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PART II. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 9 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 9.
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In the early days of society, it is natural enough for mcn to take what they can find or make, without giving themselves any trouble about analyzing their wealth, or philosophizing about its distribution. When, however, the desires of some begin to interfere with those of others, and production does not, in particular instances, abound as was expected, and sudden and manifold claims for a provision arise, and can with difficulty be met, men necessarily begin, however late, to examine their resources, and investigate the demands upon them. Only very remote approaches to a true analysis may be made at first; and the consequences of a hundred pernicious mistakes must probably be borne before any thing like a fair distribution can be so much anyas conceived of. But time and experience are certain to originate the conception, as is proved by the rise of the science of Political Economy; and there is every reason to believe that time and experience will exalt the conception into action, and lead to a wise application of the splendid apparatus of human happiness which has been confided to the hands of society. Every mistake has hitherto issued in the furtherance of this end, according to the uniform plan under which the affairs of men are administered. It has been discovered that the race cannot live upon labour without its reward, and that to be numerous is not of itself to be happy; and there is a relaxation of effort to force the multiplication of the race. It has been discovered that land of itself is not wealth, and that our condition would be deplorable if it were so since land does not improve of itself, but deteriorates as the race which subsists upon it is multiplied. It is discovered that money is not wealth; that the tenants of different localities do not flourish at one another's expense; and that wealth cannot be distributed according to the arbitrary pleasure of rulers. Many other ancient convictions are now found to be delusions; and, what is better still, the grand principles are fully established which may serve as a key to all the mysteries relating to the distribution of wealth. Their application may require much time and patience; but we have them safe. Their final general adoption may be regarded as certain, and an incalculable amelioration of the condition of society must follow of course.
These principles are two:—That, owing to the inequality of soils (the ultimate capital of society), the natural tendency of capital is to Yield a perpetually diminishing return;—and that the consumers of capital increase at a perpetuallv accelerated rate.
The operation of these principles may be modified to any extent by the influence of others: but they exist; they are fully ascertained; and must henceforth serve as guides to all wise attempts to rectify an unjust distribution of the wealth of society. It is difficult to conceive how any sound mind can have withheld its assent to these grand principles, after they had once been clearly announced. It is very evident that some soils posses a far inferior power of producing food to others; and that, in the natural course of things, society will till the best soils first, and then the next best, and then soils of the third degree, and so on, as the demand for food increases; and that, as each adopted soil will yield less than the last, every application of capital will yield a smaller return—all applications of capital being regulated by the primary application of capital to land. It is difficult to see how this general principle can be disputed, however large may be the allowance required for the influence of other principles. Improvements in tillage, yet undreamed of, may increase the produce in calculably; but this increased produce will still be subjected to the same law. There will be an inequality of improved as of unimproved soils. New powers, chemical and mechanical, may be brought to bear on the soil for ever and ever; and still the same law must hold good while there is an original inequality in the material on which those powers are employed. Whether we obtain our food from the sea, or from new regions of the earth,—if we could fetch it down from the moon, or up from the centre of the globe,—the principle must hold good as long as there are limited and varying facilities for obtaining this food, and an increasing demand for it. More labour and more would be given to answer each new demand; and the return would still be less, till it came to a vanishing point.
If this labour were that of stocks and stones in the service of a reasonable number of men, the simple fact would be that this reasonable number of men must live upon the produce of the labour already set in motion. But the labour in question is human labour, which eats in proportion as it works, and multiplies itself faster by far than it can augment its supply of food. The proprietor of a field feeds his five children from it, till they each have five children, and each of these five children in their turn. Does the produce of the paternal field augment itself five times, and then twentyfive times, to suit the growing wants of the new generations? It may possibly be made to yield double, and then three times, and then four times what it once did; but no kind or degree of skill can make the ratio of its productiveness the same as that of human increase. What primary rule of practice follows from the combination of these two principles?
The increase of population is necessarily limited by the means of subsistence.
Since successive portions of capital yield a less and less return, and the human species produce at a constantly accelerated rate, there is a perpetual tendency in population to press upon the means of subsistence.
Tho ultimate checks by which population is kept down to the level of the means of subsistence, are vice and misery.
Since the ends of life are virtue and happiness, these checks ought to be superseded by the milder methods which exist within man's reach.
These evils may be delayed by promoting the increase of capital, and superseded by restraining the increase of population.
Towards the one object, a part of society may do a little; towards the other, all may do much.
By rendering property secure, expenditure frugal, and production easy,society may promote the growth of capltah
By bringing no more children into the world than there is a subsistence provided for, society may preserve itself from the miseries of want. In other words, the timely use of the mild preventive check may avert the horrors of any positive check.
The preventive check becomes more, and the positive checks less powerful, as society advances.
The positive checks having performed their office in stimulating the human faculties, and originating social institutions, must be wholly superseded by the preventive check before society can attain its ultimate aim,—the greatest happiness of the greatest number.
However the wealth of society may be distri buted,—whether among the three classes who, at present, in all civilized countries, divide it, or among the partakers of a common stock, (according to the desire of some who mourn our evils, and look, as others think, in a wrong place for the remedy),—howevcr the weahh of society may be distributed, the above principles are of the highest concern to the whole of society. Some may feel sooner thau others the pressure of populatioq against the means of subsistence; but it ultimately concerns all, to the last degree, that there should be subsistence for the race. This consideration is prior to ail others wilich relate only to the modes and degrees in which wealth shall be shared by various classes. There is little wisdom in fixing a scale of enjoyments while society is laid open to vice, disease, and death,—the awful rembution for a careless administration of the common possession.—Yet the policy of rulers,—of rulers by office and by influeuee,—bas, till very lately, been to stimulate population wahout any regard to the subsistence provided for it. The plea has always been that every man born into the world brings with him the labour which will support more than himself: but each must also bring with him the land on which his labour is to be employed, or he may find it no more possible to live upon labour than to live upon air. There is never any fear that population will not increase fast enough, as its increase is absolutely determined by the existing means for its support. But there is a perpetual danger that it may increase too fast for the purposes of the ruler; and, for what has but too seldom entered into his purposes,—the happiness of his people. If he looks to the narratives of wars, he may find that the subsistence of armies has always failed sooner than men, though its armed force call never compose more than a small portion of any nation. He will find in the history of every state that when tim overpressure of the people upon its food, partially and most painfully kept down bv the death of its infants and its aged, and of those who have grown sickly through want, has been yet more fearfully relieved by the agency of famine and pesthence, a new impulse is invariably given, far more efficacious than the bidding of any sovereign. It is folly, he may thus see, to lash the dull tide of a swollen river when banked up so that it cannot flow; and when a portion of its waters are drawn off, the stream runs fast enough of itself. If the power of a ruler were to be estimated by the rate at which he could induce the increase of his subjects, which would be the most powerful,—the Emperor of China or the King of Hayti? The Haytian empire is insignificant enough in comparison of the Chinese; but the Haytian king sees his subjects multiplying, amidst their superabundance of food, at a rate hitherto unsurpassed; while the Chinese can multiply no more till they can enlarge the extent of their food. Under the stimulus of royal promises, children may be born; but by the command of a higher authority, they die. The laws of nature are too strong for kings. In this case, the bidding is either needless or unavailing.
Any power of stimulus which rulers possess should be otherwise applied,—to the production of subsistence. If the plain rule were followed, of making increased subsistene precede an increase of population, the great work of the distribution of wealth would follow its own natural laws; and men would only have to participate and be content. When the final cause of the arrangement by which population has been ordained to press against the means of subsistence shall have wrought its work in stinmlating the human faculties, and opening up new resources to the race, there will be as ample an enjoyment of the blessings of life as the warmest advocate of numbets can desire,—an enjoyment infinitely greater for the absence of all deadly struggle or pining desire for a due share of the bounties of nature's mighty feast.
At present, however, while we have the pride of luxurv within our palaces, and famine at their gates, it is necessary to ascertain how the two principles announced above affect the distribution of the wcalth of society.
The uncontrolled operation of these principles will be found the main cause of the tremendous inequality of possession in society; and if society wishes to put an end to such inequality, it must be done by suiting the proceedings of society to these principles, and not by any temporary measures. If the possessions of the richest of our peers were tomorrow to be divided among the poorest of our operatives and country, labourers, no permanent relief to the latter class would be obtained by beggaring the former, and the same principles would go on working, the day after, to produce in time precisely similar results. Even if it were the practice with us, as it was with the Jews, that land should revert to the original possessors, at certaiu fixed periods, the same laws would work; and to even greater disadvantage than now, as the landowners would not be so rich, while the labourers would be quite as poor. Property would run less into masses; but there would be less wealth to be amassed. There is no use in opposition to these principles, or in discontent at their natural results. The true wisdom is in modifying tt,e results by practically recognizing the principle. We must control tlte rise of rent by stimulating agricultural improvements, and preventing the demand for tbod from outstripping them. We must moderate the pressure upon the subsistence, or wages fund, by regulating the numbers who are to share it. We must moderate the pressure against the profits fund, by keeping the demands upon the wages fund within due bounds.∗
The wealth of society naturally distributes itself between two classes of capitalists, from one of which a portion descends to a third class, —the labourers. The two classes of capitalists are, first, the owners of land or water,— of the natural agents of production,—and next, the farmers of land or water, or those who employ, by the application of capital, the natural agents of production. Each of the three classes obtains his share by purchase,—original, or perpetually renewed—the landowner by the secondary or boarded labour of his ancestors or of his youth; the capitahst by hoarded labour, and the purchased labour of his servants; and the labourer by primary labour. The landowner receives his share as rent; the capitalist as profits; the labourer as wages.
Real Rent is that which is paid to the landowner for the use of the original, indestructible powers of the soil. The total rent paid by a farmer includes also the profits of the capital laid out by the landowner upon the estate.
Laud possesses Its original, indestructible powers in different degrees.
The most fertile being all appropriated, and more produce wanted, the next best soil is brought into cultivation; then laud of the third degree, and so on, till all is tilled that will repay tillage.
An unequal produce being yielded by these different lauds, the surplus return of all above the lowest goes to the landowner in the form of rent.
The same thing happens when repeated applications of capital are made to the same land for the sake of increasing its productiveness. toThe produce which remains over the return to the least productive application of capital goes to the landowner in the form of rent.
Rent, therefore, consists of that part of the return made to the more productive portions of capital, by which it exceeds the return made to the least productive portion.
New lands arc not tilled, and capital is not employed for a less return, unless the produce will pay the cost of production.
A rise of prices, therefore, creates, and is not created by, rent.
When more capital is employed in agriculture, new land is tilled, further outlay is made on land already tilled; and thus also rent arises from in crease of capital.
When capital is withdrawn from agriculture, inferior, i. e. the most expensive soils, are let out of cul tivation; and thus rent falls.
A rise of rent is, therefore, a symptom, and not a cause, of wealth.
The tendency of rent is, therefore, to rise for ever in an improving country, But there are counter acting causes.
Art increases prorluetion beyond the usual re turns to capital laid out: prices fall in proportion to the abundance of the supply, and rent dechnes.
Improved facihues for brminging produce to market, by increasing the supply, cause prices to fall and rent to decline.
Commodities, being produced by capital and labour, are the joint property of the capitalist and labourer.
The eapitalist pays in advance to the labourers their share of the commndity, and thus becomes its sole owner.
The portion thus paid is Wages.
Real Wages are the articles of use and consumption that the labourer received in return for his labour.
Nominal Wages are the portion he receives of these things reckoned in money.
The fund from which. wages are paid in any country consists of the articles required for the use and consumption of labourers which that country contains.
The proportion of this fund received by individuals must mainly depend on the num ber among whom the fund is divined.
The rate of wages in any country depends, there fore, not on the wealth whmh that country contains, hut on the proportion between its capital and it, po pulation.
As population has a tendency to increase faster than capital, wages can be prevented from falling to the lowest point only by adjusting the proportion of population to capital.
The lowest point to which wages can be perma nently reduced, is that which affords a barebe subsist enee to the labourer.
The highest point to whieh wages can be permanently raised is that which leaves to the capitalist just profit enough to make it worth his while to invest capital.
The variations of the rate of wages between these extreme points depending mainly on the supply of labour offered to the capitalist, the rate of uages is mainly determined by the sellers, not the buyers of labour.
The produce of labour and capital, after rent has been paid, is divided between the labourer and the capitalist, under the name of wages and profits.
Where there are two shares, each determines the other, provided they press equally upon one another.
The increase of the supply of labour, claiming reward, makes the pressure in the present case unequal, and renders wages the regulator of profits.
The restriction of the supply of food causes the fall of both profits and wages.
The increased expense of raising food enhances its price: labour, both agricultural and manufacturing, becomes dearer (without advantage to the labourer): this rise of wages causes profits to fall; and this fall brings after it a reduction of the labourer's share, or a fall of wages.
The fall of profits and wages is thus referable to the same cause which raises rent;—to an inequality in the fertility of soils.
Thus it appears that, owing to the inequality of soils, and the principle of increase in the number of consumers, the natural tendency of rent is to rise; and to rise in proportion to the increase in the number of consumers. The tendency of profits is to fall as rent rises, i. e. as the production of food becomes more expensive. The fall of profits brings after it, as a necessary consequence, the fall of wages; and the individual shares of wages are still further reduced by every increase of the numbers among whom the wages' fund is to be divided.
These are important truths, and by no means discouraging, if we know how to make use of them. There is no need hastily to suppose that our landowners must inevitably get all the wealth of society into their own hands, so that there will in time be only two classes in the state,—landowners and paupers. It is possible that this might happen, as it is possible that we may all die of famine from nobody choosing to be at the trouble of tilling the ground. The two cases are possible, and the catastrophes about equally probable. No one can deny the strong tendency to famine to which we are all liable unless we exert ourselves to avoid it; and the undue rise of rent, and fall of profits and wages, is quite as certainly avoided by moderate caution —by bringing natural laws to bear upon each other, and not (as some desire) a law of human will to control that which is beyond the reach of the unassisted human will.
Some who toil and earn but little recompense cry out upon the wealth of the landowners, and desire a law which shall forbid their receiving more than so much for a certain quantity and quality of land. A law that men should not die iu a famine would be as much to the purpose, The way to prevent men dying of hunger is to sow grain for them; and the way to prevent the landlords growing unduly rich is to provide more food;—whether by improving the methods of tillage at home, or inventing and improving productions of other kinds which may exchange for food from abroad. Another way is by making machinery (which does not eat and drink) supersede human labour, so that we may have the increased production without the accompanying consumption; but the most certain method of all, and that which is in the power of all, is to proportion tim number of consumers to the existing supply of food. As soon as this is done, rents will be stationary, and will be certain to fall after the next improvement in tillage or manufacture. Meantime, the landowner can no more help the rise of his rents than the poorest operative in the next town; and, in fact, not so much, if that operative is bringing up a large family to depreciate the value of labour, and increase the excessive pressure upon food. The landlord, meantime, declares truly that he is growing no richer. He is told that his rents have risen since such a time; but (from various causes) his tenants cannot pay the whole; and he is besides burdened with the maintenance of the indigent who have been pauperized by the undue depression of wages. No one would be more glad than he, to have his rents nominally lowered so that tie might receive the whole, and do what he pleased with it. No one would be more glad than he, if he be wise, at the tidings of fresh discoveries in science or inventions in art, or of new resources opened beyond sea, or of increased providence in the habits of the poorer classes, which should cause his income to fall with the price of food, but render his lessened income more secure.
It is of even greater consequence to ascertain the relative position of the other two parties, since any quarrel about their respective shares cannot but cause a diminution of that which is to be divided between them. Each party being dependent upon the other, any interruption of their harmony cannot but be injurious to both: but dissension is especially disastrous where, as in the present case, the dependence is unequal. The capitalists have the great advantage over the labourers of being able to wait longer for the adjustment of disputes which may arise between them. Deplorable as are the consequences to individuals and to society of living upon capital from the absence of revenue, the case of those who are driven to live upon their capital is, at least, better than that of the party which has no capital to live upon.
The consequence of this inequality of dependence is that power of a different kind is more frequently put in action by the more dependent than by the less dependent party. The power of combination to obtain a larger share of the subsistence fund is in the hands of both parties, and is occasionally used by both; but much more frequently by the labourers than by the capitalists. For this there are obvious reasons.
If the proportion of labour to capital be equal, there is little inducement to either party to quarrel with the other, as their shares of gain are balanced: but if any capitalists choose to press upon the labourers, it is to their own ultimate disadvantage, as well as that of the labourers; for there can never be a combination so extensive as to include all capitalists; and those who are not included will find it their interest to lower the prices of their commodities, paying the same wages as the united capitalists, and being content with the ordinary rate of profit. By means of this underselling, the extraordinary rate of profit is necessarily brought down, and the capitalists are just as they were at first, the reduction having fallen upon the wages of the labourer. Matters can seldom, however, proceed so far as to the infliction of this gratuitous injury. If the pro-portion of labour to capital be equal, a very short resistance of the labourers to the reduction of their wages suffices to make the capitatists repent of their endeavours to grasp more than their share: and such endeavours are consequently extremely rare where capital and labour are duly proportioned.
If there be a superabundance of capital, the capitalists are in no condition to gain any thing by combination. To pay high wages answers better to them than to live upon their capital. In such a case, therefore, the capitalists never combine.—Or rather,—and I say it with sorrow,— if such a case should arise, they would not combine. Such cases can scarcely be spoken of in this country as matters of actual experience, since there are but too few instances of capital being abundant in proportion to labour.
On the third supposition,—that labour abounds in proportion to capital,—there is no need for the capitalists to use their power of combination. They can obtain what they want without it. The labourers are the weaker party, inasmuch as they must have food, and depend on the capitalists for it:—not for the quantity;—that depends on themselves,—on the numbers they bring to divide a certain quantity;—and the capitalists can resist their claims no further than to secure the rate of profit, without which no capitalist would do business. Not for the quantity of food to each man do the labourers depend on the capitalists; but for the purchase of their labour at all; and therefore, the capitalists do not need to combine when labour superabonnds.
For the same reasons, the labourers do not need to combine when capital superabounds, They can naturally obtain as large a share of the subsistence fund as will leave ordinary profits to the capitalist: and this happens of course, as is well known from the examples of newly settled countries, and newly invented manufactures, where the profits of the capitalist are invariably prevented by the dearness of labour from much exceeding the ordinary rate.
In cases of equal proportion, the labourers run even a greater risk from a strike than the capitalists. Some of the capitalists will, if the balance be exact, withdxaw their capital from business rather than stand a strike; and thus is caused an immediate superabundance of labour, with all its disadvantages to the labourers. But if no capitalist withdraws, the waste of capital necessarily caused by a strike causes also a superabundance of labour; and thus also the labourers suffer for having destroyed the balance.
But when combination is resorted to in the absence of all other power, its results are the most disastrous to the weak party which employs it. The labourers who superabound are already at a disadvantage, which can only be increased by any resistance which helps to impoverish the capitalists. They may injure the capitalists by impairing the capitalists' share of the subsistence fund: but they injure themselves much more by impairing, at the same time, the labourers share. That such means of injuring capitalists are ever resorted to in such a condition of affairs proves most forcibly that the largest of the parties con-cerned is not yet fully aware how the case stands, and that a far greater power of competition with the capitalists is lodged with them than that which they are too ready to employ to the injury of both parties and the good of neither.
If it had been, indeed, true that, by any natu-ral laws of distribution, any class of society could be placed in a position of necessary and permanent inferiority of rights to any other class, all writers on the philosophy of society would have shrunk from relating any fables which must con-vey so sad a moral. But there is a very cheering moral involved in every melancholy story that we hear of the contentions of masters and men, and of the sufferings which thence arise. The fact is that, so far from the masters having any natural power,—even if they had the wish, —to oppress the working classes, the working classes hold a power which may make them the equals in independence of any class in society. That they have not yet used it is less their fault than their misfortune. Whether fault or mis-fortune, it is destined to be remedied, if we may trust to experience working its invariable work, and communicating that wisdom and power which can by no other means be gained. The only control over the price of labour resides with those who can control its quantity. Over-stock the market with labour, and the most com-passionate of capitalists can do nothing to pre-vent its being ill rewarded. Understock the market with labour, and the veriest miser that ever employed gold for profit cannot prevent la-bour fetching a high price. And with whom does it rest to overstock or understock the market with labour? With whom does it rest to deter-mine whether the subsistence fund which exists shall be divided among a moderate number or among a scrambling multitude? Most assuredly not with the capitalists but the labourers.
When the labouring class fully comprehends the extent of the power which it holds, — a power of obtaining not only its own terms from the capitalists, but all the necessaries and comforts of life, and with them the ease and dignity which become free-born men, they will turn their other power of combination to better purposes than those of annoyance and injury. The common plea of those labourers who already understand their own case is that there is little use in scattered individuals being careful to proportion their families to their means of subsistence, while the greater number multiply thoughtlessly, and prepare for new encroachments on the subsistence fund. The same plea has been in use for ever on the first proposal of any great social amelioration; and it has ever been found that ameliora-tion has followed with unexpected speed upon the virtuous efforts of scattered individuals. They work round to each other, they combine, They bring others into the combination, and these again bring more, till there are hundreds of followers for every leader, and for every follower there is a foe the less. Why should it not be so with this greatest of all ameliorations that has ever been proposed? If the working classes can still combine for objects which have been a thousand times proved unattainable or hurtful when attained, why should they not combine for purposes of providence and mutual support in a poses system of economy? Such combinations have already begun; for every society which has for its objects the economy of the resources of the working people, and the encouragement of provident habits, is a society for limiting the population within the means of subsistence. Many such associations are so well founded as to give assurance that they will be persevered in; if persevered in, it cannot be very long before some one class or band of labourers feels the benefits of prudence, and exhibits the truth that moderate self-denial in one direction brings means of rational indulgence in others: and when this happens, the work of amelioration will be fairly begun. The working men's day will be at hand, and no one will hail it more joyfully than the capitalists;— for willingly would they exchange such power as is given them by the helplessness of their la-bourers, for security against the waste of capital which is caused by the opposition of their workpeople and the pauperism of their dependents.
Combinations of labourers against capitalists (whatever other effects they may have) cannot se-cure a permanent rise of wages unless the supply of labour falls short of the demand;—in which case, strikes are usually unnecessary.
Nothing can permanently affect the rate of wages which does not affect the proportion of population to capital.
Legislative interference does not affect this proportion, and is therefore useless.
Strikes affect it only by wasting capital, and are therefore worse than useless.
Combinations may avail or not, according to the reasonableness of their objects.
Whether reasonable or not, combinations are not subjects for legislative interference; the law having no cognizance of their causes.
Disturbance of the peace being otherwise provided against, combinations are wisely therefore now left unregarded by the law.
The condition of labourers may be best improved,—
This is not the place in which to show how tremendous is the waste of capital in a turn-out; nor have I been able to do it in that one of my fables which treats of combinations of workmen. I felt myself bound to present the fairest instance, in order to show the badness of the principle of a strike in the best case; but I have the means of showing, if I had but the space, that the members of a combination are often—are commonly—the victims of a far more despotic tyranny than they themselves ascribe to the masters, and a more ruinous spoliation than the discontented suppose the rich desirous to inflict upon the poor. I trust and believe that there are many William Aliens among the that class of operatives; but I also believe that few of these are leaders of strikes. Allen was an unwilling leader of a strike; and there are many who see even more clearly than he did the hopelessness and mischievousness of the contest, who have either more selfishness to keep them out of it, or more nerve to make a protest against a bad principle, and a stand against a bad practice. I believe that the most intelligent and the best men among the working-classes now decline joining a turn-out; and it is very certain that not only the most ignorant, but the worst, are among the first to engage. The reasons for this will be sufficientlv obvious to those who consider what facilities these associations afford for such practices as ignorant and bad men like,—for meddling and governing, for rioting, for idling, and tippling, and journeying, and speechifing at other people's expense. No better occasion could be devised for exposing the simple, and timid, and unwary to be robbed, and jobbed, and made tools of by a few sharpers and idle busybodies. It is very certain that three or four individuals have often succeeded, for their own purposes, in setting three or four hundred, or thousand, better men than themselves at enmity with their masters. It is difficult to imagine a case of more spirit-rousing hardship than that of the labourer who is compelled or inveigled into a contest which he knows, or may know, to be bad in principle, and hopeless in its issue,—who must, against his will or his reason, give up a subsistence which is already too scanty, in order that he may find it still further reduced when he returns to it. In consideration of such cases, which everybody knows to be very common, I shall state a few facts, which may assist and strengthen the determination of some who may be striving against the now prevalent disposition to strike for wages. The circumstances of the time will excuse a disproportioned enlargement on a very obvious point.
In order to bring the principle of strikes to the test, we have only to ask whether they increase capital or check population?—one or other of which they must do if they are to benefit the struggling party. It is known to everybody that they do neither; but it is not so well known that they do the direct contrary,—that they not only waste capital, but increase the supply of labour, the very thing of which there is already too much. They do this by driving the capitalists to find those silent labourers who never ask subsistence or refuse their masters' bidding—the machines, which are the workmen's abhorrence. It is unreasonable as it is vain to abhor machinery; and that its use is facilitated by strikes will be regarded hereafter as one of the few compensating circumstanees which arise out of the miseries of such a struggle for power or for bread. But, however great may be the ultimate good of this issue, the issue is certainty the very reverse of that contemplated and desired by those who turn out. Yet the time is come for them to meet it; and they will do well to take heed to the state of the labour-market at this period.
After long depression and many fluctuations, it appears that there is a revival of a steady demand for labour. The condition of our capitalists is, however, different from what it was in most former periods of prosperity. They are now busy; but they work for very low profits in almost every branch of manufacture or trade. Their men must also work hard for little pay, till some of the many circumstances which tend to raise profits shall have occurred. Never, however, were our working-class less disposed to take the low wages which alone the masters are able to give. Combinations to secure a rise are everywhere spreading, and grand preparations are thus making for securing a fall. The low profits of the masters will not stand encroachment. There is a brisk foreign competition, which forbids trifling with any present demand. Under these circumstances, if our working men choose to stand idle, what remains to be done but to use machinery to the utmost extent that ingenuity can devise on the spur of a great occasion? The quantity of human labour already thus superseded is very considerable; and there will be more, in proportion to the failure of harmony between capitalists and labourers, till not a visible chance is left for the employment of half our working men in the way they themselves propose. Happy will it be for them if the usual consequences of the improvement of machinery follow in the extension of our manufactures, so that there may still be room for such as can learn a new business! and happy will it be for them if they have become convinced, in their time of hardship, that to moderate the supply of labour is the only way of securing its desired recompense!
The following case illustrates the method by which human labour is driven out of demand: it is only one of many which have arisen out of the tyranny of the leaders of strikes, who, not satisfied with turning out themselves, compel their weaker, but reluctant, brethren to be idle also. In the case in question, the turning out of the head spinners in a cotton factory, compelling the idleness of six or seven work-people subordinate to each spinner, has led the head spinner's master to find that he can do without him, and the six or seven subordinates to rejoice in their freedom from dependence on his movements.
Six or seven different machines are employed in the production of cotton-yarn from raw cotton. All but the last are called “preparation machinery,” and one person waits upon each. The office of this preparation machinery is to form the raw cotton into a thick and tender thread, called a “roving.” The office of the last machine is to twist and draw out the roving into a finer and stronger thread: this operation is called “spinning,” and the spun thread is “yarn.” This machine is called dm “hand-mule.” Hand-mules are worked in pairs, each pair requiring the head spinner above-mentioned to direct its operation, and two or more children to place the rovings in the machine, and piece the threads that break.
The head spinner, though paid in proportion to the superiority of his work, has always been the one to turn out; and his subordinates must go with him of necessity, however averse they might be to do so. It was not to be borne that the discontents of tim comparatively few should derange the whole manufacture, and deprive the many of their bread; and nothing could be more natural than for some expedient to be sought by which the masters and the subordinates might be made independent of the head spinners. Twenty years ago, attempts were made to invent some apparatus which might be attached to the mule, and discharge the spinner's task. The apparatus first used was either too complex or too uncertain in its operation to answer the purpose; and, as often as it failed, the spinners clapped their hands, believed the manufacture more in their power than ever, and advanced in their demands accordingly. They went somewhat too far in 1824, when they refused very high wages, and drove the Manchester capitalists to vigorous measures of self-defence. The requisite talent was sought and found for the object required; and, early in 1825, a patent for the “self-acting mule” was taken out, nothing being wanting to its efficacy but the simplification which time and practice were sure to bring, and which would lessen its cost so as to qualify it for common adoption. No sooner had it been set to work, and begun to gain reputation, than a great part of the establishment where it was in use was destroyed by fire, and the machine was not heard of for some months. As soon as it began to be again attended to, so great a stagnation of trade took place, that the spirit of the spinner was subdued: the master was unwilling to mortify him in his distress, and all mention of the self-acting mule was dropped. This was very hard upon the patentees, who had been originally forced into the business, and had spent, not only much time and pains, but a great deal of money on the invention. They rightly supposed, however, that the head spinners would give them their turn on the first opportunity. They went on improving and improving their invention, while awaiting another strike on the revival of trade. This happened at the close of 1829; and then several leading houses provided themselves with each a pair of self-acting mules, by way of trial: but the adoption of the machine went on languidly till the great strike of 1831 achieved its triumph. It is now used in upwards of fifty mills, and seems likely soon to be adopted in all others. The head spinners have not a chance against it; for it not only saves their wages, and leaves their subordinates at peace, but does their work better than they could do it themselves;— an unexpected result with which the perseverance of the inventors has been rewarded. The quantity of yarn is greater than could before be produced in the same time and with the same number of spindles: the yarn is of greater strength and more uniform quality: there is a material saving of waste in the subsequent processes, from the regularity with which the yarn is wound on the spindle; and, from the same cause, a greater quantity of a better fabric than before issues from the loom of the weaver.
This story preaches its own moral. Every one ought to be glad to hear of improvements in the comforts of mankind; but all would rather pay any other purchase-money for them than the subsistence of a useful and often suffering class of society. It is in the power of our work-ing class to provide that all such improvements shall henceforth arise otherwise than through their opposition, and for their destruction. With them rests the choice of controlling the labour-market on the one hand, and pauperism on the other.
If no moral reaches us from the long tragedy of pauperism which has been enacted before the eyes of malay generations, we are past teaching. For the last three generations, especially, the state of the indigent has been an object of primary attention to all classes in our society. Statesmen have legislated, magistrates have ad-ministered, the clergy have preached, tradesmen and manufacturers have contributed, the farmers have been burdened: almost the sole employment of women, next to the care of their own families, has been the charge of the poor; almsgiving has been the first virtue to which infant enthusiasm has been roused, and charity, in this sense, has been made the test of moral sincerity and religious proficiency. And what has all this done for society? The number of the indigent has increased from day to day, and at a perpetually increasing rate, till it has absorbed, in a legal charity alone, nine millions per annum of the subsistence-fund, which is the clear right of the independent labourer. It is no small consideration that the habitually indigent become, as a matter of course, as their doom, the most pro-fligate portion of society. But this fearful con-sideration is not all. We not only defraud the industrious classes of their due, now tempting and now forcing them down into a state of indigence, and by the same act condemning them to hopelessness and vice, but we, at the same time, put in motion an apparatus of moral evil among every class which has to communicate with the indigent, which would bear down the preaching of the twelve apostles themselves. If account could be taken of the unjust partialities of magistrates, of the abuse of power by open vestries, and the jobbing by select vestries; of the heart-wringing oppression sustained by the tradesman and farmer; of the open licentiousness and concealed fraud, the ungodly conspiracies and diabolical hatreds nourished by our system of legal charity, and the daily repeated, cruel injustice inflicted by our methods of public and private charity, we might well doubt whether some fiend had not been making sport of us under the holy semblance of charity. It may be doubted whether the most profligate tyranny ever broke or depraved so many hearts as the charities of our Christian nation. If our practices are to be judged by their fruits, there are none, next to slavery, for which we need so much pardon as for our methods of charity.
There is no use in pleading our good intentions. The fathers of the Inquisition are ever ready with their plea of good intentions. The parent who breaks the spirit, and thus annihilates the moral liberty of his child, does it with the best intentions. The manœuvrer tells twenty lies a-day with the best intentions. There is, perhaps, no crime in whose defence good intentions may not with sincerity have been pleaded. The question is why, with evidence that we were wrong, daily and hourly before our eyes, we did not mend our methods. Thence arises the moral of this dreary lesson, that virtue, whether beneficence or any other, does not consist in formal and arbitrary practices, but in conformity to vital principles. Without regard to this essential truth, virtue may turn to vice before we are aware; and as a proof of it, we have been doing the pleasure of fiends under a persuasion that we were discharging the duty of Christians. We have exercised self-denial in our charity: but so did Simeon Stylobates in his piety, when he lived on the top of a pillar. We have toiled and suffered in our charity: but so did the pilgrims who walked with peas in their shoes to the sepulchre. Their piety and their sufferings were a mockery of Him they worshipped; and our charity has proved a scandal to the religion we profess. What follows? Not that piety and charity are a mockery and a delusion; but that Simeon did not understand the one, and we have most assuredly mistaken the other.
One essential distinction between a comparatively rich and poor society is in the moral right which individuals have to dispose of their money in certain modes. Where capital abounds in proportion to the consumers, individuals are fully justified in giving away in whatsoever form and to whomsoever they please; as they give away that which leaves nobody destitute. But in a society where population abounds in proportion to capital, to give food and clothing to the idle while the industrious are debarred from earning it, is to take subsistence from him whose due it is, to give it to one who has no claim. Thus to violate justice can be no true charity. Where consumers abound in proportion to capital, it is obvious that the way to bestow most happiness is, not to take away one man's share to give it to another, but to do what is possible towards creating another share in such a way as not to cause more want. In other words, almsgiving is the mode of charity appropriate to one state of society, and the establishment of provident associations, and the encouragement of emigration, and especially of education, are the modes of charity appropriate to another state of society. We have need enough of charity in our present state;—with hundreds of thousands of paupers in our parishes, and of half-starved artizans in our towns, and broken-spirited labourers in our villages. We have need enough of charity,—of the time of such as have leisure, and of the attention of the thoughtful, and of the exertions of the active, and of the wealth of the opulent. All these will be too little for the removal of the evil which our own mistakes have caused. We have need enough of charity; and if we would learn how to apply it, there are those among the sufferers who can instruct us. There is in existence a letter from a poor operative living in a district where charities of food and clothing abound, entreating the influential parties whom he addresses to put an end to the almsgiving which leaves no chance of a just provision to the high-souled working man. There is in existence a petition from a body of agricultural labourers to the House of Lords, last year, praying for the abolition of legal charity which condemus the labourer to starvation or degradation. These documents are signs of the times which are not to be miataken, and which may well strike us silent with shame at our incessant complaints of the poor for having lost their spirit of independence, and become a degraded race. Where is our Christian charity, when we first wrest from them their independence, and then taunt them with the loss? when we invite them to encroach, and then spurn them for encroaching?
Even from this enormous evil, however, good is at this moment arising. The rapid, the appalling increase of the mischief has directed the general attention towards it; and the two grand principles with which we set out afford the sug-gestion of remedies which are actually in preparation. It is now many years since certain commissioners, appointed by the French government to investigate our pauper system, pronounced it the great political gangrene of England, which it was equally dangerous to remove and to let alone. The mischief has been on the increase ever since, and yet there is hope of cure. If it were not that we had sound principles to go upon, —if we had all this vice and misery on our hands to be got rid of we knew not how, our condition would indeed be deplorable. But, once having got hold of the truth that ours is a society where labour abounds in proportion to capital, we know at least how to look about for a remedy, and with what aim to direct our proceedings. We must lessen the inducements to indigence, (strange that such should exist!) by making tim condition of the pauper inferior to that of the independent labourer, and ensure its remaining universally so by appointing a rigid, impartial, and uniform administration of the funds of our legal charity. Every diminution of the inducements to indigence is necessarily an increase of the inducements to independence; both by giving the right bias to the inclinations of the labourer, and by saving a portion of the subsistence-fund.
In proportion to the savings effected in the subsistence-fund by a rigid administration of the legal charity, the surplus labour of our parishes will be absorbed; and if, by a wise scheme of emigration, the disproportion between our capital and labour can be still further reduced, a way will be open for the total abolition of a legal charity,—the must demoralizing agency, perhaps, which can be introduced into any state,—a curse beneath which no society can prosper. We shall then be at liberty to apply our charity wholly to that object which should now be uppermost with all the truly benevolent,—to prevent indigence instead of providing for it, in the full confidence that “accidental cases will be relieved by accidental succour.” There are many who believe that an immediate abolition of our legal charity would cause less misery than its long continuance: but there is happily no occasion to contemplate the alternative. There is a strong hope afforded by various instances of partial reformation that a way remains for us out of our difficulties,—toilsome and painful, no doubt, but practicable and safe;—a way of so rectifying the administration of our poor-laws as to give us the power of at length abolishing them. Honoured be the rulers who shall set us forward on this path; and blessed be every one who bestirs himself to remove obstructions by the substitution of a true for a spurious charity!∗
Here is the statement of the evil and of one of the appropriate remedies.
In a society composed of a natural gradation of ranks, some must be poor; i. e. have nothing more than the means of present subsistence.
Any suspension of these means of subsistence, whether through disaster, sickness, or decrepitude, converts the poor into the indigent.
Since indigence occasions misery, and disposes to vice, the welfare of society requires the greatest possible reduction of the number of the indigent.
Charity, public and private, or an arbitrary distribution of the subsistence-fund, has hitherto failed to effect this object; the proportion of the indigent to the rest of the population having increased from age to age.
This is not surprising, since an arbitrary distribution of the subsistence-fund, besides rendering consumption unproductive, and encouraging a mul-tiplication of consumers, does not meet the difficulty arising from the disproportion of numbers to the means of subsistence.
The small unproductive consumption occasioned by the relief of sudden accidents and rare infirmities is necessary, and may be justifiably provided for by charity, since such charity does not tend to the increase of numbers; but, with this exception, all arbitrary distribution of the necessaries of life is injurious to society, whether in the form of private almsgiving, public charitable institutions, or a legal pauper-system.
The tendency of all such modes of distribution having been found to be to encourage improvidence with all its attendant evils,—to injure the good while relieving the bad,—to extinguish the spirit of independence on one side, and of charity on the other,—to encourage peculation, tyranny, and fraud, —and to increase perpetually the evil they are meant to remedy,—but one plea is now commonly urged in favour of a legal provision for the indigent.
This plea is, that every individual born into a state has a right to subsistence from the state.
This plea, in its general application, is grounded on a false analogy between a state and its members, and a parent and his family.
A parent has a considerable influence over the subsistence-fund of his family, and an absolute control over the numbers to be supported by that fund; whereas the rulers of a state, from whom a legal provision emanates, have little influence over its subsistence-fund, and no control whatever over the number of its members.
If the plea of right to subsistence be grounded on the faults of nahonal institutions, the right ought rather to be superseded by the rectification of those institutions, than admitted at the cost of perpetuating an institution more hurtful than all the others combined.
What then must be done to lessen the number of the indigent now so frightfully increasing?
The subsistence-fund must be employed productively, and capital and labour be allowed to take their natural course: i. e. the pauper system must, by some means or other, be extinguished.
The number of consumers must be proportioned to the subsistence-fund. To this end, encouragements to the increase of population should be withdrawn, and every sanction given to the preventive check; i. e. charity must be directed to the enlightenment of the mind instead of to the relief of bodily wants.
If not adopted speedily, all measures will be too late to prevent the universal prevalence of poverty in this kingdom, the legal provision for the indigent now operating the extinction of our national resources at a perpetually increasing rate.
The objects of voluntary emigration, directed by the state, are three-fold:—
To fulfil the first of these objects, the colony must be so located as to insure health and abundance to its members; and it must be so organized as to secure the due co-operation of labour and capital.
To fulfil the second object, the removal of each individual must be less costly than his maintenance at home would be: and the selection must be made with a view to lessening the amount of human pro-ductiveness at home.
To fulfil the third object, the colonists must be selected with a view to their productiveness, both as regards capital and population: which includes a moral fitness to compose an orderly society.
It follows from all these considerations that a new settlement should be composed of young, healthy, and moral persons; that all should not be labourers, nor all capitalists; and that there should be a sufficient concentration of their numbers on the new lands to ensure a facility of exchanges.
All other proposed remedies must be subjected to, as this must be regulated by, the test, whether they assist in proportioning labour and capital. The Home Colonization system here fails, on the double ground that it ensures a smaller return to capital and labour than could be had abroad, and serves as a direct premium on population.
Home colonies may afford a temporary relief to a redundant population, and also increase the productiveness of the lands which they appropriate; but this is done by alienating capital from its natural channels; and with the certainty of ultimately injuring society by increasing the redundancy of population over capital.
Home colonization then, though less injurious than the unproductive distribution of the charityfund, is inferior to foreign colonization, inasmuch as the one yields temporary benefit to a few at the expense of ultimate injury to many; and the other produces permanent benefit to all.
All provisions for rewarding forethought and economy, and especially all for the diffusion of sound moral and political knowledge, approve themselves by this test. All contrivance and care in the production and economy of capital approve themselves also; but Emigration is conspicuous in its merits, since it not only immediately reaches the seat of the evil in the mother country, but affords the greatest of bless-ings to the colonized regions. If regulated by a due regard to the infallible test, it is scarcely possible to conceive of an arrangement more apt to all the purposes of society. Where it has failed, the reason of failure has commonly been that one link in the chain of operating causes has been wanting. Land and labourers cannot mutually prosper without the capital which has too often been deficient. We have not yet made the experiment of sending out small societies completely organized, and amply provided to settle down at once in a state of sufficient civilization to spare the mother-country all further anxiety about the expedition. It can be no objection to this that it abstracts capital and the most useful species of labour from the mother-country: since the capital so sent out will yield a more rapid and ample increase to us in a new market for commerce than it could have done at home; and the labour is that which we least want at home,—however good its quality may be,—and that which we most want in our possessions on the other side the world. Such an organized society, however, would be able to bear a much larger proportion of children than a similar society could take charge of at home,— the labour of children being of as much more value than their maintenance abroad, as it is less at home. If for every old person naturally belonging to such a company, left behind, two children were taken out, this country would be immediately compensated for the abstraction of prime labour, and a provision would be made for the future contraction of the population. All details, however, from the greatest to the least, will be arranged with infinitely less trouble than our parochial mismanagements have cost us when w have once, as a nation, surveyed the dreary haunts of our pauperized classes, and then taken a flight in spirit to the fair regions abroad which invite their labour with a sure promise of rich recompense. The time must come when it will be a matter of wonder how we could so long be oppressed with a redundancy of labour at home, while our foreign lands were dreary only for want of labour, while an open sea lay between, while we had shipping to spare to traverse it, and while we were spending nine millions a year in the fruitless support of our paupers, and as a premium on the production of yet more and more labour. The best plea for us in that day will be that we did not understand our own case. By the time we have spent nine millions, or the half of nine millions, in relieving our labour market, we may have discovered how inferior is that superstitious, spurious charity wbich doles out bread at its own door to an unlawful petitioner because to give bread was once charity, and that enlightened, genuine benevolence which causes plenty to spring in the far corners of the world, nourishing at home the ancient household virtues which have been well nigh starved among us, hut which are not dead.
What decision does our test give out in regard to Ireland? That, as a redundancy of population is her universally acknowledged curse, it is unreasonable to expect relief from the introduction of a legal charity,—the most efficacious of all premiums on population. The conclusion is so obvious, that it can be got rid of only by proving either that a redundant population is not the great grievance of Ireland, or that there may be a legal charity which does not act as a premium on population. Where are the materials for either the one proof or the other?
Whatever affects the security of property, or intercepts the due reward of labour, impairs the subsistence-fund by discouraging industry and fore-thought.
Partnership tenantcies affect the security of property by rendering one tenant answerable for the obligations of all his partners, while he has no control over the management of their portions.
A gradation of landlords on one estate has the same effect, by rendering one tenant liable to the claims of more than one landlord.
The levying of fines on a whole district for an illegal practice going on in one part of it has the same effect, by rendering the honest man liable for the malpractices of the knave.
The imposition of a church establishment on those who already support another church, intercepts the due reward of labour, by taking from the labourer a portion of his earnings for an object from which he derives no benefit.
The practice of letting land to the highest bidder, without regard to former service, or to the merits of the applicants, intercepts the due reward of the labourer, by decreeing his gains to expire with his lease.
All these practices having prevailed in Ireland, her subsistence-fund is proportionably impaired, though the reduction is somewhat more than com-pensated by the natural growth of capital.
While capital has been growing much more slowly than it ought, population has been increasing much more rapidly than the circumstances of the country have warranted; the consequences of which are, extensive and appalling indigence, and a wide spread of the moral evils which attend it.
An immediate palliation of this indigence would be the result of introducing a legal pauper-system into Ireland; but it would be at the expense of an incalculable permanent increase of the evil.
To levy a poor-rate on the country at large would be impolitic, since it would only increase the primary grievance of an insufficiency of capital, by causing a further unproductive consumption of it.
To throw the burthen of a pauper-system on absentees would be especially unjust, since they bear precisely the same relation to the wealth of their country as its resident capitalists.
In the case of Ireland, as in all analagous cases, permanent relief can be effected only by adjusting the proportions of capital and population; and tlus must be attempted by means suited to her peculiar circumstances.
The growth of capital should be aided by improvements in agricultural and domestic economy, and by the removal of political grievances; from which would follow a union in place of an opposition of interests.
Population should be reduced within due limits,
In the present emergency, by we-conducted schemes of emigration; and
Permanently, by educating the people till they shall have become qualified for the guardianship of their own interests.
A sameness in the natural laws of distribution exactly reverses the order of possession in new countries, i. e., in those where capital abounds in proportion to population. There the landowner (if any one finds it worth his while to be a landowner without being either a capitalist or a labourer at the same time) gains no real rent till the best land is all under cultivation, and then very little till a third degree is resorted to. The capitalist, meanwhile, makes less than the labourer; or would gain less if he were not, like the landowner, a labourer also. Where labour is so dear, all are labourers; and the labourer, by a very natural process, soon becomes a capi-talist and a landowner; and then he may chance to learn what a strange thing it seems to a man from the mother-country to let land of a fine quality for no better rent than a small share of the produce; and how vexatious it is, after having reaped splendid returns to capital, to have to pay away, in the purchase of labour, all but little more than the ordinary profits of stock.
The want of a due consideration of the difference in relative condition of labourers at home and labourers in new countries has led to some serious errors∗ in the formation and execution of some of our plans of colonization. Such a scheme as that of penal colonization could never have been adopted if the case of the working class in both countries had been understood. Besides the many other objections which might be and have been forcibly urged, which might remain the insurmountable one that labour is better rewarded in a new colony than at home. It does not appear that any arbitrary severity, short of the infliction of such life-long misery as no crime can deserve, can counteract the natural law by which the labourer is more prosperous in our penal colonies than in England. They are places of privilege, and the carrying him there is putting him in a condition of privilege, sooner or later, however severely we may punish him for any terminable period. This is so notoriously the case, that it has become matter of very serious consideration how the lot of the convict can be rendered harder, and be made known at home to be so; and arrangements have been made, within a short period, by which the disproportion in the lot of the innocent and the guilty is considerably lessened. Still, however far the convict may be placed below the virtuous emigrant in the scale of comfort, no power can, in the present state of our labour-market, prevent his being much better of than the independent labourer at home. The power of rulers may ordain chains, whipping, and other penalties to the convict; but it cannot prevent his having, during a pressing demand for his labour, that abundance of the necessaries of life which the virtuous labourer cannot obtain at home. Bob Castle∗ would not now, perhaps, he able to purchase an estate on which his honest brother Frank was a labourer; but Bob, however he might have been punished for seven or fourteen years, could not but have a fairer prospect before him al the end of that time than honest Frank would have had in England. This necessity forms, of itself, a conclusive argument against penal colonization as a secondary punishment. That mode of punishment can never command respect or success which wanders so far from the principle of retribution as to inflict studied miseries as a set-off against advantages which cannot be excluded.
The objects of penal colonization are—
There has hitherto been an entire failure of all these objects: and no wonder; since,—
The junction of penal with voluntary emigration tends equally to disappoint the purposes of the one, and to extinguish the benefits of the other; since convict labourers find themselves in a state of privilege, in a region where their labour procures them large rewards; and new settlers find their community deeply injured by the vice and disease consequent on the introduction of a convict population.
Before closing this part, it may be well to observe that much vain reluctance to acknowledge the two grand principles which primarily regulate the distribution of wealth, arises from too small an allowance having been asked for subordinate influences, which may justify a much greater degree of hopefulness respecting the condition of an advaueed country than some economists have ventured to indulge. It is no wonder that the kind-hearted turn away, and refuse to listen to a doctrine which is thought to forbid much hope that the whole of any society can be comfortably provided with the necessaries of life. It is no wonder that the timid cease from trying to lop off evils, if they must believe that every head of the social hydra will grow again,—that for every redundancy drawn off there will be a speedy overfilling. All experience of humanity contradicts such forebodings: and, though it would assuredly be our duty to make our own generation happier than the last, even under the certainty that the next must fall back again, it is much more animating to believe, as we are justified in doing, that every advance is a pledge of a further advance; that every taste of comfort, generated to the poor man by his own exertions, stimulates the appetite for more. It has ever been found that, when men have learned to prefer wheaten bread to potatoes, it is more likely that their children should be taught to seek butchers' meat than allowed to fall back to potatoes. The father who has worked his way up into a glazed and tiled cottage, brings up his children to fear the mud hovel in which they were born. If we do but apply ourselves to nourish the taste for comfort in the poor,—to take for granted the most, instead of the least, that they ought to require, there is little fear but that, whenever circum-stances allow, they will fall into our way of thinking, and prefer a home of comfort, earned by forethought and self-denial, to herding together in a state of reckless pauperism. With every increase of resources, let a vigorous exer-tion be made to rouse the complacency and exalt the tastes of the labouring class, and it will assuredly he found, in the interval before a new access of labour can be brought into the market, that the condition of the class has improved as a matter of theory, as well as practice, and that it must go hard with them but they will keep it up.
All experience warrants this statement. There can be no question that the preventive check has largely superseded the positive in all advancing societies. There can be no doubt of the increased providence of the middling classes, and the enlargement of the domestic requirements of the poor, even though wars, famine, and pestilence have nearly ceased to make the awful vacancies in which the wants and desires of the survivors could expand. Though in some unhappy districts where the visitations of want have extinguished the moral check, multitudes still herd together, more like brutes than human beings, it is certain that there is a larger demand among the working classes of England for better tbod, clothing, habitations, and furniture, than their fathers thought of requiring. If this has taken place notwithstanding all the bad policy, public and private, with which we have weakened the spirit and the power of independence, there is ample reason for confidence in an accelerated progress in proportion as public and private influence shall work in an opposite direction. Since every one can, many will assist in this noble work; assured that not a single effort can be lost, and that its successful result will extend far beyond the present generation. Few are now found to advocate that species of prospective benevolence which acts by long-reaching pecuniary bequests; but it does not follow that benevolence may not be prospective. Let it extend its view to the remotest ages within ken of the human imagination. Let it do this by promoting the welfare of the parents of future generations;—a wide field enough, if we lived but for charity.
[∗]It is well known that there are persons in this country, as in France and elsewhere, who hold the opinion that the evils of unequal distribution would be annihilated by aumhilating the distinctions of rent, profits, and wages; making the whole society the sole landowner and capitalist, and all its members labourers. It is impossible to doubt the benevolent intentions of the leading preachers of this doctrine, whose exertions have originated in sympathy with the most suffering portion of the commumty; but it is equally impossible to their opponents to allow that any arbitrary arrangements of existing resources can exclude want, while the primary laws of proportion are left uncontrolled. When the advocates of a common stock man show that their system augmeuts capital and regulates population more effectually than the system under which individual propmty is held, their pretensions will be regarded with more favour than they have hitherto engaged. At present, it is pretty evident that in no way is capital so little likely to be taken care of as when it belongs to every budy,— i. e, to nobody; and that, but for the barriers of individual rights of property, the tide of populotion would flow in with an overwhelming forte. There may be all age to crone when the institution of property shall cease with the occasions for it: but such an age. is barely within our ken. Meantime, our pauper system exhibits the consequences of a promise of maintenance without a restriction of nnmbers by the state. If it were possible now to establish commenstock institutions which should include the entire conmmmty, they would soon become so many woikhouses. or trouper barracks. If any one doubts this. let him ask hlmself how capital is to he husbanded and cherished when it is nobody's interest to take care of it. and how population is to be regulated when even the present insufficient restraints are taken away. If edueatlon is to supply the deficieney of other stimuli and restraints, let us have education in addition. We want it enough as an additiom before we can think of trying it as a substitution. We must see our fathers of families exemplary” in providing for their own offspring before they can be trusted to labour and deny themselves from an abstract sense of duty. As for the main principle of the ohjections to the abolition of proprietorship, it is contained in the following portion of one of my summaries of principles:—
[∗]If a rebuke were needed for despondency respecting the prospects of society, it might be found in the experi-ence of the change which a few months have wrought in the popular convictions as to the true direction of charity. Fifteen months ago, it required some resolution to give so much pain to kind hearts as was occasioned by such exposures as those contained in “Cousin Marshall” and yet more to protest against poor-laws for Ireland. The publications of the Poor-Law Commissioners have since wrought powerfully in the right direction. Conviction has flashed from mind to mind; and now we hear from all quarters of Provident and Friendly Societies, of Emi-gration, of parish struggles for the rectification of abuses, of the regulation of workhouses, the shutting up of soup and blanket charities, and the revision of charitable con-stitutions, with a view to promote the employment of labour rather than the giving of alms. The extent of the change of opinion in the same time with regard to poor-laws for Ireland is scarcely less remarkable. On no subject has mistake been more prevalent, and never has it more rapidly given way before the statement of principles and facts. The noblest charity, after all, would be a provision for the regular statement, in a popular form, of principles and facts of like importance. When shall we have a Minister of Public Instruction who will be the angel of this new dispensation? It is for the people to say when.
[∗]It is incumbent on me to advert to the ill-success of one method of supplying labour to the Australian colonies, which I have represented in much too favourable a light in my tale of “Homes Abroad.” I find that, though I have pointed out (pp. 54, 55) the leading objections to the plan of indenturing servants to colonial settlers, I have represented the issue of such an experiment as more prosperous than it has been proved in fact. The true state of the case will be learned from the following extract from “Papers relating to the Crown Lands and Emigration to New South Wales,” printed by order of the House of Commons, October, 1831.
[∗]See Homes Abroad.