefore, naturally increases with the C HA P. increase of national wealth, and cannot poffibly increase without it.
It is not the actual greatness of national wealth, but its continual increase, which occafions a rise in the wages of labour. It is not, accordingly, in the richest countries, but in the most thriving, or in those which are growing rich the fastest, that the wages of labour are highest. England is certainly, in the present times, a much richer country than any part of North America. The wages of labour, however, are much higher in North America than in any part of England. In the province of New York, common labourers earn * three shillings and fixpence currency, equal to two shillings sterling, a day; ship carpenters, ten shillings and fixpence currency, with a pint of rum worth fixpence sterling, equal in all to fix thillings and fixpence sterling; house carpenters and bricklayers, eight shillings currency, equal to four shillings and fixpence sterling ; journeymen taylors, five shillings currency, equal to about two shillings and ten pence fterling. These prices are all above the London price ; and wages are said to be as high in the other colonies as in New York. The price of provisions is every where in North America: much lower than in England. A dearth has never been known there. In the worst seasons, they have always had a fuf
* This was written in 1773, before the commencement of the late disturbances.
BOOX ficiency for themselves, though less for exporta
tion. If the money price of labour, therefore, be higher than it is any where in the mother country, its real price, the real command of the neceffaries and conveniences of life which it conveys to the labourer, must be higher in a still greater proportion,
But though North America is not yet so rich as England, it is much more thriving, and ad. vancing with much greater rapidity to the further acquisition of riches. The most decisive mark of the prosperity of any country is the increase of the number of its inhabitants. In Great Britain, and most other European coun. tries, they are not fuppofed to double in less than five hundred years. In the British colonies in North America, it has been found, that they double in twenty or five-and-twenty years,
Nor in the present times is this increafe principally owing to the continual importation of new inhabitants, but to the great multiplication of the fpecies. Those who live to old age, it is said, frequently see there from fifty to a hundred, and sometimes many more, descendants from their own body. Labour is there so well rewarded, that a numerous family of children, instead of being a burthen, is a source of opulence and prosperity to the parents. The labour of each child, before it can leave their house, is computed to be worth a hundred pounds clear gain to them. A young widow with four or five young children, who, among the middling or inferior ranks of people in Europe, woald have fo little chance for
a fecond husband, is there frequently courted as a CHA P. fort of fortune. The value of children is the greatest of all encouragements to marriage. We cannot, therefore, wonder that the people in North America should generally marry very young. Notwithstanding the great increase occafioned by such early marriages, there is a continual complaint of the scarcity of hands in North America. The demand for labourers, the funds destined for maintaining them, increase, it seems, still faster than they can find labourers to employ.
Though the wealth of a country should be very great, yet if it has been long stationary, we must not expect to find the wages of labour very high in it. The funds destined for the payment of wages, the revenue and stock of its inhabitants, may be of the greatest extent; but if they have continued for several centuries of the fame, or very nearly of the same extent, the number of labourers employed every year could easily supply, and even more than supply, the number wanted the following year. There could feldom be any scarcity of hands, nor could the masters be obliged to bid against one another in order to get them. The hands, on the contrary, would, in this case, naturally multiply beyond their employment. There would be a constant scarcity of employment, and the labourers would be obliged to bid against one another in order to get it. If in such a country the wages of labour had ever been more than fufficient to maintain the labourer, and to enable him to bring up a