Of The Principle Which Gives Occasion To The Division Of Labour

This division of labour, from which so many advantages are derived,

is not originally the effect of any human wisdom, which foresees and

intends that general opulence to which it gives occasion. It is the

necessary, though very slow and gradual, consequence of a certain

propensity in human nature, which has in view no such extensive utility;

the propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another.

/> Whether this propensity be one of those original principles in human

nature, of which no further account can be given, or whether, as seems

more probable, it be the necessary consequence of the faculties of

reason and speech, it belongs not to our present subject to inquire. It

is common to all men, and to be found in no other race of animals,

which seem to know neither this nor any other species of contracts. Two

greyhounds, in running down the same hare, have sometimes the appearance

of acting in some sort of concert. Each turns her towards his companion,

or endeavours to intercept her when his companion turns her towards

himself. This, however, is not the effect of any contract, but of the

accidental concurrence of their passions in the same object at that

particular time. Nobody ever saw a dog make a fair and deliberate

exchange of one bone for another with another dog. Nobody ever saw one

animal, by its gestures and natural cries signify to another, this is

mine, that yours; I am willing to give this for that. When an animal

wants to obtain something either of a man, or of another animal, it

has no other means of persuasion, but to gain the favour of those

whose service it requires. A puppy fawns upon its dam, and a spaniel

endeavours, by a thousand attractions, to engage the attention of its

master who is at dinner, when it wants to be fed by him. Man sometimes

uses the same arts with his brethren, and when he has no other means of

engaging them to act according to his inclinations, endeavours by every

servile and fawning attention to obtain their good will. He has not

time, however, to do this upon every occasion. In civilized society he

stands at all times in need of the co-operation and assistance of

great multitudes, while his whole life is scarce sufficient to gain the

friendship of a few persons. In almost every other race of animals, each

individual, when it is grown up to maturity, is entirely independent,

and in its natural state has occasion for the assistance of no other

living creature. But man has almost constant occasion for the help

of his brethren, and it is in vain for him to expect it from their

benevolence only. He will be more likely to prevail if he can interest

their self-love in his favour, and shew them that it is for their own

advantage to do for him what he requires of them. Whoever offers to

another a bargain of any kind, proposes to do this. Give me that which

I want, and you shall have this which you want, is the meaning of every

such offer; and it is in this manner that we obtain from one another the

far greater part of those good offices which we stand in need of. It is

not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that

we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We

address ourselves, not to their humanity, but to their self-love, and

never talk to them of our own necessities, but of their advantages.

Nobody but a beggar chooses to depend chiefly upon the benevolence of

his fellow-citizens. Even a beggar does not depend upon it entirely.

The charity of well-disposed people, indeed, supplies him with the whole

fund of his subsistence. But though this principle ultimately provides

him with all the necessaries of life which he has occasion for, it

neither does nor can provide him with them as he has occasion for them.

The greater part of his occasional wants are supplied in the same manner

as those of other people, by treaty, by barter, and by purchase. With

the money which one man gives him he purchases food. The old clothes

which another bestows upon him he exchanges for other clothes which suit

him better, or for lodging, or for food, or for money, with which he can

buy either food, clothes, or lodging, as he has occasion.

As it is by treaty, by barter, and by purchase, that we obtain from one

another the greater part of those mutual good offices which we stand in

need of, so it is this same trucking disposition which originally gives

occasion to the division of labour. In a tribe of hunters or shepherds,

a particular person makes bows and arrows, for example, with more

readiness and dexterity than any other. He frequently exchanges them for

cattle or for venison, with his companions; and he finds at last that

he can, in this manner, get more cattle and venison, than if he himself

went to the field to catch them. From a regard to his own interest,

therefore, the making of bows and arrows grows to be his chief business,

and he becomes a sort of armourer. Another excels in making the frames

and covers of their little huts or moveable houses. He is accustomed

to be of use in this way to his neighbours, who reward him in the

same manner with cattle and with venison, till at last he finds it his

interest to dedicate himself entirely to this employment, and to become

a sort of house-carpenter. In the same manner a third becomes a smith

or a brazier; a fourth, a tanner or dresser of hides or skins, the

principal part of the clothing of savages. And thus the certainty of

being able 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 may have occasion for,

encourages every man to apply himself to a particular occupation, and

to cultivate and bring to perfection whatever talent of genius he may

possess for that particular species of business.

The difference of natural talents in different men, is, in reality, much

less than we are aware of; and the very different genius which appears

to distinguish men of different professions, when grown up to maturity,

is not upon many occasions so much the cause, as the effect of

the division of labour. The difference between the most dissimilar

characters, between a philosopher and a common street porter, for

example, seems to arise not so much from nature, as from habit, custom,

and education. When they came in to the world, and for the first six or

eight years of their existence, they were, perhaps, very much alike,

and neither their parents nor play-fellows could perceive any remarkable

difference. About that age, or soon after, they come to be employed in

very different occupations. The difference of talents comes then to be

taken notice of, and widens by degrees, till at last the vanity of

the philosopher is willing to acknowledge scarce any resemblance. But

without the disposition to truck, barter, and exchange, every man must

have procured to himself every necessary and conveniency of life which

he wanted. All must have had the same duties to perform, and the same

work to do, and there could have been no such difference of employment

as could alone give occasion to any great difference of talents.

As it is this disposition which forms that difference of talents,

so remarkable among men of different professions, so it is this same

disposition which renders that difference useful. Many tribes of

animals, acknowledged to be all of the same species, derive from nature

a much more remarkable distinction of genius, than what, antecedent

to custom and education, appears to take place among men. By nature a

philosopher is not in genius and disposition half so different from a

street porter, as a mastiff is from a grey-hound, or a grey-hound from

a spaniel, or this last from a shepherd's dog. Those different tribes of

animals, however, though all of the same species are of scarce any

use to one another. The strength of the mastiff is not in the least

supported either by the swiftness of the greyhound, or by the sagacity

of the spaniel, or by the docility of the shepherd's dog. The effects

of those different geniuses and talents, for want of the power or

disposition to barter and exchange, cannot be brought into a common

stock, and do not in the least contribute to the better accommodation

and conveniency of the species. Each animal is still obliged to support

and defend itself, separately and independently, and derives no sort

of advantage from that variety of talents with which nature has

distinguished its fellows. Among men, on the contrary, the most

dissimilar geniuses are of use to one another; the different produces of

their respective talents, by the general disposition to truck, barter,

and exchange, being brought, as it were, into a common stock, where

every man may purchase whatever part of the produce of other men's

talents he has occasion for.