« VorigeDoorgaan »
they occupy, are universally small; because this species of provision is, of all others, supplied in the slenderest proportion. The next step was the invention of pasturage, or the rearing of flocks and herds of tame animals: this alteration added to the stock of provision much. But the last and principal improvement was to follow; namely, tillage, or the artificial production of corn, esculent plants, and roots. This discovery, whilst it changed the quality of human food, augmented the quantity in a vast proportion. So far as the state of population is governed and limited by the quantity of provision, perhaps there is no single cause that affects it so powerfully, as the kind and quality of food which chance or usage hath introduced into a country. In England, notwithstanding the produce of the soil has been, of late, considerably increased, by the enclosure of wastes, and the adoption, in many places, of a more successful husbandry, yet we do not observe a corresponding addition to the number of inhabitants; the reason of which appears to me to be, the more general consumption of animal food amongst us. Many ranks of people whose ordinary diet was, in the last century, prepared almost entirely from milk, roots, and vegetables, now require every day a considerable portion of the flesh of animals. Hence a great part,of the richest lands of the country are converted to pasturage. Much also of the bread-corn, which went directly to the nourishment of human bodies, now only contributes to it by fattening the flesh of sheep and oxen. The mass and volume of provisions are hereby diminished; and what is gained in the melioration of the soil, is lost in the quality of the produce. This consideration teaches us, that tillage, as an object of national care and encouragement, is universally preferable to pasturage, because the kind of provision which it yields, goes much further in the sustentation of human life. Tillage is also recommended by this additional advantage, that it affords employment to a much more numerous peasantry. Indeed, pasturage seems to be the art of a nation, either imperfectly civilized, as are many of the tribes which cultivate it in the internal parts of Asia; or of a nation, like Spain, declining from its summit by luxury and inactivity.
The kind and quality of provision, together with the extent and capacity of the soil from which it is raised, being the same, the quantity procured will principally depend upon two circumstances,—the ability of the occupier, and the encouragement which he
receives. The greatest misfortune of a country is an indigent tenantry. Whatever be the native advantages of the soil, or even the skill and industry of the occupier, the want of a sufficient capital confines every plan, as well as cripples and weakens every operation, of husbandry. This evil is felt, where agriculture is accounted a servile or mean employment; where farms are extremely subdivided, and badly furnished with habitations; where leases are unknown, or are of short or precarious duration. With respect to the encouragement of husbandry; in this, as in every other employment, the true reward of industry is in the price and sale of the produce. 1 he exclusive right to the produce is the only incitement which acts constantly and universally; the only spring which keeps human labour in motion. All therefore that the laws can do, is to secure this right to the occupier of the ground, that is, to constitute such a system of tenure, that the full and entire advantage of every improvement go to the benefit of the improver; that every man work for himself, and not for another; and that no one share in the profit who does not assist in the production. By the occupier I here mean, not so much the person who performs the work, as him who procures the labour and directs the management: and I consider the whole profit as received by the occupier, when the occupier is benefited by the whole value of what is produced, which is the case with the tenant who pays a fixed rent for the use of land, no less than with the proprietor who holds it as his own. Hie one has the same interest in the produce, and in the advantage of every improvement, as the other. Likewise the proprietor, though he grant out his estate to farm, may be considered as the occupier, insomuch as he regulates the occupation by the choice, superintendency, and encouragement, of his tenants, by the disposition of his lands, by erecting buildings, providing accommodations, by prescribing conditions, or supplying implements and materials of improvement; and is entitled, by the rule of public expediency above mentioned, to receive, in the advance of his rent, a share of the benefit which arises from the increased produce of his estate. The violation of this fundamental maxim of agrarian policy constitutes the chief objection to the holding of lands by the state, by the king, by corporate bodies, by private persons in right of their offices or benefices. The inconveniency to the public arises not so much from the unalienable quality of lands thus holden in perpetuity, as from hence; that proprietors of this description seldom contribute much either of attention or expense to the cultivation of their estates, yet claim, by the rent, a share in the profit of every improvement that is made upon them. This complaint can only be obviated by " long leases at a fixed rent," which convey a large portion of the interest to those who actually conduct the cultivation. The same objection is applicable to the holding of lands by foreign proprietors, ami in some degree to estates of too great extent being placed in the same hands.
III. Beside the production of provision, there remains to be considered the DistriBution.—It is in vain that provisions abound in the country, unless I be able to obtain a share of them. This reflection belongs to every individual. The plenty of provision produced, the quantity of the public stock, affords subsistence to individuals, and encouragement to the formation of families, only in proportion as it is distributed, that is, in proportion as these individuals are allowed to draw from it a supply of their own wants. The distribution, therefore, becomes of equal consequence to population with the production. Now there is but one principle of distribution that can ever become universal, namely, the principle "of exchange;" or, in other words, that every man have something to give in return for what he wants. Bounty, however it may come in aid of another principle, however it may occasionally qualify the rigour, or supply the imperfection, of an established rule of distribution, can never itself become that rule or principle; because men will not work to give the produce of their labour away. Moreover, the only equivalents that can be offered in exchange for provision are power and labour. All property is power. What we call property in land, is the power to use it, and to exclude others from the use. Money is the representative of power, because it is convertible into power: the value of it consists in its faculty of procuring power over things and persons. But power which results from civil conventions, (and of this kind is what we call a man's fortune or estate), is necessarily confined to a few, and is withal soon exhausted; whereas the capacity of labour is every man's natural possession, and composes a constant and renewing fund. The hire, therefore, or produce of personal industry, is that which the bulk of every community must bring to
market, in exchange for the means of sub sistence; in other words, employment mu», in every country, be the medium of distribution, and the source of supply to individuals. But when we consider the production and distribution of provision, as distinct from, and independent of, each other; when, supposing the same quantity to be produced, we inquire in what way, or according to what rule, it may be distributed; we are led to a conception of the subject not at all agreeable to truth and reality: for, in truth and reality, though provision must be produced before it be distributed, yet the production depends, in a great measure, upon the distribution. The quantity of provision raised out of the ground, so far as the raising of it requires human art or lahour, will evidently be regulated by the demand: the demand,or, in other words, the price and sale, being that which alone rewards the care, or excites^ the diligence, of the husbandman. But the sale of provision depends upon the number, not of those who want, but of those w ho have something to offer in return for what they want; not of those who would consume but of those who can buy; that is, upon the number of those who have the fruits of some other kind of industry to tender in exchange for what they stand in need of from the production of the soil.
We see, therefore, the connection between population and employment. Employment affects population " directly," as it affords the only medium of distribution by whno individuals can obtain from the common stock a supply for the wants of their families: it affects population "indirectly," as it augments the stock itself of provision, ii. the only way by which the production of i' can be effectually encouraged,—by furnishing purchasers. No man can purchase without an equivalent; and that equivalent, by the generality of the people, must in every country be derived from employment.
And upon this basis is founded the public benefit of trade, that is to say, its subserviency to population, in which its only real utility consists. Of that industry, and of those arts and branches of trade, which are employed in the production, conveyance, and preparation, of any principal species of human food, as of the business of the husbandman, the butcher, baker, brewer, cornmerchant, &c. we acknowledge the necessity: likewise of those manufactures which furnish us with warm clothing, convenient habitations, domestic utensils, as of the weaver, tailor, smith, carpenter, &c. we perceive (in climates, however, like ours, removed at a distance from the sun) the conduciveness to population, by their rendering human life more healthy, vigorous and comfortable. But not one half of the occupations which compose the trade of Europe, fall within either of these descriptions. Perhaps twothirds of the manufacturers in England are employed upon articles of confessed luxury, ornament, or splendour; in the superfluous embellishment of some articles which are useful in their kind, or upon others which have no conceivable use or value but what is founded in caprice or fashion. What can be less necessary, or less connected with the sustentation of human life, than the whole produce of the silk, lace, and plate manufactory? yet what multitudes labour in the different branches of these arts! What can be imagined more capricious than the fondness for tobacco and snuff? yet how many various occupations, and how many thousands in each, are set at work in administering to this frivolous gratification! Concerning trades of this kind, (and this kind comprehends more than half of the trades that are exercised), it may fairly be asked, "How, since they add nothing to the stock of provision, do they tend to increase the number of the people V We are taught to say of trade, "that it maintains multitudes:" but by what means does it maintain them, when it produces nothing upon which the support of human life depends?—In like manner with respect to foreign commerce; of that merchandise which brings the necessaries of life into a country, which imports, for example, corn, or cattle, or cloth, or fuel, we allow the tendency to advance population, because it increases the stock of provision by which the people are subsisted. But this effect of foreign commerce is so little seen in our own country, that, I believe, it may be affirmed of Great Britain, what Bishop Berkley said of a neighbouring island, that, if it were encompassed with a wall of brass fifty cubits high, the country might maintain the same number of inhabitants that find subsistence in it at present; and that every necessary, and even every real comfort and accommodation, of human life, might be supplied in as great abundance as they low are. Here, therefore, as before, we may fairly ask, by what operation it is, that foreign commerce, which brings into the country no one article of human subsistence, promotes the multiplication of human life?
The answer of this inquiry will be contained in the discussion of another, viz.
Since the soil will maintain many more than it can employ, what must be done, supposing the country to be full, with the remainder of the inhabitants? They who, by the rules of partition, (and some such must be established in every country), are entitled to the land; and they who, by their labour upon the soil, acquire a right in its produce, will not part with their property for nothing; or, rather, they will no longer raise from the soil what they can neither use themselves, nor exchange for what they want. Or, lastly, if these were willing to distribute what they could spare of the provision which the ground yielded, to others who had no share or concern in the property or cultivation of it, yet still the most enormous mischiefs would ensue from great numbers remaining unemployed. The idleness of one half of the community would overwhelm the whole with confusion and disorder. One only way presents itself of removing the difficulty which this question states, and which is simply this; that they, whose work is not wanted, nor can be employed, in the raising of provision out of the ground, convert their hands and ingenuity to the fabrication of articles which may gratify and requite those who are so employed, or who, by the division of lands in the country, are entitled to the exclusive possession of certain parts of them. By this contrivance, all things proceed well. The occupier of the ground raises from it the utmost that he can procure, because he is repaid for what he can spare by something' else which he wants, or with which he is pleased: the artist or manufacturer, though ne have neither any property in the soil, nor any concern in its cultivation, is regularly supplied with the produce, because he gives, in exchange for what he stands in need of, something upon which the receiver places an equal value: and the community is kept quiet, while both sides are engaged in their respective occupations.
It appears, then, that the business of one half of mankind is, to set the other half at work; that is, to provide articles which, by tempting the desires, may stimulate the industry, and call forth the activity, of those upon the exertion of whose industry, and the application of whose faculties, the production of human provision depends. A certain portion only of human labour is, or can be, productive; the rest is instrumental, —both equally necessary, though the one have no other object than to excite the othen, It appears also, that it signifies nothing, as to the main purpose of trade, how superfluous the articles which it furnishes are; whether the want of them be real or imaginary; whether it be founded in nature or in opinion, in fashion, habit, or emulation: it is enough that they be actually desired and sought after. Flourishing cities are raised and supported by trading in tobacco; populous towns subsist by the manufactory of ribands. A watch may be a very unnecessary appendage to the dress of a peasant; yet if the peasant will till the ground in order to obtain a watch, the true design of trade is answered; and the watch-maker, while he polishes the case, or files the wheels, of his machine, is contributing to the production of corn as effectually, though not so directly, as if he handled the spade or held the plough. The use of tobacco has been mentioned already, not only as an acknowledged superfluity, but as affording a remarkable example of the caprice of human appetite: yet, if the fisherman will ply his nets, or the mariner fetch rice from foreign countries, in order to procure to himself this indulgence, the market is supplied with two important articles of provision, by the instrumentality of a merchandise which has no other apparent use than the gratification of a vitiated palate.
But it may come to pass that the husbandman, land-owner, or whoever he be that is entitled to the produce of the soil, will no longer exchange it for what the manufacturer has to offer. He is already supplied to the extent of his desires. For instance, he wants no more cloth; he will no longer therefore give the weaver corn in return for the produce of his looms: but he would readily give it for tea, or for wine. When the weaver finds this to be the case, he has nothing to do but to send his cloth abroad, in exchange for tea or for wine, which he may barter for that provision which the offer of his cloth will no longer procure. The circulation is thus revived: and the benefit of the discovery is, that, whereas the number of weavers, who could find subsistence from their employment, was before limited by the consumption of cloth in the country, that number is now augmented, in proportion to the demand for tea and wine. This is the principle of foreign commerce. In the magnitude and complexity of the machine, the principle of motion is sometimes lost or unobserved: but it is always simple and the same, to whatever extent it may be diversified and enlarged in its operation.
The effect of trade upon agriculture, the process of which we have been endeavouring to describe, is visible in the neighbourhood of trading towns, and in those districts which carry on a communication with the markets of trading towns. The husbandmen are busy and skilful ; the peasantry laborious; the land is managed to the best advantage; and double the quantity of corn or herbage (articles which are ultimately converted into human provision) raised from it, of what the same soil yields in remoter and more neglected parts of the country. Wherever a thriving manufactory finds means to establish itself, a new vegetation springs up around it. I believe it is true that agriculture never arrives at any considerable, much less at its highest degree of perfection, where it is not connected with trade, that is, where the demand for the produce is not increased by the consumption of trading cities.
Let it be remembered then, that agriculture is the immediate source of human provision; that trade conduces to the production of provision only as it promotes agriculture; that the whole system of commerce, vast and various as it is, hath no other public importance than its subserviency to this end.
We return to the proposition we laid down, "that employment universally promotes population." From this proposition it follows, that the comparative utility of different branches of national commerce is measured by the number which each branch employs. Upon which principle a scale may easily be constructed, which shall assign to the several kinds and divisions of foreign trade their respective degrees of public importance. In this scale, the first place belongs to the exchange of wrought goods for raw materials, as of broad-cloth for raw silk; cutlery for wool; clocks or watches for iron, flax, or furs; because this traffic provides a market for the labour that has already been expended, at the same time that it supplies materials for new industry. Population always flourishes where this species of commerce obtains to any considerable degree. It is the cause of employment, or the certain indication. As it takes off the manufactures of the country, it promotes employment; as it brings in raw materials, it supposes the existence of manufactories in the country, and a demand for the article when manufactured. The second place is due to that commerce, which barters one species of wrought goods for another, as stuffs for calicoes, fustians for cambrics, leather for paper, or wrought goods for articles which require no further preparation, as for wine, oil, tea, sugar, &c. This also assists employment; because, when the country is stocked with one kind of manufacture, it renews the demand by converting it into another: but it is inferior to the former, as it promotes this end by one side only of the bargain,—by what it carries out.—The last, the lowest, and most disadvantageous species of commerce, is the exportation of raw materials in return for wrought goods: as when wool is sent abroad to purchase velvets; hides or peltry, to procure shoes, hats, or linen cloth. This trade is unfavourable to population, because it leaves no room or demand for employment, either in what it takes out of the country, or in what it brings into it. Its operation on both sides is noxious. By its exports, it diminishes the very subject upon which the industry of the inhabitants ought to be exercised; by its imports, it lessens the encouragement of that industry, in the same proportion that it supplies the consumption of the country with the produce of foreign labour. Of different branches of manufactory, those are, in their nature, the most beneficial, in which the price of the wrought article exceeds in the highest proportion that of the raw material: for this excess measures the quantity of employment, or, in other words, the number of manufacturers, which each branch sustains. The produce of the ground is never the most advantageous article of foreign commerce. Under a perfect state of public economy, the soil of the country should be applied solely to the raising of provisions for the inhabitants, and its trade be supplied by their industry. A nation will never reach its proper extent of population, so long as its principal commerce consists in the exportation of corn or cattle, or even of wine, oil, tobacco, madder, indigo, timber; because these last articles take up that surface which ought to be covered with the materials of human subsistence.
It must be here however noticed, that we have all along considered the inhabitants of a country as maintained by the produce of the country; and that what we have said is applicable with strictness to this supposition alone. The reasoning, nevertheless, may easily be adapted to a different case: for when provision is not produced, but imported, what has been affirmed concerning provision, will be, in a great measure, true of that article, whether it be money, produce, or labour, which is exchanged for provision. Thus, when the Dutch raise madder, and
exchange it for corn ; or when the people of America plant tobacco, and send it to Europe for cloth; the cultivation of madder and tobacco becomes as necessary to the subsistence of the inhabitants, and by consequence will affect the state of population in these countries as sensibly, as the actual production of food, or the manufactory of raiment. In like manner, when the same inhabitants of Holland earn money by the carriage of the produce of one country to another, and with that money purchase the provision from abroad which their own land is not extensive enough to supply, the increase or decline of this carrying trade will influence the numbers of the people no less than similar changes would do in the cultivation of the soil.
The few principles already established, will enable us to describe the effects upon population which may be expected from the following important articles of national conduct and economy:
I. Emigration.—Emigration may be either the overflowing of a country, or the desertion. As the increase of the species is indefinite; and the number of inhabitants which any given tract or surface can support, finite ; it is evident that great numbers may be constantly leaving a country, and yet the country remain constantly full. Or whatever be the cause which invincibly limits the population of a country ; when the number of the people has arrived at that limit, the progress of generation, beside continuing the succession, will supply multitudes for foreign emigration. In these two cases, emigration neither indicates any political decay, nor in truth diminishes the number of the people; nor ought to be prohibited or discouraged. But emigrants may relinquish their country, from a sense of insecurity, oppression, annoyance, and inconveniency. Neither, again, here is it emigration which wastes the people, but the evils that occasion it. It would be in vain, if it were practicable, to confine the inhabitants at home: for the same causes which drive them out of the country would prevent their multiplication if they remained in it. Lastly; men may be tempted to change their situation by the allurement of a better climate, of a more refined or luxurious manner of living; by the prospect of wealth; or, sometimes, by the mere nominal advantage of higher wages and prices. This class of emigrants, with whom alone the laws can interfere with effect, will never, I think, be numerous. With the generality of a people, the attachment of mankind to their homes