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“ The inaccuracy of the fact cannot escape any * one conversant with the history of machinery.— “ It is certain, on the contrary, that it is to the “ characteristic faculty which man possesses, from “ the earliest period of his existence, of applying “ mechanical principles to the construction of tools “ and machines, calculated to perform and supplant “ labour, and to his powers of using capital for the “ saine purpose, in all his commercial relations, as “ well as in every transaction which requires the “ exertion of labour, that he owes the ease and won“ derful rapidity with which labour is executed ; and “ consequently, that extended opulence which ex
pands itself throughout civilized society.” I thought it my duty not to omit any of the numerous considerations which Lord Lauderdale has supposed calculated to discredit the division of labour, that main pillar of the doctrine of Adam Smith ; because it is of essential importance not to leave any doubts on this part of the science, and because it is equally dangerous to abandon oneself to a blind credulity, or to shut one's eyes to certain and positive truths. I shall not examine whether the effects of the division of labour were known to the nations of antiquity, whether they occasioned the distinction of certain people into casts, whether the invention of machinery has been antecedent to the division of labour, and
* An Inquiry into the Nature and Origin of Public Wealth : by the Earl of Lauderdale. Edinb. 1804, chap. 5, pages 286. 296, 297, 300, 301, 302.
whether the instruments of agriculture deserve the honour of being ranked among the machines which shorter, and facilitate labour. All these inquilies are more curious than useful, of little interest to political economy, and can neither directiy nor indirectly contribute to its progress. - to The question, whether machinery is more conducive than the division of labour to develope the euergies of the labourer, improve his faculties, increase his produce, and omeliorate its quality, appears at first sight of higher importance : but a little attention soon shews this view of the matter to be erroneous and delusive. The division of labour in parts to the labourer, not only greater facility, dexterity, and intelligence, to perform the labour he has undertaken ; but, what is far more important, it distributes every part of the labour in the manner best calculated to lasten and improve its performance: so that if it even were true that the labourer, as agent of the labour, receives greater assistance from machinery than from the division of labour, we should yet be obliged to admit that, with regard to labour in general, the distribution of the different parts of labour renders services superior to those of machinery. The division of labour appears in every respect entitled to be compared with the direction of labour. It is true, that each labourer performs more labour than the undertaker ; nevertheless, the latter contributes more to its performance than each of the individual labourers. Machines are but more diligent, more active, and less expensive labourers: the division of labour is the undertaker that directs them, regulates their movements, and guides them to their end by the straightest line. The division of labour relates to labour in general; it prepares the links of that immense chain which connects individuals with individuals, families with families, nations with nations, and converts the whole world into a single workshop, a general manufactory. To contine the effects of divided labour to that portion of labour which it performs beyond what undivided labour would have performed, is to be ignorant of its mature, advantages, and benefits. It must, however, be admitted, that the effects of the division of labour, the advantages of which are universally acknowledged with regard to manufactures and commerce, are not so certain with regard to agriculture. The point is not yet decided, whether the division of agricultural labour is more profitable than its concentration ; or, in other words, whether small or large farms are more advantageous to public wealth. Both opinions have numerous and illustrious defenders. “ There is no maxim of political economy more true,” says Dr. Price, “ than this: the division of property increases population ; the concentration of property reduces the small farmers to the condition
of common day-labourers, and forces them to purchase in the market the corn they want for their subsistence. This manner of existence is more painful, the children become more burthensome, marriages less frequent, and population declines.
“When lands were divided among a greater number of owners, day-labour was dearer than at present (1772), when it is not four or five times dearer
“ than in 1514, and when food, with regard to bread, “ is seven times, and, with regard to meat, fifteen “ times dearer. “ Whence it follows, that ever since the introduc. “ tion of large farms, the maintenance of the hus
“ bandman is dearer, and his wages less; which cir
“ cumstance has, of course, diminished that impor
“ tant class of the people.”
Mr. Arthur Young, who has combated the opinion of Dr. Price, observes, that “ it is not the number of “ people, but their wealth, which constitutes their “ power ; and that population ought to be subordi“ nate to agriculture, so that the abundance of pro“ duce should constantly precede the increase of
“ population.” Whence he infers, that “ large farms, “ being more advantageous than small ones, ought to “ contribute more than small ones to the increase of Čg * 95 population.” To hesitate between these two opinions, appears impossible, if, as they certainly do, large farms;
* Dr. Richard Price's Observations on Reversionary Payments ; 1773.
+ Arthur Foung's Political Arithmetic.
| A nation whose territory comprises thirty millions of acres of land proper for agriculture, with large, middling, and small farms, would give the following results :
Upon the plan of small farms, one million of farms, of thirty acres each, would require two millions of regular husbandmen and three millions of horses.
On the plan of middling farms, that country would have five hundred forty-five thousand farms of fifty-five acres each, one
yield a larger quantity of produce than small ones, or, what is the same, if they yield an equal produce at less expence. Should this saving of costs even be obtained at the expence of the husbandmen, and dimimish their number, population would not be a sufferer, and wealth would be a considerable gainer. The husbandmen who are become useless to agriculture, still find the same subsistence in its produce : but being obliged to reproduce, at least, its equivalent by other labours, general wealth is increased by the total sum of this equivalent. There remains, therefore, no doubt that, with regard to population and wealth, the division of labour applied to agriculture, or the system of small farms, is as hurtful as it is beneficial in its application to manufactures and commerce. But what is the actual utility of machines, which has been so much extolled by the Earl of Lauderdale 2 If it have zealous advocates, it has also numerous oppoments; and the controversy which it has occasioned,
million six hundred thirty-five regular husbandmen, and two millions seven hundred twenty-five thousand horses.
On the plan of large farms, that country would have three hundred forty-one thousand farms of eighty-eight acres each, one million three hundred sixty-four thousand regular husbandmen, and two millions forty-six thousand horses.
And, as the produce consumed by a horse may be reckoned equal in value to that consumed by a labourer for his food, the nation may be considered as having, in the system of small farms, five millions of regular husbandmen; in the system of farms of the middle size, four millions three hundred and sixty thousand; and in the system of large farms, three millions four hundred and ten thousaud. Discours Fondamental sur la Population ; par IIerrenschwand.