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tics and manufacturing operatives here actually lay aside a larger amount than this every year. One and a quarter millions of savings at forty dollars each, give an aggregate of fifty millions of dollars, as the sum which might be added each year to the national capital by the savings of the poor.
Thus far, we have only shown what might be accomplished; and the result throws a strong light on our general proposition, that, while wealth is created by labor, capital accumulates by the exercise of frugality. But there are many indications — here in New England, at least — that the rapid growth of capital is actually to be attributed to the industrious and frugal habits, — I will not say, of the poor, for, strictly speaking, we have no poor except the vicious, and the recent immigrants, — but of that part of our population who are engaged chiefly in manual labor. This class alone deposit money in our Savings' Banks, the accumulations in which, in Massachusetts alone, where our population is less than a million, already exceed $ 23,000,000. In England, the deposits in the Savings' Banks exceed $ 150,000,000, though no one person can deposit more than $ 750. It must be remembered also, that the reservoir always remains full to this extent, though a stream is always flowing out of it, several millions being annually withdrawn, — a portion, indeed, for unproductive consumption, but a larger portion for investment in other forms, in stocks, or capital for retail trade, or in machinery and tools. Considering that the class in our community who make use of the Savings' Banks is not only the poorest, but the smallest, and that a much larger class, composed of small farmers, tradesmen, and mechanics, find a more profitable use for their savings by immediately enlarging their own capital with them, we may well regard the proposition as established, that the national capital grows more by the aggregate of the small savings of the bulk of the people, including the poorer classes, than by the great gains of the rich.
ADVANTAGES OF THE POSSESSION OF WEALTH. 113
THE INCREASE OF CAPITAL AS AFFECTED BY THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL ADVANTAGES ATTENDING THE POSSESSION OF WEALTH.
Having shown the importance of small savings effected by the bulk of the people, we come to the following inquiry: — Under what circumstances are the middling and lower classes able to save, and by what means is their inclination to frugality most effectually stimulated? I answer, that the most powerful means to this end is what may be called the mobility of society, or the ease and frequency with which the members of it change their respective social positions. The worst of all forms of civil polity is that which binds a man for ever to that condition of life in which he was born, be it of high or low degree, however he may have merited removal from it by his character, acquisitions, and behavior. Fixity of ranks and classes, or the existence of immunities and distinctions which money and talent can neither purchase nor remove, is a bar to the accumulation of wealth, — a bar which it is difficult to overleap just in proportion to the importance and extent of those unpurchasable privileges. If they are numerous and of great moment, if they cover the whole ground both of political influence and social consideration, what inducement is there for any one who is not born to the possession of them, either to labor or to save further than is required for the necessities of the present hour, — the point at which, be it remembered, the accumulation of capital begins? And what inducement to accumulate is there for one who is born to the possession of them, since he already enjoys more than wealth can buy, and cannot forfeit this enjoyment even if he should lose his wealth? The great improvement in the industrial organization of society in modern times, whereby the increase of wealth in all civilized nations has been made so rapid and so great, has been the successive breaking down and removal of these fixed and arbitrary barriers and divisions, so as to leave the whole field of promotion open to the career of skill, industry, and economy. A brief notice of a few points in the politico-economical history of different nations will illustrate this statement.
"Both in ancient Egypt and Hindostan," and to a great extent still in the latter of these two countries, "the whole body of the people was divided into different castes or tribes, each of which was confined, from father to son, to a particular employment or class of employments. The son of a priest was necessarily a priest; the son of a soldier, a soldier; the son of a laborer, a laborer; the son of a weaver, a weaver, &c. In both countries, the caste of the priests held the highest rank, and that of the soldier, the next; and in both countries, the caste of the farmers and laborers was superior to the castes of the merchants and the manufacturers." Adam Smith adduces these facts to explain why agriculture flourished in those regions far more than any other employment. He might with greater propriety have cited them to explain the peculiar, immovable, statue-like character of Hindoo and Egyptian civilization. The massive granite sphinxes, half covered by the sands of the desert among which they have rested for more than three thousand years, with their enigmatical and almost superhuman expression of mingled sweetness and severity, fit emblems of mystery, unchangeableness, and everlasting repose, aptly typify the character and the institutions of the people who chiselled them. The bodies of this people are even now drawn from the tombs in which they have lain for thirty centuries, perfect in every limb and lineament, as if they resisted change even after death. And such was their condition during life; the idea of movement, alteration, or progress seems never to have occurred to them. Institutions merely political, the will of a monarch or the decrees of a senate, could not retain society in this immovable state for ages. The power of religion was brought in to render sacred the fetters which bound it, and to take away from the minds of the common people any desire to rupture them. How much influence superstition had in building up these divisions of castes, and preserving them from violation or decay, may be conjectured from the fact, that the priests always formed the highest caste, and therefore profited most by this peculiar institution. Civilization thus embalmed and immured was safe both from progress or decay by internal causes. It might have remained to this day just as it was in the time of the Pharaohs, if invasion from abroad had not brought it to a violent death, — if the Romans and the Arabs had not successively made Egypt a prey to their thirst for foreign dominion.
Though the barriers of caste prevented the people, as individuals, from making any progress in wealth, their peculiar polity enabled the government to undertake and execute works which shame the magnificence and expensiveness of modern productions. What we now esteem the wonders of Egypt, her obelisks and pyramids, her excavations and temples, were strictly public works, performed at royal or priestly command by the multitude, who worked without pay, because labor was the function of their caste, and the part which they believed the gods designed to be their vocation. Wages and profits were words which in their ears had no meaning; all their time, all their labor, was due to the state, which was represented by the monarch and the priests. A portion of their time or of the products of their labor was granted back to them, which might or might not suffice for their subsistence. If savings were ever made, it was only with the intention of obtaining enlarged enjoyment from them at a future day, never for the purpose of aiding the individual's subsequent labors with a reserved fund, or of purchasing an easier or more elevated position with them. In the station of life in which each person was born, in that he was content to die. Of course, there was no accumulation of private wealth. Even the land belonged to the sovereign; all that was due to any person was a livelihood in the profession - or caste to which he belonged, with that measure and kind of employment and comfort, of luxury or privation, which was allotted to every other member of the same caste. Immobility was the great characteristic of Hindoo and Egyptian civilization.
The freer spirit and quicker intellect of the Greeks, the pride and military ambition of the Romans, prevented these nations from sinking into apathy, or stagnating in castes. In the fierce democracy of Athens, the subtle politician and fluent declaimer often elbowed his way into the favor of his fellowcitizens, and consequently into offices of honor and profit. At Rome, a man of plebeian origin not unfrequently vanquished the pride of the patricians, and obtained the consulship, or the command of the armies of the republic. There was freedom, there was life, in a society thus constituted. There was a path open to effort, and a motive for the exercise of industry and self-denial. In the turbulent times which preceded and accompanied the fall of the republic, individuals often amassed large fortunes, and with these purchased the honors which they had not political sagacity, or military skill and courage, enough to obtain by more legitimate means. One of the triumvirs who shared the empire of the world with Antony and Octavius, owed his political power solely to his wealth. Both these nations might have made far greater progress in opulence, if the institution of slavery, itself a caste, had not existed among them, and if the state and the affairs of government had not monopolized ambition and effort to so great an extent, that private enterprise, and the undertakings of individuals who did not profess to look to the commonwealth for their reward, were discouraged or held in light esteem. Both at Athens and at Rome, the republic was everything and the individual was nothing; and, as a consequence, in the city proper, society was composed of two great castes, — the citizens who were devoted to public affairs, and the slaves. The wealth of Rome was the wealth of the robber's den, obtained by plundering the rest of mankind. Even the populace of this great city were supported by gratuitous distributions of the corn which was levied as a tribute on the industry of the Sicilians and the Africans; and its patricians amassed their enormous fortunes from the plunder of the provinces which they had been appointed to govern.
With regard to slavery among the ancients, it has been acutely remarked by Sismondi, that because it was only an accident of the right of war, and not an industrial organization, it did not discredit labor in general. The slave was not a mere article of property, or a means, through his enforced toil, of increasing his master's property. He was rather a token of his owner's, or of the nation's, prowess in war. The possession of numerous slaves was more a matter of pride, a means of ostentation and magnificence, than a mode of investing capital with a view to profitable returns. Few of the