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even though you rate the former as high, and the latter as low, as can well be done."
Whether this is true in our own day, when the gains of the few are incomparably greater than in the time of Adam Smith, but also the unsuccessful .aspirants much more numerous, those who have the appropriate information roust decide. It does not, however, seem to be sufficiently considered by Adam Smith, that the prizes which he speaks of comprise not the fees of counsel only, but the places of emolument and honour to which their profession gives access, together with the coveted distinction of a conspicuous position in the public eye.
Even where there are no great prizes, the mere love of excitement is sometimes enough to cause an adventurous employment to be overstocked. This is apparent "in the readiness of the common people to enlist as soldiers, or to go to sea. . . . The dangers and hair-breadth escapes of a life of adventures, instead of disheartening young people, seem frequently to recommend a trade to them. A tender mother, among the inferior ranks of people, is often afraid to send her son to school at a sea-port town, lest the sight of the ships and the conversation and adventures of the sailors should entice him to go to sea. The distant prospect of hazards, from which we can hope to extricate ourselves by courage and address, is not disagreeable to us, and does not raise the wages of labour in any employment. It is otherwise with those in which courage and address can be of no avail. In trades which are known to be very unwholesome, the wages of labour are always remarkably high. Unwholesomeness is a species of disagreeableness, and its effects upon the wages of labour are to be ranked under that general head."
§ 2. The preceding are cases in which inequality of remuneration is necessary to produce equality of attractiveness, and are examples of the -equalizing effect of free competition. The following are cases of real in
equality, and arise from a different principle. "The wages of labour vary according to the small or great trust which must be reposed in the workmen. The wages of goldsmiths and jewellers are everywhere superior to those of many other workmen, not only of equal, but of much superior ingenuity; on account of the precious materials with which they are intrusted. We trust our health to the physician, our fortune and sometimes our life and reputation to the lawyer and attorney. Such confidence could not safely be reposed in people of a very mean or low condition. Their reward must be such, therefore, as may give them that rank in society which so important a trust requires."
The superiority of reward is not here the consequence of competition, but of its absence; not a compensation for disadvantages inherent in the em
Eloyment, but an extra advantage; a ind of monopoly price, the effect not of a legal, but of what has been termed a natural monopoly. If all labourers were trustworthy it would not be necessary to give extra pay to working goldsmiths on account of the trust. The degree of integrity required beiDg supposed to be uncommon, those who can make it appear that they possess it are able to take advantage of the peculiarity, and obtain higher pay in proportion to its rarity. This opens a class of considerations which Adam Smith, and most other political economists, have taken into far too little account, and from inattention to which, he has given a most imperfect exposition of the wide difference between (he remuneration of common labour and that of skilled employments.
Some employments require a much longer time to learn, and a much more expensive course of instruction than others; and to this extent there is, as explained by Adam Smith, an inherent reason for their being more highly remunerated. If an artizan must work several years at learning his trade before he can earn anything, and several years more before becoming sufficiently skilful for its finer operations, he must have a prospect of at last earning enough to pay the wages of all this past labour, with compensation for the delay of payment, and an indemnity for the expenses of his education. His wages, consequently, must yield, over and above the ordinary amount, an annuity sufficient to repay these sums, with the common rate of profit, within the number of years he can expect to live and be in working condition. This, which is necessary to place the skilled employments, all circumstances taken together, on the same level of advantage with the unskilled, is the smallest difference which can exist for any length of time between the two remunerations, since otherwise no one would learn the skilled employments. And this amount of difference is all which Adam Smith's principles account for. When the disparity is greater, he seems to think that it must be explained by apprentice laws, and the rules of corporations, which restrict admission into many of the skilled employments. But, independently of these or any other artificial monopolies, there is a natural monopoly in favour »f skilled labourers against the unskilled, which makes the difference of reward exceed, sometimes in a manifold proportion, what is sufficient merely to equalize their advantages. If unskilled labourers had it in their power to compete with skilled, by merely taking the trouble of learning the trade, the difference of wages might not exceed what would compensate them for that trouble, at tho ordinary rate at which labour is remunerated. But the fact that a course of instruction is required, of even a low degree of costliness, or that the labourer must be maintained for a considerable time from other sources, suffices everywhere to exclude the great body of the labouring people from the possibility of any such competition. Until lately, all employments which required even the humble education of reading and writing, could be recruited only from a select class, the majority having had no opportunity of acquiring those attainments. AH such employments, accordingly, were immensely overpaid,
as measured by the ordinary remuneration of labour. Since reading and writing have been brought within the reach of a multitude, the monopoly price of the lower grade of educated employments has greatly fallen, the competition for them having increased in an almost incredible degree. There is still, however, a much greater disparity than can be accounted for on the principle of competition. A clerk from whom nothing is required but the mechanical labour of copying, gains more than an equivalent for his mere exertion if he receives the wages of a bricklayer's labourer. His work is not a tenth part as hard, it is quite as easy to learn, and his condition is less precarious, a clerk's place being generally a place for life. The higher rate of his remuneration, therefore, must be partly ascribed to monopoly, the small degree of education required being not even yet so generally diffused as to call forth the natural number of competitors; and partly to the remaining influence of an ancient custom, which requires that clerks should maintain, the dress and appearance of a more highly paid class. In some manual employments, requiring a nicety of hand which can only be acquired by long practice, it is difficult to obtain at any cost workmen in sufficient numbers, who are capable of the most delicate kind of work; and the wages paid to them are only limited by the price which purchasers are willing to give for the commodity they produce. This is the case with some working watchmakers, and with the makers of some astronomical and optical instruments. If workmen competent to such employments were ten times as numerous as they are, there would be purchasers for all which they could make, not indeed at the present prices, but at those lower prices which would be the natural consequence of lower wages. Similar considerations apply in a still greater degree to employments which it is attempted to confine to persons of a certain social rank, such as what are called the liberal professions; into which a person of what is considered too low a class of society, is not easily admitted, and if admitted, does not easily succeed.
So complete, indeed, has hitherto been the separation, so strongly marked the line of demarcation, between the different grades of labourers, as to be almost equivalent to an hereditary distinction of caste; each employment being chiefly recruited from the children of those already employed in it, or in employments of the same rank with it in social estimation, or from the children of persons who, if originally of a lower rank, have succeeded in raising themselvesby their exertions. The liberal professions are mostly supplied by the sons of either the professional, or the idle classes: the more highly skilled manual employments are filled up from the sons of skilled artizans, or the class of tradesmen who rank with them: the lower classes of skilled employments are in a similar case; and unskilled labourers, with occasional exceptions, remain from father to son in their pristine condition. Consequently the wages of each class have hitherto been regulated by the increase of its own population, rather than of the general population of the country. If the professions are overstocked, it is because the class of society from which they have always mainly been supplied, has greatly increased in number, and because most of that class have numerous families, and bring up some at least of their sons to professions. If the wages of artizans remain so much higher than those of common labourers, it is because artizans are a more prudent class, and do not marry so early or so inconsiderately. The changes, however, now so rapidly taking place in usages and ideas, are undermining all these distinctions; the habits or disabilities which chained people to their hereditary condition are fast wearing away, and every class is exposed to increased and increasing competition from at least the class immediately below it. The general relaxation of conventional barriers, and the increased facilities of education which already are, and will be in a much greater degree, brought within the reach of all, tend to produce, among
many excellent effects, one which is the reverse; they tend to bring down the wages of skilled labour. The inequality of remuneration between the skilled and the unskilled is, without doubt, very much greater than is justifiable; but it is desirable that this should be corrected by raising the unskilled, not by lowering the skilled. If, however, the other changes taking place in society are not accompanied by a strengthening of the checks to population on the part of labourers generally, there will be a tendency to bring the lower grades of skilled labourers under the influence of a rate of increase regulated by a lower standard of living than their own, and thus to deteriorate their condition without raising that of the general mass; the stimulus given to the multiplication of the lowest class being sufficient to fill up without difficulty the additional space gained by them from those immediately above.
§ 3. A modifying circumstance still remains to be noticed, which interferes to some extent with the operation of the principles thus far brought to view. While it is true, as a general rule, that the earnings of skilled labour, and especially of any labour which requires school education, are at a monopoly rate, from the impossibility, to the mass of the people, of obtaining that education; it is also true that the policy of nations, or the bounty of individuals, formerly did much to counteract the effect of this limitation of competition, by offering eleemosynary instruction to a much larger class of persons than could have obtained the same advantages by paying their price. Adam Smith has pointed out the operation of this cause in keeping down the remuneration of scholarly or bookish occupations generally, and in particular of clergymen, literary men, and schoolmasters, or other teachers of youth. I cannot better set forth this part of the subject than in his words.
"It has been considered as of so much importance that a proper number of young people should be educated for certain professions, that sometimes the public, and sometimes the piety of private founders, have established many pensions, scholarships, exhibitions, bursaries, &e. for this purpose, which draw many more people into those trades than could otherwise pretend to follow them. In all Christian countries, I believe, the education of the greater part of churchmen is paid for in this manner. Very few of them are educated altogether at their own expense. The long, tedious, and expensive education, therefore, of those who are, will not always procure them a suitable reward,the church being crowded with people who, in order to get employment, are willing to accept of a much smaller recompense than what such an education would otherwise have entitled them to; and in this manner the competition of the poor takes away the reward of the rich. It would be indecent, no doubt, to compare either a curate or a chaplain with a journeyman in any common trade. The pay of a curate or a chaplain, however, may very properly be considered as of the same nature with the wages of a journeyman. They are, all three; paid for their work according to the contract which they may happen to make with their respective superiors. Till after the middle of the fourteenth century, five marks, containing as much silver as ten pounds of our present money, was in England the usual pay of a curate or a stipendiary parish priest, as we find it regulated by the decrees of several different national councils. At the same period fourpence a day, containing the same quantity of silver as a shilling of our present money, was declared to be the pay of a master-mason, and threepence a day, equal to ninepence of our present money, that of a journeyman mason.* The wages of both these labourers, therefore, supposing them to have been constantly employed, were much superior to those of the curate. The wages of the master-mason, supposing him to have been without employment onethird of the year, would have fully equalled them. By the 12th of Queen Anne, c. 12, it is declared 'That whereas for want of sufficient mainte
* "See the Statute of Labourers, 25 Edw. III."
nance and encouragement to curates, the cures have in several places been meanly supplied, the bishop is 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 tho 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 (Bicardo), 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 high 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 trouble