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Of Drawbacks
That The Division Of Labour Is Limited By The Extent Of The Market
Of The Wages Of Labour
Conclusion Of The Mercantile System
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Introduction To Stock Theory
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Of The Principle Which Gives Occasion To The Division Of Labour


That The Division Of Labour Is Limited By The Extent Of The Market








As it is the power of exchanging that gives occasion to the division
of labour, so the extent of this division must always be limited by the
extent of that power, or, in other words, by the extent of the market.
When the market is very small, no person can have any encouragement to
dedicate himself entirely to one employment, for want of the power to
exchange all that surplus part of the produce of his own labour, which
is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of
other men's labour as he has occasion for.

There are some sorts of industry, even of the lowest kind, which can be
carried on nowhere but in a great town. A porter, for example, can find
employment and subsistence in no other place. A village is by much too
narrow a sphere for him; even an ordinary market-town is scarce large
enough to afford him constant occupation. In the lone houses and very
small villages which are scattered about in so desert a country as the
highlands of Scotland, every farmer must be butcher, baker, and brewer,
for his own family. In such situations we can scarce expect to find
even a smith, a carpenter, or a mason, within less than twenty miles of
another of the same trade. The scattered families that live at eight
or ten miles distance from the nearest of them, must learn to perform
themselves a great number of little pieces of work, for which, in more
populous countries, they would call in the assistance of those workmen.
Country workmen are almost everywhere obliged to apply themselves to
all the different branches of industry that have so much affinity to one
another as to be employed about the same sort of materials. A country
carpenter deals in every sort of work that is made of wood; a country
smith in every sort of work that is made of iron. The former is not only
a carpenter, but a joiner, a cabinet-maker, and even a carver in wood,
as well as a wheel-wright, a plough-wright, a cart and waggon-maker. The
employments of the latter are still more various. It is impossible there
should be such a trade as even that of a nailer in the remote and inland
parts of the highlands of Scotland. Such a workman at the rate of a
thousand nails a-day, and three hundred working days in the year, will
make three hundred thousand nails in the year. But in such a situation
it would be impossible to dispose of one thousand, that is, of one day's
work in the year. As by means of water-carriage, a more extensive market
is opened to every sort of industry than what land-carriage alone can
afford it, so it is upon the sea-coast, and along the banks of navigable
rivers, that industry of every kind naturally begins to subdivide and
improve itself, and it is frequently not till a long time after that
those improvements extend themselves to the inland parts of the country.
A broad-wheeled waggon, attended by two men, and drawn by eight horses,
in about six weeks time, carries and brings back between London and
Edinburgh near four ton weight of goods. In about the same time a ship
navigated by six or eight men, and sailing between the ports of London
and Leith, frequently carries and brings back two hundred ton weight of
goods. Six or eight men, therefore, by the help of water-carriage,
can carry and bring back, in the same time, the same quantity of goods
between London and Edinburgh as fifty broad-wheeled waggons, attended by
a hundred men, and drawn by four hundred horses. Upon two hundred tons
of goods, therefore, carried by the cheapest land-carriage from London
to Edinburgh, there must be charged the maintenance of a hundred men
for three weeks, and both the maintenance and what is nearly equal to
maintenance the wear and tear of four hundred horses, as well as of
fifty great waggons. Whereas, upon the same quantity of goods carried by
water, there is to be charged only the maintenance of six or eight men,
and the wear and tear of a ship of two hundred tons burthen, together
with the value of the superior risk, or the difference of the insurance
between land and water-carriage. Were there no other communication
between those two places, therefore, but by land-carriage, as no goods
could be transported from the one to the other, except such whose price
was very considerable in proportion to their weight, they could carry
on but a small part of that commerce which at present subsists between
them, and consequently could give but a small part of that encouragement
which they at present mutually afford to each other's industry. There
could be little or no commerce of any kind between the distant parts of
the world. What goods could bear the expense of land-carriage between
London and Calcutta? Or if there were any so precious as to be able to
support this expense, with what safety could they be transported through
the territories of so many barbarous nations? Those two cities, however,
at present carry on a very considerable commerce with each other, and by
mutually affording a market, give a good deal of encouragement to each
other's industry.

Since such, therefore, are the advantages of water-carriage, it is
natural that the first improvements of art and industry should be made
where this conveniency opens the whole world for a market to the produce
of every sort of labour, and that they should always be much later in
extending themselves into the inland parts of the country. The inland
parts of the country can for a long time have no other market for the
greater part of their goods, but the country which lies round about
them, and separates them from the sea-coast, and the great navigable
rivers. The extent of the market, therefore, must for a long time be
in proportion to the riches and populousness of that country, and
consequently their improvement must always be posterior to the
improvement of that country. In our North American colonies, the
plantations have constantly followed either the sea-coast or the banks
of the navigable rivers, and have scarce anywhere extended themselves to
any considerable distance from both.

The nations that, according to the best authenticated history, appear to
have been first civilized, were those that dwelt round the coast of the
Mediterranean sea. That sea, by far the greatest inlet that is known in
the world, having no tides, nor consequently any waves, except such as
are caused by the wind only, was, by the smoothness of its surface,
as well as by the multitude of its islands, and the proximity of its
neighbouring shores, extremely favourable to the infant navigation of
the world; when, from their ignorance of the compass, men were afraid
to quit the view of the coast, and from the imperfection of the art
of ship-building, to abandon themselves to the boisterous waves of the
ocean. To pass beyond the pillars of Hercules, that is, to sail out of
the straits of Gibraltar, was, in the ancient world, long considered as
a most wonderful and dangerous exploit of navigation. It was late before
even the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, the most skilful navigators and
ship-builders of those old times, attempted it; and they were, for a
long time, the only nations that did attempt it.

Of all the countries on the coast of the Mediterranean sea, Egypt seems
to have been the first in which either agriculture or manufactures were
cultivated and improved to any considerable degree. Upper Egypt extends
itself nowhere above a few miles from the Nile; and in Lower Egypt, that
great river breaks itself into many different canals, which, with the
assistance of a little art, seem to have afforded a communication by
water-carriage, not only between all the great towns, but between all
the considerable villages, and even to many farm-houses in the country,
nearly in the same manner as the Rhine and the Maese do in Holland at
present. The extent and easiness of this inland navigation was probably
one of the principal causes of the early improvement of Egypt.

The improvements in agriculture and manufactures seem likewise to have
been of very great antiquity in the provinces of Bengal, in the East
Indies, and in some of the eastern provinces of China, though the great
extent of this antiquity is not authenticated by any histories of whose
authority we, in this part of the world, are well assured. In Bengal,
the Ganges, and several other great rivers, form a great number of
navigable canals, in the same manner as the Nile does in Egypt. In the
eastern provinces of China, too, several great rivers form, by their
different branches, a multitude of canals, and, by communicating with
one another, afford an inland navigation much more extensive than that
either of the Nile or the Ganges, or, perhaps, than both of them put
together. It is remarkable, that neither the ancient Egyptians, nor the
Indians, nor the Chinese, encouraged foreign commerce, but seem all to
have derived their great opulence from this inland navigation.

All the inland parts of Africa, and all that part of Asia which lies
any considerable way north of the Euxine and Caspian seas, the ancient
Scythia, the modern Tartary and Siberia, seem, in all ages of the world,
to have been in the same barbarous and uncivilized state in which we
find them at present. The sea of Tartary is the frozen ocean, which
admits of no navigation; and though some of the greatest rivers in the
world run through that country, they are at too great a distance from
one another to carry commerce and communication through the greater
part of it. There are in Africa none of those great inlets, such as the
Baltic and Adriatic seas in Europe, the Mediterranean and Euxine seas
in both Europe and Asia, and the gulfs of Arabia, Persia, India, Bengal,
and Siam, in Asia, to carry maritime commerce into the interior parts of
that great continent; and the great rivers of Africa are at too great
a distance from one another to give occasion to any considerable inland
navigation. The commerce, besides, which any nation can carry on by
means of a river which does not break itself into any great number of
branches or canals, and which runs into another territory before it
reaches the sea, can never be very considerable, because it is always
in the power of the nations who possess that other territory to obstruct
the communication between the upper country and the sea. The navigation
of the Danube is of very little use to the different states of Bavaria,
Austria, and Hungary, in comparison of what it would be, if any of them
possessed the whole of its course, till it falls into the Black sea.





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Previous: Of The Principle Which Gives Occasion To The Division Of Labour



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