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supplying the wants of the society, and to employ the inhabitants (supposing them to be freemen) in such a manner as naturally to create reciprocal relations and dependencies between them, so as to lead them by their several interests to supply one another with their reciprocal wants:”—and finally, should they consent to this further proposition of Sir J. Steuart's as applicable to the advanced stage of society in which their country is supposed to be : viz. that where agriculture is exercised as a trade, with a view to a surplus produce for sale, “the multiplication of people is the efficient cause of the increase in agriculture.*” If, I say, the statesmen of the supposed country should agree in these three propositions, they would doubtless be justified in giving encouragement to “multiplication” in order to encourage industry, production, and “reciprocal relations;” and therefore a healthy increase of those “multitudes” which “we may expect to find in those countries where the soil produces to those only who labour.” But the species of encouragement necessary to be given in such cases must depend upon a minute investigation of the state of society in which the country happens to be. If from a third to a half of its population reside in towns, and many of its best lands are brought under cultivation, and it is consequently advancing towards its point of non-reproduction of people; and if new fields of commercial enterprise are nevertheless continually opening to its view, it would, I think, be its interest to accelerate the rate of increase among its people by direct encouragements to population; for by that method only could it obtain either a supply of industrious labourers to meet the eventual exigencies of its political situation, to take advantage of its opening resources, * See a subsequent chapter on this subject.
or to encourage a further production of food by a new demand for it. But then it must provide, that the demand for food among the newly raised population shall be a real and effective demand; that is, that they shall be in a condition, by a corresponding increase of industry, to make a valid offer of remuneration for the supply of their wants. This is absolutely necessary to secure a healthy advancement in population, and without it I am perfectly ready to admit, that the expedient proposed would only lead to aggravated vice and misery. Another precaution also seems very necessary: viz. not to accelerate the rate of increase faster than that at which the demand thereby created for food can be conveniently supplied, in time to prevent a pernicious pressure against the actual means of subsistence: for although we have seen that population will not naturally press in that manner, if left to its own course in a moderately good government, yet it is easy to conceive that artificial encouragements may be so constituted as to produce such an evil consequence. Now it should seem that there can scarcely be a better mode of escaping this inconvenience, than by providing that the same artificial means, by which the rate of population is accelerated, should be so contrived as to afford at the same time a corresponding direct encouragement to cultivation, without diminishing that which is due to commerce and manufactures. By this triple effect all the conditions necessary to a healthy progress in prosperity are fulfilled, and it becomes complete, permanent, and secure. But to afford at once this triple encouragement to sources of wealth, which are generally thought to thrive at each other's expense, may perhaps appear rather difficult. Let us consider, however, if some such provision as that which follows would not attain the object. In the first place to rear the additional number of people at the least expense, it would be necessary to increase that of persons resident in situations best calculated for bringing up large families, somewhat beyond the natural demand of those places for labour. If it were not for fear of exciting a smile, where a serious impression is intended, I would word the proposition thus. If a country is in want of more hands than the natural rate of its population will supply, it must keep an additional set of healthy breeders for the community; and that all unnecessary expense may be spared, it must place them in situations most favourable to child-bearing, and to the health of children, and most favourable also to the preservation of their morals, that is to say, in the country villages. Here a smaller number of parents will produce an equal increase of stock; more of it will be reared to perfection; and the individuals when reared will be finer and more efficient animals. Just as the governor of Fort St. George, when he wished to procure a larger supply of fine horses for the cavalry of that settlement than the natural means of the country afforded, increased the number of breeders from the best stocks, and selected a favourable and sequestered spot in a country of rich pasture for the establishment of the stud. We must not indeed carry this comparison so far as to forget that man is a moral agent, and that he is never worth his country's having, unless he be both good in bodily health and also in moral quality; and that strength in virtue is as necessary to the preservation of a state as strength in numbers,
The object, then, being to raise an artificial increase of healthy and moral country residents, it follows that some expense must be incurred for its attainment, that donations in money, both to the parents and the moral instructors, form a necessary condition of the plan. But this would be a heavy burthen upon the industry of the country, if it were done by an universal rise in wages, and would materially interfere with agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, of which a corresponding encouragement constituted the other conditions necessery to render the progress in wealth healthy and permanent.
This objection would be obviated, and the additional numbers raised with a trifling expense, and kept up without any expense at all, if means could be found, either direct or indirect, to alter that equality in the remuneration of labour, which in all countries is calculated in proportion to the work performed and to the existing demand for labour, rather than to the wants of the labourer arising from the size of his family. By subtracting from the surplus earnings of the bachelor and childless labourer, all that is over and above what is necessary to enable them to live in comfort, and to make a saving by frugality for their declining years; and by applying the sums so subtracted to the support of such of the children of large families, as their parents cannot maintain upon the average rate of wages, it seems clear that the breeding stock would be supported without any expense to the public. But all direct attempts to assess wages in proportion to the wants of the labourer, and not to the work performed, have, from their extreme absurdity, been always found impracticable, and Sir James Steuart and other writers on political economy have much lamented this impossibility. Indirect means must therefore be resorted to for the purpose. The original stock must indeed be raised by encouragements to marriage, and by donations in money from the rich to the parents of many children, who will thus be raised, into effective men. This will be a real, but the only real, outgoing to the state and the public. For as soon as this first generation is reared, the succeeding ones will be maintained in the same manner, at an expense merely nominal; for the redundant supply of hands will have a tendency to lower the wages of labour, below what they would naturally have been without this redundancy. In a country with an increasing demand for labour wages may not perhaps actually sink; that will depend upon the ratio of increase between such demand for labour and its additional supply but they will certainly be at a rate lower than they would otherwise have reached; because, without this extraordinary supply of hands, they would very much have risen, or the opportunity for a further progress in publick wealth must have been abandoned. This tendency towards a diminution of wages, to whatever extent it may go, will equally affect the bachelor, the childless, and the married man with a family; but the state may make up the difference to the latter; and by a donation in money make the whole remumeration of his labour equal, not only to what it would have been had no alteration taken place in the natural rate of wages, (which is no where high enough permanently to support a large family,) but also equal to his just wants, whatever the size of his family may be.