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That wealth grows in the ratio of the rapidity of circulation :
That the circulation increases in rapidity, as individuality is more and more developed with growing power for the diversification of employments among those who labor :
That, the more rapid the circulation, the larger must be the proportion of the laborer, and the greater must be the tendency towards equality, eleration, and freedom, among the people-and the greater the strength of the State.
$11. For half a century, the world had been positively assured, that, in virtue of great natural laws, the work of cultivation had always commenced on the “rich and fertile soils” of the earth — the poor and lonely settler invariably preferring those whose“ original and indestructible powers” were greatest; that the return to the labor of cultivation had then been large; that, land being then abundant, and all at liberty to select at pleasure from among the richest soils, rent remained unknown — the laborer taking for himself the whole produce of his land ; that, with the growth of wealth and population — the richer lands having been appropriated by the early settlers — there came & necessity for cultivating less fertile lands; that, siinultaneously with the arrival of this necessity on the part of the poorer members of the community, there arose a power on the part of the richer ones, to claim a rent, as compensation for the use of those previously in cultivation; that the more rapid the growth of numbers and of wealth, the greater had been the need for resorting to the less fertile soils — with constant growth in the proportion of the product demandable as rent; that rent had grown as labor had became less productive — with corresponding growth of power in those who owned the land, and diminution thereof in those who labored on it; that, such having been the course of things in all the past, such must it be in all the future—“the increasing sterility of the soil" being "sure, in the long run, to overmatch the improvements in machinery and agriculture ;' and that, therefore, the time must inevitably arrive, when enormous masses of every population would "regularly die of want.” During all this period, the necessity for resorting to the poorer soils, has been made to bear the burthen of the “vice and misery” found existing on the globe — the whole of it being fairly attributable to error on the part of the Creator, in subjecting man to laws, in virtue of which, population tended to increase, as the powers of the land decreased.
More careful observation has, however, enabled us to ascertain, that the course of operation, throughout the world, has been directly the reverse of this — cultivation having, and that invariably, been commenced on the poorer soils, and the growth of wealth and numbers being marked by corresponding increase of power to command the richer ones; that the return to labor given to the work of cultivation tends, therefore, steadily to increase ; that the proportion demandable by the owners of the lands first cultivated, tends, therefore, to decrease; and, that the course of man, in all advancing communities, is in the direction of wealth, strength, and freedom, and not, as Mr. Ricardo would have us believe, towards poverty, weakness, and ultimate enslavement. That the facts of history are in accordance with this latter view, and that Mr. Ricardo's theory of the course of settlement is, therefore, untenable, is now scarcely at all disputed - the advocates of the latter having been unable to adduce a single fact in the history of colonization, ancient or modern, tending, in any manner whatsoever, to invalidate the great law, in obedience to which, poor and scattered men commence their operations with inferior instruments - passing thence onward and upward, to those more powerful ones, whose services they are, by aid of combination with their fellows, enabled to demand at nature's hands.
Such being the case, it might be supposed that the theory of Rent would be permitted quietly to pass into the shades of oblivion - taking its place by the side of the Ptolemaic system, the theory of the transmigration of souls, and the imaginary law upon which it had been based. Not so, however; the world being now assured, that the disappearance of Mr. Ricardo's great law has, in no manner whatsoever, changed the state of affairs — his theory of rent standing self-supported, and requiring for its mainteDance, no other evidence than that which is furnished by the fact, that different pieces of land command different rents !
Mr. Ricardo gave to the world not a mere theory of rent, but a great law, 'in virtue of which the tendency towards the ultimate enslavement of the laborer increased as numbers grew, and as the power of the land decreased. His successors now assert,
that whether the power of man to command the services of the earth be a decreasing or increasing quantity-whether he becomes more the slave of nature, or nore her master — is entirely unimportant -- the law of distribution being the same in either case! Admitting that the facts had really been such as it is now asserted that they have been-cultivation having commenced on the poorer soils —" is it not clear,” it is now asked, “ that those poor soils must then have been the most productive?" "Did not Mr. Ricardo, when he spoke of the richest and most fertile soils, clearly mean those poor and unfertile ones which must have first been occupied? Is it not, then, perfectly in accordance with his theory to suppose that those poor soils would be the first which would yield a rent ?”— that very rent whose payment he had attributed to the growing scarcity of the richer ones! Were the author of this celebrated theory now living, he would be the first to repudiate the defence of it, recently put forth by teachers who claim to rank among his disciples, and to follow in his footsteps. *
Such being the position in which it is now placed by its advo. cates, it might, perhaps, be dismissed from consideration without further comment, and it would be so, were it not for the character of the reasons that are adduced in support of further maintenance of this exploded theory-reasons looking to the consequences that must inevitably result from an admission of the truth of what is offered for consideration, as a great law of nature !
"It is pretended," says an eminent writer, “that Ricardo deceived himself when he asserted that the good lands, that is to say, the lands best fitted for certain species of cultivation, were first occupied. It is affirmed, on the contrary, that, as a matter of preference, men select the worst, for earliest cultivation. Admitting, even, that it were so, that would not, as it appears to me, in any manner, change the condition of affairs. From the moment when men cultivated, at one and the same time, poor and rich land, rent would begin to show itself, whether they had commenced with the former or the latter. What Mr. Carey says on
*“Carey generalises these facts — thinking in this manner to overthrow Mr. Ricardo's law! He has fail to see, that ardo spoke only of the original powers of the soil. A marshy piece of land, that must be drained at great cost of labor, possesses less of original power, than a piece of sandy land that may at once be placed under cultivation.”-—RosCHER: Economie Politique, vol. ii., p. 26.
this subject, signifies, therefore, nothing, as regards the principle at issue. We must not the less, however, mistrust his assertionleading, as it does, directly to protection. In fact, if men do really commence with the poorer lands, it would be useful, in the interest of national production, to prohibit foreign corn thereby promoting the cultivation of the richer lands, which, without that, would remain unoccupied - and thereby, consequently, ameliorating the societary condition."*
It can scarcely here be necessary to say to the reader, how much the author of this has erred in supposing it had ever been asserted, that men selected poor lands for cultivation, when possessed of the power required for enabling them to cultivate those richer ones capable of yielding a larger return to labor. The reverse of this is true - men always taking the best they can command, but always, in an advancing community, passing from the poorer towards the better, whereas, Mr. Ricardo causes them to pass from the better towards the worse. Far more accurate are the inferences as to the measures of policy necessarily resulting from the adoption of the real law of occupation, as compared with that imaginary one of which he is the advocate - the necessary tendency of the unrestrained operation of this latter, being in the direction of the dispersion of men, attended, as it must be, by diminution in the power of combination, exhaustion of the soil, and enslavement of its cultivators. The former being admitted to be true, nature's laws are seen to tend in the direction of increased association and combination, increased productiveness of the soil, and growing power of the laborer - pointing the statesman, and that most clearly, to the adoption of measures similar to those adopted by Colbert, and now so successfully carried into execution by Belgium, Germany, Russia, and those other countries now following in the lead of France.
Differing widely from all the advocates of the Ricardo system above referred to, a distinguished French economist assures his readers that, of the two theories, “it is certain, that that of Mr. Carey is by much the most in accordance with common sense the facts proving that, until an advanced age of society, man no
* Journal des Economistes, Nov., 1851. The italics are those of the present writer,
where attacks the virgin forests-dikes the rivers, with the view of subjecting their banks to cultivation — drains the marshes - or improves the health of the humid plain - thereby enabling himself to cultivate those lands whose deep, rich soils, formed of the remains of animal and vegetable life, are destined to offer for his acceptance, a fertility elsewhere entirely unequalled. It is, however," as he continues, "asked - Of what importance is it, what is the order of cultivation? From the moment that we recognise, in different lands, a difference of production, there is irregularity of revenue — there is a rent. As has above been seen we do not deny the fact of rent being paid. We say only, that in supposing the order of cultivation to be in the direction of less and less fertile lands, Ricardo has committed himself, uncondi. tionally, to the support of the idea, that the brute labor of the earlier periods, is that which is most largely remunerated—thereby compelling himself to attribute to the payment of rent an undue importance, and to give that name to payments that are really the returns to advances long previously made, for the clearing, the appropriation, and the cultivation of lands which, even where really most fertile, have owed the discovery of that fertility to human efforts, even where it has not been absolutely due to human labor. As a consequence of this, he has been led to most sad results — results, against which we rejoice to see, that both observation and analysis now array themselves.
Humanity, placed in the face of lands likened by him to a series of machines of constantly decreasing power, should, and does in fact, according to him, give an increasing quantity of labor in exchange for the necessaries of life. Admitting, on the opposite side, that the order indicated by Ricardo, is not the necessary one, and that, on the contrary, it is, in many respects, the inverse of the true one — admitting that man goes most frequently from the poorer and more easily cultivated soils, to those which, thanks to the application of capital, acquire and develop a new fertility - it is the intelligent and scientific labor of the later periods, that will be most largely remunerated-humanity, in that case, tending towards an increased abundance in the supply of the rude products of the earth. Admit that their nominal prices remain high, that is of small importance, if the supply increases more rapidly than the