One acre of land produces more corn or feeds more sheep than another. The work of one man is dearer than that of another, as I have already explained, according to the superior skill and occurrences of the times. If two acres of land are of equal goodness, one will feed as many sheep and produce as much wool as the other, supposing the labour to be the same, and the wool produced by one acre will be the same, and the wool produced by one acre will sell at the same price as that produced by the other. If the wool of the one acre is made into a suit of coarse cloth and the wool of the other into a suit of fine cloth, as the latter will require more work and dearer workmanship it will be sometimes ten times dearer, though both contain the same quantity and quality of wool. The quantity of the produce of the land and the quantity as well as the quality of the labour, will of necessity enter into the price. A pound of flax wrought into fine Brussels lace requires the labour of 14 persons for a year or of one person for 14 years, as may be seen from a calculation of the different processes in the supplement, where we also see that the price obtained for the lace suffices to pay for the maintenance of one person for 14 years as well as the profits of all the undertakers and merchants concerned. The fine steel spring which regulates an English watch is generally sold at a price which makes the proportion of material to labour, or of steel to spring, one to one million so that in this case labour makes up nearly all the value of the spring. See the calculation in the supplement. On the other hand the price of the hay in a field, on the spot, or a wood which it is proposed to cut down, is fixed by the matter or produce of the land, according to its goodness. The price of a pitcher of Seine water is nothing, because there is an immense supply which does not dry up; but in the streets of Paris people give a sol for it -- the price or measure of the labour of the water carrier. By these examples and inductions it will, I think, be understood that the price or intrinsic value of a thing is the measure of the quantity of land and of labour entering into its production, having regard to the fertility or produce of the land and to the quality of the labour. But it often happens that many things which have actually this intrinsic value are not sold in the market according to that value: that will depend on the humours and fancies of men and on their consumption. If a gentleman cuts canals and erects terraces in his garden, their intrinsic value will be proportionable to the land and labour; but the price in reality will not always follow this proportion. If he offers to sell the garden possibly no one will give him half the expense he has incurred. It is also possible that if several persons desire it he may be given double the intrinsic value, that is twice the value of the land and the expense he has incurred. If the farmers in a state sow more corn than usual, much more than is needed for the year's consumption, the real and intrinsic value of the corn will correspond to the land and labour which enter into its production; but as there is too great an abundance of it and there are more sellers than buyers the market price of the corn will necessarily fall below the intrinsic price of value. If on the contrary the farmers sow less corn than is needed for consumption there will be more buyers than sellers and the market price of corn will rise above its intrinsic value. There is never a variation in intrinsic values, but the impossibility of proportioning the production of merchandise and produce in a state to their consumption causes a daily variation, and a perpetual ebb and flow in market prices. However in well organized societies the market prices of articles whose consumption is tolerably constant and uniform do not vary much from the intrinsic value; and when there are no years of too scanty or too abundant production the magistrates of the city are able to fix the market prices of many things, like bread and meat, without any on having cause to complain. Land is the matter and labour the form of all produce and merchandise, and as those who labour must subsist on the produce of the land it seems that some relation might be found between the value of labour and that of the produce of the land: this will form the subject of the next chapter.
Of the Par or Relation between the Value of Land and Labour
It does not appear that Providence has given the right of the possession of land to one man preferably to another: the most ancient titles are founded on violence and conquest. The lands of Mexico now belong to the Spaniards and those at Jerusalem to the Turks. But howsoever people come to the property and possession of land we have already observed that it always falls into the hands of a few in proportion to the total inhabitants. If the proprietor of a great estate keeps it in his own hands he will employ slaves or free men to work upon it. If he has many slaves he must have overseers to keep them at work: he must likewise have slave craftsmen to supply the needs and conveniencies of life for himself and his workers, and must have trades taught to others in order to carry on the work. In this economy he must allow his labouring slaves their subsistence and wherewithal to bring up their children. The overseers must allow advantages proportionable to the confidence and authority which he gives them. The slaves who have been taught a craft must be maintained without any return during the time of their apprenticeship and the artisan slaves and their overseers who should be competent in the crafts must have a better subsistence than the labouring slaves, etc. since the loss of an artisan would be greater than that of a labourer and more care must be taken of him having regard to the expense of training another to take his place. On this assumption the labour of an adult slave of the lowest class is worth at least as much as the quantity of land which the proprietor is obliged to allot for his food and necessaries and also to double the land which serves to breed a child up till he is of age fit for labour, seeing half the children that are born die before the age of 17, according to the calculations and observations of the celebrated Dr. Halley. So that two children must be reared up to keep one of them til working age and it would seem that even this would not be enough to ensure a continuance of labour since adult men die at all ages. It is true that the one half of the children who die before 17 die faster in the first years after birth than in the following, since a good third of those who are born die in their first year. This seems to diminish the cost of raising a child to working age, but as the mothers lose much time in nursing their children in illness and infancy and the daughters even when grown up are not the equals of the males in work and barely earn their living, it seems that to keep one of two children to manhood or working age as much land must be employed as for the subsistence of an adult salve, whether the proprietor raises them himself in his house or has the children raised there or that the father brings them up in a house or hamlet apart. Thus I conclude that the daily labour of the meanest slave corresponds in value to double the produce of the land required to maintain him, whether the proprietor give it him for his subsistence and that of his family or provides him and his family subsistence in his own house. It does not admit of exact calculation, and exactitude is not very necessary; it suffices to be near enough to the truth. If the proprietor employ the labour of vassals or free peasants he will probably maintain them upon a better foot than slaves according to the custom of the place he lives in, yet in this case also the labour of a free labourer ought to correspond in value to double the produce of land needed for his maintenance. But it will always be more profitable to the proprietor to keep slaves than to keep free peasants, because when he has brought up a number too large for his requirements he can sell the surplus slaves as he does his cattle and obtain for them a price proportionable to what he has spent in rearing them to manhood or working age, except in cases of old age or infirmity. In the same way on may appraise the labour of slave craftsmen at twice the produce of the land which they consume. Overseers likewise, allowing for the favours and privileges given to them above those who work under them. When the artisans or labourers have their double portion at their own disposal they employ one part of it for their own upkeep if they are married and the other for their children. If they are unmarried they set aside a little of their double portion to enable them to marry and to make a little store for housekeeping; but most of them will consume the double portion for their own maintenance. For example the married labourer will content himself with bread, cheese, vegetables, etc., will rarely eat meat, will drink little win or beer, and will have only old and shabby clothes which he will wear as long as he can. The surplus of his double portion he will employ in raising and keeping his children, while the unmarried labourer will eat meat as often as he can, will treat himself to new clothes, etc. and employ his double portion on his own requirements. Thus he will consume twice as much personally of the produce of the land as the married man. I do not here take into account the expense of the wife. I suppose that her labour barely suffices to pay for her own living, and when one sees a large number of little children in one of these poor families I suppose that charitable persons contribute somewhat to their maintenance, otherwise the parents must deprive themselves of some of their necessaries to provide a living for their children. For the better understanding of this it is to be observed that a poor labourer may maintain himself, at the lowest computation, upon the produce of an acre and a half of land if he lives on bread and vegetables, wears hempen garments, wooden shoes, etc., while if he can allow himself wine, meat, woollen clothes, etc. he may without drunkenness or gluttony or excess of any kind consume the produce of four to ten acres of land of ordinary goodness, such as most of the land in Europe taking part with another. I have caused some figures to be drawn up which will be found in the supplement, to determine the amount of land of which one man can consume the produce under each head of food, clothing, and other necessaries of life in a single year, according to the mode of living in Europe where the peasants of divers countries are often nourished and maintained very differently. For this reason I have not determined to how much land the labour of the meanest peasant corresponds in value when I laid down that it is worth double the produce of the land which serves to maintain him: because this varies according to the mode of living in different countries. In some provinces of France the peasant keeps himself on the produce of one acre and a half of land and the value of his labour may be reckoned equal to the product of three acres. But in the county of Middlesex the peasant usually spends the produce of 5 to 8 acres of land and his labour may be valued at twice as much as this. In the country of the Iroquois where the inhabitants do not plough the land and live entirely by hunting, the meanest hunter may consume the produce of 50 acres of land since it probably requires so much to support the animals he eats in one year, especially as these savages have not the industry to grow grass by cutting down the trees but leave everything to nature. The labour of this hunter may then be reckoned equal in value to the product of 100 acres of land. In the southern provinces of China the land yields rice up to three crops in one year and a hundred times as much as is sown, owing to the great care which they have of agriculture and the fertility of the soil which is never fallow. The peasants who work there almost naked live only on rice and drink only rice water, and it appears that one acre will support there more than ten peasants. It is not surprising, therefore, that the population is prodigious in number. In any case it seems from these examples that nature is altogether indifferent whether that earth produce grass, trees, or grain, or maintains a large or small number of vegetables, animals, or men. Farmers in Europe seem to correspond to overseers of labouring slaves in other countries, and the master tradesmen who employ several journeymen to the overseers of artisan slaves. These masters know pretty well how much work a jouneyman artisan can do in a day in each craft, and often pay them in proportion to the work they do, so that the journeymen work for their own interest as hard as they can without further inspection. As the farmers and masters of crafts in Europe are all undertakers working at a risk, some get rich and gain more than a double subsistence, others are ruined and become bankrupt, as will be explained more in detail in treating of undertakers; but the majority support themselves and their families from day to day, and their labour or superintendence may be valued at about thrice the produce of the land which serves for their maintenance. Evidently these farmers and master craftsmen, if they superintend the labour of ten labourers or journeymen, would be equally capable of superintending the labour of twenty, according to the size of their farms or the number of their customers, and this renders uncertain the value of their labour or superintendence. By these examples and others which might be added in the same sense, it is seen that the value of the day's work has a relation to the produce of the soil, and that the intrinsic value of any thing may be measured by the quantity of land used in its production and the quantity of labour which enters into it, in other words by the quantity of land of which the produce is allotted to those who have worked upon it; and as all the land belongs to the prince and the landowners all things which have this intrinsic value have it only at their expense. The money or coin which finds the proportion of values in exchange is the most certain measure for judging of the par between land and labour and the relation of one to the other in different countries where this par varies according to the greater or less produce of the land allotted to those who labour. If, for example, one man earn an ounce of silver every day by his work, and another in the same place earn only half an ounce, one can conclude that the first has as much again of the produce of the land to dispose of as the second. Sir William Petty, in a little manuscript of the year 1685, considers this par, or equation between land and labour, as the most important consideration in political arithmetic, but the research which he has made into it in passing is fanciful and remote from natural laws, because he has attached himself not to causes and principles but only to effects, as Mr Locke, Mr Davenant and all the other English authors who have written on this subject have done after him.
All Classes and Individuals in a State subsist or are enriched at the Expense of the Proprietors of Land
There are none but the prince and the proprietors of land who live independent; all other classes and inhabitants are hired or are undertakers. The proof and detail of this will be developed in the next chapter. If the prince and proprietors of land close their estates and will not suffer them to be cultivated it is clear that there would be neither food nor rayment for any of the inhabitants; consequently all the individuals are supported not only by the produce of the land which is cultivated for the benefit of the owners but also at the expense of these same owners from whose property they derive all that they have. The farmers have generally two thirds of the produce of the land, one for their costs and the support of their assistants, the other for the profit of their undertaking: on these two thirds the farmer provides generally directly or indirectly subsistence for all those who live in the country, and also mechanics or undertakers in the city in respect of the merchandise of the city consumed in the country. The proprietor has usually one third of the produce of his land and on this third he maintains all the mechanics and others whom he employs in the city as well, frequently, as the carriers who bring the produce of the country to the city. It is generally calculated that one half of the inhabitants of a kingdom subsist and make their abode in cities, and the other half live in the country; on this supposition the farmer who has two thirds or four sixth of the produce of the land, pays either directly or indirectly one sixth to the citizens in exchange for the merchandise which he takes from them. This sixth with the one third or two sixths which the proprietor spends in the city makes three sixths or one half of the produce of the land. This calculation is only to convey a general idea of the proportion; but in fact, if half of the inhabitants live in the cities they consume more than half of the land's produce, as they live better than those who reside in the country and spend more of the produce of the land being all mechanics or dependents of the proprietors and consequently better maintained than the assistants and dependents of the farmers. But let this matter be how it will, if we examine the means by which an inhabitant is supported it will always appear in returning back to the fountain head, that these means arise from the land of the proprietor either in the two thirds reserved by the farmer, or the one third which remains to the landlord. If a proprietor had only the amount of land which he lets out to one farmer the farmer would get a better living out of it than himself; but the nobles and large landowners in the cities have sometimes several hundreds of farmers and are themselves very few in number in proportion to all the inhabitants of a state. True there are often in the cities several undertakers and mechanics who live by foreign trade, and therefore at the expense of foreign landowners: but at present I am considering only a state in regard to its own produce and industry, not to complicate my argument by accidental circumstances. The land belongs to the proprietors but would be useless to them if it were not cultivated. The more labour is expended on it, other things being equal, the more it produces; and the more its products are worked up, other things being equal, the more value they have as merchandise. Hence the proprietors have need of the inhabitants as these have of the proprietors; but in this economy it is for the proprietors, who have the disposition and the direction of the landed capital, to give the most advantageous turn and movement to the whole. Also everything in a state depends on the fancy, methods, and fashions of life of the proprietors of land in especial, as I will endeavour to make clear later in this essay. It is need and necessity which enable farmers, mechanics of every kind, merchants, officers, soldiers, sailors, domestic servants and all the other classes who work or are employed in the state, to exist. All these working people serve not only the prince and the landowners but each other, so that there are many of them who do not work directly for the landowners, and so it is not seen that they subsist on the capital of these proprietors and live at their expense. As for those who exercise professions which are not essential, like dancers, actors, painters, musicians, etc. they are only supported in the state for pleasure or for ornament, and their number is always very small in proportion to the other inhabitants.
The circulation and exchange of goods and merchandise as well as their production are carried on in Europe by Undertakers, and at a risk
The farmer is an undertaker who promises to pay to the landowner, for his farm or land, a fixed sum of money (generally supposed to be equal in value to the third of the produce) without assurance of the profit he will derive from this enterprise. He employs part of the land to feed flocks, produce corn, wine, hay, etc. according to his judgment without being able to foresee which of these will pay best. The price of these products will depend partly on the weather, partly on the demand; if corn is abundant relatively to consumption it will be dirt cheap, if there is scarcity it will be dear. Who can foresee the increase or reduction of expense which may come about in the families? And yet the price of the farmer's produce depends naturally upon these unforeseen circumstances, and consequently he conducts the enterprise of his farm at an uncertainty. The city consumes more than half the farmer's produce. He carries it to market there or sells it in the market of the nearest town, or perhaps a few individuals set up as carriers themselves. These bind themselves to pay the farmer a fixed price for his produce, that of the market price of the day, to get in the city an uncertain price which should however defray the cost of carriage and leave them a profit. But the daily variation in the price of produce in the city, though not considerable, makes their profit uncertain. The undertaker or merchant who carries the products of the country to the city cannot stay there to sell retail as they are consumed. No city family will burden itself with the purchase all at once of the produce it may need, each family being susceptible of increase or decrease in number and in consumption or at least varying in the choice of produce it will consume. Wine is almost the only article of consumption stocked in a family. In any case the majority of citizens who live from day to day and yet are the largest consumers cannot lay in a stock of country produce. For this reason many people set up in a city as merchants or undertakers, to buy the country produce from those who bring it or to order it to be brought on their account. They pay a certain price following that of the place where they purchase it, to resell wholesale or retail at an uncertain price. Such undertakers are the wholesalers in woo and corn, bakers, butchers, manufacturers and merchants of all kinds who buy country produce and materials to work them up and resell them gradually as the inhabitants require them. These undertakers can never know how great will be the demand in their city, nor how long their customers will buy of them since their rivals will try all sorts of means to attract customers from them. All this causes so much uncertainty among these undertakers that every day one sees some of them become bankrupt. The manufacturer who has bought wool from the merchant or direct from the farmer cannot foretell the profit he will make in selling his cloths and stuffs to the merchant tailor. If the latter have not a reasonable sale he will not load himself with the cloths and stuffs of the manufacturer, especially if those stuffs cease to be in the fashion. The draper is an undertaker who buys cloths and stuffs from the manufacturer at a certain price to sell them again at an uncertain price, because he cannot foresee the extent of the demand. He can of course fix a price and stand out against selling unless he gets it, but if his customers leave him to buy cheaper from another, he will be eaten up by expenses while waiting to sell at the price he demands, and that will ruin him as soon as or sooner than if he sold without profit. Shopkeepers and retailers of every kind are undertakers who buy at a certain price and sell in their shops or the markets at an uncertain price. What encourages and maintains these undertakers in a state is that the consumers who are their customers prefer paying a little more to get what they want ready to hand in small quantities rather than lay in a stock and that most of them have not the means to lay in such a stock by buying at first hand. All these undertakers become consumers and customers one in regard to the other, the draper of the wine merchant and vice versa. They proportion themselves in a state to the customers or consumption. If there are too many hatters in a city or in a street for the number of people who buy hats there, some who are least patronised must become bankrupt: if they be too few it will be a profitable undertaking which will encourage new hatters to open shops there and so it is that the undertakers of all kinds adjust themselves to risks in a state. All the other undertakers like those who take charge of mines, theatres, building, etc., the merchants by sea and land, etc., cook-shop keepers, pastry cooks, innkeepers, etc. as well as the undertakers of their own labour who need no capital to establish themselves, like journeymen artisans, coppersmiths, needlewomen, chimney sweeps, water carriers, live at uncertainty and proportion themselves to their customers. Master craftsmen like shoemakers, tailors, carpenters, wigmakers, etc. who employ journeymen according to the work they have, live at the same uncertainty since their customers may foresake them from one day to another: the undertakers of their own labour in art and science, like painters, physicians, lawyers, etc. live in the like uncertainty. If one attorney or barristers earn 5000 pounds sterling yearly in the service of his clients or in his practice and another earn only 500 they may be considered as having so much uncertain wages from those who employ them. It may perhaps be urged that undertakers seek to snatch all they can in their calling and to get the better of their customers, but this is outside my subject. By all these inductions and many others which might be made in a topic relating to all the inhabitants of a state, it may be laid down that expect the prince and the proprietors of land, all the inhabitants of a state are dependent; that they can be divided into two classes, undertakers and hired people; and that all the undertakers are as it were on unfixed wages and the others on wages fixed so long as they receive them though their functions and ranks may be very unequal. The general who has his pay, the courtier his pension and the domestic servant who has wages all fall into this last class. All the rest are undertakers, whether they set up with a capital to conduct their enterprise, or are undertakers of their own labour without capital, and they may be regarded as living at uncertainty; the beggars even and the robbers are undertakers of this class. Finally all the inhabitants of a state derive their living and their advantages from the property of the landowners and are dependent. It is true, however, that if some person on high wages or some large undertaker has saved capital or wealth, that is if he have stores of corn, wool, copper, gold, silver or some produce or merchandise in constant use or vent in a state, having an intrinsic or a real value, he may be justly considered independent so far as this capital goes. He may dispose of it to acquire a mortgage, and interest from land and from public loans secured upon land: he may live still better than the small landowners and even buy the property of some of them. But produce and merchandise, even gold and silver, are much more subject to accident and loss than the ownership of land; and however one may have gained or saved them they are always derived from the land of actual proprietors either by gain or by saving of the wages destined for one's subsistence. The number of proprietors of money in a large state is often considerable enough; and though the value of all the money which circulates in the state barely exceeds the ninth or tenth part of the value of the produce drawn from the soil yet, as the proprietors of money lend considerable amounts for which they receive interest either by mortgage or the produce and merchandise of the state, the sums due to them usually exceed all the money in the state, and they often become so powerful a body that they could in certain cases rival the proprietors of lands if these last were not often equally proprietors of money, and if the owners of large sums of money did not always seek to become landowners themselves. It is nevertheless always true that all the sums gained or saved have been drawn from the land of the actual proprietors; but as many of these ruin themselves daily in a state and the others who acquire the property of their land take their place, the independence given by the ownership of land applies only to those who keep the possession of it; and as all land has always that it is from their property that all the inhabitants of the state derive their living and all their wealth. If these proprietors confined themselves to living on their rents it would be beyond question, and in that case it would be much more difficult for the other inhabitants to enrich themselves at their expense. I will then lay it down as a principle that the proprietors of land alone are naturally independent in a state: that all the other classes are dependent whether undertakers or hired, and that all the exchange and circulation of the state is conducted by the medium of these undertakers.
The Fancies, the Fashions, and the Modes of Living of the Prince, and especially of the Landowners, determine the use to which Land is put in a State and cause the variations in the Market price of all things