« PreviousContinue »
agreement to hold a horse or a house in property never took place between the parties concerned,' and, therefore, there can be no property in horses or houses ! Or if Miss Martineau means, by i the parties concerned,' all who have any desire to use horses or houses, let her say where the convention sat, consisting of all these parties, which • agreed' to make a present to the Marquis of Westminster either of his stud or his streets. Miss Martineau is said to be high authority in the law courts. We would strongly recommend, therefore, the next thief who is tried at the Old Bailey, to plead that property is held by conventional not natural right;' and as he, Timothy Tomkins, never agreed that the prosecutor should hold his silk handkerchief in property, he had no more right to it than 'he, Timothy. It was nullius in bonis, and therefore liable to the maxim capiat qui capere possit. The theory which derives rights exclusively from a social contract' • entered into by all parties concerned, is as foolish as it is dan. gerous. Has Miss Martineau ever read Blackstone ? or does she write works on the principles of legislation in total ignorance of all that has been previously written on the same subject ?
• Ella of Garveloch,' the fifth tale, is improbable, but amusing, —that is to say, if we skip the political economy in it, which consists of sundry long and doleful dialogues on the nature of rent. Miss Martineau formally adopts the Ricardo definition of rent as that which is paid to the land-owner for the use of the original indestructible powers of the soil'-(p. 143); and yet with a droll inconsistency, makes her young she-farmer, Ella, begin by paying rent only for the house and fences on her occupation, and a further rent at the end of a few years for the kelp-ground and herring-fishery attached to it; and even the rent she is ultimately charged for the land of her little farın, is expressly set down to the account of the vicinity of the sea-shore rendering it capable of fertilization by the refuse weed; so that there is not a single particle of the rent she at any time pays which can be said to arise from the original indestructible powers of the soil !' This is illustrating a definition in an odd fashion. But thus it is,—when the axioms and definitions of these political economists are tested by an application to facts, they are found not to fit above one in a hundred.
The sixth tale takes up the history of Garveloch (a rocky islet among the Hebrides) at a later period. A fishing company had established a station upon it; a fishing village had been built; and encouraged by the demand for labour thus occasioned, a considerable population had settled there from the neighbouring islands, and was rapidly increasing - herrings and bannocks being a prolific diet. This is a state of things to alarm a Malthusian;
and Ella, the Martineau of Garveloch, begins, even when the island is at the zenith of its prosperity, to quake at the anticipation of its over-population. She sees the cultivation of the islands so rapidly improving, that their produce had more than doubled in the last ten years, but she is impressed with the idea that all this time the consumers are increasing at a much quicker rate.'
oo Not double in ten years, surely ?” “ Certainly not; but say twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, or any number of years you choose ; still as the number of people doubles itself for ever, while the produce of the land does not, the people must increase faster than the produce." ' -p. 42.
This is rare logic and arithmetic, and not a little curious as natural history. A plain person, now, would have supposed, that if the produce doubled itself in ten, and the people only in a hundred years, the people would not increase quite so fast as the produce ; seeing that, at the end of the first century, the population would be multiplied but by two, the produce by one thousand and twentyfour! But these are the discoveries of genius! Why does Miss Martineau write, except to correct our mistaken notions, and expound to us the mysteries of the principle of population ?'
But what follows is yet more surprising in every way:
• If all the corn that was raised in the islands had been used for seed-corn, instead of nine-tenths of it being eaten; if all the fish had been turned into its market-price on the spot, without any expense of curing, packing, and conveying, this capital would still have doubled itself much more slowly than the number of people who were to subsist upon it!'-p. 53.
Now, since the corn sown in these islands, by the admission of the author, increases at present ten-fold in a year, it is as clear as arithmetic can make it, that if all were used for seed-corn (under the supposition proposed) it would be necessary, in order that the population should keep up only to the same rate of increase,-and putting the stock of fish out of the question—and supposing nobody to die—that every female should marry at three months old, and have twenty children at a birth! We believe the herrings multiply at some such rate; and it seems Miss Martineau thinks herring-fisherwomen must be equally prolific. A little ignorance on these ticklish topics is perhaps not unbecoming a young unmarried lady. But before such a person undertook to write books in favour of the preventive check,' she should have informed herself somewhat more accurately upon the laws of human propagation. Poor innocent! She has been puzzling over Mr. Malthus's arithmetical and geometrical ratios, for knowledge which she should have obtained by a simple question or two of her mamma.
However, However, she has a right to know better than we can what took place at Garveloch. It appears that
• Production was easy;' (in mercy to the midwives it had need to be so,) for the herrings came regularly, and the seasons had been favourable. Here, then, capital might grow, if ever, or anywhere ; and it did grow: but the demands upon it grew still faster!'
And yet, notwithstanding all these strong assertions of the increase of numbers everywhere necessarily outrunning the utmost possible increase of food—the authoress is actually obliged to have recourse to a series of deficient harvests and the disappearance of the herring-shoals from the Hebrides, in order to bring about the redundancy of population she requires for the purposes of her tale at Garveloch! It is strange she does not see that the concurrence of such casualties would have been just as destructive, or more so, at any earlier period, to the then existing population of the isles. The tendency of the improvements which, in a civilized country, accompany the increase of its population, is to diminish, not to heighten, the eyils caused by such natural casualties.
However, by calling in these extraordinary circumstances, she at length reduces the islanders to a diet of shell-fish and sea-weed: upon which Ella and her friend Katie (both matrons, we must inform the reader, lest he should be shocked at the subject of their dialogue) moralize in the following strain. Katie, be it known, a widow, loves, and is loved by Ronald, Ella's brother. But Ronald knows his duty to society too well, to think of marrying her while the principle of increase is so vigorous in Garveloch. He lives on with a broken heart, bringing up a family of nephews and nieces; and dies an old bachelor in the odour of sanctity. Katie, it will appear, is every way worthy of him.
Who thinks now of praise or blame about the act of marrying ? (said Katie.) I own that they ought. When one looks round and . sees how sin and sorrow grow where hunger prevails, one cannot think any man guiltless who overlooks the chance of his increasing the poverty of society. But how few consider this! Those who think themselves conscientious, go no farther than to consider whether they are marrying the right person. They spend no thought on the time and the manner (?) or on their duty to society. Since Providence has not made food increase as men increase, it is plain that Providence wills restraint here as in the case of other passions.'
It might as well be said, since Providence does not provide roast beef, it is plain Providence wills us to eat it raw. But we believe the notion of such dialogues, on such subjects, being held under such circumstances-between a couple of bare-legged Highland queans, on the shores of the Hebrides, and of course in the Erse dialect, was never surpassed in the dreams of Laputa. Here comes the result:
Ella and Katie, sensible and unprejudiced, and rendered quicksighted by anxiety for their children, were peculiarly qualified for seeing the truth when fairly placed before them. Their interest in Ronald, as well as in their own offspring, gave them a view of both sides of the question; and there remained not a doubt, after calculating numbers and resources, that there must be some check to the increase of the people, and that the prudential check is infinitely preferable to those of vice and misery.'--p. 95-98.
We will merely ask Miss Martineau to reconcile, if she can, these her arguments on the tendency of the labouring class to outrun the employment for them, with what she has herself urged as to the impossibility of any over-production of machinery; for example in her first tale
• Till the human race reaches its highest point of attainment, (said Mr. Stone,) there must be always something more to do; and the more power is set at liberty to do it the better. Till all the arts and sciences are exhausted, till nature has furnished the last of her resources, and man found the limit of his means of making use of them, the greatest possible supply of human labour is wanted, and it is our duty to make the utmost possible saving of it.'—No. I. p. 116.
It has always appeared to us one of the strangest inconsistencies of which the anti-populationists are guilty, that they, of all economists, are ever the loudest in crying up the advantages of every increase of inanimate machinery—in spite of its immediate effect in throwing labourers out of employment-at the same time that they decry every increase of the human machiñe, as à cause of immitigable want and woe.
The next of these philosophical romances, the Manchester Strike,' contains some well-drawn pictures of the state of the operatives in our manufacturing towns—and some useful lessons to that class, on the mischief and inutility of their strikes and turn-outs'—but has its moral marred entirely by the constant reference of the distress that arises from a temporary and local redundancy of hands, to the sinfulness of those weavers who marry without having previously ascertained that there cannot for a generation occur a stagnation of business in the cottontrade! What?—when masters occasionally advertise throughout the kingdom for several thousand fresh hands wanted' at Macclesfield or Manchester—when hordes of Irish are pouring in daily to supply the demand for labour in our great manufacturing districts—are the natives of those very districts to be told that it is their fault if labour is ever in excess ; that they have the remedy in their own hands, by refraining from matrimony: and that they neglect their duty to society by taking wives under such circumstances ? When it is notorious that in these dis
tricts the relative supply and demand for labour often oscillates from one extreme to the other within a year or two-we are to be informed by Miss Martineau,' in delicate phrase, that the labourers have the power, and they alone, by more or less of continence, to adjust the supply of labour exactly at all times to the demand! Are the interests, the existence of millions, to be thus trified with ? . Is the destiny of our industrious population to remain in the hands of men who have the imbecility to listen with reverence to such principles' as these—or the quackery to pretend to do so?
In another story, Cousin Marshall,' Miss Martineau follows up her grand principle' to its legitimate inference, the grievous abomination of poor-laws; and not of poor-laws only, but of charity in every shape,-of anything, in short, which can stand for an instant of time between the poor and that utter destitution, which this gentle philosopher expects to teach them to keep their numbers within the demand for their labour,-and which, at all events, would kill then off down to the desirable limit. If the subject were not too sadly serious, the monomania of these misogamists would be amusing. Thus
- What do you think of alms'-houses for the aged ?'- That they are very bad things. Only consider the numbers of young people that marry under the expectation of getting their helpless parents maintained by the public!
Lying-in hospitals are denounced as . causing great misery.'
• What else can be expected under so direct a bounty on improvi. dence-under so high a premium on population ?'-—p. 37.
"The gift of coals and blankets at Christmas creates more misery than it relieves.'- I reckon that every blanket given away brings two naked people, and every bushel of coals a family that wants to be warmed.'--p. 89.
Nay, the very dispensaries are accused of increasing the number of sick patients--the poor falling ill, of course, on purpose to have the pleasure of being physicked gratuitously; just as they marry with the express view of being brought to bed in an hospital, and dying in an alms-house!
It being obvious, that the reformed legislature must have their hands full of Ireland, it was considered fit and proper, that Miss Martineau, as the extra-official ally of the Angleseas and Stanleys, should visit that island. She repaired accordingly, it appears, to Dublin : sojourned in that capital for five or six weeks, seeing of course the Seven Churches, Lady Morgan, and the Vale of Avoca; and returned to Norwich, excellently qualified, not only to beat Miss Edgeworth as a delineator of Irish