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.