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gularities, as in the cases stated in this chapter, the effect is indeed likewise an increase of population, but a much greater increase of idleness, vice, and misery. The causes of the disorders of states are manifold; but if they could all be traced to their origin, I believ that the seeds of a very large proportion of them would be found in the idle and licentious habits of such an extraneous and neglected population, as it is the object of this chapter to deprecate.
We are then again conducted to the important conclusions to which every preceding part of this inquiry tends—that industry is the legitimate parent, and the firm supporter, of population, as well as the natural regulator of its quantity and quality; and that when thus produced and regulated it can never mischievously press against the means of its subsistence. That the industry here spoken of (when taken in its enlarged sense) includes and supposes a due attention, to the moral condition of the people is of course implied, and will be more fully shown when we come to consider the two last of the fundamental principles laid down at the outset of this treatise.
Of the mischievous Pressure of Population, caused by depressing the productive Energies of the Soil considerably below its natural Powers.
It is obviously true, that the natural powers of the soil to afford a further supply of produce vary with every advance of a country in the progress of society. In the agricultural state, that is, before all the rich. lands are appropriated and brought into cultivation, the powers of the soil are great, and capable of affording a considerable supply of produce at a comparatively small expense in cultivation. In the commercial and manufacturing state, that is, when the lands remaining unappropriated and waste are of inferior staple, and commerce and manufactures are consequently the most profitable employment of capital, the natural powers of the soil are gradually contracted, and can only afford a further supply of produce at a continually increasing expense in cultivation. That the expense of bringing waste land under cultivation continually increases with the advance of society and population, will be evident if we consider the gradation as to quality, in which lands, generally speaking, are reclaimed. Those of superior staple, which will pay best, are of course reclaimed the first, and so on, in succession of inferiority, till at last none but the most barren and ungrateful spots are left waste. Municipal laws, and the rights of property, will of course introduce trifling irregularities in the *
march of this system, but as men may usually be depended upon for following their own temporalinterests, it may be argued upon in general as regular and unremitting. The necessary consequence then of this progressive recurrence to inferior soil is that, at each succeeding step, the cultivator has to grapple with a more ungrateful subject, and must therefore incur an increased expense in rendering it productive; and that nothing but the certain prospect of being remunerated for that expense in the price of the produce will induce him to undertake the task. It follows from these facts, that the very same circumstances, which in the first case may afford ample encouragement to the productive energies of the soil, may in the last depress them very considerably below their natural powers; for as the only encouragement to produce any article is to be found in the profit accruing from it, after all the expenses of production are paid, it is obvious that, when these expenses are high, they cannot be compensated by the same encouragements which may have proved fully sufficient while the expenses continued low. It is obviously true also that, where the public institutions of a country are of a liberal and expensive nature, and the land and its products are highly taxed to support them, these expenses must also be added to that more immediately incidental to cultivation, before we can determine what will actually encourage or depress the productive emergies of the soil. A community, for example, which from the profits expected from its agriculture engages to support establishments for the religious instruction, the moral education, and when necessary for the charitable support of its people, or which has entered into an agreement with monied capitalists to pay them a portion of produce by way of interest for capital advanced, will of course discover that all these expenses must be added to those arising from the natural condition of the soil before a fair balance can be struck. What may constitute a fair encouragement therefore to the agriculture of a country shrinking from any of these undoubted and imperative duties or necessary engagements, may yet considerably depress that of another which performs them, even although both countries may be found to have reached, in other respects, the same point in the progress of society.
Again, it is obviously true that where the condition of a country is found to be on the earpensive side of all these alternatives; that is, where it has both advanced far into the commercial and manufacturing systems, has incurred a public debt, and has also established liberal and expensive institutions for the comfort, happiness, and morality of its people, to be defrayed from the produce of its soil, the foundations of its agricultural prosperity are completely different from those of other countries, where no such conditions of society exist. Still greater encouragement will be necessary, in such a country, to prevent the depression of the natural powers of the soil, than where only one or two of those extraordinary sources of expense exist: and this is perfectly fair." It is impossible for a nation, any more than for an individual, to enjoy the advantages of an expensive establishment without defraying the cost. It is dishonest to set up such an establishment without the means of paying for it; and it is equally unmanly and inconsistent, having once established it upon a fair esti
mate of means, and reaped the expected advantages, to shrink from the necessary payments, or to envy those nations who have been willing to forego the comforts, or to desert the duties, in consideration of escaping the earpense. In short, it is as vain as it is childish, at once to grasp at the advantages of riches, and to long for the disincumbrance of poverty. If these reflections are just, we shall at once perceive that, to avoid the evils arising from depressing the productive energies of the soil below its natural powers, the application of general principles will scarcely be sufficient. A particular inquiry into the state of society, in which the country in question may happen to exist, is as necessary here as in estimating the force of the principle of population: and in the adoption of any practical measures: a knowledge of the state of surrounding countries is equally important. For, practically speaking, it cannot be doubted that in a large society of nations it is impossible to rely upon each individual nation, or even upon a majority of them, for a constant adherence to general principles; especially on questions of vital interest to their neighbours, who are, I fear, almost necessarily their rivals. No man can be more ready than myself toadmit, that general principles, when universally adhered to, are the best foundations of individual policy, because they constitute the best security of individual as well as of general prosperity: but, as I have elsewhere taken the liberty to remark, “the science of political economy, being a set of conclusions drawn from general principles, is of course intended for general application. It is presupposed that all the nations concerned in any question involving those principles will fully act up to them, because it is their interest'