The Labour of the Husbandman is of less Value than that of the Handicrafts Man
A labourer's son at seven or twelve years of age begins to help his father either in keeping the flocks, digging the ground, or in other sorts of country labour which require no art or skill. If his father puts him to a trade he loses his assistance during the time of his apprenticeship and is necessitated to clothe him and to pay the expenses of his apprenticeship for some years. The son is thus an expense to this father and his labour brings in no advantage till the end of some years. The [working] life of man is estimated but at 10 or 12 years, and as several are lost in learning a trade most of which in England require seven years of apprenticeship, a husbandman would never be willing to have a trade taught to his son if the mechanics did not earn more than the husbandmen. Those who employ artisans or craftsmen must needs therefore pay for their labour at a higher rate than for that of a husbandman or common labourer; and their labour will necessarily be dear in proportion to the time lost in learning the trade and the cost and risk incurred in becoming proficient. The craftsmen themselves do not make all their children learn their own mystery: there would be too many of them for the needs of a city or a state; many would not find enough work; the work, however, is naturally better paid than that of husbandmen.
Some Handicrafts Men earn more, others less, according to the different Cases and Circumstances
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.