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ing paradoxes and of "reasoning unintelligibly; but he chooses to get into a violent passion with those who have the misfortune to differ with him, and to give the very worst name, he can think of, to such as hold the distinction of productive and unproductive labour. He declares that their opinions are equally injurious to the happiness of individuals and to the public tranquillity ;--that they endanger the wisest institutions of a country :-that they are not merely unfounded, but are formed in defiance of the whole mass of facts set before us by Nature, and in direct opposition to her clearest dictates.
6C Will men,” he exclaims * never become wise? Will they never learn to look at facts with their own eyes, and to draw the conclusions that seem forced on them by common sense ? Is the case entirely hopeless? Are they resolved to insult nature in order to torment themselves ? Is it the purpose of all to attend to the unfounded theories of wrong-headed speculators, and the trashy declamations of ill designing demagogues, in order to make themselves discontented and unhappy: and to reject the sober counsels of nature, which would lead them to content and to happiness? If they will play so unwise a part, they must suffer; but nature is not to blame, she is wise and benevolent;, but they listen to wicked men or to fools.”
So much for a harmless opinion on an abstract point in political economy; and so well does it become certain writers to talk of the “trashy declamations” of Turgot, Smith, and Malthus !
In the IIId Book, which is devoted to the consideration of the « Exchanging Species of Circuland, or Money," there are some sensible remarks, and more particularly in the chapters which treat of bank paper, its uses, and its depreciation. We are decidedly of the author's opinion, that as long as bankers merely auswer the natural demand which is created by the trade of the country, no possible barm can arise from any assignable issue of notes, even although the restriction act were to be perpetuated. It is not until parsimony is forced upon a nation by the wants of government, or by the cupidity of short sighted speculators,
that credit is impaired and depreciation is rendered inevitable. But all this is trite and rapid, as being obviously intelligible and recommended too, by the opinions of sensible men. We therefore hasten to Book IV. where we breathe a different atmosphere, and walk with Mr. Gray in a region peculiarly his own.
'i'he subject 'is “ POPULATION;" and we assuré our readérs that, if Mr. Malthus häs hinted the necessity of occasionally keeping down what he called the " elastic principle,” our aư. thor recommends the most unlimited freedom of operation.
Population with him is every thing; it is wealth, hắppiness and power; and that man is to friend to his country who does not beget as many sons and daughters as a three-tailed bashaw. Let us state, in the first place, how much according to his views remains to be done in this way, before this great country can-be pronounced a happy state. We have at present a populations of about sixteen millions; but as Mr. Gray is satisfied that we could find food for five and forty millions and five hundred thousand, we have to make up, with all expedition, the supple mentary number of twenty-four millious and a half. Scotland according to the last returns, contains a little upwards of one million eight hundred thousand; but as her complement ought to be upwards of ten millions, she has still to make forthcoming, in the way of supplementary procreation, not less than eight millions and six hundred and fifty thousand beings to wear breeches or petticoats long or short.". Now, when it is taken into consideration that the northern part of this island does not nearly support or employ the number of people at present produced in it, but that thousands emigrate every year to searchi for subsistence in more favoured regions of the earth, what, we ask, would be the consequence of their nuinber being quintupled? They would spread over the empire like the locusts in the land of Egypt, covering the face of the whole earth, so that the land would be darkened, and they would eat every herb of the field and all the fruit of the trees. Our author, however, has suggested an excellent preventive against such an influx of hungry neighbours, which is, to multiply so fast ourselves that we shall have nothing to spare. England and Wales are exhorted to encrease their quota eight millions and vine hundred and seventy thousand souls; which if they are wise enough to do, we shall have, south of the Tweed, a population of nearly nineteen millions, and, of course, starvation sufficient to frighten away all visitors.
Having established it, then, as a fundamental principle in political economy, that the shortest way to get rich and happy is to secure a crowded population, Mr. Gray next bethinks himself of prescribing the most effectual means.for the speedy procreation of children. The first is, marry youug, and the next is, live on bread and water. . Among all the defecundating causes which he laas detested, there is none so determined an enemy to population as good living. If persisted in by families, its deleterious influence. he says encreases from father to son till they actually die out. It may be generally affirmed, too he remarks, that, whereas labouring with the body has a fccundating virtue, Jabouring with. ihe miud bas an influence of the opposite kind. Deep abstruse thinking, indeed much thinking of any of the
grave sorts, seems to have a strong defecundating effect. This being the case, it is rather surprising that the defecundating infuence of gravity and thoughtfulness was omitted in the tirst Book of this Essay, wherein the author handles the doctrine of sperms, as connected with thie perfectibility of the human race. Admitting, what is after all seriously to be doubted, that sperms are susceptible of improvement in their social and moral qualities, we have still to encounter the melancholy fact above-inentioned, that the number of such as might be called refined and philosophical sperms, would bear a small proportion indeed to those whose education had not been commenced at all.
It may excite a little curiosity to know by what means Mr. Gray proposes to feed the additional twenty-four millions of British subjects; when it is well known we are obliged to import, in ordinary years, to supply corn for about one thirtieth part of our present population. In the first place, he estimates what should be the number of inhabitants from the number of square miles in England, Scotland, and Ireland, respectively; and giving a square mile to so many people, he tells them to raise food on it, or be starved. He recommends, too, that government should advance money to assist in the cultivation of wastes, and then indulges in the confident anticipation of seeing all this island as rich as a Middlesex garden. But alas, how many thou
miles there in Britain which the plough or the spade can never touch! Of Scotland not more than one third could possibly be brought under cultivation, and in the more northern parts of it our author might travel a long summer's day without seeing one symptom of life, animal, or vegetable.
But we give up circuland and population, where the love of theory has led Mr. Gray into the most extravagant absurdity that has ever happened to fall under our notice, and go along with him to examine into some practical matters, 011 which he speaks with his natural good sense. We allude chiefly to his observations on the effects of an assize or maximum on the price of bread.
Among the last things that are emancipated from the shackles of legislature are the necessaries of life. The rulers of nations conceive that they may trust with safety, all trafficking in luxuries to that natural regulator of commercial transactions, the proportion which the supply hears to the demand; but they somehow imagine that without their wisdom and superintending care, the trade of eatables in the more common kinds would inevitably go wrong. It seems to be forgotten that the success and ntility of every species of commerce depend upon freedom and competi. tion, and that, in proportion as buyers and sellers are hampered by legislative interference, they are revdered incapable of doing
good to themselves or to one another. That the price of the peck-loaf should rise and fall with the price of wheat is just as much a matter of course, one would think, as that the price of boots should depend on the price of leather, or the price of a coat on that of broad cloth. Why, then, regulate the price of bread, and leave that of boots, and coats, and beef, and wine, and corn, to the natural course of trade? Because it is some way or other suspected that bakers would demand one and three pence for their loaves, when they could afford to sell them at a shilling. But why should bakers succeed in getting an exorbitant profit more than butchers, and tailors, and boot makers ? Is not their trade as open to competition as any other, and will not those who are newly 'set up in it, and who are naturally de sirous to attract customers, sell with as low a profit as possible in order to get into business. It belongs to the very nature of trade, when it is left to itself, for every one to undersell anotber until they reduce it to the very lowest profit upon which it can be maintained. Wherever there is to be had a return for money the smallest degree above the average gains of trade, in the coun: try at large, there will capital instantly flow in, and continue flowing, until a complete level be effected. It makes no difterence whether the object be to supply necessaries or to meet the demand for luxuries, whether it is to drain bogs or to manufacture lace, to bake loaves or to cut diamonds. The principle is the same, and it is found to operate, with indeviating regularity, wherever it is allowed its natural scope. Every commodity is produced not only better and cheaper, but also on terms more advantageous to bim who produces it, where the interference of the magistrate is superseded by the trader's own discernment. We could not state a stronger case in point than the subject itself to which these observations have a reference. Bread in London by means of the assize is 20 per cent higher than in any other part of the empire; and the fact admits of a .very easy explanation. In the first place, the bakers have no immediate interest in buying their flour at a low price, because, whatever be the price of it, they are certain of having a return secured by an authoritative regulation. Nay, it is sometimes their interest to have the prices of wheat and flour a little raised, because such of them as have a stock on hand are sure to profit by the rise on bread which must follow. At any rate they must be very indifferent about the price they give, for whatever the public may suffer they are certain of being reimbursed : and there can be no doubt that when the market is rising they will be rather inclined to encrease their purchases, as every ada ditional shilling on the sack will reader every sack they have
bought before it, a shilling more valuable. In the second place it is understood, says "Mr: Gray, that
« Most of the bakers in London are more or less dependent on monied millers and flour-dealers. Out of 1700 bakers in London and within the bills of Mortality, a late. Lord Mayor, whose exertions against the fraudulent transactions arising from an assize on bread were so meritorious, had occasion to consult 1200. Of these he found three fourths were under the control of the millers and factors :- and the rest acknowledged that there were frauds in making the returns. They are thus by their necessities, made the agents of the latter in overcharging the consumers, As it is immaterial to them what price they give for flour, because the magistrate fixes the
price of bread according to the rate of the former, they are thus reni dered more willing to obey their masters or creditors, and to adopt
the returns of prices which are dictated to them. To abolish the assize therefore would tend both to regulate the price more completely according to the real state of the wheat and flour market, and also to rouse, as well as in some degree to enable, a respectable and useful class of men to shake off the odious vassálage, by which they áre rendered the instruments of making fictitious returns, and of overcharging the industrious and the poor; while the unfair profits do not come into their own pockets, but go to swell the income of avaricious capitalists who tyrannize over them because they are needy."
What, then, is the great advantage of an assize that it should be continued, in defiance not only of the clearest principles of trade, but also of such striking facts as we have just detailed: Bread is 20 per cent higher in London than any where else, and though this is proved to be the effect of a regulated price, the magistrate is still called upon to fix a rate. The only shadow of reason that can be urged is the danger of a combination among the bakers to starve the metropolis, or at least to demand an ex. orbitant price for their bread : that is, the very imminent and probable hazard that 1700 tradesmen will at once become rogues and fools, and thus induce honest men to take the business out of their hands. Are such combinations so very common, in these days, among numerous bodies of dealers that they must be guarded against at so much expense as 20 per cent on the price of a necessary
of life? But if an assize be necessary to prevent undue profits why is it not extended? Why are we left to the conscience of butchers, of shoemakers, and of tailors, when returns might be had from Smithfield, from the currier and.. the clothier? Facts, however, are worth a thousand arguments; and facts prove most satisfactorily that wherever the manufacture of bread is thrown open to the natural competition of trade, there bread falls in price.