Sir James Steuart (1767)

An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy

Book II
Of Trade and Industry

Chap. XIX: Of infant, foreign, and inland Trade, with respect to the several Principles which influence them

I have always found it easier to retain the geography of a country, from the inspection of maps, after travelling over the regions there represented, than before; as most prefaces are best understood, after reading the book which they are calculated to introduce. Let this serve as an apology for presenting to my readers a chapter of distribution, in the middle of my subject.

I intend at present to take a view of the whole region of trade, divided into its different districts, in order to point out a ruling principle in each, from which every other must naturally flow, or may be deduced by an easy reasoning. These I shall lay before my reader, that from them he may distribute his ideas in the same order I have done. Hence the terms I shall be obliged to use will be rendered more adequate, in expressing the ideas I may have occasion to convey by them.

I divide trade into infant, foreign, and inland.

First. Infant trade, taken in a general acceptation, may be understood to be that species, which has for its object the supplying the necessities of the inhabitants of a country; because it is commonly antecedent to the supplying the wants of strangers. This species has been known in all ages, and in all countries, in a less or a greater degree, in proportion to the multiplication of the wants of mankind, and in proportion to the number of those who depend on their ingenuity for procuring subsistence.

The general principles which direct a statesman in the proper encouragement of this commerce, relate to two objects.

First, To promote the ease and happiness of the higher classes, in making their wealth subservient to their wants and inclinations.

Secondly, To promote the ease and happiness of the lower classes, by turning their natural faculties to an infallible means of relieving their necessities.

This communicates the idea of a free society; because it implies the circulation of a real equivalent for every thing transferred, and for every service performed; to acquire which, mankind submit with pleasure to the hardest labour.

In the first book, I had little occasion to consider trade under different denominations; or as influenced by any other principle than that of promoting the multiplication of mankind, and the extension of agriculture, by drawing the wealth of the rich into the hands of the industrious. This operation, when carried no farther, is a true representation of infant trade.

But now I must set this matter in a new light: and consider this infant trade as a basis for establishing a foreign commerce. In itself it is a mean only of gratifying the desires of those who have the equivalent to give; and of providing it for those who have it not. We are next to examine how a statesman may, by proper care, convert it into the means of procuring to his people a great superiority over all the neighbouring nations; by diminishing, on one hand, the quantity they have of this general equivalent (wealth); and by increasing, on the other, the absolute quantity of it at home; in such a manner as not only to promote the circulation of that part of it which is necessary to supply the wants of all the citizens, but by a surplus of it, to render other nations dependent upon them, in most operations of their political oeconomy.

The statesman who resolves to improve this infant trade into foreign commerce, must examine the wants of other nations, and consider the productions of his own country. He must then determine, what kinds of manufactures are best adapted for supplying the first, and for consuming the latter. He must introduce the use of such manufactures among his subjects; and endeavour to extend his population and his agriculture, by encouragements given to these new branches of consumption. He must provide his people with the best masters; he must supply them with every useful machine; and above all, he must relieve them of their work, when home-demand is not sufficient for the consumption of it.

A considerable time must of necessity be required to bring a people to a dexterity in manufactures. The branches of these are many; and every one requires a particular slight of hand, which cannot be acquired but under the eye of a skilful master, able to point out the rudiments of the art. People do not perceive this inconvenience, in countries where the arts are already introduced; and many a projector has been ruined for want of attention to it.

In the more simple operations of manufacturing, where apprenticeships are not in use, every one teaches another. The new beginners are put among a number who are already perfect: all the instructions they get is, do as you see others do before you. This is an advantage which an established industry has over another newly set on foot; and this I apprehend to be the reason why we see certain manufactures, after remaining long in a state of infancy, make in a few years a most astonishing progress. What loss must be at first incurred! what numbers of aspiring geniuses overpowered by unsuccessful beginnings, when a statesman does not concern himself in the operation! If he assist his subjects, by laying a prohibition upon foreign work, this expedient will become the means of encouraging the most extravagant profits, unless, at the same time, he extend the manufacture, by multiplying the hands employed in it. I allow, indeed, that as long as the gates of a kingdom are kept shut, and that no foreign communication is permitted, large profits do little harm, and tend to promote dexterity and refinement. This is a very good method for laying a foundation for manufactures: but so soon as dexterity has been thus sufficiently encouraged, and that abundance of excellent masters have been provided; then the statesman, in order to carry the plan into execution, ought to multiply the number of scholars; and a new generation must be brought up in frugality, and in the enjoyment of the most moderate profits.

The ruling principle, therefore, which ought to direct a statesman in promoting and improving the infant trade of his people, is to encourage the manufacturing of every branch of natural productions, by extending the home-consumption of them; by excluding all competition with strangers; by permitting the rise of profits, so far as to promote dexterity and emulation in invention and improvement; by relieving the industrious of their work, as often as demand for it falls short; and, until it can be exported to advantage, it may be exported with loss, at the expence of the public. He must likewise spare no expence in procuring the ablest masters in every branch of industry, nor any cost in making the first establishments, in providing machines, and every other thing necessary or useful to make the undertaking succeed. He must keep constantly an eye upon the profits made in every branch of industry, and so soon as he finds that the real value of the manufacture comes so low as to render it exportable, he must employ the hands, as above, and put an end to these profits he had permitted as the means only of bringing the manufacture to its perfection. In proportion as the prices of every species of industry are brought down to the standard of exportation, in such proportion will this species of trade lose its original character, and adopt the second.

Secondly, Foreign trade has been explained sufficiently: the ruling principles of which are to banish luxury; to encourage frugality; to fix the lowest standard of prices possible; and to watch, with the greatest attention, over the vibrations of the balance between work and demand. While this is preserved, no internal vice can affect the prosperity of it. And when the natural advantages of other nations constitute a rivalship, not otherwise to be overcome, the statesman must counterbalance these advantages by the weight and influence of public money; and when this expedient becomes also ineffectual, foreign trade is at an end; and out of its ashes arises the third species, which I call inland commerce.

Thirdly, The more general principles of in land commerce have been occasionally considered in the first book, and more particularly hinted at in the 15th chapter of this; but there are still many new relations to be examined, from which new principles will arise: these shall be illustrated in the subsequent chapters of this book. I shall here point out the general heads only, which will serve to particularize and distinguish this third species of trade, from the two preceding.

Inland commerce, in the present acceptation of the term, is supposed to take place upon the total extinction of foreign trade. The statesman must, in such a case, as in the other two species, attend to supplying the wants of the rich, in relieving the necessities of the poor, by the circulation of the equivalent as above; but as formerly he had it in his eye to watch over the balance of work and demand, so now he must principally attend to the balance of wealth, as it vibrates between consumers and manufacturers; that is, between the rich and the industrious. The effects of this vibration have been shortly pointed out, Chap. xv.

In conducting a foreign trade, his business was to establish the lowest standard possible as to prices; and to confine profits within the narrowest bounds: but as now there is no question of exportation, this object of his care in a great measure disappears; and high profits made by the industrious will have then no other effect than to draw the balance of wealth more speedily to their side. The higher profits rise, the more quickly will the industrious be enriched, the more quickly will the consumers become poor, and the more necessary will it be to cut off every foreign communication in the way of trade.

From this political situation of any state, arises the fundamental principle of taxation; which is, that, at the time of the vibration of the balance between the consumer and the manufacturer, the state should, by the imposition of a tax, advance the dissipation of the first, and share in the profits of the latter. This branch of our subject I shall not here anticipate; but I shall, in the remaining chapters of this book, make it sufficiently evident, that so soon as the wealth of a state becomes considerable enough to introduce luxury, and put an end to foreign trade; and when, from the excessive rise of prices, all hopes of restoring it are lost, then taxes become necessary, both for the support of government on the one hand, and, on the other, to serve as an expedient for recalling foreign trade in spite of all the pernicious effects of luxury to extinguish it.

I hope from this short recapitulation and exposition of principles, I have sufficiently communicated to my reader the distinctions I want to establish, between what I have called infant, foreign, and inland trade. Such distinctions are very necessary to be retained, because it is proper they should be applied in many places of this treatise, in order to qualify general propositions: these cannot be avoided, without a perpetual repetition of such restrictions, which would tire the reader, appear frivolous to him, and divert his attention.

I shall only add, that we are not to suppose the commerce of any nation confined to any one of the three species. I have considered them separately, according to custom, in order to point out their different principles. It is the business of statesmen to compound them according to circumstances.

Chap. XX: Of Luxury

My reader may perhaps be surprized to find this subject formally introduced, after all I have said of it in the first book, under a definition which renders the term sufficiently clear, by distinguishing it from sensuality and excess; and by confining it to the providing of superfluities, in favour of a consumption, which necessarily must produce the good effects of giving employment and bread to the industrious.

This simple acceptation of the term, was the most proper for explaining the political effects of extraordinary consumption. I cannot however deny, that the word luxury commonly conveys a more complex idea; and did I take no notice of this circumstance, it might be thought that I had purposely confined the meaning of a general term to a particular acceptation, in order to lead to error, and with a view to conceal the vicious influence of modern economy over the minds of mankind; which influence, if vicious, cannot fail to affect even their political happiness.

My intention therefore, in this chapter, is to relax the mind of my reader, while I set before him my ideas concerning luxury, taken in the most extensive acceptation of the word, in such an order, as first to vindicate the definition I have given of it, by shewing that it is a proper one; and secondly, to reconcile the sentiments of those who appear to combat one another, on a subject wherein all must agree, when terms are fully understood.

For this purpose, I shall set out by distinguishing luxury, as it affects our different interest, by producing hurtful consequences; from luxury, as it regards the moderate gratification of our natural or rational desires. I must separate objects which are but too frequently confounded, and analyze this complicated term, by specifying the ideas it contains, under partial definitions.

The interests affected by luxury, I take to be four: first, the moral, as it hurts the mind; secondly, the physical, as it hurts the body; the domestic, as it hurts the fortune; and the political, as it hurts the state.

The natural desires which proceed from our animal oeconomy, and which are gratified by luxury, may be also reduced to four, viz. hunger, thirst, love, and ease or indolence. The moderate gratification of these desires, and physical happiness, is the same thing. The immoderate gratification of them is excess; and if this also be implied by luxury, no man, I believe, ever seriously became its apologist.

The first point to be explained is, what is to be understood by excess. What appears an excess to one man, may appear moderation to another. I therefore measure the excess by the bad effects it produces on the mind, the body, the fortune, and the. state. and when we speak of luxury as a vice, it is requisite to point out the particular bad effects it produces to one, more, or all the interests which may be affected by it: when this is neglected, ambiguities ensue, which involve people in inextricable disputes.

In order to communicate my thoughts upon this subject with the more precision, I shall give an example of the harm resulting to the mind, the body, the fortune, and the state, from the excessive gratification of the several natural desires above mentioned.

First, As to the mind, eating to exCess produces the inconvenience of rendering the perceptions dull, and of making a person unfit for study or application.

Drinking confounds the understanding, and often prevents our discovering the most palpable relations of things.

Love fixes our ideas too much upon the same object, makes all our pursuits and pleasures analogous to itself, and consequently renders them trifling and superficial.

Ease, that is, too great a fondness for it, destroys activity, damps our resolution, and misleads the decisions of our judgment on every occasion, where one side of the question implies an obstacle to the enjoyment of a favourite indolence.

These are examples of the moral evils proceeding from luxury in the most general acceptation of the term. While the gratification of these desires is accompanied by no such inconveniences, I think it is a proof, that there has been no moral excess, or that no moral evil has been directly implied in the gratification. But I cannot equally determine that there has been no luxury in the enjoyment of superfluity.

Secondly, The physical inconveniences which follow from all the four, terminate in the hurt they do the body, health or constitution. If no such harm follows upon the gratification of our desires, I find no physical evil: but still luxury, I think, may be implied in every acceptation of the term.

Thirdly, If the domestic inconveniences of the four species be examined, they all centre in one, viz. the dissipation of fortune, upon which depends the future ease of the proprietor, and the well-being of his posterity. When luxury is examined with respect to this object, the idea we conceive of it admits of a new modification. An exCess here is compatible with a very moderate gratification of our most natural desires. It is not eating nor drinking, love nor indolence which are hurtful to the fortune, but the expence attending such gratifications. All these are frequently indulged even to excess, in a moral and physical sense, by people who are daily becoming more wealthy by these very means.

Fourthly, Some political inconveniences of luxury have been already pointed out. The extinction of foreign trade is the most striking. But the loss of trade conveys no ideas of any moral, physical, or domestic excess; and still it is vicious so far as it affects the well-being of a state. Besides this particular evil, I very willingly agree, that as far as the good government of a state depends upon the application and capacity, as well as the integrity of those who sit at the helm, or who are employed in the administration or direction of public affairs, so far may the moral inconveniences of luxury mentioned above, affect the prosperity of a state. The consequences of excessive luxury, moral and physical, as well as the dissipation of private fortunes, may render both the statesman, and those whom he employs, negligent in their duty, unfit to discharge it, rapacious and corrupt. These may, indirectly, be reckoned among the political evils attending luxury, so far as they take place. But on the other hand, as they cannot be called the necessary effects of the cause to which they are here ascribed, that is, of moral, physical and domestic luxury, I do not think they can with propriety be implied in the definition of the term. They are rather to be attributed to the imperfection of the human mind, than to any other second cause which may occasionally contribute to their production. They may proceed from avarice, as well as from prodigality.

I hope this short exposition of a matter, not absolutely falling within the limits of my subject, will suffice to prove that my definition of luxury, describes at least the most essential requisite towards determining it; namely, the providing of superfluity with a view to consumption. This is inseparable from our ideas of luxury, but vicious excess certainly is not. A sober man may have a most delicate table, as well as a glutton; and a virtuous man may enjoy the pleasures of love and ease with as much sensuality as a Heliogabalus. But no man can become luxurious, in our acceptation of the word, without giving bread to the industrious, without encouraging emulation, industry, and agriculture; and without producing the circulation of an adequate equivalent for every service. This last is the palladium of liberty, the fountain of gentle dependence, and the agreeable band of union among free societies.

Let me therefore conclude my chapter, with a metaphysical observation. The use of words, is to express ideas; the more simple any idea is, the more easy it is to convey it by a word. Whenever therefore, language furnishes several words, which are called synonimous, we may conclude, that the idea conveyed by them is not simple. On every such occasion, it is doing a service to language, to render such words as little synonimous as possible, and to point out the particular differences between the ideas they convey.

Let us now apply this remark to the point under consideration. I find the three terms, luxury, sensuality, and excess, generally considered in a synonimous light, notwithstanding the characteristic differences which distinguish them. Luxury consists in providing the objects of sensuality, so far as they are superfluous. Sensuality consists in the actual enjoyment of them, and excess implies an abuse of enjoyment. A person, therefore, according to these definitions, may be very luxurious from vanity, pride, ostentation, or with a political view of encouraging consumption, without having a turn for sensuality, or a tendency to fall into excess. Sensuality, on the other hand, might have been indulged in a Lacedemonian republic, as well as at the court of Artaxerxes. Excess indeed, seems more closely connected with sensuality, than with luxury; but the difference is so great, that I apprehend sensuality must in a great measure be extinguished before excess can begin.

Chap. XXI: Of Physical and Political Necessaries

After having cleared up our ideas concerning luxury, it follows naturally, to examine what is meant by physical-necessary.

I have observed in the third chapter of the first book, that in most countries where food is limited to a determinate quantity, inhabitants are fed in a regular progression down from plenty and ample subsistence, to the last period of want, and dying from hunger. It is ample subsistence where no degree of superfluity is implied, which communicates an idea of the physical-necessary. It is the top of this ladder; it is the first rank among men who enjoy no superfluity whatsoever. A man enjoys the physical-necessary as to food, when he is fully fed; if he is likewise sufficiently clothed, and well defended against every thing which may hurt him, he enjoys his full physical-necessary. The moment he begins to add to this, he may be considered as moving upwards into another class, to wit, that of the luxurious, or consumers of superfluity; of which there are to be found, in most countries, as many stages upward, as there are stages downwards, from where he stood before. This is one general idea of the question. Let me now look for another.

If we examine the state of many animals which have no appetites leading them to excess, we may form a very just idea of a physical-necessary for man. When they are free from labour, and have food at will, they enjoy their full physical-necessary. They are then in the height of beauty, and enjoy the greatest degree of happiness they are capable of. Animals which are forced to labour, prove to us very plainly, that this physical-necessary is not fixed to a point, but that it may vary like most other things: every one perceives the difference between labouring cattle which are well fed, and those which are indifferently, or ill fed; all however, I suppose to live in health, and to work according to their strength. This represents the nature of a physical-necessary for man.

In all the inferior classes in every nation, we find various degrees of ease among the individuals; and yet upon the whole, it would be hard to determine, which are those who enjoy superfluity; which are those who possess the pure physical-necessary; and which are those who fall below it. The cause of this ambiguity must here be explained.

The nature of man furnishes him with some desires relative to his wants, which do not proceed from his animal oeconomy, but which are entirely similar to them in their effects. These proceed from the affections of his mind, are formed by habit and education, and when once regularly established, create another kind of necessary, which, for the sake of distinction, I shall call political. The similitude between these two species of necessary, is therefore the cause of ambiguity.

This political-necessary has for its object, certain articles of physical superfluity, which distinguishes what we call rank in society.

Rank is determined by birth, education, or habit. A man with difficulty submits to descend from a higher way of living to a lower and when an accidental circumstance has raised him for a while, above the level of that rank where his birth or education had placed him, his ambition prompts him to support himself in his elevation. If his attempt be a rational scheme, he is generally approved of; the common consent of his fellow-citizens prescribes a certain political-necessary for him, proportioned to his ambition; and when at any time this comes to fail, he is considered to be in want.

If on the other hand, a person either from vanity, or from no rational prospect of success, form a scheme of rising above the rank where birth or education had placed him, his fellow-citizens do not consent to prescribe for him a political-necessary suitable to his ambition; and when this fails him, he is considered to fall back only into the class to which he properly belonged. But if the political-necessary suitable to this rank should come to fail, then he is supposed to be deprived of his political-necessary.

The measure of this last species of necessary, is determined by general opinion only, and therefore can never be justly ascertained; and as this opinion may have for its object even those who are below the level of the physical-necessary, it often happens, that we find great difficulties in determining its exact limits.

It may appear absurd, to suppose any one to enjoy superfluity (which we have called the characteristic of political-necessary) to whom any part of the physical-necessary is found wanting. However absurd this may appear, yet nothing is more common among men, and the reason arises from what has been observed above. The desires which proceed from the affections of his mind, are often so strong as to make him comply with them at the expence of becoming incapable of satisfying those which his animal oeconomy necessarily demands.

From this it happens, that however easy it may be to conceive an accurate idea of a physical-necessary for other animals, nothing is more difficult, than to prescribe the proper limits for it with regard to man.

This being the case, let us suppose the condition of those who enjoy but little superfluity, and who fill the lower classes of the people, to be distinguished into three denominations; to wit, the highest, middle, and lowest degree of physical-necessary, and then let us ask, how we may form an estimation of the respective value of the consumption implied in each, in order to determine the minimum as to the profits upon industry. This question is of great importance; because we have shewn that the prosperity of foreign trade depends on the cheapness of manufacturing; and this again never can fall below the proportion or value of the physical-necessary for manufacturers.

One very good method of estimating the value of the total consumption implied by this necessary quantity, is to compute the expence of those who live in communities, such as in hospitals, workhouses, armies, convents, according to the different degrees of ease, severally enjoyed by those who compose them. In running over the few articles of expence in such establishments, it will be easy to discern between those, which relate to the supply of the physical, and those which relate to the supply of the political-necessary: ammunition bread is an example of the first; a monk's hood and long sleeves, are a species of the latter.

When once the real value of a man's subsistence is found, the statesman may the better judge of the degree of ease, necessary or expedient to allow for the several classes of the laborious and ingenious inhabitants.

As we have divided this physical-necessary into three degrees; the highest, middle, and lowest; the next question is, which of the three degrees is the most expedient to be established, as the standard value of the industry of the very lowest class of a people?

I answer, that in a society, it is requisite that the individual of the most puny constitution for labour and industry, and of the most slender genius for works of ingenuity, having no natural defect, and enjoying health, should be able by a labour proportioned to his force, to gain the lowest degree of the physical-necessary; for in this case, by far the greatest part of the industrious will be found in the second class, and the strong and healthy all in the first.

The difference between the highest class and the lowest, I do not apprehend to be very great. A small quantity added to what is barely sufficient, makes enough: but this small quantity is the most difficult to acquire, and a desire to surmount this difficulty is the most powerful spur to industry. The moment a person begins to live by his industry, let his livelihood be ever so poor, he immediately forms little objects of ambition, compares his situation with that of his fellows who are a degree above him, and considers a shade more of ease, as I may call it, as an advancement, not of his happiness only, but also of his rank.

There are still more varieties to be met with in the condition of those who are confined to the sphere of the physical-necessary. The labour of a strong man ought to be otherwise recompensed than that of a puny creature. But in every state there is found labour of different kinds, some requiring more, and some less strength, and all must be paid for; but as a weakly person does not commonly require so much nourishment as the strong and robust, the difference of his gains may be compensated by the smallness of his consumption.

What we mean by the first class of the physical-necessary, is when a person gains wherewithal to be well fed, well clothed, and well defended against the injuries of heat and cold, without any superfluity. This I say, a strong healthy person should be able to gain by the exercise of the lowest denominations of industrious labour, and without a possibility of being deprived of it, by the competition of others of the same profession.

Could a method be fallen upon to prevent competition among industrious people of the same profession, the moment they come to be reduced within the limits of the physical-necessary, it would prove the best security against decline in a modern state, and the most solid basis of a lasting prosperity.

But as we have observed in the first book, the thing is impossible, while marriage subsists on the present footing. From this one circumstance, the condition of the industrious of the same profession, is rendered totally-different. Some are loaded with a family, others are not. The only expedient, therefore, for a statesman, is to keep the general principles constantly in his eye, to destroy this competition as much as he can, at least in branches for exportation; to avoid, in his administration, every measure which may tend to promote it, by constituting a particular advantage in favour of some individuals of the same class above others; and if the management of public affairs necessarily implies such inconveniences, he must find out a method of indemnifying those who suffer by the competition.

We may therefore, in this place, lay down two principles: First, that no competition should be encouraged among those who labour for a physical-necessary: secondly, that in a state which flourishes by her foreign trade, competition is to be encouraged in every branch of manufactures for exportation, until the competitors have reduced one another within the limits of this necessary.

Farther, I must observe, that this physical-necessary ought to be the highest degree of ease, which any one should be able to acquire with labour and industry, where no peculiar ingenuity is required. This also is a point deserving the attention of a statesman. For how frequently do we find, in great cities, different employments, such as carrying of water, and other burdens, sawing of wood, &c. erected into confraternities, which prevent competition, and raise profits beyond the standard of the physical-necessary? This, I apprehend, to be a discouragement to ingenuity, and have the bad effect of rendering living dear, without answering any one of the intentions of establishing corporations, as shall be shewn in another place. The physical-necessary, therefore, ought to be the reward of labour and industry; whatever any workman gains above this standard, ought to be in consequence of his superior ingenuity.

It is not at all necessary to ascertain the limits between these two classes; they will sufficiently distinguish themselves by the simple operation of competition. Let a particular person fall upon an ingenious invention, he will profit by it, and rise above the lower classes which are confined to the physical-necessary; but if the invention be such as may be easily copied, he will quickly be rivalled to such a degree as to reduce his profits within the bounds of the physical-necessary; so soon as this comes to be the case, his ingenuity disappears, because it ceases to be peculiar to him.

Here arises a question: whence does it happen that certain workmen avoid this competition, and make considerable gains by their employment, while others are rivalled in their endeavours to retain a bare physical-necessary?

There is a combination of several causes to produce these effects, which we shall examine separately; leaving to the reader to judge, how far these causes may extend profits beyond the physical-necessary.

First, We have said (chap. 9.) that the value of a workman's labour is determined from the quantity performed, in general, by those of his profession, neither supposing them the best or the worst, or as having any advantage or disadvantage, from the place of their abode. A workman therefore, who, to an extraordinary dexterity, joins the advantages of place, must gain more than another.

Secondly, We have often remarked, that competition between workmen of the same profession, diminishes the profits upon their labour. From this it follows, that in such arts where the least competition is found, there must be the largest profits. Now several circumstances prevent competition. First, An extraordinary dexterity in any art, and especially in those where the whole excellency depends upon great accuracy and a refined taste, such as watch-making, painting of all kinds, making mathematical instruments, and the like; all which set a celebrated artist in a manner above a possibility of rivalship, and make him the master of his price, as experience shews. Secondly, The difficulty of acquiring the dexterity requisite, resulting both from the time and expence of apprenticeships, proves a plain obstacle to a numerous competition. Few there are, who having the stock sufficient to defray the loss of several years fruitless application, have also the turn necessary to lead them to a particular branch of ingenuity. Thirdly, Many there are, who have skill and capacity sufficient to enter into competition, but are obliged to work for others, because of the expensive apparatus of instruments, machines, lodging, and many other things necessary for setting out as a master in the art. These, and similar causes, prevent competition, and support large profits. Fourthly, Masters increase their profits greatly by sharing those of their journeymen: this share, the first have a just title to, from the constant employment they provide for the latter. and the certainty these again have of gaining their physical-necessary, together with a profit proportional to their dexterity, makes them willing to share with their master. The fifth cause of considerable gains, and the last I shall mention, is the most effectual of all, viz. great oeconomy, and parsimonious living. In proportion to the combination of these circumstances, the fortune of the artist will increase, which is the answer to the first part of the question proposed.

We are next to enquire how it happens that many industrious people are rivalled in an industry which brings no more than a bare physical-necessary. This must proceed from some disadvantage either in their personal or political situation. In their personal situation, when they are loaded with a numerous family, interrupted by sickness, or other accidental avocations. In their political situation, when they happen to be under a particular subordination from which others are free, or to be loaded with taxes which others do not pay.

I shall only add, that in computing the value of the physical-necessary of the lowest denomination, a just allowance must be made for all interruptions of labour: no person can be supposed to work every free day; and the labour of the year must defray the expence of the year. This is evident. Farther, neither humanity, or policy, that is the interest of a state, can recommend a rigorous oeconomy upon this essential quantity. If the great abuses upon the price of labour be corrected, those which remain imperceptible to the public eye, will prove no disadvantage to exportation; and as long as this goes on with success, the state is in health and vigour. Exportation of work is another pulse of the political body.

Contents | next chapter | Political Economy Archive