« НазадПродовжити »
economy; on what the degree of productiveness of these agents depends. For it is evident that their productive efficacy varies greatly at various times and places. With the same population and extent of territory, some countries have a much larger amount of production than others, and the same country at one time a greater amount than itself at another. Compare England either with a similar extent of territory in Russia, or with an equal population of Russians. Compare England now with England in the middle ages ; Sicily, Northern Africa, or Syria at present, with the same countries in the time of their greatest prosperity, before the Roman conquest. Some of the causes which contribute to this difference of productiveness, are obvious; others not so much so. We proceed to specify several of them.
$ 2. The most evident cause of superior productiveness, is what are called natural advantages. These are various. Fertility of soil is one of the principal. In this there are great varieties, from the deserts of Arabia to the alluvial plains of the Ganges, the Niger, and the Mississippi. A favorable climate is even more important than a rich soil. There are countries capable of being inhabited, but too cold to be compatible with agriculture. Their inhabitants cannot pass beyond the nomadic state ; they must live, like the Laplanders, by the domestication of the rein-deer, if not by hunting or fishing like the miserable Esquimaux. There are countries where oats will ripen, but not wheat, such as the north of Scotland; others, where wheat can be grown, but from excess of moisture and want of sunshine, affords but a precarious crop, as in parts of Ireland. With each advance towards the south, or, in the European temperate region, towards the east, some new branch of agriculture becomes first possible, then advantageous; the vine, maize, figs, olives, silk, rice, dates, successively present themselves, until we come to the sugar, coffee, cotton, spices, &c., of VOL. I.
climates which also afford, of the more common agricultural products, and with only a slight degree of cultivation, two or even three harvests in a year. Nor is it in agriculture alone that differences of climate are important. Their influence is felt in many other branches of production; in the durability of all work which is exposed to the air ; of buildings, for example. If the temples of Karnac and Luxor had not been injured by men, they might have subsisted in their original perfection almost forever, for the inscriptions on some of them, though anterior to all authentic history, are fresher than is in our climate an inscription fifty years old; while at St. Petersburg the most massive works, solidly executed in granite hardly a generation ago, are already, as travellers tell us, almost in a state to require reconstruction, from alternate exposure to summer heat and intense frost. The superiority of the woven fabrics of Southern Europe over those of England in the richness and clearness of many of their colors, is ascribed to the superior quality of the atmosphere, for which neither the knowledge of chemists nor the skill of dyers has been able to provide, in our hazy and damp climate, a complete equivalent.
Another part of the influence of climate consists in lessening the physical requirements of the producers. In hot regions, mankind can exist in comfort with less perfect housing, less clothing; fuel, that essential necessary of life in cold climates, they can almost dispense with, except for industrial uses. They also require less aliment; as experience had proved, long before theory had accounted for it by ascertaining that most of what we consume as food is not required for the actual nutrition of the organs, but for keeping up the animal heat, and for supplying the necessary stimulus to the vital functions, which in hot climates is almost sufficiently supplied by air and sunshine. Much, therefore, of the labor elsewhere expended to procure the mere necessaries of life, not being required, more remains disposable for its higher uses and its enjoyments; if the character of the inhabitants does not rather induce them to use up these advantages in over-population, or in the indulgence of repose.
Among natural advantages, beside soil and climate, must be mentioned abundance of mineral productions, in convenient situations, and capable of being worked with moderate labor. Such are the coal-fields of Great Britain, which do so much to compensate its inhabitants for the disadvantages of climate ; and the scarcely inferior resources possessed by this country and the United States, in a copious supply of an easily reduced iron ore, at no great depth below the earth's surface, and in close proximity to coal deposits available for working it. In mountain and hill districts the abundance of natural water-power makes considerable amends for the usually inferior fertility of those regions. But perhaps a greater advantage than all these is a maritime situation, especially when accompanied with good natural harbors; and, next to it, great navigable rivers. These advantages consist indeed wholly in saving of cost of carriage. But few who have not considered the subject, have any adequate notion how great an extent of economical advantage this comprises; nor, without having considered the influence exercised on production by exchanges, and by what is called the division of labor, can it be fully estimated. important is it, that it often does more than counterbalance sterility of soil, and almost every other natural inferiority; especially in that early stage of industry in which labor and science have not yet provided artificial means of communication, capable of rivalling the natural. In the ancient world, and in the middle ages, the most prosperous communities were not those which had the largest territory or the most fertile soil, but rather those which had been forced by natural sterility to make the utmost possible use of a convenient
maritime situation; as Athens, Tyre, Marseilles, Venice, the free cities on the Baltic, and the like.
$ 3. So much for natural advantages; the value of which, cæteris paribus, is too obvious to be ever underrated. But experience testifies that natural advantages scarcely ever do for a community, no more than fortune and station do for an individual, anything like what it lies in their nature, or in their capacity to do. The greatest advantages gratuitously bestowed generally become disadvantages. Neither now, nor in former ages have the nations possessing the best climate and soil, been either the richest or the most powerful; but (in so far as regards the mass of the people,) generally among the poorest, though, in the midst of poverty, probably on the whole the most enjoying. Human life in those countries can be supported on so little, that the poor seldom suffer from anxiety, and in climates in which mere existence is a pleasure, the luxury which they prefer is that of repose. Energy, at the call of passion, they possess in abundance, but not that which is manifested in sustained and persevering labor; and as they seldom concern themselves enough about remote objects to establish good political institutions, the incentives to industry are further weakened by imperfect protection of its fruits. Successful production, like most other kinds of success, depends more on the qualities of the human agents, than on the circumstances in which they work; and it is difficulties, not facilities, that nourish bodily and mental energy. Accordingly, the tribes of mankind who have overrun and conquered others, and compelled them to labor for their benefit, have been mostly reared amidst hardship.
They have either been bred in the forests of northern climates, or the deficiency of natural hardships has been supplied, as among the Greeks and Romans, by the artificial ones of a rigid military discipline. From the time when the circumstances of modern society permitted the discontinuance of that discipline, the South has no longer produced conquering nations; military vigor, as well as speculative thought and industrial energy, have all had their principal seats in the less favored North.
As the second, therefore, of the causes of superior productiveness, we may rank the greater energy of labor. By this is not to be understood occasional, but regular and habitual energy. No one undergoes, without murmuring, a greater amount of occasional fatigue and hardship, or has his bodily powers, and such faculties of mind as he possesses, kept longer at their utmost stretch, than the North American Indian ; yet his indolence is proverbial, whenever he has a brief respite from the pressure of present wants. Individuals, or races, do not differ so much in the efforts they are able and willing to make under strong immediate incentives, as in their capacity of present exertion for a distant object, and in the thoroughness of their application to work on ordinary occasions. In this last quality the English, and perhaps the Anglo-Americans, appear at present to surpass every other people. This efficiency of labor is connected with their whole character; with their defects, as much as with their good qualities. The majority of Englishmen and Americans have no life but in their work ; that alone stands between them and ennui. Either from original temperament, climate, or want of development, they are too deficient in senses to enjoy mere existence in repose ; and scarcely any pleasure or amusement is pleasure or amusement to them. Except, therefore, those who are alive to some of the nobler interests of humanity, (a small minority in all countries, they have little to distract their attention from work, or to divide the dominion over them with the one propensity which is the passion of those who have no other, and the satisfaction of which comprises all that they imagine of success in life—the desire of growing