good deal dearer, chiefly from the taxes which 
have been laid upon them. The quantity of 
these, however, which the labouring poor are 
under any necessity of consuming, is so very 
small, that the increase in their price does not 
compensate the diminution in that of so many 
other things. The common complaint, that 
luxury extends itself even to the lowest ranks 
of the people, and that the labouring poor will 
not now be contented with the same food
clothing, and lodging, which satisfied them in 
former times, may convince us that it is not 
the money price of labour only, but its real 
recompence, which has augmented. 
Is this improvement in the circumstances of 
the lower ranks of the people to be regarded 
as an advantage, or as an inconveniency, to 
the society? The answer seems at first abundantly 
plain. Servants, labourers, and workmen 
of different kinds, make up the far greater 
part of every great political society. But 
what improves the circumstances of the greater 
part, can never be regarded as any inconveniency 
to the whole. No society can surely 
be flourishing and happy, of which the far 
greater part of the members are poor and miserable. 
It is but equity, besides, that they 
who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body 
of the people, should have such a share of the 
produce of their own labour as to be themselves 
tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged
Poverty, though it no doubt discourages, 
does not always prevent, marriage. It seems 
even to be favourable to generation. A half-starved 
Highland woman frequently bears more 
than twenty children, while a pampered fine 
lady is often incapable of bearing any, and is 
generally exhausted by two or three. Barrenness
so frequent among women of fashion, 
is very rare among those of inferior station
Luxury, in the fair sex, while it inflames, perhaps, 
the passion for enjoyment, seems always 
to weaken, and frequently to destroy altogether
the powers of generation
But poverty, though it does not prevent the 
generation, is extremely unfavourable to the 
rearing of children. The tender plant is produced
but in so cold a soil, and so severe
climate, soon withers and dies. It is not uncommon, 
I have been frequently told, in the 
Highlands of Scotland, for a mother who has 
born twenty children not to have two alive
Several officers of great experience have assured 
me, that, so far from recruiting their 
regiment, they have never been able to supply 
it with drums and fifes, from all the soldiers' 
children that were born in it. A greater number 
of fine children, however, is seldom seen 
anywhere than about a barrack of soldiers. 
Very few of them, it seems, arrive at the age 
of thirteen or fourteen. In some places, one 
half the children die before they are four years 
of age, in many places before they are seven, 
and in almost all places before they are nine 
or ten. This great mortality, however will 
everywhere be found chiefly among the children 
of the common people, who cannot afford 
to tend them with the same care as those of 
better station. Though their marriages are 
generally more fruitful than those of people 
of fashion, a smaller proportion of their children 
arrive at maturity. In foundling hospitals
and among the children brought up by 
parish charities, the mortality is still greater 
than among those of the common people
Every species of animals naturally multiplies 
in proportion to the means of their subsistence
and no species can ever multiply beyond 
it. But in civilized society, it is only 
among the inferior ranks of people that the 
scantiness of subsistence can set limits to the 
further multiplication of the human species
and it can do so in no other way than by destroying 
a great part of the children which 
their fruitful marriages produce. 
The liberal reward of labour, by enabling 
them to provide better for their children, and 
consequently to bring up a greater number
naturally tends to widen and extend those limits
It deserves to be remarked, too, that it 
necessarily does this as nearly as possible in 
the proportion which the demand for labour 
requires. If this demand is continually increasing
the reward of labour must necessarily 
encourage in such a manner the marriage 
and multiplication of labourers, as may enable 
them to supply that continually increasing demand 
by a continually increasing population
If the reward should at any time be less than 
what was requisite for this purpose, the deficiency 
of hands would soon raise it; and if 
it should at any time be more, their excessive 
multiplication would soon lower it to this necessary 
rate. The market would be so much 
understocked with labour in the one case, and 
so much overstocked in the other, as would 
soon force back its price to that proper rate 
which the circumstances of the society required
It is in this manner that the demand for 
men, like that for any other commodity, necessarily 
regulates the production of men
quickens it when it goes on too slowly, and 
stops it when it advances too fast. It is this 
demand which regulates and determines the 
state of propagation in all the different countries 
of the world; in North America, in Europe, 
and in China; which renders it rapidly 
progressive in the first, slow and gradual in 
the second, and altogether stationary in the 
The wear and tear of a slave, it has been 
said, is at the expense of his master; but that 
of a free servant is at his own expense. The 
wear and tear of the latter, however, is, in 
reality, as much at the expense of his master 
as that of the former. The wages paid to 
journeymen and servants of every kind must 
be such as may enable them, one with another 
to continue the race of journeymen and servants
according as the increasing, diminishing