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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 1s. or 5s. 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 which 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 proporincrease 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 importe commonly either paid or estimated ant object to discover whether capiin 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 sea 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 in. wages. If the quantity of money increasing 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 Ameriportion; but unless some change ca has, after making due allowance had at the same time taken place in for immigrants during the last centuthe 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 sinaller 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-unocis 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 accumulates 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 thein to exist and increase of capital, and consequently continue their race, no very considerable 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 “ the consequently also of population.” earth affords room only for a cer
It was the leading objectof 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 ience, 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 å 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 afflicttraordinary 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 truc, 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 when. and 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 impresse 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 de- bare necessaries of life, and never gradation, if they overstock the mare 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 lanı. Within the last century, the producing all other articles brought population of Ireland has quadru- io 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 necessary rate of wages.” The market, or actual rate each the rate of necessary wages. of wages, may sink to the level of this This necessary rate cannot therefore, rate ; but it is plainly impossible be a fixed and unvarying quantity; that it can continue below it. It is and though it be strictly true, that not, as we have already seen, on the the market-rate of wages can never quantity of money received by the sink permanently below its contemlabourer, but on the quantity of food porary natural rate, it is no less true, and other articles required for his that this natural rate has a tendency support, for which that money will to rise when the market-rate rises, exchange, that his ability to main and to fall when it falls. The reatain himself, and to rear as many son is, that the number of labourers children as may be required to keep in the market is a given quantity, up the number of labourers, must which can neither be speedily independ. The natural or necessary creased when wages rise, nor speedirate of wages must therefore be de- ly diminished when they fall. When termined by the cost of producing wages rise, a period of eighteen or the food and other articles which twenty years must plainly elapse enter into the consumption of the before the effect of the increased labourers. And though a rise in the stimulus, that the rise gives to the current rate of wages is seldom ex- principle of population, can be felt actly coincident with a rise in the in the market. During all this peprice of necessaries, they can never, riod, therefore, the labourers have except in the rare case, when the an increased command over the nemarket-rate of wages greatly exceeds cessaries and conveniences of life: the natural or necessary rate, be very In consequence, their habits are imfar separated. However high the proved, and, as they learn to form price of commodities may rise, the more exalted notions with respect to labourers must always receive a sup- what is required for their comfortply equivalent to their support. If able and decent support, the natural they should not obtain this supply, or necessary rate of wages is proporthey would be left destitute ; and tionably augmented. But, on the disease and death would continue to other hand, when the rate of wages thin the population, until the re- declines, either in consequence of an duced numbers bore such a propor- actual diminution of the capital of tion to the national capital as would the country, or of a disproportionate enable them to obtain the means of increase of population, no corressubsistence. The market-supply of ponding immediate diminution can labourers is, in short, like the sup- take place in the number of labourply of every other commodity. They ers, unless they have previously been neither will nor can be brought or subsisting on the smallest possible (if you will) come to market, unless quantity of the cheapest species of the rate of wages be such as will on food, required to support mere anithe average suffice to bring them up, mal existence. and maintain them in a condition fit “ It is this circumstance-the imto labour. Our author proves by possibility which usually obtains of the clearest evidence, which, howa speedily adjusting the supply of laever, our limits will not allow us bour, proportionably to variations in here to imtroduce, that an increase the rate of wages—that gives to these in the quantity of food, or in the fa- variations the peculiar and extraorcility with which the labouring dinary influence which they exert on classes can obtain it, accelerates the the condition of the labouring classes. progress of population, both by aug- If the supply of labour could be menting the number of births and suddenly increased when wages rise, diminishing the rate of mortality; that rise would be of no advantage and that a scarcity of food retards to the existing labourers. It would the increase of the people, by pro- increase their numbers; but it ducing in both ways opposite effects. would not enable them to mount in