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[CHAPTER I. * ]: [OF PRODUCTIVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE LABOUR.] - Dugald Stewart, Lectures on Political Economy, vol. 1 
Lectures on Political Economy. Now first published. Vol. I. To which is Prefixed, Part Third of the Outlines of Moral Philosophy, edited by Sir William Hamilton (Edinburgh, Thomas Constable, 1855).
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[CHAPTER I.* ]
[OF PRODUCTIVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE LABOUR.]
(Interpolation from Notes.)—In the occasional use which I have hitherto made of the phrase National Wealth, I have employed these words in that general and popular sense in which they are commonly understood. But in analyzing the first principles of Political Economy, it is proper to ascertain, with as much accuracy as possible, the precise meaning of this expression; for which purpose I shall introduce this Second Part of the Course with an examination of the different definitions of the phrase National Wealth, which have been proposed by different writers, and with a comparative view of their advantages and disadvantages. The prosecution of this subject will lead me to an illustration of some of the characteristic peculiarities of language and doctrine by which Mr. Smith’s system is distinguished from that of the French Economists. In considering, in the former part of my course, the effects of agriculture and the appropriation of land on general improvement, I have endeavoured to illustrate their tendency to excite a commercial spirit, and their connexion with the origin of most of the useful arts. It would furnish a curious subject of speculation to examine this beautiful progress in detail, studying the mechanism of civilized society in that grand outline which Nature has sketched, and for the execution of which she has provided in the constitution of man, when combined with his physical circumstances.
It is evident that, in the profession of Agriculture itself, abstracting from the other arts to which it gives occasion, the foundation is laid for many exchanges which had no existence in the former stages of society; such, for instance, as the exchanges which arise from the difference of soil and exposure which distinguish different districts of the same country. The proprietors of each of these districts have their peculiar advantages, which would invite them to a friendly intercourse, by uniting them by the ties of their common interest. Experience would soon teach each individual to what kind of produce his land is best adapted, and would suggest the expediency of turning it to that kind of produce, in hopes of procuring, by an exchange with his neighbours, those articles of which he stood in need. The exchange, therefore, of the productions of one district for those of another, results necessarily from the physical situation of the husbandman, and will advance with the increasing multiplicity of his wants and desires.
The exchange of productions for labour is necessarily occasioned by the long and difficult preparation which most of the fruits of the earth require, in order to be fit for the use of man, and by the impossibility of the husbandman performing this task himself, without a ruinous waste of time and distraction of attention. The same motives, accordingly, which have established the exchange of commodities between the cultivators of different kinds of soil, introduces an exchange between the cultivators and a new order of men in the social system,—men who are induced by inclination, or compelled by circumstances, to betake themselves to the occupation of preparing for use those productions which the cultivator supplies in a rude form. By this means, the success of each party is obtained by the simplicity of his pursuits. The husbandman draws from his field the greatest quantity it can produce, procuring to himself, by an exchange of his surplus, the means of gratifying all his other wants, with far greater facility than he could by his own labour. Thus the shoemaker secures to himself a portion of the harvest; and every workman labours for the wants of the others, all of whom, in their turn, labour for him.
In this circulation of labour, it cannot fail to occur, that the husbandman possesses a distinguished pre-eminence over the other classes of the community, as observed by Turgot.* On this essential distinction between these two kinds of labour, the system of Political Economy proposed by Quesnai and his followers in a great measure hinges; and the distinction seems to me, under some slight limitations and corrections, to be not only just and important, but to hold a conspicuous rank among the fundamental principles of the science. I shall endeavour to illustrate it as fully and clearly as I can, and to vindicate it from some of the objections to which it is supposed to be liable. This appears the more necessary, as, though I agree with some of Mr. Smith’s criticisms, I think he has not in this instance placed the doctrine of the Economists in a just point of view.
According to Mr. Smith, the wealth of a country is in proportion to the exchangeable value of the annual produce of its Land and Labour, comprehending, evidently, under the word labour, both manufacturing and agricultural industry. To this position I do not mean to object at present, nor am I disposed to limit in all conceivable cases the application of the phrase National Wealth to agricultural produce. It would be manifestly an abuse of language to deny that the Dutch are a wealthy people, because the means of their subsistence are entirely derived from abroad, or because the same system of policy would be impracticable in a different country. In consequence of these circumstances, their wealth, undoubtedly, is much less independent than that of an agricultural country; and it is evident that their example is totally inapplicable to the general condition of mankind. But as long as they continue to possess a complete command of the productions of other regions, the wealth of Holland differs from that of other countries only as the wealth of the monied capitalist differs from that of the cultivator of the ground. The difference, indeed, in a national point of view, will be found to be great and essential; but as far as appears hitherto, it would be improper to cavil at Mr. Smith’s expression, when it is possible by any restriction to reconcile it to a just way of thinking.
Of these two sources of national wealth, Land and Labour, the latter is by far the most considerable, or rather, in comparison with it, the former is of trifling moment. For although the difference between one country and another, in respect of natural advantages, be not inconsiderable, it requires the exertion of human skill and industry to render these subservient to the condition of man, as Locke has observed.*
In so far as the wealth of a country arises from manufactures or commerce, the argument is still clearer and more indisputable. Indeed, as Mr. Hume [in his Essay on Commerce] has remarked, trade, artisanship, and manufactures, are nothing more than the public storehouses of labour.
Since, therefore, the great source of national wealth is human industry, the opulence of every society must be regulated by the two following circumstances: first, by the proportion which the number of those employed in useful labour bears to those who are not so employed; and, secondly, by the skill, dexterity, and economy by which this labour is applied. It is justly observed by Mr. Smith, that it seems to depend more on the latter than the former.†
These considerations naturally suggest the inquiry to what causes this difference in the effective powers of labour is owing. I have substituted this word effective, instead of the term productive, employed by Mr. Smith, for a reason which will afterwards appear. On examination, it appears to be chiefly owing to the division of labour, the effects of which Mr. Smith has very beautifully and happily illustrated. One of the instances which he mentions, places the subject in a peculiarly striking point of view.
“To take an example,” he says, “from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin-maker; a workman not educated to this business, (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade,) nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it, (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion,) could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire, another straights it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head, requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them. I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But though they were very poor, and therefore but indifferently accommodated with the necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty-eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day; that is, certainly, not the two hundred and fortieth, perhaps not the four thousand eight hundredth part of what they are at present capable of performing, in consequence of a proper division and combination of their different operations.”*
Before, however, I proceed to follow Mr. Smith through his very ingenious speculations on the subject, it appears to me that some attention is due to the previous question concerning the relative importance of the different modes in which labour may be employed, more particularly concerning the relative importance of Agricultural and Manufacturing industry. This inquiry will lead to a comparison of the different sources of national wealth and revenue.
The remarks of Mr. Smith on this subject are not introduced in his system till he has finished not only the exposition of his elementary principles, but the discussion of various interesting and complicated questions connected with the science. But I must confess, it appears to me that it would greatly improve the arrangement of his work, and add to the precision of our ideas on the subject, if he had begun first with fixing his ideas, and defining his language with respect to the different employments of labour. Such, at any rate, is rendered necessary by the general plan which I have formed for these lectures, as the questions to which I am now to attend, are the link which is to connect our speculations concerning National Wealth with what has already been advanced on the subject of Population.
In illustrating the distinction made by the Economists between Productive and Unproductive Labour, I shall intersperse, as I proceed, a few strictures on such of Mr. Smith’s criticisms on their doctrines as do not seem to me to be well founded. Those which I shall hazard on the system of the Economists I shall reserve for another lecture. In the sketch, therefore, which I am now to offer, I wish to be considered, in a great measure, only the expounder of a system proposed by others, without acquiescing implicitly in its details, excepting in those instances where I shall have occasion to mention my own opinion. The statements I am to give, will express, to the best of my judgment, the meaning of the authors by whom the phrase, productive and unproductive labour, was first introduced. But I have thought it advisable, for the sake of perspicuity, to aim rather at a faithful exposition of their general doctrines, than to give any full transcript of their writings. How far I have succeeded in simplifying the subject, I am not a competent judge; but I am particularly aware, after all that I have done in freeing it of the prolixity and technical phraseology of its authors, that my speculations with regard to it must necessarily appear, at first, to be expanded beyond what the importance of the subject can well justify. Those, however, who reflect on the advantages which, in some other parts of human knowledge, have been derived from a scientific arrangement of known truths unfolded in a natural order, and the substitution of appropriate and definite terms, instead of the looseness of common language, will not be apt to form conclusions to the prejudice of the very ingenious theory from which they are borrowed.
As the existence of the human race, even when limited to the necessaries of life, supposes a constant consumption of food, it supposes also some fund from which this expense is to be defrayed.
The fund which supplies this annual expense to any individual or community, constitutes a stock or revenue essential to their preservation, and without which all other possessions are useless. When this fund is once secured, the objects of their desires are multiplied, and a more ample revenue provided, if that is possible, the extent of revenue being everywhere measured by the possession of those articles of subsistence or accommodation which either furnish the means of gratifying those desires, or enable the possessor to command the labour of others. It is further obvious, that everything we are possessed of comes originally from the earth, including under that term the two great divisions of our globe into land and sea; and that its productions, variously modified, must supply all the wants of man, and furnish the means of defraying all his expenses.
The Labour of man can be employed to increase this fund only in two ways; by adding to the quantity of those productions, or by making such alterations on their form as may render them either more useful in themselves, or more valuable in exchange. The first of these is the object of Agriculture, the second of Manufactures.
In whatever manner the industry of man is employed, the produce of his labour is necessarily burdened by the consumption of the labourer. In estimating, therefore, the productive power of any species of industry, before inquiring whether it adds to the quantity, utility, or exchangeable value of the possessions of the society, the first question that presents itself is, Whether it supplies the means of defraying the necessary consumption by which it is maintained? In this respect, the preeminence of Agriculture is evidently conspicuous; the fund employed not only continuing without any diminution, but being more than replaced by the additional produce which it can draw from the earth. In consequence of the production of this surplus, the general revenue is augmented, and can defray expenses to which it was not equal before. Therefore, the epithet productive is most justly applied to that labour and expense by which it is raised. With respect to Manufacturing labour, the case is different; for though by the operations of the manufacturer the materials of his trade become much more useful, it does not follow that he thereby increases the national revenue. This revenue is the fund of national consumption; and it is not increased by any operation which does not supply the means of a greater consumption. That the work of the artificer yields no such supply is manifest. He adds nothing to the materials of his labour but the value of his own subsistence; and only changes the form of the materials so as to adapt them to the purposes of life. In this respect, therefore, the labour of the artificer, however useful, does not add to the general revenue in the same sense with the labour of the husbandman.
It is probable, however, that those writers who contend that the labour of the artificer is really productive, mean only, that it increases the exchangeable value of the productions of the earth. It is in this sense plainly that Mr. Smith employs the term, when speaking of the probable effects of foreign commerce in increasing the productive powers of manufacturing industry. I shall, therefore, consider how far the proposition is true, when taken with this limitation.
The exchangeable value of everything manufactured by human industry depends on two circumstances; the price of the original raw material, and that of the labour which has been employed on it. The price of this labour arises altogether from the expense occasioned by the necessary consumption of the labourer; and this expense is all the exchangeable value which the artificer can add to the raw materials, the competition of others restraining him from demanding more. Therefore, whatever value he adds to these materials, he destroys as much of the other funds of the society, and leaves the whole of the exchangeable revenue no greater than it otherwise would have been. For the illustration of these reasonings, no example can be more in point than that mentioned by Mr. Smith in the manufacture of lace.—“The person,” he says, “who works the lace of a pair of fine ruffles, for example, will sometimes raise the value of perhaps a pennyworth of flax to thirty pounds sterling. But though at first sight he appears thereby to multiply the value of a part of the rude produce about seven thousand and two hundred times, he in reality adds nothing to the value of the whole annual amount of the rude produce. The working of that lace cost him perhaps two years’ labour. The thirty pounds which he gets for it when it is finished, is no more than the repayment of the subsistence which he advances to himself during the two years that he is employed about it. The value which, by every day’s, month’s, or year’s labour, he adds to the flax, does no more than replace the value of his own consumption during that day, month, or year. At no moment of time, therefore, does he add anything to the value of the whole annual amount of the rude produce of the land; the portion of that produce which he is continually consuming being always equal to the value which he is continually producing.”*
It is agreeably to these principles of the Economists that Dr. Franklin, in one of his political fragments, considers manufactures as “subsistence metamorphosed.”*
In opposition to the reasonings already stated against the productive powers of manufacturing industry, Mr. Smith argues thus:—“It seems, upon every supposition, improper to say, that the labour of artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, does not increase the real revenue of the society. Though we should suppose, for example, as it seems to be supposed in this system, that the value of the daily, monthly, and yearly consumption of this class was exactly equal to that of its daily, monthly, and yearly production; yet it would not from thence follow that its labour added nothing to the real revenue, to the real value of the annual produce of the land and labour of the society. An artificer, for example, who, in the first six months after harvest, executes ten pounds’ worth of work, though he should in the same time consume ten pounds’ worth of corn and other necessaries, yet really adds the value of ten pounds to the annual produce of the land and labour of the society. While he has been consuming a half-yearly revenue of ten pounds’ worth of corn and other necessaries, he has produced an equal value of work capable of purchasing, either to himself or to some other person, an equal half-yearly revenue. The value, therefore, of what has been consumed and produced during these six months is equal, not to ten, but to twenty pounds. It is possible, indeed, that no more than ten pounds’ worth of this value may ever have existed at any one moment of time. But if the ten pounds’ worth of corn and other necessaries which were consumed by the artificer, had been consumed by a soldier or by a menial servant, the value of that part of the annual produce which existed at the end of the six months, would have been ten pounds less than it actually is, in consequence of the labour of the artificer. Though the value of what the artificer produces, therefore, should not at any one moment of time be supposed greater than the value he consumes, yet at every moment of time the actually existing value of goods in the market is, in consequence of what he produces, greater than it otherwise would be.”*
If I understand completely the face of this argument, it means only, that the values of what had been consumed are equal to twenty pounds. But the question is, Whether the nation has been benefited? The ten pounds’ value of corn consumed cannot be again employed in any expense, and therefore cannot be said to constitute any addition to the revenue of the nation, which is only another expression for the quantity of expense which the nation is able to defray. Mr. Smith contends farther, that the labour of artificers produces a value equal to its expense, and continues the capital which employs it,—in this respect differing essentially from that of menial servants, which produces no revenue. This, however, I cannot help thinking is a fallacy to which this profound writer has been led, by the use of money as a medium of exchange. The artificer sells the produce of his labour, and, on a superficial view, appears to replace his capital as effectually as the farmer by reaping his crop; and, in truth, they are perfectly similar, as far as the individual is concerned; but they are very different in their relation to the community in general. The corn which the farmer produces is the free gift of nature, and costs nothing to the society; the manufacturer only changes the form of his commodity, converting what formerly was useless to purposes of general accommodation. When he does so, however, he derives the means of his subsistence from the general stock. He is not supported immediately by the produce of his own labour; and if he were cut off from all communication with others, he could do nothing to renew the capital by which he is to be maintained. His work is of no absolute value to himself, and is only the means of procuring subsistence from others, who exchange their superfluities for the gratification of their secondary wants. The capital of the artificer, therefore, is replaced by some other person, who thereby spends some part of his revenue. Suppose, for instance, I reap a crop of corn, of which, after deducting all expenses, there remain twenty bushels, which I exchange for a quantity of lace. These twenty bushels are very little more than equal to the consumption of the lace manufacturer while employed in the production of his article. His subsistence, therefore, is supplied, not by his labour, but by the produce I have drawn from the ground. He has lived during that time at my expense, as much as if I had advanced to him the wages of his labour. In fact, the capital which employs him is not the lace which he has made, but the twenty bushels of corn which I have paid him for it; and, therefore, it does not follow, that because his advances have been repaid, his labour replaces the capital which has been employed. The question is, Whether it replaces the capital I have employed, and pays the expenses I have incurred in raising these twenty bushels? This it certainly does not do. The expense, indeed, which I have laid out has procured me something, more or less useful, which I consider as an equivalent. But if the lace be an equivalent, so also is the labour of menial servants. The lace wears as the servant perishes; neither the one nor the other leaves anything behind; and if they differ somewhat in the length of their duration, the difference is only in degree, and not the consequence of any essential distinction between them. Suppose, now, the same quantity of corn had been applied to sow and reap a field; in this case the corn expended would not only be replaced, but there would be a clear addition to the revenue not only of the individual, but also of the community. In both cases, the expense laid out is replaced; but in this instance, it reproduces a surplus in addition to its value.
The difference now stated between these two kinds of expenses is essential and sufficiently great to authorize the distinction between them which has now been insisted on. This distinction, it must always be carefully remembered, has no reference whatever to the utility of the different employments now mentioned. The labour of a soldier, for instance, is perfectly unproductive; yet the defence of a State is an object of no less importance than the encouragement of commerce and manufactures; and, like manufactures, the labour of the soldier is useful, in some cases even necessary. But still there is an essential distinction between labour which is merely useful, and that which is also productive.
According to Mr. Smith, the true characteristic of productive labour is, that it fixes itself on some vendible commodity, the sale of which replaces the capital employed in it; whereas unproductive labour consists in services which perish almost in the time of performance. This distinction of Mr. Smith’s appears to rest on an accidental and very unimportant circumstance, according as the subsistence of the workman is advanced by his employer, or is repaid through the medium of some third person, who has advanced his wages. If his wages are advanced by an employer, his labour necessarily consists in personal services; and it is a matter of indifference what these services are if they equally accommodate his employer. If, on the other hand, his wages are to be repaid by another, no person will be induced to do so unless that expense is replaced by some commodity which may be useful. This circumstance, therefore, is sufficient, in many cases, to determine whether labour, according to Mr. Smith’s doctrine, shall be held productive or unproductive. A distinction resting on a circumstance so very slight, cannot surely be of very great moment in a system of political economy.
From what has been already said, it appears, that the process of manufactures can only be viewed in the light of a salary paid by the proprietors of land to those who are willing to employ their labour for their accommodation, and that the wages of artificers are a mere transference of wealth. Here, then, say the Economists, is the whole society divided, by a necessity founded on the nature of things, into two classes, both of them reciprocally useful to each other; one of which, by its labour, forms, or rather draws from the earth, riches continually new, which supply the whole society with the means of subsistence, and the materials for all their wants; while the other is employed in giving to the rude materials such preparations and forms as render them of a greater exchangeable value. He sells his labour to the former, and receives in return his subsistence. The first may be called productive, the second stipendiary.
We have hitherto proceeded on the supposition, that the wages of the workman are merely sufficient for his subsistence, a result which must hold in most cases, as the amount of wages is necessarily limited by the number of those who work for a livelihood. This supposition, however, I apprehend, is not necessary for establishing the general conclusion. If, in consequence of any particular circumstances, the labourer should receive wages greater than his consumption, this would in no respect add to the revenue of the society. If, for instance, one half of the labourers of a country should be carried off by a plague, the price of their labour would be doubled. But though, in such a case, it may appear, on a superficial view, that the manufacturer adds to the value of his work a greater quantity than he consumes, yet it is plain, that nothing is added to the productions of the earth, either in quantity or value, so as to enable the society to supply a greater portion of subsistence to its inhabitants. It is the exchangeable value of commodities only that is increased. The difference is, that the proprietor of land is obliged to consider the same quantity of subsistence as an equivalent for a smaller quantity of labour. Labour gets a greater share of the revenue; but the revenue is in no way altered. Any saving a manufacturer makes from his wages is so much taken out of the hands of another person, and can no more be said to increase the funds of the society, than the gains made at a gaming table.
The same observations apply, with equal force, to the profits of merchants and master manufacturers. It is easy to conceive a State in which there should be no such persons, in which the proprietors of the land should superintend the labourers employed in manufactures, and transport the goods to the market from the place where they are produced. The trouble and waste which would attend such a mode of proceeding induce them to give a higher price for the goods to those who will undertake this branch of business, and make the necessary advances. This increase, evidently, is a salary, and the gains of the merchant are but a transference, not a production of riches. The same thing may be said of every species of industry, the object of which is to modify the productions of the earth, without increasing their quantity. They all agree in this circumstance, that they make no increase to the general revenue, though in the highest degree useful, and many of them absolutely necessary. They effect the important purpose of distributing the national riches; but they are totally unproductive. They add nothing to the revenue, but, on the contrary, draw the means of their support from those who are in possession of the fruits of the earth. These fruits, therefore, according to the Economists, are the only riches of a nation; and the labour which produces them is the only productive labour, and the only source of revenue.
Among those writers, however, who dispute the doctrines of the Economists, there are some who acknowledge the unproductive nature of manufacturing labour and expense, when considered in relation to the world in general; while they deny that the doctrine is applicable to the case of a particular country pursuing a separate interest of its own. As the inhabitants of a town, by applying to manufactures, find means to appropriate a part of the productions of the earth raised by the cultivators of the ground, so may a nation procure a part of the subsistence of other nations. Thus, manufactures and foreign trade add all the fund of subsistence which is drawn from abroad. In answer to these objections, the Economists state the following reasonings, on which I shall have occasion afterwards to offer some criticisms. If the trade of two nations consists in the exchange of production for production, whether rude or manufactured, it is evident that the exchanges must be equal, each giving as much as it receives. The only species of commerce, say they, in which a nation can be said to add to the national fund, is the exchange of productions on the one side for labour on the other. In such a case, manufacturing industry may be considered as productive to the nation which, by its superior ingenuity, thus lays its neighbours under contribution. If a landed nation supplies the rude materials and the subsistence of the labourers, to a manufacturing country, and brings back the manufactured article, these artificers certainly carry on a trade which is productive, and the expense of the one country is an addition to the revenue of the other. The artificers of the commercial nation are, in fact, those of the agricultural country. They have the same relation to it as if they had lived in it; and the only difference is, that their place of residence is at a distance from the market. The manufacturers settled in the agricultural country itself, would be on a level in the market with the commercial nation, even though they should add to their profits a sum equal to the whole expense of carriage. The necessary consequence is, that they would undersell the commercial nation; and nothing could prevent such manufactures from rising in the country itself, except the most essential defects in their system of Political Economy; and it is owing to such defects alone, they tell us, that a merely manufacturing country can exist at all; and the establishment of a more liberal system would necessarily raise up a competition which it could not withstand. In an age, therefore, add the Economists, when the minds of men begin to be enlightened, this is a most precarious resource; and a nation which relies on it entirely, sees in the improvement of its neighbours the presages of its own decline. Nor is this all. It is but a very few articles that can bear the expense of a long carriage; and these are not objects of a general consumption. This, therefore, may support a very small state; but it necessarily forms a very trifling object to a great agricultural nation. We may therefore conclude, that the labour of the agriculturist is the only productive labour, and that the rude produce of the soil is the only revenue of a nation,—the only fund out of which all its expenses must be defrayed.
In entering on the discussions which I now have in view, with respect to the Economical system, it seemed proper for me to begin with a general outline of its fundamental principles, delineated as faithfully as possible, after the ideas of its original authors. Something of this kind seemed to be necessary, in order to correct those misapprehensions of its nature which have prevailed to a considerable degree, in consequence of the account of it given by Mr. Smith. I now proceed to consider, at some length, those points in which the doctrines of Quesnai and his followers appear to me to differ from those stated by Mr. Smith in the Wealth of Nations, endeavouring, as far as I can, to separate real diversities of opinion from mere disputes about words, and to combine what appears to be valuable in both, without adopting implicitly the opinions of either.—(End of interpolation from Notes.)
[Specially on the System of the Economists.]—I made some observations at our last meeting, on the distinction between productive and unproductive labour, according to the doctrine of the Economists, with a view chiefly to a vindication of their language on this subject, against the criticisms of Mr. Smith. Of the particulars in which this part of his system differs from theirs, some of those which appear at first view the most striking, will be found to resolve ultimately into a question concerning the propriety of certain technical modes of speaking which they introduced; and in so far, the dispute may be considered as amounting merely to a verbal controversy. It must, however, be remembered, that in inquiries of so difficult a nature, the choice of phrases is by no means a matter of indifference; particularly when a want of coincidence between their technical and their ordinary acceptations may have a tendency to mislead our reasonings. In the present instance, this is remarkably the case; for the epithets productive and unproductive, as they are commonly employed, being as precise and significant as any which the language furnishes, can scarcely fail to have some effect on the estimate we form of the comparative importance of the two kinds of labour to which we are accustomed habitually to appropriate them. The truth is, that the influence of these epithets may be distinctly traced in various instances, on the conclusions of Quesnai, on the one hand, and of Mr. Smith on the other;—I mean the influence of the popular meaning of these epithets, as contradistinguished from the technical acceptations in which they have thought proper respectively to define them. The difference of opinion, however, between Smith and Quesnai concerning productive and unproductive labour, does not turn entirely on the meaning of words. It turns also in part on a fact which they have apprehended very differently, and which it is of great consequence to view in its proper light. I shall make no apology therefore for offering here, (even at the risk of appearing somewhat prolix and tedious,) a few additional illustrations and proofs of the remarks which I have already stated on this fundamental article of Political Economy.
It will contribute to render some of the following reasonings more clear and satisfactory, if it is distinctly remembered, that in the first part of the argument we abstract entirely from the effects of foreign commerce, and confine our attention to those which result from the operations of the different descriptions of labour in a separate and independent society. The fact is, that in a great agricultural country like Great Britain, and still more in a territory like France, where the importation of necessaries cannot possibly bear any great proportion to the consumption of the inhabitants, the conclusions I have in view will hold, in every essential respect, even although the operations of foreign commerce be admitted into the supposition. But it may obviate some difficulties and objections which might otherwise present themselves, to begin with stating the argument in its simplest form.
That Mr. Smith’s opinion with respect to the fact on which the Economists lay the principal stress was the same with theirs, appears (among various other acknowledgments in different parts of his Wealth of Nations) from the following passage in the fifth chapter of the Second Book, entitled, “Of the different Employments of Capital.”
“In agriculture, nature labours along with man; and though her labour cost no expense, its produce has its value, as well as that of the most expensive workman. The most important operations of agriculture seem intended, not so much to increase, though they do that too, as to direct the fertility of nature towards the production of the plants most profitable to man. A field overgrown with briars may frequently produce as great a quantity of vegetables as the best cultivated vine-yard or corn-field. Planting and tillage frequently regulate more than they animate the active fertility of nature; and, after all their labour, a great part of the work remains to be done by her. The labourers, and labouring cattle, therefore, employed in agriculture, not only occasion, like the workmen in manufactures, the reproduction of a value equal to their own consumption, or to the capital which employs them, together with its owner’s profits, but of a much greater value. Over and above the capital of the farmer, and all its profits, they regularly occasion the reproduction of the rent of the landlord. This rent may be considered as the produce of those powers of nature, the use of which the landlord lends to the farmer. . . . It is the work of nature that remains after deducting or compensating everything which can be regarded as the work of man.”*
These observations, although by no means unexceptionable, in so far as they relate to manufacturing industry, not only coincide in the main with the opinions of the Economists, but express in strong and explicit terms one of the fundamental principles on which their system rests. It is a principle, indeed, so perfectly obvious and indisputable, that it is almost as painful to peruse their prolix elucidations of it, as the reasonings of those who have had the appearance of disputing its solidity: I say the appearance of disputing its solidity; for I know of no writer who has directly called in question the principle itself, whatever diversity of judgment may exist about the remoter consequences to which it necessarily leads, or the form of words in which it ought to be expressed.
In this last respect Mr. Smith’s system differs widely; and accordingly, in the sentence which immediately follows the sentence just quoted, he speaks of agricultural and manufacturing labour as being both productive, though not in an equal degree. “No equal quantity of productive labour employed in manufactures can ever occasion so great a reproduction as in agriculture. In them nature does nothing, man does all; and the reproduction must always be in proportion to the strength of the agents that occasion it. The capital employed in agriculture, therefore, not only puts into motion a greater quantity of productive labour than any equal quantity employed in manufactures, but in proportion too to the quantity of productive labour which it employs, it adds a much greater value to the annual produce of the land and labour of the country; to the wealth and revenue of its inhabitants. Of all the ways in which a capital can be employed, it is by far the most advantageous to the society.”*
In Mr. Smith’s account of the Economical system, he has entered into a particular statement of the reasons which induce him to reject, as improper and inaccurate, the application which it makes of the epithet unproductive to manufacturing industry. He regards this indeed as the capital error of its authors. “Their capital error,” he observes, “seems to be in considering the class of artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, as altogether unproductive and barren.” In confirmation of this remark he reasons as follows:—
“It is acknowledged of this class, that it reproduces annually the value of its own annual consumption, and continues, at least, the existence of the stock or capital which maintains and employs it. But upon this account alone the denomination of barren or unproductive should seem to be very improperly applied to it. We should not call a marriage barren or unproductive, though it produced only a son and a daughter to replace the father and mother, and though it did not increase the number of the human species, but only continued it as it was before.”
“Farmers and country labourers, indeed, over and above the stock which maintains or employs them, reproduce annually a neat produce, a free rent to the landlord. As a marriage which affords three children is certainly more productive than one which affords only two, so the labour of farmers and country labourers is certainly more productive than that of merchants, artificers, and manufacturers. The superior produce of the one class, however, does not render the other barren or unproductive.”†
According to this statement of Mr. Smith, his objection to the doctrine of the Economists turns entirely on a philological question, Whether the epithets barren and unproductive could in strict propriety be applied to anything which merely continues or replaces what existed before, without yielding any increase; whether, for example, the labour of the husbandman could be said to be barren, on the supposition that his harvest was barely sufficient to restore to him the seed which he sowed in the spring? That his labour, in such a case, might be said to be productive, in a particular sense of that word, cannot, I apprehend, be disputed; but surely not in the sense in which it is commonly applied in the operations of agriculture.
The example of a marriage, referred to by Mr. Smith, is not altogether a fair one, for when applied to this connexion, the word barren has a specific and appropriate meaning, implying a complete negation of the power to procreate. A marriage which produces a single child, could no more be said to be barren, than one which produced two; and therefore, if we were to argue from this case to that of manufacturing industry, it would follow, that the latter might with propriety be called productive, even although it did not reproduce annually the value of its own annual consumption.
This, however, as I already said, is but a dispute about words, although, even according to this statement, I must confess, the advantage seems to me to be on the side of the Economists. It may at the same time be fairly questioned, whether Mr. Smith has not gone too far, when he has stated it as a fact acknowledged by all parties, that “the class of artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, reproduces annually the value of its own annual consumption, and continues the existence of the stock or capital which maintains and employs it.” For, so far as I am able to perceive, this proposition applies only to the wealth of the individual, but not in the least to that species of wealth about which the present argument is alone concerned, the wealth of the nation. This consideration, however, I shall reserve for future discussion; and in the meantime shall admit as correct, the account which Mr. Smith has given of the doctrine of his antagonists.
In the farther prosecution of the same subject, Mr. Smith has attempted to convict these writers, not only of an abuse of language, but of an inattention to a most important distinction in point of fact, in the classification they have proposed of the different kinds of labour.
“It seems,” he observes, “to be altogether improper to consider artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, in the same light as menial servants: the labour of menial servants does not continue the existence of the fund which maintains and employs them. Their maintenance and employment is altogether at the expense of their masters, and the work which they perform is not of a nature to repay that expense. That work consists in services which perish generally in the very instant of their performance, and does not fix or realize itself in any vendible commodity which can replace the value of their wages and maintenance. The labour, on the contrary, of artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, naturally does fix and realize itself in some such vendible commodity. It is upon this account,” Mr. Smith adds, “that I have classed artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, among the productive labourers, and menial servants among the barren and unproductive.”*
Before I proceed to make any remarks on this passage, it is necessary for me to observe, in justice to the Economists, that although they rank artificers and manufacturers, as well as menial servants, in the class of sterile labourers, they do not confound these different descriptions of men together, or view them in the same light. On the contrary, a particular illustration of the stations which they occupy respectively in the social system, and of their comparative importance as members of it, may be found in various works published by these writers; among others, in a valuable book published by the Marquis de Mirabeau in 1763, entitled Philosophie Rurale. The sterile class is there divided into the Classe Stérile Industrieuse, the Classe Stérile Soudoyée, and the Classe Oisive. The Classe Stérile Soudoyée is farther subdivided into different orders of men, the nature and effects of whose functions are illustrated by the author with much ingenuity.—P. 55.
In reply to the reasonings last quoted from Mr. Smith, in proof of the essential distinction between the labour of artificers and that of menial servants, the following observation is stated by the anonymous author of a pamphlet printed a few years ago, under the title of The Essential Principles of the Wealth of Nations illustrated, in opposition to some False Doctrines of Dr. Adam Smith and others.”1
“The labour of artificers and manufacturers differs from that of menial servants in this, that the former yields an equivalent for expenditure, the latter no equivalent. Still, however, they are both with the greatest propriety termed unproductive, though the one be much more so than the other.” To explain this difference, the author has recourse to an illustration or comparison:—“It will be allowed,” says he, “that a field which returns only the seed sown into it is a barren field. But some ground, such as the sea-beach, may possess no vegetative power at all, and may not even return the seeds sown into it, consequently, would be much more barren than the other. The labour of menial servants is aptly compared to this completely sterile ground. But will the greater sterility of one spot entitle ground to be called productive, that actually only returns the seed, but gives no increase. This difference is only a greater or less degree of a minus, but will never give a plus.”2
This answer to Mr. Smith does not seem to me to be at all satisfactory, nor even to proceed on an accurate conception of the circumstances of the case. Perhaps the following considerations may be of some use in removing the obscurity in which the subject has been involved by these contradictory statements.
In order to remove, as much as possible, in the examination of this question, those biasses which the mind is apt to receive from accidental associations founded on familiar phrases or examples, it may not be improper to remark, that the labour ofa menial servant is employed by Mr. Smith, as well as by the Economists, to represent a great variety of other kinds of labour, which he considers as equally unproductive, although he differs from them in the principles on which his classification is made. “The labour of some of the most respectable orders in the society,” he observes, “is, like that of menial servants, unproductive of any value, and does not fix or realize itself in any permanent subject or vendible commodity, which endures after that labour is past, and for which an equal quantity of labour could afterwards be produced. The Sovereign, for example, with all the officers both of justice and war who serve under him, the whole army and navy, are unproductive labourers. They are the servants of the public, and are maintained by a part of the annual produce of the industry of the people. Their service (how honourable, how useful, how necessary so ever) produces nothing for which an equal quantity of service can afterwards be procured. The protection, security, and defence of the commonwealth, the effect of their labour this year, will not purchase its protection, security, and defence for the year to come. In the same class must be ranked some, both of the gravest and most important, and some of the most frivolous professions, churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds, players, buffoons, musicians, opera singers, opera dancers, &c. The labour of the meanest of these has a certain value, regulated by the very same principles which regulate that of every other sort of labour, and that of the noblest and most useful, produces nothing which could afterwards purchase or procure an equal quantity of labour. Like the declamation of the actor, the harangue of the orator, or the tune of the musician, the work of all of them perishes in the very instant of the production.”*
I thought it of importance to state this fully, because in consequence of the constant reference which is made to the case of menial servants, the labour of artificers and manufacturers seems, on a superficial view, to be degraded in the economical system below its just level; while, on the other hand, the mind more easily reconciles itself to the superiority ascribed by Mr. Smith to manufacturing industry over menial services, than it would do if the reader were always to recollect, that, according to his arrangement, menial services are classed along with the labours of the most useful and honourable orders in society.
Mr. Smith himself has, if I am not mistaken, been more than once misled by this very circumstance; as when he remarks, for example, in order to contrast the more strongly what he calls productive with what he calls unproductive labour, that “a man grows rich by employing a multitude of manufacturers, but he grows poor by maintaining a multitude of menial servants.”* An inference by the way from which no inference can be drawn applicable to Mr. Smith’s purpose; for when a man ruins himself by the multitude of his menials, it is not owing to the nature of the labour in which they are employed, but to the excess of their number above the reasonable demand which he has for their services; and a master manufacturer might ruin himself exactly in the same way, if he were to engage more workmen than the extent of his trade called for, or enabled him to support.1
In another passage, too, he observes of the Economical system, that “as men are naturally fond of paradoxes, and of appearing to understand what surpasses the comprehension of ordinary men, the paradox it maintains concerning the unproductive nature of manufacturing labour, has not perhaps contributed a little to increase the number of its admirers.”† Now, I confess, for my own part, that to affirm of manufacturing labour, that the epithet productive cannot be applied to it in the same sense in which it is applied to agriculture, so far from having the air of a paradox, strikes me as bordering upon a self-evident proposition; nor can I easily conceive how this most profound and ingenious writer could consider such a proposition as more repugnant to the common apprehensions of mankind, than a distinction which represents the productive power of agriculture and of manufactures as differing only in degree; while it classifies the labour of the Sovereign, of the officers of the army and navy, of churchmen, lawyers, and men of letters, with those of musicians, opera singers, and buffoons. To this last classification I do not in the least object; although I am much mistaken if it has not, at first view, somewhat of a paradoxical appearance to persons unaccustomed to the technical arrangements of speculative politicians. I only differ from Mr. Smith in this, that I think the labours of all the various kinds of artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, should have been included in his enumeration; and I am not without hopes, that the observations I have now quoted from him may tend to reconcile the mind more easily to the doctrine he combats; inasmuch as it appears to be so clearly acknowledged on both sides, that the question concerning the productiveness or unproductiveness of any species of labour is altogether unconnected with any consideration of its dignity, or of its utility, or even of its necessity to the existence of the social order. The Abbé Baudeau, in his Exposition of the Economical Table, places this in a very strong light, when he observes, that “even the plough-wright, although he makes the instrument with which the husbandman carries on his operations, is no more to be considered (according to the definition of that system) as a productive labourer, than a lace-maker or an embroiderer.”1
In the reply formerly quoted [p. 275] to Mr. Smith’s reasonings, the labours of artificers and manufacturers are compared to what the labour of the husbandman would be, if he were only to reap the same measure he had sown; the labour of menial servants is compared to that of a man who should sow his seed on the sea-beach, or on a rock without any return whatever. “The labour of artificers and manufacturers,” it is said, “differs from that of menial servants in this, that the former yields an equivalent for expenditure, the latter yields no equivalent.” This view of the matter (as I formerly hinted) does not seem to me to be just; and I think the author has been led into it, partly by the representation which Mr. Smith has given of this doctrine of the Economists; and partly by the imperfect and indistinct manner in which it is stated in their own writings.
“It is acknowledged,” says Mr. Smith, “that the class of artificers, manufacturers, and merchants, reproduces annually the value of its own annual consumption, and continues, at least, the existence of the stock or capital which maintains and employs it; differing in this respect essentially from that of menial servants, who produce no value to repay the expense of their maintenance.”*
I observed, in my last Lecture, [p. 263,] that there seems to be a fallacy in this distinction, and that its plausibility arises from the use of money as a medium of exchange, which keeps the real similarity of the two cases a little out of view. The artificer sells the produce of his industry, and at first sight appears to replace his capital as effectually as the former by reaping his crop. In truth, the effects are the same in both instances, so far as the individual is concerned; but they are very different when considered in relation to the community. The corn which the husbandman reaps is a free gift of nature, and costs nothing to the rest of the society. The manufacturer changes the form of his materials, converting, in many cases, what was formerly useless, to purposes of general commerce and accommodation. While he does so, however, he derives the means of his subsistence from the general stock. He is not supported immediately by the produce of his labour; and if he were cut off from communication with others, could do nothing to renew the capital by which he is maintained. His work is of no absolute value to himself; and it is only the means of procuring the subsistence from others who exchange their superfluities for the gratification of their secondary wants. The capital, therefore, which the artificer has consumed, is replaced by some other person who thereby spends part of his revenue. Hence it appears, that if the labour of a menial servant may be aptly compared to that of a man sowing grain on a rock, or on the sea-coast, the very same comparison will apply to the labour of an artificer or manufacturer. The truth is, that in both cases the simile holds in so far as the productiveness of labour is alone concerned; but that in both cases it fails upon the whole, and precisely from the same reason,—inasmuch as it has the appearance of implying an analogy between an operation expressive of folly or insanity, and two kinds of industry which, though equally barren, are essentially subservient to the comfort of human life.
According to Mr. Smith, the true characteristic of productive labour is, that it fixes itself in some vendible commodity, the sale of which replaces its expense; whereas unproductive labour consists in services which perish almost at the instant of performance.
In this distinction of Mr. Smith’s, there are two different considerations involved. First, the vendibility, if I may be allowed the word; and, secondly, the durability of the fruits of productive labour. Productive labour, he observes, fixes itself in some vendible commodity, the sale of which replaces its expense; whereas unproductive labour consists in services which perish almost at the instant of performance. From the manner in which the observation is stated, Mr. Smith seems to have considered these two circumstances as coinciding; or, in other words, he seems to have considered the want of vendibility in the fruits of unproductive labour, as a consequence of their want of durability. If this was not his meaning, it is manifest that the two clauses of the sentence are not accurately contrasted; the perishable nature of menial services being stated in direct opposition to the vendibility of the commodities furnished by productive industry.
In order, however, to do all justice to the definition in question, I shall consider separately the two circumstances which have just been mentioned, as the distinguishing tests or characteristics of productive and of unproductive labour.
With respect to the first, that “productive labour fixes itself in some vendible commodity, the sale of which replaces its expenses;” it is obvious that it depends in many cases on the accidental manner in which the subsistence of the workman is advanced; whether by the person who ultimately consumes or enjoys the fruits of his labour, or by a third person, who is to re-imburse himself by the sale of what the labourer has manufactured. If the wages are advanced by the person who is to enjoy the fruit of the labourer’s industry, the labour consists in personal service, never fixing itself in a commodity which is to become an object of commerce, or to repay its expense by a sale. In this case I presume it will be readily granted to be a matter of indifference what these services are, provided they contribute equally to the accommodation of the employer. The labour of a housemaid, for example, when employed (according to the old practice of this country) in spinning flax for her master’s convenience, could not be supposed to differ essentially in its nature from her services in making the beds, or in sweeping the apartments. If her labour, in the former way, save him from an expenditure which he must otherwise have incurred to procure the same accommodation, her services in the latter way have an effect precisely similar, by relieving him from the personal execution of a task which would otherwise have interfered with more profitable or more agreeable engagements.
If, on the other hand, we suppose that the wages of the workman are to be repaid by the sale of the commodity he has manufactured, the fact is in all essential respects the same. The end is accomplished in a way more circuitous, and with a different effect to the income of the person who thus replaces his capital; but that these circumstances cannot alter the nature of the labourer’s employment, when considered in relation to the community of which he is a member, might almost be assumed as a self-evident proposition; inasmuch as the expense of his maintenance must, in some way or other, be derived ultimately from the general fund or revenue.
In the second place, Mr. Smith observes of unproductive labour, that “it consists in services which perish almost at the instant of performance.” If this characteristic of unproductive labour be considered as coinciding with the other; that is, if the perishable nature of these services be supposed to render them unproductive only by preventing their fruits from ever becoming the objects of commerce, the same remarks which have been made on the former characteristic, are exactly applicable to the latter: and that this was Mr. Smith’s meaning cannot, I apprehend, be reasonably doubted; because, on the supposition that the unproductiveness of menial, or any other services, were a consequence of the perishable nature of their effects, the absurd conclusion would follow, that the productiveness of labour is proportioned to the durability of the object it fabricates; and that it admits of all possible degrees according to the quality of the materials upon which it is employed.
From what has been already said, it would appear that the price of manufactures is to be considered in no other light than as a salary paid by the proprietor of land to those who are willing to employ their labour in his service. The wages of artificers are mere transferences of riches; and the result of their industry, not the production or the continuation of a part of national stock, but the means of procuring a portion of the produce of the soil.
The indistinct manner in which some of the economical writers have explained this article of their system, has contributed to occasion these misapprehensions with respect to the nature of manufacturing industry. From the particular stress they lay on the general principle, that “the consumption of manufacturers and artificers is equal to the (exchangeable) value of what they produce,” it has been assumed by their opponents, and among others by Mr. Smith, as an admitted truth, that this class by reproducing annually the value of its own consumption, continues the existence of the stock or capital which maintains and employs it. And, indeed, this idea seems frequently to be implied in their reasonings. It is, however, obvious, with respect to this favourite principle of the Economists, concerning the exchangeable value added to commodities by manufacturing industry, that although it is of great importance in the argument, concerning the effects of manufactures when combined with foreign commerce, it has no immediate connexion with that part of their theory which asserts the unproductive nature of this species of labour in an independent and insulated society. To say that “the labour employed on land is productive, because (over and above completely paying the labourer and the farmer) the produce affords a clear rent to the landlord; and that the labour employed in a piece of lace is unproductive, because it merely replaces the provision that the workmen has consumed, is to rest this important distinction on a fact very different from that on which it really hinges.”1 Supposing the value of the wrought lace to be such, as that besides paying in the most complete manner the workmen and his employer, it would afford a clear rent to a third person, the reasonings which have been already stated against the productive power of manufacturing industry would still remain in full force.
This I endeavoured to shew as clearly as I was able at our last meeting; and I have now only to add, that the converse of the proposition is no less certain; that as a capital employed in manufacturing speculations may often be highly productive to the individual, while it must be ever unproductive to the community, so a capital employed in agriculture may be highly productive to the community, while the individual accomplishes his own ruin.
In considering the effects of manufactures as combined with foreign commerce, the Economists have expressed themselves in terms much more liable to objection, (as I shall endeavour afterwards to shew,) although even on this head their reasonings may suggest conclusions of great practical importance to the rulers of nations. As I must not, however, at present prosecute this subject any farther, I shall confine my attention to the obvious fact, (which cannot be better stated than in the words of Mr. Smith,) “that by means of trade and manufactures, a greater quantity of subsistence can be annually imported into a particular country, than what its own lands in the actual state of cultivation could afford. The inhabitants of a town, though they frequently possess no lands of their own, yet draw to themselves by their industry such a quantity of the rude produce of the lands of other people, as supplies them not only with the materials for their work, but with the fund of their subsistence. What a town always is with regard to the country in its neighbourhood, one independent state or country may frequently be with regard to other independent states and countries. It is thus that Holland draws a part of its subsistence from other countries; live cattle from Holstein and Jutland, and corn from almost all the different countries of Europe.”*
With this observation of Mr. Smith I perfectly agree, and I think it calls our attention to a principle too much overlooked or slurred over by most of the Economists, in the statement of their theory. On the other hand, I agree with the general doctrines of this sect so far, as to feel it incumbent on me to remark, that in a great agricultural country such as ours, too much stress ought not to be laid on the passage which has now been quoted, as a ground for abating the efforts of our statesmen, to advance to the utmost possible extent our independent agricultural resources. The example of Holland itself which Mr. Smith has quoted, (the happiest undoubtedly for his purpose which the world affords,) is the best illustration of this that can be mentioned. It forms, in truth, one of those extreme cases in human affairs, (cases from which it is always dangerous to apply our inferences to the general condition of mankind,) of which I formerly took notice, when contrasting the policy of this singular district with that of the Empire of China. The grain raised in Holland is said to be scarcely sufficient to maintain the labourers employed on the dykes; and yet it is mentioned by St. Pierre as a subject of doubt, whether there is not more Polish corn in its granaries, than that country retains for the subsistence of its own inhabitants.† How totally inapplicable to the general state of the world must those speculations be, which are founded on the policy of a people so peculiarly circumstanced! Of the absurdity of applying them to our own country, no stronger proof can be adduced than what I shall have occasion to state more particularly afterwards, that, notwithstanding the advantages it derives from its insular form, and the extent of its inland navigation, the greatest importation of grain which ever took place in one year, previous to the late years of scarcity, did not exceed a thirtieth part of our annual consumption; and that even in the course of the year 1801, notwithstanding the enormous expense of £15,000,000, it did not exceed an eighteenth part of that quantity.1
In a great agricultural territory, not enjoying the same easy intercourse with other parts of the world, the comparison must fail to a proportionally greater degree; and, in general, as different countries approach more nearly to this last description, Mr. Smith’s remarks become inapplicable to the physical condition of their inhabitants.
Still, however, it must be granted, that manufacturing industry (though invariably the same in its nature when considered in relation to the whole world) may be justly said to be productive in its effects to the nation, which, by superior ingenuity or industry, thus lays its neighbours under contribution; however precarious and liable to interruption so circuitous a channel of revenue must always be, when compared with that resulting from the productive labour which depends on ourselves. In justice, at the same time, to a former part of my argument, I must take the liberty to add, that while I grant that in the case which has been just stated, the epithet productive may be justly applied to the industry of manufacturers and artificers, this affords no reason for distinguishing them from those other classes of labourers who are considered as unproductive in Mr. Smith’s argument. A celebrated University which should attract a concourse of students from other countries, the public spectacles of a great capital, where the “declamations of the actor, the tune of the musician, and the grimace of the buffoon,” contribute to swell the crowd of opulent and prodigal foreigners; the exertions of those who carry their talents and enterprise to the splendid markets which ambition opens to them in every quarter of the globe, and who afterwards return to enjoy their acquisitions in their native land; are all productive in the same sense with the manufacturers of a trading nation. They introduce into the country a fund which would not otherwise have existed in it, and which may be eventually productive, either by supplying the means of importing rude produce from abroad, or by adding to the number of productive labourers at home.
A still closer resemblance may be remarked between the labour of manufacturers and that of authors, abstracting altogether from the effect of foreign intercourse, and adopting Mr. Smith’s own definition of productive labour. What inestimable and what extensive utility, not only to his own country, but to the whole human race, did his genius and information communicate to the blank paper, to which was intrusted the original copy of the Wealth of Nations! Or, laying aside all considerations of this kind, and viewing merely in a commercial light the exchangeable value of his labour, in what respects did the productiveness of this labour to the author differ from that of the workman who spends a year in fabricating a pennyworth of flax into a costly piece of lace? In the one case as well as in the other, is not labour fixed and realized in a vendible commodity?
In one particular respect, I do not think that Mr. Smith has done complete justice to manufacturers and artists. “They reproduce,” he says, “annually the value of their own annual consumption, continuing at least the existence of the stock or capital which maintains them.”* And that their labour has this effect, in as far as they themselves, or the individual who advances their wages are concerned, I have already acknowledged. But, if this is to be considered as a test of productiveness, the argument might be pushed much farther, by examining the effects of experience and habit in rendering the workman’s skill and dexterity, no less than the articles he fabricates vendible commodities, which he may carry to a profitable market. In this case, the labour he employs, during his years of apprenticeship, does a great deal more than replace to the individual the expense of its maintenance. It even affords him a nett produce, analogous, in some respects, to that which the husbandman enjoys.
If this view of the subject be admitted, the parallel between manufacturers and those who devote themselves to labour purely intellectual, will be found still to hold without any disadvantage to the latter. The harangue, indeed, of the orator, the declamation of the actor, and the tune of the musician, (to borrow Mr. Smith’s own instances,) “may perish in the very instant of the production.”* The labour is coexistent with the effects. But although this may be the case with the particular exertions of all their labours, the observation will not apply to the labour directed to the acquisition of the talents which are thus displayed; and which by converting these talents into a source of revenue to the possessors, has fixed and realized itself into a vendible and durable commodity. When the labour is at all successful, the sale not only replaces to the employer the expense incurred during the tedious process of preparation, it generally does a great deal more; and in no case is it necessarily subjected to any such limitation. I cannot help taking this opportunity to add, that the labour which is employed in the cultivation of the understanding approaches more nearly, (in the harvest which it yields,) than anything else which can be specified, to the labour of the husbandman; and the creative powers of human industry are, in both instances, founded on the combination of its effects with that bounty of nature, which, in the moral not less than the material world, rewards in due season with its plentiful increase the toils of the spring.
To this analogy, Lord Bacon had manifestly a reference when, in his usual figurative style, he bestowed on education the significant title of “the Georgics of the Mind.”1 Intimating to legislators this important truth, that of all the means they have in their power to employ, to increase the sum of public happiness, none can so amply and so infallibly reward their benevolent exertions, as the encouragement which is afforded to Agriculture, and the attention which is bestowed on the Instruction of the people. In both instances the legislator exerts a power which is literally productive or creative, compelling, in the one case, the unprofitable desert to pour forth its latent riches; and, in the other, vivifying the dormant seeds of genius and virtue, and redeeming from the neglected waste of human intellect a new and unexpected accession to the common inheritance of mankind.
A few additional observations on the fundamental principles of the Economical System still remain, which I shall reserve (with some critical remarks on the improprieties of its phraseology, and on certain errors into which its authors appear to have been led by mistaken views of philanthropy) to be the subject of another lecture.
My two last Lectures were employed in examining Mr. Smith’s criticisms on the doctrine of the Economists, concerning productive and unproductive labour. The subject, after all I have stated, is, I am sensible, very far from being exhausted; and when I recollect the different lights in which it has been viewed by so many eminent men, it is impossible for me not to feel a certain degree of hesitation about the strictures which I have occasionally hazarded on their conclusions. The truth is, that on this, as on most other occasions, I should wish to be understood as aiming rather to suggest matter for future consideration, than to support any particular system; and I am never more anxious that this should be kept in view, than when I happen to dissent from the deliberate and decided opinions of Mr. Smith. On the other hand, if authority is to be allowed any weight in such inquiries, it will be readily acknowledged that the most careful examination is due to every part of a theory recommended by such names as those of Quesnai, Morellet, and Turgot; and of which the fundamental principles (at the distance of forty years from its original publication) were adopted, after mature deliberation and long discussion, by the late celebrated Lavoisier; a philosopher equally distinguished by the correctness of his judgment, and the extent and accuracy of his political information.
That the writings of the authors by whom the system was first explained; those of Quesnai (in particular,) of Turgot, and of the Marquis de Mirabeau, will amply repay the labour of a very diligent perusal to all who turn their attention to these studies, I can venture to pronounce with confidence: and it is only after examining the different parts of the system in their relation to each other and to the whole, that a correct judgment can be formed of their scope and of their importance. In this view, I am somewhat afraid, that by dwelling so long on a detached and preliminary article, I may have created a prejudice against a doctrine, about which I was anxious to excite your curiosity, more especially as it is a doctrine to which the following remark of Lord Bacon applies with peculiar force: “Theoriarum vires in apta et se mutuo sustinente partium harmonia, et quadam in orbem demonstratione consistunt; ideoque per partes traditæ, infirmæ sunt.”*
I am sensible that this acknowledgment forms but an awkward introduction to a farther prosecution of the same subject; but having already said so much, I am unwilling to leave it without stating a few considerations, which appear to myself to throw some light on the circumstances which have produced this diversity of opinion on a question apparently of so simple a nature.
Among the objections which naturally present themselves against the Economical system, one of the most obvious is founded on the restricted sense in which it employs the phrases productive labour and national revenue. The latter of these Mr. Smith charges the Economists with supposing to consist altogether in the quantity of subsistence which the industry of the people can procure. This statement, however, is not accurate. It would be nearer the truth to say, that they suppose it to consist in the rude produce;1 for although by far the greater part of this is destined for the subsistence of man, it is not on that account that the epithet productive is applied to the labour employed in raising it; but because this labour, in consequence of being associated with the genial powers of nature, augments the national stock, by an accession or creation which would not otherwise have existed. According to this idea, the labour which is employed in raising hemp or flax, is no less productive than that which brings wheat or barley to market; and the former articles, as well as the latter, are to be considered as forming part of the national revenue.
In offering this explanation, I would not be understood to vindicate the language employed by the Economists, but only to shew, that there is a solid foundation for the distinction which they have endeavoured to establish between the nature and effects of agricultural and of manufacturing labour. That the epithets productive and unproductive were not very happily chosen to express this distinction, appears sufficiently from the criticisms which have been made on them by different writers, as being at variance with the common apprehensions and common modes of speaking among mankind. But if, on the one hand, it be granted to be an abuse of words to bestow the epithet unproductive, on any species of labour which contributes essentially to the happiness of society, and to exclude from the national revenue the result of those arts which multiply so wonderfully the accommodations of human life; it must, in my opinion, be admitted, on the other hand, that an objection still stronger applies to the language introduced by Mr. Smith, according to which we are led to rank the most honourable and useful members of the community among its unproductive labourers: “the sovereign, for example, with all the officers both of justice and war who serve under him; the whole army and navy; churchmen, lawyers, physicians, and men of letters of every denomination;”* while the national revenue is measured exclusively by the exchangeable value of those vendible commodities which compose the annual produce of the land and labour of the country. Perhaps a mode of expression on this subject might be devised, less exceptionable than either of those which have been now under our review; marking, on the one hand, with precision the essential distinction which the Economists are so anxious to establish; and avoiding on the other, that paradoxical appearance which a proposition is apt to assume, when the meaning of the technical terms in which it is stated does not coincide exactly with their ordinary acceptations in popular discourse. The history of modern chemistry affords a sufficient proof, how much the progress of knowledge depends on the logical propriety of the terms employed in our reasonings. The Economical system seems to me to have been partly suggested by the same general views which gave rise to the new nomenclature; and in this respect it reflects the highest credit on the ingenuity and sagacity of its authors. Considered as a first attempt, it is much more wonderful that it should have been carried so skilfully and plausibly into execution, as to divide the opinions of the best judges in Europe to the present day, than that some faults should have occurred in the details of so vast and complicated an undertaking. A few of them, I suspect strongly, will be found to vitiate that very part of it which I have been attempting to illustrate; and, if I do not deceive myself, they might be completely corrected, by slight alterations in certain technical terms which confound together things which ought to be distinguished. From this confusion arises entirely whatever obscurity appears at present to involve the subject; and various difficulties connected with the details of the system may be traced to a similar cause. These imperfections it is certainly of consequence to remove; for in the same proportion in which a technical vocabulary, founded on the principles of a sound logic, facilitates the discovery of truth, it must have a tendency, wherever it violates these principles, to add to the difficulty of detecting error, by the systematical form in which it is exhibited.
I cannot help taking this opportunity of adding, that a scientific language appropriated to Political Economy (if successfully executed) would be still more useful than in Chemistry; because the subjects of our reasonings entering more constantly and familiarly into popular discussion, give rise to a far greater number of absurd associations to perplex the ordinary vocabulary. The task, however, is proportionally more arduous, inasmuch as it is necessary to unite, along with precision, a certain deference for the usual modes of expression. In chemistry, the novelty of the phenomena reconciles us to the use of whatever technical terms our instructors find necessary to employ; but in Political Economy, which is, more or less, a subject of daily speculation to all classes of men, an appropriate vocabulary is apt to convey the idea of pedantry or of affected mystery; and, in truth, this circumstance will be found, more than anything else, to have revolted the public taste at the speculations of Quesnai. How far it may be possible to combine that precision of language which he had in view, with a diction more simple and more familiar to the ear, is a question upon which I cannot at present hazard an opinion.
In the view which has been given of the Economical system concerning productive and unproductive labour, I have endeavoured to vindicate it against Mr. Smith’s very ingenious criticisms; not because I think it unexceptionable, but because these criticisms, if I am not much mistaken, have betrayed that profound writer into an indistinctness of language which has obscured his reasonings in some instances, and misled his conclusions in others: and, indeed, one of my chief objects in dwelling so long as I have done on a controversial discussion of this kind, was to direct your attention to a careful and scrupulous examination of those parts of the Wealth of Nations where the phrases productive labour and productive expenses appear to have any connexion with the argument.
For my own part, so far from considering it as the fault of Quesnai’s phraseology, that it confines our attention too much to the labour and expenses employed in producing the means of subsistence, I think its chief indistinctness arises from the tendency which its language has to confound, in our apprehensions, that part of the rude produce which furnishes the means of subsistence, and that part of it which is subservient to the arts of accommodation. If the Economists had actually restricted the phrase National Revenue (according to Mr. Smith’s supposition) to the means of subsistence alone, their language, although liable to censure on account of its obvious inconsistency with their fundamental and very important doctrine concerning the peculiar characteristics of agricultural labour and expenses, would have possessed, in some respects, an advantage over the mode of expression adopted in their theory. I shall mention one instance of this which will both illustrate the meaning of the remark, and confirm its truth.
Of the two different parts of rude produce which have now been distinguished, it is manifest, that although they agree in the circumstance of rewarding the labourer with a free gift derived from the bounty of nature, they differ in one very essential particular, that while the agricultural labour employed in providing the means of subsistence, renders the cultivator independent of all the other classes of the community, the agricultural labour employed in ministering to the arts of accommodation or of ornament, possesses only an exchangeable value, agree in this respect with the labour employed in manufactures. The Economists were evidently led to confound these together under the same epithet, by the application which they were to make of this part of their theory, to their favourite object of a territorial tax; but it is of consequence to keep the distinction steadily in view, in order to direct the attention of the statesman to that species of revenue which can alone afford a solid basis for a useful population, and through the medium of which the encouragement to population should, in a great agricultural country, be exclusively directed.
Would it not obviate, in some degree, these different objections, (after stating in as unexceptionable language as could be devised, the radical distinction which the Economists express by the words productive and unproductive,) to subdivide what they call productive labour into two kinds,—that which affords the means of subsistence, and that which supplies the arts of accommodation with their rude materials, marking each by some appropriate and convenient epithet? Such a subdivision, while attended with the practical advantage just alluded to, would keep in view the principle on which the radical distinction really hinges, and would prevent those misapprehensions of its import which are apt to arise, partly from the associations established by ordinary speech between the ideas of productive and of useful, and partly from the bias which we naturally have to consider the means of subsistence as the only objects of agriculture. The illustrations of some of the Economical writers are extremely apt to encourage those misapprehensions, as they frequently blend with the argument in proof of that peculiarity in agricultural labour which I have been endeavouring to explain, a variety of other considerations which have no connexion with this particular conclusion: such, for example, as the independence of the husbandman, when compared with that of the other members of the social system; or the impossibility, in a great agricultural country, of importing to any considerable amount the necessaries of life. That both of these considerations are of the highest importance, when National Revenue is considered in reference to Population, I flatter myself I have sufficiently shewn when contrasting the policy of China with that of Holland, [p. 284.] And it was on this account chiefly, that I was led to object to Mr. Smith’s definition of productive labour and of national riches, as tending by their latitude to keep out of view the peculiar characteristics of that species of revenue, to the increase of which alone the attention of the statesman may be, at all times, with safety directed, as necessarily implying a correspondent increase in the abundance and comforts enjoyed by the people. In the Economical system, on the other hand, the practical inconvenience of the indistinctness in question, is comparatively trifling, as the objects of agriculture and the means of subsistence are expressions which, in an extensive territory, must always coincide pretty nearly in their meaning. In studying, however, this system, it will contribute greatly to the precision of our ideas, to draw the line distinctly between these two different parts of the rude produce, so as to keep constantly in our recollection that the epithet productive or creative is not less applicable to what is to furnish the manufacturer with the materials of his web, than to that which is to furnish him with articles of the first necessity.
The indistinctness which, in this instance, I have ventured to ascribe to some of the Economical writers, may be perceived, if I am not mistaken, even in M. Turgot’s excellent Reflections on the Formation and Distribution of Riches. It arose, indeed, not unnaturally, from the two different objects which these writers had principally in view. The first was the encouragement of agriculture, as the source of national subsistence; the second, the establishment of a territorial tax to be levied on the nett produce. As the arguments in favour of the latter apply equally to all the operations of husbandry, it was of consequence to establish, in the clearest manner, the distinction between productive and unproductive labour, upon which this speculation turns entirely. While engaged, however, in the illustration of this point, they have often been led by their agricultural enthusiasm, to embarrass their reasonings with a statement of some of the other characteristics or advantages of agricultural industry, altogether foreign to the purpose, and thereby to confirm their readers still more in the apprehension, that the word productive, as employed in the Economical system, has somehow or other a reference to the utility, or necessity, or independence of the occupation in which the husbandman is employed.
Having mentioned the subject of the territorial tax, it may be of some use to add, that, according to the principles of the Economists, all taxes fall ultimately on that part of the annual reproduction of the ground which remains after defraying all the expenses incurred to obtain it. They further hold, that the only just principle on which a tax can be imposed, is by proportioning the burden to the surplus, which, in the language of the Economists, is called the nett produce. In the last place they assert, that the only possible way to carry this principle into effect, is to levy the tax directly on that fund, which, by its nature, is inevitably destined to pay it in the end.
“It is with taxes,” says one of these writers, “as with the operation of blood-letting on the human body. Puncture its various members in a hundred different places, and you only torment the patient, without obtaining the quantity which he ought to lose. Fix on a single vein, and the slightest incision will at once accomplish your purpose.” The Economists flatter themselves with being the first who discovered that vein in the political body, by opening which the State may obtain what it desires with the least possible inconvenience to its subjects. This vein is the nett produce of the land, to which (according to them) all the operations of the legislator, in the way of taxation, should be directly and immediately applied.
The advantages which the Economists ascribe to such a tax, are, 1st, its equality, (the only fund which pays taxes ultimately being assessed with perfect exactness); 2d, its certainty, (nothing being left to arbitrary imposition); 3d, the economy with which it might be levied, (hardly anything being taken out of the subject’s pocket but what is to go into the public treasury.) The circumstance, however, on which they dwell chiefly, is the accurate scale it would afford for exhibiting the proportion between public burdens and the national revenue; and for marking the limit beyond which they cannot be carried without injury to cultivation, and a decline of national prosperity,—points, which it is difficult, or rather impossible to ascertain, amidst the infinite complications of the established system.
With a view to demonstrate their fundamental principle, that all taxes fall ultimately on the nett produce, the Economists have been led to analyze the complicated mechanism of civilized society, and to examine in what manner the funds which the rude produce of the soil supplies is distributed among the different classes or order of the nations. The result of the investigation is, that from the nature of the distribution, the tax, in whatever manner imposed, must be paid, in the last result, out of this fund; and that it is beyond the power of the financier to contrive a tax which shall ultimately fall on any other.
It is with a view to the establishment of this important conclusion, that the Economists have been at so much pains to mark the respective characteristics of productive and unproductive labour and expense; and hence the stress they have been induced to lay on a distinction which must be acknowledged to have at first sight, somewhat of the appearance of idle and scholastic refinement. It was partly in order to obviate this impression, that I was led to introduce the subject of the territorial tax; but my chief object in this short digression was to reflect some additional light on the distinction which suggested it, by pointing out the result to which that distinction is subservient. As I have very little doubt that the Economists were, in this instance, conducted to their definitions by an analytical process, directly the reverse of that order which they have followed in their publications, I was induced to think that a general conception of the conclusion which they had in view might be of some use in ascertaining the import of those technical expressions, in the interpretation of which there might be any ground for hesitation or controversy.
If this view of the question had occurred to Mr. Smith, it could not have failed to suggest a correction of one of his statements concerning the Economical system which I formerly objected to, [p. 290]; that it limits the epithet productive to that labour alone which is directed to the increase of the means of subsistence; and that it considers these articles of first necessity as the sole constituents of national revenue.
In what I have now said, I would not be understood to insinuate any opinion with respect to the theory of the territorial tax. The discussion belongs properly to the article of Taxation,—a branch of Political Economy of which (as I hinted in my first lecture) I propose to delay the consideration till some future occasion. In the meantime, it may gratify the curiosity of such of my hearers as may wish to examine the theory of the territorial tax, to observe that, although it was by Quesnai and his followers that the first attempt was made to demonstrate it rigorously from first principles, to unfold its manifold supposed advantages, and to suggest the means of carrying it gradually into execution, the original idea was borrowed from this island. I do not know if it occurs in any writer prior to Locke; but the following passage from his Considerations on the Lowering of Interest and Raising the Value of Money, (published in 1691,) is abundantly explicit.
“When a nation is running into decay and ruin, the merchant and monied man, do what you can, will be sure to starve last. Observe it where you will, the decays that come upon and bring to ruin any country, do constantly fall first upon the land; and though the country gentleman be not very forward to think so, yet this is, nevertheless, an undoubted truth, that he is more concerned in trade, and ought to take a greater care that it be well managed than even the merchant himself. For he will certainly find, when a decay of trade has carried away one part of our money out of the kingdom, and the other is kept in the merchants and tradesman’s hands, that no laws he can make, nor any little art of shifting property amongst ourselves, will bring it back to him again; but his rents will fall, and his income every day lessen, till general industry and frugality, joined to a well-ordered trade, shall restore to the kingdom the riches it had formerly.—This, by the way, if well considered, might let us see that taxes, however contrived, and out of whose hand soever immediately taken, do, in a country when their great fund is in land, for the most part terminate upon land. . . . A tax laid upon land seems hard to the landholder, because it is so much money going visibly out of his pocket; and, therefore, as an ease to himself, the landlord is always forward to lay it upon commodities. But if he will thoroughly consider it, and examine the effects, he will find he buys this seeming ease at a very dear rate. And although he pays not this tax immediately out of his own purse, yet his purse will find it by a greater want of money there at the end of the year than that comes to, with the lessening of his rents to boot, which is a settled and lasting evil that will stick upon him beyond the present payment.”
After a long argument in support of this opinion, (for which I must refer to the Essay already mentioned,) Mr. Locke concludes thus:—“It is in vain in a country whose great fund is land, to hope to lay the public charge of the government on anything else. There at last it will terminate. The merchant, do what you can, will not bear it, the labourer cannot, and therefore the landholders must. And, whether it were not better for him to have it laid directly, where it will at last settle, than to let it come to him by the sinking of his rents, which when they are once fallen, every one knows are not easily raised again, let him consider.”
A still more elaborate argument in favour of the same projects, may be found in a pamphlet, published in 1734, by Jacob Vanderlint,* an author whose merits have been in general strangely overlooked by our modern writers on Political Economy. For my own part, I was entirely unacquainted with them till his Essay was put into my hands a few years ago by Lord Lauderdale. Of Vanderlint’s history, either as a man or an author, I know nothing; but he seems, from his own account, not to have enjoyed the advantage of a liberal education. “I am sorry,” he observes in his preface, “that I am not in all respects equal to this most important undertaking; yet I doubt not, that I have sufficiently made out what I have undertaken, and though not with the accuracy of a scholar, yet with that perspicuity and evidence which may be expected from an ordinary tradesman.” A few sentences, extracted from this performance, will sufficiently shew its coincidence, both in doctrine and in language, with the works of the Economists.
“If all taxes were taken off goods, and levied on lands and houses only, the gentlemen would have more nett rent left out of their estates than they have now, when the taxes are almost wholly levied on goods.”
“That the land gives all we have, would be self-evident, if we did not import many goods which are the produce of other nations. But this makes no alteration in the case, since the quantity of foreign goods which we import cannot continually be of greater value than the goods we export; because this in the end must exhaust our cash, and so put an end to that excess. Therefore, the goods we import stand only instead of those we export; and, consequently, the land gives not only all we have of our own produce, but virtually all we receive from other nations.”
After these observations, which the author illustrates with considerable ingenuity, he proceeds to shew, “that the land must pay all taxes, in what manner soever they may be levied; a proposition,” he remarks, “which might perhaps be assumed as virtually implied in a self-evident truth, that what gives all must pay all.” For the satisfaction, however, of the reader, Vanderlint here enters into a particular explanation of the process by which he conceived the effect to be accomplished; and although some of his reasonings on this point are liable to obvious objections, they must be allowed (more especially when we consider at what period he wrote, and what disadvantages, as an author, he laboured under) to bear the strongest marks of originality and refinement of thought. The investigation is much too long to admit of an abstract in this Lecture.
The same opinion with respect to the peculiar advantages of a territorial tax, appears to have been held by a Mr. [John] Asgill, who, about the end of the seventeenth, or the beginning of the eighteenth century, published a Treatise entitled, Several Assertions Proved, in order to create another species of Money than Gold or Silver, [1696.]
The object of the Treatise is to support the proposition of Dr. Hugh Chamberlayne for a land bank, which he laid before the English House of Commons in 1693, and before the Scotch Parliament in 1703.
I have not had an opportunity of perusing this performance, but the following very curious extract, which breathes the very spirit of Quesnai’s philosophy, has been communicated to me by Lord Lauderdale, to whose researches and speculations concerning the history and principles of the Economical system, (more particularly concerning those parts of it which have been derived from old English writers,) I am indebted for much important information.
“What we call commodities is nothing but land severed from the soil. The owners of the soil, in every country, have the sale of all the commodities of the growth of that country, and, consequently, have the power of giving credit in that country; and, therefore, whatever they will accept for their commodities is money. Man deals in nothing but in earth. The merchants are the factors of the world, to exchange one part of the earth for another. The king himself is fed by the labours of the ox; and the clothing of the army, and the victualling of the navy must all be paid for to the owner of the soil as the ultimate receiver.”
I shall only add further on this subject at present, that the argument in support of the territorial tax may be found at length in the works of the Marquis de Mirabeau,—in the Treatise of Le Trosne, On Provincial Administrations,—and in various memoirs, published by Dupont, in the collection entitled, Ephémérides d’un Citoyen. The principal writers on the other side are Necker, Sir James Steuart, Pinto, Adam Smith, the Marquis de Casaux, and the author of a Treatise entitled, Essai Analytique sur la Richesse et sur l’Impôt. This last writer has entered into a more methodical and accurate examination of the Economical system, in all its parts, than any other I know; and has certainly displayed great acuteness and ability in the course of his discussion. His publication is anonymous; but it appears from a passage in the Life of Turgot, compared with a passage in the Ephémérides, &c., to have been the work of M. Graslin, a gentleman who held an important situation in the revenue department of Nantes.
From this digression with respect to the territorial tax, I now return to the elementary principles of the Economical System, concerning the nature of National Wealth; with a view to the illustration of which principles I was led to introduce, somewhat out of place, a faint outline of the practical conclusion to which they are subservient. As the establishment of this conclusion was manifestly the primary object of the Economists, it seemed reasonable to think, that the consideration of the practical result might assist us in entering into the train of thought by which the preparatory parts of their system were suggested. And, if I do not deceive myself, this analytical view of their investigations has conducted us to a more precise conception of some of their principles and definitions than is commonly entertained.
To the criticisms which I have already offered on these principles and definitions, I have yet to add another, which is more general in its aim, and which leads to consequences affecting still more deeply the justness of the Economical system, as a theory practically applicable to the existing state of society in this part of the world.
I have observed in the Philosophy of the Human Mind,* that the leading object of the earliest and most enlightened patrons of the Economical system, seems to have been “to delineate that state of political society to which the social order may be expected to approach nearer and nearer as human nature is gradually matured by reasoning and reflection. I have observed, at the same time, that it is the height of enthusiasm and absurdity to suppose that the period is ever to arrive when this state of things will be realized in its full extent; yet many of the most zealous advocates of the Economical system have so completely lost sight of this consideration, that they have formed many of their particular conclusions, on the supposition that it was already accomplished.
(Interpolation from Notes.)—Of this remark various illustrations occur in the works of the Economists. Thus, for example, they uniformly take it for granted, as an established principle, that the revenue or fund employed in the support of manufacturers, is always equal in its exchangeable value to the commodities which they produce. That this is the ultimate tendency of things in all the employments of human industry, is unquestionably true; and it is no less certain, that it has been already realized in various branches of trade. This, for instance, is the case in all those arts which are so well understood, that one class of workmen cannot be supposed to possess any advantage over another. In the manufacture of lace, for instance, of the workmen employed in which, it approaches nearly to a mathematical truth to assert, that at no moment of time do they add anything to the value of the whole annual amount of the rude produce of the land, the portion of that produce which they are continually consuming being always equal to the value of what they have produced. Notwithstanding, however, of this circumstance, it is certainly going a great deal too far to assert, that it will ever afford any universal principle with respect to that order of things which actually exists in such countries as France or England. The high wages which are occasionally given in some new arts, compared with the poverty of those who are engaged in the manufacture of lace, to borrow the instance of which the Economists are so fond, affords a demonstrative proof that, whatever may be the ultimate tendency of a general competition in all the various branches of manufacturing industry, the fact is, at present, in numberless instances, at variance with that result. To these observations I beg leave to add, that the fact in question is totally irreconcilable with the advantages which one manufacturer possesses over another, in consequence of the expedients which his skill and capital enable him to employ for abridging or superseding manual labour, and no less inconsistent with the advantages derived from secret processes in manufactures or the arts, which are sometimes transmitted as an inheritance in the same family for a succession of generations.
A similar paralogism occurs in the reasonings of the Economists concerning the effects of manufacturing industry when combined with foreign commerce. A detailed statement of their opinion upon this point has been already given, [pp. 267, 268.] We may therefore conclude, say the Economists, that that labour alone is productive which adds to the rude produce of the ground. With regard to this reasoning, I need hardly say, that however important the lesson is which it conveys, with respect to the independence and permanent stability of agricultural wealth, when compared with that which arises from commerce and manufactures, it leads to no just inference unfavourable to the latter as long as they continue to flourish. The following passage from one of Dr. Franklin’s political tracts, by pushing these doctrines of the Economists a little too far, affords the best proof which I know of something radically defective in the system from which his arguments are borrowed.
“Where the labour and expense of producing commodities are known to both parties, bargains will generally be fair and equal. Where they are known to one party only, bargains will often be unequal, knowledge taking its advantage of ignorance.
“Thus, he that carries one thousand bushels of wheat abroad to sell, may not probably obtain so great a profit thereon, as if he had first turned the wheat into manufactures, by subsisting therewith the workmen while producing those manufactures, since there are many expediting and facilitating methods of working, not generally known; and strangers to the manufactures, though they know pretty well the expense of raising wheat, are unacquainted with those short methods of working, and thence being apt to suppose more labour employed in the manufactures than there really is, are more easily imposed on in their value, and induced to allow more for them than they are honestly worth.
“Thus the advantage of having manufactures in a country does not consist, as is commonly supposed, in their highly advancing the value of rough materials, of which they are formed; since, though sixpenny worth of flax may be worth twenty shillings, when worked into lace, yet the very cause of its being worth twenty shillings is, that, besides the flax, it has cost nineteen shillings and sixpence in subsistence to the manufacturer. But the advantage of manufactures is, that under their shape provisions may be more easily carried to a foreign market, and, by their means, our traders may more easily cheat strangers. Few, where it is not made, are judges of the value of lace. The importer may demand forty, and perhaps get thirty shillings, for that which cost him but twenty.”*
The conclusions which are drawn from these reasonings are,—that there are only three ways of increasing the riches of a state; the first is by war: this is robbery; the second is by commerce: this is cheating; and the third is by agriculture: this is the only honest way. It seems abundantly evident, that the tone of morality here assumed is much too elevated for the actual condition of the human race. Indeed, it does not appear to be very consistent with itself; for where is the injustice in the advantage which the knowledge and skill of one set of persons give them over the ignorance of others, if it be allowed to be fair and equitable in industry to avail itself of its natural superiority over idleness?
But whatever opinion we may adopt on this abstract question, there can be no doubt that such as I have now described are the actual circumstances of mankind, producing everywhere, in a greater or less degree, a competition among nations, in which each makes the most, not only of its natural advantages, but of the superiority which it enjoys in consequence of its industry, skill, and accumulated stock. Nor is it difficult to trace in the operation of the latter, the provision for that commercial fraternity among nations, the foundation of which is laid in the diversity of the productions of different countries. It is here, I apprehend, that the characteristical excellence of Mr. Smith’s work is to be found; that abstracting entirely from that ideal perfection to which it is possible that things may have a tendency, he adapts his speculations to the present state of this part of the world, and has demonstrated, with irresistible perspicuity, that even while this competition among nations continues, honesty forms the best and surest policy; and that the general prosperity of the globe, as well as the individual welfare of nations, is best consulted when each endeavours to turn its own peculiar advantages to the best account, and leaves the same liberty to others. In these particulars, the doctrines of Mr. Smith coincide entirely with those of the economical system, over which they certainly possess one important advantage, that they are deduced from a view of nations as they actually exist, and that they are susceptible of an easy application to their present circumstances.
The result of the parallel, then, which I have been so long preparing to draw between these two great systems, is, that if, on the one hand, the language of the Economists be more precise and definite, and the result of a more accurate metaphysical analysis than that of Mr. Smith, and if some of the fundamental principles of the former are of a more scientific nature, and more universal application, the doctrines inculcated in the Wealth of Nations are, on the other hand, with a very few exceptions, of greater practical utility to those who are to engage in the general business of the world, especially to those whose views have a more particular reference to the business of political life. I speak at present of his doctrines with regard to the freedom of commerce; in which, indeed, both systems agree, though I must be allowed to remark, that in one important point the Economical system is eminently deserving of praise; I mean in that part which, by explaining so fully and so beautifully the peculiar productiveness and independence of agricultural labour, cannot fail to have a powerful tendency to prevent statesmen from ever mistaking the means for the end; or, as I have expressed the same idea in the Philosophy of the Human Mind, “from ever being led astray by more limited views of temporary expediency.”* On this pre-eminence of agriculture, Mr. Smith has certainly enlarged too little, nor is his phraseology always sufficiently marked to keep it constantly in the view of the student. This is the more remarkable, as Mr. Smith seems to have been fully aware of the general tendency of the doctrines of the Economists. Thus, in one remarkable passage, after stating that the system of Quesnai forms a nearer approximation to a just system of political economy than any theory that had gone before it, he adds, “that it had a sensible effect in influencing the measures of the French Government in favour of agriculture. It has been in consequence of their representations, accordingly, that the agriculture of France has been delivered from several of the oppressions which it before laboured under. The term during which such a lease can be granted, as will be valid against every future purchaser or proprietor of the land, has been prolonged from nine to twenty-seven years. The ancient provincial restraints upon the transportation of corn from one province of the kingdom to another, have been entirely taken away, and the liberty of exporting it to all foreign countries, has been established as the common law of the kingdom in all ordinary cases.”*
There are few speculative systems which can boast of practical effects equally calculated to advance national prosperity; more especially when I add the tendency which, in this particular instance, the doctrines of the Economists had to bring into disrepute the policy of Colberton the subject of Population, which had long been acted upon in France, in recommending to statesmen to invert the order proposed by Colbert, and to encourage Population through the medium of Agriculture. It was Quesnai who first unfolded this important and fundamental truth; and it is only to be regretted, that in applying the maxim to the actual circumstances of the world, he has not always stated this doctrine with the proper limitations, too often overlooking altogether those circumstances so finely illustrated by Mr. Smith, which in this part of the world have forced into a retrograde order the natural course of things, and thus rendered all deductions drawn from that course inapplicable to the present state of things in the modern world.
Before leaving this subject, I think it proper to observe, that wherever I have mentioned the system of the Economists in terms of approbation, I would be understood to refer solely to their doctrines on the subject of Political Economy proper. “The Theory of Government which they inculcate,” as I have observed in the Philosophy of the Human Mind, “is of the most dangerous tendency, recommending in strong and unqualified terms an unmixed despotism, and reprobating all constitutional checks on the sovereign authority. Many English writers, indeed, with an almost incredible ignorance of the works which they have presumed to censure, have spoken of them, as if they encouraged political principles of a very different complexion; but the truth is, that the disciples of Quesnai (without a single exception) carried their zeal for the power of the monarch, and what they called the Unity of Legislation, to so extravagant a length, as to treat with contempt those mixed establishments which allow any share whatever of legislative influence to the representatives of the people. On the one hand, the evidence of this system appeared to its partisans so complete and irresistible, that they flattered themselves monarchs would soon see, with an intuitive conviction, the identity of their own interests with those of the nations they are called to govern; and, on the other hand, they contended that it is only under the strong and steady government of a race of hereditary princes, undistracted by the prejudices and local interests which warp the deliberations of popular assemblies, that a gradual and systematical approach can be made to the perfection of law and policy. The very first of Quesnai’s maxims states as a fundamental principle, that the sovereign authority, unrestrained by any constitutional checks or balances, should be lodged in the hands of a single person; and the same doctrine is maintained zealously by all his followers—by none of them more explicitly than by Mercier de la Rivière, whose treatise on The Natural and Essential Order of Political Societies, might have been expected to attract some notice in this country, from the praise which Mr. Smith has bestowed on the perspicuity of his style, and the distinctness of his arrangement.”*
ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH RENDER LABOUR MORE EFFECTIVE.]
I proceed now to illustrate the general principles on which the effective powers of labour depend; or, in other words, to illustrate the circumstances which tend to economize the exertions of human power in accomplishing the purposes to which it is directed. The speculation, certainly, is one of the most curious which the mechanism of a commercial society presents to a philosopher; and it leads to many consequences of a very general and important application. From the observations already made, it appears that man is forced, in every situation in which he is to be found, by the necessities of his nature, to employ some degree of art in order to obtain the means of subsistence and safety. It appears farther, that it is to these necessities he is indebted for the development and improvement of those faculties by which he is distinguished from the brutes; and that, excepting in a few districts, where the preservation of his animal existence occupies his whole attention, and leaves him no leisure for the arts of accommodation, his intellectual attainments are, in general, proportioned to the number of his wants, and to the difficulties with which he has to struggle. As Rousseau observes:—“Chez toutes les nations du monde, les progrès de l’esprit se sont précisément proportionnés aux besoins que les peuples avaient reçus de la nature, ou auxquels les circonstances les avaient assujettis, et par conséquent aux passions qui les portaient à pourvoir à ces besoins. Je montrerais en Egypte les arts naissants et s’étendants avec les débordemens du Nil; je suivrais leurs progrès chez les Grecs, où l’on les vit germer, croître, et s’élever jusqu’aux cieux parmi les sables et les rochers de l’Attique, sans pouvoir prendre racine sur les bords fertiles de l’Eurotas.”*
As soon as the situation of an individual is rendered easy and comfortable, with respect to the necessities of life, he begins to feel wants of which he was not conscious before, and his imagination creates new objects of pursuit to fill up his intervals of leisure. It seems to be the intention of Providence, that as soon as one class of our wants is supplied, another, whether real or imaginary, makes its appearance; and it is this, that as no limit can be stated to our desires, so there seems to be no limit to the improvement of the arts and the progress of refinement.
In the rudest state of society, in which all the members of a tribe are occupied in procuring subsistence, each individual will appropriate to himself the various objects of pursuit by his own personal exertions. He will form his own habitation, secure his prey by his own strength or agility, and be the artificer of those instruments which are employed in the simple arts which minister to his safety or accommodation; and thus his occupations, however limited in number, will be at least as various as the arts which he exercises; and the opportunities of intellectual improvement, however scanty, will be nearly the same to all the members of the community.
On the Division of Labour.]
As society advances, the different tastes and propensities of individuals will give rise to a variety in their pursuits, and in their habits and attainments. In such circumstances, a very small degree of experience or reflection will satisfy them, that it would be for the advantage of all if each should confine himself to his own favourite occupation, cultivating to the utmost of his ability those mechanical habits which are connected with its exercise, and exchanging the surplus produce of his industry for what he may want of the commodities produced by the labour of his neighbours. Thus trades and separate professions will arise, which, in consequence of the operation of the same causes, will continually multiply and be divided and subdivided as society advances in wealth and refinement. The observation, that “A Jack of all trades is master of none,” is one of those maxims of common sense which the slightest survey of human life forces on the most careless observer.*
It is on this separation of trades and professions, and on this division and subdivision of labour, that the progress of the arts, according to Mr. Smith, in a great measure, depends; the effective powers of labour being, in general, proportioned to the degree in which these are divided and distributed.† The same idea had, before Mr. Smith’s time, been adopted by various modern writers; particularly by Mr. Harris in his Dialogue concerning Happiness, 1741;‡ and by Dr. Ferguson in his Essay on Civil Society.§ The fact, too, has been very strongly stated by different writers of a much more early date; particularly by Sir William Petty and Dr. Mandeville; nor did it escape the notice of the ancients, as appears among various other documents, from a very curious passage in the Cyropædia of Xenophon, in which he compares the distribution of employments in Cyrus’s kitchen to the division of trades in a populous city. This passage states the doctrine so circumstantially, and with a simplicity of detail so characteristical of this inimitable writer, that I shall make no apology for quoting the passage at length:—
“For as other arts are wrought up in great cities to a greater degree of perfection, in the same manner are the meats that come from the king dressed in greater perfection. For in little cities the same people make both the frame of a couch, a door, a plough, and a table; and frequently the same person is a builder too, and very well satisfied he is, if he meet with customers enough to maintain him. It is impossible, therefore, for a man that makes a great many different things, to do them all well. But in great cities, because there are multitudes that want every particular thing, one art alone is sufficient for the maintenance of every one; and frequently not an entire one neither, but one man makes shoes for men, another for women. Sometimes it happens, that one gets a maintenance by sewing shoes together, another by cutting them out; one by cutting out cloths only, and another without doing any of these things is maintained by fitting together the pieces so cut out. He, therefore, that deals in a business that lies within a little compass, must of necessity do it the best. The case is the same with respect to the business of a table, for he that has the same man to cover and adorn the frame of a couch, to set out the table, to knead the dough, to dress the several different meats, must necessarily, in my opinion, fare in each particular as it happens. But where it is business enough for one man to boil meat, for another to roast it; for one to boil fish, and for another to broil it; where it is business enough for one man to make bread, and that not of every sort neither, but that its enough for him to furnish one sort good, each man, in my opinion, must of necessity work up the things that are thus made to a very great perfection.”*
From this passage of Xenophon it is evident, that the effects of the division of labour, in contributing to the improvement of the arts, furnished a subject of speculation in ancient as well as in modern times. It is very observable, however, in the foregoing quotation, that what Xenophon lays the chief stress on, is the effect of this division in improving the quality of the articles produced, whereas the circumstance which has chiefly attracted the attention of Mr. Smith and other modern writers, is its astonishing effect in increasing their quantity. In proof of this, Mr. Smith has entered into some very interesting details with regard to the trade of the pin-makers.†
The effect of the division of labour in increasing its effective powers, is chiefly owing, according to Mr. Smith, to the three following circumstances:—
“First, The improvement of the dexterity of the workman necessarily increases the quantity of the work he can perform; and the division of labour, by reducing every man’s business to some one simple operation, and by making this operation the sole employment of his life, necessarily increases very much the dexterity of the workman. . . .
“Secondly, The advantage which is gained by saving the time commonly lost in passing from one sort of work to another, is much greater than we should at first view be apt to imagine it. It is impossible to pass very quickly from one kind of work to another, that is carried on in a different place, and with quite different tools. . . . A man commonly saunters a little in turning his hand from one sort of employment to another. When he first begins the new work he is seldom very keen and hearty; his mind, as they say, does not go to it, and for some time he rather trifles than applies to good purpose. . . .
“Thirdly, and lastly, Everybody must be sensible how much labour is facilitated and abridged by the application of proper machinery. It is unnecessary to give any example. I shall only observe, therefore, that the invention of all those machines by which labour is so much facilitated and abridged, seems to have been originally owing to the division of labour.”*
“1st, Greater skill and dexterity are acquired by each workman.” Of the effects of practice in increasing the rapidity and address of the hand in performing mechanical operations, no proof more striking can be mentioned than the feats of legerdemain exhibited by jugglers. Some of these, indeed, are so astonishing, and evince a degree of dexterity so much before anything else that we know, that they appear to deserve a much more accurate investigation than philosophers have hitherto bestowed on them. Other examples of the same kind will readily occur to any person who has been accustomed to frequent the workshops of manufacturers. The following facts are mentioned in the Wealth of Nations:—“A common smith, who, though accustomed to handle the hammer, has never been used to make nails, if upon some particular occasion he is obliged to attempt it, will scarce, I am assured, be able to make above two or three hundred nails in a day, and those too very bad ones. A smith who has been accustomed to make nails, but whose sole or principal business has not been that of a nailer, can seldom with his utmost diligence make more than eight hundred or a thousand nails in a day. I have seen several boys under twenty years of age, who had never exercised any other trade but that of making nails, and who, when they exerted themselves, could make, each of them, upwards of two thousand three hundred nails in a day.”*
The conclusion which Mr. Smith deduces from these and some similar statements is,—that as the subdivision of labour limits the attention of every different workman to a very simple operation, it must proportionally increase the dexterity of all; and consequently, their joint labour will, in a given time, be more effective, and their workmanship will be more perfect in its kind, than if each singly had attempted to perform all the different operations thus parcelled out.
In this view of the subject, there is unquestionably a great deal of truth. But it may, I think, be reasonably doubted, whether Mr. Smith has not laid too much stress on it, in accounting for the advantages gained from that astonishing division and subdivision of labour which takes place in some of the arts. That the rapidity of the hand in executing a mechanical operation, may be increased by practice to a very great degree, is an acknowledged fact. But there is obviously a limit, beyond which this rapidity cannot possibly be carried; and I am inclined to think, that in such very simple operations as drawing out a wire, &c., it is not very long before this ultimatum in point of rapidity is reached by the workman. Nor can I bring myself to believe, that after it is attained, the dexterity of the workman in performing this one operation would be at all impaired, though he should also have acquired a few other accomplishments of a similar nature: that the drawer of the wire would be less fitted for his employment, if he changed occupations for a day or two with the cutter or pointer of the pin. Indeed, I know of few manufactures where great manual dexterity is less required, than in that of pin-making. Even in those establishments which employ the labour of the hand to perform various operations, which in richer manufactures are accomplished by means of machinery, a very considerable part of the work is executed by children. Hence I am led to conclude, that though one of the advantages of the division of labour be to increase the rapidity of manual work, yet this advantage bears so very small a proportion to that which is gained in the last result, that it is by no means entitled to stand at the head of the enumeration; and certainly goes a very little length in accounting for that minute division and subdivision of labour which has been introduced into some of the most prosperous manufactures of this country. On this head, therefore, I entirely agree with a remark of Lord Lauderdale in his Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, where he observes, that even in the trade of the pin-maker, without the use of machinery to supersede the work of the hand, no great progress could have been made in the rapidity with which pins are formed.
In the second place, says Mr. Smith, “when a man leaves off one employment, and begins another, he is always disposed to trifle for some time, &c. All this time is saved by the division of labour.” The observation seems to be perfectly just, so far as it goes; but the economy of time gained in this way, must plainly bear a still more inconsiderable proportion than the former, to the magnitude of the effect which it is brought to explain.
It may perhaps be worth while to remark here in passing, that something similar to this effect in mechanical operations takes place with respect to the intellectual powers. When we pass suddenly from one speculation, and still more from one study to another, some time always elapses before the attention is completely engaged, and before the new set of ideas and facts is fully brought under our view. If I am not mistaken, this consideration affords an unanswerable objection to a practice which has been recommended by many authors, of making a regular distribution of the day into different portions, allotted to the study of different branches of literature and science. Where mere accomplishment is the object, this plan may contribute to its attainment better than any other, but with those who have in view the investigation of truth, and the acquisition of scientific knowledge, I am persuaded that much more intellectual work (if I may use the expression) will be performed, and much more successfully, in a given time, by preserving the train of thought, so as to bring one speculation completely to a close, before beginning another. Indeed, it would not be difficult to shew that the observation applies far more forcibly to intellectual exertion than to mechanical labour.
On the Use of Machinery as a Substitute for Labour.]
In the third place, the division of labour, according to Mr. Smith, increases its effective powers by promoting the invention of useful machines. In illustration of this remark, he reasons as follows:—
“Men are much more likely to discover easier and readier methods of attaining any object, when the whole attention of their minds is directed towards that single object, than when it is dissipated among a great variety of things. But in consequence of the division of labour, the whole of every man’s attention comes naturally to be directed towards some one very simple object. It is naturally to be expected, therefore, that some one or other of those who are employed in each particular branch of labour, should soon find out easier and readier methods of performing their own particular work, wherever the nature of it admits of such improvements. A great part of the machines made use of in those manufactures in which labour is most subdivided, were originally the inventions of common workmen, who, being each of them employed in some very simple operation, naturally turned their thoughts towards finding out easier and readier methods of performing it. Whoever has been much accustomed to visit such manufactures, must frequently have been shewn very pretty machines, which were the inventions of such workmen, in order to facilitate and quicken their own particular part of the work.”*
Before I proceed to make any remarks on this reasoning of Mr. Smith, I think it necessary to observe, that even if it were perfectly just, it would not be at all applicable to the present question. His professed object is to explain in what manner the division of labour increases its effective powers. The two first reasons are certainly legitimate and satisfactory, so far as they go; but in his third reason, Mr. Smith has plainly departed from his usual logical accuracy. The tendency of the division of labour to promote the invention of useful machines, cannot with propriety be said to render that labour more effective, so long as it continues to be exerted; for as soon as the machine is invented, the labour is superseded altogether. The effects, therefore, of the division of labour, and of the use of machines, though they both derive their value from the same circumstance, their tendency to enable one man to perform the work of many, are produced on principles essentially different; nor is it more correct to resolve the advantages of machinery into the effects produced by the division of labour, than it would be to resolve the latter into the former. Indeed, in my opinion, the last theory might be easily rendered the more plausible of the two.
But, passing from this objection to Mr. Smith’s reasoning, let us consider how far it is true, that workmen occupied from morning to night in repeating the same simple operation, are likely to be more fortunate than others in falling on mechanical inventions. The only proof of this produced by Mr. Smith, is the improvement of the steam-engine, said to be owing to the ingenuity of a boy engaged in the work. This account of the matter, I must own, has always appeared to me extremely unsatisfactory. That in some accidental cases the distribution of labour may have produced such effects, is possible. But it surely is an event not to be expected in the ordinary case, inasmuch as the workman has no motive to exert his ingenuity in multiplying machines, as in doing so, though he may accelerate the progress of the manufacture, yet he does not abridge his own day’s labour; and indeed there is even a probability that he may throw himself and his companions out of employment. Nor is this all; the division of labour tends to confine the attention, and of consequence the knowledge of the workman to the performance of one simple operation; whereas the perfection of manufacturing machinery consists in the combination of the greatest possible variety of operations in one machine. The habits of thinking, therefore, which the division of labour tends to generate, are adverse to that comprehension of mechanical contrivance on which the perfection of machinery depends. In confirmation of this reasoning, it may be worth while to remark, that among the many complicated machines which the manufactures of this country exhibit, while many of them may be traced to men who never entered the workshop, but in order to gratify a mechanical curiosity, hardly one can be mentioned which derives its origin from the living automatons, who are employed in the details of the work. With such fortunate inventors, the hope of reward operates in calling forth all their faculties; and as their studies embrace a general view of the subject, instead of dwelling upon its detached parts, their success, notwithstanding their total ignorance in many cases, has been greater than could have resulted from the highest efforts of a more circumscribed ingenuity.
I am far at the same time from denying, that the division of labour has a powerful effect to promote the invention of machines. But where it has this effect, it appears to operate, not on the inventive powers of the workman, but on those of his employer, or of the speculative observer. As to the former, his inventive powers will be always on the stretch to economize time and labour; and it is only where such a stimulus exists, that we can look with confidence to a perpetual succession of progressive improvement. In almost every instance the proverb will be found to hold true, that “Necessity,” or what amounts to the same thing, some urgent motive leading to the accomplishment of some desirable object, “is the mother of invention.”
As to the principle on which the division of labour tends to multiply mechanical contrivances, this seems to me to be a good deal more refined than Mr. Smith appears to have thought. The obvious effect of the division of labour in any complicated mechanical operation is, to analyze that operation into the simplest steps which can be carried on separately. Of these steps, there may probably be some which can only be performed by the human hand, while others, either in whole or in part, admit of the substitution of machines. Now, it is only by resolving an operation into its simplest elements, that this separation can be made, so as to force on the attention of the mechanist, in their simplest forms, those particular cases where his ingenuity may be useful. It is thus, too, that the advantages arising from the aid of machinery become so apparent and palpable, as to excite the efforts of inventive genius; a machine which supplies the labour of the hand, superseding of course a particular description of workmen, and thereby exhibiting the utility of the invention on a scale proportioned to the number of individuals whose labour it supersedes. While thus it enables one man to perform the work of many, it produces also an economy of time, by separating the work into its different branches, all of which may be carried into execution at the same moment. While one man is employed in drawing out the wire, from which a multitude of pins are to be simultaneously cut by some analogous expedient, another is employed in pointing them, &c. The obvious effect of this arrangement is, in the first place, to enable one workman to cut or point a multitude of pins as easily as he could have done a single one; and in the second place, by carrying on all the different processes at once, which an individual must have executed separately, to produce a multitude of pins completely finished in the same time as a single pin might have been either cut or pointed. As the division of labour on the one hand, appears thus to be favourable to mechanical invention; so, on the other hand, it is probable that the general experience of the utility of machines has led ingenious men to push, in some cases, the division of labour to a far greater length than was useful. If I am not mistaken, a remarkable instance of this occurs in that very trade, so often referred to, of the pinmaker; the very minute analysis of work there carried into effect having originated, not in any views of increasing the dexterity of the workmen, but in an attempt to make machinery practicable in that manufacture. The foregoing remarks establish fully the truth of an assertion which was formerly made, [p. 317,] that the effects of the division of labour, and of machinery in the manufacturing arts, are produced on principles entirely different, though the objects of both are to accomplish the same purpose—the economy of labour and time; and although in doing so they are often so combined as to render it difficult to draw the line between their respective functions.
It is not, however, by means of these two expedients alone, that labour and time may be economized. The astonishing effects produced, in consequence of a skilful application of chemical principles, to shorten the tedious processes formerly practised in various branches of the arts, are universally known. The use of the oxy-muriatic acid in bleaching, is only one instance out of many, of the beneficial effects thus produced. Of the extent of the advantage to be gained by mere skill and activity, when prompted by the hope of gain, and aided by mechanical contrivance, no instance more curious can be mentioned than what is afforded by the history of the Scotch distilleries. In the year 1785, a proposal was made to collect the duties on distillation by way of license, to be paid annually on every still in proportion to its size, at a fixed rate per gallon, in place of all other taxes. The London distillers, who agreed to the proposal, declared themselves satisfied, from experience, that the time of working stills to advantage was limited to an extent perfectly well known, and that whoever exceeded this limit, would infallibly lose on his materials, and in the quantity of his goods, what he gained in point of time; and in conformity to their opinion, the duty was settled on a supposition that a still could be discharged about seven times in a week. Two years after this, in a petition to Parliament, the same men alleged, that the Scotch distillers had found means to discharge their stills upwards of forty times a week; and we since know, from a report made to the Lords of the Treasury in the year 1799, that a forty-three gallon still was brought to such perfection, as to be discharged at the rate of once in two minutes and three quarters. It appears also from this report, that the operation of distilling is capable of being performed in a still shorter time; and that the quality of the spirit is in no ways injured by the rapidity of the operation. On reflecting on the history of these astonishing exertions of human ingenuity, it cannot fail immediately to occur, that whatever advantages have been gained by mechanical contrivances, have derived their origin, not from the concentrated ingenuity of workmen eager to accomplish their own ruin by the invention of machinery, but from the comprehensive skill of the undertaker, stimulated to economize time to the utmost limit, by the pressure of the new difficulties with which he had to struggle.
Various other illustrations to the same purpose may be drawn from the improvements which have taken place in other arts within the narrow compass of our own times. It is necessary for me, however, to confine myself to the statement of general principles, without making a farther reference to facts than may be necessary to render these more intelligible and impressive. To those who wish to prosecute the speculation, it may be sufficient to mention the late improvements introduced into the manufacture of iron and copper, and the still more familiar improvements in spinning and weaving; to which we may add the prodigies effected in bleaching and dying, by the application of chemical principles to those arts. It may not, however, be superfluous to remark, before dismissing this subject, that the advantages derived by society from the facilities afforded by roads, canals, bridges, the establishment of regular posts, by safe and convenient harbours, and everything which tends to improve the art of navigation, are all illustrations of the same doctrine, evincing the powerful and manifold influence of those expedients which economize labour and time on the commercial interests of a country.
The author of the Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth, has chosen to express this general principle in a different way. What I would ascribe to the division of labour, he ascribes to the operation of capital; qualifying his statement by calling it the operation of capital in superseding labour. I confess, I do not think that the consideration of capital should enter at all into this general view of the subject; for though almost all the expedients alluded to, do imply the possession of capital, more especially those expedients which consist in the use of machinery, yet that they do not imply it necessarily, appears sufficiently from those compendious and cheap processes which chemistry has suggested in various arts. Nor is this all: Even in the most expensive machines, capital forms only one of the conditions to their establishment. Capital, of itself, can do nothing, unless directed by skill. Why, therefore, should this last circumstance be overlooked? Are not the advantages that have been derived from the improved steam-engine, due as much to the genius of Watt as to the capital of Boulton? On the whole, therefore, I am inclined to prefer the statement which I have now proposed, to either of the others which have been under consideration. Of these statements, that given by Mr. Smith is plainly defective, inasmuch as it embraces a very partial view of the subject; while the other is exceptionable, by clogging the correct statement of the principle by which the effect is produced, with a specification of the means by which it is accomplished, which specification, certainly, does not include all the possible ways by which labour can be encouraged by human ingenuity.
In the course of Mr. Smith’s illustrations on this article of Political Economy, he takes occasion to remark, that “it is the great multiplication of the productions of all the different arts, in consequence of the division of labour, which occasions, in a well-governed society, that universal opulence which extends itself to the lowest ranks of the people. Every workman has a great quantity of his own work to dispose of beyond what he himself has occasion for; and every other workman being in exactly the same situation, he is enabled to exchange a great quantity of his own goods for a great quantity, or, what comes to the same thing, for the price of a great quantity of theirs. He supplies them abundantly with what they have occasion for, and they accommodate him as amply with what he has occasion for, and a general plenty diffuses itself through all the different ranks of the society.”*
The same observation, too, occurs in some other writers of an earlier date. Thus Mandeville says:—“What a bustle is there to be made in several parts of the world before a fine scarlet or crimson cloth can be produced, what multiplicity of trades and artificers must be employed! not only such as are obvious, as wool-combers, spinners, the weaver, the cloth worker, the scourer, the dyer, the setter, the drawer, and the packer; but others that are more remote and might seem foreign to it, as the mill-wright, the pewterer, and the chemist, which yet all are necessary, as well as a great number of other handicrafts to have the tools, utensils, and other implements belonging to the trades already named. All these things are done at home; the most frightful prospect is left behind, when we reflect on the toil and hazard that are to be undergone abroad, the vast seas we are to go over, the different climates we are to endure, and the several nations we must be obliged to for their assistance.”†
This quotation from Dr. Mandeville, appears to me to be interesting, as it has plainly suggested to Mr. Smith the idea of one of the finest passages in the Wealth of Nations:—
“Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or day-labourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the day-labourer, as coarse and rough as it may appear, is the produce of the joint-labour of a great multitude of workmen. The shepherd, the sorter of the wool, the wool-comber or carder, the dyer, the scribbler, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts in order to complete even this homely production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a very distant part of the country; how much commerce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world! What a variety of labour too is necessary in order to produce the tools of the meanest of those workmen. To say nothing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite in order to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips the wool. The miner, the builder of the furnace for smelting the ore, the feller of the timber, the burner of the charcoal to be made use of in the smelting-house, the brick-maker, the brick-layer, the workman who attends the furnace, the mill-wright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them. Were we to examine, in the same manner, all the different parts of his dress and household furniture, the coarse linen shirt which he wears next his skin, the shoes which cover his feet, the bed which he lies on, and all the different parts which compose it, the kitchen-grate at which he prepares his victuals, the coals which he makes use of for that purpose, dug from the bowels of the earth, and brought to him perhaps by a long sea and a long land carriage, all the other utensils of his kitchen, all the furniture of his table, the knives and forks, the earthen or pewter plates upon which he serves up and divides his victuals, the different hands employed in preparing his bread and his beer, the glass window which lets in the heat and the light, and keeps out the wind and the rain, with all the knowledge and art requisite for preparing that beautiful and happy invention, without which these northern parts of the world could scarce have afforded a very comfortable habitation, together with the tools of all the different workmen employed in producing those different conveniences; if we examine, I say, all these things, and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible that without the assistance and co-operation of many thousands, the very meanest person in a civilized country could not be provided, even according to what we very falsely imagine, the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated. Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of a European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.”*
These illustrations of Mr. Smith’s are so happily and beautifully expressed, that I thought I could not do them justice in any other way than by transcribing them at length from his work. From the view of the subject which has been given, some of Mr. Smith’s expressions will require correction; and his picture, if less pleasing in its colouring, might have been brought nearer to an exact resemblance to the truth, had he insisted less on his favourite topic, and enlarged more on the prodigious effects produced by machinery. On this last head, an anonymous author, who published a pamphlet soon after the riots in Lancashire, occasioned by the introduction of Sir Richard Arkwright’s machinery, has made some very judicious observations, which, though not expressed with all the eloquence of Mr. Smith, may form no inappropriate supplement to the quotations already made.†
Before dismissing the present subject, it is proper for me to mention, as an additional limitation of Mr. Smith’s doctrines, that in certain cases great advantages have been gained by a judicious concentration of all the different employments connected with a particular manufacture under the same general superintendence and management; advantages which Mr. Smith represents as only attainable by pushing the subdivision of labour to a greater extent. In proof of this remark, I shall read a short quotation from an anonymous work which states some facts well worthy of attention in the present argument. The publication to which I allude is entitled, Observations founded on Facts, on the Propriety or Impropriety of Exporting Cotton Twist, published in the year 1803.* As an additional illustration of the same thing, reference is made by the author to Mr. Thorpe’s manufactory at Leeds, where the same work is said to be now performed by thirty-five persons, to execute which in a far more imperfect manner, required, eighteen years ago, 1634 persons.
In offering the criticisms with which I concluded my lecture yesterday, on the favourite speculation of Mr. Smith with respect to the division of labour, I must again remark, that I do not censure his doctrines as erroneous, but only as partial and incomplete. Of the importance of the division in promoting the progress of the arts, and as a very striking feature in the present state of society in England, I am abundantly aware. I only mean to say, that it is not the sole cause of the progress of the arts, or of the diffusion of wealth among the body of the people;—that there are various other causes with which it is altogether unconnected, and that even where its effects are the greatest, it generally co-operates with other causes much more powerful in their operation.
A farther limitation of Mr. Smith’s doctrine with respect to the connexion between the division of labour and national wealth, is suggested by this consideration, that if it is just in all its extent, it would necessarily follow, that in every country where the division of labour is carried to a great extent, the condition of the people must be actually easy and prosperous. This conclusion surely would be very wide of the truth. Before men can think of the accommodations of life, it is necessary that they should be provided with the means of subsistence; and the abundance of these must always depend on the state of Agriculture,—an art, to the perfection of which the division of labour contributes less than to that of any other art whatsoever. Indeed, where this art is neglected, or does not receive adequate encouragement, one of the greatest sources of national distress may be found in the encroachment which the poor man is led to make on the funds, which are destined for procuring food, by those artificial wants which the arts of accommodation provoke and multiply.
With respect to the limit to which the division of labour may be carried, it is fixed, according to Mr. Smith, in all cases by the extent of the market. Before a person dedicates himself entirely to one employment, says Mr. Smith, he must have a reasonable ground of assurance, that he will be able to exchange the surplus produce of his labour for the commodities which he may want of a different nature, and accordingly, in a country which is thinly peopled, we find some individuals uniting a variety of different employments; while in those cases where the market is extensive, and where large capitals are employed in trade, the imagination can hardly fix any limits to the progressive simplification of manufacturing art. It must at the same time be remembered, that these circumstances, though indispensable requisites, are not those alone on which this progress depends, as sufficiently appears from the powerful stimulus which has been applied in this country by the pressure of our public burdens, and also by the competition of foreign nations. In the different parts of Great Britain, illustrations may be collected of all the various gradations in the simplification of manual operations, from that state of society where the farmer is butcher, baker, and brewer to his own family, to the prevalent and almost ludicrous extreme of refinement which is exhibited in the manufacture of a pin. In some parts of the Highlands of Scotland, not many years ago, every peasant, according to the Statistical Accounts, made his own shoes of leather tanned by himself. Many a shepherd and cottar too, with his wife and children, appeared at church in clothes which had been touched by no hands but their own, since they were shorn from the sheep and sown in the flax field. In the preparation of these, it is added, scarcely a single article had been purchased, except the awl, needle, thimble, and a very few parts of the iron-work employed in the weaving. The dyes, too, were chiefly extracted by the women from trees, shrubs, and herbs.
The remarks quoted from Mr. Smith at our last meeting, naturally lead our attention to the effects of the separation of professions in consolidating the social union, and in organizing the political system, by multiplying the mutual connexions and dependencies of the different members of a community. There is nothing, indeed, in the history of human affairs more striking than this obvious fact, that in proportion as the intellectual and moral faculties of the species are unfolded and cultivated, and in proportion as the joint wealth and power of the community increase, individuals, considered apart, should become more and more connected with one another, and man should be rendered more necessary to man. I need hardly add, that this separation of professions, which, by limiting some men to the labour of the hands, and allowing others to cultivate their intellectual powers, fits the one to govern, and the others to be governed, and establishes in a state, that good order and tranquillity which are incompatible with the habits of uncivilized life. The Son of Sirach has described this state of things with beautiful simplicity:—“The wisdom of a learned man cometh by opportunity of leisure: and he that hath little business shall become wise.—How can he get wisdom that holdeth the plough, and that glorieth in the goad, that driveth oxen, and is occupied in their labours, and whose talk is of bullocks? He giveth his mind to make furrows, and is diligent to give the kine fodder. So every carpenter and work-master, that laboureth night and day: and they that cut and grave seals, and are diligent to make great variety, and give themselves to counterfeit imagery, and watch to finish a work. The smith also sitting by the anvil, and considering the iron work, the vapour of the fire wasteth his flesh, and he fighteth with the heat of the furnace: the noise of the hammer and the anvil is ever in his ears, and his eyes look still upon the pattern of the thing that he maketh; he setteth his mind to finish his work, and watcheth to polish it perfectly. So doth the potter sitting at his work, and turning the wheel about with his feet, who is alway carefully set at his work, and maketh all his work by number; he fashioneth the clay with his arm, and boweth down his strength before his feet; he applieth himself to lead it over; and he is diligent to make clean the furnace.—All these trust to their hands: and every one is wise in his work. Without these cannot a city be inhabited: and they shall not dwell where they will, nor go up and down: they shall not be sought for in public counsel, nor sit high in the congregation: they shall not sit on the judges’ seat, nor understand the sentence of judgment: they cannot declare justice and judgment; and they shall not be found where parables are spoken. But they will maintain the state of the world, and all their desire is in the work of their craft.—But he that giveth his mind to the law of the most High, and is occupied in the meditation thereof, . . . he shall serve among great men, and appear before princes.”*
There is, it must be confessed, at the same time, one view of this subject which is not altogether so pleasing; I mean the effect which, in the more advanced stages of commercial and manufacturing refinement, is produced by the subdivision of labour on the intellectual and moral qualities of those who are doomed to be the instruments of all those blessings to their fellow-citizens. It is justly remarked by Dr. Ferguson in his Essay on the History of Civil Society, “The artist finds that the more he can confine his attention to a particular part of any work, his productions are the more perfect, and grow under his hands in greater quantities. Every undertaker and manufacturer finds, that the more he can subdivide the tasks of his workmen, and the more hands he can employ on separate articles, the more are his expenses diminished and his profits increased.” . . . “Every craft may engross the whole of a man’s attention, and has a mystery which must be studied or learned by a regular apprenticeship. Nations of tradesmen come to consist of members, who, beside their own particular trade, are ignorant of all human affairs, and who may contribute to the preservation and enlargement of their commonwealth, without making its interest an object of their regard or attention.” . . . “Many mechanical arts, indeed, require no capacity, they succeed best under a total suppression of sentiment and reason; and ignorance is the mother of industry as well as of superstition. Reflection and fancy are subject to err, but a habit of moving the hand or the foot is independent of either. Manufactures accordingly prosper most where the mind is least consulted, and where the workshop may, without any great effort of imagination, be considered as an engine, the parts of which are men.”*
This view of the moral effects of the division of labour, which is at least equally important with the former, is illustrated at length by the author now quoted, with his usual ingenuity and eloquence. To contrive some method of obviating or diminishing this misfortune, which seems at first view to be inseparably connected with the growth of commercial prosperity, is one of the most important problems of legislation. The remedy which at first suggests itself, is the establishment of a system of national instruction, adapted peculiarly to the lower orders of men. But the prosecution of this subject would lead me into too extensive a field of speculation. I cannot, however, quit this article without remarking, that the evil, though a real one while it lasts, naturally leads the way to its own correction, so as to render it probable that it is but a step in the progress of human improvement. In confirmation of this remark, a variety of proofs crowd on me; but I shall confine my attention to one consideration, which follows as an obvious corollary from the foregoing principles. I have already endeavoured to explain, in what manner the division of labour leads to the invention of machines. When the simplification has been carried so far as to convert, according to Dr. Ferguson’s metaphor, a workshop into an engine, the parts of which are men, the next step is that which converts it into an engine, literally so called, where the place of men is supplied by mechanical contrivances. The ultimate tendency, therefore, of this process, is to substitute mechanical contrivances for manufacturing work, and to open a field for human genius in the nobler departments of industry and talent. There are some other respects, besides, in which the invention of machines counteracts the effects of that division of labour by which it is facilitated. I have heard it remarked, for example, as an advantage resulting from the subdivision of labour, that it obstructs the transplantation of manufactures from one country to another, tending thereby to preserve to a nation which has once outstripped its neighbours, the superiority which it has gained. The effect of mechanical inventions, unquestionably, is to encourage and accelerate this transplantation, rendering the progress of arts and manufactures over the globe more and more an operation of capital. If the former be advantageous in a national view, the latter acts with a more extensive influence on the fortunes of the human race. Indeed, its partial inconvenience, with respect to the stability of some branches of foreign trade, is much more than counterbalanced by its tendency to support manufactures over the whole face of our own country, so as at once to distribute their beneficial effects, and to prevent the evils with which they are attended when carried to an undue excess in a particular district. But I have already dwelt longer on this general topic than perhaps was requisite; and I hasten to other discussions more circumscribed in their object, though intimately connected with those in which we have been engaged.
The result of the reasonings which I have now stated, with respect to the division of labour is, that however extensively this principle may operate as one cause of the improvement of the arts, and of the general diffusion of the accommodations of life among the members of a commercial society, yet that a variety of other causes co-operate no less powerfully to the same effect; more particularly the invention of machinery, the application of chemistry to the arts, and the facilities afforded to commercial exchanges by roads, bridges, canals, harbours, and the arts of navigation. In one common tendency, as I remarked in my lecture yesterday, all these different expedients agree with the division of labour, and with each other; I mean their tendency to save or to supersede labour; and therefore I should be disposed to substitute, instead of the phrase “division of labour,” as employed by Mr. Smith, the more general phrase, “economy of labour,” a phrase which points out with precision the common qualities from which the division of labour, the invention of machinery, the facilities afforded to commerce, and the application of chemistry, derive all their value.
[* ] [The commencement of this Book and Chapter not being extant in Mr. Stewart’s manuscript of these Lectures, the want is supplied, as far as possible, from the very copious notes of Mr. Bridges, occasionally supplemented, especially in regard to quotations, by those of Mr. Bonar. The beginning and end of this, as of similar interpolations, are carefully marked.]
[* ] [Sur la Formation et la Distribution des Richesses, § v.; Œuvres, Tome V.p.6.]
[* ] [Of Civil Government, Book II. chap. v. §§ 41, 43.]
[† ] [Wealth of Nations, Introduction, Vol. I. p. 2, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, B. I. chap. i.; Vol. I. p. 7, seq., tenth edition.]
[* ] [Ibid. Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. p. 9, seq., tenth edition.]
[* ] [Positions to be examined concerning National Wealth, 1769, § 5; Works, by Sparks, Vol. II. p. 374.]
[* ] [Ibid. p. 23, seq.]
[* ] [Vol. II. pp. 52, 53, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Ibid., p. 53.]
[† ] [Ibid., Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. pp. 21, 22, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Ibid. pp. 22, 23.]
[1 ] Printed for Becket, 1797. [According to Watt, the author’s name seems to have been Grey.]
[2 ] Pp. 11, 12.
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book II. chap. iii.; Vol. II. p. 3, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Ibid. p. 2.]
[1 ] See Edinburgh Review, Vol. IV. p. 355, [July, 1804. Review of Lauderdale On Public Wealth, by Brougham.]
[† ] [Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. p. 28, tenth edition.]
[1 ] P. 98.
[* ] [Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. p. 21, tenth edition.]
[1 ]Essay on the Principle of Population, p. 430. [By Malthus, 1798.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. pp. 26, 27, tenth edition.]
[† ] [This suggests an Epigram of Joseph Scaliger, written in Greek and Latin, On the Marvels of Holland, and addressed by the “Dictator” to the celebrated Janus Dousa, (1600.) The following is the Latin version:—
[1 ] Bell, p. 454. [See above, p. 202.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. p. 21, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Ibid. Book II. chap. iii.; Vol. II. p. 3, tenth edition.]
[1 ] [Advancement of Learning;—Of the nature of Good.] De Augment. Scient. Lib. VII. [cap. i.]
[* ] [The “Demonstratio in orbem” is to be here taken in a favourable meaning; not as reasoning in a circle, but as an exhaustive proof.]
[1 ] Malthus, [Book III. chap. viii.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book II. chap. iii.; Vol. II. p. 3, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Money answers all things, &c. Mr. Stewart also speaks of Vanderlint in his Memoir of Adam Smith, as of Asgill, &c.]
[* ] [Supra, Works, Vol. II. p. 236.]
[* ] [Positions to be examined concerning National Wealth, §§ 9.11.—Works, by Sparks, Vol. II. pp. 375, 376.]
[* ] [Above, Works, Vol. II. p. 240.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book IV. chap. ix.; Vol. III. p. 28, seq., tenth edition.]
[* ] [Above, Works, Vol. II. pp. 240, 241.]
[* ] [Origine de l’Inégalité parmi les Hommes, Partie I.—But the “gaudent sudoribus artes” had been long proverbial; it may be traced higher than Hesiod, and far lower than Baptista Mantuanus.]
[* ] [“Propre à tout, propre à rien.” Indeed, all languages have a corresponding proverb. In Latin:—“Cuncta nihilque sumus,”—“Nusquam est, qui ubique est,”—“In omnibus aliquid, in toto nihil,” &c. In the Margites, a kind of Dunciad, attributed to Homer, it is said of the hero in a line preserved in the Second Alcibiades, one of the spurious dialogues of Plato,—
Πόλλ’ ἠπίστατο ἔϱγα, ϰαϰῶς δ’ ἠπίστατο πάντα.
And to this line, certainly, Mr. Stewart here makes reference.]
[† ] [Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. i.; Vol. I. p. 9, tenth edition.]
[‡ ] [Part I. sect. xii.]
[ ] [Part IV. sect. i.]
[* ] [In the original, Lib. VIII. cap. ii. 4.—The translation is by the Honourable Maurice Ashley.]
[† ] [See supra, p. 256, seq.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. i.; Vol. I. pp. 12-14, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Book I. chap. i.; Vol. I. p. 12, tenth edition.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, Book I. chap. i.; Vol. i. p. 14, seq., tenth edition.]
[* ] [Wealth of Nations, B. I. chap. i.; Vol. I. p. 16, seq., tenth edition.]
[† ] [The Fable of the Bees, &c., with an Essay on Charity and Charity Schools, and a Search into the Nature of Society. Lond. 1714, 1723, 1732.]
[* ] [Book I. chap. i.; Vol. I. pp. 17-19, tenth edition.]
[† ] [Probably Letters on the Utility and Policy of employing Machines to shorten Labour, occasioned by the late Disturbances in Lancashire, &c., 1782. But this pamphlet I have never seen, and the Notes do not supply Mr. Stewart’s quotation.]
[* ] [Perhaps 1805; see Watt. Like the former the Notes give no quotation from this pamphlet, of which I am equally ignorant.]
[* ] [Ecclesiasticus, xxxviii. 24—xxxix. 4.]
[* ] [Part IV. sect. i.]