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These articles first appeared in the Dictionnaire d’Économie Politique, ed. Guillaumin and Charles Coquelin (Paris: Guillaumin, 1852) and were translated into English and included in Lalor’s Cyclopedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (Chicago: M.B. Carey, 1899) in 3 vols.
The French political economists of the the 19th century, or “the economists” as they liked to call themselves, are less well known than the classical school which appeared in England at the same time. The French political economists differed from their English counterparts on a number of grounds: the radicalism of their support for free markets, the founding of their beliefs on doctrines of natural rights and natural law, and the intellectual debt they owed to Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832). Some of their leading figures were Say, Charles Comte, Charles Dunoyer, Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850), Charles Coquelin, Joseph Garnier, Hippolyte Passy, Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912), and Léon Faucher.
Joseph Garnier (1813-81) was a professor, journalist, politician, and activist for free trade and peace. He came to Paris in 1830 and came under the influence of Adolphe Blanqui, who introduced him to economics and eventually became his father-in-law. Garnier was a pupil, professor, and then director of the École supérieure de commerce de Paris, before being appointed the first professor of political economy at the École des ponts et chaussées in 1846. Garnier played a central role in the burgeoning free-market school of thought in the 1840s in Paris. He was one of the founders of L’Association pour la liberté des échanges and the chief editor of its journal, Libre échange; he was active in the Congrès de la paix; he was one of the founders along with Guillaumin of the Journal des économistes, of which he became chief editor in 1846; he was one of the founders of the Société d’économie politique and was its perpetual secretary; and he was one of the founders of the 1848 liberal broadsheet Jacques Bonhomme. Garnier was acknowledged for his considerable achievements by being nominated to join the Académie des sciences morales et politiques in 1873 and to become a senator in 1876. He was author of numerous books and articles, among which include Introduction à l’étude de l’Économie politique (1843); Richard Cobden, les ligueurs et la ligue (1846); and Congrès des amis de la paix universelle réunis à Paris en 1849 (1850). He edited Malthus’s Essai sur le principe de population (1845); Du principe de population (1857); and Traité d’économie politique sociale ou industrielle (1863).
For additional reading see the following in the Library:
In the Forum:
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 1 Abdication-Duty. Chapter: ARITHMETIC
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ARITHMETIC, Political. Three different meanings are attached to this word, which was more used during the last century, than in our day, and which is rarely found in contemporary political economy. Some use it in a rather vague way, applying it to reflections upon social economy in general, or more especially to researches on population, agriculture, etc.; others employ it as a synonym for the science of statistics, calling to its aid political economy, to explain the causes and significance of the facts established by figures; to others still, it means simply the calculations and processes, arithmetical or algebraic, by the aid of which, from these facts, inductions and conclusions are formed which have not been directly established, but which are admitted by way of analogy, proportionality or probability.
—Arthur Young published under this title a work in which there are scarcely any figures, and which treats of the causes which, in his time, had made agriculture flourish in Great Britain, and of the causes which stood in the way of the advance of that great industry in other lands. His French translator, Freville, compiled from a work of Arbuthnot, also translated from the English, a volume, under the same title, upon the utility of large farms, and another volume without the name of the author, likewise translated from the English, treating of the condition of agriculture in the British Islands. The term political arithmetic was therefore used by Young and his translator in the first sense.
—It is in the last sense, however, that it is used by J. B. Say, who has devoted a chapter to it in his Cours, (part 9, chap. 3.) It is in this last sense that it should be used in order to avoid confusion in the terminology of economical science.
—M. Moreau de Jonnès in his Eléments de statistique, made political arithmetic, understood in the sense of J. B. Say, one of the two methods of statistics. He terms it the method of induction in contradistinction to the method of exposition which he recommends by way of preference, and which consists in registering all the numerical data, that constitute the elements of a given subject, in grouping, combining and even reducing them, or, to speak more correctly, in co-ordinating without altering them.
—When Vauban, at the commencement of the 18th century, estimated the agricultural products and the revenue of France, upon the basis of the investigations which he had made in a small number of localities; when Lavoisier, in 1790, calculated from the number of plows the extent of land under cultivation, and the amount of production and consumption in France; when Lagrange estimated the consumption of food by the whole population on the basis of that of a soldier, by supposing that one-fifth of the inhabitants were under ten years of age, and that two children and one woman consumed only as much as one man; when Necker, not venturing to undertake a general census, in 1784, calculated the number of inhabitants from the number of births, by adopting the ratio of one birth to every 25 inhabitants; when Chaptal, in 1818, gave the extent of arable lands, of vineyards, meadows and forests of the whole of France, at a seventh of the surveyed territory, and starting from the hypothesis that the other six-sevenths were identical in extent, with the first, as well in natural quality as in the uses made of them. Vauban, Lavoisier, Lagrange, Necker and Chaptal were workers in political arithmetic. When Arthur Young hit upon the idea of cutting up the map of France, estimating the parts and drawing conclusions from the notes he had been able to make upon certain localities, he pushed this method to the limits of possibility. "When one studies," says M. Moreau de Jonnès "the results which Vauban and Lavoisier have obtained by these strange processes, we are astonished to find in them all the characteristics of truth, and we are tempted to believe that there are men of genius who are endowed with the prescience of numbers and whose penetrating minds reach their object even following a vicious method. We can not refuse this preëminence to Necker, who was guided by the example of two distinguished statisticians, Messance and Montyon, and who surrounded himself with all the data necessary to eliminate error."
—We can easily see to what errors these calculations applied to the facts established by statistics might lead, and understand by the use to which they have sometimes been put, the discredit into which the works of certain statisticians, quite unworthy of the name, have fallen. It would be very wrong to confound with such men those who collect facts with intelligence, perseverance and honesty; who correct one method by the other; who use the processes of induction and the rule of three only with the greatest circumspection; and reason solely upon facts or figures drawn from a good source; who draw conclusions only from the particular to the general, taking local or even accidental facts and applying them to a whole country or an entire epoch.
—A writer who respects himself should have nothing to do with political arithmetic, unless he has no other means of calculation, and in this case itself, it is his duty to be sure of the solidity and exactness of the bases upon which he grounds his reasoning. This, several writers or publicists, of our day, who have discussed facts relative to poverty or other delicate questions of social economy, seem to have forgotten.
—There is a branch of arithmetic which has been remarkably developed, and which to-day constitutes a science apart. We mean the calculus of probabilities, that is to say the application of calculation to questions of insurance, of life annuities.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 1 Abdication-Duty. Chapter: CONSUMPTION OF WEALTH
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CONSUMPTION OF WEALTH. I. The consumption of wealth is one of the great divisions of political economy, according to J. B. Say, who is followed here by several other economists, authors of general systematic treatises on the subject. Storch, de Tracy, James Mill, M'Culloch, Florez Estrada, Skarbek, Dutens and Droz. This last part of the science treats of all questions relating to the employment and use of acquired wealth, either in production or in the satisfaction of the wants of the person or of the family of the producer, and also questions connected with the public outlay and the resources necessary to meet that outlay, viz., taxes and loans. Hence there are two subdivisions of the subject, one treating of questions relating to private consumption, and the other of questions relating to public consumption.
—These two kinds of consumption have themselves been subjected to subdivision. In accord with J. B. Say and Adam Smith, reproductive consumption has been defined as advances made to production; and unproductive consumption, as not only all kinds of consumption that are a pure loss, but those destined to satisfy the wants and the pleasures of man, in contradistinction to reproductive consumption. The same distinction has been made in the case of public consumption; but a somewhat different sense has been attached to the words here.
—Rossi did not admit the subdivision consumption in his teaching. In the first lesson of his published Course, he says: "We have studied the science in its two great divisions, the production and distribution of wealth; and, if we have not specially concerned ourselves with a third branch, which is called in the books consumption, it is because we consider this branch included in the other two. What is called productive consumption is nothing else than the employment of capital, the consumption sought to be called unproductive—taxes—enters directly into the subdivision distribution of wealth; the rest belongs to hygiene and morals."
—Rossi is right, in certain respects. Productive consumption is, indeed, the employment of capital, as we have just said, and taxes are one of the parts of the national revenue, expended in a more or less productive and legitimate manner. It is also quite true that political economy should rely on hygiene and morals when it warrants this or that employment of private wealth; but this is no argument against grouping the phenomena of the consumption of wealth together, as well as those of the production, circulation, exchange and distribution of wealth, the better to understand them by comparison and analogy. Properly speaking, political economy exists, as a whole, either in the doctrine of production or in that of exchange; but we must not forget that it is by classification of knowledge that we succeed in more clearly comprehending what it is given to man to know.
—II. Nature of reproductive and non-reproductive Consumption and of private Consumption. To consume is to make use of the values inherent in products, but to make use of products is to transform their utility and its resultant value, or to change it, or to destroy it altogether. To produce is not to create matter, but so to dispose it as to endow it with utility and so to consume is not to destroy matter (a thing as impossible as it is to create it): it is to transform or destroy the qualities which render matter useful and exchangeable. The importance, therefore, of consumption should not be valued so much by the quantity or dimensions of the matter consumed as by the value which it represents.
—Everything produced is intended for consumption; and why should a price be put on, or a value given to, a useless thing? Consumption is the only object of production, and every product is consumed; that is to say, its utility is enjoyed, and in this enjoyment is found the recompense for the trouble expended in producing it; for, if the producer does not himself consume the thing which he has produced, he consumes that which he receives in exchange for it.
—The slowness or rapidity with which different kinds of consumption take place does not change their nature: the jewel which lasts for centuries, the garment which lasts for years, the fruit or immaterial product which lasts but an hour, all lose their value in analogous ways.
—Exported products should be considered as consumed; for by exportation they become, so to speak, raw material used in the manufacture of other products. In like manner, if we were estimating the value of the production of a country, its imports should be included.
—Consumption has been classed with reference to its objects and the returns obtained from it. J. B. Say has termed unproductive or sterile the consumption which has for its object the well-being resulting from a satisfied want, and reproductive consumption that which is devoted to the production of an amount of wealth equal or superior to the value consumed, and which constitutes a real exchange, in which one gives acquired wealth or the services of implements of labor, land, labor or capital, to acquire new wealth. J. B. Say was not mistaken in the value of these expressions; he understood perfectly well that a consumption which satisfies our wants is neither unproductive nor sterile, since it produces a satisfaction which is a real good; but he employs these expressions for want of better. This nomenclature has been generally adopted. No great objection can be made to the expression reproductive; as to the other, unproductive, it does not seem to have been successfully replaced by sterile or destructive, which Dutens proposes but could we not say with less inexactness, non-reproductive consumption?
—Senior proposes to call that consumption productive which is intended for the support of producers, and unproductive only that which has not this object in view.
—Reproductive consumption is nothing else than production. We shall therefore refer the reader to that word, and limit ourselves here to the consumption which results from the employment of capital.
—But, outside of industrial phenomena proper, we have to consider the total of consumption, especially nonproductive; consumption proper, private consumption.
—Here arises the question of determining those kinds of consumption which are the more desirable and judicious.
—The question would not be difficult if the decision had to be made between productive and non-productive consumption. The former evidently is preferable because it increases the wealth of the country, since it gives birth to subsequent products, while the characteristic mark of other kinds of consumption is that they furnish enjoyment to no one but the consumer. But what are productive and unproductive consumption? M'Culloch answers by the just observation that the question has been obscured, by considering the kind of consumption, while the results should rather have been considered. "Evidently," he says, "it is not enough, in order to prove that a certain quantity of wealth has been employed productively, to say that it has been expended in improving the soil, digging a canal, etc., for this wealth may have been applied without judgment, or in such a manner that it can not be reproduced; and, on the other hand, it is not sufficient proof that a certain amount of wealth has been employed unproductively, to say that it has been expended in carriages and in pleasures; for the desire to incur these expenses may have been the original cause of the production of the wealth, and the desire to incur expenses of the same kind may involve, as a consequence, the production of a still greater amount of wealth. If we wish, then to arrive at an exact conclusion on such questions, we should carefully examine, not only the immediate but the remote consequences of the expense; affirming that it is productive when, by direct or indirect action, it gives occasion to the reproduction of an identical or greater amount of wealth, and unproductive when this is not completely replaced."
—According to J. B. Say, the most judicious and desirable consumption is that which satisfies real wants, which is slow rather than rapid. Slow consumption had already been recommended by Adam Smith. It is recommended by the greater number of economists. J. B. Say understands, by real wants, not only those of prime necessity, but also those which civilization gives rise to.
—Senior remarks that certain things are susceptible only of unproductive consumption. Such, for example, are laces, embroideries, jewels and other ornaments which do not protect the person against the rigor of the weather. He places in the same category tobacco and other stimulants, the least evil of which, he says, is that frequently they are not harmful. Senior further observes that the distinction between consumers is drawn with still less difficulty than the distinction between their consumption. All men being at the same time consumers more or less productive and unproductive, each individual may be put in the one class or the other according as the greater part of his expenses belong to one kind of consumption or the other. Besides, he adds, every personal expense which goes beyond what is strictly necessary is not absolutely unproductive.
—Florez Estrada, having, with J. B. Say, spoken in praise of the consumption which serves to satisfy real wants, and of slow consumption, or that of durable wealth, also recommends consumption in common, in which certain expenses are avoided, and with which, relatively speaking, the greatest possible amount of enjoyment can be procured.
—Although the preceding observations are not without value, they yet show that it is impossible to fix the measure of individual expense. Consumers, therefore, are alone capable of being, and should be, the sole judges as to how much they shall consume. Doubtless a certain number may squander their property; but the greater number endeavor to increase it. Good sense enables every man to decide whether a want is real or imaginary, and whether it ought to be satisfied or not. The man who buys superfluities will, as Franklin makes "Poor Richard" say, end by selling necessaries; but to distinguish the superfluous from the necessary there is no aid except that afforded by a good moral education and sound sense.
—A word here on consumption of articles purchased on credit. Credit-consumption, as a means of supporting an individual or a family, can be justified only by unavoidable necessity. Buying on credit is the cause of greater outlay, of higher prices of goods, of excessive profit by the seller at the expense of the buyer, and, later, of the insolvency, discouragement, immorality and dissipation of the consumer.
—III. The statistical law of Consumption. Consumption is not, as Sismondi said it was when he objected to the employment of machines, a fixed, invariable quantity. It is as elastic as the wants of man, and these are limited only by the means of satisfying them. But these means, once given, satisfy more wants in proportion as they may purchase more products, and, consequently, as the price of the products is low.
—This has been observed whenever, through decrease of import duties or other taxes, or through progress in manufacturing, the prices of products have been diminished in a noticeable degree. In 1824 coffees from the colonies, on reaching England, paid one shilling duty; one and six pence if from India; and two shillings, from foreign countries. Huskisson reduced these duties one-half; and in 10 years the consumption had quadrupled, and increased from 3,000,000 to 32,000,000 pounds. At this same epoch, and after the reforms of Sir Robert Peel, many similar phenomena were observed. In 1839 postal reform was introduced; instead of one shilling average postage on a letter, a sum a little less than one-sixteenth of that amount was paid. The consequence was that the number of letters had quadrupled in 1847, and rose from 1,252,000, in 1839, to 4,837,000, in 1847.
—This phenomenon is easily explained. It depends on this, that the low price of products and services enables the lower classes, which are the most numerous, to extend their consumption. In reality, as Adam Smith remarked, almost all the capital of every country is distributed among these classes in the shape of wages; and, in addition, they spend the income of their little capital.
—IV. Producer and Consumer—Importance of the Consumer. Consumption, in the last analysis, is the only object, the only end of production, and we should never occupy ourselves with the interest of the producer except in so far as it is necessary to advance the interest of the consumer. Adam Smith lays down this fundamental maxim as self-evident, but he merely enunciates it incidentally in discussing the mercantile system. And, indeed, every man is a consumer; his interest is the general interest, the interest of the greatest number, the interest of the poorest, the interest of producers taken all together as a body; while the producers are subdivided into an indefinite number of classes, with different, special and multifarious interests. If privileges are granted to these they can not be granted equally. Some will be benefited at the expense of others, and at the expense of the mass of consumers. Liberty alone is capable of doing justice to all interests, and the only remuneration to which the various branches of production have a right, is that which they can draw from the trunk of consumption.
—It is to be regretted that the founder of the science of political economy did not give a demonstration of the proposition referred to in the preceding paragraph. Frederic Bastiat more than once undertook to prove it. In the first pages of his Sophismes économiques he brought out clearly the natural antagonism existing between the interests of producers and consumers, and the social necessity of protecting the latter from the retrograde tendencies of the former. "Let us take," he says, "a producer of any class, what is his immediate interest? It consists in two things: 1, that the number of persons occupied in the same industry as himself shall be as small as possible; 2, that the greatest possible number of persons shall demand the product of his kind of labor, which is expressed more briefly by political economy in the following terms: that the supply shall be very limited, and the demand very great; in other words, limited competition and an unlimited market.
—What, on the other hand, is the immediate interest of the consumer? That the supply of the product in question shall be great, and the demand limited. Since these two interests are in direct opposition, one of them must necessarily coincide with the social or general interest, and the other antagonize it. But, if legislation is to favor either, in the interest of the public good, which of the two should it be? To discover this, it suffices to inquire what would happen if the secret desires of men were realized. We must confess that the desires of every man, so far as he is a producer, are anti-social in their nature. The wine producer might not regret a frost. A manufacturer of iron would wish to see no other iron in the market than his own, however much the public might be in need of iron."
—Bastiat shows that if the wishes of all producers were realized, the world would quickly relapse into barbarism. The sailing vessel would endeavor to do away with the steamer, and the steamer with the sailing vessel; wool to exclude cotton, and cotton wool; and so on until a dearth of everything was reached. Considering, further, the interest of the consumer, he finds it in perfect harmony with the general interest, with what is demanded by the well-being of mankind. What does the consumer really wish for? Favorable seasons, fruitful inventions which reduce labor, time and expense. He wishes for a decrease of taxation, peace among nations, liberty in all international relations.
—Here an objection is made. It is said, that if these wishes were realized the labor of the producer would be restricted more and more, and would at last stop altogether, for want of support. To which it may be answered, that in this extreme case all wants and imaginable desires would be completely satisfied, and, on this hypothesis, laborious production would not be a matter of regret. Bastiat justly concludes, that to consult the immediate interests of production exclusively is to consult an anti-social interest; that to take the immediate interest of consumption as sole basis would be to take the general interest as basis.
—This reasoning strikes a direct blow at the heart of the protective and prohibitive system, and its partisans leave nothing undone to prevent an analysis of the various interests of the producer and consumer. They affirm that, as the producer and consumer are one, it is wrong to class men as producers and consumers. Of course economists do not pretend to establish as a principle the absurdity that the human race is divided into two distinct classes, one occupied only in producing, and the other only in consuming. But it is not a question of dividing the human race: it is a question of studying it under two very different aspects. All the sciences have their classifications, and it is evident that, so far as products and services are concerned, he who creates the product or renders the service is altogether distinct from him who purchases the product or the service.
—In order to show the value and the correctness of this distinction, Bastiat, in another work, (Les Harmonies économiques, 2nd ed., c. xi.), exhibits the producer and consumer face to face in the whole circle of their transactions. On the one hand is the producer producing the supply; on the other, the consumer causing the demand. Now, supply and demand are apparently not the same thing. Bastiat next gives us an ingenious analysis of the phenomena of production, by which he shows that the consumer or the public is, so far as the gain or the loss of a given class of producers is concerned, what the earth is to electricity, a great common reservoir. From that reservoir all proceeds, to it everything returns. After a time, and after having played some part in the phenomena of the world, economic results glide, so to speak, over the producer, on their way to the consumer; so that all great questions should be studied from the point of view of the consumer, if we wish to solve them in such a way as to grasp their general and permanent results. Bastiat finally bases on considerations of morality this same subordination of the rôle of the producer which he had already established on principles of utility. It is really the purchaser of products, the consumer, who must bear the responsibility of the use they are put to, and not the producer, who is influenced by the demand; for the producer has not to concern himself whether a good or a bad use is made of his wine, his iron, or his opium. Bastiat remarks that this is in perfect harmony with the principles of religion, which addresses to the rich, to the great consumers, a severe warning as to their immense responsibility.
—V. Consumption of Capital.
—Waste of Capital. What employment is made of capital is of the utmost importance to society. The office of capital is to furnish the advances necessary to production, in whose results it re-appears under the form of other utilities and other values. All the questions of consumption of capital are in truth questions of production; and they are more naturally treated by analyzing the functions of capital and the nature of production. There is one, however, at which we must stop, in order to point out the difficulties it presents.
—Capital intended for reproduction is divided, according to Adam Smith, into fixed and circulating capital, one renders continual service remaining in the hands of its owner; the other renders a service only when it passes into other hands, or is transformed. It might be asked in what proportions these two kinds of capital, considered as an instrument of labor, should enter into a given industry; but it is plain that this question is not susceptible of a general answer. Every industry has its special character and needs, which vary according to place, time and circumstances. But if theory can give no satisfactory information on this point, it is none the less necessary that a business man should be able to form a correct estimate by consulting his own experience or the experience of others. The division of capital into these two branches is a point of departure of the highest importance, and if we seek to give an explanation of industrial catastrophes, it will be found that a great number of them had no other cause than an erroneous estimate in matters of this kind. Too much capital renders business slow, and too little capital stops it; too much circulating capital at the expense of fixed capital, and too much fixed capital at the expense of circulating capital, produce similar effects.
—The change of times has frequently led business men into ruinous paths. In France, for example, after the events of 1814, young men, simple clerks, were able by very modest savings, energetic labor and irreproachable conduct to make a fortune, in the very houses in which their successors were ruined, although they began with the same moral qualities and frequently with greater intelligence. The latter lacked one thing, sufficient capital. We may often see in great cities the influence of fashion on many industries which are obliged, as it is said, to appeal to the eyes of the public. Such industries change the proportions of fixed and of circulating capital, induce the manufacturer to lessen the latter and to increase the former. They thus lead to his ruin. How many business houses have had to be closed because too large a proportion of their capital was consumed in ornamental façades, etc.
—A word now on the waste of capital. "Waste, which destroys capital, is opposed to saving, which increases capital. We waste capital when we devote, without judgment, to the satisfaction of our pleasures or our wants, values formerly employed in making advances to production. Let us suppose, in order to understand the part played by a spendthrift, two amounts of capital of $100,000 each; one, in the form of a factory belonging to the spendthrift; the other, in the form of coffee and sugar belonging to a merchant. The factory is sold by the spendthrift, and bought by the merchant. To effect the purchase, the latter withdraws his capital from trade and no longer buys coffee and sugar. A hundred thousand dollars are withdrawn from commerce, and this value is handed over to the spendthrift as the price of his factory, and converted by him into consumable articles, and destroyed without return. Thus of the two amounts of capital, only one remains; the value of the other is destroyed, because squandered capital is no longer capital. * * * There is also the capital which is wasted by the inexperience of men who begin enterprises which give back only a part of the capital invested in them, and which is as completely lost as if consumed by a spendthrift. The immaterial products of a teacher, a lawyer, or a priest, etc., may be wasted in the same way; that is to say, consumed in a non-reproductive manner. The imprudent, the unskillful, who do not value the cost of production or the value of the products of their industry, are also spendthrifts. To appreciate the disastrous consequences of waste, it suffices to remark, that a value saved becomes capital, the consumption of which is renewed unceasingly, while a wasted value is consumed but once." VI. Gratuitous or absolutely unproductive Consumption. There are various kinds of unproductive consumption, that are not only unproductive because they are not reproductive, but because they take place at the expense of certain members of the social body, and are effected by consumers who are altogether unproductive, who destroy utilities and values belonging to others. This is consumption at the expense of a production which is not even reproductive, and to which Skarbek has given the name of gratuitous or doubly unproductive consumption, and which Senior calls absolutely unproductive.
—If we seek to draw up a list of the kinds of this consumption, which is assuredly very harmful to society, we have, first of all, the consumption of criminals who are professional invaders of their neighbors' rights of property; next, the consumption of all those who carry on spoliation of any kind under the protection of abuse or artificial monopolies, unpunished or tolerated, or created by bad legislation. Following these are the paupers, who, without being criminals, live at the expense of others; both those who are permanently deprived of their physical or intellectual powers and those who are temporarily in this condition, such as the able-bodied poor, out of employment for the time being, and who have exhausted their resources, and even those who, although industrious and occupied, do not receive enough in exchange for their labor to give them the means of subsistence.—"The support of the poor," says Frederick Skarbek, "is doubly unproductive consumption, gratuitous, negative and made to the detriment of those who provide for them. So that the poverty of a greater or less number of people diminishes the productive forces of a nation, by producing a decrease of workmen, and preventing the accumulation of capital; for everything that is devoted to the support of the poor might be saved and amassed in the form of productive capital; and the poor, for the very reason that they are deprived of the means of labor, can not co-operate in the production of values, still less in the formation of capital." This is a refutation of the quietism of those who see in the support of the poor, by public or private charity, merely a distribution of social wealth which is desirable in many regards, and who forget that the wretchedness of the poor, by decreasing the income of the rich, diminishes the common stock of labor and engenders universal misery. Human society is decidedly a society of exchange of wealth or services, and not of benevolence. If men in society come together for mutual assistance, this can take place normally, without damage to any one, only when it is an exchange of services and values. All gratuitous consumption is a diminution of individual and social wealth.
—Senior includes in this class consumers who produce absolutely nothing in return for what they consume; that is to say, men rich enough to live without working and without rendering any service to society. But the number of such men is very small. The proper employment of capital and the preservation of property, so useful to society, demand incessant care on the part of those who have them. On the other hand, in proportion as nations become enlightened, the men we have here in view are impelled to engage in some occupation, frequently in one very productive by its nature, either through love of accumulation or of power, or the love of study, or the desire of distinction, or by the still nobler want of being useful to their kind.
—VII. Balance of Consumption and Production. Consumption being the end and sole object of production, there is naturally an intimate relation between these two great social phenomena.
—From the point of view of private or non-industrially reproductive consumption, it is evident that the decay of a nation depends on the balance of national consumption and reproduction. It is by the excess of wealth produced over wealth consumed that capital increases; and capital is here synonymous with the means or instruments of labor and with the well-being of the population.
—VIII. Public Consumption. Whatever is consumed in the interest of the whole nation, constitutes governmental or public consumption.
—The character of the consumer does not change the nature of the consumption. Nations, provinces, associations of every kind, consume in a way precisely similar to private persons, and these kinds of consumption may either be productive or unproductive; but here the terms have a little different meaning from that which they have in the case of private consumption. Unless a state carries on an industry itself (and in this case it almost always makes a monopoly of it), its expenses are not positively reproductive; that is, it does not find the capital advanced in the results obtained. But, in the form of security, of justice, of administration, of the police power, in the use of roads, in the enjoyment of works of art, of monuments, and other services, it finds utilities representing more or less fully a return for the capital expended.
—In the discussion of public consumption or outlay we must begin by determining what are the necessities of the state which determine this consumption or outlay, and also by determining what are the taxes, loans and other resources intended to meet them. The majority of economists who have written methodical treatises on the science discuss all these questions in the last part of their works, which thus become treatises on finance.
—It is especially with reference to public expenses that it is proper to point out the abuse of the sophism that every expense, no matter what its object, or how unproductive it may be, "is good for business," hastens circulation and production. Men go so far as to believe that in times of crisis and stagnation caused by political disturbances public outlay is a powerful agency to enliven industry, provide employment for labor, and bring things back to the condition they were in previous to the crisis. Some public men, dupes of the sophism, others to satisfy popular prejudice and quiet the popular mind, others with personal interests and position in view, have recourse to this pretended remedy; and this is one of the causes of the increase of outlay which enlarges the budget. Fétes, festivals, official rejoicings, perfunctory receptions by public officials, in times of sadness or misfortune, are useless expenses as a stimulant to business; they irritate more than they calm the suffering class of society; they force the families who take part in these festivals and receptions to ruinous expenses; they give an artificial encouragement to certain industries at the expense of certain others: they are, therefore, a pure loss to the community. For an economic phenomenon to be both the cause and effect of prosperity, it should be produced in the inverse direction; the impulse to prosperity should come from the family, the well-being of families should render the satisfaction of wants possible, and produce an increase of consumption.
—The error which we have just pointed out is found, in another form, in the public outlay which the authorities frequently allow themselves to make, when, in times of difficulty, they have to come to the aid of the needy classes, deprived of labor and wages, and thus dangerous to public tranquillity and security. What matter, it is said, under these circumstances, if the works about to be begun are without utility? what matter if the useful effect produced is less than the expenses incurred? "it is good for business;" and, in consequence of this false reasoning, a great amount of labor is consumed unproductively, and a considerable amount of capital swallowed up, as has been witnessed in many countries, and in France especially, during the crises of the first revolution, the revolution of July, 1830, and the revolution of 1848.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 1 Abdication-Duty. Chapter: COST OF COLLECTION OF TAXES.
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COST OF COLLECTION OF TAXES. By this expression is meant the expenses necessitated by the collection of the taxes, the salaries of agents and the support of the branch of the administration intrusted with the duty of collecting them. It represents the difference between the sum paid into the treasury and that paid by the taxpayers. The lessening of this difference must be the result of a good system of collection. It depends, therefore, upon a good mode of assessment of the taxes; on a systematic, wise and perfect administration. It is, in many respects, the expression of the order and justice with which the finances are managed.
—We quote the following from J. B. Say (Cours, part viii., chap. 6): "I read in a memoir of Hennet, first commissioner of the finances, that, in 1813, France, which then consisted of 130 departments, in order to obtain 170,000,000 francs from the lands and domains subject to taxation, had to assess the tax payers 240,000,000, that is, 70,000,000, or 41 per cent. for the cost of collection." "In England, before Sully's time, the cost of collection amounted to 500 per cent.; to-day [Say wrote in 1829] it is hardly 5 per cent. of the entire receipts."
—According to this, the cost of collecting taxes has been wonderfully lessened in France since 1813; for, in 1854, it was hardly more than 5 per cent. in 86 departments. The figures given for the epoch previous to Sully, seem very much exaggerated, if we compare them with Froumenteau's curious book (le Secret de finances, 1580, book i., p. 142), which gives the total receipts for 31 years, ending Dec. 31, 1580, at 1,453,000,000 livres, of which only 927,000,000 were paid into the royal treasury: the difference is 526,000,000, or 57 per cent., the cost of collection.
—Necker, in his Administration des finances (1785, chap. iii.), estimated the total cost of the collection on receipts to the amount of 557,500,000 francs, or 585,000,000, including the "corvees," and the costs of distraint and seizure, constituting the entire tax of France, at only 58,000,000, or 11 3/5 per cent. A calculation of Eugene Daire, based on the results of the budget of 1842 (Annuaire de l'economic politique de 1844, p. 84), puts the cost of collection at 132,000,000 upon a gross receipt of 1,130,000,000, or 13 1/5 per cent. of the sum actually paid into the treasury for public purposes. According to this the administration of the finances of France in 1854 did not differ from the administration before the revolution, if Neeker's statement be correct.
—We would remark that, in general, the cost of collection of the tax imposed upon the manufacture and sale of a product is greater than the cost of collection of the taxes called indirect, which are levied upon objects of general consumption; and the cost of collecting these latter is greater than that of collecting direct taxes upon land, personal property, doors and windows, income, etc.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 1 Abdication-Duty. Chapter: DEMAND AND SUPPLY
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DEMAND AND SUPPLY, words which express the competition and strife between the sellers and buyers of a product, the former supplying what they wish to exchange, the latter demanding what they need. The result of this competition and strife is the determination of the market price, or price current.
—To understand fully the meaning of this term, we must give to the words demand and supply a well-defined meaning. They are thus explained by Rossi: "Demand expresses not only the quantity considered by itself, but the quantity in its relations to the nature and intensity of the want which causes it to be sought after, and to the magnitude of the obstacles which this want would and is able to surmount in order to its satisfaction. Everybody may desire a carriage and a palace; and assuredly, if the purchase and keeping of them cost but a few dollars, there probably would not be one of us who would not get them. But if, instead of a small sacrifice it is necessary to spend considerable sums, those who wished to supply this demand would diminish in proportion to the greatness of the expense. Undoubtedly the carriage will still be desired, but this desire can not constitute a demand in the market, because some would be unwilling to make, and others could not make, the sacrifice required to surmount the obstacles which opposed the realization of their desire.
—It is the same in the case of supply. Supply does not mean merely the quantity offered, but this quantity combined with the difficulty or facility of production. In fact, if there are in the market to-day 10,000 pairs of stockings, or 1,000,000 needles, can it be affirmed that that is the entire supply? Everybody knows, that, if the demand be urgent, there will soon be an enormous amount of stockings and needles; for these things are easily produced. Consequently, it would not be exact to say that the price is determined solely by the quantity of these commodities found in the market; it is determined also by the facility with which the supply may be increased.
—Let us change the hypothesis. Suppose that we are considering wheat, and that the supply is equal to but two-thirds or four-fifths of the effective demand, you will at once see the aspect of the market change in an alarming manner. On the one hand, the demand is of such a nature as to justify all possible sacrifices in order to satisfy it; on the other, it matters but little that the supply is not much less than the demand; each one fears the deficiency will reach him; and panic increases these anxieties and fears. Each one feels that if he could put off till to-morrow supplying himself with stockings or needles, he can not equally well defer the purchase of food for himself; and as it is known that grain cannot be improvised, that the resource of importation is always feeble and uncertain; as it is known, consequently, that next year's crop must be waited for; the demand becomes more and more active, blind and pressing, and the exchangeable value of wheat surpasses all anticipation. Such is the influence which the scarcity of those things whose quantity can not be increased at will, their utility remaining the same, may exercise over the market.
—Again, by the term demand and supply is not to be understood only the quantity of material things in the market. In demand, we must also take into consideration extreme want and the extent of the want, as well as the means of exchange which the demander has at his command; and in supply, the greater or less facility which producers may have of modifying the condition of the market by competition, and of thus exciting the hopes and fears of buyers and actual holders of the commodity in question."
—The status of demand and supply is made up of moral data, difficult to weigh, and of arithmetical data, which are not always observed. It is impossible to determine the state of business, the number of the suppliers, and the quantity of the supply; the number of those who demand, and the quantity demanded; the reciprocal wants of buyers and sellers; for self-interest may make use of deceit in concealing merchandise, and removing it beyond the calculation of buyers. Supply often comprises absent merchandise, which is or is not yet manufactured, the future quantity of which is still uncertain; either because it depends upon the seasons for its manufacture or transportation, or because it depends upon uncertain circumstances. When the goods are in the market, the merchants, to lessen the supply, feign demand and sales; they make pretended deliveries, which impose upon the buyers, and amount to nothing more than a removal; they sometimes retire from the market a part of what they had placed in it, and hold it for a more favorable moment. The amount of demand is more easily concealed when it is not bodily in the market; as is also the case at times with the amount of the supply.
—If deception is practiced in the case of arithmetical data, it is practiced a fortiori, and by both buyers and sellers, in the case of moral data. Buyers and sellers advance as slowly and cautiously as possible: demand waits for supply, and supply for demand, to say the first word. There is an intention to buy a great deal; a demand for little is made; and this demand is made at different places and of different persons at the same time; but, the price once established, purchases double or increase ten-fold at the current rate or at a slight advance. It is the same thing with sales: sellers offer their goods in different places, to persons who do not see each other; pretense is made of favoring the buyers who are the first to make up their minds; and they increase their business by selling to all on the same terms. Neither party speaks but to ruin his opponent, and says whatever suits his interest at the moment.
—These things occur in all markets, and may easily be observed wherever there are collected together a large number of buyers and sellers, either of merchandise, services, or paper representative of value; as at fairs, in the places where workingmen meet, on the boards of trade, etc. The state of the revenues also exerts an influence on the relation of demand and supply. Those who offer anything for sale seek to ascertain the resources at the command of buyers; and buyers consider the situation of the classes for whom they intend their merchandise.
—Some products whose cost of transportation is very small, go without trouble from one place to another: others can never leave a market to which they have once been carried. Some keep a long time: others are perishable, and must be sold at once. In demand, there are, in like manner, wants which must be satisfied immediately, and others, on the contrary, the satisfaction of which may be postponed for days, months and years.
—We must also mention the influence of accidental circumstances: the fear of seeing a monopoly come to an end, or the certainty of its continuance; the fear of a bad crop, or the hope of an abundant year; the fear or hope of a public event, happy or unhappy, such as the signing of a treaty of peace in troublous times, or the declaration of war, which will throw the country into dreadful danger. We must mention, too, false reports, the circulation of fabricated news, coalition of groups of buyers or sellers, etc.
—In this struggle, those who are expert, prudent, patient, dissembling, cold, circumspect, or well informed and prompt to execute, those possessed of large credit or disposable capital, have a great advantage over those who are in opposite conditions; and it sometimes happens that this advantage gives buyers the superiority over sellers, or sellers over buyers—Lastly, demand and supply react one upon the other. When they are stronger or weaker relatively one to the other, it happens that the greater and stronger one is, the smaller and weaker the other is. In other words, the greater the supply, the more is the demand weakened; the greater the demand, the more is the supply weakened.
—These ideas are borrowed, in part, from J. A. Robert, a writer little known, but sometimes happy in his analyses and his views. These observations agree with those of Rossi, which they complement, show how complex and delicate are the phenomena of demand and supply, and account for the difficulty encountered in popularizing their true theory.
—But how can we formulate in a happier manner the phenomena of demand and supply? This problem tried the acuteness of Ricardo, who pointed out, as the regulator of the changeable value of things, the quantity of labor necessary to produce them, or, better, the cost of production.
—The formula of demand and supply has been the object of the attacks of certain writers, some of them avowed socialists, others socialists without knowing it, who represent it as an iniquitous and barbarous principle, invented by economists, and doomed to disappear in a better constituted society. But when we examine what they wished to say in speaking thus, we see that they have not even understood the object of their criticism. Demand and supply, necessary consequences of the wants of man, of the necessity under which he labors of freely exchanging the fruit of his industry, that is, his products, his labor, or his services in return for the products of the labor of another; demand and supply, evident consequences of the principle of property, are acts so inherent in the nature of man, that it is impossible to conceive of a man who would not perform them. If acts of demand and supply were not allowed, man would come singularly near to the beast. This is the objection made to the principle of competition, under the most ingenious and childish form, to which we need make no other reply than to state it. The followers of Fourier pretended that the communal associations or phalansteries would no longer be subject to the law of demand and supply; but, admitting that exchange should cease to exist between individuals, by reason of this social combination, it is found again in associations which do not suffice for themselves, like the snail in its shell, but are obliged to carry on transactions conformably to all the circumstances indicated by the formula of demand and supply. It is true the communists do not recoil from the dream of a universal association of the human race, from which the notion of mine and thine would be banished; but what can be said to men who assure you that they have discovered a ladder by which they can reach the moon?
—An author, Esmenard du Mazet, who has pretended to discover "new principles of political economy," says. "Demand and supply are good for nothing unless to cover up the ignorance of economists; for they can draw from their theory of the subject no serious consequence, and they put it forward merely for the want of something to say. It has always served as a make-shift to economists. I never think of it but I call to mind a professor of chemistry, otherwise a very able man, who, embarrassed at times in the explanation of certain phenomena, assumed the most rapt and learned air, and said, 'We think that electricity here plays a great part.'" This piece of pleasantry has not the merit of being appropriate; and what piquancy it possesses is to be found in the fact that the author, after disdainfully rejecting the formula of the cost of production of Ricardo, and that of utility, informs us himself that value is fixed by experience; a formula which implies in reality the idea of demand and supply, and whose sole merit is that it is less satisfactory and less intelligible than the others.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: ENTREPRENEUR
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ENTREPRENEUR.In taking account of the nature of the agents which co-operate in production, we distinguish, in any business enterprise, the entrepreneur and the workmen. The latter, according as they contribute to the industrial and ornamental art, or to scientific work, take the name of artisan, mechanic, artists, savants, etc. The workmen execute the orders of the entrepreneur, who conceives the enterprise or operation combines the scientific, moral and material elements which it requires, and directs the creation and sale of its products.
—The entrepreneur must then have in a certain measure, the knowledge of the artisan, the savant, the inventor, etc., at least so far as it is necessary for him to apply it: he must be familiar with the manual processes of the workman; must know how to procure the means required for production, to discern the best industrial processes, to choose the men who are to second him, and to procure, by way of credit or of association, the needful capital; and finally, he must direct all these elements of his enterprise with judgment, precision and energy.—"In the course of all these operations," says J. B. Say, "there are obstacles to surmount which demand a certain energy; there are inquietudes to bear which demand firmness; there are misfortunes to be repaired, for which a mind fertile in resources is needed."
—Dunoyer has well portrayed the numerous and important qualities necessary for an entrepreneur. "In the number of powers which exist in man, the first which strikes me," he says, "the one which naturally takes the place at the head of all the others, the one most indispensable to success in every kind of enterprise, and to free action in all the arts, is the talent for business, a talent in which are combined several very distinct faculties, such as a capacity for judging of the state of demand, or of knowing the wants of society; that of judging of the condition of supply, or of estimating the means of satisfying those wants; that of managing with ability enterprises wisely conceived; and finally, that of verifying the previsions of speculation by regular accounts intelligently kept. After this list of faculties relating to the conception and conduct of enterprises, of which the business talent is composed, come those faculties necessary for execution, from which the art talent arises. Such are, practical knowledge of the calling, theoretical ideas, talent for applying them, and skill in handicraft. All these faculties are industrial; * * * but I remark also a great number of moral qualities. Among these may be mentioned a whole class of habits which govern the conduct of persons with regard to themselves, and which in some sort concern only the individual. There may also be distinguished habits of another kind, which more particularly concern society. Power and free action in all kinds of occupations depend, as we shall see, on the perfection of both these classes of moral qualities."
—The entrepreneur is, then, the principal agent in production. He devotes to it his activity, he sacrifices to it his reputation and his honor; but, on the other hand, he may derive form it, with a high salary for his labor and profit on his capital, more or less important advantages which may augment his fortune, and which spring form the qualities with which he may be endowed, the activity he may display, and the risks he has to incur.
—It is because of a failure to take into account all these circumstances, and to have a definite idea of the laws of the variations of profits and wages, and the importance and the reciprocal rights of capital, labor and talent in the distribution of profits, that the working classes have often been led to look suspiciously on the success of the entrepreneurs, and to consider the profits and advantages of the latter as acquired at the expense of the workmen. A more general acquaintance with the principles of political economy would have the effect of correcting this false and dangerous manner of looking at things, and of showing those who live by their labor alone that it is decidedly for their interest that entrepreneurs should be numerous and prosperous; for in this case labor is more in demand and wages rise. We will not say that there is no prejudice on the part of the entrepreneurs, some of whom do indeed seem to think that it is they who maintain their workmen, and that the latter owe them something besides the labor they sell to them. The study of the laws of political economy would not be without use to these persons. By giving them sounder views on all matters, and of their rôle in society, it would serve to strengthen their judgment and intelligence in the conduct of affairs; and to overcome their prejudices, which contribute to alienate their workmen, their natural allies who, before the law of demand and supply, are neither their superiors nor their inferiors, but their equals.
—Carrying on business enterprises by association does not change the nature and the rôle of the entrepreneur, but it lessens them. The various partners share in fact more or less in the conception, the direction, the honor and the responsibility of the business. Nevertheless, whatever be the societary combination, there must be, under penalty of failure, a director or manager possessing most of the qualities we have recognized in the entrepreneur. The value of the business manager determines largely the value of the association.
—Lastly, we will say that every entrepreneur who does not work exclusively with his funds, is the pivot of an association, and that his workmen or those in his employ are partners, who, being bound only by temporary engagements and not being willing to participate in the bad chances, renounce the good ones and content themselves with a compensation regulated by the law of demand and supply.
E. J. L., Tr.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: EXPORTS AND IMPORTS
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EXPORTS AND IMPORTS. By imports is meant all the merchandise brought into a country from other countries; by exports, all the merchandise which leaves a country for other countries. The imports and exports together constitute the foreign trade, a statement of which is annually made out by those in charge of the customs.
—Formerly, when commercial policy was still more influenced by the ideas of the mercantile doctrine than it is to-day, tables of the exports and imports were drawn up for the especial purpose of showing the difference between these two branches of foreign commerce, a difference which was called the balance of trade. To-day, these tables, which are made public in most countries, and notably in England, France, the United States, and Belgium, where they have been brought to a good degree of perfection, are no longer considered by the administrative authorities as anything but statistical information on commerce, navigation, the course of trade between ports, transit, etc.
—The reader is referred to the article BALANCE OF TRADE for anything which pertains to the false theory which so long induced the legislator to encourage exportation by artificial measures and to hinder importation by innumerable political, diplomatic, administrative, financial and commercial restrictions. We shall confine ourselves here to a few considerations.
—One who studies the nature of exchanges is not slow in perceiving that it is only in exceptional cases, such as where there is trickery, fraud or ignorance, that one of the contracting parties can be injured. In general, in exchange transactions, interests counterbalance each other, the values exchanged are equal. It is consequently difficult to admit that a nation, which is a collection of a great number of individuals, parts with the mass of its products for products of inferior value; hence the official reports which acquaint us with the exports and imports of a country should present no noteworthy difference between the exports of that nation to all other countries and the imports from all other countries to that nation. It would even seem that the difference, if there is any, must of necessity be in favor of the imports, for the reason which leads to an exchange is that one has greater need of the products he receives than of those he parts with, and consequently he must attribute more value to the former than to the latter. In fact, the amount of the imports must necessarily exceed, among all nations, that of the exports. [An apparent exception to this rule occurs in the case of a debtor nation, which, until its foreign debt is paid, sends abroad, besides its other exports, merchandise to pay the interest and principal of its indebtedness to other countries. If, however, we take into account the period from the time of contracting the debt until its final discharge, this case will be found to be no exception to the rule. —E. J. L.] J. B. Say admitted this proposition, and an explanation of it is found in Necker's work on the administration of the finances. "If we estimate," said Necker, "the merchandise we take from foreigners at the prices current within our kingdom, we shall overrate the debt contracted by the state; for the price current is composed not only of the sum paid to the nation which has sold the merchandise, but also of the profit and the interest on the advances of the merchants, and the expenses of transportation and freight which may have been earned by our merchant marine; whence it results that the true balance always inclines in favor of the people under consideration." This has been completely established in the article on BALANCE OF TRADE.
—In the second place, it should be observed that the custom house records only show those exchanges which are manifested by the payment of duties; that they say nothing of the contraband trade so considerable in all countries where there are prohibitions and high tariffs; nothing of the various securities and titles to property which are exchanged between citizens of different nations; nothing, or at least nothing accurate, concerning the daily importation or exportation of specie, especially between countries which border on each other. Now this clandestine movement of merchandise which escapes the eye of the customs officials, this transmission of securities of various kinds, and this constant filtration of specie, must be taken into account in any comparison of imports and exports; and it is another error of the partisans of the doctrine of balance of trade that they fail to do this.
—If, then, we should find in the official statements a notable difference arising either from excess of imports or excess of exports, we must simply conclude, admitting the accounts to be free from any systematic error or any material error in the calculations, that they are not the complete expression of what takes place in the commerce of the nation under consideration, whether because the officials who prepare them must of necessity omit a notable part of the imports and exports, or because their bases of valuation are incorrect, or because they do not include sufficiently long periods in their totals. System and base of valuation have been mentioned under the article CUSTOMS DUTIES. As to extent of the periods of observation, we must consider that the statistical tables are made out yearly for inspection, that the commercial transactions are neither completed nor balanced in the course of these periods, which are artificial in this respect, and that it is necessary to extend the calculations to periods which would include the whole of the reciprocal movements of this commerce between two countries—movements which are influenced by various circumstances, climatic, political and economic. (See BALANCE OF TRADE, SMUGGLING, CUSTOMS DUTIES, COMMERCE, FREE TRADE, VALUE.)
E. J. L., Tr.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: FREEDOM OF LABOR
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FREEDOM OF LABOR. If we ask the author of an able work entitled, "Freedom of Labor," (M. Dunoyer, Member of the Institute, vol. i., p. 24), what freedom is, he tells us: "What I call freedom, is the ability which man acquires of employing his powers more easily in proportion as he becomes free from the obstacles which originally interfered with their exercise. I say that he is the more free, the more he is delivered from the causes which prevented him from making use of them, the more he has removed these causes, the more he has extended the sphere of his action and cleared it from obstructions."
—Endeavoring to ascertain, on the other hand, from past experience, by the aid of history, by what laws and under the influence of what causes men succeed in employing more effectually the natural forces whose operation constitutes industry or human labor, the same economist has found that it is by having greater freedom in the use of these forces, so that freedom is at the same time the cause and the result of itself, the cause and the result of power, and that these two terms, freedom and power, are correlative.
—M. Dunoyer does not then consider freedom as a dogma, but he shows it in its causes, and he presents it as a result. He does not make it an attribute of man, or the result of a special form of government, but a product of the combined elements of civilization. He shows that it is primarily dependent on race, that is to say, on the nature itself of men, and the more or less favorable organization of their physical, intellectual and moral faculties: secondly, on the places on the globe where they are located, and the advantages afforded for agriculture, manufactures and commerce in the part of the earth they occupy; finally, on the greater or less advantage they have succeeded in gaining from their powers or their position.
—We will not treat here of the great and numerous questions which arise as soon as one attempts to define this formidable word, freedom, but only glance at them, before returning to the kind of freedom which is the subject of this article.
—Whoever speaks of labor, is, in many respects, speaking of the whole of society; so that if the phrase "freedom of labor" is not an expression for all freedom, it assuredly is for a very large part, and there are few kinds of freedom that are not embraced by it. But in economic language, a more restricted signification, though one still very broad, is given to this phrase, "freedom of labor," which expresses an opportunity given to every citizen to pursue whatever calling he wishes, be it one or several; to regulate the prices of his products and of his services according to his understanding of their value; to exchange the results of his labor at home or abroad, as may seem for his best interests: whence it appears that freedom of labor includes competition and free exchange or free trade. (See these two articles.)
—Under the word COMPETITION we have shown the social benefits, and, so to speak, the regulating and providential part that competition takes in the general economy of society: the nature of the inconveniences it may accidentally present in consequence of the unfavorable circumstances in the midst of which certain countries, and, we may say, certain industries, are placed; and the blind presumption of those who have sought ways to suppress competition, to class avocations, and to distribute the public offices—in short, to organize labor, to use their own expression, or, in other terms, according to the language of economists, completely to suppress the initiative of the citizens and freedom of labor. We need not then recur to that here. We will likewise omit all considerations, which, while entering into the general subject, relate more particularly to commercial freedom.
—Among persons unacquainted with economic studies, many imagine that freedom of labor exists in all branches of human activity. To be convinced of their error these have only to take into account the conditions to which most avocations are subject. In France, for example, they will find that a great number of those called liberal can not be entered without the degrees of bachelor, licentiate, doctor, etc., which are simply that compulsory apprenticeship of which Colbert spoke in his advice to Louis XIV., an apprenticeship very long and very costly. Several liberal professions in France are, moreover, positively organized into guilds, with limitations as to number and the conditions of admission: they are those of notary, stock broker, banker, merchandise broker, vendue master, etc. Several are a little less trammeled, and are not restricted by being limited as to number, though they are as to conditions of admission: they are those of barrister, physician, druggist, veterinary surgeon, teacher, etc. Others are made public functions, as that of professor and engineer. Among the industries we find, in France, butchering and baking constituted as veritable guilds in many towns; and printing, bookselling, registry offices, theatrical enterprises, public conveyances, etc., subject to a system of certificates granted by public authority. But these direct impediments are not perhaps those whose action is most effective against the principle of freedom. There are indirect ones which exercise their influence upon all branches of labor; such as the loaning of capital, the lever of commerce and the industries, encounters in the laws upon usury which fix a maximum rate of interest, those which prohibit loaning upon pledge, and those which oppose the free formation of institutions of credit. Such are the restrictions which the commercial code and the entire legislation present to the formation of the industrial and commercial associations found in three types which no longer satisfy the demands of industrial development; such are the numerous prohibitions and hundreds of lengthy laws which hinder the supply in a great number of industries, and the sale of products in very many others; such are the octrois, whose action is, in many respects, analogous; such are the systems to which the merchant marine and the colonies are subject; such are the restrictions of every nature, imposed by special laws, upon the working of mines, the duration of labor combinations, and prison and other labor, it may be by local usages, by police regulations, or by thousands of decrees and ordinances called their rules of public administration, the nomenclature of which would occupy many pages of our columns—measures, decrees and ordinances which are far from having been all inspired by sound notions of administration, prudence and justice.
—Nor have we yet enumerated all. Many industries are disturbed because governments have thought they should reserve to themselves the right of carrying on certain branches of business and establishing for them national workshops. Thus it is with the hot mineral springs, the establishments for breeding fine horses, cows and sheep, the Indret establishment for articles necessary in the navy, the manufactories of fire arms, the production of Sèvres china, of Gobelin dyes and tapestry, the government printing office, the Mont de Piété (loan bank, where articles are pawned); and others besides: tobacco and snuff, saltpetre, powder and gaming cards, the production of which is in France made a monopoly for the collection of the taxes. To those who are surprised that we put these government enterprises and the administration of these taxes in the number of hindrances to the industries, it would be easy to show how a subsidized establishment, the government printing office, for example, produces in a way that is a burden to the public treasury, and discourages private industries by engrossing certain kinds of labor, and lowering the price of many products obtained.
—If any one would make out for all countries such an abstract as we have just given for France, he would find analogous restrictions in each of them: much fewer, however, in England, and above all, in the United States, and very probably more in many other countries, and in proportion to their degree of civilization, for the degree of freedom is a pretty good measure of the progress realized. There are still many vestiges of the guilds in Germany and in the northern countries, although these traces are indeed disappearing every day. It was not until 1847 that the Swedish government succeeded in suppressing the masterships, wardenships and trade corporations; the class of the bourgeoisie being at length united with the three others, and having ceased to appeal to its privileges with the same tenacity. Hitherto there had been a compulsory apprenticeship, of seven years in some trades, of eleven years in others. It was not until July 1st of that year that domestic labor was completely emancipated, and that each one could, in his home, devote himself to making any articles he chose, and that every licensed dealer could sell all his products. But to start a manufactory it is still necessary to be provided with a certificate of capacity, issued by men officially selected for the purpose. The spirit which produces regulations and special privileges has not been willing to yield everything at once; it has clung to the diploma.
—In North America, which may be taken as the opposite type, a citizen engaged in any industry enjoys, in the employment of his faculties and the pursuit of wealth, a freedom relatively very considerable.
—We should have much to do, were we to take up, one by one, all the avocations in which freedom of labor is not entire, and to show how it would be both possible and profitable to introduce freedom into them, at once in some, by degrees in the others. We wish only to prove that the march of civilization is regulating socialism, which is slavery, by freedom, and that freedom is the polar star upon which statesmen must ever have an open eye, if they are ambitious to show themselves intelligent and skillful pilots.
—M. Dunoyer, in responding in 1845 to the socialistic schools which charged freedom of labor with bringing about the gradual elevation of the opulent classes and an accelerated degradation of the laboring classes, was then right in saying: "I beg to consider how strange it must seem to see the misfortune of the laboring classes attributed to greatly increased competition, in the notorious state of imperfection in which freedom of labor and that of transactions still are. People talk of universal, unlimited competition! Where does any such really exist? In fact, there is no such thing as any truly universal competition. Do people forget that there is no civilized country where the entire mass of producers does not defend itself by double and triple lines of custom houses against the competition of foreign producers? Do they not know how far from being complete is competition, even in the interior of each country, and by how many causes it is everywhere more or less limited? In France, for example, where it is more developed than in some other places, it still encounters a multitude of obstacles; there are, we know, outside of services really public, a certain number of kinds of business, the carrying on of which the public authorities have thought should be reserved exclusively to the government; there is a still more considerable number the monopoly of which legislation has given to a limited number of individuals. Those which have been abandoned to competition are subjected to formalities, to restrictions, and to numberless trammels which prevent many persons from engaging in them; and consequently in these even, competition is far from being unlimited. Finally, there is scarcely one which is not subject to various taxes, necessary, without doubt, but sufficiently onerous for many people to be unable to pay them, and hence these kinds of business are virtually prohibited to such persons: whence it follows that competition, already limited for so many causes, is still so to a high degree by taxes. I do not state these facts here to blame any one: but in the face of such a condition of things, is it not singular to hear any one speak of universal, unlimited competition, and to witness the more or less real evils which the lower classes of society suffer attributed to excess of freedom and of competition?"
—It is not possible to treat thoroughly this great question in a single article; for freedom of labor is the corollary of all the propositions which science demonstrates; and this subject is one of those whose development might well take an entire course. Indeed, M. Dunoyer was led to make almost a complete course of study on the economy of society in attempting to fathom the vast questions connected with it. We will then stop here, and conclude by quoting two passages which express our thoughts better than we could do it: "Political economy holds most strongly to the idea of freedom of labor: for freedom is the essence of human industry. What, in fact, is industry? It is not simply a muscular effort and a material operation. Industry is, above all, the action of the human mind on the physical world. Now the mind is essentially free: the mind in all its operations needs freedom, exactly as there is need of air under the wings of a bird, that it may be sustained and advance in its course." (M. Michel Chevalier, Discours au Collége de France; Journal des Economistes, Jan., 1848.)—"The natural order of human society consists in enthroning in it the law which is in correspondence with the nature of the beings of which that society is formed. These beings being free, their most natural law is the maintenance of their freedom: this is what we call justice. There are in the heart of man, and these can therefore and ought to enter into the alliance, other laws still, but none which are contrary to that. Before all else, the state is organized justice; and its first function, its most stern duty, is to insure freedom; and what freedom is there in society where labor is not free?"
E. J. L., Tr.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: INVENTIONS
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INVENTIONS include all contrivances which increase the power of man in production. Their economic effect is to take the place of the labor of man, and at the same time to multiply the results of this labor, either by utilizing the forces of nature, or by deriving a greater benefit form the men and the various kinds of capital, of which inventions are themselves one of the most important groups.
—The considerations which we are about to present apply, in all respects, to mechanical, chemical and physical discoveries and inventions of every kind, to all processes of whatever nature they may be, to all displacements of capital and the industries, to all advancement resulting from the application of an economic truth hitherto unknown or misunderstood, and having for its final result to produce in a better manner, more quickly and more cheaply; and to do this in agriculture, in manufactures, in transportation, exchanges, sciences, the arts—in a word, in all avocations. In the number of these improvements we may mention those which result from greater freedom of trade, which, bringing about the importation of products prohibited or too highly taxed, and opening the way to markets, may be compared to the employment of a series of new machines.
—It is at once evident how the subject enlarges; for it is impossible, so far as results are concerned, to make an economic separation between inventions or even simplifications in what is strictly a mechanism, and a method of cultivating the soil, the employment of a chemical apparatus, or any administrative or scientific work. In them all we have forces better combined, better employed, and which give a better result, that is to say, which produce more, more quickly and more cheaply.
—I. The Power of Inventions in Production. To produce more, more quickly and more cheaply, is an expression for all economic progress obtained by a better employment of the instruments of labor, which are the earth and other natural agents, the physical and intellectual forces of man, and capital. A well-ordered division of labor, and the employment of inventions, are, perhaps, the two most striking general examples of this progress that can be given. Let us cite a few facts which will show what an enormous difference modern industry, with its astonishing means of action, with the machines and inventions whose power it has been able to utilize, has made between society at the present day and communities before our time, which were considered as endowed with a brilliant civilization.
—Before the invention of water mills and wind mills, slaves, poor prisoners or unfortunate women turned the millstone; and ancient authors inform us how slow and laborious this operation was. According to Homer, twelve women were constantly occupied in the house of Penelope in grinding the grain needed for the household. On the other hand, the most simple water mill, a mill rented at about $600 a year, a mill which will in its turn become antiquated by the side of the improvements in mechanics, can grind in one day as much grain as one hundred and fifty men. If this mill is in operation three hundred days in a year, its cost is ten francs ($1.93) per day; on the other hand, the men would cost at least three hundred francs: so there is a saving of two hundred and ninety francs, which, apportioned on thirty-six hectolitres (about 100 bushels) constitutes half of the price of the grain itself.
—Homer did not say how many persons composed the household of Penelope; but Michel Chevalier,31 considering that Ulysses was king of a poor kingdom, thinks he exceeds the truth in estimating them at 300 in number. The same writer, considering, on the other hand, the mill of St. Maur, found that in this remarkable establishment, forty millstones under the charge of only twenty workmen, ground to flour 720 hectolitres (1,980 bushels), which would furnish food for 72,000 persons. In the time of Ulysses, the labor of one person was then necessary to produce the flour needed for twenty-five others. In our day, that operation has been brought to such a degree of perfection that one person can supply the flour for a population of 3,600 persons.32 or 144 times as much: consequently, now, 278 workmen, distributed in fourteen establishments like that of St. Maur, can grind for a million of the inhabitants of Paris. At Rome or in Greece, an army of 40,000 slaves were needed to produce the same result. Besides, there is no possible comparison between the condition of those who work in the improved mills of our day and the slaves turning the millstone; between the flour of a mechanical mill and that of Penelope's house. The most wretched of the Parisians eat bread a hundred times preferable to the black cakes of Ithaca's queen, and each of the workmen we just mentioned can procure for his home more comforts than the prudent Ulysses.
—In the Pyrenees, where the ancient mode of working iron is kept up, with some improvement, however, one still finds forges similar to those which must have been used centuries ago. The quantity of iron representing a day's work of a man with these furnaces, may be approximately estimated at about six kilograms (over thirteen pounds avoirdupois). Modern industry has constructed blast furnaces,33 enormous structures, capable of running off from three to five thousand kilograms at a heat, if operated with charcoal, and from ten to eighteen thousand kilograms if operated with coke; and the average daily product of the labor of a man may be estimated at 150 kilograms of iron. In other terms, the labor of an iron worker is to-day twenty-five times more productive. Note also that the ores mined present more difficulties, and that the product obtained is better.
—Another comparison will show us a prodigious growth, made not since the time of Homer or within centuries, but simply within the last three-fourths of a century. Spinning machinery, in fact, which has given rise, as if by enchantment, to so numerous and such fine manufactures, dates no farther back. It was only in 1769 that Arkwright took out his first patent; and only in 177434 that Watt, whose inventions made the steam engine common, took his. The cotton industry, as it exists to-day, is the work of these two men. Thanks to them, admirable spinning machines set in motion hundreds of spindles which are so disposed and combined, that it is calculating largely to estimate five workmen to take charge of two frames connected with 800 spindles, or one workman for 160 spindles. But a good spinning mill of India or Europe makes just as much thread as half a spindle; so that a cotton spinner to-day turns off 320 times more thread than in 1769; in other terms, within a little more than a century, the productive power of man has increased 320 times in that necessary industry. In the spinning of flax, which is of comparatively recent date, one person is sufficient to take care of 120 spindles, which produce as much thread as 240 spinners, and the thread produced is finer.
—It has been by combining the advantages of the division of labor with mechanical and steam power that printing has wrought those prodigies which defy all comparison. Workmen transform the copy of the writer into pages of type; but a machine impelled by steam, and aided only by two or three men, spreads the ink over this type, carries the sheets of white paper over it as fast as they are presented, prints them, and delivers them on the other side to the person whose business it is to collect them. There are machines which ordinarily print five or six thousand copies35 an hour. How many copyists would be needed to do as quickly and as well?
—By the aid of a simple mechanism, called a slide, people succeeded in extracting from the depths of impenetrable forests, trees which were there valueless. Such a slide was that of Alpnach, in Switzerland, which for several years enabled the century-old trees lost on the heights and in the gorges of Mt. Pilatus to be utilized. By means of plane surfaces ingeniously supported by scaffoldings, passing over precipices, over and under numerous rocks, and following a well-managed gradient, these trees traveled over a space of twelve kilometres (about seven and a half English miles), in two minutes and a half. In six minutes a tree passed from the forest into Lake Lucerne; thence it descended the Reuss, and went by the way of the Aar and the Rhine to the sea.
—The progress attained in our day in ordinary transportation is not less phenomenal. When Fernando Cortez arrived in Mexico, everything was transported on the backs of men. This is still the case in many localities in America, Asia, Africa, and even in Europe. Wherever the improvement of the roads would allow transportation on the backs of quadrupeds, the progress has been as thirty kilograms (about sixty-six lbs.), the load of a man, to 200 kilograms (about 440 lbs.) the load of a good horse traveling at a walking pace. Wherever the roads have become passable for carriages the same motive power has been able to draw, on a two-wheeled cart, a weight at least five times greater. On a canal, and with a boat, the same horse draws from eighty to a hundred times more; that is to say, eighty to a hundred thousand kilograms. On railroads, traction is ten times more easy than on ordinary roads. On these, travelers ordinarily go ten (French) leagues or forty kilometres (about twenty-five English miles) an hour; merchandise, four to five leagues. Whole populations and masses of merchandise are transported at one trip, and that at prices extraordinarily reduced, being between twenty and five centimes per ton and per kilometre, according to the kind of merchandise. One makes in a few hours a journey which, not many years ago, required several days, and, a century ago, weeks and even months. In 1763 the public conveyance from Edinburgh to London took a fortnight; in 1835 the stages went this distance in forty-eight hours; to-day the trip may be made by railway in eight hours. Madame de Sévigné tells us that in 1672 it was necessary to sacrifice a month in order to go from Paris to Marseilles, a journey that is made in sixty hours by the ordinary roads, and that can be made in one-third this time by railway. "Time is money," say the English, money that may be saved. "It is the material of which life is made," said Franklin. The economy to the people of the new ways of communication is therefore considerable. Suppose a line of travel frequented by a half million travelers. The saving of an hour for each traveler produces for the whole the sum of 500,000 hours, or 50,000 days, representing a year's manual labor of 166 men who do not increase by one cent the general expense of food, and whose time has a value much superior to that of the average workman.
—We may add that in the time of Madame de Sévigné and even considerably later, such journeys involved perils sufficiently serious for it to be prudent to make one's will. In our day, and notwithstanding the extreme rapidity of steam travel, the chances have been singularly diminished. In England, only one victim (killed or injured) is estimated to 500,000 or 600,000 travelers.
—We have just called attention to the fact that the saving produced by inventions for transportation may be estimated in the days' work of men who do not increase the general supply of food. This observation is important, and we ought to extend it to the action of inventions. It was estimated that there were in France, in 1846, nearly 4,400 steam engines, equivalent to 1,100,000 men. These eminently laborious automats, coming to the aid of the human population, content themselves with coal for their only food, and in no way diminish the supply of provisions or make them dearer.
—II. Economic and Moral Effects of Inventions. It is superfluous to dwell here on the manner in which inventions, the first effect of which is an abundance of products and a lowering of prices, finally result in the possibility of a continually increasing number of the population procuring for themselves these products; and how inventions thus diminish their sufferings, increase their material well-being, and obtain for them the means of participating in the share of intellectual and moral enjoyments of which civilization permits the attainment. (See CONSUMPTION.) The high price of products is the principal obstacle to the progress of society. There is a tendency in society (constantly progressive, but hitherto incapable of attaining its object) toward a condition which may be expressed as being an accumulation of alimentary substances, of those which serve for clothing and for dwellings as well as of objects of science and the arts, so that every man may always be able to procure for himself and his family larger and larger quantities of these objects. This is a result desired alike by the philanthropist, the philosopher, the economist and the statesman; and it is every day approaching realization, through the fecundity of human genius, expressing itself in improvements and inventions of every kind. Formerly the English cotton factories scarcely met the demands for internal consumption, which averaged a decimetre of cloth for each person. To-day they give from sixteen to eighteen metres, and they export considerable quantities. Prices grow lower every day. "Consequently this soft, convenient and useful cloth, formerly so dear and so rare, is to-day within the means of every one. This is almost a revolution in manners. A change has been wrought in domestic life; a love for neatness and a habit of it, have become general; and "cleanliness," as the English preacher, Wesley, said, "is more than a quality: it is a virtue which elevates the soul, because it gives man a sense of his dignity." (Michel Chevalier, Cours d' Economie Politique, p. 91.)
—In the reign of Henry II. no one had a handkerchief; most of the great lords were themselves obliged to wipe their noses on their elbows. Through the progress in agriculture, navigation, spinning and weaving, most of the French to-day can be provided with some of these aids to neatness. The same is true of shirts, and of all the necessaries of life. In former times, the purchase of a Bible required a small capital; to-day an infinite number of works are sold at only a few sous, and in England and the United States the humblest family can take at least one weekly journal. Only a short time ago traveling was a great luxury; by the improvement of the avenues of communication, it is now within the reach of every one.
—The facts which we have given, and others still more numerous which we might recall, prove how mechanical, physical and chemical inventions unite powerfully to realize conditions of liberty and equality, to redeem man from slavery, properly so called, as well as from that other slavery of privation and brutalizing labor, and to elevate him in his own eyes and in those of his fellow creatures. Religion and philosophy have in turn proclaimed these great principles of liberty and equality; but, as M. Aug de Gasparin observes, (Considérations sur les machines, Lyons, 1834), they would have remained powerless to give them value without progress in the industries. Slavery, we must not forget, existed among the ancients side by side with philosophy; in modern times it was imported into the colonies and maintained there by Christians, both Catholic and Protestant. Religion and philosophy would alone be incapable of accomplishing the temporal redemption of humanity. Mills have come and freed a host of slaves, who, among the ancients, were engaged in pounding grain in mortars or turning grinding stones by hand; and those whom the lot of war condemned to be simple machines, have been replaced by millers to whom free labor always secures a modest competency, and sometimes wealth and consideration. The sail effected the deliverance of the unfortunate ones who were compelled to ply the oar, a labor so severe that slaves among the ancients, and malefactors, in more recent times, were, under the name of galley-slaves, put to this work. To the sail, steam is added; and henceforth the sufferings of the sailorboys and the sailors are alleviated; the privations they endure are less severe; their manners become more gentle. Intelligence has come to take the place of force, or better, to direct it, guide it, and make it productive.
—What we say of the severe and fatiguing labors, is still more true of the labors of a repulsive and dangerous nature, which scientific processes modify or transform, or of which inventions wholly relieve men. Such, for example, is the new method of gilding and silvering, which dispenses with the intervention of mercury, so destructive of human life; such is the new way of cleaning ditches, which saves laborers from the morbid effects of sulphureted hydrogen, and their tools from its corrosive power.
—Let us also observe that, by favoring the division of labor, mechanical and other improvements bring women back more and more to the care of the family and of housekeeping, and make it possible for all the faculties of man to be cultivated and made productive in the general interest of humanity. It has been noticed that in England and the United States, where mechanical appliances have been largely developed, women labor very little in the fields, and are not seen bending under the weight of a harvest burden or a basket of manure. This sad spectacle, on the contrary, meets us in many parts of continental Europe, and even in several localities in France. In Paris, itself, in the heart of civilization, it is not rare to see women harnessed to vehicles, or bending under the weight of heavy burdens. It is also in countries where improvements in agriculture have been the greatest, that it most fully employs the resources of mechanics, the power of animals and the teachings of science; in countries where transportation is the easiest, that the means of subsistence are produced with the fewest hands, and consequently that a greater number of minds can turn to other branches of human activity, such as the industries, commerce, the arts and philosophic and scientific researches, the influence of which then makes itself felt on laboring men and indeed on all humanity.
—There is one last remark we wish to make. Certainly, every one is of the opinion that industrial improvements, machinery and other applications of science, give nations a greater desire to have security maintained, and that, by binding people more closely together through the growing exchange of products, of ideas, of sentiments and of esteem, their influence has already made war, conquest and domination unpopular; and every day this same cause renders more difficult the return of that folly of princes and peoples, an impious recourse to arms. But on this point there is a still more direct influence of inventions and the genius of invention, which we must here take into account. In becoming perfected, instruments of destruction, by one of those admirable apparent contradictions of which Providence holds the secret, become in fact less to be dreaded. There has been less destruction of human life since the invention of cannon. Battles where guns are used are relatively less fierce than those with swords; a few projectiles intelligently thrown can take the place of those impetuous assaults after which the conquered were put to the sword, and the conquerors, mad with victory, marked their pathway with blood. It is because the certainty of destruction has been increased by the improvements in firearms; and it is in the nature of the most courageous even, to shun such a certainty.
—We have, as we think, sufficiently analyzed the power of inventions, and their industrial and social effects. We have, however, said nothing of the services rendered humanity by printing, nothing of the influence of the improvements in the means of communication, both by land and by sea, nothing of postal communication, of the mariner's compass, or of the electric telegraph! III. Objections made to Inventions; Inventions always useful to Society and to Labor in general. The case of inventions has been won in political economy; but the prejudice which condemns them has still too many echoes in society for us to here pass over in silence the arguments which perpetuate it. Let us proceed with them in due order. Here is the fundamental objection, which goes to the heart of the problem, and which is the root of the thicket of sophisms formed by all the others. People can not and do not deny the prodigious effects of the employment of machines and the resulting economy of productive force; but they say (and this was the very objection of Montesquieu36 ), that this economy for some is compensated by the loss of others, and that finally society grows poorer by the amount of labor saved by the invention and lost to those of its members whom it deprives of work.
—We will not dwell on the question of justice which meets us here. John produces an article under certain conditions, and makes me pay a certain price for it; Paul exercises his ingenuity, and finds a way to do better and to offer me the article at a lower price. By what right does John keep the monopoly of doing worse? In virtue of what justice is Paul not to be permitted to do better, and I compelled to buy of one rather than the other? But we will not dwell on this. It is not correct to say that society loses, and on this point we will give the words of Bastiat: "Jack had two francs with which he was employing two workmen. But he conceives an arrangement of ropes and weights which shortens the labor by half. He therefore obtains the same result, saves a franc and discharges a workman. He discharges a workman: this is what people see. * * But behind the half of the phenomenon which people see, there is another half which they do not see. They do not see the franc saved by Jack and the necessary results of that saving. Since, in consequence of his invention. Jack spends but one franc for manual labor, in the pursuit of a particular advantage, he has a franc remaining. If then there is in the world a workman with unemployed hands, there is also a capitalist who offers this unemployed franc. These two elements meet and combine, and it is as clear as daylight that between the demand and supply of labor, and the demand and supply of wages, the relation is in no respect changed. The invention and the one workman paid with the first franc now perform the work which was formerly accomplished by two workmen. The second workman, paid with the second franc, produces a new piece of work. What then has been changed in the world? There is one more object in the country that can satisfy human desire, in other terms, the invention is a gratuitous conquest, a gratuitous profit to humanity. * * * Its final result is an increase of satisfaction for the same amount of labor. Who gains this additional satisfaction? First, the inventor, the capitalist, the first one who employs the invention successfully, and this is the reward of his genius and of the risk he has taken. In this case, as we have just seen, he realizes a saving in the expense of production, which, in whatever way it may be spent (as it always is), employs just as many hands as the invention has caused to be discharged. But soon competition forces him to lower his selling price in proportion to the saving in expense. And then it is no longer the inventor who gets the profit from the invention, but it is the buyer of the product, the consumer, the public, including the workman—in a word, mankind. And what people do not see, is that the saving thus effected by all consumers creates a fund from which wages get a supply, which makes up for that which the invention had stopped. Thus, to recur to the above-mentioned example: Jack obtains a product by expending two francs in wages. Thanks to his invention, the manual labor costs him only one franc. So long as he sells the product at the same price, there is one less workman occupied in making this especial product this, people see; but there is one workman more employed by means of the franc which Jack has saved: this, they do not see. When, in the natural course of things, Jack is compelled to lower the price of his product a franc, he no longer realizes a saving by the invention: then he will no more have an extra franc at his disposal, with which to command, of the labor in the nation, another product. But, in this respect, the purchaser is put in his place, and this purchaser is mankind. Whoever buys his product pays for it a franc less, saves a franc, and necessarily holds this saving, at the service of the wages fund: this, again, people do not see'37
—Applying this demonstration to the example of the water mill, which we gave at the beginning, we find that instead of paying at least 290 francs per day to those who turn the grinding stone, the consumers of flour, which is made in mills, turn over these 290 francs into the common fund of wages, from which those who turned the stones and who will now employ their time at some other occupation to produce something else useful to society, will derive the benefit. It is, therefore, not true that society loses by the employment of a new invention which saves money to the buyer. For this saving is simply changed in direction: as the industries are conjoined in their interests, what is economized in one, goes to another. They form, as Bastiat has also said, a vast whole of which all the parts communicate by hidden channels: and consequently economy does not occur at the expense of labor and wages.
—Another demonstration may be given that inventions do not injure society. It is that which J. B. Say (Nouveaux Principles d'Economie Politique, vol. i. chap. vi.) addresses particularly to Sismondi, taking up the objection of Montesquieu and starting with the premise that the wants of nations are a fixed quantity, that, in consequence, every time that consumption exceeds the means of production, every new discovery is a benefit to society, and that when production suffices fully for consumption, every similar discovery is a calamity. At the outset we should remark, that Sismondi grants the utility of inventions in a case which, taking everything into consideration, is the general case, and J. B. Say, in fact, to reply to him has only to deny that the wants of society are a fixed and assignable quantity; because population increases, because every day we make use of products unknown to those who came before us, because, as the invention reduces the expense of production, the lowering of the price of the product incites to an increase of consumption, which necessitates an increase of production, and, in the end, the employment of as many men, or even more, after the invention as before it (we shall revert to this point): because, finally, the products created by a producer furnish him the means of buying the products created by another, and in consequence of this production both are better supplied. And here J. B. Say calls to his and the theory of markets, on which he has thrown so much light. He also cites the development of two great parent industries, very modest in their beginnings, but which the genius of invention has developed so enormously and so rapidly that they have become trunks with almost innumerable branches, employing a thousand times as many laborers as formerly38 These two industries are printing and spinning cotton. We might mention many others, and prove by statistics, that at the end of a certain time the new industry engages, either directly or indirectly, a larger working population. This demonstration corroborates the preceding. Alone, it would be insufficient; for it would leave one to conclude that in the case (very rare, it is true) where the special consumption of the product in question remains stationary or nearly so, the invention is an injury to labor, which is incorrect; for not only does it not harm society, but it is of advantage to it by putting it in the way of increasing its gratifications without increased effort, and by giving it an opportunity to accumulate an increase of capital, with which it can pay for more labor.
—Other minor objections have been made to inventions. It has been said that they impose upon man oppressive toil. But this conclusion has been drawn from a few particular cases which have not been clearly brought under the general rule. To any one who has a little acquaintance with industrial occupations as a whole, this assertion has no foundation. If inventions have one evident, incontestable effect, it is to simplify and lighten labor. It has been said that they render industrial labor irregular, by promoting alternations of activity and complete stagnation, and consequently exhausting the workman by over-work and condemning him afterward to poverty. This objection is likewise the expression of imperfect observations. The employment of inventions supposes establishments on a large scale, whose proprietors have invested a large amount of capital. Now, it is only at the last extremity that those who carry on such establishments stop their business, because they do not wish to lose interest on their capital and general expenses; and experience proves that before suspending work, these business men sacrifice their own interests and even knowingly incur losses in hope of better days. These efforts to continue production are less in establishments which do not employ inventions, and which, in the alternative of suspending labors or continuing them at a loss, hesitate less to discharge their workmen. Inventions have also been accused of promoting division of labor, over-stimulating the increase of the manufacturing population, leading to excessive production and industrial crises, and bringing on a decline in wages and too severe labor. These are all objections which, were they well founded (which we are not willing to admit), would be wrongly attributed to inventions. The latter are sometimes the effect and sometimes the cause of a greater division of labor; but this division is one of the greatest means of progress, and the charges brought against it will hardly bear examination. (See DIVISION OF LABOR.) It is not to inventions that we should impute the incitement to self-multiplication among the working population, but to the system of protection and prohibition. Inventions have more properly the reverse effect, by lightening the occupations of man and thereby improving his morals. Excess of production and crises also arise from causes entirely different. (See CRISES, PRODUCTION.) As to decline in wages and the excessive length of a day's labor, these result from an excess of working population, a subject which will be presented and developed under the word POPULATION. We can, however, say here that the condition of the working classes in our day, compared with that of times more remote, when inventions were not common, and that the condition of the working classes of manufacturing and agricultural countries where the employment of inventions is considerable, compared with that of the same classes where inventions are rarely used, proves that the facts observed are at variance with the objections just stated. Sixty years ago the great mass of the English and French people were not nearly so well provided with necessary articles. Nor must we look to Egypt or any other country still destitute of inventions, for comfort, morality and intelligence.
—IV. Inventions may displace Workmen; numerous circumstances which counterbalance this disadvantage. If we consider only the workmen whose place the invention takes, we see at once men deprived of their work, their means of living, and obliged to seek other occupations, to put themselves to a new apprenticeship, and to suffer the privations of a stoppage; hence, anxiety and suffering "Here," says Rossi, (Cours d'Economie Politique, 2d vol., 10th lesson). "we have a grave fact, a fact which the defenders of inventions would be wrong to question. * * When it was claimed that this fact merited little consideration; when it was asserted that laborers passed readily at once from one kind of work to another; that the increase of products and the decline in prices, and the increasing general consumption, caused the same producer soon to demand again, not withstanding the inventions, the same number of workmen as before, I do not hesitate to say, the question was evaded, and, to a certain point, the true results of the operation were concealed." We will add, that it would be interpreting Rossi erroneously, to adjudge him hostile to inventions. If he does not defend them, it is, as he says, because they defend themselves. They mark industrial progress, and "industrial progress nothing can arrest."39 We agree with Rossi that it is well, in political economy, not to evade difficulties; but, happily, we have a statement to insert here, of several circumstances which can, and which in fact do, diminish the inconveniences which may temporarily result to the working class from the introduction of inventions which accelerate production. 1. New inventions are generally expensive, and a large amount of capital is needed to put them in operation. If this difficulty does not prevent their final adoption, it at least delays it. Convincing proof of this can be found in the history of most industries. 2. The routine spirit, the dread of innovations, and the fear of losing capital, delay the application of new inventions, render the transition gradual, and sometimes prevent the appearance of any inconveniences. 3. In proportion as the arts become more nearly perfect, the invention of machines becomes more difficult. There is a degree of art in which blind force is made to execute all that is possible to it, and where man fulfills only a purely intellectual function.
—But in the century which has just elapsed, and which is so remarkable for the progress of the sciences and the industries, certain classes of workmen have been most cruelly affected. In our times we may mention those of Belgian Flanders, whom the introduction of flax-spinning, added to other causes, reduced to poverty. (See Etudes d'Economie Politique et Statistique, by M. Wolowski; Guillaumin, Paris, 1848.) Because of these facts, writers have thought they must make out a case against new inventions, industrial innovations, and the general displacement of labor and capital. In whatever has been said, no one has thus far been able to refute the body of considerations which we have presented. We should add, many of the opponents of inventions and of industrial improvements used this theme to exaggerate the defects of present society, which they proposed to reconstruct from the foundation, and that it was to them a literary or scientific instrument, far more than an economic or scientific discussion.
—To recapitulate: those who have rejected inventions have seen that they were obliged to oppose the increase of useful things, oppose economy in production, the attainment of a result with diminished effort; in short, to maintain the theory of poverty; and more than one has used faulty logic. But let us revert to the displacement of workmen. Means have been sought to remedy this evil, which, happily, is temporary and transient. Barbarians thought they could proscribe machines. The reader will hardly permit us to stop to consider this opinion. To reject machines is to reject every invention, every improvement, every innovation, every step forward. And, as every man thinks, invents and perfects more or less in his especial business, it would be necessary to decree immobility of intellect, the death of humanity. It is absurd: that is all. As for the rest, we join in Ricardo's remark (p. 241, M'Culloch's edition of Ricardo's works): "The employment of machinery could never safely be discouraged in a state, for if capital is not allowed to get the greatest net revenue that the use of machinery will afford here, it will be carried abroad, and this must be a much more serious discouragement to the demand for labor than the most extensive employment of machinery; for while a capital is employed in this country it must create a demand for some labor; machinery can not be worked without the assistance of men; it can not be made but with the contribution of their labor. By investing part of a capital in improved machinery, there will be a diminution in the progressive demand for labor; by exporting it to another country, the demand will be wholly annihilated." There are people who dare not go so far, and who propose to prevent or prohibit only certain inventions, perhaps the most complicated, or those which take the most work from the workman, or the newest. But if one should ask the authors of these propositions to themselves classify the inventions to be preserved or destroyed, to be allowed or proscribed, they would really not know how to reply. If steam is to be rejected, why not the power of wind or water? Why mills to grind the grain? Why stones? And would the plowshare, which does the work of ten men working with a spade, find favor? We are indeed, we repeat, still wholly absurd, and we must make haste to rid ourselves of our absurdity. But, do you ask what we must do? Let us first tell what has been proposed.
—M. de Sismondi, the most serious opponent of machines, draws no definite conclusion. Only one may say that the logic of his criticism, inspired by honest feeling, but based on imperfect observation, leads to the abandonment of the division of labor, of machines, and of manufactures, and to a return to a patriarchal state of society, which M. Proudhon has defined as "the system of every one at his own abode, every one for himself, in the most literal acceptation of the phrase." M. Proudhon adds: "It is to go backward; it is impossible" J. B. Say had already said so to M. de Sismondi; but it is well to have it repeated to him by the harsh criticism of the Malthusians (Contradictions Economiques, 1st vol., iv., § iii.)
—The communists and socialists reasoned thus: "Since the object of inventions is to render man as rich as possible with the least labor, since the natural agents must do everything for all, inventions ought to belong to the community." Then follow, as remedies for the evils attributed to inventions, the various new systems of social organization. It is not for us here to discuss these illusions. (See SOCIALISM.)
—Another opinion arises from this, without being as logical: it is that of those who have proposed an association of the inventors, proprietors and workmen. This is another utopia, which it would take too much time to discuss here; we confine ourselves to its mere mention.
—It has been proposed that the workmen should be indemnified by the inventors, or by the capitalists and manufacturers who make use of the new inventions. Here arises at once a question of justice, property and rights. But, the question of justice aside, who does not know the uncertainties of new enterprises, the perplexities and mortifications of inventors and those who first apply the inventions! Should not these also have a right to indemnification? And then who, pray, would not have a right to complain of the wrong done him by any innovation, any improvement whatever? Has any one dreamed of the indemnities which would have been due for the application of steam, for the introduction of stages, canals or locomotives?
—People can not insist on this order of ideas, and so they propose that the state be the chief indemnifier. But if one only means philanthropy and alms, we will remark, at the outset, that the state has no other pockets than those of its citizens, and that the most numerous class of citizens are the poorest. We admit, however, that there may be a case in which humanity and prudence would recommend either the creation of public works to give temporary relief to the displaced workmen, or some other kind of assistance. These are precarious means; but there are no others; and the final conclusion of this matter is, that the bad effects of an invention being always exceeded by the social advantages it secures, will be so much the less felt by the workmen it displaces, as the industry prospers the more, and the unclassed laborers the more readily find again a remunerative occupation and are able, from previous savings, to provide for their necessities during stoppages.
—In the number of means for contending with the disadvantages of inventions should then be found a general diffusion of the first principles of political economy, in the schools, by the aid of which the children, who will some day be workmen, would begin to comprehend the true nature of things, and would be fortified in advance against the prejudices which incite them later to hate and oppose inventions, or to depend upon chimerical means for subsistence.
—V. Conclusion. To recapitulate: the question of inventions is one of the most clearly resolved in political economy.
—The right to invent, to improve, and to apply, is unassailable in itself. Moreover, its prohibition is impossible.
—In the second place, society derives from every rational, mechanical, scientific, administrative or other change, more satisfactions for less effort, satisfactions which can be measured by the effective power of modern industries.
—In the third place, the improvements made in the industries are not long in curing the individual evils, which sometimes, but not always, result from the displacement of labor and capital. These evils can not be compared with the advantages which counterbalance them, and they are so much the less as the industry is the more prosperous.
—Finally, we can do no better than close with one of the observations with which we began, and we borrow the words of Bastiat: "There is a natural inclination in men to go, unless forcibly prevented, to a good market, that is to say, to that which, with equal satisfaction, saves them labor, whether this good market comes from a skillful foreign producer or from a skillful mechanical producer. The theoretical objection made to this inclination is the same in both cases. In both cases it is accused of paralyzing labor. Now labor rendered not inert, but disposable, is precisely what determines this inclination; and this is why, in both cases, it is opposed by the same practical obstacle, viz., force. The legislator prohibits foreign competition and interdicts mechanical competition: for what other means exist of arresting an inclination natural to all men, except to take away their liberty? In many countries, it is true, the legislator strikes at only one of these two kinds of competition, and contents himself with lamenting the other: this proves only one thing, which is that, in this country, the legislator is inconsistent. This need not surprise us: on a wrong road, people are always inconsistent; if it were not so mankind would be destroyed. Never have we seen and never shall we see a false principle carried out to the extreme. I have elsewhere said: Inconsistency is the limit of absurdity. I might have added: it is at the same time the evidence of it." (Bastiat, Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne coil pas; Paris, Guillaumin, 1850, brochure in 16mo, p. 49.) Nothing can be more just than these words of our illustrious co-worker and friend.
—The question of inventions did not engage the attention of Adam Smith; yet a part of his celebrated chapter on division of labor relates to this subject. J. B. Say contributed much to its elucidation, first in his Treatise, afterward in his Course, 1st part, chaps, xviii. and xix. See also the Course, by Florez Estrada. chap. ix.; the first lessons, by M. Michel Chevalier; the Elements, by M. Joseph Garnier, etc. See also the pamphlet by M. A. Gasparin, often quoted above. Mal thus and Rossi have said little on this subject. Ricardo has developed some particular points in his Principles, chap. xxxi. (See above.) Sismondi has only spoken of it in one very short chapter, devoted likewise to the effects of division of labor, which circumstance produces a certain confusion in his objections. Socialistic schools and political pamphleteers have, in turn, exaggerated the advantages or disadvantages of inventions M. Proudhon has, in Contradictions Economiques, given considerable attention to inventions. He is favorable to this species of improvement; he analyzes and combats the various means proposed to neutralize directly the displacement of workmen which a new invention may occasion. (See CAPITAL, DIVISION OF LABOR, FREE TRADE, INDUSTRY, MACHINES.)
[31.]Cours d' Economie Politique, 1st vol., 2d lesson. From this work we borrow such of these facts as relate to the mill of St. Maur, to iron and to spinning, which are presented there more in detail.
[32.]The present rate of production (July, 1881) in the flouring mills of Washburn, Crosby 8 Co, Minneapolis, Minn., is such that the average product of a man's labor is the flour required for 3,983 persons, allowing three-fourths of a pound daily per individual, and considering that consumption continues one day more per week than product on. These mills employ 281 men (who work twelve hours per day—a part from noon to midnight and a part from midnight to noon, exclusive of workmen not connected directly with milling, such as carpenters, millwrights, machinists and laborers. The total daily production with this force is 5,000 barrels of flour per day of twenty-four hours.—E. J. L.
[33.]A blast furnace now in operation in Kentucky has run off forty tons of iron per day for several successive days. By the aid of recent improvements, a better quality of metal is obtained from very refractory ores than was formerly obtained from ore more easily worked.—E. J. L.
[34.]Watt took out a patent for his invention in 1769, and in 1775 obtained from parliament a prolongation of his patent for twenty-five years. (See Chambers' Encyc., Art. Watt.)—E. J. L.
[35.]The Walter machine, on which the London "Times" and the New York "Times" are printed, gives 11,000 perfected sheets an hour. The Victory press will print, cut, fold, and paste at the back a twenty-four page sheet at the rate of 7,000 an hour. The Hoe perfecting press will give 12,000 or more perfected sheets in an hour. (See Appleton's Cyclopædia, 1880.)
[36.]Montesquieu said: "Those machines which aim to shorten the process are not always useful. If an article sells at a middling price one equally advantageous for the buyer and the workman who made it, any machines which should simplify the process of manufacture, that is to say, which should diminish the number of workmen, would be injurious; and it mills propelled by water power were not established everywhere, I should not believe them as advantageous as people say they are, because they have deprived a great number of people of an opportunity to work cut off the use of the water from many fields, and have made many others lose their fruitfulness.' (Esprit des Lois, book xviii., chap. xv.) We reproduce here the whole substance of Montesquieu on this subject. We should remark that the illustrious publicist knew nothing of the marvels of modern industry, and that he wrote before Adam Smith and his successors had thrown upon economic questions the light to which his superior reason would not have been insensible.
[37.]Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas. (What people see, and what they do not see), brochure in 16mo, p. 50. (This pamphlet is one of Bastiat's essays on Political Economy, and included in the published American translation of the same.)—E. J. L.
[38.]In England, before the invention of machines, there were estimated to be only 5,200 spinners at small wheels, and 2,700 weavers; in all, 7,900 workmen, while in 1787, ten years after the number of spinners, according to the report of an investigating committee, was estimated at 105,000, and of weavers, 217,000; in all, 352,000 workmen. Since then, machinery has changed, the same work is performed with much fewer workmen, and steam has taken the place of men in many kinds of labor, and yet the number of workmen has increased. Mr. Barnes, in his "History of the Cotton Manufacture,' (London, 1835), has shown that in 1883 there were 237,000 workmen spinning or weaving at machines, and 230 000 weaving by hand, in all, 487,000 persons. By grouping the workmen in the side industries, such as cloth printing, tulles, cap making, etc., Mr. Barnes reaches 800,000 or 1,500,000, if the old men, women and children are counted; and 2,000,000. if he includes the joiners and masons who build the factories, and the locksmiths who make the machines, without counting the women and the old men.
[39.]Ricardo (chap. xxxi. of his "Principles" added to the 4th edition, translated into French in the Collection des Principaux Economistes,) examines the exceptional and theoretical case of sudden invention and application. He shows, likewise, that, in certain given cases, the invention or the industrial improvement may augment the net product while diminishing the raw product, and may displace workmen. But Ricardo is not on that account hostile to inventions. He says (p. 240, M'Culloch's edition): "The statements which I have made will not, I hope, lead to the inference that machinery should not be encouraged. To elucidate the principle, I have been supposing that improved machinery is suddenly discovered, and extensively used; but the truth is, that these discoveries are gradual, and rather operate in determining the employment of the capital which is saved and accumulated, than in diverting capital from its actual employment." (See, farther on, another quotation from the same author.)
Footnotes for IRELAND
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: LAISSEZ FAIRE—LAISSEZ PASSER
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LAISSEZ FAIRE—LAISSEZ PASSER. These two formulas, which are frequently met with in economic, political, social and socialistic discussions, were invented by the physiocrates. By laissez faire they mean simply let work, and by laissez passer, allow exchange; in other words, the physiocrates demand, by these phrases, the liberty of labor, and the liberty of commerce.
—These two phrases have never been used by economists in any other sense; but the partisans of interference of all forms—socialists, protectionists, administrationists and interventionists—have often pretended to believe that they were the expression of the liberty to do everything, not only in political economy, but in morals, in politics and in religion. Jabard made this same assertion, about half a century ago, in the numerous pamphlets which he published, and even went so far as to assert that by laissez faire and laissez passer economists understood "unrestrained depredation." To repeat such an interpretation is sufficient refutation for any serious, thinking man who does not close his eyes in order that he may not see, and stop up his ears that he may not hear. Economists do not apply their axiom to morals, politics or religion, which subjects they do not consider at all as economists, but only inasmuch as they relate to human activity and human industry; they do not pretend that men should be allowed to do everything, and that everything should be allowed to pass, but simply that men should be allowed to work and to exchange the fruits of their labor without hindrance and without being subjected to preventive measures, under the protection of laws repressing attempts against the property and labor of another.
—Dupont de Nemours thus relates the origin of these formulas in his preface to Turgot's "Eulogy of de Gournay": "M. de Gournay, who was the son of a merchant and had long been actively engaged in commercial pursuits himself, had recognized that manufactures and commerce could be made to flourish only by liberty and competition. They discourage rash enterprises, and induce reasonable speculation; they prevent monopolies, restrict the private gains of merchants for the benefit of commerce, quicken industry, simplify machinery, diminish the burdensome expense of transportation and storage, and lower the rate of interest. They secure the highest possible price for the products of the earth, for the benefit of the producer, and the sale of these products at the lowest possible price, for the benefit of the consumers, for their satisfaction and enjoyment. He concluded from these observations that commerce should never be submitted to any tax or interference, and drew from them this axiom: laissez faire, laissez passer."
—But it seems that this axiom was inspired by a reply made a long time before to Colbert when inquiring about measures favorable to the interests of commerce, the justice of which had impressed itself upon the friends and disciples of Quesnay. "It is well known," says Turgot, in his "Eulogy of de Gournay" already quoted, "what the reply of Legendre to Colbert was: Laissez nous faire, (Let us alone), to which Quesnay added, somewhat later: "Do not govern too much"
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: LIST, AND HIS SYSTEM
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LIST, AND HIS SYSTEM. Frederick List was born in Reutlingen, a free city of Suabia (Würtemberg), Aug. 6, 1789, and died at Kufstein, in the Tyrol, Nov. 30, 1846. His father, a leather dresser, intended him for his own business, but not seeing in him any inclination for it, he decided to make him a government clerk. In 1816, at the age of twenty-seven, he filled a place in one of the central government offices in Würtemberg, and had gained the confidence of M. Wangenheim, the head of the liberal cabinet. This minister having established in Tubingen a school of administrative science, gave List the chair of political economy. At the same time List, in a journal ("The Friend of the Suabian People") started in Heilbronn in 1818 by some of his friends, demanded real national representation, control of the administration, independence of the communes, freedom of the press, and trial by jury; but, shortly after, the reform ministry gave place to its opponents, and this paper was suppressed.
—List states in the preface to his principal work that from this time he conceived his theory with its distinction between cosmopolitan political economy and national political economy, while at the same time he was urging the abolition of provincial duties in Germany, and the development of the industries and commerce of that country by the means used by other peoples. "But," he says, "instead of pursuing my idea by study, my practical mind urged me to put it to the test of application. I was young then (1819), and I hit on the plan of forming an association of merchants and manufacturers to obtain the abolition of the interprovincial taxes and the adoption of a common commercial system; * * the influence of this society on the formation of a compact between the enlightened and high-minded sovereigns of Bavaria and Würtemberg is well known, as also its effect on the German customs association."—(List declares himself the founder and chief agent of this association. This claim has been disputed in the Conversations Lexicon and the "Augsburg Gazette" of December, 1840, and elsewhere. List defended himself against those attacks in his preface, and, later, in the Zollvereins-Blatt of Feb. 24 and March 3, 1846. Whoever is in the right, one thing remains certain, and that is, that List was the head and soul of the association.)
—At the same time List, to put an end to the petty annoyances he suffered from the government, and possessing considerable wealth, resigned his chair, and six weeks later was elected to represent the city of Reutlingen in the Würtemberg estates, but not being yet thirty his election was declared void. He was reelected at the end of 1820. List speaks of this period as follows: "Imagination must suppose the year to be 1819 to have the explanation of my conduct. Governing class and governed, baron and burgess, politician and philosopher, the whole German world, in fact, was fabricating new plans of political regeneration. Germany was like a country laid waste by war where the old proprietors, reinstated in their rights and once more masters of their own property, were on the eve of taking possession again. Some demanded the restoration of the former order of things with all its cumbrous antiquities and superannuated customs; others, rational institutions and agents completely in accordance with modern ideas. Those who gave ear to wisdom and experience were in favor of an intermediate course. Everywhere societies were being formed for the furtherance of patriotic aims. One of the articles of the federal constitution (the 19th) expressly enjoined the organization of a rational commercial system. I saw in this article the foundation on which the industrial and commercial prosperity of my German fatherland might be built."
—List declares that he had to fight on one side the partisans of freedom, whom he represents as forming a powerful party (a statement of which we have grave doubts), and on the other, "differences of opinion, internal dissensions and the absolute want of a theoretical base" in his own camp. (List states, also, that there was great lack of the necessary funds to carry on his agitation while the secret service money of the British government was at the disposal of the advocates of the opposition theory. It will be observed that this calumny is a sufficiently common asseveration with the protectionist school. At the end of the last century the opponents of free trade affirmed on one side of the channel that the defenders of the treaty of 1786 had sold the interests of Great Britain to France. Their comrades on the other side were equally persuaded in respect to the same treaty that the interests of France had been sold to perfidious Albion. At a later period Huskisson was accused of selling himself, Cobden also, his purchaser being, according to them, the Czar Nicholas.) But he affirms that this struggle served to advance his ideas and was the cause of his discovering (this word, somewhat an ambitious one to use of a thing already found out, is his own,) the distinction between the theory of values and that of living forces, that is to say, between wealth and its causes, also the abuse that the school (by this word List means the liberal school) makes of the word capital.
—From the first day of his parliamentary life he urged upon the assembly a bill advocating the breaking down of internal barriers and the commercial union of the German states, but, the diet adjourning, his proposition was not discussed. Shortly after the session List drew up a petition which was to serve as a programme for the parliamentary opposition, and which was the cause of prosecution against him. In February, 1821, he was expelled from the diet on the motion of the ministry; suit was entered against him and he was condemned to ten months' hard labor for outraging and calumniating the government, the courts and the administration of the kingdom. How different from the treatment he received from the minister Wangenheim! List took refuge in France. Received with sympathy in Strasburg, he liked the town, and there projected several literary works; among others, a translation, with notes, of J. B. Say's "Treatise," but the political animosity of his country drove him from that retreat, then from Baden, and from canton after canton of Switzerland. Going to Paris in the beginning of 1823, to seek occupation there, Gen. Lafayette offered to take him to America with him. This proposal to emigrate pleased him, but his family and his friends dissuaded him from it. The year after, tired of a life of wandering and confident of the royal clemency, he re-entered Würtemberg, but he was imprisoned in a fortress and only set at liberty (January, 1825) on condition of leaving the country. It was then he formed the resolution of going to the United States. Accompanied by his numerous family he arrived in the summer, and hastened to join Lafayette in Philadelphia. The general received him cordially and invited him to accompany him on a really triumphal tour among the American people. It was thus that be made the acquaintance of Henry Clay and the principal public men of the young republic.
—After trying several spots he resolved to settle in Pennsylvania, near Harrisburg, with the intention, at a future period, of founding a school of arts and manufactures, but a fever and other circumstances deprived him of success in making the most of a property which he had bought for a moderate sum, and he accepted an offer made him to edit a German paper in the small town of Reading. It was at this time that he published, on the question of free trade, a series of letters in English in the "National Gazette" of Philadelphia. The question was at that time being vigorously debated in the United States, and List informs us that he had then relations with a protectionist association calling itself the Pennsylvanian society for the advancement of arts and manufactures. This society entertained him, reprinted his letters, and passed a resolution inviting him formally "to compose two works, one scientific, in which the theory should be completely elucidated; the other popular, to spread it in schools." This was in 1827. But fortune turned him from this project and postponed the publication of his principal work till twelve years later.
—He discovered, almost accidentally, a coal mine of rich promise, and succeeded in due course in forming a company with a capital of $750,000. The mine was successfully opened up under his direction, and in addition a railway was built in connection with it from Tamaqua to Port Clinton, which landed the produce at the Schuylkill canal. The inauguration of this railway took place in the autumn of 1831. But already List, although he had so much to bind him to America, where he had found wealth and consideration, was longing to return to Europe and Germany. It must be said also that the revolution of July, and the changes it seemed destined to make throughout Europe, had something to do with his resolve. Be that as it may, he obtained from President Jackson a mission in connection with the relations between the United States and France, and the federal government at the same time nominated him to the United States consulate at Hamburg. Arriving in Paris toward the end of 1830, he wrote in the Revue Encyclopédique on the economic, commercial and political reforms, applicable to France; and in the Constitutionnel on the necessity of a new law on the exercise of the right of public domain. He did not go to Germany. "Of his own accord," says M. Richelot. "List almost immediately resigned the Hamburg consulate on learning that the emoluments of the position were needed by the then occupant of the post." Besides, his nomination quickly gave rise to a protest, instigated as he thought by Würtemberg, from the city of Hamburg, and it was not confirmed by the American senate. He returned to the United States toward the end of October, 1831, but the following year he again landed in Europe, the possessor of a fortune which rendered him independent, with the title, purely honorary, of consul at Leipzig, which put him out of the reach of fresh annoyance from the police of his native country. After spending a year in Hamburg he took up his residence in Leipzig in 1833.
—Scarcely had he settled in Germany before he contributed both with pen and purse to the publication of an encyclopædia of political and economic science ("Staats-Lexicon"). He continued at the same time to popularize his favorite idea of a network of German railways which he had already developed in letters sent by him to the "Augsburg Gazette" in 1829, and which he urged with success in a pamphlet "On a system of Saxon railway lines as the basis of a German system, and particularly on the establishment of a line between Leipzig and Dresden." This pamphlet, it is said, led to the formation of a company for the construction of the last named line, to which he gave great assistance as a director. He added fuel to the movement in favor of new routes of communication by the railway journal which he published in 1835. His services, nevertheless, were but poorly recompensed; the citizens of Leipzig confined themselves to offering him for all his trouble and expense a present of $1,500.
—Shortly afterward he paid a visit to his own country. His fellow-countrymen received him with open arms, but the government refused him the title of citizen, and would only regard him as a foreigner having permission to reside in the country; and this, too, after the bench of Friburg had declared his former conviction null and void. This treatment chagrined him greatly. In addition to this mortification came the proscription of his railway paper in the Austrian empire and the loss of the greater part of his fortune as the result of the financial crisis in the United States.
—To restore his health, which had suffered from overwork and from his troubles, he took a trip to Paris in the spring of 1837. He had the opportunity, during this trip, of being presented to King Leopold of Belgium and to Louis Philippe; he also met Dr. Kolb with whom he renewed his former connection and who opened to him the columns of the "Augsburg Gazette"; he received, too, information of a prize offered by the academy of moral and political science, relative to the restrictions on articles of commerce. List relates that he became aware of the competition by pure chance only a fortnight before the date fixed for giving in the essays, but that he nevertheless decided to commit to writing the main idea of his system, and his composition was ranked third out of twenty-seven given in.—(The question was put thus: "When a nation resolves upon free trade or on a revision of tariff legislation, what facts must it consider, to reconcile most equitably the interests of national producers and those of the mass of consumers?" List seems to insinuate that if he was only given the third place it was because MM. Rossi, Blanqui, and the other judges of the competition were, with the exception of M. Ch. Dupin, prejudiced against him by the principles they held. "There were,' he says, after mentioning those three names, "other judges in this assembly, but were their treatises to be rummaged there would only be found ideas suited for female politicians, Parisian dandies, and other mere dabblers, and lastly paraphrases of Adam Smith's paraphrases: of original thought not a vestige, which was to be regretted." To this M. Blanqui has made answer that at that time he was not a member of the academy. As to the section of political economy, the judge of the competition, it was composed, in addition to Messrs. Rossi and Ch. Dupin, of Alexander Delaborde, Villermé and Passy, who had recently been elected in place of Prince Talleyrand.)
—It was this essay, a reproduction of the ideas contained in the Philadelphia letters and amplified in the articles published in the "Quarterly Review" and the "Augsburg Gazette," which became the "National System of Political Economy." List worked there in the bosom of his family, who had rejoined him in Paris, when one of his sons, who had chosen to serve in Algeria, died of fever. Deeply affected by this loss, List turned his steps again in the direction of Germany (summer of 1840). On his return to Leipzig he contributed greatly to the adoption of the line taken by the railway from Halle to Cassel, and on that occasion the university of Jena conferred on him the degree of doctor of laws.
—He chose Augsburg as his residence, and produced, in May, 1841, his work which again drew public attention to his name and procured his rehabilitation, after an audience accorded him by the king of Würtemberg. The approaching tariff congress of the zollverein for 1842 brought back the discussion between free trade and protection in Germany. Recovered from a fall in which he broke his leg, List recommenced his propagandism. He proposed to the publisher Cotta to found a special organ for economic questions in general and the system of protection in particular. It was the Zollvereins-Blatt, in which till his death he developed his ideas with talent and energy.
—At the same time that he was directing and in part writing this sheet, he made numerous journeys which neither benefited his own treasury nor that of the paper, the possession of which Cotta had given up to him. This consideration had caused him to reflect on the means of giving a fresh impetus to his publication, but it was in 1846 that the league and free trade triumphed in England, and he could not resist the desire to see London on that occasion. He related the impressions he received in the two houses of parliament the night on which the abolition of the corn laws was voted by the house of lords. "Dr. Bowring was my conductor, and said to me, 'Permit me to introduce to you Mr. McGregor.' A well-bred man with an intelligent look shook my hand. 'Mr. Cobden desires to make your acquaintance,' another said to me; and a man still young, with a pleasant face, stretched out his hand to me. 'You have come here, then, to be converted.' 'Yes,' answered I, 'and to ask absolution for my sins.' I remained thus a quarter of an hour bantering with my three great opponents. What political life there is in this country! Here you can see history grow."
—List remained three months in London. During his stay he wrote a treatise on the advantages and conditions of an alliance between England and Germany. That was his last production. The insignificant effect it had on English statesmen to whom he had addressed it, discouraged him afresh. It must be said that if his reputation had increased, his fortune had far from kept pace with it; that he had failed to obtain an official position in Würtemberg; that the future of his family caused him great uneasiness; and that he had felt deeply the indifference, the disappointments, the hostility and the humiliations his efforts had exposed him to. His nature was vigorous, but restless, passionate, ardent and feverish, and the joys of success and the disappointments of failure had ended by sapping its vitality.
—On his return from England in the autumn of 1846, his family and friends found him changed; his internal complaint had increased. In November his disease got worse. One morning he set out for Munich en route to Italy, and some days afterward he was found dead in the neighborhood of Kufstein where he had stopped. Before leaving the hotel he had written to Dr. Kolb a despairing letter of farewell, which foreshadowed the approach of death, and by means of which he was identified. List seems to have committed suicide in a fit of temporary insanity, but the manner of death he died has not been clearly ascertained.
—In reading the life of List interest is aroused in a life so active and a nature so full of courage and so well intentioned. But it must be regretted that one so bright and intelligent should have gone astray under the double influence of error and vanity, so far as to believe himself the founder of a new and natural economic doctrine, when he only dressed in the language of contemporary prejudice the superannuated theory of a system of commercial protection. List appears in four distinct characters: as a politician, as a promoter of German railways, as a promoter of the zollverein, and as a theorist on protectionist tariffs on the frontiers of the German states. We have nothing to do with him as a politician, and will confine ourselves to mentioning that he strove for constitutional guarantees, for municipal freedom and decentralization at a time now deemed remote. We must admire the efforts which List made to draw the attention of Europe in general, and of his fellow-countrymen in particular, to the importance of opening up new means of communication. It would be difficult to decide in regard to this whether he really rendered such service as his partisans have claimed for him. The superiority of railroads was so marked from the first that they were built in the United States and then in England, and it is probable that the European continent would also have taken this forward step even if List's voice had never been heard; for, no one owning the ordinary roads, there could not be formed against the new means of communication any of those coalitions of interests which keep prejudice alive and are a bar to progress.
—We shall not say the same of the zollverein, to the formation of which his activity, his talent and his pen were more positively necessary. We have nevertheless two remarks to make on this subject, with the view of appraising List's efforts at their proper value. We would remark, first, to those enthusiastic protectionist admirers of this father of the zollverein, as they call him, that List confined himself to asking for Germany the application of an efficacious measure carried out forty years before in France, as the result of the intelligent teaching of physiocrats; in the second place, that he was powerfully helped in his undertaking by the influence of the political ideas of those German states which rightly or wrongly saw in a customs union a preliminary step toward their administrative and national predominance.
—Let us consider for a moment List's claims. List, speaking of his ideas, says in his preface: "This system, defective as it may still seem, does not rest in the least on a vague cosmopolitanism, but on the nature of things, on the lessons of history and on national wants." It will be observed that the founders of political economy also took as their basis the nature of things, historical lessons, and national wants. The starting point then of the innovator is nothing new, and what has now to be considered is, whether he has better observed than they the nature of things, or has better understood the lessons of history and the wants of nations. For our own part, there is no question about it.
—List has said: "The loftiest association of individual beings actually realized is that of the state, of the nation; the highest imaginable is that of the human race. We know that an individual is much happier as one of a nation than in a condition of isolation, similarly all nations would be much more prosperous if united by a sense of right, by perpetual peace, and by free trade. Nature little by little is bringing nations to this supreme unison by inducing them, through its differences of climate, of soil and of productions, to barter with each other; through over-population and over-abundance of capital and talents to emigrate or to found colonies. International commerce, in awakening activity and energy by the new wants which it gives rise to, and by the interchange between nations of ideas, discoveries and appliances, is one of the most powerful aids to a nation's civilization and prosperity. But as yet the union of nations through commerce is very imperfect, for it is broken, or at least imperiled by wars and the egotistical measures of this nation or of that. By war, a nation may be deprived of its independence, its possessions, its liberty, its constitution, its laws, its characteristics, in fine, of the measure of cultivation and well-being which it has already attained; it may even be enslaved. By egotistical acts on the part of foreign nations it may be impeded and retarded in its economic development. It is with communes and provinces as it is with individuals. It would be folly to maintain that commercial union is less advantageous than provincial duties to the United States, or the departments of France, and to the states of the Germanic confederation. The united kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland afford a brilliant and decisive example of the immense results of free trade between associated peoples. It remains but to picture a similar union between all the peoples of the earth, and the liveliest imagination would fail to grasp the amount of well-being and comfort it would bring to mankind."
—List admits then, and it is this portion which protectionists who study his writings are compelled to pass by in silence, that the system of free trade, which he called that of the school, is based on a correct idea, an idea which science must admit and work out, that it may fulfill its vocation, which is that of clearing the way for its practical application; and an idea which practice can not ignore without going astray. List, however, finds two faults with the partisans of free trade: first, with not taking into account nationalities, their interests and the conditions peculiar to them; and secondly, with wishing to conciliate nations with the chimera of universal union and peace; and it is here that through sophism and confusion he has missed his proper logical conclusion, and poses as the discoverer of a system which rests on but frail foundations. Thus, he accuses "the school" of confounding cause and effect, of presupposing the existence of the association of international peace, and thus of concluding in favor of free trade. "Peace exists," he says, "between provinces and states already associated, and from this association comes their commercial union. If, on the contrary, associated states begin with a commercial union, free trade would give birth to the enslavement of nations." List starts manifestly with a subtlety: facility of exchange necessarily brings with it international peace; and it could not be admitted that the one is exclusively the cause, and the other exclusively the effect. On the other hand, admitting the truth of List's rule, it follows that free trade ought to be established between nations which are at peace.
—The theory of nationality which List is forced to appeal to to cover the flaws in his logic, while proclaiming free trade between the German states, is a perfect snare; for it is a question incapable of solution to decide what is a German state. In the last analysis List wished to limit German nationality by the line of custom houses; but to begin with, where shall this line stop? That, neither he nor any one else can tell. In the second place, this means of "nationalification," to coin a word, is only legitimate when it increases the wealth of the nation. Then comes the question, is free trade or protection the best for increasing a nation's wealth? a question which is the subject of several articles in this work. List in this matter finds himself in a serious dilemma, so completely is the thesis he undertakes to support at variance with that which he made use of to defend the formation of the zollverein and the suppression of internal duties, and which causes him to cite as an example of beneficial federation the union of Ireland with England and Scotland, while the fanatics of the exclusive system attribute to that union the distress of Ireland, which in reality arises from quite different causes, well understood at the present day.
—In addition to the supposed difference between liberal economy, which he calls cosmopolitan, and his system which he calls political economy, List believes himself to have made another great discovery, that of the theory of exchangeable values and productive forces. By exchangeable values he means products, wealth; by productive forces, the causes of wealth, the means of labor, industry. He is pleased to say that economists had confounded all these before his day, and on this account to reproach the economic school; he reproaches it, for instance, with having limited its researches to material wealth, and with having failed to appreciate the importance to a nation of means of improving the physical and intellectual instruments of its labor. It is very evident that if List had been a professor of political economy for more than the one year, and if he had consequently had an opportunity of learning something of it, he would have seen that his invention was no invention at all.
—He also makes pretensions to having had new ideas on the division of labor, ideas which had escaped the notice of Adam Smith, and this is the conclusion to which he comes: "International division of labor, as well as national, depends greatly on climate and nature. All countries are not suited for the production of tea as China is, of spices as Java, of cotton as Louisiana, of wheat, wool, fruits and manufactures as are the countries of the temperate zone. A nation would be devoid of reason to wish to obtain by a national division of labor, or by indigenous production, articles for the production of which it is unsuited by nature, and which international division of labor or foreign commerce can procure for it, of better quality and at a low price; but it would betray a want of culture or of activity if it did not use all the means at its disposal to satisfy its own wants, and to procure by a surplus of production what nature has refused to its own soil." Truly this is new indeed!
—The idea of nationality, the theory of productive forces, and that of division of labor, are the bases of the book. It seems then to us that we have said sufficient to expose the absurdity of Dr. List's pretensions to be the founder of a new and national system of political economy. His so-called theory is only an ill-compounded amalgam of protectionist ideas on the subjects of politics and economy; and he is not absolutely faithful to it himself, for he declares positively that free trade is the polar star which should guide nations, for it counsels the freedom from taxation of the natural products of the soil and of raw materials; while with regard to manufactured articles, it advocates the gradual extension of the zollverein, that is to say, the widening of the circle of liberty. It is then only by adopting numerous precautions and reservations that the prohibitory and protectionist school can make use of the so-called national system of political economy, and, all things considered, Dr. List is rather an adversary than a partisan of protection, as it is understood in our time.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: MALTHUS, Thomas Robert
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The text is in the public domain.
MALTHUS, Thomas Robert, was born at Rookery, near Dorking, in the county of Surrey, England, Feb. 14, 1766, and died at Bath, Dec. 29, 1834. His father, Daniel Malthus, was in comfortable circumstances, but as he was obliged to leave his fortune to his eldest son, he had Thomas Robert enter upon an ecclesiastical career. He first confided him to Richard Graves, author of "The Spiritual Don Quixote"; then he sent him to the Warrington academy, in Lancashire; but this institution not having been able to maintain itself, he had him complete his studies with Gilbert Wakefield, who enjoyed a great reputation in England. At eighteen years of age, young Malthus entered Jesus college, Cambridge; he took his degree there in 1788, and the following year entered holy orders. After remaining at home for some time, he received a curacy in the neighborhood.
—This was a time when men's minds were in a state of fermentation in Europe, on account of the philosophic movement and the events of the French revolution. William Godwin, a publicist already well known, had just published his book on political justice, in which he claimed that moral evil and all the calamities of the human race were due solely to the defects of governments, and he proposed the establishment of an equality of conditions as a means to prevent the effects of bad political institutions. This work of Godwin had in England both adversaries and partisans. Among the latter was Daniel Malthus, Thomas Robert, his son, on the contrary, had learned from the study of history and of political economy (Adam Smith had published his book in 1776, and David Hume, who had been received into the family with J. J. Rousseau, had published his essays,) that, if defective governments contribute to make men vicious and miserable, the ignorance and degradation of the lower classes contribute powerfully either to form or to maintain bad governments. Malthus was therefore far from harboring any illusions as to the results which might be expected from public reforms.
—Godwin published, in 1797, a collection of essays called "The Inquirer," upon education, morals and literature. One of these essays, upon prodigality and avarice, induced Malthus, then in the prime of youth, to take up his pen, and he answered by an "Essay on the Principle of Population," which he published anonymously, and which must be considered less as a first edition, than as an essay toward the celebrated work printed five years later.
—Malthus opposed those writers in whose eyes the perfectibility of men and of political and social institutions was unlimited, and reduced almost to nothing the influence of bad governments; he defended property and opposed the various socialistic systems which had been already produced by utopians and others; he showed that society had never encountered but two obstacles to its progress, vice and misery; and he pointed out as the chief cause of these obstacles the too rapid increase of population relatively to the means of subsistence.
—This book, which demolished the utopias and systems imagined for the happiness of the human race by popular writers, and which showed the various social phenomena in a new light, was attacked and defended with spirit, as Godwin's had been before it. This incited Malthus thoroughly to examine the subject once more. He first made use of the works of Hume, Wallace, Smith and Price. He examined what influence the principle of population, which he had brought to light, had exercised over nations in the different epochs of history; and desirous to add to the lessons of the past those of his own, he undertook a journey through a part of Europe.
—In the spring of 1789 he departed from England with three other members of Jesus college, Cambridge, (among whom was Daniel Clark, known by his travels in different parts of Europe), and visited Denmark, Sweden and a part of Russia; he subsequently visited Switzerland and Savoy. The result of his travels was the publication of the second edition of the "Essay on the Principles of Population," in 1803, which excited attack even more than did the first. In this work, which was born of the first, but which was new in many respects, Malthus gave a fuller exposition of his ideas by their more complete development, and by the recital of numerous facts borrowed from history and from the situation of different countries; he applied his observations to institutions which had always been considered benevolent, and showed the dangers of an unintelligent philanthropy; he pointed out to the working classes that the best means of permanently raising the rate of wages was to exercise great circumspection in the matter of marriage, etc. We give here only a very slight summary of his ideas, which will be more completely set forth in the article POPULATION—A year after the publication of his work, Malthus was appointed professor of history and of political economy at the college of the East India company, at Ailesbury, near London: it was also about this time that he married. He fulfilled for thirty years his duties as professor and also as minister of the gospel; and it was during this period of his life that he three times revised his celebrated work, that he meditated upon the questions with which science concerns itself, and that he was led to publish his other writings: upon the corn laws (1814 and 1815), upon rent (1815), upon the principles of political economy (1819), upon definitions in political economy (1827), etc.
—Despite its title, the book upon the principles of political economy is not a complete treatise, but only a collection of dissertations relative to the questions to which he had devoted the greatest share of attention, and which he discussed particularly with Ricardo and J. B. Say. He attempted to establish in this book how important it is not to hastily draw general principles from partial observations, and how essential it is to verify general laws by rigorous examination of the facts. He concluded, therefore, that what is absolutely true in principle is far from being always completely applicable in practice, and that, in the imperfect state of society, it is necessary to understand how to sacrifice, in a certain measure, the truth to the needs of prudence and order. This book is far from having had the same celebrity as that on population; this is due, in the first place, to the nature of the subject, and also, in our opinion, to the relative inferiority of the work. But it is enough glory for one man to have discovered a fundamental law, and to have elucidated it by such remarkable research and such profound observations. The dissertations of Malthus, however, have contributed much to the elucidation of many politico-economic principles, and notably to the theory of rent, to which Ricardo's name has been attached. The latter says, in the preface of his "Principles": "In 1815 the true doctrine of rent was published for the first time by Mr. Malthus, in a book entitled, 'An Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent, etc.,' and by a fellow of the university of Oxford, in his 'Essay on the Employment of Capital in Agriculture,' (Dr. West)." M'Culloch had besides pointed out the same doctrine in a writing on the corn trade, published in 1777 by Anderson. This is not the place to examine into the relation of the theory of rent to these times; we only wish here to call attention to the value which Ricardo put upon this part of the works of Malthus, and also to the modesty with which he submitted his own ideas to the public.
—What distinguishes Malthus is love of truth. "This love of truth," says Charles Comte, "which never contradicts itself, produced and developed in him the private virtues which distinguished him: justice, prudence, temperance and simplicity. He had a sweet character. He had such a great control over his passions, he was so indulgent to others, that people who lived near him for more than fifty years declared that they hardly ever saw him disturbed, never in anger, never excited, never cast down. No harsh word, no uncharitable expression, ever escaped his lips against a human being: and, although he was more the object of injustice and calumny than any writer of his age, perhaps of any age, he was rarely heard to complain of this kind of attack, and he never retaliated. He was very sensible to the approbation of enlightened and wise men; he placed a great value upon public esteem. But unmerited outrage affected him very little; he was as much convinced of the truth of his principles and the purity of his views, as he was prepared for contradictions and even for the repugnance which his doctrines could not fail to inspire in a certain class. His conversation naturally turned on those subjects which touch the well-being of society, and which he had made the special object of his studies; such conversation found him always attentive, serious, easy to move. He gave expression to his opinions so clearly and so intelligibly, that it was easy to see they were the result of profound reflection. Moreover, he was naturally gay and lively, and as ready to take part in the innocent pleasures of the young as to encourage them and direct them in their studies. He was among the most zealous partisans of parliamentary reform, and desired to see the government enter on the path of progress. Faithful to his political opinions at a time when they were far from leading to fortune, he did not make them a claim to favor when they triumphed; he had no thought of making science a stepping-stone to fortune. When his principles became the foundation of the law which reformed the poor laws, calumny and insult by the enemies of reform were not lacking for him. His adversaries tried to make the responsibility for the defects which they pointed out in the government's measure fall upon him; on the other hand, the partisans of that measure overloaded him with eulogy in the discussions which it gave rise to in parliament; but there the gratitude of his political friends and national munificence stopped. I must add that no one ever heard him complain either of the insults of the former or of the neglect of the latter."
—Charles Comte speaks here of the reform of the poor laws. Despite the exaggerations of party spirit in favor of, and against it, Malthus' book vividly impressed all men endowed with a sense of justice, who sincerely desired to better the condition of the masses, and called the attention of men to the dangers of the poor laws. Propositions of reform were made at various times, and notably in 1817 by Mr. Samuel Withbread, and in 1821 by M. J. Scarlett, a learned lawyer; but it was not till 1834 that parliament decided to modify the legislation, after a celebrated inquiry, which confirmed most of the truths Malthus had proclaimed.
—It must have been a great joy to the illustrious economist to see the public action of his country inspired by that one of his opinions which had been most violently attacked. Malthus was then in his sixty-seventh year, and apparently in the enjoyment of very good health. But about the middle of December, 1834, on his arrival at Bath from London, to pass the Christmas holidays with his children at the house of his father-in-law, he became indisposed; a disease of the heart declared itself, and he died on the 29th of the same month.
—Malthus is one of those writers whose ideas have been most misrepresented. We have only been able to indicate them here in a very summary manner; they will be more amply developed in the article POPULATION.
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 2 East India Co. - Nullification Chapter: MERCANTILE SYSTEM
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MERCANTILE SYSTEM. The theory of the balance of trade and the consequences which were drawn therefrom constitute what is called the mercantile system, because the whole of this system tends to consider foreign commerce as the most productive branch of a nation's labor. It is supposed that a nation can sell more than it buys, in a way to ruin neighboring nations by absorbing their precious metals by the greatest possible exportation and the least possible importation. This false theory still prevails in the minds of the masses, and still serves as a rule for many administrations and governments; it forms the basis of the economic ideas of all the writers of the eighteenth century, who did not belong to the physiocratic school or to that of Adam Smith; it is still appealed to in our days by statesmen, and by all those who, by conviction or for financial considerations, defend prohibition, high tariffs and custom impediments.
—We have not to detail here, still less to refute, all the consequences of this fundamental error, which would necessitate a full course in political economy, and which would lead us to repeat what is already found in many articles of this Cyclopædia. We will limit ourselves to saying that the mercantile system is in opposition to the true notion of money and of production, to the nature of markets and the mechanism of the operations of commerce, and we will refer the reader more particularly to the articles, BALANCE OF TRADE, COMMERCE, EXCHANGE, OUTLET, MONEY, PRODUCTION OF WEALTH, EXPORTS AND IMPORTS.
—All sciences have begun in error; and the mercantile error is found in antiquity. It is plain from a passage in Cicero,51 that the exportation of precious metals was often prohibited under the republic, and this prohibition was often renewed, although very uselessly, by the emperors. There is perhaps no state in modern Europe which has not formally interdicted the exportation of gold and silver. This exportation was, it is said, prohibited by the English laws before the conquest, and different statutes having the same purpose were passed at that time. One of these statutes (3 Henry VIII., chap. i.), approved in 1512, declared that any person who transported metallic specie, plate or jewels, to a foreign country, if it was discovered, would be liable to a confiscation equivalent to double the value of the merchandise transported.
—In 1848 when Rossi became minister of the pope, one of his first cares was to repeal the legal provisions which forbade the exportation of coin from the Roman states. About the same time, and a few days after the revolution of February in France, the commissary of the department of the Rhone opposed, by a decree, the exportation of coin from that department!
—It is known that commerce, during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, developed rapidly, on account of the direct relations of Europe with India by the cape of Good Hope, and the force of circumstances brought about the substitution of a more ingenious and less barbarous system for the gross system of the absolute prohibition of the exportation of coin. Indeed the exportation of gold and silver money by India was advantageous and was practiced notably by the East India company. This company was accused on this point of ruining the kingdom, by taking out of the country its gold and silver, but its defenders, Thomas Mun among others, claimed that this exportation was advantageous, because the commodities brought from India were chiefly re-exported into other countries, from which was received a larger quantity of coin than that required in the first place for the payment of these commodities in the east.
—It is from this time that the first theoretical essays on economic and commercial questions date. Mun wrote in 1635 or 1640; after him came, in England, Josiah Child, Dr. Davenant, the authors of the "English Merchant," and J. Steuart; in France, Melon and Forbonnais; in Italy, Genoiesi, who were, in the eighteenth century, the most distinguished writers, who defended, with more or less extensive restrictions, the principles of the mercantile system.
—The analyses of the physiocrats, and, later, those of Adam Smith, completely refuted this false idea, which all the treatises on political economy place among scientific heresies; but upon this point, we repeat, practice is about three-quarters of a century behind theory. The point of departure of this theory rests in this fact, that, since ancient times, money had principally consisted of gold and silver specie. From this fact it was concluded that the possession of money exclusively constituted wealth; the use of money for a long time prevented the perception of the true nature of purchase and sale, that is to say, of exchange, and confounded wealth with the instrument of exchange and the measure of this wealth. The consequences of this error have been formidable for humanity. They have, in fact, led men to misunderstand the freedom of labor, the advantages of the division of employments among nations; led them to create at the frontiers customs barriers to protect certain branches of work, but which hurt all; to direct most industries into unnatural ways; to give to governments a surveillance which they should not be allowed to exercise; to create a barbarous legislation, and to cast discord among nations. "It is no exaggeration," says Storch, "to affirm that very few political errors have produced more disasters than the mercantile system. Armed with power, it has imposed ordinances and prohibitions where it should have protected. The method of making regulations, which it has inspired, has been the cause of vexations of a thousand kinds to industry, to turn it from its natural paths. The mercantile system has persuaded each nation that the well-being of neighboring nations was incompatible with its own; hence was born that reciprocal desire to injure and impoverish each other, and with it that spirit of commercial rivalry which has been the immediate or remote cause of the greater part of modern wars. It is the mercantile system which has driven nations to employ force or cunning to extort from the weakness or ignorance of rival nations treaties of commerce which have been of no real advantage for themselves. It is this system which has presided over the formation of colonies, for the purpose of giving to the mother country the exclusive enjoyment of their commerce, and to force them to have recourse only to the markets of the mother country. Where this system has produced the least evil, it has retarded the progress of national prosperity; everywhere, besides, it has caused torrents of blood to flow; it has depopulated and ruined many countries, to which it might have been supposed it would have furnished in the highest degree power and wealth."
[51.]"In a great number of cases, before and since my consulship, the senate has very wisely decided that the exportation of gold could not be allowed." (Oration for L., Flaccus, ch. 28.)
Footnotes for MEXICO
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 3 Oath - Zollverein Chapter: PHYSIOCRATES.
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PHYSIOCRATES. 1. Physiocrates and Economists. Those French economists who rallied to the defense and advocacy of the doctrine of Quesnay, and who constituted one of the most brilliant groups of thinkers in the eighteenth century, are now called physiocrates, a word derived from physiocratie, the general title given, in 1768, to the first volume of Quesnay's collected works, published by his disciple, Dupont de Nemours. Quesnay and his friends understood by physiocracy (from nature, and, to rule), the natural constitution, the natural order, of human society.
—Dupont thought (correctly in some respects) that Quesnay had pointed out this nature of things, and he called the aggregate of his views physiocracy. The expression, however, was not generally adopted. The term physiocrates, derived from it, is of comparatively recent use. J. B. Say first employed it in his Cours Complet, published in 1829, and it appears to have been popularized by the illustrious Rossi, and the editors of the Collection des Principaux Economistes, who have grouped together the most remarkable writings published by this celebrated school in the second volume of their collection, under the title "Physiocrates." In 1847, one year later, the French "Academy of Moral Sciences" used the term in the programme for a prize essay, formulated as follows, in accordance with Rossi's proposition, "to investigate what the influence of the school of physiocrates has been on the advance and development of economic science, as well as on the administration of states in the matter of finance, manufactures and commerce."
—Until the expression physiocrates was adopted, the disciples of Quesnay were designated by periphrases, or by the term economists, which was always underlined in manuscript, or printed in italics, so as not to confound the economists, disciples of the doctor, with other writers or publicists occupied with economic questions; and we can not do better here than to reproduce a few lines from a production which we published in vol. xxxiii. of the Journal des Economistes: "Smith said (in speaking of the disciples of Quesnay, book iv., chap. ix.), 'A few years ago they formed [Smith published his book in 1776] a considerable sect, distinguished in the republic of letters in France by the name economists.' J. B. Say continued to designate them 'the sect of economists' in the second edition of his Traité, published in 1814, which greatly displeased Dupont de Nemours, who, in a letter dated April 22, 1815, wrote him as follows: 'You do not speak of the economists without applying to them the odious name of sect, which supposes a mixture of stupidity, folly and stubbornness. This insult from a Grimm would not be offensive; but the expressions of a Say have a different weight.' In a preceding letter, full of animation and good nature, the aged disciple of Quesnay said to the continuer and future emulator of Adam Smith, 'You are an economist, my dear Say; I shall take good care not to excommunicate you. On your part,' etc."
—J. B. Say, we thus see, although the author of a treatise on political economy, still at that period qualified the physiocrates as economists. The same observation may be made in reading the first work of Sismondi, who, in entitling his book, De la richesse commerciale, ou Noureaux principes d'économie politique, underlined the word economists, and applied it only to the disciples of Quesnay. He said (vol. i., p. 5), "Dr. Quesnay and Turgot founded the sect of economists about 1760." (This is not altogether accurate, as we shall see.) This repulsion for the name, which Sismondi and J. B. Say exhibited in their first writings, was, till a comparatively recent date, the feeling of those who concerned themselves with political economy, for they called themselves political economists (see Say's Cours Complet), or they even avoided giving themselves a name, since, on the one hand, the qualification political annoyed them, by causing mistakes and inspiring distrust, and because they feared that the name economists alone would cause them to be confounded with the adherents of Quesnay. Nevertheless, the disciples of Fourier and Saint Simon popularized this expression by using it to designate the partisans of economic or liberal ideas, and Fourier had even invented the word economism, the better to express his contempt for this science of the civilized (civilisés)! On the other hand, the publication in France of the Journal des Economistes, and of the Collection des Principaux Economistes, and in England of the weekly journal "The Economist," have made the expression familiar, which is no longer the special designation of the adherents of the sect of Quesnay or the partisans of an exclusive system, but the general designation of all who concern themselves scientifically with economic questions. The fifth edition of the dictionary of the French academy, 1814, does not contain the word économiste. It is only the sixth edition, published in 1835, which gave it final sanction with its true meaning, saying: "Economist, one specially occupied with political economy."
—It is a remarkable fact that economists received this appellation before their science was named, and that this word was taken, not from political economy, but from the adjective economic, itself derived from economy, which often dropped from the pens of writers during the middle of the last century, in consequence of an intellectual movement which led men to philosophic questions of this order—a movement that called forth a large number of writings, and caused the establishment, in 1754, of a chair of mechanics and commerce at the university of Naples, for the celebrated abbé Genovesi, who was professor in that institution of what he soon called civil economy and a chair of cameralistic sciences at the Palatine school of Milan, where the no less illustrious Beccaria was professor of public economy. As early as the second quarter of the same century, from 1729 to 1747, Hutcheson, the father of Scotch philosophy, inserted in his course of moral philosophy some lectures on economics. "These lectures," as Cousin observes, in his Cours de l'histoire de la philosophie moderne, "were of no great value in themselves; but it is to this part of Hutcheson's course, perhaps, that Europe is indebted for Adam Smith, the greatest economist of the eighteenth century."
—II. Composition of the School. Dupont de Nemours speaks as follows of the origin of this school, in a note to his edition of the works of Turgot. "The French economists, who founded the modern science of political economy, had as forerunners the duke of Sully, who said, 'Tillage and pasturage are the breasts of the state'; the marquis d'Argenson, author of the excellent maxim, 'Do not govern too much'; and the elder Trudaine, who in practice opposed courageously the prejudices of ministers and the preconceived opinions of his colleagues, the other counselors of state, with that useful maxim. The English and the Dutch had a glimpse of a few truths, which were only faint glimmerings in a night of gloom. The spirit of monopoly arrested the advance of their enlightenment. In other countries, if we except the three notable men whom we have just named, no one had even imagined that governments should pay attention to agriculture in any way, or to commerce except to impose on it arbitrary regulations suggested by the moment, or to subject its operations to taxes, duties and tolls. The science of public administration, pertaining to these interesting labors, did not yet exist. It was not even suspected that they could be the object of a science. The great Montesquieu had looked at them so superficially that in his immortal work there is a chapter entitled: 'To what nations it is disadvantageous to engage in commerce.'
—Toward 1750 two men of genius, profound and acute observers, led on by the force of a long sustained attention and severe logic, animated by a noble love of country and humanity, Quesnay and de Gournay, labored persistently to ascertain whether the nature of things did not point to a science of political economy, and what were the principles of this science; they approached it from different sides, arrived at the same results, and, meeting, congratulated each other, applauded each other, when they saw with what exactness their different but equally true principles led to consequences absolutely similar; a phenomenon always repeated when men are not in error; for there is but one nature which embraces all things, and no one truth can contradict another. While they lived they continued to be, and their disciples have never ceased to be, entirely at one as to the means of advancing agriculture, commerce and finances, of increasing the happiness, the population, the wealth, and the political importance of nations."
—De Gournay, son of a merchant, many years a merchant himself, had recognized that manufactures and commerce can only flourish through freedom and competition, which destroy the taste for haphazard undertakings, and lead to reasonable speculation; which prevent monopolies, and limit the private gains of merchants to the good of commerce; which quicken industry, simplify machinery, decrease oppressive rates for transportation and storage and which lower the rate of interest. From this he concludes that commerce should never be taxed or regulated. From this he drew the following axiom: Laissez faire, laissez passer. Quesnay, born on a farm, the son of a landowner who was a skillful agriculturist, and of a mother whose great intellectual powers aided her husband's administration to perfection, turned his attention more especially to agriculture; and seeking to find the source of the wealth of nations, he discovered that wealth is the offspring of those labors in which nature and the divine power second the efforts of man to bring forth or collect new products; so that we can expect the increase of this wealth only from agriculture, fisheries (he held the chase of small account in civilized societies), and the working of mines and quarries.
—"The two aspects under which Quesnay and de Gournay had considered the principles of public administration, and from which they inferred precisely the same theory, formed, if we may say so, two schools, fraternal none the less, which have had for each other no feeling of jealousy, and which have reciprocally enlightened each other. From the school of de Gournay came de Malesherbes, the abbé Morellet, Herbert, Trudaine de Montigny, d'Invan, Cardinal de Boisgelin, de Cicé, archbishop of Aix, d'Angeul, Dr. Price, Dean Tucker, and some others. The principal members of the school of Quesnay were Mirabeau, author of l' Ami des hommes, Abeille, de Fourqueux, Bertin, Dupont de Nemours, Count Chreptowicz, chancellor of Lithuania, the abbé Roubaud, Le Trosne, Saint-Péravy, de Vauvilliers; and, of a higher rank, the margrave, afterward grand duke of Baden, and the archduke Leopold, since emperor, who governed Tuscany so long and so successfully, le Mercier de La Rivière, and the abbé Baudeau. The two latter constituted a separate branch of de Quesnay's school. Thinking that it would be easier to persuade a prince than a nation, that freedom of trade and labor as well as the true principles of taxation would be introduced sooner by the authority of sovereigns than by the progress of reason, they perhaps favored absolute power too much. They thought that this power would be sufficiently regulated and counterbalanced by general enlightenment. To this branch belonged the emperor Joseph II. Between both of these schools, profiting from both, but avoiding carefully the appearance of adhering to either of them, there appeared certain eclectic philosophers, at the head of whom we must place Turgot and the celebrated Adam Smith, and among whom are deserving of very honorable mention the French translator of Adam Smith, Germain Garnier; and in England, Lord Lansdowne; in Paris, Say; at Geneva, Simonde."
—This extract from Dupont de Nemours makes some observations necessary. To begin with, as Dupont wrote in 1808, in commencing the publication of the works of Turgot, it is plain that the other celebrated economists of that century are not mentioned. J. B. Say was not yet a professor; he had only published the first edition of his Traité (1803), and his fame was not then great. Sismondi, also, was only at the beginning of his career and reputation; Malthus, Ricardo, Mill, etc., had not written, and the men who were to bear the greatest names in contemporary political economy were still either in their childhood or youth. It is also to be remarked that Dupont does not assign his real place to Adam Smith, who, whatever be the idea formed of the aid which he may have received from the school of the physiocrates, is assuredly something very different from an eclectic writer utilizing the ideas of de Gournay and Quesnay.
—As to the two schools founded by these two eminent men, we must not take literally what Dupont de Nemours writes. Vincent de Gournay died early, about the middle of 1759, at the age of 47, when Quesnay had scarcely (about the end of 1758) published his doctrines in a precise manner, in the celebrated Tableau Economique, printed in the castle of Versailles under the very eyes of the king. Except the translation, with the assistance of Butel Dumont (1754) of the treatise of Josiah Child on commerce and the interest on money, he had written nothing but memoirs addressed to ministers, and which remained unpublished. It is only from a notice drawn up shortly after his death, by Turgot, for Marmontel, with notes by Dupont, that we know the ideas of de Gournay, and if what Turgot has said of them makes us think that there might have been disagreements between the two philosophers, still we are not authorized to declare, since the proofs are wanting, that de Gournay had a system of doctrines, that is to say, the elements, the raw material, for a school. Still, Turgot, in delineating with some detail de Gournay's opinions relative to the nature and production of value, says, "de Gournay thought that a workman who had manufactured a piece of cloth had added real wealth to the aggregate wealth of the state." Dupont adds, in a note: "This is one of the points in which the doctrine of de Gournay differed from that of Quesnay," and he gives the reasons for this statement.
—Although Dupont does not specify the other points in which de Gournay differed from Quesnay, it follows from this passage that the two philosophers did not always agree. Another important remark is, that the analyses of modern economists have shown that de Gournay was right as to the phenomenon of production. De Gournay had a clearer insight of the truth, and if he had demonstrated it and deduced the consequences which flow from it, he would, on certain fundamental points, have surely held a different doctrine from that of Quesnay, and carried off the honor which later came to Adam Smith, of rectifying the school of physiocrates; but we all know that in a question of scientific ideas there is a great difference between the correct feeling of the truth and the introduction of this truth into the domain of a science or simply a philosophic system. To judge from our personal impressions, it appears to us doubtful whether de Gournay followed the celebrated doctor in his exclusive theory of agriculture. But it is evident that these two illustrious men met on the fundamental question of the freedom of labor, and it is probable that they had the same philosophic point of departure. Be this as it may, Dupont is not altogether exact or correctly informed when he seems to say that de Gournay was the first to recognize the legitimateness and fruitfulness of the principle of competition and of the liberty of commerce. Vauban and Boisguillebert, whose writings were published even before de Gournay was born, give proof of their remarkable efforts in favor of this principle. It was from the pen of Boisguillebert, as Eugene Daire rightly says, that the first pleas appeared in France for the free circulation of corn, and he even pointed out scientifically, previous to the physiocrates, the excellence of agriculture, which is the pivot on which Quesnay's ideas turn. He also wrote on the nature, production and distribution of wealth, as well as upon the function of money, pages which permit us to think that the school of Quesnay has made great use of his labors.
—Dupont de Nemours is too exclusive in not having mentioned other writers on economy, as having made contributions to the edifice of the science, such as Josiah Child, who in 1668 published his "Brief Observations concerning Trade and the Interest of Money"; Locke, who in 1691 wrote some curious "Considerations on Money"; Dudley North, who proclaimed that same year the principle of free trade; Forbonnais, whose Eléments de Commerce dates as far back as 1734; Melon, whose Essai politique sur le commerce belongs to the same year; Dutot, whose Réflexions politiques sur le commerce et les finances was published in 1738, etc.; and other writers who labored to elucidate economic doctrines contemporaneously with physiocrates such as Hume, whose "Essays" on various economic subjects appeared in 1752, earlier than the writings of Quesnay, and who knew how to free himself from the prejudices of the balance of trade; men like the no less celebrated Genovesi, who, beginning with 1754, delivered a scientific course on questions relative to wealth; Verri, who wrote on these matters in 1763; James Stewart, who published at London, in 1767, four volumes, with the remarkable title "An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy"; Beccaria, who began at Milan, in 1769, lectures on the same subject, entitled Course of Commercial Sciences"; and other writers, Italian and German, whom it would be too tedious to mention; finally, Adam Smith, who before publishing his book in 1776, had come to Paris in 1764 to have a discussion with philosophic economists, after he had lectured on moral philosophy for fourteen years in the university of Glasgow, part of his labors being devoted to the subjects developed in his "Essay on the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations." On the other hand, we must say that not all the persons whom Dupont de Nemours enrolls under the banner of Quesnay followed the doctrine of the master in every point; some held themselves somewhat aloof from the school. Among these was Morellet. On this point we believe it useful to reproduce certain passages concerning the quarrel of the latter with Linguet, so noted for his literary eccentricities, and his declamations against bread, which he treated as poison. Linguet having advanced several monstrosities, such as the following: that despotic governments are the only ones which render nations happy; that society lives by the destruction of its liberties, as carnivorous animals live on the timid ones, etc.
—Morellet answered him sharply, in a pamphlet, entitled Théorie du paradoxe. Linguet replied by Théorie du libelle, where we read the following details, connected with our subject: "This illustrious pander of science, this invincible champion of the net product, this venerable archimandrite of the order of brothers of the economic doctrine, has risen above all eulogy by forcing his heart to outrage a prostrate man, and raising his foot to give him the last kick. If it be asked what the order in question is, we may answer, in order to spare commentators in ages to come a disagreeable task, that it is a new order, founded about 1760, under the name of the Economists Brothers, by Father Ques..., who had a spiritual son, brother Mirab..., who begat brother Baud..., who begat the A. M., which brought forth the Théorie des Paradoxes. The name Economists was given to them about the year 1770; they took the place of the Encyclopœdists, who had succeeded the * * *, who had ousted the * * *, who had come after the Calvinists, and so on, going back farther and farther. * * * This order, beginning with 1775, had already produced many great men, such as brother Dup..., brother Baud..., brother Roub..., brother Mor..., etc., all mighty in works and words. Hence, they have filled the universe with the noise of their names and their pamphlets or libels, which are synonymous in their language * * *." Morellet answered: "The author of the Théorie des Paradoxes is not an economist. Surely, if the A. M. had been begotten to political economy by the late M. Q., or by some one of the disciples of this estimable man, he would not have denied his origin. The economists are honorable citizens, whose intentions were always upright and their zeal as pure as it was active; men who were the first to teach or render popular many useful truths. They have been reproached with a zeal which has sometimes carried them beyond their object; but it is much better, doubtless, to yield to this impulse, which, after all, can arise in them only from a love of the public good, than to continue in the cowardly indifference to the happiness of their fellow-men which is exhibited by so many persons, or to decry those who are interested in it; but be this as it may with the economists, the A. M. is obliged to confess that he never received any lessons from Dr. Q., nor from M. de M.; and that he busied himself with political economy before Dr. Q. had begotten anybody; that he was never present at any assembly of the disciples; and lastly, since it must be told, that he never understood the economic tableau, nor pretended to make anybody else understand it; a clear profession of faith, and one which puts the author of the Théorie des Paradoxes beyond the reach of all blows which L. aims at the economists, blows from which they can defend themselves, if they think it worth the while."
—Later, the first consul, in conversation with Morellet, said to him: "You are an economist, are you not? You are in favor of the impôt unique, are you not? You are also in favor of the freedom of the corn trade, are you not?" "I answered him," says Morellet (in his Mémoires, chap. xxvii.), "that I was not among the purest of them; and that I added certain modifications to their doctrines." Morellet had, indeed, early fought for freedom of labor, and freedom of commerce; but he does not seem to have shared the enthusiasm of some authors for the agricultural theory of their master.
—III. Economic Philosophy of the Physiocrates. The doctrine of the physiocrates may be considered in relation to philosophy, political economy and politics. The philosophic ideas of the school are scattered through the different works of the chief and his principal disciples; but they are to be found especially in the short treatise of Quesnay on natural law, and summed up in his fragments published under the title of Maximes. In endeavoring to condense them into a few words, we may imagine Quesnay as saying: The world is governed by immutable physical and moral laws. It is for man, an intelligent and free being, to discover them, and to obey them or to violate them, for his own good or evil. The end assigned to the exercise of his intellectual and physical powers, is the appropriation of matter for the satisfaction of his wants, and the improvement of his condition. But he should accomplish this task conformably to the idea of the just, which is the correlative of the idea of the useful. Man forms an idea of justice and utility, both individual and social, through the notions of duty and right which his nature reveals to him, and which teach him that it is contrary to his good and the general welfare to seek his own advantage in the damage done to others. These ideas enter the minds of individuals and peoples in proportion to the increase of enlightenment, and the advance of civilization: they naturally produce feelings of fraternity among men, and peace among peoples.
—The chief manifestations of justice are liberty and property, that is to say, the right of each one to do that which in no way hurts the general interest, and to use at his pleasure the goods which he possesses, the acquirement of which is conformable to the nature of things and to the general utility, since, without liberty and property, there would have been no civilization, and a very much smaller amount of goods at the disposition of men. Liberty and property spring, then, from the nature of man, and are rights so essential that laws or agreements among men should be limited to recognizing them, to formulating them, to sanctioning them. Governments have no mission but to guard these two rights, which, with a correct understanding of things, embrace all the material and moral wants of society. To say that liberty and property are essential rights, is to say that they are in harmony with the general interest of the species; it is to say that with them the land is more fertile, the industry of man in all its manifestations more productive, and the development of all his moral, intellectual, scientific and artistic aptitudes swifter and surer, in the path of the good, the beautiful, the just and the useful; it is to say, further, that man best gathers the fruit of his own efforts, and that he is not at least a victim of the arbitrary laws of his fellow-men.
—"Before Quesnay," says Eugene Daire, "nothing was vaguer than the idea of the just and the unjust; and the determination of the natural and indefeasible rights of man had not been touched by any philosopher. It was tacitly agreed that the ideas of justice, applicable only to individual relations, should remain foreign to civil, public, and especially to international law. Morality, since the principles from which it must be deduced were only dimly perceived, seemed fit only to govern private relations, but not those of the state to its members, or those of one people to another, which, it was supposed, should be necessarily subjected solely to the law of force and cunning. Religion did not understand the economy of society, because it concerned itself only with the future life; and politics did not understand it any better, because it did not suspect the intimate connection of the moral with the physical order of the world. Setting out to govern men from the principle of the incompatibility of the useful with the just, it was impossible for the ministers of the one or the other to avoid the most disastrous results even if they had never been guided by any but the purest intentions. Struck with this fact, Quesnay became persuaded that the truth lay in the opposite principle, and interrogating the nature of man and the nature of things, he discovered in them the proof that the three great classes of every civilized society, that is to say, landed proprietors, capitalists and workmen, as well as the various nations into which the human race is divided, have only to lose by violating justice, mutually oppressing and annoying one another. This was to establish social morality, the absence of which produces a false notion of right and wrong in every mind, even in things touching individual relations. It was to free from the clouds of mysticism the great principle of peace and fraternity among men, and set it on the bases most fitted to insure its triumph."
—As Passy remarks in his report on the memoir which we have just cited, these maxims were not all equally new; and the most general of them were to be met with already in the works of certain writers; the Gospel itself contained many of them. But up to that time they had never been presented in the form of a broad system, never had there been deduced from them so clearly consequences of social application; which warrants us in saying, with Eugene Daire, that Quesnay was really the first thinker of the eighteenth century who made the organization of society the subject of his meditations; the man who gave to the world the newest doctrine, and at the same time the fittest to exercise a happy influence on the welfare of nations. Montesquieu, Voltaire and Rousseau were great minds, beyond a doubt; but Quesnay served the human race most, in having shown that the happiness of the majority depends much less on the mechanism of governmental forms than on the development of human industry, and that it is impossible to discuss politics rationally without having previously acquired a knowledge of the economy of society. "Of course wealth had not altogether escaped the attention of thinkers and governments previous to this philosophy," remarks Eugene Daire again, "but there is this difference, that, while among the first some only saw, so to speak, a necessary evil, it suggested to others nothing beyond systems of artificial distribution, and to governments merely fiscal inventions to plunder their subjects. Quesnay understood that the whole science of social organization may be summed up in that of the regular production and distribution of the goods of this world, that is to say, production and distribution effected according to the unchangeable laws established for the preservation, the indefinite increase, the happiness and the improvement of our species. To investigate these laws, by questioning our own nature and its necessary relations with the external world, such is the work which the chief of the school of physiocrates undertakes to accomplish. Instead of following the example of most philosophers, by declaiming against wealth, on which all the affairs of this world turn, he fathomed the laws of wealth, as well as those of human labor. To sum up, Quesnay and the school of physiocrates made a scientific study of the useful, considered men living in society as producers and consumers first of all, and drew the conclusion that the ideas of right, of peace and fraternity among men, do not rest exclusively on the mysterious dogma of a future life, but on the observance of natural laws, which may be obeyed with profit, and are not violated with impunity in this world."
—IV. Political Economy of the Physiocrates. The philosophy of the physiocrates is, therefore, an economic philosophy; and while endeavoring to sum it up here we have given in part the general data of their political economy. It only remains for us to add a few technical indications of those of their ideas which belong more especially to the economic order. In doing this we shall limit ourselves to setting forth these ideas, because it would be impossible, in the limits granted us, to explain with even partial completeness, in what these ideas may appear to us correct or incorrect, and in what points it has been possible for them to be accepted or opposed by the chief economists. The history of the filiation of economic doctrines, moreover, has not yet been written.
—The physiocrates set out with the principle that materiality is the fundamental character of wealth, and from this concluded to measure the value and utility of labor by the quantity alone of the raw material which it was able to produce. The first effect of this theory was to exclude from the domain of political economy an innumerable multitude of services which men render each other. They formed, therefore, an incomplete idea of the value of things, which prevented them from seeing into the phenomenon of production clearly, estimating correctly the position of land, labor and capital, and rendering an exact account of the relative and absolute utility of all the branches of human industry; agricultural industry manufacturing industry, transportation, commercial industry, and the numerous professions in which men furnish or exchange physical or intellectual labor, that is to say, services. In this way they were led to accord the character of productiveness to agricultural industry only, and to treat as sterile the other industries, while they, at the same time, asserted that manufacturing industry, commerce and the liberal professions are essentially useful. Their theory, by being squint-eyed at the first, if we may so express ourselves, led them to consequences which they found it difficult to admit in the discussion of questions and application of principles, according as they started from the point of view of the sterility of industries other than agriculture, to which they were obliged to give, both in theory and practice, an exceptional and false position. By virtue of their system, the economists really admitted, as a natural and social necessity, the pre-eminence of landed proprietors over all other classes of citizens. Now, this idea of pre-eminence, agreeing with the prejudices of the nobles, has left more than one trace in economic and political laws.
—Their error is explicable at the beginning of the science. It was not given to the physiocrates alone to make all analyses, and to grasp with precision all the differences and resemblances of the various modes of production. On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that they combated the mercantile theory, which made wealth to consist only in the precious metals, and which exaggerated the advantages of foreign commerce; that they combated also the infatuation for the manufacturing system; that they allowed themselves to react too forcibly against these exclusive prejudices, and in turn to become exclusive by their favor for an industry too much ignored, whose excellence they were deeply desirous of demonstrating.
—Of Quesnay's works the Tableau Economique attracted most attention. Quesnay's object was to describe synoptically the facts relative to the production, distribution, consumption and transformation of values. It is difficult to explain the success of this publication, which is itself not very intelligible. Made up of figures strangely disposed, this tableau contributed to throw discredit rather than light on the theory. The explanations of the Marquis Mirabeau rendered it still more cabalistic and mysterious; those of the abbé Baudeau and of Le Trosne, though much clearer, were still not clear enough. We have just read the declaration of Morellet on the subject. In reality, the chiefs of the school wished to prove that society had no other revenue than the net product of the soil, all expenses deducted, including the maintenance of its cultivators; that consequently it had no greater interests than the increase of this revenue; that the power of the state and the progress of civilization depended on it; that this revenue alone should be taxed; that we must not see in the capital in agriculture, industry and commerce, anything but the sacred endowment of labor, without which there would be neither wealth nor landed proprietors; that the expenses of industry and commerce are merely an outlay which should be reduced to the lowest figure by free competition.
—On the subject of territorial revenue and net product, the question arises: what did the school mean exactly by these expressions? and in what were their ideas on these these subjects like or unlike those on rent held by Adam Smith, J. B. Say, Ricardo, Malthus, Rossi, M'Culloch, etc.? This is still a question which does not appear to us to have been clearly settled by those who occupied themselves with the subject. We shall state merely that it was through the impossibility of analyzing the economic phenomena connected with the subject, that Necker and many others cast ridicule on the ideas which the physiocrates advanced. For our own part, we can not give an opinion on the subject without entering into a long discussion, and we therefore refer to the writings of the authors whom we have just cited, and to the explanations given by Eugene Daire in his memoir, and by Passy in his report on this memoir. (See RENT.)
—Although the physiocrates did not form an exact idea of the phenomena of production, and consequently of the real nature of value and of exchange of wealth, they had correct notions on the subject of money: to them is due the beginning of the ruin of the mercantile system, and, after Boisguillebert and before Adam Smith, they contributed much to elucidate the principle of the freedom of exchanges. First, they demonstrated that every obstacle to this freedom is a violation of the fundamental rights of labor and of property, and, secondly, that every hindrance to exportation and importation causes an artificial change in the value of products, and the revenue of lands, sometimes at the expense of producers, sometimes at the expense of consumers, by reducing finally public wealth and taxable property. In the question of finances they deduced from the productiveness of agricultural industry (which they considered the only productive one), and the hypothesis admitted by themselves, that taxation always falls on the landed proprietors, whatever be the mode of its collection, the rule directly to tax land rents or net product, that is to say, to establish a single land tax to the exclusion of all personal contributions and all taxes on consumption, which they called, and which we still call, indirect taxes.
—These are the principal points of the physiocratic theory. Modern science has rectified the idea of wealth and of the productiveness of the different branches of industry; it has accepted the explanation of money and the demonstration of the principle of commercial freedom in opposition to the doctrine of the balance of trade, definitively overthrown. It has not yet pronounced clearly on the theory of net product, although it pays little attention to the famous economic tableau. It hesitates also on the important question of taxation.
—But it is just to recognize, in entering into the details of the economic investigations to which the disciples of Quesnay devoted themselves, that we see that they threw a clear light on all parts of the science, even if they started from a false principle or got lost in a false theory; that, for example, of the materiality of wealth, and that of the productiveness of agriculture alone, which did not hinder them from finding, or which perhaps caused them to find, luminous views on different points. It is, however, a common fact in the history of science, that a false theory, elaborated by superior minds, advances them in the path of truth, which it is afterward easier for their successors to follow, and to whom is reserved the honor of finding a sounder and more unimpeachable theory.
—If we wish to understand the ideas of the physiocrates, we must begin with the writings of their master, and then take up in succession the works of his principal disciples: Mirabeau, Mercier, Baudeau, Le Trosne and Turgot. To the elder Mirabeau, belongs the honor of having been the first who was aroused to enthusiasm by the lofty reason of Quesnay, of having written, developed and commentated on his principles, and of having introduced them into practical politics and administration. The first exposition of the economic system is found in his Philosophie Rurale, published in 1763. It is one of the least unintelligible books of the marquis. Its perusal is of little value except to those who wish to know how the school began; but it must be acknowledged that, in spite of his eccentricities of style and mistiness of thought, this economist philosopher had the talent of causing himself to be read, and of calling public attention to the study of questions which others knew how to explain better than he. Each man has his mission in this world. After the Philosophie Rurale, appeared the book of Mercier-La Rivière, who had met Quesnay, at the same time as Gournay and the Marquis de Mirabeau; and who afterward left France to take the place of intendant at Martinique for a time; on returning, he renewed his former intimacy with Quesnay, and labored to disseminate his doctrine. Mercier-La Rivière's book is entitled l'Ordre naturel et essentiel des sociétés politiques; it appeared in 1767, four years after Mirabeau's work. The title of this book promises a methodical treatise on social economy, a promise it does not fulfill. The first part is a series of rather confused dissertations on the moral order, the politics and the material interests of society. But the author becomes more positive and more interesting in the second part, where he makes a close analysis, according to Quesnay's system, of all the questions of the material economy of society, referring to the peculiar or distinct effects of agriculture, industry and commerce, to the reciprocal relations of different nations, and to the nature and object of public revenue. This work, in spite of its imperfections and an obscure and sometimes ridiculous form, had much success with the philosophic part of the public, whose attention had been attracted to these matters by the sententious and abstract writings of Quesnay and by the dissertations of l'Ami des hommes, which were at once tedious and obscure. It was the first time, too, that the doctrine assumed a form intelligible to the common mind; Dupont de Nemours made an analysis of it, a year later, under the title, Origine et progrès d'une science nouvelle (1768). By publishing it, Mercier-La Rivière helped spread the ideas of his master; but at the same time he added to it a dangerous theory which was afterward very injurious to the popularity of the economists. We mean his theory of despotism, to which we shall return a little further on.
—Five years after Mercier's book, there appeared another important work, so far as it was a general exposition of physiocratic ideas, that of the abbé Baudeau, a celebrated publicist of the time, who was converted to the doctrine of Quesnay while trying to refute, in his Ephémérides, the letters of Le Trosne, barrister of the king in the bailiwick of Orleans, and who wielded at an early day a vigorous pen in the phalanx of the economists. Baudeau published in 1771, l'Introduction à la Philosophie économique. It is not only one of the most remarkable of his writings; but in it he surpassed Mercier, and a fortiori Mirabeau, in his method, clearness and style. The year before he had published in the Ephémérides, and printed separately (but only a small number of copies of it) his l'Explication du tableau économique. About the same time there appeared in the Ephémérides, whose management Baudeau had intrusted to Dupont de Nemours, two short catechisms of the doctrine, one by Turgot, without his signature, and the other under the name of the margrave of Baden. Turgot's short Traité on the formation and distribution of wealth, is remarkable in every way. It is a résumé of the ideas of Quesnay and Gournay, as explained by their most eminent disciple. It would be approximately a résumé of the general principles of the science laid down by Smith, if Turgot had not stopped at the physiocratic theory, on a fundamental point, that of the productiveness of the different kinds of labor, in consequence of which he was led to make the agricultural class the productive class par excellence, and the rest of mankind the salaried class, excepting, however, landowners, whom he calls the disposable class, disposable for the general wants of society, such as war, the administration of justice, etc. Turgot's book, written in 1766, appeared for the first time in vols. 11 and 12 of the Ephémérides, toward the end of 1769 and the commencement of 1770.29 The brief compendium of the margrave of Baden, published in 1772, in the Ephémérides du citoyen, which has also been attributed to Dupont de Nemours, and is perhaps the work of the two disciples, is not of equal importance, but is remarkable in many regards. It contains the principles of the physiocratic school, more abridged than in Turgot's work, condensed into formulæ synoptically arranged, and, as Dupont de Nemours says, in the form of a genealogical tree. The title is a very curious one for the time, and leads us to suppose that the school and its master, who was still living, had abandoned the word physiocracy for the title political economy, not in the sense of administration as a synonym of public economy, the oiconomia of Aristotle, which is to society what domestic economy is to the family (in which sense it was employed by Rousseau in 1755, in the article Economie Politique of the Encyclopédie), but in a scientific sense, to designate the science of the phenomena relating to wealth and human labor; a sense in which it had been used by James Stewart after 1767, who entitled his treatise on these subjects "An Inquiry into the Principles of Political Economy," and, some years before, by Count Verri, in a work published in 1763, and entitled, Memorie storiche sulla Economia publica dello state di Milano (Historical memoirs relative to the political economy of the state of Milan). Verri and Stewart seem to have been the first to adopt the name most generally given to the science in our time, a name which Turgot did not employ, which was scarcely ever used by Adam Smith, and which appeared only in the dictionary of the French academy in 1814, although it appeared in a book at the commencement of the sixteenth century, which, however, does not answer to its title, the Traité de l'Œconomie politique, by Antoyne de Montchrétien.
—After these various authoritative publications of the physiocratic school we cite, in conclusion, the principal work of Le Trosne; which appeared in 1777, under the title, De l'ordre social, followed by an elementary treatise on value, circulation, industry, and home and foreign commerce. This work contains two very distinct parts: the first, consisting of a series of lectures, is a dogmatic exposition of the principles of the school. In the second part, which bears the special title De l'Intérêt social, Le Trosne treats of value, circulation, industry, home and foreign commerce, with a remarkable understanding of these different subjects.
—This was the last general manifesto of the pure physiocratic school, properly so called. When it appeared, Quesnay was dead; Turgot was a minister, and had anticipated great reforms in the constitution of labor, which were to be effected by the constituent assembly, and Adam Smith had published his book after ten years of retirement, and of meditation on this great work.
—V. Political Ideas of the Physiocrates. Having reached this point in our historical deduction concerning the physiocrates, we must direct the attention of the reader for an instant to the political ideas held by this phalanx of philosophers, or which were attributed to them. Mercier-La Rivière, discussing the purely political question of the form of government, decided in favor of the power of one man. Dupont explains to us the principal motive which, according to him, Mercier-La Rivière and the abbé Baudeau had in accepting such a doctrine, "thinking," he says, "that it would be easier to persuade a prince than a nation," and that one man would be quicker to put in practice the teachings of science. We do not wish to stop and ask ourselves whether Mercier and Baudeau were right or wrong, or what are the dangers of despotism and the drawbacks of mixed or representative governments. We wish to say simply that Mercier-La Rivière was careful to distinguish between arbitrary despotism, or despotism proper, which he rejects, and legal despotism, which he favors, and a counterpoise for which he finds in the authority of the magistracy; the form and invariable proportion of the taxes, "the evidence" of the truths of natural law made familiar to the mass of citizens by national education, and the interest of sovereigns, to be just in a system such as he conceived it. It is not difficult to see, in reading this philosopher, that he was of a liberal mind. It must also be remembered that he wrote a hundred years ago, when the theory and practice of free government were still in their infancy. However this may be, it is to be regretted that he was led to construct a political theory not necessarily connected with his subject, which was an explanation of the general principles of law and justice, common to all societies, independent of the form and mechanism of their governments; it is especially to be regretted that to designate the power of a single man, he used a word to which usage has given a bad meaning, which does not express his thought, and which has served as a pretext to many of his adversaries, who, in order to divert attention from his economic ideas and the reforms which they demanded, accused those ideas of being and professing to be the upholders of despotism.
—The question has been raised whether Mercier-La Rivière was under the influence of Quesnay, or whether he expresses his personal ideas and those of Baudeau. It is difficult to say what was precisely the idea of the master on this subject; but it is certainly true that if Quesnay and the marquis de Mirabeau inclined to the executive and legislative power of one man, all their writings show that in their minds and hearts there never could be a question of sacrificing to a family or to an aristocracy the interests of the masses, who were the object which preoccupied their noble thoughts. We can not appeal, on this point, to the practice of their lives. Quesnay died in 1774; the marquis de Mirabeau, on the eve of the revolution, in 1788; Baudeau and Mercier-La Rivière lived on, the one till 1792, the other till 1794, it is said; but they were not of the age to mix in the questions of the time. Moreover, if we admit, which is far from being proved, that any physiocrates went astray, on this point, in theory—the political life of Malesherbes and Turgot; the administrative acts of the latter, of the Gonrnays and Trudaines; the parliamentary career of Dupont de Nemours; the manly and impartial writings against feudal abuses; monopoly of the finances and other monopolies, as well as the biographical details which have been preserved concerning the public conduct of all those who have been put on the witness stand, prove that true political progress would have had warm friends in each one of these zealous promoters of economic progress (whatever might have been the party with which they were connected), the more useful to the cause of humanity for being better informed on the real wants of men living in society, and imbued with the principles of a sounder philosophy based on the better natural foundation of human affairs. Just here we would make a general observation, to wit: that one of the results of economic studies is to lessen the importance of one form of government or another in the minds of men devoted to these studies. But is not this a benefit? The day when the governing and the governed shall understand better what they owe each other; the day when governments shall know how to restrict their action to their natural sphere, the maintenance of security and the guarantee of justice, property and liberty; the day when the governed will no longer believe in fantastic promises, and no longer demand the fulfillment of impracticable programmes; on that day civilization will have made a great step in the way of progress.
—VI. The Physiocrates as the Founders of Economic Science, and their Influence on the Economic Progress attained. It is always difficult to tell precisely how far the influence of a philosophic and scientific school reaches, because in such a subject causes and effects often escape the mind of the observer. After what we have said, however, a sufficient estimate can be made of the importance of the labors of the physiocratic school in philosophy and in morals, and of the services which it rendered in the ranks of the philosophic school, by its studies and its knowledge of society. As to political economy proper, the details into which we have entered show that if the physiocrates were not the first and only founders of the science, as has been frequently asserted, they deserve to figure in the front rank of its founders, and here we recoil from a task which remains yet to be accomplished, and which consists in investigating and describing the reciprocal influence which Adam Smith may have had upon the physiocrates during his visit to Paris, and which the physiocrates may have had upon him by their conversation and writings. We are unable here to settle the question of priority between the Scotch philosopher and the French philosophers; but we may state, with Cousin, that it is difficult to answer it in favor of them rather than of him while we believe it our duty to acknowledge that the physiocrates and Adam Smith are under great obligations to certain writers who preceded them in their career, Boisguillebert, David Hume, etc., whom we have cited above. Be this as it may, account must be taken of this important fact, that while writing his book, Smith was able to take advantage of the principal works of the school, especially those of Quesnay, and that its most important utterances were published earlier than the appearance of the "Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations."
—The question raised as to the sequence of facts, that is to say, the legislative traces which the physiocratic school has left after it, its action and its propagandism, might also be made the subject of very interesting research which has not, we think, been made. We can, however, give a satisfactory account, in résumé, of this influence. In a general way the physiocratic school contributed greatly to overthrow the spirit of administrative routine which progress always encounters in its path; to overthrow the spirit of regulation and prohibition which had thrown a deadening net of hindrances over every branch of human activity; it contributed greatly to effect the suppression of provincial customs duties, and to help the freedom of internal commerce; it aided the fall of the system of corporations, and the freedom of labor; it abolished the corvée; and finally, it contributed to all the liberal and progressive measures of the constituent assembly. The majority of that assembly voted under the influence of the economic ideas which several members had gained by meeting and reading the works of the physiocratic philosophers, while they incriminated, and allowed others to incriminate, the economists, as Dupont de Nemours says, just as has often happened since in other assemblies. During the twenty years which preceded the revolution, it was in their writings and their ideas that many influential men, princes, ministers, governors, intendants of provinces, inspectors of manufactures, etc., found inspiration, both to establish the financial system and to improve the internal administration and the management of foreign affairs; it was they who won the freedom of the corn trade, on which the school published a score of books. It was not, therefore, their fault (Droz has shown this well in his Histoire de Louis XVI.) that the economic, financial, and even political reforms were not accomplished in season, in peace and without revolution. Every one has read of the brilliant efforts of Turgot.
—The physiocratic school has exercised its influence not in France alone, but in all Europe. This influence may be traced in Italy, and especially in Tuscany, which owes its prosperity to the principles of industrial and commercial freedom, put in practice by the grand duke Leopold, assisted by intelligent ministers, such as Gianni and Fabroni; in several states of the north and Germany, particularly in Austria, where the administration of the emperor Joseph II., as well as that of this same Leopold, have left such regrettable souvenirs. Gustavus III., king of Sweden, Stanislaus Augustus, king of Poland, the margrave of Baden, and the dauphin son of Louis XV., were inclined to the ideas of the economists. We know that Catherine of Russia desired to consult Mercier-La Rivière, and although the meeting of the philosopher and the empress came to a rather grotesque conclusion, she testified to the credit of the school. This influence was also felt in international relations and treaties. After the conclusion of the treaty of 1786 between France and England, on liberal and rational bases, whatever may have been systematically said of it in a private and ill-advised interest, Lord Lansdowne, prime minister of Great Britain, who, up to that time, was opposed to the peace, declared that he had been converted to better political and economic opinions by the reasoning and influence of the abbé Morellet, whom he had known at Paris, and whose principles, as we have said, were no other than those of Gournay and Quesnay.
—The labors of the physiocratic school have also given indirectly a vigorous impulse to statistics. It was in answer to l'Ami des hommes that La Michodière and Messence undertook the investigations which are among the first monuments of modern statistics.
—VII. Adversaries and Partisans of the Physiocrates. The economists, with their enthusiasm for their master, and intolerance, born of the spirit of sect and the inflexibility of principles, so naturally consequent on a fixed conviction and conscientious studies, drew on themselves many attacks, either from the circle of philosophers of which they themselves formed a part, from men of letters, or from all those whose ideas, prejudices or interests they opposed. Specimens of the polemics of the time are found in the writings of Grimm, Mallet-Dupan, Linguet and others, an example of which we produced above. Voltaire directed against them the satire of l'Homme aux quarante écus, more witty than solid; the aged philosopher, however, felt dominated by the genius of Turgot and we know that he took up his pen to aid him against the numerous and unjust attacks of which he was the object on account of his measures to secure the free circulation of corn.
—Among the most prominent we must cite les Doutes proposés aux philosophes économistes, by Mably, 1768; a book by Graslin, in 1767; the famous "Dialogues" of the abbé Galiani concerning legislation on corn (1770), and a work on the same subject, by Necker, 1770. The first two, though more serious, have no great value. Necker's work, which Turgot's enemies praised to the skies, was a political maneuvre which does no honor to the celebrated minister, for it is full of communistic sophisms. Galiani's book, much lauded for its style and wit, has no scientific value, and does not even reach a conclusion on the special point of the exportation of corn, a crime of the economists, which he did not entirely disapprove.
—Some modern economists have taken sides with the physiocrates in their theory of the nature of wealth and agriculture: we mention Dutens, in France, who published a new explanation of the doctrines of Quesnay, under the title of Philosophie d'Economie politique, 1835; and Schmalz in Germany, who undertook the same task, ten years earlier.
—Malthus, in his "Principles of Political Economy," started out with the materiality of value, and dwelt much on rent; and Eugene Daire, who has left remarkable notices and notes on the physiocrates, Turgot and Adam Smith, in the Collection des Principaux Economistes, also maintains the materiality of value, and undertakes to show not only the truth of these principles, but also that of the agricultural theory of Quesnay, as well as the analogy between Smith's ideas and those of Turgot and Quesnay. We shall not enter into this long and delicate discussion: we shall only say that Smith has not pronounced very positively in favor of the materiality of value, although there is on this point a want of clearness as to his opinion; that he has only tried to show the productiveness of all industries, and has devoted several chapters to opposing the physiocratic doctrine of land. Whether he has succeeded, as the majority of economists pretend, or nearly failed, as others pretend, is a question which can be answered only in a course on political economy, and for that there is no place here.
—The reader will find the subject which we have just treated further developed in the lives of the men we have named. We can refer also to a chapter, too brief, unfortunately, in Blanqui's "History of Political Economy" [translated by Miss Emily J. Leonard]; to the lectures in which Rossi treats of land; to the notices by Eugene Daire, in the Collection des Principaux Economistes; to his memoir in answer to the questions offered for competition, crowned in 1847 by the academy of moral and political science, a statement from which, inserted in the Journal des Economistes, we have reproduced above; to the report of Passy on this memoir, published in the same collection; and to a paper on the philosophy of the physiocrates, published in the same collection, by H. Baudrillart.
[29.]The date of this publication is important in the history of the science. We have remarked, in an essay relating to the origin and filiation of the term political economy (Journal des Economistes, vol. xxili., pp. 11, 217): "Engene Daire, after stating (xiv. of his Introduction to the 'Works of Turgot,' in the Collection des principaux Economistes) that this work was printed about 1766, inclines us to believe in the notice of Mercier de la Rivière (same vol., p. 430), that this date is not exact, and that Turgot's treatise appeared later. Engene Daire was mistaken a second time; we have before us a copy of the edition of 1766 in 12mo." If Eugene Daire was mistaken, it was only in part, and we ourselves are also mistaken. The volume of which we speak, bore the last date which we mention; but this date points to the time when Turgot was writing, during his intendancy. The first edition seems to have been the separate one formed of the article in the Ephémérides, part of which appeared in the 11th vol., at the end of 1769, and a part in the 12th vol., at the commencement of 1770.
Footnotes for PIRACY
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 3 Oath - Zollverein Chapter: POPULATION.
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The text is in the public domain.
POPULATION. I. POSITION OF THE QUESTION OF POPULATION.—The Principle of Population, imperfectly seen by several Economists, demonstrated by Malthus, and strangely misapprehended. The term population embraces the most extensive subject of political economy; for in treating of questions of population, even though we restrict ourselves to labor and its remuneration, we might traverse the whole field of the science and write a complete course of political economy. Population is, in fact, at once the end and the means of human industry. For it and by it production takes place. By it also consumption is effected. We shall not, therefore, here consider this vast subject under its general aspect, but will confine ourselves to the questions suggested by the number of people, the elucidation of which must precede those connected with the fundamental questions of demand and supply, competition, wages, and social conditions. This range is still, as will be seen, very extended. The questions it embraces have been frequently discussed, especially during the past century, and in our own time: but of all writers, he who has most thoroughly investigated them, he whose ideas on this subject are, so to speak, the pivot of the discussions of economists, moralists, and publicists of every class, is the celebrated Malthus. To his investigations, and, we may say, discoveries, we will first give our attention.
—It was Malthus who stated the question. He it was who first showed its supreme importance. He brought together the scientific elements of the discussion, in his celebrated "Essay on the Principle of Population," published in 1803. This had been preceded by a preliminary sketch of the subject in 1798, in his reply to some propositions by Godwin, who was, in his turn, twenty years later, to attempt to refute him, but without success. Not that before Malthus some correct ideas on population had not appeared from a few writers, among others those of the physiocratie school, and James Stewart, Adam Smith, Wallace, Hume, and Gian Maria Ortès; but to the English philosopher belongs the honor of having seen and pointed out the profundity of the problem, of having made it the subject of numerous statistical and historical researches, and obtained a great amount of information upon it. Until the beginning of this century, i.e., up to the time of Malthus, legislators, statesmen and philosophers set out with this aphorism: "Where there is population, there is power." They took no account of the conditions under which the population might be living; no one questioned the proposition, and all social institutions aimed to increase the number of the people. Colbert, Pitt, and even Napoleon, favored granting rewards to the producers of large families; and it was not until 1852 that the parliament of Sardinia repealed a law to the same effect. People had no idea, that, in order for capital and labor to produce their greatest effect, the number of men must bear some relation to the disposable capital; they supposed that if, for example, a thousand laborers produced a million dollars, it was only necessary that two thousand laborers should be born to the state, to obtain two millions. The laws of all European countries originated when that idea prevailed, and even to-day there are legislators and publicists, priests and philosophers, moralists and poets, who appeal to that doctrine. It is still a quite common belief that a good government will do everything in its power to increase population.
—Malthus pointed out the dangers to society in general from this error, and especially to the poorer classes, who are the first to suffer from violations of natural laws. We will therefore, at the outset, give an exposition of his ideas, and indicate, as we proceed, the support he has received, and the modifications which his doctrine has experienced, from other eminent economists, as well as the exaggerations which have been substituted for it, the follies for which ignorance has made it responsible, and the principal objections or criticisms of which it has been the object. But first of all, we will say a few words concerning the way in which his ideas and sentiments have been misrepresented.
—Malthus affords a curious example of popular aberrations, for which fact many publicists and some economists, who have opposed, or even approved him, are responsible. Not only is Malthus not known, not only are people ignorant of his actual ideas, but men have succeeded in creating in the minds of the public a Malthus that never existed, a chimerical Malthus, to whom the strangest propositions are attributed, and who has been the subject of harsh reproaches and violent imprecations. This strange phenomenon may be thus explained: Most of those who have spoken of Malthus, have spoken of him without having read him and without knowing him otherwise than by extracts or by mutilated, if not incorrect, quotations. They have thus created the most deplorable confusion concerning him, by attributing to him ideas which he never had; by making of a philanthropist especially interested in the condition of the poor, a theorist favoring aristocracy; by holding him responsible for sentiments and errors belonging to his adversaries; or, it may be, for absurd propositions emanating from unhealthy minds.
—It must be confessed, however, that this condition of things is in part attributable to Malthus himself. The different parts of his book are not logically put together; his scattered reasons are nowhere presented in orderly sequence, in support of the principles he lays down; his style, moreover, is not particularly engaging. The great truths which he has set forth in regard to population would, without doubt, have become much more popular had he written like Rousseau or Lamennais, or with the ardent style of a pamphleteer, that one finals in the writings of Godwin and Proudhon, his sharpest critics. Malthus, however, though immovable in his principles, was considerate and good-natured to his opponents, who had no difficulty in obtaining control of public opinion at his expense.
—II. STATEMENT OF THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION.—Doctrine of Malthus. This doctrine is stated, as we have said, in his "Essay on the Principle of Population." After having formulated, in his two celebrated propositions, the law of the development of population and that of the increase of food, this illustrious economist verifies it by means of the history and statistics of ancient and modern peoples, and shows by what checks the growth of population has been arrested. At the same time he points out the dangers, both to private families and to society in general, arising from a misconception of these laws, and shows by what means the evils may be avoided which have resulted and still result from the improvidence in which the greater part of mankind have lived and do live. These laws of the increase in the number of human beings and of the means of subsistence, and these means of obviating the evils he points out, are what he has called the "principle of population." The evils he sums up as "vice" and "misery." The remedy he proposes, and which is one of the forms of foresight, he calls "moral restraint." To show the importance of this means, Malthus was led to discuss the value of the doctrines put forth the latter part of the last century and the beginning of the present one, on population and the means of raising it to a better material and moral condition, as well as the checks to its excessive growth. He then examines the social theories which had then appeared; among others, those of Godwin and Owen, Condorcet's theory of indefinite progress, the efficacy of emigration, and the effects and dangers of charity. In treating of the latter subject, Malthus makes a profound criticism of the poor laws, and is led to an examination of the question so much agitated in our times, of the right to employment and the right to state aid.
—Statement of the two propositions. In the first pages of his book, after stating a few facts and considerations corroborated in the course of the work, Malthus says: "It may safely be pronounced, therefore, that population, when unchecked, goes on doubling itself every twenty-five years, or increases in a geometrical ratio." (7th ed., p. 4, London, 1872.) "It may be fairly pronounced, therefore, that, considering the present average state of the earth, the means of subsistence, under circumstances the most favorable to human industry, could not possibly increase faster than in an arithmetical ratio." (Ibid., p. 5.) Translating these two laws into figures, Malthus adds, a little further on: "The human species would increase as the numbers 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256; and subsistence as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. In two centuries the population would be, to the means of subsistence, as 256 to 9," etc. (Ibid., p. 6.)
—These propositions are true, if not literally, at least approximately. And here we will anticipate certain objections, less serious than is generally supposed, by observing that Malthus, in using a geometrical progression to express the increase of population, and an arithmetical progression to represent the increase in means of subsistence, meant nothing more than to express a tendency. Some persons did not thus understand him, but their dissertations in reference to the matter lead to false conclusions.
—The first proposition demonstrated by the increase of the population of the United States, and conformable to the laws of nature. Near the close of the last century, when Malthus began to write, Dr. Price stated, that, according to data examined by himself, in certain parts of North America, the period of doubling the population was fifteen years. ("Price's Observations," vol. i., p. 282, and vol. ii., p. 260.) He supported this statement by some extracts from a sermon by Dr. Hyles, who had found, in 1748, that the period of doubling was twenty-five years in Rhode Island, taken as a whole, and twenty and fifteen years in certain districts in the interior of that state. The period was twenty years in the county of Kent, and eighteen years in Providence county. Euler had constructed a table based on statistics taken from the registers of births and deaths, according to which the doubling had taken place in less than thirteen years. W. Petty had advanced the opinion, that, under particularly favorable circumstances, a population might double in ten years. Malthus, relying on these three authorities and the United States census, thought he was safe from exaggeration in saying, that, when population is not arrested in its growth from any cause, it goes on doubling every twenty-five years, thus increasing from period to period in geometrical progression. If the fact of doubling in twenty-five years, independently of immigration, had been once proven, science would be justified in adopting a posteriori the assertion of Malthus.
—We have now valuable statistics on this subject in the decennial census of the United States, covering nearly four times the Malthusian period of twenty-five years. In 1790 the United States were free, and organized under one general government. They have continued to live under the same government. The civil war is the only important event which has put a serious check upon the natural course of things. Moreover, the United States, not having yet attained the limits of disposable land and subsistence, have continued to obey the law indicated by the census previous to this century, and which served Malthus as a starting point. We have here one of the most remarkable facts in regard to population, a fact remarkable both for its clearness and its continuity. According to the official census statistics, the progress of population has been, in round numbers, as follows:
If from the population of 1850, we deduct that of the then newly annexed territory, including Texas, New Mexico, Utah and California (166,000 persons in all, a large part of whom, however, were immigrants from the United States), we have remaining a population of 22,990,000 for that year. If we divide the population of 1840 by that of 1790, we find that the population more than quadrupled in these fifty years. Dividing that of 1850 by that of 1800, we find the population quadrupled in the first two periods of twenty-five years in this century. Taking, in like manner, the fifty-year periods from 1810 to 1860, 1820 to 1870, and 1830 to 1880, we find the population more than quadrupled in all but the last period, and very nearly quadrupled in that. Comparing periods of ten years, we find that the population had increased—
The smaller per cent. of increase between 1860 and 1870 was a result of the civil war.
—When we examine the census of the individual states, we find several in which the increase has varied greatly from the above rates. The population of the state of New York increased more than sevenfold in the fifty years from 1790 to 1840, and has more than doubled from 1840 to 1880. The population of Ohio more than tripled from 1820 to 1850. It had previously increased more than twelve-fold from 1800 to 1820; but this was largely the result of immigration from other states. Pennsylvania quadrupled her population in the fifty years from 1790 to 1840, and has little more than doubled it from 1840 to 1880. That of Virginia did not double in the fifty years from 1790 to 1840, and (including West Virginia) has barely doubled in the sixty years from 1820 to 1880.
—The statistics previously given of the general population show, however, that the ratio given by Malthus, which he had based on the increase observed in the second half of the last century, continues to express the facts during the present century, and over a wider area of territory.
—But, aside from the results of the census, we might have conceived this ratio a priori, as many economists have shown. J. B. Say reasons on the subject as follows: "If we leave out of account all the causes which limit the increase of the human race, we find that a man and woman, married as soon as they are mature, may easily have at least a dozen children. * * Experience, indeed, shows us that about half of those who are born die before the age of twenty-six. Consequently, if each couple can not rear twelve children who will have progeny, they can rear six as capable of increase as themselves. Hence we may conclude, that, if there were no check to this increase, the population of any country would be tripled at the end of twenty-six years." Rossi accepts Malthus' ratio, and adds: "This is easily demonstrated. Whenever you have several products, each with a reproductive power equal to that of the producer, you will necessarily have a more or less rapid geometrical progression. If one produces two, and these have each the same productive power as the first, the two will produce four, the four eight, and so on. Abstractly speaking, Malthus announced an indisputable principle, as true in regard to man as it is with animals and plants. Obstacles not being taken into account, it is evident that at the end of a certain number of years, the earth would be covered with men, as it is certain that the entire soil would be soon covered with wheat, and the ocean filled with fishes, if nothing checked the reproductive power of each grain of wheat and each fish." The observations of naturalists support Rossi's statement. A single plant of Indian corn produces 2,000 seeds, a sunflower 4,000, the poppy 32,000, an elm 100,000. A carp spawns 340,000 eggs. It has been calculated that one henbane plant would cover the earth in four years, and that two herrings would fill the sea in ten years, if the ocean covered the whole earth, were there no check to their increase.
—Objections drawn from immigration and the exceptional case presented by the United States. Attacks more animated than serious have been made upon Malthus' first proposition, which is one of the principal foundations of his argument. Godwin, among others, went so far as to maintain that the exceptionally large increase of population in the United States must be attributed entirely to immigration. We will consider the untenability of this position. Up to 1783 war and various other circumstances hindered immigration, and took from the United States more persons than Europe added to the population. The immigration occasioned by the French Revolution was soon interrupted by the war of 1793; and from that time to the peace of 1815 but few immigrants came from Europe, and these almost exclusively from England: These facts are obtained from the "Statistical Annals of the United States," by Dr. Adam Seybert, of Philadelphia, and are based on official documents from 1780 to 1818. (Seybert's valuable work was published in Philadelphia in the latter year, and a copy may now be found in the Astor library, New York.—Translator.) Dr. Seybert states there, that the immigrants came principally from Great Britain, Ireland and Germany; that in 1794 there was a strong tendency in Great Britain to emigrate to the United States, which, however, had been restrained by acts of the British government; that in 1794, according to Cooper, the number of immigrants had been 10,000; and that in 1806 Mr. Blodgett had stated, that, according to the records and estimates most worthy of credence, the annual average for the ten years preceding 1806 had not exceeded 4,000. Admitting that, in 1794, 10,000 foreigners landed in the United States, Dr. Seybert did not admit that they arrived in as great numbers during any of the preceding or subsequent years up to 1817; and, in view of the facts he had been able to obtain, he arrived at the conclusion that the number of immigrants who settled in the United States from 1790 to 1810 could not have exceeded 6,000 annually, on the average. The official records published in England of passengers to America, are confirmatory of Dr. Seybert's conclusion, or, where they differ from it, differ only by making the numbers less. Even were we to admit an annual immigration of 10,000 persons, we should still fall far short of the number necessary to explain the rapid increase of population in the United States. Hence the term of twenty-five years, assigned by Malthus for doubling the population by procreation alone, is far from being exaggerated.
—This testimony has also the confirmation of Mr. Warden (a former United States consul and correspondent of the Institut de France), who was a careful collector of all statistics pertaining to the United States. In his opinion, the population of the United States had doubled in every twenty-one years, and the immigrants, in 1820, had not exceeded an annual average of 4,000. Now, 4,000 immigrants could not have produced more than 84,000 inhabitants: and yet the population increased 5,000,000 in the twenty-one years up to 1820.
—Inasmuch as, prior to 1820, no statistics of immigration were officially kept in all the ports of the United States, we will admit that the records of passengers landed in the ports of the Union previous to 1820 were inaccurate, and in several places negligently kept: we will also leave out of account those returning to Europe, or who passed over into Canada; and we will suppose, that, instead of 4,000 immigrants a year, there were double, triple or even quadruple that number: the marriages, during this period of twenty-one years, must, nevertheless, have given an increase of 4,500,000, so that even this exaggerated immigration would not have added more than from 150,000 to 300,000 new inhabitants.
—From 1820 to 1856, although a record was kept of all foreign-born persons arriving in the ports of the United States, no separate account was made of those who came to remain permanently; of those, that is, to whom the term immigrants would now be applied. To obtain the number of this class of persons during the decennial periods from 1790 to 1840, a calculation was made (which appeared both in the "British Review," and in vol. xxiii. of the Revue des Economistes), according to the following method pointed out by Godwin. The children under ten years of age were subtracted from each general census, for the reason that all the children who, e.g., at the census of 1830, had not attained the age of ten years, were born since 1820, and belonged to the natural increase by means of birth. The difference was taken between this number of children and the increase of population indicated by the census; and this difference was considered to be the number of foreign immigrants. In this way it was calculated that there must have been 160,000 immigrants from 1790 to 1800, 229,000 from 1800 to 1810; 312,000 from 1810 to 1820; 494,000 from 1820 to 1830; and 862,000 from 1830 to 1840: making a total, in fifty years, of about 2,000,000. Admitting this estimate as correct, the total population, nevertheless, increased from 1790 to 1840 from nearly 4,000,000 to more than 17,000,000. Admitting, also, that 862,000 settled in the United States from 1830 to 1840, the population had increased in that period from 12,866,020 to 17,069,453, an increase of 4,203,433, or of 3,341,433 after deducting the number of immigrants; that is to say, an increase of nearly 26 per cent.
—Since 1856 a separate record has been required to be kept, by United States collectors of customs, of all foreign-born passengers arriving in their respective districts, who have come to the United States to settle here, and a quarterly return of the same is made to the United States treasury department. From these tables we learn that the total immigration of settlers from June 30, 1869, to June 30, 1879, was 2,742,137 persons. The total increase of population, as indicated by the census, from 1870 to 1880, was 11,597,412. If from this number we deduct the above number of immigrants, we have left 8,855,275 persons, as the increase exclusive of immigration, an increase of about 23 per cent. This calculation, however, does not leave out of account (as it should do in order to exhibit accurately the natural increase of population) such of the children of these immigrants as were born in the United States between 1870 and 1880, nor of the immigrants themselves during the same time; nor have we yet the statistics for a just estimate of this matter. It is to be hoped, however, that the completed census of 1880, when published, will furnish the desired data. The above given per cent. is, consequently, in excess of the ratio of increase from births alone.
—Since, however, the conditions of the population of the United States have changed since Malthus wrote, and there are now obstacles to its increase which did not then exist, we deem ourselves authorized to conclude, from the above given data, that Malthus was within the limits of truth in estimating that any population would double in a quarter of a century, if there were no obstacle in the way of its increase. He did not say that population in fact doubles in that period. On the contrary, he said the fact was not manifest; and he sought to ascertain the checks by which this increase was prevented.
—Proposition second, relating to subsistence. The second proposition of Malthus amounts to saying that subsistence has a tendency to increase less rapidly than population. Its demonstration results from a comparison of the ease with which families may multiply, and the difficulty with which harvests are obtained. But few considerations need be presented to make this apparent.
—First, it must be remarked that cultivated land, that which yields the means of subsistence, is limited; that it produces only by the aid of capital, which is limited, and is obtained only through difficulty and sacrifices; that it is only by the aid of capital, hard labor, and time, that people succeed in rendering these lands productive and maintain their productiveness. This power of the earth becomes, in fact, quickly exhausted; and in a few years the soil would refuse all return, if rotation of crops, fertilizers and following did not renew its strength. Now, rotation of crops, fertilizers, drainage, and improvements of any kind, imply capital; and following implies cessation of production. Suppose we grant the wholly inadmissible hypothesis, that capital can increase as rapidly as population, it might be said, that, in agriculture, though every increase of labor and capital increases the product, this increase of product is not in the ratio of the increase of labor and capital. Let us suppose, that in consequence of well-directed improvements, the product is doubled within a certain time; can it be supposed, that, by doubling the outlay in another like period of time, the product can be again doubled, and so on continually? Would any agriculturist reply in the affirmative?
—III. CONTINUATION OF THE EXPOSITION OF THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION.—Consequences of the two propositions. Obstacles in the way of the increase of population in a geometrical ratio. Evidently, then, population and subsistence do not follow the same principle. The course of the one tends naturally to become accelerated; that of the other is much less, and tends to come retarded, and to vary more and more from the former, in long-settled countries which are wholly occupied. In other words, the productive power of man to increase his species is greater than that to increase his means of subsistence. Hence, wherever both kinds of reproduction take place without any obstacle being voluntarily interposed by man, population is always pressed for means of subsistence, and the balance between the two is only maintained by physical evil or death.
—This energy of the principle of population, added to the wants inherent in our nature, is, then, a powerful spur to the human race, who must make a constant appeal to all their intellectual, moral and physical faculties to avoid being overtaken by the pangs of hunger and by other privations. Since it incites the species to gradual increase, and since, on the other hand, this same species is endowed with faculties susceptible of development and an ambition to better its condition, the law of increase results in progress when it is maintained within certain bounds, and is a cause of unhappiness and destruction when arrested by no constraining influence.
—This being granted, let us ascertain by what checks the force of these two principles has been and can be counteracted. The checks are of two kinds, and of an opposite nature. One class prevents births, and the other produces premature deaths. The former checks are preventive, and the latter repressive. Malthus called the latter positive checks. This term, however, is not a good one, and may lead to confusion, for the checks which prevent population are as positive as those which cause its destruction. Among the checks to the increase of population through the action of its principle, are the insalubrity of localities inhabited; the un-cleanliness of dwellings, or their insufficient shelter; the lack of suitable clothing and hygienic care; unwholesome or insufficient food; irregular habits; the abuse of tobacco, strong drink and other irritants; famines, and industrial and financial panics, the effects of which are felt for many years; war, which entails the waste of a vast amount of capital, the devastation of crops, and diminished agricultural production; diminution of labor, and false economic measures; anxieties and moral sufferings; and abortion, and even infanticide, terrible means which are more frequently employed than is generally supposed. Most of these causes produce epidemics, or render them more fatal, prevent the proper development of children, weaken the faculties of maturer years, and cause a considerable mortality, which counterbalances the effects of reproduction. Malthus comprehended them all in his expression, "vice and poverty," which he regarded as by turns cause and effect of each other, and as shortening human life.
—Preventive checks belong to two quite distinct classes, one of which comprehends those which result from vice, and the other those which come from the exercise of reason. Those caused by vice are: debauchery, promiscuity of the sexes, and prostitution, which destroy fecundity; polygamy, which acts in the same direction, as is shown by the statistics of the people of oriental countries:43 slavery, which acts both as a repressive check, in consequence of the bad treatment of slaves, and as a preventive check, by trampling on the family sentiment.
—Preventive checks of a different kind are all those prudential considerations which lead men to defer marriage or to limit their number of children to their means of supporting and educating them. These checks have at all times contributed more or less to retard the increase of population. It would be impossible to tell precisely to what extent they have acted, but it is not unlikely that their action has, from time to time, been extended or restricted concurrently with certain moral influences which have given direction to the minds of mankind.
—Among the number of checks to the increase of population at a given point, Malthus omitted to mention emigration. This may exceed immigration, and may in part (much less, however, than is generally supposed) neutralize the effects of the increase of the poorer classes. Malthus, however, discusses this question in speaking of the means proposed to remedy excess of population. Emigration, in fact, has only existed in a marked degree in recent times, since the improvements in maritime communication; and it had not, in his day, been an important check to the increase of continental population in Europe. Two brilliant writers, Louis Reybaud, in the Journal des Economistes, and Blanqui, in his charming "History of Political Economy," in explaining the doctrines of Malthus, have rightly said that emigration has rendered immense service to the civilization and industry of all nations. They find the fears of Malthus chimerical, and his law sufficiently counteracted; and they count on emigration to maintain the equilibrium. But, without denying the civilizing effects of emigration, what we desire to know is, whether it has proved a sufficient check to population in the past, and will prove sufficient in the future. This subject we shall examine farther on.
—Malthus has also been accused of having omitted to take into account the happy effects of increased wealth and of the industrial and economic progress which produce it. Now, with wealth, it is said, and the remark is just, the fecundity of families diminishes. Whence this consoling result would follow, that civilization is at once remedy and check to the evil capable of arising from the principle of population. Malthus did not ignore this fact.
—The effects of wealth in retarding the growth of population were long ago observed, and it was noticed that rich families (save numerous exceptions) have a tendency to propagate less than poor families. But what is the cause of this phenomenon? Does competency diminish the fecundity of people? or is it rather better adapted that want and misery to increase morality, forethought and parental dignity, and to render people more fitted to exercise their free will, and more capable of prudence in marriage? It is evident that the tranquil life of a well-to-do couple is far more favorable to healthful reproduction, to pregnancy, and to the cares which early childhood demands, than is a life of destitution. There may be as many births among the poorer classes; but, other things being equal, death will take his victims more frequently from the abodes of poverty and wretchedness.
—The check arising from competence brings us naturally to the doctrine of the plethoric check, or fatness, which is an exaggerated form of it, advanced by Fourier, and also presented by Doubleday, in his book entitled "The True Law of Population shown to be connected with the Food of the People." Doubleday's doctrine may be summed up as follows: 1, when animal or vegetable species are threatened with death from insufficiency of nutritious food, nature makes a supreme effort, and increases their prolific power, and gives them an impulse which is checked only when proper nourishment is again afforded; 2, when these species receive food luxurious in kind, or excessive in amount, they pass to the plethoric or sterile condition, and reproduction is assisted or altogether ceases; 3, if the individuals are moderately fed, and their food is not luxurious in kind, the generative principle acts wisely, the race is continued, but does not increase; 4, when ill-fed species are brought into union with others whose food has been abundant and strengthening, the balance is at once restored: the increase of the former compensates for the decrease of the latter, and the race remains stationary.
—Doubleday and Fourier are not contradicted on the subject of plethoric races:44 but, on the subject of the relative fecundity of races which live moderately, physical anthropology would, we think, have more than one reservation to make. Villermé (Journal des Economistes, November, 1843) earnestly combated this theory of Doubleday by arguments based on facts, in a report to the French academy of political and moral sciences. A consideration of the arguments drawn from natural history would unduly extend the limits of this article: so we refrain from recapitulating them.
—Let us now consider the objections offered against the theory of checks limiting population. In the first place, it has been denied that repressive or preventive checks have acted or do act. A sufficient answer to this objection is a statement of the facts of ancient and modern history, and the reports of travelers, and these are confirmed by geography and statistics. Malthus devoted a part of his work to a consideration of these facts, and every one can complete his argument by observations of his own. It is an indisputable fact that men die more or less rapidly according to the places where they reside, their conditions of existence, their occupations, and the classes to which they belong. In France it has been observed that rich or well to-do men, from forty to forty-five years old, die at the rate of.85 of 1 per cent. annually; but that men of the same age who are poor and needy die at the rate of 1.87 per cent., that is to say, two and a fifth times as many of the poor die. In the British colonies there was a time in which negro slaves died in the proportion of one to six annually, and free negroes in the proportion of one to thirty-three: that is, five and a half times as many slaves died. In Paris, from 1817 to 1836, one inhabitant in fifteen died in the twelfth arrondissement, which was peopled mostly by the poor; and one inhabitant in sixty-five in the second, occupied by a different class. At Manchester, Eng., the average of life in certain districts was formerly only seventeen years, while in others it was forty-two. There are places and occupations in which children are reared more successfully, and in which more old men are found, than in others. What do these facts prove, if not that there are places, districts, occupations, classes and families in which men die prematurely, and in consequence of the causes pointed out by Malthus? If this is the case, can we deny that it would have been better if the greater part of these men, especially those who die in childhood and youth, had never been born, since they came into the world only to suffer, and to occasion suffering and privation directly to their families, and indirectly to society?
—In investigating the question of population, there is need to take large account of the difference of localities, occupations and social conditions. For lack of knowledge of these, statistics are of comparatively little value. Present communities are the resultants of an infinite number of causes, and if they are considered as a whole, no proper judgment can be formed of the changes which take place in them. Take, for instance, the tables of the mortality in cities in the United States in 1880. We perceive, that in that year the city of Yonkers, N. Y., had 14.3 deaths to 1,000 inhabitants, and that Savannah, Ga., had 32.6 in 1,000. Before we can form a just judgment in regard to the comparative salubrity of these two cities, we must know their location, atmospheric conditions, drainage, the social condition of their inhabitants, their character, age, and many other circumstances. Again, there are certain departments in France in which the population has actually diminished for many successive years, but before we can base any judgment of value in reference to this fact, we must know certain other facts, among which are the loss by war and by emigration, and how much of the decrease is due to intemperance and other vices, how much to destitution, how much to disease, how much to heredity, sanitary conditions and other causes. Then we might form some proper estimate of the measure of decrease resulting from prudence, and be able to judge whether or not there was a failure of what Malthus called the "principle of population."
—Another objection is made, based on the price of cereals. From the stability of the price, the conclusion is drawn that progress in agriculture has kept and will keep pace with the growth of population. M. Passy, a French authority who investigated this question about thirty years ago, attributed the steadiness of the price of grain for the fifty years from 1797 to 1847 to the improvements in agriculture. On examining the prices of wheat (as given in Spofford's American Almanac for 1882, p. 102) from 1825 to 1880 inclusive, i.e., for fifty-six years, we find twenty-six years in which the price was higher than in 1880, and twenty-nine years in which it was less. Many elements, however, are always to be considered in connection with prices, among which are short crops in our own or in other countries, wars at home or abroad, cost of transportation, and other causes which affect supply or vary demand, not the least of which is the value, i.e., the purchasing power, of money: and as there is no way of determining, otherwise than approximately, the amount of effect from each of these various causes, it is impossible to say to what degree the prices have been affected by them, or whether wheat, if we consider only the causes which are constant in their action, tends to increase or diminish in price. This, however, we do know, that some classes of the population have, at all periods of which history gives us information, experienced at times the repressive check of a lack of sufficient nutritive food; and we might, a priori, conclude, that if the world continues to be populated increasingly, the time must eventually come, when, with all conceivable facilities for the production and transportation of food, not enough of the latter could be produced (for lack of room) to afford nourishment to all the inhabitants. That time is, however, in a future so remote that the question of population, as presented by Malthus, derives its chief practical value from the motives to prudence it presents, rather than from the danger it threatens of increase of population beyond means of subsistence.
—Another objection to Malthus' doctrine has been drawn from the advantages and productive resources which a population finds in its own density, or, in other words, from the benefits civilization derives from an increase in the number of men. Mr. Everett, of Boston (author of "New Ideas on Population"), and Henry Carey, of Philadelphia, in particular, reproached Malthus with not having taken sufficient account of this density of population. Mr. Carey stated that increase of population is accompanied by an increase in the quantity of products, and an increase in the share of the laborers in that increased quantity; and, finally, that the doctrine of Malthus is false and dangerous, since he makes assertions which might arouse had feeling in the masses. Let us say, in the first place, that the doctrine of Malthus can not be held responsible for the bad feeling of the masses misled by false assertions; and that, in any case, the feelings of the masses can not be regarded as the criterion of scientific truth. We will next say, that, as a general fact, it may be true that increase of population leads to facility of association, and the latter to increase of wealth; but, for Mr. Carey to be right, the capital needed by the population must also necessarily always increase in like ratio with production and facility of association. Moreover, the wealth produced must always be sufficient for the increasing population; for, as Bastiat says, (Harmonies Economiques, 2d ed., 1851, p. 427), "if, as wealth increases, the number of men among whom it is divided increases still more, the absolute wealth may be greater, and individual wealth less." Finally, this wealth must comprise a sufficient quantity of the means of subsistence. Then alone would the counsels of Malthus and the wisdom and forethought of the heads of families be unnecessary, without, however, being dangerous; for there is never danger in preaching prudence to the poor, destroying their illusions, and enlightening them in regard to anti-social rights. Things have taken place, as Mr. Carey says, in several parts of the United States, and they may take place again in various states of this new country, and in some localities in Europe even; but we can not admit that this is the general expression of constant and universal facts.
—Bastiat thought that Malthus did not take sufficient account of the progressive principle of the human race, perfectibility. In virtue of this principle, he said, man sees his wants increase. When the natural wants are satisfied, others arise which habit renders natural in their turn; and this habit, which has so appropriately been called second nature, performing the functions of valves in the human system, interposes an obstacle to any retrograde step. Consequently the intelligent and moral restraint he exercises over his own propagation, is affected and inspired by these efforts, and combines with his progressive habits. The first inference which M. Bastiat draws from this view of the matter, is, that in proportion as people become accustomed to superior means of subsistence, or to more means of living, to use the broader expression of Mr. Tracy and of J. B. Say, forethought is stimulated, the moral and preventive check neutralizes more and more the brutal and repressive check, and better living and forethought engender each other. Bastiat's second inference is, that in critical times, people may sacrifice many enjoyments before encroaching on their food, or may even come down from food of the first quality to that which is inferior. "It is not so," he says, "in China or in Ireland. When men have nothing in the world but a little rice or potatoes, with what will they buy other food if this rice and these potatoes fail?" A third inference is, that an intelligent man may make an unlimited use of the preventive check. "He is perfectible," says Bastiat; "he aspires to improvement; deterioration is repugnant to him; progress is his normal condition. Progress implies a more or less enlightened use of the preventive check: consequently, the means of existence will increase more rapidly than population. If it were true, as Malthus says, that to each excess of the means of subsistence, corresponds a greater excess of population, the poverty of our race would be fatally progressive, civilization would be at the beginning, and barbarism at the end, of time. The contrary is true: consequently the law of limitation has had sufficient power to restrict the increase of men below that of products."
—Our first remark upon this is, that all that Bastiat says before his conclusion, and which appears to us perfectly correct, is found here and there in Malthus' work. Our second remark is, that it is a gratuitous assumption of Bastiat that Malthus advanced the idea that to each excess of means of subsistence there corresponds a greater excess of population. Malthus did say that such a correspondence might easily arise from the law of human propagation, but that it could be avoided by the preventive check; and he composed his work only to point out the dangers of that correspondence and the advantages of men using their limitative faculties, which are the more efficacious the more an appeal is made to reason.
—One word in reference to the two conclusions. Bastiat claims that, in the past, the increase of mankind has been restrained by forethought. This opinion, which he elsewhere more than once himself contradicts, would be more consoling than that of Malthus, who attributes the greater influence to the action of repressive and preventive checks of a bad kind. But an assertion is not a demonstration; and the demonstration, by means of history, geography and statistics, is found in the work of Malthus. Bastiat also claims that the means of subsistence increase faster than population; but as he supposes this to be by the action of foresight, he juggles, so to speak, with the difficulty, solving the question by the question. If he had said or had meant that the means of subsistence might, by the aid of foresight, or, as he calls it, of the preventive limitation, increase more rapidly than population, he would have simply formulated the desideratum of the problem of population, the very end that Malthus, and all those who treated the question after him, had in view.
—IV. MEANS OR REMEDIES PROPOSED TO COUNTERBALANCE THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION.—Moral restraint and forethought. The various checks to the increase of population are so many means of counterbalancing this principle; but all, with the exception of forethought, are outside of our present discussion. We will, however, mention the grossest charge brought against Malthus. Some have asserted, and others repeated, that Malthus counseled prostitution and debauchery as a remedy for the evils that might result from a disproportion between the quantity of subsistence and the number of people; or again, that not only did he not deplore, but that he even desired, the action of these repressive checks. To serious men the mere mention of such nonsense is its sufficient answer. There are, however, frequent traces of these absurdities in the ideas current concerning Malthus and his doctrines.
—The check to the principle of population which Malthus recommends, in order to avoid the great number of deaths resulting from the action of repressive checks, is prudence in marriage, which he calls "moral restraint." The substance of his doctrine is in the advice of that father who instructs his children to take the greatest care to proportion the number of their children to their means for supporting them. "Do not marry," he says, "and have children, except when you can support them. Remember that your family have no other support than you, and that those causes which have rendered dormant your judgment and your forethought will be powerless to extricate you from the misery into which you will fall, by which you will be continually exposed to become the prey of evils and vices which drive generations of men to the grave."
—Malthus discussed in detail the various improvements which might ameliorate the condition of the needy classes, and, after having considered their bearing, repeated and reinforced his advice with much power in an appendix, which forms the fifth part of his work. In this appendix, after having again confuted the principal objections made to his ideas, he summed up his doctrines.
—Certain publicists, Sismondi among others, admitting the tendency of population to outrun the limits of subsistence, proclaimed the fatality of this condition of things, and the inutility of the remedy. Malthus did not fall into such an error. He thought it possible to prevent births; for man is intelligent and free; he can anticipate the evil, and avoid the danger when he knows it. It is because of not having read Malthus thoroughly, or of having forgotten what he wrote, that people have brought such charges against him: for he took much pains to show the efficacy of the remedy as well as the reality of the danger: he, in fact, spared no effort to show how pauperism could be prevented.
—The principle of moral restraint, or, the preventive check, which finds expression in abstinence and late marriages, has been accused of being aristocratic, contrary to the teachings of the gospel, and inefficacious. Is it to be considered aristocratic, because it recognizes that people of wealth or competence can rear larger families? The reproach is ill-founded. The happiness of parents depends not so much on the number as on the health and well-being of their children; and from this point of view it is better not to have children than to see them deprived of the necessities of life. In the second place, to recommend to poor people not to take upon themselves the cares of married life too early, is to exhort them to an abstention which will enable them to have a family under better conditions, and one not too numerous, and will also help them not to create too great a competition, and, consequently, to be more independent. Considered in this light, the advice of Malthus is essentially democratic. As to the religious aspect of the question, we would say that Crescite et multiplicamini is not an exhortation to incessant procreation: it is rather a benediction. We consider its true significance to be: "Increase and prosper." But, in order to prosper, we must use freedom, reason and forethought, those qualities in which man is superior to a quadruped or to an oviparous animal. This is not alone the idea of Malthus, although he was himself a minister of the gospel; it is also that of St. Paul, who, in advising the Corinthians of the imprudence of marrying in those troublous times, says: "Such shall have tribulation in the flesh: and I would spare you."
—The charge of inefficacy seems better founded; because, in the first place, conjugal unions, though late, may be very prolific, and the more so because of being late, since the parties may be in a better condition for having a well-constituted progeny; secondly, because it would seem that celibacy for an entire life should be only exceptional; and thirdly, because there seem to be people to whom chastity or entire abstention seems impossible. So we are led to say that forethought not only means late marriages, and celibacy for those who can live thus, but also prudence in marriage. Malthus did not in very explicit terms include this prudence in what he called moral restraint, but it is evident that he implied it.
—By late marriages we must then understand those in which the contracting parties wait for the capital or the employment needed, in order to provide for the wants of a family, rather than marriages from which young people are excluded; for experience shows that men who marry early lead more regular lives, and this prevents illegitimate births. These marriages, however, must be prudently conducted, in order to avoid misery. If the begetting of children is a chief object in marriage, a no less evident object is the care for these same children, that from the moment of conception to the time when they can support themselves, they should have the necessary means of existence, in material and hygienic respects, as well as in intellectual and moral ones. Consequently, parents are wanting in the foremost and most indispensable of their duties, if they have more children than they can support, properly educate, and have taught some occupation which will at least provide them with the necessaries of life. It is certainly incumbent on parents to exercise the will in this matter more than in any other, and to act as intelligent, moral and responsible beings.
—Will a man be immoral, if, wishing to have only a limited number of children, proportionate to his means and the future his affection dreams of for them, he nevertheless does not, with this object in view, devote himself to the most rigorous and unconditional abstinence? It is useless to discuss this question, and we shall merely appeal to every enlightened conscience to say whether it is more moral, more in conformity with the sense of human right, to bring children into the world in the midst of privations, than to prevent their existence.
—Some have claimed (Proudhon among others), that in the latter case, lack of affection is added to lack of bread. We are unable to see that this is the case, when the number of children of poor people is restricted because of prudence and foresight. The contrary seems to us evidently true. Nor are we able to comprehend how prudence will lead, as some assert, to the suppression of marriage and the debauchery of youth. Is it not a legitimate effect of prudence to render the marriage state more prosperous and attractive? and does not experience prove that a lack of foresight is one of the causes of concubinage and demoralization, either through violation of the marriage covenant, or in consequence of the culpable heedlessness which leads people to render themselves liable to have a family without undertaking to support one?
—There is also another point of view which should not be disregarded. It is that marriage, apart from the consideration of a family, may be regarded as a most natural partnership for mutual aid. From this point of view, marriage is far from being a superfluous institution. We will not speak of abuse of pleasures of sense, save to say that improvident unions are not exactly those which are most exempt from it. Finally, far from weakening the social bond, ideas of forethought, prudence and responsibility seem to us to tend to strengthen the family principle, and likewise that of property. Young people are more encouraged to marry by the example of prosperous and well-conducted households, than by those suffering the pangs of wretchedness.
—But this conjugal forethought is amenable to morals and to hygiene, both of which are, from their respective points of view, in accord in prescribing to the head of a family respect for his life companion. Maxima debetur sponsœ reverentia is a precept which perhaps is not given its due prominence in the confidential education which a father owes his son when he has attained years of discretion and aspires to have a family of his own. This respect can not be too thoroughly instilled into the minds of all classes of society, especially of those addicted to intemperate indulgence in the pleasures of the table and to intoxicating drinks. Excesses of all kinds, and particularly in the matter of drink, have a great part in the miseries of this world; they make men lose the feeling of self-respect, and the sense of their duty to their families; they stifle the voice of reason; they neutralize all domestic forethought; they bring on despondency, quickly followed by a weakening of the mainsprings of morality.
—Having reached this point in our discussion, it seems unnecessary to reply to the two following sophisms. We are told that we ought not to deprive the poor of the only pleasure which nature has given them, and that if the poor have more children, it is because Providence wills it so, to counterbalance the debauchery of the rich. Strange means for Providence to take, to punish some for the fault of others, which fault, besides, is much exaggerated! Must we repeat that the children of the needy die sooner and more frequently, and that when they arrive, they fill no deficiency?
—We will now conclude this important part of our subject by repeating that to labor and good conduct every man should add foresight in all its forms, including that prudence which will render him extremely careful to avoid having a family more numerous than comports with the resources his industry furnishes. This is the principal means upon which men may reasonably rely, because it is at their disposal: it is also the only really efficacious means, as we shall see on making a rapid review of the other means proposed as remedies to the force of the principle of population.
—V. OTHER MEANS PROPOSED TO COUNTERBALANCE THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION.—Plan of Dr. Loudon. Strange means proposed by Fourier, Pierre Leroux, Marcus, Greek philosophers, etc. Dr. Loudon, a doctor of medicine and an inspector of factory children in England, deriving the suggestion from natural history and physiology, thought he had found a solution of the problem of population and subsistence in the plan of having infants suckled for three years, and the contrariety of function between the breasts and the uterus. ("Solution of the Problem of Population and Subsistence." 2 vols., 1842.) He calculated that with the nursing period thus prolonged, a woman could not give birth to more than three or four children. Were we to admit Dr. Loudon's premises (which, by the way, are much disputed), it is easy to see that families might still become large, and exceed the limits of their resources. A woman might still give birth to eight or more children. Consequently, there would always be reason for commending foresight to heads of families, even with triennial nursing, admitting the latter to be practicable for the industrial and agricultural classes.45 We now ask pardon of our readers for introducing the following theories: Fourier calculated that with work carried on according to his system of association, land would yield a "four-fold product," i.e., there would be four times the present produce, if men combined in phalansteries and worked in the ways he describes; but, after having uttered these words of hope, he calls attention to the fact that population would soon again reach the limit of subsistence, in its future social condition. In this his views correspond with those of Malthus; but he holds in contempt this corypheus of "economism," who could find nothing but forethought as a remedy for excess of population, which excess Fourier would remedy by means far more efficacious. His methods are: 1, the complete exercise of all the passions, and attractive labor, to divert the sexes from the act of procreation; 2, gastrosophy, or the science of feeding wisely and acquiring a stoutness little adapted to that act; 3, the vigor of the women, which, in his opinion, was in inverse ratio to their fecundity; 4, the customs of the society he dreams of, which he calls phanerogamic, which are to produce effects analogous to those of the polygamy practiced in oriental countries, and the polyandry and polygyny found among civilized peoples. We will make no other comment here, than to say that the teaching of forethought was treated by Fourier and his disciples as immoral! and that, on the other hand, Leroux (Lettres sur le Fourierisme, par M. Pierre Leroux, in the Revue Sociale), and Proudhon (Avertissement aux propriétaires, by M. Proudhon, pamphlet, 1841), rendered severe justice to the monstrosities of Fourier. But Pierre Leroux did not confine himself to criticism: he, too had a theory on population. He called it the circulus, and meant by this word the principle in virtue of which every man produces sufficient fertilizing material for his subsistence! But Leroux does not state how agriculture must go to work to feed the human race from this source. He also makes the customary attack on Malthus and the Economists. (Malthus et les Economistes, 1 vol., 16mo.) As to Proudhon, after having both attacked Malthus and confuted the arguments of the latter's opponents, he ended by arriving at nearly the same conclusions as did Malthus; so that the most ardent Malthusian would cheerfully indorse many eloquent pages of his book. (Contradictions Economiques, 1846, 2d vol., p. 453.) But this only applies to the matter in some studies published by this writer in 1846. Later, in 1848, when the right of labor to employment was discussed in the national assembly, Proudhon wrote a very caustic pamphlet (Representant du Peuple, Aug. 10, 1848; republished by Garnier Frères), aimed at the opponents of this right, whom he called Malthusians. This writing, full of censurable misstatements and arguments made for the occasion, was merely the work of a political writer, and is not worth discussion as of scientific value. (See Journal des Economistes, of March, 1849, article by Du Puynode on "Malthus and Socialism," also a discourse by Michel Chevalier on "Political Economy and Socialism.")
—But to continue the account of singular methods. A German writer, Weinhold, a town councillor in Saxony, proposed, some fifty years ago, to prevent a surplus population by the same means employed by the Roman Catholic churches in Europe to obtain a certain quality of voices for their choirs, and by the Turks to secure faithful guardians for their wives. (De l'excès de population dans l'Europe centrale, Halle, 1827.) Another writer, an Englishman of great celebrity, (so says Rossi) whose name we do not venture to give, since he was unwilling it should be made public, but who wrote under the nom de plume of Marcus, proposed to prevent a surplus population by asphyxiating newly-born infants with carbonic acid. Was this work that of a mind diseased? or could its object have been to caricature Malthus? Neither would seem to be the case, for its tone and style are serious. But, however this may be, the traducers of Malthus took it up, and, because of the resemblance between the two names, east renewed reproach on the doctrines of the author of the "Essay on the Principle of Population," to whom the ignorant attributed the travesty by Marcus.
—Nor are these all. Proudhon has revealed to us the process of a certain Dr. G...who proposes "the extraction of the fœtus and the extirpation of germs that had found lodgment contrary to the intention of the parents," and one or two other means which we will not mention. (Contradictions Economiques, vol. ii., 1846, p. 453.)
—Is not the mere mention of such ideas their sufficient refutation, and enough to clear from responsibility for them the worthy, humane and reasonable man who wrote on the "Principle of Population"? It is of little use to-day to compare the eccentricities of our times with the ideas of the Greek philosophers on this subject; but we will cite a few of the latter taken from Montesquieu. (Esprit des Lois, book xxiii., chap. 17.) "The policy of the Greeks had particularly in view the regulation of the number of citizens. Plato wished procreation to be checked or encouraged, when necessary, by honors, shame, and the admonitions of the elders. He even wished ('Laws,' book v.) the number of marriages might be regulated in such a way as to maintain the population, without having the republic overstocked. 'If the law of the country,' says Aristotle ('Politics,' book vii., chap. 16), 'prohibits the exposure of infants, it will be necessary to limit the number of children which each man may beget.' When people have more children than the law allows, he recommends abortion before the fœtus has life. The infamous means employed by the Cretans are mentioned by Aristotle; but modesty would be shocked were I to describe them."
—VI. OTHER METHODS PROPOSED TO COUNTERBALANCE THE FORCE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION.—Prohibition of marriage and immigration. Political changes in the form of government. Remodeling society, and a better distribution of its products. Emigration. Charity. Economic reforms and agricultural and industrial progress. We are glad to arrive at the discussion of more serious methods. These are very many. It has been proposed to restrict the liberty to marry, and to prohibit immigration into countries where an excess of population is manifest. It has also been maintained that if a population suffered from its density, this was due either to a bad form of government, a bad organization of society, or in particular to a vicious distribution of the social revenues; and people have consequently come to believe that some other form of government, some especial method of reorganizing society, or some socialistic system, would have power to correct these evils. The adequacy of emigration and colonization has been maintained: the extension of charitable measures has been advocated as a sufficient solution of the problem: and finally, it has been contended that it would be enough to create economic and financial reforms, or to cause an increase of production in all the activities of society; and that, in consequence of such a course, there would be no reason for concern about the power of the principle of population and its results. The discussion of most of these questions would furnish material for volumes; but the elucidation of our subject does not require us to enter into them at length here.
—It is said that restriction of the liberty to marry has at times been demanded and introduced in the legislation of certain German states. Without examining here the principles of justice and equality which oppose this restriction, we will simply say that measures of this kind would be wholly ineffectual, either because of promoting illegitimate births or of interposing but a slight obstacle to legitimate ones. It is as wrong to prohibit people from marrying as to offer rewards for large families. There should be entire freedom in forming this alliance, and the contracting parties should be wholly responsible for its results; and customs, we think, will be found more efficacious than laws in this matter.
—On the subject of immigration, Destutt de Tracy, (Traite d'Economie Politique, 1825, p. 244) has given utterance to the following opinion: "Immigration is always useless and even harmful, unless it be that of a few men who introduce new ideas: but, in this case, their knowledge, and not their persons, is what is of value; and such men are never very numerous. Immigration may be prohibited without injustice,46 though this is a subject to which governments have never given due consideration. Nor have they often given many reasons for desiring immigration." Destutt de Tracy is right in some respects; but he has perhaps taken too little account of the moral, economic and providential advantages of immigration. It is well and useful for the various nations of the globe to come in contact with one another, to mingle together and to know something of one another's interests; it is advantageous for races to cross; and all the results of such intermingling can only be attained by emigration. Still, it is evident that certain immigrations have the effect to lower wages and deprive those people among whom the emigrants settle, of a part of the advantages their foresight gave them; but, in any case, the advantage always remains on the side of the prudent man. We here see the solidarity of nations, and that all nations have a common interest in helping one another to become moral by the example of good habits. We think with Malthus that there should be freedom of immigration; but we will say that restriction would be more easily justified in this case than in that of products. When the Parisian populace demanded, in 1848, the departure of the foreign operatives, they were barbarous, but logical; and we remember that the protectionist school at that time had some difficulty in explaining, through its press, how those who opposed competition in labor were less right than those who opposed competition in provisions and other products. However, prohibition of immigration would not be sufficient to counteract the force of the principle of population.
—Godwin, and many publicists before and after him, maintained that the fate of populations depended chiefly on the nature and form of the government, and on the good will and ability of those in power. This is a great and deplorable error, has given rise to many revolutions, and has been a partial cause of most of the political changes in France since 1789, to the great detriment of society. All political parties who wish to come into power, take advantage of this error; and when they have attained their end, it is useless for them to advocate the opposite doctrine: their opponents take up the same arguments, and the people listen to them.—"The greatest danger, perhaps, of modern times," said the president of the French republic in 1849, addressing the exhibitors of industrial products, "arises from the false idea which has taken hold of people's minds, that a government can do everything, or that it is in the essence of any system to answer every requirement, to remedy every evil." This belief, entertained without due consideration, was combated by Malthus, and his ideas as a whole are in accord with the sentiments of almost all economists since Quesnay. Malthus doubtless spoke in hyperbole when he said that the evils arising from a bad government, compared with those produced by the passions of men, were but as feathers floating on the water; but there is no such exaggeration in the spirit of his book. We can but acknowledge that bad governments may do much injury to a people, may ruin, and, what is worse, demoralize them; still, experience shows that the action of the best government should be limited to guaranteeing security and justice, and superintending certain public services which can not, as advantageously, be left to private industry; and if, in the exercise of this supreme and natural function, good governments may be of great utility to civilization, they are, nevertheless, wholly powerless to bring about the happiness of the citizens, who are the only agents of their own fortunes, their own competence, and their own social position.
—This fundamental error, shown to be such by all economic studies, has engendered all socialistic doctrines properly so called, and all those which, without having this term applied to them, are connected more or less logically with the same principle, which is the principle of communism: such as the absorption of private activity and responsibility into governmental action; the transformation of citizens into employés, and of private industries into society workshops; a system which leads to the conception of the existence of organized society where there is no distinction of meum et tuum, that is, to a radical transformation of the human race.
—Admitting the hypothesis that any one of these systems is practicable, and has been put in practice, and that it secured the happiness of the people living under it, such a system (as Fourier himself would be the first to acknowledge), far from checking the power of the principle of population, would surely be its promoter, acting in this like the combined physical and moral conditions which exist in North America. Consequently, although the errors of these systems may be easily proven, those who are liable to become the victims of such illusions should be especially warned to follow the counsels of wisdom and foresight.
—In view of the facts we must admit that emigration is not likely to relieve a country of any considerable portion of its population; that, whatever the amount of the emigration may be, it is more than counterbalanced by the natural increase in numbers. Molinari estimated that the tide of human beings from Europe to the new world in 1850 might be half a million. This was due to the following causes: the already confirmed tendency of the people of Germany and England to leave their country; the monetary pressure of 1846-7; improved means of traveling; and the discovery of gold mines in California and Australia. But who does not see, that, admitting the permanence of this current, the emigration is but a small fraction in comparison with the increase by births in Europe? Let us consider, in the second place, that emigration is an exportation of capital and labor; that the exportation of capital is a cause of misery to the country abandoned; that those who leave their native land are the more enterprising and industrious, and their departure is for this reason another cause of degeneration and poverty to their country. Finally, let us consider that the emigration of needy classes often turns to their disadvantage; and consequently, instead of saying to them, "Increase without consideration of the results," it is more humane, more charitable, more Christian, to say: "It is better not to increase your families than to bring them up in privation, and take them to distant lands to perish." One school (a numerous one) thinks the solution of the problem of population lies in the development of public and private charity. In reply to this, the economic school, especially Malthus, and those writers who have been occupied with philanthropic questions, call attention to the serious difficulties resulting both to society and to the needy classes, from ill-directed charity. "If care is not taken, the person aided or relieved becomes accustomed to seek alms, his feeling of dignity is blunted, the spring of his morality is weakened, and he slips rapidly down to vice, which, in its turn, augments his poverty. He then becomes selfish, thoughtless of the future of his children, as well as of that of his unfortunate companion, and even of his own, intemperate, incapable of the least restraint, and at last even sometimes insensible to the loss of his little ones, from the care of whom death delivers him, and for whom he well knows the loss of a lot like his own is not to be deplored." Montesquieu (Esprit des Lois, book xxiii., chap. 11) had already said: "People who have absolutely nothing, like beggars, have many children, who are born supplied with the implements needed for that art."
—These effects are notably produced by official and public charity, which, to those assisted, easily takes the matter-of-course character of public dues. These people, being at least as ignorant as other men, do not see that what they receive often comes from the pockets of people as miserable as they, and that it is diminished by all the charges paid to tax collectors and administrators, through whose hands the money passes. Hence we see that public charity demands intelligent superintendence by the public authorities, and that the unfortunate should not be able to count upon it, save in exceptional cases, and then temporarily; that the greater number of them can not experience its good effects, and that it would be the greatest of wrongs for them to count upon it to bring up their families and improve their condition. The greatest aid a state, county or town could give, would not be worth one hour's labor daily, or one degree more of activity, morality and foresight in the family.
—If public charity is inadequate, private charity is still more so. Few men seem naturally inclined to share with their fellow-men, and the sublime precepts of the gospel seem to be neither practicable nor practiced save by a small number of elect souls, or by a greater number of persons in quite exceptional cases where human sympathy is excited to an unwonted degree. Berenger spoke reasonably, when, presiding over a benevolent society, he said that charity is a sentiment which must be continually aroused by new demonstrations, by the attraction of pleasures, by the allurements offered to vanity, so to speak; and finally, that it procures but ephemeral resources: that if it were otherwise, as men are constituted, some would take advantage of the self-sacrifice of others, and would be the more improvident, indolent and intemperate, because they could count on the aid of their more sober and industrious brethren. This is the difficulty with which all communistic associations have to contend. Nothing is simpler in theory than to say: "Let us live like brethren"; nothing is more difficult in practice. This, then, is another illusion which it is both useful and charitable to dispel in the needy classes, who must be repeatedly taught that they can only find the means of improving their condition in themselves, and that they should endeavor to be charitable in their turn, and not live at the expense of their fellow-citizens. This subject admits of lengthy discussion. We shall not treat of it here, but will simply refer the reader to the article CHARITY, with the conclusions of which we are in accord.
—It was with similar ideas that Malthus approached this great question of charity; he was led to make a profound study of charitable institutions in general, and notably of the poor tax in England. This tax his critics caused to be very considerably modified for the better, in 1834. In the course of his treatment of this extensive subject, Malthus found in his way the doctrine of the right of the poor to aid; which was maintained by several publicists of the last century, was included in the French constitution of 1791 and of 1793, proclaimed again by the socialistic schools, under the names of right to employment, right to assistance, right to live, and right to a minimum of wages, and again embodied in the French constitution of 1848, and is invoked from time to time by all who desire to flatter the passions and prejudices of the populace. We will not dwell longer on this question, but will recall the fact that it was in connection with this subject that Malthus used the phrase which served as a text for most of the declamations against him. This phrase was suppressed in his second edition, but it was taken up by Godwin, and used thousands of times by the opponents of Malthus, who represented it as the foundation of his system. "The socialists," says Bastiat (Harmonies Economiques, 2d ed., 1854, p. 424), "repeat it to satiety; Pierre Leroux repeats it in a little 18mo volume at least forty times; it affords a theme for declamation to all second-class reformers." Here it is: "A man born into a world already full, if his family can no longer support him, or if society can not utilize his labor, has not the least right to demand any portion whatever of food, and is really superfluous on the earth. There is no place for him at the great banquet of nature. Nature orders him to withdraw, and she delays not to put this order into execution." The first phrase simply denies the right to employment and to existence. This is not the one which has been most criticised. The second is a rhetorical figure, quite affected and useless, since the idea expressed by it is found again in the third; and this last, it must be said, was neither accurate nor in conformity with the ideas of so excellent a man as Malthus. Malthus did not mean to tell one who has not a family able to support him, or whose labor can not be utilized by society, to depart, but to convey to him, in the most positive and most peremptory, in the most frank and true manner, that he has naught to expect save from the kindness of his fellow-men, from whom he has no rights to demand, and nothing to exact, under penalty of dissolving society. He meant to say to heads of families and all who help increase the human race, that the limits of charity are very restricted, and that miseries and sufferings are not slow in shortening the days of those whose services society can not buy, or, which amounts to the same thing, who can not render it useful service.
—We do not mean that this truth is not really distressing, and that it should not astound those who have cherished the illusion that by means of emigration, the cultivation of waste lands, the common use of potatoes, economical soups, or any other means devised by compulsory philanthropy or credulous policy, we might be relieved from uneasiness in regard to the increase of unfortunates; but it should be clearly recognized that if this condition of things is alarming, Malthus did not invent it nor counsel it: he simply showed its existence, and warned heads of families in regard to it, as well as others who help increase the human race out of proportion to their means of labor. It is nature, and not Malthus, that placed human beings on the verge of a precipice, and yet this unfortunate scholar is held responsible; much as if a sentinel should be punished for his cry of alarm, in warning of impending danger!
—We desired to quote this passage, because it has a scientific and historic interest, and because it has been said that Malthus shrank from facing his own work. Malthus, far from retracting his statement, reproduced the same idea in another passage in his last edition, in speaking of the liberty which he desires shall be left to the father of a family, at his risk and peril. Malthus always manifested a good disposition in his writings; but he never allowed himself to be turned aside, even by injustice, from what he believed to be the truth; for his calmness, his self-possession, his courtesy toward opponents (who were far from reciprocating it) were truly remarkable. I might cite here many respectable authorities in support of the opinions of Malthus; but I will only quote Bastiat, whom some have represented as against him. Bastiat wrote in 1844 (in a pamphlet on the "Assessment of the Land Tax in Landes," p. 25): "The doctrine of Malthus has been attacked of late; he has been accused of being gloomy and discouraging. Doubtless it would be a happy thing, if the means of subsistence could diminish and even disappear, without mankind being the worse fed, clothed, lodged and cared for in infancy, old age and sickness. But this is not the fact, nor is it possible: it is even contradictory. I can not understand the outcry of which Malthus has been the object. What has this celebrated economist revealed? His system is, after all, but a methodical commentary on this very old and evident truth: When men can no longer produce a sufficient quantity of such things as support life, they must diminish in numbers; and if prudence and foresight do not provide these things, suffering must ensue." This is, in other words, the very proposition which brought so much reproach on Malthus, most of whose opinions were shared by Bastiat in his Harmonies, who, nevertheless, erroneously reproaches him on some points.
—We now arrive at the last category of methods enumerated, and the one to which, as we acknowledge, we attribute the greatest efficacy. Economists are the first to maintain that the suppression of abuses and monopolies, the repeal of bad legislative or reglementary measures, that all economic and financial reforms, may, by producing a cessation of the causes of impoverishment and misery, revive labor, bring competence to a population subjected to a bad government, and with competence, morality and instruction, and with morality, foresight. They aim to find the means of increasing capital, the conditions under which land, capital and labor may be more productive, and the laws of distributive justice for the apportionment of the social revenue. They are the first to proclaim that when over-crowded populations exist, the best means of either ameliorating their lot or of preventing the increase of misery, consist in the development of labor and the increase of capital, which raise wages. We might dwell at length on this point; but we limit ourselves to recalling the good effects of the reforms in England, which have had so happy an influence on the condition of the people of that country, since they have resulted in obtaining for them more food, clothing and other means of subsistence, which they have paid for with more and better remunerated labor. Now, what does this example prove? and what are we to conclude from the remedies favored by economists to improve the lot of the people, if not that legislators should study into abuses and charge the government with the responsibility of making them disappear? But while waiting for the termination of these abuses, so slow in becoming eradicated, while waiting for these improvements, so tardy in arriving, generations are successively passing away, and the need of counsels of prudence and foresight continually exists.
—Doubtless humanity has progressed, through all its misfortunes, by its inherent attribute of perfectibility; doubtless the arts of production in general, and of agricultural production in particular, have continually distributed a larger share of comfort in the world; doubtless men multiply on the face of the earth, finding in their very numbers resources unknown in countries sparsely populated: but all this in no wise weakens the force of the principle of population, the difficulty of procuring means of subsistence, and the need of men depending first of all on themselves, that is to say, on their own activity, foresight and industry, for their support and that of their families.
—VII. CONCLUSION. If we now attempt to formulate the fundamental propositions we have set forth in this article, we shall say: 1. Population has an organic tendency to increase more rapidly than means of subsistence. 2. In fact, every population is necessarily limited by the extent of the means of subsistence. 3. But this limitation may be morally preventive and dependent on the will of man, or physically repressive through the suffering, misery and vice which an excess of population entails, or which arise from the disproportion between the number of men and the capital which may give them employment. 4. The absence of the preventive limitation of the number of children is prejudicial to the interests of families and society, and, consequently, to morals.
—To these conclusions we add the following, which embrace the principal points of Mr. Thornton's book on population ("Over-Population and its Remedy," London, 1846 8vo): 5. A country is over-populated when part of the inhabitants, although able bodied and capable of labor, are permanently unable to earn a sufficiency of the necessaries of life. 6. Over-population is generally produced by misery, the essential characteristic of which is improvidence, which leads to premature (and, we may add, to prolific) marriages.47 7. By parity of reasoning, competence checks the increase of population by giving those who enjoy it a desire to retain it, and by consequently opposing the inclination to marriage; and, we may add, by causing prudence in the married. 8. In countries where population exceeds, not subsistence, but the resources of labor, or, to speak more accurately, the capital which remunerates labor, the inhabitants either live in poverty, or in complete misery. In the former case the population increases with a rapidity which is not counterbalanced for a greater or less time; in the latter, its progress is retarded by the mortality which results from privation and suffering. 9. The theory of Malthus is true, if not precisely as he stated it, yet according to his general tenor. 10. There are three circumstances which can restore competence to a population a prey to misery: emigration on a large scale; the increase of the capital which remunerates labor, or an extended market for products; and a fall in the price of such things as are essential to life, in consequence of trade being unrestricted, though the rate of wages may be unchanged. 11. A good law in regard to public aid, which shall provide that the poor never receive, either in money or goods, more than the minimum of wages earned by a workman; that aid at the workhouse be the rule, and home aid the exception; and the prevention of the more disastrous effects of competition of workmen, by maintaining a sufficient rate of wages. This last conclusion has more especial reference to England.
—To these conclusions we add the following: 12. People should not depend on the power of political constitutions, on plans for reorganizing society, or on the ephemeral resources of charity, to counterbalance the effects of the principle of increase. 13. Emigration, improvement in agriculture, progress in the industrial arts, increase of capital, reforms and economic progress may neutralize, to some extent, the force of the principle of population; but their good effects are produced more slowly than the number of men increases. 14. Families should rely, above all, on themselves, on their labor, their conduct, their foresight, and especially their prudence in the marriage relation. 15. The principle of population, far from being an invincible obstacle to the amelioration of the fate of the masses, is on the contrary, the leaven of progress, when it is supported by the prudence of man. 16. It is for the interest of society that the people be made acquainted with the actual facts, with the condition of things such as they may be according to the laws of nature, and such as political economy, coming to the aid of morals, shows them to be. This knowledge will lead people to ask what is possible, and will enable them to obtain, sooner or later, what is just. It will protect them against the moral epidemics caused by those adventurers in the realm of thought, who throw out upon the world a confused mixture of truth and error; it will give form to those ideas of wisdom and dignity, of order and foresight, without which all conceivable improvements would be, for the poorest classes in particular, and for society in general, almost without object and without significance. (The statistics in this article have been brought down to date by the translator.) (See CHARITY, COMPETITION, EMIGRATION, PAUPERISM, RENT, RIGHT TO EMPLOYMENT, WAGES, WORKMEN.)
E J. L., Tr.
[43.]According to Niebuhr, monogamous marriages resulted in more children than polygamous. Volney stated (Voyage dans la Turquie, vol. ii., p. 445), that married men in Turkey were frequently impotent at the age of the thirty. Roscher (vol. ii., p. 300, Amer. translation) says: "Polygamy, also, is a hindrance to the increase of population. Abstract physiology must indeed admit that a man may, even without any danger to his health, generate more children than a woman can bear. But, in fact, the simultaneous enjoyment of several women leads to excess and early exhaustion. * * In the civilized countries of the east the polygamy of the great may lead to the compulsory celibacy of the many in the lower classes, as a species of compensation. The monstrous institution of eunuchism, which has existed time out of mind in the east, is a consequence of this condition of things, as well as of the natural jealousy of the harem." The reader will find much of value in Roscher's chapters on "Population," and their copious notes.—Translator.
[44.]Roscher (Polit. Econ., vol. ii., p. 287, foot notes) quotes the "Edinburgh Review" and other authorities to the contrary.—Translator.
[45.]According to Dr. P. H. Chevasse, a child should not be nursed more than nine months; and he quotes Dr. Archer Farr as follows: "It is generally recognized that the healthiest children are those weaned at nine months complete. Prolonged nursing hurts both child and mother: in the child, causing a tendency to brain disease, probably through disordered digestion and nutrition; in the mother, causing a strong tendency to deafness and blindness." Dr. Chevasse adds: "If he be suckled after he be twelve months old, he is generally pale, flabby, unhealthy and rickety, and the mother is usually nervous, emaciated and hysterical. * * A child nursed beyond twelve months is very apt, if he should live, to be knock-kneed, and bow-legged, and weak-ankled, to be narrow-chested 'and chicken-breasted."—Translator.
[46.]Roscher, in his chapter on "Temporary Emigration," thinks such emigration would be a great national misfortune to the country from which the immigrants obtain their wages, inasmuch as its working class may thus be forced to a lower standard of living; and he queries whether the immigration of Chinese into Australia and the United States may not have a like result. In Australia a fine of £10 per capita was imposed to prevent such immigration. Recently (1882) the United States has passed restrictive laws in this regard. Even J. S. Mill, at the time when the national life of the English people seemed threatened by the immigration of Irish laborers, would have had no hesitation in prohibiting this immigration, so as to keep the economic contagion from spreading to English workmen.—Translator.
[47.]Mr. Thornton's language is as follows: "Misery, the inevitable effect and symptom of over-population, seems to be likewise its principal promoter." "Except when people are placed in situations in which, being unable to estimate correctly the amount of employment, they overrate their means of subsistence; or, when some political arrangement, such as a charitable provision for the poor, encourages them to get families around them which they can not themselves maintain, it will, I think, be found that wherever population has received an undue influence, the people have been first rendered reckless by privation"—Translator.
Footnotes for PORTUGAL
John Joseph Lalor, Cyclopaedia of Political Science, Political Economy, and of the Political History of the United States by the best American and European Authors, ed. John J. Lalor (New York: Maynard, Merrill, & Co., 1899). Vol 3 Oath - Zollverein Chapter: RICARDO, David
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The text is in the public domain.
RICARDO, David. David Ricardo, one of the most celebrated English economists of this century, was born in London in 1772, and died at Gatcom Park, in the county of Gloucester, Sept. 11, 1823. His family is said to have come originally from Lisbon; it is certain that his father, a Dutch Jew, came to England, where he acquired an honorable position by his ability and integrity, at the same time that he made a fortune in financial business and business on 'Change. David Ricardo received a commercial education at a school in Holland, where he remained two years, and, at the age of fourteen, he was placed in his father's office in London. He soon showed, in this struggle with the chances of financial life, a cool and sound judgment, penetrating sagacity, and great skill in calculating mentally the advantages of an operation, in disentangling difficult transactions, and in reaching an exact solution in spite of the most complicated details.
—Business did not wholly absorb him, however, and his mind was preoccupied, on the one hand, with the social and economical questions raised by the situation of Europe in general and his own country in particular, and also by religious questions on the other. His reflections on these last decided him to change his religion, and to join the church of England, in spite of the formal disapprobation of his family and his father, toward whom, however, he never forgot his duty as a respectful son. This event rendered a separation inevitable, and young David Ricardo was obliged to consider how to make his fortune alone. But as he had already given proof of a remarkable aptitude for business, support, means and encouragement were not lacking, and he was able to take a share in very lucrative operations.
—At the age of twenty-five he was rich, and had married Miss Wilkinson. His lot decided, and being no longer absorbed by the cares of fortune, he, like Lavoisier, divided his time into two parts: one for business, the other for scientific studies, toward which an inborn inclination had long drawn him. He resumed the study of mathematics and of the natural sciences, devoting himself especially to chemical research. He was one of the first to introduce gas burners into one of his residences. At the same time he took great pleasure in reading the chefs-d'-œuvre of literature, and Fonteyrand heard it related in his family that he plunged with infinite delight into the reading of Shakespeare.
—But he was still more strongly attracted toward political economy, after he had read, as he himself relates, the immortal work of Adam Smith, with which he had first become acquainted in 1799, at Bath, to which place he had accompanied Mrs. Ricardo, whose health had become impaired. Thus it was that, by the nature of his business and the bent of his mind, he was preparing himself theoretically and practically for the financial and economical struggles in which he played so great a part during the last years of his life.
—Ricardo made his first appearance as a writer and economist in 1810, at the age of thirty-eight years, by the publication of his pamphlet, entitled, "The high price of Bullion a proof of the depreciation of Bank Notes." This pamphlet made a great sensation, because it revealed the true cause of the decline of the English exchange and of the depreciation of bank notes. Ricardo demonstrated that the increase in prices which merchandise of all kinds had undergone was not, as was generally supposed, attributable to the wars, but rather to the depreciation of paper money. The ministry did not want to believe in this depreciation. A bullion committee was appointed by parliament, and Mr. Horner, who made the report, admitted that Ricardo's demonstration was unanswerable, and he proved by the Hamburg exchange that the value of paper was only 25 per cent. that of specie. This was the opinion of Huskisson, Canning and Henry Thornton; but the house of commons made, nevertheless, on the motion of Mr. Vansittart, chancellor of the exchequer, the singular declaration that paper had not undergone any depreciation! At the head of the opponents of the ideas and measures contained in the treatise of Ricardo, and the report of the committee of the house of commons, was Mr. Bosanquet, who maintained his opinion in a pamphlet which provoked a reply from Ricardo, in the course of this same year (1810).
—The next publication of Ricardo was in 1815, at the time when the famous bill relative to the exportation of foreign grain, so often afterward modified and finally withdrawn, on the motion of Sir Robert Peel and by the efforts of the free trade league, was being discussed. In it Ricardo maintained the principles of commercial liberty, and foreshadowed the theory of rent, with which his name is identified. The year following, he published another tract on monetary circulation, and proposed, that, in order to keep paper on the same level as gold and to render it inconvertible, bank notes should be exchanged for ingots or pieces of bullion of the standard weight and measure.
—Ricardo retired from business shortly after the peace of 1815, and applied himself to study with renewed ardor. In 1816 he arranged his ideas on economy and finance in their proper relation to each other in his "Principles of Political Economy and Taxation." It is to be remarked, that, in his preface to this book, he is far from claiming as his own the theory of rent. He declares, "that the true doctrine of rent was published simultaneously by Malthus, in a pamphlet, entitled, 'An Enquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent,' and by a member of the university of Oxford (Dr. West), in an 'Essay upon the Application of Capital to Land'; that without a profound knowledge of this doctrine it is impossible to conceive of the effect of taxation upon the different classes of society, especially when the things taxed are the direct products of the soil; that Adam Smith and other distinguished writers, not having considered the principle of rent correctly, they had neglected many important truths, the knowledge of which can be acquired only after having thoroughly fathomed the nature of rent." Mr. M'Culloch ("Principles of Political Economy," London, 1843), afterward saw that the first idea of this theory was to be met with in a pamphlet published forty years previous, in 1777, by an Englishman, Dr. James Anderson ("An Enquiry into the Corn Laws"), which seems to have escaped the notice of Adam Smith, and which was undoubtedly unknown to Malthus, West and Ricardo. Be that as it may, we are inclined, together with M'Culloch, Senior, Rossi, and others, to accord to Ricardo the honor of the complete demonstration of this theory, imperfectly seen by Adam Smith, treated of in part by James Anderson in 1777, treated anew and more fully in 1815, in the two simultaneous pamphlets of Malthus and West, and finally expounded with wonderful clearness by Rossi in his Cours d' Economie politique. (See RENT.)88
—Thanks to these remarkable publications, to his skin in business, and to a large fortune, which was stated to be twelve millions; thanks also to the independence of his mind and character, Ricardo occupied an important position in his country. In 1818 he was returned to parliament by the electors of Portarlington. Two of his letters testify to his extreme distrust of his own strength. "You have seen," he wrote, April 7, 1814, to one of his friends, "that I have a seat in the house of commons. I fear that I shall not be of much use there. I have twice attempted to speak, but in the most embarrassed manner, and have scarcely any hope of being able to overcome the fright which takes possession of me when I hear my own voice." "I thank you," said he, in another letter, dated June 22, 1814, "for the efforts which you have made to inspire me with a little courage. The indulgence of the house has lessened for me the difficulty of speaking, but I still see so many and such terrible obstacles, that I fear much that it would be wiser to confine myself to silent votes." Everything shows that he was too harsh toward himself in this judgment. This is how Lord Brougham expressed himself with regard to it. "Ricardo's language had a remarkable stamp of distinction, his style was clear, simple, correct, and its woof was enriched with facts and valuable documents. He practiced abstention in questions which had not been the object of his long meditation, and, when he spoke on events and laws concerning the church or of politics in general, he seemed to be acting in obedience to the inveterate frankness of his nature and the indomitable freedom of his spirit. Hence it was that few men ever exercised such real effect on parliament; few men have commanded such lively attention, and as he had neither captivating inspirations nor graceful speech, with which to charm his auditors, this influence may be regarded as the triumph of reason, of integrity, of ability. Besides, he commanded the respect of all parties, even the ministerial, against which he was constantly fighting; but he would not submit to the yoke of any coterie, voting with the opposition, the radicals, or the cabinet, from judgment and not from tactics or ambition. Although he owed part of his fortune to the negotiation of government loans, he more than once combated from the tribune that ruinous practice of governments in general and of the then existing English government in particular."
—Such was the man as a politician. As a scholar he was no less calm, no less independent. During twenty years he debated with Malthus, with Mill, and with J. B. Say, without the antagonism of ideas impairing the friendship which existed between his illustrious opponents and himself. In private life, Ricardo's character was at once firm, mild, simple and amiable; he was an indulgent father, a kind husband, a devoted friend. He particularly liked to collect about him men of talent, and to converse freely on all subjects, but principally on those which were connected with his favorite science. A most pleasant memory of him is preserved by the club of political economy of London, one of the founders of which he was, and at Paris, in the circle which J. B. Say and his amiable consort gathered together once a week. It is also said that his generosity kept pace with his ability: nearly all the charitable institutions of London counted him in the number of their patrons, and he maintained at his own expense an alms-house and two schools in the neighborhood of his residence in the county of Gloucester. James Stuart Mill has said of him: "His history offers a most encouraging example; he had everything to do, and he performed well his task. Let the young mind which longs to spring beyond the sphere in which it has been placed not despair, in view of his great career, of attaining to the highest place in science or in politics. Ricardo had to make his fortune, to form his mind and even to begin his education, without any guide but his penetrating sagacity, without any encouragement but his energetic will, and it is thus that, while making an immense fortune, he broadened his judgment and endowed his mind with a strength which has never been surpassed."
—Without being robust, Ricardo was gifted with a constitution which seemed to promise him a longer career. But he had for several years a pain in his ear to which he did not pay much attention, and which assumed a very alarming character, in September, 1823, after his return to Gatcom Park at the close of the session. The rupture of an abscess at first afforded him some relief, but inflammation set in again, the brain was attacked, and he died on the 11th of September,89 after two days of great suffering. He was but fifty-one years old.
[88.]Ricardo has been the subject of many different judgments. Some (Rossi and J. S. Mill being of this number) regarded him as the first of economists, after Adam Smith; others place him in the second rank; the truth probably lying between the two extremes. As a thinker, Ricardo appears to as superior, original and profound; as a writer, he sometimes obscures his thought by abstract formulas, the strictness of which is only apparent, though we do not wish to say that he is in error when he is obscure. He employs short sentences when enunciating propositions introduced by hypotheses and followed by explanations.
[89.]The date given by M'Culloch and Fonteyrand. The "Universal Biography" says the 11th of August of the same year, but M'Culloch and Fonteyrand must have known best.
Footnotes for ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH