« AnteriorContinuar »
other hand, those who before pur- any increase in the circulating mechased a certain quantity of meat, de- dium, as having no effect but the bad termine to diminish their purchases, one of raising prices. They stop short owing to the increase of prices. This at the first and immediate consequence is another part of the fact; and thus of an increase in the circulating methey say the whole facts bear out dium; it necessarily must raise prices; their position, that an increased quan- on this ground they rail against it. tity of money, by being brought to They look no farther ; they do not bear on any particular article, though even look at the other side of the fact. it at first enhances the price, yet by Prices are raised; this is bad to those that very circumstance repelling a por who have to purchase, but it is good tion of the former demand, the price to those who have to sell ; it holds out reverts to its former level, or nearly a stronger stimulus to their industry; so.
and the usual consequences follow : But here two things are confound more is produced, the community is ed which are really distinct, and the rendered more wealthy, and prices whole fact is not traced. A person, fall. Thus, the whole fact leads to an in consequence of the increased price inference quite opposite to that drawn of meat 25 per cent, may resolve to from the partial fact; the general and purchase 25 per cent less than usual. permanent result is very different As far as he is concerned, therefore, from the immediate and temporary there is a demand for less meat; but result. if he determines to spend as much Machinery is introduced into a cermoney in the butcher market, and tain department of manufactures, this, in fact, he will do, if, when the which previously were wrought by price is raised 25 per cent, he buys 25 manual labour: the workmen are per cent less meat, the diminution in thrown out of employment. Here is his purchases, the money he lays out what the enemies of machinery call a being to the same amount, cannot have decisive and undoubted fact in supany effect in counteracting the sup- port of their opinion. Can anything posed increase in the quantity of mo- be plainer or stronger? they exclaim. ney drawn into the butcher-market. Speculative notions must yield to ex
But our principal business at pre- perience. Let us, however, view the sent is to prove, that the fact is not case a little more closely. Machinery traced far enough. Let us then grant, is introduced : employment is less that in consequence of the increased easily procured, and wages fall. We price of meat, a certain class of pur shall allow, that the introduction of chasers expend on this article 25 per machinery is the cause of this evil, cent less money than formerly; this, though “ the only facts in this case certainly, will tend to bring the price are, that the machinery is in operation, of meat down to its former level. But and the men are destitute of employwhat becomes of the money thus with- ment; that one is the cause of the drawn from the butcher-market ? We other, is an inference to account for the cannot suppose it is suffered to lie idle state of affairs." To this blending of and unemployed; it will be spent on facts and inferences, which is one of some other article of food, probably the grounds of the objections of mere on bread. In this case, the specula- matter-of-fact men to the conclusions tive demand for bread is increased, of Political Economy, and of the asand its price will rise, and if, in con- sumption continually made with resequence of this rise in its price, some gard to that science, that theory and persons expend less on it than they experience are at variance, we shall were wont to do, what is thus with- afterwards advert. drawn from expenditure on bread will First, as we have said, we shall be spent on some other article, the grant, that the introduction of maprice of which it will enhance. We chinery is the cause of the evil. Why thus see what a difference it makes in is machinery employed ? Because thus the nature and bearing of a fact, when the goods can be made, and consewe stop short in the middle of it, and quently sold, at a cheaper rate, than when we trace it to its termination. when manual labour is employed in
Let us illustrate this position by an their manufacture. But if they are examination of the facts of the oppo- sold cheaper, will they not be within site party, of those whc declaim against the reach of a greater number of peo
ple, and will not this enlarge the de- in their consequences, depend their mand for them, and, in course of time, value and authority, either as the give employment not only to those la- ground-work of general principles, or bourers who at first were thrown out as opposed to them. of employment, but to many more? A general principle in Political EcoThe whole fact, in all its consequen- nomy, or any other science, is laid ces, has been so palpably and frequent- down, after having been carefully dely brought before us within the last duced from a vast number of facts and half century, that an appeal to the observations, under a great variety of temporary result of the introduction circumstances. A practical man deof machinery now possesses little nounces this general principle as erweight. Indeed, this is a most stri roneous and prejudicial; he says, it king and instructive instance of a fact recommends a certain measure, which confidently appealed to, against what he has adopted, and found not to be are called speculative opinions, gra- attended with the alleged result. The dually unfolding itself, till it proves advocate of this general principle first decidedly hostile to those very persons examines whether it really recomwho brought it forward, and as de- mends the measure proposed; he finds cidedly in favour of Political Eco- it does; he next investigates the connomy.
sequences said to have flowed from But the consequences of the intro the adoption of this measure, and he duction of machinery may be traced finds them, through their whole exin another direction, which will equally tent and train, to be such as descriprove our position, that facts are little bed, and quite at variance with what worth unless they are whole in them- his general principle predicts. He is selves, and viewed in connexion with staggered : there is one other inquiry, all their consequences ; and that what however, to be made; under what cirare called the facts of practical men cumstances was the measure adopted seldom being of this description, are and pursued ? This inquiry conducts more likely to be prejudicial than him to the real fact, which he no serviceable-to lead from the truth, longer finds to be at variance with his and the well-being of society, than to general principle. The measure was them.
good in itself; it was exactly such Machinery saves labour and lowers as the general principle recommendprices; but the money thus saved ed, and it would have produced the from expenditure in articles made by beneficial results pointed out in the machinery, will be expended on other general principle, but it was adopted articles; this will increase the demand and pursued under circumstances for them, and, of course, for labourers which altered essentially its character to make them; and thus machinery, and effects. Stript of these circumwhich directly threw workmen out of stances, the measure would have proemployment, will indirectly procure ved beneficial : altered by them, it them employment.
has proved injurious ;-but both reWe trust we have said enough to sults are, in fact, confirmations of the prove, that what are called facts are general principle: “ Little, if any renot always such ; that they are often gard,” observes Mr Stewart, “ is due mixed up with theory and prejudices; to a particular phenomenon, when and that even when political arith“ stated as an objection to a conclusion meticians or practical men state what resting on the general laws which reis really the case, they do not state gulate the course of human affairs. the whole case ; that when they assert Even admitting the phenomenon in that a certain measure is beneficial or question to have been accurately obinjurious, they most frequently have served, and faithfully described, it is viewed it only as regards their own in- yet possible that we may be imperterest, or particular line of inquiry or fectly acquainted with that combinabusiness, or in its immediate and tem- tion of circumstances whereby the efpcrary results, and not as it affects the fect is modified ; and that if these cirinterest of the community at large, cumstances were fully before us, the and displays itself in its remote and apparent exception would turn out an permanent consequences.
additional illustration of the very We shall now attend to the circum- truth which it was brought to invali. stances of facts, on which, as much as date." (P. 448.)
That war is prejudicial to a nation, of obvious, undoubted, and applicable in drawing off its labour and resources facts. But it will not bear close and from profitable industry, and direct. careful scrutiny and examination, and ing them to schemes of ambition and it affords another instance and proof conquest,-in introducing, confirming, of the worthlessness of what are call. and widely spreading habits of na- ed facts, in many topics of Political tional profusion, and in introducing Economy, and the doubt and suspicion that laxity of morals among a large with which they ought to be regardclass of citizens, which must always ed; especially when, as in the present result from a state of warfare directly, case, so directly and utterly at variance as well as from those fluctuations in with general principles, that is, with the wages of labour and in the manu- the confirmed and long experience of factures and tradeof a country, to which mankind. they are more frequently and deeply In the first place, the supporters of liable in war than in peace, is a maxim this opinion bring into notice only the long and firmly fixed in the minds of fair side of the question ; they caremost reflecting and observant people, a fully keep out of view all the evils maxim drawn from the experience of which the war they so loudly comthe world as far back as history carries mend inflicted on commerce and naus, and not less convincing to the po- tional happiness, directly and indirectlitical philosopher, than it is consoling ly. They appeal to the list of exports to the friend of humanity, who is ac and imports, but they forget, or wil. customed to regard these evils as some fully overlook, the list of bankrupts. check on the ambition both of princes They appeal to the wages of the maand their subjects.
nufacturers, but they forget the inBut we all must recollect how ex crease of the poor-rates; and they do pressly and decidedly the late wars with not advert to the circumstance, that, revolutionary France were held up as if wages were sometimes very high, having conduced to our national prose they were often also very low; that perity, by many people ; how their these fluctuations were rapid and extermination was regretted, and how cessive ; and that no circumstance can the slightest chance of a renewal of be more prejudicial, not only to the hostilities was hailed as a certain pre- real and permanent wealth and proslude to increased national wealth and perity of a nation, but also to its moprosperity. If the philosopher was in- ral improvement, than these rapid and credulous, and the friend of humanity excessive fluctuations of wages. Sewas shocked at this doctrine, and re- condly, they not only overlook the pelled it as not less unfounded than evils, but they do not carefully exdangerous, the supporters of it were amine, whether, what they called the ready with what they called facts. good of war, was really so, or only in These, they contended, were obvious, appearance; and whether it was not decisive, and numerous. They appeal- the good of one portion of the comed to the state of our commerce pre- munity, procured at the expense of anvious to the commencement of the other portion. If so, it could not be war, during its progress, at its termi- national good, nor could the fact apnation, and after it had ceased for pealed to be indicative of national some time. The tables of our exports wealth and prosperity. But that this and imports—the state of our principal was the case ; that in many respects manufactures -- the rapid and large the good was rather specious than sofortunes made by our merehants-the lid, and that in other respects it was enormous loans they were able to ac- only individual good, acquired at the commodate government with-the im- expense of other individuals, will, we provements in agriculture, and the believe, appear evident on a close and signs of improvement and wealth dis- impartial investigation. played in the increase of building and Thirdly, what is the obvious and population, as well as in the improved necessary consequence of this docstyle of living among many classes trine? Is it not that we should always all were facts appealed to, as proving be at war, because war advances nathat war, so far from being an evil, tional prosperity more than a state of was a blessing.
peace? But ought not those facts, as · This is plausible reasoning: to all they are called, which seem to lean to appearance it is supported by a train this conclusion, be rejected as unfouad
ed or inapplicable? They recommend evils entailed on it by war, before its not only a state of war, but a state of real and permanent effects are traced ? continual war; that is, not only what But, lastly, a most important circum. all considerations of justice and hu stance, which distinguished our wars manity condemn, to which the expe- with revolutionary France from all rience of all ages and nations is oppo- former wars, is omitted by the advos sed, but what is absolutely impossible. cates for war. We allude to the im
Fourthly, all the consequences of mense expenditure by government, that war, which is so strikingly recom- chiefly supported by loans. Large mended as productive of national prose portions of these were given to foreign perity, are not bronght forth and ex- powers, not, indeed, in the shape of posed to view by those who maintain money, but in the produce of our mathis opinion. As it is impossible a na, nufactures ; or rather, foreign nations tion can always be at war, the conse- were enabled to purchase an increased quences of war, when peace returns, quantity of our manufactures by means ought to be regarded, as well as its of the money our government supplied alleged good effects, while it conti- them, and which money was raised in nued. This conducts us to the expo- this country by loans. This is a circumsure of another weakness in the cause stance which distinguishes the revoluof those who appeal to facts in defence tionary war from all former wars, and of the advantages of war, and its pre- which therefore ought to be specially ferableness to peace. War is beneficial and particularly noticed and estimato the commerce of a nation, and peace ted, in considering any results of that the reverse, because while at war, we war, differing from the results of wars flourished, and at the return of peace, in general. We have dwelt thus long our prosperity languished. But was in our own consideration of this case, the peace the cause of this declive in because it affords an instructive in our commerce? Was it not the effects stance of the different aspect a fact as of the long war, in which we had been sumes when partially viewed, and stimulated to make such unprecedent. when viewed in all its circumstances ed and extraordinary exertions? And and consequences. is it not as absurd and unfair to ascribe But it is not only matter-of-fact our decayed prosperity, on the return political economists, who are led astray of peace, to peace, as it would be to themselves, and lead others astray, ascribe the feeble and worn-out con- from not attending to all the circumdition of a person who bad been long stances of a case. Even those writers stimulated to greatexertions by power who insist most strongly on the necesful exciting causes, whether applied sity and advantage of general princito the mind or body-not to these cau- ples in political economy, are apt, ses, but to the cessation of their applin when they state facts in confirmation cation ?
and illustration of their principles, If peace had really brought national to take a narrow and imperfect view evil, would not that evil have conti- of them. In the last Number of the nued, and increased as the peace con- Edinburgh Review, LXXIX., there tinued ? Is this the case ? - Is not the is a glaring instance of this. We allude reverse the case ? If, therefore, war, to the elaborate article on the Standallowing for a moment that it really ard of National Prosperity, and the benefits a nation, must close at some Rise and Fall of Profits. On the doctime or other, and at its cessation must trines contained in that article, and the cause a revulsion, probably propor- reasoning by which they are supporttionate in degree, extent, and contied, it is not our purpose to animad. nuance, to those circumstances attend vert; but only to notice one part of ing it, which rendered it really, or in the article, as illustrating our position, appearance, conducive to national good, that facts, unattended with all the cir. ought not this fact to be taken into cumstances attending them, are worse consideration and account by those than worthless, are actually deceptive, who appeal to facts in behalf of the and injurious to the cause of truth. advantages of war? And in contrasting The reviewer, after extracting from the effects of war with those of peace, Mr Malthus's pamphlet on Value, an ought not the latter to be in full ope authentic account of the price of dayration, and not struggling with the labour at Kirkcudbright, in the stewVOL. XVI.
artry of that name, and annexing the The average price of wheat at Kirkfiar prices of wheat in the stewartry, cudbright in 1811-1812, was £5, 18s. thus remarks:
5d. per boll; and its price in 1822 was “ Now it appears from this table, £2, 78. 5d.; being a fall of nearly 60 that the mean price of labour at Kirk per cent. But the money prices of lacudbright in 1793 was 104d. a-day, bour had, in the same period, only and its mean price in 1812, when at fallen 39 per cent; so that its relative the highest, 22d. a-day, being an ad- value, as compared with the main arvanee of 1094 per cent; but in the ticle of agricultural produce, had realsame period the price of the boll of ly risen 21 per cent., accounting comwheat had risen from 558. to 128s., pletely for the fall of profits in the inbeing an advance of 133 per cent; terval." (P. 20--29.)* shewing that husbandry labourers got The doctrine the reviewer wishes 22, per cent less of the produce, or to establish is this, that profits must of the value of the produce, raised by always vary inversely as wages; that them in 1812, than in 1793; a fall of is, when wages rise, profits must fall, proportional wages sufficient to ac- and when wages fall, profits must rise. count for a very great rise of profits ! (P. 11.) We shall not object to this
“This table affords an equally satis- doctrine, that, if it means anything factory solution of the fall of profits it must mean, that the fall and rise that has taken place since the peace. must be proportional, or at least ac
• This article, as well as one in the Second Number of the Westminster Review, on Tithes, affords additional confirmation, if it were wanting, of what we endeavoured to establish in our last Essay, that Political Economists of the present day are blind guides in the mazes of this science; and that, in most cases, Milton's description of Chaos is applicable to them :
Chaos umpire sits,
And his decision more embroils the fray. A very few observations on the Tithe article, will, we think, justify the censure, so far as the Westminster Review is concerned. One of the objects of the Reviewer is, to controvert the opinion that tithes are no tax, but a portion of the rent of land. “ They who support this proposition," he observes, " are driven to deny the doctrine of rent, as propagated by Mr Ricardo," &c. This doctrine, therefore, he explains : “ Rent is that portion of the return on capital, employed upon the land, which exceeds the ordinary profit of stock, and is paid to the landlord for the use of the land.” Again-" The least fertile soil of all, or that which returns no more than the ordinary profits of stock, will return no rent whatever." It is not our intention to examine this doctrine, but only to shew from it and what the Reviewer says of tithes, that rent and tithes are proved by him to be the same, though his object is to prove them quite distinct and different. We now come to the important conclusion. This may be stated in a few words. “The lowest soil in cultivation pays no rent. Every soil, from which produce is extracted, pays tithes. Rent, therefore, and tithe, are not identical, but altogether different."
This is very logical in form and in word, but the reverse in reality. Tithes are part of the produce; they are evidently not the property of the cultivator, and therefore do not constitute any of the profits of stock ; they are therefore that portion of the return on capital employed upon the land, which exceeds the ordinary profits of stock ; but this is the Reviewer's definition of rent. Tithes and rent, therefore, are not different, but identical. The Reviewer, indeed, adds to his definition of rent, that it is paid to the landlord for the use of his land ; but it matters not under what name, or to whom that portion of the return on capital employed upon the land which exceeds the ordinary profits of stock, is paid ; that cannot alier its real nature. Tithes and rent, therefore, according to the Reviewer's own shewing, are essentially the same, though paid under different names, and to different people. The real difference, however, he has not pointed out; it is this-Rent is arranged between tenant and landlord ; if in money, its proportionate value to the produce depends upon and varies inversely, as the quantity of the produce multiplied by its price ; if in kind, its proportionate value to the produce varies inversely as the produce ; whereas tithe is fixed independently of the former, and always bears the same proportion to the produce. Rent is paid for the landlord's right of property in the land, and for the capital laid out in improving it; but not for capital expended during the currency of a lease. Tithe is paid for the tithe-owner's right of property in the land; for the capital laid out in improving it, and rendering it more fertile ; and also for the capital expended during the lease, in so far as that increases its produce.