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the motto of our design. We declare frankly, that our object is to teach Political Economy, and that we have chosen this method, not only because it is new, not only because it is entertaining, but because we think it the most faithful and the most complete. There is no doubt that all that is true and important about any virtue,—integrity, for instance,—may be said in the form of a lecture, or written in a chapter of moral philosophy; but the faithful history of an upright man, his sayings and doings, his trials, his sorrows, his triumphs and rewards, teaches the same truths in a more effectual as well as more popular form. In like manner, the great principle of Freedom of Trade may be perfectly established by a very dry argument; but a tale of the troubles, and difficulties, and changes of good and evil fortune in a manufacturer and his operatives, or in the body of a manufacturing population, will display the same principle, and may be made very interesting besides; to say nothing of getting rid of the excuse that these subjects cannot be understood.'
Political Economy is described as treating of the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth ; understanding by the latter term, 'whatever material objects contribute to the support 'and enjoyment of life.' As the necessaries and comforts of life must be produced before they can be distributed, and distributed before they can be consumed, the order of subjects seems determined by their nature; and accordingly, it is first proposed to shew, in the Tale called 'Life in the Wilds', what labour can effect, and how it is to be encouraged, economized, and rewarded. In the second Tale, 'The Hill and the Valley', the nature and operation of Capital are illustrated, the proportions of its increase, and the union of the two mighty agents of Production. The same general principles are exemplified by further illustrations in 'Brooke and Brooke Farm.' In No. IV., 'Demerara', the respective values of different kinds of labour, brute and human, free and slave labour, are treated of, together with the conditions upon which property is held. Having, in these four parts, illustrated the leading principles which regulate the production of wealth, the Author proceeds, in No. V., 'Ella of Garveloch', to consider the laws of its distribution; and first, to illustrate the nature of Rent. Wages and Profits will form the subject of illustration in the succeeding parts; and finally, the principles which relate to the Consumption of Wealth, will be treated of in the same ingenious style of familiar exemplification.
We have very few observations to offer upon the Author's doctrines. Political economy may be generally described as treating of the sources and distribution of wealth; although this does not, and is probably not intended to define the range of inquiry which the science embraces. These 'Illustrations' sufficiently prove that, with purely economical inquiries, collateral questions of a strictly moral or political nature are indissolubly connected and interwoven. The moment we speak of labour, or at least of the labourer, man, we have got out of pure 'catallactics \ and have entered upon a mixed subject, which may be said to belong to political ethics; and 'national wealth' can no longer be the proper definition of the object of inquiry, unless we understand the term as implying national welfare. In proof of this, we need only transcribe part of the ' Summary' of principles affixed to No. IV.
'Free and slave labour are equally owned by the capitalist.
'Where the labourer is not held as capital, the capitalist pays for labour only.
'Where the labourer is held as capital, the capitalist not only pays a much higher price for an equal quantity of labour, but also for waste, negligence, and theft, on the part of the labourer.
'Capital is thus sunk, which ought to be reproduced.
'As the supply of slave-labour does not rise and fall with the wants of the capitalist, like that of free labour, he employs his occasional surplus on works which could be better done by brute labour or machinery.
'By rejecting brute labour, he refuses facilities for convertible husbandry, and for improving the labour of his slaves by giving them animal food.
'By rejecting machinery, he declines the most direct and complete method of saving labour.
* Thus, again, capital is sunk which ought to be reproduced.
'In order to make up for this loss of capital to slave owners, bounties and prohibitions are granted in their behalf by government; the waste committed by certain capitalists abroad, being thus paid for out of the earnings of those at home.
'Sugar being the production especially protected, every thing is sacrificed by planters to the growth of sugar. The land is exhausted by perpetual cropping, the least possible portion of it is tilled for food, the slaves are worn out by overwork, and their numbers decrease in proportion to the scantiness of their food, and the oppressiveness of their toil.
'When the soil is so far exhausted as to place its owner out of reach of the sugar-bounties, more food is raised, less toil is inflicted, and the slave population increases.
'Legislative protection, therefore, not only taxes the people at home, but promotes ruin, misery, and death, in the protected colonies.
'A free trade in sugar would banish slavery altogether, since competition must induce an economy of labour and capital; i. e., a substitution of free for slave labour.
'Let us see, then, what is the responsibility of the legislature in this matter.
'The slave system inflicts an incalculable amount of human suffering, for the sake of making a wholesale waste of labour and capital.
'Since the slave system is only supported by legislative protection, the legislature is responsible for the misery caused by direct infliction, and for the injury indirectly occasioned by the waste of labour and capital.' Part IV., pp. 142—3.
All this is clearly and admirably stated, nor can we have any possible objection against thus extending the range of inquiry to the principles of government and the responsibilities of legislators: we protest only against the affectation of those who would represent political economy as a mere technical inquiry into the principles of commercial exchange. In the first Part, we meet with this axiom in the summary of principles: 'All labour for 'which there is a fair demand, is equally respectable.' Now can this be called an axiom of political economy? It has clearly, whether correct or not, no right to a place in the summary; although, in the tale, the lesson meant to be conveyed is instructively exemplified. The respectability of labour cannot depend, however, upon the 'fair demand' for it; nor is it absolutely true, that every description of labour that is demanded, is equally respectable.
The next sentence to this would also require qualification, to be entirely just: 'Labour being a beneficial power, all Economy 'of that labour must be beneficial.' This is true as a general rule, but it is not universally true. Economy of labour is beneficial—to whom? To the labourer himself? To the employer of labour? Or to the community? The rule does not say. If it be meant, that it is always beneficial to all parties, the principle is positively erroneous. If the labourer can economize his own labour, he is of course the gainer, unless the whole advantage be taken from him by his employer. But, if it is one benefit of an economizing of labour, that it 'sets a man at liberty for 'other work,' it is required to realize this benefit, that the man can be set to other work. Whenever the supply of labour is inadequate to the demand, the economizing of labour must be a source of wealth, by giving an augmented power of production. But, when the supply of labour is in excess, the economizing which tends to increase that excess, may be beneficial to the individual capitalist, but must add to the burdens of the community. Should this consequence be temporary and partial, it will not weigh much against the ultimate benefit of increasing the productive power of labour; yet, it is a circumstance not to be overlooked in the statement of principles.
The fact is, that, as labour cannot set itself to work beneficially, but requires the cooperation of capital, the economy of labour is beneficial only when it sets at liberty—not the labour that is superseded, but—the capital which employed it, and which is sure to afford employment for other labour. The benefit consists, not in the employment of less labour, but in the accomplishment of more by the same labour. If, by an economy of labour, five men can be enabled to produce what formerly required the toil of fifty, the benefit to society will be so far absolute, that that species of production will be cheapened, as costing less labour. And this will be the whole benefit, unless, by the increased consumption of the commodity, the whole fifty labourers are still employed, in producing ten times the quantity that the same labour would formerly realize. This has been the general result of all improvements in machinery, with the exception of agricultural machinery. And the reason of this exception is, that the quantity of agricultural produce cannot be so increased by an economy of labour, as to afford employment for all the labour that is economized. Society may gain by the cheapening of the commodity, consequent upon the saving of labour; but if the unemployed labour is thrown back as a dead weight upon society, the loss will outweigh the gain: just as if eighteen labourers were, by extra exertion, to do the work of twenty, while the other two, being disabled, had to be supported at the employer's expense. And if the commodity is not cheapened, and if less labour is beneficially employed, in proportion as the beneficial power of labour is increased,—the whole advantage of the boasted economy is frustrated, and the gain of the community is something less than nothing.
We cannot help strongly wishing that Miss Martineau would exemplify all this; for we are quite sure that her good sense will enable her to perceive the accordance of our principles with facts; facts too generally overlooked by the framers of axioms and the lovers of abstract principles. And there is another point upon which we would recommend her to exercise a strong distrust of the dogmas of political economy; that of the superior benefit of large capitals. We give her great credit for the saving clause, 'capitals may be too large'; and also for the qualification of the principle, that ' large capitals produce in a larger proportion,' implied in the expressive proviso, 'when well managed.' Capitals are too large, it is remarked, 'when they become disproportioned 'to the managing power.' They are too large also, when they confer the power of monopoly. By enabling the capitalist to content himself with small profits, they tend to produce a fall of profits, which ultimately diminishes the fund for the employment of labour. This has especially proved to be the case with large agricultural capitals, which have had the effect of at once depressing profits and depreciating labour. Nor is this the worst consequence of over large capitals. Instead of uniformly calling into employment new powers of production,' as in the cultivation 'of wastes,' they have sometimes led to the abandonment of cultivation for less productive modes of employing the soil, and have converted corn-fields into parks and pastoral wastes. What have great capitals done for Lombardy, for Tuscany, for Ireland? Under the fatal patronage of the Medicean princes, the agriculture of Tuscany revived at the expense of commerce, and all the great capitalists became transformed into territorial proprietors. But, remarks the enlightened Historian of the Italian Republics, it is not agriculture that has ever enriched Italy. 'Agriculture
VOL. vm.—N,S. H
'can augment capital, and become a source of national wealth, 'only when the peasantry are accumulating property; and this 'can take place only when they are at once cultivators and pro'prietors.1*
How strikingly has this been verified in the history of Ireland! When the trade in grain was first laid open between the two British islands, the effect was immediate and surprising, in promoting an extension of tillage, by which the incomes of the landlords and of the clergy were doubled or trebled; but what was the result with regard to the population ?' Tillage,1 it has been justly remarked, 'does not bring wealth into a country, unless the corn 'grown in it, be consumed there also. The increase of tillage in 'Ireland, had the effect of sending wealth out of the country. 'The increase of rents which was derived from the increase of 'tillage and population, enabled great numbers of the smaller 'gentry to quit the country. And their removal from Ireland 'had the effect of impoverishing the country, both by the with'drawment of their expenditure, and by leading to the exaction 'of high rents. As rents rose in Ireland, as tillage extended, as 'population increased, the country became poorer and poorer; 'and every day added to the number of absentees.1 -(■ Will it be said, that great properties, rather than great capitals, have contributed to the ruin of Ireland; and that the subletting system proves that capital has been alienated from the land? We reply, that while this has been working destruction in some districts, in others, capital has been exerting its productive energies. For the five years ending in 1816, there were exported from the port of Dublin alone, 1,144,181 barrels of grain and flour; 272,431 casks of beef, pork, and butter; 180,235 head of oxen, sheep, and swine; and 40,335 packs and boxes of linen %. And the labourers who raised all these provisions, never taste of animal food, never consume a morsel of wheaten bread, but live chiefly on potatoes and water; and the artizans who wove all this linen, are often unacquainted with the comfort of a shirt! And what is the condition of what Dr. Chalmers would call the disposable class? It will not endure description. Thus, in unhappy Ireland, doomed to suffer at once from the most opposite evils, and to exhibit all sorts of contradictions, the absence of ca
* Sismondi. Tableau de I'Agric. Tosc. p. 297
t Eclect. Rev. Vol. XXVIII. p. 101. There can be no impropriety in now disclosing, that for the valuable article on Ireland from which we cite this statement, the readers of our Journal were indebted to the able pen of a sincere patriot, the late John O'Driscol, Esq.
% Eclectic Review, Vol. XXIX. p. 19. During the same period, not more than 2553 packs of linen were used at home!