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Of increasing wealth as it affects, &c.
I do not mean to enter into any philosophical discussion of what constitutes the proper happiness of man, but shall merely consider two universally acknowledged ingredients, the command of the necessaries and comforts of life, and the possession of health,
The comforts of the laboring poor must necessarily depend upon the funds destined for the maintenance of labor ; and will generally be in proportion to the rapidity of their increase. The demand for labor, which such increase occasions, will of course raise the value of labor ; and till the additional number of hands required are reared, the increased funds will be distributed to the same number of persons as before, and therefore every laborer will live comparatively at his ease. The error of Dr. Smith lies in representing every increase of the revenue or stock of a society, as a proportional increase of these funds. Such surplus stock or revenue will indeed always be considered by the individual possessing it, as an additional fund from which he may maintain more labor; but with regard to the whole country, it will not be an effectual fund for the maintenance of an additional number of laborers, unless part of it be convertible into an additional quantity of provisions; and it
of increaing wealth as it affects
will not be so convertible where the increase has arisen merely from the produce of labor, and not from produce of the land. A distinction may in this case occur between the number of hands which the stock of the society could employ and the number which its territory can maintain.
Dr. Smith defines the wealth of a state to be the annual produce of its land and labor. This definition evidently includes manufactured produce as well as the produce of the island. Now supposing a nation for a course of years to add what it saved from its yearly revenue to its manufacturing capital solely, and not to its capital employed upon land, it is evident that it might grow richer according to the above definition, without a power of supporting a greater number of laborers, and therefore without any increase in the real funds for the maintenance of labor. There would notwithstanding be a demand for labor, from the extension of manufacturing capital. This demand would of course raise the price of labor; but if the yearly stock of provisions in the country were not increasing, this rise would soon turn out to be merely nominal, as the price of provisions must necessarily rise with it. The demand for manufacturing laborers would probably entice some
the Condition of the Poor.
from "private service, and some even from agriculture; but we will suppose any effects of this kind on agriculture to be compensated by improvements in the instruments or mode of culture, and the quantity of provisions therefore to remain the same. Improvements in manufacturing machinery would of course take place; and this circumstance, added to the greater number of hands employed in manufactures, would augment considerably the annual produce of the labor of the country. The wealth therefore of the country would be increasing annually according to the definition, and might not be increasing very slowly.'
1 I have supposed here a case which, in a landed na. tion, I allow to be very improbable in fact; but approximations to it are perhaps not unfrequently taking place. My intention is merely to show, that the funds for the maintenance of labor do not increase exactly in proportion to the increase in the produce of the land and labor of a country, but with the same increase of produce, may be more or less favorable to the laborer, according as the increase has arisen principally from agriculture or from manufactures. On the supposition of a physical impos. sibility of increasing the food of a country it is evident, that by improvements in machinery it might grow yearly richer in the exchangeable value of its manufactured produce, but the laborer though he might be better clothed and lodged, could not be better fed.
Of increasing wealth as is affects
The question is, how far wealth increasing in this way has a tendency to better the condition of the laboring poor. It is a self-evident proposition, that any general advance in the price of labor, the stock of provisions remaining the same, can only be a nominal advance, as it must shortly be followeci by a proportional rise in provisions. The increase in the price of labor which we have supposed, would have no permanent effect therefore in giving to the laboring poor a greater command over the necessaries of life. In this respect they would be nearly in the same state as before. In some other respects they would be in a worse state. A greater proportion of them would be employed in manufactures, and a smaller proportion in agriculture. And this exchange of professions will be allowed, I think, by all to be very unfavorable to health, one essential ingredient of happiness, and to be further disadvantageous on account of the greater uncertainty of manufacturing labor, arising from the capricious taste of man, the accidents of war, and other causes which occasionally produce very severe distress among the lower classes of society. On the state of the poor employed in manufactories, with respect to health and other circumstances which affect their happi
the Condition of the Poor.
ness, I will beg leave to quote a passage from Dr. Aikin's description of the country round Manchester.
“ The invention and improvements of machines " to shorten labor have had a surprising influence
to extend our trade, and also to call in hands " from all parts, especially children for the cotton “ mills. It is the wise plan of providence, that in " this life there shall be no good without its at« tendant inconvenience. There are many which
are too obvious in these cotton mills and similar “ factories, which counteract that increase of po
pulation usually consequent on the improved " facility of labor. In these, children of very ten" der age are employed, many of them collected « from the workhouses in London and Westmin* ster, and transported in crowds as apprentices " to masters, resident many hundred miles distant,
where they serve unknown, unprotected, and forgotten by those to whose care nature or the laws * had consigned them. These children are usually " too long confined to work in close rooms, often “ during the whole night. The air they breathe “ from the oil, &c. employed in the machinery, " and other cir cumstances, is injurious ; little atvol. ii.