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been our design to offer them a substitute for the volume itself. We have been able to present to them, in this paper, but a small portion indeed of the instruction and entertainment afforded us by Mr. Dumont: and our object has been, not to extinguish, but to stimulate their curiosity, which nothing ought to satisfy but the possession of his work. It is of no small importance, in days like these, to be made acquainted with the sentiments of one who has long been known as the devoted and intelligent friend of the human race, the worshipper of rational freedom, and the strenuous champion of truly liberal institutions, but, at the same time, as the decided adversary to all destructive empiricism. Let it be remembered that this virtuous and able man was a close spectator of what he here describes: nay, - it may truly be said that he was more than a spectator: he was sometimes an actor; he wrought, with his own hand, in the midst of the fire. After an interval of many years, he sits down to record the mature result of his experience and his reflections; and, surely, the most liberal may receive, without suspicion, the testimony of one who was a decided admirer of the grand principles of the French Revolution, though he scorned its follies and detested its excesses. Without presuming to pledge ourselves for the exact value of every opinion or sentiment he has uttered, we may, at least, venture to pronounce thus much, — that none among us can rise from the perusal of this little work, without a more ardent attachment to the institutions which our forefathers have left us; none, that is, - except those who are in the very gall of revolutionary bitterness, and the very bond of radical iniquity; none, except those who are madly bent upon destroying the noble work, or we might rather say, the sacred growth of centuries. The sound of the tempest causes the child to cling more closely to the bosom of its parent; and it is to be hoped that even a picture of its terrors may produce a similar effect on all Englishmen who yet preserve any remnant of a truly filial heart.
We have felt strongly impelled to extend this article by a selection of passages, from the work before us, which might almost be produced as predictions, or as commentaries, applicable to events which have recently passed, or are actually passing, before our eyes, - passages which, if they had been written by Dumont within these two years, might, in some quarters, be bitterly resented, as disguised censures of the hardihood of our experiments on the British Constitution. But we have been withheld by the recollection of our limited space, and by our unwillingness to tax unreasonably the patience of our readers. And, after all, it is perhaps quite as well that we should forbear. They who will consult the book for themselves will easily perceive that our aid would be quite superfluous. It would be a downright insult upon
their sagacity and common sense, to suppose that the assistance of a monitor or an expounder could be needful. The application of many parts of this work to the occurrences of the present day is quite obvious enough to force itself on the attention of all, who read with any higher view than merely to fill up the tedious vacancy
of unoccupied hours. We, therefore, are disposed to content ourselves with, once more, urgently soliciting our readers to enrich their libraries with this volume. A bundant as it is in wisdom and information, its dimensions are extremely moderate. It does not number 350 pages. It consequently has nothing in it to overpower the patience, or to alarm the frugality, of those who
may desire to possess it. And, if any further recommendation could be wanting, it will be found in the sketches which the work exhibits of various other distinguished actors in the terrible drama of the Revolution, in addition to its finished portrait of Mirabeau.
[From "The Eclectic Review for July, 1832.” A few introductory paragraphs of no particular interest are omitted.)
Art. III. – 1. On Political Economy, in Connexion with the
Moral State and Moral Prospects of Society. By Thomas
Edinburgh.* 8vo. pp. viii. 566. Price 12s. Glasgow: 1832. 2. Illustrations of Political Economy. By HARRIET MARTINEAU.
No. I. to V.f Price ls. 6d. each. London : 1832.
DR. CHALMERS may well claim a respectful hearing upon any subject, even although it may be one that may seem out of his province, or which he does not perfectly understand. If not a very profound political economist, he is what is far better, sincere philanthropist ; and if his theoretic principles are not always sound, his aims and motives are always guided by an enlightened benevolence. His practical measures for promoting the “Christian and Civil Economy” of large towns, are also admirable, and entitle liim to national gratitude. The present volume contains much that is excellent in sentiment, ingenious in argument, and eloquent in discussion. Still, it has confirmed the impression produced by the author's former writings on subjects of
[* Republished by Daniel on, New York.] [ Republished by Leonard C. Bowles, Boston.]
political economy, that his talents and turn of mind do not remarkably qualify him for such inquiries. He is by far too bold a thinker, to be trusted in matters of historical accuracy or financial calculation ; too sweeping a generalizer, to be correct in statements relating to complex subjects involving infinite details ; too apt to suffer one great idea to fill up the whole field of his intellectual vision, to the exclusion of other objects which, by being taken in, would have corrected his false perspective. The volume abounds with the most startling paradoxes, — with some positions, indeed, which, if proceeding from a writer of less eminence and unimpeachable integrity, would lead one to lay down the book with feelings bordering upon contempt. Of this description are some of his remarks on the "
economics” of the day; although we feel persuaded that nothing is further from his design, than to advocate a profligate expenditure of public money, even could he prove it to come wholly from the pockets of the landlords. But, as the Author has favored us with a synoptical view of his own economical principles, it will be but fair and proper to lay these before our readers in as compressed a form as may consist with their being made intelligible. The propositions — we cannot call them conclusions — are thirty-six in number, and as they occupy fourteen pages of the volume, we cannot of course give them entire.
Having divided the laboring population into three classes, " the agricultural
, the secondary” (i. e. manufacturing), “and “ the disposable," the Author lays it down as his first axiom, that “ the higher the standard of enjoyment is among the people at
large, the greater will be the secondary, and the less will be 56 the disposable class ; or, corresponding to this, the greater will “ be the wages, and the less will be the rent; while at the same “ time the more limited will be the cultivation." And this is followed up by position the second; "that the great aim of every “ enlightened philanthropist and patriot, is, to raise the standard “ of enjoyment, even though it should somewhat lessen the rent, “ and somewhat lessen the cultivation.” These not very intelligible initial principles rest upon the supposed “ discovery” made almost simultaneously by Sir Edward West and Mr. Malthus, with respect to the laws that regulate rent. Rent our Author conceives, is measured, though not originated, “by the difference “ between the produce of a given quantity of labor on any soil, " and the produce of the same labor on the soil that yields no “ rent” – wherever that soil may be found. Or, to state the doctrine in fewer words, the rent of good land is calculated on the rent of poor land. That the difference of quality in soils is the efficient cause of rent, Dr. Chalmers denies ; and by rejecting VOL. I. - NO. J.
this part of the modern discovery, he reduces it to a very innocent proposition, but one which hardly supports the consequences that have been raised upon it. The Author's own propositions above cited appear to be grounded on some such process of reasoning as this. The higher the standard of enjoyment is among the people at large, the more the laborer will require in the shape of wages as the remuneration for his labor; and the higher the wages of labor, the greater the expense of cultivation, and the less surplus will remain for the landlord in the shape of rent. Now good land only will, under such circumstances, pay for cultivation, and less land therefore will be cultivated. And though this may be an evil in itself, it will be counterbalanced by the good resulting from the higher standard of social enjoyment, and the additional employment thereby furnished to the manufacturing class.
If this be what Dr. Chalmers means, we cordially agree with him in thinking, that the higher the wages of agricultural labor, the better for the country, provided it only lessens rent, and does not raise the price of domestic produce too high above that which would pay for importing it. But we question whether the raising of the standard of enjoyment will ensure the effect which Dr. Chalmers ascribes to it. Many other things must be presupposed, or taken for granted, which are not here expressed. The next proposition, indeed, partially explains the Author's meaning, and qualifies it. It is this : “ That there is no other method by “ which wages can be kept permanently high, than by the opera“ tion of the moral preventive check among the working classes “ of society; and that this can only be secured by elevating their “ standard of enjoyment, through the means both of common " and Christian education.” After comforting the landlord under the “menacing aspect” of this policy, with the assurance, that there is no danger, thanks to the strength of the principle of population, but wages will be kept sufficiently low for his purpose, and cultivation be carried down, by means of improvements in husbandry, among the inferior soils sufficiently far; Dr. Chalmers affirms, in his fifth proposition, “ that it remains in the col“ lective power of laborers to sustain their wages at as high a “ level in the ultimate, as in the progressive stages of the wealth “ of a society ; that the moral preventive check on population
can achieve and perpetuate this result, but that nothing else “ will do it.” In the next two paragraphs (6. and 7.), the Author vehemently deprecates the scheme of home colonization, as one which, " if persisted in, must have its final upshot in the most “ fearful and desolating anarchy !
Now all this seems to us as loose and unsatisfactory as any statements pretending to scientific accuracy can be. What is meant by a high standard of enjoyment ? Does it imply a high state of morals, or only a state in which the artificial wants are augmented by the progress of civilization, so that the laborer requires more things for his comfort than formerly? If the latter be intended, it is obvious that the standard of enjoyment among the lower classes of this country has been raised, not by means of education, but by means of those improvements in manufacturing industry, which have brought the comforts of life within their reach. If our peasants now require shoes and stockings, and our servant maids faunt in silk gowns, it is not that education has raised the standard of enjoyment in these respects, but that silks are cheaper, and that shoes and stockings have ceased to be regarded as luxuries, and have come to be necessaries, in consequence of the low price at which they can be supplied. The standard of education is generally supposed to be higher among the barefooted peasantry of Scotland, than among the English poor : but is the standard of enjoyment higher among the former? Just the reverse. The Scotchman would contrive to live, where the Englishman would starve. To raise the standard of enjoyment among a people, nothing more is requisite than to cheapen the means of enjoyment, either by a rise of wages, or by a cheapened production of the articles of comfort. But how far the raising of that standard shall turn to the happiness of the community, must depend upon the security which the laborer has, that he shall be able to maintain the same permanent command over the comforts of life.
Again, what is meant by high wages ? Three very different things may be intended by the expression : high money wages ; high in proportion to profits and rent; and high in relation to the means of subsistence or the commodities which the labor of the workman will command. In which of these three respects is it within “ the collective power of laborers to sustain their wages at “ a high level ?” They have certainly no control over the currency. Now, during the latter half of the last century, it has been calculated that wages, estimated in money, rose a hundred per cent., while, estimated in commodities, they fell thirty-three per cent. In the year 1751, husbandry wages were 6s. per week, which was equal at that time to ninety-six pints of wheat. In 1803, they were 11s. 6d. per week, but this sum was equal to only sixty-three pints of wheat. So that wages underwent a real depreciation of thirty-three per cent., during the very time that they seemed to be constantly rising. Dr. Chalmers maintains, that “there are only two ways in which to augment the