Page images

want of education, been hitherto kept, that they are very apt, when assembled, to : proceed to mischief; and would be in danger, if not restrained, of destroying themselves as well as others. Although improper measures therefore are frequently employed to prevent the danger arising from assemblies of the people, these assemblies must nevertheless be regarded as very apt to become sources of great evil ; evil against which adequate securities ought always to exist.

The sufferings, for want of necessaries, of persons who live upon the wages of labour, are sufferings to which those who are capable of making the loudest clamour, do not regard themselves as in any degree liable. About these sufferings, they feel very little interest in making a clamour. They feel an interest of an opposite sort; they feel an interest in not letting them be talked about at all, except in a certain way. As far as is necessary to raise a belief that they are eager to relieve them, so far they have an interest in letting the talk go on. As far as they are disposed to go in using means to relieve them, so far they have an interest in letting it be supposed that they are capable of relief. Whenever, in affording relief, the point is attained beyond which they are disposed not to go, they have an interest in representing them as not capable of relief.

In this way it is easily explained, why a much greater amount of suffering, of our own countrymen, is much less lamented, than a much smaller amount of suffering of a particular class of foreigners.

With regard tu the existing distress, as it affects those who live by the rent of land, those who live by the profits of stock, and those who live by the wages of labour; as well as with regard to the interest which that distress excites, and the remarks to which it gives occasion, the little which we have already stated must suffice. : We come now to the second branch of the inquiry; namely, What is the cause of this deplorable condition of our native country?

We have considered the evil as unavoidably implying a defal'cation in the quantity of capital. That it does so, would appear to be as certain as demonstration can make it. Nobody supposés that there is, at this moment, any capital in the country unemployed. No man, or at any rate no unusual number of men, have any board lying useless in chests. Every man who lias any capital, is either employing it himself, or las lent it at interest to some body who is employing it. The argument, therefore, is very short and conclusive. A few years ago, we Irad capital enough to employ all our people : at present, we have not capital enough to employ all our people': therefore, the capital of this country must have decreased.

Every link of this argument seems to be indissoluble. Whence do we conclude, that there is not now a sufficient quantity of capital to employ all our people ? Because a great proportion of them are seeking employment, and are unable to find it; while, notwithstanding, all the capital we have is employed.

Nobody who has studied so much as the elements of political economy, is ignorant, that capital, and the employment of labour, are convertible terms. Wherever labour is employed, it is capital that employs it. Wherever there is no capital, neither can there be any employment of labour. Whenever capital increases, the demand for labour increases ; whenever capital dininishes, the demand for labour diminishes. The demand for labour kas decreased. A change in the effect supposes a correspondent change in the cause. Capital, therefore, has decreased.

We know there is a common opinion, which seems opposed to this conclusion. Most people persuade themselves, that it is pot a decrease in our capital, but a decrease in the market for our goods, whence the evils of this awful moment have arisen. But this opinion is immediately and completely refuted by the observation, that all our capital is employed. If we had all the markets in the world, therefore, we could not employ one man's labour more.

Suppose that A. has 10001. of capital, with which he is enabled to give constant employment to twenty men; and with which, being all employed, he does give employment to twenty men. Suppose that the market for the sale of A.'s goods, is increased a hundred fold, his 10001. will not for that reason enable bim to employ a single man the more. - Suppose B. to have a similar capital of 10001. which gives employment to twenty men : no widening of the market for the goods of B. will enable his capital also to employ more than twenty men.

Now, the whole capital of the country may be regarded as made up of portions of 10001. giving employment each to twenty men. It follows, of course, that if no extension of market to each of these 10001. would enable it to give employment to more men, so will no extension of market to the aggregate of them all, enable it to employ a greater number of men.

Now, the state of the fact with regard to this country at present, is, that after the twenty men which each portion of capital is competent to employ, are all employed, there is a proportion of men whom it is not able to employ. It is not the increase of market which is a remedy for this evil; it is the increase of capital.

Besides, this erroneous notion concerning the extent of the market, implies an ignorance of another incontrovertible principle of be science of political economy. It is fully established, that a country can never be without a sufficient market for the produce of all its capital, whatever the amount of its capital may be. For the illustration and defence of this important principle, into which at present we cannot enter, we must refer to Mr, Mill's pamphlet, entitled “ Commerce Defended ;" in answer to Spence : the only work in English in which that illustration, as we believe, is yet to be found; as the only one in French, is, the " Economie Politique" of M.J. B. Say. From this principle it undeniably follows also, that it is not for want of a market, but for want of capital, that our people are unemployed.

We see it is obviously the drift of the ministry, to represent the present distress as only a temporary distress, produced by the change from war to peace. This is the language which was held by Lord Castlereagh to his banqueting friends in Ireland. We see that it is here the language held by the prints which advocate all the proceedings of the ministry. Such loose, vague, and general declamation must be regarded as having no meaning at all, till it is particularized and defined. But to particularize is not a faculty which in general is much in exercise with the advocates of ministerial measures.

"The change from war to peace'-How does that produce calamity? The change from war to peace is a stoppage in sending soldiers and sailors to fight, and in the enormous and fright- : ful expense which that sending produces. What is there in this calculated to produce calamity? Nothing! How then does the change from war to peace produce calamity?

What seems to be told us, in answer to this question, is, thata change has taken place in the channels of trade. This, again, is so general and vague, that till it is particularized, it has hardly any tangible meaning. What channels of trade have been altered, and how has the alteration operated ? To this not only do we receive no satisfactory answer, but we receive no answer at all. Ministerial gentlemen do not so much as attempt to . make out the truth of their words.

An alteration in the channels of trade must mean, that channels which were formerly open are now shut, channels which were formerly shut are now open. If this is not the meaning, we wish to know what it is. What channels then are shut ? We see large channels open, wbich, during the war, great efforts were made to shut. To counterbalance this, where is there any channel that is shut? We look round the whole globe, and we can perceive not so much as one. We ask, therefore, once more, in what way has the change from war to peace operated to the production of the present calamity? Still we receive no answer. Is not France, is not Germany, is not Hol. land, are not Spain and Portugal, is not America, in both her

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

mispheres, is not the Baltic, is not the Mediterranean, is not even our grand domain, India, and is not China, open to us ; more advantageously than during the war, since we are exempt from all the cost of war insurance, interruption, and delay? Where is there any channel that is shut?

We are encountered by another vague phrase, for this is the form of arguing adopted by some persons : shew the absurdity of one of their vague generalities, they have immediate recourse to another vague generality. We hear them say, that during

the war we enjoyed the commerce of all the world : in peace, the nations trade for themselves.'

What do they mean by the words commerce and trade, in this instance? Do they mean, that during the war no nation manufactured any thing for itself; no nation made any cloth for its own wearing; any furniture for its own houses ; any utensils for its own accommodation; but that we made every thing for all the world ? Is this what they mean? This is not what they can mean. For it is contrary to notorious matter of fact, and contrary to another of the loud assertions of ministerial advocates, that our commerce is now cramped, because foreign nations, during the war, when deprived of our manu-factures, learned to manufacture for themselves. The war, therefore, did not make any nation supply itself with our manufactures, which would not have supplied itself with them in peace : on the other hand, the war prevented many nations from supplying themselves with our commodities in such a degree as they would have been forward to do in a period of peace.

The war, therefore, narrowed the market for our goods; the peace must of necessity have widened it.

When the ministerial advocates, therefore, say, that during the war, we had the trade of all the world, they do not, that is, they cannot dare not pretend to mean, that we manufactured for all the world, or so much for the world, as we should bave done in a period of peace. But if we did not manufacture for the nations of the world, all we could do for them was to carry for them; carry the goods of one of them to another, when they could not do so for themselves. But Adam Smith shews, that the carrying trade is the least advantageous of all trades to the nation that carries it on; and that it is always an unfortunate state of circumstances which turns any portion of the capital of the nation away from its own manufactures or agriculture, to be employed in carrying the manufactures or raw produce of foreign countries from one to the other. The war, therefore, did not give us the trade of all the world; it gave us only a bad species of trade instead of a good one.

Besides, any falling off in the carrying trade, could affect but a small portion of the community; a small portion either of

those who live by the profits of stock, or of those who live by the wages of labour. The ship-owners, and a few merchants in the great sea-ports, are all those of the first sort ; the sailors, all those of the second. The diminished profits of the shipowners, though great, must affect them less, because the event was always foreseen, always counted upon, and therefore compensated. They knew that peace, with regard to them, would produce precisely those effects which it has produced. The merchants who employed their capitals in transporting the produce of one foreign country to another, suffer hardly any loss in shifting their capital to another employment; because it is almost wholly circulating, not fixed capital. Of the manufacturers, many cannot shift their capital from ope occupation to another, without a certain loss, because a great deal of it is in the shape of fixed capital, as buildings, machinery, and other instruments, which cannot, with equal advantage be applied to any other purpose. The situation of the sailors, however, those in the carrying trade who lived by the wages of labour, is dreadful. And of their misery a great pro- . portion is doubtless owing to the change from war to peace.

As far then as regards the whole of our connexion with foreign nations, it appears, by indubitable proof, that there is nothing whatsoever in the change from war to peace, that serves to account for more than a minute and peculiarly situated portion of the existing calamity of the nation.

We are left, then, to look for the source of that calamity, in the change which may have been produced in the channels of trade within the nation itself; the trade created by its own demand and supply, its own production and consumption. :. To prove that it may be found in the change produced in the channels of the trade within the nation, it will be urged, that the war itself produced a great demand, for the supply of the army and the navy, both at home and abroad; and that when peace returned, this demand was cut off. Let us inquire, and inquire with due diligence, how much of the present calamity of the nation can be accounted for by this circumstance.

Nothing is more clear than this, that when a nation has a certain sum to lay out, upon the commodities of its own production, it produces the same demand for labour, whether it is laid out upon one set of commodities or upon another. If it has a million to lay out, the demand for labour is the same, whether it is laid out in woollen cloths or cotton cloths, in coats or in shoes ; in this commodity or in that commodity. If a greater quantity of it is, ón a sudden, laid out in coats, and less in shoes, there will be less demand for the labour that is employed in producing coats ; but there will be a greater demand to exactly the same

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »