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speculation affording small returns, before there is an immediate and pressing domestic demand for the produce, is too untenable a proposition to deserve a serious answer.
I have now traced, (and, notwithstanding the extreme importance of the subject, I fear at almost too great a length), the various and conflicting opinions of political economists, with respect to the order of precedence between agriculture and population. I shall devote a few remaining paragraphs to an attempt to draw out a consistent system by reconciling, as far as possible, their contending arguments; and am disposed to think it will appear that, by overlooking the change which takes place in the interests and habits of the people as society advances, each writer has endeavoured to apply universally what, from the nature of the case, can only be of very partial application. There are, probably, periods in the progress of society, in which every proposition enunciated by each of the economists I have cited may be respectively true. But from the want of discriminating those periods, they have persevered in applying to one condition what is only true of another; and, by an attempt to establish a general principle, have exceedingly confused their argument, and fallen into many particular absurdities. There is a period in a man's life, when it is superlatively true that he ought to be sent to school, another when he should go to college, another when he should enter into a profession, and another when he should enjoy his ease with dignity; but it would be a very singular consequence to generalize any one of these propositions, and to assert that he should enter into a professionat twelve, go to college at thirty, and be whipped at school in his grand climacterick. But to resume the attempt to draw out a consistent system from the contending arguments. It appears, in the first place, that so long as a country remains in the agricultural state of society, that is, so long as agriculture continues to afford the most profitable employment of capital, that department of industry will, with very few exceptions and qualifications, be the efficient cause of all increase in the domestic population;—and 2dly, as soon as the best lands are appropriated, and commerce and manufactures become the most profitable employment of capital, then they will be the efficient cause of population;–and 3dly, from the demand created by this population, must spring all further supply of food from the soil. To prove these propositions we must observe generally, that the state of employment, or the demand for hands, is naturally the only criterion of the numbers which, when called into existence, can be reared to manhood and permanently supported. Industry is consequently the main efficient cause of population in all states of society. Nor does it by any means appear so certain, as has been sometimes declared, that the demand for hands will always be in proportion to the actual supply of food. Where great prospects are opening for an extensive increase of commerce, of manufactures, of exportation; where large capitals gained abroad are brought home to set industry in motion in the parent country; or great supplies of men for the army, navy, or foreign colonies, are necessary to the welfare of the state; it is evident that a great demand for additional hands will exist, whatever may be the actual supply of food. The demand for labour being derived indif. ferently from all the sources of industry, and population being regulated by that demand; it seems only necessary to inquire in what department of industry the principal demand for labour exists, in order to determine what species of it is the efficient cause of the increase of population. The answer to this in agricultural countries will evidently be agriculture; in commercial and manufacturing countries, commerce and manufactures: and we shall plainly perceive upon consideration that this is agreeable to the fact. In those countries where the demand for labour is principally from the land, and its remuneration drawn from agricultural profits, the children, from generation to generation, are bred up in the occupation of farmers, and their sustenance is derived immediately from the objects of their labour. This simplifies the operation of society so much, that there is no room for doubt or mistake as to the efficient cause of population. But as society advances, the question becomes more complicated. In a commercial and manufacturing country, however, it is still evident that almost all the increased remuneration of labour, or the fund from which the labourer is enabled to rear a family, is drawn from profits derived from commerce and manufactures. But the products of their industry do not immediately afford sustenance to the labourer as in the former case, but are necessarily exchanged for food. For some time after the agricultural state of society is passed, the quantity of surplus produce created by it is the fund upon which the
merchant and manufacturer draw for their subsistence; but it is their commerce and manufactures which give them an effectual claim to it, and from which therefore their support is actually derived; for if they could not assert this valid claim to their share of the surplus produce, it would certainly be exported to a foreign market. Agriculture therefore, even in this early period of the commercial system, has no greater share in calling human beings into existence and enabling their parents to rear them, than any other department of human industry. If this admits of any exception, it is, that while the surplus produce raised in the agricultural state continues unexhausted, its existence, previous to the demand made upon it by the manufacturing population, may somewhat keep down its price, especially if there be no active demand for it from abroad. But when once population has overtaken this quantity of surplus produce, then agriculture and other employments stand precisely upon the same footing, as to their effects upon population. The former can no more be exclusively called the efficient cause of it, than shoemaking, weaving, dyeing, or any other exertion of industry that supplies a man with objects to exchange against the necessaries of life. Nor will any more corn be grown till an effectual demand arises for it from some other department of industry, and some of these objects of exchange are presented to the notice of the cultivator. The proof, then, of the three propositions, with which I began my statement of this interesting question, may be thus condensed. 1st, In the agricultural state of society, agriculture is the efficient cause of population, because the
demand for labour and its remuneration are derived principally from that employment. 2dly, After a country has stepped out of the agricultural into the commercial system, but has not yet increased its population sufficiently to consume the surplus produce remaining from the agricultural state, commerce and manufactures are the efficient cause of population, because from them is now derived the demand and remuneration of labour. Population, however, is not yet the efficient cause of any increase in agriculture, because a previous supply of food already exists, and until that is exhausted little more will be raised. Population therefore cannot be the efficient cause of an effect which does not take place. But, 3dly, As soon as the commercial progress of a country has increased its population, so far as to consume all the surplus produce existing at the period of its first emergence from the agricultural state ; then commerce and manufactures do not only constitute the efficient cause of population, but this last is the sole efficient cause of all further production of food, because the land remaining uncultivated is of such a quality, that an effectual demand upon it can only be made by the pressure of domestic population against the actual supply. These seem to be the grand outlines of the truth upon this interesting question, though, from the complicated nature of society in all its advanced stages, and the irregularities introduced by the mistaken principles of political economy upon which most nations have occasionally been conducted, it may be sometimes difficult to trace its progress, and a few modifications may, in fact, be admitted. P