Supposing two tailors make all the cloths of a village, one may have more customers than the other, whether from his mode of attracting business, or because he works better or more durably than the other, or follows the fashions better in the cut of the garments. If one dies, the other finding himself more pressed with work will be able to raise the price of his labour, giving some customers a preference in point of expedition to others, till the villagers find it to their advantage to have their cloths made in another village, town or city losing the time spent in going and returning, or till some other tailor comes to live in their village and to share in the business of it. The crafts which require the most time in training or most ingenuity and industry must necessarily be the best paid. A skillful cabinet maker must receive a higher price for his work than an ordinary carpenter, and a good watchmaker more than a farrier. The arts and crafts which are accompanied by risks and dangers like those of founders, mariners, silver miners, etc. ought to be paid in proportion to the risks. When over and above the dangers skill is needed they ought to be paid still more, e.g. pilots, divers, engineers, etc. When capacity and trustworthiness are needed the labour is paid still more highly, as in the case of jewellers, bookkeepers, cashiers and others. By these examples and a hundred others drawn from ordinary experience it is easily seen that the difference of price paid for daily work is based upon natural and obvious reasons.
The Number of Labourers, Handicraftsmen and others, who work in a State is naturally proportioned to the Demand for them
If all the labourers in a village breed up several sons to the same work there will be too many labourers to cultivate the lands belonging to the village, and the surplus adults must go to seek a livelihood elsewhere, which they generally do in cities: if some remain with their fathers, as they will not all find sufficient employment they will live in great poverty and will not marry for lack of means to bring up children, or if they marry, the children who come will soon die of starvation with their parents, as we see every day in France. Therefore if the village continue in the same situation as regards employment, and derives its living from cultivating the same portion of land, it will not increase in population in a thousand years. The women and girls of this village can, it is true, when they are not working in the fields, busy themselves in spinning, knitting or other work which can be sold in the cities; but this rarely suffices to bring up the extra children, who leave the village to seek their fortune elsewhere. The same may be said of the tradesmen of a village. If a tailor makes all the cloths there and breeds up three sons to the same trade, as there is but work enough for one successor to him the two others must go to seek their livelihood elsewhere: if they do not find enough employment in the neighbouring town they must go further afield or change their occupations to get a living and become lackeys, soldiers, sailors, etc. By the same process of reasoning it is easy to conceive that the labourers, handicraftsmen and others who gain their living by work, must proportion themselves in number to the employment and demand for them in market towns and cities. But if four tailors are enough to make all the cloths for a town and a fifth arrives he may attract some custom at the expense of the other four; so if the work is divided between the five tailors neither of them will have enough employment, and each one will live more poorly. It often happens that labourers and handicraftsmen have not enough employment when there are too many of them to share the business. It happens also that they are deprived of work by accidents and by variations in demand, or that they are overburdened with work according to circumstances. Be that as it may, when they have no work they quit the villages, towns or cities where they live in such numbers that those who remain are always proportioned to the employment which suffices to maintain them; when there is a continuous increase of work there is gain to be made and enough others arrive to share in it. From this it is easy to understand that the Charity Schools in England and the proposals in France to increase the number of handicraftsmen, are useless. If the King of France sent 100,000 of his subjects at his expense into Holland to learn seafaring, they would be of no use on their return if no more vessels were sent to sea than before. It is true that it would be a great advantage to a state to teach its subjects to produce the manufactures which are customarily drawn from abroad, and all the other articles bought there, but I am considering only at present a state in relation to itself. As the handicraftsmen earn more than the labourers they are better able to bring up their children to crafts; and there will never be a lack of craftsmen in a state when there is enough work for their constant employment.
The Price and Instrinsic Value of a Thing in general is the measure of the Land and Labour which enter into its Production
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