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experience shows, and proverbs, the ex- | to remain inactive; or who have any pression of popular experience, attest, other real desire than that of rubbing now inferior is the quality of hired on, so as to escape general blame. On servants, compared with the ministra- a smaller scale, all who have ever emtion of those personally interested in ployed hired labour have had ample the work, and how indispensable, when experience of the efforts made to give hired service must be employed, is as little labour in exchange for the “the master's eye” to watch over it. wages, as is compatible with not being
The successful conduct of an indus- turned off. The universal neglect by trial enterprise requires two quite dis- domestic servants of their employer's tinct qualifications: fidelity, and zeal. interests, wherever these are not proThe fidelity of the hired managers of a tected by some fixed rule, is matter of concern it is possible to secure. When common remark; unless where long their work admits of being reduced to continuance in the same service, and a definite set of rules, the violation of reciprocal good offices, have produced these is a matter on which conscience either personal attachment, or some cannot easily blind itself, and on which | feeling of a common interest. responsibility may be enforced by the Another of the disadvantages of joint loss of employment. But to carry on a stock concerns, which is in some degree great business successfully, requires a common to all concerns on a large scale, hundred things which, as they cannot is disregard of small gains and small be defined beforehand, it is impossible savings. In the management of a great to convert into distinct and positive capital and great transactions, espeobligations. First and principally, it cially when the managers have not requires that the directing mind should much interest in it of their own, small be incessantly occupied with the sub sums are apt to be counted for next to ject; should be continually laying nothing; they never seem worth the schemes by which greater profit may care and trouble which it costs to attend be obtained, or expense saved. This to them, and the credit of liberality and intensity of interest in the subject it is openhandedness is cheaply bought by seldom to be expected that any one a disregard of such trifling considerashould feel, who is conducting a busi- tions. But small profits and small exness as the hired servant and for the penses, often repeated, amount to great profit of another. There are experi- gains and losses: and of this a large ments in human affairs which are con capitalist is often a sufficiently good clusive on the point. Look at the calculator to be practically aware; and whole class of rulers, and ministers of to arrange his business on a system, state. The work they are entrusted which if enforced by a sufficiently vigiwith, is among the most interesting lant superintendence, precludes the posand exciting of all occupations; the per- sibility of the habitual waste, otherwise sonal share which they themselves reap incident to a great business. But the of the national benefits or misfortunes managers of a joint stock concern sel. which befal the state under their rule, dom devote themselves sufficiently to is far from trifling, and the rewards the work, to enforce unremittingly, and punishments which they may ex- even if introduced, through every detail pect from public estimation are of the of the business, a really economical plain and" palpable kind which are system. most keenly felt and most widely ap- From considerations of this nature, preciated. Yet how rare a thing is it Adam Smith was led to enunciate as a to find a statesman in whom mental principle, that joint stock companies indolence is not stronger than all these could never be expected to maintain inducements. How infinitesimal is the themselves without an exclusive priviproportion who trouble themselves to lege, except in branches of business form, or even to attend to, plans of which like banking, insurance, and public improvement, unless when it is some others, admit of being, in a conmade still more troublesome to them siderable degree, reduced to fixed rules. This however is one of those over-state- employed, whether in superior or in ments of a true principle, often met subordinate offices, should be paid with in Adam Smith. In his days there wholly by fixed salaries. There are were few instances of joint stock com modes of connecting more or less intipanies which had been permanently mately the interest of the employés successful without a monopoly, except with the pecuniary success of the conthe class of cases which he referred to; cern. There is a long series of interbut since his time there have been mediate positions, between working many; and the regular increase both wholly on one's own account, and workof the spirit of combination and of the ing by the day, week, or year for an ability to combine, will doubtless pro invariable payment. Even in the case duce many more. Adam Smith fixed of ordinary unskilled labour, there is his observation too exclusively on the such a thing as task-work, or working superior energy and more unremitting by the piece: and the superior effiattention brought to a business in which ciency of this is so well known, that the whole stake and the whole gain be- judicious employers always resort to it long to the persons conducting it; and when the work admits of being put out he overlooked various countervailing in definite portions, without the neces. considerations which go a great way sity of too troublesome a surveillance to towards neutralizing even that great guard against inferiority in the execupoint of superiority.
tion. In the case of the managers of Of these one of the most important joint stock companies, and of the superis that which relates to the intellectual intending and controlling officers in and active qualifications of the direct many private establishments, it is a ing head. The stimulus of individual | common enough practice to connect interest is some security for exertion, their pecuniary interest with the intebut exertion is of little avail if the in- | rest of their employers, by giving them telligence exerted is of an inferior order, part of their remuneration in the form which it must necessarily be in the of a percentage on the profits. The majority of concerns carried on by the personal interest thus given to hired persons chiefly interested in them. | servants is not comparable in intensity Where the concern is large, and can to that of the owner of the capital; but afford a remuneration sufficient to at- it is sufficient to be a very material tract a class of candidates superior to stimulus to zeal and carefulness, and, the common average, it is possible to when added to the advantage of supeselect for the general management, and rior intelligence, often raises the quality for all the skilled employments of a of the service much above that which subordinate kind. persons of a degree | the generality of masters
degree | the generality of masters are capable of of acquirement and cultivated intelli- | rendering to themselves. The ulterior gence which more than compensates extensions of which this principle of for their inferior interest in the result. remuneration is susceptible, being of Their greater perspicacity enables great social as well as economical imthem, with even a part of their minds, portance, will be more particularly adto see probabilities of advantage which verted to in a subsequent stage of the never occur to the ordinary run of men present inquiry. by the continued exertion of the whole As I have already remarked of large of theirs; and their superior knowledge, establishments generally, when comand habitual rectitude of perception pared with small ones, whenever comand of judgment, guard them against petition is free its results will show blunders, the fear of which would pre- whether individual orjoint stock agency vent the others from hazarding their is best adapted to the particular case, interests in any attempt out of the since that which is most efficient and ordinary routine.
most economical will always in the end It must be further remarked, that it succeed in underselling the other. is not a necessary consequence of joint -stock management, that the persons $3. The possibility of substituting
the large system of production for the as it costs no more time, and not much small, depends, of course, in the first more exertion of mind, to make a large place, on the extent of the market. The purchase, for example, than a small large system can only be advantageous one, and very much less than to make when a large amount of business is to a number of small ones. be done : it implies, therefore, either a With a view merely to production, populous and flourishing community, and to the greatest efficiency of labour, or a great opening for exportation. this change is wholly beneficial. In Again, this as well as every other some cases it is attended with draw. . change in the system of production is backs, rather social than economical, greatly favoured by a progressive con- the nature of which has been already dition of capital. It is chiefly when hinted at. But whatever disadvanthe capital of a country is receiving a tages may be supposed to attend on the great annual increase, that there is a change from a small to a large system large amount of capital seeking for of production, they are not applicable investment: and a new enterprise is to the change from a large to a still much sooner and more easily entered larger. When, in any employment, upon by new capital, than by with the régime of independent small pro drawing capital from existing employ- ducers has either never been possible, ments. The change is also much faci- or has been superseded, and the syslitated by the existence of large capitals tem of many work-people under one in few hands. It is true that the same management has become fully esamount of capital can be raised by tablished, from that time any further bringing together many small sums. enlargement in the scale of production But this (besides that it is not equally is generally an unqualified benefit. It well suited to all branches of industry), is obvious, for example, how great an supposes a much greater degree of com- economy of labour would be obtained mercial confidence and enterprise dif- if London were supplied by a single fused through the community, and gas or water company instead of the belongs altogether to a more advanced existing plurality. While there are stage of industrial progress.
even as many as two, this implies In the countries in which there are double establishments of all sorts, when the largest markets, the widest diffu one only, with a small increase, could sion of commercial confidence and en- probably perform the whole operation terprise, the greatest annual increase | equally well; double sets of machinery of capital, and the greatest number of and works, when the whole of the gas large capitals owned by individuals, or water required could generally be there is a tendency to substitute more produced by one set only; even double and more, in one branch of industry sets of pipes, if the companies did not after another, large establishments for prevent this needless expense by agreesmall ones. In England, the chief ing upon a division of the territory. type of all these characteristics, there were there only one establishment, is a perpetual growth not only of large it could make lower charges, consistmanufacturing establishments, but also, ently with obtaining the rate of prowherever a sufficient number of pur- fit now realized. But would it do so ? chasers are assembled, of shops and Even if it did not, the community in warehouses for conducting retail busi- the aggregate would still be a gainer ness on a large scale. These are almost since the shareholders are a part of always able to undersell the smaller the community, and they would obtain tradesmen, partly, it is understood, by higher profits while the consumers means of division of labour, and the paid only the same. It is, however, an economy occasioned by limiting the error to suppose that the prices are employment of skilled agency to cases ever permanently kept down by the where skill is required; and partly, no competition of these companies. Where doubt, by the saving of labour arising competitors are so few, they always from the great scale of the transactions: I end by agreeing not to compete. They
may run a race of cheapness to ruin al I have already remarked, that the new candidate, but as soon as he has operations of agriculture are little susestablished his footing they come to ceptible of benefit from the division of terms with him. When, therefore, a labour. There is but little separation business of real public importance can of employments even on the largest only be carried on advantageously upon farms. The same persons may not in so large a scale as to render the liberty | general attend to the live stock, to the of competition almost illusory, it is an marketing, and to the cultivation of unthrifty dispensation of the public re- the soil ; but much beyond that prisources that several costly sets of ar- | | mary and simple classification the rangements should be kept up for the subdivision is not carried. The compurpose of rendering to the community bination of labour of which agriculture this one service. It is much better to is susceptible, is chiefly that which treat it at once as a public function; Mr. Wakefield terms Simple Co-operaand if it be not such as the government | tion; several persons helping one itself could beneficially undertake, it | another in the same work, at the same should be made over entire to the com- time and place. But I confess it pany or association which will perform seems to me that this able writer atit on the best terms for the public. In tributes more importance to that kind the case of railways, for example, no of co-operation, in reference to agriculone can desire to see the enormous ture properly so called, than it dewaste of capital and land (not to speak serves. None of the common farming of increased nuisance) involved in the operations require much of it. There construction of a second railway to is no particular advantage in setting a connect the same places already united great number of people to work toby an existing one; while the two gether in ploughing or digging or sowwould not do the work better than it ing the same field, or even in mowing. could be done by one, and after a short or reaping it unless time presses. A time would probably be amalgamated. single family can generally supply all Only one such line ought to be permitted, the combination of labour necessary but the control over that line never for these purposes. And in the works ought to be parted with by the State, in which an union of many efforts is. unless on a temporary concession, as really needed, there is seldom found in France; and the vested right which any impracticability in obtaining it Parliament has allowed to be acquired where farms are small. by the existing companies, like all The waste of productive power by subother proprietary rights which are op- division of the land often amounts to a posed to public utility, is morally valid great evil, but this applies chiefly to a. only as a claim to compensation. subdivision so minute, that the cultiva
tors have not enough land to occupy 4. The question between the their time. Up to that point the same large and the small systems of pro- | principles which recommend large duction as applied to agriculture--be- manufactories are applicable to agritween large and small farming, the culture. For the greatest productive grande and the petite culture-stands, efficiency, it is generally desirable in many respects, on different grounds (though even this proposition must be from the general question between received with qualifications) that no great and small industrial establish- family who have any land, should have ments. In its social aspects, and as less than they could cultivate, or than an element in the Distribution of will fully employ their cattle and tools. Wealth, this question will occupy us These, however, are not the dimensions hereafter: but even as a question of of large farms, but of what are reckoned production, the superiority of the large in England very small ones. The system in agriculture is by no means | large farmer has some advantage in so clearly established as in manufac | the article of buildings. It does not tures,
cost so much to house a great number
of cattle in one building, as to lodge to eight or ten acres, could live comthem equally well in several buildings. fortably, and pay as high a rent as any There is also some advantage in im- large farmer whatever. “I am firmly plements. A small farmer is not so persuaded" (he says, *) " that the small likely to possess expensive instru- farmer who holds his own plough and nients. But the principal agricultural digs liis own ground, if he follows a implements, even when of the best proper rotation of crops, and feeds his construction, are not expensive. It may cattle in the house, can undersell the not answer to a small farmer to own a large farmer, or in other words can pay threshing machine, for the small quan- a rent which the other cannot afford; tity of corn he has to thresh ; but and in this I am confirmed by the there is no reason why such a machine opinion of many practical men who should not in every neighbourhood behave well considered the subject. ... owned in common, or provided by some The English farmer of 700 to 800 person to whom the others pay a con acres is a kind of man approaching to sideration for its use; especially as, what is known by the name of a gentlewhen worked by steam, they are so man farmer. He must have his horse to constructed as to be moveable.* The ride, and his gig, and perhaps an overseer large farmer can make some saving in to attend to his labourers; he certainly cost of carriage. There is nearly as cannot superintend himself the labour much trouble in carrying a small por- going on in a farm of 800 acres." tion of produce to market, as a much After a few other remarks, he adds, greater produce; in bringing home a “Besides all these drawbacks, which small, as a much larger quantity of the small farmer knows little about, manures, and articles of daily con- | there is the great expense of carting sumption. There is also the greater out the manure from the homestead to cheapness of buying things in large such a great distance, and again cartquantities. These various advantages ing home the crop. A single horse must count for something, but it does will consume the produce of more land not seem that they ought to count for
than would feed a small farmer and very much. In England for some his wife and two children. And what generations, there has been little is more than all, the large farmer says experience of small farms; but in Ire to his labourers, go to your work; but land the experience has been ample, when the small farmer has occasion to not merely under the worst but under hire them, he says, come; the intellithe best management: and the highest gent reader will, i dare say, understand Irish authorities may be cited in oppo- | the difference.” sition to the opinion which on this One of the objections most urged subject commonly prevails in England. against small farms is, that they do not Mr. Blacker, for example, one of the and cannot maintain, proportionally to most experienced agriculturists and their extent, so great a number of cattle successful improvers in the North of as large farms, and that this occasions Ireland, whose experience was chiefly such a deficiency of manure, that a soil in the best cultivated, which are also much subdivided must always be imthe most minutely divided parts of the poverished. It will be found, however, country, was of opinion, that tenants that subdivision only produces this holding farms not exceeding from five effect when it throws the land into the * The observations in the text may here
hands of cultivators so poor as not to after require some degree of modification possess the amount of live stock suitfrom inventions such as the steam plough able to the size of their farms. A small and the reaping machine. The effect, how.
farm and a badly stocked farm are not ever, of these improvements on the relative advantages of large and small farms, will not
| synonymous. To make the comparison depend on the efficiency of the instruments, fairly, we must suppose the same but on their costliness. I see no reason to expect that this will be such as to make * Prize Essay on the Management of Landed them inaccessible to small farmers, or com | Property in Ireland, by William Blacker, binations of small farmers.
Esq. (1837,) p. 23.