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BOOK It is not, however, difficult to foresee which J.
of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occafions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily; and the law, besides, authorises, or at least does not prohibit their combinations, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no acts of parliament against combining to lower the price of work; but many against combining to raise it. In all such disputes the masters can hold out much longer. A landlord, a farmer, a master manufacturer, or merchant, though they did not employ a single workman, could generally live a year or two upon the stocks which they have already acquired. Many workmen could not subsist a week, few could subfift a month, and scarce any a year without employment. In the long-run the workman may be as necessary to his master as his master is to him; but the necessity is not so immediate.
We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combinations of masters; though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and every where in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform, combination, not to raise the wages of labour above their actual rate. To violate this combination is every where a moft unpopular action, and a sort of reproach to a master among his neighbours and equals. We
feldom, indeed, hear of this combination, be- C HA P.
VIII. cause it is the usual, and one may fay, the natural state of things which nobody ever hears of. Masters too sometimes enter into particular combinations to fink the wages of labour even below this rate. These are always conducted with the utmost filence and secrecy, till the moment of execution, and when the workmen yield, as they sometimes do, without resistance, though severely felt by them, they are never heard of by other people. Such combinations, however, are frequently resisted by a contrary defensive combination of the workmen; who fometimes too, without any provocation of this kind, combine of their own accord to raise the price of their labour. Their usual pretences are, sometimes the high price of provisions; sometimes the great profit which their masters make by their work. But whether their combinations be offensive or defensive, they are always abundantly heard of. In order to bring the point to a speedy decision, they have always recourse to the loudest cla. mour, and sometimes to the most shocking violence and outrage. They are desperate, and act with the folly and extravagance of desperate men, who must either starve, or frighten their masterş into an immediate compliance with their demands. The masters upon these occafions are just as clamorous upon the other side, and never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combinations of servants, la
BO O K bourers, and journeymen. The workmen, ac
cordingly, very seldom derive any advantage from the violence of those tumultuous combinations, which, partly from the interposition of the civil magistrate, partly from the superior steadiness of the masters, partly from the necessity which the greater part of the workmen are under of fubmitting for the sake of present subsistence, generally end in nothing, but the punishment or ruin of the ringleaders.
But though in disputes with their workmen, masters must generally have the advantage, there is however a certain rate, below which it seems impossible to reduce, for any considerable time, the ordinary wages even of the lowest species of labour.
A man must always live by his work, and his wages must at least be fufficient to maintain him. They must even upon moft occasions be somewhat more; otherwise it would be impossible for him to bring up a family, and the race of such workmen could not last beyond the first generation. Mr. Cantillon seems, upon this account, to suppose that the lowest species of common labourers must every where earn at least double their own maintenance, in order that one with another they may be enabled to bring up two children ; the labour of the wife, on account of her necessary attendance on the chil. dren, being supposed no more than fufficient to provide for herself. But one-half the children born, it is computed, die before the age of manhood. The poorest labourers, therefore, ac
cording to this account, must, one with another, CH AP. attempt to rear at least four children, in order that two may have an equal chance of living to that
age. But the necessary maintenance of four children, it is supposed, may be nearly equal to that of one man.
The labour of an able-bodied flave, the fame author adds, is computed to be worth double his maintenance; and that of the meaneft labourer, he thinks, cannot be worth less than that of an able-bodied slave. Thus far at least feems certain, that, in order to bring up a family, the labour of the husband and wife together muft, even in the lowest fpecies of common labour, be able to earn something more than what is precisely necessary for their own maintenance; but in what proportion, whether in that above mentioned, or in any other, I shall not take upon me to determine.
There are certain circumstances, however, which sometimes give the labourers an advantage, and enable them to raise their wages conliderably above this rate; evidently the lowest which is consistent with common humanity.
When in any country the demand for those who live by wages; labourers, journeyinen, fervants of every kind, is continually increasing; when every year furnishes employment for a greater number than had been employed the year before, the workmen have no occafion to combine in order to raise their wages. The fcarcity of hands occasions a competition among masters, who bid against one another, in order to get workmen, and thus voluntarily break
BOOK through the natural combination of masters not
to raise wages.
The demand for those who live by wages, it is evident, cannot increase but in proportion to the increase of the funds which are destined for the payment of wages. These funds are of two kinds: first, the revenue which is over and
above what is necessary for the maintenance ; v and, fecondly, the stock which is over and above
what is necessary for the employment of their masters.
When the landlord, annuitant, or monied man, has a greater revenue than what he judges fuffi. cient to maintain his own family, he employs either the whole or a part of the surplus in maintaining one or more menial servants. Increase this furplus, and he will naturally increase the number of those servants.
When an independent workman, such as a weaver or shoe-maker, has got more stock than what is sufficient to purchase the materials of his own work, and to maintain himself till he can dispose of it, he naturally employs one or more journeymen with the surplus, in order to make a profit by their work. Increase this surplus, and he will naturally increase the number of his journeymen.
The demand for those who live by wages, therefore, neceflarily increases with the increase of the revenue and stock of every country, and cannot poslibly increase without it. The increase of revenue and stock is the increase of national wealth. The demand for those who live by