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in their bearings on the fortunes of fund or capital appropriated to the the lower orders of society in a payment of wages, compared with style to which these orders have the number of labourers." What is scarcely ever been accustomed; and called the capital of a country conwe hold it to be the chief merit of sists of all that portion of the prothis little work, that it may be read duce of industry existing in it, which with equal pleasure and advantage, can be made directly available, either by him whose mind has received the to the support of human existence, last touches of a finished education, or to the facilitating of production. and by the man whose knowledge That portion of capital, however, to reaches little farther than to the which alone it becomes necessary to mere ability to read his school col. advert in the inquiries before us, lection. Such a work is calculated consists of the food, clothes, and to be equally beneficial to all, -to the other articles required for the use higher orders, who possess the greatest and consumption of labourers, as portion of the capital of the country, this portion constitutes the fund out in settling their notions as to the true of which their wages must be wholly relation in which they stand to the paid. If the amount of these artilower classes of society, and to these cles is increased without a correlower classes themselves, who sub- sponding increase taking place in sist chiefly on the wages derived the population, a larger share of from the capital in the possession of them will fall to each individual, or the higher orders, in exhibiting a the rate of wages will be increased : faithful display of those circumstan- and if, on the other hand, population ces on which their well-being main- is increased faster than capital, a less ly rests.
share will be apportioned to each Mr M'Culloch defines wages to individual, or, in other words, the “ constitute the reward or compen- rate of wages will be reduced. sation paid to labourers in return for Mr M'Culloch illustrates this their services by their employers." fundamental principle in a clear and The labour or service of man may, convincing manner. “Let us sup. like every thing else which is bought pose," says he, “ that the capital of and sold, vary in its price. The la. a country, appropriated to the pay. bourer who at one time receives a ment of wages, would, if reduced to certain quantity, or the value of a the standard of wheat, form a mass certain quantity, of the necessaries of 10,000,000 of quarters. If the and conveniences of human life, in number of labourers in that counexchange for a certain quantity of try were two millions, it is evident his labour, may, at another time, that the wages of each, reducing receive a different quantity, or the them all to the same common stanvalue of a different quantity of these dard, would be five quarters; and it necessaries and conveniennes, in ex- is farther evident, that this rate of change for the same quantity of la. wages could not be increased otherbour. And as labourers always wise than by increasing the quantity form the great majority of the popu- of capital in a greater proportion lation of every civilized society, and than the number of labourers, or as their comfort and welfare must by diminishing the number of labe, in a great degree, dependent on bourers in a greater proportion than the rate of wages they receive, it is the quantity of capital. So long as obviously of the greatest importance, capital and population continue to in a national, as well as individual march abreast, or to increase or dipoint of view, to trace and exhibit minish in the same proportion, so the circumstances which determine long will the rate of wages, and the rate of wages, or the reward paid consequently the condition of the to the labourer for his services. labourers, continue unaffected'; and
In proceeding to investigate these it is only when the proportion of cacircumstances, Mr M'Culloch lays pital to population varies,-when it it down as a fundamental principle, is either increased or diminished, that “ the rate of wages in any given that the rate of wages sustains a corcountry, at any particular period, responding advance or diminution. depends on the magnitude of the The well-being and comfort of the labouring classes are therefore espe- than formerly, but he would obtain cially dependent on the relation the same quantity of commodities in which their increase bears to the in exchange for them. Whatever, crease of the capital that is to feed therefore, may be the state of money and employ them. If they increase wages in a country, whether they faster than capital, their wages will are ls. or 55. a-day, it is certain that, be reduced, and if they increase if the amount of the national capital slower, they will be augmented. In and the population continue the fact, there are no means whatever same, or increase or diminish in the by wbich the command of the la- same proportion, no variation will bouring class over the necessaries take place in the rate of wages. and conveniences of life can be en, Wages never really rise except when larged, other than by accelerating the proportion of capital to populathe increase of capital as compared tion is enlarged, and they never with population, or by retarding the really fall, except when that propora increase of population, as compared tion is diminished." with capital ; and every scheme for When it has thus been ascertain. improving the condition of the la, ed that the rate of wages in any given bourer, which is not bottomed on country, at any particular period of this principle, or which has not an its progress, depends entirely on the increase of the ratio of capital to proportion between that part of its population for its object, must be capital appropriated to the payment completely nugatory and ineffectual. of wages and the number of its la.“ The wages of labour are most bourers, it next becomes an importa commonly either paid or estimated ant object to discover whether capi. in inoney ; and it may perhaps be tal or population have a tendency thought that their amount will, in to increase or diminish in the same consequence, depend more on the or in different proportions. Our quantity of money in circulation in author, therefore, proceeds, in the se a country, than on the magnitude of cond section of his Essay, to inquire its capital. It is really, however, into the comparative increase of caquite indifferent to the labourer whe- pital and population. It is not posther the quantity of money received sible to obtain any precisely accurate by him as wages be great or small. estimate of the absolute quantity of He will always receive such a quan- capital in a country at different petity as will suffice to put him in pos riods, but the capacity of that capisession of the portion of the national tal to feed and employ labourers, capital falling to his share. Men and the rate of its increase, may cannot subsist on coin or paper. notwithstanding be learned with sufWhere wages are paid in money, the ficient accuracy, for the purpose of labourers must exchange it for ne such an inquiry, by referring to the cessaries and conveniences; and it is progress of population. Whenever not the quantity of money they re, we find the people of a country inceive, but the quantity of necessaries creasing without any, or with but and conveniences for which that very little variation taking place in money will exchange, which is to their condition, we may conclude be considered as really forming their that the capital of a country is inwages. If the quantity of money in creasing in the same, or very nearly Great Britain were reduced a half, the same proportion. Now, it has the rate of wages estimated in mo- been established, that the population ney would decline in the same pro- of several of the states of North Ameri. portion; but unless some change ca has, after making due allowance had at the same time taken place in for immigrants during the last centu. the amount of that portion of the ry, continued to double in so short a capital of the country, consisting of period as twenty, or at most twentyfood, clothes, and other articles, five years. And as the quantity of which enter into the consumption of necessaries and conveniences falling the labourer, he would continue in to the share of an inhabitant of the precisely the same situation. He United States has not been materially would carry a spaller quantity of increased or diminished during that pieces of gold and silver to market century, this incrcase of population is a proof that the capital of the 'of population, in the United States, country had advanced in a corre. and generally in all colonies planied sponding ratio. But in all old-set- in fertile and thinly.peopled countled countries, the increase of capi. tries. America possesses a boundless tal, and consequently of population, extent of fertile, and hitherto-udocis much slower. The population of cupied land; and her agriculturists, Scotland, for example, is supposed to who are acquainted with all the arts have amounted to 1,050,000 in 1700; and sciences of Europe, apply themand as it amounted to 2,135,000 in selves only to the cultivation of the 1821, it would follow, on the princi- finest foils. Their industry is in ple already stated, that the capital consequence extremely well rewardof the country had required about ed. Each cultivator has a great 120 years to double. But it has, in deal more produce than is required reality, more than doubled, as the for his own consumption, or that of condition of all classes has been his family ; and as he aecumulates greatly improved. Again, the po- the surplus, there is a proportionally pulation of England and Wales rapid increase of capital, and conseamounted to 6,064,000 in 1740, and quently also of population. to 12,256,000 in 1821, shewing that “ But the situation of Great Brithe population, and therefore the tain, and of all old-settled and comcapital of that country, applicable to paratively populous countries, is enthe support of man, or the supply of tirely different. Oar most fertile food, clothes, and other articles ne- lands have long since been brought cessary for the support of human under tillage, and we are now oblilife, had doubled in about eighty ged to raise whatever additional supyears.
piies of food we require, either by The cause of this discrepancy in forcing the more fertile lands, or by the rates at which capital and popu- resorting to such as are of very infelation advance in different countries rior productive power. The conseis to be found in the circumstance quence is, that agricultural industry of industry being more productive is here comparatively ill rewarded. in some than in others. Capital is A given quantity of labour, applied nothing but the accumulated pro to the worst lands under tillage in duce of previous industry, and where- England, does not certainly yield ever, therefore, industry is most pro- above half the quantity of food and ductive, there must necessarily be the other raw products that it would greatest power to increase capital. yield were it applied to the cultivaIt is obvious, too, that the increase tion of lands of the same degree of of that portion of the capital of a fertility as the worst that are under country which consists of the food tillage in the Western States of and other raw products required for America. And hence it follows, the subsistence and accommodation that the undertaker of any work in of the labourer, must mainly depend England, who should pay the same on the fertility of the soils that are amount of produce to his labourers, under tillage. Suppose the science as wages that is paid to labourers in of agriculture to be in the same America, would have a much less state of advancement in two different quantity remaining to himself, and countries. If the fertility of the would have a proportionally small soils under cultivation was twice as power of accumulating capital. It great in the one as in the other, it is is true, that in the event of wages evident that the power of adding to being reduced when tillage is extendthat portion of capital, which con- ed over inferior soils, as is most comsists of food and other raw materials, monly the case, the share of the proand which is always the most im- duce falling to the employers of portant, would also be twice as great workmen is not diminished to the in the country where the soil was same extent that production is dimiof the highest, as in that where it nished. But as the labourers must was of the lowest fertility. It is on always obtain such a supply of nethis principle that we are enabled to cessaries and conveniences as is sufaccount for the extraordivarily rapid ficient to enable them to exist and increase of capital, and consequently continue their race, 110 very consider
able reduction can, in most cases, be now to be, that the well-being and made from the wages earned by prosperity of a nation does not dethem. And, in point of fact, it is pend on the number of its inhabi. invariably found, that wherever til. tants, but on the degree of their inlage is widely extended over inferior dustry and intelligence, and on the soils, the share of the produce fall. extent of their command over the ing to the capitalist is very much necessaries and conveniences of hudiminished, and there is a propor- man life. It has been truly and tionally slow increase of capital, and eloquently remarked, that is the consequently also of population." earth affords room only for a cer
It was the leading object of Mr Mal- tain number of human beings to be thus, in his “Essay on the Principle trained to any degree of perfection ; , of Population," the work in which and every real philanthropist would it was first conclusively shown, that rather witness the existence of a the natural tendency of population thousand such beings, than that of is not merely to keep pace with the a million of millions of creatures increase of the means of subsistence, pressing against the limits of subsisbut to exceed them,--to point out tênce, burdensome to themselves, the bad effects of a redundant popu. and contemptible to one another." lation, and to shew the extreme im- The same great truth has been exportance of the principle of moral pressed by the illustrious Madame restraint, and the pernicious and de Staël, in a passage in her work on fatal consequences which result from Germany :“ To multiply human the bringing of human beings into births," says this lady,“ without the world, without a rational pro. ennobling the destiny of man, is only spect of being able to provide for their to prepare a more sumptuous bansubsistence and education. Now, quet for death.” Wherever the so far from this doctrine being, as number of labourers increase in a has been often stated, unfavourable greater proportion than the capital to human happiness, it must appear, which is to support and employ to every one who calmly and tho- them, their wages must be gradually roughly examines the subject, that reduced to the lowest possible limit. no rational expectation can be form. And it ought always to be rememed of any material change for the bered, that the labourer who is better being effected in the condition placed under such circumstances is of the great bulk of society, until entirely cut off from all expectation the justice of this doctrine shall be of rising in the world, and improve generally felt and acknowledged, and ing bis condition. His exertions can a vigorous and persevering effort neither be inspired by hope nor ammade to give it a practical bearing, bition. Unable to accumulate stock, and real influence. That poverty is or to acquire a stake in society, he the fertile source of by far the great- has no inducement to make any exest portion of the ills which afflict traordinary efforts. In consequence, humanity, is so plain and self-evi- he becomes indolent and dissipated, dent a proposition, that it must be and if not pressed by hunger, would universally assented to ; and there be always idle. can be no doubt, that a too rapid in From principles thus clearly decrease of population, by occasioning duced from the history of nations, a redundant supply of labour, and both in ancient and modern times, an excessive competition for employ- our author comes to the same conment, and low wages, is of all others clusion as Mr Malthus in his celethe most efficient cause of poverty. brated Essay, that the rate of wages, Mr M'Culloch well observes, that it and consequently the condition of is now too late to contend, that a the great bulk of society, must always crowded population is a sure symp. depend more on the conduct of the tom of national prosperity. The po- people themselves than on that of pulation of the United States is infi- their rulers. However well a counnitely less dense than that of Ire. try may be governed, and however land; but who will presume to af. rapid the increase of its capital, it iş firm that they are also less flourish- yet perfectly true, that, in the event ing and happy? The truth appears' of the inhabitants increasing faster than capital, their condition will be mediate and proximate cause of the deteriorated. And, on the contrary, want of demand for labour in that however ill a country may be go- country, and of the misery and exverned, and however slow the in- treme porverty of the people. The crease of its capital, it is yet true, number of persons soliciting employthat, if the inhabitants increase ment, compared with the means of slower than capital, their condition, rewarding their exertions, is so great, though still perhaps exceedingly that wages have been reduced to the wretched, will be in so far improved. lowest pittance that can afford the These statements, however, are no smallest supply of the coarsest and apology for the faults or errors of cheapest species of food required to Governments. Every country, it is support human life. All the wite clear, has a right to be governed in nesses examined by the Committee the best possible manner; and no. of the House of Commons on “ The thing, certainly,could be more repre- Employment of the Poor of Ireland" hensible, than to attempt to justify in 1823, concur in representing their any abuse, either in the constitution numbers as excessive, and their conof Governments, or in their adminis- dition as wretched in the extreme. tration. But it is unquestionably Their cabins, which are of the most dealing uncandidly and unfairly by miserable description, are utterly the rulers of a country, to make unprovided with any thing that can them wholly responsible for the con- be called furniture, in many famidition of their subjects, while it is lies there are no such things as bedalso deceiving and deluding the peo. clothes; the children, in extensive ple on a subject, with respect to districts in Munster, and the other which, it is of the last importance provinces, have not a single rag to that they should be well instructed, cover their nakedness; and whenand leading them to rely on the ex- ever the potato-crop becomes, even ertions of others, when they are in a slight degree, deficient, the themselves the arbiters of their own scourge of famine and disease is felt fortunes. It is a truth which cannot in every corner of the country. And be too often or too strongly impressed even when the crops are most abun. on the minds of the people, that it is dant, the wretched inhabitants are not in the power of any Government engaged in a constant struggle for the to protect them from misery and den bare necessaries of life, and never gradation, if they overstock the mar. enjoy its comforts. ket with labour. The labourers are in the third section of his Essay, really the masters of the only means Mr M'Culloch proceeds to discuss, by which their command over the in an equally luminous style, the necessaries and conveniences of life natural or necessary rate of wages in can ever be materially extended, and given countries and periods, and the if they will not avail themselves of effect of fluctuations in the marketthese means, they have themselves, rate of wages on the condition of the and no one else, to blame.
labourer. Although it be difficult These statements receive the most to define them, still there are limits complete corroboration from the to the extent to which a reduction comparative situation of the two of wages can be carried. The cost, countries of Great Britain and Ire- of producing labour, like that of land. Within the last century, the producing all other articles brought population of Ireland has quadru. to market, must be repaid by the pled, whilst that of Great Britain purchasers. The race of labourers has no more than doubled, and, at would become altogether extinct, the same time, it is on all hands ad- were they not to obtain a sufficient mitted, that the capital of Great quantity of food, and of the other Britain has gone on, augmenting far articles required for their own supmore rapidly, in proportion to the port, and that of their families. population, than that of Ireland. This is the lowest amount to wbich What has been the consequence ? the rate of wages can be permanente There caunot be the shadow of a ly reduced ; and it is for this readoubt, that the excessive increase of son that it has been defined to be the population in Ireland is the im- « The natural or neccssury rate of