saries of life will always raise up consumers, and will therefore pay a price beyond the cost of production higher than the other products of industry, I shall be satisfied with referring the reader to a former chapter, on the order of precedence between population and production; only observing, in addition, that the fact, if it were consistent with experience, must necessarily be too slow in operation to produce the effect required; sinee the population supposed to be called into existence by the surplus produce cannot make an effective demand in the market till some years after they are supposed by the theory to have kept up the price by such demand. And, in the next place, it is only by a previous reduction in the price of the necessaries of life, annihilating the excess of price, upon which the whole argument turns, that the supposed population with their demand could be called into existence. I cannot therefore see the force of the distinction made by Mr. Malthus between the surplus profits of land employed in raising the necessaries of life, and those arising from any other species of productive industry. Nor can I think that the amount or the nature of . rent is affected by any quality inherent in the raw produce such as he has assumed; but which to be effectual in the manner supposed, even at a distant period, must first have annihilated beyond recall the effect which is supposed to be produced. But, in truth, are any of these fine-drawn speculations at all necessary to give a rational, intelligible, and consistent account of the nature and origin of rent, as well as of every other revenue derived from capital and industry? It is clear that no product will be originally brought to market unless the de

mand for it is sufficient to remunerate, first, the capitalist who erects the machinery, the warehouses, and provides other dead or inactive stock, and keeps them in repair; and next, the person who purchases the raw material, and employs his own and his servants' labour on the manufacture, and who conveys the article to market. The produce of land therefore will not be originally carried to market, unless the demand for it shall afford a price sufficient to remunerate the purchaser or clearer of the land for his capital, as well as the farmer for his capital and industry; for land will be suffered to lie waste if such encouragement be not given, upon the same principle that will prevent a manufactory from being erected at a considerable expense, unless the material intended to be manufac tured will repay the interest of the capital employed in the buildings, repairs, and machinery, as well as in the raw material and labour more immediately connected with the product. It is true that, after the first mentioned capital has been expended, the land cleared or purchased, or the manufactory and machinery set up, and the product brought to market, the price of that product may be so reduced as to annihilate the value of the capital originally expended, and merely to leave a profit upon the ordinary or routine expenses of the manufacture or of cultivation. Cultivation or the manufacture however might still be carried on for a time, and until they required to be renewed by a fresh application of capital, although the capitalists who first set them going would be ruined. But it is evident that all further investment of capital in the same pursuits would be at an end; and if the reduction of price arose from

foreign competition, the capital annihilated would have been gratuitously conferred upon foreign countries, to the great injury of the country of its growth. If the reduction of price arose from domestic competition, the loss would be a salutary hint to other capitalists to change the direction of their capital from a department wherein the supply is found to exceed the demand." But here a very broad distinction is found be-, tween capital employed in agriculture and in manufactures. With respect to the latter, it is problematical, and therefore a matter of inquiry, whether the check may have arisen from overtrading, or from foreign competition? But, with respect to agriculture, if we consider what has been stated in former parts of this work upon the continually decreasing value of the land that is forced into cultivation, by an augmented demand for its produce, and from increasing population, we shall at once perceive that, so long as the public prosperity is in a progressive state, that demand cannot be checked: therefore if the price of the produce in the market originally created by that demand should during its continuance permanently sink, so as to annihilate the rent, or the fair profit of the capital laid out in bringing inferior land into a a productive state, the effect must be wholly ascribed to foreign competition; and the capital thus destroyed by the ruin of the domestic capitalist would be gratuitously given to one employed in furthering the prosperity of foreign countries. Now it is a question in which both justice and expediency are eminently involved, how far a government is at liberty to permit the annihilation of large and profitable capitals at home, creating a great demand for all the products S •"

of domestic industry, by the transfer of their elements to foreign countries? And it is a still more important question, and not less easy of solution, whether any immediate or apparent advantage proposed by the advocates of such an expedient can be otherwise than ultimately destructive to the country which has recourse to it? Nevertheless, it is still true that, rent, to whatever fluctuations it may be liable, from these or other causes, seems clearly to be nothing more nor any thing less than the remuneration of the capital employed in purchasing and clearing land, the amount of which remuneration, as well as that of every other species of industry, must be regulated by the demand for its products. Its payment is as necessary as the payment of any other fair return to the permanence of the actual state of prosperity in which the concern may happen to be, as well as to its further progress in a successful career; for it is that out of which all accumulation to be expended in further improvement, or in the renewal which becomes necessary in all perishable materials, must proceed. It is no monopoly, but equally subject to be regulated by fair competition with all other profits of capital; and the principle upon which rests the expediency of affording it protection from foreign competition seems to be in no material degree different from that, which should regulate the conduct of a government towards other vital sources of domestic industry. The nature and the amount of the necessary protection will depend upon various circumstances, both in the country in question and in the surrounding

countries; but the principle is universal and unavoidable, that provision must be made for the payment of rent from reclaimed land, even of the lowest staple, before a reasonable expectation can be entertained of any further progress in domestic cultivation. These are the general principles which appear to connect the rent of land with the common interests of the state. They may be followed out into a great variety of detail, but enough appears to have been already stated for the purposes of this treatise, and to afford data for ascertaining how far a provision can be made for the payment of rent in any given state of society, without injury to the general interests of the commonwealth.

« ForrigeFortsett »