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given to the labourer; and the money price of C- H labour is determined by what is requisite for purchafing this quantity. Though the money price of labour, therefore, is sometimes high where the price of provisions is low, it would be still higher, the demand continuing the fame, if the price of provisions was high.
It is because the demand for labour increases in years of sudden and extraordinary plenty, and diminishes in those of sudden and extraordinary scarcity, that the money price of labour sometimes rises in the one, and sinks in the other.
In a year of sudden and extraordinary plenty, there are funds in the hands of many of the employers of industry, sufficient to maintain and employ a greater number of industrious people than had been employed the year before; and this extraordinary number cannot always be had. Those masters, therefore, who want more workmen, bid against one another, in order to get them, which sometimes raises both the real and the money price of their labour. . The contrary of this happens in a year of sudden and extraordinary scarcity. The funds destined for employing industry are less than they had been the year before. A considerable number of people are thrown out of employment, who bid against one another, in order to get it, which sometimes lowers both the real and the money price of labour. In 1740, a year of extraordinary scarcity, many people were willing to work for bare subsistence. In the succeeding . I K 2 years BOOK years of plenty, it was more difficult to get
^.-^1 _j labourers and servants.
The scarcity of a dear year, by diminishing the demand for labour, tends to lower its price, as the high price of provisions tends to raise it. The plenty of a cheap year, on the contrary, by increasing the demand, tends to raise the price of labour, as the cheapness of provisions tends to lower it. In the ordinary variations of the price of provisions, those two opposite causes seem to counterbalance one another; which is probably in part the reason why the wages of labour are every-where so much more steady and permanent than the price of provisions.
The increase in the wages of labour necessarily increases the price of many commodities, by increasing that part of it which resolves itself into wages, and so far tends to diminish their consumption both at home and abroad. The same cause, however, which raises the wages of labour, the increase of stock, tends to increase its productive powers, and to make a smaller quantity of labour produce a greater quantity of work. The owner of the stock which employs a great number of labourers, necessarily endeavours for his own advantage, to make such a proper division and distribution of employment, that they may be enabled to produce the greatest quantity of work possible. For the same reason he endeavours to supply them with the best machinery which either he or they can think of. What takes place among the labourers in a particular . workhouse, workhouse, takes place, for the lame reason, CHAP among those of a great society. The greater t V**L f their number, the more they naturally divide themselves into different classes and subdivisions ♦ of employment. More heads are occupied in inventing the most proper machinery for executing the work of each, and it is, therefore, more likely to be invented. There are many commodities, therefore, which, in consequence of these improvements, come to be produced by so much less labour than before, that the increase of its price is more than compensated by the ^diminution of its quantity.
Of the Profits of Stock.
THHE rife and fall in the prosits of stock Chap. "■• depend upon the fame causes with the rife s_ _~~ , and fall in the wages of labour, the increasing or declining state of the wealth of the society; but those causes affect the one and the other very differently.
The increase of stock, which raises wages, tends to lower prosit. When the stocks of many rich merchants are turned into the fame trade. their mutual competition naturally tends to lower its prosit; and when there is a like increase of stock in all the different trades carried
BOOK on in the same society, the same competition *• - must produce the same effect in them all.
It is not easy, it has already been observed, to
• ascertain what are the average wages of labour even in a particular place, and at a particular time. We can, even in this case, seldom determine more than what are the most usual wages. But even this can seldom be done with regard to the prosits of stock. Prosit is so very fluctuating, that the person who carries on a particular trade cannot always tell you himself what is the average of his annual prosit. It is affected, not only by every variation of price in the commodities which he deals in, but by the good or bad fortune both of his rivals and of his customers, and by a thousand other accidents to which goods when carried either by sea or by land, or even when stored in a warehouse, are liable. It varies, therefore, not only from year to year, but from day to day, and almost from hour to hour. To ascertain what is the average prosit of all the different trades carried- on in a great kingdom, must be much more difsicult; and to judge of what it may have been formerly, or in remote periods of time, with any degree of precision, must be altogether impossible.
• But though it may be impossible to determine with any degree of precision, what are or were the average prosits of stock, either in the present, or in ancient times, some notion may be formed of them from the interest of money. It may be laid down as a maxim, that wherever a great deal can be made by the use of money,
a great a great deal will commonly be given for the use CHAP. of it; and that wherever little can be made by it,._ j less will commonly be given for it. According, therefore, as the usual market rate of interest varies in any country, we may be allured that the ordinary prosits of stock must vary with it, must sink as it sinks, and rife as it rises. The progress of interest, therefore, may lead us to form some notion of the progress of prosit.
By the 37 th of Henry VIII. all interest above ten per cent. was declared unlawful. More, it seems, had sometimes been taken before that. In the reign of Edward VI. religious zeal prohibited all interest. This prohibition, however, like all others of the fame kind, is said to have produced no effect, and probably rather increased than diminished the evil of usury. The statute of Hepry VIII., was revived by the 13th of Elizabeth, cap. 8. and ten per cent continued to be the legal rate of interest till the 21st of James I. when it was restricted to eight per cent. It was reduced to six per cent. soon after the restoration, and by the 12th of Queen Anne, to sive per cent. All these different statutory regulations seem to have been made with great propriety. They seem to have followed and not to have gone before the market rate of interest, or the rate at which people os good credit usually borrowed. Since the time of Queen Anne, sive per cent, seems to have been rather above than below the market rate. Before the late war, the government borrowed at three per cent.; and people of good credit in the capital, and in K 4 many