The produce of labour constitutes the natural 
recompence or wages of labour
In that original state of things which precedes 
both the appropriation of land and the 
accumulation of stock, the whole produce of 
labour belongs to the labourer. He has neither 
landlord nor master to share with him. 
Had this state continued, the wages of labour 
would have augmented with all those 
improvements in its productive powers, to 
which the division of labour gives occasion
All things would gradually have become 
cheaper. They would have been produced by 
a smaller quantity of labour; and as the commodities 
produced by equal quantities of labour 
would naturally in this state of things be 
exchanged for one another, they would have 
been purchased likewise with the produce of 
a smaller quantity
But though all things would have become 
cheaper in reality, in appearance many things 
might have become dearer, than before, or 
have been exchanged for a greater quantity of 
other goods. Let us suppose, for example, 
that in the greater part of employments the 
productive powers of labour had been improved 
to tenfold, or that a day's labour could 
produce ten times the quantity of work which 
it had done originally; but that in a particular 
employment they had been improved only 
to double, or that a day's labour could produce 
only twice the quantity of work which 
it had done before. In exchanging the produce 
of a day's labour in the greater part of 
employments for that of a day's labour in this 
particular one, ten times the original quantity 
of work in them would purchase only twice 
the original quantity of it. Any particular 
quantity in it, therefore, a pound weight, for 
example, would appear to be five times dearer 
than before. In reality, however, it would be 
twice as cheap. Though it required five times 
the quantity of other goods to purchase it, it 
would require only half the quantity of labour 
either to purchase or to produce it. The 
acquisition, therefore, would be twice as easy 
as before. 
But this original state of things, in which 
the labourer enjoyed the whole produce of his 
own labour, could not last beyond the first introduction 
of the appropriation of land and 
the accumulation of stock. It was at an end, 
therefore, long before the most considerable 
improvements were made in the productive 
powers of labour; and it would be to no purpose 
to trace further what might have been 
its effects upon the recompence or wages of 
As soon as land becomes private property
the landlord demands a share of almost all the 
produce which the labourer can either raise or 
collect from it. His rent makes the first deduction 
from the produce of the labour which 
is employed upon land
It seldom happens that the person who tills 
the ground has wherewithal to maintain himself 
till he reaps the harvest. His maintenance 
is generally advanced to him from the 
stock of a master, the farmer who employs 
him, and who would have no interest to employ 
him, unless he was to share in the produce 
of his labour, or unless his stock was to 
be replaced to him with a profit. This profit 
makes a second deduction from the produce 
of the labour which is employed upon land
The produce of almost all other labour is 
liable to the like deduction of profit. In all 
arts and manufactures, the greater part of the 
workmen stand in need of a master, to advance 
them the materials of their work, and 
their wages and maintenance, till it be completed
He shares in the produce of their labour
or in the value which it adds to the materials 
upon which it is bestowed; and in this 
share consists his profit. 
It sometimes happens, indeed, that a single 
independent workman has stock sufficient both 
to purchase the materials of his work, and to 
maintain himself till it be completed. He is 
both master and workman, and enjoys the 
whole produce of his own labour, or the whole 
value which it adds to the materials upon which 
it is bestowed. It includes what are usually 
two distinct revenues, belonging to two distinct 
persons, the profits of stock, and the 
wages of labour
Such cases, however, are not very frequent; 
and in every part of Europe twenty workmen 
serve under a master for one that is independent, 
and the wages of labour are everywhere 
understood to be, what they usually are, when 
the labourer is one person, and the owner of 
the stock which employs him another. 
What are the common wages of labour, depends 
everywhere upon the contract usually 
made between those two parties, whose interests 
are by no means the same. The workmen 
desire to get as much, the masters to give 
as little, as possible. The former are disposed 
to combine in order to raise, the latter in order 
to lower, the wages of labour
It is not, however, difficult to foresee which 
of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions
have the advantage in the dispute
and force the other into a compliance with 
their terms. The masters, being fewer in number
can combine much more easily: and the 
law, besides, authorises, or at least does not 
prohibit, their combinations, while it prohibits 
those of the workmen. We have no acts of 
parliament against combining to lower the 
price of work, but many against combining 
to raise it. In all such disputes, the masters 
can hold out much longer. A landlord, a