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therefore empowered to appoint by writing under his hand and seal a sufficient certain stipend or allowance, not exceeding fifty, and not less than twenty pounds a year.” Forty pounds a year is reckoned at present very good pay for a curate, and notwithstanding this act of parliament, there are many curacies under twenty pounds a year. This last sum does not exceed what is frequently earned by common labourers in many country parishes. Whenever the law has attempted to regulate the wages of workmen, it has always been rather to lower them than to raise them. But the law has upon many occasions attempted to raise the wages of curates, and for the dignity of the Church, to oblige the rectors of parishes to give them more than the wretched maintenance which they themselves might be willing to accept of. And in both cases the law seems to have been equally ineffectual, and has never been either able to raise the wages of curates or to sink those of labourers to the degree that was intended, because it has never been able to hinder either the one from being willing to accept of less than the legal allowance, on account of the indigence of their situation and the multitude of their competitors; or the other from receiving more, on account of the contrary competition of those who expected to derive either profit or pleasure from employing them.” “In professions in which there are no benefices, such as law () and physic, if an equal proportion of people were educated at the public expense, the competition would soon be so great as to sink very much their pecuniary reward. It might then not be worth any man's while to educate his son to either of those professions at his own expense. They would be entirely abandoned to such as had been educated by those public charities; whose numbers and necessities would oblige them in general to content themselves with a very miserable recompense. “That unprosperous race of men, commonly called men of letters, are pretty much in the situation which lawyers and physicians probably would be in upon the foregoing supposition. In every part of Europe, the greater part of them have been educated for the church, but have been hindered by different reasons from entering into holy orders. They have generally, therefore, been educated at the public expense, and their numbers are everywhere so great as to reduce the price of their labour to a very paltry recompense. “Before the invention of the art of printing, the only employment by which a man of letters could make anything by his talents, was that of a public or private teacher, or by communicating to other people the curious and useful knowledge which he had acquired himself: and this is still surely a more honourable, a more useful, and in general even a more profitable employment than that other of writing for a bookseller, to which the art of printing has given occasion. The time and study, the genius, knowledge, and application requisite to qualify an eminent teacher of the sciences, are at least equal to what is necessary for the greatest practitioners in law and physic. But the usual reward of the eminent teacher bears no proportion to that of the lawyer or physician; because the trade of the one is crowded with indigent people who have been brought up to it at the public expense, whereas those of the other two are encumbered with very few who have not been educated at their own. The usual recompense, however, of public and private teachers, small as it may appear, would undoubtedly be less than it is, if the competition of those yet more indigent men of letters who write for bread was not taken out of the market. Before the invention of the art of printing, a scholar and a beggar seem to have been terms very nearly synonymous. The different governors of the universities before that time appear to have often granted licenses to their scholars to beg.”
§ 4. The demand for literary labour has so greatly increased since Adam Smith wrote, while the provisions for eleemosynary education have nowhere been much added to, and in the countries which have undergone revolutions have been much diminished, that little effect in keeping down the recompense of literary labour can now be ascribed to the influence of those institutions. But an effect nearly equivalent is now produced by a cause somewhat similar—the competition of persons who, by analogy with other arts, may be called amateurs. Literary occupation is one of those pursuits in which success may be attained by persons the greater part of whose time is taken up by other employments; and the education necessary for it, is the common education of all cultivated persons. The inducements to it, independently of money, in the present state of the world, to all who have either vanity to gratify, or personal or public objects to promote, are strong. These motives now attract into this career a great and increasing number of persons who do not need its pecuniary fruits, and who would equally resort to it if it afforded no remuneration at all. In our own country (to cite known examples), the most influential, and on the whole most eminent philosophical writer of recent times (Bentham), the greatest political economist (Ricardo), the most ephemerally celebrated, and the really greatest poets (Byron and Shelley), and the most successful writer of prose fiction (Scott), were none of them authors by profession; and only two of the five, Scott and Byron, could have supported themselves by the works which they wrote. Nearly all the higher departments of authorship are, to a great extent, similarly filled. In consequence, although the highest pecuniary prizes of successful authorship are incomparably greater than at any former period, yet on any rational calculation of the chances, in the existing competition, scarcely any writer can hope to gain a living by books, and to do so by magazines and reviews becomes daily more difficult. It is only the more troublesome and disagreeable kinds of literary labour, and those which confer no personal celebrity, such as most of those connected with newspapers, or with the smaller periodicals, on which an educated person can now rely for subsistence. Of these, the remuneration is, on the whole, decidedly high; because, though exposed to the competition of what used to be called “poor scholars” (persons who have received a learned education from some public or private charity), they are exempt from that of amateurs, those who have other means of support being seldom candidates for such employments. Whether these considerations are not connected with something radically amiss in the idea of authorship as a profession, and whether any social arrangement under which the teachers of mankind consist of persons giving out doctrines for bread, is suited to be, or can possibly be, a permanent thing—would be a subject well worthy of the attention of thinkers. The clerical, like the literary profession, is frequently adopted by persons of independent means, either from religious zeal, or for the sake of the honour or usefulness which may belong to it, or for a chance of the high prizes which it holds out: and it is now principally for this reason that the salaries of curates are so low; those salaries, though considerably raised by the influence of public opinion, being still generally insufficient as the sole means of support for one who has to maintain the externals expected from a clergyman of the established church. When an occupation is carried on chiefly by persons who derive the main portion of their subsistence from other sources, its remuneration may be lower almost to any extent, than the wages of equally severe labour in other employments. The principal example of the kind is domestic manufactures. When spinning and knitting were carried on in every cottage, by families deriving their principal support from agriculture, the price at which their produce was sold (which constituted the remuneration of the labour) was often so low, that there would have been required great perfection of machinery to undersell it. The amount of the remuneration in such a case, depends chiefly upon whether the quantity of the commodity, produced by this description of labour, suffices to supply the whole of the demand. If it does not, and there is consequently a necessity for some labourers who devote themselves entirely to the employment, the price of the article must be sufficient to pay those labourers at the ordinary rate, and to reward therefore very handsomely the domestic producers. But if the demand is so limited that the domestic manufacture can do more than satisfy it, the price is naturally kept down to the lowest rate at which peasant families think it worth while to continue the production. It is, no doubt, because the Swiss artizans do not depend for the whole of their subsistence upon their looms, that Zurich is able to maintain a competition in the European market with English capital, and English fuel and machinery.* Thus far, as to the remuneration of the subsidiary employment; but the effect to the labourers of having this additional resource, is almost certain to be (unless peculiar counteracting causes intervene) a proportional diminution of the wages of their main occupation. The habits of the people (as has already been so often remarked) everywhere require some particular scale of living, and no more, as the condition without which they will not bring up a family. Whether the income which maintains them in this condition comes from one source or from two, makes no difference : if there is a second source of income, they require less from the first ; and multiply (at least this has always hitherto been the case) to a point which leaves them no more from both employments, than they would probably have had from either if it had been their sole occupation.
* Four-fifths of the manufacturers of the Canton of Zurich are small farmers, generally proprietors of their farms. The cotton manufacture occupies either wholly or partially 23,000 people, nearly a tenth part of the population; and they consume a greater quantity of cotton per inhabitant than either France or England. See the Statistical Account of Zurich, formerly cited, pp. 105, 108, 110.