endeavours to bring under strict regulations
what in its own nature seems incapable of minute 
limitation; for if all persons in the same 
kind of work were to receive equal wages
there would be no emulation, and no room 
left for industry or ingenuity." 
Particular acts of parliament, however, still 
attempt sometimes to regulate wages in particular 
trades, and in particular places. Thus 
the 8th of George III. prohibits, under heavy 
penalties, all master tailors in London, and 
five miles round it, from giving, and their 
workmen from accepting, more than two shillings 
and sevenpence halfpenny a-day, except 
in the case of a general mourning. Whenever 
the legislature attempts to regulate the 
differences between masters and their workmen
its counsellors are always the masters
When the regulation, therefore, is in favour 
of the workmen, it is always just and equitable
but it is sometimes otherwise when in 
favour of the masters. Thus the law which 
obliges the masters in several different trades 
to pay their workmen in money, and not in 
goods, is quite just and equitable. It imposes 
no real hardship upon the masters. It only 
obliges them to pay that value in money, which 
they pretended to pay, but did not always 
really pay, in goods. This law is in favour of 
the workmen; but the 8th of George III. is 
in favour of the masters. When masters combine 
together, in order to reduce the wages of 
their workmen, they commonly enter into a 
private bond or agreement, not to give more 
than a certain wage, under a certain penalty
Were the workmen to enter into a contrary 
combination of the same kind, not to accept 
of a certain wage, under a certain penalty, the 
law would punish them very severely, and, 
if it dealt impartially, it would treat the masters 
in the same manner. But the 8th of 
George III. enforces by law that very regulation 
which masters sometimes attempt to establish 
by such combinations. The complaint 
of the workmen, that it puts the ablest and 
most industrious upon the same footing with 
an ordinary workman, seems perfectly well 
In ancient times, too, it was usual to attempt 
to regulate the profits of merchants and 
other dealers, by regulating the price of 
provisions and other goods. The assize of bread 
is, so far as I know, the only remnant of this 
ancient usage. Where there is an exclusive 
corporation, it may, perhaps, he proper to 
regulate the price of the first necessary of life; 
but, where there is none, the competition will 
regulate it much better than any assize. The 
method of fixing the assize of bread, established 
by the 81st of George II. could not be put 
in practice in Scotland, on account of a defect 
in the law, its execution depending upon the 
office of clerk of the market, which does not 
exist there. This defect was not remedied till 
the third of George III. The want of an assize 
occasioned no sensible inconveniency; 
and the establishment of one in the few places 
where it has yet taken place has produced no 
sensible advantage. In the greater part of the 
towns in Scotland, however, there is an 
incorporation of bakers, who claim exclusive 
privileges, though they are not very strictly 
The proportion between the different rates
both of wages and profit, in the different employments 
of labour and stock, seems not to 
be much affected, as has already been 
observed, by the riches or poverty, the advancing
stationary, or declining state of the society
Such revolutions in the public welfare, though 
they affect the general rates both of wages and 
profit, must, in the end, affect them equally in 
all different employments. The proportion 
between them, therefore, must remain the 
same, and cannot well be altered, as least for 
any considerable time, by any such revolutions. 
Rent, considered as the price paid for the use 
of land, is naturally the highest which the 
tenant can afford to pay in the actual circumstances 
of the land. In adjusting the terms 
of the lease, the landlord endeavours to leave 
him no greater share of the produce than what 
is sufficient to keep up the stock from which 
he furnishes the seed, pays the labour, and 
purchases and maintains the cattle and other 
instruments of husbandry, together with the 
ordinary profits of farming stock in the neighbourhood
This is evidently the smallest share 
with which the tenant can content himself, 
without being a loser, and the landlord seldom 
means to leave him any more. Whatever 
part of the produce, or, what is the same 
thing, whatever part of its price, is over and 
above this share, he naturally endeavours to 
reserve to himself as the rent of his land, 
which is evidently the highest the tenant can 
afford to pay in the actual circumstances of 
the land. Sometimes, indeed, the liberality
more frequently the ignorance, of the landlord
makes him accept of somewhat less than 
this portion; and sometimes, too, though more 
rarely, the ignorance of the tenant makes him 
undertake to pay somewhat more, or to content 
himself with somewhat less, than the ordinary 
profits of farming stock in the neighbourhood
This portion, however, may still 
be considered as the natural rent of land, or 
the rent at which it is naturally meant that 
land should, for the most part, be let. 
The rent of land, it may be thought, is 
frequently no more than a reasonable profit or