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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 necessary 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 remuneration 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. !
Now if we consider what was stated in a previous chapter with respect to the small proportion of the whole labouring population which, in the advanced state of society here supposed, is in a condition (physically speaking) to rear many children, it is evident that the state will be a considerable gainer on this transaction; that is, it will save more on the depressed earnings of the bachelor or parent of few children, than it will expend in support of the excess of children in large families; and ultimately the result will be, that the saving in the general average, to which a rapid progress in prosperity, (if it could have been maintained under high wages,) would naturally have raised the wages of all, is greater than the particular expense of supporting the large families only.
It may be said, perhaps, that this process is liable ultimately to reduce the rate of wages too low for the average wants of the people, and to lead to a larger supply of hands than the wants of the state require. But let it be observed that, where liberty gives to industry a free scope for exertion, a slight tendency towards the depression of wages, or even the mere prevention of a rise in wages, when caused by a plentiful supply of hands, will give a considerable impulse to every kind of exertion, and, consequently, to a demand for labour in those departments where the labourers do not keep up their own numbers. Agriculture is also doubly encouraged by the increased demand for food from the augmented population, and from the additional facilities arising from a redundancy of labour. And thus the three conditions of a sound progress in public prosperity are fulfilled. And, upon the whole operation, it may perhaps be asserted
that, strictly speaking, wages are not so much actually lowered as industry and wealth promoted. For unless the extra stock of labourers had been previously raised to seize upon the opening sources of wealth as they presented themselves, they must probably have been abandoned, before the slow operation of increased demand could have raised an additional population to the condition of effective workmen. The rise in wages in that case therefore would have been merely momentary, and they would have sunk again only to plunge the labouring poor in the deepest distress, and to annihilate the children they had called into existence. So that, whether on the scorce of humanity or economy, the system appears unobjectionable. And, again, let it be recollected that the previously existing stock of labourers do, by their own demand, offer encouragement to every department of production, thus counteracting to a considerable extent the tendency towards lowering the price of labour which their existence would otherwise have produced. It should appear, then, that the system here detailed doth not, as it has been asserted, reduce the labouring poor to the most scanty pittance of wages upon which their bare existence can be maintained; but that its real effect is to maintain an uniform rate of wages, tending, indeed, rather towards a depression than to an advance. This circumstance, however, is more than compensated, first, by the great impulse given to internal industry, whereby the community, and the condition of the labourer as an important part of it, are kept in the healthy and progressive state; and, secondly, by the uniformity introduced into the particular remuneration of the different