Principles of Political Economy with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy
By John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) originally wrote the
Principles of Political Economy, with some of their Applications to Social Philosophy very quickly, having studied economics under the rigorous tutelage of his father, James, since his youth. It was published in 1848 (London: John W. Parker, West Strand) and was republished with changes and updates a total of seven times in Mill’s lifetime.The edition presented here is that prepared by W. J. Ashley in 1909, based on Mill’s 7th edition, 1870. Ashley followed the 7th edition with great care, noting changes in the editions in footnotes and in occasional square brackets within the text. The text provides English translations to several lengthy quotations originally quoted by Mill in French. Ashley selected these from an 1865 “People’s Edition” of the Principles, but left in those quotations that had been omitted in that edition. He also prepared a useful Bibliographical Appendix, with additional readings and excerpts from some of Mill’s later writings, which we also include in this Econlib Edition. More on Mill’s life and works, as well as details of Ashley’s procedure, can be found in his Introduction.A few corrections of obvious typos were made for this website edition. However, because the original edition was so internally consistent and carefully proofread, we have erred on the side of caution, allowing some typos to remain lest someone doing academic research wishes to follow up. We have changed small caps to full caps for ease of using search engines.Internal references by page numbers have been replaced by linked paragraph reference numbers appropriate for this online edition. Paragraph references typically have three parts: the book, chapter, and paragraph. E.g.,
I.XI.15 refers to Book I, Chapter XI, paragraph 15.
William J. Ashley, ed.
First Pub. Date
London; Longmans, Green and Co.
The text of this edition is in the public domain. Picture of John Stuart Mill courtesy of The Warren J. Samuels Portrait Collection at Duke University.
- Preliminary Remarks
- Bibliographical Appendix
Of Labour as an Agent of Production
Book I, Chapter II
§1. The labour which terminates in the production of an article fitted for some human use, is either employed directly about the thing, or in previous operations destined to facilitate, perhaps essential to the possibility of, the subsequent ones. In making bread, for example, the labour employed about the thing itself is that of the baker; but the labour of the miller, though employed directly in the production not of bread but of flour, is equally part of the aggregate sum of labour by which the bread is produced; as is also the labour of the sower and of the reaper. Some may think that all these persons ought to be considered as employing their labour directly about the thing; the corn, the flour, and the bread being one substance in three different states. Without disputing about this question of mere language, there is still the ploughman, who prepared the ground for the seed, and whose labour never came in contact with the substance in any of its states; and the plough-maker, whose share in the result was still more remote. All these persons ultimately derive the remuneration of their labour from the bread, or its price: the plough-maker as much as the rest; for since ploughs are of no use except for tilling the soil, no one would make or use ploughs for any other reason than because the increased returns, thereby obtained from the ground, afforded a source from which an adequate equivalent could be assigned for the labour of the plough-maker. If the produce is to be used or consumed in the form of bread, it is from the bread that this equivalent must come. The bread must suffice to remunerate all these labourers, and several others; such as the carpenters and bricklayers who erected the farm-buildings; the hedgers and ditchers who made the fences necessary for the protection of the crop; the miners and smelters who extracted or prepared the iron of which the plough and other instruments were made. These, however, and the plough-maker, do not depend for their remuneration upon the bread made from the produce of a single harvest, but upon that made from the produce of all the harvests which are successively gathered until the plough, or the buildings and fences, are worn out. We must add yet another kind of labour; that of transporting the produce from the place of its production to the place of its destined use: the labour of carrying the corn to market, and from market to the miller’s, the flour from the miller’s to the baker’s, and the bread from the baker’s to the place of its final consumption. This labour is sometimes very considerable: flour is  transported to England from beyond the Atlantic, corn from the heart of Russia; and in addition to the labourers immediately employed, the waggoners and sailors, there are also costly instruments, such as ships, in the construction of which much labour has been expended: that labour, however, not depending for its whole remuneration upon the bread, but for a part only; ships being usually, during the course of their existence, employed in the transport of many different kinds of commodities.
To estimate, therefore, the labour of which any given commodity is the result, is far from a simple operation. The items in the calculation are very numerous—as it may seem to some persons, infinitely so; for if, as a part of the labour employed in making bread, we count the labour of the blacksmith who made the plough, why not also (it may be asked) the labour of making the tools used by the blacksmith, and the tools used in making those tools, and so back to the origin of things? But after mounting one or two steps in this ascending scale, we come into a region of factions too minute for calculation. Suppose, for instance, that the same plough will last, before being worn out, a dozen years. Only one-twelfth of the labour of making the plough must be placed to the account of each year’s harvest. A twelfth part of the labour of making a plough is an appreciable quantity. But the same set of tools, perhaps, suffice to the plough-maker for forging a hundred ploughs, which serve during the twelve years of their existence to prepare the soil of as many different farms. A twelve-hundredth part of the labour of making his tools, is as much, therefore, as has been expended in procuring one year’s harvest of a single farm: and when this fraction comes to be further apportioned among the various sacks of corn and loaves of bread, it is seen at once that such quantities are not worth taking into the account for any practical purpose connected with the commodity. It is true that if the tool-maker had not laboured, the corn and bread never would have been produced; but they will not be sold a tenth part of a farthing dearer in consideration of his labour.
§2. Another of the modes in which labour is indirectly or remotely instrumental to the production of a thing, requires particular notice: namely, when it is employed in producing subsistence, to maintain the labourers while they are engaged in the production. This previous employment of labour is an indispensable condition to every productive operation, on any other than the very smallest scale. Except the labour of the hunter and fisher, there is scarcely any kind of labour to which the returns are immediate. Productive operations require to be continued a certain time, before their fruits are obtained. Unless the labourer, before commencing his work, possesses a store of food, or can obtain access to the stores of some one else, in sufficient quantity to maintain him until the production is completed, he can undertake no labour but such as can be carried on at odd intervals, concurrently with the pursuit of his subsistence. He cannot obtain food itself in any abundance; for every mode of so obtaining it, requires that there be already food in store. Agriculture only brings forth food after the lapse of months; and though the labours of the agriculturist are not necessarily continuous during the whole period, they must occupy a considerable part of it. Not only is agriculture impossible without food produced in advance, but there must be a very great quantity in advance to enable any considerable community to support itself wholly by agriculture. A country like England or France is only able to carry on the agriculture of the present year, because that of past years has provided, in those countries or somewhere else, sufficient food to support their agricultural population until the next harvest. They are only enabled to produce so many other things besides food, because the food which was in store at the close of the last harvest suffices to maintain not only the agricultural labourers, but a large industrious population besides.
The labour employed in producing this stock of subsistence, forms a great and important part of the past labour which has been necessary to enable present labour to be carried on. But there is a difference, requiring particular notice, between this and the other kinds of previous or preparatory labour. The miller, the reaper, the ploughman, the plough-maker, the waggoner and waggon-maker, even the sailor and ship-builder when employed, derive their remuneration from the ultimate product—the bread made from the corn on which they have severally operated, or supplied the instruments for operating. The labour that produced the food which fed all these labourers, is as necessary to the ultimate result, the bread of the present harvest, as any of those other portions of labour; but is not, like them, remunerated from it. That previous labour has received its remuneration from the previous food. In order to raise any product, there are needed labour, tools, and materials, and food to feed the labourers. But the tools and materials are of no use except for obtaining the product, or at least are to be applied to no other use, and the labour of their construction can be remunerated only from the product when obtained. The food, on the contrary, is intrinsically useful, and is applied to the direct use of feeding human beings. The labour expended in producing the food, and recompensed by it, needs not be remunerated over again from the produce of the subsequent labour which it has fed. If we suppose that the same body of labourers carried on a manufacture, and grew food to sustain themselves while doing it, they have had for their trouble the food and the manufactured article; but if they also grew the material and made the tools, they have had nothing for that trouble but the manufactured article alone.
The claim to remuneration founded on the possession of food, available for the maintenance of labourers, is of another kind; remuneration for abstinence, not for labour. If a person has a store of food, he has it in his power to consume it himself in idleness, or in feeding others to attend on him, or to fight for him, or to sing or dance for him. If, instead of these things, he gives it to productive labourers to support them during their work, he can, and naturally will, claim a remuneration from the produce. He will not be content with simple repayment; if he receives merely that, he is only in the same situation as at first, and has derived no advantage from delaying to apply his savings to his own benefit or pleasure. He will look for some equivalent for this forbearance: he will expect his advance of food to come back to him with an increase, called in the language of business, a profit; and the hope of this profit will generally have been a part of the inducement which made him accumulate a stock, by economizing in his own consumption; or, at any rate, which made him forego the application of it, when accumulated, to his personal ease or satisfaction. The food also which maintained other workmen while producing the tools or materials, must have been provided in advance by some one, and he, too, must have his profit from the ultimate product; but there is this difference, that here the ultimate product has to supply not only the profit, but also the remuneration of the labour. The tool-maker (say, for instance, the plough-maker) does not indeed usually wait for his payment until the harvest is reaped; the farmer advances it to him, and steps into his place by becoming the owner of the plough. Nevertheless, it is from the harvest that the payment is to come; since the farmer would not undertake this outlay unless he expected that the harvest would repay him, and with a profit too on this fresh advance; that is, unless the harvest would yield, besides the remuneration of the farm labourers (and a profit for advancing it), a sufficient residue to remunerate the plough-maker’s labourers, give the plough-maker a profit, and a profit to the farmer on both.
§3. From these considerations it appears, that in an enumeration and classification of the kinds of industry which are intended for the indirect or remote furtherance of other productive labour, we need not include the labour of producing subsistence or other necessaries of life to be consumed by productive labourers; for the main end and purpose of this labour is the subsistence itself; and though the possession of a store of it enables other work to be done, this is but an incidental consequence. The remaining modes in which labour is indirectly instrumental to production, may be arranged under five heads.
First: Labour employed in producing materials, on which industry is to be afterwards employed. This is, in many cases, a labour of mere appropriation;
extractive industry, as it has been aptly named by M. Dunoyer. The labour of the miner, for example, consists of operations for digging out of the earth substances convertible by industry into various articles fitted for human use. Extractive industry, however, is not confined to the extraction of materials. Coal, for instance, is employed, not only in the process of industry, but in directly warming human beings. When so used, it is not a material of production, but is itself the ultimate product. So, also, in the case of a mine of precious stones. These are to some small extent employed in the productive arts, as diamonds by the glass-cutter, emery and corundum for polishing, but their principal destination, that of ornament, is a direct use; though they commonly require, before being so used, some process of manufacture, which may perhaps warrant our regarding them as materials. Metallic ores of all sorts are materials merely.
Under the head, production of materials, we must include the industry of the wood-cutter, when employed in cutting and preparing timber for building, or wood for the purposes of the carpenter’s or any other art. In the forests of America, Norway, Germany, the Pyrenees and Alps, this sort of labour is largely employed on trees of spontaneous growth. In other cases, we must add to the labour of the wood-cutter that of the planter and cultivator.
Under the same head are also comprised the labours of the agriculturist in growing flax, hemp, cotton, feeding silkworms, rising food for cattle, producing bark, dye-stuffs, some oleaginous plants, and many other things only useful because required in other departments of industry. So, too, the labour of the hunter, as far as his object is furs or feathers; of the shepherd and the cattle-breeder, in respect of wool, hides, horn, bristles, horse-hair, and the like. The things used as materials in some process or other of manufacture are of a most miscellaneous character, drawn from almost every quarter of the animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms. And besides this, the finished products of many branches of industry are the materials of others. The thread produced by the spinner is applied to hardly any use except as material for the weaver. Even the product of the loom is chiefly used as material for the fabricators of articles of dress or furniture, or of further instruments of productive industry, as in the case of the sail-maker. The currier and tanner find their whole occupation in converting raw material into what may be termed prepared material. In strictness of speech, almost all food, as it comes from the hands of the agriculturist, is nothing more than material for the occupation of the baker or the cook.
§4. The second kind of indirect labour is that employed in making tools or implements for the assistance of labour. I use these terms in their most comprehensive sense, embracing all permanent instruments or helps to production, from a flint and steel for striking a light, to a steam-ship, or the most complex apparatus of manufacturing machinery. There may be some hesitation where to draw the line between implements and materials; and some things used in production (such as fuel) would scarcely in common language be called by either name, popular phraseology being shaped out by a different class of necessities from those of scientific exposition. To avoid a multiplication of classes and denominations answering to distinctions of no scientific importance, political economists generally include all things which are used as
immediate means of production (the means which are not immediate will be considered presently) either in the class of implements or in that of materials. Perhaps the line is most usually and most conveniently drawn, by considering as a material every instrument of production which can only be used once, being destroyed (at least as an instrument for the purpose in hand) by a single employment. Thus fuel, once burnt, cannot be again used as fuel; what can be so used is only any portion which has remained unburnt the first time. And not only it cannot be used without being consumed, but it is only useful by being consumed; for if no part of the fuel were destroyed, no heat would be generated. A fleece, again, is destroyed as a fleece by being spun into thread; and the thread cannot be used as thread when woven into cloth. But an axe is not destroyed as an axe by cutting down a tree: it may be used afterwards to cut down a hundred or a thousand more; and though deteriorated in some small degree by each use, it does not do its work by being deteriorated, as the coal and the fleece do theirs by being destroyed; on the contrary, it is the better instrument the better it resists deterioration. There are some things, rightly classed as materials, which may be used as such a second and a third time, but not while the product to which they at first contributed remains in existence. The iron which formed a tank or a set of pipes may be melted to form a plough or a steam-engine; the stones with which a house was built may be used after it is pulled down, to build another. But this cannot be done while the original product subsists; their function as materials is suspended, until the exhaustion of the first use. Not so with the things classed as implements; they may be used repeatedly for fresh work, until the time, sometimes very distant, at which they are worn out, while the work already done by them may subsist unimpaired, and when it perishes, does so by its own laws, or by casualties of its own.
The only practical difference of much importance arising from the distinction between materials and implements, is one which has attracted our attention in another case. Since materials are destroyed as such by being once used, the whole of the labour required for their production, as well as the abstinence of the person who supplied the means for carrying it on, must be remunerated from the fruits of that single use. Implements, on the contrary, being susceptible of repeated employment, the whole of the products which they are instrumental in bringing into existence are a fund which can be drawn upon to remunerate the labour of their construction, and the abstinence of those by whose accumulations that labour was supported. It is enough if each product contributes a fraction, commonly an insignificant one, towards the remuneration of that labour and abstinence, or towards indemnifying the immediate producer for advancing that remuneration to the person who produced the tools.
§5. Thirdly: Besides materials for industry to employ itself on, and implements to aid it, provision must be made to prevent its operations from being disturbed, and its products injured, either by the destroying agencies of nature, or by the violence or rapacity of men. This gives rise to another mode in which labour not employed directly about the product itself, is instrumental to its production; namely, when employed for the
protection of industry. Such is the object of all buildings for industrial purposes; all manufactories, warehouses, docks, granaries, barns, farm-buildings devoted to cattle, or to the operations of agricultural labour. I exclude those in which the labourers live, or which are destined for their personal accommodation: these, like their food, supply actual wants, and must be counted in the remuneration of their labour. There are many modes in which labour is still more directly applied to the protection of productive operations. The herdsman has little other occupation than to protect the cattle from harm: the positive agencies concerned in the realization of the product, go on nearly of themselves. I have already mentioned the labour of the hedger and ditcher, of the builder of walls or dykes. To these must be added that of the soldier, the policeman, and the judge. These functionaries are not indeed employed exclusively in the protection of industry, nor does their payment constitute, to the individual producer, a part of the expenses of production. But they are paid from the taxes, which are derived from the produce of industry; and in any tolerably governed country they render to its operations a service far more than equivalent to the cost. To society at large they are therefore part of the expenses of production; and if the returns to production were not sufficient to maintain these labourers in addition to all the others required, production, at least in that form and manner, could not take place. Besides, if the protection which the government affords to the operations of industry were not afforded, the producers would be under a necessity of either withdrawing a large share of their time and labour from production, to employ it in defence, or of engaging armed men to defend them; all which labour, in that case, must be directly remunerated from the produce; and things which could not pay for this additional labour, would not be produced. Under the present arrangements, the product pays its quota towards the same protection, and notwithstanding the waste and prodigality incident to government expenditure, obtains it of better quality at a much smaller cost.
§6. Fourthly: There is a very great amount of labour employed, not in bringing the product into existence, but in rendering it, when in existence, accessible to those for whose use it is intended. Many important classes of labourers find their sole employment in some function of this kind. There is first the whole class of carriers, by land or water: muleteers, waggoners, bargemen, sailors, wharfmen, coalheavers, porters, railway establishments, and the like. Next, there are the constructors of all the implements of transport; ships, barges, carts, locomotives, &c., to which must be added roads, canals, and railways. Roads are sometimes made by the government, and opened gratuitously to the public; but the labour of making them is not the less paid for from the produce. Each producer, in paying his quota of the taxes levied generally for the construction of roads, pays for the use of those which conduce to his convenience; and if made with any tolerable judgment, they increase the returns to his industry by far more than an equivalent amount.
Another numerous class of labourers employed in rendering the things produced accessible to their intended consumers, is the class of dealers and traders, or, as they may be termed, distributors. There would be a great waste of time and trouble, and an inconvenience often amounting to impracticability, if consumers could only obtain the articles they want by treating directly with the producers. Both producers and consumers are too much scattered, and the latter often at too great a distance from the former. To diminish this loss of time and labour, the contrivance of fairs and markets was early had recourse to, where consumers and producers might periodically meet, without any intermediate agency; and this plan answers tolerably well for many articles, especially agricultural produce, agriculturists having at some seasons a certain quantity of spare time on their hands. But even in this case, attendance is often very troublesome and inconvenient to buyers who have other occupations, and do not live in the immediate vicinity; while, for all articles the production of which requires continuous attention from the producers, these periodical markets must be held at such considerable intervals, and the wants of the consumers must either be provided for so long beforehand, or must remain so long unsupplied, that even before the resources of society admitted of the establishment of shops, the supply of these wants fell universally into the hands of itinerant dealers: the pedlar, who might appear once a month, being preferred to the fair, which only returned once or twice a year. In country districts, remote from towns or large villages, the industry of the pedlar is not yet wholly superseded. But a dealer who has a fixed abode and fixed customers is so much more to be depended on, that consumers prefer resorting to him if he is conveniently accessible; and dealers therefore find their advantage in establishing themselves in every locality where there are sufficient consumers near at hand to afford them a remuneration.
In many cases the producers and dealers are the same persons, at least as to the ownership of the funds and the control of the operations. The tailor, the shoemaker, the baker, and many other tradesmen, are the producers of the articles they deal in, so far as regards the last stage in the production. This union, however, of the functions of manufacturer and retailer is only expedient when the article can advantageously be made at or near the place convenient for retailing it, and is, besides, manufactured and sold in small parcels. When things have to be brought from a distance, the same person cannot effectually superintend both the making and the retailing of them; when they are best and most cheaply made on a large scale, a single manufactory requires so many local channels to carry off its supply, that the retailing is most conveniently delegated to other agency; and even shoes and coats, when they are to be furnished in large quantities at once, as for the supply of a regiment or of a workhouse, are usually obtained not directly from the producers, but from intermediate dealers, who make it their business to ascertain from what producers they can be obtained best and cheapest. Even when things are destined to be at last sold by retail, convenience soon creates a class of wholesale dealers. When products and transactions have multiplied beyond a certain point; when one manufactory supplies many shops, and one shop has often to obtain goods from many different manufactories, the loss of time and trouble both to the manufacturers and to the retailers by treating directly with one another makes it more convenient to them to treat with a smaller number of great dealers or merchants, who only buy to sell again, collecting goods from the various producers and distributing them to the retailers, to be by them further distributed among the consumers. Of these various elements is composed the Distributing Class, whose agency is supplementary to that of the Producing Class: and the produce so distributed, or its price, is the source from which the distributors are remunerated for their exertions, and for the abstinence which enabled them to advance the funds needful for the business of distribution.
§7. We have now completed the enumeration of the modes in which labour employed on external nature is subservient to production. But there is yet another mode of employing labour, which conduces equally, though still more remotely, to that end: this is, labour of which the subject is human beings. Every human being has been brought up from infancy at the expense of much labour to some person or persons, and if this labour, or part of it, had not been bestowed, the child would never have attained the age and strength which enable him to become a labourer in his turn. To the community at large, the labour and expense of rearing its infant population form a part of the outlay which is a condition of production, and which is to be replaced with increase from the future produce of their labour. By the individuals, this labour and expense are usually incurred from other motives than to obtain such ultimate return, and, for most purposes of political economy, need not be taken into account as expenses of production. But the technical or industrial education of the community; the labour employed in learning and in teaching the arts of production, in acquiring and communicating skill in those arts; this labour is really, and in general solely, undergone for the sake of the greater or more valuable produce thereby attained, and in order that a remuneration, equivalent or more than equivalent, may be reaped by the learner, besides an adequate remuneration for the labour of the teacher, when a teacher has been employed.
As the labour which confers productive powers, whether of hand or of head, may be looked upon as part of the labour by which society accomplishes its productive operations, or in other words, as part of what the produce costs to society, so too may the labour employed in keeping up productive powers; in preventing them from being destroyed or weakened by accident or disease. The labour of a physician or surgeon, when made use of by persons engaged in industry, must be regarded in the economy of society as a sacrifice incurred, to preserve from perishing by death or infirmity that portion of the productive resources of society which is fixed in the lives and bodily or mental powers of its productive members. To the individuals, indeed, this forms but a part, sometimes an imperceptible part, of the motives that induce them to submit to medical treatment: it is not principally from economical motives that persons have a limb amputated, or endeavour to be cured of a fever, though when they do so, there is generally sufficient inducement for it even on that score alone. This is, therefore, one of the cases of labour and outlay which, though conducive to production, yet not being incurred for that end, or for the sake of the returns arising from it, are out of the sphere of most of the general propositions which political economy has occasion to assert respecting productive labour: though, when society and not the individuals are considered, this labour and outlay must be regarded as part of the advance by which society effects its productive operations, and for which it is indemnified by the produce.
§8. Another kind of labour, usually classed as mental, but conducing to the ultimate product as directly, though not so immediately, as manual labour itself, is the labour of the inventors of industrial processes. I say, usually classed as mental, because in reality it is not exclusively so. All human exertion is compounded of some mental and some bodily elements. The stupidest hodman, who repeats from day to day the mechanical act of climbing a ladder, performs a function partly intellectual; so much so, indeed, that the most intelligent dog or elephant could not, probably, be taught to do it. The dullest human being, instructed beforehand, is capable of turning a mill; but a horse cannot turn it without somebody to drive and watch him. On the other hand, there is some bodily ingredient in the labour most purely mental, when it generates any external result. Newton could not have produced the Principia without the bodily exertion either of penmanship or of dictation; and he must have drawn many diagrams, and written out many calculations and demonstrations, while he was preparing it in his mind. Inventors, besides the labour of their brains, generally go through much labour with their hands, in the models which they construct and the experiments they have to make before their idea can realize itself successfully in act. Whether mental, however, or bodily, their labour is a part of that by which the production is brought about. The labour of Watt in contriving the steam-engine was as essential a part of production as that of the mechanics who build or the engineers who work the instrument; and was undergone, no less than theirs, in the prospect of a remuneration from the produce. The labour of invention is often estimated and paid on the very same plan as that of execution. Many manufacturers of ornamental goods have inventors in their employment, who receive wages or salaries for designing patterns, exactly as others do for copying them. All this is strictly part of the labour of production; as the labour of the author of a book is equally a part of its production with that of the printer and binder.
In a national, or universal point of view, the labour of the savant, or speculative thinker, is as much a part of production in the very narrowest sense, as that of the inventor of a practical art; many such inventions having been the direct consequences of theoretic discoveries, and every extension of knowledge of the powers of nature being fruitful of applications to the purposes of outward life. The electro-magnetic telegraph was the wonderful and most unexpected consequence of the experiments of Œrsted and the mathematical investigations of Ampère: and the modern art of navigation is an unforeseen emanation from the purely speculative and apparently merely curious enquiry, by the mathematicians of Alexandria, into the properties of three curves formed by the intersection of a plane surface and a cone. No limit can be set to the importance, even in a purely productive and material point of view, of mere thought. Inasmuch, however, as these material fruits, though the result, are seldom the direct purpose of the pursuits of savants, nor is their remuneration in general derived from the increased production which may be caused incidentally, and mostly after a long interval, by their discoveries; this ultimate influence does not, for most of the purposes of political economy, require to be taken into consideration; are generally classed as the producers only of books, or other useable or saleable articles, which directly emanate from them. But when (as in political economy one should always be prepared to do) we shift our point of view, and consider not individual acts, and the motives by which they are determined, but national and universal results, intellectual speculation must be looked upon as a most influential part of the productive labour of society, and the portion of its resources employed in carrying on and in remunerating such labour, as a highly productive part of its expenditure.
§9. In the foregoing survey of the modes of employing labour in furtherance of production, I have made little use of the popular distinction of industry into agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial. For, in truth, this division fulfils very badly the purposes of a classification. Many great branches of productive industry find no place in it, or not without much straining; for example (not to speak of hunters or fishers) the miner, the road-maker, and the sailor. The limit, too, between agricultural and manufacturing industry cannot be precisely drawn. The miller, for instance, and the baker—are they to be reckoned among agriculturists, or among manufacturers? Their occupation is in its nature manufacturing; the food has finally parted company with the soil before it is handed over to them: this, however, might be said with equal truth of the thresher, the winnower, the makers of butter and cheese; operations always counted as agricultural, probably because it is the custom for them to be performed by persons resident on the farm, and under the same superintendence as tillage. For many purposes all these persons, the miller and baker inclusive, must be placed in the same class with ploughmen and reapers. They are all concerned in producing food, and depend for their remuneration on the food produced; when the one class abounds and flourishes, the others do so too; they form collectively the “agricultural interest;” they render but one service to the community by their united labours, and are paid from one common source. Even the tillers of the soil, again, when the produce is not food, but the materials of what are commonly termed manufactures, belong in many respects to the same division in the economy of society as manufacturers. The cotton-planter of Carolina, and the wool-grower of Australia, have more interests in common with the spinner and weaver than with the corn-grower. But, on the other hand, the industry which operates immediately upon the soil has, as we shall see hereafter, some properties on which many important consequences depend, and which distinguish it from all the subsequent stages of production, whether carried on by the same person or not; from the industry of the thresher and winnower, as much as from that of the cotton-spinner. When I speak, therefore, of agricultural labour, I shall generally mean this, and this exclusively, unless the contrary is either stated or implied in the context. The term manufacturing is too vague to be of much use when precision is required, and when I employ it, I wish to be understood as intending to speak popularly rather than scientifically.
Book I. Chapter III. Section 3