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of clothing offered to him almost spontaneously, he is ill-clad; with the most productive of soils, he is ill-fed ; though we are told that the labor of a week will there procure subsistence for a year, famines are of frequent occurrence; the hut of the Indian, and the residence of the landed proprietor are alike destitute of furniture and convenience; and South America, helpless and indigent with all her natural advantages, seems to rely for support and improvement on a very small portion of the surplus wealth of England.

It is impossible to consider these phenomena without feeling anxious to account for them; to discover whether they are occasioned by circumstances unsusceptible of investigation, or regulation, or by causes which can be ascertained, and may be within human control. To us, as Englishmen, it is of still deeper interest to inquire whether the causes of our superiority are still in operation, and whether their force is capable of being increased or diminished; whether England has run her full career of wealth and improvement, but stands safe where she is; or, whether to remain stationary is impossible, and it depends on her institutions and her habits, on her government and on her people, whether she shall recede or continue to advance.

The answer to all these questions must be sought in the science which teaches in what wealth consists,—by what agents it is produced,--and according to what laws it is distributed,—and what are the institutions and customs by which production may be facilitated and distribution regulated, so as to give the largest possible amount of wealth to each individual. And this science is Political Economy

If my definition be correct, the science of Political Economy may be divided into two great branches,--the theoretic and the practical. The first, or theoretic branch, that which explains the nature, production, and distribution of wealth, will be found to rest on a very few general propositions, which are the result of observation, or consciousness; and which almost every man, as soon as he hears them, admits as familiar to his thoughts, or at least as included in his previous knowlege.

Its conclusions are also nearly as general as its premises ; those which relate to the nature and production of wealth are universally true : and, though those which relate to the distribution of wealth, are liable to be affected by peculiar institutions of particular countries,-in the cases, for instance, of slavery, corn-laws, or poor-laws,-the natural state of things can be laid down as the general rule, and the anomalies produced by particular disturbing causes can be afterwards accounted for.

The practical branch of the science, that of which the office is to ascertain what institutions are most favorable to wealth, is a far more arduous study. Many of its premises, indeed, rest on the same evidence as those of the first branch ; for they are the conclusions of that branch :-but it has many which depend on induction from phenomena, numerous, difficult of enumeration, and of which the real sequence often differs widely from the apparent one. The machinery of civilised society is worked by so many antagonist springs : the dislike of labor, the desire for immediate enjoyment, and the love of accumulation are so perpetually counteracting one another; and they produce such opposite conduct, not only in different individuals, but in whole masses of people, that we are liable to the greatest mistakes when we endeavor to assign motives to past conduct, or to predict the conduct which a new motive will produce.

For instance, the questions, Whether the poor-laws have had a tendency to diminish or increase the population of England ? Whether the testamentary laws of France are favorable or unfavorable to the wealth of that country? Whether the wealth of England has been increased or diminished by her colonies ? Whether tithes fall principally on the consumer or on the landlord ? and many others, of which the facts seem to lie before our eyes, have been diligently and acutely investigated, and are still, perhaps, undecided.

And, if we are often unable to trace all the consequences of institutions with which we have been long familiar, how much more difficult must it be to predict the effects of measures which are still untried !

Inattention to the distinction between the practical and the the oretic branches of Political Economy, appears to me to have occasioned much of the difference of opinion which prevails as to the certainty of its conclusions. Those who assert that it approaches to the accuracy of logic or mechanics, must either have confined their attention to the theoretic branch, or have forgotten that the practical branch must sometimes draw its premises from particular facts, respecting particular climates, soils, and seasons; and must sometimes take into account the influence of


human passion and appetite, under every modification of government and knowlege.

On the other hand, the uncertainty which affects many of the investigations of Political Economists, has been rashly attributed to them all. Because from probable premises they have deduced only probable conclusions, it has been sometimes supposed that probability, and that of a low degree, is all they can attain.

I hope in the course of these lectures to prove the truth of my statement, that the theoretic branch of the science, that which treats of the nature, production and distribution of wealth, is capable of all the certainty that can belong to any science, not founded exclusively on definitions ; and I hope also to show that many conclusions, and those of the highest importance in the practical branch, rest so immediately on the conclusions of the theoretic branch, as to possess equal certainty and universality.

The slight sketch which I have given of the objects of the science, affords me a better opportunity than perhaps I shall have hereafter, of considering some objections that may be made, if not to the study itself, at least to the rank in which I have placed it.

The first is, that as the pursuit of wealth is one of the humblest of human occupations, far inferior to the pursuit of virtue, or of knowlege, or even of reputation; and as the possession of wealth is not necessarily joined—perhaps, it will be said, is not conducive to happiness, a science of which the only subject is wealth, cannot claim to rank as the first, or nearly the first, of the moral sciences.

My answer is, first, that the pursuit of wealth, that is, the endeavor to accumulate the means of future subsistence and enjoyment, is, to the mass of mankind, the great source of moral improvement. When does a laborer become sober and industrious, attentive to his health and to his character ?-as soon as he begins to save. No institution could be more beneficial to the morals of the lower orders, that is, to at least nine-tenths of the whole body of any people, than one which should increase their power and their wish to accumulate ; none more mischievous than one which should diminish the motives and the means to save. If we have institutions eminently calculated to produce both the benefit and the mischief, how valuable must the science be that teaches us to discriminate between them, to extend the one, and to remove or diminish, or, at least, not to extend, the other !

I answer, in the second place, that it is perhaps true, that the wealth which enables one man to command the labor of hundreds or of thousands

such wealth as raised Chatsworth or Fonthill--may not be favorable to the happiness of its possessor ; and, if this be so, Political Economy will best teach us to avoid creating or perpetuating institutions, which promote such inconvenient agglomerations. But that diffusion of wealth which alone entitles a people to be called rich; that state of society in which the productiveness of labor, and the mode in which it is applied, secure to the laboring-classes all the necessaries and some of the conveniences of life, seems to be not merely conducive, but essential both to their morals and their happiness. This appears to me so self-evident, that I am almost ashamed of taking up your time by proving it. But, if proof be wanted, we have only to consider what are the effects on the human character of the opposite state

of society; a state in which the mass of the people is habitually confined to a bare subsistence, and, consequently, exposed from time to time, from the accidents of trade, or of the seasons, to' absolute want. I will not dwell on the misery of those on whom actual want does fall : it is too painful to be steadfastly contemplated, and forms only a small part of the evil. The great evil is the general feeling of insecurity: the fear which must beset almost every man, whose labor produces him only a subsistence, and who has no resource against contingencies, that at some period, how near he cannot tell, the want under which he has seen others sink may reach himself. The principal sources of happiness are the social affections; but (to use the words of a powerful writer, and a very accurate observer of human nature) “ the man whose thoughts are perpetually harassed by the torment of immediate, or the dread of future want, loses the power of benevolent sympathy with his fellow-creatures ; loses the virtuous feeling of a desire for their pleasures, and an aversion to their pains; rather, perhaps, hates their pleasures, as rendering the sense of his own misery more pungent; desires their pains, as rendering the sense of that misery the less. This is the explanation of the cruel and ferocious character which uniformly accompanies the hardships of savage life. Another result of suffering is, that it produces an extraordinary greediness for immediate gratification ; a violent propensity to seek compensation from any sensual indulgence which is within the reach. It is a consequence that the poorest individuals in civilised society are the most intemperate; the least capable of denying themselves any pleasure, however hurtful, which they can command. Hence their passion for intoxicating liquors; and hence, because he is still more wretched, the still more furious passion for them in the savage.”

It is scarcely necessary to add that such a population must be grossly ignorant. The desire for knowlege is one of the last results of refinement; it requires, in general, to have been implanted in the mind during childhood ; and it is absurd to suppose that persons

thus situated would have the power or the will to devote much to the education of their children. A further consequence is the absence of all real religion : for the religion of the grossly ignorant, if they have any, scarcely ever amounts to more than a debasing superstition.

It is impossible that, under such circumstances, there should be an effectual administration of justice. The law has few terrors for a man who has nothing to lose. Its efficiency, too, is almost altogether dependent on the support it receives from the general

" History of British India, b. 6. c. 6.

body of the people. Among a very poor, and consequently, a very ignorant people, sympathy is almost always in favor of the offender : his flight is favored, his lurking-places are concealed, the witnesses against him are intimidated, and he escapes even after he has become the subject of prosecution; but more frequently he escapes even prosecution. Outrages are committed in the presence of hundreds, and we are told that not one of the perpetrators can be identified; that is, though they are well known, the witnesses conceal their knowlege.

When such is the character of the bulk of the community, there can be no security for the persons or property of any of its members. The three great restraints from crime,-religion, good feeling, and law, have, as we have seen, little force; while the great source of crime, the passion for immediate enjoyment, acquires additional strength. .

I do not expect to be accused of having exaggerated the wretchedness of a country in which the bulk of the people are subject to the pressure or the apprehension of want. But I may be told, perhaps, that I have supposed an extreme case, a danger to which no civilised society is exposed, to provide against which is a waste of labor.

My answer is, first, that the miserable situation which I have described has, up to the present time, been that of many of the inhabitants of every densely-peopled country.

Mr. Mylne has shown (Life Annuities, vol. ii. p. 390,) that in England any material reduction in the price of wheat is almost always accompanied by a decrease in the number of burials; and that any material rise in the price is generally attended by a corresponding increase in the burials. This proves that there must be almost always in this country a considerable number of persons just vibrating between the possession and the want of mere food; whom an inclination of the price, one way or the other, saves or destroys. In London alone, when London was far less populous than it is now, Dr. Colquhoun estimated that there were never less than 20,000 persons who rose in the morning ignorant what means—whether casual employment, pillage, or mendicity-would give them food for the day, or shelter for the ensuing night. While I am now speaking, there are thousands and tens of thousands of families of hand weavers, in Lancashire and Yorkshire, who are working fourteen hours a day for what will scarcely support animal existence. And those are, perhaps, still more numerous who cannot obtain regular employment even on such terms as these, but are eking out the deficiency of their wages by the gradual sale of their little stock of clothes and furniture. Unless we are prepared to maintain that there can be no measures by

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