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labour by the sentiment of his private interest ; the repose which he wished for, will be to him the supreme good, and the need of labouring for his subsistence will perhaps not easily interrupt the enjoyment of this repose. It is therefore impossible to apply to one the maxims and principles which suit the other, or to derive from two particular instances a general rule applicable to all cases.
Enlightened governors, who know and respect the original views of nature in the formation of man, who know to what degree they have been altered or modified by education, and wish to insure to him the enjoyment of the goods of which he is deprived, ought to regard less what man was according to the intentions of nature, than what he is in the condition in which he has been placed by education ;-they ought to proportion the happiness designed for him to his actual faculties, and undo by degrees what had been effected gradually by education.
In this respect it is evident, that the question of the influence of liberty or slavery on labour, which in the system of modern Europe offers no difficulty, may be attended with very great difficulties in the colonial system; and although it appears demonstrated, that the labour of the free man is more advantageous than that of the slave, it is perhaps equally true, that, in the present colonial system, the labour of the slave is more advantageous than that of the free man.
The most general rule in political economy is never absolute, nor constantly good at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances ; both its truth and its utility depend on the knowledge and pru.
dence of the governors by whom it is applied; and they are so much the more entitled to praise and gratitude, as they come nearer truth without doing too great a violence to the opinions, propensities, and habits of the people over whom they rule.
But the philosophical inquirer, who seeks in the natural relations of men and things for the laws which they are to obey, pays no regard either to the modifications which they have undergone, to the circumstances by which these modifications have been commanded, or to the considerations which recommend their temporary retention; he looks to nothing but the object and intention of nature. His task is to indicate this object, and extends no further; and the service which he renders to mankind is merely to prevent their losing their way on the dark road of their private intes rests, and to keep them as close as possible to the tract of reason and justice.
Of Apprenticeships and Corporations.
THE question of the liberty of labour naturally presents itself next to the question of the liberty of the labourer; a question which has been uniformly resolved by all writers, and differently treated by most governments. What are we to think of this clashing of opinions and practice? On which side is reason, and truth?
Were I to collect the arguments brought forward by the writers of all sects and couotries against the injury done to the liberty of labour by apprenticeships and corporations, I should compose a huge volume which no doubt would not carry more conviction with it than the numerous chapters of the different works which I should have perused to compile it : but the triumph of the science is not so much my object, as the wish to fix its doctrine; my purpose will be accomplished by a rapid sketch of the inconveniencies and advantages attendant on those institutions, and by leaving to time the care of causing either the theory of speculative men or the practice of governments to prevail.
Apprenticeships and corporations are considered by all English, French, aud Italian writers, as an infraction of the natural right of man to make use of his powers and dexterity for the purpose of providing for his subsistence, (a right of which civil society neither can nor ought to deprive him,) and as an obstacle to the developement of his individual faculties, to the prógress of labour, and to the improvement of industry.
They are of opinion, that the greater the liberty of labour, the greater the facility of every labourer to chuse the labour for which he thinks himself fit, the stronger is his disposition to work, and the greater the perfection he gives to the produce of his labout. When, on the contrary, every labourer is restrained in the choice of his labour by the laws of apprenticeships and corporations, the country, instead of good labourers, has but indifferent or bad ones; and instead of an active and improved industry, but few and coarse productions, of little benefit to the labourer and to the state; manufactures, arts, and commerce, center in a small number of privileged beings; emulation vanishes, competition ceases, talent is degraded, and mediocrity reigns triumphant.
Finally, the incorporation of labourers gives them a monopoly of their work, raises its price, diminishes its home and foreign consumption, impedes reproduction, and paralyses the progress of general wealth.
And what is a counterpoise to so many disastrous inconveniencies ?
These institutions are supposed to favour the levy of the contributions assessed upon industry, to insure the perfection of its produce, to warrant to the foreign consumer the goodness of the national manufactures, to facilitate the superintendance of the police over this numerous portion of the people, whose tranquillity is of the most material importance to public safety.
These advantages must have appeared extremely valuable at a time when industry had made but little progress, when civilization was not much advanced, and public wealth inconsiderable.
But at presevt these considerations bave lost all their force, and if they still deceive sound understandings, it is less by their effective importance than by the irresistible power of habit.
At a time when sovereigns could not easily obtain from their subjects the contributions which the public wants required, and when credit could not supply the insufficiency of general contributions, corporations may have afforded safe and easy means to borrow and to draw indirect supplies from the people: but at present, these resources are so feeble, so disproportioned to the public wants, and yet so expensive, that the most limited and least enlightened monarch would debase his authority and his dignity, discredit his government, and enervate his power, if he allowed himself to resort to such pitiful measures.
On the other hand, if in the infancy of industry and arts it might have suited a manufacturing town, or even a manufacturing country, to keep their methods secret in order to retain the exclusive enjoyinent of their advantages, and to insure to their produce a permanent superiority; this has long since ceased to be of any avail. Drawing has made such extensive progress, its practice is so general, that it is no longer possible to keep the most complicated methods secret;,