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after, that when the general productiveness of labour and capital is great, the returns to the capitalist are likely to be large, and that some proportion, though not an uniform one, will commonly obtain between the two.
§ 2. But the disposition to save does not wholly depend on the external inducement to it; on the amount of profit to be made from savings. With the same pecuniary inducement, the inclination is very different, in different persons, and in different communities. The effective desire of accumulation is of unequal strength, not only according to the varieties of individual character, but to the general state of society and civilization. Like all other moral attributes, it is one in which the human race exhibits great differences, conformably to the diversity of its circumstances and the stage of its progress.
On topics which if they were to be fully investigated would exceed the bounds that can be allotted to them in this treatise, it is satisfactory to be able to refer to other works in which the necessary developments have been presented more at length. On the subject of Population this valuable service has been rendered by the celebrated Essay of Mr. Malthus; and on the point which now occupies us I can refer with equal confidence to another, though a less known work, “New Principles of Political Economy,” by Dr. Rae.* In no other
book known to me is so much light thrown, both from principle and history, on the causes which determine the accumulation of capital. All accumulation involves the sacrifice of a present, for the sake of a future good. But the expediency of such a sacrifice varies very much in different states of circumstances; and the willingness to make it, varies still more. In weighing the future against the present, the uncertainty of all things future is a leading element; and that uncertainty is of very different degrees. “All circumstances,” therefore, “increasing the probability of the provision we make for futurity being enjoyed by ourselves or others, tend” justly and reasonably “to , give strength to the effective desire of accumulation. Thus a healthy climate or occupation, by increasing the probability of life, has a tendency to add to this desire. When engaged in safe occupations, and living in healthy countries, men are much more apt to be frugal than in unhealthy or hazardous occupations, and in climates pernicious to human life. Sailors and soldiers are prodigals. In the West Indies, New Orleans, the East Indies, the expenditure of the inhabitants is profuse. The same people, coming to reside in the healthy parts of Europe, and not getting into the vortex of extravagant fashion, live economically. War and pestilence have always waste and luxury among the other evils that follow in their train. For similar reasons, whatever gives security to the affairs of the community is favourable to the strength of this principle. In this respect the general prevalence of law and order, and the prospect of the continuance of peace and tranquillity, have considerable influence.”t The more perfect the security, the greater will be the effective strength of the desire of accumulation. ere property is less safe, or the vicissitudes ruinous to fortunes are more frequent and severe, fewer persons will save at all, and of those who do, many will require the inducement of a higher rate of profit on capital, to make them prefer a doubtful future to the temptation of present enjoyment. These are considerations which affect the expediency, in the eye of reason, of consulting future interests at the expense of present. But the inclination to make this sacrifice does not solely depend upon its expediency. The disposition to save is often far short of what reason would dictate: and at other times is liable to be in excess of it. Deficient strength of the desire of accumulation may arise from improvidence, or from want of interest in others. Improvidence may be connected with intellectual as well as moral causes. Individuals and communities of a very low state of intelligence are always improvident. . A certain measure of intellectual development seems necessary to enable absent things, and especially things future, to act with any force on the imagination and will. The effect of want of interest in others in diminishing accumulation, will be admitted, if we consider how much saving at present takes place, which has for its object the interest of others rather than of ourselves; the education of children, their advancement in life, the future interests of other personal connexions, the power of promoting by the bestowal of money or time, objects of public or private usefulness. If mankind were generally in the state of mind to which some approach was seen in the declining period of the Roman empire—caring nothing for their heirs, as well as nothing for friends, the public, or any object which survived them — they would seldom deny themselves any indulgence for the sake of saving, beyond what was necessary for their own future years; which they would place in life annuities, or in some other form which would make its existence and their lives terminate together.
* This treatise is an example, such as not unfrequently presents itself, how much more depends on accident, than on the qualities of a book, in dctermining its reception. Had it appeared at a suitable time, and been favoured by circumstances, it would have had every requisite for great success. The author, a Scotchman settled in the United States, unites much knowledge, an original vein of thought, a considerable turn for philosophic generalities, and a manner of exposition and illustration calculated to make ideas tell not only for what they are worth, but for more than they are worth, and which sometimes, I think, has that effect in the writer's own mind. The principal fault of the book is the position of antagonism in which, with the controversial spirit apt to be found in those who have new thoughts on old subjects, he has placed himself towards Adam Smith.
all this a fault, (though I think many of
the criticisms just, and some of them far-
§ 3. From these various causes, intellectual and moral, there is, in differ. ent portions of the human race, a greater diversity than is usually adverted to, in the strength of the effective desire of accumulation. A backward state of general civilization is often more the effect of deficiency in this particular than in many others which attract more attention. In the circumstances, for example, of a hunting tribe, “man may be said to be necessarily improvident, and regardless of futurity, o in this state, the future presents nothing which can be with certainty either foreseen or governed. . . . . . Besides a want of the motives exciting to provide for the needs of futurity through means of the abilities of the present, there is a want of the habits of perception and action, leading to a constant connexion in the mind of those distant points, and of the series of events serving to unite them. Even, therefore, if motives be awakened capable of producing the exertion necessary to effect this connexion, there remains the task of training the mind to think and act so as to establish it.”
For instance: “Upon the banks of the St. Lawrence there are several little Indian villages. They are surrounded, in general, by a good deal of land, from which the wood seems to have been long extirpated, and have, besides, attached to them, extensive tracts of forest. The cleared land is rarely, I may almost say never, cultivated, nor are any inroads made in the forest for such a purpose. The soil is, nevertheless, fertile, and were it not, manure lies in heaps by their houses. Were every family to inclose half an acre of ground, till it, and plant it in potatoes and maize, it would yield a sufficiency to support them one-half the year. They suffer, too, every now and then, extreme want, insomuch that, joined to occasional intemperance, it is rapidly reducing their numbers. This, to us, so strange apathy proceeds not, in any great degree, from repugnance to labour; on the contrary, they apply very diligently to it when its reward is immediate. Thus, besides their peculiar occupations of hunting and fishing, in which they are ever ready to engage, they are much employed in the navigation of the St. lon. and may be seen labouring at the oar, or setting with the pole, in the large boats used for the purpose, and always furnish the greater part of the additional hands necessary to conduct rafts through some of the rapids. Nor is the obstacle aversion to agricultural labour. This is no doubt a prejudice of theirs; but mere prejudices always yield, principles of action cannot be created. hen the returns from agricultural labour are speedy and eat, they are also agriculturists. us, some of the little islands on Lake St. Francis, near the Indian village of St. Regis, are favourable to the growth of maize, a plant yielding a return of a hundredfold, and forming, even when half ripe, a pleasant and substantial repast. Patches of the best land on these islands are, therefore, every year cultivated by them for this purpose. As their situation renders them inaccessible to cattle, no fence is required; were this additional outlay necessary, I suspect they would be neglected, like the commons adjoining their village. These had apparently, at one time, been under crop. The cattle of the neighbouring settlers would now, however, destroy any crop not securely fenced, and this additional necessary outlay consequently bars their culture. It removes them to an order of instruments of slower return than that which corresponds to the strength of the effective desire of accumulation in this little society. “It is here deserving of notice, that what instruments of this kind they do form, are completely formed. The small spots of corn they cultivate are thoroughly weeded and hoed. A little neglect in this part would indeed reduce the crop very much ; of this experience has made them perfectly aware, and they act scoring; It is evidently not the necessary labour that is the obstacle to more extended culture, but the distant return from that labour. I am assured, indeed, that among some of the more remote tribes, the labour thus expended much exceeds
that given by the whites. The samé portions of ground being cropped without remission, and manure not being used, they would scarcely yield any return, were not the soil most carefully broken and pulverized, both with the hoe and the hand. In such a situation a white man would clear a fresh piece of ground. It would perhaps scarce repay his labour the first year, and he would have to look for his reward in succeeding years. On the Indian, succeeding years are too distant to make sufficient impression; though, to obtain what labour may bring about in the course of a few months, he toils even more assiduously than the white man.”*
This view of things is confirmed by the experience of the Jesuits, in their interesting efforts to civilize the Indians of Paraguay. They gained the confidence of these savages in a most extraordinary degree. They acquired influence over them sufficient to make them change their whole manner of life. They obtained their absolute submission and obedience. They established peace. They taught them all the operations of European agriculture, and many of the more difficult arts. There were everywhere to be seen, according to Charlevoix, “workshops of gilders, painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, watchmakers, carpenters, joiners, dyers,” &c. These occupations were not practised for the personal gain of the artificers: the o Was at the absolute disposal of the missionaries, who ruled the people by a voluntary despotism. The obstacles arising from aversion to labour were therefore very completely overcome. The real difficulty was the improvidence of the people; their inability to think for the future; and the necessity accordingly of the most unremitting and minute superintendence on the
art of their instructors. “Thus at
rst, if these gave up to them the care of the oxen with which they ploughed, their indolent thoughtlessness would probably leave them at evening still yoked to the implement. Worse than this, instances occurred where they cut them up for supper, thinking, when re.
* Rae, p. 136.
prehended, that they sufficiently excused themselves by saying they were hungry. . . . These fathers, says Ulloa, have to visit the houses, to examine what is really wanted: for, without this care, the Indians would never look after anything. They must be present, too, when animals are slaughtered, not only that the meat may be equally divided, but that nothing may be lost.” “But notwithstanding all this care and superintendence,” says Charlevoix, “and all the precautions which are taken to É.”. any want of the necessaries of ife, the missionaries are sometimes much embarrassed. It often happens that they”(the Indians) “do not reserve to themselves a sufficiency of grain, even for seed. As for their other provisions, were they not well looked after, they would soon be without wherewithal to support life.”* As an example intermediate, in the strength of the effective desire of accumulation, between the state of things thus depicted and that of modern Europe, the case of the Chinese deserves attention. From various circumstances in their personal habits and social condition, it might be anipated that they would possess a degree of prudence and self-control greater than other Asiatics, but inferior to most European nations; and the following evidence is adduced of the fact. “Durability is one of the chief ualities, marking a high degree of the effective desire of accumulation. The testimony of travellers ascribes to the instruments formed by the Chinese, a very inferior durability to similar instruments constructed by Europeans. The houses, we are told, unless of the higher ranks, are in general of unburnt bricks, of clay, or of hurdles plastered with earth; the roofs, of reeds fastened to laths. . We can scarcely conceive more unsubstantial or temporary fabrics. Their partitions are of paper, requiring to be renewed every year. A similar observation may be made concerning their implements of husbandry, and other utensils. They are almost entirely of wood, the metals entering but very sparingly into their construc* Rae, p. 140.
tion; consequently they soon wear out, and require frequent renewals. A greater degree of strength in the effective desire of accumulation, would cause them to be constructed of materials requiring a greater present exFo but being far more durable. rom the same cause, much land, that in other countries would be cultivated, lies waste. All travellers take notice of large tracts of lands, chiefly swamps, which continue in a state of nature. To bring a swamp into tillage is generally a process, to complete which, requires several years. It must be previously drained, the surface long exposed to the sun, and many operations performed, before it can be made capable of bearing a crop. Though yielding, probably, a very considerable return for the labour bestowed on it, that return is not made until a long time has elapsed. The cultivation of such land implies a greater strength of the effective desire of accumulation than exists in the empire. “The produce of the harvest is, as we have remarked, always an instrument of some order or another; it is a provision for future want, and regulated by the same laws as those to which other means of attaining a similar end conform. It is there chiefly rice, of which there are two harvests, the one in June, the other in October. The period then of eight months between October and June, is that for which provision is made each year, and the different estimate they make of to-day and this day eight months will appear in the self-denial they practise now, in order to guard against want then. The amount of this self-denial would seem to be small. The father Parennin, indeed, (who seems to have been one of the most intelligent of the Jesuits, and spent a long life among the Chinese of all classes,) asserts, that it is their great deficiency in forethought and frugality in this respect, which is the cause of the scarcities and famines that frequently occur.” That it is defect of providence, not defect of industry, that limits production among the Chinese, is still more obvious than in the case of the semi-agriculturalised Indians. “Where the returns are quick, where the instruments formed require but little time to bring the events for which they were formed to an issue,” it is well known that “the great progress which has been made in the knowledge of the arts suited to the nature of the country and the wants of its inhabitants” makes industry energetic and effective. “The warmth of the climate, the natural fertility of the country, the knowledge which the inhabitants have acquired of the arts of agriculture, and the discovery and gradual adaptation to every soil of the most useful vegetable productions, enable them very speedily to draw from almost any part of the surface, what is there esteemed an equivalent to much more than the labour bestowed in tilling and cropping it. They have commonly double, sometimes treble harvests. These, when they consist of a grain so productive as rice, the usual crop, can scarce fail to yield to their skill, from almost any
ortion of soil that can be at once
rought into culture, very ample returns. Accordingly there is no spot that labour can immediately bring under cultivation that is not made to yield to it. Hills, even mountains are ascended and formed into terraces; and water, in that country the great F. agent, is led to every part y drains, or carried up to it by the ingenious and simple hydraulic machines which have been in use from time immemorial among this singular people. They effect this the more easily, from the soil, even in these situations, being very deep and covered with much vegetable mould. But what yet more than this marks the readiness with which labour is forced to form the most difficult materials into instruments, where these instruments soon bring to an issue the events for which they are formed, is the frequent occurrence on many of their lakes and rivers, of structures resembling the floating gardens of the Peruvians, rafts covered with vegetable soil and cultivated. Labour in this way draws from the materials on which it acts very speedy returns. Nothing can exceed the luxuriance of
vegetation when the quickening powers of a genial sun are ministered to by a rich soil and abundant moisture. It is otherwise, as we have seen, in cases where the return, though copious, is distant. European travellers are sur}. at meeting these little floating arms by the side of swamps which only require draining to render them tillable. It seems to them strange that labour should not rather be bestowed on the solid earth, where its fruits might endure, than on structures that must decay and perish in a few years. The people they are among think not so much of future years, as of the present time. The effective desire of accumulation is of very different strength in the one, from what it is in the other. The views of the European extend to a distant futurity, and he is surprised at the Chinese, condemned, through improvidence, and want of sufficient prospective care, to incessant toil, and as he thinks, insufferable wretchedness. The views of the Chinese are confined to narrower bounds; he is content to live from day to day, and has learnt to conceive even a life of toil a blessing.”* When a country has carried production as far as in the existing state of knowledge it can be carried with an amount of return corresponding to the average strength of the effective desire of accumulation in that country, it has reached what is called the stationary state; the state in which no further addition will be made to capital unless there takes place either some improvement in the arts of production, or an increase in the strength of the desire to accumulate. In the stationary state, though capital does not on the whole increase, some persons grow richer and others poorer. Those whose degree of providence is below the usual standard, become impoverished, their capital perishes, and makes room for the savings of those whose effective desire of accumulation exceeds the average. These become the natural purchasers of the land, manufactories, and other instruments of production owned by their less provident countrymen. * Rae, pp. 151—5,