Зображення сторінки

ulation of the United States was increasing with unparalleled rapidity, and, if Rieardo's theory were true, rent ought to have advanced pari passu.

To illustrate the opposite result, the rise of rents and of the prices of agricultural produce produced by the concentration of the people in manufacturing districts and towns, I might refer to such obvious instances as the neighborhood of Lowell in Massachusetts, Manchester in New Hampshire, Rochester in New York, Pittsburg in Pennsylvania, and many others, the rapid and immense increase of which in population and wealth seems almost fabulous. It is the rapidity of this increase, indeed, which proves that the result is attributable to bringing the people together, and not to the natural growth of the total population. It cannot have been from the increased number of births, that Rochester, for instance, which had a population of only 1,500 in 1820, numbered over 9,000 inhabitants in 1830, over 20,000 in 1840, and over 36,000 in 1850; or that Lowell, whose population in 1830 was about 6,500, numbered over 33,000 in 1850. For illustrations from Great Britain, in which country alone does Ricardo's theory of rent seem even plausible, I need only bring together a few passages from an able essay recently published by a French writer, M. Leonce de Lavergne, on the "Rural Economy of England, Scotland, and Ireland," * contrasted with that of France.

Up to the time of Arthur Young, he says, "the English farmers had, like all those of the Continent, worked with little view to a market. Most agricultural productions were consumed on the spot by the producers themselves; and although in England more was sold for consumption beyond the farm than anywhere else, it was not export which regulated production. Arthur Young was the first who made the English agriculturists understand the increasing importance of a market; that is to say, the sale of agricultural produce to a population not contributing to produce it. This non-agricultural population, which up to that time was inconsiderable, began to develop, and since then its increase has been immense, owing to the expansion of manufactures and commerce. Everybody knows what enormous progress the employment of steam as a motive power has effected in British manufactures and commerce during the last fifty years. The principal seat of this amazing activity is in the northwest of England, the county of Lancaster, and its neighbor, the West Riding of Yorkshire. There Manchester works cotton, Leeds wool, Sheffield iron, and the port of Liverpool, with its constant current of exports and imports, feeds an indefatigable production."

* Translated from the French, with Notes, by a Scottish Farmer. Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood and Sons. 1855. Chapters 11,18, 20.

"One third of the English nation is concentrated on these two points, — London in the south, and the manufacturing towns of Lancashire and the West Riding in the north. These human ant-hills are as rich as they are numerous. What becomes of the immense amount of wages paid to this mass of workmen every year? It goes, in the first place, to pay for meat, beer, milk, butter, cheese, which are directly supplied by agriculture, and woollen and linen clothing, which it indirectly furnishes. There exists, consequently, a constant demand for productions which agriculture can hardly satisfy, and which is for her, in some measure, an unlimited source of profit. The power of these outlets is felt over the whole country; if the farmer has not a manufacturing town beside him to take off his produce, he has a port; and should he be distant from both, he brings himself into connection with them by canal, or by one or more lines of railway."

"If Lancashire is the most productive district in the world, it is also the dullest. Let any one fancy an immense morass, shut in between the sea on one side and mountains on the other; stiff clay land, with an impervious subsoil everywhere hostile to farming; add to this a most gloomy climate, continual rain, a constant cold sea-wind, besides a thick smoke shutting out what little light penetrates the foggy atmosphere; and lastly, the ground, the inhabitants, and their dwellings completely covered with a coating of black dust, — fancy all this, and some idea may be formed of this strange county, where the air and the earth seem only one mixture of coal and water! Such, however, is the influence upon production of an inexhaustible outlet, that these fields, so gloomy and forsaken, are rented at an average of 305. ($7), and in the immediate environs of Liverpool and Manchester, arable land lets as high as £ 4 ($ 20), an acre. There are not many soils in the most sun-favored lands which can boast such rents. At the sight of such wonders, one is almost tempted with the Latin poet to exclaim,

'Salve, magna parens frugum, Saturnia tellus,
Magna vir&m!'"

"If England's history as a manufacturing country is brilliant, what shall we say of Scotland? We may judge by a single example. The counties of Lanark and Renfrew, where manufactures and commerce are most active, have increased in population, in the space of a hundred years, from 100,000 to 600,000, and Glasgow alone from 20,000 to 400,000. Clydesdale, once deserted, now rivals Lancashire for its collieries, manufactories, and immense shipping trade. In 1750, the germ even of this wealth did not exist; it was English capital, combined with the plodding and frugal genius of the Scotch people, which in so short a time made that unproductive district what it now is. Strong proof this of the advantages which may accrue to a non-manufacturing country by being associated with one rich and already industrial! Scotland, as long as she remained separate from England, and dependent on her own resources, only vegetated; but as soon as the capital and experience of her powerful neighbor broke in upon her, she took a start quite equal to England. This sudden growth of manufactures has been increased, as always happens, by a corresponding advance in agriculture. In proportion as commerce and manufactures multiply men and augment wages, agriculture renews its efforts to supply food for the constantly increasing mass of consumers; and in a limited country, like the Lowlands, a population such as that of Glasgow and its dependencies causes the demand for agricultural produce to be felt over its whole extent."

In England, "the manufacturing districts par excellence, commencing with Warwickshire in the south, and ending with the West Riding of Yorkshire, are those in which rents, profits, and agricultural wages rise highest. There the average rent is 30s. per acre, and a country laborer's wages 125. a week; whilst in the district exclusively agricultural, lying south of London, the average rent is not more than 20s. per acre, and wages 8s. a week. The intermediate counties approach more or less to these two extremes, according as they are more or less manufacturing, and everywhere the rate of land and wages is a sure criterion of the development of local industry.

"It is pretty generally believed, that pauperism prevails more in the manufacturing than in other districts. This is quite a mistake." It appears from the official returns, that in the manufacturing counties, " the poor's rate is about Is. in the pound, or 2s. to As. a head, and the number of poor 3 to 4 per cent of the population; whilst in the agricultural counties, it exceeds 2s. in the pound, or 10s. a head, and the number of paupers is from 13 to 16 per cent of the population. The cause of this difference is easily understood; the number of paupers and the cost of their maintenance increases as the rate of wages becomes lower. Although the working population be three or four times more dense in the manufacturing than in other parts of the country, its condition there is better, because it produces more."

"If we transport ourselves to France, to the most backward departments of the centre and south, what do we there find? A thinly scattered population, at the most, not exceeding on an average one third that of the English, — one head only, in place of three, to five acres, — and that population almost entirely agricultural; few or no large towns, little or no manufactures, trade confined to the limited wants of the inhabitants; the centres of consumption distant, means of communication costly and difficult, and expenses of transport equal to the entire value of the produce. The cultivator has little or nothing to dispose of. Why does he work? To feed himself and his master with the produce of his labor. The master divides the produce with him and consumes his portion; if it is wheat and wine, master and mStayer eat wheat and drink wine; if it is rye, buckwheat, potatoes, these they consume together. Wool and flax are shared in like manner, and serve to make the coarse stuffs with which both clothe themselves. Should there happen to remain over a few lean sheep, some ill-fed pigs, or some calves, reared with difficulty by over-worked cows, whose milk is disputed with their offspring, these are sold to pay taxes.

"In this state of things, as there is no interchange, the cultivator is obliged to produce those articles which are most necessary for life, — that is to say, the cereal grains: if the soil yields little, so much the worse for him; he has no choice, he must produce corn or die of hunger. Now, on bad land, there is no more expensive cultivation than this; even on good, if care is not taken, it soon becomes burdensome; but under these conditions of farming, no one thinks of taking account of the expense. The labor is not for profit, but for life; cost what it may, corn must be had, or at all events, rye. As longas the population is scanty, the evil is not overwhelming, because there is no want of land: long fallows enable the land to produce something; but as soon as the population begins to increase, the soil ceases to be sufficient for the purpose; and a time soon arrives, when the population suffers severely for want of food."

That rent depends upon the distribution, and not upon the increase, of the population, may be easily seen by putting the extreme case. Suppose the inhabitants of a country distributed with perfect evenness over its territory, each family residing upon the centre of the spot, say ten or twelve acres in extent, which feeds it. "While the population is small, a district of limited extent may supply homesteads for all the inhabitants. As the people increase in number, suppose additional lots, upon the outskirts of the former settlements, to be laid out for the new families. It is not necessary that the soil should be of equal fertility throughout the land, so that al] the farms should consist of the same number of acres. In the more productive districts, six or eight acres may suffice for a family; in the less favored ones, sixteen or twenty may be needed. The only essential point is, that each family should have enough land, and no more than enough, for its own wants.

Under these circumstances, it is evident, the land would not yield any rent; there would be enough for all. Monopoly, or exclusive appropriation, being impossible, a price would no more be set upon the land, than upon the air or the light. No one would think of charging rent, any more than of levying tolls for the right to cross the broad ocean. And it is conceivable, that this state of things should exist over the whole earth, and should continue for many centuries to come. Islands of limited extent, like the British Isles, might indeed be filled up, or completely occupied, the people having become so numerous that no more land could be had for the new families. In

« НазадПродовжити »