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labour previously employed can be increased in an equal degree. This however is seldom found to be the case, especially on inferior soils : we may therefore estimate the portion of the price of produce from these soils resolvable into rent as very small. If we consider the burthen of taxes generally imposed in such an advanced stage of society as leads to the cultivation of inferior soils, and add it to the other agricultural expenses, we may perhaps estimate the portion resolvable into rent, even where a brisk demand exists for the produce, at not more than one-fifth of the whole price in the market, leaving four-fifths for the ordinary expenses
production, and for the farmer's profit on his capital. We have abundant evidence that upon the poorer soils of England not more than a fifth of the gross produce is paid to the landlord in the shape of rent, and that this proportion gradually increases to a fourth as the staple of the soil improves in quality. Supposing therefore that so wild an idea should enter into the head of a statesman as to annihilate all rent from inferior lands, and proportionally to reduce it on those of a superior staple, in order to afford raw produce at a cheap rate to the general consumer, we perceive that his utmost efforts could do no more than reduce the price one-fifth without throwing land out of cultivation, and thereby ultimately raising the price of its produce much higher than his notable expedient would immediately have depressed it. Suppose the growing price, including rent, to be 80s. for a quarter of wheat, the total annihilation of the rent would reduce it to 643. which would constitute the mere current expenses of cultivation, and the questions for the public to consider,
are, 1st, whether this difference of price would compensate the state for the ruin of its most efficient class of domestic consumers ;-and 2dly, whether in a course of years agriculture could be carried on without the assistance of capital for the various offices of renewal and improvement, which always fall upon the landlord, or, in other words, upon the rent, and are not included in what is called the growing price of corn, or capable of being defrayed from the profits of the tenant.
Now whatever may be thought of the first of these questions, it seems morally certain that unless that portion of the rent, which a prudent landlord accumulates to meet the necessary wear and tear, and the occasional deterioration going on upon his estate, be added to the growing price of raw produce in the market, over and above the remuneration for the labour and ordinary profits of the occupier, cultivation must very soon decline, and that in no slow degree; especially on lands of inferior staple. For it is only by dint of a liberal application of capital that they can at all be brought to a productive state. An application of capital equally liberal, in what is called high farming, is also necessary to keep them in a productive state; and a very trifling diminution of such capital will give rise to a process of deterioration, which will proceed in a rapidly descending ratio: for such lands, when once neglected and exhausted, are with great difficulty restored. It is not, however, easy to conceive that, even were the price of produce reduced by foreign competition so low as only to remunerate the grower for his current expenses, the payment of all rent would be immediately and ipso facto annihilated.
There would for some time be a constant struggle between distresses of the landlord and those of his tenant. The former would naturally press for his accustomed rent to defray his current expenses ; and the latter who had expended some of his former profits on the land, in expectation of an increased return in the course of his lease, would, for a period, advance a portion at least of his rent from former savings rather than forego all chance of remuneration from the return of better times. He would, in plain terms, do what a great proportion of the British farmers have been lately constrained to submit to, viz. he would pay his rent for a time out of his capital. The end of this process would however be the absolute impoverishment of both, and the consequent inability of either to make the smallest effort for the necessary renewal of those improvements, by which the land first became capable of affording a surplus produce for the market. This argument applies also, though in a somewhat less degree, to lands of a superior staple. So that I do not hesitate partially to agree in the truth of Mr. Malthus's position* that “if under the impression that the high price of raw produce, which occasions rent, is as injurious to the consumer as it is advantageous to the landlord, a rich and improved nation were determined by law to lower the price of produce” (to the bare expenses of cultivation, or) “ till no surplus in the shape of rent any where remained; it would inevitably throw not only all the poor land, but all except the very best land, out of cultivation, and probably reduce its produce and population to
* See Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent, p. 35.
less than one-tenth of their former amount.” At least I am persuaded that this would be the natural tendency, and that the lamentable result could only be averted by the necessary recurrence of very high prices of produce, in consequence of the rapidly diminishing supply, which, in spite of any law, would virtually restore high rents, and induce the capitalist again to set out in the career of cultivation from the point whence he started, perhaps a century or two before. So that the ultimate result might possibly be nothing more than throwing back the country a century or two behind its natural station in the progress of society.
We see then that where the investment of capital in agriculture meets with due encouragement, the office of renewing the improvements, and replacing the eventual deteriorations and wear and tear of the land, falls upon the rent or capital of the landlord, and not upon the profits of the tenant. It forms no part of his expenses, which are confined principally to the wages of labour, and the wear and tear of stock and implements, and taxes. Of each of these in their order.
Of the Wages of Labour.
THE wages of labour are evidently another constituent part of the price of raw produce; but this proposition is liable to many modifications, arising out of the circumstance that wages are also themselves affected, as to the money amount of them, by the price of raw produce itself. This influence is partly nominal, and partly real. It is nominal in proportion to the degree in which the consumption of the labourer consists of raw produce, because his remuneration is of course the same, whether he receive 10s. in wages when that sum will purchase a bushel of wheat at 80s. the quarter, or 8s. when wheat is sold at 64s. the quarter. But it is real in proportion to the degree in which the consumption of the labourer consists of other articles besides raw producę. For any rise in wages consequent upon an increased price of corn will evidently confer upon the labourer an additional command over every article of his consumption except raw produce, in proportion as the rise in his wages exceeds his additional outgoing in the article of corn. It will enable him, for example, to purchase just so much more of grocery, tobacco, leather, clothing, &c. This principle has been rendered so perfectly clear by Mr. Malthus in his Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent (p. 47, and seq.), that it is unnecessary to enter into any detail of the proof by which it is esta