Apprenticeship, is the binding of a person by covenant, to serve his master for a limitted period, on condition of being instructed in his trade, or occupation. Its usual duration is for the term of seven years, after which the apprentice himself is entitled to become a teacher, and to engage pupils to serve under him.

The statute concerning apprentices was first enacted by Queen Elizabeth, but its operation was limitted to market towns; as in country villages a person may exercise several trades, though he may not have undergone a seven years' servitude.

In Scotland, there is no genera! law to regulate their duration. The period varies, according to the established custom in different towns, and may frequently be shortened, by paying a small fine, which in many places is also sufficient to purchase the freedom of any corporation.

In France, the duration of ap-prenticeship is different in various trades. Five years was the time generally required in Paris; but, before a person can be qualified to become a master, he was in many instances obliged to serve five years more as a journeyman, and during this term he was called a companion.

Apprenticeships were unknown to the ancients. The Roman law makes no mention of them; nor is there any Greek or Latin word which expresses the idea now annexed to this appellation.

Dr. Adam Smith considers long apprenticeships as altogether unnecessary; because those arts which are superior to common trades, such as clock and watch-making; are not involved in so much mystery as to require a long course of instruction. Their first invention must, doubtless, have been the result of deep reflection and close ap-plication; but, since their principles are well understood, the lessons of a few weeks, perhaps, even of a few days, might be sufficient for the purpose of complete explanation. Manual dexterity, it is true, cannot, even in common trades, be acquired without much practice and experience. On the other hand, a young man would be more attentive and diligent, if from the commencement of a new pursuit, he were employed as a journeyman, and paid in proportion to the quantity of his labour. The master, indeed, would not be so great a gainer, because a considerable part of those wages which he now saves for seven years together, would necessarily fall to the share of the apprentice. In trades easily learnt, the latter would ultimately not derive any disproportionate advantages ;. for, as under such circumstances, he must expect many competitors, his wages would consequently, though gradually, be reduced. All trades, crafts, and mvsteries. would thus experience a reasonable check of extravagant prices ; and thus all conspiracies, and combinations of journeymen and masters, would be effectually prevented.