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of enjoyment to the maintainers, would form the whole result of it.' 22, 23, 24. That, what is now regarded as one of the exploded errors of the French economists, is undeniable truth; to wit, that all taxes ultimately fall on land. .
We pause here, to give the reader time to draw breath ; not assuredly to discuss any of the Author's paradoxes, which are too old to excite surprise, and too absurd to require refutation. The only cause for wonder is, that they should be revived by the Author at this time of day. Some five and twenty years ago, many of our readers may recollect, a Mr. Spence put forth an ingenious pamphlet under the title of “ Britain independent of Commerce; ” in which it was attempted to apply the reasonings of the French Economists to the circumstances of Great Britain at that crisis, when Napoleon was endeavouring to exclude our commerce from the Continent, and the tenure of our traffic with both hemispheres was deemed by some persons by no means secure *. Mr. Spence was supported by Mr. Cobbett, and some other pamphleteers of the day, who zealously undertook to prove that Commerce is not a source of national wealth. Their arguments received an able refutation from the pen of Mr. Mill, the Author of the History of India; and we had supposed the question had been laid to rest. About the same time, there appeared a work entitled, “ An Inquiry into the Extent and Stability of National Resources," by a Scottish clergyman whose name was at that time unknown to the Southern public. The object of the Writer was, to advocate an immediate extension of our military and naval establishments, and an augmentation of taxes to any needful extent, such taxation requiring nothing more than the sacrifice of luxuries. Dividing the community into three classes, the producers of food, the producers of 5 second necessaries, and the producers and consumers of luxuries, the Writer contended, that the whole of the last class might be disposed of at will by the authority of the State, might be employed as soldiers and sailors in any proportion, and maintained out of the taxes with the greatest facility and advantage. The only difference would be, a sort of * rotation of property.' The money formerly given to the manufacturers of luxuries, and distributed by them as the wages of labour, would just be given to Government, to be distributed in pay. All the difference would be, that the soldiers and sailors would work security for us, whereas the manufacturers wrought luxuries; and the population would be just as effectually maintained, only in a different manner. The loss of foreign trade, the Writer moreover endeavoured to shew, would be a mischief of trifling amount. And the vehement eloquence with which these
* See Eclectic Review, 1st Series, vol. iii. p. 1052, vol. iv. p. 554.
astounding doctrines were urged, was singularly characteristic. The following is a specimen.
All that Government has to do, is, to meet the present emergencies of the country by the extension of our naval and military establishments. This they can never do without an addition to our taxes. In the name of every thing dear to the country, tax us with an unsparing hand. It is to avert a greater calamity; and if any grumble, he is not a patriot; he deserves not that an ear should be turned to his remonstrances. .... No, this is not the time to hesitate about trifles. Accommodate the distribution of your people to the existing necessity. Be prompt, be vigorous, be unfaultering; for I swear by the ambition of Bonaparte, that he will be soon among us at the head of his marauders, if he knows that, instead of meeting the population of the island in warlike and defensive array, he will find them labouring in their workshops, writing in their counting-houses, balancing their ledgers, and persevering in the good old way of their forefathers?
These exhortations were not meant, as the reader might suspect, in irony. No, they were honest extravagance. And the Writer was Mr. Chalmers of Kilmany, now Dr. Chalmers. But why refer to a youthful production, which the Author may well be supposed anxious to consign to oblivion ? So high and sincere is our respect for Dr. Chalmers, that we could not have brought ourselves to do him the unkindnesss of reminding him that he had ever committed himself by such a publication, had he not, strange to say, referred us again and again to this very work, “ Extent and Stability of National Resources,” in explanation and support of the strange propositions contained in his Synopsis. Need we add any further explanation of them ? '
The twelve remaining propositions may be speedily disposed of. Nos. 25 and 26 relate to tithes, which, Dr. Chalmers thinks, ought to be, not abolished, but commuted. The next two, we cite as they stand, as they will shew we have not misrepresented or exaggerated the wild extravagance of the Author's early notions, here deliberately reiterated.
- 27. That the extreme limit of taxation is the landed rental of the kingdom ; and that, were taxation carried to this limit, it would place the great bulk of the disposable population in the service of the State.
28. That the capabilities of the nation for defensive war are greatly underrated, they being at least commensurate to the extent of the disposable population. (“ Extent and Stability of National Resources.")' p. 563.
How unjustly has Bonaparte been stigmatized with tyrannical cruelty and oppression for his levy en masse! Has not the State a right to do what it will with its own,-its disposable population ? -But to proceed. In No. 29, we are told, that the superior 'influence of Britain over other nations in distant parts, is due to 'her-EXPORTS ’!! That therefore, the balance of power is a topic of needless and misplaced anxiety on the part of British 'statesmen.' Here we are at a loss which more to admire, the self-evident truth of the premise, or the logical strictness and obviousness of the consequence. The next four propositions refer to the national debt, which ought to have been obviated, the Author thinks, by taxes raised within the year. No. 34. " That the law of primogeniture is essentially linked with the political strength and other great public interests of the nation. The last two inveigh against the poor laws, which render, the Author conceives, every other device that philanthropy can suggest, or an enlightened political economy can sanction, futile and abortive.
• But for this disturbing force', he continues, which so unsettles the providential habits of the people, and so undermines every principle, whether of nature or of Christianity, to the spontaneous operation of which the care of the poor ought always to have been confided,
-society might undergo a very speedy amelioration. Because that a very small excess in the number of labourers effects a very large and disproportionate reduction in the price of labour; and therefore, by a reverse process, it might only require a very insignificant fraction of relief from the numbers of the people, to operate a very large relief on their circumstances and comforts. That emigration for the lessening of the number, and the various other economical expedients for the enlargement of the means, will be of but slight and temporary effect, so long as the law of pauperism shall maintain the population in a state of perpetual overflow. But that, if these were related to a scheme for the gradual abolition of the pauperism, they would smooth the transition from a system of compulsory, to one of natural and gratuitous relief; after which, it were in the power of common, and more especially of Christian education, indefinitely to raise the habits and tastes, and, along with these, to raise the economical condition of the people.'
p. 566. This paragraph supplies in part its own refutation ; for, were it true, that so very small an excess in the number of labourers effects a large reduction of wages, and that a very insignificant fraction subtracted from their numbers would afford a large relief, common sense would dictate, that emigration presents the natural and sufficient remedy; and all that would then be necessary, would be, that emigration from England to the colonies should take place with the matter of course regularity with which, for ages, the population of Scotland have found their way to the south, and to all parts of the globe.
But if it be the law of pauperism that maintains the population in a state of perpetual overflow in England, what is it that raises that overflow to a wide spreading torrent in Ireland ? There, no such disturbing force exists as a law of compulsory relief, to unsettle the providential habits of the people; no such insuperable obstacle there retards the immediate melioration of society; there, as, Dr. Chalmers says, ought to be the case every
VOL. VIII.- N.S.
where, the poor are confided to the spontaneous operation of the principles of nature and Christianity. For the result, we need only refer our readers to the facts elicited in the recent debate in the House of Commons, (June 19,) on Mr. Sadler's motion relating to the expediency of forming a provision for the poor of Ireland. We would particularly direct their attention to the speech of Mr. J. Smith, who confirmed, from personal knowledge, the statement of Mr. Ruthven, that an Irish landed proprietor in the county of Mayo, with a rent-roll of 12,0001. a year, had refused to give a farthing for the relief of people on his own estate, during the famine which prevailed in Ireland a few years ago; and they were saved from starvation, only by subscriptions from England. This was not a solitary case. He (Mr. Smith) • knew many others like it!' In this debate, Mr. O'Connell, who appears to have been taking lessons in Christian and Civic Economy from the Edinburgh Professor of Divinity, in the teeth of his own reiterated pledges and avowed opinions in favour of a legislative provision for the poor of Ireland, had the matchless effrontery to argue that such a provision would be hostile “to the ' most cherished principles of revealed religion'. Poor laws, the report of the debate makes him say, 'tended to contract the chan
nel of that voluntary social charity which was the only beneficial source of poor-relief, and whicli was the keystone of Christianity.' But for the free comments which the conduct of this eccentric person drew forth, we should have felt assured that his whole speech was meant for biting sarcasm. Mr. Lambert remarked, in reply, that Dr. Doyle had so fully exposed the cant and hypocrisy of the objection to poor laws, founded on their alleged tendency to narrow the channel of voluntary charity, that he need only refer to that able divine's pages. But why', he asked,
should not the rich landed proprietor, particularly the absentee, be compelled to contribute to the support of those persons to whose labour he is wholly indebted for his wealth and lei. sure? Was it not a notorious fact, that, in Ireland, the ab
sentees and great proprietors wholly neglect their duty to the ! poor, and would continue to do so till compelled by a legislative ' enactment ??*
Dr. Chalmers, we need not express our conviction, is a man incapable of hypocrisy; and if his political writings are not free from the cant of philosophy, his speculations, not his feelings and motives, are to blame. But the weight of his character, the brilliancy of his reputation, and the fervour of his piety and benevolence, only render the more mischievous the extravagantly erroneous opinions which he has put forth upon subjects of political
* Times, June 20, 1832.
economy. Nine years ago, in reviewing his “ Economy of Large Towns”,* we exposed the ignorance of historic fact, the gross miscalculation, and the utter fallacy involved in his representations and reasonings on the subject of the Poor Laws and Pauperism. 'Is it not astonishing ', we then remarked, 'that, with • Ireland before him, Dr. Chalmers can charge the augmentation
of want in this country on the English poor laws. What Ireland is, England, when the law of Elizabeth was first enacted, was; or, if any thing, was in a worse condition as regards pauperism and an unbridled mendicity. The annual executions of thieves in this country, limited as was the population, and defective the police, averaged about 400 in the reign of Elizabeth ; and Henry VIII. is said to have hanged, in the course of his reign, 'threescore and twelve thousand great thieves, petty thieves, * and vagabonds. There were no poor laws, be it remembered, then. But Dr. Chalmers dwells not in the low region of facts, and he soars above all argument. His speculative opinions, therefore, once moulded, are fixed and unimpressible. Flaws, fallacies, and all, they harden together into a compact mass, specious, hollow, and brittle, ornamental but useless. Of course we speak of his political speculations only; and with these, as we have already intimated, much that is excellent and valuable could not fail to be blended. But the general tendency of his volume is bad, because it is adapted to mislead on some important and fundamental points, and to confirm some most mischievous delusions. We rejoice that the Author has here taken leave of political economy, and sincerely hope that upon this subject he will never write again,-unless it be (which is not very likely) to retract his opinions.
Before we dismiss the volume, we shall make one more brief citation, which will shew that the fear of speaking what he deems to be truth, has no influence upon the Author's mind; and that extreme as are some of his opinions, his integrity is unimpeachable.
. We rejoice to think that a Church may be upheld in all its endowments, without being, in any right sense of the word, an incubus upon the nation ; while it serves to mitigate the hardship which has been imputed to the law of primogeniture. We are aware that this is not the precise and proper argument for a religious establishment; yet, convinced, upon other grounds, of the vast utility of such an institution, we cannot but regard it as one beneficent consequence of the law in question, that it enlists on the side of a church, the warmest affections of nature, the sympathies and feelings of domestic tenderness. We are aware of the reckless and unprincipled patronage to
* Eclectic Review, 2nd Series, Vol. XX. p. 117.