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always the masters. When the regulation, there- CHAP. fore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always x' just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters. Thus the law which obliges the masters in several different trades to pay their workmen in money and not in goods, is quite just and equitable. It imposes no real hardship upon the masters. It only obliges them to pay that value in money, which they pretended to pay, but did not always really pay, in goods. This law is in favour of the workmen; but the 8th of George III. is in favour of the masters. When masters combine together in order to reduce the wages of their workmen, they commonly enter into a private bond or agreement, not to give more than a certain wage under a certain penalty. Were the workmen to enter into a contrary combination of the fame kind, not to accept of a certain wage under a certain penalty, the law would punish them very severely; and if it dealt impartially, it would treat the masters in the fame manner. But the 8th of George III. enforces by law that very regulation which masters sometimes attempt to establish by such combinations. The complaint of the workmen, that it puts the ablest and most industrious upon the fame footing with an ordinary workman, seems perfectly well founded.
In ancient times too it was usual to attemptto regulate the prosits of merchants and other dealers, by rating the price both of provisions and other goods. The assize of bread is, so far
B O o K as I know, the only remnant of this ancient . '. usage. Where there is an exclusive corporation* it may perhaps be proper to regulate the price of the sirst necessary of'life. But where there is none, the Competition will regulate it much better than any assize. The method of sixing the assize of bread established by the 31st of George II' could not be put in practice in Scotland, on account of a defect in the law; its execution depending upon the office of clerk of the market, which does not exist there. This defect was not remedied till the third of George III. The want of an assize occasioned no sensible inconveniency, and the establishment of one in the few places where it has yet taken place, has produced no sensible advantage. In the greater part of the towns of Scotland, however, there is an incorporation of bakers who claim exclusive privileges, though they are not very strictly guarded.
The proportion between the different rates both of wages and prosit in the different employments of labour and stock, seems not to be much aftected, as has already been observed, by the riches or poverty, the advancing, stationary, or declining state of the society. Such revolutions in the public welfare, though they affect the general rates both of wages and prosit, must in the end affect them equally in all different employments. Theproportion betweenthem,there-< fore, must remain the fame, and cannot well |be altered, at least for any considerable time, by any such revolutions.
RENT, considered as the price paid for the Chap.
BOOK tion, however, may still be considered as the na, *• tural rent of land, or the rent for which it is naturally meant that land should for the most part be let.
The rent of land, it may be thought, is frequently no more than a reasonable prosit or interest for the stock laid out by the landlord upon its improvement. This, no doubt, may be partly the case upon some occasions; for it can scarce ever be more than partly the case. The landlord demands a rent even for unimproved land, and the supposed interest or prosit upon the expence of improvement is generally an addition to this original rent. Those improvements, besides, are not always made by the stock of the landlord, but sometimes by that of the tenant. When the lease comes to be renewed, however, the landlord commonly demands the fame augmentation of rent, as if they had been all made by his own.
He sometimes demands rent for what is altogether incapable of human improvement. Kelp is a species of sea-weed, which,when burnt, yields an alkaline salt, useful for making glass, soap, and for several other purposes. It grows in several parts of Great Britain, particularly in Scotland, upon such rocks only as lie within the high water-mark, which are twice every day covered with the sea, and of which the produce, therefore, was never augmented by human industry. The landlord, however, whose estate is bounded by a kelp shore of this kind, demands a rent for it as much as for his corn sields.
The sea in the neighbourhood of the iflands of Shetland is more than commonly abundant in
fflh, which make a great part of the subsistence Chap. of their inhabitants. But in order to profit by x*' the produce of the water, they must have a habi- ^ tation upon the neighbouring land. The rent of the landlord is in proportion, not to what the farmer can make by the land, but to what he can make both by the land and by the water. It is partly paid in sea>sish; and one of the very few instances in which rent makes a part of the price of that commodity, is to be found in that country!
The rent of land, therefore, considered as the price paid for the use of the land, is naturally a monopoly price. It is not at all proportioned to what the landlord may have laid out upon the improvement of the land, or to what he can afford to take; but to what the farmer can afford to give.
Such parts only of the produce of land can commonly be brought to market of which the ordinary price is sufficient to replace the stock whichmust be employed inbringingthem thither, together with its ordinary prosits. If the ordinary price is more than this, the surplus part of it will naturally go to the rent of the land. If it is not more, though the commodity may be brought to market, it can afford no rent to the landlord. Whether the price is, or is not more, depends upon the demand.
There are some parts of the produce of land for which the demand must always be such as to afford a greater price than what is sufficient to bring them to market; and there are others for
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