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THE statute by which the Professorship of Political Economy was founded, requires the Professor to publish a Lecture every year. In compliance with this requisition, I have selected, from the course delivered in June 1829, the portion which appeared to me least unfit for separate publication. As a fragment it is necessarily imperfect: my apology for presenting it to the Public is, the necessity imposed on me by the statute.


Lincoln's Inn, January 15, 1830.



THE average annual wages of labour in Hindostan are from one pound to two pounds troy of silver a year. In England they are from nine pounds to fifteen pounds troy. In Upper Canada and the United States of America, they are from twelve pounds troy to twenty pounds. Within the same time the American labourer obtains twelve times, and the English labourer nine times as much silver as the Hindoo.

The difference in the cost of obtaining silver, or, in other words, in the wages of labour in silver, in different countries at the same period has attracted attention, though not perhaps so much as it deserves, and various theories have been proposed to account for it.


It has been attributed to the different degrees

of labour requisite to obtain the necessaries of the labourer. In Hindostan it has been said, he requires little clothing or fuel, and subsists on rice, of which he obtains a sufficient quantity with little exertion. But how then do we account for his wages in North America being twenty-five per cent. higher than they are in England, while the labour requisite to obtain necessaries is not much more than half as great in the former country as in the latter? How do we account for the low amount of wages in silver in China, where the labour necessary to obtain necessaries is proverbially great?

It has been attributed to the different densities of population. In Hindostan and in Ireland, it has been said, labourers multiply so rapidly, that the market is overstocked with labour, and the price falls from the increased supply. But if this were an universal rule, as the population of England has doubled in the last seventy or eighty years, wages ought to have fallen, whereas they have doubled or trebled in that interval. They have kept on increasing in North America during

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a still greater increase of population. They are, perhaps, twice as high in Holland as in Sweden, though the population of Holland is ten times as dense as that of Sweden.

It has been attributed to the different pressure of taxation: but taxation is nowhere so light as in America, where wages are the highest. It is, probably, heavier in Hindostan than in England, yet wages are nine or ten times as high in England as in Hindostan. So that it might seem that wages are highest where taxation is lowest : but, on the other hand, taxation is lighter in France than in England, yet wages are lower, and lighter in Ireland than in France, yet wages are lower still. It appears, therefore, that there is no necessary connexion between taxation and wages.

It has been attributed to the different rates of profit. The average rate of profit in England is supposed to be about one-tenth, or about eleven per cent. per annum. In Hindostan and America it is higher. We will suppose it to be one-sixth, or twenty per cent. per annum, which is probably far too high an estimate. This difference would account for the labourer, whose wages have been

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