Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Of these two-thirds of the population not resident in towns, we have already remarked three-eighths, or a portion equal to one-fourth of the whole population, to be employed in agriculture. The portion remaining to be accounted for, which does not live in towns, and is yet not employed in agriculture, amounts to five-eighths, or about two-fifths of the whole population. These comprise the village shopkeepers and manufacturers, soldiers, sailors, and men of fortune, with their descendants, families, and menial servants; of whom (though some may be productive enough of people), yet it may be difficult to say that the whole keep up their numbers. A reference to the state of England would probably show, that about a fourth of this portion of the people consists of men of rank and easy fortune, with their families, and unemployed descendants, deriving income from various funds, but many of them possessing not more than enough fortune to afford their accustomed enjoyments in the single state. From these and other causes, so many of them do not marry, or at least not till late in life, and so many more, from the various causes before-mentioned, do not rear families of any size, that the aggregate amount of all their descendants is not sufficient to replace their own numbers; although they do not fall short of it in the same degree with the inhabitants of towns. Of the remainder of this portion, one-eighth may be said to consist of the army, the mercantile and military navy, emigrants to colonies, &c. with their families and attendants; who are so far from keeping up their own numbers at home, that they are a continual drain to a very considerable amount, upon the most robust and effective part of the people. The remain

ing half and one-eighth of this portion of the people consists of the manufacturing labourers, and small proprietors, residing in the country, who (though the former, from occasional unhealthy occupation, fall short of the husbandmen in prolific power), are capable, upon the whole, not only of keeping up their whole numbers, but of affording a surplus, large in proportion to the means they have of sustaining their children by the remuneration of their labour. The same is the case with the agricultural fourth of the people.* Thus we see that before a country has advanced very far in the commercial state, and long before it ap

[ocr errors]

* In a country containing a population of nine millions, the following would be the distribution of the people according to the state of society supposed in the text.

1. One-third in towns (not reproducing their own numbers)..

3,000,000 2. One-fourth in agriculture, (reproducing their own numbers and supplying the deficiences in the towns, &c.)....

2,250,000 3. A fourth of the remainder, men of rank and fortune with their families, unemployed descendants, and servants (not reproducing their own numbers) 937,500

4. Army, navy, mercantile, and military emigrants to foreign settlements with their families and attendants (almost entirely supplied from the classes reproducing their own numbers)...

468,750 5. Country manufacturers, shopkeepers, small proprietors, &c. with their families (reproducing their own numbers, but affording no material supply to the deficiency of the other classes,

2,343,750

Total 9,000,000

The three classes not reproducing their own numbers leaving a deficiency of at least a fifth of their aggregate number, or 880,000 souls in a generation, to be made up by the two other classes, principally by that marked 2.

posing that a commodity raised by one nation at a great expense, and sent abroad to a foreign market, can be sold there to a profit (expenses of carriage included), notwithstanding the competition of other nations, who can raise the same commodity at less than half the expense, and convey it to the same market with very inferior charges of freight. Neither is the fact stated more favourable to the position of the same economists, that an increase of people should always follow, and never precede, an increase in the produce of the soil :which, when applied to a manufacturing society, appears to be nearly tantamount to saying, that an increase in the number of backs should always follow, and never precede, an increase in the manufacture of coats ;—whereas surely a previous increase of wearers and consumers is absolutely necessary to the respective production of further food and raiment.

These questions will be more fully treated in a subsequent chapter, when we come to the consideration of the nature of Corn Laws. In the mean time it may be observed, that the produce of these new speculations in agriculture will set the people at ease till a further increase of population. But the improved methods, such as the consolidation of small farms into larger, ingenious implements, &c. will also enable a smaller number of cultivators to raise an equal quantity of produce, and will therefore set free a larger proportion of the people for manufactures and other occupations.* This new arrangement will

* These natural effects of the

progress of society may serve to allay the anger of many very honest and plain spoken political ceconomists against large farins, and other arrangements for obtaining such a surplus and disposable produce, as is absolutely requisite to the public good in the new distribution of the society.

further supply of food for its support; * (except indeed in those states, which consist exclusively of one great commercial city included in a narrow territory, and habitually supported on foreign produce, which is a case evidently without the scope of a general argument). Moreover, it is universally found that in proportion as a country is in a growing condition, or as its population is in fact increasing, in such will it ever be preserved within the limits of its actual supply of food; because the freedom and industry, necessary to place a country in a growing condition, will lead to the diversion of capital to the soil, before the demand for food presses against the bare necessities of the people : while in a declining country, whose population is actually decreasing, it will press the more severely against the supply of food, because in such a state of society industry is universally observed to decline still faster than population. In proof of these assertions let us look to the condition of England as compared with Spain; of the more civilized parts of Russia as compared with Turkey; of Scotland as compared with Sicily. I have purposely placed these countries in opposition to each other, because the natural advantages are entirely on the side of the less flourishing countries, and the mind is led at once to the moral and political phenomena which alone have made them to differ. Doubtless, the soil and climate of Spain, of Turkey, and of Sicily, are by nature more capable of fostering a rapid increase of population and production, than those of England, Russia, and Scotland. Yet in the

* If the reader should be tempted to suppose that China is in that state, I would beg him to suspend his judgment till he has perused the eighth chapter of this book.

three former a population diminishing in number presses severely against a scanty supply of foodwhile in the three latter a rapidly increasing population is amply supported on the produce of its own soil and labour. Such is the fair result of the natural and unrestrained progress of society.

In Great Britain the laws and constitution of the country have (comparatively speaking) very little interfered with the industry and spontaneous distribution of the inhabitants:—and in the more civilized parts of Russia, notwithstanding the despotic form of the government, so much attention has of late years been paid by the Sovereigns to the internal welfare of the country, that, for many of the practical purposes of political improvement, the effects have approached nearly to those of a free and liberal constitution. Of the three countries placed in opposition to them I have already said enough with respect to Spain. The causes of the misery and degradation of Turkey are sufficiently known to be of a inoral nature. The following details, upon the authority of the latest travellers, may not however be altogether uninteresting to the reader. Mr. De Chateaubriand, in his Itinerary through Greece and Palestine, among many similar pictures, gives the following account of what occurred on his ride towards Sparta. “At noon we discovered a khan as poor as that in which we rested the night before, although it was decorated with the Ottoman flag. In a space of twenty-two leagues they were the only houses we saw. Hunger and fatigue obliged us to continue here longer than we wished. The master of the place, an old wretched looking Turk, was seated in a loft over the stables surrounded by goats, and in the midst of their dung. He received us

« ForrigeFortsett »