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The selfish economy also of purchasers,-even the richest, -- who desire to have the greatest possible amount and magnificence of goods at the least possible price; that is, the utmost extent of style and luxury that is within the limits of their fortune,--whereby parsimony intimately allies and unites itself with extravagance, -obliges tradesmen to persuasion and puffing, and to two prices for the same class of customers, according to what they will give, and to all other kinds of shifts and inventions. It is the duty of rich people to give liberal prices, and to keep up profits, and to endeavour that their tradesmen should live by them comfortably. Oh! but, says avarice, economy, vanity, selfishness, and political economy, by saving our money we extend our custom wider, and are enabled to purchase more things, and so more workmen are employed, and more shops encouraged. What is the use of multiplying misery? What is the use that multitudes should live by us, if none can live happily or honestly?
It is the duty of every man to live so well within his, income, and so to keep down his establishment and style, that he should be able to pay liberally for what he has. It is better that a few tradesmen should make good profits, upon a moderate extent of custom, than that many should make an insufficient profit, and be groaning under the evils of it.
There is a strange opinion now-a-days abroad among politicians, that public riches and prosperity can consist with private misery and ruin. When the trading world are making as a body hardly any profits, we boast of the vast increase of national wealth and public pro
sperity. Are we to learn that the public happiness and wealth is the sum of the private? Are we to be told that the nation is happy, when the countenance of every rich man we meet is care,--of every poor man is agony? Are we to be told that the nation is rich and prosperous, when five-sixths of the trading world are struggling against difficulties and debts, and the threats of prospective ruin, and of the rest a half only are able to maintain their station respectably and comfortably?
This is a problem too deep for modern philosophy, and philosophical patience. No scheme of society can be comprehended or read that does not reduce itself to a few dogmas, or a few figures. Men are wonderfully successful by a few such processes and steps, which they call deep, and a few partial and biassed demonstrations, which they call reasoning, in blinding their eyes to facts, and persuading themselves against their senses. simple fact, that people have less to spare now than ever they had; and that they are more unable and unwilling to bear the public burdens than ever, and to raise the necessary revenue.
This leads us to an important consideration, respecting the advance of indulgence, and the increase of riches, and the march of prosperity and civilization.
A luxury long indulged in becomes a necessary. The number of necessary comforts and indulgences is one of the evidences which we use, of our prosperity and civilization. At the same time the profits of trade and the wages of labour decrease, much more than in proportion to the decrease of prices of the several com
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forts with which we feel it necessary to indulge ourselves. Expenses increase, while means diminish. People therefore live much more generally to the full extent of their income than they did ; or even beyond it. Profits are not greater, nor clerks' salaries higher; yet merchants and even clerks must live at the best parts of the town, and pay for their coach-hire to get there. Travelling, through habit, is now become a necessary of life. The quantity and elegance of furniture is in the same way increased; the use of stoves in houses as well as churches. Of the same kind are the expensive security of an organized police; the gas-lighting ; the macadamized streets; the expensive shop-fronts, and the wood-paving. All these, and every new luxurious improvement, will soon be required by every body. I have observed with conviction a growing determination to have luxuries, with an increasing indisposition and inability to pay for them. As one example, I may mention a country town where a water company was established. If the water was laid on to a cottage, the rent of the cottage fell by the amount of the water-rate : though the whole benefit was to the cottager, who before fetched his water contentedly from a considerable distance. This fall of rents was general; and many tenants lost their 101. franchise, which they had formerly possessed, by reason of it. In the same town, those parts of it which are within the benefit of the local Improvement Act, which gives them the advantage of lighting and paving, and other benefits, produce lower rents for the same quality of house; and the value is greatest of the property which
is beyond the reach of those advantages. So property may lose its value by the very improvement of it. And this operation is going on to a great extent throughout the country. Property falls in value in proportion to the burdens upon it, without respect to the comforts and luxuries and advantages of it; which luxuries however are being required, and becoming necessaries.
Now this must diminish the available riches of a country, without a correspondent advantage. A country may by this process grow richer, and yet have less to spare: may become poorer in fact at the same time, in spite of it. People are unwilling to part with what they feel to be the necessaries of life; and they cannot be taken away from them without oppression.* country were heavily taxed, each person would have less to spend upon himself, and he would be in effect poorer. If what he might thus have paid in taxes be already absorbed in the ordinary expenses of life, and all these expenses are necessaries -- he is in like manner poor; and he has less to expend upon the exigencies of the country, or in novel indulgences. I say, therefore, that he is poor;—and a whole country which is in this state is poor also : in spite of any increase
Nothing is more common than in a great town to find a family in beggary paying half-a-crown a week and more for their lodging. I find such persons occupying houses more comfortable, and with better furniture, than were used in the reigns of the first Henrys by the owner of a knight's fee. Poor persons come for relief in handsome clothes ; and these are necessary to them. The pauper's dress given in a workhouse is as good as was worn by a yeoman not two centuries back. In the Isle of Man all the people have enough, and to spare; but their style of living would be called miserable in this country.
whatever in its riches; — and that there is no corresponding increase of happiness to the nation or to the individual in consequence of it.* A man enjoys his champagne no more now than Falstaff did his sack ; his carpets no more than Wolsey his clean rushes ; his rosewood no more than his walnut or his mahogany furniture, each in their turn; his hounds than his hawks; his new carriage than his stately horse ; his modern velvet than his ancient plush ; his coal-gas than his whale-oil ; his porcelain salvers than his pewter dishes, or his wooden trenchers.
The people, then, are no happier; and the country is poorer. With the increase of riches, the love of them increases; our unwillingness therefore to part with them; and the desire to spend the whole of them upon ourselves. Parsimony goes with riches; and cheapness and saving are required in every thing, in order that we may get the greatest possible amount of gratification for our money. Therefore our charity, our hospitality, our religious establishment, are cut short. If the people are grudging towards religion, do the governments suppose that they will be liberal towards the state ? These things cannot consist. The necessary resources must be grudged and ill-paid : on account of our great riches. It is notorious that, in spite of the acknow
* The new police is a heavy tax upon the property of the country, which can never be relieved from it; and the country is poorer pro tanto. The rates for the building of the new union workhouses, the paving and lighting and highway rates, the sewers' rates, the new education rate, as well as the national debt, are mortgages of the income of the country, and cannot be paid if there are no profits.