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foreign trade will not escape its influence, though here it may be counterbalanced by a real increase of demand. But, in the internal trade, not only will the full effect of this deadening weight be experienced, but there is reason to fear that it may be accompanied with an actual diminution of home demand. There may be the same or even a greater quantity of corn consumed in the country, but a smaller quantity of manufactures and colonial produce; and our foreign corn may be purchased in part by commodities which were before consumed at home. In this case, the whole of the internal trade must severely suffer, and the wealth and enjoyments of the country be decidedly diminished. The quantity of a country's exports is a very uncertain criterion of its wealth. The quantity of produce permanently consumed at home is, perhaps, the most certain criterion of wealth to which we can refer.” Many other writers have expressed their opinion that the effects of a high price of labour, on the export of manufactures, will be more than counteracted by the superior skill, capital, and industry, of which high wages are one necessary consequence. Those, who have done me the honour occasionally to look into the tracts which I have published, well know that I am no advocate for gratuitously establishing such an elevation in the price of labour as shall put the foreign commerce of a country unnecessarily even to the slightest risk. An important part of my argument on the Poor Laws (see Short Inquiry, &c.) rests upon the effects which they have in favouring foreign, commerce, by preventing the inordinate rise of wages during a brisk demand for hands. But when the question is, not whether a gratuitous sacrifice shall be made, but whether, in an alternative presenting unequal risks, that side shall not be embraced where the chance of injury is undoubtedly the least, it is certainly gratifying to find political economists of high character agreeing in opinion, that where the injury to be apprehended is undoubtedly the least, there it will, in all probability, turn out to be none at all: and that if the domestic capital, skill, labour, and enterprise of a nation are kept flourishing and entire, its commerce and the export of its manufactures will rest upon a principle of vigour more than sufficient to overcome the competition of any rival country, possessing an advantage only in the single article of low wages. I think, then, that I am authorized in concluding that it is both consistent with the interests, and within the power of a free country far advanced into the commercial and manufacturing state of society, to preserve its agriculture in a flourishing condition, by securing to the cultivators an increasing price for raw produce in proportion to the expenses they must incur in bringing inferior land into cultivation. Such a price is evidently the natural effect of the progress of society and of population, and can only be prevented by permitting the policy and resources of countries, in other states of society, to flourish at the expense of the country in question, and to amalgamate themselves too closely with its interests; a permission always problematical in politics, and, in nine cases out of ten, decidedly injurious. A fair commercial intercourse between rival mations is a bond of union; but with them, as with individuals, too close an intimacy is apt to lead to dangerous
separations. We may return then to the principle which forms the title of the fifth chapter of this book, from which the whole of the subsequent argument has branched out, and assert that the encouragement to agriculture, here contended for, is necessary to prevent the mischievous pressure of population, caused by depressing the productive energies of the soil considerably below its natural powers,
Recapitulation and Conclusion of the Second Book.
THIS book, which contains the political application of the argument held in the first book of this treatise, has been constructed with the single view of showing the legitimate consequences deducible from that argument on the important and fundamental questions that relate to the comfortable subsistence of the people, as society advances towards those stages where the means of providing that subsistence is often found to be a matter of intricacy and difficulty. It would be impertinent to enlarge in this place upon the close connexion between these consequences and all the higher departments of politics. “There are counsellors and statesmen,” as Lord Bacon says, in his observations on the speech of Themistocles, “which can make a small state great, and yet cannot fiddle; as on the other side, there will be found a great many that can fiddle very cunningly, but yet are so far from being able to make a small state great, as their gift lieth the other way, to bring a great and flourishing estate to ruin and decay. But let counsellors and governors be held in any degree “negotiis pares,’ able to manage affairs; be the workmen what they may, the work is the main object; that is, the true greatness of kingdoms and estates, and the means thereof.” Now there can be no doubt that a compact, vigorous, and well-knit body is an indispensable quality of “the work " or instrument with which statesmen are to operate. They may be furnished with all knowledge, yet if they have not such an instrument to wield, their wisdom will be of no avail. Of what effect, for example, is the power of such a country as Spain in the hands of a statesman, except to encumber his march 2 and certainly her statesmen have for many generations been much addicted to fiddling, or, in Lord Bacon's words, “to those degenerate arts and shifts to gain favour with their masters and estimation with the vulgar, which deserve no better name than fiddling.” So far therefore from making a small state great, they have brought their great and flourishing kingdom to ruin and decay, and have made it almost an useless incumbrance in the political system of Europe. Whereas the power of Great Britain, from the circumstance that it has regulated its internal polity upon the principle of Themistocles, has been found to preponderate in the scale of the world, when cast into the balance by her statesmen against the most powerful nations. But this is by no means the whole case. Political greatness is of trifling value, nor can it be of long duration, unless it rest upon public happiness. France had political greatness enough, and to spare, but it rested upon public misery and the degradation of the people, and therefore could not stand the test of a well combined attack. The comfort and happiness of the people then lie at the bottom of the national strength, and consist in their industry and comfortable subsistence, or rather in the comfortable subsistence which is the natural result of their industry, under the regulation of wholesome laws. If the first book of this treatise satisfactorily proved that there is no inherent principle in the con5