regulated by this lowest rate, which is consistent 
with common humanity
First, in almost every part of Great Britain 
there is a distinction, even in the lowest species 
of labour, between summer and winter 
wages. Summer wages are always highest. 
But, on account of the extraordinary expense 
of fuel, the maintenance of a family is most 
expensive in winter. Wages, therefore, being 
highest when this expense is lowest, it seems 
evident that they are not regulated by what 
is necessary for this expense, but by the quantity 
and supposed value of the work. A labourer
it may be said, indeed, ought to save 
part of his summer wages, in order to defray 
his winter expense; and that, through the 
whole year, they do not exceed what is necessary 
to maintain his family through the whole 
year. A slave, however, or one absolutely 
dependent on us for immediate subsistence
would not be treated in this manner. His 
daily subsistence would be proportioned to his 
daily necessities
Secondly, the wages of labour do not, in 
Great Britain, fluctuate with the price of provisions
These vary everywhere from year to 
year, frequently from month to month. But 
in many places, the money price of labour remains 
uniformly the same, sometimes for half 
a century together. If, in these places, therefore, 
the labouring poor can maintain their families 
in dear years, they must be at their ease 
in times of moderate plenty, and in affluence 
in those of extraordinary cheapness. The high 
price of provisions during these ten years past
has not, in many parts of the kingdom, been 
accompanied with any sensible rise in the money 
price of labour. It has, indeed, in some; 
owing, probably, more to the increase of the 
demand for labour, than to that of the price 
of provisions
Thirdly, as the price of provisions varies 
more from year to year than the wages of labour
so, on the other hand, the wages of labour 
vary more from place to place than the 
price of provisions. The prices of bread and 
butchers' meat are generally the same, or very 
nearly the same, through the greater part of 
the united kingdom. These, and most other 
things which are sold by retail, the way in 
which the labouring poor buy all things, are 
generally fully as cheap, or cheaper, in great 
towns than in the remoter parts of the country, 
for reasons which I shall have occasion to 
explain hereafter. But the wages of labour 
in a great town and its neighbourhood, are 
frequently a fourth or a fifth part, twenty or 
five-and-twenty per cent. higher than at a few 
miles distance. Eighteen pence a day may 
be reckoned the common price of labour in 
London and its neighborhood. At a few 
miles distance, it falls to fourteen and fifteen 
pence. Tenpence may be reckoned its price 
in Edinburgh and its neighbourhood. At a 
few miles distance, it falls to eightpence, the 
usual price of common labour through the 
greater part of the low country of Scotland, 
where it varies a good deal less than in England
Such a difference of prices, which, it 
seems, is not always sufficient to transport
man from one parish to another, would necessarily 
occasion so great a transportation of the 
most bulky commodities, not only from one 
parish to another, but from one end of the kingdom
almost from one end of the world to the 
other, as would soon reduce them more nearly 
to a level. After all that has been said of the 
levity and inconstancy of human nature, it 
appears evidently from experience, that man 
is, of all sorts of luggage, the most difficult to 
be transported. If the labouring poor, therefore, 
can maintain their families in those parts 
of the kingdom where the price of labour is 
lowest, they must be in affluence where it is 
Fourthly, the variations in the price of labour 
not only do not correspond, either in 
place or time, with those in the price of provisions
but they are frequently quite opposite
Grain, the food of the common people, is 
dearer in Scotland than in England, whence 
Scotland receives almost every year very large 
supplies. But English corn must be sold 
dearer in Scotland, the country to which it is 
brought, than in England, the country from 
which it comes; and it proportion to its quality 
it cannot be sold dearer in Scotland than 
the Scotch corn that comes to the same market 
in competition with it. The quality of 
grain depends chiefly upon the quantity of 
flour or meal which it yields at the mill; and, 
in this respect, English grain is so much superior 
to the Scotch, that though often dearer 
in appearance, or in proportion to the measure 
of its bulk, it is generally cheaper in reality
or in proportion to its quality, or even to the 
measure of its weight. The price of labour
on the contrary, is dearer in England than in 
Scotland. If the labouring poor, therefore, 
can maintain their families in the one part of 
the united kingdom, they must be in affluence 
in the other. Oatmeal, indeed, supplies the 
common people in Scotland with the greatest 
and the best part of their food, which is, in 
general, much inferior to that of their neighbours 
of the same rank in England. This 
difference, however, in the mode of their subsistence
is not the cause, but the effect, of 
the difference in their wages; though, by a 
strange misapprehension, I have frequently 
heard it represented as the cause. It is not 
because one man keeps a coach, while his 
neighbour walks a-foot, that one is rich
and the other poor; but because the one is 
rich, he keeps a coach, and because the other 
is poor, he walks a-foot
During the course of the last century, taking 
one year with another, grain was dearer 
in both parts of the united kingdom than during 
that of the present. This is a matter of