תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

of three-lenths of the demand for labour being lost, which is supposed in the above objection, they are only transferred to other trades to the iron-workers, the machine-makers, and the colliers. Iron is of no value in the mine, nor coal in the pit, not chalk in the hill, nor water at the spring; but they may be at made of value by the application of labour, and their value will be in proportion to the labour applied. The only difference between the hand of the labourer and machinery as applied to the production of any commodity is this : the latter is labour applied mediately, the former is labour applied immediately.

Hence the demand for labour is not lessened by the introduction of machinery; because the demand is not for any limited quantity of commodities, but for all the commodities that a certain quantity of labour can produce.

2. That there is a power in mankind to increase their numbers is evident from the fact that there are more in existence at this time in this country than there were twenty years ago, notwithstanding so many thousands have been slaughtered in war. If they possessed no power to increase their numbers, the population of this country must be considerably less than it was at the end of the last century. And be it remembered, that political economists are philanthropists, and calculate on the powers of man when exempt from war, famine, disease, and death. They wish their fellowmen better things than these, and their object is to teach them how they may be obtained. They see that the human race has ever been subject to these direful evils, because there has ever been the same cause in operation to produce them; and the necessity of removing this cause, is what they would impress on the minds of their fellow-citizens.

An unprejudiced view of the history of this country must convince any one of the existence of the principle for which I am contending. The number of inbabitants on the invasion of the Romans must have been small indeed compared with the present. There is no means of ascertaining what the number was, but as the people derived their principal subsistence from fishing and hunting, it is evident that it could bear but a small proportion to the number now existing. We have no record of a people being very numerous under similar circumstances. It is only in countries where agriculture is the principal occupation of the inhabi. tants that we find a thick population. The invasions of the Romans, the Saxons, and the Danes, must have destroyed, judging from the history of their exterminating wars, more of the original inhabitants than they replaced. The population of England at the arrival of the Normans has been calculated at about two millions.-(See the opinion of the Lord Chief Justice Hale, quoted in « Place on the Principle of Population," p. 190.)

In the commencement of the reign of Edward III. a most dreadful plague visited this country. It is thus mentioned by

Hume :-“ But a sudden damp was thrown over the festivity and triumph of the Court of England, by a destructive pestilence that invaded that kingdom, as well as the rest of Europe ; and is computed to have swept away a third of the inhabitants in every country that it attacked. It was probably more fatal in great cities than in the country; and above fifty thousand souls are said to have perished by it in London alone. This malady sensibly depopulated every country through which it passed.” It has been calculated that 100,000 persons died of this malady in London ; for by an inscription on a stone-cross that remained when Stowe wrote, 50,000 were buried in one piece of ground, purchased by Sir Walter Manny to take what the churchyards would not suffice to bury, (See Place, &c. p. 207.) It is strange that Hume should state the deaths at about 50,000, and then in a note mention this burying ground without a doubt as to the number there interred.

Notwithstanding this terrible plague, the numbers continually carried off by epidemics in large towns, and the multitudes which in every reign fell a prey to internal and external wars, we find that in the reign of this same Edward, the population had increased to upwards of 2,300,000. (See Chalmers' estimate on the poll-tax). In the reign of William and Mary, the population had increased to at least 5,000,000, according to the estimates made on the returns of inhabited houses. The returns of the population in 1801 gave a total in England and Wales of 10,472,041 ; and in 1811, of 11,911,596, exclusive of those serving in the army and navy. (See Miller's Con. of the Hist. Eng.)

As the increase was thus great under so many disadvantageous circumstances, what must it be under circumstances in all respects favourable ? Poverty, misery, disease, and premature death, have been the almost constant attendants on the labouring class. There have been a few short respites; circumstances have sometimes bettered the condition of the labourers; but generally a large portion of them have been on the brink of starvation. If in such a state they produced children as fast as when in comfortable circumstances, it is evident that but few of them could be reared to maturity.

It is well known that America repeatedly doubled her population in less than twenty-five years. Now, although America has possessed many advantages in favour of procreation, it is evident that she has not possessed all that a nation may possess. She has an ample store of rich land, easy of cultivation ; her artisans have been well paid; her government has been economical, and she has contained but few unproductive consumers; but she has been engaged in wars, and her citizens have yet to learn much concerning the best methods of rearing children and preventing diseases. Hence we must allow that a society of human beings, in the best possible circumstances, could procreate faster than

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

the Americans have: but as they received some assistance from emigration, we may put this as a balance against the want of the “best possible circumstances,” and say that mankind, all things favouring, can double their numbers in twenty-five years.

“ That the rate of increase in the numbers of mankind depends upon the constitution of the female, will not be disputed. The facts, which are fully ascertained in regard to the female of the human species, with the additions which the sciences of physiology and comparative anatomy enable that knowledge to derive from the analogy of other animals, the anatomy and physiology of which resemble those of the human species, afford the means of very satisfactory conclusions on this subject.

“The females of those species of animals that most resemble our own, when placed in the most favourable circumstances, are capable of a birth every year, from the time when the power of producing begins till the time when it ends, omitting a year now ard then, amounting to a very sınall proportion on the whole.

Let us make such ample allowance for the female of the human species, as shall include all interruptions. Say one birth in two years. In Europe, to which we may at present confine our observations, the period of child-bearing extends, from sixteen or seventeen, to forty-five years of age. Let us make still more allowance and say it extends only from twenty to forty years of age. In that period, at the great allowance of two years to one birth, there is time for ten births, which

may garded as not more than the number natural to the female of the human species.

“ Under favourable circumstances, the mortality among children is very small. Mortality among the children of very poor people, is unavoidable, from want of necessary means of health. Among the children of people in easy circumstances, who know and practise the rules for the preservation of health, the mortality is small; and there can be no doubt, that, under more skilful modes of managing the food, clothing, air, exercise, and education of children, even this mortality would be greatly diminished.

We may conclude, therefore, that under the most favourable circumstances, ten births are the measure of fecundity in the female of the human species : and that, of the children born, only a small proportion would die before the age of maturity. For occasional instances of barrenness, and for this small degree of “mortality, let us make much more than the necessary allowance, a deduction of one half, and say, that every human pair, united at an early age, commanding a full supply of every thing neces-, sary for physical welfare, exempt from the necessity of oppressive labour, and sufficiently skilled to make the best use of their circumstances for preventing disease and mortality among themselves and their progeny, will, one with another, rear five chil

be re

1

dren. This being evidently the case, it is needless to exhibit an accurate calculation, to show that population would double itself in some moderate portion of years.' It is evident, at once, that it would double itself in a small number of years.”

(See Mill's Elem. of Pol. Econ., Chap. II. Sect. 2.)

These are perfect demonstrations of the fact, that there is a tendency or power in the human species to multiply their number rapidly. In other words, that were mankind in such a situation as the philanthropist would wish them, so situated as to enjoy the greatest possible portion of happiness, they would increase their numbers in a geometrical ratio, of which each term would comprise, at most, not more than a period of twenty-five years.

3. But procreation after the above rate, and the permanent happiness of mankind, “ are objects perfectly incompatible with each other.” A nation, such as America, under peculiarly favourble circumstances, may go on doubling its numbers every twentyfive years for a few centuries, without feeling any ill-effects from it: but misery must overtake it in the end, except it employ some methods to check this natural tendency.

The happiness of a society, as I have before shown, depends upon the quantity of the objects of desire that they can procure. Now the production of these objects depends upon labour and capital. With a constant supply of labour and capital, production may go on increasing as long as the earth would bear any improvement. But when labour or capital fails, production is restricted. Thus if labour be'as 20, and capital as 10, there will be no more produced than if labour were but as 10; and if capital be as 20, and labour as 10, there will be no more produced, excepting a substitute be found for labour, than if capital were but as 10.

It has been shown that labour (population) has the power of doubling every twenty-five years; but it is evident that capital cannot increase in the same proportion. Capital consists of savings, or unconsumed production. It is allowed by political economists that capital may increase in an arithmetical ratio, namely, as 1, 2, 3, 4, &c.; which upon an examination will be found a greater allowance than the case warrants ; but as labour increases in the ratio of 1, 2, 4, 8, &c., it is clear that there must be a portion of it of no use in production. Hence proceeds what is called a redundant population, that is, more labourers than can find employment.

Thus a community must be in one or the other of the following states :-Either its population is restricted by artificial means to the increase of capital, and the people are comparatively happy; or it is restricted to this point by natural means, by poverty, misery, disease, and premature death. There is an exception to be made in favour of infant communities, so fortunately situated as to be able to acquire capital rapidly. But this is but an excep

tion for a time, as the capital cannot continue to keep pace with an unrestricted population. The power of labour to increase is a constant quantity; it is the same, and as powerful, after completing a hundred terms of the ratio as at first; but the power of capital to increase continually grows weaker : for being applied, as it must, to lees and less productive soils, it leares less and less for accumulation, or above the demand for immediate consumption.

On a reference to history we find a lamentable deficiency of information respecting the labouring class ;* but almost as certain as we find this class mentioned, there is an allusion to its being suffering for want; that is, that there was not a sufficiency of employment for all who demanded it, that there was, in the language of political economy, a redundant population.'

That a redundant population must at all times be productive of distress, is so evident that it seems absurd to argue the point, If there be not such a number as to be injurious, there is not a redundancy. When the supply of labour is greater than the demand, the value of labour is depressed, and not only the surplus number of labourers are sufferers, but all the class; the whole are pressed downward to the brink of starvation, and the weaker, to the amount of the redundancy, are thrown over.

The people were never yet starving but from a redundant population; and there never yet was a redundant population from which starvation did not ensue.

We have one remarkable instance in the history of this country of the effects of lessening the supply of labour. After the great plague in the reign of Edward III., which is calculated to have destroyed one-third of the inhabitants of this country, the value of labour rose immensely. Acts of Parliament were passed to regulate the price of labour, but all to no purpose; for if the bargain could not be made one way, it was made another. The capital remained the same, while one-third of the supply of labour was lost, and a competition among capitalists necessarily arose. It was not likely that A would willingly allow his capital to remain unproductive, while his neighbour B had labour at the parliament's price; A would naturally adopt some plan to entice away the labour frum B, as A had better make little profits than

Such a state of things is the grand desideratum for the labouring class; but the philanthropist does not wish to see it brought about by plagues, nor by any other evil, because it may be done

none.

• Jusqu'ici, l'histoire politique, n'a été que l'histoire de quelques hoinmes ; ce qui forme veritablement l'espèce humaine, la masse des familles qui subsistent presque en entier de leur travail, a été oubliée.

CONDORCET.

« הקודםהמשך »