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atjhttp  :  //books  .  qooqle  .  com/ 





CUuj  of  iflfli 

Professor  of  English 
in  the 

Johns  Hopkins  University 





nmm^mwfmim^i^mm  m  iw  kwm 





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VOL.    I. 



1,  8,  akd   6   BOND    STREET. 


KF  *i*h'\ 



\  ■   A 



The  appearance  of  a  treatise  like  the  present,  on  a 
subject  on  which  so  many  works  of  merit  already 
exist,  may  be  thought  to  require  some  explanation. 

It  might  perhaps  be  sufficient  to  say,  that  no 
existing  treatise  on  Political  Economy  contains  the 
latest  improvements  which  have  been  made  in  the 
theory  of  the  subject.  Many  new  ideas,  and  new 
applications  of  ideas,  have  been  elicited  by  the  dis- 
cussions of  the  last  few  years,  especially  those  on 
Currency,  on  Foreign  Trade,  and  on  the  important 
topics  connected  more  or  less  intimately  with  Colo- 
nization: and  there  seems  reason  that  the  field  of 
Political  Economy  should  be  re-surveyed  in  its 
whole  extent,  if  only  for  the  purpose  of  incorporating 
the  results  of  these  speculations,  and  bringing  them 
into  harmony  with  the  principles  previously  laid 
down  by  the  best  thinkers  on  the  subject. 


To  supply,  however,  these  deficiencies  in  former 
treatises  bearing  a  similar  title,  is  not  the  sole,  or 
even  the  principal  object  which  the  Author  has  in 
view.  The  design  of  the  book  is  different  from  that 
of  any  treatise  on  Political  Economy  which  has  been 
produced  in  England  since  the  work  of  Adam 

The  most  characteristic  quality  of  that  work,  and 
the  one  in  which  it  most  differs  from  some  others 
which  have  equalled  or  even  surpassed  it  as  mere 
expositions  of  the  general  principles  of  the  subject,  is 
that  it  invariably  associates  the  principles  with  their 
applications.  This  of  itself  implies  a  much  wider 
range  of  ideas  and  of  topics,  than  are  included  in 
political  economy,  considered  as  a  branch  of  abstract 
speculation.  For  practical  purposes,  political  econ- 
omy is  inseparably  intertwined  with  many  other 
branches  of  social  philosophy.  Except  on  matters 
of  mere  detail,  there  are  perhaps  no  practical  ques- 
tions, even  among  those  which  approach  nearest  to 
the  character  of  purely  economical  questions,  which 
admit  of  being  decided  on  economical  premises  alone. 
And  it  is  because  Adam  Smith  never  loses  sight  of 
this  truth ;  because,  in  his  applications  of  Political 
Economy,  he  perpetually  appeals  to  other  and  often 

preface:.  5 

far  larger  considerations  than  pure  Political  Economy 
affords — that  he  gives  that  well-grounded  feeling  of 
command  over  the  principles  of  the  subject  for  pur- 
poses  of  practice,  owing  to  which  the  "  Wealth  of 
Nations ,"  alone  among  treatises  on  Political  Econ- 
omy, has  not  only  been  popular  with  general  readers, 
but  has  impressed  itself  strongly  on  the  minds  of 
men  of  the  world  and  of  legislators. 

It  appears  to  the  present  writer,  that  a  work 
similar  in  its  object  and  general  conception  to  that 
of  Adam  Smith,  but  adapted  to  the  more  extended 
knowledge  and  improved  ideas  of  the  present  age,  is 
the  kind  of  contribution  which  Political  Economy  at 
present  requires.  The  "  Wealth  of  Nations "  is  in 
many  parts  obsolete,  and  in  all,  imperfect.  Political 
Economy,  properly  so  called,  has  grown  up  almost 
from  infancy  since  the  time  of  Adam  Smith :  and  the 
philosophy  of  society,  from  which  practically  that 
eminent  thinker  never  separated  his  more  peculiar 
theme,  though  still  in  a  very  early  stage  of  its  prog- 
ress, has  advanced  many  steps  beyond  the  point  at 
which  he  left  it.  No  attempt,  however,  has  yet  been 
made  to  combine  his  practical  mode  of  treating  his 
subject  with  the  increased  knowledge  since  acquired 
of  its  theory,  or  to  exhibit  the  economical  phenomena 


of  society  in  the  relation  in  which  they  stand  to  the 
best  social  ideas  of  the  present  time,  as  he  did,  with 
such  admirable  success,  in  reference  to  the  philoso- 
phy of  his  century. 

Such  is  the  idea  which  the  writer  of  the  present 
work  has  kept  before  him.  To  succeed  even  par- 
tially in  realizing  it,  would  be  a  sufficiently  useful 
achievement,  to  induce  him  to  incur  willingly  all  the 
chances  of  failure.  It  is  requisite,  however,  to  add, 
that  although  his  object  is  practical,  and,  as  far  as 
the  nature  of  the  subject  admits,  popular,  he  has  not 
attempted  to  purchase  either  of  those  advantages  by 
the  sacrifice  of  strict  scientific  reasoning.  Though  he 
desires  that  his  treatise  should  be  more  than  a  mere 
exposition  of  the  abstract  doctrines  of  Political  Econ- 
omy, he  is  also  desirous  that  such  an  exposition 
should  be  found  in  it. 

The  present  fifth  edition  has  been  revised  through- 
out, and  the  facts,  on  several  subjects,  brought  down 
to  a  later  date  than  in  the  former  editions.  Addi' 
tional  arguments  and  illustrations  have  been  inserted 
where  they  seemed  necessary,  but  not  in  general  at 
any  considerable  length. 




Pbeldonaby  Bxmabes, •       •       •     17 



Chapter  I.     Of  the  Requisites  of  Production. 

1.  Requisites  of  production,  what,    .        .        .        .        .        .45 

2.  The  function  of  labour  defined, 47 

3.  Does  nature  contribute  more  to  the  efficacy  of  labour  in 

some  occupations  than  in  others? 49 

4.  Some  natural  agents  limited,  others  practically  unlimited,  in 

quantity, .50 

Chapter  II.     Of  Lakowr,  as  an  Agent  of  Production. 

§  1.  Labour  employed  either  directly  about  the  thing  produced, 

or  in  operations  preparatory  to  its  production,  .        ...  53 

2.  Labour  employed  in  producing  subsistence  for  subsequent 

labour, 55 

8.  —  in  producing  materials, 58 

4.  —  or  implements, •        .        .60 



5.  Labour  employed  in  the  protection  of  labour,       ...  62 

6.  —  in  the  transport  and  distribution  of  the  produce,      .        .  63 

7.  Labour  which  relates  to  human  beings,         ....  66 

8.  Labour  of  invention  and  discovery, 67 

9.  Labour  agricultural,  manufacturing,  and  commercial,    .        .  69 

Chapter  III.     Of  Unproductive  Labour. 

1.  Labour  does  not  produce  objects,  but  utilities,      ...  71 

2.  —  which  are  of  three  kinds, 78 

3.  Productive  labour  is  that  which  produces  utilities  fixed  and 

embodied  in  material  objects, 75 

4.  All  other  labour,  however  useful,  is  classed  as  unproductive  77 
6.  Productive  and  Unproductive  Consumption,          ...  80 
6.  Labour  for  the  supply  of  Productive  Consumption,  and  la- 
bour for  the  supply  of  Unproductive  Consumption,    .        .  81 

Chapter  IV.     Of  Capital. 

§  1.  Capital  is  wealth  appropriated  to  reproductive  employment,      83 

2.  More  capital  devoted  to  production  than  actually  employed 

in  it,  . 86 

3.  Examination  of  some  cases  illustrative  of  the  idea  of  Capital,      89 

Chapter  V.     Fundamental  Propositions  respecting 

§  1.  Industry  is  limited  by  Capital, 94 

2.  —  but  does  not  always  come  up  to  that  limit,       ...  96 

3.  Increase  of  capital  gives  increased  employment  to  labour, 

without  assignable  bounds, 98 

4.  Capital  is  the  result  of  saving, 101 

5.  All  capital  is  consumed, 103 

6.  Capital  is  kept  up,  not  by  preservation,  but  by  perpetual  re- 

production,          107 

7.  Why  countries  recover  rapidly  from  a  state  of  devastation,  108 

8.  Effects  of  defraying  government  expenditure  by  loans,        .  110 

9.  Demand  for  commodities  is  not  demand  for  labour,       .        .114 
10.  Fallacy  respecting  Taxation, 124 

Chaffer  VI.     Of  Circulating  and  Fixed  Capital. 


§  1.  Fixed  and  Circulating  Capital,  what, 127 

2.  Increase  of  fixed  capital,  when  at  the  expense  of  circulating, 

might  be  detrimental  to  the  labourers,      .        •        ...  180 

3.  —  this  seldom  if  ever  occurs, 134 

Chapter  VII.    On  what  depends  the  degree  of  Productive- 
ness of  Productive  Agents. 

§  1.  Land,  labour,  and  capital,  are  of  different  productiveness  at 

different  times  and  places, 189 

2.  Causes  of  superior  productiveness.    Natural  advantages,     .  140 

3.  —  greater  energy  of  labour,         ......  142 

4.  —  superior  skill  and  knowledge, 145 

5.  —  superiority  of  intelligence  and  trustworthiness  in  the  com- 

munity generally, 147 

6.  Superior  security, 152 

Chapter  VIII.    Of  Cooperation,  or  the  Combination 
of  Zabour. 

§  1.  Combination  of  Labour  a  principal  cause  of  superior  produc- 
tiveness,  ......        '.        .        .        .        .156 

2.  Effects  of  separation  of  employments  analysed,    .        .        .    159 
8.  Combination  of  labour  between  town  and  country,       .        .162 

4.  The  higher  degrees  of  the  division  of  labour,       .        .        .164 

5.  Analysis  of  its  advantages, 166 

6.  Limitations  of  the  division  of  labour, 174 

Chapter  IX,     Of  Production  on  a  large,  and 
Production  on  a  Small  Scale. 

1.  Advantages  of  the  large  system  of  production  in  manufac- 

tures,                .       .       •       .        .  176 

2.  Advantages  and  disadvantages  of  the  joint-stock  principle,  •  182 
8.  Conditions  necessary  for  the  large  system  of  production,  .  188 
4.  Large  and  small  farming  compared, 190 


Chapter  X.     Of  the  Law  of  the  Increase  of  Labour. 


§  1.  The  law  of  the  increase  of  production  depends  on  those  of 

three  elements,  Labour,  Capital,  and  Land,       .        .        .    205 

2.  The  Law  of  Population, 206 

3.  By  what  checks  the  increase  of  population  is  practically 

limited, 208 

Chapter  XI.    Of  the  Law  of  the  Increase  of  Capital. 

§  1.  Means  and  motives  to  saving,  on  what  dependent,        .        .  218 
2.  Causes  of  diversity  in  the  effective  strength  of  the  desire  of 

accumulation, 215 

8.  Examples  of  deficiency  in  the  strength  of  this  desire,  .        .  218 

4.  Exemplification  of  its  excess, 226 

Chapter  XTT.     Of  the  Law  of  the  Increase  of  Produc- 
tion from  Land. 

§  1.  The  limited  quantity  and  limited  productiveness  of  land,  the 

real  limits  to  production, 229 

2.  The  law  of  production  from  the  soil,  a  law  of  diminishing 
return  in  proportion  to  the  increased  application  of  labour 
and  capital, 280 

8.  Antagonist  principle  to  the  law  of  diminishing  return ;  the 

progress  of  improvements  in  production,  .  .    235 

Chapter  XIII.     Consequences  of  the  foregoing  Laws. 

)  1.  Remedies  when  the  limit  to  production  is  the  weakness  of 

the  principle  of  accumulation, 243 

2.  Necessity  of  restraining  population  not  confined  to  a  state  of 

inequality  of  property, .244 

8.  —  nor  superseded  by  free  trade  in  food,       ....    248 
4.  —  nor  by  emigration,  .        . 252 




Chapter  I.     Of  Property. 


§  1.  Introductory  remarks, 257 

2.  Statement  of  the  question, 259 

8.  Examination  of  Communism,        .        .        .        .        .        .  262 

4.  —  of  St.  Simonism  and  Fourierism, 271 

Chapter  II.     The  same  subject  continued. 

§  1.  The  institution  of  property  implies  freedom  of  acquisition  by 

contract, 278 

2.  —  the  validity  of  prescription, 280 

8.  —  the  power  of  bequest,  but  not  the  right  of  inheritance. 

Question  of  inheritance  examined, 281 

4.  Should  the  right  of  bequest  be  limited,  and  how  ?        .        .    287 

5.  Grounds  of  property  in  land,  different  from  those  of  prop- 

erty in  moveables,     291 

6.  —  only  valid  on  certain  conditions,  which  are  not  always 

realized.    The  limitations  considered,       .        .        .        .    293 

7.  Eights  of  property  in  abuses, 298 

Chapter  HL     Of  the  Clowes  among  whom  the 
Produce  is  distributed. 

§  1.  The  produce  sometimes  shared  among  three  classes,  .  .  801 
2.  —  sometimes  belongs  undividedly  to  one,  ....  802 
8.  —  sometimes  divided  between  two, 808 

Chapter  IV.     Of  Competition  and  Custom. 

§  1.  Competition  not  the  sole  regulator  of  the  division  of  the  prod- 
uce,           806 

2.  Influence  of  custom  on  rents,  and  on  the  tenure  of  land,     .  307 

%.  Influence  of  custom  on  prices, 810 


Chapteb  V.     Of  Slavery. 


§  1.  Slavery  considered  in  relation  to  the  slaves,  .        .        .  314 

2.  —  in  relation  to  production, 316 

3.  Emancipation  considered  in  relation  to  the  interest  of  the 

slave-owners, 318 

Chapter  VI.     Of  Peasant  Proprietors. 

§  1.  Difference  between  English  and  Continental  opinions  respect- 
ing peasant  properties, 321 

2.  Evidence  respecting  peasant  properties  in  Switzerland,         .  323 

8.  —  in  Norway, 330 

4.  —  in  Germany, 334 

6.  —  in  Belgium, 340 

6.  —  in  the  Channel  Islands, •        .  345 

7.  —  in  France, 348 

Chapter  VII.  Continuation  of  the  same  subject. 

%  1.  Influence  of  peasant  properties  in  stimulating  industry,         .  354 

2.  —  in  training  intelligence, 357 

3.  — in  promoting  forethought  and  self-control,        .        .        .  358 

4.  Their  effect  on  population, 859 

5.  —  on  the  subdivision  of  land, 370 

Chapter  VIII.     Of  Metayers. 

1.  Nature  of  the  metayer  system,  and  its  varieties,    .        .        .  876 

2.  Its  advantages  and  inconveniences, 878 

3.  Evidence  concerning  its  effects  in  different  countries,  .        .  381 

4.  Is  its  abolition  desirable  ? 393 

Chapter  IX.     Of  Cottiers. 

1.  Nature  and  operation  of  cottier  tenure,         .        .        .        .    396 

2.  In  an  overpeopled  country  its  necessary  consequence  is  nomi- 

nal rents, .    399 

3.  —  which  are  inconsistent  with  industry,  frugality,  or  re- 

straint on  population, 402 

4.  Ryot  tenancy  of  India, 404 


Chapter  X.    Means  of  abolishing  Cottier  Tenancy. 


§  1.  Irish  cottiers  should  be  converted  into  peasant  proprietors,  .    409 
2.  Inapplicability  of  this  advice  to  present  circumstances,        .    417 

Chapter  XI.     Of  Wages. 

§  1.  Wages  depend  on  the  demand  and  supply  of  labour — in  other 

words,  on  population  and  capital,      .        ...        .        .    420 

2.  Examination  of  some  popular  opinions  respecting  wages,     .    421 

3.  Gertain  rare  circumstances  excepted,  high  wages  imply  re- 

straints on  population, 428 

4.  —  which  are  in  some  cases  legal, 482 

5.  —  in  others  the  effect  of  particular  customs,        .        .        .  434 

6.  Dne  restriction  of  population  the  only  safeguard  of  a  labour- 

ing class, 487 

Chapter  XII.    Of  Popular  Remedies  for  Low  Wages. 

§  1.  A  legal  or  customary  minimum  of  wages,  with  a  guarantee  of 

employment,     .        .        . 442 

2.  —  would  require  as  a  condition,  legal  measures  for  repres- 
sion of  population,    .        . 444 

8.  Allowances  in  aid  of  wages,  .  "     .        .        .  .        .     449 

4*  The  Allotment  System,        '.        .        .        .        .        .        .461 

Chapter  XIH.     The  Remedies  for  Low  Wages  further 

§  1.  Pernicious  direction  of  public  opinion  on  the  subject  of  pop- 
ulation,  457 

2.  Grounds  for  expecting  improvement*     .....    460 

3.  Twofold  means  of  elevating  the  habits  of  the  labouring  peo- 

.  pie :  by  education, 466 

4.  —  and  by  large  measures  of  immediate  relief,  through  for- 

eign and  home  colonization,      .        .....    467 

Chapter  XIV.     Of  the  Differences  of  Wages  in 
different  Employments. 

§  1.  Differences  of  wages  arising  from  different  degrees  of  attrac- 
tiveness in  different  employments,     .  471 
3.  Differences  arising  from  natural  monopolies,         .        .        .    477 



8.  Effect  on  wages  of  a  class  of  subsidized  competitors,    .        .    482 

4.  —  of  the  competition  of  persons  with  independent  means  of 

support, 485 

5.  Wages  of  women,  why  lower  than  those  of  men,  .        .        .    489 

6.  Differences  of  wages  arising  from  restrictive  laws,  and  from 

combinations, 491 

7.  Oases  in  which  wages  are  fixed  by  custom,  .        .        .        .    492 

Chapter  XV.     Of  Profits. 

§  1.  Profits  resolvable  into  three  parts;  interest,  insurance,  and 

wages  of  superintendence, 495 

2.  The  minimum  of  profits ;  and  the  variations  to  which  it  is 

liable, 498 

3.  Differences  of  profits  arising  from  the  nature  of  the  particu- 

lar employment, 500 

4.  General  tendency  of  profits  to  an  equality,   ....  502 

5.  Profits  do  not  depend  on  prices,  nor  on  purchase  and  sale,  .  508 

6.  The  advances  of  the  capitalist  consist  ultimately  in  wages  of 

labour, 510 

7.  The  rate  of  profit  depends  on  the  Cost  of  Labour,        .        .512 

Chapter  XVI.     Of  Rent. 

§  1.  Rent  the  effect  of  a  natural  monopoly, 516 

2.  No  land  can  pay  rent  except  land  of  such  quality  or  situa- 

tion, as  exists  in  less  quantity  than  the  demand,       .        .517 

3.  The  rent  of  land  consists  of  the  excess  of  its  return  above 

the  rata™  to  the  worst  land  in  cultivation,       .        .        .519 

4.  —  or  to  ^he  capital  employed  in  the  least  advantageous  cir- 

cumstances,        521 

5.  Is  payment  for  capital  sunk  in  the  soil,  rent,  or  profit  ?         .    525 

6.  Bent  does  not  enter  into  the  cost  of  production  of  agricul- 

tural produce, 531 



Chapter  I.     Of  Value. 

§  1.  Preliminary  remarks, 535 

2.  Definitions  of  Value  in  Use,  Exchange  Value,  and  Price,     .  b37 

3.  What  is  meant  by  general  purchasing  power,        .        .        .  538 



4.  Value  a  relative  term.    A  general  rise  or  fall  of  Values  a 

contradiction, 540 

5.  The  laws  of  Value,  how  modified  in  their  application  to 

retail  transactions, 541 

Chapter  II.     Of  Demand  and  Supply,  in  their 
relation  to  Value. 

1.  Two  conditions  of  Value :   Utility,  and  Difficulty  of  Attain- 

ment,  544 

2.  Three  kinds  of  Difficulty  of  Attainment,      .        .        .        .546 

3.  Commodities  which  are  absolutely  limited  in  quantity,        .    548 

4.  Law  of  their  value,  the  Equation  of  Demand  and  Supply,    .    549 

5.  Miscellaneous  cases  falling  under  this  law,    ....    552 

Chapter  III.     Of  Cost  of  Production,  in  its  relation 
to  Value. 

§  1.  Commodities  which  are  susceptible  of  indefinite  multiplica- 
tion without  increase  of  cost.    Law  of  their  Value,  Cost 

of  Production,  .  555 

2.  —  operating  through  potential,  but  not  actual,  alterations  of 

supply, 557 

Chapter  IV.     Ultimate  Analysis  of  Cost  of  Production. 

§  1.  Principal  element  in  Cost  of  Production— Quantity  of  La- 
bour,          562 

2.  Wages  not  an  element  in  Cost  of  Production,       .        .        .    564 

3.  —  except  in  so  far  as  they  vary  from  employment  to  employ- 

ment,         566 

4.  Profits  an  element  in  Cost  of  Production,  in  so  far  as  they 

vary  from  employment  to  employment,    ....    568 

5.  —  or  are  spread  over  unequal  lengths  of  time,      .        .        .    569 

6.  Occasional  elements  in  Cost  of  Production :    taxes,  and 

scarcity  value  of  materials,       .        .        .        .        .        .    573 

Chapter  V.     Of  Pent,  in  its  Relation  to  Value. 

§  1.  Commodities  which  are  susceptible  of  indefinite  multiplica- 
tion, but  not  without  increase  of  cost.    Law  of  their 



Value,  Cost  of  Production  in  the  most  unfavourable  exist- 
ing circumstances, •        .  577 

2.  Such  commodities,  when  produced  in  circumstances  more  fa- 
vourable, yield  a  rent  equal  to  the  difference  of  cost,       .  580 
8.  Eent  of  mines  and  fisheries,  and  ground-rent  of  buildings,   .  588 
4.  Gases  of  extra  profit  analogous  to  rent,         ....  585 

Chapter  VI.    Swhmary  of  the  Theory  of  Value. 

§  1.  The  theory  of  Value  recapitulated  in  a  series  of  proposi- 
tions, .        .        .        .        .        ...        .        .        .    588 

.  2.  How  modified  by  the  case  of  labourers  cultivating  for  sub- 
sistence,  501 

8.  —  by  the  case  of  slave  labour, 598 


Substance  of  three  articles  in  the  Morning  Chronicle  of  11th, 
18th,  and  16th  January,  1847,  in  reply  to  MM.  Mounier 
and  Rubichon  and  to  the  Quarterly  Review,  on  the  Sub- 
division of  Landed  Property  in  France,    .        •        .        .    597 




In  every  department  of  human  affairs,  Practice  long 
precedes  Science:  systematic  enquiry  into  the  modes  of 
action  of  the  powers  of  nature,  is  the  tardy  product  of  a 
long  course  of  efforts  to  use  those  powers  for  practical  ends. 
The  conception,  accordingly,  of  Political  Economy  as  a 
branch  of  science,  is  extremely  modern ;  but  the  subject 
with  which  its  enquiries  are  conversant  has  in  all  ages 
necessarily  constituted  one  of  the  chief  practical  interests  of 
mankind,  and,  in  some,  a  most  unduly  engrossing  one. 

That  subject  is  Wealth.  Writers  on  Political  Economy 
profess  to  teach,  or  to  investigate,  the  nature  of  Wealth,  and 
the  laws  of  its  production  and  distribution:  including, 
directly  or  remotely,  the  operation  of  all  the  causes  by 
which  the  condition  of  mankind,  or  of  any  society  of  human 
beings,  in  respect  to  this  universal  object  of  human  desire, 
is  made  prosperous  or  the  reverse.  Not  that  any  treatise 
on  Political  Economy  can  discuss  or  even  enumerate  all 
these  causes ;  but  it  undertakes  to  set  forth  as  much  as  is 
known  of  the  laws  and  principles  according  to  which  they 


Every  one  has  a  notion,  sufficiently  correct  for  common 
purposes,  of  what  is  meant  by  wealth.  The  enquiries  which 
relate  to  it  are  in  no  danger  of  being  confounded  with  those 
relating  to  any  other  of  the  great  human  interests.  All 
know  that  it  is  one  thing  to  be  rich,  another  thing  to  be 
enlightened,  brave,  or  humane;  that  the  questions  how  a 
nation  is  made  wealthy,  and  how  it  is  made  free,  or  vir- 
tuous, or  eminent  in  literature,  in  the  fine  arts,  in  arms,  or 
in  polity,  are  totally  distinct  enquiries.  Those  things, 
indeed,  are  all  indirectly  connected,  and  react  upon  one 
another.  A  people  has  sometimes  become  free,  because  it 
had  first  grown  wealthy ;  or  wealthy,  because  it  had  first 
become  free.  The  creed  and  laws  of  a  people  act  power- 
fully upon  their  economical  condition ;  and  this  again,  by 
its  influence  on  their  mental  development  and  social  rela- 
tions, reacts  upon  their  creed  and  laws.  But  though  the 
subjects  are  in  very  close  contact,  they  are  essentially 
different,  and  have  never  been  supposed  to  be  otherwise. 

It  is  no  part  of  the  design  of  this  treatise  to  aim  at  meta: 
physical  nicety  of  definition,  where  the  ideas  suggested  by  a 
term  are  already  as  determinate  as  practical  purposes  re- 
quire. But,  little  as  it  might  be  expected  that  any  mis- 
chievous confiision  of  ideas  could  take  place  on  a  subject  so 
simple  as  the  question,  what  is  to  be  considered  as  wealth, 
it  is  matter  of  history  that  such  confusion  of  ideas  has  ex- 
isted— that  theorists  and  practical  politicians  have  been 
equally,  and  at  one  period  universally,  infected  by  it,  and 
that  for  many  generations  it  gave  a  thoroughly  false  direc- 
tion to  the  policy  of  Europe.  I  refer  to  the  set  of  doctrines 
designated,  since  the  time  of  Adam  Smith,  by  the  appella- 
tion of  the  Mercantile  System. 

While  this  system  prevailed,  it  was  assumed,  either  ex- 
pressly or  tacitly,  in  the  whole  policy  of  nations,  that  wealth 
consisted  solely  of  money ;  or  of  the  precious  metals,  which, 
when  not  already  in  the  state  of  money,  are  capable  of  being 
directly  converted  into  it.  According  to  the  doctrines  then 
prevalent,  whatever  tended  to  heap  up  money  or  bullion  in 


a  country  added  to  its  wealth.  Whatever  sent  the  precious 
metals  out  of  a  country  impoverished  it.  If  a  country  pos- 
sessed no  gold  or  silver  mines,  the  only  industry  by  which 
it  could  be  enriched  was  foreign  trade,  being  the  only  one 
which  could  bring  in  money.  Any  branch  of  trade  which 
was  supposed  to  send  out  more  money  than  it  brought  in, 
however  ample  and  valuable  might  be  the  returns  in  another 
shape,  was  looked  upon  as  a  losing  trade.  Exportation  of 
goods  was  favoured  and  encouraged  (even  by  means  ex- 
tremely onerous  to  the  real  resources  of  the  country),  be- 
cause, the  exported  goods  being  stipulated  to  be  paid  for  in 
money,  it  was  hoped  that  the  returns  would  "actually  be 
made  in  gold  and  silver.  Importation  of  anything,  other 
than  the  precious  metals,  was  regarded  as  a  loss  to  the  nation 
of  the  whole  price  of  the  things  imported ;  unless  they  were 
brought  in  to  be  re-exported  at  a  profit,  or  unless,  being  the 
materials  or  instruments  of  some  industry  practised  in  the 
country  itself,  they  gave  the  power  of  producing  exportable 
articles  at  smaller  cost,  and  thereby  effecting  a  larger  ex- 
portation. The  commerce  of  the  world  was  looked  upon  as 
a  struggle  among  nations,  which  could  draw  to  itself  the 
largest  share  of  the  gold  and  silver  in  existence ;  and  in  thiB 
competition  no  nation  could  gain  anything,  except  by 
making  others  lose  as  much,  or,  at  the  least,  preventing 
them  from  gaining  it. 

It  often  happens  that  the  universal  belief  of  one  age  of 
mankind — a  belief  from  which  no  one  was,  nor  without  an 
extraordinary  effort  of  genius  and  courage,  could  at  that  time 
be  free — becomes  to  a  subsequent  age  so  palpable  an  absurd- 
ity, that  the  only  difficulty  then  is  to  imagine  how  such  a 
thing  can  ever  have  appeared  credible.  It  has  so  happened 
with  the  doctrine  that  money  is  synonymous  with  wealth. 
The  conceit  seems  too  preposterous  to  be  thought  of  as  a 
serious  opinion.  It  looks  like  one  of  the  crude  fancies  of 
childhood,  instantly  corrected  by  a  word  from  any  grown 
person.  But  let  no  one  feel  confident  that  he  should  have 
escaped  the  delusion  if  he  had  lived  at  the  time  when  it  pre- 


vailed.  All  the  associations  engendered  by  common  life> 
and  by  the  ordinary  course  of  business,  concurred  in  favour- 
ing it.  So  long  as  those  associations  were  the  only  medium 
through  which  the  subject  was  looked  at,  what  we  now 
think  so  gross  an  absurdity  seemed  a  truism.  Once  ques- 
tioned, indeed,  it  was  doomed;  but  no  one  was  likely  to 
think  of  questioning  it  whose  mind  had  not  become  familiar 
with  certain  modes  of  stating  and  of  contemplating  econom- 
ical phenomena,  which  have  only  found  their  way  into  the 
general  understanding  through  the  influence  of  Adam  Smith 
and  of  his  expositors. 

In  common  discourse,  wealth  is  always  expressed  in 
money.  If  you  ask  how  rich  a  person  is,  you  are  answered 
that  he  has  so  many  thousand  pounds.  All  income  and 
expenditure,  all  gains  and  losses,  everything  by  which  one 
becomes  richer  or  poorer,  are  reckoned  as  the  coining  in  or 
going  out  of  so  much  money.  It  is  true  that  in  the  in- 
ventory of  a  person's  fortune  are  included,  not  only  the 
money  in  his  actual  possession,  or  due  to  him,  but  all  other 
articles  of  value.  These,  however,  enter,  not  in  their  own 
character,  but  in  virtue  of  the  sums  of  money  which  they 
would  sell  for ;  and  if  they  would  sell  for  less,  their  owner 
is  reputed  less  rich,  though  the  things  themselves  are  pre- 
cisely the  same.  It  is  true,  also,  that  people  do  not  grow 
rich  by  keeping  their  money  unused,  and  that  they  must  be 
willing  to  spend  in  order  to  gain.  Those  who  enrich  them- 
selves by  commerce,  do  so  by  giving  money  for  goods  as 
well  as  goods  for  money ;  and  the  first  is  as  necessary  a  part 
of  the  process  as  the  last.  But  a  person  who  buys  goods  for 
purposes  of  gain,  does  so  to  sell  them  again  for  money,  and 
in  the  expectation  of  receiving  more  money  than  he  laid 
out :  to  get  money,  therefore,  seems  even  to  the  person  him- 
self the  ultimate  end  of  the  whole.  It  often  happens  that 
he  is  not  paid  in  money,  but  in  something  else;  having 
bought  goods  to  a  value  equivalent,  which  are  set  off  against 
those  he  sold.  But  he  accepted  these  at  a  money  valuation, 
and  in  the  belief  that  they  would  bring  in  more  money 


eventually  than  the  price  at  which  they  were  made  over  to 
him.  A  dealer  doing  a  large  amount  of  business,  and  turn- 
ing over  his  capital  rapidly,  has  but  a  small  portion  of  it  in 
ready  money  at  any  one  time.  But  he  only  feels  it  valuable 
to  him  as  it  is  convertible  into  money:  he  considers  no 
transaction  closed  until  the  net  result  is  either  paid  or  cred- 
ited in  money:  when  he  retires  from  business  it  is  into 
money  that  he  converts  the  whole,  and  not  until  then  does 
he  deem  himself  to  have  realized  his  gains :  just  as  if  money 
were  the  only  wealth,  and  money's  worth  were  only  the 
means  of  attaining  it.  If  it  be  now  asked  for  what  end 
money  is  desirable,  unless  to  supply  the  wants  or  pleasures 
of  oneself  or  others,  the  champion  of  the  system  would  not 
be  at  all  embanrassed  by  the  question.  True,  he  would  say, 
these  are  the  uses  of  wealth,  and  very  laudable  uses  while 
confined  to  domestic  commodities,  because  in  that  case,  by 
exactly  the  amount  which  you  expend,  you  enrich  others  of 
your  countrymen.  Spend  your  wealth,  if  you  please,  in 
whatever  indulgences  you  have  a  taste  for ;  but  your  wealth 
is  not  the  indulgences,  it  is  the  sum  of  money,  or  the  annual 
money  income,  with  which  you  purchase  them. 

While  there  were  so  many  things  to  render  the  assump- 
tion which  is  the  basiB  of  the  mercantile  system  plausible, 
there  is  also  some  small  foundation  in  reason,  though  a  very 
insufficient  one,  for  the  distinction  which  that  system  so 
emphatically  draws  between  money  and  eve»*v  other  kind 
of  valuable  possession.  We  really,  and  justly,  look  upon  a 
person  as  possessing  the  advantages  of  wealth,  not  in  propor- 
tion to  the  useful  and  agreeable  things  of  which  he  is  in  the 
actual  enjoyment,  but  to  his  command  over  the  general  fond 
of  things  useful  and  agreeable;  the  power  he  possesses  of 
providing  for  any  exigency,  or  obtaining  any  object  of 
desire.  Now,  money  is  itself  that  power ;  while  all  other 
things,  in  a  civilized  state,  seem  to  confer  it  only  by  their 
capacity  of  being  exchanged  for  money.  To  possess  any 
other  article  of  wealth,  is  to  possess  that  particular  thing, 
and  nothing  else :  if  you  wish  for  another  thing  instead  of 


it,  you  have  first  to  sell  it,  or  to  submit  to  the  inconvenience 
and  delay  (if  not  the  impossibility)  of  finding  some  one  who 
has  what  you  want,  and  is  willing  to  barter  it  for  what  you 
have.  But  with  money  you  are  at  once  able  to  buy  what- 
ever things  are  for  sale ;  and  one  whose  fortune  is  in  money, 
or  in  things  rapidly  convertible  into  it,  seems  both  to  him- 
self and  others  to  possess  not  any  one  thing,  but  all  the 
things  which  the  money  places  it  at  his  option  to  purchase. 
The  greatest  part  of  the  utility  of  wealth,  beyond  a  very 
moderate  quantity,  is  not  the  indulgences  it  procures,  but 
the  reserved  power  which  its  possessor  holds  in  his  hands  of 
attaining  purposes  generally ;  and  this  power  no  other  kind 
of  wealth  confers  so  immediately  or  so  certainly  as  money. 
It  is  the  only  form  of  wealth  which  is  not  merely  applicable 
to  some  one  use,  but  can  be  turned  at  once  to  any  use.  And 
this  distinction  was  the  more  likely  to  make  an  impression 
upon  governments,  as  it  is  one  of  considerable  importance 
to  them.  A  civilized  government  derives  comparatively 
little  advantage  from  taxes  unless  it  can  collect  them  in 
money :  and  if  it  has  large  or  sudden  payments  to  mpke, 
especially  payments  in  foreign  countries  for  wars  or  subsi- 
dies, either  for  the  sake  of  conquering  or  of  not  being  con- 
quered (the  two  chief  objects  of  national  policy  until  a  late 
period),  scarcely  any  medium  of  payment  except  money  will 
serve  the  purpose.  All  these  causes  conspire  to  make  both 
individuals  and  governments,  in  estimating  their  means, 
attach  almost  exclusive  importance  to  money,  either  in  esse 
or  in  posse,  and  look  upon  all  other  things  (when  viewed  as 
part  of  their  resources)  scarcely  otherwise  than  as  the  re- 
mote means  of  obtaining  that  which  alone,  when  obtained, 
affords  the  indefinite,  and  at  the  same  time  instantaneous, 
command  over  objects  of  desire,  which  best  answers  to  the 
idea  of  wealth. 

An  absurdity,  however,  does  not  cease  to  be  an  absurd- 
ity when  we  have  discovered  what  were  the  appearances 
which  made  it  plausible ;  and  the  Mercantile  Theory  could 
not  fail  to  be  seen  in  its  true  character  when  men  began, 


even  in  an  imperfect  manner,  to  explore  into  the  founda- 
tions of  things,  and  seek  their  premises  from  elementary 
facts,  and  not  from  the  forms  and  phrases  of  common  dis- 
course. So  soon  as  they  asked  themselves  what  is  really 
meant  by  money — what  it  is  in  its  essential  characters,  and 
the  precise  nature  of  the  functions  it  performs — they  reflect- 
ed that  money,  like  other  things,  is  only  a  desirable  posses- 
sion on  account  of  its  uses ;  and  that  these,  instead  of  being, 
as  they  delusively  appear,  indefinite,  are  of  a  strictly  defined 
and  limited  description,  namely,  to  facilitate  the  distribution 
of  the  produce  of  industry  jaccording  to  the  convenience  of 
those  among  whom  it  is  shared.  Further  consideration 
showed  that  the  uses  of  money  are  in  no  respect  promoted 
by  increasing  the  quantity  which  exists  and  circulates  in  a 
country ;  the  service  which  it  performs  being  as  well  ren- 
dered by  a  small  as  by  a  large  aggregate  amount.  Two 
million  quarters  of  corn  will  not  feed  so  many  persons  as 
four  millions  ;  but  two  millions  of  pounds  sterling  will  carry 
on  as  much  traffic,  will  buy  and  sell  as  many  commodities, 
as  fpur  millions,  though  at  lower  nominal  prices.  Money, 
as  money,  satisfies  no  want ;  its  worth  to  any  one,  consists 
in  its  being  a  convenient  shape  in  which  to  receive  his 
incomings  of  all  sorts,  which  incomings  he  afterwards,  at 
the  times  which  suit  him  best,  converts  into  the  forms  in 
which  they  can  be  useful  to  him.  The  difference  between 
a  country  with  money,  and  a  country  altogether  without  it, 
would  be  only  one  of  convenience ;  a  saving  of  time  and 
trouble,  like  grinding  by  water  instead  of  by  hand,  or  (to 
use  Adam  Smith's  illustration)  like  the  benefit  derived  from 
roads ;  and  to  mistake  money  for  wealth,  is  the  same  sort  of 
error  as  to  mistake  the  highway  which  may  be  the  easiest 
way  of  getting  to  your  house  or  lands,  for  the  house  and 
lands  themselves. 

Money,  being  the  instrument  of  an  important  public  and 
private  purpose,  is  rightly  regarded  as  wealth ;  but  every- 
thing else  which  serves  any  human  purpose,  and  which 
nature  does  not  afford  gratuitously,  is  wealth  also.    To  be 


wealthy  is  to  have  a  large  stock  of  useful  articles,  or  the 
means  of  purchasing  them.  Everything  forms  therefore  a 
part  of  wealth,  which  has  a  power  of  purchasing ;  for  which 
anything  useful  or  agreeable  would  be  given  in  exchange. 
Things  for  which  nothing  could  be  obtained  in  exchange, 
however  useful  or  necessary  they  may  be,  are  not  wealth  in 
the  sense  in  which  the  term  is  used  in  Political  Economy. 
Air,  for  example,  though  the  most  absolute  of  necessaries, 
bears  no  price  in  the  market,  because  it  can  be  obtained 
gratuitously ;  to  accumulate  a  stock  of  it  would  yield  no 
profit  or  advantage  to  any  one ;  and  the  laws  of  its  produc- 
tion and  distribution  are  the  subject  of  a  very  different  study 
from  Political  Economy.  But  though  air  is  not  wealth, 
mankind  are  much  richer  by  obtaining  it  gratis,  since  the 
time  and  labour  which  would  otherwise  be  required  for  sup- 
plying the  most  pressing  of  all  wants,  can  be  devoted  to 
other  purposes.  It  is  possible  to  imagine  circumstances  in 
which  air  would  be  a  part  of  wealth.  If  it  became  custom- 
ary to  sojourn  long  in  places  where  the  air  does  not  natu- 
rally penetrate,  as  in  diving-bells  sunk  in  the  sea,  a  supply 
of  air  artificially  furnished  would,  like  water  conveyed  into 
houses,  bear  a  price :  and  if  from  any  revolution  in  nature 
the  atmosphere  became  too  scanty  for  the  consumption,  or 
could  be  monopolized,  air  might  acquire  a  very  high  market- 
able value.  In  such  a  case,  the  possession  of  it,  beyond  his 
own  wants,  would  be,  to  its  owner,  wealth ;  and  the  general 
wealth  of  mankind  might  at  first  sight  appear  to  be  in- 
creased, by  what  would  be  so  great  a  calamity  to  them. 
The  error  would  lie  in  not  considering,  that  however  rich 
the  possessor  of  air  might  become  at  the  expense  of  the  rest 
of  the  community,  all  persons  else  would  be  poorer  by  all 
that  they  were  compelled  to  pay  for  what  they  had  before 
obtained  without  payment. 

This  leads  to  an  important  distinction  in  the  meaning  of 
the  word  wealth,  as  applied  to  the  possessions  of  an  individ- 
ual, and  to  those  of  a  nation,  or  of  mankind.  In  the  wealth 
of  mankind,  nothing  is  included  which  does  not  of  itself 


answer  some  purpose  of  utility  or  pleasure.  To  an  individu- 
al, anything  is  wealth,  which,  though  useless  in  itself,  en- 
ables him  to  claim  from  others  a  part  of  their  stock  of 
things  useful  or  pleasant.  \  Take,  for  instance,  a  mortgage 
of  a  thousand  pounds  on  a  landed  estate.  This  is  wealth  to 
the  person  to  whom  it  brings  in  a  revenue,  and  who  could 
perhaps  sell  it  in  the  market  for  the  full  amount  of  the  debt. 
But  it  is  not  wealth  to  the  country  ;  if  the  engagement  were 
annulled,  the  country  would  be  neither  poorer  nor  richer. 
The  mortgagee  would  have  lost  a  thousand  pounds,  and  the 
owner  of  the  land  would  have  gained  it.  Speaking  nation- 
ally, the  mortgage  was  not  itself  wealth,  but  merely  gave  A 
a  claim  to  a  portion  of  the  wealth  of  B.  It  was  wealth  to  A, 
and  wealth  which  he  could  transfer  to  a  third  person  ;  but 
what  he  so  transferred  was  in  fact  a  joint  ownership,  to  the 
extent  of  a  thousand  pounds,  in  the  land  of  which  B  was 
nominally  the  sole  proprietor.  The  position  of  fundholders, 
or  owners  of  the  public  debt  of  a  country,  is  similar.  They 
are  mortgagees  on  the  general  wealth  of  the  country.  The 
cancelling  of  the  debt  would  be  no  destruction  of  wealth, 
but  a  transfer  of  it :  a  wrongful  abstraction  of  wealth  from 
certain  members  of  the  community,  for  the  profit  of  the 
government,  or  of  the  tax-payers.  Funded  property  there- 
fore cannot  be  counted  as  part  of  the  national  wealth.  This 
is  not  always  borne  in  mind  by  the  dealers  in  statistical  cal- 
culations. For  example,  in  estimates  of  the  gross  income 
of  the  country,  founded  on  the  proceeds  of  the  income  tax, 
incomes  derived  from  the  funds  are  not  always  excluded : 
though  the  tax-payers  are  assessed  on  their  whole  nominal 
income,  without  being  permitted  to  deduct  from  it  the  por- 
tion levied  from  them  in  taxation  to  form  the  income  of  the 
fundholder.  In  this  calculation,  therefore,  one  portion  of  the 
general  income  of  the  country  is  counted  twice  over,  and 
the  aggregate  amount  made  to  appear  greater  than  it  is  by 
almost  thirty  millions.  A  country,  however,  may  include  in 
its  wealth  all  stock  held  by  its  citizens  in  the  funds  of  for- 
eign countries,  and  other  debts  due  to  them  from  abroad. 


But  even  this  is  only  wealth  to  them  by  being  a  part  owner- 
ship in  wealth  held  by  others.  It  forms  no  part  of  the  col- 
lective wealth  of  the  human  race.  It  is  an  element  in  the 
distribution,  but  not  in  the  composition,  of  the  general 
wealth.  \ 

It  has  been  proposed  to  define  wealth  as  signifying  "  in- 
struments : "  meaning  not  tools  and  machinery  alone,  but 
the  whole  accumulation  possessed  by  individuals  or  commu- 
nities, of  means  for  the  attainment  of  their  ends.  Thus,  a 
field  is  an  instrument,  because  it  is  a  means  to  the  attain- 
ment of  corn.  Corn  is  an  instrument,  being  a  means  to  the 
attainment  of  flour.  Flour  is  an  instrument,  being  a  means 
to  the  attainment  of  bread.  Bread  is  an  instrument,  as  a 
means  to  the  satisfaction  of  hunger  and  to  the  support  of 
life.  Here  we  at  last  arrive  at  things  which  are  not  instru- 
ments, being  desired  on  their  own  account,  and  not  as  mere 
means  to  something  beyond.  This  view  of  the  subject  is 
philosophically  correct ;  or  rather,  this  mode  of  expression 
may  be  usefully  employed  along  with  others,  not  as  convey- 
ing a  different  view  of  the  subject  from  the  common  one, 
but  as  giving  more  distinctness  and  reality  to  the  common 
view.  It  departs,  however,  too  widely  from  the  custom  of 
language,  to  be  likely  to  obtain  general  acceptance,  or  to  be 
of  use  for  any  other  purpose  than  that  of  occasional  illus- 

Wealth,  then,  may  be  defined,  all  useful  or  agreeable 
things  which  possess  exchangeable  value ;  or,  in  other 
words,  all  useful  or  agreeable  things  except  those  which  can 
be  obtained,  in  the  quantity  desired,  without  labour  or 
sacrifice.  To  this  definition,  the  only  objection  seems  to  be, 
that  it  leaves  in  uncertainty  a  question  which  has  been 
much  debated — whether  what  are  called  immaterial  prod- 
ucts are  to  be  considered  as  wealth  :  whether,  for  example, 
the  skill  of  a  workman,  or  any  other  natural  or  acquired 
power  of  body  or  mind,  shall  be  called  wealth,  or  not :  a 
question,  not  of  very  great  importance,  and  which,  so  far  a? 


requiring  discussion,  will  be  more  conveniently  considered 
in  another  place.* 

These  things  having  been  premised  respecting  wealth, 
we  shall  next  turn  our  attention  to  the  extraordinary  dif- 
ferences in  respect  to  it,  which  exist  between  nation  and 
nation,  and  between  different  ages  of  the  world ;  differences 
both  in  the  quantity  of  wealth,  and  in  the  kind  of  it ;  as 
well  as  in  the  manner  in  which  the  wealth  existing  in  the 
community  is  shared  among  its  members. 

There  is,  perhaps,  no  people  or  community,  now  exist- 
ing, which  subsists  entirely  on  the  spontaneous  produce  of 
vegetation.  But  many  tribes  still  live  exclusively,  or  almost 
exclusively,  on  wild  animals,  the  produce  of  hunting  or  fish- 
ing. Their  clothing  is  skins ;  their  habitations,  huts  rudely 
formed  of  logs  or  boughs  of  trees,  and  abandoned  at  an 
hour's  notice.  The  food  they  use  being  little  susceptible  of 
storing  up,  they  have  no  accumulation  of  it,  and  are  often 
exposed  to  great  privations.  The  wealth  of  such  a  commu- 
nity consists  solely  of  the  skins  they  wear;  a  few  orna- 
ments, the  taste  for  which  exists  among  most  savages ;  some 
rude  utensils  ;  the  weapons  with  which  they  kill  their  game, 
or  fight  against  hostile  competitors  for  the  means  of  subsist- 
ence ;  canoes  for  crossing  rivers  and  lakes,  or  fishing  in  the 
sea ;  and  perhaps  some  furs  or  other  productions  of  the  wil- 
derness, collected  to  be  exchanged  with  civilized  people  for 
blankets,  brandy,  and  tobacco ;  of  which  foreign  produce 
also  there  may  be  6ome  unconsumed  portion  in  store.  To 
this  scanty  inventory  of  material  wealth,  ought  to  be  added 
their  land ;  an  instrument  of  production  of  which  they  make 
slender  use,  compared  with  more  settled  communities,  but 
which  is  still  the  source  of  their  subsistence,  and  which  has 
a  marketable  value  if  there  be  any  agricultural  community 
in  the  neighbourhood  requiring  more  land  than  H  pqssess^ 
This  is  the  state  of  greatest  poverty  in  which  any  entire  com- 
munity of  human  beings  is  known  tp,  exist ;  though  there 

"  : rrrrT-r— — rr — -.      i    t      -  -  ■• 

*  Infra,  book  i.  qhap.  iii. 


are  much  richer  communities  in  which  portions  of  the  in- 
habitants are  in  a  condition,  as  to  subsistence  and  comfort, 
as  little  enviable  as  that  of  the  savage. 

The  first  great  advance  beyond  this  state  consists  in  the 
domestication  of  the  more  useful  animals  ;  giving  rise  to  the 
pastoral  or  nomad  state,  in  which  mankind  do  not  live  on 
the  produce  of  hunting,  but  on  milk  and  its  products,  and 
on  the  animal  increase  of  flocks  and  herds.  This  condition 
is  not  only  more  desirable  in  itself,  but  more  conducive  to 
further  progress ;  and  a  much  more  considerable  amount  of 
wealth  is  accumulated  under  it.  So  long  as  the  vast  natural 
pastures  of  the  earth  are  not  yet  so  fully  occupied  as  to  be 
consumed  more  rapidly  than  they  are  spontaneously  repro- 
duced, a  large  and  constantly  increasing  stock  of  subsistence 
may  be  collected  and  preserved,  with  little  other  labour  than 
that  of  guarding  the  cattle  from  the  attacks  of  wild  beasts, 
and  from  the  force  or  wiles  of  predatory  men.  Large  flocks 
and  herds,  therefore,  are  in  time  possessed,  by  active  and 
thrifty  individuals  through  their  own  exertions,  and  by  the 
heads  of  families  and  tribes  through  the  exertions  of  those 
who  are  connected  with  them  by  allegiance.  There  thus 
arises,  in  the  shepherd  state,  inequality  of  possessions ;  a 
thing  which  scarcely  exists  in  the  savage  state,  where  no 
one  has  much  more  than  absolute  necessaries,  and  in  case 
of  deficiency  must  share  even  those  with  his  tribe.  In  the 
nomad  state,  some  have  an  abundance  of  cattle,  sufficient 
for  the  food  of  a  multitude,  while  others  have  not  contrived 
to  appropriate  and  retain  any  superfluity,  or  perhaps  any 
cattle  at  all.  But  subsistence  has  ceased  to  be  precarious, 
since  the  more  successful  have  no  other  use  which  they  can 
make  of  their  surplus  than  to  feed  the  less  fortunate,  while 
every  increase  in  the  number  of  persons  connected  with 
them  is  an  increase  both  of  security  and  of  power :  and  thus 
they  are  enabled  to  divest  themselves  of  all  labour  except 
that  of  government  and  superintendence,  and  acquire  de- 
pendents to  fight  for  them  in  war  and  to  serve  them  in 
peace.     One  of  the  features  of  this  state  of  society  is,  that  a 


part  of  the  community,  and  in  some  degree  even  the  whole 
of  it,  possess  leisure.  Only  a  portion  of  time  is  required  for 
procuring  food,  and  the  remainder  is  not  engrossed  by 
anxious  thought  for  the  morrow,  or  necessary  repose  from 
muscular  activity.  Such  a  life  is  highly  favourable  to  the 
growth  of  new  wants,  and  opens  a  possibility  of  their  grati- 
fication. A  desire  arises  for  better  clothing,  utensils,  and 
implements,  than  the  savage  state  contents  itself  with ;  and 
the  surplus  food  renders  it  practicable  to  devote  to  these 
purposes  the  exertions  of  a  part  of  the  tribe.  In  all  or  most 
nomad  communities  we  find  domestic  manufactures  of  a 
coarse,  and  in  some,  of  a  fine  kind.  There  is  ample  evi- 
dence that  while  those  parts  of  the  world  which  have  been 
the  cradle  of  modern  civilization  were  still  generally  in  the 
nomad  state,  considerable  skill  had  been  attained  in  spin- 
ning, weaving,  and  dyeing  woollen  garments,  in  the  prep- 
aration of  leather,  and  in  what  appears  a  still  more  difficult 
invention,  that  of  working  in  metals.  Even  speculative 
science  took  its  first  beginnings  from  the  leisure  character- 
istic of  this  stage  of  social  progress.  The  earliest  astronom- 
ical observations  are  attributed,  by  a  tradition  which  has 
much  appearance  of  truth,  to  the  shepherds  of  Chaldsea. 

From  this  state  of  society  to  the  agricultural  the  transi- 
tion is  not  indeed  easy,  (for  no  great  change  in  the  habits 
of  mankind  is  otherwise  than  difficult,  and  in  general  either 
painful  or  very  slow,)  but  it  lies  in  what  may  be  called  the 
spontaneous  conrse  of  events.  The  growth  of  the  popula- 
tion of  men  and  cattle  began  in  time  to  press  upon  the 
earth's  capabilities  of  yielding  natural  pasture:  and  this 
cause  doubtless  produced  the  first  tilling  of  the  ground,  just 
as  at  a  later  period  the  same  cause  made  the  superfluous 
hordes  of  the  nations  which  had  remained  nomad  precipi- 
tate themselves  upon  those  which  had  already  become  agri- 
cultural ;  until,  these  having  become  sufficiently  powerful  to 
repel  such  inroads,  the  invading  nations,  deprived  of  this  out- 
let, were  obliged  also  to  become  agricultural  communities. 

But  after  this  great  step  had  been  completed,  the  subse- 


quent  progress  of  mankind  seems  by  no  means  to  have  been 
so  rapid  (certain  rare  combinations  of  circumstances  except- 
ed) as  might  perhaps  have  been  anticipated.  Hie  quantity 
of  human  food  which  the  earth  is  capable  of  returning  even 
to  the  most  wretched  system  of  agriculture,  so  much  exceeds 
what  could  be  obtained  in  the  purely  pastoral  state,  that  a 
great  increase  of  population  is  invariably  the  result.  But 
this  additional  food  is  only  obtained  by  a  great  additional 
amount  of  labour ;  so  that  not  only  an  agricultural  has 
much  less  leisure  than  a  pastoral  population,  but,  with  the 
imperfect  tools  and  unskilful  processes  which  are  for  a  long 
time  employed  (and  which  over  the  greater  part  of  the  earth 
have  not  even  yet  been  abandoned),  agriculturists  do  not, 
unless  in  unusually  advantageous  circumstances  of  climate 
and  soil,  produce  so  great  a  surplus  of  food  beyond  their 
necessary  consumption,  as  to  support  any  large  class  of 
labourers  engaged  in  other  departments  of  industry.  The 
surplus,  too,  whether  small  or  great,  is  usually  torn  from  the 
producers,  either  by  the  government  to  which  they  are  sub- 
ject, or  by  individuals,  who  by  superior  force,  or  by  avail- 
ing themselves  of  religious  or  traditional  feelings  of  subor- 
dination, have  established  themselves  as  lords  of  the  soil. 

The  first  of  these  modes  of  appropriation,  by  the  govern- 
ment, is  characteristic  of  the  extensive  monarchies  which 
from  a  time  beyond  historical  record  have  occupied  the 
plains  of  Asia.  The  government,  in  those  countries,  though 
varying  in  its  qualities  according  to  the  accidents  of  personal 
character,  seldom  leaves  much  to  the  cultivators  beyond 
mere  necessaries,  and  often  strips  them  so  bare  even  of 
these,  that  it  finds  itself  obliged,  after  taking  all  they  have, 
to  lend  part  of  it  back  to  those  from  whom  it  has  been 
taken,  in  order  to  provide  them  with  seed,  and  enable  them 
to  support  life  until  another  harvest.  Under  the  regime 
in  question,  though  the  bulk  of  the  population  are  ill  pro- 
vided for,  the  government,  by  collecting  small  sums  from 
great  numbers,  is  enabled,  with  any  tolerable  manage- 
ment, to  make  a  show  of  riches  quite  out  of  proportion  to 


the  general  condition  of  the  society  ;  and  hence  the  invet- 
erate impression,  of  which  Europeans  have  only  at  a  late 
period  been  disabused,  concerning  the  great  opulence  of 
Oriental  nations,  In  this  wealth,  without  reckoning  the 
large  portion  which  adheres  to  the  hands  employed  in  col- 
lecting it,  many  persons  of  course  participate,  besides  the  im- 
mediate household  of  the  sovereign.  A  large  part  is  dis- 
tributed among  the  various  functionaries  of  government, 
and  among  the  objects  of  the  sovereign's  favour  or  caprice. 
A  part  is  occasionally  employed  in  works  of  public  utility. 
The  tanks,  wells,  and  canals  for  irrigation,  without  which  in 
many  tropical  climates  cultivation  could  hardly  be  carried 
on ;  the  embankments  which  confine  the  rivers,  the  bazars 
for  dealers,  and  the  seraees  for  travellers,  none  of  which 
could  have  been  made  by  the  scanty  means  in  the  posses- 
don  of  those  using  them,  owe  their  existence  to  the  liberal- 
ity and  enlightened  self-interest  of  the  better  order  of 
princes,  or  to  the  benevolence  or  ostentation  of  here  and 
there  a  rich  individual,  whose  fortune,  if  traced  to  its  source, 
is  always  found  to  have  been  drawn  immediately  or  remotely 
from  the  public  revenue,  most  frequently  by  a  direct  grant 
of  a  portion  of  it  from  the  sovereign. 

The  ruler  of  a  society  of  this  description,  after  providing 
largely  for  his  own  support,  and  that  of  all  persons  in  whom 
he  feels  an  interest,  and  after  maintaining  as  many  soldiers 
as  he  thinks  needful  for  his  security  or  his  state,  has  a  dis- 
posable residue,  which  he  is  glad  to  exchange  for  articles  of 
luxury  suitable  to  his  disposition :  as  have  also  the  class  of 
persons  who  have  been  enriched  by  his  favour,  or  by  hand- 
ling the  public  revenues.  A  demand  thus  arises  for  elab* 
orate  and  costly  manufactured  articles,  adapted  to  a  narrow 
but  a  wealthy  market.  This  demand  is  often  supplied 
almost  exclusively  by  the  merchants  of  more  advanced  com- 
munities, but  often  also  raises  up  in  the  country  itself  a  class 
of  artificers,  by  whom  certain  fabrics  are  carried  to  as  high 
excellence  as  can  be  given  by  patience,  quickness  of  percep- 
tion and  observation,  and  manual  dexterity,  without  any 


considerable  knowledge  of  the  properties  of  objects :  such 
as  some  of  the  cotton  fabrics  of  India.  These  artificers  are 
fed  by  the  surplus  food  which  has  been  taken  by  the  govern- 
ment and  its  agents  as  their  share  of  the  produce.  So  lit- 
erally is  this  the  case,  that  in  some  countries  the  workman, 
instead  of  taking  his  work  home,  and  being  paid  for  it  after 
it  is  finished,  proceeds  with  his  tools  to  his  customer's 
house,  and  is  there  subsisted  until  the  work  is  complete. 
The  insecurity,  however,  of  all  possessions  in  this  state  of 
society,  induces  even  the  richest  purchasers  to  give  a  pref- 
erence to  such  articles  as,  being  of  an  imperishable  nature, 
and  containing  great  value  in  small  bulk,  are  adapted  for 
being  concealed  or  carried  off.  Gold  and  jewels,  therefore, 
constitute  a  large  proportion  of  the  wealth  of  these  nations, 
and  many  a  rich  Asiatic  carries  nearly  his  whole  fortune  on 
his  person,  or  on  those  of  the  women  of  his  harem.  No  one, 
except  the  monarch,  thinks  of  investing  his  wealth  in  a 
manner  not  susceptible  of  removal.  He,  indeed,  if  he  feels 
safe  on  his  throne,  and  reasonably  secure  of  transmitting  it 
to  his  descendants,  sometimes  indulges  a  taste  for  durable 
edifices,  and  produces  the  Pyramids,  or  the  Taj  Mehal  and 
the  Mausoleum  at  Sekundra.  The  rude  manufactures  des- 
tined for  the  wants  of  the  cultivators  are  worked  up  by 
village  artisans,  who  are  remunerated  by  land  given  to  them 
rent-free  to  cultivate,  or  by  fees  paid  to  them  in  kind  from 
such  share  of  the  crop  as  is  left  to  the  villagers  by  the  gov- 
ernment. This  state  of  society,  however,  is  not  destitute  of 
a  mercantile  class ;  composed  of  two  divisions,  grain  dealers 
and  money  dealers.  The  grain  dealers  do  not  usually  buy 
grain  from  the  producers,  but  from  the  agents  of  govern- 
ment, who,  receiving  the  revenue  in  kind,  are  glad  to 
devolve  upon  others  the  business  of  conveying  it  to  the 
places  where  the  prince,  his  chief  civil  and  military  officers, 
the  bulk  of  his  troops,  and  the  artisans  who  supply  the 
wants  of  these  various  persons,  are  assembled.  The  money 
dealers  lend  to  the  unfortunate  cultivators,  when  ruined  by 
bad  seasons  or  fiscal  exactions,  the  means  of  supporting  life 


and  continuing  their  cultivation,  and  are  repaid  with  enor- 
mous interest  at  the  next  harvest ;  or,  on  a  larger  scale,  they 
lend  to  the  government,  or  to  those  to  whom  it  has  granted 
a  portion  of  the  revenue,  and  are  indemnified  by  assign- 
ments on  the  revenue  collectors,  or  by  having  certain  dis- 
tricts put  into  their  possession,  that  they  may  pay  them- 
selves from  the  revenues ;  to  enable  them  to  do  which,  a 
great  portion  of  the  powers  of  government  are  usually  made 
over  simultaneously,  to  be  exercised  by  them  until  either 
the  districts  are  redeemed,  or  their  receipts  have  liquidated 
the  debt.  Thus,  the  commercial  operations  of  both  these 
classes  of  dealers  take  place  principally  upon  that  part  of 
the  produce  of  the  country  which  forms  the  revenue  of  the 
government.  From  that  revenue  their  capital  is  period- 
ically replaced  with  a  profit,  and  that  is  also  the  source  from 
which  their  original  funds  have  almost  always  been  derived. 
Such,  in  its  general  features,  is  the  economical  condition  of 
most  of  the  countries  of  Asia,  as  it  has  been  from  beyond 
the  commencement  of  authentic  history,  and  is  still,  wher- 
ever not  disturbed  by  foreign  influences. 

In  the  agricultural  communities  of  ancient  Europe  whose 
early  condition  is  best  known  to  us,  the  course  of  things  was 
different.  These,  at  their  origin,  were  mostly  small  town- 
communities,  at  the  first  plantation  of  which,  in  an  unoccu- 
pied country,  or  in  one  from  which  the  former  inhabitants 
had  been  expelled,  the  land  which  was  taken  possession  of 
was  regularly  divided,  in  equal  or  in  graduated  allotments, 
among  the  families  composing  the  community.  In  some 
cases,  instead  of  a  town  there  was  a  confederation  of  towns, 
occupied  by  people  of  the  same  reputed  race,  and  who  were 
supposed  to  have  settled  in  the  country  about  the  same 
time.  Each  family  produced  its  own  food  and  the  materials 
of  its  clothing,  which  were  worked  up  within  itself,  usually 
by  the  women  of  the  family,  into  the  coarse  fabrics  with 
which  the  age  was  contented.  Taxes  there  were  none,  as 
there  were  either  no  paid  officers  of  government,  or  if  there 
were,  their  payment  had  been  provided  for  by  a  reserved 


portion  of  land,  cultivated  by  slaves  on  account  of  the  state ; 
and  the  army  consisted  of  the  body  of  citizens.  The  whole 
produce  of  the  soil,  therefore,  belonged,  without  deduction, 
to  the  family  which  cultivated  it.  So  long  as  the  progress 
of  events  permitted  this  disposition  of  property  to  last,  the 
state  of  society  was,  for  the  majority  of  the  free  cultivators, 
probably  not  an  undesirable  one ;  and  under  it,  in  some 
cases,  the  advance  of  mankind  in  intellectual  culture  was 
extraordinarily  rapid  and  brilliant.  This  more  especially 
happened  where,  along  with  advantageous  circumstances 
of  race  and  climate,  and  no  doubt  with  many  favourable 
accidents  of  which  all  trace  is  now  lost,  was  combined  the 
advantage  of  a  position  on  the  shores  of  a  great  inland  sea, 
the  other  coasts  of  which  were  already  occupied  by  settled 
communities.  The  knowledge  which  in  such  a  position  was 
acquired  of  foreign  productions,  and  the  easy  access  of  foi> 
eign  ideas  and  inventions,  made  the  chain  of  routine,  usually 
so  strong  in  a  rude  people,  hang  loosely  on  these  communi- 
ties. To  speak  only  of  their  industrial  development ;  they 
early  acquired  variety  of  wants  and  desires,  which  stimu- 
lated them  to  extract  from  their  own  soil  the  utmost  which 
they  knew  how  to  make  it  yield  ;  and  when  their  soil  was 
sterile,  or  after  they  had  reached  the  limit  of  its  capacity, 
they  often  became  traders,  and  bought  up  the  productions 
of  foreign  countries,  to  sell  them  in  other  countries  with 
a  profit. 

The  duration,  however,  of  this  state  of  things  was  from 
the  first  precarious.  These  little  communities  lived  in  a 
state  of  almost  perpetual  war.  For  this  there  were  many 
causes.  In  the  ruder  and  purely  agricultural  communities 
a  frequent  cause  was  the  mere  pressure  of  their  increasing 
population  upon  their  limited  land,  aggravated  as  that  pres- 
sure so  often  was  by  deficient  harvests  in  the  rude  state  of 
their  agriculture,  and  depending  as  they  did  for  food  upon 
a  very  small  extent  of  country.  On  these  occasions,  the 
community  often  emigrated  en  masse,  or  sent  forth  a  swarm 
of  its  youth,  to  seek,  sword  in  hand,  for  some  less  warlike 


people,  who  could  be  expelled  from  their  land,  or  detained 
to  cultivate  it  as  slaves  for  the  benefit  of  their  despoilers. 
What  the  less  advanced  tribes  did  from  necessity,  the  more 
prosperous  did  from  ambition  and  the  military  spirit :  and 
after  a  time  the  whole  of  these  city-communities  were  either 
conquerors  or  conquered*  In  some  cases,  the  conquering 
state  contented  itself  with  imposing  a  tribute  on  the  van- 
quished :  who  being,  in  consideration  of  that  burden,  freed 
from  the  expense  and  trouble  of  their  own  military  and 
naval  protection,  might  enjoy  under  it  a  considerable  share 
of  economical  prosperity,  while  the  ascendant  community  ob- 
tained a  surplus  of  wealth,  available  for  purposes  of  collective 
luxury  or  magnificence.  From  such  a  surplus  the  Parthenon 
and  the  Propylsea  were  built,  the  sculptures  of  Pheylias  paid 
for,  and  the  festivals  celebrated,  for  which  -/Eschylus,  Sopho- 
cles, Euripides,  and  Aristophanes  composed  their  dramas. 
But  this  state  of  political  relations,  most  useful,  while  it 
lasted,  to  the  progress  and  ultimate  interest  of  mankind,  had 
not  the  elements  of  durability.  A  small  conquering  com- 
munity which  does-  not  incorporate  its  conquests,  always 
ends  by  being  conquered.  Universal  dominion,  therefore, 
at  last  rested  with  the  people  who  practised  this  art — with 
the  Romans ;  who,  whatever  were  their  other  devices, 
always  either  began  or  ended  by  taking  a  great  part  of  the 
land  to  enrich  their  own  leading  citizens,  and  by  adopting 
into  the  governing  body  the  principal  possessors  of  the  re-? 
mainder.  It  is  unnecessary  to  dwell  on  the  melancholy 
economical  history  of  the  Roman  empire.  When  inequality 
of  wealth  once  commences,  in  a  community  not  constantly 
engaged  in  repairing  by  industry  the  injuries  of  fortune,  its 
advances  are  gigantic ;  the  great  masses  of  wealth  swallow 
up  the  smaller.  The  Roman  empire  ultimately  became 
covered  with  the  vast  landed  possessions  of  a  comparatively 
few  families,  for  whose  luxury,  and  still  more  for  whose 
ostentation,  the  most  Costly  products  were  raised,  while  the 
cultivators  of  the  soil  were  slaves,  or  small  tenants  in  a 
nearly  servile  condition.     From  this  time  the  wealth  of  the 


empire  progressively  declined.  In  the  beginning,  the  public 
revenues,  and  the  resources  of  rich  individuals,  sufficed  at 
least  to  cover  Italy  with  splendid  edifices,  public  and  pri- 
vate ;  but  at  length  so  dwindled  under  the  enervating  in- 
fluences of  misgovernment,  that  what  remained  was  not 
even  sufficient  to  keep  those  edifices  from  decay.  The 
strength  and  riches  of  the  civilized  world  became  inade- 
quate to  make  head  against  the  nomad  population  which 
skirted  its  northern  frontier :  they  overran  the  empire,  and 
a  different  order  of  things  succeeded. 

In  the  new  frame  in  which  European  society  was  now 
cast,  the  population  of  each  country  may  be  considered  as 
composed,  in  unequal  proportions,  of  two  distinct  nations  or 
races,  the  conquerors  and  the  conquered  :  the  first  the  pro- 
prietors of  the  land,  the  latter  the  tillers  of  it.  These  tillers 
were  allowed  to  occupy  the  land  on  conditions  which,  being 
the  product  of  force,  were  always  onerous,  but  seldom  to  the 
extent  of  absolute  slavery.  Already,  in  the  later  times  of 
the  Roman  empire,  predial  slavery  had  extensively  trans- 
formed itself  into  a  kind  of  serfdom :  the  coloni  of  the 
Romans  were  rather  villeins  than  actual  slaves ;  and  the 
incapacity  and  distaste  of  the  barbarian  conquerors  for  per- 
sonally superintending  industrial  occupations,  left  no  alter- 
native but  to  allow  to  the  cultivators,  as  an  incentive  to 
exertion,  some  real  interest  in  the  soil.  If,  for  example, 
they  were  compelled  to  labour,  three  days  in  the  week,  for 
their  superior,  the  produce  of  the  remaining  days  was  their 
own.  If  they  were  required  to  supply  the  provisions  of 
various  sorts,  ordinarily  needed  for  the  consumption  of  the 
castle,  and  were  often  subject  to  requisitions  in  excess,  yet 
after  supplying  these  demands  they  were  suffered  to  dispose 
at  their  will  of  whatever  additional  produce  they  could 
raise.  Under  this  system  during  the  Middle  Ages  it  was 
not  impossible,  no  more  than  in  Russia  at  present  (where 
the  same  system  still  essentially  prevails),  for  serfs  to  acquire 
property ;  and  in  fact,  their  accumulations  are  the  primitive 
source  of  the  wealth  of  modern  Europe. 


In  that  age  of  violence  and  disorder,  the  first  use  made  by 
a  serf  of  any  small  provision  which  he  had  been  able  to  accu- 
mulate, was  to  buy  his  freedom  and  withdraw  himself  to  some 
town  or  fortified  village,  which  had  remained  undestroyed 
from  the  time  of  the  Roman  dominion  ;  or,  without  buying 
his  freedom,  to  abscond  thither.  In  that  place  of  refuge, 
surrounded  by  others  of  his  own  class,  he  attempted  to  live, 
secured  in  some  measure  from  the  outrages  and  exactions  of 
the  warrior  caste,  by  his  own  prowess  and  that  of  his  fel- 
lows. These  emancipated  serfs  mostly  became  artificers; 
and  lived  by  exchanging  the  produce  of  their  industry  for 
the  surplus  food  and  material  which  the  soil  yielded  to  its 
feudal  proprietors.  This  gave  rise  to  a  sort  of  European 
counterpart  of  the  economical  condition  of  Asiatic  coun- 
tries ;  except  that,  in  lieu  of  a  single  monarch  and  a  fluctu- 
ating body  of  favourites  and  employes,  there  was  a  numer- 
ous and  in  a  considerable  degree  fixed  class  of  great  land- 
holders ;  exhibiting  far  less  splendour,  because  individually 
disposing  of  a  much  smaller  surplus  produce,  and  for  a  long 
time  expending  the  chief  part  of  it  in  maintaining  the  body 
of  retainers  whom  the  warlike  fiabits  of  society,  and  the 
little  protection  afforded  by  government,  rendered  indis- 
pensable to  their  safety.  The  greater  stability,  the  fixity  of 
personal  position,  which  this  state  of  society  afforded,  in 
comparison  with  the  Asiatic  polity  to  which  it  economically 
corresponded,  was  one  main  reason  why  it  was  also  found 
more  favourable  to  improvement.  From  this  time  the 
economical  advancement  of  society  has  not  been  further 
interrupted.  Security  of  person  and  property  grew  slowly, 
but  steadily ;  the  arts  of  life  made  constant  progress ; 
plunder  ceased  to  be  the  principal  source  of  accumulation  ; 
and  feudal  Europe  ripened  into  commercial  and  manufac- 
turing Europe.  In  the  latter  part  of  the  middle  ages,  the 
towns  of  Italy  and  Flanders,  the  free  cities  of  Germany,  and 
some  towns  of  France  and  England,  contained  a  large  and 
energetic  population  of  artisans,  and  many  rich  burghers, 
whose  wealth  had  been  acquired  by  manufacturing  indus- 


try,  or  by  trading  in  the  produce  of  such  industry.  The 
Commons  of  England,  the  Tiers-Etat  of  France,  the  bour- 
geoisie of  the  Continent  generally,  are  the  descendants  of 
this  class.  As  these  were  a  saving  class,  while  the  posterity 
of-  the  feudal  aristocracy  were  a  squandering  class,  the 
former  by  degrees  substituted  themselves  for  the  latter  as 
the  owners  of  a  great  proportion  of  the  land.  This  natural 
tendency  was  in  some  cases  retarded  by  laws  contrived  for 
the  purpose  of  detaining  the  land  in  the  families  of  its  exist- 
ing possessors,  in  other  cases  accelerated  by  political  revolu- 
tions. Gradually,  though  more  slowly,  the  immediate 
cultivators  of  the  soil,  in  all  the  more  civilized  countries, 
ceased  to  be  in  a  servile  or  semi-servile  state :  though  the 
legal  position,  as  well  as  the  economical  condition  attained 
by  them,  vary  extremely  in  the  different  nations  of  Europe, 
and  in  the  great  communities  which  have-  been  founded 
beyond  the  Atlantic  by  the  descendants  of  Europeans. 

The  world  now  contains  several  extensive  regions,  pro- 
vided with  the  various  ingredients  of  wealth  in  a  degree  of 
abundance  of  which  former  ages  had  not  even  the  idea. 
Without  compulsory  labour,  an  enormous  mass  of  food  iff 
annually  extracted  from  the  soil,  and  maintains,  besides  the 
actual  producers,  an  equal,  sometimes  a  greater  number  of 
labourers,  occupied  in  producing  conveniences  and  luxuries 
of  innumerable  kinds,  or  in  transporting  them  from  place  to 
place ;  also  a  multitude  of  persons  employed  in  directing 
and  superintending  these  various  labours ;  and  over  and 
above  all  thesfc,  a  class  more  numerous  than  in  the  most 
luxurious  ancient  societies,  of  persons  whose  occupations  are 
of  a  kind  not  directly  productive,  and  of  persons  who  have 
no  occupation  at  all.  The  food  thus  raised,  supports  a  far 
larger  population  than  had  ever  existed  (at  least  in  the  same 
regions)  on  an  equal  space  of  ground ;  and  supports  them 
with  certainty,  exempt  from  those  periodically  recurring 
famines  so  abundant  in  the  early  history  of  Europe,  and  in 
Oriental  countries  even  now  not  unfrequent.  Besides  this 
great  increase  in  the  quantity  of  food,  it  has  greatly  im- 


proved  in  quality  and  variety  ;  while  conveniences  and  lu% 
uries,  other  than  food,  are  no  longer  limited  to  a  small  and 
opulent  class,  but  descend,  in  great  abundance,  through 
many  widening  strata  in  society.  The  collective  resources 
of  one  of  these  communities,  when  it  chooses  to  put  them 
forth  for  any  unexpected  purpose ;  its  ability  to  maintain 
fleets  and  armies,  to  execute  public  works,  either  usefiil  or 
ornamental,  to  perform  national  acts  of  beneficence  like  the 
ransom  of  the  West  India  slaves ;  to  found  colonies,  to  have 
its  people  taught,  to  do  anything  in  short  Which  requires 
expense,  and  to  do  it  with  no  sacrifice  of  the  necessaries  or 
even  the  substantial  comforts  of  its  inhabitants,  are  such  as 
the  world  never  saw  befbre. 

But  in  all  these  particulars,  characteristic  of  the  modern 
industrial  communities,  those  communities  differ  widely 
from  one  another.  Though  abounding  in, wealth  as  com- 
pared with  former  ages,  they  do  so  in  very  different  degrees. 
Even  of  the  countries  which  are  justly  accounted  the  rich- 
est, some  have  made  &  more  complete  use  of  their  pro- 
ductive resources,  and  have  obtained,  relatively  to  their 
territorial  extent,  a  much  larger  produce,  thati  others;*  nor 
do  they  differ  only  in  amount  of  wealth,  but  also  in  the 
rapidity  of  its  increksel  The  diversities  in  the  distribution 
of  wealth  are  still  greater  than  in  the  production.  There 
are  great  differences  in  the  condition  of  the  poorest  class  in 
different  countries ;  and  in  the  proportional  numbers  and 
opulence  of  the  classes  which  are  above  the  poorest.  The 
very  nature  and' designation  of  the  classes  who  originally 
share  among  tl>em  the  produce  of  the  soil,  vary  not  a  little 
in  different  places.  In  some,  the  landowners  are  a  class  in 
themselves,  almost  entirely  separate  from  the  classes  en- 
gaged in  industry :  in  others,  the  proprietor  of  the  land  is 
almost  Universally  its  cultivator,  owning  the  plough,  and 
often  himself  holding  it.  Where  the  proprietor  himself 
does  not  cultivate,  there  is  sometimes,  between  him  and  the 
labourer,  an  intermediate  agency,  that  of  the  farmer,  who 
advances  the  subsistence  of   the  labourers,  supplies  the 


jp&truments  of  production,  and  receives,  after  paying  a  rent 
to  the  landowner,  all  the  produce :  in  other  cases,  the  land- 
lord, his  paid  agents,  and  the  labourers,  are  the  only  shar- 
ers. Manufactures,  again,  are  sometimes  carried  on  by 
scattered  individuals,  who  own  or  hire  the  tools  or  machin- 
ery they  require,  and  employ  little  labour  besides  that  of 
their  own  family ;  in  other  cases,  by  large  numbers  working 
together  in  one  building,  with  expensive  and  complex 
machinery  owned  by  rich  manufacturers.  The  same  dif- 
ference exists  in  the  operations  of  trade.  The  wholesale 
operations  indeed  are  everywhere  carried  on  by  large  capi- 
tals, where  such  exist ;  but  the  retail  dealings,  which  col- 
lectively occupy  a  very  great  amount  of  capital,  are  some- 
times conducted  in  small  shops,  chiefly  by  the  personal 
exertions  of  the  dealers  themselves,  with  their  families,  and 
perhaps  an  apprentice  or  two ;  and  sometimes  in  large 
establishments,  of  which  the  funds  are  supplied  by  a 
wealthy  individual  or  association,  and  the  agency  is  that 
of  numerous  salaried  shopmen  or  shopwomen.  Besides 
these  differences  in  the  economical  phenomena  presented 
by  different  parts  of  what  is  usually  called  the  civilized 
world,  all  those  earlier  states  which  we  previously  passed 
in  review,  have  continued  in  some  part  or  other  of  the 
world,  down  to  our  own  time.  Hunting  communities  still 
exist  in  America,  nomadic  in  Arabia  and  the  steppes  of 
Northern  Asia  ;  Oriental  society  is  in  essentials  what  it  has 
always  been ;  the  great  empire  of  Russia  is  even  now,  in 
many  respects,  the  scarcely  modified  image  of  feudal  Eu- 
rope. Every  one  of  the  great  types  of  human  society, 
down  to  that  of  the  Esquimaux  or  Patagonians,  is  still 

These  remarkable  differences  in  the  state  of  different 
portions  of  the  human  race,  with  regard  to  the  production 
and  distribution  of  wealth,  must,  like  all  other  phenomena, 
depend  on  causes.  And  it  is  not  a  sufficient  explanation  to 
ascribe  them  exclusively  to  the  degrees  of  knowledge,  pos- 
sessed at  different  times  and  places,  of  the  laws  of  nature 


and  the  physical  arts  of  life.  Many  other  causes  cooperate : 
and  that  very  progress  and  unequal  distribution  of  physical 
knowledge,  are  partly  the  effects,  as  well  as  partly  the 
causes,  of  the  state  of  the  production  and  distribution  of 

In  so  far  as  the  economical  condition  of  nations  turns 
upon  the  state  of  physical  knowledge,  it  is  a  subject  for  the 
physical  sciences,  and  the  arts  founded  on  them.  But  in  so 
far  as  the  causes  are  moral  or  psychological,  dependent  on 
institutions  and  social  relations,  or  on  the  principles  of 
human  nature,  their  investigation  belongs  not  to  physical, 
but  to  moral  and  social  science,  and  is  the  object  of  what  is 
called  Political  Economy. 

The  production  of  wealth  ;  the  extraction  of  the  instru- 
ments of  human  subsistence  and  enjoyment  from  the  ma- 
terials of  the  globe,  is  evidently  not  an  arbitrary  thing.  It 
has  its  necessary  conditions.  Of  these,  some  are  physical, 
depending  on  the  properties  of  matter,  or  rather  on  the 
amount  of  knowledge  of  those  properties  possessed  at  the 
particular  place  and  time.  These  Political  Economy  does 
not  investigate,  but  assumes  ;  referring  for  the  grounds,  to 
physical  science  or  common  experience.  Combining  with 
these  facts  of  outward  nature  other  truths  relating  to  human 
nature,  it  attempts  to  trace  the  secondary  or  derivative 
laws,  by  which  the  production  of  wealth  is  determined ;  in 
which  must  lie  the  explanation  of  the  diversities  of  riches 
and  poverty  in  the  present  and  past,  and  the  ground  of 
whatever  increase  in  wealth  is  reserved  for  the  future. 

Unlike  the  laws  of  Production,  those  of  Distribution  are 
partly  of  human  institution :  since  the  manner  in  which 
wealth  is  distributed  in  any  given  society,  depends  on  the 
statutes  or  usages  therein  obtaining.  But  though  govern- 
ments or  nations  have  the  power  of  deciding  what  institu- 
tions shall  exist,  they  cannot  arbitrarily  determine  how 
those  institutions  shall  work.  The  conditions  on  which  the 
power  they  possess  over  the  distribution  of  wealth  is  de- 
pendent, and  the  manner  in  which  the  distribution  is  effect- 


ed  by  the  various  modes  of  conduct  which  society  may 
think  fit  to  adopt,  are  as  much  a  subject  for  scientific 
enquiry  as  any  of  the  physical  laws  of  nature. 

The  laws  of  Production  and  Distribution,  and  some  of 
the  practical  consequences  deducible  from  them,  are  the 
subject  of  the  following  treatise. 



BOOK   I. 



§  1.  The  requisites  of  production  are  two :  labour,  and 
appropriate  natural  objects. 

Labour  is  either  bodily  or  mental ;  or,  to  express  the 
distinction  more  comprehensively,  either  muscular  or  ner- 
vous ;  and  it  is  necessary  to  include  in  the  idea,  not  solely 
the  exertion  itself,  but  all  feelings  of  a  disagreeable  kind, 
all  bodily  inconvenience  or  mental  annoyance,  connected 
with  the  employment  of  one's  thoughts,  or  muscles,  or  both, 
in  a  particular  occupation.  Of  the  other  requisite — appro- 
priate natural  objects — it  is  to  be  remarked,  that  some 
objects  exist  or  grow  up  spontaneously,  of  a  kind  suited  to 
the  supply  of  humdn  Wants.  There  are  caves  and  hollow 
trees  capable  of  affording  shelter ;  fruit,  roots,  wild  honey, 
and  other  natural  products,  on  which  human  life  can  be 
supported  ;  but  even  here  a  considerable  quantity  of  labour 
is  generally  required,  not  for  the  purpose  of  creating,  but 
of  finding  and  appropriating  them.  In  all  but  these  few 
and  (except  in  the  very  commencement  of  human  society) 
unimportant  cases,  the  objects  supplied  by  nature  are  only 
instrumental  to  human  wants,  after  having  undergone  some 

46  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  I.     § 

degree  of  transformation  by  human  exertion.  Even  the 
wild  animals  of  the  forest  and  of  the  sea,  from  which  the 
hunting  and  fishing  tribes  derive  their  sustenance — though 
the  labour  of  which  they  are  the  subject  is  chiefly  that 
required  for  appropriating  them — must  yet,  before  they  are 
used  as  food,  be  killed,  divided  into  fragments,  and  sub- 
jected in  almost  all  casks  to  some  culinary  process,  which 
are  operations  requiring  a  certain  degree  of  human  labour. 
The  amount  of  transformation  which  natural  substances 
undergo  before  being  brought  into  the  shape  in  which  they 
are  directly  applied  to  human  use,  varies  from  this  or  a  still 
less  degree  of  alteration  in  the  nature  and  appearance  of 
the  object,  to  a  change  so  total  that  no  trace  is  perceptible 
of  the  original  shape  and  structure.  There  is  little  resem- 
blance between  a  piece  of  a  mineral  substance  found  in  the 
earth,  and  a  plough,  an  axe,  or  a  saw  There  is  less  resem- 
blance between  porcelain  and  the  decomposing  granite  of 
which  it  is  made,  or  between  sand  mixed  with  sea-weed,  and 
glass.  The  difference  is  greater  still  between  the  fleece  of  a 
sheep,  or  a  handful  of  cotton  seeds,  and  a  web  of  muslin  or 
broad  cloth  ;  and  the  sheep  and  feeeds  themselves  are  not 
spontaneous  growths,  but  results  of  previous  labour  and 
care.  In  these  several  cases  the  ultimate  product  is  so 
extremely  dissimilar  to  the  substance  supplied  by  nature, 
that  in  the  custom  of  language  nature  is  represented  ad  only 
furnishing  materials. 

Nature,  however,  does  more  than  supply  materials  j  she 
also  supplies  powers.  The  matter  of  the  globe  is  not  an 
inert  recipient  of  forms  and  properties  impressed  by  human 
hands ;  it  has  active  energies  by  which  it  cooperates  with, 
and  may  even  be  used  as  a  substitute  for,  labour.  In  the 
early  ages  people  converted  their  corn  into  flour  by  pounding 
it  between  two  stones  ;  they  next  hit  on  a  contrivance  which 
enabled  them,  by  turning  a  handle,  to  make  one  of  the 
stones  revolve  upon  the  other  ;  and  this  process,  a  little  im- 
proved, is  still  the  common  practice  of  the  East.  The 
muscular  exertion,  however,  which  it  required,  was  very 


severe  and  exhausting,  insomuch  that  it  was  often  selected 
as  a  punishment  for  slaves  who  had  offended  their  masters. 
When  the  time  came  at  which  the  labour  and  sufferings  of 
slaves  were  thought  worth  economizing,  the  greater  part  of 
this  bodily  exertion  was  rendered  unnecessary,  by  contriving 
that  the  upper  stone  should  be  made  to  revolve  upon  the 
lower,  not  by  human  strength,  but  by  the  force  of  the  wind 
or  of  falling  water.  In  this  case,  natural  agents^  the  wind 
or  the  gravitation  of  the  water,  are  made  to  do  a  portion  of 
the  work  previously  done  by.  labour. 

§  2.  Cases  like  this,  in  which  a  certain  amount  of 
labour  has  been  dispensed  with,  its  work,  being  devolved 
upon  some  natural  agent,  are  apt  to  suggest  an  erroneous 
notion  of  the  comparative  functions  of  labour  and  natural 
powers ;  as  if  the  cooperation,  of  those  powers  with  human 
industry  were  limited  to  the  cases  in  which  they  are  made 
to  perform  what  would  otherwise  be  done  by  labour ;  as  if, 
in  the  case  of  things  made  (as  the  phrase  is)  by  hand,  nature 
only  furnished  passive  materials.  This  is  an  illusion.  The 
powers  of  nature  are  as  actively  operative  in  the  one  case  as 
in  the  other.  A  workman  takes  a  stalk  of  the  flax  or  hemp 
plant,  splits  it  into  separate  fibres,  .twines  together  several 
of  these  fibres  with  his  fingers,  aided  by  a  simple  instru- 
ment called  a  spindle ;  having  thus  formed  a  thread,  he  lays 
many  such  threads  side  by  side,  and  places  other  similar 
threads  directly  across  them,  so  that  each  passes  alternately 
over  and  under  those  which  are  at  right  angles  to  it ;  this 
part  of  the  process  being  facilitated  by  an  instrument  called 
a  shuttle.  He  has  now  produced  a  web  of  cloth,  either 
linen  or  sack-cloth,  according  to  the  material.  He  is  said  to 
have  done  this  by  hand,  no  natural  force  being  supposed  to 
have  acted  in  concert  with  him.  But  by  what  force  is  each 
step  of  this  operation  rendered  possible,  and  the  web,  when 
produced,  held  together?  By  the  tenacity,  or  force  of 
cohesion,  of  the  fibres :  which  is  one  of  the  forces  of  nature, 
and  which  we  can  measure  exactly  against  other  mechanical 

48  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  I.     J  2. 

forces,  and  ascertain  how  much  of  any  of  them  it  suffices  to 
neutralize  or  counterbalance. 

If  we  examine  any  other  case  of  what  is  called  the  action 
of  man  upon  nature,  we  shall  find  in  like  manner  that  the 
powers  of  nature,  or  in  other  words  the  properties  of  mat- 
ter, do  all  the  work,  when  once  objects  are  put  into  the 
right  position.  This  one  operation,  of  putting  things  into 
fit  places  for  being  acted  upon  by  their  own  internal  forces, 
and  by  those  residing  in  other  natural  objects,  is  all  that 
man  does,  or  can  do,  with  matter.  He  only  moves  one 
thing  to  or  from  another.  He  moves  a  seed  into  the 
ground ;  and  the  natural  forces  of  vegetation  produce  in 
succession  a  root,  a  stem,  leaves,  flowers,  and  fruit.  He 
moves  an  axe  through  a  tree,  and  it  falls  by  the  natural 
force  of  gravitation ;  he  moves  a  saw  through  it,  in  a  partic- 
ular manner,  and  the  physical  properties  by  which  a  softer 
substance  gives  way  before  a  harder,  make  it  separate  into 
planks,  which  he  arranges  in  certain  positions,  with  nails 
driven  through  them,  or  adhesive  matter  between  them,  and 
produces  a  table,  or  a  house.  He  moves  a  spark  to  fuel, 
and  it  ignites,  and  by  the  force  generated  in  combustion  it 
cooks  the  food,  melts  or  softens  the  iron,  converts  into  beer 
or  sugar  the  malt  or  cane-juice,  which  he  has  previously 
moved  to  the  spot.  He  has  no  other  means  of  acting  on 
matter  than  by  moving  it.  Motion,  and  resistance  to  mo- 
tion, are  the  only  tilings  which  his  muscles  are  constructed 
for.  By  muscular  contraction  he  can  create  a  pressure  on 
an  outward  object,  which,  if  sufficiently  powerful,  will  set  it 
in  motion,  or  if  it  be  already  moving,  will  check  or  modify 
or  altogether  arrest  its  motion,  and  he  can  do  no  more. 
But  this  is  enough  to  have  given  all  the  command  which 
mankind  have  acquired  over  natural  forces  immeasurably 
more  powerful  than  themselves ;  a  command  which,  great 
as  it  is  already,  is  without  doubt  destined  to  become  indefi- 
nitely greater.  He  exerts  this  power  either  by  availing 
himself  of  natural  forces  in  existence,  or  by  arranging  ob- 
jects in  those  mixtures  and  combinations  by  which  natural 


•forces  are  generated  ;  as  when  by  putting  a  lighted  match 
to  fuel,  and  water  into  a  boiler  over  it,  he  generates  the  ex- 
pansive force  of  steam,  a  power  which  has  been  made  so 
largely  available  for  the  attainment  of  human  purposes.* 

Labour,  then,  in  the  physical  world,  is  always  and  solely 
employed  in  putting  objects  in  motion ;  the  properties  of 
matter,  the  laws  of  nature,  do  the  rest.  The  skill  and  in- 
genuity of  human  beings  are  chiefly  exercised  in  discovering 
movements,  practicable  by  their  powers,  and  capable  of 
bringing  about  the  effects  which  they  desire.  But,  while 
movement  is  the  only  effect  which  man  can  immediately 
and  directly  produce  by  his  muscles,  it  is  not  necessary  that 
ho  should  produce  directly  by  them  all  the  movements 
which  he  requires.  The  first  and  most  obvious  substitute  is 
the  muscular  action  of  cattle :  by  degrees  the  powers  of 
inanimate  nature  are  made  to  aid  in  this  too,  as  by  making 
the  wind,  or  water,  things  already  in  motion,  communicate 
a  part  of  their  motion  to  the  wheels,  which  before  that 
invention  were  made  to  revolve  by  muscular  force.  This 
service  is  extorted  from  the  powers  of  wind  and  water  by  a 
set  of  actions,  consisting  like  the  former  in  moving  certain 
objects  into  certain  positions  in  which  they  constitute  what 
is  termed  a  machine  ;  but  the  muscular  action  necessary  for 
this  is  not  constantly  renewed,  but  performed  once  for  all, 
and  there  is  on  the  whole  a  great  economy  of  labour. 

§  3.  Some  writers  have  raised  the  question,  whether 
nature  gives  more  assistance  to  labour  in  one  kind  of  indus- 
try or  in  another ;  and  have  said  that  in  some  occupations 
labour  does  most,  in  others  nature  most.  In  this,  however, 
there  seems  much  confusion  of  ideas.  The  part  which 
nature  has  in  any  work  of  man,  is  indefinite  and  incom- 
mensurable. It  is  impossible  to  decide  that  in  any  one 
thing  nature  does  more  than  in  any  other.     One  cannot 

*  This  essential  and  primary  law  of  man's  power  over  nature  was,  I  believe, 
first  illustrated  and  made  prominent  as  a  fundamental  principle  of  Political 
Economy,  in  the  first  chapter  of  Mr.  Mill's  Elem$nfa. 


50  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  I.     §4. 

eveo  say  that  labour  does  less.  Less  labour  may  be  re- 
quired ;  but  if  that  which  is  required  is  absolutely  indis- 
pensable, the  result  is  just  as  much  the  product  of  labour, 
as  of  nature.  When  two  conditions  are  equally  neces- 
sary for  producing  the  effect  at  all,  it  is  unmeaning  to  say 
that  so  much  of  it  is  produced  by  one  and  so  much  by  the 
other ;  it  is  like  attempting  to  decide  which  half  of  a  pair 
of  scissors  has  most  to  do  in  the  act  of  cutting  ;  or  which  of 
the  factors,  five  and  six,  contributes  most  to  the  production 
of  thirty.  The  form  which  this  conceit  usually  assumes,  is 
that  of  supposing  that  nature  lends  more  assistance  to 
human  endeavours  in  agriculture,  than  in  manufactures. 
This  notion,  held  by  the  French  Economistes,  and  from 
which  Adam  Smith  was  not  free,  arose  from  a  misconcep- 
tion of  the  nature  of  rent.  The  rent  of  land  being  a  price 
paid  for  a  natural  agency,  and  no  such  price  being  paid  in 
manufactures,  these  writers  imagined  that  since  a  price  was 
paid,  it  was  because  there  was  a  greater  amount  of  service 
to  be  paid  for :  whereas  a  better  consideration  of  the  sub- 
ject would  have  shown  that  the  reason  why  the  use  of  land 
bears  a  price  is  simply  the  limitation  of  its  quantity,  and 
that  if  air,  heat,  electricity,  chemical  agencies,  and  the  other 
powers  of  nature  employed  by  manufacturers,  were  sparing- 
ly supplied,  and  could,  like  land,  be  engrossed  and  appro- 
priated, a  rent  could  be  exacted  for  them  also. 

§  4.  This  leads  to  a  distinction  which  we  shall  find  to 
be  of  primary  importance.  Of  natural  powers,  some  are 
unlimited,  others  limited  in  quantity.  By  an  unlimited 
quantity  is  of  course  not  meant  literally,  but  practically 
unlimited  :  a  quantity  beyond  themse  which  can  in  any,  or 
at  least  in  present  circumstances,  be  made  of  it.  Land  is, 
in  some  newly  settled  countries,  practically  unlimited  in 
quantity :  there  is  more  than  can  be  used  by  the  existing 
population  of  the  country,  or  by  any  accession  likely  to  be 
made  to  it  for  generations  to  come.  But  even  there,  land 
favourably  situated  with  regard  to  markets  or  means  of  car* 


riage,  is  generally  limited  in  quantity :  there  is  not  bo  much 
of  it  as  persons  would  gladly  occupy  and  cultivate,  or  other- 
wise turn  to  use.  In  all  old  countries,  land  capable  of  cul- 
tivation, land  at  least  of  any  tolerable  fertility,  must  be 
ranked  among  agents  limited  in  quantity.  Water,  for  ordi- 
nary purposes,  on  the  banks  of  rivers  or  lakes,  may  be 
regarded  as  of  unlimited  abundance;  but  if  required  for 
irrigation,  it  may  even  there  be  insufficient  to  supply  all 
wants,  while  in  places  which  depend  for  their  consumption 
on  cisterns  or  tanks,  or  on  wells  which  are  not  copious,  or 
are  liable  to  fail,  water  takes  its  place  among  things  the 
quantity  of  which  is  most  strictly  limited.  Where  water 
itself  is  plentiful,  yet  water-power,  i.e.  a  fall  of  water  appli- 
cable by  its  mechanical  force  to  the  service  of  industry,  may 
be  exceedingly  limited,  compared  with  the  use  which  would 
be  made  of  it  if  it  were  more  abundant.  Coal,  metallic  ores, 
and  other  useful  substances  found  in  the  earth,  are  still  more 
limited  than  land.  They  are  not  only  strictly  local,  but 
exhaustible ;  though,  at  a  given  place  and  time,  they  may 
exist  in  much  greater  abundance  than  would  be  applied  to 
present  use  even  if  they  could  be  obtained  gratis.  Fisher- 
ies, in  the  sea,  are  in  most  cases  a  gift  of  nature  practically 
unlimited  in  amount ;  but  the  Arctic  whale  fisheries  have 
long  been  insufficient  for  the  demand  which  exists  even  at 
the  very  considerable  price  necessary  to  defray  the  cost  of 
appropriation :  and  the  immense  extension  which  the 
Southern  fisheries  have  in  consequence  assumed,  is  tending 
to  exhaust  them  likewise.  River  fisheries  are  a  natural 
resource  of  a  very  limited  character,  and  would  be  rapidly 
exhausted,  if  allowed  to  be  used  by  every  one  without 
restraint.  Air,  even  that  state  of  it  which  we  term  wind, 
may,  in  most  situations,  be  obtained  in  a  quantity  sufficient 
for  every  possible  use ;  and  so  likewise,  on  the  sea  coast  or 
on  large  rivers,  may  water  carriage :  though  the  wharfage 
or  harbour-room  applicable  to  the  service  of  that  mode  of 
transport  is  in  many  situations  far  short  of  what  would  be 
used  if  easily  attainable. 

52  BOOK  L     CHAPTEB  L     §4. 

It  will  be  seen  hereafter  how  much  of  the  economy  of 
society  depends  on  the  limited  quantity  in  which  some  of 
the  most  important  natural  agents  exist,  and  more  particu- 
larly, land.  For  the  present  I  shall  only  remark  that  so 
long  as  the  quantity  of  a  natural  agent  is  practically  un- 
limited, it  cannot,  unless  susceptible  of  artificial  monopoly, 
bear  any  value  in  the  market,  since  no  one  will  give  any- 
thing for  what  can  be  obtained  gratis.  But  as  soon  as  a 
limitation  becomes  practically  operative ;  as  soon  as  there 
is  not  so  much  of  the  thing  to  be  had,  as  would  be  appro- 
priated and  used  if  it  could  be  obtained  for  asking ;  the 
ownership  or  use  of  the  natural  agent  acquires  an  exchange- 
able value.  When  more  water-power  is  wanted  in  a  par- 
ticular district,  than  there  are  falls  of  water  to  supply  it, 
persons  will  give  an  equivalent  for  the  use  of  a  fall  of 
water.  When  there  is  more  land  wanted  for  cultivation 
than  a  place  possesses,  or  than  it  possesses  of  a  certain 
quality  and  certain  advantages  of  situation,  land  of  that 
quality  and  situation  may  be  sold  for  a  price,  or  let  for  an 
annual  rent.  This  subject  will  hereafter  be  discussed  at 
length ;  but  it  is  often  useful  to  anticipate,  by  a  brief  sug- 
gestion, principles  and  deductions  which  we  have  not  yet 
reached  the  place  for  exhibiting  and  illustrating  fully. 



§  1.  The  labour  which  terminates  in  the  production  of 
an  article  fitted  for  some  human  use,  is  either  employed 
directly  about  the  thing,  or  in  previous  operations  destined 
to  facilitate,  perhaps  essential  to  the  possibility  of,  the  sub- 
sequent ones.  In  making  bread,  for  example,  the  labour 
employed  about  the  thing  itself  is  that  of  the  baker ;  but 
the  labour  of  the  miller,  though  employed  directly  in  the 
production  not  of  bread  but  of  flour,  is  equally  part  of  the 
aggregate  sum  of  labour  by  which  the  bread  is  produced ; 
as  is  also  the  labour  of  the  sower,  and  of  the  reaper.  Some 
may  think  that  all  these  persons  ought  to  be  considered  as 
employing  their  labour  directly  about  the  thing ;  the  corn, 
the  flour,  and  the  bread  being  one  substance  in  three  dif- 
ferent states.  Without  disputing  about  this  question  of 
mere  language,  there  is  still  the  ploughman,  who  prepared 
the  ground  for  the  seed,  and  whose  labour  never  came  in 
contact  with  the  substance  in  any  of  its  states ;  and  the 
plough-maker,  whose  share  in  the  result  was  still  more 
remote.  All  these  persons  ultimately  derive  the  remunera- 
tion of  their  labour  from  the  bread,  or  its  price :  the  plough- 
maker  as  much  as  the  rest ;  for  since  ploughs  are  of  no  use 
except  for  tilling  the  soil,  no  one  would  make  or  use  ploughs 
for  any  other  reason  than  because  the  increased  returns, 
thereby  obtained  from  the  ground,  afforded  a  source  from 
which  an  adequate  equivalent  could  be  assigned  for  the 
labour  of  the  plough-maker.    If  the  produce  is  to  be  used 

54  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  II.     J 1. 

or  consumed  in  the  form  of  bread,  it  is  from  the  bread  that 
this  equivalent  must  come.  The  bread  must  suffice  to  re- 
munerate all  these  labours,  and  several  others ;  such  as  the 
carpenters  and  bricklayers  who  erected  the  farm-buildings  ; 
the  hedgers  and  ditchers  who  made  the  fences  necessary  for 
the  protection  of  the  crop ;  the  miners  and  smelters  who 
extracted  or  prepared  the  iron  of  which  the  plough  and 
other  implements  were  made.  These,  however,  and  the 
plough-maker,  do  not  depend  for  their  remuneration  upon 
the  bread  made  from  the  produce  of  a  single  harvest,  but 
upon  that  made  from  the  produce  of  all  the  harvests  which 
are  successively  gathered  until  the  plough,  or  the  buildings 
and  fences,  are  worn  out.  We  must  add  yet  another  kind  of 
labour  ;  that  of  transporting  the  produce  from  the  place  of 
its  production  to  the  place  of  its  destined  use :  the  labour 
of  carrying  the  corn  to  market,  and  from  market  to  the 
miller's,  the  flour  from  the  miller's  to  the  baker's,  and  the 
bread  f»m  the  baker's  to  the  place  of  its  final  consumption. 
This  labour  is  sometimes  very  considerable :  flour  is  trans- 
ported to  England  from  beyond  the  Atlantic,  corn  from  the 
heart  of  Russia ;  and  in  addition  to  the  labourers  imme- 
diately employed,  the  waggoners  and  sailors,  there  are  also 
costly  instruments,  such  as  ships,  in  the  construction  of 
which  much  labour  has  been  expended  :  that  labour,  how- 
ever, not  depending  for  its  whole  remuneration  upon  the 
bread,  but  for  a  part  only  ;  ships  being  usually,  during  the 
course  of  their  existence,  employed  in  the  transport  of  many 
different  kinds  of  commodities. 

To  estimate,  therefore,  the  labour  of  which  any  given 
commodity  is  the  result,  is  far  from  a  simple  operation. 
The  items  in  the  calculation  are  very  numerous — as  it  may 
seem  to  some  persons,  infinitely  so  ;  for  if,  as  a  part  of  the 
labour  employed  in  making  bread,  we  count  the  labour  of 
the  black-smith  who  made  the  plough,  why  not  also  (it  may 
be  asked)  the  labour  of  making  the  tools  used  by  the  black- 
smith, and  the  tools  used  in  making  those  tools,  and  so  back 
to  the  origin  of  things  ?    But  after  mounting  one  or  two 


steps  in  this  ascending  scale,  we  come  into  a  region  of  frac- 
tions too  minute  for  calculation.  Suppose,  for  instance,  that 1 
the  same  plough  will  last,  before  being  worn  out,  a  dozen 
years.  Only  one-twelfth  of  the  labour  of  making  the 
plough  must  be  placed  to  the  account  of  each  year's  harvest. 
A  twelfth  part  of  the  labour  of  making  a  plough  is  an  ap- 
preciable quantity.  But  the  same  set  of  tools,  perhaps, 
suffice  to  the  plough-maker  for  forging  a  hundred  ploughs, 
which  serve  during  the  twelve  years  of  their  existence  to 
prepare  the  soil  of  as  many  different  farms.  A  twelve- 
hundredth  part  of  the  labour  of  making  the  tools,  is  as 
much,  therefore,  as  has  been  expended  in  procuring  one 
year's  harvest  of  a  single  farm :  and  when  this  fraction 
comes  to  be  further  apportioned  among  the  various  sacks 
of  corn  and  loaves  of  bread,  it  is  seen  at  once  that  such 
quantities  are  not  worth  taking  into  the  account  for  any 
practical  purpose  connected  with  the  commodity.  It  is 
true  that  if  the  tool-maker  had  not  laboured,  the  corn  and 
bread  never  would  have  been  produced  ;  but  they  will  not 
be  sold  a  tenth  part  of  a  farthing  dearer  in  consideration  of 
his  labour. 

§  2.  Another  of  the  modes  in  which  labour  is  indirectly 
or  remotely  instrumental  to  the  production  of  a  thing, 
requires  particular  notice :  namely,  when  it  is  employed  in 
producing  subsistence,  to  maintain  the  labourers  while  they 
are  engaged  in  the  production.  This  previous  employment 
of  labour  is  an  indispensable  condition  to  every  productive 
operation,  on  any  other  than  the  very  smallest  scale.  Ex- 
cept the  labour  of  the  hunter  and  fisher,  there  is  scarcely 
any  kind  of  labour  to  which  the  returns  are  immediate. 
Productive  operations  require  to  be  continued  a  certain 
time,  before  their  fruits  are  obtained.  Unless  the  labourer, 
before  commencing  his  work,  possesses  a  store  of  food,  or 
can  obtain  access  to  the  stores  of  some  one  else,  in  sufficient 
quantity  to  maintain  him  until  the  production  is  com- 
pleted, he  can  undertake  no  labour  but  such  as  can  be  car' 

56  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  IL     §2. 

ried  on  at  odd  intervals,  concurrently  with  the  pursuit  of 
•his  subsistence.  He  cannot  obtain  food  itself  in  any  abun- 
dance ;  for  every  mode  of  so  obtainirg  it,  requires  that  there 
be  already  food  in  store.  Agriculture  only  brings  forth 
food  after  the  lapse  of  months  ;  and  though  the  labours  of 
the  agriculturist  are  not  necessarily  continuous  during  the 
whole  period,  they  must  occupy  a  considerable  part  of 
it.  Not  only  is  agriculture  impossible  without  food  pro- 
duced in  advance,  but  there  must  be  a  very  great  quantity 
in  advance  to  enable  any  considerable  community  to  sup- 
port itself  wholly  by  agriculture.  A  country  like  England 
or  France  is  only  able  to  carry  on  the  agriculture  of  the 
present  year,  because  that  of  past  years  has  provided,  in 
those  countries  or  somewhere  else,  sufficient  food  to  support 
their  agricultural  population  until  the  next  harvest.  They 
are  only  enabled  to  produce  so  many  other  things  besides 
food,  because  the  food  which  was  in  store  at  the  close  of  the 
last  harvest  suffices  to  maintain  not  only  the  agricultural 
labourers,  but  a  large  industrious  population  besides. 

The  labour  employed  in  producing  this  stock  of  sub- 
sistence, forms  a  great  and  important  part  of  the  past  labour 
which  has  been  necessary  to  enable  present  labour  to  be 
carried  on.  But  there  is  a  difference,  requiring  particular 
notice,  between  this  and  the  other  kinds  of  previous  or  pre- 
paratory labour.  The  miller,  the  reaper,  the  ploughman, 
the  plough-maker,  the  waggoner  and  waggon-maker,  even 
the  sailor  and  ship-builder  when  employed,  derive  their 
remuneration  from  the  ultimate  product — the  bread  made 
from  the  com  on  which  they  have  severally  operated,  or 
supplied  the  instruments  for  operating.-  The  labour  that 
produced  the  food  which  fed  all  these  labourers  is  as  neces- 
sary to  the  ultimate  result,  the  bread  of  the  present  harvest, 
as  any  of  those  other  portions  of  labour ;  but  is  not,  like 
them,  remunerated  from  it.  That  previous  labour  has  re- 
ceived its  remuneration  from  the  previous  food.  In  order 
to  raise  any  product,  there  are  needed  labour,  tools,  and 
materials,  and  food  to  feed  the  labourers.    But  the  tools 


and  materials  are  of  no  nBe  except  for  obtaining  the  product, 
or  at  least  are  to  be  applied  to  no  other  use,  and  the  labour 
of  their  construction  can  be  remunerated  only  from  the 
product  when  obtained.  The  food,  on  the  contrary,  is  in- 
trinsically useful,  and  is  applied  to  the  direct  use  of  feeding 
human  beings.  The  labour  expended  in  producing  the 
food,  and  recompensed  by  it,  needs  not  to  be  remunerated 
over  again  from  the  produce  of  the  subsequent  labour  which 
it  has  fed.  If  we  suppose  that  the  same  body  of  labourers 
carried  on  a  manufacture,  and  grew  food  to  sustain  them- 
selves while  doing  it,  they  have  had  for  their  trouble  the 
food  and  the  manufactured  article ;  but  if  they  also  grew 
the  material  and  made  the  tools,  they  have  had  nothing  for 
that  trouble  but  the  manufactured  article  alone. 

The  claim  to  remuneration  founded  on  the  possession  of 
food,  available  for  the  maintenance  of  labourers,  is  of 
another  kind  ;  remuneration  for  abstinence,  not  for  labour. 
If  a  person  has  a  store  of  food,  he  has  it  in  his  power  to 
consume  it  himself  in  idleness,  or  in  feeding  others  to  attend 
on  him,  or  to  fight  for  him,  or  to  sing  or  dance  for  him. 
If,  instead  of  these  things,  he  gives  it  to  productive  labour- 
ers to  support  them  during  their  work,  he  can,  and  naturally 
will,  claim  a  remuneration  from  the  produce.  He  will  not 
be  content  with  simple  repayment ;  if  he  receives  merely 
that,  he  is  only  in  the  same  situation  as  at  first,  and  has 
derived  no  advantage  from  delaying  to  apply  his  savings  to 
his  own  benefit  or  pleasure.  He  will  look  for  some  equiva- 
lent for  this  forbearance  :  he  will  expect  his  advance  of  food 
to  come  back  to  hirn  with  an  increase,  called  in  the  lan- 
guage of  business,  a  profit ;  and  the  hope  of  this  profit  will 
generally  have  been  a  part  of  the  inducement  which  made 
him  accumulate  a  stock,  by  economizing  in  his  own  con- 
sumption ;  or,  at  any  rate,  which  made  him  forego  the 
application  of  it,  when  accumulated,  to  his  personal  ease  or 
satisfaction.  The  food  also  which  maintained  other  work- 
men while  producing  the  tools  or  materials,  must  have  been 
provided  in  advance  by  some  one,  and  he,  too,  must  have 

58  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IL     {8. 

his  profit  from  the  ultimate  product;  but  there  is  this* 
difference,  that  here  the  ultimate  product  has  to  supply  not 
only  the  profit,  but  also  the  remuneration  of  the  labour* 
The  tool-maker  (say,  for  instance,  the  plough-maker)  does 
not  indeed  usually  wait  for  his  payment  until  the  harvest  is 
reaped  ;  the  farmer  advances  it  to  him,  and  steps  into  his 
place  by  becoming  the  owner  of  the  plough.  Nevertheless, 
it  is  from  the  harvest  that  the  payment  is  to  come ;  since 
the  farmer  would  not  undertake  this  outlay  unless  he  ex- 
pected that  the  harvest  would  repay  him,  and  with  a  profit 
too  on  this  fresh  advance  ;  that  is,  unless  the  harvest  would 
yield,  besides  the  remuneration  of  the  farm  labourers  (and  a 
profit  for  advancing  it),  a  sufficient  residue  to  remunerate 
the  plough-maker's  labourers,  give  the  plough-maker  a 
profit,  and  a  profit  to  the  farmer  on  both. 

§  3.  From  these  considerations  it  appears,  that  in  an 
enumeration  and  classification  of  the  kinds  of  industry  which 
are  intended  for  the  indirect  or  remote  furtherance  of  other 
productive  labour,  we  need  not  include  the  labour  of  pro- 
ducing subsistence  or  other  necessaries  of  life  to  be  con- 
sumed by  productive  labourers  ;  for  the  main  end  and  pur- 
pose of  his  labour  is  the  subsistence  itself ;  and  though  the 
possession  of  a  store  of  it  enables  other  work  to  be  done, 
this  is  but  an  incidental  consequence.  The  remaining 
modes  in  which  labour  is  indirectly  instrumental  to  produc- 
tion, may  be  arranged  under  five  heads. 

First:  Labour  employed  in  producing  materials,  on 
which  industry  is  to  be  afterwards  employed.  This  is,  in 
many  cases,  a  labour  of  mere  appropriation  ;  extractive  in- 
dustry, as  it  has  been  aptly  named  by  M.  Dunoyer.  The 
labour  of  the  miner,  for  example,  consists  of  operation^ for 
digging  out  of  the  earth  substances  convertible  by  industry 
into  various  articles  fitted  for  human  use.  Extractive  in- 
dustry, however,  is  not  confined  to  the  extraction  of  ma- 
terials. Coal,  for  instance,  is  employed,  not  only  in  the 
process  of  industry,  but  in  directly  warming  human  beings. 


When  bo  used,  it  is  not  a  material  of  production,  but  is  it- 
self the  ultimate  product.  So,  also,  in  the  case  of  a  mine  of 
precious  stones.  These  are  to  some  small  extent  employed 
in  the  productive  arts,  as  diamonds  by  the  glass-cutter, 
emery  and  corundum  for  polishing,  but  their  principal  des- 
tination, that  of  ornament,  is  a  direct  use ;  though  they 
commonly  require,  before  being  so  used,  some  process  of 
manufacture,  which  may  perhaps  warrant  our  regarding 
them  as  materials.  Metallic  ores  of  all  sorts  are  materials 

Under  the  head,  production  of  materials,  we  must  in- 
clude the  industry  of  the  wood-cutter,  when  employed  in 
cutting  and  preparing  timber  for  building,  or  wood  for  the 
purposes  of  the  carpenter's  or  any  other  art.  In  the  forests 
of  America,  Norway,  Germany,  the  Pyrenees  and  Alps,  this 
sort  of  labour  is  largely  employed  on  trees  of  spontaneous 
growth.  In  other  cases,  we  must  add  to  the  labour  of  the 
wood-cutter  that  of  the  planter  and  cultivator. 

Under  the  same  head  are  also  comprised  the  labours  of 
the  agriculturist  in  growing  flax,  hemp,  cotton,  feeding  silk- 
worms, raising  food  for  cattle,  producing  bark,  dye-stuffs, 
some  oleaginous  plants,  and  many  other  things  only  useful 
because  required  in  other  departments  of  industry.  So, 
too,  the  labour  of  the  hunter,  as  far  as  his  object  is  furs  or 
feathers  ;  of  the  shepherd  and  the  cattle-breeder,  in  respect 
of  wool,  hides,  horn,  bristles,  horse-hair,  and  the  like.  The 
things  used  as  materials  in  6ome  process  or  other  of  manu- 
facture are  of  a  most  miscellaneous  character,  drawn  from 
almost  every  quarter  of  the  animal,  vegetable,  and  mineral 
kingdoms.  And  besides  this,  the  finished  products  of  many 
branches  of  industry  are  the  materials  of  others.  The 
thread  produced  by  the  spinner  is  applied  to  hardly  any  use 
except  as  material  for  the  weaver.  Even  the  product  of  the 
loom  is  chiefly  used  as  material  for  the  fabricators  of  articles 
of  dress  or  furniture,  or  of  further  instruments  of  productive 
industry,  as  in  the  case  of  the  sailmaker.  The  currier  and 
tanner  find  their  whole  occupation  in  converting  raw  ma- 

60  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  II.     §4. 

terial  into  what  may  be  termed  prepared  material.  In 
strictness  of  speech,  almost  all  food,  as  it  comes  from  the 
hands  of  the  agriculturist,  is  nothing  more  than  material 
for  the  occupation  of  the  baker  or  the  cook. 

§  4.  The  second  kind  of  indirect  labour  is  that  em- 
ployed in  making  tools  or  implements  for  the  assistance  of 
labour.  I  use  these  terms  in  their  most  comprehensive 
sense,  embracing  all  permanent  instruments  or  helps  to  pro- 
duction, from  a  flint  and  steel  for  striking  a  light,  to  a 
steam  ship,  or  the  most  complex  apparatus  of  manufacturing 
machinery.  There  may  be  some  hesitation  where  to  draw 
the  line  between  implements  and  materials ;  and  some 
things  used  in  production  (such  as  fuel)  would  scarcely  in 
common  language  be  called  by  either  name,  popular  phrase- 
ology being  shaped  out  by  a  different  class  of  necessities 
from  those  of  scientific  exposition.  To  avoid  a  multiplica- 
tion of  classes  and  denominations  answering  to  distinctions 
of  no  scientific  importance,  political  economists  generally 
include  all  things  which  are  used  as  immediate  means  of 
production  (the  means  which  are  not  immediate  will  be  con- 
sidered presently)  either  in  the  class  of  implements  or  in 
that  of  materials.  Perhaps  the  line  is  most  usually  and 
most  conveniently  drawn,  by  considering  as  a  material 
every  instrument  of  production  which  can  only  be  used 
once,  being  destroyed  (at  least  as  an  instrument  for  the  pur- 
pose in  hand)  by  a  single  employment.  Thus  fuel,  once 
burnt,  cannot  be  again  used  as  fuel ;  what  can  be  so  used  is 
pnly  any  portion  which  has  remained  unburnt  the  first 
time.  And  not  only  it  cannot  be  used  without  being  con- 
sumed, but  it  is  only  useful  by  being  consumed ;  for  if  no 
part  of  the  fuel  were  destroyed,  no  heat  would  be  generated. 
A  fleece,  again,  is  destroyed  as  a  fleece  by  being  spun  into 
thread  ;  and  the  thread  cannot  be  used  as  thread  when 
woven  into  cloth.  But  an  axe  is  not  destroyed  as  an  axe  by 
cutting  down  a  tree :  it  may  be  used  afterwards  to  cut 
down  a  hundred  or  a  thousand  more ;  and  though  deterio- 


rated  in  some  small  degree  by  each  use,  it  does  not  do  its 
work  by  being  deteriorated,  as  the  coal  and  the  fleece  do 
theirs  by  being  destroyed  ;  on  the  contrary,  it  is  the  better 
instrument  the  better  it  resists  deterioration.  .  There  are 
some  things,  rightly  classed  as  materials,  which  may  be 
used  as  such  a  second  and  a  third  time,  but  not  while  the 
product  to  which  they  at  first  contributed  remains  in  exist- 
ence. The  iron  which  formed  a  tank  or  a  set  of  pipes  may 
be  melted  to  form  a  plough  or  a  steam-engine ;  the  stones 
with  which  a  house  was  built  may  be  used  after  it  is  pulled 
down,  to  build  another.  But  this  cannot  be  done  while  the 
original  product  subsists  ;  their  function  as  materials  is  sus- 
pended, until  the  exhaustion  of  the  first  use.  Not  so  with 
the  things  classed  as  implements ;  they  may  be  used  re- 
peatedly for  fresh  work,  until  the  time,  sometimes  very  dis- 
tant, at  which  they  are  worn  out,  while  the  work  already 
done  by  them  may  subsist  unimpaired,  and  when  it  per- 
ishes, does  so  by  its  own  laws,  or  by  casualties  of  its  own.* 
The  only  practical  difference  of  much  importance  arising 
from  the  distinction  between  materials  and  implements,  is 
one  which  has  attracted  our  attention  in  another  case. 
Since  materials  are  destroyed  as  such  by  being  once  used, 
the  whole  of  the  labour  required  for  their  production,  as 
well  as  the  abstinence  of  the  person  who  supplied  the  means 
for  carrying  it  on,  must  be  remunerated  from  the  fruits  of 
that  single  use.  Implements,  on  the  contrary,  being  sus- 
ceptible of  repeated  employment,  the  whole  of  the  products 

*  The  able  and  friendly  reviewer  of  this  treatise  in  the  Edinburgh  Review 
(October,  1848)  states  the  distinction  between  materials  and  implements  rather 
differently:  proposing  to  consider  as  materials  uall  the  things  which,  after 
having  undergone  the  change  implied  in  production,  are  themselves  matter  of 
exchange,"  and  as  implements  (or  instruments)  "  the  things  which  are  employed 
in  producing  that  change,  but  do  not  themselves  become  part  of  the  exchange- 
able result."  According  to  these  definitions,  the  fuel  consumed  in  a  manufactory 
would  be  considered,  not  as  a  material,  but  as  an  instrument.  This  use  of  the 
terms  accords  better  than  that  proposed  in  the  text,  with  the  primitive  physical 
meaning  of  the  word  "  material  ;w  but  the  distinction  on  which  it  is  grounded  is 
one  almost  irrelevant  to  political  economy. 

62  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  II.     §  ft. 

which  they  are  instrumental  in  bringing  into  existence  are 
a  fund  which  can  be  drawn  upon  to  remunerate  the  labour 
of  their  construction,  and  the  abstinence  of  those  by  whose 
accumulations  that  labour  was  supported.  >  It  is  enough  if. 
each  product  contributes  a  fraction,  commonly  an  insig- 
nificant one,  towards  the  remuneration  of  that  labour  and 
abstinence,  or  towards  indemnifying  the  immediate  producer 
for  advancing  that  remuneration  to  the  person  who  pro- 
duced the  tools. 

§  5.  Thirdly :  Besides  materials  for  industry  to  employ 
itself  on,  and  implements  to  aid  it,  provision  must  be  made 
to  prevent  its  operations  from  being  disturbed  and  its  prod- 
ucts injured,  either  by  the  destroying  agencies  of  nature,  or 
by  the  violence  or  rapacity  of  men.  This  gives  rise  to 
another  mode  in  which  labour  not  employed  directly  about 
the  product  itself,  is  instrumental  to  its  production ;  name- 
ly, when  employed  for  the  protection  of  industry.  Such  is 
the  object  of  all  buildings  for  industrial  purposes  ;  all  man- 
ufactories, warehouses,  docks,  granaries,  barns,  farm-build- 
ings devoted  to  cattle,  or  to  the  operations  of  agricultural 
labour.  I  exclude  those  in  which  the  labourers  live,  or 
which  are  destined  for  their  personal  accommodation  :  these, 
like  their  food,  supply  actual  wants,  and  must  be  counted 
in  the  remuneration  of  their  labour.  There  are  many  modes 
in  which  labour  is  still  more  directly  applied  to  the  protec- 
tion of  productive  operations. 

The  herdsman  has  little  other  occupation  than  to  protect 
the  cattle  from  harm  :  the  positive  agencies  concerned  in  the 
realization  of  the  product,  go  on  nearly  of  themselves.  I 
have  already  mentioned  the  labour  of  the  hedger  and 
ditcher,  of  the  builder  of  walls  or  dykes.  To  these  must  be 
added  that  of  the  soldier,  the  policeman,  and  the  judge 
These  functionaries  are  not  indeed  employed  exclusively  in 
the  protection  of  industry,  nor  does  their  payment  consti- 
tute, to  the  individual  producer,  a  part  of  the  expenses  of 
production.     But  they  are  paid  from  the  taxes,  which  are 


derived  from  the  produce  of  industry ;  arid  in  any  tolerably 
governed  country  they  render  to  its  operations  a  service  far 
more  than  equivalent  to  the  cost.  To  society  at  large  they 
are  therefore  part  of  the  expenses  of  production  ;  and  if  the 
returns  to  production  were  not  sufficient  to  maintain  these 
labourers  in  addition  to  all  the  others  required,  production, 
at  least  in  that  form  and  manner,  could  not  take  place. 
Besides,  if  the  protection  which  the  government  affords  to 
the  operations  of  industry  were  not  afforded,  the  producers 
would  be  under  a  necessity  of  either  withdrawing  a  large 
share  of  their  time  and  labour  from  production,  to  employ 
it  in  defence,  or  of  engaging  armed  men  to  defend  them ; 
all  which  labour,  in  that  case,  must  be  directly  remunerated 
from  the  produce ;  and  things  which  could  not  pay  for  this 
additional  labour,  would  not  be  produced.  Under  the  pres- 
ent arrangements,  the  product  pays  its  quota  towards  the 
same  protection,  and  notwithstanding  the  waste  and  prodi- 
gality incident  to  government  expenditure,  obtains  it  of 
better  quality  at  a  much  smaller  cost. 

§  6.  Fourthly :  There  is  a  very  great  amount  of  labour 
employed,  not  in  bringing  the  product  into  existence,  but  in 
rendering  it,  when  in  existence,  accessible  to  those  for  whose 
use  it  is  intended.  Many  important  classes  of  labourers 
find  their  sole  employment  in  some  function  of  this  kind. 
There  is  first  the  whole  class  of  carriers,  by  land  or  water : 
muleteers,  waggoners,  bargemen,  sailors,  wharfmen,  coal- 
heavers,  porters,  railway  establishments,  and  the  like. 
Next,  there  are  the  constructors  of  all  the  implements  of 
transport ;  ships,  barges,  carts,  locomotives,  &c,  to  which 
must  be  added  roads,  canals,  and  railways.  Roads  are 
sometimes  made  by  the  government,  and  opened  gratuitous- 
ly to  the  public  ;  but  the  labour  of  making  them  is  not  the 
less  paid  for  from  the  produce.  Each  producer,  in  paying 
his  quota  of  the  taxes  levied  generally  for  the  construction 
of  roadgj  pays  for  the  use  of  those  which  conduce  to  his  con- 
venience ;  and  if  made  with  any  tolerable  judgment,  they 

64  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  II.     §6. 

increase  the  returns  to  his  industry  by  far  more  than  a» 
equivalent  amount. 

Another  numerous  class  of  labourers  employed  in  ren- 
dering the  things  produced  accessible  to  their  intended  con- 
sumers, is  the  class  of  dealers  and  traders,  or,  as  they  may 
be  termed,  distributors.  There  would  be  a  great  waste  of 
time  and  trouble,  and  an  inconvenience  often  amounting  to 
impracticability,  if  consumers  could  only  obtain  the  articles 
they  want  by  treating  directly  with  the  producers.  Both 
producers  and  consumers  are  too  much  scattered,  and  the 
latter  often  at  too  great  a  distance  from  the  former.  To  di- 
minish this  loss  of  time  aud  labour,  the  contrivance  of  fairs 
and  markets  was  early  had  recourse  to,  where  consumers 
and  producers  might  periodically  meet,  without  any  inter- 
mediate agency ;  and  this  plan  answers  tolerably  well  for 
many  articles,  especially  agricultural  produce,  agriculturists 
having  at  some  seasons  a  certain  quantity  of  spare  time  on 
their  hands.  But  even  in  this  case,  attendance  is  often  very 
troublesome  and  inconvenient  to  buyers  who  have  other 
occupations,  and  do  not  live  in  the  immediate  vicinity ; 
while,  for  all  articles  the  production  of  which  requires  con- 
tinuous attention  from  the  producers,  these  periodical 
markets  must  be  held  at  such  considerable  intervals,  and 
the  wants  of  the  consumers  must  either  be  provided  for  so 
long  beforehand,  or  must  remain  so  long  unsupplied,  that 
even  before  the  resources  of  society  admitted  of  the  estab- 
lishment of  shops,  the  supply  of  these  wants  fell  universally 
into  the  hands  of  itinerant  dealers  ;  the  pedlar,  who  might 
appear  once  a  month,  being  preferred  to  the  fair,  which 
only  returned  once  or  twice  a  year.  In  country  districts, 
remote  from  towns  or  large  villages,  the  industry  of  the 
pedlar  is  not  yet  wholly  superseded.  But  a  dealer  who  has 
a  fixed  abode  and  fixed  customers  is  so  much  more  to  be 
depended  on,  that  consumers  prefer  resorting  to  him  if  he  is 
conveniently  accessible ;  and  dealers  therefore  find  their 
advantage  in  establishing  themselves  in  every  locality  where 


there  aire  sufficient  consumers  near  at  hand  to  afford  them  a 

In  many  cases  the  producers  and  dealers  are  the  same 
persons,  at  least  as  to  the  ownership  of  the  funds  and  the 
control  of  the  operations.  The  tailor,  the  shoemaker,  the 
baker,  and  many  other  tradesmen,  are  the  producers  of  the 
articles  they  deal  in,  so  far  as  regards  the  last  stage  in  the 
production.  This  union,  however,  of  the  functions  of  manu- 
facturer and  retailer,  is  only  expedient  when  the  article  can 
advantageously  be  made  at  or  near  the  place  convenient  for 
retailing  it ;  and  is,  besides,  manufactured  and  sold  in  small 
parcels.  When  things  have  to  be  brought  from  a  distance, 
the  same  person  cannot  effectually  superintend  both  the 
making  and  the  retailing  of  them  ;  when  they  are  best  and 
most  cheaply  made  on  a  large  scale,  a  single  manufactory 
requires  so  many  local  channels  to  carry  off  its  supply,  that 
the  retailing  is  most  conveniently  delegated  to  other  agen- 
cy :  and  even  shoes  and  coats,  when  they  are  to  be  fur- 
nished in  large  quantities  at  once,  as  for  the  supply  of  a 
regiment  or  of  a  workhouse,  are  usually  obtained  not  direct- 
ly from  the  producers,  but  from  intermediate  dealers,  who 
make  it  their  business  to  ascertain  from  what  producers 
they  can  be  obtained  best  and  cheapest.  Even  when  things 
are  destined  to  be  at  last  sold  by  retail,  convenience  soon 
creates  a  class  of  wholesale  dealers.  "When  products  and 
transactions  have  multiplied  beyond  a  certain  point ;  when 
one  manufactory  supplies  many  shops,  and  one  shop  has 
often  to  obtain  goods  from  many  different  manufactories, 
the  loss  of  time  and  trouble  both  to  the  manufacturers  and 
to  the  retailers  by  treating  directly  with  one  another,  makes 
it  more  convenient  to  them  to  treat  with  a  smaller  number 
of  great  dealers  or  merchants,  who  only  buy  to  sell  again, 
collecting  goods  from  the  various  producers,  and  distribut- 
ing them  to  the  retailers,  to  be  by  them  further  distributed 
among  the  consumers.  Of  these  various  elements  is  com- 
posed the  Distributing  Class,  whose  agency  is  supplement- 
ary to  that  of  the  Producing  Class :  and  the  produce  so 

66  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IL     |V. 

distributed,  or  its  price,  is  the  source  from  which  the  dis- 
tributors are  remunerated  for  their  exertions,  and  for  the 
abstinence  which  enabled  them  to  advance  the  funds  need- 
ful for  the  business  of  distribution. 

§  7.  We  have  now  completed  the  enumeration  of  the 
modes  in  which  labour  employed  on  external  nature  is  sub- 
servient to  production.  But  there  is  yet  another  mode  of 
employing  labour,  which  conduces  equally,  though  still 
more  remotely,  to  that  end :  this  is,  labour  of  which  the 
subject  is  human  beings.  Every  human  being  has  been 
brought  up  from  infancy  at  the  expense  of  much  labour  to 
some  person  or  persons,  and  if  this  labour,  or  part  of  it,  had 
not  been  bestowed,  the  child  would  never  have  attained  the 
age  and  strength  which  enable  him  to  become  a  labourer  in 
his  turn.  To  the  community  at  large,  the  labour  and 
expense  of  rearing  its  infant  population  form  a  part  of  the 
outlay  which  is  a  condition  of  production,  and  which  is  to 
be  replaced  with  increase  from  the  future  produce  of  their 
labour.  By  the  individuals,  this  labour  and  expense  are 
usually  incurred  from  other  motives  than  to  obtain  such 
ultimate  return,  and,  for  most  purposes  of  political  econ- 
omy, need  not  be  taken  into  account  as  expenses  of  produc- 
tion. But  the  technical  or  industrial  education  of  the  com- 
munity ;  the  labour  employed  in  learning  and  in  teaching 
the  arts  of  production,  in  acquiring  and  communicating 
skill  in  those  arts ;  this  labour  is  really,  and  in  general 
solely,  undergone  for  the  sake  of  the  greater  or  more  valua- 
ble produce  thereby  attained,  and  in  order  that  a  remunera- 
tion, equivalent  or  more  than  equivalent,  may  be  reaped  by 
the  learner,  besides  an  adequate  remuneration  for  the  labour 
of  the  teacher,  when  a  teacher  has  been  employed. 

As  the  labour  which  confers  productive  powers,  whether 
of  hand  or  of  head,  may  be  looked  upon  as  part  of  the 
labour  by  which  society  accomplishes  its  productive  opera- 
tions, or  in  other  words,  as  part  of  what  the  produce  costs 
to  society,  so  too  may  the  labour  employed  in  keeping  up 


productive  powers ;  in  preventing  them  from  being  de- 
stroyed or  weakened  by  accident  or  disease.  The  labour  of 
a  physician  or  surgeon,  when  made  use  of  by  persons  en- 
gaged in  industry,  must  be  regarded  in  the  economy  of 
society  as  a  sacrifice  incurred,  to  preserve  from  perishing  by 
death  or  infirmity  that  portion  of  the  productive  resources 
of  society  which  is  fixed  in  the  lives  and  bodily  or  mental 
powers  of  its  productive  members.  To  the  individuals,  in- 
deed, this  forms  but  a  part,  sometimes  an  imperceptible 
part,  of  the  motives  that  induce  them  to  submit  to  medical 
treatment :  it  is  not  principally  from  economical  motives 
that  persons  have  a  limb  amputated,  or  endeavour  to  be 
cured  of  a  fever,  though  when  they  do  so,  there  is  generally 
sufficient  inducement  for  it  even  on  that  score  alone.  T^ his 
is,  therefore,  one  of  the  cases  of  labour  and  outlay  which, 
though  conducive  to  production,  yet  not  being  incurred  for 
that  end,  or  for  the  sake  of  the  returns  arising  from  it,  are 
out  of  the  sphere  of  most  of  the  general  propositions  which 
political  economy  has  occasion  to  assert  respecting  pro- 
ductive labour :  though,  when  society  and  not  the  individ- 
uals are  considered,  this  labour  and  outlay  must  be  regarded 
as  part  of  the  advance  by  which  society  effects  its  pro- 
ductive operations,  and  for  which  it  is  indemnified  by  the 

§  8.  Another  kind  of  labour,  usually  classed  as  mental, 
but  conducing  to  the  ultimate  product  as  directly,  though 
not  so  immediately,  as  manual  labour  itself,  is  the  labour  of 
the  inventors  of  industrial  processes.  I  say,  usually  classed 
as  mental,  because  in  reality  it  is  not  exclusively  so.  All 
human  exertion  is  compounded  of  some  mental  and  some 
bodily  elements.  The  stupidest  hodman,  who  repeats  from 
day  to  day  the  mechanical  act  of  climbing  a  ladder,  per- 
forms a  function  partly  intellectual ;  the  most  intelligent 
dog  or  elephant  could  not,  probably,  be  taught  to  do  it. 
The  dullest  human  being,  instructed  beforehand,  is  capable 
of  turning  a  mill ;  but  a  horse  cannot  drive  it  without  some- 

68  BOOK  I.    CHAPTER  H.     §  8. 

body  to  drive  and  watch  him.  On  the  other  hand,  there  ifr 
some  bodily  ingredient  in  the  labour  most  purely  mental, 
when  it  generates  any  external  result.  Newton  could  not 
have  produced  the  Principia  without  the  bodily  exertion 
either  of  penmanship  or  of  dictation ;  and  be  must  have 
drawn  many  figures,  and  written  out  many  calculations  and 
demonstrations,  while  he  was  preparing  it  in  his  mind. 
Inventors,  besides  the  labour  of  their  brains,  generally  go 
through  much  labour  with  their  hands,  in  the  models  which 
they  construct  and  the  experiments  they  have  to  make 
before  their  idea  can  realize  itself  successfully  in  act. 
Whether  mental,  however,  or  bodily,  their  labour  is  a 
part  of  that  by  which  the  production  is  brought  about. 
The  labour  of  Watt  in  contriving  the  steam-engine  was  as 
essential  a  part  of  production  as  that  of  the  mechanics  who 
build  or  the  engineers  who  work  the  instrument ;  and  was 
undergone,  no  less  than  theirs,  in  the  prospect  of  a  remuner- 
ation from  the  produce.  The  labour  of  invention  is  often 
estimated  and  paid  on  the  very  same  plan  as  that  of  execu- 
tion. Many  manufacturers  of  ornamental  goods  have 
inventors  in  their  employment,  who  receive  wages  or  sala- 
ries for  designing  patterns,  exactly  as  others  do  for  copying 
them.  All  this  is  strictly  part  of  the  labour  of  production  ; 
as  the  labour  of  the  author  of  a  book  is  equally  a  part  of  its 
production  with  that  of  the  printer  and  binder. 

In  a  national,  or  universal  point  of  view,  the  labour  of 
the  savant,  or  speculative  thinker,  is  as  much  a  part  of  pro- 
duction in  the  very  narrowest  sense,  as  that  of  the  inventor 
of  a  practical  art ;  many  such  inventions  having  been  the 
direct  consequences  of  theoretic  discoveries,  and  every 
extension  of  knowledge  of  the  powers  of  nature  being  fruit- 
ful of  applications  to  the  purposes  of  outward  life.  The 
electro-magnetic  telegraph  was  the  wonderful  and  most  un- 
expected consequence  of  the  experiments  of  (Ersted  and  the 
mathematical  investigations  of  Ampere :  and  the  modern 
art  of  navigation  is  an  unforeseen  emanation  from  the 
purely  speculative  and  apparently  merely  curious  inquiry, 


by  the  mathematicians  of  Alexandria,  into  the  properties 
of  three  curves  formed  by  the  intersection  of  a  plane  surface 
and  a  cone.  No  limit  can  be  set  to  the  importance,  even 
in  a  purely  productive  and  material  point  of  view,  of  mere 
thought.  Inasmuch,  however,  as  these  material  fruits, 
though  the  result,  are  seldom  the  direct  purpose  of  the  pur- 
suits of  savants,  nor  is  their  remuneration  in  general  derived 
from  the  increased  production  which  may  be  caused  inci- 
dentally, and  mostly  after  a  long  interval,  by  their  discov- 
eries ;  this  ultimate  influence  does  not,  for  most  of  the  pur- 
poses of  political  economy,  require  to  be  taken  into  consid- 
eration ;  and  speculative  thinkers  are  generally  classed  as 
the  producers  only  of  the  books,  or  other  useable  or  sale- 
able articles,  which  directly  emanate  from  them.  But 
when  (as  in  political  economy  one  should  always  be  pre- 
pared to  do)  we  shift  our  point  of  view,  and  consider  not 
individual  acts,  and  the  motives  by  which  they  are  deter- 
mined, but  national  and  universal  results,  intellectual  specu- 
lation must  be  looked  upon  as  a  most  influential  part  of  the 
productive  labour  of  society,  and  the  portion  of  its  resources 
employed  in  carrying  on  and  in  remunerating  such  labour, 
as  a  highly  productive  part  of  its  expenditure. 

§  9.  In  the  foregoing  survey  of  the  modes  of  employ- 
ing labour  in  furtherance  of  production,  I  have  made  little 
use  of  the  popular  distinction  of  industry  into  agricultural, 
manufacturing,  and  commercial.  For,  in  truth,  this  divi- 
sion fulfils  very  badly  the  purposes  of  a  classification. 
Many  great  branches  of  productive  industry  find  no  place 
in  it,  or  not  without  much  straining ;  for  example  (not  to 
speak  of  hunters  or  fishers)  the  miner,  the  road-maker,  and 
the  sailor.  The  limit,  too,  between  agricultural  and  manu- 
facturing industry  cannot  be  precisely  drawn.  The  miller, 
for  instance,  and  the  baker — are  they  to  be  reckoned  among 
agriculturists,  or  among  manufacturers  ?  Their  occupation 
is  in  its  nature  manufacturing ;  the  food  has  finally  parted 
company  with  the  soil  before  it  is  handed  over  to  them : 

70  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  II.     §  9. 

this,  however,  might  be  said  with  equal  truth  of  the 
thresher,  the  winnower,  the  makers  of  butter  and  cheese ; 
operations  always  counted  as  agricultural,  probably  because 
it  is  the  custom  for  them  to  be  performed  by  persons  resident 
on  the  farm,  and  under  the  same  superintendence  as  tillage. 
For  many  purposes,  all  these  persons,  the  miller  and  baker 
inclusive,  must  be  placed  in  the  same  class  with  ploughmen 
and  reapers.  They  are  all  concerned  in  producing  food,  and 
depend  for  their  remuneration  on  the  food  produced  ;  when 
the  one  class  abounds  and  flourishes,  the  others  do  so  too  ; 
they  form  collectively  the  "  agricultural  interest ; "  they 
render  but  one  service  to  the  community  by  their  united 
labours,  and  are  paid  from  one  common  source.  Even  the 
tillers  of  the  soil,  again,  when  the  produce  is  not  food,  but 
the  materials  of  what  are  commonly  termed  manufactures, 
belong  in  many  respects  to  the  same  division  in  the  economy 
of  society  as  manufacturers.  The  cotton-planter  of  Caro- 
lina, and  the  wool-grower  of  Australia,  have  more  interests 
in  common  with  the  spinner  and  weaver  than  with  the 
corn-grower.  But,  on  the  other  hand,  the  industry  which 
operates  immediately  upon  the  soil  has,  as  we  shall  see 
hereafter,  some  properties  on  which  many  important  conse- 
quences depend,  and  which  distinguish  it  from  all  the  sub- 
sequent stages  of  production,  whether  carried  on  by  the 
same  person  or  not ;  from  the  industry  of  the  thresher  and 
winnower,  as  much  as  from  that  of  the  cotton-spinner. 
When  I  speak,  therefore,  of  agricultural  labour,  I  shall  gen- 
erally mean  this,  and  this  exclusively,  unless  the  contrary  is 
either  stated  or  implied  in  the  context.  The  term  manufac- 
turing is  too  vague  to  be  of  much  use  when  precision  is 
required,  and  when  I  employ  it,  I  wish  to  be  understood  as 
intending  to  speak  popularly  rather  than  scientifically. 



§  1.  Labour  is  indispensable  to  production,  but  has  not 
always  production  for  its  effect.  There  is  much  labour,  and 
.of  a  high  order  of  usefulness,  of  which  production  is  not  the 
object.  Labour  has  accordingly  been  distinguished  into 
Productive  and  Unproductive.  There  has  been  not  a  little 
controversy  among  political  economists  on  the  question, 
what  kinds  of  labour  should  be  reputed  to  be  unproductive ; 
and  they  have  not  always  perceived,  that  there  was  in 
reality  no  matter  of  fact  in  dispute  between  them. 

Many  writers  have  been  unwilling  to  class  any  labour  as 
productive,  unless  its  result  is  palpable  in  some  material 
object,  capable  of  being  transferred  from  one  person  to 
another.  There  are  others  (among  whom  are  Mr.  M'Culloch 
and  M.  Say)  who  looking  upon  the  word  unproductive  as  a 
term  of  disparagement,  remonstrate  against  imposing  it 
•upon  any  labour  which  is  regarded  as  useful — which  pro- 
duces a  benefit  or  a  pleasure  worth  the  C06t.  The  labour 
of  officers  of  government,  of  the  army  and  navy,  of  physi- 
cians, lawyers,  teachers,  musicians,  dancers,  actors,  domestic 
servants,  &c,  when  they  really  accomplish  what  they  are 
paid  for,  and  are  not  more  numerous  than  is  required  for  its 
performance,  ought  not,  say  these  writers,  to  be  "  stigma- 
tized "  as  unproductive,  an  expression  which  they  appear  to 
regard  as  synonymous  with  wasteful  or  worthless.  But  this 
seems  to  me  a  misunderstanding  of  the  matter  in  dispute. 
Production  not  being  the  sole  end  of  human  existence,  the 

72  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  in.     §  1.  * 

term  unproductive  does  not  necessarily  imply  any  stigma ; 
nor  was  ever  intended  to  do  so  in  the  present  case.  The 
question  is  one  of  mere  language  and  classification.  Dif- 
ferences of  language,  however,  are  by  no  means  unimport- 
ant, even  when  not  grounded  on  differences  of  opinion  ;  for 
though  either  of  two  expressions  may  be  consistent  with 
the  whole  truth,  they  generally  tend  to  fix  attention  upon 
different  parts  of  it.  We  must  therefore  enter  a  little  into 
the  consideration  of  the  various  meanings  which  may  attach 
to  the  words  productive  and  unproductive  when  applied  to 

In  the  first  place,  even  in  what  is  called  the  production 
of  material  objects,  it  must  be  remembered  that  what  is 
produced  is  not  the  matter  composing  them.  All  the 
labour  of  all  the  human  beings  in  the  world  could  not  pro- 
duce one  particle  of  matter.  To  weave  broadcloth  is  but  to 
re-arrange,  in  a  peculiar  manner,  the  particles  of  wool ;  to 
grow  corn  is  only  to  put  a  portion  of  matter  called  a  seed, 
into  a  situation  where  it  can  draw  together  particles  of  mat- 
ter from  the  earth  and  air,  to  form  the  new  combination 
called  a  plant.  Though  we  cannot  create  matter,  we  can 
cause  it  to  assume  properties,  by  which,  from  having  been 
useless  to  us,  it  becomes  useful.  What  we  produce,  or 
desire  to  produce,  is  always,  as  M.  Say  rightly  terms  it,  an 
utility.  Labour  is  not  creative  of  objects,  but  of  utilities. 
Neither,  again,  do  we  consume  and  destroy  the  objects 
themselves ;  the  matter  of  which  they  were  composed 
remains,  more  or  less  altered  in  form  :  what  has  really  been 
consumed  is  only  the  qualities  by  which  they  were  fitted  for 
the  purpose  they  have  been  applied  to.  It  is,  therefore, 
pertinently  asked  by  M.  Say  and  others — since,  when  we 
are  said  to  produce  objects,  we  only  produce  utility,  why 
should  not  all  labour  which  produces  utility  be  accounted 
productive  ?  Why  refuse  that  title  to  the  surgeon  who  sets 
a  limb,  the  judge  or  legislator  who  confers  security,  and 
give  it  to  the  lapidary  who  cuts  and  polishes  a  diamond  ? 
Why  deny  it  to  the  teacher  from  whom  I  learn  an  art  by 


which  I  can  gain  my  bread,  and  accord  it  to  the  confec- 
tioner who  makes  bonbons  for  the  momentary  pleasure  of  a 
sense  of  taste  ? 

It  is  quite  true  that  all  these  kinds  of  labour  are  pro- 
ductive of  utility  ;  and  the  question  which  now  occupies  iu 
could  not  have  been  a  question  at  all,  if  the  production  of 
utility  were  enough  to  satisfy  the  notion  which  mankind 
have  usually  formed  of  productive  labour.  Production,  and 
productive,  are  of  course  elliptical  expressions,  involving 
the  idea  of  a  something  produced ;  but  this  something,  in 
common  apprehension,  I  conceive  to  be,  not  ntility,  but 
Wealth.  Productive  labour  means  labour  productive  of 
wealth.  We  are  recalled,  therefore,  to  the  question  touched 
npon  in  our  first  chapter,  what  Wealth  is,  and  whether  only 
material  products,  or  all  useful  products,  are  to  be  included 
in  it. 

§  2.  Now  the  utilities  produced  by  labour  are  of  three 
kinds.    They  are, 

First,  utilities  fixed  and  embodied  in  outward  objects ; 
by  labour  employed  in  investing  external  material  things 
with  properties  which  render  them  serviceable  to  human 
beings.  This  is  the  common  case,  and  requires  no  illus- 

Secondly,  utilities  fixed  and  embodied  in  human  beings ; 
the  labour  being  in  this  case  employed  in  conferring  on 
human  beings,  qualities  which  render  them  serviceable  to 
themselves  and  others.  To  this  class  belongs  the  labour  of 
all  concerned  in  education  ;  not  only  schoolmasters,  tutors, 
and  professors,  but  governments,  so  far  as  they  aim  success- 
fully at  the  improvement  of  the  people ;  moralists,  and 
clergymen,  as  far  as  productive  of  benefit ;  the  labour  of 
physicians,  as  far  as  instrumental  in  preserving  life  and 
physical  or  mental  efficiency ;  of  the  teachers  of  bodily 
exercises,  and  of  the  various  trades,  sciences,  and  arts,  to- 
gether with  the  labour  of  the  learners  in  acquiring  them  ; 
and  all  labour  bestowed  by  any  persons,  throughout  life,  in 

74  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  III.     §2. 

improving  the  knowledge    or    cultivating  the  bodily  or 
mental  faculties  of  themselves  or  others* 

Thirdly  and  lastly,  utilities  not  fixed  or  embodied  in  any 
object,  but  consisting  in  a  mere  service  rendered ;  a  pleasure 
given,  an  inconvenience  or  a  pain  averted,  during  a  longer 
or  a  shorter  time,  but  without  leaving  a  permanent  acquisi- 
tion in  the  improved  qualities  of  any  person  or  thing ;  the 
labour  being  employed  in  producing  an  utility  directly,  not 
(as  in  the  two  former  cases)  in  fitting  some  otlier  thing  to 
afford  an  utility.  Such,  for  example,  is  the  labour  of  the 
musical  performer,  the  actor,  the  public  declaimer  or  reciter, 
and  the  showman.  Some  good  may  no  doubt  be  produced, 
and  much  more  might  be  produced,  beyond  the  moment, 
upon  the  feelings  and  disposition,  or  general  state  of  enjoy- 
ment of  the  spectators ;  or  instead  of  good  there  may  be 
harm  ;  but  neither  the  one  nor  the  other  is  the  effect  intend- 
ed, is  the  result  for  which  the  exhibitor  works  and  the  spec- 
tator pays ;  nothing  but  the  immediate  pleasure.  Such, 
again,  is  the  labour  of  the  army  and  navy ;  they,  at  the 
best,  prevent  a  country  from  being  conquered,  or  from  being 
injured  or  insulted,  which  is  a  service,  but  in  all  other 
respects  leave  the  country  neither  improved  nor  deteriorat- 
ed. Such,  too,  is  the  labour  of  the  legislator,  the  judge,  the 
officer  of  justice,  and  all  other  agents  of  government,  in 
their  ordinary  functions,  apart  from  any  influence  they  may 
exert  on  the  improvement  of  the  national  mind.  The  ser- 
vice which  they  render,  is  to  maintain  peace  and  security  ; 
these  compose  the  utility  which  they  produce.  It  may 
appear  to  some,  that  carriers,  and  merchants  or  dealers, 
should  be  placed  in  this  same  class,  since  their  labour  does 
not  add  any  properties  to  objects  :  but  I  reply  that  it  does : 
it  adds  the  property  of  being  in  the  place  where  they  are 
wanted,  instead  of  being  in  some  other  place :  wThich  is  a 
very  useful  property,  and  the  utility  it  confers  is  embodied 
in  the  things  themselves,  which  now  actually  are  in  the 
place  where  they  are  required  for  use,  and  in  consequence 
of  that  increased  utility  could  be  sold  at  an  increased  price, 


proportioned  to  the  labour  expended  in  conferring  it.  This 
labour,  therefore,  does  not  belong  to  the  third  class,  but  to 
the  first. 

§  3.  We  have  now  to  consider  which  of  these  three 
classes  of  labour  should  be  accounted  productive  of  wealth, 
since  that  is  what  the  term  productive,  when  used  by 
itself,  must  be  understood  to  import.  Utilities  of  the  third 
class,  consisting  in  pleasures  which  only  exist  while  being 
enjoyed,  and  services  which  only  exist  while  being  per- 
formed, cannot  be  spoken  of  as  wealth*  except  by  an 
acknowledged  metaphor.  It  is  essential  to  the  idea  of 
wealth  to  be  susceptible  of  accumulation :  things  which 
cannot,  after  being  produced,  be  kept  for  some  time  before 
being  used,  are  never,  I  think,  regarded  as  wealth,  since 
however  much  of  them  may  be  produced  and  enjoyed,  the 
person  benefited  by  them  is  no  richer,  is  nowise  improved 
in  circumstances.  But  there  is  not  so  distinct  and  positive 
a  violation  of  usage  in  considering  as  wealth  any  product 
which  is  both  useful  and  susceptible  of  accumulation.  The 
skill,  and  the  energy  and  perseverance,  of  the  artisans  of  a 
country,  are  reckoned  part  of  its  wealth,  no  less  than  their 
tools  and  machinery.  According  to  this  definition,  we 
should  regard  alt  labour  as  productive  which  is  employed  in 
creating  permanent  utilities,  whether  embodied  in  human 
beings,  or  in  any  other  animate  or  inanimate  objects.  And 
this  nomenclature  I  have,  in  a  former  publication,*  recom- 
mended, as  the  most  conducive  to  the  ends  of  classification, 
though  not  strictly  conformable  to  the  customs  of  language. 

But  in  applying  the  term  wealth  to  the  industrial  capa- 
cities of  human  beings,  there  seems  always,  in  popular  ap- 
prehension, to  be  a  tacit  reference  to  material  products. 
The  skill  of  an  artisan  is  accounted  wealth,  only  as  being 
the  means  of  acquiring  wealth  in  a  material  sense  ;  and  any 

*  Essays  oh  some  Unsettled  Questions  of  Political  Economy*    Easay  IH 
On  the  words  Productive  and  Unproductive, 

76  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  III.     §3. 

qualities  not  tending  visibly  to  that  object  are  scarcely  so 
regarded  at  all.  A  country  would  hardly  be  said  to  be 
richer,  except  by  a  metaphor,  however  precious  a  possession 
it  might  have  in  the  genius,  the  virtues,  or  the  accomplish- 
ments of  its  inhabitants ;  unless  indeed  these  were  looked 
upon  as  marketable  articles,  by  which  it  could  attract  the 
material  wealth  of  other  countries,  as  the  Greeks  of  old,  and 
several  modern  nations  have  done.  While,  therefore,  I 
should  prefer,  were  I  constructing  a  new  technical  lan- 
guage, to  make  the  distinction  turn  upon  the  permanence 
rather  than  upon  the  materiality  of  the  product,  yet  when 
employing  terms  which  common  usage  has  taken  complete 
possession  of,  it  seems  advisable  so  to  employ  them  as  to  do 
the  least  possible  violence  to  usage ;  since  any  improve- 
ment in  terminology  obtained  by  straining  the  received 
meaning  of  a  popular  phrase,  is  generally  purchased  beyond 
its  value,  by  the  obscurity  arising  from  the  conflict  between 
new  and  old  associations. 

I  shall,  therefore,  in  this  treatise,  when  speaking  of 
wealth,  understand  by  it  only  what  is  called  material 
wealth,  and  by  productive  labour  only  those  kinds  of  exer- 
tion which  produce  utilities  embodied  in  material  objects. 
But  in  limiting  myself  to  this  sense  of  the  word,  I  mean  to 
avail  myself  of  the  full  extent  of  that  restricted  acceptation, 
and  I  shall  not  refuse  the  appellation  productive,  to  labour 
which  yields  no  material  product  as  its  direct  result,  pro- 
vided that  an  increase  of  material  products  is  its  ultimate 
consequence.  Thus,  labour  expended  in  the  acquisition  of 
manufacturing  skill,  I  class  as  productive,  not  in  virtue  of 
the  skill  itself,  but  of  the  manufactured  products  created  by 
the  skill,  and  to  the  creation  of  which  the  labour  of  learning 
the  trade  is  essentially  conducive.  The  labour  of  officers  of 
government  in  affording  the  protection  which,  afforded  in 
some  manner  or  other,  is  indispensable  to  the  prosperity  of 
industry,  must  be  classed  as  productive  even  of  material 
wealth,  because  without  it,  material  wealth,  in  anything 
like  its  present  abundance,  could  not  exist.     Such  labour 


maybe  said  to  be  productive  indirectly  or  mediately,  in 
opposition  to  the  labour  of  the  ploughman  and  the  cotton- 
spinner,  which  are  productive  immediately.  They  are  all 
alike  in  this,  that  they  leave  the  community  richer  in  ma- 
terial products  than  they  found  it ;  they  increase,  or  tend  to 
increase,  material  wealth. 

§  4.  By  Unproductive  Labour,  on  the  contrary,  will  be 
understood  labour  which  does  not  terminate  in  the  creation 
of  material  wealth  ;  which,  however  largely  or  successfully 
practised,  does  not  render  the  community,  and  the  world  at 
large,  richer  in  material  products,  but  poorer  by  all  that  is 
consumed  by  the  labourers  while  so  employed. 

All  labour  is,  in  the  language  of  political  economy,  un- 
productive, which  ends  in  immediate  enjoyment,  without 
any  increase  of  the  accumulated  stock  01  permanent  means 
of  enjoyment.  And  all  labour,  according* to  our  present 
definition,  must  be  classed  as  unproductive,  which  termi- 
nates in  a  permanent  benefit,  however  important,  provided 
that  an  increase  of  material  products  forms  no  part  of  that 
benefit.  The  labour  of  saving  a  friend's  life  is  not  pro- 
ductive, unless  the  friend  is  a  productive  labourer,  and  pro- 
duces more  than  he  consumes.  To  a  religious  person  the 
saving  of  a  soul  must  appear  a  far  more  important  service 
than  the  saving  of  a  life ;  but  he  will  not  therefore  call  a 
missionary  or  a  clergyman  productive  labourers,  unless  they 
teach,  as  the  South  Sea  Missionaries  have  in  some  cases 
done,  the  arts  of  civilization  in  addition  to  the  doctrines  of 
their  religion.  It  is,  on  the  contrary,  evident  that  the 
greater  number  of  missionaries  or  clergymen  a  nation  main- 
tains, the  less  it  has  to  expend  on  other  things ;  while  the 
more  it  expends  judiciously  in  keeping  agriculturists  and 
manufacturers  at  work,  the  more  it  will  have  for  every 
other  purpose.  By  the  former  it  diminishes,  casteris  pari- 
bus, its  stock  of  material  products ;  by  the  latter,  it  in- 
creases them. 

Unproductive  may  be  as  useful  as  productive  labour ;  i* 

78  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  IIL     §4. 

may  be  more  useful,  even  in  point  of  permanent  advantage ; 
or  its  use  may  consist  only  in  pleasurable  sensation,  which 
when  gone  leaves  no  trace ;  or  it  may  not  afford  even  this, 
but  may  be  absolute  waste.  In  any  case  society  or  man- 
kind grow  no  richer  by  it,  but  poorer.  All  material  prod- 
ucts consumed  by  any  one  while  he  produces  nothing,  are 
so  much  subtracted,  for  the  time,  from  the  material  products 
which  society  would  otherwise  have  possessed.  But  though 
society  grow  no  richer  by  unproductive  labour,  the  individ- 
ual may.  An  unproductive  labourer  may  receive  for  his 
labour,  from  those  who  derive  pleasure  or  benefit  from  it,  a 
remuneration  which  may  be  to  him  a  considerable  source 
of  wealth  ;  but  his  gain  is  balanced  by  their  loss  ;  they  may 
have  received  a  full  equivalent  for  their  expenditure,  but 
they  are  so  much  poorer  by  it.  When  a  tailor  makes  a 
coat  and  sells  it,  there  is  a  transfer  of  the  price  from  the 
customer  to  the  tailor,  and  a  coat  besides  which  did  not  pre- 
viously exist ;  but  what  is  gained  by  an  actor  is  a  mere 
transfer  from  the  spectator's  funds  to  his,  leaving  no  article 
of  wealth  for  the  spectator's  indemnification.  Thus  the 
community  collectively  gains  nothing  by  the  actor's  labour ; 
and  it  loses,  of  his  receipts,  all  that  portion  which  he  con- 
sumes, retaining  only  that  which  he  lays  by.  A  commu' 
nity,  however,  may  add  to  its  wealth  by  unproductive 
labour,  at  the  expense  of  other  communities,  as  an  indi- 
vidual may  at  the  expense  of  other  individuals.  The  gains 
of  Italian  opera  singers,  German  governesses,  French  ballet 
dancers,  &c,  are  a  source  of  wealth,  as  far  as  they  go,  to 
their  respective  countries,  if  they  return  thither.  The  petty 
states  of  Greece,  especially  the  ruder  and  more  backward 
of  those  states,  were  nurseries  of  soldiers,  who  hired  them- 
selves to  the  princes  and  satraps  of  the  East  to  carry  on 
useless  and  destructive  wars,  and  returned  with  their  sav- 
ings to  pass  their  declining  years  in  their  own  country  : 
these  were  unproductive  labourers,  and  the  pay  they  re- 
ceived, together  with  the  plunder  they  took,  was  an  outlay 
without  return  to  the  countries  which  furnished  it ;  but, 


though  no  gain  to  the  world,  it  was  a  gain  to  Greece.  At 
a  later  period  the  same  country  and  its  colonies  supplied 
the  Roman  empire  with  another  class  of  adventurers,  who, 
tinder  the  name  of  philosophers  or  of  rhetoricians,  taught  to 
the  youth  of  the  higher  classes  what  were  esteemed  thp 
most  valuable  accomplishments  :  these  were  mainly  unpro- 
ductive labourers,  but  their  ample  recompense  was  a  source 
of  wealth  to  their  own  country.     In  none  of  these  cases  was 

.  there  any  accession  of  wealth  to  the  world.  The  services 
of  the  labourers,  if  useful,  were  obtained  at  a  sacrifice  to  the 
world  of  a  portion  of  material  wealth ;  if  useless,  all  that 
these  labourers  consumed  was  waste. 

To  be  wasted,  however,  is  a  liability  not  confined  to 
unproductive  labour.  Productive  labour  may  equally  be 
waste,  if  more  of  it  is  expended  than  really  conduces  to  pro- 
duction* If  defect  of  skill  in  labourers,  or  of  judgment  in 
those  who  direct  them,  causes  a  misapplication  of  pro- 
ductive industry ;  if  a  farmer  persists  in  ploughing  with 
three  horses  and  two  men,  when  experience  has  shown'  that 
two  horses  and  one  man  are  sufficient,  the  surplus  labour, 
though  employed  for  purposes  of  production,  is  wasted.  If 
a  new  process  is  adopted  which  proves  no  better,  or  not  so 
good  as  those  before  in  use,  the  labour  expended  in  perfect- 
ing the  invention  and  in  carrying  it  into  practice,  though 
employed  for  a  productive  purpose,  is  wasted.  Productive 
labour  may  render  a  nation  poorer,  if  the  wealth  it  pro- 
duces, that  is,  the  increase  it  makes  in  the  stock  of  useful  or 
agreeable  things,  be  of  a  kind  not  immediately  wanted  :  as 
when  a  commodity  is  unsaleable,  because  produced  in  a 
quantity  beyond  the  present  demand  ;  or  when  speculators 
build  docks  and  warehouses  before  there  is  any  trade.  The 
bankrupt  states  of  North  America,  with  their  premature 
railways  and  canals,  have  made  this  kind  of  mistake  ;  and 
it  was  for  some  time  doubtful  whether  England,  in  the  dis- 
proportionate development  of  railway  enterprise,  had  not, 
in  some  degree,  followed  the  example.  Labour  sunk  in 
expectation  of  a  distant  return,  when  the  great  exigencies  or 

•limited  resources  of  the  community  require  that  the  return 

80  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  III.     §5. 

be  rapid,  may  leave  the  country  not  only  poorer  in  the 
meanwhile,  by  all  which  those  labourers  consume,  but  less 
rich  even  ultimately  than  if  immediate  returns  had  been 
sought  in  the  first  instance,  and  enterprises  for  distant  profit 

§  5.  The  distinction  of  Productive  and  Unproductive 
is  applicable  to  Consumption  as  well  as  to  Labour.  All 
the  members  of  the  community  are  not  labourers,  but  all. 
are  consumers,  and  consume  either  nnproductively  or  pro- 
ductively. Whoever  contributes  nothing  directly  or  indi- 
rectly to  production,  is  an  unproductive  consumer.  The 
only  productive  consumers  are  productive  labourers ;  the 
labour  of  direction  being  of  course  included,  as  well  as  that 
of  execution.  But  the  consumption  even  of  productive 
labourers  is  not  all  of  it  Productive  Consumption.  There 
is  unproductive  consumption  by  productive  consumers. 
What  they  consume  in  keeping  up  or  improving  their 
health,  strength,  and  capacities  of  work,  or  in  rearing  other 
productive  labourers  to  succeed  them,  is  Productive  Con- 
sumption. But  consumption  on  pleasures  or  luxuries, 
whether  by  the  idle  or  by  the  industrious,  since  production 
is  neither  its  object  nor  is  in  any  way  advanced  by  it,  must 
be  reckoned  Unproductive :  with  a  reservation  perhaps  of 
a  certain  quantum  of  enjoyment  which  may  be  classed 
among  necessaries,  since  anything  short  of  it  would  not  be 
consistent  with  the  greatest  efficiency  of  labour.  That 
alone  is  productive  consumption,  which  goes  to  maintain 
and  increase  the  productive  powers  of  the  community ; 
either  those  residing  in  its  soil,  in  its  materials,  in  the  num- 
ber and  efficiency  of  its  instruments  of  production,  or  in  its 

There  are  numerous  products  which  may  be  said  not  to 
admit  of  being  consumed  otherwise  than  unprodnctively. 
The  annual  consumption  of  gold  lace,  pine  apples,  or  cham- 
pagne, must  be  reckoned  unproductive,  since  these  things 
give  no  assistance  to  production,  or  any  support  to  life  or 
strength,  but  what  would  equally  be  given  by  things  much. 


less  costly.  Hence  it  might  be  supposed  that  the  labour 
employed  in  producing  them  ought  not  to  be  regarded  as 
productive,  in  the  sense  in  which  the  term  is  understood  by 
political  economists.  I  grant  that  no  labour  really  tends  to 
the  enrichment  of  society,  which  is  employed  in  producing 
things  for  the  use  of  unproductive  consumers.  The  tailor 
who  makes  a  coat  for  a  man  who  produces  nothing,  is  a  pro- 
ductive labourer ;  but  in  a  few  weeks  or  months  the  coat  is 
worn  out,  while  the  wearer  has  not  produced  anything  to 
replace  it,  and  the  community  is  then  no  richer  by  the 
labour  of  the  tailor,  than  if  the  6ame  sum  had  been  paid  for 
a  stall  at  the  opera.  Nevertheless,  society  has  been  richer 
by  the  labour  while  the  coat  lasted,  that  is,  jmtil  society, 
through  one  of  its  unproductive  members,  chose  to  consume 
the  produce  of  the  labour  unproductively.  The  case  of  the 
gold  lace  or  the  pine  apple  is  no  further  different,  than  that 
they  are  still  further  removed  than  the  coat  from  the  char- 
acter of  necessaries.  These  things  also  are  wealth  until  they 
have  been  consumed. 

§  6.  We  see,  however,  by  this,  that  there  is  a  distinc- 
tion, more  important  to  the  wealth  of  a  community  than 
even  that  between  productive  and  unproductive  labour ;  the 
distinction,  namely,  between  labour  for  the  supply  of  pro- 
ductive, and  for  the  supply  of  unproductive,  consumption  ; 
between  labour  employed  in  keeping  up  or  in  adding  to  the 
productive  resources  of  the  country,  and  that  which  is  em- 
ployed otherwise.  Of  the  produce  of  the  country,  a  part 
only  is  destined  to  be  consumed  productively  ;  the  remain- 
der supplies  the  unproductive  consumption  of  producers, 
and  the  entire  consumption  of  the  unproductive  class.  Sup- 
pose that  the  proportion  of  the  annual  produce  applied  to 
the  first  purpose  amounts  to  half;  then  one-half  the  pro- 
ductive labourers  of  the  country  are  all  that  are  employed 
in  the  operations  on  which  the  permanent  wealth  of  the 
country  depends.  The  other  half  are  occupied  from  year  to 
year  and  from  generation  to  generation  in  producing  things 

82  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  III.     §6. 

which  are  consumed  and  disappear  without  return ;  and 
whatever  this  half  consume  is  as  completely  lost,  as  to  any 
permanent  effect  on  the  national  resources,  as  if  it  were  con- 
sumed unproductively.  Suppose  that  this  second  half  of 
the  labouring  population  ceased  to  work,  and  that  the  gov- 
ernment or  their  parishes  maintained  them  in  idleness  for  a 
whole  year :  the  first  half  would  suffice  to  produce,  as  they 
had  done  before,  their  own  necessaries  and  the  necessaries 
of  the  second  half,  and  to  keep  the  stock  of  materials  and 
implements  undiminished:  the  unproductive  classes,  in- 
deed, would  be  either  starved  or  obliged  to  produce  their 
own  subsistence,  and  the  whole  community  would  be  re- 
duced during  a  year  to  bare  necessaries ;  but  the  sources  of 
production  would  be  unimpaired,  and  the  next  year  there 
would  not  necessarily  be  a  smaller  produce  than  if  no  such 
interval  of  inactivity  had  occurred  ;  while  if  the  case  had 
been  reversed,  if  the  first  half  of  the  labourers  had  suspend- 
ed their  accustomed  occupations,  and  the  second  half  had 
continued  theirs,  the  country  at  the  end  of  the  twelvemonth 
would  have  been  entirely  impoverished. 

It  would  be  a  great  error  to  regret  the  large  proportion 
of  the  annual  produce,  which  in  an  opulent  country  goes  to 
supply  unproductive  consumption.  It  would  be  to  lament 
that  the  community  has  so  much  to  spare  from  its  necessi- 
ties, for  its  pleasures  and  for  all  higher  uses.  This  portion 
of  the  produce  is  the  fund  from  which  all  the  wants  of  the 
community,  other  than  that  of  mere  living,  are  provided 
for;  the  measure  of  its  means  of  enjoyment,  and  of  its 
power  of  accomplishing  all  purposes  not  productive.  That 
so  great  a  surplus  should  be  available  for  such  purposes, 
and  that  it  should  be  applied  to  them,  can  only  be  a  subject 
of  congratulation.  The  things  to  be  regretted,  and  which 
are  not  incapable  of  being  remedied,  are  the  prodigious  in- 
equality with  which  this  surplus  is  distributed,  the  little 
worth  of  the  objects  to  which  the  greater  part  of  it  is 
devoted,  and  the  large  share  which  falls  to  the  lot  of  per- 
sons who  render  no  equivalent  service  in  return. 



§  1.  It  has  been  seen  in  the  preceding  chapters  that 
besides  the  primary  and  universal  requisites  of  production, 
labour  and  natural  agents,  there  is  another  requisite  with- 
out which  no  productive  operations  beyond  the  rude  and 
scanty  beginnings  of  primitive  industry,  are  possible: 
namely,  a  stock,  previously  accumulated,  of  the  products  of 
former  labour.  £This  accumulated  stock  of  the  produce  of 
labour,  is  termed  Capital^  The  function  of  Capital  in  pro- 
duction, it  is  of  the  utmost  importance  thoroughly  to  under- 
stand, since  a  number  of  the  erroneous  notions  with  which 
our  subject  is  invested,  originate  in  an  imperfect  and  con* 
fused  apprehension  of  this  point. 

Capital,  by  persons,  wholly  unused  to  reflect  on  the  sub- 
ject, is  supposed  to  be  synonymous  with  money.  To  ex- 
pose this  misapprehension,  would  be  to  repeat  what  has 
been  said  in  the  introductory  chapter.  Money  is  no  more 
synonymous  with  capital  than  it  is  with  wealth.  Money 
cannot  in  itself  perform  any  part  of  the  office  of  capital, 
since  it  can  afford  no  assistance  to  production.  To  do  this, 
it  must  be  eschanged  for  other  things  ;  and  anything,  which 
is  susceptible  of  being  exchanged  for  other  things,  is  ca- 
pable of  contributing  to  production  in  the  same  degree. 
What  capital  does  for  production,  is  to  afford  the  shelter, 
protection,  tools  and  materials  which  the  work  requires,  and 
to  feed  and  otherwise  maintain  the  labourers  during  the 
process*    These  are  the  services  which  present  labour  re- 

84  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IV. 

quires  from  past,  and  from  the  produce  of  past,  labour. 
Whatever  things  are  destined  for  this  use— destined  to  sup- 
ply productive  labour  with  these  various  prerequisites — are 

To  familiarize  ourselves  with  the  conception,  let  us  con- 
sider what  is  done  with  the  capital  invested  in  any  of  the 
branches  of  business  which  compose  the  productive  industry 
of  a  country.  A  manufacturer,  for  example,  has  one  part 
of  his  capital  in  the  form  of  buildings,  fitted  and  destined 
for  carrying  on  this  branch  of  manufacture.  Another  part 
he  has  in  the  form  of  machinery.  A  third  consists,  if  he  be 
a  spinner,  of  raw  cotton,  flax,  or  wool ;  if  a  weaver,  of 
flaxen,  woollen,  silk,  or  cotton,  thread ;  and  the  like,  accord- 
ing to  the  nature  of  the  manufacture.  Food  and  clothing 
for  his  operatives,  it  is  not  the  custom  of  the  present  age 
that  he  should  directly  provide ;  and  few  capitalists,  except 
the  producers  of  food  or  clothing,  have  any  portion  worth 
mentioning  of  their  capital  in  that  shape.  Instead  of  this, 
each  capitalist  has  money,  which  he  pays  to  his  workpeople, 
and  so  enables  them  to  supply  themselves :  he  has  also 
finished,  goods  in  his  warehouses,  by  the  sale  of  which  he 
obtains  more  money,  to  employ  in  the  same  manner,  as  well 
as  to  replenish  his  stock  of  materials,  to  keep  his  buildings 
and  machinery  in  repair,  and  to  replace  them  when  worn 
out.  His  money  and  finished  goods,  however,  are  not 
wholly  capital,  for  he  does  not  wholly  devote  them  to  these 
purposes :  he  employs  a  part  of  the  one,  and  of  the  proceeds 
of  the  other,  in  supplying  his  personal  consumption  and  that 
of  his  family,  or  in  hiring  grooms  or  valets,  or  maintaining 
hunters  and  hounds,  or  in  educating  his  children,  or  in  pay- 
ing taxes,  or  in  charity.  What  then  is  his  capital  ?  Pre- 
cisely that  part  of  his  possessions,  whatever  it  be,  which  he 
designs  to  employ  in  carrying  on  fresh  production.  It  is 
of  no  consequence  that  a  part,  or  even  the  whole  of  it,  is  in 
a  form  in  which  it  cannot  directly  supply  the  wants  of 

Suppose,  for  instance,  that  the  capitalist  is  a  hardware 


manufacturer,  and  that  his  stock  in  trade,  over  and  above 
his  machinery,  consists  at  present  wholly  in  iron  goods. 
Iron  goods  cannot  feed  labourers.  Nevertheless,  by  a  mere 
change  of  the  destination  of  the  iron  goods,  he  can  cause 
labourers  to  be  fed.  Suppose  that  with  a  portion  of  the 
proceeds  he  intended  to  maintain  a  pack  of  hounds,  or  an 
establishment  of  servants ;  and  that  he  changes  his  inten- 
tion, and  employs  it  in  his  business,  paying  it  in  wages  to 
additional  workpeople.  These  workpeople  are  enabled  to 
buy  and  consume  the  food  which  would  otherwise  have 
been  consumed  by  the  hounds  or  by  the  servants ;  and  thus 
without  the  employer's  having  seen  or  touched  one  particle 
of  the  food,  his  conduct  has  determined  that  so  much  more 
of  the  food  existing  in  the  country  has  been  devoted  to  the 
use  of  productive  labourers,  and  so  much  less  consumed  in 
a  manner  wholly  unproductive.  Now  vary  the  hypothesis, 
and  suppose  that  what  is  thus  paid  in  wages  would  other- 
wise have  been  laid  out  not  in  feeding  servants  or  hounds, 
but  in  buying  plate  and  jewels ;  and  in  order  to  render  the 
effect  perceptible,  let  us  suppose  that  the  change  takes  place 
on  a  considerable  scale,  and  that  a  large  sum  is  diverted 
from  buying  plate  and  jewels  to  employing  productive 
labourers,  whom  we  shall  suppose  to  have  been  previously, 
like  the  Irish  peasantry,  only  half  employed  and  half  fed. 
The  labourers,  on  receiving  their  increased  wages,  will  not 
lay  them  out  in  plate  and  jewels,  but  in  food.  There  is 
not,  however,  additional  food  in  the  country ;  nor  any  un- 
productive labourers  or  animals,  as  in  the  former  case, 
whose  food  is  set  free  for  productive  purposes.  Food  will 
therefore  be  imported  if  possible ;  if  not  possible,  the 
labourers  will  remain  for  a  season  on  their  short  allowance : 
but  the  consequence  of  this  change  in  the  demand  for  com- 
modities, occasioned  by  the  change  in  the  expenditure  of 
capitalists  from  unproductive  to  productive,  is  that  next 
year  more  food  will  be  produced,  and  less  plate  and  jew- 
ellery. So  that  again,  without  having  had  anything  to  do 
with  the  food  of  the  labourers  directly,  the  conversion  by 

86  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IV.     §2. 

individuals  of  a  portion  of  their  property,  no  matter  of  what 
sort,  from  an  unproductive  destination  to  a  productive^  has 
had  the  effect  of  causing  more  food  to  be  appropriated  to 
the  consumption  of  productive  labourers.  The  distinction, 
then,  between  Capital  and  Not-capital,  does  not  Me  in  the 
kind  of  commodities,  but  in  the  mind  of  the  capitalist — in 
his  will  to  employ  them  for  one  purpose  rather  than 
another ;  and  all  property,  however  ill  adapted  in  itself  for 
the  use  of  labourers,  is  a  part  of  capital,  so  soon  as  it,  or 
the  value  to  be  received  from  it,  is  set  apart  for  productive 
reinvestment.  The  sum  of  all  the  values  so  destined  by 
their  respective  possessors,  composes  the  capital  of  the 
country.  Whether  all  those  values  are  in  a  shape  directly 
applicable  to  productive  uses,  makes  no  difference.  Once 
appropriated  to  that  end,  they  do  not  fail  to  find  a  way  of 
transforming  themselves  into  things  fitted  applied 
to  it. 

§  2.  As  whatever  of  the  produce  of  the  country  is  de^ 
voted  to  production  is  capital,  so,  conversely,  the  whole  of. 
the  capital  of  the  country  is  devoted  to  production.  This 
second  proposition,  however,  must  be  taken  with  some 
limitations  and  explanations.  A  fund  may  be  seeking  for 
productive  employment,  and  find  none,  adapted  to  the  incli? 
nations  of  its  possessor :  it  then  is  capital  still,  but  unem- 
ployed capital.  Or  the  stock  may  consist  of  unsold  goods, 
not  susceptible  of  direct  application  to  productive  uses,  and 
not,  at  the  moment,  marketable :  these,  until  sold,  are  in 
the  condition  of  unemployed  capital.  Again,  artificial  or 
accidental  circumstances  may  render  it  necessary  to  possess 
a  larger  stock  in  advance,  that  is,  a  larger  capital  before 
entering  on  production,  than  is  required  by  the  nature  of 
things.  Suppose  that  the  government  lays  a  tax  on  the 
production  in  one  of  its  earlier  stages,  as  for  instance?  by 
taxing  the  material.  The  manufacturer  has  to  advance  the 
tax,  before  commencing  the  manufacture,  and  is  therefore 
under  a  necessity  of  having  a  larger  accumulated  fund  than 


is  required  for,  or  is  actually  employed  in,  the  production 
which  he  carries. on.  He  must  have  a  larger  capital,  to 
maintain  the  same  quantity  of  productive  labour ;  or  (what 
is  equivalent)  with  a  given  capital  he  maintains  less  labour. 
This  mode  of  levying  taxes,  therefore,  limits  unnecessarily 
the  industry  of  the  country  :  a  portion  of  the  fund  destined 
by  its  owners  for  production  being  diverted  from  its  pur- 
pose, and  kept  in  a  constant  state  of  advance  to  the  govern* 

For  another  example  :  a  farmer  may  enter  on  his  farm 
at  such  a  time  of  the  year,  that  he  may  be  required  to  pay 
one,  two,  or  even  three  quarters'  rent  before  obtaining  any 
return  from  the  produce.  This,  therefore,  must  be  paid  out 
of  his  capital.  Now  rent,  when  paid  for  the  land  itself,  and 
not  for  improvements  made  in  it  by  labour,  is  not  a  pro- 
ductive expenditure..  It  is  not  an  outlay  for  the  support  of 
labour,  or  for  the  provision  of  implements  or  materials  the 
produce  of  labour.  It  is  the  price  paid  for  the  use  of  an 
appropriated  natural  agent.  This  natural  ageht  is  indeed 
as  indispensable  (and  even  more  so)  as  any  implement :  but 
the  having  to  pay  a  price  for  it,  is  not.  In  the  Case  of  the 
Implement  (a  thing  produced  by  labour)  a  price  of  some 
sort  is  the  necessary  condition  of  its  existence :  but  the  land 
exists  by  nature.  The  payment  for  it,  therefore,  is  not  one 
of  the  expenses  ctf  production  ;  and  the  necessity  of  making 
the  payment  out  of  capital,  makes  it  Requisite  that  there 
should  be  a  greater  capital,  a  greater  antecedent  accumula- 
tion of  the  produce  of  past  labour,  than  is  naturally  neces- 
sary, or  than  is  needed  where  land  is  occupied  on  a  different 
system.  This;  extra  capital,  though  intended  by  its  owners 
for  production,  is  in  reality  employed  unproductively,  and 
annually  replaced,  not  from  any  produce  of  its  own,  but 
from'  the  produce  of  the  labour  supported  by  the  remainder 
of  the  farmer's  capital. 

Finally,  that  large  portion  of  the  productive  capital  of  a 
country  which  is  employed  in  paying  the  wages  and  salaries 
of  labourers,  evidently  is  not,  all  of  it,  strictly  and  indis- 

88  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  IV.     §2. 

pensably  necessary  for  production.  As  mnch  of  it  as  ex* 
ceeds  the  actual  necessaries  of  life  and  health  (an  excess 
which  in  the  case  of  skilled  labourers  is  usually  consider- 
able) is  not  expended  in  supporting  labour,  but  in  remu- 
nerating it,  and  the  labourers  could  wait  for  this  part  of 
their  remuneration  until  the  production  is  completed ;  it 
needs  not  necessarily  pre-exist  as  capital :  and  if  they  unfor- 
tunately had  to  forego  it  altogether,  the  same  amount  of 
production  might  take  place.  In  order  that  the  whole 
remuneration  of  the  labourers  should  be  advanced  to  them 
in  daily  or  weekly  payments,  there  must  exist  in  advance, 
and  be  appropriated  to  productive  use,  a  greater  stock,  or 
capital,  than  would  suffice  to  carry  on  the  existing  extent 
of  production  :  greater,  by  whatever  amount  of  remunera- 
tion the  labourers  receive,  beyond  what  the  self-interest  of  a 
prudent  slave-master  would  assign  to  his  slaves.  In  truth, 
it  is  only  after  an  abundant  capital  had  already  been  accu- 
mulated, that  the  practice  of  paying  in  advance  any  remu- 
neration of  labour  beyond  a  bare  subsistence,  could  possibly 
have  arisen :  since  whatever  is  so  paid,  is  not  really  applied 
to  production,  but  to  the  unproductive  consumption  of  pro- 
ductive labourers,  indicating  a  fund  for  production  suf- 
ficiently ample  to  admit  of  habitually  diverting  a  part  of  it 
to  a  mere  convenience. 

It  will  be  observed  that  I  have  assumed,  that  the  labour- 
ers are  always  subsisted  from  capital :  and  this  is  obviously 
the  fact,  though  the  capital  needs  not  necessarily  be  fur- 
nished by  a  person  called  a  capitalist.  When  the  labourer 
maintains  himself  by  funds  of  his  own,  as  when  a  peasant- 
farmer  or  proprietor  lives  on  the  produce  of  his  land,  or  an 
artisan  works  on  his  own  account,  they  are  still  supported 
by  capital,  that  is,  by  funds  provided  in  advance.  The 
peasant  does  not  subsist  this  year  on  the  produce  of  this 
year's  harvest,  but  on  that  of  the  last.  The  artisan  is  not 
living  on  the  proceeds  of  the  work  he  has  in  hand,  but  on 
those  of  work  previously  executed  and  disposed  of.  Each  is 
supported  by  a  small  capital  of  his  own,  which  he  period- 


fcally  replaces  from  the  produce  of  his  labour.  The  large 
capitalist  is,  in  like  manner,  maintained  from  funds  provided 
in  advance.  If  he  personally  conducts  his  operations,  as 
much  of  his  personal  or  household  expenditure  as  does  not 
exceed  a  fair  remuneration  of  his  labour  at  the  market  price, 
must  be  considered  a  part  of  his  capital,  expended,  like  any 
other  capital,  for  production :  and  his  personal  consump- 
tion, so  far  as  it  consists  of  necessaries,  is  productive  con- 

§  3.  At  the  risk  of  being  tedious,  I  must  add  a  few 
more  illustrations,  to  bring  out  into  a  still  stronger  and 
clearer  light  the  idea  of  Capital.  As  M.  Say  truly  remarks, 
it  is  on  the  very  elements  of  our  subject  that  illustration  is 
most  usefully  bestowed,  since  the  greatest  errors  which  pre- 
vail in  it  may  be  traced  to  the  want  of  a  thorough  mastery 
over  the  elementary  ideas.  Nor  is  this  surprising :  a  branch 
may  be  diseased  and  all  the  rest  healthy,  but  unsoundness 
at  the  root  diffuses  unhealthiness  through  the  whole  tree. 

Let  us  therefore  consider  whether,  and  in  what  cases, 
the  property  of  those  who  live  on  the  interest  of  what  they 
possess,  without  being  personally  engaged  in  production, 
can  be  regarded  as  capital.  It  is  so  called  in  common  lan- 
guage, and,  with  reference  to  the  individual,  not  improp- 
erly. All  funds  from  which  the  possessor  derives  an  income, 
which  income  he  can  use  without  sinking  and  dissipating 
the  fund  itself,  are  to  him  equivalent  to  capital.  But  to 
transfer  hastily  and  inconsiderately  to  the  general  point  of 
view,  propositions  which  are  true  of  the  individual,  has 
been  a  source  of  innumerable  errors  in  political  economy. 
In  the  present  instance,  that  which  is  virtually  capital  to 
the  individual,  is  or  is  not  capital  to  the  nation,  according 
as  the  fund  which  by  the  supposition  he  has  not  dissipated, 
has  or  has  not  been  dissipated  by  somebody  else. 

For  example,  let  property  of  the  value  of  ten  thousand 
pounds  belonging  to  A,  be  lent  to  B,  a  farmer  or  manufac- 
turer, and  employed  profitably  in  B's  occupation.    It  is  as 

90  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IV.     §8. 

much  capital  as  if  it  belonged  to  B.  A,- is  really  a  farmer 
or  manufacturer,  not  personally,  but  in  respect  of  bis  prop* 
erty.  Capital  worth  ten  thousand  pounds  is  employed  in 
production — in  maintaining  labourers  and  providing  tools 
and  materials ;  which  capital  belongs  to  A,  while  B  takes 
the  trouble  of  employing  it,  and  receives  for  his  remunera- 
tion the  difference  between  the  profit  which  it  yields  and 
the  interest  he  pays  to  A.    This  is  the  simplest  case. 

Suppose  next  that  A's  ten  thousand  pounds,  instead  of 
being  lent  to  B,  are  lent  on  mortgage  to  C,  a  landed  pro- 
prietor>  by  whom  they  are  employed  in  improving  the  pro- 
ductive powers  of  his  estate,  by  fencing,  draining,  road- 
making,  or  permanent  manures.  This  is  productive  em* 
ployment.  The  ten  thousand  pounds  are  sunk,  but  not 
dissipated.  They  yield  a  permanent  return  ;  the  land  now 
affords  an  increase  of  produce,  sufficient,  in  a  few  years,  if 
the  outlay  has  been  judicious,  to  replace  the  amount,  and  in 
time  to  multiply  it  manifold.  Here,  then,  is  a  value  of  tea 
thousand  pounds,  employed  in  increasing  the  produce  of  the 
country.  This  constitutes  a  capital,  for  which  C,  if  he  lets 
his  land,  receives  the  returns  in  the  nominal  form  of  in- 
creased rent ;  and  the  mortgage  entitles  A  to  receive  from 
these  returns,  in  the  shape  of  interest,  such  annual  sum  as 
has  been  agreed  on.  We  will  now  vary  the  circumstances, 
and  suppose  that  0  does  not  employ  the  loan  in  improving 
his  land,  but  in  paying  off  a  former  mortgage,  or  in  making 
a  provision  for  children.  Whether  the  ten  thousand  pounds 
thus  employed  are  capital  or  not,  will  depend  on  what  is 
done  with  the  amount  by  the  ultimate  receiver.  If  the 
children  invest  their  fortunes  in  a  productive  employment^ 
or  the  mortgagee  on  being  paid  off  lends  the  amount  to 
another  landholder  to  improve  his  land,  or  to  a  manufac- 
turer to  extend  his  business,  it  is  still  capital,  because  pro- 
ductively employed. 

Suppose,  however,  that  C,  the  borrowing  landlord,  is  a 
spendthrift,  who  burdens  his  land  not  to  increase  his  fortune 
but  to  squander  it,  expending  the  amount  in  equipages  and 


entertainments.  In  a  year  or  two  it  is  dissipated,  and  with- 
out return.  A  is  as  rich  as  before ;  he  has  no  longer  his  ten 
thousand  pounds,  but  he  has  a  lien  on  the  land,  which  he 
could  still  sell  for  that  amount.  C,  however,  is  10,000£. 
poorer  than  formerly  ;  and  nobody  is  richer.  It  may  be 
said  that  those  are  richer  who  have  made  profit  out  of  the 
money  while  it  was  being  spent.  No  doubt  if  C  lost  it  by 
gaming,  or  was  cheated  of  it  by  his  servants,  that  is  a  mere 
transfer,  not  a  destruction,  and  those  who  have  gained  the 
amount  may  employ  it  productively.  But  if  C  has  re- 
ceived the  fair  value  for  his  expenditure  in  articles  of  sub- 
sistence or  luxury,  which  he  has  consumed  on  himself,  or 
by  means  of  his  servants  or  guests,  these  articles  have  ceased 
to  exist,  and  nothing  has  been  produced  to  replace  them : 
while  if  the  same  sum  had  been  employed  in  farming  or 
manufacturing,  the  consumption  which  would  have  taken 
place  would  have  been  more  than  balanced  at  the  end  of 
the  year  by  new  products,  created  by  the  labour  of  those 
who  would  in  that  case  have  been  the  consumers.  By  C's 
prodigality,  that  which  would  have  been  consumed  with  a 
return,  is  consumed  without  return.  C.'s  tradesmen  may 
have  made  av  profit  during  the  process ;  but  if  the  capital 
had  been  expended  productively,  an  equivalent  profit  would 
have  been  made  by  builders,  fencers,  tool-makers,  and  the 
tradespeople  who  supply  the  consumption. of  the  labouring 
classes ;  while  at  the  expiration  of  the  time  (to  say  nothing 
of  an  increase),  C  would  have  had  the  ten  thousand  pounds 
or  its  value  replaced  to  him,  which  now  he  has  not.  There 
is,  therefore,  on  the  general  result,  a  difference  to  the 
disadvantage  of  the  community,  of  at  least  ten  thousand 
pounds,  being  the  amount  of  O's  unproductive  expenditure. 
To  A,  the  difference  is  not  material,  siuce  his  income  is 
secured  to  him,  and  while  the  security  is  good,  and  the 
market  <rate  of  interest  the  same,  he  can  always  sell  the 
mortgage  at  its  original  value.  To  A,  therefore,  the  lien  of 
ten. thousand  pounds  on  O's  estate,  is  virtually  a  capital  of 
that  amount ;  but  is  it  so  in  reference  to  the  community  t 

92  L     CHAPTER  IV.     §3. 

It  is  not.  A  had  a  capital  of  ten  thousand  pounds,  but  this 
has  been  extinguished— dissipated  and  destroyed  by  C's 
prodigality.  A  now  receives  his  income,  not  from  the 
produce  of  his  capital,  but  from  some  other  source  of  in- 
come belonging  to  C,  probably  from  the  rent  of  his  land, 
that  is,  from  payments  made  to  him  by  farmers  out  of  the 
produce  of  their  capital.  The  national  capital  is  dimin- 
ished by  ten  thousand  pounds,  and  the  national  income  by 
all  which  those  ten  thousand  pounds,  employed  as  capital, 
would  have  produced.  The  loss  does  not  fall  on  the  owner  . 
of  the  destroyed  capital,  since  the  destroyer  has  agreed  to 
indemnify  him  for  it.  But  his  loss  is  only  a  small  portion 
of  that  sustained  by  the  community,  since  what  was  devoted 
to  the  use  and  consumption  of  the  proprietor  was  only  the 
interest ;  the  capital  itself  was,  or  would  have  been,  em- 
ployed in  the  perpetual  maintenance  of  an  equivalent  num- 
ber of  labourers,  regularly  reproducing  what  they  con- 
sumed :  and  of  this  maintenance  they  are  deprived  without 

Let  us  now  vary  the  hypothesis  still  further,  and  sup- 
pose that  the  money  is  borrowed,  not  by  a  landlord,  but  by 
the  State.  A  lends  his  capital  to  Government  to  carry  on 
a  war :  he  buys  from  the  State  what  are  called  government 
securities ;  that  is,  obligations  on  the  government  to  pay  a 
certain  annual  income.  If  the  government  employed  the 
money  in  making  a  railroad,  this  might  be  a  productive 
employment,  and  A's  property  would  still  be  used  as  capi- 
tal ;  but  since  it  is  employed  in  war,  that  is,  in  the  pay  of 
officers  and  soldiers  who  produce  nothing,  and  in  destroying 
a  quantity  of  gunpowder  and  bullets  without  return,  the 
government  is  in  the  situation  of  C,  the  spendthrift  land- 
lord, and  A's  ten  thousand  pounds  are  so  much  national 
capital  which  once  existed,  but  exists  no  longer :  virtually 
thrown  into  the  sea,  as  far  as  wealth  or  production  is  con- 
cerned ;  though  for  other  reasons  the  employment  of  it  may* 
have  been  justifiable.  A's  subsequent  income  is  derived, 
not  from  the  produce  of  his  own  capital,  but  from  taxes 


drawn  from  the  produce  of  the  remaining  capital  of  the 
community ;  to  whom  his  capital  is  not  yielding  any  return, 
to  indemnify  them  for  the  payment ;  it  is  all  lost  and  gone, 
and  what  he  now  possesses  is  a  claim  on  the  returns  to  other 
people's  capital  and  industry.  This  claim  he  can  sell,  and 
get  back  the  equivalent  of  his  capital,  which  he  may  after- 
wards employ  productively.  True ;  but  he  does  not  get 
back  his  own  capital,  or  anything  which  it  has  produced ; 
that,  and  all  its  possible  returns,  are  extinguished  :  what  he 
gets  is  the  capital  of  some  other  person,  which  that  person 
is  willing  to  exchange  for  his  lien  on  the  taxes.  Another 
capitalist  substitutes  himself  for  A  as  a  mortgagee  of  the 
public,  and  A  substitutes  himself  for  the  other  capitalist  as 
the  possessor  of  a  fund  employed  in  production,  or  available 
for  it.  By  this  exchange  the  productive  powers  of  the  com- 
munity are  neither  increased  nor  diminished.  The  breach 
in  the  capital  of  the  country  was  made  when  the  govern- 
ment spent  A's  money :  whereby  a  value  of  ten  thousand 
pounds  was  withdrawn  or  withheld  from  productive  employ- 
ment, placed  in  the  fund  for  unproductive  consumption,  and 
destroyed  without  equivalent. 



§  1.  If  the  preceding  explanations  have  answered  their 
purpose,  they  have  given  not  only  a  sufficiently  complete 
possession  of  the  idea  of  Capital  according  to  its  definition, 
but  a  sufficient  familiarity  with  it  in  the  concrete,  and 
amidst  the  obscurity  with  which  the  complication  of  indi- 
vidual circumstances  surrounds  it,  to  have  prepared  even 
the  unpractised  reader  for  certain  elementary  propositions 
or  theorems  respecting  capital,  the  full  comprehension  of 
which  is  already  a  considerable  step  out  of  darkness  into 

The  first  of  these  propositions  is,  That  industry  is  limited 
\>y  capital.  This  is  so  obvious  as  to  be  taken  for  granted  in 
many  common  forms  of  speech ;  but  to  see  a  truth  occa- 
sionally is  one  thing,  to  recognise  it  habitually,  and  admit 
no  propositions  inconsistent  with  it,  is  another.  The  axiom 
was  until  lately  almost  universally  disregarded  by  legisla- 
tors and  political  writers ;  and  doctrines  irreconcileable 
with  it  are  still  very  commonly  professed  and  inculcated. 

The  following  are  common  expressions,  implying  its 
truth.  The  act  of  directing  industry  to  a  particular  employ- 
ment is  described  by  the  phrase  "  applying  capital  "  to  the 
employment.  To  employ  industry  on  the  land  is  to  apply 
capital  to  the  land.  To  employ  labour  in  a  manufacture  is 
to  invest  capital  in  the  manufacture.  This  implies  that  in- 
dustry cannot  be  employed  to  any  greater  extent  than  there 
is  capital  to  invest.     The  proposition,  indeed,  must  be  as- 


dented  to  as  soon  as  it  is  distinctly  apprehended.  The 
expression  "applying  capital"  is  of  course  metaphorical: 
what  is  really  applied  is  labour ;  capital  being  an  indispen- 
sable condition.  Again,  we  often  speak  of  the  "  productive 
powers  of  capital."  This  expression  is  not  literally  correct. 
The  only  productive  powers  are  those  of  labour  and  natural 
agents ;  or  if  any  portion  of  capital  can  by  a  stretch  of  lan- 
guage be  said  to  have  a  productive  power  of  its  own,  it  is 
only  tools  and  machinery,  which,  like  wind  or  water,  may 
be  said  to  cooperate  with  labour.  The  food  of  labourers 
and  the  materials  of  production  have  no  productive  power ; 
but  labour  cannot  exert  its  productive  power  unless  pro- 
vided with  them.  There  can  be  no  more  industry  than  is 
supplied  with  materials  to  work  up  and  food  to  eat.  Self* 
evident  as  the  thing  is,  it  is  often  forgotten  that  the  people 
of  a  country  are  maintained  and  have  their  wants  supplied, 
not  by  the  produce  of  present  labour,  but  of  past.  They 
consume  what  has  been  produced,  not  what  is  about  to  be 
produced.  Now,  of  what  has  been  produced,  a  part  only  is 
allotted  to  the  support  of  productive  labour ;  and  there  will 
not  and  cannot  be  more  of  that  labour  than  the  portion  so 
allotted  (which  is  the  capital  of  the  country)  can  feed,  and 
provide  with  the  materials  and  instruments  of  production. 

Yet,  in  disregard  of  a  fact  so  evident,  it  long  continued 
to  be  believed  that  laws  and  governments,  without  creating 
capital,  could  create  industry.  Not  by  making  the  people 
more  laborious,  or  increasing  the  efficiency  of  their  labour ; 
these  are  objects  to  which  the  government  can,  in  some 
degree,  indirectly  contribute.  But  without  any  increase  in 
the  skill  or  energy  of  the  labourers,  and  without  causing 
any  persons  to  labour  who  had  previously  been  maintained 
in  idleness,  it  was  still  thought  that  the  government,  with- 
out providing  additional  funds,  could  create  additional  em- 
ployment. A  government  would,  by  prohibitory  laws,  put 
a  stop  to  the  importation  of  some  commodity ;  and  when  by 
this  it  had  caused  the  commodity  to  be  produced  at  home, 
it  would  plume  itself  upon  having  enriched  the  country 

93  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §2. 

with  a  new  branch  of  industry,  would  parade  in  statistical 
tables  the  amount  of  produce  yielded  and  labour  employed 
in  the  production,  and  take  credit  for  the  whole  of  this  as  a 
gain  to  the  country,  obtained  througn  the  prolribitory  law. 
Although  this  sort  of  political  arithmetic  has  fallen  a  little 
into  discredit  in  England,  it  still  flourishes  in  the  nations  of 
Continental  Europe.  Had  legislators  been  aware  that  in- 
dustry is  limited  by  capital,  they  would  have  seen  that,  the 
aggregate  capital  of  the  country  not  having  been  increased, 
any  portion  of  it  which  they  by  their  laws  had  caused  to  be 
embarked  in  the  newly-acquired  branch  of  industry  must 
have  been  withdrawn  or  withheld  from  some  other;  in 
which  it  gave,  or  would  have  given,  employment  to  prob- 
ably about  the  same  quantity  of  labour  which  it  employs  in 
its  new  occupation.* 

§  2.  Because  industry  is  limited  by  capital,  we  are  not 
however  to  infer  that  it  always  reaches  that  limit.  There 
may  not  be  as  many  labourers  obtainable,  as  the  capital 
would  maintain  and  employ.  This  has  been  known  to 
occur  in  new  colonies,  where  capital  has  sometimes  perished 

*  An  exception  must  be  admitted  when  the  industry  created  or  upheld  by 
the  restrictive  law  belongs  to  the  class  of  what  are  called  domestic  manufactures. 
These  being  carried  on  by  persons  already  fed — by  labouring  families,  in  the  in- 
tervals of  other  employment — no  transfer  of  capital  to  the  occupation  is  necessary 
to  its  being  undertaken,  beyond  the  value  of  the  materials  and  tools,  which  is 
often  inconsiderable.  If,  therefore,  a  protecting  duty  causes  this  occupation  to 
be  carried  on,  when  it  otherwise  would  not,  there  is  in  this  case  a  real  increase 
of  the  production  of  the  country. 

In  ord"e>  to  render  our  theoretical  proposition  invulnerable,  this  peculiar  case 
must  be  allowed  for ;  but  it  does  not  touch  the  practical  doctrine  of  free  trade. 
Domestic  manufactures  cannot,  from  the  very  nature  of  things,  require  protec- 
tion, since  the  subsistence  of  the  labourers  being  provided  from  other  sources, 
the  price  of  the  product,  however  much  it  may  be  reduced,  is  nearly  all  clear 
gain.  If,  therefore,  the  domestic  producers  retire  from  the  competition,  it  is 
never  from  necessity,  but  because  the  product  is  not  worth  the  labour  it  costs,  in 
the  opinion  of  the  best  judges,  those  who  enjoy  the  one  and  undergo  the  other. 
They  prefer  the  sacrifice  of  buying  their  clothing  to  the  labour  of  making  it. 
They  will  not  continue  their  labour  unless  society  will  give  them  more  for  it, 
than  in  their  own  opinion  its  product  is  worth. 


uselessly  for  want  of  labour :  the  Swan  Eiver  settlement 
(now  called  Western  Australia),  in  the  first  years  after  its 
foundation,  was  an  instance.  There  are  many  persons 
maintained  from  existing  capital,  who  produce  nothing,  or 
who  might  produce  much  more  than  they  do.  If  the 
labourers  were  reduced  to  lower  wages,  or  induced  to  work 
more  hours  for  the  same  wages,  or  if  their  families,  who  are 
already  maintained  from  capital,  were  employed  to  a 
greater  extent  than  they  now  are  in  adding  to  the  produce, 
a  given  capital  would  afford  employment  to  more  industry. 
The  unproductive  consumption  of  productive  labourers,  the 
whole  of  which  is  now  supplied  by  capital,  might  cease,  or 
be  postponed  until  the  produce  came  in ;  and  additional  pro- 
ductive labourers  might  be  maintained  with  the  amount. 
By  such  means  society  might  obtain  from  its  existing 
resources  a  greater  quantity  of  produce :  and  to  such  means 
it  has  been  driven,  when  the  sudden  destruction  of  some 
large  portion  of  its  capital  rendered  the  employment  of  the 
remainder  with  the  greatest  possible  effect,  a  matter  of  para- 
mount consideration  for  the  time. 

Where  industry  has  not  come  up  to  the  limit  imposed  by 
capital,  governments  may,  in  various  ways,  for  example  by 
importing  additional  labourers,  bring  it  nearer  to  that 
limit :  as  by  the  importation  of  Coolies  and  free  Negroes 
into  the  West  Indies.  There  is  another  way  in  which  gov- 
ernments can  create  additional  industry.  They  can  create 
capital.  They  may  lay  on  taxes,  and  employ  the  amount 
productively.  They  may  do  what  is  nearly  equivalent ; 
they  may  lay  taxes  on  income  or  expenditure,  and  "apply 
the  proceeds  towards  paying  off  the  public  debts.  The  fund- 
holder,  when  paid  off,  would  still  desire  to  draw  an  income 
from  his  property,  most  of  which  therefore  would  find  its 
way  into  productive  employment,  while  a  great  part  of  it 
would  have  been  drawn  from  the  fund  for  unproductive 
expenditure,  since  people  do  not  wholly  pay  their  taxes 
from  what  they  would  have  saved,  but  partly,  if  not  chiefly, 

from  what  they  would  have  spent.    It  may  be  added,  that 

98  BOOK  I.     CHAPTEB  V.     §8. 

any  increase  in  the  productive  power  of  capital  (or,  more 
properly  speaking,  of  labour)  by  improvements  in  the  arts 
of  life,  or  otherwise,  tends  to  increase  the  employment  for 
labour ;  since,  when  there  is  a  greater  produce  altogether, 
it  is  always  probable  that  some  portion  of  the  increase  will 
be  saved  and  converted  into  capital ;  especially  when  the 
increased  returns  to  productive  industry  hold  out  an  addi- 
tional temptation  to  the  conversion  of  funds  from  an  unpro- 
ductive destination  to  a  productive. 

§  3.  While,  on  the  one  hand,  industry  is  limited  by 
capital,  so  on  the  other,  every  increase  of  capital  gives,  or  is 
capable  of  giving,  additional  employment  to  industry  ;  and 
this  without  assignable  limit.  I  do  not  mean  to  deny  that 
the  capital,  or  part  of  it,  may  be  so  employed  as  not  to  sup- 
port labourers,  being  fixed  in  machinery,  buildings,  im- 
provement of  land,  and  the  like.  In  any  large  increase  of 
capital  a  considerable  portion  will  generally  be  thus  em- 
ployed, and  will  only  cooperate  with  labourers,  not  main- 
tain them.  What  I  do  intend  to  assert  is,  that  the  portion 
which  is  destined  to  their  maintenance,  may  (supposing  no 
alteration  in  anything  else)  be  indefinitely  increased,  with- 
out creating  an  impossibility  of  finding  the  employment : 
in  other  words,  that  if  there  are  human  beings  capable  of 
work,  and  food  to  feed  them,  they  may  always  be  employed 
in  producing  something.  This  proposition  requires  to  be 
somewhat  dwelt  upon,  being  one  of  those  which  it  is  ex- 
ceedingly easy  to  assent  to  when  presented  in  general 
terms,  but  somewhat  difficult  to  keep  fast  hold  of,  in  the 
crowd  and  oonfusion  of  the  actual  facts  of  society.  It  is 
also  very  much  opposed  to  common  doctrines.  There  is  not 
an  opinion  more  general  among  mankind  than  this,  that  the 
unproductive  expenditure  of  the  rich  is  necessary  to  the 
employment  of  the  poor.  Before  Adam  Smith,  the  doctrine 
had  hardly  been  questioned  ;  and  even  since  his  time, 
authors  of  the  highest  name  and  of  great  merit*  have  con- 

*  For  example,  Mr.  Malthus,  Dr.  Chalmers,  M.  de  Sismondi. 


tended,  that  if  consumers  were  to  save  and  convert  into 
capital  more  than  a  limited  portion  of  their  income,  and 
were  not  to  devote  to  unproductive  consumption  an  amount 
of  means  bearing  a  certain  ratio  to  the  capital  of  the  coun- 
try, the  extra  accumulation  would  be  merely  so  much  waste, 
since  there  would  be  no  market  for  the  commodities  which 
the  capital  so  created  would  produce.  I  conceive  this  to  be 
one  of  the  many  errors  arising  in  political  economy,  from  the 
practice  of  not  beginning  with  the  examination  of  simple 
cases,  but  rushing  at  once  into  the  complexity  of  concrete 

Every  one  can  see  that  if  a  benevolent  government  pos- 
sessed all  the  food,  and  all  the  implements  and  materials, 
of  the  community,  it  could  exact  productive  labour  from  all 
to  whom  it  allowed  a  share  in  the  food,  and  could  be  in  no 
danger  of  wanting  a  field  for  the  employment  of  this  pro- 
ductive labour,  since  as  long  as  there  was  a  single  want 
unsaturated  (which  material  objects  could  supply),  of  any 
one  individual,  the  labour  of  the  community  could  be 
turned  to  the  production  of  something  capable  of  satisfying 
that  want.  Now,  the  individual  possessors  of  capital,  when 
they  add  to  it  by  fresh  accumulations,  are  doing  precisely 
the  same  thing  which  we  suppose  to  be  done  by  a  benevo- 
lent government.  As  it  is  allowable  to  put  any  case  by 
way  of  hypothesis,  let  us  imagine  the  most  extreme  case 
conceivable.  Suppose  that  every  capitalist  came  to  be  of 
opinion  that  not  being  more  meritorious  than  a  well-con* 
ducted  labourer,  he  ought  not  to  fare  better ;  and  accord- 
ingly laid  by,  from  conscientious  motives,  the  surplus  of  his 
profits;  or  suppose  this  abstinence  not  spontaneous,  but 
imposed  by  law  or  opinion  upon  all  capitalists,  and  upon 
landowners  likewise.  Unproductive  expenditure  is  now 
reduced  to  its  lowest  limit :  and  it  is  asked,  how  is  the 
increased  capital  to  find  employment  ?  Who  is  to  buy  the 
goods  which  it  will  produce?  There  are  no  longer  cus- 
tomers even  for  those  which  were  produced  before.  The 
goods,  therefore,  (it  is  said)  will  remain  unsold ;  they  will 

100;  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §8. 

perish  in  the  warehouses  ;  until  capital  is  brought  down  to 
what  it  was  originally,  or  rather  to  as  much  less,  as  the 
demand  of  the  customers  has  lessened.  But  this  is  seeing 
only  one-half  of  the  matter.  In  the  case  supposed,  there 
would  no  longer  be  any  demand  for  luxuries,  on  the  part 
of  capitalists  and  landowners.  But  when  these  classes  turn 
their  income  into  capital,  they  do  not  thereby  annihilate 
their  power  of  consumption ;  they  do  but  transfer  it  from 
themselves  to  the  labourers  to  whom  they  give  employ- 
ment. Now,  there  are  two  possible  suppositions  in  regard 
to  the  labourers  ;  either  there  is,  or  there  is  not,  an  increase 
of  their  numbers,  proportional  to  the  increase  of  capital. 
If  there  is,  the  case  offers  no  difficulty.  The  production  of 
necessaries  for  the  new  population,  takes  the  place  of  the 
production  of  luxuries  for  a  portion  of  the  old,  and  supplies 
exactly  the  amount  of  employment  which  has  been  lost. 
But  suppose  that  there  is  no  increase  of  population.  The 
whole  of  what  was  previously  expended  in  luxuries,  by 
capitalists  and  landlords,  is  distributed  among  the  existing 
labourers,  in  the  form  of  additional  wages.  We  will  assume 
them  to  be  already  sufficiently  supplied  with  necessaries. 
What  follows  ?  That  the  labourers  become  consumers  of 
luxuries ;  and  the  capital  previously  employed  in  the  pro- 
duction of  luxuries,  is  still  able  to  employ  itself  in  the  same 
manner :  the  difference  being,  that  the  luxuries  are  shared 
among  the  community  generally,  instead  of  being  confined 
to  a  few.  The  increased  accumulation  and  increased  pro- 
duction might,  rigorously  speaking,  continue,  until  every 
labourer  had  every  indulgence  of  wealth,  consistent  with 
continuing  to  work ;  supposing  that  the  power  of  their 
labour  were  physically  sufficient  to  produce  all  this  amount 
of  indulgences  for  their  whole  number.  Thus  the  limit  of 
wealth  is  never  deficiency  of  consumers,  but  of  producers 
and  productive  power.  Every  addition  to  capital  gives  to 
labour  either  additional  employment,  or  additional  remune- 
ration ;  enriches  either  the  country,  or  the  labouring  class. 
If  it  finds  additional  hands  to  set  to  work,  it  increases  the 


aggregate  produce :  if  only  the  same  hands,  it  gives  them  a 
larger  share  of  it ;  and  perhaps  even  in  this  case,  by  stimu- 
lating them  to  greater  exertion,  augments  the  produce  itself. 

§  4*  A  second  fundamental  theorem  respecting  Capi- 
tal, relateB  to  the  source  from  which  it  is  derived.  It  is  the 
result  of  saving.  The  evidence  of  this  lies  abundantly  in 
what  has  been  already  said  on  the  subject.  But  the  propo- 
sition needs  some  further  illustration. 

If  all  persons  were  to  expend  in  personal  indulgences  all 
that  they  produce,  and  all  the  income  they  receive  from 
what  is  produced  by  others,  capital  could  not  increase.  All 
capital,  with  a  frilling  exception,  was  originally  the  result 
of  saving.  I  say,  with  a  trifling  exception  ;  because  a  per- 
son who  labours  on  his  own  account,  may  spend  on  his  own 
account  all  he  produces,  without  becoming  destitute ;  and 
the  provision  of  necessaries  on  which  he  subsists  until  he  has 
reaped  his  harvest,  or  sold  his  commodity,  though  a  real 
capital,  cannot  be  said  to  have  been  saved,  since  it  is  all 
used  for  the  supply  of  his  own  wants,  and  perhaps  as  speed- 
ily as  if  it  had  been  consumed  in  idleness.  We  may  imagine 
a  number  of  individuals  or  families  settled  on  as  many  sep- 
arate pieces  of  land,  each  living  on  what  their  own  labour 
produces,  and  consuming  the  whole  produce.  But  even 
these  must  save  (that  is,  spare  from  their  personal  consump- 
tion) as  much  as  is  necessary  for  seed.  Some  saving,  there- 
fore, there  must  have  been,  even  in  this  simplest  of  all 
states  of  economical  relations ;  people  must  have  produced 
more  than  they  used,  or  used  less  than  they  produced. 
Still  more  must  they  do  so  before  they  can  employ  other 
labourers,  or  increase  their  production  beyond  what  can  be 
accomplished  by  the  work  of  their  own  hands.  All  that 
any  one  employs  in  supporting  and  carrying  on  any  other 
labour  than  his  own,  must  have  been  originally  brought 
together  by  saving ;  somebody  must  have  produced  it  and 
forborne  to  consume  it.    We  may  say,  therefore,  without 

102  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §4. 

material  inaccuracy,  that  all  capital,  and  especially  all  addu 
tion  to  capital,  are  the  result  of  saving. 

In  a  rude  and  violent  state  of  society,  it  continually  hap- 
pens that  the  person  who  has  capital  is  not  the  very  person 
who  has  saved  it,  but  some  one  who,  being  stronger,  or  be- 
longing to  a  more  powerful  community,  has  possessed  him- 
self of  it  by  plunder.  And  even  in  a  state  of  things  in 
which  property  was  protected,  the  increase  of  capital  ha* 
usually  been,  for  a  long  time,  mainly  derived  from  priv* 
tions  which,  though  essentially  the  same  with  saving,  are 
not  generally  called  by  that  name,  because  not  voluntary. 
The  actual  producers  have  been  slaves,  compelled  to  pro- 
duce as  much  as  force  could  extort  from  them,  and  to  con- 
sume as  little  as  the  self-interest  or  the  usually  very  slender 
humanity  of  their  taskmasters  would  permit.  This  kind  of 
compulsory  saving,  however,  would  not  have  caused  any 
increase  of  capital,  unless  a  part  of  the  amount  had  been 
saved  over  again,  voluntarily,  by  the  master.  If  all  that  he 
made  his  slaves  produce  and  forbear  to  consume,  had  been 
consumed  by  him  on  personal  indulgences,  he  would  not 
have  increased  his  capital,  nor  been  enabled  to  maintain  an 
increasing  number,  of  slaves.  To  maintain  any  slaves  at 
all,  implied  a  previous  saving ;  a  stock,  at  least  of  food, 
provided  in  advance.  This  saving  may  not,  however,  have 
been  made  by  any  self-imposed  privation  of  the  master ; 
but  more  probably  by  that  of  the  slaves  themselves  while 
free  ;  the  rapine  or  war,  which  deprived  them  of  their  per- 
sonal liberty,  having  transferred  also  their  accumulations  to 
the  conqueror. 

There  are  other  cases  in  which  the  term  saving,  with 
the  associations  usually  belonging  to  it,  does  not  exactly  fit 
the  operation  by  which  capital  is  increased.  If  it  were 
said,  for  instance,  that  the  only  way  to  accelerate  the 
increase  of  capital  is  by  increase  of  saving,  the  idea  would 
probably  be  suggested  of  greater  abstinence,  and  increased 
privation.  But  it  is  obvious  that  whatever  increases  the. 
productive  power  of  labour,  creates  an  additional  fund  to 


make  savings  from,  and  enables  capital  to  be  enlarged  not 
only  without  additional  privation,  but  concurrently  with  an 
increase  of  personal  consumption.  Nevertheless,  there  is 
here  an  increase  of  saving,  in  the  scientific  sense.  Though 
there  is  more  consumed,  there  is  also  more  spared.  There 
is  a  greater  excess  of  production  over  consumption.  It  is 
consistent  with  correctness  to  call  this  a  greater  saving. 
Though  the  term  is  not  unobjectionable,  there  is  no  other 
which  is  not  liable  to  as  great  objections*  To  consume  less 
than  is  produced,  is  saving ;  and  that  is  the  process  by 
which  capital  is  increased ;  not  necessarily  by  consuming 
less,  absolutely.  We  must  not  allow  ourselves  to  be  so 
much  the  slaves  of  words,  as  to  be  unable  to  use  the  word 
saving  in  this  sense,  without  being  in  danger  of  forgetting 
that  to  increase  capital  there  is  another  way  besides  con- 
suming less,  namely,  to  produce  more. 

§  5.  A  third  fundamental  theorem  respecting  Capital, 
closely  connected  with  the  one  last  discussed,  is,  that 
although  saved,  and  the  result  of  saving,  it  is  nevertheless 
consumed.  The  word  saving  does  not  imply  that  what  is 
saved  is  not  consumed,  nor  even  necessarily  that  its  con- 
sumption is  deferred ;  but  only  that,  if  consumed  imme- 
diately it  is  not  consumed  by  the  person  who  saves  it.  If 
merely  laid  by  for  future  use,  it  is  said  to  be  hoarded  ;  and 
while  hoarded,  is  not  consumed  at  all.  But  if  employed  as 
capital,  it  is  all  consumed ;  though  not  by  the  capitalist. 
Part  is  exchanged  for  tools  or  machinery,  which  are  worn 
out  by  use  :  part  for  seed  or  materials,  which  are  destroyed 
as  such  by  being  sown  or  wrought  up,  and  destroyed  alto- 
gether by  the  consumption  of  the  ultimate  product.  The 
remainder  is  paid  in  wages  to  productive  labourers,  who 
consume  it  for  their  daily  wants ;  or  if  they  in  their  turn 
save  any  part,  thia  also  is  not,  generally  speaking,  hoarded, 
but  (through  savings  banks,  benefit  clubs,  or  some  other 
channel)  re-employed  as  capital,  and  consumed. 

The  principle  now  stated  is  a  strong  example  of  the 

X04  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     $  6. 

necessity  of  attention  to  the  most  elementary  truths  of  ottr 
subject :  for  it  is  one  of  the  most  elementary  of  them  all, 
and  yet  no  one  who  has  not  bestowed  some  thought  on  the 
matter  is  habitually  aware  of  it,  and  most  are  not  even 
willing  to  admit  it  when  first  stated.  To  the  vulgar,  it  is 
not  at  all  apparent  that  what  is  saved  is  consumed.  To 
them,  every  one  who  saves,  appears  in  the  light  of  a  person 
who  hoards;  they  may  think  such  conduct  permissible,  or 
even  laudable,  when  it  is  to  provide  for  a  family,  and  the 
like ;  but  they  have  no  conception  of  it  as  doing  good  to 
other  people :  saving  is  to  them  another  word  for  keeping  a 
thing  to  oneself;  while  spending  appears  to  them  to  be  dis- 
tributing it  among  others.  The  person  who  expends  his 
fortune  in  unproductive  consumption,  is  looked  upon  as 
diffusing  benefits  all  around  ;  and  is  an  object  of  so  much 
favour,  that  some  portion  of  the  same  popularity  attaches 
even  to  him  who  spends  what  does  not  belong  to  him  ;  who 
not  only  destroys  his  own  capital,  if  he  ever  had  any,  but, 
under  pretence  ol  borrowing,  and  on  promise  of  repayment, 
possesses  himself  of  capital  belonging  to  others,  and  destroys 
that  likewise. 

This  popular  error  comes  from  attending  to  a  small  por- 
tion only  of  the  consequences  that  flow  from  the  saving  or 
the  spending ;  all  the  effects  of  either  which  are  out  of  sight, 
being  out  of  mind.  The  eye  follows  what  is  saved,  into  an 
imaginary  strong  box,  and  there  loses  sight  of  it ;  what  is 
spent,  it  follows  into  the  hands  of  tradespeople  and  depen- 
dents ;  but  without  reaching  the  ultimate  destination  in 
either  case.  Saving  (for  productive  investment),  and  spend- 
ing, coincide  very  closely  in  the  first  stage  of  their  opera- 
tions. The  effects  of  both  begin  with  consumption ;  with 
the  destruction  of  a  certain  portion  of  wealth ;  only  the 
things  consumed,  and  the  persons  consuming,  are  different. 
There  is,  in  the  one  case,  a  wearing  out  of  tools,  a  destruc- 
tion of  material,  and  a  quantity  of  food  and  clothing  sup- 
plied to  labourers,  which  they  destroy  by  use  :  in  the  othei 
case,  there  is  a  consumption,  that  is  to  say,  a  destruction,  of 


wines,  equipages,  and  furniture.  Thus  far,  the  consequence 
to  the  national  wealth  has  been  much  the  same ;  an  equiva- 
lent quantity  of  it  has  been  destroyed  in  both  cases.  But 
in  the  spending,  this  first  stage  is  also  the  final  stage ;  that 
particular  amount  of  the  produce  of  labour  has  disappeared, 
and  there  is  nothing  left ;  while,  on  the  contrary,  the  saving 
person,  during  the  whole  time  that  the  destruction  was 
going  on,  has  had  labourers  at  work  repairing  it ;  who  are 
ultimately  found  to  have  replaced,  with  an  increase,  the 
equivalent  of  what  has  been  consumed.  And  as  this  opera- 
tion admits  of  being  repeated  indefinitely  without  any  fresh 
act  of  saving,  a  saving  once  made  becomes  a  fund  to  main- 
tain a  corresponding  number  of  labourers  in  perpetuity, 
reproducing  annually  their  own  maintenance  with  a  profit. 
It  is  the  intervention  of  money  which  obscures,  to  an 
unpractised  apprehension,  the  true  character  of  these  phe- 
nomena. Almost  all  expenditure  being  carried  on  by 
means  of  money,  the  money  comes  to  be  looked  upon  as  the 
main  feature  in  the  transaction ;  and  since  that  does  not 
perish,  but  only  changes  hands,  people  overlook  the  destruc- 
tion which  takes  place  in  the  case  of  unproductive  expendi- 
ture. The  money  being  merely  transferred,  they  think  the 
wealth  also  has  only  been  handed  over  from  the  spendthrift 
to  other  people.  But  this  is  simply  confounding  money 
with  wealth.  The  wealth  which  has  been  destroyed  was 
not  the  money,  but  the  wines,  equipages,  and  furniture 
which  the  money  purchased ;  and  these  having  been 
destroyed  without  return,  society  collectively  is  poorer  by 
the  amount.  It  may  be  said,  perhaps,  that  wines,  equip- 
ages, and  furniture,  are  not  subsistence,  tools,  and  materials, 
and  could  not  in  any  case  have  been  applied  to  the  support 
of  labour  ;  that  they  are  adapted  for  no  other  than  unpro- 
ductive consumption,  and  that  the  detriment  to  the  wealth 
of  the  community  was  when  they  were  produced,  not  when 
they  were  consumed.  I  am  willing  to  allow  this,  as  far  as 
is  necessary  for  the  argument,  and  the  remark  would  be 
very  pertinent  if  these  expensive  luxuries  were  drawn  from 

106  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     $5. 

an  existing  stock,  never  to  be  replenished.  But  since,  on 
the  contrary,  they  continue  to  be  produced  as  long  as  there 
are  consumers  for  them,  and  are  produced  in  increased 
quantity  to  meet  an  increased  demand  ;  the  choice  made  by 
a  consumer  to  expend  five  thousand  a  year  in  luxuries, 
keeps  a  corresponding  number  of  labourers  employed  from 
year  to  year  in  producing  things  which  can  be  of  no  use  to 
production  ;  their  services  being  lost  so  far  as  regards  the 
increase  of  the  national  wealth,  and  the  tools,  materials,  and 
food  which  they  annually  consume  being  so  much  sub- 
tracted from  the  general  stock  of  the  community  applicable 
to  productive  purposes.  In  proportion  as  any  class  is  im- 
provident or  luxurious,  the  industry  of  the  country  takes  the 
direction  of  producing  luxuries  for  their  use ;  while  not  only 
the  employment  for  productive  labourers  is  diminished,  but 
the  subsistence  and  instruments  which  are  the  means  of  such 
employment  do  actually  exist  in  smaller  quantity. 

Saving,  in  short,  enriches,  and  spending  impoverishes, 
the  community  along  with  the  individual ;  which  is  but 
saying  in  other  words,  that  society  at  large  is  richer  by 
what  it  expends  in  maintaining  and  aiding  productive 
labour,  but  poorer  by  what  it  consumes  in  its  enjoyments.* 

*  It  is  perhaps  worth  while  to  direct  attention  to  several  circumstances 
which  to  a  certain  extent  diminish  the  detriment  caused  to  the  general  wealth  by 
the  prodigality  of  individuals,  or  raise  up  a  compensation,  more  or  less  ample,  as 
a  consequence  of  the  detriment  itself.  One  of  these  is,  that  spendthrifts  do  not 
usually  succeed  in  consuming  all  they  spend.  Their  habitual  carelessness  as  to 
expenditure  causes  them  to  be  cheated  and  robbed  on  all  quarters,  often  by  per- 
sons of  frugal  habits.  Large  accumulations  are  continually  made  by  the  agents, 
stewards,  and  even  domestic  servants,  of  improvident  persons  of  fortune ;  and 
they  pay  much  higher  prices  for  all  purchases  than  people  of  careful  habits, 
which  accounts  for  their  being  popular  as  customers.  They  are,  therefore,  actu- 
ally not  able  to  get  into  their  possession  and  destroy  a  quantity  of  wealth  by  any 
means  equivalent  to  the  fortune  which  they  dissipate.  Much  of  it  is  merely 
transferred  to  others,  by  whom  a  part  may  be  saved.  Another  thing  to  be  ob- 
served is,  that  the  prodigality  of  some  may  reduce  others  to  a  forced  economy. 
Suppose  a  sudden  demand  for  some  article  of  luxury,  caused  by  the  caprice  of  a 
prodigal,  which  not  having  been  calculated  on  beforehand,  there  has  been  no  in- 
crease of  the  usual  supply.  The  price  will  rise ;  and  may  rise  beyond  the  means 
or  the  inclinations  of  some  of  the  habitual  consumers,  who  may  in  consequence 


§  6.  To  return  to  our  fundamental  theorem.  Every- 
thing which  is  produced  is  consumed ;  both  what  is  saved 
and  what  is  said  to  be  spent ;  and  the  former  quite  as 
rapidly  as  the  latter.  All  the  ordinary  forms  of  language 
tend  to  disguise  this.  When  people  talk  of  the  ancient 
wealth  of  a  country,  of  riches  inherited  from  ancestors,  and 
similar  expressions,  the  idea  suggested  is,  that  the  riches  so 
transmitted  were  produced  long  ago,  at  the  time  when  they 
are  said  to  have  been  first  acquired,  and  that  no  portion  of 
the  capital  of  the  country  was  produced  this  year,  except 
as  much  as  may  have  been  this  year  added  to  the  total 
amount.  The  fact  is  far  otherwise.  The  greater  part,  in 
value,  of  the  wealth  now  existing  in  England  has  been  pro- 
duced by  human  hands  within  the  last  twelve  months.  A 
very  small  proportion  indeed  of  that  large  aggregate. was  in 
existence  ten  years  ago ; — of  the  present  productive  capital 
of  the  country  scarcely  any  part,  except  farm-houses  and 

forego  their  accustomed  indulgence,  and  save  the  amount.  If  they  do  not,  but 
continue  to  expend  as  great  a  value  as  before  on  the  commodity,  the  dealers  in 
it  obtain,  for  only  the  same  quantity  of  the  article,  a  return  increased  by  the 
whole  of  what  the  spendthrift  has  paid ;  and  thus  the  amount  which  he  loses  is 
transferred  bodily  to  them,  and  may  be  added  to  their  capital ;  his  increased  per- 
sonal consumption  being  made  up  by  the  privations  of  the  other  purchasers,  who 
have  obtained  less  than  usual  of  their  accustomed  gratification  for  the  same 
equivalent  On  the  other  hand,  a  counter  process  must  be  going  on  somewhere, 
since  the  prodigal  must  have  diminished  his  purchases  in  some  other  quarter  to 
balance  the  augmentation  in  this ;  he  has  perhaps  called  in  funds  employed  in 
sustaining  productive  labour,  and  the  dealers  in  subsistence  and  in  the  instru- 
ments of  production  have  had  commodities  left  on  their  hands,  or  have  received, 
for  the  usual  amount  of  commodities,  a  less  than  usual  return.  But  such  losses 
of  income  or  capital,  by  industrious  persons,  except  when  of  extraordinary 
amount,  are  generally  made  up  by  increased  pinching  and  privation ;  so  that  the 
capital  of  the  community  may  not  be,  on  the  whole,  impaired,  and  the  prodigal 
may  have  had  his  self-indulgence  at  the.  expense  not  of  the  permanent  resources, 
but  of  the  temporary  pleasures  and  comforts  of  others.  For  in  every  case  the 
community  are  poorer  by  what  any  one  spends,  unless  others  are  in  consequence 
led  to  curtail  their  spending.  There  are  yet  other  and  more  recondite  ways  in 
which  the  profusion  of  some  may  bring  about  its  compensation  in  the  extra  sav- 
ings of  others ;  but  these  can  only  be  considered  in  that  part  of  the  Fourth 
Book,  which  treats  of  the  limiting  principle  to  the  accumulation  of  capital. 

108  BOOK  I.    CHAPTER  V.     $7. 

manufactories,  and  a  few  ships  and  machines ;  and  even 
these  would  not  in  moBt  cases  have  survived  so  long,  if  fresh 
labour  had  not  been  employed  within  that  period  in  putting 
them  into  repair.  The  land  subsists,  and  the  land  is  almost 
the  only  thing  that  subsists.  Everything  which  is  produced 
perishes,  and  most  things  very  quickly.  Most  kinds  of 
capital  are  not  fitted  by  their  nature  to  be  long  preserved. 
There  are  a  few,  and  but  a  few  productions,  capable  of  a 
very  prolonged  existence.  Westminster  Abbey  has  lasted 
many  centuries,  with  occasional  repairs;  some  Grecian 
sculptures  have  existed  above  two  thousand  years;  the 
Pyramids  perhaps  double  or  treble  that  time.  But  these 
were  objects  devoted  to  unproductive  use.  If  we  except 
bridges  and  aqueducts  (to  which  may  in  some  countries  be 
added  tanks  and  embankments),  there  are  few  instances 
of  any  edifice  applied  to  industrial  purposes  which  has  been 
of  great  duration ;  such  buildings  do  not  hold  out  against 
wear  and  tear,  nor  is  it  good  economy  to  construct  them  of 
the  solidity  necessary  for  permanency.  Capital  is  kept  in 
existence  from  age  to  age  not  by  preservation,  but  by  per- 
petual reproduction :  every  part  of  it  is  used  and  destroyed, 
generally  very  soon  after  it  is  produced,  but  those  who  con- 
sume it  are  employed  meanwhile  in  producing  more.  The 
growth  of  capital  is  similar  to  the  growth  of  population. 
Every  individual  who  is  born,  dies,  but  in  each  year  the 
number  born  exceeds  the  number  who  die :  the  population 
therefore,  always  increases,  though  not  one  person  of  those 
composing  it  was  alive  until  a  very  recent  date. 

§  7.  This  perpetual  consumption  and  reproduction  of 
capital  affords  the  explanation  of  what  has  so  often  excited 
wonder,  the  great  rapidity  with  which  countries  recover 
from  a  state  of  devastation ;  the  disappearance,  in  a  short 
time,  of  all  traces  of  the  mischiefs  done  by  earthquakes, 
floods,  hurricanes,  and  the  ravages  of  war.  An  enemy  lays 
waste  a  country  by  fire  and  sword,  and  destroys  or  carries 
away  nearly  all  the  moveable  wealth  existing  in  it :  all  the. 


inhabitants  are  ruined,  and  yet  in  a  few  years  after,  every- 
thing is  much  as  it  was  before.  This  vis  medicatrix  naturw 
has  been  a  subject  of  sterile  astonishment,  or  has  been  cited 
to  exemplify  the  wonderful  strength  of  the  principle  of 
saving,  which  can  repair  such  enormous  losses  in  so  brief  an 
interval.  There  is  nothing  at  all  wonderful  in  the  matter. 
What  the  enemy  have  destroyed,  would  have  been  de- 
stroyed in  a  little  time  by  the  inhabitants  themselves  :  the 
wealth  which  they  so  rapidly  reproduce,  would  have  needed 
to  be  reproduced  and  would  have  been  reproduced  in  any 
case,  and  probably  in  as  short  a  time.  Nothing  is  changed, 
except  that  during  the  reproduction  they  have  not  now  the 
advantage  of  consuming  what  had  been  produced  previous- 
ly. The  possibility  of  a  rapid  repair  of  their  disasters, 
mainly  depends  on  whether  the  country  has  been  depopu- 
lated. If  its  effective  population  have  not  been  extirpated 
at  the  time,  and  are  not  starved  afterwards  ;  then,  with  the 
same  skill  and  knowledge  which  they  had  before,  with  their 
land  and  its  permanent  improvements  undestroyed,  and  the 
more  durable  buildings  probably  unimpaired,  or  only  par- 
tially injured,  they  have  nearly  all  the  requisites  for  their 
former  amount  of  production.  If  there  is  as  much  of  food 
left  to  them,  or  of  valuables  to  buy  food,  as  enables  them 
by  any  amount  of  privation  to  remain  alive  and  in  working 
condition,  they  will  in  a  6hort  time  have  raised  as  great  a 
produce,  and  acquired  collectively  as  great  wealth  and  as 
great  a  capital,  as  before ;  by  the  mere  continuance  of  that 
ordinary  amount  of  exertion  which  they  are  accustomed  to 
employ  in  their  occupations.  Nor  does  this  evince  any 
strength  in  the  principle  of  saving,  in  the  popular  sense  of 
the  term,  since  what  takes  place  is  not  intentional  absti- 
nence, but  involuntary  privation. 

Yet  e(b  fatal  is  the  habit  of  thinking  through  the  me- 
dium of  only  one  set  of  technical  phrases,  and  so  little 
reason  have  studious  men  to  value  themselves  on  being 
exempt  from  the  very  same  mental  infirmities  which  beset 
the  vulgar,  that  this  simple. explanation  was  never  given  (so 

110  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.    §8. 

far  as  I  am  aware)  by  any  political  economist  before  Dr. 
Chalmers  ;  a  writer  many  of  whose  opinions  I  think  erro- 
neous, but  who  has  always  the  merit  of  studying  phenomena 
at  first  hand,  and  expressing  them  in  a  language  of  his  own, 
which  often  uncovers  aspects  of  the  truth  that  the  received 
phraseologies  only  tend  to  hide. 

§  8.  The  same  author  carries  out  this  train  of  thought 
to  some  important  conclusions  on  another  closely  connected 
subject,  that  of  government  loans  for  war  purposes  or  other 
unproductive  expenditure.  These  loans,  being  drawn  from 
capital  (in  lieu  of  taxes,  which  would  generally  have  been 
paid  from  income,  and  made  up  in  part  or  altogether  by  in- 
creased economy)  must,  according  to  the  principles  we  have 
laid  down,  tend  to  impoverish  the  country :  yet  the  years 
in  which  expenditure  of  this  sort  has  been  on  the  greatest 
scale,  have  often  been  years  of  great  apparent  prosperity : 
the  wealth  and  resources  of  the  country,  instead  of  dimin- 
ishing, have  given  every  sign  of  rapid  increase  during  the 
process,  and  of  greatly  expanded  dimensions  after  its  close. 
This  was  confessedly  the  case  with  Great  Britain  during  the 
last  long  Continental  war ;  and  it  would  take  some  space  to 
enumerate  all  the  unfounded  theories  in  political  economy, 
to  which  that  fact  gave  rise,  and  to  which  it  secured  tem- 
porary credence ;  almost  all  tending  to  exalt  unproductive 
expenditure,  at  the  expense  of  productive.  Without  enter- 
ing into  all  the  causes  which  operated,  and  which  commonly 
do  operate,  to  prevent  these  extraordinary  drafts  on  the 
productive  resources  of  a  country  from  being  so  much  felt 
as  it  might  seem  reasonable  to  expect,  we  will  suppose  the 
most  unfavourable  case  possible :  that  the  whole  amount  bor- 
rowed and  destroyed  by  the  government,  was  abstracted  by 
the  lender  from  a  productive  employment  in  which  it  had 
actually  been  invested.  The  capital,  therefore,  of  the  coun- 
try, is  this  year  diminished  by  so  much.  But  unless  the 
amount  abstracted  is  something  enormous,  there  is  no  reason 
in  the  nature  of  the  case  why  next  year  the  national  capital 


should  not  be  as  great  as  ever.  The  loan  cannot  have  been 
taken  from  that  portion  of  the  capital  of  the  country  which 
consists  of  tools,  machinery,  and  buildings.  It  must  have 
been  wholly  drawn  from  the  portion  employed  in  paying 
labourers :  and  the  labourers  will  suffer  accordingly.  But 
if  none  of  them  are  starved ;  if  their  wages  can  bear  such 
an  amount  of  reduction,  or  if  charity  interposes  between 
them  and  absolute  destitution,  there  is  no  reason  that  their 
labour  should  produce  less  in  the  next  year  than  in  the  year 
before.  If  they  produce  as  much  as  usual,  having  been 
paid  less  by  so  many  millions  sterling,  these  millions  are 
gained  by  their  employers.  The  breach  made  in  the  capital 
of  the  country  is  thus  instantly  repaired,  but  repaired  by 
the  privations  and  often  the  real  misery  of  the  labouring 
class.  Here  is  ample  reason  why  such  periods,  even  in  the 
most  unfavourable  circumstances,  may  easily  be  times  of 
great  gain  to  those  whose  prosperity  usually  passes,  in  the 
estimation  of  society,  for  national  prosperity.* 

*  On  the  other  hand,  it  must  be  remembered  that  war  abstracts  from  produc- 
tive employment  not  only  capital,  but  likewise  labourers ;  that  the  funds  with- 
drawn from  the  remuneration  of  productive  labourers  are  partly  employed  in 
paying  the  same  or  other  individuals  for  unproductive  labour ;  and  that  by  this 
portion  of  its  effects,  war  expenditure  acts  in  precisely  the  opposite  manner  to 
that  which  Dr.  Chalmers  points  out,  and,  so  far  as  it  goes,  directly  counteracts 
the  effects  described  in  the  text.  So  far  as  labourers  are  taken  from  production 
to  man  the  army  and  navy,  the  labouring  classes  are  not  damaged,  the  capitalists 
are  not  benefited,  and  the  general  produce  of  the  country  is  diminished,  by  war 
expenditure.  Accordingly,  Dr.  Chalmers's  doctrine,  though  true  of  this  country, 
is  wholly  inapplicable  to  countries  differently  circumstanced ;  to  France,  for  ex- 
ample, during  the  Napoleon  wars.  At  that  period  the  draught  on  the  labouring 
population  of  France,  for  a  long  series  of  years,  was  enormous,  while  the  funds 
which  supported  the  war  were  mostly  supplied  by  contributions  levied  on  the 
countries  overrun  by  the  French  arms,  a  very  small  proportion  alone  consisting 
of  French  capital.  In  France,  accordingly,  the  wages  of  labour  did  not  fall,  but 
rose;  the  employers  of  labour  were  not  benefited,  but  injured ;  while  the  wealth 
of  the  country  was  impaired  by  the  suspension  or  total  loss  of  so  vast  an  amount 
of  its  productive  labour.  In  England  all  this  was  reversed.  England  employed 
comparatively  few  additional  soldiers  and  sailors  of  her  own,  while  she  diverted 
hundreds  of  millions  of  capital  from  productive  employment,  to  supply  munitions 
of  war  and  support  armies  for  her  Continental  allies.     Consequently,  as  shown 

112  *°0K  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §8. 

This  leads  to  the  vexed  question  to  which  Dr.  Chalmers 
has  very  particularly  adverted ;  whether  the  funds  required 
by  a  government  for  extraordinary  unproductive  expendi- 
ture, are  best  raised  by  loans,  the  interest  only  being  pro- 
vided by  taxes,  or  whether  taxes  should  be  at  once  laid  on 
to  the  whole  amount ;  which  is  called  in  the  financial  vocab- 
ulary, raising  the  whole  of  the  supplies  within  the  year. 
Dr.  Chalmers  is  strongly  for  the  latter  method.  He  says, 
the  common  notion  is  that  in  calling  for  the  whole  amount 
in  one  year,  you  require  what  is  either  impossible,  or  very 
inconvenient ;  that  the  people  cannot,  without  great  hard* 
ship,  pay  the  whole  at  once  out  of  their  yearly  income ;  and 
that  it  is  much  better  to  require  of  them  a  small  payment 
every  year  in  the  shape  of  interest,  than  so  great  a  sacri- 
fice once  for  all.  To  which  his  answer  is,  that  the  sacrifice 
is  made  equally  in  either  case.  Whatever  is  spent,  cannot 
but  be  drawn  from  yearly  income.  The  whole  and  every 
part  of  the  wealth  produced  in  the  country,  forms,  or  helps 
to  form,  the  yearly  income  of  somebody.  The  privation 
which  it  is  supposed  must  result  from  taking  the  amount  in 
the  shape  of  taxes,  is  not  avoided  by  taking  it  in  a  loan. 
The  suffering  is  not  averted,  but  only  thrown  upon  the 
labouring  classes,  the  least  able,  and  who  least  ought,  to 
bear  it:  while  all  the  inconveniences,  physical,  moral,  and 
political,  produced  by  maintaining  taxes  for  the  perpetual 
payment  of  the  interest,  are  incurred  in  pure  loss.  "When- 
ever capital  is  withdrawn  from  production,  or  from  the  fund 
destined  for  production,  to  be  lent  to  the  State  and  expended 
unproductively,  that  whole  sum  is  withheld  from  the 
labouring  classes :  the  loan,  therefore,  is  in  truth  paid  off 
the  same  year ;  the  whole  of  the  sacrifice  necessary  for  pay- 
ing it  off  is  actually  made :  only  it  is  paid  to  the  wrong 
persons,  and  therefore  does  not  extinguish  the  claim ;  and 
paid  by  the  very  worst  of  taxes,  a  tax  exclusively  on  the  la- 
bouring class.     And  after  having,  in  this  most  painful  and 

in  the  text,  her  labourers  suffered,  her  capitalists  prospered,  and  her  permanent 
productive  resources  did  not  fall  off. 


unjust  of  ways,  gone  through  the  whole  effort  necessary  for 
extinguishing  the  debt,  the  country  remains  charged  with 
it,  and  with  the  payment  of  its  interest  in  perpetuity. 

These  views  appear  to  me  strictly  just,  in  so  far  as  tlie 
value  absorbed  in  loans  would  otherwise  have  been  em* 
ployed  in  productive  industry  within  the  country.  The 
practical  state  of  the  case,  however,  seldom  exactly  corre- 
sponds with  this  supposition.  The  loans  of  the  less  wealthy 
countries  are  made  chiefly  with  foreign  capital,  which 
would  not,  perhaps,  have  been  brought  in  to  be  invested  on 
any  less"  security  than  that  of  the  government :  while  those 
of  rich  and  prosperous  countries  are  generally  made,  not 
with  funds  withdrawn  from  productive  employment,  but 
with  the  new  accumulations  constantly  making  from  in- 
come, and  often  with  a  part  of  them  which,  if  not  so  taken, 
would  have  migrated^  to  colonies,  or  sought  other  invest- 
ments abroad.  In  these  cases  (which  will  be  more  particu- 
larly examined  hereafter*),  the  sum  wanted  may  be  obtained 
by  loan  without  detriment  to  the  labourers,  or  derangement 
of  the  national  industry,  and  even  perhaps  with  an  advan- 
tage to  both,  in  comparison  with  raising  the  amount  by 
taxation,  since  taxes,  especially  when  heavy,  are  almost 
always  partly  paid  at  the  expense  of  what  would  otherwise 
have  been  saved  and  added  to  capital.  Besides,  in  a  coun- 
try which  makes  so  great  yearly  additions  to  its  wealth  that 
a  part  can  be  taken  and  expended  unproductively  without 
diminishing  capital,  or  even  preventing  a  considerable  in* 
crease*  it  is  evident  that  even  if  the  whole  of  what  is  so 
taken  would  have  become  capital,  and  obtained  employ- 
ment in  the  country,  the  effect  on  the  labouring  classes  is 
far  less  prejudicial,  and  the  case  against  the  loan  system 
much  less  strong,  than  in  the  case  first  supposed.  This 
brief  anticipation  of  a  discussion  which  will  find  its  proper 
place  elsewhere,  appeared  necessary  to  prevent  false  infer- 
ences from  the  premises  previously  laid  down. 

*  Infra,  book  iv.  chap.  iv.  v. 

114  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §9. 

§  9.  We  now  pass  to  a  fourth  fundamental  theorem" 
respecting  Capital,  which  is,  perhaps,  oftener  overlooked 
or  misconceived  than  even  any  of  the  foregoing.  What 
supports  and  employs  productive  labour,  is  the  capital 
expended  in  setting  it  to  work,  and  not  the  demand  of  pur- 
chasers for  the  produce  x>(  the  labour  when  completed. 
Demand  for  commodities  is  not  demand  for  labour.  The 
demand  for  commodities  determines  in  what  particular 
branch  the  production  of  labour  and  capital,  shall  be  em- 
ployed ;  it  determines  the  direction  of  the  labour  ;  but  not 
the  more  or  less  of  the  labour  itself,  or  of  the  maintenance 
or  payment  of  the  labour.  That  depends  on  the  amount  of 
the  capital,  or  other  funds  directly  devoted  to  the  sus- 
tenance and  remuneration  of  labour. 

Suppose,  for  instance,  that  there  is  a  demand  for  velvet ; 
a  fund  ready  to  be  laid  out  in  buying  velvet,  but  no  capital 
to  establish  the  manufacture.  It  is  of  no  consequence  how 
great  the  demand  may  be ;  unless  capital  is  attracted  into 
the  occupation,  there  will  be  no  velvet  made,  and  conse- 
quently none  bought ;  unless  indeed,  the  desire  of  the 
intending  purchaser  for  it  is  so  strong,  that  he  employs  part 
of  the  price  he  would  have  paid  for  it,  in  making  advances 
to  work-people,  that  they  may  employ  themselves  in  making 
velvet ;  that  is,  unless  he  converts  part  of  his  income  into 
capital,  and  invests  that  capital  in  the  manufacture.  Let 
us  now  reverse  the  hypothesis,  and  suppose  that  there  is 
plenty  of  capital  ready  for  making  velvet,  but  no  demand. 
Velvet  will  not  be  made  ;  but  there  is  no  particular  prefer- 
ence on  the  part  of  capital  for  making  velvet.  Manufac- 
turers and  their  labourers  do  not  produce  for  the  pleasure 
of  their  customers,  but  for  the  supply  of  their  own  wants, 
and  having  still  the  capital  and  the  labour  which  are  the 
essentials  of  production,  they  can  either  produce  something 
else  which  is  in  demand,  or  if  there  be  no  other  demand, 
they  themselves  have  one,  and  can  produce  the  things 
which  they  want  for  their  own  consumption.  So  that  the 
employment  afforded  to  labour  does  not  depend  on  the  pur- 


chasers,  but  on  the  capital.  I  am,  of  course,  not  taking  into 
consideration  the  effects  of  a  sudden  change.  If  the  demand 
ceases  unexpectedly,  after  the  commodity  to  supply  it  is 
already  produced,  this  introduces  a  different  element  into 
the  question :  the  capital  has  actually  been  consumed  in 
producing  something  which  nobody  wants  or  uses,  and  it 
has  therefore  perished,  and  the  employment  which  it  gave 
to  labour  is  at  an  end,  not  because  there  is  no  longer  a 
demand,  but  because  there  is  no  longer  a  capital.  This  case 
therefore  does  not  test  the  principle.  The  proper  test  is,  to 
suppose  that  the  change  is  gradual  and  foreseen,  and  is 
attended  with  no  waste  of  capital,  the  manufacture  being 
discontinued  by  merely  not  replacing  the  machinery  as  it 
wears  out,  and  not  reinvesting  the  money  as  it  comes  in 
from  the  sale  of  the  produce.  The  capital  is  thus  ready  for 
a  new  employment,  in  which  it  will  maintain  as  much 
labour  as  before.  The  manufacturer  and  his  work-people 
lose  the  benefit  of  the  skill  and  knowledge  which  they  had 
acquired  in  the  particular  business,  and  which  can  only  be 
partially  of  use  to  them  in  any  other;  and  that  is  the 
amount  of  loss  to  the  community  by  the  change.  But  the 
labourers  can  still  work,  and  the  capital  which  previously 
employed  them  will,  either  in  the  same  hands,  or  by  being 
lent  to  others,  employ  either  those  labourers  or  an  equiva- 
lent number  in  some  other  occupation. 

This  theorem,  that  to  purchase  produce  is  not  to  employ 
labour ;  that  the  demand  for  labour  is  constituted  by  the 
wages  which  precede  the  production,  and  not  by  the  demand 
which  may  exist  for  the  commodities  resulting  from  the  pro- 
duction ;  is  a  proposition  which  greatly  needs  all  the  illus- 
tration it  can  receive.  It  is,  to  common  apprehension,  a 
paradox  ;  and  even  among  political  economists  of  reputa- 
tion, I  can  hardly  point  to  any,  except  Mr.  Ricardo  and 
M.  Say,  who  have  kept  it  constantly  and  steadily  in  view. 
Almost  all  others  occasionally  express  themselves  as  if  a 
person  who  buys  commodities,  the  produce  of  labour,  was 
an  employer  of  labour,  and  created  a  demand  for  it  as  really, 

116  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §9. 

And  in  the  same  sense,  as  if  he  bought  the  labour  itself 
directly,  by  the  payment  of  wages.  It  is  no  wonder  that 
political  economy  advances  slowly,  when  such  a  question  as 
this  still  remains  open  at  its  very  threshold.  I  apprehend, 
that  if  by  demand  for  labour  be  meant  the  demand  by 
which  wages  are  raised,  or  the  number  of  labourers  in  em- 
ployment increased,  demand  for  commodities  does  not  con- 
stitute demand  for  labour.  I  conceive  that  a  person  who 
buys  commodities  and  consumes  them  himself,  does  no  good 
to  the  labouring  classes ;  and  that  it  is  only  by  what  he 
abstains  from  consuming,  and  expends  in  direct  payments 
to  labourers  in  exchange  for  labour,  that  he  benefits  the 
labouring  class,  or  adds  anything  to  the  amount  of  their 

For  the  better  illustration  of  the  principle,  let  us  put  the 
following  case.  A  consumer  may  expend  his  income  either 
in  buying  services,  or  commodities.  He  may  employ  part 
of  it  in  hiring  journeymen  bricklayers  to  build  a  house,  or 
excavators  to  dig  artificial  lakes,  or  labourers  to  make  plan- 
tations and  lay  out  pleasure  grounds ;  or,  instead  of  this,  he 
may  expend  the  same  value  in  buying  velvet  and  lace.  The 
question  is,  whether  the  difference  between  these  two  modes 
of  expending  his  income  affects  the  interest  of  the  labouring 
classes.  It  is  plain  that  in  the  first  of  the  two  cases  he  em- 
ploys labourers,  who  will  be  out  of  employment,  or  at  least 
out  of  that  employment,  in  the  opposite  case.  But  those 
from  whom  I  differ  say  that  this  is  of  no  consequence, 
because  in  buying  velvet  and  lace  he  equally  employs 
labourers,  namely,  those  who  make  the  velvet  and  lace. 
I  contend,  however,  that  in  this  last  case  he  does  not  employ 
labourers ;  but  merely  decides  in  what  kind  of  work  some 
other  person  shall  employ  them.  The  consumer  does  not 
with  his  own  funds  pay  to  the  weavers  and  lacemakers  their 
day's  wages.  He  buys  the  finished  commodity,  which  has 
been  produced  by  labour  and  capital,  the  labour  not  being 
paid  nor  the  capital  furnished  by  him,  but  by  the  manufac- 
turer.    Suppose  that  he  had  been  in  the  habit  of  expending 


this  portion  of  his  income  in  hiring  journeymen  bricklayers, 
who  laid  out  the  amount  of  their  wages  in  food  and  clothing, 
which  were  also  produced  by  labour  and  capital.  He, 
however,  determines  to  prefer  velvet,  for  which  he  thus 
creates  an  extra  demand.  This  demand  cannot  be  satisfied 
without  an  extra  supply,  nor  can  the  supply  be  produced 
without  an  extra  capital :  where,  then,  is  the  capital  to  come 
from  ?  There  is  nothing  in  the  consumer's  change  of  pur- 
pose which  makes  the  capital  of  the  country  greater  than  it 
otherwise  was.  It  appears,  then,  that  the  increased  demand 
for  velvet  could  not  for  the  present  be  supplied,  were  it  not 
that  the  very  circumstance  which  gave  rise  to  it  has  set  at 
liberty  a  eapital  of  the  exact  amount  required.  The  very 
sum  which  the  consumer  now  employs  in  buying  velvet, 
formerly  passed  into  the  hands  of  journeymen  bricklayers, 
who  expended  it  in  food  and  necessaries,  which  they  now 
either  go  without,  or  squeeze  by  their  competition,  from  the 
shares  of  other  labourers.  The  labour  and  capital,  there- 
fore, which  formerly  produced  necessaries  for  the  use  of 
these  bricklayers,  are  deprived  of  their  market,  and  must 
look  out  for  other  employment ;  and  they  find  it  in  making 
velvet  for  the  new  demand.  I  do  not  mean  that  the  very 
same  labour  and  capital  which  produced  the  necessaries  turn 
themselves  to  producing  the  velvet;  but,  in  some  one  or 
other  of  a  hundred  modes,  they  take  the  place  of  that  which 
does.  There  was  capital  in  existence  to  do  one  of  the  two 
things — to  make  the  velvet,  or  to  produce  necessaries  for  the 
journeymen  bricklayers ;  but  not  to  do  both.  It  was  at  the 
option  of  the  consumer  which  of  the  two  should  happen ; 
and  if  he  chooses  the  velvet,  they  go  without  the  neces- 
saries.   " 

For  further  illustration,  let  us  suppose  the  same  case 
reversed.  The  consumer  has  been  accustomed  to  buy  vel- 
vet, but  resolves  to  discontinue  that  expense,  and  to  employ 
the  same  annual  sum  in  hiring  bricklayers.  If  the  common 
opinion  be  correct,  this  change  in  the  mode  of  his  expendi- 
ture gives  no  additional  employment  to  labour,  but  only 

118  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §9. 

transfers  employment  from  velvet-makers  to  bricklayers. 
On  closer  inspection,  however,  it  will  be  seen  that  there  is 
an  increase  of  the  total  sum  applied  to  the  remuneration  of 
labour.  The  velvet  manufacturer,  supposing  him  aware  of 
the  diminished  demand  for  his  commodity,  diminishes  the 
production,  and  sets  at  liberty  a  corresponding  portion  of 
the  capital  employed  in  the  manufacture.  This  capital, 
thus  withdrawn  from  the  maintenance  of  velvet-makers,  is 
not  the  same  fund  with  that  which  the  customer  employs  in 
maintaining  bricklayers;  it  is  a  second  fund.  There  are 
therefore  two  funds  to  be  employed  in  the  maintenance  and 
remuneration  of  labour,  where  before  there  was  only  one. 
There  is  not  a  transfer  of  employment  from  velvet-makers  to 
bricklayers ;  there  is  a  new  employment  created  for  brick- 
layers, and  a  transfer  of  employment  from  velvet-makers  to 
some  other  labourers,  most  probably  those  who  produce  the 
food  and  other  things  which  the  bricklayers  consume. 

It  may,  no  doubt,  be  said,  that  though  the  money  laid 
out  in  buying  velvet  is  not  an  addition  to  capital,  it  replaces 
a  capital ;  that  though  it  does  not  create  a  new  demand  for 
labour,  it  is  the  necessary  means  of  enabling  the  existing 
demand  to  be  kept  up.  The  funds  (it  may  be  said)  of  the 
manufacturer,  while  locked  up  in  velvet,  cannot  be  directly 
applied  to  the  maintenance  of  labour ;  they  do  not  begin  to 
constitute  a  demand  for  labour  until  the  velvet  is  sold,  and 
the  capital  which  made  it  replaced  from  the  outlay  of  the 
purchaser  ;  and  thus,  it  may  be  said,  the  velvet-maker  and 
the  velvet-buyer  have  not  two  capitals,  but  only  one  capital 
between  them,  which  by  the  act  of  purchase  the  buyer 
transfers  to  the  manufacturer,  and  if  instead  of  buying  velvet 
he  buys  labour,  he  simply  transfers  this  capital  elsewhere, 
extinguishing  as  much  demand  for  labour  in  one  quarter  as 
he  creates  in  another. 

The  premises  of  this  argument  are  not  denied.  To  set 
free  a  capital  which  would  otherwise  be  locked  up  in  a  form 
useless  for  the  support  of  labour,  is,  no  doubt,  the  same 
thing  to  the  interests  of  labourers  as  the  creation  of  a  new 


capital.  It  is  perfectly  true  that  if  I  expend  1000Z.  in  buy- 
ing velvet,  I  enable  the  manufacturer  to  employ  1000J.  in 
the  maintenance  of  labour,  which  could  not  have  been  so 
employed  while  the  velvet  remained  unsold :  and  if  it 
would  have  remained  unsold  for  ever  unless  I  bought  it, 
then  by  changing  my  purpose,  and  hiring  bricklayers 
instead,  I  undoubtedly  create  no  new  demand  for  labour : 
or  while  I  employ  1000Z.  in  hiring  labour  on  the  one  hand, 
I  annihilate  for  ever  1000Z.  of  the  velvet-maker's  capital  on 
the  other.  .  But  this  is  confounding  the  effects  arising  from 
the  mere  suddenness  of  a  change  with  the  effects  of  the 
change  itself.  If  when  the  buyer  ceased  to  purchase,  the 
capital  employed  in  making  velvet  for  his  use  necessarily 
perished,  then  his  expending  the  same  amount  in  hiring 
bricklayers  would  be  no  creation,  but  merely  a  transfer,  of 
employment.  The  increased  employment  which  I  contend 
is  given  to  labour,  would  not  be  given  unless  the  capital  of 
the  velvet-maker  could  be  liberated,  and  would  not  be  given 
until  it  was  liberated.  But  every  one  knows  that  the  capi- 
tal invested  in  an  employment  can  be  withdrawn  from  it,  if 
sufficient  time  be  allowed.  If  the  velvet-maker  had  pre- 
vious notice,  by  not  receiving  the  usual  order,  he  will  have 
produced  1000Z.  less  velvet,  and  an  equivalent  portion  of  his 
capital  will  have  been  already  set  free.  If  he  had  no  pre- 
vious notice,  and  the  article  consequently  remains  on  his 
hands,  the  increase  of  his  stock  will  induce  him  next  year  to 
suspend  or  diminish  his  production  until  the  surplus  is  car- 
ried off.  When  this  process  is  complete,  the  manufacturer 
will  find  himself  as  rich  as  before,  with  undiminished  power 
of  employing  labour  in  general,  though  a  portion  of  his 
capital  will  now  be  employed  in  maintaining  some  other 
kind  of  it.  Until  this  adjustment  has  taken  place,  the  de- 
mand for  labour  will  be  merely  changed,  not  increased :  but 
as  soon  as  it  has  taken  place,  the  demand  for  labour  is  in- 
creased. Where  there  was  formerly  only  one  capital  em- 
ployed in  maintaining  weavers  to  make  1000/.  worth  of 
velvet,  there  is  now  that  same  capital  employed  in  making 
something  else,  and  1000/.  distributed  among  bricklayers 

120  B(>OK  I.    CHAPTER  V.     f  9. 

besides.  There  are  now  two  capitals  employed  in  remu* 
nerating  two  sets  of  labourers ;  while  before,  one  of  those 
capitals,  that  of  the  customer,  only  served  as  a  wheel  in  the 
machinery  by  which  the  other  capital,  that  of  the  manufac- 
turer, carried  on  its  employment  of  labour  from  year  to  year. 
The  proposition  for  which  I  am  contending  is  in  reality 
equivalent  to  the  following,  which  to  some  minds  will 
appear  a  truism,  though  to  others  it  is  a  paradox :  that  a 
person  does  good  to  labourers,  not  by  what  he  consumes  on 
himself,  but  solely  what  he  does  not  so  consume.  If  instead 
of  laying  out  100Z.  in  wine  or  silk,  I  expend  it  in  wages  or 
in  alms,  the  demand  for  commodities  is  precisely  equal  in 
both  cases :  in  the  one,  it  is  a  demand  for  1001.  worth  of 
wine  or  silk,  in  the  other,  for  the  same  value  of  bread,  beer, 
labourers'  clothing,  fuel,  and  indulgences  ;  but  the  labourers 
of  the  community  have  in  the  latter  case  the  value  of  100Z. 
more  of  the  produce  of  the  community  distributed  among 
them.  I  have  consumed  that  much  less,  and  made  over  my 
consuming  power  to  them.  If  it  were  not  so,  my  having 
consumed  less  would  not  leave  more  to  be  consumed  by 
others ;  which  is  a  manifest  contradiction.  When  less  is 
not  produced,  what  one  person  forbears  to  consume  is  neces- 
sarily added  to  the  share  of  those  to  whom  he  transfers  his 
power  of  purchase.  In  the  case  supposed  I  do  not  neces- 
sarily consume  less  ultimately,  since  the  labourers  whom  I 
pay  may  build  a  house  for  me,  or  make  something  else  for 
my  future  consumption.  But  I  have  at  all  events  post- 
poned my  consumption,  and  have  turned  over  part  of  my 
share  of  the  present  produce  of  the  community  to  the 
labourers.  If  after  an  interval  I  am  indemnified,  it  is  not 
from  the  existing  produce,  but  from  a  subsequent  addition 
made  to  it.  I  have  therefore  left  more  of  the  existing 
produce  to  be  consumed  by  others  ;  and  have  put  into  the 
possession  of  labourers  the  power  to  consume  it.* 

*  The  following  case,  which  presents  the  argument  in  a  somewhat  different 
shape,  may  serve  for  still  further  illustration. 

Suppose  that  a  rich  individual,  A,  expends  a  certain  amount  daily  in  wages 
or  alms,  which,  as  soon  as  received,  is  expended  and  consumed,  in  the  form  of 


It  appears,  then,  that  a  demand  delayed  until  the  work 
is  completed,  and  furnishing  no  advances,  but  only  reim- 
bursing advances  made  by  others,  contributes  nothing  to 
the  demand  for  labour ;  and  that  what  is  so  expended,  is,  in 

coarse  food,  by  the  receivers.  A  dies,  leaving  his  property  to  B,  who  discon- 
tinues this  item  of  expenditure,  and  expends  in  lieu  of  it  the  same  sum  each  day 
iu  delicacies  for  his  own  table.  I  have  chosen  this  supposition,  in  order  that  the 
iwo  cases  may  be  similar  in  all  their  circumstances,  except  that  which  is  the  sub- 
ject of  comparison.  In  order  not  to  obscure  the  essential  facts  of  the  case  by 
exhibiting  them  through  the  hazy  medium  of  a  money  transaction,  let  us  further 
suppose  that  A,  and  B  after  him,  are  landlords  of  the  estate  on  which  both  the 
food  consumed  by  the  recipients  of  A's  disbursements,  and  the  articles  of  luxury 
supplied  for  B's  table,  are  produced ;  and  that  their  rent  is  paid  to  them  in  kind, 
they  giving  previous  notice  what  description  of  produce  they  shall  require.  The 
question  is,  whether  B's  expenditure  gives  as  much  employment  or  as  much  food 
to  his  poorer  neighbours  as  A's  gave. 

From  the  case  as  stated,  it  seems  to  follow  that  while  A  lived,  that  portion 
of  his  income  which  he  expended  in  wages  or  alms,  would  be  drawn  by  him  from 
the  farm  in  the  shape  of  food  for  labourers,  and  would  be  used  as  such ;  while  B, 
who  came  after  him,  would  require,  instead  of  this,  an  equivalent  value  in  ex- 
pensive articles  of  food,  to  be  consumed  in  his  own  household :  that  the  farmer, 
therefore,  would,  under  B's  regime,  produce  that  much  less  of  ordinary  food,  and 
more  of  expensive  delicacies,  for  each  day  of  the  year,  than  was  produced  in  A's 
time,  and  that  there  would  be  that  amount  less  of  food  shared,  throughout  the 
year,  among  the  labouring  and  poorer  classes.     This  is  what  would  be  conform- 
able to  the  principles  laid  down  in  the  text.     Those  who  think  differently,  must, 
on  the  other  hand,  suppose  that  the  luxuries  required  by  B  would  be  produced, 
not  instead  of,  but  in  addition  to,  the  food  previously  supplied  to  A's  labourers, 
and  that  the  aggregate  produce  of  the  country  would  be  increased  in  amount. 
But  when  if  is  asked,  how  this  double  production  would  be  effected — how  the 
farmer,  whose  capital  and  labour  were  already  fully  employed,  would  be  enabled 
.  to  supply  the  new  wants  of  B,  without  producing  less  of  other  things ;  the  only 
.  mode  which,  presents  itself  is,  that  he  should  first  produce  the  food,  and  then, 
giving  that  food  to  the  labourers  whom  A  formerly  fed,  should  by  means  of  their 
labour,  produce  the  luxuries  wanted  by  B.     This,  accordingly,  when  the  objec- 
.  tors  are  hard  pressed,  appears  to  be  really  their  meaning.     But  it  is  an  obvious 
answer,  that  on  this  supposition,  B  must  wait  for  his  luxuries  till  the  second 
year,  and  they  are  wanted  this  year.     By  the  original  hypothesis,  he  consumes 
his  luxurious  dinner  day  by  day,  pari  passu  with  the  rations  of  bread  and  pota- 
toes formerly  served  out  by  A  to  his  labourers.     There  is  not  time  to  feed  the 
labourers  first,  and  supply  B  afterwards :  he  and  they  cannot  both  have  their 
.  wants  ministered  to :  he  can  only  satisfy  his  own  demand  for  commodities,  by 
.  leaving  as  much  of  theirs,  as  was  formerly  supplied  from  that  fund,  unsatisfied. 
It  may,  indeed,  b€  rejoined  by  ah  objector,  that  since,  on\the  present  show- 

122  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  V.     g0. 

all  its  effects,  so  far  as  regards  the  employment  of  the  labour- 
ing class,  a  mere  nullity  ;  it  does  not  and  cannot  create  any 
employment  except  at  the  expense  of  other  employment 
which  existed  before.* 

ing,  time  is  the  only  thing  wanting  to  render  the  expenditure  of  B  consistent 
with  as  large  an  employment  to  labour  as  was  given  by  A,  why  may  we  not  sup- 
pose that  B  postpones  his  increased  consumption  of  personal  luxuries  until  they 
can  be  furnished  to  him  by  the  labour  of  the  persons  whom  A  employed  ?  In 
that  case,  it  may  be  said,  he  would  employ  and  feed  as  much  labour  as  his  prede- 
cessors. Undoubtedly  he  would ;  but  why  ?  Because  his  income  would  be  ex- 
pended in  exactly  the  same  manner  as  his  predecessor's ;  it  would  be  expended 
in  wages.  A  reserved  from  his  personal  consumption  a  fund  which  he  paid 
away  directly  to  labourers ;  B  does  the  same,  only  instead  of  paying  it  to  them 
himself,  he  leaves  it  in  the  hands  of  the  farmer,  who  pays  it  to  them  for  him. 
On  this  supposition,  B,  in  the  first  year,  neither  expending  the  amount,  as  far  as 
he  is  personally  concerned,  in  A's  manner  nor  in  his  own,  really  saves  that  por- 
tion of  his  income,  and  lends  it  to  the  farmer.  And  if,  in  subsequent  years,  con- 
fining himself  within  the  year's  income,  he  leaves  the  farmer  in  arrears  to  that 
amount,  it  becomes  an  additional  capital,  with  which  the  farmer  may  perma- 
nently employ  and  feed  A's  labourers.  Nobody  pretends  that  such  a  change  as 
this,  a  change  from  spending  an  income  in  wages  of  labour,  to  saving  it  for  in- 
vestment, deprives  any  labourers  of  employment  What  is  affirmed  to  have  that 
effect  is,  the  change  from  hiring  labourers  to  buying  commodities  for  personal 
use ;  as  represented  by  our  original  hypothesis. 

In  our  illustration  we  have  supposed  no  buying  and  selling,  or  use  of  money. 
But  the  case  as  we  have  put  it,  corresponds  with  actual  fact  in  everything  except 
the  details  of  the  mechanism.  The  whole  of  any  country  is  virtually  a  single  . 
farm  and  manufactory,  from  which  every  member  of  the  community  draws  his 
appointed  share  of  the  produce,  having  a  certain  number  of  counters,  called 
pounds  sterling,  put  into  his  hands,  which,  at  his  convenience,  he  brings  back 
and  exchanges  for  such  goods  as  he  prefers,  up  to  the  limit  of  the  amount.  He 
does  not,  as  in  our  imaginary  case,  give  notice  beforehand  what  things  he  shall 
require ;  but  the  dealers  and  producers  are  quite  capable  of  finding  it  out  by 
observation,  and  any  change  in  the  demand  is  promptly  followed  by  an  adapta- 
tion of  the  supply  to  it.  If  a  consumer  changes  from  paying  away  a  part  of  his 
income  in  wages,  to  spending  it  that  same  day  (not  some  subsequent  and  distant 
day)  in  things  for  his  own  consumption,  and  perseveres  in  this  altered  practice 
until  production  has  had  time  to  adapt  itself  to  the  alteration  of  demand,  there 
will  from  that  time  be  less  food  and  other  articles  for  the  use  of  labourers,  pro*' 
duced  in  the  country,  by  exactly  the  value  of  the  extra  luxuries  now  demanded ; 
and  the  labourers,  as  a  class,  will  be  worse  off  by  the  precise  amount. 

*  The  grounds  of  a  proposition,  when  well  understood,  usually  give  a  toler- 
able indication  of  the  limitations  of  it.    There  is  a  case  in  which  a  demand  for 
.  commodities  may  create  employment  for  labour,  namely,  when  the  labourer  to 


But  though  a  demand  for  velvet  does  nothing  more  in 
regard  to  the  employment  for  labour  and  capital,  than  to 
determine  so  much  of  the  employment  which:  already  exist- 
ed, into  that  particular  channel  instead  of  any  other ;  still, 
to  the  producers  already  engaged  in  the  velvet  manufac- 
ture, and  not  intending  to  quit  it,  this  is  of  the  utmost  impor- 
tance. To  them,  a  falling  off  in  the  demand  is  a  real  loss, 
and  one  which,  even  if  none  of  their  goods  finally  perish 
unsold,  may  mount  to  any  height,  up  to  that  which  would 
make  them  choose,  as  the  smaller  evil,  to  retire  from  the 
business.  On  the  contrary,  an  increased  demand  enables 
them  to  extend  their  transactions— to  make  a  profit  on  a 
larger  capital,  if  they  have  it,  or  can  borrow  it ;  and,  turn- 
ing over  their  capital  more  rapidly,  they  will  employ  their 
labourers  more  constantly,  or  employ  a  greater  number  than 
before.  So  that  an  increased  demand  for  a  commodity  does 
really,  in  the  particular  department,  often  cause  a  greater 
employment  to  be  given  to  labour  by  the  same  capital. 
The  mistake  lies  in  not  perceiving  that  in  the  cases  sup- 
posed, this  advantage  is  given  to  labour  and  capital  in  one 
department,  only  by  being  withdrawn  from  another ;  and 
that  when  the  change  has  produced  its  natural  effect  of 
attracting  into  the  employment  additional  capital  propor- 
tional to  the  increased  demand,  the  advantage  itself  ceases. 

The  demand  for  commodities  is  a  consideration  of  impor- 
tance rather  in  the  theory  of  exchange,  than  in  that  of  pro- 
duction.    Looking  at  things  in  the  aggregate,  and  perma- 

already  fed,  without  being  fully  employed.  Work  which  can  be  done  in  the 
spare  hours  of  persons  subsisted  from  some  other  source,  can  (as  before  remark- 
ed) be  undertaken  without  withdrawing  capital  from  other  occupations,  beyond 
the  amount  (often  very  small)  required  to  cover  the  expense  of  tools  and  mate1 
rials.  The  reason  of  our  theorem  thus  failing,  the  theorem  itself  fails,  and  em- 
ployment of  this  kind  may,  by  the  springing  up  of  a  demand  for  the  commodity, 
be  called  into  existence  without  depriving  labour  of  an  equivalent  amount  of 
employment  in  another  quarter.  The  demand  does  not,  even  in  this  case,  operate 
on  labour  any  otherwise  than  through  the  medium  of  an  existing  capital,  but  it 
affords  an  inducement  which  causes  that  capital  to  set  in  motion  a  greater  amount 
of  labour  than- it  did  before. 

124  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     §  10. 

nently,  the  remuneration  of  the  producer  is  derived  from  the 
productive  power  of  his  own  capital.  The  Bale  of  the 
produce  for  money,  and  the  subsequent  expenditure  of  the 
money  in  buying  other  commodities,  are  a  mere  exchange 
of  equivalent  values,  for  mutual  accommodation.  It  is  true 
that,  the  division  of  employments  being  one  of  the  principal 
means  of  increasing  the  productive  power  of  labour,  the 
power  of  exchanging  gives  rise  to  a  great  increase  of  the 
produce ;  but  even  then  it  is  production,  not  exchange, 
which  remunerates  labour  and  capital.  We  cannot  too 
strictly  represent  to  ourselves  the  operation  of  exchange, 
whether  conducted  by  barter  or  through  the  medium  of 
money,  as  the  mere  mechanism  by  which  each  person  trans- 
forms the  remuneration  of  his  labour  or  of  his  capital  into 
the  particular  shape  in  which  it  is  most  convenient  to  him 
to  possess  it ;  but  in  no  wise  the  source  of  the  remuneration 

§  10.  The  preceding  principles  demonstrate  the  fallacy 
of  many  popular  arguments  and  doctrines,  which  are  con- 
tinually reproducing  themselves  in  new  forms.  For  exam- 
ple, it  has  been  contended,  and  by  some  from  whom  better 
things  might  have  been  expected,  that  the  argument  for  the 
income-tax,  grounded  on  its  falling  on  the  higher  and 
middle  classes  only,  and  sparing  the  poor,  is  an  error;  some 
have  gone  so  far  as  to  say,  an  imposture ;  because  in  taking 
from  the  rich  what  they  would  have  expended  among  the 
poor,  the  tax  injures  the  poor  as  much  as  it  it  had  been 
directly  levied  from  them.  Of  this  doctrine  we  now  know 
what  to  think.  So  far,  indeed,  as  what  is  taken  from  the 
rich  in  taxes,  would,  if  not  so  taken,  have  been  saved  and 
converted  into  capital,  or  even  expended  in  the  mainte- 
nance and  wages  of  servants  or  of  any  class  of  unproductive 
labourers,  to  that  extent  the  demand  for  labour  is  no  doubt 
diminished,  and  the  poor  injuriously  affected,  by  the  tax  on 
the  rich ;  and  as  these  effects  are  almost  always  produced 
in  a  greater  or  less  degree,  it  is  impossible  so  to  tax.the  rich 


as  that  no  portion  whatever  of  the  tax  can  fall  on  the  poor. 
But  even  here  the  question  arises,  whether  the  government, 
after  receiving  the  amount,  will  not  lay  out  as  great  a  por- 
tion of  it  in  the  direct  purchase  of  labour,  as  the  tax-payers 
would  have  done.  In  regard  to  all  that  portion  of  the  tax, 
which,  if  not  paid  to  the  government,  would  have  been  con- 
sumed in  the  form  of  commodities  (or  even  expended  in  ser- 
vices if  the  payment  has  been  advanced  by  a  capitalist), 
this,  according  to  the  principles  we  have  investigated,  falls 
definitely  on  the  rich,  and  not  at  all  on  the  poor.  There  is 
exactly  the  same  demand  for  labour,  so  far  as  this  portion 
is  concerned,  after  the  tax,  as  before  it.  The  capital  which 
hitherto  employed  the  labourers  of  the  country,  remains, 
and  is  still  capable  of  employing  the  same  number.  There 
is  the  same  amount  of  produce  paid  in  wages,  or  allotted  to 
defray  the  feeding  and  clothing  of  labourers.  * 

If  those  against  whom  I  am  now  contending  were  in  the 
right,  it  would  be  impossible  to  tax  anybody  except  the 
poor.  If  it  is  taxing  the  labourers,  to  tax  what  is  laid  out 
in  the  produce  of  labour,  the  labouring  classes  pay  all  the 
taxes.  The  same  argument,  however,  equally  proves,  that 
it  is  impossible  to  tax  the  labourers  at  all ;  since  the  tax, 
being  laid  out  either  in  labour  or  in  commodities,  comes  all 
back  to  them ;  so  that  taxation  has  the  singular  property 
of  falling  on  nobody.  On  the  same  showing,  it  would  do 
the  labourers  no  harm  to  take  from  them  all  they  have,  and 
distribute  it  among  the  other  members  of  the  community. 
It  would  all  be  "  spent  among  them,"  which  on  this  theory 
comes  to  the  same  thing.  The  error  is  produced  by  not 
looking  directly  at  the  realities  of  the  phenomena,  but 
attending  only  to  the  outward  mechanism  of  paying  and 
spending.  If  we  look  at  the  effects  produced  not  on  the 
money,  which  merely  changes  hands,  but  on  the  commodi- 
ties which  are  used  and  consumed,  we  see  that,  in  conse- 
quence of  the  income-tax,  the  classes  who  pay  it  do  really 
diminish  their  consumption.  Exactly  so  far  as  they  do  this, 
they  are  the  persons  on  whom  the  tax  falls.    It  is  defrayed 

126  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  V.     f™. 

out  of  what  they  would  otherwise  have  used  and  enjoyed. 
So  far,  on  the  other  hand,  as  the  burthen  falls,  not  on  what 
they  would  have  consumed,  but  on  what  they  would  have 
saved  to  maintain  production,  or  spent  in  maintaining  or 
paying  unproductive  labourers,  to  that  extent  the  tax  forms 
a  deduction  from  what  would  have  been  used  and  enjoyed 
by  the  labouring  classes.  But  if  the  government,  as  is  prob- 
ably the  fact,  expends  fully  as  much  of  the  amount  as  the 
tax-payers  would  have  done  in  the  direct  employment  of 
labour,  as  in  hiring  sailors,  soldiers,  and  policemen,  or  in 
paying  off  debt,  by  which  last  operation  it  even  increases 
capital ;  the  labouring  classes  not  only  do  not  lose  any 
employment  by  the  tax,  but  may  possibly  gain  some,  and 
the  whole  of  the  tax  falls  exclusively  where  it  was  in- 

All  that  portion  of  the  produce  of  the  country  which 
any  one,  not  a  labourer,  actually  and  literally  consumes  for 
his  own  use,  does  not  contribute  in  the  smallest  degree  to 
the  maintenance  of  labour.  No  one  is  benefited  by  mere 
consumption,  except  the  person  who  consumes.  And  a 
person  cannot  both  consume  his  income  himself,  and  make 
it  over  to  be  consumed  by  others.  Taking  away  a  certain 
portion  by  taxation  cannot  deprive  both  him  and  them  of 
it,  but  only  him  or  them.  To  know  which  is  the  sufferer, 
we  must  understand  whose  consumption  will  have  to  be 
retrenched  in  consequence :  this,  whoever  it  be,  is  the  per- 
son on  whom  the  tax  really  falls. 



§  1.  To  complete  our  explanations  on  the  subject  of 
capital,  it  is  necessary  to  say  something  of  the  two  species 
into  which  it  is  usually  divided.  The  distinction  is  very 
obvious,  and  though  not  named,  has  been  often  adverted  to, 
in  the  two  preceding  chapters :  but  it  is  now  proper  to 
define  it  accurately,  and  to  point  out  a  few  of  its  conse- 

Of  the  capital  engaged  in  the  production  of  any  com- 
modity, there  is  a  part  which,  after  being  once  used,  exists 
no  longer  as  capital ;  is  no  longer  capable  of  rendering 
service  to  production,  or  at  least  not  the  same  service,  nor 
to  the  same  sort  of  production.  Such,  for  example,  is  the 
portion  of  capital  which  consists  of  materials.  The  tallow 
and  alkali  of  which  soap  is  made,  once  used  in  the  manufac- 
ture, are  destroyed  as  alkali  and  tallow  ;  and  cannot  be  em- 
ployed any  further  in  the  soap  manufacture,  though  in  their 
altered  condition,  as  soap,  they  are  capable  of  being  used  as 
a  material  or  an  instrument  in  other  branches  of  manufac- 
ture. In  the  same  division  must  be  placed  the  portion  of 
capital  which  is  paid  as  the  wages,  or  consumed  as  tho 
subsistence,  of  labourers.  That  part  of  the  capital  of  a 
cotton-spinner  which  he  pays  away  to  his  work-people, 
once  so  paid,  exists  no  longer  as  his  capital,  or  as  a  cotton- 
spinner's  capital :  such  portion  of  it  as  the  workmen  con- 
sume, no  longer  exists  as  capital  at  all :  even  if  they  6ave 
any  part,  it  may  now  be  more  properly  regarded  as  a  fresh 

128  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VI.     §1. 

capital,  the  result  of  a  second  act  of  accumulation.  Capital 
which  in  this  manner  fulfils  the  whole  of  its  office  in  the 
production  in  which  it  is  engaged,  by  a  single  use,  is  called 
Circulating  Capital.  The  term,  which"  is  not  very  appro- 
priate, is  derived  from  the  circumstance,  that  this  portion 
of  capital  requires  to  be  constantly  renewed  by  the  sale  of 
the  finished  product,  and  when  renewed  is  perpetually 
parted  with  in  buying  materials  and  paying  wages ;  so  that 
it  does  its  work,  not  by  being  kept,  but  by  changing  hands. 

Another  large  portion  of  capital,  however,  consists  in 
instruments  of  production,  of  a  more  or  less  pennanent  char- 
acter ;  which  produce  their  effect  not  by  being  parted  with, 
but  by  being  kept ;  and  the  efficacy  of  which  is  not  exhaust- 
ed by  a  single  use.  To  this  class  belong  buildings,  machin- 
ery, and  all  or  most  things  known  by  the  name  of  imple- 
ments or  tools.  The  durability  of  some  of  these  is  consider- 
able, and  their  function  as  productive  instruments  is  pro- 
longed through  many  repetitions  of  the  productive  opera- 
tion. In  this  class  must  likewise  be  included  capital  6unk 
(as  the  expression  is)  in  permanent  improvements  of  land. 
So  also  the  capital  expended  once  for  all,  in  the  commence- 
ment of  an  undertaking/ to  prepare  the  way  for  subsequent 
operations :  the  expense  of  opening  a  mine,  for  example : 
of  cutting  canals,  of  making  roads  or  docks.  Other  exam- 
ples might  be  added,  but  these  are  sufficient.  Capital 
which  exists  in  any  of  these  durable  shapes,  and  the  return 
to  which  is  spread  over  a  period  of  corresponding  duration, 
is  called  Fixed  Capital. 

Of  fixed  capital,  some  kinds  require  to  be  occasionally 
or  periodically  renewed.  Such  are  all  implements  and 
buildings :  they  require,  at  intervals,  partial  renewal  by 
means  of  repairs,  and  are  at  last  entirely  worn  out,  and 
cannot  be  of  any  further  service  as  buildings  and  imple- 
ments, but  fall  back  into  the  class  of  materials.  In  other 
cases,  the  capital  does.not,  unless  as  a  consequence  of  some 
unusual  accident,  require  entire  renewal :  but  there  is 
always  some  outlay  needed,  either  regularly  or  at  least 


occasionally,  to  keep  it  up.  A  dock  or  a  canal,  once  made, 
does  not  require,  like  a  machine,  to  be  made  again,  unless 
purposely  destroyed,  or  unless  an  earthquake  or  some 
similar  catastrophe  has  filled  it  up :  but  regular  and  fre- 
quent outlays  are  necessary  to  keep  it  in  repair.  The  cost 
of  opening  a  mine  needs  not  be  incurred  a  second  time ; 
but  unless  some  one  goes  to  the  expense  of  keeping  the  mine 
clear  of  water,  it  is.  soon  rendered  useless.  The  most  per- 
manent of  all  kinds  of  fixed  capital  is  that  employed  in  giv- 
ing increased  productiveness  to  a  natural  agent,  such  as 
land.  The  draining  of  marshy  or  inundated  tracts  like  the 
Bedford  Level,  the  reclaiming  of  land  from  the  sea,  or  its 
protection  by  embankments,  are  improvements  calculated 
for  perpetuity;  but  drains  and  dykes  require  frequent 
repairs.  The  same  character  of  perpetuity  belongs  to  the 
improvement  of  land  by  subsoil  draining,  which  adds  60 
much  to  the  productiveness  of  the  clay  soils ;  or  by  perma- 
nent manures,  that  is,  by  the  addition  to  the  soil,  not  of  the 
substances  which  enter  into  the  composition  of.  vegetables, 
and  which  are  therefore  consumed  by  vegetation,  but  of 
those  which  merely  alter  the  relation  of  the  soil  to  air  and 
water ;  as  sand  and  lime  on  the  heavy  soils,  clay  and  marl 
on  the  light.  Even  such  works,  however,  require  some, 
though  it  may  be  very  little,  occasional  outlay  to  maintain 
their  full  effect. 

These  improvements,  however,  by  the  very  fact  of  their 
deserving  that  title,  produce  an  increase  of  return,  which, 
after  defraying  all  expenditure  necessary  for  keeping  them 
up,  still  leaves  a  surplus.  This  surplus  forms  the  return  to 
the  capital  sunk  in  the  first  instance,  and  that  return  does 
not,  as  in  the  case  of  machinery,  terminate  by  the  wearing 
out  of  the  machine,  but  continues  for  ever.  The  land,  thus 
increased  in  productiveness,  bears  a  value  in  the  market, 
proportional  to  the  increase :  and  hence  it  is  usual  to  con- 
sider the  capital  which  was  invested,  or  sunk,  in  making 
the  improvement,. as  still  existing  in  the  increased  value  of 
the  land.    There  must  be  no  mistake,  however.    The  capi- 

130  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  VI.     §2. 

tal,  like  all  Other  capital,  has  been  consumed.  It  was  con- 
sumed in  maintaining  the  labourers  who  executed  the 
improvement,  and  in  the  wear  and  tear  of  the  tools  by 
which  they  were  assisted.  But  it  was  consumed  produc- 
tively, and  has  left  a  permanent  result  in  the  improved 
productiveness  of  an  appropriated  natural  agent,  the  land. 
We  may  call  the  increased  produce  the  joint  result  of  the 
land  and  of  a  capital  fixed  in  the  land.  But  as  the  capital, 
having  in  reality  been  consumed,  cannot  be  withdrawn,  its 
productiveness  is  thenceforth  indissolubly  blended  with  that 
arising  from  the  original  qualities  of  the  soil ;  and  the 
remuneration  for  the  use  of  it  thenceforth  depends,  not  upon 
the  laws  which  govern  the  returns  to  labour  and  capital, 
but  upon  those  which  govern  the  recompense  for  natural 
agents.     What  these  are,  we  shall  see  hereafter.* 

§  2.  There  is  a  great  difference  between  the  effects  of 
circulating  and  those  of  fixed  capital,  on  the  amount  of  the 
gross  produce  of  the  country.  Circulating  capital  being 
destroyed  as  such,  or  at  any  rate  finally  lost  to  the  owner, 
by  a  single  use ;  and  the  product  resulting  from  that  one 
use  being  the  only  source  from  which  the  owner  can  replace 
the  capital,  or  obtain  any  remuneration  for  its  productive 
employment ;  the  product  must  of  course  be  sufficient  for 
those  purposes,  or  in  other  words,  the  result  of  a  single  use 
must  be  a  reproduction  equal  to  the  whole  amount  of  the 
circulating  capital  use,  and  a  profit  besides.  This,  how- 
ever, is  by  no  means  necessary  in  the  case  of  fixed  capital. 
Since  machinery,  for  example,  is  not  wholly  consumed  by 
one  use,  it  is  not  necessary  that  it  should  be  wholly  replaced 
from  the  product  of  that  use.  The  machine  answers  the 
purpose  of  its  owner  if  it  brings  in,  during  each  interval  of 
time,  enough  to  cover  the  expense  of  repairs,  and  the  dete- 
rioration in  value  which  the  machine  has  sustained  during 
the  same  time,  with  a  surplus  sufficient  to  yield  the  ordinary 
profit  on  the  entire  value  of  the  machine. 

*  Infra,  book  ii.  chap.  xvi.     On  Rent. 


From  this  it  follows  that  all  increase  of  fixed  capital, 
when  taking  place  at  the  expense  of  circulating,  must  be,  at 
least  temporarily,  prejudicial  to  the  interests  of  the  labour- 
ers. This  is  true,  not  of  machinery  alone,  but  of  all  im- 
proyements  by  which  capital  is  sunk ;  that  is,  rendered 
permanently  incapable  of  being  applied  to  the  maintenance 
and  remuneration  of  labour.  Suppose  that  a  person  farms 
his  own  land,  with  a  capital  of  two  thousand  quarters  of 
corn,  employed  in  maintaining  labourers  during  one  year 
(for  simplicity  we  omit  the  consideration  of  seed  and  tools), 
whose  labour  produces  him  annually  two  thousand  four 
hundred  quarters,  being  a  profit  of  twenty  per  cent.  This 
profit  we  shall  suppose  that  he  annually  consumes,  carrying 
on  his  operations  from  year  to  year  on  the  original  capital 
of  two  thousand  quarters.  Let  us  now  suppose  that  by  the 
expenditure  of  half  his  capital  he  effects  a  permanent  im- 
provement of  his  land,  which  is  executed  by  half  his  labour- 
ers, and  occupies  them  for  a  year,  after  which  he  will  only 
require,  for  the  effectual  cultivation  of  his  land,  half  as 
many  labourers  as  before.  The  remainder  of  his  capital  he 
employs  as  usual.  In  the  first  year  there  is  no  difference  in 
the  condition  of  the  labourers,  except  that  part  of  them 
have  received  the  same  pay  for  an  operation  on  the  land, 
which  they  previously  obtained  for  ploughing,  sowing,  and 
reaping.  At  the  end  of  the  year,  however,  the  improver 
has  not,  as  before,  a  capital  of  two  thousand  quarters  of 
corn.  Only  one  thousand  quarters  of  his  capital  have  been 
reproduced  in  the  usual  way ;  he  has  now  only  those  thou- 
sand quarters  and  his  improvement.  He  will  employ,  in 
the  next  and  in  each  following  year,  only  half  the  number 
of  labourers,  and  will  divide  among  them  only  half  the 
former  quantity  of  subsistence.  The  loss  will  soon  be  made 
up  to  them  if  the  improved  land,  with  the  diminished  quan- 
tity of  labour,  produces  two  thousand  four  hundred  quarters 
as  before,  because  so  enormous  an  accession  of  gain  will 
probably  induce  the  improver  to  save  a  part,  add  it  to  his 
capital,  and  become  a  larger  employer  of  labour.     But  it  is 

132  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VL     §2. 

conceivable  that  this  may  not  be  the  case ;  for  (supposing, 
as  we  may  do,  that  the  improvement  will  last  indefinitely, 
without  any  outlay  worth  mentioning  to  keep  it  up)  the 
improver  will  have  gained  largely  by  his  improvement  if 
the  land  now  yields,  not  two  thousand  four  hundred,  but 
one  thousand  five  hundred  quarters ;  since  this  will  replace 
the  one  thousand  quarters  forming  his  present  circulating 
capital,  with  a  profit  of  twenty-five  per  cent,  (instead  of 
twenty  as  before)  on  the  whole  capital,  fixed  and  circulating 
together.  The  improvement,  therefore,  may  be  a  very 
profitable  one  to  him,  and  yet  very  injurious  to  the 

The  supposition,  in  the  terms  in  which  it  has  been  stated, 
is  purely  ideal ;  or  at  most  applicable  only  to  such  a  case  as 
that  of  the  conversion  of  arable  land  into  pasture,  which, 
though  formerly  a  frequent  practice,  is  regarded  by  modern 
agriculturists  as  the  reverse  of  an  improvement.  The  effect 
of  the  agricultural  improvements  of  the  present  day  (of 
those,  at  least,  which  operate  on  the  6oil  itself,)*  is  to  in- 
crease, not  to  diminish  the  gross  produce.  But  this  does 
not  affect  the  substance  of  the  argument.  Suppose  that  the 
improvement  does  not  operate  in  the  manner  supposed — 
does  not  enable  a  part  of  the  labour  previously  employed 
on  the  land  to  be  dispensed  with — but  only  enables  the 
same  labour  to  raise  a  greater  produce.  Suppose,  too,  tha* 
the  greater  produce,  which  by  means  of  the  improvement 
can  be  raised  from  the  soil  with  the  same  labour,  is  all 
wanted,  and  will  find  purchasers.  The  improver  will  in 
that  case  require  the  same  number  of  labourers  as  before,  at 
the  same  wages.  But  where  will  he  find  the  means  of  pay- 
ing them  ?  He  has  no  longer  his  original  capital  of  two 
thousand  quarters  disposable  for  the  purpose.  One  thou- 
sand of  them  are  lost  and  gone — consumed  in  making  the 
improvement.     If  he  is  to  employ  as  many  labourers  as 

*  For  the  distinction  between  these  and  the  other  kind  of  improvements, 
which  do  not  take  effect  upon  the  soil  itself,  but  upon  the  operation  of  cultivating 
it,  see  infra,  chap.  xiL  of  the  present  book,  §  3. 


before,  and  pay  them  as  highly,  he  must  borrow,  or  obtain 
from  some  other  source,  a  thousand  quarters  to  supply  the 
deficit.  But  these  thousand  quarters  already  maintained,  or 
were  destined  to  maintain,  an  equivalent  quantity  of  labour. 
They  are  not  a  fresh  creation ;  their  destination  is  only 
changed  from  one  productive  employment  to  another ;  and 
though  the  agriculturist  has  made  up  the  deficiency  in  his 
own  circulating  capital,  the  breach  in  the  circulating  capital 
of  the  community  remains  unrepaired. 

The  argument  relied  on  by  most  of  those  who  contend 
that  machinery  can  never  be  injurious  to  the  labouring 
class,  is,  that  by  cheapening  production  it  creates  such  an 
increased  demand  for  the  commodity,  as  enables,  ere  long, 
a  greater  number  of  persons  than  ever  to  find  employment 
in  producing  it.  This  argument  does  not  seem  to  me  to 
have  the  weight  commonly  ascribed  to  it.  The  fact,  though 
too  broadly  stated,  is,  no  doubt,  often  true.  The  copyists 
who  were  thrown  out  of  employment  by  the  invention  of 
printing,  were  doubtless  soon  outnumbered  by  the  composi- 
tors and  pressmen  who  took  their  place :  and  the  number 
of  labouring  persons  now  occupied  in  the  cotton  manufac- 
ture is  many  times  greater  than  were  so  occupied  previously 
to  the  inventions  of  Hargreaves  and  Arkwright,  which 
shows  that  besides  the  enormous  fixed  capital  now  em- 
barked in  the  manufacture,  it  also  employs  a  far  larger  cir- 
culating capital  than  at  any  former  time.  But  if  this 
capital  was  drawn  from  other  employments ;  if  the  funds 
which  took  the  place  of  the  capital  sunk  in  costly  machin- 
ery, were  supplied  not  by  any  additional  saving  consequent 
on  the  improvements,  but  by  drafts  on  the  general  capital 
of  the  community ;  what  better  are  the  labouring  classes 
for  the  mere  transfer  ?  In  what  manner  is  the  loss  they 
sustained  by  the  conversion  of  circulating  into  fixed  capital, 
made  up  to  them  by  a  mere  shifting  of  part  of  the  re- 
mainder of  the  circulating  capital  from  its  old  employments 
to  a  new  one  ? 

All  attempts  to  make  out  that  the  labouring  classes  as  a 

134  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VI.     J  8. 

collective  body  cannot  suffer  temporarily  by  the  introduction 
of  machinery,  or  by  the  sinking  of  capital  in  permanent  im- 
provements, are,  I  conceive,  necessarily  fallacious.  That 
they  would  suffer  in  the  particular  department  of  industry 
to  which  the  change  applies,  is  generally  admitted,  and 
obvious  to  common  sense ;  but  it  is  often  said,  that  though 
employment  is  withdrawn  from  labour  in  one  department, 
an  exactly  equivalent  employment  is  opened  for  it  in  others, 
because  what  the  consumers  save  in  the  increased  cheapness 
of  one  particular  article  enables  them  to  augment  their  con- 
sumption of  others,  thereby  increasing  the  demand  for  other 
kinds  of  labour.  This  is  plausible,  but,  as  was  shown  in  the 
last  chapter,  involves  a  fallacy ;  demand  for  commodities 
being  a  totally  different  thing  from  demand  for  labour.  It 
is  true,  the  consumers  have  now  additional  means  of  buying 
other  things  ;  but  this  will  not  create  the  other  things,  un- 
less there  is  capital  to  produce  them,  and  the  improvement 
has  not  set  at  liberty  any  capital,  if  even  it  has  not  absorbed 
some  from  other  employments.  The  supposed  increase  of 
production  and  of  employment  for  labour  in  other  depart- 
ments therefore  will  not  take  place;  and  the  increased 
demand  for  commodities  by  some  consumers,  will  be  bal- 
anced by  a  cessation  of  demand  on  the  part  of  others, 
namely,  the  labourers  who  were  superseded  by  the  improve- 
ment, and  who  will  now  be  maintained,  if  at  all,  by  shar- 
ing, either  in  the  way  of  competition  or  of  charity,  in  what 
was  previously  consumed  by  other  people. 

§  3.  Nevertheless,  I  do  not  believe  that  as  things  are 
actually  transacted,  improvements  in  production  are  often, 
if  ever,  injurious,  even  temporarily,  to  the  labouring  classes 
in  the  aggregate.  They  would  be  so  if  they  took  place  sud- 
denly to  a  great  amount,  because  much  of  the  capital  sunk 
must  necessarily  in  that  case  be  provided  from  funds  already 
employed  as  circulating  capital.  But  improvements  are 
always  introduced  very  gradually,  and  are  seldom  or  never 
made  by  withdrawing  circulating  capital  from  actual  pro- 


(taction,  but  are  made  by  the  employment  of  the  annual 
increase.  I  doubt  if  there  would  be  found  a  single  example 
of  a  great  increase  of  fixed  capital,  at  a  time  and  place 
where  circulating  capital  was  not  rapidly  increasing  like- 
wise. It  is  not  in  poor  or  backward  countries  that  great 
and  costly  improvements  in  production  are  made.  To  sink 
capital  in  land  for  a  permanent  return — to  introduce  expen- 
sive machinery — are  acts  involving  immediate  sacrifice  for 
distant  objects ;  and  indicate,  in  the  first  place,  tolerably 
complete  security  of  property ;  in  the  second,  considerable 
activity  of  industrial  enterprise ;  and  in  the  third,  a  high 
standard  of  what  has  been  called  the  "  effective  desire  of 
accumulation : "  which  three  things  are  the  elements  of  a 
society  rapidly  progressive  in  its  amount  of  capital.  Al- 
though, therefore,  the  labouring  classes  must  suffer,  not 
only  if  the  increase  of  fixed  capital  takes  place  at  the 
expense  of  circulating,  but  even  if  it  is  so  large  and  rapid  as 
to  retard  that  ordinary  increase  to  which  the  growth  of 
population  has  habitually  adapted  itself;  yet,  in.  point  of 
fact,  this  is  very  unlikely  to  happen,  since  there  is  probably 
no  country  whose  fixed  capital  increases  in  a  ratio  more 
than  proportional  to  its  circulating.  If  the  whole  of  the 
railways  which,  during  the  speculative  madness  of  1845, 
obtained  the  sanction  of  Parliament,  had  been  constructed 
in  the  times  fixed  for  the  completion  of  each,  this  improb- 
able contingency  would,  most  likely,  have  been  realized ; 
but  this  very  case  has  afforded  a  striking  example  of  the 
difficulties  which  oppose  the  diversion  into  new  channels  of 
any  considerable  portion  of  the  capital  that  supplies  the 
old :  difficulties  generally  much  more  than  sufficient  to  pre- 
vent enterprises  that  involve  the  sinking  of  capital,  from 
extending,  themselves  with  such  rapidity  as  to  impair  the 
sources  of  the  existing  employment  for  labour. 

To  these  considerations  must  be  added,  that  even  if  im- 
provements did  for  a  time  decrease  the  aggregate  produce 
and  the  circulating  capital  of  the  community,  they  would 
not  the  less  tend  in  the  long  run  to  augment  both.    They 

136  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VL     §8. 

increase  the  return  to  capital;  and  of  this  increase  the 
benefit  must  necessarily  accrue  either  to  the  capitalist  in 
greater  profits,  or  to  the  customer  in  diminished  prices ; 
affording,  in  either  case,  an  augmented  fund  from  which 
accumulation  may  be  made,  while  enlarged  profits  also  hold 
out  an  increased  inducement  to  accumulation.  In  the  case 
we  before  selected,  in  which  the  immediate  result  of  the 
improvement  was  to  diminish  the  gross  produce  from  two 
thousand  four  hundred  quarters  to  one  thousand  five  hun- 
dred, yet  the  profit  of  the  capitalist  being  now  five  hundred 
quarters  instead  of  four  hundred,  the  extra  one  hundred 
quarters,  if  regularly  saved,  would  in  a  few  years  replace 
the  one  thousand  quarters  subtracted  from  his  circulating 
capital.  Now  the  extension  of  business  which  almost  cer- 
tainly follows  in  any  department  in  which  an  improvement 
has  been  made,  affords  a  strong  inducement  to  those  en- 
gaged in  it  to  add  to  their  capital ;  and  hence,  at  the  slow 
pace  at  which  improvements  are  usually  introduced,  a  great 
part  of  the  capital  which  the  improvement  ultimately 
absorbs,  is  drawn  from  the  increased  profits  and  increased 
savings  which  it  has  itself  called  forth. 

This  tendency  of  improvements  in  production  to  cause 
increased  accumulation,  and  thereby  ultimately  to  increase 
the  gross  produce,  even  if  temporarily  diminishing  it,  will 
assume  a  still  more  decided  character  if  it  should  appear 
that  there  are  assignable  limits  both  to  the  accumulation  of 
capital,  and  to  the  increase  of  production  from  the  land, 
which  limits  once  attained,  all  further  increase  of  produce 
must  stop  ;  but  that  improvements  in  production,  whatever 
may  be  their  other  effects,  tend  to  throw  one  or  both  of 
these  limits  farther  off.  Now,  these  are  truths  which  will 
appear  in  the  clearest  light  in  a  subsequent  stage  of  our 
investigation.  It  will  be  seen,  that  the  quantity  of  capital 
which  will,  or  even  which  can,  be  accumulated  in  any 
country,  and  the  amount  of  gross  produce  which  will,  or 
even  which  can,  be  raised,  bear  a  proportion  to  the  state  of 
the  arts  of  production  there  existing ;  and  that  every  im* 


provement,  even  if  for  the  time  it  diminish  the  circulating 
capital  and  the  gro6s  produce,  ultimately  makes  room  for  a 
larger  amount  of  both,  than  could  possibly  have  existed 
otherwise.  It  is  this  which  is  the  conclusive  answer  to  the 
objections  against  machinery ;  and  the  proof  thence  arising 
of  the  ultimate  benefit  to  labourers  of  mechanical  inventions 
even  in  the  existing  state  of  society,  will  hereafter  be  seen 
to  be  conclusive.*  But  this  does  not  discharge  govern- 
ments from  the  obligation  of  alleviating,  and  if  possible  pre- 
venting, the  evils  of  which  this  source  of  ultimate  benefit  is 
or  may  be  productive  to  an  existing  generation.  If  the 
sinking  or  fixing  of  capital  in  machinery  or  useful  works, 
were  ever  to  proceed  at  such  a  pace  as  to  impair  materially 
the  funds  for  the  maintenance  of  labour,  it  would  be  in- 
cumbent on  legislators  to  take  measures  for  moderating  its 
rapidity  i  and  since  improvements  which  do  not  diminish 
employment  on  the  whole,  almost  always  throw  some  par- 
ticular class  of  labourers  out  of  it,  there  cannot  be  a  more 
legitimate  object  of  the  legislator's  care  than  the  interests 
of  those  who  are  thus  sacrificed  to  the  gains  of  their  fellow- 
citizens  and  of  posterity. 

To  return  to  the  theoretical  distinction  between  fixed  and 
circulating  capital.  Since  all  wealth  which  is  destined  to 
be  employed  for  reproduction  comes  within  the  designation 
of  capital,  there  are  parts  of  capital  which  do  not  agree  with 
the  definition  of  either  species  of  it ;  for  instance,  the  stock 
of  finished  goods  which  a  manufacturer  or  dealer  at  any 
time  possesses  unsold  in  his  warehouses.  But  this,  though 
capital  as  to  its  destination,  is  not  yet  capital  in  actual 
exercise :  it  is  not  engaged  in  production,  but  has  first  to  be 
6old  or  exchanged,  that  is,  converted  into  an  equivalent 
value  of  some  other  commodities  ;  and  therefore  is  not  yet 
either  fixed  or  circulating  capital ;  but  will  become  either 
one  or  the  other,  or  be  eventually  divided  between  them. 
With  the  proceeds  of  his  finished  goods,  a  manufacturer  will 
partly  pay  his  work-people,  partly  replenish  his  stock  of 

*  Infra,  book  iv.  chap.  v. 

138  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VI.     §«• 

the  materials  of  his  manufacture,  and  partly  provide  new 
buildings  and  machinery,  or  repair  the  old  ;  but  how  much 
will  be  devoted  to  one  purpose,  and  how  much  to  another, 
depends  on  the  nature  of  the  manufacture,  and  the  require- 
ments of  the  particular  moment. 

It  should  be  observed  further,  that  the  portion  of  capital 
consumed  in  the  form  of  seed  or  material,  though,  unlike 
fixed  capital,  it  requires  to  be  at  once  replaced  from  the 
gross  produce,  stands  yet  in  the  same  relation  to  the  em- 
ployment of  labour,  as  fixed  capital  does.  What  is  expend- 
ed in  materials  is  as  much  withdrawn  from  the  maintenance 
and  remuneration  of  labourers,  as  what  is  fixed  in  machine- 
ry ;  and  if  capital  now  expended  in  wages  were  diverted 
to  the  providing  of  materials,  the  effect  on  the  labourers 
would  be  as  prejudicial  as  if  it  were  converted  into  fixed 
capital.  This,  however,  is  a  kind  of  change  which  never 
takes  place.  The  tendency  of  improvements  in  production 
is  always  to  economize,  never  to  increase,  the  expenditure 
of  seed  or  material  for  a  given  produce ;  and  the  interests 
of  the  labourers  has  no  detriment  to  apprehend  from  this 



§  1.  We  have  concluded  our  general  survey  of  the  re- 
quisites of  production.  We  have  found  that  they  may  be 
reduced  to  three:  labour,  capital,  and  the  materials  and 
motive  forces  afforded  by  nature.  Of  these,  labour  and  the 
raw  material  of  the  globe  are  primary  and  indispensable. 
Natural  motive  powers  may  be  called  in  to  the  assistance 
of  labour,  and  are  a  help,  but  not  an  essential,  of  produc- 
tion. The  remaining  requisite,  capital,  is  itself  the  product 
of  labour :  its  instrumentality  in  production  is  therefore,  in 
reality,  that  of  labour  in  an  indirect  shape.  It  docs  not  the 
less  require  to  be  specified  separately.  A  previous  applica- 
tion of  labour  to  produce  the  capital  required  for  consump- 
tion during  the  work,  is  no  less  essential  than  the  applica- 
tion of  labour  to  the  work  itself.  Of  capital,  again,  one, 
and  by  far  the  largest,  portion,  conduces  to  production  only 
by  sustaining  in  existence  the  labour  which  produces :  the 
remainder,  namely  the  instruments  and  materials,  contrib- 
ute to  it  directly,  in  the  same  manner  with  natural  agents, 
and  the  materials  supplied  by  nature. 

We  now  advance  to  the  second  great  question  in  polit- 
ical economy ;  on  what  the  degree  of  productiveness  of 
these  agents  depends.  For  it  is  evident  that  their  produc- 
tive efficacy  varies  greatly  at  various  times  and  places. 
With  the  same  population  and  extent  of  territory,  some 
countries  have  a  much  larger  amount  of  production  than 

140  BOOK   I.     CHAPTER  VII.     §2. 

others,  and  the  same  country  at  one  time  a  greater  amount 
than  itself  at  another.  Compare  England  either  with  a 
similar  extent  of  territory  in  Russia,  or  with  an  equal 
population  of  Russians.  Compare  England  now  with 
England  in  the  middle  ages ;  Sicily,  Northern  Africa,  or 
Syria  at  present,  with  the  same  countries  at  the  time  of 
their  greatest  prosperity,  before  the  Roman  conquest. 
Some  of  the  causes  which  contribute  to  this  difference  of 
productiveness  are  obvious;  others  not  so  much  so.  We 
proceed  to  specify  several  of  them. 

§  2.  The  most  evident  cause  of  superior  productiveness 
is  what  are  called  natural  advantages.  These  are  various. 
Fertility  of  soil  is  one  of  the  principal.  In  this  there  are 
great  varieties,  from  the  deserts  of  Arabia  to  the  alluvial 
plains  of  the  Ganges,  the  Niger,  and  the  Mississippi.  A 
favourable  climate  is  even  more  important  than  a  rich  soil. 
There  are  countries  capable  of  being  inhabited,  but  too  cold 
to  be  compatible  with  agriculture.  Their  inhabitants  can- 
not pass  beyond  the  nomadic  state  ;  they  must  live,  like  the 
Laplanders,  by  the  domestication  of  the  rein-deer,  if  not  by 
hunting  or  fishing,  like  the  miserable  Esquimaux.  There 
are  countries  where  oats  will  ripen,  but  not  wheat,  such  as 
the  North  of  Scotland ;  others  where  wheat  can  be  grown, 
but  from  excess  of  moisture  and  want  of  sunshine,  affords 
but  a  precarious  crop  ;  as  in  parts  of  Ireland.  With  each 
advance  towards  the  south,  or,  in  the  European  temperate 
region,  towards  the  east,  some  new  branch  of  agriculture 
becomes  first  possible,  then  advantageous ;  the  vine,  maize, 
figs,  olives,  silk,  rice,  dates,  successively  present  themselves, 
until  we  come  to  the  sugar,  coffee,  cotton,  spices,  &c.  of 
climates  which  also  afford,  of  the  more  common  agricultural 
products,  and  with  only  a  slight  degree  of  cultivation,  two 
or  even  three  harvests  in  a  year.  Nor  is  it  in  agriculture 
alone  that  differences  of  climate  are  important.  Their 
influence  is  felt  in  many  other  branches  of  production :  in 
the  durability  of  all  work  which  is  exposed  to  the  air ;  of 


buildings,  for  example.  If  the  temples  of  Karnac  and  Luxor 
had  not  been  injured  by  men,  they  might  have  subsisted  in 
their  original  perfection  almost  for  ever,  for  the  inscriptions 
on  some  of  them,  though  anterior  to  all  authentic  history, 
are  fresher  than  is  in  our  climate  an  inscription  fifty  years 
old  :  while  at  St.  Petersburg,  the  most  massive  works, 
solidly  executed  in  granite  hardly  a  generation  ago,  are 
already,  as  travellers  tell  us,  almost  in  a  state  to  require 
reconstruction,  from  alternate  exposure  to  summer  heat  and 
intense  frost.  The  superiority  of  the  woven  fabrics  of  South-, 
ern  Europe  over  those  of  England  in  the  richness  and  clear- 
ness of  many  of  their  colours,  is  ascribed  to  the  superior 
equality  of  the  atmosphere,  for  which  neither  the  knowledge 
of  chemists  nor  the  skill  of  dyers  has  been  able  to  provide, 
in  onr  hazy  and  damp  climate,  a  complete  equivalent. 

Another  part  of  the  influence  of  climate  consists  in  les- 
sening the  physical  requirements  of  the  producers.  In  hot 
regions,  mankind  can  exist  in  comfort  with  less  perfect 
housing,  less  clothing ;  fuel,  that  absolute  necessary  of  life 
in  cold  climates,  they  can  almost  dispense  with,  except  for 
industrial  uses.  They  also  require  less  aliment ;  as  expe- 
rience had  proved,  long  before  theory  had  accounted  for  it 
by  ascertaining  that  most  of  what  we  consume  as  food  is 
not  required  for  the  actual  nutrition  of  the  organs,  but  for 
keeping  up  the  animal  heat,  and  for  supplying  the  neces- 
sary stimulus  to  the  vital  functions,  which  in  hot  climates 
is  almost  sufficiently  supplied  by  air  and  sunshine.  Much, 
therefore,  of  the  labour  elsewhere  expended  to  procure  the 
mere  necessaries  of  life,  not  being  required,  more  remains 
disposable  for  its  higher  uses  and  its  enjoyments ;  if  the 
character  of  the  inhabitants  does  not  rather  induce  them  to 
use  up  these  advantages  in  over-population,  or  in  the  indul- 
gence of  repose. 

Among  natural  advantages,  besides  soil  and  climate, 
must  be  mentioned  abundance  of  mineral  productions,  in 
convenient  situations,  and  capable  of  being  worked  with 
moderate- labour.  w  Such  ar$  the  coal-fields  of  Great  Britain, 

142  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VII.     %S. 

which  do  bo  much  to  compensate  its  inhabitants  for  the  dis- 
advantages of  climate ;  and  the  scarcely  inferior  resource 
possessed  by  this  country  and  the  United  States,  in  a 
copious  supply  of  an  easily  reduced  iron  ore,  at  no  great 
depth  below  the  earth's  surface,  and  in  close  proximity  to 
coal  deposits  available  for  working  it.  In  mountain  and 
hill  districts,  the  abundance  of  natural  water-power  makes 
considerable  amends  for  the  usually  inferior  fertility  of 
those  regions.  But  perhaps  a  greater  advantage  than  all 
these  is  a  maritime  situation,  especially  when  accompanied 
with  good  natural  harbours ;  and,  next  to  it,  great  naviga- 
ble rivers.  These  advantages  consist  indeed  wholly  in 
saving  of  cost  of  carriage.  But  few  who  have  not  consid- 
ered the  subject,  have  any  adequate  notion  how  great  an 
extent  of  economical  advantage  this  comprises ;  nor,  with- 
out having  considered  the  influence  exercised  on  production 
by  exchanges,  and  by  what  is  called  the  division  of  labour, 
can  it  be  fully  estimated.  So  important  is  it,  that  it  often 
does  more  than  counterbalance  sterility  of  soil,  and  almost 
every  other  natural  inferiority ;  especially  in  that  early 
stage  of  industry  in  which  labour  and  science  have  not  yet 
provided  artificial  means  of  communication  capable  of 
rivalling  the  natural.  In  the  ancient  world,  and  in  the 
middle  ages,  the  most  prosperous  communities  were  not 
those  which  had  the  largest  territory,  or  the  most  fertile 
soil,  but  rather  those  which  had  been  forced  by  natural 
6terility  to  make  the  utmost  use  of  a  convenient  maritime 
situation;  as  Athens,  Tyre,  Marseilles,  Venice,  the  free 
cities  on  the  Baltic,  and  the  like. 

§  3.  So  much  for  natural  advantages ;  the  value  of 
which,  coBteris  paribus,  is  too  obvious  to  be  ever  underrated. 
But  experience  testifies  that  natural  advantages  scarcely 
ever  do  for  a  community,  no  more  than  fortune  and  station 
do  for  an  individual,  anything  like  what  it  lies  in  their 
nature,  or  in  their  capacity,  to  do.  Neither  now  nor  in 
former  ages  have  the  nations  possessing  the  best  climate 


and  soil,  been  either  the  richest  or  the  most  powerful ;  but 
(in  so  far  as  regards  the  mass  of  the  people)  generally 
among  the  poorest,  though,  in  the  midst  of  poverty,  probably 
on'  the  whole  the  most  enjoying.  Human  life  in  those 
countries  can  be  supported  on  so  little,  that  the  poor  seldom 
suffer  from  anxiety,  and  in  climates  in  which  mere  existence 
is  a  pleasure,  the  luxury  which  they  prefer  is  that  of  repose. 
Energy,  at  the  call  of  passion,  they  possess  in  abundance, 
but  not  that  which  is  manifested  in  sustained  and  persever- 
ing labour :  and  as  they  seldom  concern  themselves  enough 
about  remote  objects  to  establish  good  political  institutions, 
the  incentives  to  industry  are  further  weakened  by  imper- 
fect protection  of  its  fruits.  Successful  production,  like 
most  other  kinds  of  success,  depends  more  on  the  qualities 
of  the  human  agents,  than  on  the  circumstances  in  which 
they  work  :  and  it  is  difficulties,  not  facilities,  that  nourish 
bodily  and  mental  energy.  Accordingly  the  tribes  of  man- 
kind who  have  overrun  and  conquered  others,  and  com- 
pelled them  to  labour  for  their  benefit,  have  been  mostly 
reared  amidst  hardship.  They  have  either  been  bred  in  the 
forests  of  northern  climates,  or  the  deficiency  of  natural 
hardships  has  been  supplied,  as  among  the  Greeks  and 
Romans,  by  the  artificial  ones  of  a  rigid  military  discipline. 
From  the  time  when  the  circumstances  of  modern  society 
permitted  the  discontinuance  of  that  discipline,  the  South 
has  no  longer  produced  conquering  nations;  military 
vigour,  as  well  as  speculative  thought  and  industrial  ener- 
gy, have  all  had  tlieir  principal  seats  in  the  less  favoured 

As  the  second,  therefore,  of  the  causes  of  superior  pro- 
ductiveness, we  may  rank  the  greater  energy  of  labour.  By 
this  is  not  to  be  understood  occasional,  but  regular  and 
habitual  energy.  No  one  undergoes,  without  murmuring, 
a  greater  amount  of  occasional  fatigue  and  hardship,  or  has 
his  bodily  powers,  and.  such  faculties  of  mind  as  he  pos- 
sesses, kept  longer  at  their  utmost  stretch,  than  the  North 
American  Indian :  yet  his  indolence  is  proverbial,  whenever 

fll  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VII.     { 8. 

he  has  a  brief  respite  from  the  pressure  of  present  want*. 
Individuals,  or  nations,  do  not  differ  so  much  in  the  efforts 
they  are  able  and  willing  to  make  under  strong  immediate 
incentives,  as  in  their  capacity  of  present  exertion  for  a  dis- 
tant object ;  and  in  the  thoroughness  of  their  application  to 
work  on  ordinary  occasions.  Some  amount  of  these  quali- 
ties is  a  necessary  condition  of  any  great  improvement 
among  mankind.  To  civilize  a  savage,  he  must  be  inspired 
with  new  wants  and  desires,  even  if  not  of  a  very  elevated 
kind,  provided  that  their  gratification  can  be  a  motive  to 
steady  and  regular  bodily  and  mental  exertion*  If  the 
negroes  of  Jamaica  and  Demerara,  after  their  emancipation, 
had  contented  themselves,  as  it  was  predicted  they  would 
do,  with  the  necessaries  of  life,  and  abandoned  all  labour 
beyond  the  little  which  in  a  tropical  climate,  witH  a  thin 
population  and  abundance  of  the  richest  land,  is  sufficient 
to  support  existence,  they  would  have  sunk  into  a  condition 
more  barbarous,  though  less  unhappy,  than  their  previous 
state  of  slavery.  The  motive  which  was  most  relied  on  foij 
inducing  them  to  work  was  their  love  of  fine  clothes  and 
personal  ornaments.  No  one  will  stand  up  for  this  taste  as 
wotthy  of  being  cultivated,  and  in  most  societies  its  indul- 
gence tends  to  impoverish  rather  than  to  enrich  ;.  but  in  the 
State  of  mind  of  the  negroes  it  might  have  been  the  only 
incentive  that  could  make  them  voluntarily  undergo  sys- 
tematic labour,  and  so  acquire  or  maintain  habits  of  volun- 
tary industry  which  may  be  converted  to  more  valuable 
fends.  In  England,  it  is  not  the  desire  of  wealth  that  needs 
to  be  taught,  but  the  use  of  wealth,  and  appreciation  of  the1 
objects  of  desire  which  wealth  cannot  purchase,  or  for  at- 
taining which  it  is  not  required.  Every  real  improvement 
in  the  character  of  the  English,  whether  it  consist  in  giving 
them  higher  aspirations,  or  only  a  juster  estimate  of  the 
value  of  their  present  objects  of  desire,  must  necessarily 
moderate  the  ardour  of  their  devotion  to  the  pursuit  of 
wealth.  There  is  no  need,  however,  that  it  should  diminish 
the  strenuous. and  business-like  application  to  the  matter  in 


hand,  which  is  found  in  the  best  English  workmen,  and  is 
their  most  valuable  quality. 

The  desirable  medium  is  one  which  mankind  have  not 
often  known  how  to  hit :  when  they  do  labour,  to  do  it  with 
all  their  might,  and  especially  with  all  their  mind  ;  but  to 
devote  to  labour,  for  mere  pecuniary  gain,  fewer  hours  in 
the  day,  fewer  days  in  the  year,  and  fewer  years  of  life. 

§  4.  The  third  element  which  determines  the  produc- 
tiveness of  the  labour  of  a  community,  is  the  skill  and 
knowledge  therein  existing;  whether  it  be  the  skill  and 
knowledge  of  the  labourers  themselves,  or  of  those  who 
direct  their  labour.  No  illustration  is  requisite  to  show 
how  the  efficacy  of  industry  is  promoted  by  the  manual 
dexterity  of  those  who  perform  mere  routine  processes  ;  by 
the  intelligence  of  those  engaged  in  operations  in  which  the 
mind  has  a  considerable  part ;  and  by  the  amount  of  knowl- 
edge of  natural  powers  and  of  the  properties  of  objects, 
which  is  turned  to  the  purposes  of  industry.  That  the  pro- 
ductiveness of  the  labour  of  a  people  is  limited  by  their 
knowledge  of  the  arts  of  life,  is  self-evident ;  and  that  any 
progress  in  those  arts,  any  improved  application  of  the  ob- 
jects or  powers  of  nature  to  industrial  uses,  enables  the  same 
quantity  and  intensity  of  labour  to  raise  a  greater  produce. 

One  principal  department  of  these  improvements  con- 
sists in  the  invention  and  use  of  tools  and  machinery.  The 
manner  in  which  these  serve  to  increase  production  and  to 
economize  labour,  needs  not  be  specially  detailed  in  a  work 
like  the  present :  it  will  be  found  explained  and  exemplified, 
in  a  manner  at  once  scientific  and  popular,  in  Mr.  Bab- 
bage's  well-known  u  Economy  of  Machinery  and  Manufac- 
tures." An  entire  chapter  of  Mr.  Babbage's  book  is  com- 
posed of  instances  of  the  efficacy  of  machinery  in  "  exerting 
forces  too  great  for  human  power,  and  executing  operations 
too  delicate  for  human  touch."  But  to  find  examples  of 
work  which  could  not  be  performed  at  all  by  unassisted 
labour,  we  need  not  go  so  far.  Without  pumps;  worked  by 

146  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VII.     §4. 

steam-engines  or  otherwise,  the  water  which  collects  in 
mines  could  not  in  many  situations  be  got  rid  of  at  all,  and 
the  mines,  after  being  worked  to  a  little  depth,  must  be 
abandoned :  without  ships  or  boats  the  sea  could  never 
.have  been  crossed  ;  without  tools  of  some  sort,  trees  could 
not  be  cut  down,  nor  rocks  excavated  ;  a  plough,  or  at  least 
a  spade,  is  necessary  to  any  tillage  of  the  ground.  Very 
simple  and  rude  instruments,  however,  are  sufficient  to 
render  literally  possible  most  works  hitherto  executed  by 
mankind ;  and  subsequent  inventions  have  chiefly  served  to 
enable  the  work  to  be  performed  in  greater  perfection,  and, 
above  all,  with  a  greatly  diminished  quantity  of  labour : 
the  labour  thus  saved  becoming  disposable  for  other  em- 

The  use  of  machinery  is  far  from  being  the  only  mode  in 
which  the  effects  of  knowledge  in  aiding  production  are 
exemplified.  In  agriculture  and  horticulture,  machinery  is 
only  now  beginning  to  show  that  it  can  do  anything  of  im- 
portance, beyond  the  invention  and  progressive  improve- 
ment of  the  plough  and  a  few  other  simple  instruments. 
The  greatest  agricultural  inventions  have  consisted  in  the 
direct  application  of  more  judicious  processes  to  the  land 
itself,  and  to  the  plants  growing  on  it :  such  as  rotation  of 
crops,  to  avoid  the  necessity  of  leaving  the  land  unculti- 
vated for  one  season  in  every  two  or  three ;  improved 
manures,  to  renovate  its  fertility  when  exhausted  by  crop- 
ping ;  conversion  of  bogs  and  marshes  into  cultivable  land ; 
such  modes  of  pruning,  and  of  training  and  propping  up 
plants  and  trees,  as  experience  has  shown  to  deserve  the 
preference ;  in  the  case  of  the  more  expensive  cultures, 
planting  the  roots  or  seeds  further  apart,  and  more  com- 
pletely pulverizing  the  soil  in  wrhich  they  are  placed,  &c. 
In  manufactures  and  commerce,  some  of  the  most  important 
improvements  consist  in  economizing  time  ;  in  making  the 
return  follow  more  speedily  upon  the  labour  and  outlay. 
There  are  others  of  which  the  advantage  consists  in  economy 
of  material v 


§  5.  But  the  effects  of  the  increased  knowledge  of  a 
community  in  increasing  its  wealth,  need  the  less  illustra- 
tion as  they  have  become  familiar  to  the  most  uneducated, 
from  such  conspicuous  instances  as  railways  and  steam- 
ships. A  thing  not  yet  so  well  understood  and  recognised, 
is  the  economical  value. of  the  general  diffusion  of  intelli- 
gence among  the  people.  The' number  of  persons  fitted  to 
direct  and  superintend  any  industrial  enterprise,  or  even 
to  execute  any  process  which  cannot  be  reduced  almost  to 
an  affair  of  memory  and  routine,  is  always  far  short  of  the 
demand ;  as  is  evident  from  the  enormous  difference  be- 
tween the  salaries  paid  to  such  persons,  and  the  wages  of 
ordinary  labour.  The  deficiency  of  practical  good  sense, 
which  renders  the  majority  of  the  labouring  class  such  bad 
calculators — which  makes,  for  instance,  their  domestic  econ- 
omy so- improvident,  lax,  and  irregular — must  disqualify 
them  for  any  but  a  low  grade  of  intelligent  labour,  and 
render  their  industry  far  less  productive  than  with  equal 
energy  it  otherwise  might  be.  The  importance,  even  in 
this  limited  aspect,  of  popular  education,  is  well  worthy  of 
the  attention  of  politicians,  especially  in  England ;  since 
competent  observers,  accustomed  to  employ  labourers  of 
various  nations,  testify  that  in  the  workmen  of  other  coun- 
tries they  often  find  great  intelligence  wholly  apart  from 
instruction,  but  that  if  an  English  labonrer  is  anything  but 
a  hewer  of  wood  and  a  drawer  of  water,  he  is  indebted  for 
it  to  education,  which  in  his  case  is  almost  always  self- 
education.  Mr.  Escher,  of  Zurich,  (an  engineer  and  cotton 
manufacturer  employing  nearly  two  thousand  working  men 
of  many  different  nations,)  in  his  evidence  annexed  to  the 
Report  of  the  Poor  Law  Commissioners,  in  1840,  on  the 
training  of  pauper  children,  gives  a  character  of  English  as 
contrasted  with  Continental  workmen,  which  all  persons  of 
similar  experience  will,  I  believe,  confirm. 

"The  Italians'  quickness  of  perception  is  shown  in 
rapidly  comprehending  any  new  descriptions  of  labour  put 
into  their  hands,  in  a  power  of  quickly  comprehending  the 

148  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VII.     §5. 

meaning  of  their  employer,  of  adapting  themselves  to  new 
circumstances,  much  beyond  what  any  other  classes  have. 
The  French  workmen  have  the  like  natural  characteristics, 
only  in  a  somewhat  lower  degree.  The  English,  Swiss, 
German,  and  Dutch  workmen,  we  find,  have  all  much 
slower  natural  comprehension.  As  workmen  only,  the 
preference  is  undoubtedly  due  to  the  English ;  because,  as 
wre  find  them,  they  are  all  trained  to  special  branches,  on 
which  they  have  had  comparatively  superior  training,  and 
have  concentrated  all  their  thoughts.  As  men  of  business 
or  of  general  usefulness,  and  as  men  with  whom  an  em- 
ployer would  best  like  to  be  surrounded,  I  should,  however, 
decidedly  prefer  the  Saxons  and  the  Swiss,  but  more  espe- 
cially the  Saxons,  because  they  have  had  a  very  careful 
general  education,  which  lias,  extended  their  capacities 
beyond  any  special  employment,  :aiid  rendered  them  fit  to 
take  up,  after  a  short  preparation,  any  employment  to 
which  they  may  be  called.  If  I  have  an  English  workman 
engaged  in  the  erection  of  a  steam-engine,  he  will  under- 
stand that,  and  nothing  else ;  and  for  other  circumstances 
or  other  branches  of  mechanics,  however  closely  allied,  he 
will  be  comparatively  helpless  to  adapt  himself  to  all  the 
circumstances  that  may  arise,  to  make  arrangements  for 
them,  and  give  sound  advice  or  write  clear  statements  and 
letters  on  his  work  in  the  various  related  branches  of  me- 

On  the  connexion  between  mental  cultivation  and  moral 
trustworthiness  in  the  labouring  class,  the  same  witness 
says,  "  The  better  educated  workmen,  we  find,  are  distin- 
guished by  superior  moral  habits  in  every  respect.  In  the 
first  place,  they  are  entirely  sober;  they  are  discreet  in 
their  enjoyments,  which  are  of  a  more  rational  and  refined 
kind  ;  they  have  a  taste  for  much  better  society,  which  they 
approach  respectfully,  and  consequently  find  much  readier 
admittance  to  it ;  they  cultivate  music ;  they  read ;  they 
enjoy  the  pleasures  of  scenery,  and  make  parties  for  excur- 
sions into  the  country ;  they  are  economical,  and  their  econ- 


omy  extends  beyond  their  own  purse  to  the  stock  of  their 
master ;  they  are,  consequently,  honest  and  trustworthy." 
And  in  answer  to  a  question  respecting  the  English  work- 
men, "  Whilst  in  respect  to  the  work  to  which  they  have 
been  specially  trained  they  are  the  most  skilful,  they  are  in 
conduct  the  most  disorderly,  debauched,  and  unruly,  and 
least  respectable  and  trustworthy  of  any  nation  whatsoever 
whom  we  have  employed  ;  and  in  saying  this,  I  express  the 
experience  of  every  manufacturer  on  the  Continent  to  whom 
I  have  spoken,  and  especially  of  the  English  manufacturers, 
who  make  the  loudest  complaints.  These-characteristics  of 
depravity  do  not  apply  to  the  English  workmen  who  have 
received  an  education,  but  attach  to  the  others  in  the  degree 
in  which  they  are  in  want  of  it.  When  the  uneducated 
English  workmen  are  released  from  the  bonds  of  iron  dis- 
cipline in  which  they  have  been  restrained  by  their  em- 
ployers in  England,  and  are  treated  with  the  urbanity  and 
friendly  feeling  which  the  more  educated  workmen  on  the 
Continent  expect  and  receive  from  their  employers,  they, 
the  English  workmen,  completely  lose  their  balance :  they 
do  not  understand  their  position,  and  after  a  certain  time 
become  totally  unmanageable  and  useless."  *  This  result 
of  observation  is  borne  out  by  experience  in  England  itself. 
As  soon  as  any  idea  of  equality  enters  the  mind  of  an  ordi- 
nary English  working  man,  his  head  is  turned  by  it.  When 
he  ceases  to  be  servile,  he  becomes  insolent. 

The  moral  qualities  of  the  labourers  are  fully  as  impor- 
tant to  the  efficiency  and  worth  of  their  labour,  as  the  intel- 
lectual. Independently  of  the  effects  of  intemperance  upon 
their  bodily  and  mental  faculties,  and  of  flighty,  unsteady 
habits  upon  the  energy  and  continuity  of  their  work  (points 
90  easily  understood  as  not  to  require  being  insisted  upon), 
it  is  well  worthy  of  meditation,  how  much  of  the  aggregate 

*  The  whole  evidence  of  this  intelligent  and  experienced  employer  of  laboui 
is  deserving  of  attention ;  as  well  as  much  testimony  on  similar  points  by  other 
witnesses,  contained  in  the  same  volume. 

150  BOOK  I.     CHAPTEB  VII.     §5. 

effect  of  their  labour  depends  on  their  trustworthiness.  All 
the  labour  now  expended  in  watching  that  they  fulfil  their 
engagement,  or  in  verifying  that  they  have  fulfilled  it,  is  so 
much  withdrawn  from  the  real  business  of  production,  to  be 
devoted  to  a  subsidiary  function  rendered  needful  not  by 
the  necessity  of  things,  but  by  the  dishonesty  of  men.  Nor 
are  the  greatest  outward  precautions  more  than  very  imper- 
fectly efficacious,  where,  as  is  now  almost  invariably  the  case 
with  hired  labourers,  the  slightest  relaxation  of  vigilance  is 
an  opportunity  eagerly  seized  for  eluding  performance  of 
their  contract.  The  advantage  to  mankind  of  being  able  to 
trust  one  another,  penetrates  into  every  crevice  and  cranny 
of  human  life  :  the  economical  is  perhaps  the  smallest  part 
of  it,  yet  even  this  is  incalculable.  To  consider  only  the 
most  obvious  part  of  the  waste  of  wealth  occasioned  to 
society  by  human  improbity  ;  there  is  in  all  rich  communi- 
ties a  predatory  population,  who  live  by  pillaging  or  over- 
reaching other  people ;  their  numbers  cannot  be  authenti- 
cally ascertained,  but  on  the  lowest  estimate,  in  a  country 
like  England,  it  is  very  large.  The  support  of  these  per- 
sons is  a  direct  burthen  on  the  national  industry.  The 
police,  aiid  the  whole  apparatus  of  punishment,  and  of 
criminal  and  partly  of  civil  justice,  are  a  second  burthen 
rendered  necessary  by  the  first.  The  exorbitantly-paid  pro- 
fession of  lawyers,  so  far  as  their  work  is  not  created  by 
defects  in  the  law  of  their  own  contriving,  are  required  and 
supported  principally  by  the  dishonesty  oS  mankind.  As 
the  standard  of  integrity  in  a  community  rises  higher,  all 
these  expenses  become  leas.  But  this  positive  saving  would 
be  far  outweighed  by  the  immense  increase  in  the  produce- 
of  all  kinds  of  labour,  and  saving  of  time  and  expenditure, 
which  would  be  obtained  if  the  labourers  honestly  per- 
formed what  they  undertake ;  and  by  the  increased  spirit,, 
the  feeling  of  power  and  confidence,  with  which  works  of 
all  sorts  would  be  planned  and  carried  on  by  those  j\gho  felt 
that  all  whose  aid  was  required  would  do  their  part  faith- 
fully according  to  their  contracts.     Conjoint  action  is  pos- 


sible  just  in  proportion  as  human  beings  can  rely  on  each 
other.  There  are  countries  in  Europe,  of  first-rate  industrial 
capabilities,  where  the  most  serious  impediment  to  conduct- 
ing business  concerns  on  a  large  scale,  is  the  rarity  of  persons 
who  are  supposed  fit  to  be  trusted  with  the  receipt  and 
expenditure  of  large  sums  of  money.  There  are  nations 
whose  commodities  are  looked  shily  upon  by  merchants, 
because  they  cannot  depend  on  finding  the  quality  of  the 
article  conformable  to  that  of  the  sample.  Such  short- 
sighted frauds  are  far  from  unexampled  in  English  exports. 
Every  one  has  heard  of  "  devil's  dust : "  and  among  other 
instances  given  by  Mr.  Babbage,  is  one  in  which  a  branch 
of  export  trade  was  for  a  long  time  actually  stopped  by  the 
forgeries  and  frauds  which  had  occurred  in  it.  On  the 
other  hand,  the  substantial  advantage  derived  in  business 
transactions  from  proved  trustworthiness,  is  not  less  re- 
markably exemplified  in  the  same  work.  "  At  one  of  our 
largest  towns,  sales  and  purchases  on  a  very  extensive  scale 
are  made  daily  in  the  course  of  business  without  any  of  the 
parties  ever  exchanging  a  written  document."  Spread  over 
a  whole  year's  transactions,  how  great  a  return,  in  saving 
of  time,  trouble,  and  expense,  is  brought  in  to  the  producers 
and  dealers  of  such  a  town  from  their  own  integrity.  "  The 
influence  of  established  character  in  producing  confidence 
operated  in  a  very  remarkable  manner  at  the  time  of  the 
exclusion  of  British  manufactures  from  the  Continent  during 
the  last  war.  One  of  our  largest  establishments  had  been 
in  the  habit  of  doing  extensive  business  with  a  house  in  the 
centre  of  Germany ;  but  on  the  closing  of  the  Continental 
ports  against  our  manufactures,  heavy  penalties  were  in- 
flicted on  all  those  who  contravened  the  Berlin  and  Milan 
decrees.  The  English  manufacturer  continued,  neverthe- 
less, to  receive  orders,  with  directions  how  to  consign  them, 
and  appointments  for  the  time  and  mode  of  payment,  in 
letters,  the  handwriting  of  which  was  known  to  him,  but 
which  were  never  signed  except  by  the  Christian  name  of  one 
of  the  firm,  and  even  in  some  instances  they  were  without 

152  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VII.     §  6. 

any  signature  at  all.  These  orders  were  executed,  and  in  no 
instance  was  there  the  least  irregularity  in  the  payments."  * 
§  6.  Among  the  secondary  causes  which  determine  the 
productiveness  of  productive  agents,  the  most  important  is 
Security.  By  security  I  mean  the  completeness  of  the  pro- 
tection which  society  affords  to  its  members.  This  consists 
of  protection  by  the  government,  and  protection  against  the 
government.  The  latter  is  the  more  important.  Where  a 
person  known  to  possess  anything  worth  taking  away,  can 

*  Some  minor  instances  noticed  by  Mr.  Babbage  may  be  cited  in  further 
illustration  of  the  waste  occasioned  to  society  through  the  inability  of  its  mem- 
bers to  trust  one  another. 

"  The  cost  to  the  purchaser  is  the  price  he  pays  for  any  article,  added  to  the 
cost  of  verifying  the  fact  of  its  having  that  degree  of  goodness  for  which  he  con- 
tracts. In  some  cases,  the  goodness  of  the  article  is  evident  on  mere  inspection ; 
and  in  those  cases  there  is  not  much  difference  of  price  at  different  shops.  The 
goodness  of  loaf  sugar,  for  instance,  can  be  discerned  almost  at  a  glance ;  and 
the  consequence  is,  that  the  price  is  so  uniform,  and  the  profit  upon  it  so  small, 
that  no  grocer  is  at  all  anxious  to  sell  it ;  whilst  on  the  other  hand,  tea,  of  which 
it  is  exceedingly  difficult  to  judge,  and  which  can  be  adulterated  by  mixture  so 
as  to  deceive  the  skill  even  of  a  practised  eye,  has  a  great  variety  of  different 
prices,  and  is  that  article  which  every  grocer  is  most  anxious  to  sell  to  his  cus- 
tomers. The  difficulty  and  expense  of  verification  are  in  some  instances  so  great 
as  to  justify  the  deviation  from  well-established  principles.  Thus  it  is  a  general 
maxim  that  Government  can  purchase  any  article  at  a  cheaper  rate  than  that  at 
which  they  can  manufacture  it  themselves.  But  it  has,  nevertheless,  been  con- 
sidered more  economical  to  build  extensive  flour-mills  (such  as  those  at  Deptford), 
and  to  grind  their  own  corn,  than  to  verify  each  sack  of  purchased  flour,  and  to 
employ  persons  in  devising  methods  of  detecting  the  new  modes  of  adulteration 
which  might  be  continually  resorted  to."  A  similar  want  of  confidence  might 
deprive  a  nation,  such  as  the  United  States,  of  a  large  export  trade  in  flour. 

Again :  "  Some  years  since,  a  mode  of  preparing  old  clover  and  trefoil  seeds 
by  a  process  called  doctoring  became  so  prevalent  as  to  excite  the  attention  of 
the  House  of  Commons.  It  appeared  in  evidence  before  a  Committee,  that  the 
old  seed  of  the  white  clover  was  doctored  by  first  wetting  it  slightly,  and  then 
drying  it  by  the  fumes  of  burning  sulphur;  and  that  the  red  clover  seed  had  its 
colour  improved  by  shaking  it  in  a  sack  with  a  small  quantity  of  indigo ;  but  this 
being  detected  after  a  time,  the  doctors  then  used  a  preparation  of  logwood,  fined 
by  a  little  copperas,  and  sometimes  by  verdigris ;  thus  at  once  improving  the 
appearance  of  the  old  seed,  and  diminishing,  if  not  destroying,  its  vegetative 
power,  already  enfeebled  by  age.  Supposing  no  injury  had  resulted  to  good 
seed  so  prepared,  it  was  proved  that,  from  the  improved  appearance,  the  market 
price  would  be  enhanced  by  this  process  from  five  to  twenty-five  shillings  a  hun- 


expect  nothing  but  to  have  it  torn  from  him,  with  every 
circumstance  of  tyrannical  violence,  by  the  agents  of  a 
rapacious  government,  it  is  not  likely  that  many  will  exert 
themselves  to  produce  much  more  than  necessaries.  This 
'  is  the  acknowledged  explanation  of  the  poverty  of  many 
fertile  tracts  of  Asia,  which  were  once  prosperous  and  popu- 
lous. From  this  to  the  degree  of  security  enjoyed  in  the 
best  governed  parts  of  Europe,  there  are  numerous  grada- 
tions. In  many  provinces  of  France,  before  the  Kevolution, 
a  vicious  system  of  taxation  on  the  land,  and  still  more  the 

dred-weight.  But  the  greatest  evil  arose  from  the  circumstance  of  these  pro- 
cesses rendering  old  and  worthless  seed  equal  in  appearance  to  the  best.  One 
witness  had  tried  some  doctored  seed,  and  found  that  not  above  one  grain  in  a 
hundred  grew,  and  that  those  which  did  vegetate  died  away  afterwards ;  whilst 
about  eighty  or  ninety  per  cent,  of  good  seed  usually  grows.  The  seed  so  treated 
was  sold  to  retail  dealers  in  the  country,  who  of  course  endeavoured  to  purchase 
at  the  cheapest  rate,  and  from  them  it  got  into  the  hands  of  the  farmers,  neither 
of  these  classes  being  capable  of  distinguishing  the  fraudulent  from  the  genuine 
seed.  Many  cultivators  in  consequence  diminished  their  consumption  of  the 
articles,  and  others  were  obliged  to  pay  a  higher  price  to  those  who  had  skill  to 
distinguish  the  mixed  seed,  and  who  had  integrity  and  character  to  prevent  them 
from  dealing  in  it." 

The  same  writer  states  that  Irish  flax,  though  in  natural  quality  inferior  to 
none,  sells,  or  did  lately  sell,  in  the  market  at  «  penny  to  twopence  per  pound 
less  than  foreign  or  British  flax ;  part  of  the  difference  arising  from  negligence 
in  its  preparation,  but  part  from  the  cause  mentioned  in  the  evidence  of  Mr. 
Cony,  many  years  Secretary  to  the  Irish  Linen  Board :  "  The  owners  of  the  flax, 
who  are  almost  always  people  in  the  lower  classes  of  life,  believe  that  they  can 
best  advance  their  own  interests  by  imposing  on  the  buyers.  Flax  being  sold  by 
weight,  various  expedients  are  used  to  increase  it;  and  every  expedient  is  inju- 
rious, particularly  the  damping  of  it ;  a  very  common  practice,  which  makes  the 
flax  afterwards  heat.  The  inside  of  every  bundle  (and  the  bundles  all  vary  in 
bulk)  is  often  full  of  pebbles,  or  dirt  of  various  kinds,  to  increase  the  weight. 
In  this  state  it  is  purchased  and  exported  to  Great  Britain." 

It  was  given  in  evidence  before  a  Committee  of  the  House  of  Commons  that 
the  lace  trade  at  Nottingham  had  greatly  fallen  off,  from  the  making  of  fraudu- 
lent and  bad  articles :  that u  a  kind  of  lace  called  single-press  was  manufactured,' 
(I  still  quote  Mr.  Babbage,)  "  which,  although  good  to  the  eye,  became  nearly 
spoiled  in  washing  by  the  slipping  of  the  threads ;  that  not  one  person  in  a  thou- 
sand could  distinguish  the  difference  between  single-press  and  double-press  lace ;. 
that  even  workmen  and  manufacturers  were  obliged  to  employ  a  magnifying- 
glass  for  that  purpose ;  and  that  in  another  similar  article,  called  warp-lace,  such 
aid  was  essential." 

154  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VII.     §6. 

absence  of  redress  against  the  arbitrary  exactions  which 
were  made  under  colour  of  the  taxes,  rendered  it  the  interest 
of  every  cultivator  to  appear  poor,  and  therefore  to  culti- 
vate badly.  The  only  insecurity  which  is  altogether  par- 
alyzing to  the  active  energies  of  producers,  is  that  arising 
from  the  government,  or  from  persons  invested  with  its 
authority.  Against  all  other  depredators  there  is  a  hope 
of  defending  oneself.  Greece  and  the  Greek  colonies  in  the 
ancient  world,  Flanders  and  Italy  in  the  middle  ages,  by  no 
means  enjoyed  what  any  one  with  modern  ideas  would  call 
security :  the  state  of  society  was  most  unsettled  and  turbu- 
lent ;  person  and  property  were  exposed  to  a  thousand 
dangers.  But  they  were  free  countries ;  they  were  in  gen- 
eral neither  arbitrarily  oppressed,  nor  systematically  plun- 
dered by  their  governments.  Against  other  enemies  the 
'  individual  energy  which  their  institutions  called  forth, 
enabled  them  to  make  successful  resistance :  their  labour, 
therefore,  was  eminently  productive,  and  their  riches,  while 
they  remained  free,  was  constantly  on  the  increase.  The 
Roman  despotism,  putting  an  end  to  wars  and  internal 
conflicts  throughout  the  empire,  relieved  the  subject  popu- 
lation from  much  of  the  former  insecurity  :  but  because  it 
left  them  under  the  grinding  yoke  of  its  own  rapacity,  they 
became  enervated  and  impoverished,  until  they  were  an 
easy  prey  to  barbarous  but  free  invaders.  They  would 
neither  fight  nor  labour,  because  they  were  no  longer 
suffered  to  enjoy  that  for  which  they  fought  and  laboured. . 
Much  of  the  security  to  person  and  property  in  modern 
nations  is  the  effect  of  manners  and  opinion  rather  than  of 
law.  There  are,  or  lately  were,  countries  in  Europe  where 
the  monarch  was  nominally  absolute,  but  Avhere,  from  the 
restraints  imposed  by  established  usage,  no  subject  felt 
practically  in  the  smallest  danger  of  having  his  possessions 
arbitrarily  seized  or  a  contribution  levied  on  them  by  the 
government.  There  must,  however,  be  in  such  govern- 
ments much  petty  plunder  and  other  tyranny  by  subordi- 
nate agents,  for  which  redress  is  not  obtained,  owing  to  the 


want  of  publicity  which  is  the  ordinary  character  of  abso- 
lute  governments.  In  England  the  people  are  tolerably 
well  protected,  both  by  institutions  and  manners,  against 
the  agents  of  government ;  but,  for  the  security  they  enjoy 
against  other  evil-doers,  they  are  very  little  indebted  to 
their  institutions.  The  laws  cannot  be  said  to  afford  pro- 
tection to  property,  when  they  afford  it  only  at  such  a  cost 
as  renders  submission  to  injury  in  general  the  better  calcu- 
lation. The  security  of  property  in  England  is  owing 
(except  as  regards  open  violence)  to  opinion,  and  the  fear  of 
exposure,  much  more  than  to  the  law  and  the  courts  of 

Independently  of  all  imperfection  in  the  bulwarks  which 
society  purposely  throws  round  .what  it  recognises  as  prop- 
erty, there  are  various  other  modes  in  which  defective  insti- 
tutions impede  the  employment  of  the  productive  resources 
of  a  country  to  the  best  advantage.  We  shall  have  occasion 
for  noticing  many  of  these  in  the  progress  of  our  subject. 
It  is  sufficient  here  to  remark,  that  the  efficiency  of  industry 
may  be  expected  to  be  great,  in  proportion  as  the  fruits  of 
industry  are  insured  to  the  person  exerting  it :  and  that  all 
social  arrangements  are  conducive  to  useful  exertion,  accord- 
ing as  they  provide  that  the  reward  of  every  one  for  his 
labour  shall  be  proportioned  as  much  as  possible  to  the 
benefit  which  it  produces.  All  laws  or  usages  which  favour 
one  class  or  sort  of  persons  to  the  disadvantage  of  others ; 
which  chain  up  the  efforts  of  any  part  of  the  community  in 
pursuit  of  their  own  good,  or  stand  between  those  efforts 
and  their  natural  fruits — are  (independently  of  all  other 
grounds  of  condemnation)  violations  of  the  fundamental 
principles  of  economical  policy ;  tending  to  make  the  aggre- 
gate productive  powers  of  the  community  productive  in  a 
less  degree  than  they  would  otherwise  be. 



§  1.  In  the  enumeration  of  the  circumstances  which 
promote  the  productiveness  of  labour,  we  have  left  one 
untouched,  which,  because  of  its  importance,  and  of  the 
many  topics  of  discussion  which  it  involves,  requires  to  be 
treated  apart.  This  is,  cooperation,  or  the  combined  action 
of  numbers.  Of  this  great  aid  to  production,  a  single  de- 
partment, known  by  the  name  of  Division  of  Labour,  has 
engaged  a  large  share  of  the  attention  of  political  econo- 
mists ;  most  deservedly  indeed,  but  to  the  exclusion  of  other 
cases  and  exemplifications  of  the  same  comprehensive  law. 
Mr.  Wakefield  was,  I  believe,  the  first  to  point  out,  that  a 
part  of  the  subject  had,  with  injurious  effect,  been  mistaken 
for  the  whole ;  that  a  more  fundamental  principle  lies  be- 
neath that  of  the  division  of  labour,  and  comprehends  it. 

Cooperation,  he  observes,*  is  "  of  two  distinct  kinds : 
first,  such  cooperation  as  takes  place  when  several  persons 
help  each  other  in  the  same  employment ;  secondly,  such 
cooperation  as  takes  place  when  several  persons  help  each 
other  in  different  employments.  These  may  be  termed 
Simple  Cooperation  and  Complex  Cooperation. 

"  The  advantage  of  simple  cooperation  is  illustrated  by 
the  case  of  two  greyhounds  running  together,  which,  it  is 
said,  will  kill  more  hares  than  four  greyhounds  running 
separately.  In  a  vast  number  of  simple  operations  per- 
formed by  human  exertion,  it  is  quite  obvious  that  two  men 

*  Note  to  Wakefield's  edition  of  Adam  Smith,  vol.  i.  p.  26. 


working  together  will  do  more  than  four,  or  four  times  four 
men,  each  of  whom  should  work  alone.  In  the  lifting  of 
heavy  weights,  for  example,  in  the  felling  of  trees,  in  the 
sawing  of  timber,  in  the  gathering  of  much  hay  or  corn 
during  a  short  period  of  line  weather,  in  draining  a  large 
extent  of  land  during  the  short  season  when  such  a  work 
may  be  properly  conducted,  in  the  pulling  of  ropes  on 
board  ship,  in  the  rowing  of  large  boats,  in  some  mining 
operations,  in  the  erection  of  a  scaffolding  for  building,  and 
in  the  breaking  of  stones  for  the  repair  of  a  road,  so  that  the 
whole  of  the  road  shall  always  be  kept  in  good  order :  in 
all  these  simple  operations,  and  thousands  more,  it  is  abso- 
lutely necessary  that  many  persons  should  work  together, 
at  the  same  time,  in  the  same  place,  and  in  the  same  way. 
The  savages  of  New  Holland  never  help  each  other,  even 
in  the  most  simple  operations ;  and  their  condition  is  hardly 
superior,  in  some  respects  it  is  inferior,  to  that  of  the  wild 
animals  which  they  now  and  then  catch.  Let  any  one 
imagine  that  the  labourers  of  England  should  suddenly 
desist  from  helping  each  other  in  simple  employments,  and 
he  will  see  at  once  the  prodigious  advantages  of  simple  co- 
operation. In  a  countless  number  of  employments,  the 
produce  of  labor  is,  up  to  a  certain  point,  in  proportion  to 
such  mutual  assistance  amongst  the  workmen.  This  is  the 
first  step  in  social  improvement."  The  second  is,  when 
"  one  body  of  men  having  combined  their  labor  to  raise 
more  food  than  they  required,  another  body  of  men  are  in- 
duced to  combine  their  labour  for  the  purpose  of  producing 
more  clothes  than  they  require,  and  with  those  surplus 
clothes  buying  the  surplus  food  of  the  other  body  of  labour- 
ers ;  while,  if  both  bodies  together  have  produced  more  food 
and  clothes  than  they  both  require,  both  bodies  obtain,  by 
means  of  exchange,  a  proper  capital  for  setting  more  labour- 
ers to  work  in  their  respective  occupations."  To  simple 
cooperation  is  thus  superadded  what  Mr.  Wakefield  terms 
Complex  Cooperation.  The  one  is  the  combination  of 
several  labourers  to  help  each  other  in  the  same  set  of  opera- 

158  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §1. 

tions;  the  other  is  the  combination  of  several  labourers  to 
help  one  another  by  a  division  of  operations. 

There  is  "  an  important  distinction  between  simple  and 
complex  cooperation.  Of  the  former,  one  is  always  con- 
scious at  the  time  of  practising  it :  it  is  obvious  to  the  most 
ignorant  and  vulgar  eye.  Of  the  latter,  but  a  very  few  of 
the  vast  numbers  who  practise  it  are  in  any  degree  con- 
scious. The  cause  of  this  distinction  is  easily  seen.  When 
several  men  are  employed  in  lifting  the  same  weight,  or 
pulling  the  same  rope,  at  the  same  time,  and  in  the  same 
place,  there  can  be  no  sort  of  doubt  that  they  cooperate 
with  each  other ;  the  fact  is  impressed  on  the  mind  by  the 
mere  sense  of  sight ;  but  when  several  men,  or  bodies  of 
men,  are  employed  at  different  times  and  places,  and  in  dif- 
ferent pursuits,  their  cooperation  with  each  other,  though  it 
may  be  quite  as  certain,  is  not  so  readily  perceived  as  in  the 
other  case :  in  order  to  perceive  it,  a  complex  operation  of 
the  mind  is  required." 

In  the  present  state  of  society  the  breeding  and  feeding 
of  sheep  is  the  occupation  of  one  set  of  people,  dressing  the 
wool  to  prepare  it  for  the  spinner  is  that  of  another,  spin- 
ning it  into  thread  of  a  third,  weaving  the  thread  into  broad- 
cloth of  a  fourth,  dyeing  the  cloth  of  a  fifth,  making  it  into 
a  coat  of  a  sixth,  without  counting  the  multitude  of  carriers, 
merchants,  factors,  and  retailers,  put  in  requisition  at  the 
successive  stages  of  this  progress.  All  these  persons,  with- 
out knowledge  of  one  another  or  previous  understanding, 
cooperate  in  the  production  of  the  ultimate  result,  a  coat. 
But  these  are  far  from  being  all  who  cooperate  in  it ;  for 
each  of  these  persons  requires  food,  and  many  other  articles 
of  consumption,  and  unless  he  could  have  relied  that  other 
people  would  produce  these  for  him,  he  could  not  have  de- 
voted his  whole  time  to  one  step  in  the  succession  of  opera- 
tions which  produces  one  single  commodity,  a  coat.  Every 
person  who  took  part  in  producing  food  or  erecting  houses 
for  this  series  of  producers,  has,  however  unconsciously  on 
his  part,  combined  his  labour  with  theirs.     It  is  by  a  real, 


though  unexpressed,  concert  "  that  the  body  who  raise  more 
food  than  they  want,  can  exchange  with  the  body  who  raise 
more  clothes  than  they  want ;  and  if  the  two  bodies  were 
separated,  either  by  distance  or  disinclination — unless  the 
two  bodies  should  virtually  form  themselves  into  one,  for 
the  common  object  of  raising  enough  food  and  clothes  for 
the  whole — they  could  not  divide  into  two  distinct  parts  the 
whole  operation  of  producing  a  sufficient  quantity  of  food 
and  clothes." 

§  2.  The  influence  extercised  on  production  by  the  se- 
paration of  employments,  is  more  fundamental  than,  from 
the  mode  in  which  the  subject  is  usually  treated,  a  reader 
might  be  induced  to  suppose.  It  is  not  merely  that  when 
the  production  qf  different  thing3  becomes  the  sole  or  prin- 
cipal occupation  of  different  persons,  a  much  greater  quan- 
tity of  each  kind  of  article  is  produced.  The  truth  is  much 
beyond  this.  Without  some  separation  of  employments, 
very  few  things  would  be  produced  at  all. 

Suppose  a  set  of  persons,  or  a  number  of  families,  all 
employed  precisely  in  the  same  manner ;  each  family  settled 
on  a  piece  of  its  own  land,  on  which  it  grows  by  its  labour 
the  food  required  for  its  own  sustenance,  and  as  there  are 
no  persons  to  buy  any  surplus  produce  where  all  are  pro- 
ducers, each  family  has  to  produce  within  itself  whatever 
other  articles  it  consumes.  In  such  circumstances,  if  the 
soil  was  tolerably  fertile,  and  population  did  not  tread  too 
closely  on  the  heels  of  subsistence,  there  would  be,  no  doubt, 
some  kind  of  domestic  manufactures ;  clothing  for  the  family 
might  perhaps  be  spun  and  woven  within  it,  by  the  labour 
probably  of  the  women  (a  first  step  in  the  separation  of  em- 
ployments) ;  and  a  dwelling  of  some  sort  would  be  erected 
and  kept  in  repair  by  their  united  labour.  But  beyond 
simple  food  (precarious,  too,  from  the  variations  of  the 
seasons),  coarse  clothing,  and  very  imperfect  lodging,  it 
would  be  scarcely  possible  that  the  family  should  produce 
anything  more.    They  would,  in  general,  require  their  ut- 

160  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §2. 

most  exertions  to  accomplish  so  much.  Their  power  even 
of  extracting  food  from  the  soil  would  be  kept  within  nar- 
row limits  by  the  quality  of  their  tools,  which  would  neces- 
sarily be  of  the  most  wretched  description.  To  do  almost 
anything  in  the  way  of  producing  for  themselves  articles  of 
convenience  or  luxury,  would  require  too  much  time,  and, 
in  many  cases,  their  presence  in  a  different  place.  Very 
few  kinds  of  industry,  therefore,  would  exist;  and  that 
which  did  exist,  namely  the  production  of  necessaries, 
would  be  extremely  inefficient,  not  solely  from  imperfect 
implements,  but  because,  when  the  ground  and  the  domestic 
industry  fed  by  it  had  been  made  to  supply  the  necessaries 
of  a  single  family  in  tolerable  abundance,  there  would  be 
little  motive,  while  the  numbers  of  the  family  remained  the 
same,  to  make  either  the  land  or  the  labour  produce  more. 

But  suppose  an  event  to  occur,  which  would  amount  to 
a  revolution  in  the  circumstances  of  this  little  settlement. 
Suppose  that  a  company  of  artificers,  provided  with  tools, 
and  with  food  sufficient  to  maintain  them  for  a  year,  arrive 
in  the  country  and  establish  themselves  in  the  midst  of  the 
population.  These  new  settlers  occupy  themselves  in  pro- 
ducing articles  of  use  or  ornament  adapted  to  the  taste  of  a 
simple  people ;  and  before  their  food  is  exhausted  they  have 
produced  these  in  considerable  quantity,  and  are  ready  to 
exchange  them  for  more  food.  The  economical  position  of 
the  landed  population  is  now  most  materially  altered. 
They  have  an  opportunity  given  them  of  acquiring  comforts 
and  luxuries.  Things  which,  while  they  depended  solely 
on  their  own  labour,  they  never  could  have  obtained,  be- 
cause they  could  not  have  produced,  are  now  accessible  to 
them  if  they  can  succeed  in  producing  an  additional  quart 
tity  of  food  and  necessaries.  They  are  thus  incited  to  in- 
crease the  productiveness  of  their  industry.  Among  the 
conveniences  for  the  first  time  made  accessible  to  them, 
better  tools  are  probably  one :  and  apart  from  this,  they 
have  a  motive  to  labour  more  assiduously,  and  to  adopt 
contrivances  for  making  their  labour  more  effectual.     By 


these  means  they  will  generally  succeed  in  compelling  their 
land  to  produce,  not  only  food  for  themselves,  but  a  surplus 
for  the  new  comers,  wherewith  to  buy  from  them  the  pro- 
ducts of  their  industry.  The  new  settlers  constitute  what 
is  called  a  mcvrket  for  surplus  agricultural  produce:  and 
their  arrival  has  enriched  the  settlement  not  only  by  the 
manufactured  articles  which  they  produce,  but  by  the  food 
which  would  not  have  been  produced  unless  they  had  been 
there  to  consume  it. 

There  is  no  inconsistency  between  this  doctrine,  and  the 
proposition  we  before  maintained,  that  a  market  for  com- 
modities does  not  constitute  employment  for  labour.*  The 
labour  of  the  agriculturists  was  already  provided  with  em- 
ployment ;  they  are  not  indebted  to  the  demand  of  the  new 
comers  for  being  able  to  maintain  themselves.  What  that 
demand  does  for  them  is,  to  call  their  labour  into  increased 
vigour  and  efficiency ;  to  stimulate  them,  by  new  motives, 
to  new  exertions.  Neither  do  the  new  coiners  owe  their 
maintenance  and  employment  to  the  demand  of  the  agricul- 
turists :  with  a  year's  subsistence  in  store,  they  could  have 
settled  side  by  side  with  the  former  inhabitants,  and  pro- 
duced a  similar  scanty  stock  of  food  and  necessaries. 
Nevertheless,  we  see  of  what  supreme  importance  to  the 
productiveness  of  the  labour  of  producers,  is  the  existence 
of  other  producers  within  reach,  employed  in  a  different 
kind  of  industry.  The  power  of  exchanging  the  products 
of  one  kind  of  labour  for  those  of  another,  is  a  condition, 
but  for  which,  there  would  almost  always  be  a  smaller 
quantity  of  labour  altogether.  When  a  new  market  is 
opened  for  any  product  of  industry,  and  a  greater  quantity 
of  the  article  is  consequently  produced,  the  increased  pro- 
duction is  not  always  obtained  at  the  expense  of  some  other 
product ;  it  is  often  a  new  creation,  the  result  of  labour 
which  would  otherwise  have  remained  unexerted ;  or  of 
assistance  rendered  to  labour  by  improvements  or  by  modes 
of  cooperation  to  which  recourse  would  nx>t  have  been  had 

*  Supra,  pp.  114—324. 

162  BOOK   I.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §8. 

if  an  inducement  had  not  been  offered  for  raising  a  larger 

§  3.  From  these  considerations  it  appears  that  a  coun- 
try will  seldom  have  a  productive  agriculture,  unless  it  has 
a  large  town  population,  or  the  only  available  substitute,  a 
large  export  trade  in  agricultural  produce  to  supply  a  popu- 
lation elsewhere.  I  use  the  phrase  town  population  for 
shortness,  to  imply  a  population  non-agricultural;  which 
will  generally  be  collected  in  towns  or  large  villages,  for 
the  sake  of  combination  of  labour.  The  application  of  this 
truth  by  Mr.  Wakefield  to  the  theory  of  colonization,  has 
excited  much  attention,  and  is  doubtless  destined  to  excite 
much  more.  It  is  one  of  those  great  practical  discoveries, 
which,  once  made,  appear  so  obvious  that  the  merit  of  mak- 
ing them  seems  less  than  it  is.  Mr.  Wakefield  was  the  first 
to  point  out  that  the  mode  of  planting  new  settlements,  then 
commonly  practised — setting  down  a  number  of  families 
side  by  side,  each  on  its  piece  of  land,  all  employing  them- 
selves in  exactly  the  same  manner, — though  in  favourable 
circumstances  itiftay  assure  to  those  families  a  rude  abun- 
dance of  mere  necessaries,  can  never  be  other  than  unfavour- 
able to  great  production  or  rapid  growth :  and  his  system 
consists  of  arrangements  for  securing  that  every  colony  shall 
have  from  the  first  a  town  population  bearing  due  propor- 
tion to  its  agricultural,  and  that  the  cultivators  of  the  soil 
shall  not  be  so  widely  scattered  as  to  be  deprived  by  dis- 
tance, of  the  benefit  of  that  town  population  as  a  market  for 
their  produce.  The  principle  on  which  the  scheme  is 
founded,  does  not  depend  on  any  theory  respecting  the 
superior  productiveness  of  land  held  in  large  portions,  and 
cultivated  by  hired  labour.  Supposing  it  true  that  land 
yields  the  greatest  produce  when  divided  into  small  proper- 
ties and  cultivated  by  peasant  proprietors,  a  town  popula- 
tion would  be  just  as  necessary  to  induce  those  proprietors 
to  r*tae  tkat  larger  produce :  and  if  they  were  too  far  from 
th**^"^1-  —  -».t  of  non-agricultural  industry  to  use  it  as  a 


market  for  disposing  of  their  surplus,  and  thereby  supplying 
their  other  wants,  neither  that  surplus  nor  any  equivalent 
for  it  would,  generally  speaking,  be  produced. 

It  is,  above  all,  the  deficiency  of  town  population  which 
limits  the  productiveness  of  the  industry  of  a  country  like 
India.  The  agriculture  of  India  is  conducted  entirely  on 
the  system  of  small  holdings.  There  is,  however,  a  con- 
siderable amount  of  combination  of  labour.  The  village 
institutions  and  customs,  which  are  the  real  framework  of 
Indian  society,  make  provision  for  joint  action  in  the  cases 
in  which  it  is  seen  to  be  necessary ;  or  where  they  fail  to  do 
so,  the  government  (when  tolerably  well  administered)  steps 
in,  and  by  an  outlay  from  the  revenue,  executes  by  com- 
bined labour  the  tanks,  embankments,  and  works  of  irriga- 
tion, which  are  indispensable.  The  implements  and  pro- 
cesses of  agriculture  are  however  so  wretched,  that  the 
produce  of  the  soil,  in  spite  of  great  natural  fertility  and 
a  climate  highly  favourable  to  vegetation,  is  miserably 
6mall :  and  the  land  might  be  made  to  yield  food  in  abun- 
dance for  many  more  than  the  present  number  of  inhabi- 
tants, without  departing  from  the  system  of  small  holdings. 
But  to  this  the  stimulus  is  wanting,  which  a  large  town 
population,  connected  with  the  rural  districts  by  easy  and 
unexpensive  means  of  communication,  would  afford.  That 
town  population,  again,  does  not  grow  up,  because  the  few 
wants  and  unaspiring  spirit  of  the  cultivators  (joined  until 
lately  with  great  insecurity  of  property,  from  military  and 
fiscal  rapacity)  prevent  them  from  attempting  to  become 
consumers  of  town  produce.  In  these  circumstances  the 
best  chance  of  an  early  development  of  the  productive  re- 
sources of  India,  consists  in  the  rapid  growth  of  its  export 
of  agricultural  produce  (cotton,  indigo,  sugar,  coffee,  &c.) 
to  the  markets  of  Europe.  The  producers  of  these  articles 
are  consumers  of  food  supplied  by  their  fellow-agriculturists 
in  India ;  and  the  market  thus  opened  for  surplus  food  will, 
if  accompanied  by  good  government,  raise  up  by  degrees 
more  extended  wants  and  desires,  directed  either  towards 

164:  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §4. 

European  commodities,  or  towards  things  which  will  re- 
quire for  their  production  in  India  a  larger  manufacturing 

§  4.  Thus  far  of  the  separation  of  employments,  a  form 
of  the  combination  of  labour  without  which  there  cannot 
be  the  first  rudiments  of  industrial  civilization.  But  when 
this  separation  is  thoroughly  established ;  when  it  has  be- 
come the  general  practice  for  each  producer  to  supply  many 
others  with  one  commodity,  and  to  be  supplied  by  others 
with  most  of  the  things  which  he  consumes ;  reasons  not 
less  real,  though  less  imperative,  invite  to  a  further  exten- 
sion of  the  same  principle.  It  is  found  that  the  productive 
power  of  labour  is  increased  by  carrying  the  separation  fur- 
ther and  further ;  by  breaking  down  more  and  more  every 
process  of  industry  into  parts,  so  that  each  labourer  shall 
confine  himself  to  an  ever  smaller  number  of  simple  opera- 
tions. And  thus,  in  time,  arise  those  remarkable  cases  of 
what  is  called  the  division  of  labour,  with  which  all  readers 
on  subjects  of  this  nature  are  familiar.  Adam  Smith's 
illustration  from  pin-making,  though  so  well  known,  is  so 
much  to  the  point,  that  I  will  venture  once  more  to  trans- 
cribe it.  "The  business  of  making  a  pin  is  divided  into 
about  eighteen  distinct  operations.  One  man  draws  out 
the  wire,  another  straights  it,  a  third  cuts  it,  a  fourth  points 
it,  a  fifth  grinds  it  at  the  top  for  receiving  the  head;  to 
make  the  head  requires  two  or  three  distinct  operations; 
to  put  it  on,  is  a  peculiar  business ;  to  whiten  the  pins  is 
another ;  it  is  even  a  trade  by  itself  to  put  them  into  the 

paper I  have  seen  a  small  manufactory  where 

ten  men  only  were  employed,  and  where  some  of  them, 
consequently,  performed  two  or  three  distinct  operations. 
But  though  they  were  very  poor,  and  therefore  but  indiffer- 
ently accommodated  with  the  necessary  machinery,  they 
could,  when  they  exerted  themselves,  make  among  them 
about  twelve  pounds  of  pins  in  a  day.  There  are  in  a 
pound  upwards  of  four  thousand  pins  of  a  middling  size. 


Those  ten  persons,  therefore,  could  make  among  them  up- 
wards of  forty-eight  thousand  pins  in  a  day.  Each  person, 
therefore,  making  a  tenth  part  of  forty-eight  thousand  pins, 
might  be  considered  as  making  four  thousand  eight  hun- 
dred pins  in  a  day.  But  if  they  had  all  wrought  separ- 
ately and  independently,  and  without  any  of  them  having 
been  educated  to  this  peculiar  business,  they  certainly 
could  not  each  of  them  have  made  twenty,  perhaps  not  one 
pin  in  a  day. 

M.  Say  furnishes  a  still  stronger  example  of  the  effects 
of  division  of  labour — from  a  not  very  important  branch  of 
industry  certainly,  the  manufacture  of  playing  cards.  "  It 
is  said  by  those  engaged  in  the  business,  that  each  card, 
that  is,  a  piece  of  pasteboard  of  the  size  of  the  hand,  before 
being  ready  for  sale,  does  not  undergo  fewer  than  seventy 
operations,*  every  one  of  which  might  be  the  occupation  of 
a  distinct  class  of  workmen.  And  if  there  are  not  seventy 
classes  of  work-people  in  each  card  manufactory,  it  is  be- 
cause the  division  of  labour  is  not  carried  so  far  as  it  might 
be ;  because  the  same  workman  is  charged  with  two,  three, 

*  "  Ce  ne  sont  point  les  memes  ouvriers  qui  pr£parent  le  papier  dont  on  fait 
les  cartes,  ni  les  couleura  dont  on  les  empreint ;  et  en  ne  fesant  attention  qu'au 
seul  emploi  de  ces  niatieres,  nous  trouverons  qu'un  jeu  de  cartes  est  le  reeultat 
de  plusieurs  operations  dont  chacune  occupe  une  se>ie  distincte  d'ouvriers  et 
dfouvrieres  qui  s'appliquent  toujours  a  la  raeme  operation.  Ce  sont  des  per- 
sonnes  differentes,  et  toujours  les  memes,  qui  £pluchent  les  bouchons  et  gros- 
seurs  qui  se  trouvent  dans  le  papier  et  nuiraient  a  l'6galite  d'epaisseur;  les 
memes  qui  collent  ensemble  les  trois  feuilles  de  papier  dont  se  compose  le  car- 
ton et  qui  le  mettent  en  presse ;  les  memes  qui  impriment  en  noir  le  dessin  des 
figures ;  d'autres  ouvriers  impriment  les  couleurs  des  memes  figures ;  d'autres 
font  secher  au  rechaud  les  cartons  une  fois  qu'ils  sont  imprimes ;  d'autres  s'occu- 
pent  de  les  lisser  dessus  et  dessous.  C'est  une  occupation  particuliere  qui  de  les 
couper  d'egale  dimension ;  e'en  est  une  autre  de  les  assembler  pour  en  former 
des  jeux ;  une  autre  encore  d'imprimer  les  enveloppes  des  jeux,  et  une  autre 
encore  de  les  envelopper ;  sans  compter  les  fonctions  des  personnes  chargees  des 
rentes  et  des  achats,  de  payer  les  ouvriers  et  de  tenir  les  ecritures." — Say,  Cours 
d'Economie  Politique  Pratique,  vol.  i.  p.  340. 

It  is  a  remarkable  proof  of  the  economy  of  labour  occasioned  by  this  minute 
division  of  occupations,  that  an  article,  the  production  of  which  is  the  result  of 
such  a  multitude  of  manual  operations,  can  be  sold  for  a  trifling  sum. 

166  BOOK  I.      CHAPTER  VIII.    §5. 

or  four  distinct  operations.  The  influence  of  this  distri- 
bution of  employments  is  immense.  I  have  seen  a  card 
manufactory  where  thirty  workmen  produced  daily  fifteen 
thousand  five  hundred  cards,  being  above  five  hundred 
cards  for  each  labourer ;  and  it  may  be  presumed  that  if 
each  of  these  workmen  were  obliged  to  perform  all  the 
operations  himself,  even  supposing  him  a  practised  hand, 
he  would  not  perhaps  complete  two  cards  in  a  day :  and 
the  thirty  workmen,  instead  of  fifteen  thousand  five  hundred 
cards,  would  make  only  sixty." 

In  watchmaking,  as  Mr.  Babbage  observes,  "it  was 
stated  in  evidence  before  a  Committee  of  the  House  of 
Commons,  that  there  are  a  hundred  and  two  distinct 
branches  of  this  art,  to  each  of  which  a  boy  may  be  put 
apprentice;  and  that  he  only  learns  his  master's  depart* 
ment,  and  is  unable,  after  his  apprenticeship  has  expired, 
without  subsequent  instruction,  to  work  at  any  other 
branch.  The  watch-finisher,  whose  business  it  is  to  put 
together  the  scattered  parts,  is  the  only  one,  out  of  the 
hundred  and  two  persons,  who  can  work  in  any  other 
department  than  his  own."* 

§  5.  The  causes  of  the  increased  efficiency  given  to 
labour  by  the  division  of  employments  are  some  of  them 
too  familiar  to  require  specification ;  but  it  is  worth  while 
to  attempt  a  complete  enumeration  of  them.  By  Adam 
Smith  they  are  reduced  to  three.  "  First,  the  increase  of 
dexterity  in  every  particular  workman ;  secondly,  the  sav- 
ing of  the  time  which  is  commonly  lost  in  passing  from  one 
species  of  work  to  another ;  and  lastly,  the  invention  of  a 
great  number  of  machines  which  facilitate  and  abridge 
labour,  and  enable  one  man  to  do  the  work  of  many." 

Of  these,  the  increase  of  dexterity  of  the  individual 
workman  is  the  most  obvious  and  universal.  It  does  not 
follow  that  because  a  thing  has  been  done  oftener  it  will  be 

*  Economy  of  Machinery  and  Manufactures,  3rd  Edition,  p.  201. 


done  better.  That  depends  on  the  intelligence  of  the  work- 
man, and  on  the  degree  in  which  his  mind  works  along 
with  his  hands.  But  it  will  be  done  more  easily.  The 
organs  themselves  acquire  greater  power :  the  muscles  ea^ 
ployed  grow  stronger  by  frequent  exercise,  the  sinews  more 
pliant,  and  the  mental  powers  more  efficient,  and  less  sensi- 
ble of  fatigue.  What  can  be  done  easily  has  at  least  a 
better  chance  of  being  done  well,  and  is  sure  to  be  done 
more  expeditiously.  What  was  at  first  done  slowly  comes 
to  be  done  quickly ;  what  was  at  first  done  slowly  with  ac- 
curacy is  at  last  done  quickly  with  equal  accuracy.  This 
is  as  true  of  mental  operations  as  of  bodily.  Even  a  child, 
after  much  practice,  sums  up  a  column  of  figures  with'  a 
rapidity  which  resembles  intuition.  The  act  of  speaking 
any  language,  of  reading  fluently,  of  playing  music  at  sight, 
are  cases  as  remarkable  as  they  are  familiar.  Among 
bodily  acts,  dancing,  gymnastic  exercises,  ease  and  bril- 
liancy of  execution  on  a  musical  instrument,  are  examples 
of  the  rapidity  and  facility  acquired  by  repetition.  In  sim- 
pler manual  operations  the  effect  is  of  conrse  still  sooner 
produced.  "The  rapidity,"  Adam  Smith  observes,  "with 
which  some  of  the  operations  of  certain  manufactures  are 
performed,  exceeds  what  the  human  hand  could,  by  those 
who  had  never  seen  them,  be  supposed  capable  of  acquir- 
ing." *  This  skill  is,  naturally,  attained  after  shorter  prac- 
tice, in  proportion  as  the  division  of  labour  is  more  minute ; 
and  will  not  be  attained  in  the  same  degree  at  all,  if  the 

*  u  In  astronomical  observations,  the  senses  of  the  operator  are  rendered  so 
acute  by  habit,  that  he  can  estimate  differences  of  time  to  the  tenth  of  a  second ; 
and  adjust  his  measuring  instrument  to  graduations  of  which  five  thousand  occupy 
only  an  inch.  It  is  the  same  throughout  the  commonest  processes  of  manufac- 
ture. A  child  who  fastens  on  the  heads  of  pins  will  repeat  an  operation  requir- 
ing several  distinct  motions  of  the  muscles  one  hundred  times  a  minute  for  sev- 
eral successive  hours.  In  a  recent  Manchester  paper  it  was  stated  that  a  peculiar 
sort  of  twist  or  '  gimp,'  which  cost  three  shillings  making  when  first  introduced, 
was  now  manufactured  for  one  penny;  and  this  not,  as  usually,  by  the  invention 
of  a  new  machine,  but  solely  through  the  increased  dexterity  of  the  workman." 
— Edinburgh  Review  for  January,  1849,  p.  81. 

168  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §5. 

workman  has  a  greater  variety  of  operations  to  execute 
than  allows  of  a  sufficiently  frequent  repetition  of  each. 
The  advantage  is  not  confined  to  the  greater  efficiency  ulti- 
mately attained,  but  includes  also  the  diminished  loss  of 
time,  and  waste  of  material,  in  learning  the  art.  "  A  cer- 
tain quantity  of  material,"  says  Mr.  Babbage,*  u  will  in  all 
cases  be  consumed  unprofitably,  or  spoiled,  by  every  person 
who  learns  an  art ;  and  as  he  applies  himself  to  each  new 
process,  he  will  waste  some  of  the  raw  material,  or  of  the 
partly  manufactured  commodity.  But  if  each  man  commit 
this  waste  in  acquiring  successively  every  process,  the  quan- 
tity of  waste  will  be  much  greater  than  if  each  person  con- 
fine his  attention  to  one  process."  And  in  general  each 
will  be  much  sooner  qualified  to  execute  his  one  process,  if 
he  be  not  distracted  while  learning  it,  by  the  necessity  of 
learning  others. 

The  second  advantage  enumerated  by  Adam  Smith  as 
arising  from  the  division  of  labour,  is  one  on  which  I  can- 
not help  thinking  that  more  stress  is  laid  by  him  and  others 
than  it  deserves.  To  do  full  justice  to  his  opinion,  I  will 
quote  his  own  exposition  of  it.  "The  advantage  which  is 
gained  by  saving  the  time  commonly  lost  in  passing  from 
one  sort  of  work  to  another,  is  much  greater  than  we  should 
at  first  view  be  apt  to  imagine  it.  It  is  impossible  to  pass 
very  quickly  from  one  kind  of  work  to  another,  that  is  car- 
ried on  in  a  different  place,  and  with  quite  different  tools. 
A  country  weaver,  who  cultivates  a  small  farm,  must  lose 
a  good  deal  of  time  in  passing  from  his  loom  to  the  field, 
and  from  the  field  to  his  loom.  When  the  two  trades  can 
be  carried  on  in  the  same  workhouse,  the  loss  of  time  is  no 
doubt  much  less.  It  is  even  in  this  case,  however,  very 
considerable.  A  man  commonly  saunters  a  little  in  turning 
his  hand  from  one  sort  of  employment  to  another.  When 
he  first  begins  the  new  work,  he  is  seldom  very  keen  and 
hearty ;  his  mind,  as  they  say,  does  not  go  to  it,  and  for 
some  time  he  rather  trifles  than  applies  to  good  purpose. 

*  Page  171. 


The  habit  of  sauntering  and  of  indolent  careless  application, 
which  is  naturally,  or  rather  necessarily  acquired  by  every 
country  workman  who  is  obliged  to  change  his  work  and 
his  tools  every  half  hour,  and  to  apply  his  hand  in  twenty 
different  ways  almost  every  day  of  his  life,  renders  him 
almost  always  slothful  and  lazy,  and  incapable  of  any  vig- 
orous application  even  on  the  most  pressing  occasions." 
This  is  surely  a  most  exaggerated  description  of  the  ineffi- 
ciency of  country  labour,  where  it  has  any  adequate  motive 
to  exertion.  Few  workmen  change  their  work  and  their 
tools  oftener  than  a  gardener ;  is  he  usually  incapable  of 
vigorous  application  ?  Many  of  the  higher  description  of 
artisans  have  to  perform  a  great  multiplicity  of  operations 
with  a  variety  of  tools.  "They  do  not  execute  each  of  these 
with  the  rapidity  with  which  a  factory  workman  performs 
his  single  operation;  but  they  are,  except  in  a  merely 
manual  sense,  more  skilful  labourers,  and  iu  all  senses 
whatever  more  energetic. 

Mr.  Babbage,  following  in  the  track  of  Adam  Smith, 
says,  "When  the  human  hand,  or  the  human  head,  has 
been  for  some  time  occupied  in  any  kind  of  work,  it  cannot 
instantly  change  its  employment  with  full  effect.  The 
muscles  of  the  limbs  employed  have  acquired  a  flexibility 
during  their  exertion,  and  those  not  in  action  a  stiffness 
during  rest,  which  renders  every  change  slow  and  unequal 
in  the  commencement.  Long  habit  also  produces  in  the 
muscles  exercised  a  capacity  for  enduring  fatigue  to  a  much 
greater  degree  than  they  could  support  under  other  circum- 
stances. A  similar  result  seems  to  take  place  in  any  change 
of  mental  exertion ;  the  attention  bestowed  on  the  new  sub- 
ject not  being  so  perfect  at  first  as  it  becomes  after  some 
exercise.  The  employment  of  different  tools  in  the  succes- 
sive processes,  is  another  cause  of  the  loss  of  time  in  chang- 
ing from  one  operation  to  another.  If  these  tools  are  sim- 
ple, and  the  change  is  not  frequent,  the  loss  of  time  is  not 
considerable;  but  in  many  processes  of  the  arts,  the  tools 
are  of  great  delicacy,  requiring  accurate  adjustment  every 

170  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  VIII.     §5. 

time  they  are  used ;  and  in  many  cases,  the  time  employed 
in  adjusting  bears  a  large  proportion  to  that  employed  in 
using  the  tool.  The  sliding-rest,  the  dividing  and  the  drill- 
ing engine  are  of  this  kind :  and  hence,  in  manufactories 
of  sufficient  extent,  it  is  found  to  be  good  economy  to  keep 
one  machine  constantly  employed  in  one  kind  of  work :  one 
lathe,  for  example,  having  a  screw  motion  to  its  sliding-rest 
along  the  whole  length  of  its  bed,  is  kept  constantly  making 
cylinders ;  another,  having  a  motion  for  equalizing  the  ve- 
locity of  the  work  at  the  point  at  which  it  passes  the  tool,  is 
kept  for  facing  surfaces;  whilst  a  third  is  constantly  em- 
ployed in  cutting  wheels." 

1  am  very  far  from  implying  that  these  different  consid- 
erations are  of  no  weight ;  but  I  think  there  are  counter- 
considerations  which  are  overlooked.  If  one  kind  of  mus- 
cular or  mental  labour  is  different  from  another,  for  that 
very  reason  it  is  to  some  extent  a  rest  from  that  other ;  and 
if  the  greatest  vigour  is  not  at  once  obtained  in  the  second 
occupation,  neither  could  the  first  have  been  indefinitely 
prolonged  without  some  relaxation  of  energy.  It  is  a  mat- 
ter of  common  experience  that  a  change  of  occupation  will 
often  afford  relief  where  complete  repose  would  otherwise 
be  necessary,  and  that  a  person  can  work  many  more  hours 
without  fatigue  at  a  succession  of  occupations,  than  if  con- 
fined during  the  whole  time  to  one.  Different  occupations 
employ  different  muscles,  or  different  energies  of  the  mind, 
some  of  which  rest  and  are  refreshed  while  others  work. 
Bodily  labour  itself  rests  from  mental,  and  conversely.  The 
variety  itself  has  an  invigorating  effect  on  what,  for  want 
of  a  more  philosophical  appellation,  we  must  term  the  ani- 
mal spirits;  so  important  to  the  efficiency  of  all  work  not 
mechanical,  and  not  unimportant  even  to  that.  The  com- 
parative weight  due  to  these  considerations  is  different  with 
different  individuals ;  some  are  more  fitted  than  others  for 
persistency  in  one  occupation,  and  less  fit  for  change ;  they 
require  longer  to  get  the  steam  up  (to  use  a  metaphor  now 
common) ;  the  irksomeness  of  setting  to  work  lasts  logger, 


and  it  requires  more  time  to  bring  their  faculties  into  full 
play,  and  therefore  when  this  is  once  done,  they  do  not  like 
to  leave  off,  but  go  on  long  without  intermission,  even  to 
the  injury  of  their  health.  Temperament  has  something  to 
do  with  these  differences.  There  are  people  whose  faculties 
seem  by  nature  to  come  slowly  into  action,  and  to  accom- 
plish little  until  they  have  been  a  long  time  employed. 
Others,  again,  get  into  action  rapidly,  but  cannot,  without 
exhaustion,  continue  long.  In  this,  however,  as  in  most 
other  things,  though  natural  differences  are  something, 
habit  is  much  more.  The  habit  of  passing  rapidly  from  one 
occupation  to  another  may  be  acquired,  like  other  habits, 
by  early  cultivation ;  and  when  it  is  acquired,  there  is  none 
of  the  sauntering  which  Adam  Smith  speaks  of,  after  each 
change ;  no  want  of  energy  and  interest,  but  the  workman 
comes  to  each  part  of  his  occupation  with  a  freshness  and  a 
spirit  which  he  does  not  retain  if  he  persists  in  any  one  part 
(unless  in  case  of  unusual  excitement)  beyond  the  length  of 
time  to  which  he  is  accustomed.  Women  are  usually  (at 
least  in  their  present  social  circumstances)  of  far  greater 
versatility  than  men ;  and  the  present  topic  is  an  instance 
among  multitudes,  how  little  the  ideas  and  experience  of 
women  have  yet  counted  for,  in  forming  the  opinions  of 
mankind.  There  are  few  women  who  would  not  reject  the 
idea  that  work  is  made  vigorous  by  being  protracted,  and 
is  inefficient  for  some  time  after  changing  to  a  new  thing. 
Even  in  this  case,  habit,  I  believe,  much  more  than  nature, 
is  the  cause  of  the  difference.  The  occupations  of  nine  out 
of  every  ten  men  are  special,  those  of  nine  out  of  every  ten 
women  general,  embracing  a  multitude  of  details,  each  of 
which  requires  very  little  time.  Women  are  in  the  constant 
practice  of  passing  quickly  from  one  manual,  and  still  more 
from  one  mental  operation  to  another,  which  therefore  rarely 
costs  them  either  effort  or  loss  of  time,  while  a  man's  occu- 
pation generally  consists  in  working  steadily  for  a  long  time 
at  one  thing,  or  one  very  limited  class  of  things.  But  the 
situations  are  sometimes    reversed,   and  with    them    thy 

172  BOOK  I.      CHAPTER   VIII.     §5. 

characters.  Women  are  not  found  less  efficient  than  men 
for  the  uniformity  of  factory  work,  or  they  would  not  so 
generally  be  employed  for  it ;  and  a  man  who  has  cultivated 
the  habit  of  turning  his  hand  to  many  things,  far  from  being 
the  slothful  and  lazy  person  described  by  Adam  Smith,  is 
usually  remarkably  lively  and  active.  It  is  true,  however, 
that  change  of  occupation  may  be  too  frequent  even  for  tho 
most  versatile.  Incessant  variety  is  even  more  fatiguing 
than  perpetual  sameness. 

The  third  advantage  attributed  by  Adam  Smith  to  the 
division  of  labour,  is,  to  a  certain  extent,  real.  Inventions 
tending  to  save  labour  in  a  particular  operation,  are  more 
likely  to  occur  to  any  one  in  proportion  as  his  thoughts  are 
intensely  directed  to  that  occupation,  and  continually  em- 
ployed upon  it.  A  person  is  not  so  likely  to  make  practical 
improvements  in  one  department  of  things,  whose  attention 
is  very  much  diverted  to  others.  But,  in  this,  much  more 
depends  on  general  intelligence  and  habitual  activity  of 
mind,  than  on  exclusiveness  of  occupation ;  and  if  that  ex- 
clusiveness  is  carried  to  a  degree  unfavourable  to  the  culti- 
vation of  intelligence,  there  will  be  more  lost  in  this  kind 
of  advantage,  than  gained.  We  may  add,  that  whatever 
may  be  the  cause  of  making  inventions,  when  they  are  once 
made,  the  increased  efficiency  of  labour  is  owing  to  the  in- 
vention itself,  and  not  to  the  division  of  labour. 

The  greatest  advantage  (next  to  the  dexterity  of  the 
workmen)  derived  from  the  minute  division  of  labour  which 
takes  place  in  modern  manufacturing  industry,  is  one  not 
mentioned  by  Adam  Smith,  but  to  which  attention  has  been 
drawn  by  Mr.  Babbage ;  the  more  economical  distribution 
of  labour,  by  classing  the  work-people  according  to  their 
capacity.  Different  parts  of  the  same  series  of  operations 
require  unequal  degrees  of  skill  and  bodily  strength ;  and 
those  who  have  skill  enough  for  the  most  difficult,  or  strength 
enough  for  the  hardest  parts  of  the  labour,  are  made  much 
more  useful  by  being  employed  solely  in  them  ;  the  opera- 
tions which  everybody  is  capable  of,  being  left  to  those  who 


are  fit  for  no  others.  Production  is  most  efficient  when  the 
precise  quantity  of  skill  and  strength,  which  is  required  for 
each  part  of  the  process,  is  employed  in  it,  and  no  more. 
The  operation  of  pin-making  requires,  it  seems,  in  its  dif- 
ferent parts,  such  different  degrees  of  skill,  that  the  wages 
earned  by  the  persons  employed  vary  from  fourpence  half- 
penny a  day  to  six  shillings ;  and  if  the  workman  who  is 
paid  at  that  highest  rate  had  to  perform  the  whole  process, 
he  would  be  working  a  part  of  his  time  with  a  waste  per 
day  equivalent  to  the  difference  between  six  shillings  and 
fourpence  halfpenny.  Without  reference  to  the  loss  sus- 
tained in  quantity  of  work  done,  and  supposing  even  that 
he  could  make  a  pound  of  pins  in  the  same  time  in  which 
ten  workmen  combining  their  labour  can  make  ten  pounds, 
Mr.  Babbage  computes  that  they  would  cost,  in  making, 
three  times  and  three-quarters  as  much  as  they  now  do  by 
means  of  the  division  of  labour.  In  needle-making,  he 
adds,  the  difference  would  be  still  greater,  for  in  that,  the 
scale  of  remuneration  for  different  parts  of  the  process  varies 
from  sixpence  to  twenty  shillings  a  day. 

To  the  advantage  which  consists  in  extracting  the  great- 
est possible  amount  of  utility  from  skill,  may  be  added  the 
analogous  one,  of  extracting  the  utmost  possible  utility  from 
tools.  "  If  any  man,"  says  an  able  writer,*  "  had  all  the 
tools  which  many  different  occupations  require,  at  least 
three-fourths  of  them  would  constantly  be  idle  and  useless. 
It  were  clearly  then  better,  were  any  society  to  exist  where 
each  mau  had  all  these  tools,  and  alternately  carried  on 
each  of  these  occupations,  that  the  members  of  it  should,  if 
possible,  divide  them  amongst  them,  each  restricting  him- 
self to  some  particular  employment.  The  advantages  of 
the  cliange  to  the  whole  community,  and  therefore  to  every 
individual  in  it,  are  great.  In  the  first  place,  the  various 
implements,  being  in  constant  employment,  yield  a  better 
return  for  what  has  been  laid  out  in  procuring  them.     In 

*  Statement  of  some  New  Principles  on  the  subject  of  Political  Economy,  by 
John  Bae  (Boston,  U.  S.),  p.  164. 

174  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  VIII.    §<>. 

consequence  their  owners  can  afford  to  have  them  of  better 
quality  and  more  complete  construction.  The  result  of  both 
events  is,  that  a  larger  provision  is  made  for  the  future 
wants  of  the  whole  society." 

§  6.  The  division  of  labour,  as  all  writers  on  the  sub- 
ject have  remarked,  is  limited  by  the  extent  of  the  market. 
If,  by  the  separation  of  pin-making  into  ten  distinct  employ- 
ments, forty-eight  thousand  pins  can  be  made  in  a  day,  this 
separation  will  only  be  advisable  if  the  number  of  accessible 
consumers  is  such  as  to  require,  every  day,  something  like 
forty-eight  thousand  pins.  If  there  is  only  a  demand  for 
twenty-four  thousand,  the  division  of  labour  can  only  be 
advantageously  carried  to  the  extent  which  will  every  day 
produce  that  smaller  number.  This,  therefore,  is  a  further 
mode  in  which  an  accession  of  demand  for  a  commodity 
tends  to  increase  the  efficiency  of  the  labour  employed  in 
its  production.  The  extent  of  the  market  may  be  limited 
by  several  causes :  too  small  a  population  ;  the  population 
too  scattered  and  distant  to  be  easily  accessible ;  deficiency 
of  roads  and  water  carriage ;  or,  finally,  the  population  too 
poor,  that  is,  their  collective  labour  too  little  effective,  to 
admit  of  their  being  large  consumers.  Indolence,  want  of 
skill,  and  want  of  combination  of  labour,  among  those  who 
would  otherwise  be  buyers  of  a  commodity,  limit,  therefore, 
the  practicable  amount  of  combination  of  labour  among  its 
producers.  In  an  early  stage  of  civilization,  when  the  de- 
mand of  any  particular  locality  was  necessarily  small, 
industry  only  flourished  among  those  who  by  their  com- 
mand of  the  sea-coast  or  of  a  navigable  river,  could  have 
the  whole  world,  or  all  that  part  of  it  which  lay  on  coasts 
or  navigable  rivers,  as  a  market  for  their  productions.  The 
increase  of  the  general  riches  of  the  world,  when  accom- 
panied with  freedom  of  commercial  intercourse,  improve* 
ments  in  navigation,  and  inland  communication  by  roads, 
canals,  or  railways,  tends  to  give  increased  productiveness 
to  the  labour  of  every  nation  in  particular,  by  enabling  each 



locality  to  supply  with  its  special  products  so  much  larger 
a  market,  that  a  great  extension  of  the  division  of  labour  in 
their  production  is  an  ordinary  consequence. 

The  division  of  labour  is  also  limited,  in  many  cases,  by 
the  nature  of  the  employment.  Agriculture,  for  example, 
is  not  susceptible  of  so  great  a  division  of  occupations  as 
many  branches  of  manufactures,  because  its  different  opera- 
tions cannot  possibly  be  simultaneous.  One  man  cannot  be 
always  ploughing,  another  sowing,  and  another  reaping. 
A  workman  who  only  practised  one  agricultural  operation 
would  be  idle  eleven  months  of  the  year.  The  same  person 
may  perform  them  all  in  succession,  and  have,  in  almost 
every  climate,  a  considerable  amount  of  unoccupied  time. 
To  execute  a  great  agricultural  improvement,  it  is  often 
necessary  that  many  labourers  should  work  together ;  but 
in  general,  except  the  few  whose  business  is  superinten- 
dence, they  all  work  in  the  same  manner.  A  canal  or  a 
railway  embankment  cannot  be  made  without  a  combina- 
tion of  many  labourers  ;  but  they  are  all  excavators,  except 
the  engineer  and  a  few  clerks. 



§  1.  From  the  importance  of  combination  of  labour,  it 
is  an  obvious  conclusion,  that  there  are  many  cases  iu  which 
production  is  made  much  more  effective  by  being  conducted 
on  a  large  scale.  Whenever  it  is  essential  to  the  greatest 
efficiency  of  labour  that  many  labourers  should  combine, 
even  though  only  in  the  way  of  Simple  Co-operation,  the 
scale  of  the  enterprise  must  be  such  as  to  bring  many 
labourers  together,  and  the  capital  must  be  large  enough  to 
maintain  them.  Still  more  needful  is  this  when  the  nature 
of  the  employment  allows,  and  the  extent  of  the  possible 
market  encourages,  a  considerable  division  of  labour.  The 
larger  the  enterprise,  the  farther  the  division  of  labour  may 
be  earned.  This  is  one  of  the  principal  causes  of  large 
manufactories.  Even  when  no  additional  subdivision  of  the 
work  would  follow  an  enlargement  of  the  operations,  there 
will  be  good  economy  in  enlarging  them  to  the  point  at 
which  every  person  to  whom  it  is  convenient  to  assign  a 
special  occupation,  will  have  full  employment  in  that  occu- 
pation.   This  point  is  well  illustrated  by  Mr.  Babbage.* 

"  If  machines  be  kept  working  through  the  twenty-four 
hours,"  (which  is  evidently  the  only  economical  mode  of 
employing  them,)  "  it  is  necessary  that  some  person  shall 
attend  to  admit  the  workmen  at  the  time  they  relieve  each 
other ;  and  whether  the  porter  or  other  servant  so  employed 

*  Page  214  et  seqq. 


admit  one  person  or  twenty,  his  rest  will  be  equally  dis- 
turbed. It  will  also  be  necessary  occasionally  to  adjust  or 
repair  the  machine ;  and  this  can  be  done  much  better  by  a 
workman  accustomed  to  machine-making,  than  by  the  per- 
son who  uses  it.  Now,  since  the  good  performance  and  the 
duration  of  machines  depend,  to  a  very  great  extent,  upon 
correcting  every  shake  or  imperfection  in  their  parts  as  soon 
as  they  appear,  the  prompt  attention  o£  a  workman  resident 
on  the  spot  will  considerably  reduce  the  expenditure  arising 
from  the  wear  and  tear  of  the  machinery.  But  in  the  case 
of  a  single  lace-frame,  or  a  single  loom,  this  would  be  too 
expensive  a  plan.  Here  then  arises  another  circumstance 
which  tends  to  enlarge  the  extent  of  a  factory.  It  ought  to 
consist  of  such  a  number  of  machines  as  shall  occupy  the 
whole  time  of  one  workman  in  keeping  them  in  order :  if 
extended  beyond  that  number,  the  same  principle  of  econ- 
omy would  point  out  the  necessity  of  doubling  or  tripling 
the  number  of  machines,  in  order  to  employ  the  whole  time 
of  two  or  three  skilful  workmen. 

"  When  one  portion  of  the  workmen's  labour  consists  in 
the  exertion  of  mere  physical  force,  as  in  weaving,  and  in 
many  similar  arts,  it  will  soon  occur  to  the  manufacturer, 
that  if  that  part  were  executed  by  a  steam-engine,  the  same 
man  might,  in  the  case  of  weaving,  attend  to  two  or  more 
looms  at  once :  and,  since  we  already  suppose  that  one  or 
more  operative  engineers  have  been  employed,  the  number 
of  looms  may  be  so  arranged  that  their  time  shall  be  fully 
occupied  in  keeping  the  steam-engine  and  the  looms  in 

"  Pursuing  the  same  principles,  the  manufactory  be- 
comes gradually  so  enlarged,  that  the  expense  of  lighting 
during  the  night  amounts  to  a  considerable  sum :  and  as 
there  are  already  attached  to  the  establishment  persons  who 
are  up  all  night,  and  can  therefore  constantly  attend  to  it, 
and  also  engineers  to  make  and  keep  in  repair  any  machi- 
nery, the  addition  of  an  apparatus  for  making  gas  to  light 
the  factory  leads  to  a  new  extension,  at  the  same  time  that 

178  BOOK  I.    CHAPTER  IX.     §1. 

it  contributes,  by  diminishing  the  expense  of  lighting,  and 
the  risk  of  accidents  from  fire,  to  reduce  the  cost  of  manu- 

"  Long  before  a  factory  has  reached  this  extent,  it  will 
have  been  found  necessary  to  establish  an  accountant's 
department,  with  clerks  to  pay  the  workmen,  and  to  see 
that  they  arrive  at  their  stated  times ;  and  this  department 
muBt  be  in  communication  with  the  agents  who  purchase 
the  raw  produce,  and  with  those  who  sell  the  manufactured 
article."  It  will  cost  these .  clerks  and  accountants  little 
more  time  and  trouble  to  pay  a  large  number  of  workmen 
than  a  small  number ;  to  check  the  accounts  of  large  trans- 
actions, than  of  small.  If  the  business  doubled  itself,  it 
would  probably  be  necessary  to  increase,  but  certainly  not 
to  double,  the  number  either  of  accountants,  or  of  buying 
and  selling  agents .  Every  increase  of  business  would 
enable  the  whole  to  be  carried  on  with  a  proportionally 
smaller  amount  of  labour. 

As  a  general  rule,  the  expenses  of  a  business  do  not 
increase  by  any  means  proportionally  to  the  quantity  of  busi- 
ness. Let  us  take  as  an  example,  a  set  of  operations  which 
we  are  accustomed  to  see  carried  on  by  one  great  establish- 
ment, that  of  the  Post  Office.  Suppose  that  the  business, 
let  us  say  only  of  the  London  letter-post,  instead  of  being 
centralized  in  a  single  concern,  were  divided  among  five  or 
six  competing  companies.  Each  of  these  would  be  obliged 
to  maintain  almost  as  large  an  establishment  as  is  now  suf- 
ficient for  the  whole.  Since  each  must  arrange  for  receiving 
and  delivering  letters  in  all  parts  of  the  town,  each  must 
send  letter-carriers  into  every  street,  and  almost  every  alley, 
and  this  too  as  many  times  in  the  day  as  is  now  done  by 
the  Post  Office,  if  the  service  is  to  be  as  well  performed. 
Each  must  have  an  office  for  receiving  letters  in  every  neigh- 
borhood, with  all  subsidiary  arrangements  for  collecting  the 
letters  from  the  different  offices  and  re-distributing  them. 
To  this  must  be  added  the  much  greater  number  of  superior 
officers  who  would  be  required  to  check  and  control  the 


subordinates,  implying  not  only  a  greater  cost  in  salaries  for 
such  responsible  officers,  but  the  necessity,  perhaps,  of  being 
satisfied  in  many  instances  with  an  inferior  standard  of 
qualification,  and  so  failing  in  the  object. 

Whether  or  not  the  advantages  obtained  by  operating 
on  a  large  scale  preponderate  in  any  particular  case  over  the 
more  watchful  attention,  and  greater  regard  to  minor  gains 
and  losses,  usually  found  in  small  establishments,  can  be 
ascertained,  in  a  state  of  free  competition,,  by  an  unfailing 
test  Wherever  there  are  large  and  small  establishments  in 
the  same  business,  that  one  of  the  two  which  in  existing  cir- 
cumstances carries  on  the  production  at  greatest  advantage, 
will  be  able  to  undersell  the  other.  The  power  of  perma- 
nently underselling  can  only,  generally  speaking,  be  derived 
from  increased  effectiveness  of  labour;  and  this,  when 
obtained  by  a  more  extended  division  of  employment,  or  by 
a  classification  tending  to  a  better  economy  of  skill,  always 
implies  a  greater  produce  from  the  same  labour,  and  not 
merely  the  same  produce  from  less  labour :  it  increases  not 
the  surplus  only,  but  the  gross  produce  of  industry.  If  an 
increased  quantity  of  the  particular  article  is  not  required, 
and  part  of  the  labourers  in  consequence  lose  their  employ- 
ment, the  capital  which  maintained  and  employed  them  is 
also  set  at  liberty ;  and  the  general  produce  of  the  country 
is  increased,  by  some  other  application  of  their  labour. 

Another  of  the  causes  of  large  manufactories,  however, 
is  .the  introduction  of  processes  requiring  expensive  machi- 
nery. Expensive  machinery  supposes  a  large  capital ;  and 
is  not  resorted  to  except  with  the  intention  of  producing, 
and  the  hope  of  selling,  as  much  of  the  article  as  comes  up 
to  the  full  powers  of  the  machine.  For  both  these  reasons, 
wherever  costly  machinery  is  used,  the  large  system  of  pro- 
duction is  inevitable.  But  the  power  of  underselling  is  not 
in  this  case  so  unerring  a  test  as  in  the  former,  of  the  bene- 
ficial effect  on  the  total  production  of  the  community.  The 
power  of  underselling  does  not  depend  on  the  absolute 
increase  of  produce,  but  on  its  bearing  an  increased  propor- 

180  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  IX.     1 1. 

tion  to  the  expenses :  which,  as  was  shown  in  a  former 
chapter,*  it  may  do,  consistently  with  even  a  diminution 
of  the  gross  annual  produce.  By  the  adoption  of  machine- 
ry, a  circulating  capital,  which  was  perpetually  consumed 
and  reproduced,  has  been  converted  into  a  fixed  capital, 
requiring  only  a  small  annual  expense  to  keep  it  up :  and  a 
much  smaller  produce  will  sufiice  for  merely  covering  that 
expense,  and  replacing  the  remaining  circulating  capital  of 
the  producer.  The  machinery  therefore  might  answer  per- 
fectly well  to  the  manufacturer,  and  enable  him  to  under- 
sell his  competitors,  though  the  effect  on  the  production  of 
the  country  might  be  not  an  increase  but  a  diminution.  It 
is  true,  the  article  will  be  sold  cheaper,  and  therefore,  of  that 
single  article,  there  will  probably  be  not  a  smaller,  but  a 
greater  quantity  sold  ;  since  the  loss  to  the  community  col- 
lectively has  fallen  upon  the  work-people,  and  they  are  not 
the  principal  customers,  if  customers  at  all,  of  most  branches 
of  manufacture.  But  though  that  particular  branch  of 
industry  may  extend  itself,  it  will  be  by  replenishing  its 
diminished  circulating  capital  from  that  of  the  community 
generally;  and  if  the  labourers  employed  in  that  depart- 
ment escape  loss  of  employment,  it  is  because  the  loss  will 
spread  itself  over  the  labouring  people  at  large.  If  any  of 
them  are  reduced  to  the  condition  of  unproductive  labour- 
ers, supported  by  voluntary  or  legal  charity,  the  gross  prod- 
uce of  the  country  is  to  that  extent  permanently  diminished, 
until  the  ordinary  progress  of  accumulation  makes  it  up : 
but  if  the  condition  of  the  labouring  classes  enables  them  to 
bear  a  temporary  reduction  of  wages,  and  the  superseded 
labourers  become  absorbed  in  other  employments,  their 
labour  is  still  productive,  and  the  breach  in  the  gross  prod- 
uce of  the  community  is  repaired,  though  not  the  detriment 
to  the  labourers.  I  have  restated  this  exposition,  which  has 
already  been  made  in  a  former  place,  to  impress  more 
strongly  the  truth,  that  a  mode  of  production  does  not  of 
necessity  increase  the  productive  effect  of  the  collective 

*  Supra,  chap.  vi.  p.  132. 


labour  of  a  community,  because  it  enables  a  particular  com- 
modity to  be  sold  cheaper.  The  one  consequence  generally 
accompanies  the  other,  but  not  necessarily.  I  will  not  here 
repeat  the  reasons  I  formerly  gave,  nor  anticipate  those 
which  will  be  given  more  fully  hereafter,  for  deeming  the 
exception  to  be  rather  a  case  abstractedly  possible,  than  one 
which  is  frequently  realized  in  fact. 

A  considerable  part  of  the  saving  of  labour  effected  by 
substituting  the  large  system  of  production  for  the  small,  is 
the  saving  in  the  labour  of  the  capitalists  themselves.  If  a 
hundred  producers  with  small  capitals  carry  on  separately 
the  same  business,  the  superintendence  of  each  concern  will 
probably  require  the  whole  attention  of  the  person  conduct- 
ing it,  sufficiently  at  least  to  hinder  his  time  or  thoughts 
from  being  disposable  for  anything  else :  while  a  single 
manufacturer  possessing  a  capital  equal  to  the  sum  of 
theirs,  with  ten  or  a  dozen  clerks,  could  conduct  the  whole 
of  their  amount  of  business,  and  have  leisure  too  for  other 
occupations.  The  small  capitalist,  it  is  true,  generally  com- 
bines with  the  business  of  direction  some  portion  of  the 
details,  which  the  other  leaves  to  his  subordinates :  the 
small  farmer  follows  his  own  plough,  the  small  tradesman 
serves  in  his  own  shop,  the  small  weaver  plies  his  own 
loom.  But  in  this  very  union  of  functions  there  is,  in  a 
great  proportion  of  cases,  a  want  of  economy.  The  princi- 
pal in  the  concern  is  either  wasting,  in  the  routine  of  a 
business,  qualities  suitable  for  the  direction  of  it,  or  he  is 
only  fit  for  the  former,  and  then  the  latter  will  be  ill  done. 
I  must  observe  however  that  I  do  not  attach,  to  this  saving 
of  labour,  the  importance  often  ascribed  to  it.  There  is  un- 
doubtedly much  more  labour  expended  in  the  superinten- 
dence of  many  small  capitals  than  in  that  of  one  large  cap- 
ital. For  this  labour  however  the  small  producers  have 
generally  a  full  compensation,  in  the  feeling  of  being  their 
own  masters,  and  not  servants  of  an  employer.  It  may  be 
said,  that  if  they  value  this  independence  they  will  submit 
to  pay  a  price  for  it,  and  to  sell  at  the  reduced  rates  occa- 

182  BOOK  I.     CHAPTEE  IX.     §2. 

sioned  by  the  competition  of  the  great  dealer  or  manufac* 
turer.  But  they  cannot  always,  do  this  and  continue  to 
gain  a  living.  They  thus  gradually  disappear  from  society. 
After  having  consumed  their  little  capital  in  prolonging  the 
unsuccessful  struggle,  they  either  sink  into  the  condition  of 
hired  labourers,  or  became  dependent  on  others  for  support. 

§  2.  Production  on  a  large  scale  is  greatly  promoted 
by  the  practice  of  forming  a  large  capital  by  the  combina- 
tion of  many  small  contributions ;  or,  in  other  words,  by 
the  formation  of  joint  stock  companies.  The  advantaged 
of  the  joint  Btock  principle  are  numerous  and  important. 

In  the  first  place,  many  undertakings  require  an  amount 
of  capital  beyond  the  means  of  the  richest  individual  or  pri- 
vate partnership.  No  individual  could  have  made  a  rail- 
way from  London  to  Liverpool ;  it  is  doubtful  if  any  indi- 
vidual could  even  work  the  traffic  on  it,  now  when  it  is 
made.  The  government  indeed  could  have  done  both  ;  arid 
in  countries  where  the  practice  of  cooperation  is  only  in  the 
earlier  stages  of  its  growth,  the  government  can  alone  be 
looked  to  for  any  of  those  works  for  which  a  great  combi- 
nation of  means  is  requisite ;  because  it  can  obtain  those 
means  by  compulsory  taxation,  and  is  already  accustomed 
to  the  conduct  of  large  operations.  For  reasons,  however, 
which  are  tolerably  well  known,  and  of  which  we  shall 
treat  fully  hereafter,  government  agency  for  the  conduct  of 
industrial  operations  is  generally  one  of  the  least  eligible  of 
resources,  when  any  other  is  available. 

Next,  there  are  undertakings  which  individuals  are  not 
absolutely  incapable  of  performing,  but  which  they  cannot 
perform  on  the  scale  and  with  the  continuity  which  are  ever 
more  and  more  required  by  the  exigencies  of  a  Bociety  in  an 
advancing  state.  Individuals  are  quite  capable  of  despatch- 
ing ships  from  England  to  any  or  every  part  of  the  world, 
to  carry  passengers  and  letters  ;  the  thing  was  done  before 
joint  stock  companies  for  the  purpose  were  heard  of.  But 
when,  from  the  increase  of  population  and  transactions,  aa 


well  as  of  means  of  payment-,  the  public  will  no  longer  con* 
tent  themselves  with  occasional  opportunities,  bnt  require 
the  certainty  that  packets  shall  start  regularly,  for  some 
places  once  or  even  twice  a  day,  for  others  once  a  week,  for 
others  that  a  steam  ship  of  great  size  and  expensive  con- 
struction shall  depart  on  fixed  days  twice  in  each  month,  it 
is  evident  that  to  afford  an  assurance  of  keeping  up  with 
punctuality  such  a  circle  of  costly  operations,  requires  a 
much  larger  capital  and  a  much  larger  staff  of  qualified  sub- 
ordinates than  can  be  commanded  by  an  individual  capital- 
ist.  There  are  other  cases,  again,  in  which  though  the  busi- 
ness might  be  perfectly  well  transacted  with  small  or  mod- 
erate capitals,  the  guarantee  of  a  great  subscribed  stock  is 
necessary  or  desirable  as  a  security  to  the  public  for  the 
fulfilment  of  pecuniary  engagements.  This  is  especially  the 
case  when  the  nature  of  the  business  requires  that  numbers 
of  persons  should  be  willing  to  trust  the  concern  with  their 
money :  as  in  the  business  of  banking,  and  that  of  insur- 
ance :  to  bpth  of  which  the  joint  stock  principle  is  emi- 
nently adapted.  It  is  an  instance  of  the  folly  atid  jobbery 
of  the  rulers  of  mankind,  that  until  a  late  period  the  joint 
stock  principle,  as  a  general  resort,  was  in  this  country  inter- 
dicted by  law  to  these  two  modes  of  business ;  to  banking 
altogether,  and  to  insurance  in  the  department  of  sea  risks ; 
in  order  to  bestow  a  lucrative  monopoly  on  particular  estab- 
lishments which  the  government  was  pleased  exceptionally 
to  license,  namely  the  Bank  of  England,  and  two  insurance 
companies,  the  London  and  the  Royal  Exchange. 

These  are  some  of  the  advantages  of  joint  stock  over 
individual  management.  But  if  we  look  to  the  other  side 
of  the  question,  we  shall  find  that  individual  management 
has  also  very  great  advantages  over  joint  stock.  The  chief 
of  these  is  the  much  keener  interest  of  the  managers  in  the 
success  of  the  undertaking. 

The  administration  of  a  joint  stock  association  is,  in  the 
main,  administration  by  hired  servants.  Even  the  commit- 
tee, or  board  of  directors,  who  are  supposed  to  superintend 

184:  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     §2. 

the  management,  and  who  do  really  appoint  and  remove 
the  managers,  have  no  pecuniary  interest  in  the  good  work- 
ing of  the  concern  beyond  the  shares  they  individually  hold, 
which  are  always  a  very  small  part  of  the  capital  of  the  as* 
sociation,  and  in  general  but  small  part  of  the  fortunes  of 
the  directors  themselves ;  and  the  part  they  take  in  the 
management  usually  divides  their  time  with  many  other 
occupations,  of  as  great  or  greater  importance  to  their  own 
interest ;  the  business  being  the  principal  concern  of  no  one 
except  those  who  are  hired  to  carry  it  on.  But  experience 
shows,  and  proverbs,  the  expression  of  popular  experience, 
attest,  how  inferior  is  the  quality  of  hired  servants,  com- 
pared with  the  ministration  of  those  personally  interested 
in  the  work,  and  how  indispensable,  when  hired  service 
must  be  employed,  is  "  the  master's  eye  "  to  watch  over  it. 
The  successful  conduct  of  an  industrial  enterprise  re- 
quires two  quite  distinct  qualifications :  fidelity,  and  zeal. 
The  fidelity  of  the  hired  managers  of  a  concern  it  is  possible 
to  secure.  When  their  work  admits  of  being  reduced  to  a 
definite  set  of  rules,  the  violation  of  these  is  a  matter  on 
which  conscience  cannot  easily  blind  itself,  and  on  which 
responsibility  may  be  enforced  by  the  loss  of  employment. 
But  to  carry  on  a  great  business  successfully,  requires  a 
hundred  things  which,  as  they  cannot  be  defined  before- 
hand, it  is  impossible  to  convert  into  distinct  and  positive 
obligations.  First  and  principally,  it  requires  that  the 
directing  mind  should  be  incessantly  occupied  with  the 
subject ;  should  be  continually  laying  schemes  by  which 
greater  profit  may  be  obtained,  or  expense  saved.  This  in- 
tensity of  interest  in  the  subject  it  is  seldom  to  be  expected 
that  any  one  should  feel,  who  is  conducting  a  business  as 
the  hired  servant  and  for  the  profit  of  another.  There  are 
experiments  in  human  affairs  which  are  conclusive  on  the 
point.  Look  at  the  whole  class  of  rulers,  and  ministers  of 
state.  The  work  they  are  entrusted  with,  is  among  the 
most  interesting  and  exciting  of  all  occupations ;  the  per- 
sonal share  which  they  themselves  reap  of  the  national 


benefits  or  misfortunes  which  befal  the  state  under  their 
rule,  is  far  from  trifling,  and  the  rewards  and  punishments 
which  they  may  expect  from  public  estimation  are  of  the 
plain  and  palpable  kind  which  are  most  keenly  felt  and 
most  widely  appreciated.  Yet  how  rare  a  thing  is  it  to  find 
a  statesman  in  whom  mental  indolence  is  not  stronger  than 
all  these  inducements.  How  infinitesimal  is  the  proportion 
who  trouble  themselves  to  form,  or  even  to  attend  to,  plans 
of  public  improvement,  unless  when  it  is  made  still  more 
troublesome  to  them  to  remain  inactive  ;  or  who  have  any 
other  real  desire  than  that  of  rubbing  on,  so  as  to  escape 
general  blame.  On  a  smaller  scale,  all  who  have  ever  em- 
ployed hired  labour  have  had  ample  experience  of  the 
efforts  made  to  give  as  little  labour  in  exchange  for  the 
wages,  as  is  compatible  with  not  being  turned  off.  The 
universal  neglect  by  domestic  servants  of  their  employer's 
interests,  wherever  these  are  not  protected  by  some  fixed 
rule,  is  matter  of  common  remark  ;  unless  where  long  con- 
tinuance in  the  same  service,  and  reciprocal  good  offices, 
have  produced  either  personal  attachment,  or  some  feeling 
of  a  common  interest. 

Another  of  the  disadvantages  of  joint  stock  concerns, 
which  is  in  some  degree  common  to  all  concerns  on  a  large 
scale,  is  disregard  of  small  gains  and  small  savings.  In  the 
management  of  a  great  capital  and  great  transactions,  espe- 
cially when  the  managers  have  not  much  interest  in  it  of 
their  own,  small  suras  are  apt  to  be  counted  for  next  to 
nothing;  they  never  seem  worth  the  care  and  trouble 
which  it  costs  to  attend  to  them,  and  the  credit  of  liberality 
and  openhandedness  is  cheaply  bought  by  a  disregard  of 
such  trifling  considerations.  But  small  profits  and  small 
expenses,  often  repeated,  amount  to  great  gains  and  losses : 
and  of  this  a  large  capitalist  is  often  a  sufficiently  good  cal- 
culator to  be  practically  aware ;  and  to  arrange  his  busi- 
ness on  a  system,  which  if  enforced  by  a  sufficiently  vigilant 
superintendence,  precludes  the  possibility  of  the  habitual 
waste,  otherwise  incident  to  a  great  business.    But  the 

186  BOOK  I.     CgAPTER  IX.     §2. 

managers  of  a  joint  stock  concern  seldom  devote  themselves 
sufficiently  to  the  work,  to  enforce  unremittingly,  even  if 
introduced,  through  every  detail  of  the  business,  a  really 
economical  system. 

From  considerations  of  this  nature,  Adam  Smith  was  led 
to  enunciate  as  a  principle,  that  joint  stock  companies  could 
never  be  expected  to  maintain  themselves  without  an  exclu- 
sive privilege,  except  in  branches  of  business  which  like 
banking,  insurance,  and  some  others,  admit  of  being,  in  a 
considerable  degree,  reduced  to  fixed  rules.  This  however 
is  one  of  those  over-statements  of  a  true  principle,  often  met 
with  in  Adam  Smith.  In  his  days  there  were  few  instances 
of  joint  stock  companies  which  had  been  permanently  suc- 
cessful without  a  monopoly,  except  the  class  of  cases  which 
he  referred  to  ;  but  since  his  time  there  have  been  many ; 
and  the  regular  increase  both  of  the  spirit  of  combination 
and  of  the  ability  to  combine,  will  doubtless  produce  many 
more.  Adam  Smith  fixed  his  observation  too  exclusively 
on  the  superior  energy  and  more  unremitting  attention 
brought  to  a  business  in  which  the  whole  stake  and  the 
whole  gain  belong  to  the  persons  conducting  it ;  and  he 
overlooked  various  countervailing  considerations  which  go 
a  great  way  towards  neutralizing  even  that  great  point  of 

Of  these  one  of  the  most  important  is  that  which  relates 
to  the  intellectual  and  active  qualifications  of  the  directing 
head.  The  stimulus  of  individual  interest  is  some  security 
for  exertion,  but  exertion  is  of  little  avail  if  the  intelligence 
exerted  is  of  an  inferior  order,  which  it  must  necessarily  be 
in  the  majority  of  concerns  carried  on  by  the  persons  chiefly 
interested  in  them.  Where  the  concern  is  large,  and  can 
afford  a  remuneration  sufficient  to  attract  a  class  of  candi- 
dates superior  to  the  common  average,  it  is  possible  to  select 
for  the  general  management,  and  for  all  the  skilled  employ- 
ments of  a  subordinate  kind,  persons  of  a  degree  of  acquire- 
ment and  cultivated  intelligence  which  more  than  compen- 
sates for  their  inferior  interest  in  the  result.    Their  greatej? 


perspicacity  enables  them,  with  even  a  part  of  their  minds, 
to  see  probabilities  of  advantage  which  never  occur  to  the 
ordinary  run  of  men  by  the  continued  exertion  of  the  whole 
of  theirs ;  and  their  superior  knowledge,  and  habitual  recti- 
tude of  perception  and  of  judgment,  guard  them  against 
blunders,  the  fear  of  which  would  prevent  the  others  from 
hazarding  their  interests  in  any  attempt  out  of  the  ordinary 

It  must  be  further  remarked,  that  it  is  not  a  necessary 
consequence  of  joint  stock  management,  that  the  persons 
employed,  whether  in  superior  or  in  subordinate  offices, 
should  be  paid  wholly  by  fixed  salaries.  There  are  modes 
of  connecting  more  or  less  intimately  the  interest  of  the 
employes  with  the  pecuniary  success  of  the  concern.  There 
is  a  long  series  of  intermediate  positions,  between  working 
wholly  on  one's  own  account,  and  working  by  the  day, 
week,  or  year  for  an  invariable  payment.  Even  in  the  case 
of  ordinary  unskilled  labour,  there  is  such  a  thing  as  task- 
work, or  working  by  the  piece :  and  the  superior  efficiency 
of  this  is  so  well  known,  that  judicious  employers  always 
resort  to  it  when  the  work  admits  of  being  put  out  in 
definite  portions,  without  the  necessity  of  too  troublesome 
a  surveillance  to  guard  against  inferiority  in  the  execution. 
In  the  case  of  the  managers  of  joint  stock  companies,  and 
of  the  superintending  and  controlling  officers  in  many  pri- 
vate establishments,  it  is  a  common  enough  practice  to  con- 
nect their  pecuniary  interest  with  the  interest  of  their 
employers,  by  giving  them  part  of  their  remuneration  in 
the  form  of  a  percentage  on  the  profits.  The  personal 
interest  thus  given  to  hired  servants  is  not  comparable  in 
intensity  to  that  of  the  owner  of  the  capital ;  but  it  is  suf- 
ficient to  be  a  very  material  stimulus  to  zeal  and  careful- 
ness, and,  when  added  to  the  advantage  of  superior  intelli* 
gence,  often  raises  the  quality  of  the  service  much  above 
that  which  the  generality  of  masters  are  capable  of  render- 
ing to  themselves.  The  ulterior  extensions  of  which  this 
principle  of  remuneration  is  susceptible,  being  of  great 

188  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     §3. 

social  as  well  as  economical  importance,  will  be  more  par- 
ticularly adverted  to  in  a  subsequent  stage  of  the  present 

As  I  have  already  remarked  of  large  establishments 
generally,  when  compared  with  small  ones,  whenever  com- 
petition is  free  its  results  will  show  wThether  individual  or 
joint  stock  agency  is  best  adapted  to  the  particular  case, 
since  that  which  is  most  efficient  and  most  economical  will 
always  in  the  end  succeed  in  underselling  the  other. 

§  3.  The  possibility  of  substituting  the  large  system  of 
production  for  the  small,  depends,  of  course,  in  the  first 
place,  on  the  extent  of  the  market.  The  large  system  can 
only  be  advantageous  when  a  large  amount  of  business  is 
to  be  done :  it  implies,  therefore,  either  a  populous  and 
flourishing  community,  or  a  great  opening  for  exportation. 
Again,  this  as  well  as  every  other  change  in  the  system  of 
production  is  greatly  favoured  by  a  progressive  condition 
of  capital.  It  is  chiefly  when  the  capital  of  a  country  is 
receiving  a  great  annual  increase,  that  there  is  a  large 
amount  of  capital  seeking  for  investment :  and  a  new  enter- 
prise is  much  sooner  and  more  easily  entered  upon  by  new 
capital,  than  by  withdrawing  capital  from  existing  employ- 
ments. The  change  is  also  much  facilitated  by  the  exist- 
ence of  large  capitals  in  few  hands.  It  is  true  that  the 
same  amount  of  capital  can  be  raised  by  bringing  together 
many  small  sums.  But  this  (besides  that  it  is  not  equally 
well  suited  to  all  branches  of  industry)  supposes  a  much 
greater  degree  of  commercial  confidence  and  enterprise  dif- 
fused through  the  community,  and  belongs  altogether  to  a 
more  advanced  stage  of  industrial  progress. 

In  the  countries  in  which  there  are  the  largest  markets, 
the  widest  diffusion  of  commercial  confidence  and  enter- 
prise, the  greatest  annual  increase  of  capital,  and  the  great- 
est number  of  large  capitals  owned  by  individuals,  there  is 
a  tendency  to  substitute  more  and  more  in  one  branch  of 
industry  after  another,  large  establishments  for  small  ones. 


In  England,  the  chief  type  of  all  these  characteristics,  there 
is  a  perpetual  growth  not  only  of  large  manufacturing  estab- 
lishments, but  also,  wherever  a  sufficient  number  of  pur- 
chasers are  assembled,  of  shops  and  warehouses  for  conduct- 
ing retail  business  on  a  large  scale.  These  are  almost 
always  able  to  undersell  the  smaller  tradesmen,  partly,  it  is 
understood,  by  means  of  division  of  labour,  and  the  economy 
occasioned  by  limiting  the  employment  of  skilled  agency  to 
cases  where  skill  is  required  ;  and  partly,  no  doubt,  by  the 
saving  of  labour  arising  from  the  great  scale  of  the  transac- 
tions ;  as  it  costs  no  more  time,  and  not  much  more  exertion 
of  mind,  to  make  a  large  purchase,  for  example,  than  a 
small  one,  and  very  much  less  than  to  make  a  number  of 
small  ones. 

With  a  view  merely  to  production,  and  to  the  greatest 
efficiency  of  labour,  this  change  is  wholly  beneficial.  In 
some  cases  it  is  attended  with  drawbacks,  rather  social  than 
economical,  the  nature  of  which  has  been  already  hinted  at. 
But  whatever  disadvantages  may  be  supposed  to  attend  on 
the  change  from  a  small  to  a  large  system  of  production, 
they  are  not  applicable  to  the  change  from  a  large  to  a  still 
larger.  When,  in  any  employment,  the  regime  of  indepen- 
dent small  producers  has  either  never  been  possible,  or  has 
been  superseded,  and  the  system  of  many  work-people  under 
one  management  has  become  fully  established,  from  that 
time  any  further  enlargement  in  the  scale  of  production  is 
generally  an  unqualified  benefit.  It  is  obvious,  for  exam- 
ple, how  great  an  economy  of  labour  would  be  obtained  if 
London  were  supplied  by  a  single  gas  or  water  company 
instead  of  the  existing  plurality.  While  there  are  even  as 
many  as  two,  this  implies  double  establishments  of  all  sorts, 
when  one  only,  with  a  small  increase,  could  probably  per- 
form the  whole  operation  equally  well ;  double  sets  of  ma- 
-  chinery  and  works,  when  the  whole  of  the  gas  or  water 
required  could  generally  be  produced  by  one  set  only  ;  even 
double  sets  of  pipes,  if  the  companies  did  not  prevent  this 
needless  expense  by  agreeing  upon  a  division  of  the  terrp 

190  BOOK- 1.     CHAPTER  IX.     §4. 

tory.  Were  there  only  one  establishment,  it  could  make 
lower  charges,  consistently  with  obtaining  the  rate  of  profit 
now  realized.  But  would  it  do  so  ?  Even  if  it  did  not,  the 
community  in  the  aggregate  would  still  be  a  gainer ;  since 
the  shareholders  are  a  part  of  the  community,  and  they 
would  obtain  higher  profits  while  the  consumers  paid  only 
the  same.  It  is,  however,  an  error  to  suppose  that  the 
prices  are  ever  permanently  kept  down  by  the  competition 
of  these  companies.  Where  competitors  are  so  few,  they 
always  end  by  agreeing  not  to  compete.  They  may  run  a 
race  of  cheapness  to  ruin  a  new  candidate,  but  as  soon  as  he 
has  established  his  footing  they  come  to  terms  with  him. 
"When,  therefore,  a  business  of  real  public  importance  can 
only  be  carried  on  advantageously  upon  so  large  a  scale  as 
to  render  the  liberty  of  competition  almost  illusory,  it  is  an 
unthrifty  dispensation  of  the  public  resources  that  several 
costly  sets  of  arrangements  should  be  kept  up  for  the  pur- 
pose of  rendering  to  the  community  this  one  service.  It  is 
much  better  to  treat  it  at  once  as  a  public  function ;  and  if 
it  be  not  such  as  the  government  itself  could  beneficially 
undertake,  it  should  be  made  over  entire  to  the  company  or 
association  which  will  perform  it  on  the  best  terms  for  the 
public.  In  the  case  of  railways,  for  example,  no  one  can 
desire  to  see  the  enormous  waste  of  capital  and  land  (not  to 
speak  of  increased  nuisance)  involved  in  the  construction  of 
a  second  railway  to  connect  the  same  places  already  united 
by  an  existing  one ;  while  the  two  would  not  do  the  work 
better  than  it  could  be  done  by  one,  and  after  a  short  time 
would  probably  be  amalgamated.  Only  one  such  line 
ought  to  be  permitted,  but  the  control  over  that  line  never 
ought  to  be  parted  with  by  the  State,  unless  on  a  temporary 
concession,  as  in  France ;  and  the  vested  right  which  Par- 
liament has  allowed  to  be  acquired  by  the  existing  companies, 
like  all  other  proprietary  rights  which  are  opposed  to  public 
utility,  is  morally  valiU  only  as  a  claim  to  compensation. 

§  4.    The  question  between  the  large  and  the  small  sys- 


terns  of  production  as  applied  to  agriculture — between  large 
and  small  farming,  the  grande  and  the  petite  culture — 
stands,  in  many  respects,  on  different  grounds  from  the  gen- 
eral question  between  great  and  small  industrial  establish- 
ments. In  its  social  aspect,  and  as  an  element  in  the 
Distribution  of  Wealth,  this  question  will  occupy  us  here- 
after :  but  even  as  a  question  of  production,  the  superiority 
of  the  large  system  in  agriculture  is  by  no  means  so  clearly 
established  as  in  manufactures. 

I  have  already  remarked,  that  the  operations  of  agricul- 
ture are  little  susceptible  of  benefit  from  the  division  of 
labour.  There  is  but  little  separation  of  employments  even 
on  the  largest  farm.  The  same  persons  may  not  in  general 
attend  to  the  live  stock,  to  the  marketing,  and  to  the  culti- 
vation of  the  soil ;  but  much  beyond  that  primary  and  sim- 
ple classification  the  subdivision  is  not  carried.  The  com- 
bination of  labour  of  which  agriculture  is  susceptible,  is 
chiefly  that  which  Mr.  "Wakefield  terms  Simple  Co-opera- 
tion ;  several  persons  helping  one  another  in  the  same  work, 
at  the  same  time  and  place.  But  I  confess  it  seems  to 
me  that  this  able  writer  attributes  more  importance  to  that 
kind  of  co-operation,  in  reference  to  agriculture  properly  so 
called,  than  it  deserves.  None  of  the  common  farming 
operations  require  much  of  it.  There  is  no  particular 
advantage  in  setting  a  great  number  of  people  to  work 
together  in  ploughing  or  digging  or  sowing  the  same  field, 
or  even  in  mowing  or  reaping  it  unless  time  presses.  A 
single  family  can  generally  supply  all  the  combination  of 
labour  necessary  for  these  purposes.  And  in  the  works  in 
which  an  union  of  many  efforts  is  really  needed,  there  is 
seldom  found  any  impracticability  in  obtaining  it  where 
farms  are  small. 

The  waste  of  productive  power  by  subdivision  of  the 
land  often  amounts  to  a  great  evil,  but  this  applies  chiefly 
to  a  subdivision  so  minute,  that  the  cultivators  have  not 
enough  land  to  occupy  their  time.  Up  to  that  point  the 
same  principles  which  recommend  large  manufactories  are 

192  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX     §4.  ? 

applicable  to  agriculture.  For  the  greatest  productive 
efficiency,  it  is  generally  desirable  (though  even  this  propo- 
sition must  be  received  with  qualifications)  that  no  family 
who  have  any  land,  should  have  less  than  they  could  culti- 
vate, or  than  will  fully  employ  their  cattle  and  tools. 
These,  however,  are  not  the  dimensions  of  large  farms,  but 
of  what  are  reckoned  in  England  very  small  ones.  The 
large  farmer  has  some  advantage  in  the  article  of  build- 
ings'. It  does  not  cost  so  much  to  house  a  great  number  of 
cattle  in  one  building,  as  to  lodge  them  equally  well  in  sev- 
eral buildings.  There  is  also  some  advantage  in  imple- 
ments. A  small  farmer  is  not  so  likely  to  possess  expensive 
instruments.  But  the  principal  agricultural  implements, 
even  when  of  the  best  construction,  are  not  expensive.  It 
may  not  answer  to  a  small  farmer  to  own  a  threshing  ma- 
chine, for  the  small  quantity  of  corn  he  has  to  thresh  ;  but 
there  is  no  reason  why  such  a  machine  should  not  in  every 
neighbourhood  be  owned  in  common,  or  provided  by  some 
person  to  whom  the  others  pay  a  consideration  for  its  use  ; 
especially  as,  when  worked  by  steam,  they  are  so  construct- 
ed as  to  be  moveable.*  The  large  farmer  can  make  some 
saving  in  cost  of  carriage.  There  is  nearly  as  much  trouble 
in  carrying  a  small  portion  of  produce  to  market,  as  a  much 
greater  produce ;  in  bringing  home  a  small,  as  a  much 
larger  quantity  of  manure,  and  articles  of  daily  consump- 
tion. There  is  also  the  greater  cheapness  of  buying  things 
in  large  quantities.  These  various  advantages  must  count 
for  something,  but  it  does  not  seem  that  they  ought  to 
count  for  very  much.  In  England,  for  some  generations, 
there  has  been  little  experience  of  small  farms ;  but  in  Ire- 
land the  experience  has  been  ample,  not  merely  under  the 
worst  but  under  the  best  management ;  and  the  highest  Irish 

*  The  observations  in  the  text  may  hereafter  require  some  degree  of  modifi- 
cation from  inventions  such  as  the  steam  plough  and  the  reaping  machine.  The 
effect,  however,  of  these  improvements  on  the  relative  advantages  of  large  and 
small  farms,  will  not  depend  on  the  efficiency  of  the  instruments,  but  on  their 
costliness.  I  see  no  reason  to  expect  that  this  will  be  such  as  to  make  them 
inaccessible  to  small  farmers,  or  combinations  of  small  farmers. 


authorities  may  be  cited  in  opposition  to  the  opinion  which 
on  this  subject  commonly  prevails  in  England.  Mr.  Blacker, 
for  example,  one  of  the  most  experienced  agriculturists  and 
successful  improvers  in  the  North  of  Ireland,  whose  expe- 
rience was  chiefly  in  the  best  cultivated,  which  are  also 
the  most  minutely  divided  parts  of  the  country,  was  of 
opinion,  that  tenants  holding  farms  not  exceeding  from  five 
to  eight  or  ten  acres,  could  live  comfortably  and  pay  as  high 
a  rent  as  any  large  farmer  whatever.  "I  am  firmly  per- 
suaded," (he  says,*)  "  that  the  small  farmer  who  holds  his 
own  plough  and  digs  his  own  ground,  if  he  follows  a  proper 
rotation  of  crops,  and  feeds  his  cattle  in  the  house,  can 
undersell  the  large  farmer,  or  in  other  words  can  pay  a  rent 
which  the  other  cannot  afford ;  and  in  this  I  am  confirmed  by 
the  opinion  of  many  practical  men  who  have  well  considered 
the  subject.  .  .  The  English  farmer  of  TOO  to  800  acres  is  a 
kind  of  man  approaching  to  what  is  known  by  the  name  of 
a  gentleman  farmer.  He  must  have  his  horse  to  ride,  and 
his  gig,  and  perhaps  an  overseer  to  attend  to  his  labourers ; 
he  certainly  cannot  superintend  himself  the  labour  going  on 
in  a  farm  of  800  acres."  After  a  few  other  remarks,  he 
adds,  "  Besides  all  these  drawbacks,  which  the  small  farmer 
knows  little  about,  there  is  the  great  expense  of  carting  out 
the  manure  from  the  homestead  to  such  a  great  distance, 
and  again  carting  home  the  crop.  A  single  horse  will  con- 
sume the  produce  of  more  land  than  would  feed  a  small 
farmer  and  his  wife  and  two  children.  And  what  is  more 
than  all,  the  large  farmer  says  to  his  labourers,  go  to  your 
work ;  but  when  the  small  farmer  has  occasion  to  hire 
them,  he  says,  come  ;  the  intelligent  reader  will,  I  dare  say, 
understand  the  difference." 

One  of  the  objections  most  urged  against  small  farms  is, 
that  they  do  not  and  cannot  maintain,  proportionally  to 
their  extent,  60  great  a  number  of  cattle  as  large  farms,  and 
that  this  occasions  such  a  deficiency  of  manure,  that  a  soil 

*  Prize  Essay  on  the  Management  of  Landed  Property  in  Ireland,  by  Wil- 
liam Blacker,  Esq.  (IBS?,)  p.  23. 

194  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  IX.     §4. 

much  subdivided  must  always  be  impoverished.  It  will  be 
found,  however,  that  subdivision  only  produces  this  effect 
when  it  throws  the  land  into  the  hands  of  cultivators  so 
poor  as  not  to  possess  the  amount  of  live  stock  suitable  to 
the  size  of  their  farms.  A  small  farm  and  a  badly  stocked 
farm  are  not  synonymous.  To  make  the  comparison  fairly, 
we  must  suppose  the  same  amount  of  capital  which  is  pos- 
sessed by  the  large  farmers  to  be  disseminated  among  the 
small  ones.  When  this  condition,  or  even  any  approach  to 
it,  exists,  and  when  stall  feeding  is  practised  (and  stall  feed- 
ing now  begins  to  be  considered  good  economy  even  on 
large  farms),  experience,  far  from  bearing  out  the  assertion 
that  small  farming  is  unfavourable  to  the  multiplication  of 
cattle,  conclusively  establishes  the  very  reverse.  The  abun- 
dance of  cattle,  and  copious  use  of  manure,  on  the  small 
farms  of  Flanders,  are  the  most  striking  features  in  that 
Flemish  agriculture  which  is  the  admiration  of  all  com- 
petent judges,  whether  in  England  or  on  the  Continent.* 
■  ■   -         -  i  ■ 

*  "  The  number  of  beasts  fed  on  a  farm  of  which  the  whole  is  arable  land," 
(says  the  elaborate  and  intelligent  treatise  on  Flemish  Husbandry,  from  personal 
observation  and  the  best  sources,  published  in  the  Library  of  the  Society  for  the 
Diffusion  of  Useful  Knowledge,)  "  is  surprising  to  those  who  are  not  acquainted 
with  the  mode  in  which  the  food  is  prepared  for  the  cattle.  A  beast  for  every 
three  acres  of  land  is  a  common  proportion,  and  in  very  small  occupations  where 
much  spade  husbandry  is  used,  the  proportion  is  still  greater.  After  comparing 
the  accounts  given  in  a  variety  of  places  and  situations  of  the  average  quantity 
of  milk  which  a  cow  gives  when  fed  in  the  stall,  the  result  is,  that  it  greatly  ex- 
ceeds that  of  our  best  dairy  farms,  and  the  quantity  of  butter  made  from  a  given 
quantity  of  milk  is  also  greater.  It  appears  astonishing  that  the  occupier  of  only 
ten  or  twelve  acres  of  light  arable  land  should  be  able  to  maintain  four  or  five 
cows,  but  the  fact  is  notorious  in  the  Waes.  country."    (pp.  59,  60.) 

This  subject  is  treated  very  intelligently  in  the  work  of  M.  Passy,  "Des 
Systemes  de  Culture  et  de  leur  Influence  sur  TEconomie  Sociale,"  one  of  the 
most  impartial  discussions,  as  between  the  two  systems,  which  has  yet  appeared 
in  France. 

"  Sans  nul  doute,  c'est  TAngleterre  qui,  a  superficie  egale,  nourrit  le  plus 
d'animaux ;  la  Hollande  et  quelques  parties  de  la  Lombardie  pourraient  seules 
lui  disputer  oet  avantage :  mais  est-ce  1&  un  r£sultat  des  formes  de  Pexploita- 
tion,  et  des  circonstances  de  climat  et  de  situation  locale  ne  conoourent-elles 
pas  a  le  produire  ?  C'est,  a  notre  avis,  ce  qui  ne  saurait  etre  contested  En 
effet,  quoiqu'on  en  ait  dit,  partout  ou  la  grande  et  la  petite  culture  ce  rencontrent 


The  disadvantage,  when  disadvantage  there  is,  of  small 
or  rather  of  peasant  farming,  as  compared  with  capitalist 
farming,  must  chiefly  consist  in  inferiority  of  skill  and 
knowledge ;  but  it  is  not  true,  as  a  general  fact,  that  such 
inferiority  exists.  Countries  of  small  farms  and  peasant 
farming,  Flanders  and  Italy,  had  a  good  agriculture  many 
generations  before  England,  and  theirs  is  still,  as  a  whole, 

sur  les  memea  points,  c'est  celle-ci  qui,  biea  qu'elle  ne  puisse  entreteuir  autant 
de  moutons,  possede,  tout  compense,  le  plus  grand  nombre  d'animaux  produc- 
teurs  d'engrais.  Voici,  par  exemple,  ce  qui  ressort  des  informations  fourniea 
par  la  Belgique. 

u  Les  deux  provinces  on  regne  la  plus  petite  culture  sont  pelles  d'Anvers  et 
de  la  Flandre  orientale,  et  elles  possedent  en  moyenne,  par  100  hectares  de 
terres  cultivees,  74  betes  bovines  et  14  moutons.  Les  deux  provinces  ou  se 
trouveqt  les  grandes  fermes  sont  celles  de  Namur  ct  du  Hainaut,  et  elles  n'ont 
en  moyenne,  pour  100  hectares  de  terres  cultivees,  que  80  Wtes  bovines  et  45 
moutons.  Or,  en  comptant,  suivant  l'usage,  10  moutons  comme  l'equivalent 
d'une  tete  de  gros  betail,  nous  rencontrons  d'un  cote,  76  animaux  servant  a 
maintenir  la  fecondite  du  sol ;  de  l'autre,  moins  de  35,  difference  a  coup  sur 
gnorme.  (D'apres  les  documents  statistiques  publies  par  le  Ministre  de  Tin- 
terieur,  3me  publication  officielle.)  11  est  a  remarquer,  au  surplus,  que  le 
nombre  des  animaux  n'est  pas,  dans  la  partie  de  la  Belgique.  dont  le  sol  est  di  vise 
en  tres-petites  fermes,  beaucoup  moindre  qu'en  Angleterre.  En  l'evaiuant  dans 
cette  derniere  contMe  a  raison  seulement  du  territoire  en  culture,  il  7  existe,  par, 
centaine  d'hectares,  65  betes  a  come  et  prts  de  260  moutons,  c.-a-d.  l'equivalent 
de  91  des  premiers,  ou  seulement  15  de  plus  que  dans  l'autre.  Et  encore  est-il 
juste,  d'observer  qu'en  Belgique  presque  rien  n'est  perdu  des  engrais  donnes  par 
des  animaux  nourris  a  peu  pres  toute  l'ann6e  a  l'etable,  tandis  qu'en  Angleterre 
la  pature  en  plein  air  afiaiblit  considerablement  les  quantites  qu'il  devient  possi- 
ble de  mettre  entierement  a  profit. 

u  Dans  le  d6partement  du  Nord  aussi,  ce  sont  les  arrondissements  dont  lea 
fermes  ont  la  moindre  contenance  qui  entretiennent  le  plus  d'animaux.  Tandis 
que  les  arrondissements  de  Lille  et  de  Hazebrouck,  outre  un  plus  grand  nombre 
de  chevaux,  nourrissent,  Tun  l'equivalent  de  52  tetes  de  gros  betail,  l'autre 
l'equivalent  de  46 ;  les  arrondissements  ou  les  exploitations  sont  les  plus  grandes, 
ceux  de  Dunkerque  et  d'Avesnes,  ne  contiennent,  le  premier,  que  l'equivalent 
de  44  betes  bovines,  l'autre,  que  celui  de  40.  (D'apres  la  Statistique  de  la 
France  publiee  par  le  Ministre  du  Commerce:  Agriculture,  t.  i.) 

"  Pareilles  recherches  etendues  sur  d'autres  points  de  la  France  offriraient 
des  resultats  analogues.  S'il  est  vrai  que  dans  la  banlieue  des  villes,  la  petite 
culture  s'abstienne  de  garder  des  animaux,  au  produit  desquels  elle  supplee 
facilement  par  des  achats  d'engrais,  il  ne  se  peut  que  le  genre  de  travail  qui 
exige  le  plus  de  la  terre  ne  soit  pas  celui  qui  en  entretienne  le  plus  activement 

196  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     §4. 

probably  the  best  agriculture  in  the  world.  The  empirical 
skill,  which  is  the  effect  of  daily  and  close  observation, 
peasant  farmers  often  possess  in  an  eminent  degree.  The 
traditional  knowledge,  for  example,  of  the  culture  of  the 
vine,  possessed  by  the  peasantry  of  the  countries  where 
the  bes£  wines  are  produced,  is  extraordinary.  There  is  no 
doubt  an  absence  of  science,  or  at  least  of  theory ;  and  to 

la  fertility.  Assure'raent  il  n'est  pas  donn6  aux  petites  fermes  de  poss6der  de 
nombreux  troupeaux  de  moutons,  et  c'est  un  inconvenient ;  mais,  en  revanche, 
elles  uourrissent  plus  de  betes  bovines  que  les  grandes.  C'est  la  une  necessity 
a  laquelle  elles  ne  sauraient  se  soustraire  dans  aucun  des  pays  ou  les  besoins  de 
la  consommation  les  ont  appelees  a  fleurir ;  elles  periraient  si  elles  ne  reussis- 
saient  pas  a  y  satisfaire. 

u  Voici,  au  surplus,  sur  ce  point  des  details  dont  Inexactitude  nous  parait 
pleinement  attcstee  par  Pexcellence  du  travail  ou  nous  les  avons  puises.  Ces 
details,  contenus  dans  la  statistique  de  la  commune  de  Vensat  (Puy  de  Dome), 
publiee  recemment  par  M.  le  docteur  Jusseraud,  maire  de  Ja  commune,  sont 
d'autant  plus  prScieux,  qu  ils  mettent  dans  tout  leur  jour  la  nature  des  change- 
ments  que  le  developpement  de  la  petite  culture  a,  dans  le  pays  dont  il  s'agit, 
apport£s  au  nombre  et  a  l'espece  des  animaux  dont  le  produit  en  engrais  soutient 
et  accroit  la  fertilit6  des  terres.  Dans  la  commune  de  Vensat,  qui  comprend 
1612  hectares  divises  en  4600  parcelles  appartenant  a  591  proprietaires,  le  ter- 
ritoire  exploite  se  compose  de  1466  hectares.  Or,  en  1790,  17  fermes  en  occu- 
paient  les  deux  tiers  et  20  autres  tout  le  reste.  Depuis  lors,  les  cultures  se  sont 
morcelees,  et  maintenant  leur  petitesse  est  extreme.  Quelle  a  6t6  l'influence  du 
ehangement  sur  la  quantite  des  animaux  ?  Une  augmentation  considerable.  En 
1790,  la  commune  ne  possedait  qu'environ  300  betes  a  cornes,  et  de  1800  a  2000 
betes  a  laine ;  aujourd'hui  elle  compte  676  des  premieres,  et  538  seulement  des 
secondes.  Ainsi  pour  remplacer  1300  moutons  elle  a  acquis  376  boeufs  et 
vaches,  et  tout  compense,  la  somme  des  engrais  s'est  accrue  dans  la  proportion 
de  490  a  729,  ou  de  plus  de  48  pour  cent.  Et  encore  est-il  a  remarquer  que, 
plus  forts  et  mieux  nourris  a  present,  les  animaux  contribuent  bien  davantage  & 
entretenir  la  fertility  des  terres. 

u  Voila  ce  que  les  faits  nous  apprennent  sur  ce  point:  il  n'est  done  pas  vrai  . 
que  la  petite  culture  ne  nourrisse  pas  autant  d'animaux  que  les  autres ;  loin  de 
la,  a  conditions  locales  pareilles,  c'est  elle  qui  en  possede  le  plus,  et  il  ne  devait 
pas  etre  difficile  de  le  presumer ;  car,  du  moment  ou  c'est  elle  qui  demande  le 
plus  aux  terres,  il  faut  bien  qu'elle  leur  donne  des  soins  d'autant  plus  rSparateurs 
qu'elle  en  exige  davantage.  Que  Ton  prenne  un  a  un  les  autres  reproches ; 
qu'on  les  examine  a  la  clarte  de  faits  bien  apprecies,  on  s'appercevra  bientot 
qu'ils  ne  sauraient  etre  mieux  fondes,  et  quMls  n'ont  ete  formules  que  parce  qu'on 
a  compare*  l'etat  des  cultures  dans  des  contrees  ou  les  causes  de  la  prosperite 
agricole  n'agissaient  pas  avec  la  meme  ^nergie.^    (pp.  1 16-120.) 


some  extent  a  deficiency  of  the  spirit  of  improvement,  so  far 
as  relates  to  the  introduction  of  new  processes.  There  is 
also  a  want  of  means  to  make  experiments,  which  can 
seldom  be  made  with  advantage  except  by  rich  proprietors 
or  capitalists.  As  for  those  systematic  improvements  which 
operate  on  a  large  tract  of  country  at  once  (such  as  great 
works  of  draining  or  irrigation)  or  which  for  any  other  rea- 
son do  really  require  large  numbers  of  workmen  combining 
their  labour,  these  are  not  in  general  to  be  expected  from 
small  farmers,  or  even  small  proprietors,  though  combina- 
tion among  them  for  such  purposes  is  by  no  means  unexam- 
pled, and  will  become  more  common  as  their  intelligence  is 
more  developed. 

Against  these  disadvantages  is  to  be  placed,  where  the 
tenure  of  land  is  of  the  requisite  kind,  an  ardour  of  industry 
absolutely  unexampled  in  any  other  condition  of  agricul- 
ture. This  is  a  subject  on  which  the  testimony  of  compe- 
tent witnesses  is  unanimous.  The  working  of  the  petite  culture 
cannot  be  fairly  judged  where  the  small  cultivator  is  merely 
a  tenant,  and  not  even  a  tenant  on  fixed  conditions,  but  (as 
until  lately  in  Ireland)  at  a  nominal  rent  greater  than  can 
be  paid,  and  therefore  practically  at  a  varying  rent  always 
amounting  to  the  utmost  that  can  be  paid.  To  understand 
the  subject,  it  must  be  studied  where  the  cultivator  is  the 
proprietor,  or  at  least  a  metayer  with  a  permanent  tenure  ; 
where  the  labour  he  exerts  to  increase  the  produce  and 
value  of  the  land  avails  wholly,  or  at  least  partly,  to  his  own 
benefit  and  that  of  his  descendants.  In  another  division  of 
our  subject,  we  shall  discuss  at  some  length  the  important 
subject  of  tenures  of  land,  and  I  defer  till  then  any  citation 
of  evidence  on  the  marvellous  industry  of  peasant  proprie- 
tors. It  may  suffice  here  to  appeal  to  the  immense  amount 
of  gross  produce  which,  even  without  a  permanent  tenure, 
English  labourers  generally  obtain  from  their  little  allot- 
ments ;  a  produce  beyond  comparison  greater  than  a  large 
farmer  extracts,  or  would  find  it  his  interest  to  extract,  from 
the  same  piece  of  land. 

J98  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     §4. 

And  this  I  take  to  be  the  true  reason  why  large  cultiva- 
tion is  generally  most  advantageous  as  a  mere  investment 
for  profit.  Land  occupied  by  a  large  farmer  is  not,  in  one 
sense  of  the  word,  farmed  so  highly.  This  is  not  on  account 
of  any  economy  arising  from  combination  of  labour,  but  be- 
cause, by  employing  less,  a  greater  return  is  obtained  in 
proportion  to  the  outlay.  It  does  not  answer  to  any  one  to 
pay  others  for  exerting  all  the  labour  which  the  peasant,  or 
even  the  allotment  holder,  gladly  undergoes  when  the  fruits 
are  to  be  wholly  reaped  by  himself.  This  labour,  however, 
is  not  unproductive ;  it  all  adds  to  the  gross  produce.  With 
anything  like  equality  of  skill  and  knowledge,  the  large 
farmer  does  not  obtain  nearly  so  much  from  the  soil  as  the 
small  proprietor,  or  the  small  farmer  with  adequate  motives 
to  exertion :  but  though  his  returns  are  less,  the  labour  is  less 
in  a  still  greater  degree,  and  as  whatever  labour  he  employs 
must  be  paid  for,  it  does  not  suit  his  purpose  to  employ  more. 

But  although  the  gross  produce  of  the  land  is  greatest, 
cceteris  paribus,  under  small  cultivation,  and  although, 
therefore,  a  country  is  able  on  that  system  to  support  a 
larger  aggregate  population,  it  is  generally  assumed  by 
English  writers  that  what  is  termed  the  net  produce,  that 
is,  the  surplus  after  feeding  the  cultivators,  must  be  smaller ; 
that  therefore,  the  population  disposable  for  all  other  pur- 
poses, for  manufactures,  for  commerce  and  navigation,  for 
national  defence,  for  the  promotion  of  knowledge,  for  the 
liberal  professions,  for  the  various  functions  of  government, 
for  the  arts  and  literature,  all  of  which  are  dependent  on 
this  surplus  for  their  existence  as  occupations,  must  be  less 
numerous ;  and  that  the  nation,  (waving  all  question  as  to 
the  condition  of  the  actual  cultivators,)  must  be  inferior  in 
the  principal  elements  of  national  power,  and  in  many  of 
those  of  general  well-being.  This,  however,  has  been  taken 
for  granted  much  too  readily.  Undoubtedly,  the  non-agri- 
cultural population  will  bear  a  less  ratio  to  the  agricultural, 
under  small  than  under  large  cultivation.  But  that  it  will 
be  less  numerous  absolutely,  is  by  no  means  a  consequence. 


If  the  total  population,  agricultural  and  non-agricultural,  is 
greater,  the  non-agricultural  portion  may  be  more  numerous 
in  itself,  and  may  yet  be  a  smaller  proportion  of  the  whole. 
If  the  gross  produce  is  larger,  the  net  produce  may  be 
larger,  and  yet  bear  a  smaller  ratio  4o  the  gross  produce. 
Yet  even  Mr.  Wakefield  sometimes  appeare  to  confound 
these  distinct  ideas.  In  France  it  is  computed  that  two- 
thirds  of  the  whole  population  are  agricultural.  In  Eng- 
land, at  most,  one-third.  Hence  Mr.  Wakefield  infers,  that 
**  as  in  France  only  three  people  are  supported  by  the  labour 
of  two  cultivators,  while  in  England  the  labour  of  two  culti- 
vators supports  six  people,  English  agriculture  is  twice  as 
productive  as  French  agriculture,"  owing  to  the  superior 
efficiency  of  large  farming  through  combination  of  labour. 
But  in  the  first  place,  the  facts  themselves  are  overstated. 
The  labour  of  two  persons  in  England  does  not  quite  sup- 
port six  people,  for  there  is  not  a  little  food  imported  from 
foreign  countries,  and  from  Ireland.  In  France,  too,  the 
labour  of  two  cultivators  does  mudi  more  than  supply  the 
food  of  three  persons*.  It  provides  the  three  persons,  and 
occasionally  foreigners,  with  flax,  hemp,  and  to  a  certain 
extent  with  silk,  oils,  tobacco,  and  latterly  sugar,  which  in 
England  are  wholly  obtained  from  abroad ;  nearly  all  the 
timber  used  in  France  is  of  home  growth,  nearly  all  which 
is  used  in  England  is  imported ;  the  principal  fuel  of  France 
is  procured  and  brought  to  market  by  persons  reckoned 
among  agriculturists,  in  England  by  persons  not  so  reck- 
oned. I  do  not  take  into  calculation  hides  and  wool,  these 
products  being  common  to  both  countries,  nor  wine  or 
brandy  produced  for  home  consumption,  since  England  has 
a  corresponding  production  of  beer  and  spirits ;  but  England 
has  ho  material  export  of  either  article,  and  a  great  impor- 
tation of  the  last,  while  France  supplies  wines  and  spirits  to 
the  whole  world.  I  say  nothing  of  fruit,  eggs,  and  such 
minor  exportable  articles  of  agricultural  produce.  But,  not 
to  lay  undue  stress  on  these  abatements,  we  will  take  the 
statement  as  it  stands.  Suppose  that  two  persons,  in  Eng- 
land, do  londfide  produce  the  food  of  six,  while  in  France, 

200  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     §4. 

for  the  same  purpose,  the  labour  of  four  is  requisite.  Does 
it  follow  that  England  must  have  a  larger  surplus  for  the 
support  of  a  non-agricultural  population  ?  No ;  but  merely 
that  she  can  devote  two-thirds  of  her  whole  produce  to  the 
purpose,  instead  of  one-third.  Suppose  the  produce  to  be 
twice  as  great,  and  the  one-third  will  amount  to  as  much  as 
the  two-thirds.  The  fact  might  be,  that  owing  to  the 
greater  quantity  of  labour  employed  on  the  French  system, 
the  same  land  would  produce  food  for  twelve  persons  which 
on  the  English  system  would  only  produce  it  for  six :  and 
if  this  were  so,  which  would  be  quite  consistent  with  the 
conditions  of  the  hypothesis,  then  although  the  food  for 
twelve  was  produced  by  the  labour  of  eight,  while  the  six 
were  fed  by  the  labour  of  only  two,  there  would  be  the  same 
number  of  hands  disposable  for  other  employment  in  the 
one  country  as  in  the  other.  I  am  not  contending  that  the 
fact  is  so.  I  know  that  the  gross  produce  per  acre  in  France 
as  a  whole  (though  not  in  its  most  improved  districts)  aver- 
ages much  less  than  in  England,  and  that,  in  proportion  to 
the  extent  and  fertility  of  the  two  countries,  England  has, 
in  the  sense  we  are  now  speaking  of,  much  the  largest  dis- 
posable population.  But  the  disproportion  certainly  is  not 
to  be  measured  by  Mr.  Wakefield's  simple  criterion.  As 
well  might  it  be  said  that  agricultural  labour  in  the  United 
States,  where,  by  a  late  census,  four  families  in  every  five 
appeared  to  be  engaged  in  agriculture,  must  be  still  more 
inefficient  than  in  France. 

The  inferiority  of  French  cultivation  (which,  taking  the 
country  as  a  whole,  must  be  allowed  to  be  real,  though 
much  exaggerated,)  is  probably  more  owing  to  the  lower 
general  average  of  industrial  skill  and  energy  in  that  coun- 
try, than  to  any  special  cause :  and  even  if  partly  the  effect 
of  minute  subdivision,  it  does  not  prove  that  small  farming 
is  disadvantageous,  but  only  (what  is  undoubtedly  the  fact) 
that  farms  in  France  are  very  frequently  too  small,  and, 
what  is  worse,  broken  up  into  an  almost  incredible  number 
of  patches  or  parcettes,  most  inconveniently  dispersed  and 
parted  from  one  another. 


As  a  question,  not  of  gross,  but  of  net  produce,  the  com- 
parative merits  of  the  grande  and  the  petite  culture,  especial- 
ly when  the  small  farmer  is  also  the  proprietor,  cannot  be 
looked  upon  as  decided.  It  is  a  question  on  which  good 
judges  at  present  diifer.  The  current  of  English  opinion  is 
in  favour  of  large  farms ;  on  the  Continent,  the  weight  of 
authority  seems  to  be  on  the  other  side.  Professor  Rau,  of 
Heidelberg,  the  author  of  one  of  the  most  comprehensive 
and  elaborate  of  extant  treatises  on  political  economy,  and 
who  has  that  large  acquaintance  with  facts  and  authorities 
on  his  own  subject,  which  generally  characterises  his  coun- 
trymen, lays  it  down  as  a  settled  truth,  that  small  or 
moderate-sized  farms  yield  not  only  a  larger  gross  but  a 
larger  net  produce:  though,  he  adds,  it  is  desirable  there 
should  be  some  great  proprietors,  to  lead  the  way  in  new  im- 
provements.* The  most  apparently  impartial  and  discrimi- 
nating judgment  that  I  have  met  with  is  that  of  M.  Passy, 
who  (always  speaking  with  reference  to  net  produce)  gives 
his  verdict  in  favour  of  large  farms  for  grain  and  forage ; 
but,  for  the  kinds  of  culture  which  require  much  labour  and 
attention,  places  the  advantage  wholly  on  the  side  of  small 
cultivation ;  including  in  this  description,  not  only  the  vine 
and  the  olive,  where  a  considerable  amount  of  care  and 
labour  must  be  bestowed  on  each  individual  plant,  but  also 
roots,  leguminous  plants,  and  those  which  furnish  the 
materials  of  manufactures.  The  small  size,  and  consequent 
multiplication,  of  farms,  according  to  all  authorities,  are 
extremely  favourable  to  the  abundance  of  many  minor  pro- 
ducts of  agriculture.f 

It  is  evident  that  every  labourer  who  extracts  from  the 
land  more  than  his  own  food,  and  that  of  any  family  he  may 

*  See  pp.  852  and  353  of  a  French  translation  published  at  Brussels  in  1839, 
by  M.  Fred,  de  Kemmeter,  of  Ghent. 

f  "  Dans  le  d6partement  du  Nord,w  says  M.  Passy,  "  une  ferme  de  20  hec- 
tares recueille  en  veaux,  laitage,  oeufs,  et  volailles,  parfois  pour  un  millier  de 
francs  dans  Fannee ;  et,  les  frais  defalques,  c'est  Tequivalent  d'une  addition  au 
produit  net  de  15  a  20  francs  par  hectare/1    Des  Systemes  de  Culture,  p.  114. 

BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     §4. 

have,  increases  the  means  of  supporting  a  non-agricultural 
population.  Even  if  his  surplus  is  no  more  than  enough  to 
buy  clothes,  the  labourers  who  make  the  clothes  are  a  non- 
agricultural  population,  enabled  to  exist  by  food  which  he 
produces.  Every  agricultural  family,  therefore,  which  pro- 
duces its  own  necessaries,  adds  to  the  net  produce  of  agri- 
culture ;  and  so  does  every  person  born  on  the  land,  who  by 
employing  himself  on  it,  adds  more  to  its  gross  produce 
than  the  mere  food  which  he  eats.  It  is  questionable 
whether,  even  in  the  most  subdivided  districts  of  Europe 
which  are  cultivated  by  the  proprietors,  the  multiplication 
of  hands  on  the  soil  has  approached,  or  tends  to  approach, 
within  a  great  distance  of  this  limit.  In  France,  though  the 
sub-division  is  confessedly  too  great,  there  is  proof  positive 
that  it  is  far  from  having  reached  the  point  at  which  it 
would  begin  to  diminish  the  power  of  supporting  a  non- 
agricultural  population.  This  is  demonstrated  by  the  great 
increase  of  the  towns ;  which  have  of  late  increased  in  a 
much  greater  ratio  than  the  population  generally,*  showing 
(unless  the  condition  of  the  town  labourers  is  becoming 
rapidly  deteriorated,  which  there  is  no  reason  to  believe) 
that  even  by  the  unfair  and  inapplicable  test  of  proportions, 
the  productiveness  of  agriculture  must  be  on  the  increase. 
This,  too,  concurrently  with  the  amplest  evidence  that  in 
the  more  improved  districts  of  France,  and  in  some  which, 
until  lately,  were  among  the  unimproved,  there  is  a  con- 
siderably increased  consumption  of  country  produce  by  the 
country  population  itself. 

Impressed  with  the  conviction  that,  of  all  faults  which 
can  be  committed  by  a  scientific  writer  on  political  and  social 
subjects,  exaggeration,  and  assertions  beyond  the  evidence, 
most  require  to  be  guarded  against,  I  limited  myself  in  the 
early  editions  of  this  work  to  the  foregoing  very  moderate 

*  During  the  interval  between  the  census  of  1851  and  that  of  1856,  the  in- 
crease of  the  population  of  Paris  alone,  exceeded  the  aggregate  increase  of  all 
France :  while  nearly  all  the  other  large  towns  likewise  show  an  increase. 


"statements.  I  little  knew  how  much  stronger  my  language 
might  have  been  without  exceeding  the  truth,  and  how 
much  the  actual  progress  of  French  agriculture  surpassed 
anything  which  I  had  at  that  time  sufficient  grounds  to  af- 
firm. The  investigations  of  that  eminent  authority  on  agri- 
cultural statistics,  M.  Leonce  de  Lavergne,  undertaken  by 
desire  of  the  Academy  of  Moral  and  Political  Sciences  of 
the  Institute  of  France,  have  led  to  the  conclusion  that  since 
the  Revolution  of  1789,  the  total  produce  of  French  agricul- 
ture has  doubled  ;  profits  and  wages  having  both  increased 
in  about  the  same,  and  rent  in  a  still  greater  ratio.  M.  de 
Lavergne,  whose  impartiality  is  one  of  his  greatest  merits, 
is,  moreover,  so  far  in  this  instance  from  the  suspicion  of 
having  a  case  to  make  out,  that  he  is  labouring  to  show,  not 
how  much  French  agriculture  has  accomplished,  but  how- 
much  still  remains  for  it  to  do.  "  We  have  required  "  (he 
says)  "  no  less  than  seventy  years  to  bring  into  cultivation 
two  million  hectares  "  (five  million  English  acres)  "  of  waste 
land,  to  suppress  half  our  fallows,  double  our  agricultural 
products,  increase  our  population  by  30  per  cent.,  our  wages 
by  100  per  cent.,  our  rent  by  150  per  cent.  At  this  rate 
we  shall  require  three  quarters  of  a  century  more  to  arrive 
at  the  point  which  England  has  already  attained."* 

After  this  evidence,  we  have  surely  now  heard  the  last 
of  the  incompatibility  of  small  properties  and  small  farms 
with  agricultural  improvement.  The  only  question  which 
remains  open  is  one  of»degree ;  the  comparative  rapidity  of 
agricultural  improvement  under  the  two  systems ;  and  it  is 
the  general  opinion  of  those  who  are  equally  well  acquaint- 
ed with  both,  that  improvement  is  greatest  under  a  due 
admixture  between  them. 

In  the  present  chapter,  we  do  not  enter  on  the  question 
between  great  and  small  cultivation  in  any  other  respect 

*  Economie  Rurale  de  la  France  depuia  1769.  Par  M.  Leonce  de  Lavergne, 
Membre  de  l'lnstitut  tt  de  la  Society  Centrale  d' Agriculture  de  France.  2n#  ed. 
p.  69. 

204  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  IX.     f  4. 

than  as  a  question  of  production,  and  of  the  efficiency  of 
labour.  We  shall  return  to  it  hereafter  as  affecting  the 
distribution  of  the  produce,  and  the  physical  and  social  well- 
being  of  the  cultivators  themselves ;  in  which  aspects  it  do- 
serves,  and  requires,  a  still  more  particular  examination. 



§  1.  We  have  now  successively  considered  each  of  the 
agents  or  conditions  of  production,  and  of  the  means  by 
which  the  efficacy  of  these  various  agents  is  promoted.  In  or- 
der to  come  to  an  end  of  the  questions  which  relate  exclusive- 
ly to  production,  one  more,  of  primary  importance,  remains. 

Production  is  not  a  fixed,  but  an  increasing  thing. 
When  not  kept  back  by  bad  institutions,  or  a  low  state  of 
the  arts  of  life,  the  produce  of  industry  has  usually  tended 
to  increase ;  stimulated  not  only  by  the  desire  of  the  pro- 
ducers to  augment  their,  means  of  consumption,  but  by  the 
increasing  number  of  the  consumers.  Nothing  in  political 
economy  can  be  of  more  importance  than  to  ascertain  the 
law  of  this  increase  of  production ;  the  conditions  to  which 
it  is  subject;  whether  it  has  practically  any  limits,  and  what 
these  are.  There  is  also  no  subject  in  political  economy 
which  is  popularly  less  understood,  or  on  which  the  errors 
committed  are  of  a  character  to  produce,  and  do  produce, 
greater  mischief. 

We  have  seen  that  the  essential  requisites  of  production 
are  three — labour,  capital,  and  natural  agents;  the  term 
capital  including  all  external  and  physical  requisites  which 
are  products  of  labour,  the  term  natural  agents  all  those 
which  are  not.  But  among  natural  agents  we  need  not  take 
into  account  those  which,  existing  in  unlimited  quantity, 
being  incapable  of  appropriation,  and  never  altering  in 
their  qualities,  are  always  ready  to  lend  an  equal  degree  of 
assistance  to  production,  whatever  may  be  its  extent ;  as  air, 

206  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  X.     §2. 

and  the  light  of  the  sun.  Being  now  about  to  consider  the 
impediments  to  production,  not  the  facilities  for  it,  we  need 
advert  to  no  other  natural  agents  than  those  which  are 
liable  to  be  deficient,  either  in  quantity  or  in  productive 
power.  These  may  be  all  represented  by  the  term  land. 
Land,  in  the  narrowest  acceptation,  as  the  source  of  agricul- 
tural produce,  is  the  chief  of  them ;  and  if  we  extend  the 
term  to  mines  and  fisheries — to  what  is  found  in  the  earth 
itself,  or  in  the  waters  which  partly  cover  it,  as  well  as  to 
what  is  grown  or  fed  on  its  surface,  it  embraces  everything 
with  which  we  need  at  present  concern  ourselves. 

We  may  say,  then,  without  a  greater  stretch  of  language 
than  under  the  necessary  explanations  is  permissible,  that 
the  requisities  of  production  are  Labour,  Capital,  and  Land. 
The  increase  of  production,  therefore,  depends  on  the  prop- 
erties of  these  elements.  It  is  a  result  of  the  increase 
either  of  the  elements  themselves,  or  of  their  productiveness. 
The  law  of  the  increase  of  production  must  be  a  consequence 
of  the  laws  of  these  elements;  the  limits  to  the  increase  of 
production  must  be  the  limits,  whatever  they  are,  set  by 
those  laws.  We  proceed  to  consider  the  three  elements 
successively,  with  reference  to  this  effect ;  or  mother  words, 
the  law  of  the  increase  of  production,  viewed  in  respect  of 
its  dependence,  first  on  Labour,  secondly  on  Capital,  and 
lastly  on  Land. 

§  2.  The  increase  of  labour  is  the  increase  of  mankind; 
of  population.  On  this  subject  the  discussions  excited  by 
the  Essay  of  Mr.  Malthus,  have  made  the  truth,  though  by 
no  means  universally  admitted,  yet  so  fully  known,  that  a 
briefer  examination  of  the  question  than  would  otherwise 
have  been  necessary  will  probably  on  the  present  occasion 

The  power  of  multiplication  inherent  in  all  organic  life 
may  be  regarded  as  infinite.  There  is  no  one  species  of 
vegetable  or  animal,  which,  if  the  earth  were  entirely  aban- 
doned to  it,  and  to  the  things  on  which  it  feeds,  would  not 


in  a  small  number  of  years  overspread  every  region  of  the 
globe,  of  which  the  climate  was  compatible  with  its  existence. 
The  degree  of  possible  rapidity  is  different  in  different  orders 
of  beings ;  but  in  all  it  is  sufficient,  for  the  earth  to  T>e  very 
speedily  filled  up.  There  are  many  species  of  vegetables  of 
which  a  single  plant  will  produce  in  one  year  the  germs  of 
a  thousand ;  if  only  two  come  to  maturity,  in  fourteen  years 
the  two  will  have  multiplied  to  sixteen  thousand  and  more. 
It  is  but  a  moderate  case  of  fecundity  in  animals  to  be  capa- 
ble of  quadrupling  their  numbers  in  a  single  year;  if  they 
only  do  as  much  in  half  a  century,  ten  thousand  will  have 
swelled  within  two  centuries  to  upwards  to  two  millions  and 
a  half.  The  capacity  of  increase  is  necessarily  in  a  geome- 
trical progression :  the  numerical  ratio  alone  is  different. 

To  this  property  of  organized  beings,  the  human  species 
forms  no  exception.  Its  power  of  increase  is  indefinite,  and 
the  actual  multiplication  would  be  extraordinarily  rapid,  if 
the  power  were  exercised  to  the  utmost.  It  never  is  -exer- 
cised to  the  utmost,  and  yet,  in  the  most  favourable  circum- 
stances known  to  exist,  which  are  those  of  a  fertile  region 
colonized  from  an  industrious  and  civilized  community, 
population  has  continued,  for  several  generations,  indepen- 
dently of  fresh  immigration,  to  double  itself  in  not  much 
more  than  twenty  years.  That  the  capacity  of  multiplica- 
tion in  the  human  species  exceeds  even  this,  is  evident  if  we 
consider  how  great  is  the  ordinary  number  of  children  to  a 
family,  vfhere  the  climate  is  good  and  early  marriages 
usual ;  and  how  amall  a  proportion  of  them  die  before  tho 
age  of  maturity,  in  the  present  state  of  hygienic  knowledge 
where  the  locality  is  healthy,  and  the  family  adequately 
provided  with  the  means  of  living.  It  is  a  very  low  esti- 
mate of  the  capacity  of  increase,  if  we  only  assume,  that  in 
a  good  sanitary  condition  of  the  people,  each  generation  may 
be  double  the  number  of  the  generation  which  preceded  it. 

Twenty  or  thirty  years  ago,  these  propositions  might 
still  havo  required  considerable  enforcement  and  illustra- 
tion ;  but  the  evidence  of  them  is  so  ample  and  incontesta- 

208  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  X.     §3. 

ble,  that  they  have  made  their  way  against  all  kinds  of 
opposition,  and  may  now  be  regarded  as  axiomatic :  though 
the  extreme  reluctance  felt  to  admitting  them,  every  now 
and  then  gives  birth  to  some  ephemeral  theory,  speedily 
forgotten,  of  a  different  law  of  increase  in  different  circum- 
stances, through  a  providential  adaptation  of  the  fecundity 
of  the  human  species  to  the  exigencies  of  society.*  The 
obstacle  to  a  just  understanding  of  the  subject  does  not  arise 
from  these  theories,  but  from  too  confused  a  notion  of  the 
causes  which,  at  most  times  and  places,  keep  the  actual 
increase  of  mankind  so  far  behind  the  capacity. 

§  3.  Those  causes,  nevertheless,  are  in  no  way  mys- 
terious. What  prevents  the  population  of  hares  and  rabbits 
from  overstocking  the  earth  ?  Not  want  of  fecundity,  but 
causes  very  different :  many  enemies,  and  insufficient  sub- 
sistence ;  not  enough  to  eat,  and  liability  to  being  eaten. 
In  the  human  race,  which  is  not  generally  subject  to  the 
latter  inconvenience,  the  equivalents  for  it  are  war  and 
disease.  If  the  multiplication  of  mankind  proceeded  only, 
like  that  of  the  other  animals,  from  a  blind  instinct,  it  would 

*  One  of  these  theories,  that  of  Mr.  Doubleday,  may  be  thought  to  require 
a  passing  notice,  because  it  has  of  late  obtained  some  followers,  and  because  it 
derives  a  semblance  of  support  from  the  general  analogies  of  organic  life.  This 
theory  maintains  that  the  fecundity  of  the  human  animal,  and  of  all  other  living 
beings,  is  in  inverse  proportion  to  the  quantity  of  nutriment :  that  an  underfed 
population  multiplies  rapidly,  but  that  all  classes  in  comfortable  circumstances 
are,  by  a  physiological  law,  so  unprolific,  as  seldom  to  keep  up  their  numbers 
without  being  recruited  from  a  poorer  class.  There  is  no  doubt  that  a  positive 
excess  of  nutriment,  in  animals  as  well  as  in  fruit  trees,  is  unfavourable  to  repro" 
duction ;  and  it  is  quite  possible,  though  by  no  means  proved,  that  the  physio 
logical  conditions*of  fecundity  may  exist  in  the  greatest  degree  when  the  supply 
of  food  is  somewhat  stinted.  But  any  one  who  might  be  inclined  to  draw  from 
this,  even  if  admitted,  conclusions  at  variance  with  the  principle  of  Mr.  Malthus, 
needs  only  be  invited  to  look  through  a  volume  of  the  Peerage,  and  observe  the 
enormous  families,  almost  universal  in  that  class ;  or  call  to  mind  the  large  fam- 
ilies of  the  English  clergy,  and  generally  of  the  middle  classes  of  England. 
Whatever  the  limit  to  the  increase  of  population  among  the  richer  classes  in 
Great  Britain  may  be,  it  certainly  is  not  the  small  number  of  births  to  a  mar- 


be  limited  in  the  same  manner  with  theirs ;  the  births  would 
be  as  numerous  as  the  physical  constitution  of  the  species 
admitted  of,  and  the  population  would  be  kept  down  by 
deaths*  But  the  conduct  of  human  creatures  is  more  or  less 
influenced  by  foresight  of  consequences,  and  by  some  im- 
pulses superior  to  mere  animal  instincts :  and  they  do  not, 
therefore,  propagate  like  swine,  but  are  capable,  though  in 
very  unequal  degrees,  of  being  withheld  by  prudence,  or  by 
the  social  affections,  from  giving  existence  to  beings  born 
only  to  misery  and  premature  death.  In  proportion  as 
mankind  rise  above  the  condition  of  the  beast,  population  is 
restrained  by  the  fear  .of  want,  rather  than  by  want  itself. 
Even  where  there  is  no  question  of  starvation,  many  are 
similarly  acted  upon  by  the  apprehension  of  losing  what 
have  come  to  be  regarded  as  the  decencies  of  their  situation 
in  life.  Hitherto  no  other  motives  than  these  two  have 
been  found  strong  enough,  in  the  generality  of  mankind,  to 
counteract  the  tendency  to  increase.  It  has  been  the  prac- 
tice of  a  great  majority  of  the  middle  and  the  poorer  classes, 
whenever  free  from  external  control,  to  marry  as  early,  and 
in  most  countries  to  have  as  many  children,  as  was  consist- 
ent with  maintaining  themselves  in  the  condition  of  life 
which  they  were  born  to,  or  were  accustomed  to  consider 
as  theirs.  Among  the  middle  classes,  in  many  individual 
instances,  there  is  an  additional  restraint  exercised  from 
the  desire  of  doing  more  than  maintaining  their  circum- 
stances— of  improving  them ;  but  such  a  desire  is  rarely 
found,  or  rarely  has  that  effect,  in  the  labouring  classes. 
If  they  can  bring  up  a  family  as  they  were  themselves 
brought  up,  even  the  prudent  among  them  are  usually 
satisfied.  Too  often  they  do  not  think  even  of  that,  but 
rely  on  fortune,  or  on  the  resources  to  be  found  in  legal  or 
voluntary  charity. 

In  a  very  backward  state  of  society,  like  that  of  Europe 
in  the  middle  ages,  and  many  parts  of  Asia  at  present, 
population  is  kept  down  by  actual  starvation.  The  starva- 
tion does  not  take  place  in  ordinary  years,  but  in  seasons  of 

210  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  X.     §8. 

scarcity,  which  in  those  states  of  society  are  much  more 
frequent  and  more  extreme  than  Europe  is  now  accustomed 
to.  In  these  seasons  actual  want,  or  the  maladies  conse- 
quent on  it,  carry  oft"  numbers  of  the  population,  which  in  a 
succession  of  favourable  years  again  expands,  to  be  again 
cruelly  decimated.  In  a  more  improved  state,  few,  even 
among  the  poorest  of  the  people,  are  limited  to  actual  neces- 
saries, and  to  a  bare  sufficiency  of  those:  and  the  increase 
is  kept  within  bounds,  not  by  excess  of  deaths,  but  by  lim- 
itation of  births.  The  limitation  is  brought  about  in  various 
ways.  In  some  countries,  it  is  the  result  of  prudent  or  con- 
scientious self-restraint.  There  is  &  condition  to  which  the 
labouring  people  are  habituated;  they  perceive  that  by 
having  too  numerous  families,  they  must  sink  below  that 
condition,  or  fail  to  transmit  it  to  their  children  ;  and  this 
they  do  not  choose  to  submit  to.  The  countries  in  which, 
so  far  as  is  known,  a  great  degree  of  voluntary  prudence 
has  been  longest  practised  on  this  subject,  are  Norway  and 
parts  of  Switzerland.  Concerning  both,  there  happens  to 
be  unusually  authentic  information  ;  many  facts  were  care- 
fully brought  together  by  Mr.  Mai  thus,  and  much  addi- 
tional evidence  has  been  obtained  since  his  time.  In  both 
these  countries  the  increase  of  population  is  very  slow ;  and 
what  checks  it,  is  not  multitude  of  deaths,  but  fewness  of 
births.  Both  the  births  and  the  deaths  are  remarkably  few 
in  proportion  to  the  population;  the  average  duration 
of  life  is  the  longest  in  Europe ;  the  population  contains 
fewer  children,  and  a  greater  proportional  number  of  per- 
sons in  the  vigour  of  life,  than  is  known  to  be  the  case  in 
any  other  part  of  the  world.  The  paucity  of  births  tends 
directly  to  prolong  life,  by  keeping  the  people  in  comforta- 
ble circumstances ;  and  the  same  prudence  is  doubtless 
exercised  in  avoiding  causes  of  disease,  as  in  keeping  clear 
of  the  principal  causes  of  poverty.  It  is  worthy  of  remark 
that  the  two  countries  thus  honourably  distinguished,  are 
countries  of  small  landed  proprietors. 

There  are  other  cases  in  which  the  prudence  and  fore- 


thought,  which  perhaps  might  not  be  exercised  by  the 
people  themselves,  are  exercised  by  the  state  for  their 
benefit ;  marriage  not  being  permitted  until  the  contracting 
parties  can  show  that  they  have  the  prospect  of  a  comforta- 
ble support.  Under  these  laws,  of  which  I  shall  speak  more 
fully  hereafter,  the  condition  of  the  people  is  reported  to  be 
good,  and  the  illegitimate  births  not  so  numerous  as  might 
be  expected.  There  are  places,  again,  in  which  the  restrain- 
ing cause  seems  to  be  not  so  much  individual  prudence,  as 
some  general  and  perhaps  even  accidental  habit  of  the  coun- 
try. In  the  rural  districts  of  England,  during  the  last  cen- 
tury, the  growth  of  population  was  very  effectually  re- 
pressed by  the  difficulty  of  obtaining  a  cottage  to  live  in. 
It  was  the  custom  for  unmarried  labourers  to  lodge  and 
board  with  their  employers ;  it  was  the  custom  for  married 
labourers  to  have  a  cottage :  and  the  rule  of  the  English 
poor  laws  by  which  a  parish  was  charged  with  the  support 
of  its  unemployed  poor,  rendered  landowners  averse  to 
promote  marriage.  About  the  end  of  the  century,  the  great 
demand  for  men  in  war  and  manufactures,  made  it  be 
thought  a  patriotic  thing  to  encourage  population :  and 
about  the  same  time  the  growing  inclination  of  farmers  to 
live  like  rich  people,  favoured  as  it  was  by  a  long  period  of 
high  prices,  made  them  desirous  of  keeping  inferiors  at  a 
greater  distance,  and,  pecuniary  motives  arising  from  abuses 
of  the  poor  laws  being  superadded,  they  gradually  drove 
their  labourers  into  cottages,  which  the  landowners  now  no 
longer  refused  permission  to  build.  In  some  countries  an 
old  standing  custom  that  a  girl  should  not  marry  until  she 
had  spun  and  woven  for  herself  an  ample  trousseau,  is  said 
to  have  acted  as  a  substantial  check  to  population.  In  Eng- 
land, at  present,  the  influence  of  prudence  in  keeping  down 
multiplication  is  seen  by  the  diminished  number  of  mar- 
riages in  the  manufacturing  districts  in  years  when  trade 
is  bad. 

But  whatever  be  the  causes  by  which  population  is  any- 
where limited  to  a  comparatively  slow  rate  of  increase,  an 

212  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  X.     §3. 

acceleration  of  the  rate  very  speedily  follows  any  diminution 
of  the  motives  to  restraint.  It  is  but  rarely  that  improve- 
ments in  the  condition  of  the  labouring  classes  do  anything 
more  than  give  a  temporary  margin,  speedily  filled  up  by 
an  increase  of  their  numbers.  The  use  they  commonly 
choose  to  make  of  any  advantageous  change  in  their  cir- 
cumstances, is  to  take  it  out  in  the  form  which,  by  augment- 
ing the  population,  deprives  the  succeeding  generation  of 
the  benefit.  Unless,  either  by  their  general  improvement 
in  intellectual  and  moral  culture,  or  at  least  by  raising  their 
habitual  standard  of  comfortable  living,  they  can  be  taught 
to  make  a  better  use  of  favourable  circumstances,  nothing 
permanent  can  be  done  for  them;  the  most  promising 
schemes  end  only  in  having  a  more  numerous,  but  not  a 
happier  people.  By  their  habitual  standard,  I  mean  that 
(when  any  such  there  is)  down  to  which  they  will  multiply, 
but  not  lower.  Every  advance  they  make  in  education, 
civilization,  and  social  improvement,  tends  to  raise  this 
standard ;  and  there  is  no  doubt  that  it  is  gradually,  though 
slowly,  rising  in  the  more  advanced  countries  of  Western 
Europe.  Subsistence  and  employment  in  England  have 
never  increased  more  rapidly  than  in  the  last  forty  years, 
but  every  census  since  1821  showed  a  smaller  proportional 
increase  of  population  than  that  of  the  period  preceding ; 
and  the  produce  of  French  agriculture  and  industry  is 
increasing  in  a  progressive  ratio,  while  the  population 
exhibits,  in  every  quinquennial  census,  a  smaller  propor- 
tion of  births  to  the  population. 

The  subject,  however,  of  population,  in  its  connexion 
with  the  condition  of  the  labouring  classes,  will  be  consid- 
ered in  another  place :  in  the  present,  we  have  to  do  with  it 
solely  as  one  of  the  elements  of  Production :  and  in  that 
character  we  could  not  dispense  with  pointing  out  the  un- 
limited extent  of  its  natural  powers  of  increase,  and  the 
causes  owing  to  which  so  small  a  portion  of  that  unlimited 
power  is  for  the  most  part  actually  exercised.  After  this 
brief  indication,  we  shall  proceed  to  the  other  elements. 



§  1.  The  requisites  of  production  being  labour,  capital, 
and  land,  it  has  been  seen  from  the  preceding  chapter  that 
the  impediments  to  the  increase  of  production  do  not  arise 
from  the  first  of  these  elements.  On  the  side  of  labour 
there  is  no  obstacle  to  an  increase  of  production,  indefinite 
in  extent  and  of  unslackening  rapidity.  Population  has  the 
power  of  increasing  in  an  uniform  and  rapid  geometrical 
ratio.  If  the  only  essential  condition  of  production  were 
labour,  the  produce  might,  and  naturally  would,  increase  in 
the  same  ratio ;  and  there  would  be  no  limit,  until  the  num- 
bers of  mankind  were  brought  to  a  stand  from  actual  want 
of  space. 

But  production  has  other  requisites,  and  of  these,  the 
one  which  we  shall  next  consider  is  Capital.  There  cannot 
be  more  people  in  any  country,  or  in  the  world,  than  can 
be  supported  from  the  produce  of  past  labour  until  that  of 
present  labour  comes  in.  There  will  be  no  greater  number 
of  productive  labourers  in  any  country,  or  in  the  world, 
than  can  be  supported  from  that  portion  of  the  produce  of 
past  labour,  which  is  spared  from  the  enjoyments  of  its  pos- 
sessor for  purposes  of  reproduction,  and  is  termed  Capital. 
We  have  next,  therefore,  to  inquire  into  the  conditions  of 
the  increase  of  capital :  the  causes  by  which  the  rapidity  of 
its  increase  is  determined,  and  the  necessary  limitations  of 
that  increase. 

Since  all  capital  is  the  product  of  saving,  that  is,  of  absti- 

214  BOOK  I.    CHAPTER  XI.     §1. 

nence  from  present  consumption  for  the  sake  of  a  future 
good,  the  increase  of  capital  must  depend  upon  two  thingB 
— the  amount  of  the  fund  from  which  saving  can  be  made, 
and  the  strength  of  the  dispositions  which  prompt  to  it. 

The  fund  from  which  saving  can  be  made,  is  the  surplus 
of  the  produce  of  labour,  after  supplying  the  necessaries  of 
life  to  all  concerned  in  the  production:  (including  those 
employed  in  replacing  the  materials,  and  keeping  the  fixed 
capital  in  repair.)  More  than  this  surplus  cannot  be  saved 
under  any  circumstances.  As  much  as  this,  though  it 
never  is  saved,  always  might  be.  This  surplus  is  the  fund 
from  which  the  enjoyments,  as  distinguished  from  the- neces- 
saries of  the  producers,  are  provided ;  it  is  the  fund  from 
which  all  are  subsisted,  who  are  not  themselves  engaged  in 
production  ;  and  from  which  all  additions  are  made  to  cap- 
ital. It  is  the  real  net  produce  of  the  country.  The  phrase, 
net  produce,  is  often  taken  in  a  more  limited  sense,  to  de- 
note only  the  profits  of  the  capitalist  and  the  rent  of  the  land- 
lord, under  the  idea  that  nothing  can  be  included  in  the  net 
produce  of  capital,  but  what  is  returned  to  the  owner  of  the 
capital  after  replacing  his  expenses.  But  this  is  too  narrow 
an  acceptation  of  the  term.  The  capital  of  the  employer 
forms  the  revenue  of  the  labourers,  and  if  this  exceeds  the 
necessaries  of  life,  it  gives  them  a  surplus  which  they  may 
either  expend  in  enjoyments  or  save.  For  every  purpose 
for  which  there  can  be  occasion  to  speak  of  the  net  produce 
of  industry,  this  surplus  ought  to  be  included  in  it.  When 
this  is  included,  and  not  otherwise,  the  net  produce  of  the 
country  is  the  measure  of  its  effective  power ;  of  what  it  can 
spare  for  any  purposes  of  public  utility,  or  private  indul- 
gence ;  the  portion  of  its  produce  of  which  it  can  dispose  at 
pleasure ;  which  can  be  drawn  upon  to  attain  any  ends,  or 
gratify  any  wishes,  either  of  the  government  or  of  individu- 
als ;  which  it  can  either  spend  for  its  satisfaction,  or  save  for 
future  advantage. 

The  amount  of  this  fund,  this  net  produce,  this  excess  of 
production  above  the  physical  necessaries  of  the  producers, 


is  one  of  the  elements  that  determine  the  amount  of  saving. 
The  greater  the  produce  of  labour  after  supporting  the 
labourers,  the  more  there  is  which  can  be  saved.  The  same 
thing  also  partly  contributes  to  determine  how  much  will 
be  saved.  A  part  of  the  motive  to  saving  consists  in  the 
prospect  of  deriving  an  income  from  savings ;  in  the  fact 
that  capital,  employed  in  production,  is  capable  of  not  only 
reproducing  itself  but  yielding  an  increase.  The  greater 
the  profit  that  can  be  made  from  capital,  the  stronger  is  the 
motive  to  its  accumulation.  That  indeed  which  forms  the 
inducement  to  save,  is  not  the  whole  of  the  fund  which  sup- 
plies the  means  of  saving,  not  the  whole  net  produce  of 
the  land,  capital,  and  labour  of  the  country,  but  only  a  part 
of  it,  the  part  which  forms  the  remuneration  of  the  capital- 
ist, and  is  called  profit  of  stock.  It  will  however  be  readily 
enough  understood,  even  previously  to  the  explanations 
which  will  be  given  hereafter,  that  when,  the  general  pro- 
ductiveness of  labour  and  capital  is  great,  the  returns  to  the 
capitalist  are  likely  to  be  large,  and  that  some  proportion, 
though  not  an  uniform  one,  will  commonly  obtain  between 
the  two. 

§  2.  But  the  disposition  to  save  does  not  wholly  depend 
on  the  external  inducement  to  it ;  on  the  amount  of  profit  to 
be  made  from  savings.  With  the  same  pecuniary  induce- 
ment, the  inclination  is  very  different,  in  different  persons, 
and  in  different  communities.  The  effective  desire  of  accu- 
mulation is  of  unequal  strength,  not  only  according  to  the 
varieties  of  individual  character,  but  to  the  general  state  of 
society  and  civilization.  Like  all  other  moral  attributes,  it 
is  one  in  which  the  human  race  exhibits  great  differences, 
conformably  to  the  diversity  of  its  circumstances  and  the 
stage  of  its  progress. 

On  topics  which  if  they  were  to  be  fully  investigated 
would  exceed  the  bounds  that  can  be  allotted  to  them  in 
this  treatise,  it  is  satisfactory  to  be  able  to  refer  to  other 
works  in  which  the  necessary  developments  have  been  pre- 

216  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XI.     §  2. 

sented  more  at  length.  On  the  subject  of  Population  this 
valuable  service  has  been  rendered  by  the  celebrated  Essay 
of  Mr.  Malthus  ;  and  on  the  point  which  now  occupies  us  I 
can  refer  with  equal  confidence  to  another,  though  a  less 
known  work,  "  New  Principles  of  Political  Economy,"  by 
Mr.  Rae  *  In  no  other  book  known  to  me  is  so  much  light 
thrown,  both  from  principle  and  history,  on  the  causes 
which  determine  the  accumulation  of  capital. 

All  accumulation  involves  the  sacrifice  of  a  present,  for 
the  sake  of  a  future  good.  But  the  expediency  of  such  a 
sacrifice,  varies  very  .much  in  different  states  of  circum- 
stances ;  and  the  willingness  to  make  it,  varies  still  more. 

In  weighing  the  future  against  the  present,  the  uncer- 
tainty of  all  things  future  is  a  leading  element ;  and  that 
uncertainty  is  of  very  different  degrees.  u  All  circumstan- 
ces," therefore,  "  increasing  the  probability  of  the  provision 
we  make  for  futurity  being  enjoyed  by  ourselves  or  others, 
tend"  justly  and  reasonably  "to  give  strength  to  the  ef- 
fective desire  of  accumulation.  Thus  a  healthy  climate  or 
occupation,  by  increasing  the  probability  of  life,  has  a  tend- 
ency to  add  to  this  desire.  When  engaged  in  safe  occupa- 
tions, and  living  in  healthy  countries,  men  are  much  more 

*  This  treatise  is  an  example,  such  as  not  unfrequently  presents  itself,  how 
much  more  depends  on  accident,  than  on  the  qualities  of  a  book,  in  determining 
its  reception.  Had  it  appeared  at  a  suitable  time,  and  been  favoured  by  circum- 
stances, it  would  have  had  every  requisite  for  great  success.  The  author,  a 
Scotchman  settled  in  the  United  States,  unites  much  knowledge,  an  original  vein 
of  thought,  a  considerable  turn  for  philosophic  generalities,  and  a  manner  of  ex- 
position and  illustration  calculated  to  make  ideas  tell  not  only  for  what  they  are 
worth,  but  for  more  than  they  are  worth,  and  which  sometimes,  I  think,  has  that 
effect  in  the  writer's  own  mind.  The  principal  fault  of  the  book  is  the  position 
of  antagonism  in  which,  with  the  controversial  spirit  apt  to  be  found  in  those 
who  have  new  thoughts  on  old  subjects,  he  has  placed  himself  towards  Adam 
Smith.  I  call  this  a  fault,  (though  I  think  many  of  the  criticisms  just,  and  some 
of  them  far-seeing,)  because  there  is  much  less  real  difference  of  opinion  than 
might  be  supposed  from  Mr.  Rae's  animadversions ;  and  because  what  he  has 
found  vulnerable  in  his  great  predecessor  is  chiefly  the  " human  too  much"  in 
his  premises ;  the  portion  of  them  that  is  over  and  above  what  was  either  re- 
quired or  is  actually  used  for  the  establishment  of  his  conclusions. 


apt  to  be  frugal,  than  in  unhealthy  or  hazardous  occupa- 
tions, and  in  climates  pernicious  to  human  life.  Sailors  and 
soldiers  are  prodigals.  In  the  West  Indies,  New  Orleans, 
the  East  Indies,  the  expenditure  of  the  inhabitants  is  pro- 
fuse. The  same  people,  coining  to  reside  in  the  healthy 
parts  of  Europe,  and  not  getting  into  the  vortex  of  extrava- 
gant fashion,  live  economically.  War  and  pestilence  have 
always  waste  and  luxury  among  the  other  evils  that  follow 
in  their  train.  For  similar  reasons,  whatever  gives  security 
to  the  affairs  of  the  community  is  favourable  to  the  strength 
of  this  principle.  In  this  respect  the  general  prevalence  of 
law  and  order,  and  the  prospect  of  the  continuance  of  peace 
and  tranquillity,  have  considerable  influence."  *  The  more 
perfect  the  security,  the  greater  will  be  the  effective  strength 
of  the  desire  of  accumulation.  Where  property  is  less  safe, 
or  the  vicissitudes  ruinous  to  fortunes  are  more  frequent  and 
severe,  fewer  persons  will  save  at  all,  and  of  those  who  do, 
many  will  require  the  inducement  of  a  higher  rate  of  profit 
on  capital,  to  make  them  prefer  a  doubtful  future  to  the 
temptation  of  present  enjoyment. 

These  are  considerations  which  affect  the  expediency,  in 
the  eye  of  reason,  of  consulting  future  interests  at  the 
expense  of  present.  But  the  inclination  to  make  this  sacri- 
fice does  not  solely  depend  upon  its  expediency.  The  dispo- 
sition to  save  is  often  far  short  of  what  reason  would  dictate : 
and  at  other  times  is  liable  to  be  in  excess  of  it. 

Deficient  strength  of  the  desire  of  accumulation  may 
arise  from  improvidence,  or  from  want  of  interest  in  others. 
Improvidence  may  be  connected  with  intellectual  as  well  as 
moral  causes.  Individuals  and  communities  of  a  very  low 
state  of  intelligence  are  always  improvident.  A  certain 
measure  of  intellectual  development  seems  necessary  to 
enable  absent  things,  and  especially  things  future,  to  act 
with  any  force  on  the  imagination  and  will.  The  effect  of 
want  of  interest  in  others  in  diminishing  accumulation,  will 
be  admitted,  if  we  consider  how  much  saving  at  present 

10  •  Rae,  p.  123. 

218  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XI.     §3. 

takes  place,  which  has  for  its  object  the  interest  of  others 
rather  than  of  ourselves ;  the  education  of  children,  their 
advancement  in  life,  the  future  interests  of  other  personal 
connexions,  the  desire  of  promoting  by  the  bestowal  of 
money  or  time,  objects  of  public  or  private  usefulness.  If 
mankind  were  generally  in  the  state  of  mind  to  which  some 
approach  was  seen  in  the  declining  period  of  the  Eoman 
empire— caring  nothing  for  their  heirs,  as  well  as  nothing 
for  friends,  the  public,  or  any  object  which  survived  them — 
they  would  seldom  deny  themselves  any  indulgence  for  the 
sake  of  saving,  beyond  what  was  necessary  for  their  own 
future  years ;  which  they  would  place  in  life  annuities,  or  in 
some  other  form  which  would  make  its  existence  and  their 
lives  terminate  together. 

§  3.  From  these  various  causes,  intellectual  and  moral, 
there  is,  in  different  portions  of  the  human  race,  a  greater 
diversity  than  is  usually  adverted  to,  in  the  strength  of  the 
effective  desire  of  accumulation.  A  backward  state  of  gen- 
eral civilization  is  often  more  the  effect  of  deficiency  in  this 
particular  than  in  many  others  which  attract  more  atten- 
tion. In  the  circumstances,  for  example,  of  a  hunting  tribe, 
"  man  may  be  said  to  be  necessarily  improvident,  and  re- 
gardless of  futurity,  because,  in  this  state,  the  future  pre- 
sents nothing  which  can  be  with  certainty  either  foreseen  or 

governed Besides  a  want  of  the  motives  exciting 

to  provide  for  the  needs  of  futurity  through  means  of  the 
abilities  of  the  present,  there  is  a  want  of  the  habits  of  per- 
ception and  action,  leading  to  a  constant  connexion  in  the 
mind  of  those  distant  points,  and  of  the  series  of  events  serv- 
ing to  unite  them.  Even,  therefore,  if  motives  be  awakened 
capable  of  producing  the  exertion  necessary  to  effect  this 
connexion,  there  remains  the  task  of  training  the  mind  to 
think  and  act  so  as  to  establish  it." 

For  instance :  "  Upon  the  banks  of  the  St.  Lawrence 
there  are  several  little  Indian  villages.  They  are  surround- 
ed, in  general,  by  a  good  deal  of  land,  from  which  the  wood 


seems  to  have  been  long  extirpated,  and  have,  besides, 
attached  to  them,  extensive  tracts  of  forest.  The  cleared 
land  is  rarely,  I  may  almost  say  never,  cultivated,  nor  are 
any  inroads  made  in  the  forest  for  such  a  purpose.  The  soil 
is,  nevertheless,  fertile,  and  were  it  not,  manure  lies  in  heaps 
by  their  houses.  Were  every  family  to  inclose  half  an  acre 
of  ground,  till  it,  and  plant  it  in  potatoes  and  maize,  it 
would  yield  a  sufficiency  to  support  them  one  half  the  year. 
They  suffer,  too,  every  now  and  then,  extreme  want,  inso- 
much that,  joined  to  occasional  intemperance,  it  is  rapidly 
reducing  their  numbers.  This,  to  us,  so  strange  apathy 
proceeds  not,  in  any  great  degree,  from  repugnance  to  la- 
bour; on  the  contrary,  they  apply  very  diligently  to  it 
when  its  reward  is  immediate.  Thus,  besides  their  peculiar 
occupations  of  hunting  and  fishing,  in  which  they  are  ever 
ready  to  engage,  they  are  much  employed  in  the  navigation 
of  the  St.  Lawrence,  and  may  be  seen  labouring  at  the  oar, 
or  setting  with  the  pole,  in  the  large  boats  used  for  the  pur- 
pose, and  always  furnish  the  greater  part  of  the  additional 
hands  necessary  to  conduct  rafts  through  some  of  the  rapids. 
Nor  is  the  obstacle  aversion  to  agricultural  labour.  This  is 
no  doubt  a  prejudice  of  theirs  ;  but  mere  prejudices  always 
yield,  principles  of  action  cannot  be  created.  When  the  re- 
turns from  agricultural  labour  are  speedy  and  great,  they 
are  also  agriculturists.  Thus,  some  of  the  little  islands  on 
Lake  St.  Francis,  near  the  Indian  village  of  St.  Regis,  are 
favourable  to  the  growth  of  maize,  a  plant  yielding  a  return 
of  a  hundredfold,  and  forming,  even  when  half  ripe,  a  plea- 
sant and  substantial  repast.  Patches  of  the  best  land  on 
these  islands  are,  therefore,  every  year  cultivated  by  them 
for  this  purpose.  As  their  situation  renders  them  inacces- 
sible to  cattle,  no  fence  is  required ;  were  this  additional 
outlay  necessary,  I  suspect  they  would  be  neglected,  like 
the  commons  adjoining  their  village.  These  had  apparent- 
ly, at  one  time,  been  under  crop.  The  cattle  of  the  neigh- 
bouring settlers  would  now,  however,  destroy  any  crop  not 
securely  fenced,  and  this  additional  necessary  outlay  conse* 

220  B00K  L     CHAPTER  XI.     J  3., 

quently  bars  their  culture.  It  removes  them  to  an  order 
of  instruments  of  slower  return  than  that  which  corresponds 
to  the  strength  of  the  effective  desire  of  accumulation  in  this 
little  society. 

"  It  is  here  deserving  of  notice,  that  what  instruments 
of  this  kind  they  do  form,  are  completely  formed.  The 
small  spots  of  corn  they  cultivate  are  thoroughly  weeded 
and  hoed.  A  little  neglect  in  this  part  would  indeed  reduce 
the  crop  very  much  ;  of  this  experience  has  made  them  per- 
fectly aware,  and  they  act  accordingly.  It  is  evidently  not 
the  necessary  labour  that  is  the  obstacle  to  more  extended 
culture,  but  the  distant  return  from  that  labour.  I  am 
assured,  indeed,  that  among  some  of  the  more  remote  tribes, 
the  labour  thus  expended  much  exceeds  that  given  by  the 
whites.  The  same  portions  of  ground  being  cropped  with- 
out remission,  and  manure  not  being  used,  they  would 
scarcely  yield  any  return,  were  not  the  soil  most  carefully 
broken  and  pulverized,  both  with  the  hoe  and  the  hand.  In 
such  a  situation  a  white  man  would  clear  a  fresh  piece  of 
ground.  It  would  perhaps  scarce  repay  his  labour  the  first 
year,  and  he  would  have  to  look  for  his  reward  in  succeed- 
ing years.  On  the  Indian,  succeeding  years  are  too  distant 
to  make  sufficient  impression  ;  though,  to  obtain  what 
labour  may  bring  about  in  the  course  of  a  few  months,  he 
toils  even  more  assiduously  than  the  white  man."  * 

This  view  of  things  is  confirmed  by  the  experience  of 
the  Jesuits,  in  their  interesting  efforts  to  civilize  the  Indians 
of  Paraguay.  They  gained  the  confidence  of  these  savages 
in  a  most  extraordinary  degree.  They  acquired  influence 
over  them  sufficient  to  make  them  change  their  whole  man- 
ner of  life.  They  obtained  their  absolute  submission  and 
obedience.  They  established  peace.  They  taught  them  all 
the  operations  of  European  agriculture,  and  many  of  the 
more  difficult  arts.  There  were  everywhere  to  be  seen,  ac- 
cording to  Charlevoix,  "  workshops  of  gilders,  painters, 
sculptors,   goldsmiths,   watchmakers,    carpenters,    joiners, 

Rae,  p.  136. 


dyers,"  &c.  These  occupations  were  not  practised  for  the 
personal  gain  of  the  artificers  :  the  produce  was  at  the  abso- 
lute disposal  of  the  missionaries,  who  ruled  the  people  by  a 
voluntary  despotism.  The  obstacles  arising  from  aversion 
to  labour  were  therefore  very  completely  overcome.  The 
real  difficulty  was  the  improvidence  of  the  people  ;  their 
inability  to  think  for  the  future  ;  and  the  necessity  accord- 
ingly of  the  most  unremitting  and  minute  superintendence 
on  the  part  of  their  instructors.  "  Thus  at  first,  if  these 
gave  up  to  them  the  care  of  the  oxen  with  which  they 
ploughed,  their  indolent  thoughtlessness  would  probably 
leave  them  at  evening  still  yoked  to  the  implement.  Worse 
than  this,  instances  occurred  where  they  cut  them  up  for  sup- 
per, thinking,  when  reprehended,  that  they  sufficiently  ex- 
cused themselves  by  saying  they  were  hungry.  .  .  .  These 
fathers,  says  Ulloa,  have  to  visit  the  houses,  to  examine  what 
is  really  wanted :  for,  without  this  care,  the  Indians  would 
never  look  after  anything.  They  must  be  present,  to6, 
when  animals  were  slaughtered,  not  only  that  the  meat 
may  be  equally  divided,  but  that  nothing  may  be  lost." 
"  But  notwithstanding  all  this  care  and  superintendence," 
says  Charlevoix,  "  and  all  the  precautions  which  are  taken 
to  prevent  any  want  of  the  necessaries  of  life,  the  mission- 
aries are  sometimes  much  embarrassed.  It  often  happens 
that  they,"  (the  Indians,)  "  do  not  reserve  to  themselves  a 
sufficiency  of  grain,  even  for  seed.  As  for  their  other  pro- 
visions, were  they  not  well  looked  after,  they  would  soon  be 
without  wherewithal  to  support  life."  * 

As  an  example  intermediate,  in  the  strength  of  the  effec- 
tive desire  of  accumulation,  between  the  state  of  things  thus 
depicted  and  that  of  modern  Europe,  the  case  of  the  Chinese 
deserves  attention.  From  various  circumstances  in  their 
personal  habits  and  social  condition,  it  might  be  antici- 
pated that  they  would  possess  a  degree  of  prudence  and 
self-control  greater  than  other  Asiatics,  but  inferior  to  most 

*  Rae,  p.  140. 

222  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  XI.    {3. 

European  nations ;  and  the  following  evidence  is  adduced 
of  the  fact. 

"  Durability  is  one  of  the  chief  qualities,  marking  a  high 
degree  of  the  effective  desire  of  accumulation.  The  testi- 
mony of  travellers  ascribes  to  the  instruments  formed  by  the 
Chinese,  a  very  inferior  durability  to  similar  instruments 
constructed  by  Europeans.  The  houses,  we  are  told,  un- 
less of  the  higher  ranks,  are  in  general  of  unburnt  bricks, 
of  clay,  or  of  hurdles  plastered  with  earth ;  the  roofs,  of 
reeds  fastened  to  laths.  We  can  scarcely  conceive  more 
unsubstantial  or  temporary  fabrics.  Their  partitions  are  of 
paper,  requiring  to  be  renewed  every  year.  A  similar  ob- 
servation may  be  made  concerning  their  implements  of  hus- 
bandry, and  other  utensils.  They  are  almost  entirely  of 
wood,  the  metals  entering  but  very  sparingly  into  their  con- 
struction ;  consequently  they  soon  wear  out,  and  require 
frequent  renewals.  A  greater  degree  of  strength  in  the 
effective  desire  of  accumulation,  would  cause  them  to  be 
constructed  of  materials  requiring  a  greater  present  expen- 
diture, but  being  far  more  durable.  From  the  same  cause, 
much  land,  that  in  other  countries  would  be  cultivated,  lies 
waste.  All  travellers  take  notice  of  large  tracts  of  lands, 
chiefly  swamps,  which  continue  in  a  state  of  nature.  To 
bring  a  swamp  into  tillage  is  generally  a  process,  to  com- 
plete which,  requires  several  years.  It  must  be  previously 
drained,  the  surface  long  exposed  to  the  sun,  and  many 
operations  performed,  before  it  can  be  made  capable  of  bear- 
ing a  crop.  Though  yielding,  probably,  a  very  consider- 
able return  for  the  labour  bestowed  on  it,  that  return  is  not 
made  until  a  long  time  has  elapsed.  The  cultivation  of 
such  land  implies  a  greater  strength  of  the  effective  desiro 
of  accumulation  than  exists  in  the  empire. 

"  The  produce  of  the  harvest  is,  as  we  have  remarked, 
always  an  instrument  of  some  order  or  another ;  it  is  a  pro- 
vision for  future  want,  and  regulated  by  the  same  laws  as 
those  to  which  other  means  of  attaining  a  similar  jend  con- 
form.    It  is  there  chiefly  rice,  of  which  there  are  two  har- 


vests,  the  one  in  June,  the  other  in  October.  The  period 
then  of  eight  months  between  October  and  June  is  that  for 
which  provision  is  made  each  year,  and  the  different  esti- 
mate they  make  of  to-day  and  this  day  eight  months  will 
appear  in  the  sell-denial  they  practise  now,  in  order  to 
guard  against  want  then.  The  amount  of  this  self-denial 
would  seem  to  be  small.  The  father  Parennin,  indeed, 
(who  seems  to  have  been  one  of  the  most  intelligent  of  the 
Jesuits,  and  spent  a  long  life  among  the  Chinese  of  all 
classes,)  asserts,  that  it  is  their  great  deficiency  in  fore- 
thought and  frugality  in  this  respect,  which  is  the  cause  of 
the  scarcities  and  famines  that  frequently  occur." 

That  it  is  defect  of  providence,  not  defect  of  industry, 
that  limits  production  among  the  Chinese,  is  still  more 
obvious  than  in  the  case  of  the  semi-agriculturized  Indians. 
"  Where  the  returns  are  quick,  where  the  instruments 
•  formed  require  but  little  time  to  bring  the  events  for  which 
they  were  formed  to  an  issue,"  it  is  well  known  that  "  the 
great  progress  which  has  been  made  in  the  knowledge  of 
the  arts  suited  to  the  nature  of  the  country  and  the  wants  of 
its  inhabitants"  makes  industry  energetic  and  effective. 
"  The  warmth  of  the  climate,  the  natural  fertility  of  the 
country,  the  knowledge  which  the  inhabitants  have  acquired 
of  the  arts  of  agriculture,  and  the  discovery  and  gradual 
adaptation  to  every  soil  of  the  most  useful  vegetable  prod  no- 
tions, enable  them  very  speedily  to  draw  from  almost  any 
part  of  the  surface,  what  is  there  esteemed  an  equivalent  to 
much  more  than  the  labour  bestowed  in  tilling  and  cropping 
it.  They  have  commonly  double,  sometimes  treble  harvests. 
These,  when  they  consist  of  a  grain  so  productive  as  rice, 
the  usual  crop,  can  scarce  fail  to  yield  to  their  skill,  from 
almost  any  portion  of  soil  that  can  be  at  once  brought  into 
culture,  Very  ample  returns.  Accordingly  there  is  no  spot 
that  labour  can  immediately  bring  under  cultivation  that  is 
not  made  to  yield  to  it.  Hills,  even  mountains,  are  ascend- 
ed and  formed  into  terraces ;  and  water,  in  that  country  the 
great  productive  agent,  is  led  to  every  part  by  drains,  or 

224  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XI.     §3. 

carried  tip  to  it  by  the  ingenious  and  simple  hydraulic  ma- 
chines which  have  been  in  use  from  time  immemorial  among 
this  singular  people.  They  effect  this  the  more  easily,  from 
the  soil,  even  in  these  situations,  being  very  deep  and  cov- 
ered with  much  vegetable  mould.  But  what  yet  more  than 
this  marks  the  readiness  with  which  labour  is  forced  to  form 
the  most  difficult  materials  into  instruments,  where  these 
instruments  soon  bring  to  an  issue  the  events  for  which  they 
are  formed,  is  the  frequent  occurrence  on  many  of  their 
lakes  and  rivers,  of  structures  resembling  the  floating 
gardens  of  the  Peruvians,  rafts  covered  with  vegetable  soil 
and  cultivated.  Labour  in  this  way  draws  from  the  mate- 
rials on  which  it  acts  very  speedy  returns.  Nothing  can 
exceed  the  luxuriance  of  vegetation  when  the  quickening 
powers  of  a  genial  sun  are  ministered  to  by  a  rich  soil  and 
abundant  moisture.  It  is  otherwise,  as  we  have  6een,  in 
cases  where  the  return,  though  copious,  is  distant.  Euro- 
pean travellers  are  surprised  at  meeting  these  little  floating 
farms  by  the  side  of  swamps  which  only  require  draining  to 
render  them  tillable.  It  seems  to  them  strange  that  labour 
should  not  rather  be  bestowed  on  the  solid  earth,  where  its 
fruits  might  endure,  than  on  structures  that  must  decay  and 
perish  in  a  few  years.  The  people  they  are  among  think 
not  so  much  of  future  years  as  of  the  present  time.  The 
effective  desire  of  accumulation  is  of  very  different  strength 
in  the  one,  from  what  it  is  in  the  other.  The  views  of  the 
European  extend  to  a  distant  futurity,  and  he  is  surprised  at 
the  Chinese,  condemned,  through  improvidence,  and  want 
of  sufficient  prospective  care,  to  incessant  toil,  and  as  he 
thinks,  insufferable  wretchedness.  The  views  of  the  Chinese 
are  confined  to  narrower  bounds  ;  he  is  content  to  live  from 
day  to  day,  and  has  learnt  to  conceive  even  a  life  of  toil  a 
blessing."  * 

When  a  country  has  carried  production  as  far  as  in  the 
existing  state  of  knowledge  it  can  be  carried  with  an  amount 
of  return  corresponding  to  the  average  strength  of  the  effec- 

*  Bae,  pp.  151—6. 


tive  desire  of  accumulation  in  that  country,  it  has  reached 
what  is  called  the  stationary  state ;  the  state  in  which  no 
further  addition  will  be  made  to  capital,  unless  there  takes 
place  either  some  improvement  in  the  arts  of  production,  or 
an  increase  in  the  strength  of  the  desire  to  accumulate.  In 
the  stationary  state,  though  capital  does  not  on  the  whole 
increase,  some  persons  grow  richer  and  others  poorer. 
Those  whose  degree  of  providence  is  below  the  usual  stand- 
ard, become  impoverished,  their  capital  perishes,  and 
makes  room  for  the  savings  of  those  whose  effective  desire 
of  accumulation  exceeds  the  average.  These  become  the 
natural  purchasers  of  the  lands,  manufactories,  and  other 
instruments  of  production  owned  by  their  less  provident 

What  the  causes  are  which  make  the  return  to  capital 
greater  in  one  country  than  in  another,  and  which,  in  cer- 
tain circumstances,  make  it  impossible  for  any  additional 
capital  to  find  investment  unless  at  diminished  returns,  will 
appear  clearly  hereafter.  In  China,  if  that  country  has 
really  attained,  as  it  is  supposed  to  have  done,  the  stationary 
state,  accumulation  has  stopped  when  the  returns  to  capital 
are  still  as  high  as  is  indicated  by  a  rate  of  interest  legally 
twelve  per  cent,  and  practically  varying  (it  is  said)  between 
eighteen  and  thirty-six.  It  is  to  be  presumed  therefore  that 
no  greater  amount  of  capital  than  the  country  already  pos- 
sesses, can  find  employment  at  this  high  rate  of  profit,  and 
that  any  lower  rate  does  not  hold  out  to  a  Chinese  sufficient 
temptation  to  induce  him  to  abstain. from  present  enjoy- 
ment. What  a  contrast  with  Holland,  where,  during  the 
most  flourishing  period  of  its  history,  the  government  was 
able  habitually  to  borrow  at  two  per  cent,  and  private  indi- 
viduals, on  good  security,  at  three.  Since  China  is  not  a 
country  like  Burmah,  or  the  native  states  of  India,  where  an 
enormous  interest  is  but  an  indispensable  compensation  for 
the  risk  incurred  from  the  bad  faith  or  poverty  of  the  state, 
and  of  almost  all  private  borrowers  ;  the  fact,  if  fact  it  be, 
that  the  increase  of  capital  has  come  to  a  stand  while  the 

226  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XI.     J  4. 

returns  to  it  are  still  so  large*  denotes  a  much  less  degree  of 
the  effecth  3  desire  of  accumulation,  in  other  words  a  much 
lower  estimate  of  the  future  relatively  to  the  present,  than 
that  of  most  European  nations. 

§  4.  We  have  hitherto  spoken  of  countries  in  which  the 
average  strength  of  the  desire  to  accumulate  is  short  of 
that  which,  in  circumstances  of  any  tolerable  security,  reason 
and  sober  calculation  would  approve.  We  have  now  to 
speak  of  others  in  which  it  decidedly  surpasses  that  stand- 
ard. In  the  more  prosperous  countries  of  Europe,  there 
are  to  be  found  abundance  of  prodigals ;  in  some  of  them 
(and  in  none  more  than  England)  the  ordinary  degree  of 
economy  and  providence  among  those  who  live  by  manual 
labour  cannot  be  considered  high  ;  still,  in  a  very  numerous 
portion  of  the  community,  the  professional,  manufacturing, 
and  trading  classes,  being  those  who,  generally  speaking, 
unite  more  of  the  means  with  more  of  the  motives  for  saving 
than  any  other  class,  the  spirit  of  accumulation  is  so  strong, 
that  the  signs  of  rapidly  increasing  wealth  meet  every  eye : 
and  the  great  amount  of  capital  seeking  investment  excites 
astonishment,  whenever  peculiar  circumstances  turning 
much  of  it  into  some  one  channel,  such  as  railway  con- 
struction or  foreign  speculative  adventure,  bring  the  large- 
ness of  the  total  amount  into  evidence. 

There  are  many  circumstances,  which,  in  England,  give 
a  peculiar  force  to  the  accumulating  propensity.  The  long 
exemption  of  the  country  from  the  ravages  of  war,  and  the 
far  earlier  period  than  elsewhere  at  which  property  was 
secure  from  military  violence  or  arbitrary  spoliation,  have 
produced  a  long-standing  and  hereditary  confidence  in  the 
safety  of  funds  when  trusted  out  of  the  owner's  hands,  which 
in  most  other  countries  is  of  much  more  recent  origin,  and 
less  firmly  established.  The  geographical  causes  which  have 
made  industry  rather  than  war  the  natural  source  of  power 
and  importance  to  Great  Britain,  have  turned  an  unusual 
proportion  of  the  most  enterprising  and  energetic  characters 


into  the  direction  of  manufactures  and  commerce ;  into  sup- 
plying their  wants  and  gratifying  their  ambition  by  pro- 
ducing and  saving,  rather  than  by  appropriating  what  has 
been  produced  and  saved.  Much  also  depended  on  the 
better  political  institutions  of  this  country,  which  by  the 
scope  they  have  allowed  to  individual  freedom  of  action, 
have  encouraged  personal  activity  and  self-reliance,  while 
by  the  liberty  they  confer  of  association  and  combination, 
they  facilitate  industrial  enterprise  on  a  large  scale.  The 
same  institutions  in  another  of  their  aspects,  give  a  most 
direct  and  potent  stimulus  to  the  desire  of  acquiring  wealth. 
The  earlier  decline  of  feudalism  having  removed  or  much 
weakened  invidious  distinctions  between  the  originally  trad- 
ing classes  and  those  who  had  been  accustomed  to  despise 
them ;  and  a  polity  having  grown  up  which  made  wealth  the 
real  source  of  political  influence ;  its  acquisition  was  invested 
with  a  factitious  value,  independent  of  its  intrinsic  utility.  It 
became  synonymous  with  power ;  and  since  power  with  the 
common  herd  of  mankind  gives  power,  wealth  became  the 
chief  source  of  personal  consideration,  and.  the  measure  and 
stamp  of  success  in  life.  To  get  out  of  one  rank  in  society 
into  the  next  above  it,  is  the  great  aim  of  English  bourgeois 
life,  and  the  acquisition  of  wealth  the  means.  And  inas- 
much as  to  be  rich  without  industry,  has  always  hitherto 
constituted  a  step  in  the  social  scale  above  those  who  are 
rich  by  means  of  industry,  it  becomes  the  object  of  ambition 
to  #aye  not  merely  as  much  as  will  afford  a  large  income 
while  in  business,  but  enough  to  retire,  from  business  and 
live  in  affluence  on  realized  gains.  These  causes  are,  in 
England,  greatly  aided  by  that  extreme  incapacity  of  the 
people  for  personal  enjoyment,  which  is  a  characteristic  of 
countries  over  which  puritanism  has  passed.  But  if  accu- 
mulation is,  on  one  hand,  rendered  easier  by  the  absence  of 
a  taste  for  pleasure,  it  is,  on  the  other,  made  more  difficult 
by  the  presence  of  a  very  real  taste  for  expense.  So  strong 
is  the  association  between  personal  consequence  and  the 
signs  of  wealth,  that  the  silly  desire  for  the  appearance  of  a 

BOOK  t.     CHAPTER  XI.     |4. 

large  expenditure  has  the  force  of  a  passion,  among  large 
classes  of  a  nation  which  derives  less  pleasure  than  perhaps 
any  other  in  the  world  from  what  it  spends.  Owing  to  this 
circumstance,  the  effective  desire  of  accumulation  has  never 
reached  so  high  a  pitch  in  England  as  it  did  in  Holland, 
where,  there  being  no  rich  idle  class  to  set  the  example  of  a 
reckless  expenditure,  and  the  mercantile  classes,  who  possess 
the  substantial  power  on  which  social  influence  always 
waits,  being  left  to  establish  their  own  scale  of  living  and 
standard  of  propriety,  their  habits  remained  frugal  and 

In  England  and  Holland,  then,  for  a  long  time  past,  and 
now  in  most  other  countries  in  Europe  (which  are  rapidly 
following  England  in  the  same  race,)  the  desire  of  accumu- 
lation does  not  require,  to  make  it  effective,  the  copious 
returns  which  it  requires  in  Asia,  but  is  sufficiently  called 
into  action  by  a  rate  of  profit  so  low,  that  instead  of  slacken- 
ing, accumulation  seems  now  to  proceed  more  rapidly  than 
ever ;  and  the  second  requisite  of  increased  production,  in- 
crease of  capital,  shows  no  tendency  to  become  deficient. 
So  far  as  that  element  is  concerned,  production  is  susceptible 
of  an  increase  without  any  assignable  bounds. 

The  progress  of  accumulation  would  no  doubt  be  consid- 
erably checked,  if  the  returns  to  capital  were  to  be  reduced 
still  lower  than  at  present.  But  why  should  any  possible 
increase  of  capital  have  that  effect  ?  This  question  carries 
the  mind  forward  to  the  remaining  one  of  the  three  requi- 
sites of  production.  The  limitation  to  production,  not  con- 
sisting in  any  necessary  limit  to  the  increase  of  the  other 
two  elements,  labour  and  capital,  must  turn  upon  the  prop- 
erties of  the  only  element  which  is  inherently,  and  in  it- 
self, limited  in  quantity.  It  must  depend  on  the  properties 
of  land. 


'   ') 


§  1.  Land  differs  from  the  other  elements  of  produc- 
tion, labour  and  capital,  in  not  being  susceptible  of  in- 
definite increase.  Its  extent  is  limited,  and  the  extent  of 
the  more  productive  kinds  of  it  more  limited  still.  It  is 
also  evident  that  the  quantity  of  produce  capable  of  being 
raised  on  any  given  piece  of  land  is  not  indefinite.  This 
limited  quantity  of  land,  and  limited  productiveness  of  it, 
are  the  real  limits  to  the  increase  of  production. 

That  they  are  the  ultimate  limits,  must  always  have  been 
clearly  seen.  But  since  the  final  barrier  has  never  in  any 
instance  been  reached  ;  6iuce  there  is  no  country  in  which 
all  the  land,  capable  of  yielding  food,  is  so  highly  cultivated 
that  a  larger  produce  could  not  (even  without  supposing  any 
fresh  advance  in  agricultural  knowledge)  be  obtained  from 
it,  and  since  a  large  portion  of  the  earth's  surface  still  re- 
mains entirely  uncultivated  ;  it  is  commonly  thought,  and  is 
very  natural  at  first  to  suppose,  that  for  the  present  all  lim- 
itation of  production  or  population  from  this  source  is  at  an 
indefinite  distance,  and  that  ages  must  elapse  before  any 
practical  necessity  arises  for  taking  the  limiting  principle 
into  serious  consideration. 

I  apprehend  this  to  be  not  only  an  error,  but  the  most 
serious  one,  to  be  found  in  the  whole  field  of  political  econ- 
omy. The  question  is  more  important  and  fundamental 
than  any  other ;  it  involves  the  whole  subject  of  the  causes 

230  BOOK  L     CHAPTER  XII.     §2. 

of  poverty,  in  a  rich  and  industrious  community ;  and 
unless  this  one  matter  be  thoroughly  understood,  it  is  to  no 
purpose  proceeding  any  further  in  our  inquiry. 

§  2.  The  limitation  to  production  from  the  properties 
of  the  soil,  is  not  like  the  obstacle  opposed  by  a  wall,  which 
stands  immoveable  in  one  particular  spot,  and  offers  no  hin- 
drance to  motion  short  of  stopping  it  entirely.  We  may 
rather  compare  it  to  a  highly  elastic  and  extensible  band, 
which  is  hardly  ever  so  violently  stretched  that  it  could  not 
possibly  be  stretched  any  more,  yet  the  pressure  of  which  is 
felt  long  before  the  final  limit  is  reached,  and  felt  more 
severely  the  nearer  that  limit  is  approached. 

After  a  certain,  and  not  very  advanced,  stage  in  the  prog- 
ress of  agriculture ;  as  soon,  in  fact,  as  mankind  have  ap- 
plied themselves  to  cultivation  with  any  energy,  and  have 
brought  to  it  any  tolerable  tools;  from  that  time  it  ia  the 
law  of  production  from  the  land,  that  in  any  given  state  of 
agricultural  skill  and  knowledge,  by  increasing  the  labour, 
the  produce  is  not  increased  in  an  equal  degree;  doubling 
the  labour  does  not  double  the  produce  ;  or,  to  express  the 
same  thing  in  other  words,  every  increase  of  produce  is  ob- 
tained by  a  more  than  proportional  increase  in  the  applica- 
tion of  labour  to  the  laud. 

This  general  law  of  agricultural   industry  is  the  most 
important  proposition  in  political  economy.     Were  the  law 
different,  nearly  all  the  phenomena  of  the  production  and 
distribution  of  wealth  would  be  other  than   they  are.     Tb 
most  fundamental  errors  which  still  prevail  on  our  subject, 
result  from  not  perceiving  this  law  at  work  tmdcrnttaUi 
more  superficial  agencies  on  winch  attention  tl 
mistaking  those  age  in.  iea  for  the  uHimiuV 
of  which  they  may  influence  the  form  i 
which  it  alone  determines  the  essence. 

When,  for  the  purpose  of  raising  n 
recourse  is  had  to  inferior  land,  it  Ji 
produce  does  not  increase  in  tin 


labour.  The  very  meaning  of  inferior  land,  is  land  which 
with  equal  labour  returns  a  smaller  amount  of  produce. 
Land  may  be  inferior  either  in  fertility  or  in  situation.  The 
one  requires  a  greater  proportional  amount  of  labour  for 
growing  the  produce,  the  other  for  carrying  it  to  market. 
If  the  land  A  yields  a  thousand  quarters  of  wheat,  to  a  given 
outlay  in  wages,  manure,  &c,  and  in  order  to  raise  another 
thousand  recourse  must  be  had  to  the  land  B,  which  is  either 
less  fertile  or  more  distant  from  the  market,  the  two  thou- 
sand quarters  will  cost  more  than  twice  as  much  labour  as 
the  original  thousand,  and  the  produce  of  agriculture  will  be 
increased  in  a  less  ratio  than  the  labour  employed  in  pro- 
curing it. 

Instead  of  cultivating  the  land  B,  it  would  be  possible, 
by  higher  cultivation,  to  make  the  land  A  produce  more. 
It  might  be  ploughed  or  harrowed  twice  instead  of  once,  or 
three  times  instead  of  twice ;  it  might  be  dug  instead  of 
being  ploughed ;  after  ploughing,  it  might  be  gone  over  with 
a  hoe  instead  of  a.  harrow,  and  the  soil  more  completely  pul- 
verized ;  it  might  be  oftener  or  more  thoroughly  weeded ; 
the  implements  used  might  be  of  higher  finish,  or  more  elab- 
orate construction ;  a  greater  quantity  or  more  expensive 
kinds  of  manure  might  be  applied,  or  when  applied,  they 
might  be  more  carefully  mixed  and  incorporated  with  the 
soil.  These  are  some  of  the  modes  by  which  the  same  land 
may  be  made  to  yield  a  greater  produce ;  and  when  a 
greater  produce  must  be  had,  some  of  .these  are  among  the 
means  usually  employed  for  obtaining  it.  But,  that  it  is 
obtained  at  a  more  than  proportional  increase  of  expense, 
is  evident  from. the  fact  that  inferior  lands  are  cultivated. 
Inferior  lands,  or  lands  at  a  greater  distance  from  the  mar- 
ket, of  course  yield  an  inferior  return,  and  an  increasing 
demand  cannot  be  supplied  from  them  unless  at  an  augmen- 
tation of  cost,  and  therefore  of  price.  If  the  additional  de- 
mand could  continue  to  he  supplied  from  the  superior  lands, 
by  applying  additional  labour  and  capital,  at  no  greater 
proportional  cost  than  that  at  which  they  yield  the  quantity 

232  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XII.     §  2. 

first  demanded  of  them,  the  owners  or  farmers  of  those  lands 
could  undersell  all  others,  and  engross  the  whole  market. 
Lands  of  a  lower  degree  of  fertility  or  in  a  more  remote 
situation,  might  indeed  be  cultivated  by  their  proprietors, 
for  the  sake  of  subsistence  or  independence ;  but  it  never 
could  be  the  interest  of  any  one  to  farm  them  for  profit 
That  a  profit  can  be  made  from  them,  sufficient  to  attract 
capital  to  such  an  investment,  is  a  proof  that  cultivation  on 
the  more  eligible  lands  has  reached  a  point,  beyond  which 
any  greater  application  of  labour  and  capital  would  yield,  at 
the  best,  no  greater  return  than  can  be  obtained  at  the  same 
expense  from  less  fertile  or  less  favourably  situated  lands. 

The  careful  cultivation  of  a  well-farmed  district  of  Eng- 
land or  Scotland  is  a  symptom  and  an  effect  of  the  more 
unfavourable  terms  which  the  land  has  begun  to  exact  for 
any  increase  of  its  fruits.  Such  elaborate  cultivation  costs 
much  more  in  proportion,  and  requires  a  higher  price  to 
render  it  profitable,  than  farming  on  a  more  superficial  sys- 
tem ;  and  would  not  be  adopted  if  access  could  be  had  to 
land  of  equal  fertility,  previously  unoccupied.  Where  there 
is  the  choice  of  raising  the  increasing  supply  which  society 
requires,  from  fresh  land  of  as  good  quality  as  that  already 
cultivated,  no  attempt  is  made  to  extract  from  land  anything 
approaching  to  what  it  will  yield  on  what  are  esteemed  the 
best  European  modes  of  cultivating.  The  land  is  tasked  up 
to  the  point  at  which  the  greatest  return  is  obtained  in  pro- 
portion to  the  labour  employed,  but  no  further :  any  addi- 
tional labour  is  carried  elsewhere.  "  It  is  long,"  says  a  late 
traveller  in  the  United  States,*  "before  an  English  eye 
becomes  reconciled  to  the  lightness  of  the  crops  and  the 
careless  farming  (as  we  should  call  it)  which  is, apparent. 
One  forgets  that  where  land  is  so  plentiful  and  labour  so 
dear  as  it  is  here,  a  totally  different  principle  must  be  pur- 
sued to  that  which  prevails  in  populous  countries,  and  that 
the  consequence  will  of  course  be  a  want  of  tidiness,  as  it 

*  Letters  from  America,  by  John  Robert  Godley,  vol.  i.  p.  42.     See  also 
Lyeirs  Travels  in  America,  vol.  ii.  p.  83. 


were,  and  finish,  about  everything  which  requires  labour." 
Of  the  two  causes  mentioned,  the  plentifulness  of  land 
seems  to  me  the  true  explanation,  rather  than  the  dearness 
of  labour ;  for,  however  dear  labour  may  be,  when  food  is 
wanted,  labour  will  always  be  applied  to  producing  it  in 
preference  to  anything  else.  But  this  labour  is  more  effec- 
tive for  its  end  by  being  applied  to  fresh  soil,  than  if  it  were 
employed  in  bringing  the  soil  already  occupied  into  higher 
cultivation.  Only  when  no  soils  remain  to  be  broken  up, 
but  such  as  either  from  distance  or  inferior  quality  require 
a  considerable  rise  of  price  to  render  their  cultivation  profit- 
able, can  it  become  advantageous  to  apply  the  high  farming 
of  Europe  to  any  American  lands  ;  except,  perhaps,  in  the 
immediate  vicinity  of  towns,  where  saving  in  cost  of  carriage 
may  compensate  for  great  inferiority  in  the  return  from  the 
soil  itself.  •  As  American  farming  is  to  English,  so  is  the 
ordinary  English  to  that  of  Flanders,  Tuscany,  or  the  Terra 
di  Lavoro  ;  where  by  the  application  of  a  far  greater  quan- 
tity of  labour  there  is  obtained  a  considerably  larger  gross 
produce,  but  on  such  terms  as  would  never  be  advantageous 
to  a  mere  speculator  for  profit,  unless  made  eo  by  much 
higher  prices  of  agricultural  produce. 

The  principle  which  has  now  been  stated  must  be  re- 
ceived, no  doubt,  with  certain  explanations  and  limitations. 
Even  after  the  land  is  so  highly  cultivated  that  the  mere 
application  of  additional  labour,  or  of  an  additional  amount 
of  ordinary  dressing,  would  yield  no  return  proportioned 
to  the  expense,  it  may  still  happen  that  the  application  of 
a  much  greater  additional  labour  and  capital  to  improving 
the  soil  itself,  by  draining  or  permanent  manures,  would  be 
as  liberally  remunerated  by  the  produce,  as  any  portion  of 
the  labour  and  capital  already  employed.  It  would  some- 
times be  much  more  amply  remunerated.  This  could  not 
be,  if  capital  always  sought  and  found  the  most  advanta- 
geous employment ;  but  if  the  most  advantageous  employ- 
ment has  to  wait  longest  for  its  remuneration,  it  is  only  in 
a  rather  advanced  stage  of  industrial  development  that  the 

234  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XII.     J  2. 

preference  will  be  given  to  it ;  and  even  in  that  advanced 
stage,  the  laws  or  usages  connected  with  property  in  land 
and  the  tenure  of  farms,  are  often  such  as  to  prevent  the 
disposable  capital  of  the  country  from  flowing  freely  into 
the  channel  of  agricultural  improvement:  and  hence  the 
increased  supply,  required  by  increasing  population,  is  some- 
times raised  at  an  augmenting  cost  by  higher  cultivation, 
when  the  means  of  producing  it  without  increase  of  cost  are 
known  and  accessible.  There  can  be  no  doubt,  that  if*  capi- 
tal were  forthcoming  to  execute,  within  the  next  year,  all 
known  and  recognized  improvements  in  the  land  of  the 
United  Kingdom  which  would  pay  at  the  existing  prices, 
that  is,  which  would  increase  the  produce  in  as  great  or  a 
greater  ratio  than  the  expense ;  the  result  would  be  such 
(especially  if  we  include  Ireland  in  the  supposition)  that 
inferior  land  would  not  for  a  long  time  require  to  be  brought 
under  tillage :  probably  a  considerable,  part  of  the  less  pro- 
ductive lands  now  cultivated,  which  are  not  particularly 
favoured  by  situation,  would  go  out  of  culture ;  or  (as  the 
improvements  in  question  are  not  so  much  applicable  to 
good  land,  but  operate  rather  by  converting  bad  land  into 
good)  the  contraction  of  cultivation  might  principally  take 
place  by  a  less  high  dressing  and  less  elaborate  tilling  of 
land  generally ;  a  falling  back  to  something  nearer  the 
character  of  American  farming  ;  such  only  of  the  poor  lands 
being  altogether  abandoned  as  were  not  found  susceptible 
of  improvement.  And  thus  the  aggregate  produce  of  the 
whole  cultivated  land  would  bear  a  larger  proportion  than 
before  to  the  labour  expended  on  it ;  and  the  general  law 
of  diminishing  return  from  land  would  have  undergone,  to 
that  extent,  a  temporary  supersession.  No  one,  however^ 
can  suppose  that  even  in  these  circumstances,  the  whole 
produce  required  for  the  country  could  be  raised  exclusively 
from  the  best  lands,  together  with  those  possessing  advan- 
tages of  situation  to  place  them  on  a  par  with  the  best. 
Much  would  undoubtedly  continue  to  be  produced  under 
less  advantageous  conditions,  and  with  a  smaller  proporr 


tional  return,  than  that  obtained  from  the  best  soils  and 
situations.  And  in  proportion  as  the  further  increase  of 
population  required  a  still  greater  addition  to  the  supply, 
the  general  law  would  resume  its  course,  and  the  further 
augmentation  would  be  obtained  at  a  more  than  proportion- 
ate expense  of  labour  and  capital. 

§  3.  That  the  produce  of  land  increases,  coMeris  paribus, 
in  a  diminishing  ratio  to  the  increase  in  the  labour  employed, 
is,  as  we  have  said,  (allowing  for  occasional  and  temporary 
exceptions,)  the  universal  law  of  agricultural  industry.  This 
principle,  however,  has  been  denied,  and  experience  con- 
fidently appealed  to,  in  proof  that  the  returns  from  land  are 
not  less,  but  greater,  in  an  advanced,  than  in  an  early,  stage 
of  cultivation — when  much  capital,  than  when  little,  is  ap- 
plied to  agriculture.  So  much  so,  indeed,  that  (it  is  affirmed) 
the  worst  land  now  in  cultivation  produces  as  much  food 
per  acre,  and  even  as  much  to  a  given  amount  of  labour, 
as  our  ancestors  contrived  to  extract  from  the  richest  soils 
in  England. 

It  is  very  possible  that  this  may  be  true ;  and  even  if 
not  true  to  the  letter,  to  a  great  extent  it  certainly  is  so. 
Unquestionably  a  much  smaller  proportion  of  the  popula- 
tion is  now  occupied  in  producing  food  for  the  whole,  than 
in  the  early  times  of  our  history.  This,  however,  does  not 
prove  that  the  law  of  which  we  have  been  speaking  does 
not  exist,  but  only  that  there  is  some  antagonizing  principle 
at  work,  capable  for  a  time  of  making  head  against  the  law. 
Such  an  agency  there  is,  in  habitual  antagonism  to  the  law 
of  diminishing  return,  from  land  ;  and  to  the  consideration 
of  this  we  shall  now  proceed.  It  is  no  other  than  the  prog- 
ress of  civilization.  I  use  this  general  and  somewhat  vague 
expression,  because  the  things  to  be  included  are  so  various, 
that  hardly  any  term  of  a  more  restricted  signification  would 
comprehend  them  all. 

Of  these,  the  most  obvious  is  the  progress  of  agricultural 
knowledge,  skill,  and  invention.     Improved  processes  of 

236  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XII.     §3. 

agriculture  are  of  two  kinds :  some  enable  the  land  to  yield 
a  greater  absolute  produce,  without  an  equivalent  increase 
of  labour ;  others  have  not  the  power  of  increasing  the  pro- 
duce, but  have  that  of  diminishing  the  labour  and  expense 
by  which  it  is  obtained.  Among  the  first  are  to  be  reckoned 
the  disuse  of  fallows,  by  means  of  the  rotation  of  crops  ;  and 
the  introduction  of  new  articles  of  cultivation  capable  of 
entering  advantageously  into  the  rotation.  The  change 
made  in  British  agriculture  towards  the  close  of  the  last 
century,  by  the  introduction  of  turnip  husbandly,  is  spoken 
of  as  amounting  to  a  revolution.  These  improvements 
operate  not  only  by  enabling  the  land  to  produce  a  crop 
every  year,  instead  of  remaining  idle  one  year  in  every  two 
or  three  to  renovate  its  powers,  but  also  by  direct  increase 
of  its  productiveness  ;  since  the  great  addition  made  to  the 
number  of  cattle  by  the  increase  of  their  food,  affords  more 
abundant  manure  to  fertilize  the  corn  lands.  Next  in  order 
comes  the  introduction  of  new  articles  of  food,  containing 
a  greater  amount  of  sustenance,  like  the  potato,  or  more 
productive  species  or  varieties  of  the  same  plant,  such  as 
the  Swedish  turnip.  In  the  same  class  of  improvements 
must  be  placed  a  better  knowledge  of  the  properties  of 
manures,  and  of  the  most  effectual  modes  of  applying  them ; 
the  introduction  of  new  and  more  powerful  fertilizing  agents, 
such  as  guano,  and  the  conversion  to  the  same  purpose,  of 
substances  previously  wasted ;  inventions  like  subsoil-plough- 
ing or  tile-draining,  by  which  the  produce  of  some  kinds  of 
lands  is  so  greatly  multiplied  ;  improvements  in  the  breed 
or  feeding  of  labouring  cattle ;  augmented  stock  of  the 
animals  which  consume  and  convert  into  human  food  what 
would  otherwise  be  wasted  ;  and  the  like.  The  other  sort 
of  improvements,  those  which  diminish  labour,  but  without 
increasing  the  capacity  of  the  land  to  produce,  are  such  as 
the  improved  construction  of  tools ;  the  introduction  of  new 
instruments  which  spare  manual  labour,  as  the  winnowing 
and  threshing  machines;  a  more  skilful  and  economical 
application  of  muscular  exertion,  6uch  as  the  introduction, 


bo  slowly  accomplished  in  England,  of  Scotch  ploughing, 
with  two  horses  abreast  and  one  man,  instead  of  three  or 
four  horses  in  a  team  and  two  men,  &e.  These  improve- 
ments do  not  add  to  the  productiveness  of  the  land,  but 
they  are  equally  calculated  with  the  former  to  counteract 
the  tendency  in  the  cost  of  production  of  agricultural  pro- 
duce, to  rise  with  the  progress  of  population  and  demand. 

Analogous  in  effect  to  this  second  class  of  agricultu- 
ral improvements,  are  improved  means  of  communication. 
Good  roads  are  equivalent  to  good  tools.  It  is  of  no  conse- 
quence whether  the  economy  of  labour  takes  place  in  ex- 
tracting the  produce  from  the  soil,  or  in  conveying  it  to 
the  place  where  it  is  to  be  consumed.  Not  to  say  in  addi- 
tion, that  the  labour  of  cultivation  itself  is  diminished  by 
whatever  lessens  the  cost  of  bringing  manure  from  a  dis- 
tance, or  facilitates  the  many  operations  of  transport  from 
place  to  place  which  occur  within  the  bounds  of  the  farm. 
Kailways  and  canals  are  virtually  a  diminution  of  the  cost 
of  production  of  all  things  sent  to  market  by  them  ;  and 
literally  so  of  all  those,  the  appliances  and  aids  for  produ- 
cing which,  they  serve  to  transmit.  By  their  means  land 
can  be  cultivated,  which  would  not  otherwise  have  remu- 
nerated the  cultivators  without  a  rise  of  price.  Improve- 
ments in  navigation  have,  with  respect  to  food  or  materials 
brought  from  beyond  sea,  a  corresponding  effect. 

From  similar  considerations,  it  appears  that  many  purely 
mechanical  improvements,  which  have,  apparently,  at  least, 
no  peculiar  connexion  with  agriculture,  nevertheless  enable 
a  given  amount  of  food  to  be  obtained  with  a  smaller  expen- 
diture of  labour.  A  great  improvement  in  the  process  of 
smelting  iron,  would  tend  to  cheapen  agricultural  imple- 
ments, diminish  the  cost  of  railroads,  of  waggons  and  carts, 
ships,  and  perhaps  buildings,  and  many  other  things  to  which 
iron  is  not  at  present  applied,  because  it  is  too  costly  ;  and 
would  thence  diminish  the  cost  of  production  of  food.  The 
same  effect  would  follow  from  an  improvement  in  those  pro- 
cesses of  what  may  be  termed  manufacture,  to  which  the 

238  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XII.     $3. 

material  of  food  is  subjected  after  it  is  separated  from  the 
ground.  The  first  application  of  wind  or  water  power  to 
grind  corn,  tended  to  cheapen  bread  as  much  as  a  very  im- 
portant discovery  in  agriculture  would  have  done ;  and  any 
great  improvement  in  the  construction  of  corn-mills,  would 
have,  in  proportion,  a  similar  influence.  The  effects  of 
cheapening  locomotion  have  been  already  considered.  There 
are  also  engineering  inventions  which  facilitate  all  great 
operations  on  the  earth's  surface.  An  improvement  in  the 
art  of  taking  levels  is  of  importance  to  draining,  not  to  men- 
tion canal  and  railway  making.  The  fens  of  Holland,  and 
of  some  parts  of  England,  are  drained  by  pumps  worked 
by  the  wind  or  by  6team.  Where  canals  of  irrigation,  or 
where  tanks  or  embankments  are  necessary,  mechanical 
skill  is  a  great  resource  for  jcheapening  production. 

Those  manufacturing  improvements  which  cannot  be 
made  instrumental  to  facilitate,  in  any  of  its  stages,  the  actual 
production  of  food,  and  therefore  do  not  help  to  counteract 
or  retard  the  diminution  of  the  proportional  return  to  labour 
from  the  soil,  have,  however,  another  effect,  which  is  prac- 
tically equivalent.  "What  they  do  not  prevent,  they  yet,  in 
some  degree,  compensate  for. 

The  materials  of  manufactures  being  all  drawn  from  the 
land,  and  many  of  them  from  agriculture,  which  supplies 
in  particular  the  entire  material  of  clothing ;  the  general 
law  of  production  from  the  land,  the  law  of  diminishing 
return,  must  in  the  last  resort  be  applicable  to  manufactur- 
ing as  well  as  to  agricultural  history.  As  population  in- 
creases, and  the  power  of  the  land  to  yield  increased  pro- 
duce is  strained  harder  and  harder,  any  additional  supply 
of  material,  as  well  as  of  food,  must  be  obtained  by  a  more 
than  proportionally  increasing  expenditure  of  labour.  '  But 
the  cost  of  the  material  forming  generally  a  very  small  por- 
tion of  the  entire  cost  of  the  manufacture,  the  agricultural 
labour  concerned  in  the  production  of  manufactured  goods 
is  but  a  small  fraction  of  the  whole  labour  worked  up  in 
the  commodity,    All  the  rest  of  the  labour  tends  constantly 


and  strongly  towards  diminution,  as  the  amount  of  produc- 
tion increases.  Manufactures  are  vastly  more  susceptible 
than  agriculture,  of  mechanical  improvements,  and  contriv- 
ances for  saving  labour ;  and  it  has  already  been  seen  how 
greatly  the  division  of  labour,  and  its  skilful  and  economi- 
cal distribution,  depend  on  the  extent  of  the  market,  and 
on  the  possibility  of  production  in  large  masses.  In  manu- 
factures, accordingly,  the  causes  tending  to  increase  the  pro- 
ductiveness of  industry,  preponderate  greatly  over  the  one 
cause  which  tends  to  diminish  it:  and  the  increase  of 
production,  called  forth  by  the  progress  of  society,  takes 
place,  not  at  an  increasing,  but  at  a  continually  diminish- 
ing, proportional  cost.  This  fact  has  manifested  itself  in 
the  progressive  fall  of  the  prices  and  values  of  almost  every 
kind  of  manufactured  goods  during  two  centuries  past ;  a 
fall  accelerated  by  the  mechanical  inventions  of  the  last 
seventy  or  eighty  years,  and  susceptible  of  being  prolonged 
and  extended  beyond  any  limit  which  it  would  be  safe  to 

Now  it  is  quite  conceivable  that  the  efficiency  of  agri- 
cultural labour  might  be  undergoing,  with  the  increase  of 
produce,  a  gradual  diminution ;  that  the  price  of  food,  in 
consequence,  might  be  progressively  rising,  and  an  ever 
growing  proportion  of  the  population  might  be  needed  to 
raise  food  for  the  whole ;  while  yet  the  productive  power  of 
labour  in  all  other  branches  of  industry  might  be  so  rapidly 
augmenting,  that  the  required  amount  of  labour  could  be 
spared  from  manufactures,  and  nevertheless  a  greater  pro* 
duce  be  obtained,  and  the  aggregate  wants  of  the  commu- 
nity be  on  the  whole  better  supplied,  than  before.  The 
benefit  might  even  extend  to  the  poorest  class.  The  in~ 
creased  cheapness  of  clothing  and  lodging  might  make  up 
to  them  for  the  augmented  cost  of  their  food. 

There  is,  thus,  no  possible  improvement  in  the  arts  of 
production  which  does  not  in  one  or  another  mode  exercise 
an  antagonistic  influence  to  the  law  of  diminishing  return  to 
agricultural  labour.    Nor  is  it  only  industrial  improvements 

240  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XII.     (8. 

which  have  this  effect.  Improvements  in  government,  and 
almost  every  kind  of  moral  and  social  advancement,  operate 
in  the  same  manner.  Suppose  a  country  in  the  condition 
of  France  before  the  .Revolution :  taxation  imposed  almost 
exclusively  on  the  industrious  classes,  and  on  such  a  principle 
as  to  be  an  actual  penalty  on  production ;  and  no  redress 
obtainable  for  auy  injury  to  property  or  person,  when  in- 
flicted by  people  of  rank  or  court  influence.  Was  not  the 
hurricane  which  swept  away  this  system  of  things,  even  if 
we  look  no  further  than  to  its  effect  in  augmenting  the  pro- 
ductiveness of  labour,  equivalent  to  many  industrial  inven- 
tions ?  The  removal  of  a  fiscal  burthen  on  agriculture,  such 
as  tithe,  has  the  6ame  effect  as  if  the  labour  necessary  for 
obtaining  the  existing  produce  were  suddenly  reduced  one- 
tenth.  The  abolition  of  corn  laws,  or  of  any  other  re- 
strictions which  prevent  commodities  from  being  produced 
where  the  cost  of  their  production  is  lowest,  amounts  to  a 
vast  improvement  in  production.  When  fertile  land,  pre- 
viously reserved  as  hunting  ground,  or  for  any  other  purpose 
of  amusement,  is  set  free  for  culture,  the  aggregate  produc- 
tiveness of  agricultural  industry  is  increased.  It  is  well 
known  what  has  been  the  effect  in  England  of  badly  admin- 
istered poor  laws,  and  the  still  worse  effect  in  Ireland  of  a 
bad  system  of  tenancy,  in  rendering  agricultural  labour 
slack  and  ineffective.  No  improvements  operate  more 
directly  upon  the  productiveness  of  labour  than  those  in  the 
tenure  of  farms,  and  in  the  laws  relating  to  landed  property. 
The  breaking  up  of  entails,  the  cheapening  of  the  transfer 
of  property,  and  whatever  else  promotes  the  natural  ten- 
dency of  land  in  a  system  of  freedom,  to  pass  out  of  hands 
which  can  make  little  of  it  into  those  which  can  make  more ; 
the  substitution  of  long  leases  for  tenancy  at  will,  and  of  any 
tolerable  system  of  tenancy  whatever  for  the  wretched 
cottier  system  ;  above  all,  the  acquisition  of  a  permanent 
interest  in  the  soil  by  the  cultivators  of  it ;  all  these  things 
are  as  real,  and  some  of  them  as  great,  improvements  in 
production,  as  the  invention  of  the  spinning-jenny  or  the 


We  may  say  the  same  of  improvements  in  education. 
The  intelligence  of  the  workman  is  a  most  important  ele- 
ment in  the  productiveness  of  labour.  So  low,  in  some  of 
the  most  civilized  countries,  is  the  present  standard  of  intel- 
ligence, that  there  is  hardly  any* source  from  which  a  more 
indefinite  amount  of  improvement  may  be  looked  for  in 
productive  power,  than  by  endowing  with  brains  those  who 
now  have  only  hands.  The  carefulness,  economy,  and  gen- 
eral trustworthiness  of  labourers  are  as  important  as  their 
intelligence.  Friendly  relations,  and  a  community  of  inter- 
est and  feeling  between  labourers  and  employers,  are  emi- 
nently so :  I  should  rather  say,  would  be ;  for  I  know  not 
where  any  such  sentiment  of  friendly  alliance  now  exists. 
Nor  is  it  only  in  the  labouring  class  that  improvement  oi 
mind  and  character  operates  with  beneficial  effect  even  on 
industry.  In  the  rich  and  idle  classes,  increased  mental  en- 
ergy, more  solid  instruction,  and  stronger  feelings  of  con- 
science, public  spirit,  or  philanthropy,  would  qualify  them 
to  originate  and  promote  the  most  valuable  improvements, 
both  in  the  economical  resources  of  their  country,  and  in  its 
institutions  and  customs.  To  look  no  further  than  the  most 
obvious  phenomena ;  the  backwardness  of  French  agricul- 
ture in  the  precise  points  in  which  benefit  might  be  expect- 
ed from  the  influence  of  an  educated  class,  is  partly  account- 
ed for  by  the  exclueive  devotion  of  the  richer  landed  pro- 
prietors to  town  interests  and  town  pleasures.  There  is 
scarcely  any  possible  amelioration  of  human  affairs  which 
would  not,  among  its  other  benefits,  have  a  favourable 
operation,  direct  or  indirect,  upon  the  productiveness  of  in- 
dustry. The  intensity  of  devotion  to  industrial  occupations 
would  indeed  in  many  cases  be  moderated  by  a  more  liberal 
and  genial  mental  culture,  but  the  labour  actually  bestowed 
on  those  occupations  would  almost  always  be  rendered  more 

Before  pointing  out  the  principal  inferences  to  be  drawn 
from  the  nature  of  the  two  antagonist  forces  by  which  the 
productiveness  of  agricultural  industry  is  determined,  we 

BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XII.     (8. 

must  observe  that  what  we  have  said  of  agriculture,  is  true, 
with  little  variation,  of  the  other  occupations  which  it  repre- 
sents ;  of  all  the  arts  which  extract  materials  from  the  globe. 
Mining  industry,  for  example,  usually  yields  an  increase  of 
produce  at  a  more  than  proportional  increase  of  expense. 
It  does  worse,  for  even  its  customary  annual  produce  re- 
quires to  be  extracted  by  a  greater  and  greater  expenditure 
of  labour  and  capital.  As  a  mine  does  not  reproduce  the 
coal  or  ore  taken  from  it,  not  only  are  all  mines  at  last  ex- 
hausted, but  even  when  they  as  yet  show  no  signs  of  ex- 
haustion, they  must  be  worked  at  a  continually  increasing 
cost ;  shafts  must  be  sunk  deeper,  galleries  driven  farther, 
greater  power  applied  to  keep  them  clear  of  water;  the 
produce  must  be  lifted  from  a  greater  depth,  or  conveyed 
a  greater  distance.  The  law  of  diminishing  return  applies 
therefore  to  mining,  in  a  still  more  unqualified  sense  than 
to  agriculture :  but  the  antagonizing  agency,  that  of  im- 
provements in  production,  also  applies  in  a  still  greater  de- 
gree. Mining  operations  are  more  susceptible  of  mechanical 
improvements  than  agricultural :  the  first  great  application 
of  the  steam-engine  was  to  mining ;  and  there  are  unlimited 
possibilities  of  improvement  in  the  chemical  processes  by 
which  the  metals  are  extracted.  There  is  another  contin- 
gency, of  no  unfrequent  occurrence,  which  avails  to  coun- 
terbalance the  progress  of  all  existing  mines  towards  exhaus- 
tion :  this  is,  the  discovery  of  new  ones,  equal  or  superior  in 

To  resume ;  all  natural  agents  which  are  limited  in 
quantity,  are  not  only  limited  in  their  ultimate  productive 
power,  but,  long  before  that  power  is  stretched  to  the  ut- 
most, they  yield  to  any  additional  demands  on  progressively 
harder  terms.  This  law  may  however  be  suspended,  or 
temporarily  controlled,  by  whatever  adds  to  the  general 
power  of  mankind  over  nature ;  and  especially  by  any  ex- 
tension of  their  knowledge,  and  their  consequent  command, 
of  the  properties  and  powers  of  natural  agents* 



§  1.  Fbom  the  preceding  exposition  it  appears  that  the 
limit  to  the  increase  of  production  is  two-fold ;  from  defi- 
ciency of  capital,  or  of  land.  Production  comes  to  a  pause, 
either  because  the  effective  desire  of  accumulation  is  not 
sufficient  to  give  rise  to  any  further  increase  of  capital,  or 
because,  however  disposed  the  possessors  of  surplus  income 
may  be  to  save  a  portion  of  it,  the  limited  land  at  the  dis- 
posal of  the  community  does  not  permit  additional  capital  to 
be  employed  with  such  a  return,  as  would  be  an  equivalent 
to  them  for  their  abstinence. 

In  countries  where  the  principle  of  accumulation  is  as 
weak  as  it  is  in  the  various  nations  of  Asia ;  where  people 
will  neither  save,  nor  work  to  obtain  the  means  of  saving, 
unless  under  the  inducement  of  enormously  high  profits,  nor 
even  then  if  it  is  necessary  to  wait  a  considerable  time  for 
them  ;  where  either  productions  remain  scanty,  or  drudgery 
great,  because  there  is  neither  capital  forthcoming  nor  fore- 
thought sufficient  for  the  adoption  of  the  contrivances  by 
which  natural  agents  are  made  to  do  the  work  of  human  la- 
bour ;  the  desideratum  for  such  a  country,  economically  con- 
sidered, is  an  increase  of  industry,  and  of  the  effective  desire 
of  accumulation.  The  means  are,  first,  a  better  govern- 
ment :  more  complete  security  of  property ;  moderate  taxes, 
and  freedom  from  arbitrary  exaction  under  the  name  of 
taxes  ;  a  more  permanent  and  more  advantageous  tenure  of 
land,  securing  to  the  cultivator  as  far  as  possible  the  undi* 

2^4  BOOK  I.     CHAPTEK  XIII.     §2. 

vided  benefits  of  the  industry,  skill,  and  economy  he  may 
exert.  Secondly,  improvement  of  the  public  intelligence : 
the  decay  of  usages  or  superstitions  which  interfere  with 
the  effective  employment  of  industry ;  and  the  growth  of 
mental  activity,  making  the  people  alive  to  new  objects  of 
desire.  Thirdly,  the  introduction  of  foreign  arts,  which 
raise  the  returns  derivable  from  additional  capital,  to  a  rate 
corresponding  to  the  low  strength  of  the  desire  of  accumu- 
lation :  and  the  importation  of  foreign  capital,  which  ren- 
ders the  increase  of  production  no  longer  exclusively  depen- 
dent on  the  thrift  or  providence  of  the  inhabitants  them- 
selves, while  it  places  before  them  a  stimulating  example, 
and  by  instilling  new  ideas  and  breaking  the  chains  of  hab- 
it, if  not  by  improving  the  actual  condition  of  the  popular 
tion,  tends  to  create  in  them  new  wants,  increased  ambition, 
and  greater  thought  for  the  future.  These  considerations 
apply  more  or  less  to  all  the  Asiatic  populations,  and  to  the 
less  civilized  and  industrious  part  of  Europe,  as  Russia, 
Hungary,  Spain,  and  Ireland. 

§  2.  But  there  are  other  countries,  and  England  is  at  the 
head  of  them,  in  which  neither  the  spirit  of  industry  nor  the 
effective  desire  of  accumulation  need  any  encouragement ; 
where  the  people  will  toil  hard  for  a  small  remuneration, 
and  save  much  for  a  small  profit ;  where,  though  the  gen- 
eral thriftiness  of  the  labouring  class  is  much  below  what  is 
desirable,  the  spirit  of  accumulation  in  the  more  prosperous 
part  of  the  community  requires  abatement  rather  than  in- 
crease. In  these  countries  there  would  never  be  any  defi- 
ciency of  capital,  if  its  increase  were  never  checked  or 
brought  to  a  stand  by  too  great  a  diminution  of  its  re- 
turns. It  is  the  tendency  of  the  returns  to  a  progressive 
diminution,  which  causes  the  increase  of  production  to  be 
often  attended  with  a  deterioration  in  the  condition  of  the 
producers  ;  and  this  tendency,  which  would  in  time  put  an 
end  to  increase  of  production  altogether,  is  a  result  of  the 
necessary  and  inherent  conditions  of  production  from  the 


In  all  countries  which  have  passed  beyond  a  very  early 
stage  in  the  progress  of  agriculture,  every  increase  in  the 
demand  for  food,  occasioned  by  increased  population,  will 
always,  unless  there  is  a  simultaneous  improvement  in  pro- 
duction, diminish  the  share  which  on  a  fair  division  would 
fall  to  each  individual.  An  increased  production,  in  default 
of  unoccupied  tracts  of  fertile  land,  or  of  fresh  improve- 
ments tending  to  cheapen  commodities,  can  never  be  ob- 
tained but  by  increasing  the  labour  in  more  than  the  same 
proportion.  The  population  must  either  work  harder,  or 
eat  less,  or  obtain  their  usual  food  by  sacrificing  a  part  of 
their  other  customary  comforts.  Whenever  this  necessity 
is  postponed,  it  is  because  the  improvements  which  facili- 
tate production  continue  progressive ;  because  the  contriv- 
ances of  mankind  for  making  their  labour  more  effective, 
keep  up  an  equal  struggle  with  nature,  and  extort  fresh  re- 
sources from  her  reluctant  powers  as  fast  as  human  neces- 
sities occupy  and  engross  the  old. 

From  this,  results  the  important  corollary,  that  the  ne- 
cessity of  restraining  population  is  not,  as  many  persons  be- 
lieve, peculiar  to  a  condition  of  great  inequality  of  property. 
A  greater. number  of  people  cannot,  in  any  given  state  of 
civilization,  be  collectively  so  well  provided  for  as  a  smaller. 
The  niggardliness  of  nature,  not  the  injustice  of  society,  is 
the  cause  of  the  penalty  attached  to  over-population.  *  An 
unjust  distribution  of  wealth  does  not  even  aggravate  the 
evil,  but,  at  most,  causes  it  to  be  somewhat  earlier  felt.  It 
is  in  vain  to  say,  that  all  mouths  which  the  increase  of 
mankind  calls  into  existence  bring  with  them  hands.  The 
new  mouths  require  as  much  food  as  the  old  ones,  and 
the  hands  do  not  produce  as  much.  If  all  instruments  of 
production  were  held  in  joint  property  by  the  whole  people, 
and  the  produce  divided  with  perfect  equality  among  them, 
and  if  in  a  society  thus  constituted,  industry  were  as  ener- 
getic and  the  produce  as  ample  as  at  present,  there  would 
be  enough  to  make  all.  the  existing  population  extremely 
comfortable ;  but  when  that  population  had  doubled  itself, 

246  B00K  *•   chapter  xin.    (2. 

as,  with  the  existing  habits  of  the  people,  under  such  an  en- 
couragement, it  undoubtedly  would  in  little  more  than 
twenty  years,  what  would  then  be  their  condition  ?  Unless 
the  arts  of  production  were  in  the  same  time  improved  in 
an  almost  unexampled  degree,  the  inferior  soils  which  must 
be  resorted  to,  and  the  more  laborious  and  scantily  remu- 
nerative cultivation  which  must  be  employed  on  the  supe- 
rior soils,  to  procure  food  for  so  much  larger  a  population, 
would,  by  an  insuperable  necessity,  render  every  individual 
in  the  community  poorer  than  before.  If  the  population 
continued  to  increase  at  the  same  rate,  a  time  would  soon 
arrive  when  no  one  would  have  more  than  mere  necessaries, 
and,  soon  after,  a  time  when  no  one  would  have  a  sufficiency 
of  those,  and  the  further  increase  of  population  would  be 
arrested  by  death. 

Whether,  at  the  present  or  any  other  time,  the  produce 
of  industry,  proportionally  to  the  labour  employed,  is  in- 
creasing or  diminishing,  and  the  average  condition  of  the 
people  improving  or  deteriorating,  depends  upon  whether 
population  is  advancing  faster  than  improvement,  or  im- 
provement than  population.  After  a  degree  of  density  has 
been  attained,  sufficient  to  allow  the  principal  benefits  of 
combination  of  labour,  all  further  increase  tends  in  itself  to 
mischief,  so  far  as  regards  the  average  condition  of  the  peo- 
ple ;  but  the  progress  of  improvement  has  a  counteracting 
operation,  and  allows  of  increased  numbers  without  any 
deterioration,  and  even  consistently  with  a  higher  average 
of  comfort.  Improvement  must  here  be  understood  in  a 
wide  sense,  including  not  only  new  industrial  inventions,  or 
an  extended  use  of  those  already  known,  but  improvements 
in  institutions,  education,  opinions,  and  human  affairs  gen- 
erally, provided  they  tend,  as  almost  all  improvements  do, 
to  give  new  motives  or  new  facilities  to  production.  If  the 
productive  powers  of  the  country  increase  as  rapidly  as  ad- 
vancing numbers  call  for  an  augmentation  of  produce,  it  is 
not  necessary  to  obtain  that  augmentation  by  the  cultivation 
of  soils  more  sterile  than  the  worst  already  under  culture,  or 


by  applying  additional  labour  to  the  old  soils  at  a  diminished 
advantage ;  or  at  all  events  this  loss  of  power  is  compen- 
sated by  the  increased  efficiency  with  which,  in  the  progress 
of  improvement,  labour  is  employed  in  manufactures.  In 
one  way  or  the  other,  the  increased  population  is  provided 
for,  and  all  are  as  well  off  as  before.  But  if  the  growth  of 
human  power  over  nature  is  suspended  or  slackened,  and 
population  does  not  slacken  its  increase ;  if,  with  only  the 
existing  command  over  natural  agencies,  those  agencies  are 
called  upon  for  an  increased  produce ;  this  greater  produce 
will  not  be  afforded  to  the  increased  population,  without 
either  demanding  on  the  average  a  greater  effort  from  each, 
or  on  the  average  reducing  each  to  a  smaller  ration  out  of 
the  aggregate  produce. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  at  some  periods  the  progress  of  pop- 
ulation has  been  the  more  rapid  of  the  two,  at  others,  that 
of  improvement.  In  England  during  a  long  interval  pre- 
ceding the  French  Revolution,  population  increased  slowly ; 
but  the  progress  of  improvement,  at  least  in  agriculture, 
would  seem  to  have  been  still  slower,  since  though  nothing 
occurred  to  lower  the  value  of  the  precious  metals,  the  price 
of  corn  rose  considerably,  and  England,  from  an  exporting, 
became  an  importing  country.  This  evidence,  however,  is 
not  quite  conclusive,  inasmuch  as  the  extraordinary  number 
of  abundant  seasons  during  the  first  half  of  the  century,  not 
continuing  during  the  last,  was  a  cause  of  increased  price 
in  the  later  period,  extrinsic  to  the  ordinary  progress  of  so- 
ciety. Whether  during  the  same  period  improvements  in 
manufactures,  or  diminished  cost  of  imported  commodities, 
made  amends  for  the  diminished  productiveness  of  labour 
on  the  land,  is  uncertain.  But  ever  since  the  great  mechan- 
ical inventions  of  Watt,  Arkwright,  and  their  cotempora- 
ries,  the  return  to  labour  has  probably  increased  as  fast  as 
the  population  ;  and  would  even  have  outstripped  it,  if  that 
very  augmentation  of  return  had  not  called  forth  an  addi- 
tional portion  of  the  inherent  power  of  multiplication  in  the 
human  species.    During  the  twenty  or  thirty  years  last 

248  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XIII.     (3. 

elapsed,  so  rapid  has  been  the  extension  of  improved  pro- 
cesses of  agriculture,  that  even  the  land  yields  a  greater 
produce  in  proportion  to  the  labour  employed ;  the  average 
price  of  corn  had  become  decidedly  lower,  even  before  the 
repeal  of  the  corn  laws  had  so  materially  lightened,  for  the 
time  being,  the  pressure  of  population  upon  production. 
But  though  improvement  may  during  a  certain  space  of 
time  keep  up  with,  or  even  surpass,  the  actual  increase  of 
population,  it  assuredly  never  comes  up  to  the  rate  of  in- 
crease of  which  population  is  capable :  and  nothing  coulcjl 
have  prevented  a  general  deterioration  in  the  condition  of 
the  human  race,  were  it  not  that  population  has  in  fact  been 
restrained.  Had  it  been  restrained  still  more,  and  the  same 
improvements  taken  place,  there  would  have  been  a  larger 
dividend  than  there  now  is,  for  the  nation  or  the  species  at 
large.  The  new  ground  wrung  from  nature  by  the  im- 
provements would  not  have  been  all  used  up  in  the  support 
of  mere  numbers.  Though  the  gross  produce  would  not 
have  been  so  great,  there  would  have  been  a  greater  prod- 
uce per  head  of  the  population. 

§  3.  When  the  growth  of  numbers  outstrips  the  progress 
of  improvement,  and  a  country  is  driven  to  obtain  the  means 
of  subsistence  on  terms  more  and  more  unfavourable,  by  the 
inability  of  its  land  to  meet  additional  demands  except  on 
more  onerous  conditions ;  there  are  two  expedients  by  which 
it  may  hope  to  mitigate  that  disagreeable  necessity,  even 
though  no  change  should  take  place  in  the  habits  of  the 
people  with  respect  to  their  rate  of  increase.  One  of  these 
expedients  is  the  importation  of  food  from  abroad.  The 
other  is  emigration. 

The  admission  of  cheaper  food  from  a  foreign  country,  is 
equivalent  to  an  agricultural  invention  by  which  food  could 
be  raised  at  a  similarly  diminished  cost  at  home.  It  equally 
increases  the  productive  power  of  labour.  The  return  was 
before,  so  much  food  for  so  much  labour  employed  in  the 
growth  of  food :  the  return  is  now,  a  greater  quantity  of 


food,  for  the  same  labour  employed  in  producing  cottons  or 
hardware,  or  some  other  commodity  to  be  given  in  exchange 
for  food.  The  one  improvement,  like  the  other,  throws 
back  the  decline  of  the  productive  power  of  labour  by. a 
certain  distance :  but  in  the  one  case  as  in  the  other,  it  im- 
mediately resumes  its  course ;  the  tide  which  has  receded, 
instantly  begins  to  re-advance.  It  might  seem,  indeed,  that 
when  a  country  draws  its  supply  of  food  from  so  wid£  a  sur- 
face as  the  whole  habitable  globe,  so  little  impression  can  be 
produced  on  that  great  expanse  by  any  increase  of  mouths 
in  one  small  comer  of  it,  that  the  inhabitants  of  the  country 
may  double  and  treble  their  numbers,  without  feeling  the 
effect  in  any  increased  tension  of  the  springs  of  production, 
or  any  enhancement  of  the  price  of  food  throughout  the 
world.  But  in  this  calculation  several  things  are  over- 

In  the  first  place,  the  foreign  regions  from  which  corn 
can  be  imported  do  not  comprise  the  whole  globe,  but  those 
parts  of  it  almost  alone,  which  are  in  the  immediate  neigh- 
bourhood of  coasts  or  navigable  rivers.  The  coast  is  the 
part  of  most  countries  which  is  earliest  and  most  thickly 
peopled,  and  has  seldom  any  food  to  spare.  The. chief 
source  of  supply,  therefore,  is  the  strip  of  country  along  the 
banks  of  some  navigable  river,  as  the  Nile,  the  Vistula,  or 
the  Mississippi ;  and  of  such  there  is  not,  in  the  productive 
regions  of  the  earth,  so  great  a  multitude,  as  to  suffice  dur- 
ing an  indefinite  time  for  a  rapidly  growing  demand,  with- 
out an  increasing  strain  on  the  productive  powers  of  the  soiL 
To  obtain  auxiliary  supplies  of  corn  from  the  interior  in  any 
abundance,  would,  in  the  existing  state  of  the  communica- 
tions, be  hopeless.  By  improved  roads,  and  often  by  canals 
and  railways,  the  obstacle  will  be  so  reduced  as  not  to  bo 
insuperable:  but  this  is  a  slow  progress;  in  all  the  food- 
exporting  countries  except  America,  a  very  slow  progress ; 
and  one  which  cannot  keep  pace  with  population,  unless  the 
increase  of  the  last  is  very  effectually  restrained. 

In  the  next  place,  even  if  the  supply  were  drawn  from 

250  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XIII.     §3. 

the  whole  instead  of  a  small  part  of  the  surface  of  the  ex- 
porting countries,  the  quantity  of  food  would  still  be  lim- 
ited, which  could  be  obtained  from  them  without  an  in- 
crease of  the  proportional  cost.  The  countries  which  export 
food  may  be  divided  into  two  classes ;  those  in  which  the 
effective  desire  of  accumulation  is  strong,  and  those  in 
which  it  is  weak.  In  Australia  and  the  United  States  of 
America,  the  effective  desire  of  accumulation  is  strong; 
capital  increases  fast,  and  the  production  of  food  might  be 
very  rapidly  extended.  But  in  snch  countries  population 
also  increases  with  extraordinary  rapidity.  Their  agricul- 
ture has  to  provide  for  their  own  expanding  numbers,  as 
well  as  for  those  of  the  importing  countries.  They  must, 
therefore,  from  the  nature  of  the  case,  be  rapidly  driven,  if 
not  to  less  fertile,  at  least  what  is  equivalent,  to  remoter 
and  less  accessible  lands,  and  to  modes  of  cultivation  like 
those  of  old  countries,  less  productive  in  proportion  to  the 
labour  and  expense. 

But  the  countries  which  have  at  the  same  time  cheap 
food  and  great  industrial  prosperity  are  few,  being  only 
those  in  which  the  arts  of  civilized  life  have  been  trans- 
ferred full  grown  to  a  rich  and  uncultivated  soil.  Among 
old  countries,  those  which  are  able  to  export  food,  are  able 
only  because  their  industry  is  in  a  very  backward  state  ;  be- 
cause capital,  and  hence  population,  have  never  increased 
sufficiently  to  make  food  rise  to  a  higher  price.  Such  coun- 
tries are  Russia,  Poland,  and  Hungary.  In  those  regions 
the  effective  desire  of  accumulation  is  weak,  the  arts  of  pro- 
duction most  imperfect,  capital  scanty,  and  its  increase,  es- 
pecially from  domestic  sources,  slow.  When  an  increased 
demand  arose  for  food  to  be  exported  to  other  countries,  it 
would  only  be  very  gradually  that  food  could  be  produced 
to  meet  it.  The  capital  needed  could  not  be  obtained  by 
transfer  from  other  employments,  for  such  do  not  exist. 
The  cottons  or  hardware  which  would  be  received  from 
England  in  exchange  for  corn,  the  Russians  and  Poles  do 
not  now  produce  in  the  country:  they  go  without  them. 


Something  might  in  time  be  expected  from  the  increased 
exertions  to  which  producers  would  be  stimulated  by  the 
market  opened  for  their  produce ;  but  to  such  increase  of 
exertion,  the  institutions  of  countries  whose  agricultural 
population  consists  of  serfs,  or  of  peasants  in  an  almost  ser- 
vile condition,  are  the  reverse  of  favourable,  and  even  in 
this  age  of  movement  these  institutions  do  not  rapidly 
change.  If  a  greater  outlay  of  capital  is  relied  on  as  the 
source  from  which  the  produce  is  to  be  increased,  the  means 
must  either  be  obtained  by  the  slow  process  of  saving,  under 
the  impulse  given  by  new  commodities  and  more  extended 
intercourse  (and  in  that  case  the  population  would  most 
likely  increase  as  fast),  or  must  be  brought  in  from  foreign 
countries.  If  England  is  to  obtain  a  rapidly  increasing 
supply  of  corn  from  Russia  or  Poland,  English  capital  must 
go  there  to  produce  it.  This,  however,  is  attended  with  so 
many  difficulties,  as  are  equivalent  to  great  positive  disad- 
vantages. It  is  opposed  by  differences  of  language,  differ- 
ences of  manners,  and  a  thousand  obstacles  arising  from  the 
institutions  and  social  relations  of  the  country :  and  after 
all  it  would  inevitably  so  stimulate  population  on  the  spot, 
that  nearly  all  the  increase  of  food  produced  by  its  means, 
would  probably  be  consumed  without  leaving  the  country : 
so  that  if  it  were  not  the  almost  only  mode  of  introducing 
foreign  arts  and  ideas,  and  giving  an  effectual  spur  to  the 
backward  civilization  of  those  countries,  little  reliance  could 
be  placed  on  it  for  increasing  the  exports,  and  supplying 
other  countries  with  a  progressive  and  indefinite  increase  of 
food.  But  to  improve  the  civilization  of  a  country  is  a  slow 
process,  and  gives  time  for  so  great  an  increase  of  population 
both  in  the  country  itself,  and  in  those  supplied  from  it, 
that  its  effect  in  keeping  down  the  price  of  food  against 
the  increase  of  demand,  is  not  likely  to  be  more  decisive  on 
the  scale  of  all  Europe,  than  on  the  smaller  one  of  a  partic- 
ular nation. 

The  law,  therefore,  of  diminishing  return  to  industry, 
whenever  population  makes  a  more  rapid  progress  than  im- 

252  BOOK  I.     CHAPTER  XIII.     {4. 

provement,  is  not  solely  applicable  to  countries  which  are 
fed  from  their  own  soil,  but  in  substance  applies  quite  as 
much  to  those  which  are  willing  to  draw  their  food  from 
any  accessible  quarter  that  can  afford  it  cheapest.  A  sud- 
den and  great  cheapening  of  food,  indeed,  in  whatever 
manner  produced,  would,  like  any  other  sudden  improve- 
ment in  the  arts  of  life,  throw  the  natural  tendency  of  affairs 
a  stage  or  two  further  back,  though  without  altering  its 
course.  There  is  one  contingency  connected  with  freedom 
of  importation,  which  may  yet  produce  temporary  effects 
greater  than  were  ever  contemplated  either  by  the  bitterest 
enemies  or  the  most  ardent  adherents. of  free-trade  in  food. 
Maize,  or  Indian  corn,  is  a  product  capable  of  being  sup- 
plied in  quantity  sufficient  to  feed  the  whole  country,  at  a 
cost,  allowing  for  difference  of  nutritive  quality,  cheaper 
even  than  the  potato.  If  maize  should  ever  substitute  it- 
self for  wheat  ais  the  staple  food  of  the  poor,  the  productive 
power  of  labour*  in  obtaining  food  would  be  so  enormously 
increased,  and  the  expense  of  maintaining  a  family  so  di- 
minished, that  it  would  require  perhaps  some  generations  foL 
population,  even  if  it  started  forward  at  an  American  pace, 
to  overtake  this  great  accession  to  the  facilities  of  its  sup- 

§  4.  Besides  the  importation  of  corn,  there  is  another 
resource  which  can  be  invoked  by  a  nation  whose  increasing 
numbers  press  hard,  not  against  their  capital,  but  against 
the  productive  capacity  of  their  land  :  I  mean  Emigration, 
especially  in  the  form  of  Colonization.  Of  this  remedy  the 
efficacy  as  far  as  it  goes  is  real,  since  it  consists  in  seeking 
elsewhere  those  unoccupied  tracts  of  fertile  land,  which  if 
they  existed  at  home  would  enable  the  demand  of  an  in- 
creasing population  to  be  met  without  any  falling  off  in  the 
productiveness  of  labour.  Accordingly,  when  the  region  to 
be  colonized  is  near  at  hand,  and  the  habits  and  tastes  of 
the  people  sufficiently  migratory,  this  remedy  is  completely 
effectual.     The  migration  from  the  older  parts  of  the  Amer- 


ican  Confederation  to  the  new  territories,  which  1b  to  all  in- 
tents and  purposes  colonization,  is  what  enables  population 
to  go  on  unchecked  throughout  the  Union  without  having 
yet  diminished  the  return  to  industry,  or  increased  the  diffi- 
culty of  earning  a  subsistence.  If  Australia  or  the  interior 
of  Canada  were  as  near  to  Great  Britain  as  Wisconsin  and 
Iowa  to  New  York ;  if  the  superfluous  people  could  remove 
to  it  without  crossing  the  sea,  and  were  of  as  adventurous 
and  restless  a  character,  and  as  little  addicted  to  staying  at 
home,  as  their -kinsfolk  of  New  England,  those  unpeopled 
continents  would  render  the  same  service  to  the  United 
Kingdom  which  the  old  states  of  America  derive  from  the 
new.  But,  these  things  being  as  they  are — though  a  judi- 
ciously conducted  emigration  is  a  most  important  resource 
for  suddenly  lightening  the  pressure  of  population  by  a  sin- 
gle effort*— and  though  in  such  an  extraordinary  case  as  that 
of  Ireland  under  the  threefold  operation  of  the  potato  fail- 
ure, the  poor  law,  and  the  general  turning  out  of  tenantry 
throughout  the  country,  spontaneous  emigration  may  at  a 
particular  crisis  remove  greater  multitudes  than  it  was  ever 
proposed  to  remove  at  once  by  any  national  scheme ;  there 
is  no  probability  that  even  under  the  most  enlightened  ar- 
rangements a  permanent  stream  of  emigration  could  be  kept 
up,  sufficient  to  take  off,  as  in  America,  all  that  portion  of 
the  annual  increase  (when  proceeding  at  its  greatest  rapid- 
ity) which  being  in  excess  of  the  progress  made  during  the 
same  short  period  in  the  arts  of  life,  tends  to  render  living 
more  difficult  for  every  averagely-situated  individual  in  the 
community.  And  unless  this  can  be  done,  emigration  can- 
not, even  in  an  economical  point  of  view,  dispense  with  the 
necessity  of  checks  to  population.  Further  than  this  we 
have  not  to  speak  of  it  in  this  place.  The  general  subject 
of  colonization  as  a  practical  question,  its  importance  to  this 
country,  and  the  principles  on  which  it  should  be  conduct- 
ed, will  be  discussed  at  some  length  in  a  subsequent  portion 
of  this  treatise. 






§  1.  The  principles  which  have  been  set  forth  in  the 
first  part  of  this  Treatise,  are,  in  certain  respects,  strongly 
distinguished  from  those,  on  the  consideration  of  which  we 
are  now  about  to  enter.  The  laws  and  conditions  of  the 
production  of  wealth,  partake  of  the  character  of  physical 
truths.  There  is  nothing  optional  or  arbitrary  in  them. 
Whatever  mankind  produce,  must  be  produced  in  the 
modes,  and  under  the  conditions,  imposed  by  the  constitu- 
tion of  external  things,  and  by  the  inherent  properties  of 
their  own  bodily  and  mental  structure.  Whether  they  like 
it  or  not,  their  productions  will  be  limited  by  the  amount 
of  their  previous  accumulation,  and,  that  being  given,  it 
will  be  proportional  to  their  energy,  their  skill,  the  perfec- 
tion of  their  machinery,  and  their  judicious  use  of  the  ad- 
vantages of  combined  labour.  Whether  they  like  it  or  not, 
a  double  quantity  of  labour  will  not  raise,  on  the  same  land, 
a  double  quantity  of  food,  unless  some  improvement  takes 
place  in  the  processes  of  cultivation.  Whether  they  like  it 
or  not,  the  unproductive  expenditure  of  individuals  will  pro 
tanto  tend  to  impoverish  the  community,  and  only  their 

258  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  I.     §1. 

productive  expenditure  will  enrich  it.  The  opinions,  or  the 
wishes,  which  may  exist  on  these  different  matters,  do  not 
control  the  things  themselves.  We  cannot,  indeed,  foresee 
to  what  extent  the  modes  of  production  may  be  altered,  or 
the  productiveness  of  labour  increased,  by  future  extensions 
of  our  knowledge  of  the  laws  of  nature  suggesting  new  pro- 
cesses of  industry  of  which  we  have  at  present  no  concep- 
tion. But  howsoever  we  may  succeed  in  making  for  our- 
selves more  space  within  the  limits  set  by  the  constitution 
of  things,  we  know  that  there  must  be  limits.  We  cannot 
alter  the  ultimate  properties  either  of  matter  or  mind,  but 
can  only  employ  those  properties  more  or  less  successfully, 
to  bring  about  the  events  in  which  we  are  interested. 

It  is  not  so  with  the  Distribution  of  Wealth.  That  is  a 
matter  of  human  institution  solely.  The  things  once  there, 
mankind,  individually  or  collectively,  can  do  with  them  as 
they  like.  They  can  place  them  at  the  disposal  of  whomso- 
ever they  please,  and  on  whatever  terms.  Further,  in  the 
social  state,  in  every  state  except  total  solitude,  any  disposal 
whatever  of  them  can  only  take  place  by  the  consent  of  so- 
ciety, or  rather  of  those  who  dispose  of  its  active  force. 
Even  what  a  person  has  produced  by  his  individual  toil, 
unaided  by  any  one,  he  cannot  keep,  unless  by  the  permis- 
sion of  society.  Not  only  can  society  take  it  from  him,  but 
individuals  could  and  would  take  it  from  him,  if  society 
only  remained  passive ;  if  it  did  not  either  interfere  en 
masse,  or  employ  and  pay  people  for  the  purpose  of  pre- 
venting him  from  being  disturbed  in  the  possession.  The 
distribution  of  wealth,  therefore,  depends  on  the  laws  and 
customs  of  society.  The  rules  by  which  it  is  determined, 
are  what  the  opinions  and  feelings  of  the  ruling  portion  of 
the  community  make  them,  and  are  very  different  in  differ- 
ent ages  and  countries ;  and  might  be  still  more  different, 
if  mankind  so  chose. 

The  opinions  and  feelings  of  mankind,  doubtless,  are  not 
a  matter  of  chance.  They  are  consequences  of  the  funda- 
mental laws  of  human  nature,  combined  with  the  existing 


state  of  knowledge  and  experience,  and  the  existing  condition 
of  social  institutions  and  intellectual  and  moral  culture. 
But  the  laws  of  the  generation  of  human  opinions  are  not 
within  our  present  subject.  They  are  part  of  the  general 
theory  of  human  progress,  a  far  larger  and  more  difficult 
subject  of  inquiry  than  political  economy.  We  have  here 
to  consider,  not  the  causes,  but  the  consequences,  of  the 
rules  according  to  which  wealth  may  be  distributed.  Those, 
at  least,  are  as  little  arbitrary,  and  hare  as  much  the  char- 
acter of  physical  laws,  as  the  laws  of  production.  Human 
beings  can  control  their  own  acts,  but  not  the  consequences 
of  their  acts  either  to  themselves  or  to  others.  Society  can 
subject  the  distribution  of  wealth  to  whatever  rules  it  thinks 
best ;  but  what  practical  results  will  flow  from  the  operation 
of  those  rules,  must  be  discovered,  like  any  other  physical  or 
mental  truths,  by  observation  and  reasoning. 

We  proceed,  then,  to  the  consideration  of  the  different 
modes  of  distributing  the  produce  of  land  and  labour,  which 
have  been  adopted  in  practice,  or  may  be  conceived  in  the- 
ory. Among  these,  our  attention  is  first  claimed  by  that 
primary  and  fundamental  institution,  on  which,  unless  in 
some  exceptional  and  very  limited  cases,  the  economical  ar- 
rangements of  society  have  always  rested,  though  in  its  sec- 
ondary features  it  has  varied,  and  is  liable  to  vary.  I 
mean,  of  course,  the  institution  of  individual  property. 

§  2.  Private  property,  as  an  institution,  did  not  owe  its 
origin  to  any  of  those  considerations  of  utility,  which  plead 
for  the  maintenance  of  it  when  established.  Enough  is 
known  of  rude  ages,  both  from  history  and  from  analogous 
states  of  society  in  our  own  time,  to  show,  that  tribunals 
(which  always  precede  laws)  were  originally  established,  not 
to  determine  rights,  but  to  repress  violence  and  terminate 
quarrels.  With  this  object  chiefly  in  view,  they  naturally 
enough  gave  legal  effect  to  first  occupancy,  by  treating  as 
the  aggressor  the  person  who  first  commenced  violence,  by 
turning,  or  attempting  to  turn,  another  out  of  possession. 

260  BOOK  IL     CHAPTER  I.     §2. 

The  preservation  of  the  peace*  which  was  the  original  object 
of  civil  government,  was  thus  attained ;  while  by  confirm- 
ing, to  those  who  already  possessed  it,  even  what  was  not 
the  fruit  of  personal  exertion,  a  guarantee  was  incidentally 
given  to  them  and  others  that  they  would  be  protected  in 
what  was  so. 

In  considering  the  institution  of  property  as  a  question 
in  social  philosophy,  we  must  leave  out  of  consideration  its 
actual  origin  in  any  of  the  existing  nations  of  Europe.  We 
may  suppose  a  community  unhampered  by  any  previous 
possession ;  a  body  of  colonists,  occupying  for  the  first  time 
an  uninhabited  country ;  bringing  nothing  with  them  but 
what  belonged  to  them  in  common,  and  having  a  clear  field 
for  the  adoption  of  the  institutions  and  polity  which  they 
judged  most  expedient ;  required,  therefore,  to  choose 
whether  they  would  conduct  the  work  of  production  on  the 
principle  of  individual  property,  or  on  some  system  of  com- 
mon ownership  and  collective  agency. 

If  private  property  were  adopted,  we  must  presume 
that  it  would  be  accompanied  by  none  of  the  initial  inequal- 
ities and  injustice  which  obstruct  the  beneficial  operation 
of  the  principle  in  old  society.  Every  full-grown  man  or 
woman,  we  must  suppose,  would  be  secured  in  the  unfet- 
tered use  and  disposal  of  his  or  her  bodily  and  mental  facul- 
ties ;  and  the  instruments  of  production,  the  land  and  tools, 
would  be  divided  fairly  among  them,  so  that  all  might  start, 
in  respect  to  outward  appliances,  on  equal  terms.  It  is 
possible  also  to  conceive  that  in  this  original  apportion- 
ment, compensation  might  be  made  for  the  injuries  of  na- 
ture, and  the  balance  redressed  by  assigning  to  the  les$  ro- 
bust members  of  the  community  advantages  in  the  distribu- 
tion, sufficient  to  put  them  on  a  par  with  the  rest.  But 
the  division,  once  made,  would  not  again  be  interfered" 
with ;  individuals  would  be  left  to  their  own  exertions  and 
to  the  ordinary  chances,  for  making  an  advantageous  use  of 
what  was  assigned  to  them.  If  individual  property,  on  the 
contrary,  were  excluded,  the  plan  which  must  be  adopted 


would  be  to  hold  the  land  and  all  instruments  of  production 
as  the  joint  property  of  the  community,  and  to  carry  on  the 
operations  of  industry  on  the  common  account.  The  direc- 
tion of  the  labour  of  the  community  would  devolve  upon  a 
magistrate  or  magistrates,  whom  we  may  suppose  elected 
by  the  suffrages  of  the  community,  and  whom  we  must  as- 
sume to  be  voluntarily  obeyed  by  them.  The  division  of 
the  produce  would  in  like  manner  be  a  public  act.  The 
principle  might  either  be  that  of  complete  equality,  or  of 
apportionment  to  the  necessities  or  deserts  of  individuals, 
in  whatever  manner  might  be  conformable  to  the  ideas  of 
justice  or  policy  prevailing  in  the  community. 

Examples  of  such  associations,  on  a  small  scale,  are  the 
monastic  orders,  the  Moravians,  the  followers  of  Kapp,  and 
others :  and  from  the  hopes  which  they  hold  out  of  relief 
from  the  miseries  and  iniquities  of  a  state  of  much  inequal- 
ity of  wealth,  schemes  for  a  larger  application  of  the  same 
idea  have  reappeared  and  become  popular  at  all  periods  of 
active  speculation  on  the  first  principles  of  society.  In  an 
age  like  the  present,  when  a  general  reconsideration  of  all 
first  principles  is  felt  to  be  inevitable,  and  when  more  than 
at  any  former  period  of  history  the  suffering  portions  of  the 
community  have  a  voice  in  the  discussion,  it  was  impossible 
but  that  ideas  of  this  nature  should  spread  far  and  wide. 
The  late  revolutions  in  Europe  have,  thrown  up  a  great 
amount  of  speculation  of  this  character,  and  an  unusual 
share  of  attention  has  consequently  been  drawn  to  the  vari- 
ous forms  which  these  ideas  have  assumed :  nor  is  this  at- 
tention likely  to  diminish,  but  on  the  contrary,  to  increase 
more  and  more. 

The  assailants  of  the  principle  of  individual  property 
may  be  divided  into  two  classes :  those  whose  scheme  im- 
plies absolute  equality  in  the  distribution  of  the  physical 
means  of  life  and  enjoyment,  and  those  who  admit  inequal- 
ity, but  grounded  on  some  principle,  or  supposed  principle, 
of  justice  or  general  expediency,  and  not,  like  so  many  of 
the  existing  social  inequalities,  dependent  on  accident  alone. 

262  BOOK  IL     CHAPTER  I.     {3. 

At  the  head  of  the  first  class,  as  the  earliest  of  those  belong- 
ing to  the  present  generation,  must  be  placed  Mr.  Owen 
and  his  followers.  M.  Louis  Blanc  and  M.  Cabet  have  more 
recently  become  conspicuous  as  apostles  of  similar  doctrines 
(though  the  former  advocates  equality  of  distribution  only 
as  a  transition  to  a  still  higher  standard  of  justice,  that  all 
should  work  according  to  their  capacity,  and  receive  ac- 
cording to  their  wants).  The  characteristic  name  for  this 
economical  system  is  Communism,  a  word  of  continental 
origin,  only  of  late  introduced  into  this  country.  The  word 
Socialism,  which  originated  among  the  English  Commun- 
ists, and  was  assumed  by  them  as  a  name  to  designate  their 
own  doctrine,  is  now,  on  the  Continent,  employed  in  a 
larger  sense ;  not  necessarily  implying  Communism,  or  the 
entire  abolition  of  private  property,  but  applied  to  any  sys- 
tem which  requires  that  the  land  and  the  instruments  of 
production  should  be  the  property,  not  of  individuals,  but 
of  communities  or  associations,  or  of  the  government. 
Among  such  systems,  the  two  of  highest  intellectual  pre- 
tension are  those  which,  from  the  name  of  their  real  or 
reputed  authors,  have  been  called  St.  Simonism  and  Fou- 
rierism  ;  the  former,  defunct  as  a  system,  but  which  during 
the  few  years  of  its  public  promulgation,  sowed  the  seeds 
of  nearly  all  the  Socialist  tendencies  which  have  since 
spread  so  widely  in  France :  the  second,  now  flourishing  in 
the  number,  talent,  and  zeal  of  its  adherents. 

§  3.  Whatever  may  be  the  merits  or  defects  of  these 
various  schemes,  they  cannot  be  truly  said  to  be  impracti- 
cable. No  reasonable  person  can  doubt  that  a  village  com- 
munity, composed  of  a  few  thousand  inhabitants  cultivating 
in  joint  ownership  the  same  extent  of  land  which  at  present 
feeds  the  number  of  people,  and  producing  by  combined 
labour  and  the  most  improved  processes  the  manufactured 
articles  which  they  required,  could  raise  an  amount  of  pro- 
ductions sufficient  to  maintain  them  in  comfort ;  and  would 
find  the  means  of  obtaining,  and  if  noed  be,  exacting,  the 


quantity  of  labour  necessary  for  this  purpose,  from  every 
member  of  the  association  who  was  capable  of  work. 

The  objection  ordinarily  made  to  a  system  of  community 
of  property  and  equal  distribution  of  the  produce,  that  each 
person  would  be  incessantly  occupied  in  evading  his  fair 
share  of  the  work,  points,  undoubtedly,  to  a  real  difficulty. 
But  those  who  urge  this  objection,  forget  to  how  great  an 
extent  the  same  difficulty  exists  under  the  system  on  which 
nine-tenths  of  the  business  of  society  is  now  conducted.  The 
objection  supposes,  that  honest  and  efficient  labour  is  only 
to  be  had  from  those  who  are  themselves  individually  to 
reap  the  benefit  of  their  own  exertions.  But  how  small  a 
part  of  all  the  labour  performed  in  England,  from  the  lowest 
paid  to  the  highest,  is  done  by  persons  working  for  their 
own  benefit.  From  the  Irish  reaper  or  hodman  to  the  chief 
justice  or  the  minister  of  state,  nearly  all  the  work  of  socie- 
ty is  remunerated  by  day  wages  or  fixed  salaries.  A  fac- 
tory operative  has  less  personal  interest  in  his  work  than  a 
member  of  a  Communist  association,  since  he  is  not,  like 
him,  working  for  a  partnership  of  which  he  is  himself  a 
member.  It  wiil  no  doubt  be  said,  that  though  the  labour- 
ers themselves  have  not,  in  most  cases,  a  personal  interest 
in  their  work,  they  are  watched  and  superintended,  and 
their  labour  directed,  and  the  mental  part  of  the  labour 
performed,  by  persons  who  have.  Even  this,  however,  is 
far  from  being  universally  the  fact.  In  all  public,  and 
many  of  the  largest  and  most  successful  private  undertak- 
ings, not  only  the  labours  of  detail  but  the  control  and  su- 
perintendence are  entrusted  to  salaried  officers.  And  though 
the  "  master's  eye,"  when  the  master  is  vigilant  and  intelli- 
gent, is  of  proverbial  value,  it  must  be  remembered  that  in 
a  Socialist  farm  or  manufactory,  each  labourer  would  be 
under  the  eye  not  of  one  master,  but  of  the  whole  commun- 
ity. In  the  extreme  case  of  obstinate  perseverance  in  not 
performing  the  due  share  of  work,  the  community  would 
have  the  same  resources  which  society  now  has  for  compel- 
ling conformity  to  the  necessary  conditions  of  the  associa- 

264  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  I.     §3. 

tion.  Dismissal,  the  only  remedy  at  present,  is  no  remedy 
when  any  other  labourer  who  may  be  engaged  does  no  bet- 
ter than  his  predecessor :  the  power  of  dismissal  only  ena- 
bles an  employer  to  obtain  from  his  workmen  the  custom- 
ary amount  of  labour,  but  that  customary  labour  may  be  of 
any  degree  of  inefficiency.  Even  the  labourer  who  loses  his 
employment  by  idleness  or  negligence,  has  nothing  worse 
to  suffer,  in  the  most  unfavourable  case,  than  the  discipline 
of  a  workhouse,  and  if  the  desire  to  avoid  this  be  a  sufficient 
motive  in  the  one  system,  it  would  be  sufficient  in  the  other. 
I  am  not  undervaluing  the  strength  of  the  incitement  given 
to  labour  when  the  whole  or  a  large  share  of  the  benefit  of 
extra  exertion  belongs  to  the  labourer.  But  under  the 
present  system  of  industry  this  incitement,  in  the  great 
majority  of  cases,  does  not  exist.  If  Communistic  labour 
might  be  less  vigorous  than  that  of  a  peasant  proprietor,  or 
a  workman  labouring  on  his  own  account,  it  would  prob- 
ably be  more  energetic  than  that  of  a  labourer  for  hire,  who 
has  no  personal  interest  in  the  matter  at  all.  The  neglect 
by  the  uneducated  classes  of  labourers  for  hire,  of  the  duties 
which  they  engage  to  perform,  is  in  the  present  state  of  so- 
ciety most  flagrant.  Now  it  is  an  admitted  condition  of  the 
Communist  scheme  that  all  shall  be  educated :  and  this 
being  supposed,  the  duties  of  the  members  of  the  association 
would  doubtless  be  as  diligently  performed  as  those  of  the 
generality  of  salaried  officers  in  the  middle  or  higher  classes ; 
who  are  not  supposed  to  be  necessarily  unfaithful  to  their 
trust,  because  so  long  as  they  are  not  dismissed,  their  pay  is 
the  same  in  however  lax  a  manner  their  duty  is  fulfilled. 
Undoubtedly,  as  a  general  rule,  remuneration  by  fixed  sala- 
ries does  not  in  any  class  of  functionaries  produce  the  maxi- 
mum of  zeal :  and  this  is  as  much  as  can  be  reasonably  al- 
leged against  Communistic  labour. 

That  even  this  inferiority  would  necessarily  exist,  is  by 
no  means  so  certain  as  is  assumed  by  those  who  are  little 
used  to  carry  their  minds  beyond  the  state  of  things  with 
which  they  are  familiar.    Mankind  are  capable  of  a  far 


greater  amount  of  public  spirit  than  the  present  age  is  ac- 
customed to  suppose  possible.  History  bears  witness  to  the 
success  with  which  large  bodies  of  human  beings  may  be 
trained  to  feel  the  public  interest  their  own.  And  no  soil 
could  be  more  favourable  to  the  growth  of  such  a  feeling, 
than  a  Communist  association,  since  all  the  ambition,  and 
the  bodily  and  mental  activity,  which  are  now  exerted  in 
the  pursuit  of  separate  and  self-regarding  interests,  would 
require  another  sphere  of  employment,  and  would  naturally 
find  it  in  the  pursuit  of  the  general  benefit  of  the  commun- 
ity. The  same  cause,  so  often  assigned  in  explanation  of 
the  devotion  of  the  Catholic  priest  or  monk  to  the  interest 
of  his  order — that  he  has  no  interest  apart  from  it — would, 
under  Communism,  attach  the  citizen  to  the  community. 
And  independently  of  the  public  motive,  every  member  of 
the  association  would  be  amenable  to  the  most  universal, 
and  one  of  the  strongest,  of  personal  motives,  that  of  public 
opinion.  The  force  of  this  motive  in  deterring  from  any  act 
or  omission  positively  reproved  by  the  community,  no  one  is 
likely  to  deny  ;  but  the  power  also  of  emulation,  in  exciting 
to  the  most  strenuous  exertions  for  the  sake  of  the  approba- 
tion and  admiration  of  others,  is  borne  witness  to  by  experi- 
ence in  every  situation  in  which  human  beings  publicly 
compete  with  one  another,  even  if  it  be  in  things  frivolous, 
or  from  which  the  public  derive  no  benefit.  A  contest,  who 
can  do  most  for  the  common  good,  is  not  the  kind  of  com- 
petition which  Socialists  repudiate.  To  what  extent,  there- 
fore, the  energy  of  labour  would  be  diminished  by  Com- 
munism, or  whether  in  the  long  run  it  would  be  diminished 
at  all,  must  be  considered  for  the  present  an  undecided 

Another  of  the  objections  to  Communism  is  similar  to 
that,  so  often  urged  against  poor-laws  :  that  if  every  mem- 
ber of  the  community  were  assured  of  subsistence  for  him- 
self and  any  number  of  children,  on  the  sole  condition  of 
willingness  to  work,  prudential  restraint  on  the  multiplica- 
tion of  mankind  would  be  at  an  end,  and  population  would 


BOOK  H.     CHAPTER  I.     §3. 

start  forward  at  a  rate  which  would  reduce  the  community 
through  successive  stages  of  increasing  discomfort  to  actual 
starvation.  There  would  certainly  be  much  ground  for  this 
apprehension  if  Communism  provided  no  motives  of  restraint^ 
equivalent  to  those  which  it  would  take  away.  But  Com- 
munism is  precisely  the  state  of  things  in  which  opinion 
might  be  expected  to  declare  itself  with  greatest  intensity 
against  this  kind  of  selfish  intemperance.  An  augmenta- 
tion of  numbers  which  diminished  the  comfort  or  increased 
the  toil  of  the  mass,  would  then  cause  (which  now  it  does 
not)  immediate  and  unmistakeable  inconvenience  to  every  in- 
dividual in  the  association  ;  inconvenience  which  could  not 
then  be  imputed  to  the  avarice  of  employers,  or  the  unjust 
privileges  of  the  rich.  In  such  altered  circumstances  opin- 
ion could  not  fail  to  reprobate,  and  if  reprobation  did  not 
suffice,  to  repress  by  penalties  of  some  description,  this  or 
any  other  culpable  self-indulgence  at  the  expense  of  the 
community.  The  Communistic  scheme,  instead  of  being 
peculiarly  open  to  the  objection  drawn  from  danger  of 
over-population,  has  the  recommendation  of  tending  in  an 
especial  degree  to  the  prevention  of  that  evil. 

A  more  real  difficulty  is  that  of  fairly  apportioning  the 
labour  of  the  community  among  its  members.  There  are 
many  kinds  of  work,  and  by  what  standard  are  they  to  be 
measured  one  against  another  ?  Who  is  to  judge  how  much 
cotton  spinning,  or  distributing  goods  from  the  stores,  or 
bricklaying,  or  chimney  sweeping,  is  equivalent  to  so  much 
ploughing?  The  difficulty  of  making  the  adjustment  be- 
tween different  qualities  of  labour  is  so  strongly  felt  by 
Communist  writers,  that  they  have  usually  thought  it  neces- 
sary to  provide  that  all  should  work  by  turns  at  every  de- 
scription of  useful  labour :  an  arrangement  which  by  put- 
ting an  end  to  the  division  of  employments,  would  sacrifice  so 
much  of  the  advantage  of  co-operative  production  as  greatly 
to  diminish  the  productiveness  of  labour.  Besides, -even  in 
the  same  kind  of  work,  nominal  equality  of  labour  would  be 
so  great  a  real  inequality,  that  the  feeling  of  justice  would 


revolt  against  its  being  enforced.  All  persons  are  not 
equally  fit  for  all  labour ;  and  the  same  quantity  of  labour 
is  an  unequal  burthen  on  the  weak  and  the  strong,  the 
hardy  and  the  delicate,  the  quick  and  the  slow,  the  dull  and 
the  intelligent. 

But  these  difficulties,  though  real,  are  not  necessarily  in- 
superable. The  apportionment  of  work  to  the  strength  and 
capacities  of  individuals,  the  mitigation  of  a  general  rule  to 
provide  for  cases  in  which  it  would  operate  harshly,  are  not 
problems  to  which  human  intelligence,  guided  by  a  sense 
of  justice,  would  be  inadequate.  And  the  worst  and  most 
nnj  ast  arrangement  which  could  be  made  of  these  points,  un- 
der a  system  aiming  at  equality,  would  be  so  far  short  of  the 
inequality  and  injustice  with  which  labour  (not  to  speak  of 
remuneration)  is  now  apportioned,  as  to  be  scarcely  worth 
counting  in  the  comparison.  We  must  remember  too  that 
Communism,  as  a  system  of  society,  exists  only  in  idea ;  that 
its  difficulties,  at  present,  are  much  better  understood  than 
its  resources ;  and  that  the  intellect  of  mankind  is  only  begin- 
ning to  contrive  the  means  of  organizing  it  in  detail,  so  as  to 
overcome  the  one  and  derive  the  greatest  advantage  from 
the  other. 

If,  therefore,  the  choice  were  to  be  made  between  Com- 
munism with  all  its  chances,  and  the  present  state  of  society 
with  all  its  sufferings  and  injustices  ;  if  the  institution  of  pri- 
vate property  necessarily  carried  with  it  as  a  consequence, 
that  the  produce  of  labour  should  be  apportioned  as  we  now 
see  it,  almost  in  an  inverse  ratio  to  the  labour — the  largest 
portions  to  those  who  have  never  worked  at  all,  the  next 
largest  to  those  whose  work  is  almost  nominal,  and  so  in  a 
descending  scale,  the  remuneration  dwindles  as  the  work 
grows  harder  and  more  disagreeable,  until  the  most  fatiguing 
and  exhausting  bodily  labour  cannot  count  with  certainty 
on  being  able  to  earn  even  the  necessaries  of  life  ;  if  this,  or 
Communism,  were  the  alternative,  all  the  difficulties,  great 
or  small,  of  Communism,  would  be  but  as  dust  in  the  bal- 
ance.    But  to  make  the  comparison  applicable,  we  must 

268  BOOK  II.      CHAPTER  I.     §3. 

compare  Communism  at  its  best,  with  the  regime  of  individ- 
ual property,  not  as  it  is,  but  as  it  might  be  made.  The 
principle  of  private  property  has  never  yet  had  a  fair  trial  in 
any  country ;  and  less  so,  perhaps,  in  this  country  than  in 
some  others.  The  social  arrangements  of  modern  Europe 
commenced  from  a  distribution  of  property  which  was  the 
result,  not  of  just  partition,  or  acquisition  by  industry,  but 
of  conquest  and  violence  :  and  notwithstanding  what  indus- 
try has  been  doing  for  many  centuries  to  modify  the  work 
of  force,  the  system  still  retains  many  and  large  traces  of  its 
origin.  The- laws  of  property  have  never  yet  conformed  to 
the  principles  on  which  the  justification  of  private  property 
rests.  They  have  made  property  of  things  which  never 
ought  to  be  property,  and  absolute  property  where  only  a 
qualified  property  ought  to  exist.  They  have  not  held  the 
balance  fairly  between  human  beings,  but  have  heaped  im- 
pediments upon  some,  to  give  advantage  to  others ;  they 
have  purposely  fostered  inequalities,  and  prevented  all  from 
starting  fair  in  the  race.  That  all  should  indeed  start  on 
perfectly  equal  terms,  is  inconsistent  with  any  law  of  pri- 
vate property :  but  if  as  much  pains  as  has  been  taken  to 
aggravate  the  inequality  of  chances  arising  from  the  natural 
working  of  the  principle,  had  been  taken  to  temper  that  in- 
equality by  every  means  not  subversive  of  the  principle  it- 
self; if  the  tendency  of  legislation  had  been  to  favour  the 
diffusion,  instead  of  the  concentration  of  wealth — to  encour- 
age the  subdivision  of  the  large  masses,  instead  of  striving 
to  keep  them  together ;  the  principle  of  individual  property 
would  have  been  found  to  have  no  necessary  connexion  with 
the  physical  and  social  evils  which  almost  all  Socialist  writ- 
ers assume  to  be  inseparable  from  it. 

Private  property,  in  every  defence  made  of  it,  is  sup 
posed  to  mean,  the  guarantee  to  individuals  of  the  fruits  oi 
their  own  labour  and  abstinence.  The  guarantee  to  them 
of  the  fruits  of  the  labour  and  abstinence  of  others,  trans- 
mitted to  them  without  any  merit  or  exertion  of  their  own, 
is  not  of  the  essence  of  the  institution,  but  a  mere  incidental 


consequence,  which  when  it  reaches  a  certain  height,  does 
not  promote,  but  conflicts  with  the  ends  which  render  pri- 
vate property  legitimate.  To  judge  of  the  final  destination 
of  the  institution  of  property,  we  must  suppose  everything 
rectified,  which  causes  the  institution  to  work  in  a  manner 
opposed  to  that  equitable  principle,  of  proportion  between 
remuneration  and  exertion,  on  which  in  every  vindication 
of  it  that  will  bear  the  light,  it  is  assumed  to  be  grounded. 
We  must  also  suppose  two  conditions  realized,  without 
which  neither  Communism  nor  any  other  laws  or  institu- 
tions could  make  the  condition  of  the  mass  of  mankind  other 
than  degraded  and  miserable.  One  of  these  conditions  is, 
universal  education  ;  the  other,  a  due  limitation  of  the  num- 
bers of  the  community.  With  these,  there  could  be  no  pov- 
erty even  under  the  present  social  institutions :  and  these 
being  supposed,  the  question  of  socialism  is  not,  as  generally 
stated  by  Socialists,  a  question  of  flying  to  the  sole  refuge 
against  the  evils  which  now  bear  down  humanity ;  but  a 
mere  question  of  comparative  advantages,  which  futurity 
must  determine.  We  are  too  ignorant  either  of  what  indi- 
vidual agency  in  its  best  form,  or  Socialism  in  its  best  form, 
can  accomplish,  to  be  qualified  to  decide  which  of  the  two 
will  be  the  ultimate  form  of  human  society. 

If  a  conjecture  may  be  hazarded,  the  decision  will  prob- 
ably depend  mainly  on  one  consideration,  viz.  which  of  the 
two  systems  is  consistent  with  the  greatest  amount  of  human 
liberty  and  spontaneity.  After  the  means  of  subsistence  are 
assured,  the  next  in  strength  of  the  personal  wants  of  human 
beings  is  liberty ;  and  (unlike  the  physical  wants,  which  as 
civilization  advances  become  more  moderate  and  more 
amenable  to  control)  it  increases  instead  of  diminishing  in 
intensity,  as  the  intelligence  and  the  moral  faculties  are 
more  developed.  The  perfection  both  of  social  arrange- 
ments and  of  practical  morality  would  be,  to  secure  to  all 
persons  complete  independence  and  feedom  of  action,  sub- 
ject to  no  restriction  but  that  of  not  doing  injury  to  others : 
and  the  education  which  taught  or  the  social  institutions 

270  B00K  n-     CHAPTER  I.     §S. 

which  required  them  to  exchange  the  control  of  their  own 
actions  for  any  amount  of  comfort  or  affluence,  or  to  re- 
nounce liberty  for  the  sake  of  equality,  would  deprive  them 
of  one  of  the  most  elevated  characteristics  of  human  nature. 
It  remains  to  be  discovered  how  far  the  preservation  of  this 
characteristic  would  be  found  compatible  with  the  Com- 
munistic organization  of  society.  No  doubt,  this,  like  all 
other  objections  to  the  Socialist  schemes,  is  vastly  exaggerat- 
ed. The  members  of  the  association  need  not  be  required 
to  live  together  more  than  they  do  now,  nor  need  they  be 
controlled  in  the  disposal  of  their  individual  share  of  the 
produce,  and  of  the  probably  large  amount  of  leisure  which, 
if  they  limited  their  production  to  things  really  worth  pro- 
ducing, they  would  possess.  Individuals  need  not  be 
chained  to  an  occupation,  or  to  a  particular  locality.  The 
restraints  of  Communism  would  be  freedom  in  comparison 
with  the  present  condition  of  the  majority  of  the  human 
race.  The  generality  of  labourers  in  this  and  most  other 
countries,  have  as  little  choice  of  occupation  or  freedom  of 
locomotion,  are  practically  as  dependent  on  fixed  rules  and 
on  the  will  of  others,  as  they  could  be  on  any  system  short 
of  actual  slavery ;  to  say  nothing  of  the  entire  domestic  sub- 
jection of  one  half  the  species,  to  which  it  is  the  signal  hon- 
our of  Owenism  and  most  other  forms  of  Socialism  that  they 
assign  equal  rights,  in  all  respects,  with  those  of  the  hither- 
to dominant  sex.  But  it  is  not  by  comparison  with  the 
present  bad  state  of  society  that  the  claims  of  Communism 
can  be  estimated  ;  nor  is  it  sufficient  that  it  should  promise 
greater  personal  and  mental  freedom  than  is  now  enjoyed 
by  those  who  have  not  enough  of  either  to  deserve  the 
name.  The  question  is,  whether  there  would  be  any  asy- 
lum left  for  individuality  of  character;  whether  public 
opinion  would  not  be  a  tyrannical  yoke  ;  wrhether  the  abso- 
lute dependence  of  each  on  all,  and  surveillance  of  each  by 
all,  would  not  grind  all  down  into  a  tame  uniformity  of 
thoughts,  feelings,  and  actions.  This  is  already  one  of  the 
glaring  evils  of  the  existing  state  of  society,  notwithstanding 

.     COMMUNISM.  271 

a  much  greater  diversity  of  education  and  pursuits,  and  a 
much  less  absolute  dependence  of  the  individual  on  the 
mass,  than  would  exist  in  the  Communistic  regime.  No 
society  in  which  eccentricity  is  a  matter  of  reproach,  can 
be  in  a  wholesome  state.  It  is  yet  to  be  ascertained  wheth- 
er the  Communistic  scheme  would  be  consistent  with  that 
multiform  development  of  human  nature,  those  manifold 
unlikenesses,  that  diversity  of  tastes  and  talents,  and  variety 
of  intellectual  points  of  view,  which  not  only  form  a  great 
part  of  the  interest  of  human  life,  but  by  bringing  intellects 
into  stimulating  collision,  and  by  presenting  to  each  innu- 
merable notions  that  he  would  not  have  conceived  of  him- 
self, are  the  mainspring  of  mental  and  moral  progression. 

§  4.  I  have  thus  far  confined  my  observations  to  the 
Communistic  doctrine,  which  forms  the  extreme  limit  of 
Socialism ;  according  to  which  not  only  the  instrument  of 
production,  the  land  and  capital,  are  the  joint  property  of 
the  community,  but  the  produce  is  divided  and  the  labour 
apportioned,  as  far  as  possible,  equally.  The  objections, 
whether  well  or  ill  grounded,  to  which  Socialism  is  liable, 
apply  to  this  form  of  it  in  their  greatest  force.  The  other 
varieties  of  Socialism  mainly  differ  from  Communism,  in 
not  relying  solely  on  what  M.  Louis  Blanc  calls  the  point  of 
honour  of  industry,  but  retaining  more  or  less  of  the  incen- 
tives to  labour  derived  from  private  pecuniary  interest. 
Thus  it  is  already  a  modification  of  the  strict  theory  of  Com- 
munism, when  the  principle  is  professed  of  proportioning 
remuneration,  to  labour.  The  attempts  which  have  been 
made  in  France  to  carry  Socialism  into  practical  effect,  by 
associations  of  workmen  manufacturing  on  their  own  ac- 
count, mostly  began  by  sharing  the  remuneration  equally, 
without  regard  to  the  quantity  of  work  done  by  the  indi- 
vidual :  but  in  almost  every  case  this  plan  was  after  a  short 
time  abandoned,  and  recourse  was  had  to  working  by  the 
piece.  The  original  principle  appeals  to  a  higher  standard 
of  justice*  and  is  adapted  to  a  much  higher  moral  condition 

272  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  I.     $4. 

of  human  nature.  The  proportioning  of  remuneration  to 
work  done,  is  really  just,  only  in  so  far  as  the  more  or  less 
of  the  work  is  a  matter  of  choice :  when  it  depends  on 
natural  difference  of  strength  or  capacity,  this  principle  of 
remuneration  is  in  itself  an  injustice :  it  is  giving  to  those 
who  have ;  assigning  most  to  those  who  are  already  most 
favoured  by  nature.  Considered,  however,  as  a  compromise 
with  the  selfish  type  of  character  formed  by  the  present 
standard  of  morality,  and  fostered  by  the  existing  social 
institutions,  it  is  highly  expedient ;  and  until  education 
shall  have  been  entirely  regenerated,  is*  far  more  likely  to 
prove  immediately  successful,  than  an  attempt  at  a  higher 

The  two  elaborate  forms  of  non-communistic  Socialism 
known  as  St.  Simonism  and  Fourierism,  are  totally  free  from 
the  objections  usually  urged  against  Communism;  and 
though  they  are  open  to  others  of  their  own,  yet  by  the 
great  intellectual  power  which  in  many  respects  distin- 
guishes them,  and  by  their  large  and  philosophic  treatment 
of  some  of  the  fundamental  problems  of  society  and  moral- 
ity, they  may  justly  be  counted  among  the  most  remarkable 
productions  of  the  past  and  present  age. 

The  St.  Simonian  scheme  does  not  contemplate  an  equal, 
but  an  unequal  division  of  the  produce ;  it  does  not  propose 
that  all  should  be  occupied  alike,  but  differently,  according 
to  their  vocation  or  capacity ;  the  function  of  each  being 
assigned,  like  grades  in  a  regiment,  by  the  choice  of  the 
directing  authority,  and  the  remuneration  being  by  salary, 
proportioned  to  the  importance,  in  the  eyes  of  that  author- 
ity, of  the  function  itself,  and  the  merits  of  the  person  who 
fulfils  it.  For  the  constitution  of  the  ruling  body,  different 
plans  might  be  adopted,  consistently  with  the  essentials  of 
the  system.  It  might  be  appointed  by  popular  suffrage. 
In  the  idea  of  the  original  authors,  the  rulers  were  sup- 
posed to  be  persons  of  genius  and  virtue,  who  obtained 
the  voluntary  adhesion  of  the  rest  by  the  force  of  mental 
superiority.     That   the   scheme  might  in  some  peculiar 

ST.  SIM0N1SM.  273 

states  of  society  work  with  advantage,  is  not  improbable. 
There  is  indeed  a  successful  experiment,  of  a  somewhat 
similar  kind,  on  record,  to  which  I  have  once  alluded; 
that  of  the  Jesuits  in  Paraguay.  A  race  of  savages, 
belonging  to  a  portion  of  mankind  more  averse  to  con- 
secutive exertion  for  a  distant  object  than  any  other 
authentically  known  to  us,  was  brought  under  the  mental 
dominion  of  civilized  and  instructed  men  who  were 
united  among  themselves  by  a  system  of  community  of 
goods.  To  the  absolute  authority  of  these  men  they  rever- 
entially submitted  themselves,  and  were  induced  by  them  to 
learn  the  arts  of  civilized  life,  and  to  practise  labours  for  the 
community,  which  no  inducement  that  could  have  been 
offered  would  have  prevailed  on  them  to  practise  for  them- 
selves. This  social  system  was  of  short  duration,  being  pre- 
maturely destroyed  by  diplomatic  arrangements  and  foreign 
force.  That  it  could  be  brought  into  action  at  all  was  prob- 
ably owing  to  the  immense  distance  in  point  of  knowledge 
and  intellect  which  separated  the  few  rulers  from  the  whole 
body  of  the  ruled,  without  any  intermediate  orders,  either 
social  or  intellectual.  In  any  other  circumstances  it  would 
probably  have  been  a  complete  failure.  'It  supposes  an 
absolute  despotism  in  the  heads  of  the  association ;  which 
would  probably  not  be  much  improved  if  the  depositaries  of 
the  despotism  (contrary  to  the  views  of  the  authors  of  the 
system)  were  varied  from  time  to  time  according  to  the 
result  of  a  popular  canvass.  But  to  suppose  that  one  or  a 
few  human  beings,  howsoever  selected,  could,  by  whatever 
machinery  of  subordinate  agency,  be  qualified  to  adapt  each 
person's  work  to  his  capacity,  and  proportion  each  person's 
remuneration  to  his  merits — to  be,  in  fact,  the  dispensers  of 
distributive  justice  to  every  member  of  a  community;  or 
that  any  use  which  they  could  make  of  this  power  would 
give  general  satisfaction,  or  would  be  submitted  to  without 
the  aid  of  force — is  a  supposition  almost  too  chimerical  to  be 
reasoned  against.  A  fixed  rule,  like  that  of  equality,  might 
be  acquiesced  in,  and  so  might  chance,  or  an  external  neces- 

274  BOOK  IL     CHAPTER  I.     §4. 

sky ;  but  that  a  handful  of  human  beings  should  weigh 
everybody  in  the  balance,  and  give  more  to  one  and  less  to 
another  at  their  sole  pleasure  and  judgment,  would  not  be 
borne,  unless  from  persons  believed  to  be  more  than  men, 
and  backed  by  supernatural  terrors. 

The  most  skilfully  combined,  and  with  the  greatest  fore- 
sight, of  objections,  of  all  the  forms  of  Socialism,  is  that  com- 
monly known  as  Fourierism.  This  system  does  not  con- 
template the  abolition  of  private  property,  nor  even  of 
inheritance  :  on  the  contrary,  it  avowedly  takes  into  consid- 
eration, as  an  element  in  the  distribution  of  the  produce, 
capital  as  well  as  labour.  It  proposes  that  the  operations  of 
industry  should  be  carried  on  by  associations  of  about  two 
thousand  members,  combining  their  labour  on  a  district  of 
about  a  square  league  in  extent,  under  the  gnidance  of 
chiefs  selected  by  themselves.  In  the  distribution,  a  certain 
minimum  is  first  assigned  for  the  subsistence  of  every  mem- 
ber of  the  community,  whether  capable  or  not  of  labour. 
The  remainder  of  the  produce  is  shared  in  certain  propor- 
tions, to  be  determined  beforehand,  among  the  three  ele- 
ments, Labour,  Capital,  and  Talent. 

The  capital  of  the  community  may  be  owned  in  unequal 
shares  by  different  members,  who  would  in  that  case  re- 
ceive, as  in  any  other  joint-stock  company,  proportional  divi- 
dends. The  claim  of  each  person  on  the  share  of  the  prod- 
uce apportioned  to  talent,  is  estimated  by  the  grade  or  rank 
which  the  individual  occupies  in  the  several  groups  of 
labourers  to  which  he  or  she  belongs  ;  these  grades  being  in 
all  cases  conferred  by  the  choice  of  his  or  her  companions. 
The  remuneration,  when  received,  would  not  of  necessity  be 
expended  or  enjoyed  in  common  ;  there  would  be  separate 
menages  for  all  who  preferred  them,  and  no  other  commu- 
nity of  living  is  contemplated,  than  that  all  the  members  of 
the  association  should  reside  in  the  same  pile  of  buildings ; 
for  saving  of  labour  and  expense,  not  only  in  building,  but 
in  every  branch  of  domestic  economy ;  and  in  order  that, 
the  whole  buying  and  selling  operations  of  the  community 


being  performed  by  a  single  agent,  the  enormous  portion  of 
the  produce  of  industry  now  carried  off  by  the  profits  of 
mere  distributors  might  be  reduced  to  the  smallest  amount 

This  system,  unlike  Communism,  does  not,  in  theory  at 
least,  withdraw  any  of  the  motives  to  exertion  which  exist 
in  the.  present  state  of  society.  On  the  contrary,  if  the  ar- 
rangement worked  according  to  the  intentions  of  its  con- 
trivers, it  would  even  strengthen  those  motives ;  since  each 
person  would  have  much  more  certainty  of  reaping  individu- 
ally the  fruits  of  increased  skill  or  energy,  bodily  or  mental, 
than  under  the  present  social  arrangements  can  be  felt  by 
any  but  those  who  are  in  the  most  advantageous  positions, 
or  to  whom  the  chapter  of  accidents  is  more  than  ordinarily 
favourable.  The  Fourierists,  however,  have  still  another 
resource.  They  believe  that  they  have  solved  the  great  and 
fundamental  problem  of  rendering  labour  attractive.  That 
this  is  not  impracticable,  they  c6ntend  by  very  Strong 
arguments ;  in  particular  by  one  which  they  have  in  com- 
mon with  the  Owenites,  viz.  that  scarcely  any  labour,  how- 
ever severe,  undergone  by  human  beings  for  the  sake  of 
subsistence,  exceeds  in  intensity  that  which  other  human 
beings,  whose  subsistence  is  already  provided  for,  are  found 
ready  and  even  eager  to  undergo  for  pleasure.  This  cer- 
tainly is  a  most  significant  fact,  and  one  from  which  the 
student  in  social  philosophy  may  draw  important  inst ruc- 
tion. But  the  argument  founded  on  it  may  easily  be 
stretched  too  far.  If  occupations  full  of  discomfort  and 
fatigue  are  freely  pursued  by  many  persons  as  amusements, 
who  does  not  see  that  they  are  amusements  exactly  because 
they  are  pursued  freely,  and  may  be  discontinued  at  pleas- 
ure? The  liberty  of  quitting  a  position  often  makes  the 
whole  difference  between  its  being  painful  and  pleasurable. 
Many  a  person  remains  in  the  same  town,  street,  or  house 
from  January  to  December,  without  a  wish  or  a  thought 
tending,  towards  removal,  who,  if  confined  to  that  same 
place  by  the  mandate  of  authority,  would  find  the  imprison- 
inent  rWoWpW  intolerable. 

276  BOOK  IL     CHAPTEB  I.     §  *• 

According  to  the  Fourierists,  scarcely  any  kind  of  useful 
labour  is  naturally  and  necessarily  disagreeable,  unless  it  is 
either  regarded  as  dishonourable,  or  is  immoderate  in  degree, 
or  destitute  of  the  stimulus  of  sympathy  and  emulation. 
Excessive  toil  needs  not,  they  contend,  be  undergone  by  any 
one,  in  a  society  in  which  there  would  be  no  idle  class,  and 
no  labour  wasted,  as  so  enormous  an  amount  of  labour  is 
now  wasted,  in  useless  things ;  and  where  full  advantage 
would  be  taken  of  the  power  of  association,  both  in  increas- 
ing the  efficiency  of  production,  and  in  economizing  con- 
sumption. The  other  requisites  for  rendering  labour  at- 
tractive would,  they  think,  be  found  in  the  execution  of  all 
labour  by  social  groups,  to  any  number  of  which  the  same 
individual  might  simultaneously  belong,  at  his  or  her  own 
choice  :  their  grade  in  each  being  determined  by  the  degree 
of  service  which  they  were  found  capable  of  rendering,  as 
appreciated  by  the  suffrages  of  their  comrades.  It  is  in- 
ferred from  the  diversity  of  tastes  and  talents,  that  every 
member  of  the  community  would  be  attached  to  several 
groups,  employing  themselves  in  various  kinds  of  occupa- 
tion, some  bodily,  others  mental,  and  would  be  capable  of 
occupying  a  high  place  in  some  one  or  more  ;  so  that  a  real 
equality,  or  something  more  nearly  approaching  to  it  than 
might  at  first  be  supposed,  would  practically  result :  not 
from  the  compression,  but,  on  the  contrary,  from  the  largest 
possible  development,  of  the  various  natural  superiorities 
residing  in  each  individual. 

Even  from  so  brief  an  outline,  it  must  be  evident  that 
this  system  does  no  violence  to  any  of  the  general  laws  by 
which  human  action,  even  in  the  present  imperfect  state  of 
moral  and  intellectual  cultivation,  is  influenced ;  and  that  it 
would  be  extremely  rash  to  pronounce  it  incapable  of  suc- 
cess, or  unfitted  to  realize  a  great  part  of  the  hopes  founded 
on  it  by  its  partisans.  With  regard  to  this,  as  to  all  other 
varieties  of  Socialism,  the  thing  to  be  desired,  and  to  which 
they  have  a  just  claim,  is  opportunity  of  trial.  They  are  all 
capable  of  being  tried  on  a  moderate  scale,  and  at  no  risk, 

F0UR1ERISM.  277 

either  personal  or  pecuniary,  to  any  except  those  who  try 
them.  It  is  for  experience  to  determine  how  far  or  how 
soon  any  one  or  more  of  the  possible  systems  of  community 
of  property  will  be  fitted  to  substitute  itself  for  the  "  organi- 
zation of  industry  "  based  on  private  ownership  of  land  and 
capital.  In  the  meantime  we  may,  without  attempting  to 
limit  the  ultimate  capabilities  of  human  nature,  affirm,  that 
the  political  economist,  for  a  considerable  time  to  come,  will 
be  chiefly  concerned  with  the  conditions  of  existence  and 
progress  belonging  to  a  society  founded  on  private  property 
and  individual  competition  ;  and  that  the  object  to  be  prin- 
cipally aimed  at  in  the  present  stage  of  human  improve- 
ment, is  not  the  subversion  of  the  system  of  individual  prop- 
erty, but  the  improvement  of  it,  and  the  full  participation 
of  every  member  of  the  community  in  its  benefits. 



§  1.  It  is  next  to  be  considered,  what  is  included  in  the 
idea  of  private  property,  and  by  what  considerations  the  ap- 
plication of  the  principle  should  be  bounded. 

The  institution  of  property,  when  limited  to  its  essential 
elements,  consists  in  the  recognition,  in  each  person,  of  a 
right  to  the  exclusive  disposal  of  what  he  or  she  have  pro- 
duced by  their  own  exertions,  or  received  either  by  gift  or 
by  fair  agreement,  without  force  or  fraud,  from  those  who 
produced  it.  The  foundation  of  the  whole  is,  the  right  of 
producers  to  what  they  themselves  have  produced.  It  may 
be  objected,  therefore,  to  the  institution  as  it  now  exists,  that 
it  recognises  rights  of  property  in  individuals  over  things 
which  they  have  not  produced.  For  example  (it  may  be 
said)  the  operatives  in  a  manufactory  create,  by  their  labour 
and  skill,  the  whole  produce ;  yet,  instead  of  its  belonging 
to  them,  the  law  gives  them  only  their  stipulated  hire,  and 
transfers  the  produce  to  some  one  who  has  merely  supplied 
the  funds,  without  perhaps  contributing  anything  to  the 
work  itself,  even  in  the  form  of  superintendence.  The 
answer  to  this  is,  that  the  labour  of  manufacture  is  only  one 
of  the  conditions  which  must  combine  for  the  production  of 
the  commodity.  The  labour  cannot  be  carried  on  without 
materials  and  machinery,  nor  without  a  stock  of  necessaries 
provided  in  advance,  to  maintain  the  labourers  during  the 
production.  All  these  things  are  the  fruits  of  previous 
labour.    If  the  labourers  were  possessed   of   them,  they 


would  not  need  to  divide  the  produce  with  any  one ;  but 
while  they  have  them  not,  an  equivalent  must  be  given  to 
those  who  have,  both  for  the  antecedent  labour,  and  for  the 
abstinence  by  which  the  produce  of  that  labour,  instead  of 
being  expended  on  indulgences,  has  been  reserved  for  this 
use.  The  capital  may  not  have  been,  and  in  most  cases  was 
not,  created  by  the  labour  and  abstinence  of  the  present 
possessor ;  but  it  was  created  by  the  labour  and  abstinence 
of  some  former  person,  who  may  indeed  have. been  wrong- 
fully dispojssessed  of  it,  but  who,  in  the  present  age  of  the 
world,  much  more  probably  transferred  his  claims  to  the 
present  capitalist  by  gift  or  voluntary  contract:  and  the 
abstinence  at  least  must  have  been  continued  by  each  suc- 
cessive owner,  down  to  the  present.  If  it  be  said,  as  it  may 
with  fcftith,  that  those  who  have  inherited  the  savings  of 
others  have  an  advantage  which  they  have  in  noway  de- 
served, over  the  industrious  whose  predecessors  have  not 
left  them  anything ;  I  not  only  admit,  but  strenuously  con- 
tend, that  this  unearned  advantage  should  be  curtailed,  as 
much  as  is  consistent  with  justice  to  those  who  thought  fit 
to  dispose  of  their  savings  by  giving  them  to  their  descend- 
ants. But  while  it  is  true  that  the  labourers  are  at  a  disad- 
vantage compared  with  those  whose  predecessors  have 
saved,  it  is  also  true  that  the  labourers  are  far  better  off 
than  if  those  predecessors  had  not  saved.  They  share  in 
the  advantage,  though  not  to  an  equal  extent  with  the  in- 
heritors. The  terms  of  co-operation  between  present  labour 
and  the  fruits  of  past  labour  and  saving,  are  a  subject  for 
adjustment  between  the  two  parties.  Each  is  necessary  to 
the  other.  The  capitalist  can  do  nothing  without  labourers, 
nor  the  labourers  without  capital.  If  the  labourers  compete 
for  employment,  the  capitalists  oh  their  part  compete  for 
labour,  to  the  full  extent  of  the  circulating  capital  of  the 
country.  Competition  is  often  spoken  of  as  if  it  were  neces- 
sarily a  cause  of  misery  and  degradation  to  the  labouring 
class ;  as  if  high  wages  were  not  precisely  as  much  a  prod- 
uct of  competition  as  low  wages.    The  remuneration  of 

230  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     §2. 

labour  is  as  much  the  result  of  the  law  of  competition  in  the 
United  States,  as  it  is  in  Ireland,  and  much  more  completely 
so  than  in  England. 

The  right  of  property  includes,  then,  the  freedom  of 
acquiring  by  contract.  The  right  of  each  to  what  he  has  pro- 
duced, implies  a  right  to  what  has  been  produced  by  others, 
if  obtained  by  their  free  consent ;  since  the  producers  must 
either  have  given  it  from  good  will,  or  exchanged  it  for 
what  they  esteemed  an  equivalent,  and  to  prevent  them 
from  doing  so  would  be  to  infringe  their  right  of  property  in 
the  product  of  their  own  industry. 

§  2.  Before  proceeding  to  consider  the  things  which 
the  principle  of  individual  property  does  not  include,  we 
must  specify  one  more  thing  which  it  does  include :  and  this 
is  that  a  title,  after  a  certain  period,  should  be  given  by  pre- 
scription. According  to  the  fundamental  idea  of  property, 
indeed,  nothing  ought  to  be  treated  as  such,  which  has  been 
acquired  by  force  or  fraud,  or  appropriated  in  ignorance  of 
a  prior  title  vested  in  some  other  person  ;  but  it  is  necessary 
to  the  security  of  rightful  possessors,  that  they  should  not  be 
molested  by  charges  of  wrongful  acquisition,  when  by  the 
lapse  of  time  witnesses  must  have  perished  or  been  lost  sight 
of,  and  the  real  character  of  the  transaction  can  no  longer 
be  cleared  up.  Possession  which  has  not  been  legally  ques- 
tioned within  a  moderate  number  of  years,  ought  to  be,  as 
by  the  laws  of  all  nations  it  is,  a  complete  title.  Even  when 
the  acquisition  was  wrongful,  the  dispossession,  after  a  gen- 
eration has  elapsed,  of  the  probably  bond  Jide  possessors,  by 
the  revival  of  a  claim  which  had  been  long  dormant,  would 
generally  be  a  greater  injustice,  and  almost  always  a  greater 
'private  and  public  mischief,  than  leaving  the  original  wrong 
without  atonement.  It  may  seem  hard  that  a  claim,  origi- 
nally just,  should  be  defeated  by  mere  lapse  of  time;  but 
there  is  a  time  after  which,  (even  looking  at  the  individual 
case,  and  without  regard  to  the  general  effect  on  the  security 
of  possessors,)  the  balance  of  hardship  turns  the  other  way. 


With  the  injustices  of  men,  as  with  the  convulsions  and  dis- 
asters of  nature,  the  longer  they  remain  unrepaired,  the 
greater  become  the  obstacles  to  repairing  them,  arising 
from  the  aftergrowths  which  would  have  to  be  torn  up  or 
broken  through.  In  no  human  transactions,  not  even  in  the 
simplest  and  clearest,  does  it  follow  that  a  thing  is  fit  to  be 
done  now,  because  it  was  fit  to  be  done  sixty  years  ago.  It 
is  scarcely  needful  to  remark,  that  these  reasons  for  not  dis- 
turbing acts  of  injustice  of  old  date,  cannot  apply  to  unjust 
systems  or  institutions  ;  since  a  bad  law  or  usage  is  not  one 
bad  act,  in  the  remote  past,  but  a  perpetual  repetition  of  bad 
acts,  as  long  as  the  law  or  usage  lasts. 

Such,  then,  being  the  essentials  of  private  property,  it  is 
now  to  be  considered,  to  what  extent  the  forms  in  which  the 
institution  has  existed  in  different  states  of  society,  or  still 
exists,  are  necessary  consequences  of  its  principle,  or  are 
recommended  by  the  reasons  on  which  it  is  grounded. 

§  3.  Nothing  is  implied  in  property  but  the  right  of 
each  to  his  (or  her)  own  faculties,  to  what  he  can  produce 
by  them,  and  to  whatever  he  can  get  for  them  in  a  fair 
market :  together  with  his  right  to  give  this  to  any  other 
person  if  he  chooses,  and  the  right  of  that  other  to  receive 
and  enjoy  it. 

It  follows,  therefore,  that  although  the  right  of  bequest, 
or  gift  after  death,  forms  part  of  the  idea  of  private  proper- 
ty, the  right  of  inheritance,  as  distinguished  from  bequest, 
does  not.  That  the  property  of  persons  who  have  made  no 
disposition  of  it  during  their  lifetime,  should  pass  first  to 
their  children,  and  failing  them,  to  the  nearest  relations, 
may  be  a  proper  arrangement  or  not,  but  is  no  consequence 
of  the  principle  of  private  property.  Although  there  belong 
to  the  decision  of  such  questions  many  considerations  besides 
those  of  political  economy,  it  is  not  foreign  to  the  plan  of  this 
work  to  suggest,  for  the  judgment  of  thinkers,  the  view  of 
them  which  most  recommends  itself  to  the  writer's  mind. 

No.  presumption  in  favour  of  existing  ideas  on  this  sub- 

282  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     §3. 

ject  is  to  be  derived  from  their  antiquity.  In  early  ages,  the 
property  of  a  deceased  person  passed  to  his  children  and 
nearest  relatives  by  so  natural  and  obvious  an  arrangement, 
that  no  other  was  likely  to  be  even  thought  of  in  eompeti* 
tion  with  it.  In  the  first  place,  they  were  usually  present 
on  the  spot:  they  were  in  possession,  and  if  they  had  no 
other  title,  had  that,  so  important  in  an  early  state  of  socie- 
ty, of  first  occupancy.  Secondly,  they  were  already,  in  a 
manner,  joint  owners  of  his  property  during  his  life.  If 
the  property  was  in  land,  it  had  generally  been  conferred  by 
the  State  on  a  family  rather  than  on  an  individual :  if  it  con- 
sisted of  cattle  or  moveable  goods,  it  had  probably  been 
acquired,  and  was  certainly  protected  and  defended,  by  the 
united  efforts  of  all  members  of  the  family  who  were  of  an 
age  to  work  or  fight.  Exclusive  individual  property,  in  the 
modern  sense,  scarcely  entered  into  the  ideas  of  the  time ; 
and  when  the  first  magistrate  of  the  association  died,  he 
really  left  nothing  vacant  but  his  own  share  in  the  division, 
which  devolved  on  the  member  of  the  family  who  succeeded 
to  his  authority.  To  have  disposed  of  the  property  other- 
wise, would  have  been  to  break  up  a  little  commonwealth, 
united  by  ideas,  interest,  and  habits,  and  to  cast  them  adrift 
on  the  world.  These  considerations,  though  rather  felt  than 
reasoned  about,  had  so  great  an  influence  on  the  minds  of 
mankind,  as  to  create  the  idea  of  an  inherent  right  in  the 
children  to  the  possessions  of  their  ancestor ;  a  right  which 
it  was  not  competent  to  himself  to  defeat.  Bequest,1  in  a 
primitive  state  of  society*  was  seldom  recognised;  a  clear 
proof,  were  there  no  other,  that  property  was  conceived  in 
a  manner  totally  different  from  the  conception  of  it  in  the 
present  time.* 

But  the  feudal  family,  the  last  historical  form  of  patri- 
archal life,  has  long  perished,  and  the  unit  of  society  is  not 
now  the  family  or  clan,  composed  of  all  the  reputed  descend- 
ants of  a  common  ancestor,  but  the  individual ;  or  at  inost 

*  See,  for  admirable  illustrations  of  this  and  many  kindred  points,  Mr. 
Maine's  profound  work  on  Ancient  Law  in  its  relation  to  modern  ideas. 


a  pair  of  individuals,  .with  their  unemancipated  children. 
Property  is  now  inherent  in  individuals,  not  in  families :  the 
children  when  grown  up  do  not  follow  the  occupations  or 
fortunes  of  the  parent :  if  they  participate  in  the  parent's 
pecuniary  means  it  is  at  his  or  her  pleasure,  and  not  by  a 
voice  in  the  ownership  and  government  of  the  whole,  but 
generally  by  the  exclusive  enjoyment  of  a  part ;  and  in  this 
country  at  least  (except  as  far  as  entails  or  settlements  are 
an  obstacle)  it  is  in  the  power  of  parents  to  disinherit  even 
their  children,  and  leave  their  fortune  to  strangers.  More 
distant  relatives  are  in  general  almost  as  completely  de- 
tached from  the  family  and  its  interests  as  if  they  were  in 
no  way  connected  with  it.  The  only  claim  they  are  sup- 
posed to  have  on  their  richer  relations,  is  to  a  preference, 
eastern  paribu8y  in  good  offices,  and  some  aid  in  case  of 
actual  necessity. 

So  great  a  change  in  the  constitution  of  society  must 
make  a  considerable  difference  in  the  grounds  on  which  the 
disposal  of  property  by  inheritance  should  rest.  The  rea- 
sons usually  assigned  by  modern  writers  for  giving  the 
property  of  a  person  who  dies  intestate,  to  the  children,  or 
nearest  relatives,  are  first,  the  supposition  that  in  so  dis- 
posing of  it,  the  law  is  more  likely  than  in  any  other  mode 
to  do  what  the  proprietor  would  have  done,  if  he  had  done 
anything ;  and  secondly,  the  hardship,  to  those  who  lived 
with  their  parents  and  partook  in  their  opulence,  of  being 
cast  down  from  the  enjoyments  of  wealth  into  poverty  and 

There  is  some  force  in  both  these  arguments.  The  law 
ought,  no  doubt,  to  do  for  the  children  or  dependents  of  an 
intestate,  whatever  it  was  the  duty  of  the  parent  or  protec- 
tor to  have  done,  so  far  as  this  can  be  known  by  any  one 
besides  himself.  Since,  however,  the  law  cannot  decide  on 
individual  claims,  but  must  proceed  by  general  rules,  it  is 
next  to  be. considered  what  these  rules  should  be. 

We  may  first  remark,  that  in  regard  to  collateral  rela^ 
tives,  it  is  n<#,  unless  on  grounds  personal  to  the  particular 

284:  BOOK  II.    CHAPTER  II.     §3. 

individual,  the  duty  of  any  one  to  make  a  pecuniary  pro- 
vision for  them.  No  one  now  expects  it,  unless  there  hap- 
pen to  be  no  direct  heirs ;  nor  would  it  be  expected  even 
then,  if  the  expectation  were  not  created  by  the  provisions 
of  the  law  in  case  of  intestacy.  I  see,  therefore,  no  reason 
why  collateral  inheritance  should  exist  at  all.  Mr.  Bentham 
long  ago  proposed,  and  other  high  authorities  have  agreed 
in  the  opinion,  that  if  there  are  no  heirs  either  in  the  de- 
scending or  in  the  ascending  line,  the  property,  in  case  of 
intestacy,  should  escheat  to  the  State.  With  respect  to  the 
more  remote  degrees  of  collateral  relationship,  the  point  is 
not  very  likely  to  be  disputed.  Few  will  maintain  that  there 
is  any  good  reason  why  the  accumulations  of  some  childless 
miser  should  on  his  death  (as  every  now  and  then  happens) 
go  to  enrich  a  distant  relative  who  never  saw  him,  who  per- 
haps never  knew  himself  to  be  related  to  him  until  there 
was  something  to  be  gained  by  it,  and  who  had  no  moral 
claim  upon  him  of  any  kind,  more  than  the  most  entire 
stranger.  But  the  reason  of  the  case  applies  alike  to  all 
collaterals,  even  in  the  nearest  degree.  Collaterals  have  no 
real  claims,  but  such  as  may  be  equally  strong  in  the  case 
of  non-relatives  ;  and  in  the  one  case  as  in  the  other,  where 
valid  claims  exist,  the  proper  mode  of  paying  regard  to 
them  is  by  bequest. 

The  claims  of  children  are  of  a  different  nature :  they 
are  real,  and  indefeasible.  But  even  of  these,  I  venture  to 
think  that  the  measure  usually  taken  is  an  erroneous  one : 
what  is  due  to  children  is  in  some  respects  underrated,  in 
others,  as  it  appears  to  me,  exaggerated.  One  of  the  most 
binding  of  all  obligations,  that  of  not  bringing  children  into 
the  world  unless  they  can  be  maintained  in  comfort  during 
childhood,  and  brought  up  with  a  likelihood  of  supporting 
themselves  when  of  full  age,  is  both  disregarded  in  practice 
and  made  light  of  in  theory  in  a  manner  disgraceful  to 
human  intelligence.  On  the  other  hand,  when  the  parent 
possesses  property,  the  claims  of  the  children  upon  it  seem 
to  me  to  be  the  subject  of  an  opposite  error.    Whatever 


fortune  a  parent  may  have  inherited,  or  still  more,  may 
have  acquired,  I  cannot  admit  that  he  owes  to  his  children, 
merely  because  they  are  his  children,  to  leave  them  rich, 
without  the  necessity  of  any  exertion.  I  could  not  admit  it, 
even  if  to  be  so  left  were  always,  and  certainly,  for  the  good 
of  the  children  themselves.  But  this  is  in  the  highest  de- 
gree uncertain.  It  depends  on  individual  character.  With- 
out  supposing  extreme  cases,  it  may  be  affirmed  that  in  a 
majority  of  instances  the  good  not  only  of  society  but  of  the 
individuals  would  be  better  consulted  by  bequeathing  to 
them  a  moderate,  than  a  large  provision.  This,  which  is  a 
common-place  of  moralists  ancient  and  modern,  is  felt  to  be 
time  by  many  intelligent  parents,  and  would  be  acted  upon 
much  more  frequently,  if  they  did  not  allow  themselves  to 
consider  less  what  really  is,  than  what  will  be  thought  by 
others  to  be,  advantageous  to  the  children. 

The  duties  of  parents  to  their  children  are  those  which 
are  indissolubly  attached  to  the  fact  of  causing  the  existence 
of  a  human  being.  The  parent  owes  to  society  to  endeavour 
to  make  the  child  a  good  and  valuable  member  of  it,  and 
owes  to  the  children  to  provide,  so  far  as  depends  on  him, 
such  education,  and  such  appliances  and  means,  as  will 
enable  them  to  start  with  a  fair  chance  of  achieving  by  their 
own  exertions  a  successful  life.  To  this  every  child  has  a 
claim  ;  and  I  cannot  admit,  that  as  a  child  he  has  a  claim 
to  more.  There  is  a  case  in  which  these  obligations  present 
themselves  in  their  true  light,  without  any  extrinsic  circum- 
stances to  disguise  or  confuse  them  :  it  is  that  of  an  illegiti- 
mate child.  To  such  a  child  it  is  generally  felt  that  there  is 
due  from  the  parent,  the  amount  of  provision  for  his  welfare 
which  will  enable  him  to  make  his  life  on  the  whole  a  desira- 
ble one.  I  hold  that  to  no  child,  merely  as  such,  anything 
more  is  due,  than  what  is  admitted  to  be  due  to  an  illegiti 
mate  child :  and  that  no  child  for  whom  thus  much  has  been 
done,  has,  unless  on  the  score  of  previously  raised  expecta- 
tions, any  grievance,  if  the  remainder  of  the  parent's  fortune 

BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     §8. 

ig  devoted  to  public  uses,  or  to  the  benefit  of  individuals  oni 
whom  in  the  parent's  opinion  it  is  better  bestowed. 

In  order  to  give  the  children  that  fair  chance  of  a  desir- 
able existence,  to  which  they  are  entitled,  it  is  generally 
necessary  that  they  should  not  be  brought  up  from  child* 
hood  in  habits  of  luxury  which  they  will  not  have  the  means 
of  indulging  in  after-life.  This,  again,  is  a  duty  often 
flagrantly  violated  by  possessors  of  terminable  incomes,  who 
have  little  property  to  leave.  When  the  children  of  rich 
parents  have  lived,  as  it  is  natural  they  should  do,  in  habits 
corresponding. to  the  scale  of  expenditure  in  which  the  par- 
ents indulge,  it  is  generally  the  duty  of  the  parents  to  make 
a  greater  provision  for  them,  than  would  suffice  for  children 
otherwise  brought  up.  I  say  generally,  because  even  here 
there  is  another  side  to  the  question.  It  is  a  proposition 
quite  capable  of  being  maintained,  that  to  a  strong  nature 
which  has  to  make  its  way  against  narrow  circumstances,  to 
have  known  early  some  of  the  feelings  and  experiences  of 
wealth,  is  an  advantage  both  in  the  formation  of  character 
and  in  the  happiness  of  life.  But  allowing  that  children 
have  a  just  ground  of  complaint,  who  have  been  brought  up 
to  require  luxuries  which  they  are  not  afterwards  likely  to 
obtain,  and  that  their  claim,  therefore,  is  good  to  a  provision 
bearing  some  relation  to  the  mode  of  their  bringing  up ; 
this,  too,  is  a  claim  which  is  particularly  liable  to  be  stretched 
farther  than  its  reasons  warrant.  The  case  is  exactly  that 
of  the  younger  children  of  the  nobility  and  landed  gentry, 
the  bulk  of  whose  fortune  passes  to  the  eldest  son.  The 
other  sons,  who  are  usually  numerous,  are  brought  up  in 
the  same  habits  of  luxury  as  the  future  heir,  and  they  re- 
ceive, as  a  younger  brother's  portion,  generally  what  the 
reason  of  the  case  dictates,  namely,  enough  to  support,  in 
the  habits  of  life  to  which  they  are  accustomed,  themselves, 
but  not  a  wife  or  children.  It  really  is  no  grievance  to 
any  man,  that  for  the  means  of  marrying  and  of  supporting 
a  family,  he  has  to  depend  on  his  own  exertions. 

A  provision,  then,  such  as  is  admitted  to  be  reasonable 

BEQUEST.  287 

in  the  case  of  illegitimate  children,  of  younger  children, 
wherever  in  short  the  justice  of  the  case,  and  the  real  inter- 
ests of  the  individuals  and  of  society,  are  the  only  things 
considered,  is,  I  conceive,  all  that  parents  owe  to  their  chil- 
dren, and  all,  therefore,  which,  the  state  owes  to  the  chil- 
dren of  those  who  die  intestate.  The  surplus,  if  any,  I  hold 
that  it  may  rightfully  appropriate  to  the  general  purposes 
of  the  community.  I  would  not,  however,  be  supposed  to 
recommend  that  parents  should  never  do  more  for  their 
children  than  what,  merely  as  children,  they  have  a  moral 
right  to.  In  some  cases  it  is  imperative,  in  many  laudable, 
and  in  all  allowable,  to  do  much  more.  For  this,  however, 
the  means  are  afforded  by  the  liberty  of  bequest.  It  is  due, 
not  to  the  children  but  to  the  parents,  that  they  should  have 
the  power  of  showing  marks  of  affection,  of  requiting  ser- 
vices and  sacrifices,  and  of  bestowing  their  wealth  according 
to  their  own  preferences,  or  their  own  judgment  of  fitness. 

§  4.  Whether  the  power  of  bequest  should  itself  be 
subject  to  limitation,  is  an  ulterior  question  of  great  impor- 
tance. Unlike  inheritance  ab  intestato,  bequest  is  one  of 
the  attributes  of  property  :  the  ownership  of  a  thing  cannot 
be  looked  upon  as  complete  without  the  power  of  bestow- 
ing it,  at  death  or  during  life,  at  the  owner's  pleasure :  and 
all  the  reasons,  which  recommend  that  private  property 
should  exist,  recommend  pro  tanto  this  extension  of  it.  But 
property  is  only  a  means  to  an  end,  not  itself  the  end.  Like 
all  other  proprietary  rights,  and  even  in  a  greater  degree 
than  most,  the  power  of  bequest  may  be  so  exercised  as  to 
conflict  with  the  permanent  interests  of  the  human  race.  It 
does  so,  when,  not  content  with  bequeathing  an  estate  to  A, 
the  testator  prescribes  that  on  A's  death  it  shall  pass  to 
his  eldest  son,  and  to  that  son's  son,  and  so  on  for  ever.  No 
donbt,  persons  have  occasionally  exerted  themselves  more 
strenuously  to  acquire  a  fortune  from  the  hope  of  founding 
a  family  in  perpetuity  ;  but  the  mischiefs  to  society  of  such 
perpetuities  outweigh  the  value  of  this  incentive  to  exerr 

288  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     (4. 

tion,  and  the  incentives  in  the  case  of  those  who  have  the 
opportunity  of  making  large  fortunes  are  strong  enough 
without  it.  A  similar  abuse  of  the  power  of  bequest  is  com- 
mitted when  a  person  who  does  the  meritorious  act  of  leav- 
ing property  for  public  uses,  attempts  to  prescribe  the 
details  of  its  application  in  perpetuity ;  when  in  founding 
a  place  of  education  (for  instance)  he  dictates,  for  ever,  what 
doctrines  shall  be  taught.  It  being  impossible  that  any  one 
should  know  what  doctrines  will  be  fit  to  be  taught  after  he 
has  been  dead  for  centuries,  the  law  ought  not  to  give  effect 
to  such  dispositions  of  property,  unless  subject  to  the  per- 
petual revision  (after  a  certain  interval  has  elapsed)  of  a 
fitting  authority. 

These  are  obvious  limitations.  But  even  the  simplest 
exercise  of  the  right  of  bequest,  that  of  determining  the  per- 
son to  whom  property  shall  pass  immediately  on  the  death 
of  the  testator,  has  always  been  reckoned  among  the  priv- 
ileges which  might  be  limited  or  varied,  according  to  views 
of  expediency.  The  limitations,  hitherto,  have  been  almost 
solely  in  favour  of  children.  In  England  the  right  is  in 
principle  unlimited,  almost  the  only  impediment  being  that 
arising  from  a  settlement  by  a  former  proprietor,  in  which 
case  the  holder  for  the  time  being  cannot  indeed  bequeath 
his  possessions,  but  only  because  there  is  nothing  to  be- 
queath, he  having  merely  a  life  interest.  By  the  Roman 
law,  on  which  the  civil  legislation  of  the  Continent  of 
Europe  is  principally  founded,  bequest  originally  was  not 
permitted  at  all,  and  even  after  it  was  introduced,  a  legitima 
portio  was  compulsorily  reserved  for  each  child  ;  and  such 
is  still  the  law  in  some  of  the  Continental  nations.  By  the 
French  law  since  the  Revolution,  the  parent  can  only  dis- 
pose by  will,  of  a  portion  equal  to  the  share  of  one  child, 
each  of  the  children  taking  an  equal  portion.  This  entail, 
as  it  may  be  called,  of  the  bulk  of  every  one's  property 
upon  the  children  collectively,  seems  to  me  as  little  defensi- 
ble in  principle  as  an  entail  in  favour  of  one  child,  though 
it  does  not  shock  so  directly  the  idea  of  justice.     I  cannot 

BEQUEST.  289 

admit  that  parents  should  be  compelled  to  leave  to  their 
children  even  that  provision  which,  as  children,  I  have  con- 
tended that  they  have  a  moral  claim  to.  Children  may  for- 
feit that  claim  by  general  unworthiness,  or  particular  ill- 
conduct  to  the  parents :  they  may  have  other  resources  or  pros- 
pects :  -what  has  been  previously  done  for  them,  in  the  way 
of  education  and  advancement  in  life,  may  fully  satisfy  their 
moral  claim ;  or  others  may  have  claims  superior  to  theirs. 
The  extreme  restriction  of  the  power  of  bequest  in 
French  law,  was  adopted  as  a  democratic  expedient,  to 
break  down  the  custom  of  primogeniture,  and  counteract 
the  tendency  of  inherited  property  to  collect  in  large  masses. 
I  agree  in  thinking  these  objects  eminently  desirable ;  but 
the  means  used  are  not,  I  think,  the  most  judicious.  Were 
I  framing  a  code  of  laws  according  to  what  seems  to  me 
best  in  itself,  without  regard  to  existing  opinions  and  senti- 
ments, I  should  prefer  to  restrict,  not  what  any  one  might 
bequeath,  but  what  any  one  should  be  permitted  to  acquire, 
by  bequest  or  inheritance.  Each  person  should  have  power 
to  dispose  by  will  of  his  or  her  whole  property  ;  but  not  to 
lavish  it  in  enriching  some  one  individual,  beyond  a  certain 
maximum,  which  should  be  fixed  sufficiently  high  to  afford 
the  means  of  comfortable  independence.  The  inequalities 
of  property  which  arise  from  unequal  industry,  frugality, 
perseverance,  talents,  and  to  a  certain  extent  even  opportu- 
nities, are  inseparable  from  the  principle  of  private  proper- 
ty, and  if  we  accept  the  principle,  we  must  bear  with  these 
consequences  of  it :  but  I  see  nothing  objectionable  in  fixing 
a  limit  to  what  any  one  may  acquire  by  the  mere  favour  of 
others,  without  any  exercise  of  his  faculties,  and  in  requir- 
ing that  if  he  desires  any  further  accession  of  fortune,  he 
shall  work  for  it.  I  do  not  conceive  that  the  degree  of 
limitation  which  this  would  impose  on  the  right  of  bequest, 
would  be  felt  as  a  burthensome  restraint  by  any  testator 
who  estimated  a  large  fortune  at  its  true  value,  that  of  the 
pleasures  and  advantages  that  can  be  purchased  with  it :  on 
even  the  most  extravagant  estimate  of  which,  it  must  be 

290  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     §4. 

apparent  to  every  one,  that  the  difference  to  the  happiness 
of  the  possessor  between  a  moderate  independence  and  five 
times  as  much,  is  insignificant  when  weighed  against  the 
enjoyment  that  might  be  given,  and  the  permanent  benefits 
diffused,  by  some  other  disposal  of  the  four-fifths.  So  long 
indeed  as  the  opinion  practically  prevails,  that  the  best 
thing  which  can  be  done  for  objects  of  affection  is  to  heap 
on  them  to  satiety  those  intrinsically  worthless  things  on 
which  large  fortunes  are  mostly  expended,  there  might  be 
little  use  in  enacting  such  a  law,  even  if  it  were  possible  to 
get  it  passed,  since  if  there  were  the  inclination,  there  would 
generally  be  the  power  of  evading  it.  The  law  would  be 
unavailing  unless  the  popular  sentiment  went  energetically 
along  with  it ;  which  (judging  from  the  tenacious  adherence 
of  public  opinion  in  France  to  the  law  of  compulsoiy  divi- 
sion) it  would  in  some  states  of  society  and  government  be 
very  likely  to  do,  however  much  the  contrary  may  be  the 
fact  in  England  and  at  the  present  time.  If  the  restriction 
could  be  made  practically  effectual,  the  benefit  would  be 
great.  Wealth  which  could  no  longer  be  employed  in  over- 
enriching  a  few,  would  either  be  devoted  to  objects  of  pub- 
lic usefulness,  or  if  bestowed  on  individuals,  would  be  dis- 
tributed among  a  larger  number.  While  those  enormous 
fortunes  which  no  one  needs  for  any  personal  purpose  but 
ostentation  or  improper  power,  would  become  much  less 
numerous,  there  would  be  a  great  multiplication  of  persons 
in  easy  circumstances,  with  the  advantages  of  leisure,  and 
all  the  real  enjoyments  which  wealth  can  give,  except  those 
of  vanity  ;  a  class  by  whom  the  services  which  a  nation  hav- 
ing leisured  classes  is  entitled  to  expect  from  them,  either  by 
their  direct  exertions  or  by  the  tone  they  give  to  the  feelings 
and  tastes  of  the  public,  would  be  rendered  in  a  much  more 
beneficial  manner  than  at  present.  A  large  portion  also  of 
the  accumulations  of  successful  industry  would  probably  be 
devoted  to  public  uses,  either  by  direct  bequests  to  the  State 
or  by  the  endowment  of  institutions ;  as  is  already  done 
very  largely  in  the  United  States,  where  the  ideas  and  pra<j- 


tice  in  the  matter  of  inheritance  seem  to  be  unusually 
rational  and  beneficial.* 

§  5.  The  next  point  to  be  considered  is,  whether  the 
reasons  on  which  the  institution  of  property  rests,  are  appli- 
cable to  all  things  in  which  a  right  of  exclusive  ownership  is 
at  present  recognized ;  and  if  not,  on  what  other  grounds 
the  recognition  is  defensible. 

The  essential  principle  of  property  being  to  assure  to 
all  persons  what  they  have  produced  by  their  labour  and 
accumulated  by  their  abstinence,  this  principle  cannot  apply 
to  what  is  not  the  produce  of  labour,  the  raw  material  of  the 
earth.  If  the  land  derived  its  productive  power  wholly  from 
nature,  and  not  at  all  from  industry,  or  if  there  were  any 
means  of  discriminating  what  is  derived  from  each  source, 
it  not  only  would  not  be  necessary,  but  it  would  be  the 
height  of  injustice,  to  let  the  gift  of  nature  be  engrossed  by 
individuals.  The  use  of  the  land  in  agriculture  must  indeed, 
for  the  time  being,  be  of  necessity  exclusive ;  the  same  per- 
son who  has  ploughed  and  sown  must  be  permitted  to  reap : 

*  "  Munificent  bequests  and  donations  for  public  purposes,  whether  charit- 
able or  educational,  form  a  striking  feature  in  the  modern  history  of  the  United 
States,  and  especially  of  New  England.  Not  only  is  it  common  for  rich  capital- 
ists to  leave  by  will  a  portion  of  their  fortune  towards  the  endowment  of  national 
institutions,  but  individuals  during  their  lifetime  make  magnificent  grants  of 
money  for  the  same  objects.  There  is  here  no  compulsory  law  for  the  equal 
partition  of  property  among  children,  as  in  France,  and  on  the  other  hand,  no 
custom  of  entail  or  primogeniture,  as  in  England,  so  that  the  affluent  feel  them- 
selves at  liberty  to  share  their  wealth  between  their  kindred  and  the  public ;  it 
being  impossible  to  found  a  family,  and  parents  having  frequently  the  happiness 
of  seeing  all  their  children  well  provided  for  and  independent  long  before  their 
death.  I  have  seen  a  list  of  bequests  and  donations  made  during  the  last  thirty 
years  for  the  benefit  of  religious,  charitable,  and  literary  institutions  in  the  state 
of  Massachusetts  alone,  and  they  amounted  to  no  less  a  sum  than  six  millions 
of  dollars,  or  more  than  a  million  sterling." — Lyell's  Travels  in  America,  vol.  i. 
p.  263. 

In  England,  whoever  leaves  anything  beyond  trifling  legacies  for  public  or 
beneficent  objects  when  he  has  any  near  relatives  living,  does  so  at  the  risk  of 
being  declared  insane  by  a  jury  after  his  death,  or  at  the  least,  of  having  the 
property  wasted  in  a  Chancery  suit  to  set  aside  the  will.  * 

292  B00K  u-     CHAPTER  IS.     §5. 

but  the  land  might  be  occupied  for  one  season  only,  as  among 
the  ancient  Germans;  or  might  be  periodically  redivided 
as  population  increased  :  or  the  State  might  be  the  univer- 
sal landlord,  and  the  cultivators  tenants  under  it,  either  on 
lease  or  at  will. 

But  though  land  is  not  the  produce  of  industry,  most 
of  its  valuable  qualities  are  so.  Labour  is  not  only  requi- 
site for  using,  but  almost  equally  so  for  fashioning,  the  in- 
strument. Considerable  labour  is  often  required  at  the 
commencement,  to  clear  the  land  for  cultivation.  In  many 
cases,  even  when  cleared,  its  productiveness  is  wholly  the 
effect  of  labour  and  art.  The  Bedford  Level  produced  little 
or  nothing  until  artificially  drained.  The  bogs  of  Ireland, 
until  the  same  thing  is  done  to  them,  can  produce  little  be- 
sides fuel.  One  of  the  barrenest  soils  in  the  world,  com- 
posed of  the  material  of  the  Goodwin  Sands,  the  Pays  de 
Waes  in  Flanders,  has  been  so  fertilized  by  industry,  as  to 
have  become  one  of  the  most  productive  in  Europe.  Culti- 
vation also  requires  buildings  and  fences,  which  are  wholly 
the  produce  of  labour.  The  fruits  of  this  industry  cannot 
be  reaped  in  a  short  period.  The  labour  and  outlay  are 
immediate,  the  benefit  is  spread  over  many  years,  perhaps 
over  all  future  time.  A  holder  will  not  incur  this  labour 
and  outlay  when  strangers  and  not  himself  will  be  benefited 
by  it.  If  he  undertakes  such  improvements,  he  must  have 
a  sufficient  period  before  him  in  which  to  profit  by  them  ; 
and  he  is  in  no  way  so  sure  of  having  always  a  sufficient 
period  as  when  his  tenure  is  perpetual."* 

*  "  Ce  qui  donnait  a  l'homme  l'intelligence  et  la  Constance  dans  ses  travaux, 
qui  lui  faisait  diriger  tous  ses  efforts  vers  un  but  utile  a  sa  race,  c'elait  le  senti- 
ment de  la  perp6tuite.  Les  terrains  les  plus  fertiles  sont  toujours  ceux  que  les 
eaux  ont  deposes  le  long  de  leur  cours,  mais  ce  sont  aussi  ceux  qu'elles  menacent 
de  leurs  inondations  ou  qu'elles  corrompent  par  des  mar6cages.  Avec  la 
garantie  de  la  perpetuite,  l'homme  entreprit  de  longs  et  pe'nibles  travaux  pour 
donner  aux  marecages  un  ecoulement,  pour  Clever  des  digues  contre  les  inonda- 
tions, pour  repartir  par  des  canaux  d'arrosement  des  eaux  fertilisantes  sur  les 
memes  champs  que  les  memes  eaux  condamnaient  a  la  sterilite.  Sous  la  meme 
garantie,  l'homme,  ne  se  contentant  plus  des  fruits  annuels  de  la  terre,  a  d6mel6 


§  6.  These  are  the  reasons  which  form  the  justification 
in  an  economical  point  of  view,  of  property  in  land.  It  is 
seen,  that  they  are  only  valid,  in  so  far  as  the  proprietor  of 
land  is  its  improver.  Whenever,  in  any  country,  the  pro- 
prietor, generally  speaking,  ceases  to  be  the  improver,  politi- 
cal economy  has  nothing  to  say  in  defence  of  landed  prop- 
erty, as  there  established.  In  no  sound  theory  of  private 
property  was  it  ever  contemplated  that  the  proprietor  of 
land  should  be  merely  a  sinecurist  quartered  on  it. 

In  Great  Britain,  the  landed  proprietor  is  not  unfre- 
quently  an  improver.  But  it  cannot  be  said  that  he  is 
generally  so.  And  in  the  majority  of  cases  he  grants  the 
liberty  of  cultivation  on  such  terms,  as  to  prevent  improve- 
ments from  baing  made  by  any  one  else.  In  the  southern 
parts  of  the  island,  as  there  are  usually  no  leases,  perma- 
nent improvements  can  scarcely  be  made  except  by  the 
landlord's  capital ;  accordingly  the  South  compared  with 
the  North  of  England,  and  with  the  Lowlands  of  Scotland, 
is  still  extremely  backward  in  agricultural  improvement. 
The  truth  is,  that  any  very  general  improvement  of  land  by 
the  landlords,  is  hardly  compatible  with  a  law  or  custom 
of  primogeniture.     When  the  land  goes  wholly  to  the  heir, 

parmi  la  vegetation  sauvage  lea  plantes  vivaces,  les  arbustes,  les  arbres  qui 
pouvaient  lui  6tre  utiles,  il  les  a  perfectionnes  par  la  culture,  il  a  change*  en 
quelque  sorte  leur  essence,  et  il  les  a  multiplies.  Parmi  les  fruits,  en  effet,  on 
en  reconnait  que  des  siecles  de  culture  ont  seuls  pu  amener  a  la  perfection  qu'ils 
ont  atteinte  aujourd'hui,  tandis  que  d'autres  out  6t6  importer  des  regions  les  plus 
lointaines.  I/homme  en  mcme  temps  a  ouvert  la  terre  jusqu'a  une  grande  pro- 
fondeur,  pour  renouveler  son  sol,  et  le  fertiliser  par  le  melange  de  ses  parties 
et  les  impressions  de  Pair;  il  a  fixe"  sur  les  collines  la  terre  qui  s'en  6chappait,  et 
il  a  couvert  la  face  entiere  de  la  campagne  d'une  vegetation  partout  abondante, 
et  partout  utile  a  la  race  humaine.  Parmi  ses  travaux,  il  y  en  a  dont  il  ne 
recueillera  le  fruit  qu'au  bout  de  dix  ou  de  vingt  ans ;  il  y  en  a  d'autres  dont  ses 
derniers  neveux  jouiront  encore  dans  plusieurs  siecles.  Tous  ont  concouru  a 
augmenter  la  force  productive  de  la  nature,  a  donner  a  la  race  humaine  im 
revenu  infiniment  plus  abondant,  un  revenu  dont  une  portion  considerable  est 
consomme^  par  ceux  qui  n'ont  point  part  a  la  propriety  territoriale,  et  qui 
cependant  n'auraient  point  trouve"  de  nourriture  sans  ce  partage  du  sol  qui  sem- 
ble  les  avoir  desh6rite's.w — Sismondi,  Etude  sur  VEconovnie  Politique,  Troisieme 
Essai,  De  la  Richesse  Territoriale 

294  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     J  6. 

it  generally  goes  to  him  severed  from  tlie  pecuniary  re* 
sources  which  would  enable  him  to  improve  it,  the  personal 
property  being  absorbed  by  the  provision  for  younger  chil- 
dren, and  the  land  itself  often  heavily  burthened  for  the 
same  purpose.  There  is  therefore  but  a  small  proportion 
of  landlords  who  have  the  means  of  making  expensive  im- 
provements, unless  they  do  it  with  borrowed  money,  and 
by  adding  to  the  mortgages  with  which  in  most  cases  the 
land  was  already  burthened  when  they  received  it.  But 
the  position  of  the  owner  of  a  deeply  mortgaged  estate  is 
so  precarious ;  economy  is  so  unwelcome  to  one  whose  ap- 
parent fortune  greatly  exceeds  his  real  means,  and  the  vicis- 
situdes of  rent  and  price  which  only  trench  upon  the  mar- 
gin of  his  income,  are  so  formidable  to  one  who  can  call 
little  more  than  the  margin  his  own ;  that  it  is  no  wonder  if 
few  landlords  find  themselves  in  a  condition  to  make  immedi- 
ate sacrifices  for  the  sake  of  future  profit.  Were  they  ever  so 
much  inclined,  those  alone  can  prudently  do  it,  who  have 
seriously  studied  the  principles  of  scientific  agriculture: 
and  great  landlords  have  seldom  seriously  studied  any- 
thing. They  might  at  least  hold  out  inducements  to  the 
farmers  to  do  what  they  will  not  or  cannot  do  themselves ; 
but  even  in  granting  leases,  it  is  in  England  a  general  com- 
plaint that  they  tie  up  their  tenants  by  covenants  grounded 
on  the  practices  of  an  obsolete  and  exploded  agriculture ; 
while  most  of  them,  by  withholding  leases  altogether,  and 
giving  the  farmer  no  guarantee  of  possession  beyond  a 
single  harvest,  keep  the  land  on  a  footing  little  more  favour- 
abe  to  improvement  than  in  the  time  of  our  barbarous  an- 

immetata  quibus  jugera  liberaa 

Frujes  et  Cererem  ferunt, 

Nee  culture  placet  longior  annua. 

Landed  property  in  England  is  thus  very  far  from  com- 
pletely f oW1: —  ^  ~  conditions  which  render  its  existence  eco- 
But  if  insufficiently  realized  even  in 

.     PROPERTY  IN  LAND.  295 

England,  in  Ireland  those  conditions  are  not  complied  with 
at  all.  With  individual  exceptions  (some  of  them  very 
honourable  ones),  the  owners  of  Irish  estates  do  nothing 
for  the  land  but  drain  it  of  its  produce.  What  has  been 
epigrammatically  said  in  the  discussions  on  "  peculiar  bur- 
thens "  is  literally  true  when  applied  to  them;  that  the 
greatest  u  burthen  on  land  "  is  the  landlords.  Returning 
nothing  to  the  soil,  they  consume  its  whole  produce, 
minus  the  potatoes  strictly  necessary  to  keep  the  inhabitants 
from  dying  of  famine ;  and  when  they  have  any  purpose 
of  improvement,  the  preparatory  step  usually  consists  in 
not  leaving  even  this  pittance,  but  turning  out  the  people 
to  beggary  if  not  to  starvation.*  When  landed  property 
has  placed  itself  upon  this  footing  it  ceases  to  be  defensible, 
and  the  time  has  come  for  making  some  new  arrangement 
of  the  matter. 

When  the  "  sacrcdness  of  property  "  is  talked  of,  it 
should  always  be  remembered,  that  any  such  sacredness 
does  not  belong  in  the  same  degree  to  landed  property. 
No  man  made  the  land.  It  is  the  original  inheritance  of 
the  whole  species.  Its  appropriation  is  wholly  a  question 
of  general  expediency.  When  private  property  in  land  is 
not  expedient,  it  is  unjust.  It  is  no  hardship  to  any  one, 
to  be  excluded  from  what  others  have  produced :  they  were 
not  bound  to  produce  it  for  his  use,  and  he  loses  nothing 
by  not  sharing  in  what  otherwise  would  not  have  existed 
at  all.  But  it  is  some  hardship  to  be  born  into  the  world 
and  to  find  all  nature's  gifts  previously  engrossed,  and  no 
place  left  for  the  new-comer.  To  reconcile  people  to  this, 
after  they  have  once  admitted  into  their  minds  the  idea  that 
any  moral  rights  belong  to  them  as  human  beings,  it  will 
always  be  necessary  to  convince  them  that  the  exclusive 
appropriation  is  good  for  mankind  on  the  whole,  themselves 

*  I  must  beg  the  reader  to  bear  in  mind  that  this  paragraph  was  written 
fifteen  years  ago.  So  wonderful  are  the  changes,  both  moral  and  economical, 
taking  place  in  our  age,  that,  without  perpetually  re-writing  a  work  like  the 
present,  it  is  impossible  to  keep  up  with  them. 

296  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     i0. 

included.  But  this  is  what  no  sane  human  being  could  be 
persuaded  of,  if  the  relation  between  the  landowner  and  the 
cultivator  were  the  same  everywhere  as  it  has  been  in  Ireland. 
Landed  property  is  felt,  even  by  those  most  tenacious 
of  its  rights,  to  be  a  different  thing  from  other  property;j 
and  where  the  bulk  of  the  community  have  been  disin- 
herited of  their  share  of  it,  and  it  has  become  the  exclusive 
attribute  of  a  small  minority,  men  have  generally  tried  to 
reconcile  it,  at  least  fn  theory,  to  their  sense  of  justice,  by 
endeavouring  to  attach  duties  to  it,  and  erecting  it  into  a  sort 
of  magistracy,  either  moral  or  legal.  But  if  the  state  is  at 
liberty  to  treat  the  possessors  of  land  as  public  functionaries, 
it  is  only  going  one  step  further  to  say,  that  it  is  at  liberty 
to  discard  them.  The  claim  of  the  landowners  to  the  land 
is  altogether  subordinate  to  the  general  policy  of  the  state. 
The  principle  of  property  gives  them  no  right  to  the  land, 
but  only  a  right  to  compensation  for  whatever  portion  of 
their  interest  in  the  land  it  may  be  the  policy  of  the  state 
to  deprive  them  of.  To  that,  their  claim  is  indefeasible.  It 
is  due  to  landowners,  and  to  owners  of  any  property  what- 
ever, recognized  as  such  by  the  state,  that  they  should  not 
be  dispossessed  of  it  without  receiving  its  pecuniary  value, 
or  an  annual  income  equal  to  what  they  derived  from  it. 
This  is  due  on  the  general  principles  on  which  property 
rests.  If  the  land  was  bought  with  the  produce  of  the  la- 
bour and  abstinence  of  themselves  or  their  ancestors,  com- 
pensation is  due  to  them  on  that  ground ;  even  if  otherwise, 
it  is  still  due  on  the  ground  of  prescription.  Nor  can  it 
ever  be  necessary  for  accomplishing  an  object  by  which  the 
community  altogether  will  gain,  that  a  particular  portion 
of  the  community  should  be  immolated.  When  the  prop- 
erty is  of  a  kind  to  which  peculiar  affections  attach  them- 
selves, the  compensation  ought  to  exceed  a  bare  pecuniary 
equivalent.  But,  subject  to  this  proviso,  the  state  is  at 
liberty  to  deal  with  landed  property  as  the  general  interests 
of  the  community  may  require,  even  to  the  extent,  if  it  so 
happen,  of  doing  with  the  whole,  what  is  done  with-a  part 


whenever  a  bill  is  passed  for  a  railroad  or  a  new  street.  The 
community  has  too  much  at  stake  in  the  proper  cultivation 
of  the  land,  and  in  the  conditions  annexed  to  the  occupancy 
of  it,  to  leave  these  things  to  the  discretion  of  a  class  of  per- 
sons called  landlords,  when  they  have  shown  themselves 
unfit  for  the  trust.  The  legislature,  which  if  it  pleased 
might  convert  the  whole  body  of  landlords  into  fundholders 
or  pensioners,  might  a  fortiori,  commute  the  average  re- 
ceipts of  Irish  landowners  into  a  fixed  rent  charge,  and  raise 
the  tenants  into  proprietors ;  supposing  always  that  the  full 
market  value  of  the  land  was  tendered  to  the  landlords,  in 
case  they  preferred  that  to  accepting  the  conditions  pro- 

There  will  be  another  place  for  discussing  the  various 
modes  of  landed  property  and  tenure,  and  the  advantages 
and  inconveniences  of  each  ;  in  this  chapter  our  concern  is 
with  the  right  itself,  the  grounds  which  justify  it,  and  (as  a 
corollary  from  these)  the  conditions  by  which  it  should  be 
limited.  To  me  it  seems  almost  an  axiom  that  property  in 
land  should  be  interpreted  strictly,  and  that  the  balance  in 
all  cases  of  doubt  should  incline  against  the  proprietor. 
The  reverse  is  the  case  with  property  in  moveables,  and  in 
all  things  the  product  of  labour :  over  these,  the  owner's 
power  both  of  use  and  of  exclusion  should  be  absolute, 
except  where  positive  evil  to  others  would  result  from  it ; 
but  in  the  case  of  land,  no  exclusive  right  should  be  per- 
mitted in  any  individual,  which  cannot  be  shown  to  be  pro- 
ductive of  positive  good.  To  be  allowed  any  exclusive  right 
at  all,  over  a  portion  of  the  common  inheritance,  while  there 
are  others  who  have  no  portion,  is  already  a  privilege.  No 
quantity  of  moveable  goods  which  a  person  can  acquire  by 
his  labour,  prevents  others  from  acquiring  the  like  by  the 
same  means ;  but  from  the  very  nature  of  the  case,  whoever 
owns  land,  keeps  others  out  of  the  enjoyment  of  it.  The 
privilege,  or  monopoly,  is  only  defensible  as  a  necessary 
evil ;  it  becomes  an  injustice  when  carried  to  any  point  to 
which  the  compensating  good  does  not  follow  it. 

208  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     J  7. 

For  instance,  the  exclusive  right  to  the  land  for  purposes 
of  cultivation  does  not  imply  an  exclusive  right  to  it  for 
purposes  of  access ;  and  no  such  right  ought  to  be  recog- 
nized, except  to  the  extent  necessary  to  protect  the  produce 
against  damage,  and  the  owner's  privacy  against  invasion. 
The  pretension  of  two  Dukes  to  shut  up  a  part  of  the  High- 
lands, and  exclude  the  rest  of  mankind  from  many  square 
miles  of  mountain  scenery  to  prevent  disturbance  to  wild 
animals,  is  an  abuse ;  it  exceeds  the  legitimate  bounds  of 
the  right  of  landed  property.  When  land  is  not  intended 
to  be  cultivated,  no  good  reason  can  in  general  be  given  for 
its  being  private  property  at  all ;  and  if  any  one  is  per- 
mitted to  call  it  his,  he  ought  to  know  that  he  holds  it  by 
sufferance  of  the  community,  and  on  an  implied  condition 
that  his  ownership,  since  it  cannot  possibly  do  them  any 
good,  at  least  shall  not  deprive  them  of  any,  which  they 
could  have  derived  from  the  land  if  it  had  been  unappro- 
priated. Even  in  the  case  of  cultivated  land,  a  man  whom, 
though  only  one  among  millions,  the  law  permits  to  hold 
thousands  of  acres  as  his  single  share,  is  not  entitled  to  think 
that  all  this  is  given  to  him  to  use  and  abuse,  and  deal  with 
as  if  it  concerned  nobody  but  himself.  The  rents  or  profits 
which  he  can  obtain  from  it  are  at  his  sole  disposal ;  but 
with  regard^  the  land,  in  everything  which  he  does  with 
it,  and  in  everything  which  he  abstains  from  doing,  he  is 
morally  bound,  and  should  whenever  the  case  admits  be 
legally  compelled,  to  make  his  interest  and  pleasure  con- 
sistent with  the  public  good.  The  species  at  large  still 
retains,  of  its  original  claim  to  the  soil  of  the  planet  which 
it  inhabits,  as  much  as  is  compatible  with  the  purposes  for 
which  it  has  parted  with  the  remainder. 

§  7.  Besides  property  in  the  produce  of  labour,  and 
property  in  land,  there  are  other  things  which  are  or  have 
been  subjects  of  property,  in  which  no  proprietary  rights 
ought  to  exist  at  all.  But  as  the  civilized  world  has  in  gen- 
eral made  up  its  mind  on  most  of  these,  there  is  no  necessity 


for  dwelling  on  them  in  this  place.  At  the  head  of  them, 
is  property  in  human  beings.  It  is  almost  superfluous  to 
observe,  that  this  institution  can  have  no  place  in  any 
society  even  pretending  to  be  founded  on  justice,  or  on  fel- 
lowship between  human  creatures.  But,  iniquitous  as  it  is, 
yet  when  the  state  has  expressly  legalized  it,  and  human 
beings,  for  generations,  have  been  bought,  sold,  and  inher- 
ited under  sanction  of  law,  it  is  another  wrong,  in  abolish- 
ing the  property,  not  to  make  full  compensation.  This 
wrong  was  avoided  by  the  great  measure  of  justice  in  1833, 
one  of  the  most  virtuous  acts,  as  well  as  the  most  practically 
beneficent,  ever  done  collectively  by  a  nation.  Other  exam- 
ples of  property  which  ought  not  to  have  been  created,  are 
properties  in  public  trusts ;  such  as  judicial  offices  under  the 
old  French  regime,  and  the  heritable  jurisdictions  which,  in 
countries  not  wholly  emerged  from  feudality,  pass  with  the 
land.  Our  own  country  affords,  as  cases  in  point,  that  of  a 
commission  in  the  army,  and  of  an  advowson,  or  right  of 
nomination  to  an  ecclesiastical  benefice.  A  property  is  also 
sometimes  created  in  a  right  of  taxing  the  public  ;  in  a  mo- 
nopoly, for  instance,  or  other  exclusive  privilege.  These 
abuses  prevail  most  in  semibarbarous  countries ;  but  are 
not  without  example  in  the  most  civilized.  In  France  there 
are  several  important  trades  and  professions,  including  no- 
taries, attorneys,  brokers,  appraisers,  printers,  even  bakers, 
and  (until  lately)  butchers,  of  which  the  numbers  are  limit- 
ed by  law.  The  brevet  or  privilege  of  one  of  the  permitted 
number  consequently  brings  a  high  price  in  the  market.  In 
these  cases,  compensation  probably  could  not  with  justice  be 
refused,  on  the  abolition  of  the  privilege.  There  are  other 
cases  in  which  this  would  be  more  doubtful.  The  question 
would  turn  upon  what,  in  the  peculiar  circumstances,  was 
sufficient  to  constitute  prescription  ;  and  whether  the  legal 
recognition  which  the  abuse  had  obtained,  was  sufficient  to 
constitute  it  an  institution,  or  amounted  only  to  an  occa- 
sional license.  It  would  be  absurd  to  claim  compensation 
for  losses  caused  by  changes  in  a  tariff,  a  thing  confessedly 

300  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  II.     §7. 

variable  from  year  to  year;  or  for  monopolies  like  those 
granted  to  individuals  by  Queen  Elizabeth,  favours  of  a 
despotic  authority,  which  the  power  that  gave  was  compe- 
tent at  any  time  to  recal. 

So  much  on  the  institution  of  property,  a  subject  of 
which,  for  the  purposes  of  political  economy,  it  was  indis- 
pensable to  treat,  but  on  which  we  could  not  usefully  con- 
fine ourselves  to  economical  considerations.  We  have  now 
to  inquire  on  what  principles  and  with  wThat  results  the  dis- 
tribution of  the  produce  of  land  and  labour  is  effected,  under 
the  relations  which  this  institution  creates  among  the  differ- 
ent members  of  the  community. 



§  1.  Private  property  being  assumed  as  a  fact,  we 
have  next  to  enumerate  the  different  classes  of  persons  to 
whom  it  gives  rise ;  whose  concurrence,  or  at  least  whose 
permission,  is  necessary  to  production,  and  who  are  there- 
fore able  to  stipulate  for  a  share  of  the  produce.  ^Te  have 
to  inquire,  according  to  what  laws  the  produce  distributes 
itself  among  these  classes,  by  the  spontaneous  action  of  the 
interests  of  those  concerned :  after  which  a  further  question 
will  be,  what  effects  are  or  might  be  produced  by  laws, 
institutions,  and  measures  of  government,  in  superseding  or 
modifying  that  spontaneous  distribution. 

The  three  requisites  of  production,  as  has  been  so  often 
repeated,  are  labour,  capital,  and  land :  understanding  by 
capital,  the  means  and  appliances  which  are  the  accumu- 
lated results  of  previous  labour,  and  by  land,  the  materials 
and  instruments  supplied  by  nature,  whether  contained  in 
the  interior  of  the  earth,  or  constituting  its  surface.  Since 
each  of  these  elements  of  production  may  be  separately  ap- 
propriated, the  industrial  community  may  be  considered  as 
divided  into  landowners,  capitalists,  and  productive  labour- 
ers. Each  of  these  classes,  as  such,  obtains  a  share  of  the 
produce :  no  other  person  or  class  obtains  anything,  except 
by  concession  from  them.  The  remainder  of  the  community 
is,  in  fact,  supported  at  their  expense,  giving,  if  any  equiva- 
lent, one  consisting  of  unproductive  services.    These  three 

302  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  III.     §2. 

classes,  therefore,  are  considered  in  political  economy  as 
making  up  the  whole  community 

§  2.  But  although  these  three  sometimes  exist  as  sepa- 
rate classes,  dividing  the  produce  among  them,  they  do  not 
necessarily  or  always  so  exist.  The  fact  is  so  much  other- 
wise, that  there  are  only  one  or  two  communities  in  which 
the  complete  separation  of  these  classes  is  the  general  rule, 
England  and  Scotland,  with  parts  of  Belgium  and  Holland, 
are  almost  the  only  countries  in  the  world,  where  the  land, 
capital,  and  labour  employed  in  agriculture,  are  generally 
the  property  of  separate  owners.  The  ordinary  case  is,  that 
the  same  person  owns  either  two  of  these  requisites,  or  all 

The  case  in  which  the  same  person  owns  all  three,  em- 
braces the  two  extremes  of  existing  society,  in  respect  to  the 
indepen8ence  and  dignity  of  the  labouring  class.  First, 
when  the  labourer  himself  is  the  proprietor.  This  is  the 
commonest  case  in  the  Northern  States  of  the  American 
Union ;  one  of  the  commonest  in  France,  Switzerland,  the 
three  Scandinavian  kingdoms,  and  parts  of  Germany  ;  *  and 

*  "  The  Norwegian  return  w  (say  the  Commissioners  of  Poor  Law  Enquiry, 
to  whom  information  was  furnished  from  nearly  every  country  in  Europe  and 
America  by  the  ambassadors  and  consuls  there)  "  states  that  at  the  last  census  in 
1825,  out  of  a  population  of  1,051,318  persons,  there  were  59,464  freeholders. 
As  by  59,464  freeholders  must  be  meant  59,464  heads  of  families,  or  about 
300,000  individuals ;  the  freeholders  must  form  more  than  a  fourth  of  the  whole 
population.  Mr.  Macgregor  states  that  in  Denmark  (by  which  Zealand  and  the 
adjoining  islands  are  probably  meant)  out  of  a  population  of  926,110,  the  num- 
ber of  landed  proprietors  and  farmers  is  415,110,  or  nearly  one-half.  In  Sles- 
wick  Holstein,  out  of  a  population  of  604,085,  it  is  196,017,  or  about  one-third. 
The  proportion  of  proprietors  and  farmers  to  the  whole  population  is  not  given 
in  Sweden ;  but  the  Stockholm  return  estimates  the  average  quantity  of  Ian* 
annexed  to  a  labourer's  habitation  at  from  one  to  five  acres ;  and  though  the 
Gottenburg  return  gives  a  lower  estimate,  it  adds,  that  the  peasants  possess  much 
of  the  land.  In  Wurtemburg  we  are  told  that  more  than  two-thirds  of  the 
labouring  population  are  the  proprietors  of  their  own  habitations,  and  that  almost 
all  own  at  least  a  garden  of  from  three-quarters  of  an  acre  to  an  acre  and  a  half." 
In  some  of  these  statements,  proprietors  and  farmers  are  not  discriminated ;  but 
11  all  the  returns  concur  in  stating  the  number  of  day-labourers  to  be  very  small.* 


a  common  case  in  parts  of  Italy  and  in  Belgium.  In  all 
these  countries  there  are,  no  doubt,  large  landed  properties, 
and  a  still  greater  number  which,  without  being  large,  re- 
quire the  occasional  or  constant  aid  of  hired  labourers. 
Much,  however,  of  the  land  is  owned  in  portions  too  small 
to  require  any  other  labour  than  that  of  the  peasant  and  his 
family,  or  fully  to  occupy  even  that.  The  capital  employed 
is  not  always  that  of  the  peasant  proprietor,  many  of  these 
small  properties  being  mortgaged  to  obtain  the  means  of 
cultivating ;  but  the  capital  is  invested  at  the  peasant's  risk, 
and  though  he  pays  interest  for  it,  it  gives  to  no  one  any 
right  of  interference,  except,  perhaps,  eventually  to  take 
possession  of  the  land,  if  the  interest  ceases  to  be  paid. 

The  other  case  in  which  the  land,  labour,  and  capital, 
belong  to  the  same  person,  is  the  case  of  slave  countries,  in 
which  the  labourers  themselves  are  owned  by  the  landowner. 
Our  West  India  colonies  before  emancipation,  and  the  sugar 
colonies  of  the  nations  by  whom  a  similar  act  of  justice  is 
still  unperformed,  are  examples  of  large  establishments  for 
agricultural  and  manufacturing  labour  (the  production  of 
sugar  and  rum  is  a  combination  of  both)  in  which  the  land, 
the  factories  (if  they  may  so  be  called),  the  machinery,  and 
the  degraded  labourers,  are  all  the  property  of  a  capitalist. 
In  this  case,  as  well  as  in  its  extreme  opposite,  the  case  of 
the  peasant  proprietor,  there  is  no  division  of  the  produce. 

§  3.  When  the  three  requisites  are  not  all  owned  by 
the  same  person,  it  often  happens  that  two  of  them  are  so. 
Sometimes  the  same  person  owns  the  capital  and  the  land, 
but  not  the  labour.  The  landlord  makes  his  engagement 
directly  with  the  labourer,  and  supplies  the  whole  or  part 
of  the  stock  necessary  for  cultivation.  This  system  is  the 
usual  one  in  those  parts  of  Continental  Europe,  in  which 
the  labourers  are  neither  serfs  on  the  one  hand,  nor  pro- 

— Preface  to  Foreign  Communications,  p.  xxxviii.)  As  the  general  status  of 
the  labouring  people,  the  condition  of  a  workman  for  hire  is  almost  peculiar  to 
Great  Britain. 

304  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  III.     § 

prietors  on  the  other.  It  was  very  common  in  France  be- 
fore the  Revolution,  and  is  still  much  practised  in  some 
parts  of  that  country,  when  the  land  is  not  the  property 
of  the  cultivator.  It  prevails  generally  in  the  level  dis- 
tricts of  Italy,  except  those  principally  pastoral,  such  as  the 
JMaremma  of  Tuscany  and  the  Campagna  of  Home.  On 
this  system  the  division  of  the  produce  is  between  two 
classes,  the  landowner  and  the  labourer. 

In  other  cases  again  the  labourer  does  not  own  the  land, 
but  owns  the  little  stock  employed  on  it,  the  landlord  not 
being  in  the  habit  of  supplying  any.  This  system  generally 
prevails  in  Ireland.  It  is  nearly  universal  in  India,  and  in 
most  countries  of  the  East;  whether  the  government  re- 
tains, as  it  generally  does,  the  ownership  of  the  soil,  or 
allows  portions  to  become,  either  absolutely  or  in  a  qualified 
sense,  the  property  of  individuals.  In  India,  however,  things 
are  so  far  better  than  in  Ireland,  that  the  owner  of  land  is 
in  the  habit  of  making  advances  to  the  cultivators,  if  they 
cannot  cultivate  without  them.  For  these  advances  the 
native  landed  proprietor  usually  demands  high  interest; 
but  the  principal  landowner,  the  government,  makes  them 
gratuitously,  recovering  the  advance  after  the  harvest,  to- 
gether with  the  rent.  The  produce  is  here  divided  as  be- 
fore, between  the  same  two  classes,  the  landowner  and  the 

These  are  the  principal  variations  in  the  classification  of 
those  among  whom  the  produce  of  agricultural  labour  is 
distributed.  In  the  case  of  manufacturing  industry  there 
never  are  more  than  two  classes,  the  labourers  and  the  cap- 
italists. The  original  artisans  in  all  countries  were  either 
slaves,  or  the  women  of  the  family.  In  the  manufacturing 
establishments  of  the  ancients,  whether  on  a  large  or  on  a 
small  scale,  the  labourers  were  usually  the  property  of  the 
capitalist.  In  general,  if  any  manual  labour  was  thought 
compatible  with  the  dignity  of  a  freeman,  it  was  only  agri- 
cultural labour.  The  converse  system,  in  which  the  capital 
Was  owned  by  the  labourer,  was  coeval  with  free  labour, 


and  under  it  the  first  great  advances  of  manufacturing 
industry  were  achieved.  The  artisan  owned  the  loom  or 
the  few  tools  he  used,  and  worked  on  his  own  account ;  or 
at  least  ended  by  doing  so,  though  he  usually  worked  for 
another,  first  as  apprentice  and  next  as  journeyman,  for  a 
certain  number  of  years  before  he  could  be  admitted  a  mas- 
ter. But  the  status  of  a  permanent  journeyman,  all  his  life 
a  hired  labourer  and  nothing  more,  had  no  place  in  the 
crafts  and  guilds  of  the  middle  ages.  In  country  villages, 
where  a  carpenter  or  a  blacksmith  cannot  live  and  support 
hired  labourers  on  the  returns  of  his  business,  he  is  even 
now  his  own  workman ;  and  shopkeepers  in  similar  cir- 
cumstances are  their  own  shopmen,  or  shopwomen.  But 
wherever  the  extent  of  the  market  admits  of  it,  the  distinc- 
tion is  now  fully  established  between  the  class  of  capitalists, 
or  employers  of  labour,  and  the  class  of  labourers ;  the  cap- 
italists, in  general,  contributing  no  other  labour  than  that 
of  direction  and  superintendence. 



§  1.  Under  the  rule  of  individual  property,  the  divis- 
ion of  the  produce  is  the  result  of  two  determining  agen- 
cies :  Competition,  and  Custom.  It  is  important  to  ascer- 
tain the  amount  of  influence  which  belongs  to  each  of  these 
causes,  and  in  what  manner  the  operation  of  one  is  modified 
by  the  other. 

Political  economists  generally,  and  English  political 
economists  above  others,  have  been  accustomed  to  lay 
almost  exclusive  stress  upon  the  first  of  these  agencies ;  to 
exaggerate  the  effect  of  competition,  and  to  take  into  little 
account  the  other  and  conflicting  principle.  They  are  apt 
to  express  themselves  as  if  they  thought  that  competition 
actually  does,  in  all  cases,  whatever  it  can  be  shown  to  be 
the  tendency  of  competition  to  do.  This  is  partly  intelligi- 
ble, if  we  consider  that  only  through  the  principle  of  com- 
petition has  political  economy  any  pretension  to  the  charac- 
ter of  a  science.  So  far  as  rents,  profits,  wages,  prices,  are 
determined  by  competition,  laws  may  be  assigned  for  them. 
Assume  competition  to  be  their  exclusive  regulator,  and 
principles  of  broad  generality  and  scientific  precision  may 
be  laid  down,  according  to  which  they  will  be  regulated. 
The  political  economist  justly  deems  this  his  proper  busi- 
ness :  and  as  an  abstract  or  hypothetical  science,  political  econ- 
omy cannot  be  required  to  do,  and  indeed  cannot  do,  any- 
thing more.  But  it  would  be  a  great  misconception  of  the 
actual  course  of  human  affairs,  to  suppose  that  competition 


exercises  in  fact  this  unlimited  sway.  I  am  not  speaking  of 
monopolies,  either  natural  or  artificial,  or  of  any  interfer- 
ences of  authority  with  the  liberty  of  production  or  ex- 
change. Such  disturbing  causes  have  always  been  allowed 
for  by  political  economists.  I  speak  of  cases  in  which  there 
is  nothing  to  restrain  competition  ;  no  hindrance  to  it  either 
in  the  nature  of  the  case  or  in  artificial  obstacles ;  yet  in 
which  the  result  is  not  determined  by  competition,  but  by 
custom  or  usage  ;  competition  either  not  taking  place  at  all, 
or  producing  its  effect  in  quite  a  different  manner  from  that 
which  is  ordinarily  assumed  to  be  natural  to  it. 

§  2.  Competition,  in  fact,  has  only  become  in  any  con- 
siderable degree  the  governing  principle  of  contracts,  at  a 
comparatively  modern  period.  The  farther  we  look  back  into 
history,  the  more  we  see  all  transactions  and  engagements 
under  the  influence  of  fixed  customs.  The  reason  is  evident. 
Custom  is  the  most  powerful  protector  of  the  weak  against 
the  strong ;  their  sole  protector  where  there  are  no  laws  or 
government  adequate  to  the  purpose.  Custom  is  a  barrier 
which,  even  in  the  most  oppressed  condition  of  mankind, 
tyranny  is  forced  in  some  degree  to  respect.  To  the  iudus- 
trious  population,  in  a  turbulent  military  community,  free- 
dom of  competition  is  a  vain  phrase ;  they  are  never  in  a 
condition  to  make  terms  for  themselves  by  it :  there  is 
always  a  master  who  throws  his  sword  into  the  scale,  and 
the  terms  are  such  as  he  imposes.  But  though  the  law  of 
the  strongest  decides,  it  is  not  the  interest  nor  in  general  the 
practice  of  the  strongest  to  strain  that  law  to  the  utmost, 
and  every  relaxation  of  it  has  a  tendency  to  become  a  cus- 
tom, and  every  custom  to  become  a  right.  Eights  thus 
originating,  and  not  competition  in  any  shape,  determine,  in 
a  rude  state  of  society,  the  share  of  the  produce  enjoyed  by 
those  who  produce  it.  The  relations,  more  especally,  be- 
tween the  landowner  and  the  cultivator,  and  the  payments 
made  by  the  latter  to  the  former,  are,  in  all  states  of  society 
but  the  most  modern,  determined  by  the  usage  of  the  coun- 

308  BOOK  II.    CHAPTER  IV.     §2. 

try.  Never  until  late  times  have  the  conditions  of  the  occu- 
pancy of  land  been  (as  a  general  rule)  an  affair  of  compe- 
tition. The  occupier  for  the  time  has  very  commonly  been 
considered  to  have  a  right  to  retain  his  holding,  while  he 
fulfils  the  customary  requirements ;  and  has  thus  become, 
in  a  certain  sense,  a  co-proprietor  of  the  soil.  Even  where 
the  holder  has  not  acquired  this  fixity  of  tenure,  the  terms 
of  occupation  have  often  been  fixed  and  invariable. 

In  India,  for  example,  and  other  Asiatic  communities 
similarly  constituted,  the  ryots,  or  peasant-farmers,  are  not 
regarded  as  tenants  at  will,  nor  even  as  tenants  by  virtue  of 
a  lease.  In  most  villages  there  are  indeed  some  ryots  on 
this  precarious  footing,  consisting  of  those,  or  the  descend- 
ants of  those,  who  have  settled  in  the  place  at  a  known  and 
comparatively  recent  period  :  but  all  who  are  looked  upon 
as  descendants  or  representatives  of  the  original  inhabitants, 
and  even  many  mere  tenants  of  ancient  date,  are  thought 
entitled  to  retain  their  land,  as  long  as  they  pay  the  custom- 
ary rents.  What  these  customary  rents  are,  or  ought  to  be, 
has  indeed,  in  most  cases,  become  a  matter  of  obscurity ; 
usurpation,  tyranny,  and  foreign  conquest  having  to  a  great 
degree  obliterated  the  evidences  of  them.  But  when  an  old 
and  purely  Hindoo  principality  falls  under  the  dominion  of 
the  British  Government,  or  the  management  of  its  officers, 
and  when  the  details  of  the  revenue  system  come  to  be 
inquired  into,  it  is  usually  found  that  though  the  demands 
of  the  great  landholder,  the  State,  have  been  swelled  by 
fiscal  rapacity  until  all  limit  is  practically  lost  sight  of,  it 
has  yet  been  thought  necessary  to  have  a  distinct  name  and 
a  separate  pretext  for  each  increase  of  exaction ;  so  that  the 
demand  has  sometimes  come  to  consist  of  thirty  or  forty 
different  items,  in  addition  to  the  nominal  rent.  This  cir- 
cuitous mode  of  increasing  the  payments  assuredly  would 
not  have  been  resorted  to,  if  there  had  been  an  acknowl- 
edged right  in  the  landlord  to  increase  the  rent.  Its  adop- 
tion is  a  proof  that  there  was  once  an  effective  limitation, 
a  real  customary  rent ;  and  that  the  understood  right  of  the 


ryot  to  the  land,  so  long  as  he  paid  rent  according  to  cus- 
tom, was  at  some  time  or  other  more  than  nominal.*  The 
British  Government  of  India  always  simplifies  the  tenure 
by  consolidating  the  various  assessments  into  one,  thus  mak- 
ing the  rent  nominally  as  well  as  really  an  arbitrary  thing, 
cr  at  least  a  matter  of  specific  agreement :  but  it  scrupulous- 
ly respects  the  right  of  the  ryot  to  the  land,  though  until  the 
reforms  of  the  present  generation  (reforms  even  now  only 
partially  carried  into  effect)  it  seldom  left  him  much  more 
than  a  bare  subsistence. 

In  modern  Europe  the  cultivators  have  gradually  emerged 
from  a  state  of  personal  slavery.  The  barbarian  conquerors 
of  the  Western  empire  found  that  the  easiest  mode  of  man- 
aging their  conquests  would  be  to  leave  the  occupation  of 
the  land  in  the  hands  in  which  they  found  it,  and  to  save 
themselves  a  labour  so  uncongenial  as  the  superintendence 
of  troops  of  slaves,  by  allowing  the  slaves  to  retain  in  a  cer- 
tain degree  the  control  of  their  own  actions,  under  an  obli- 
gation to  furnish  the  lord  with  provisions  and  labour.  A 
common  expedient  was  to  assign  to  the  serf,  for  his  exclusive 
use,  as  much  land  as  was  thought  sufficient  for  his  support, 
and  to  make  him  work  on  the  other  lands  of  his  lord  when- 
ever required.  By  degrees  these  indefinite  obligations  were 
transformed  into  a  definite  one,  of  supplying  a  fixed  quan- 
tity of  provisions  or  a  fixed  quantity  of  labour :  and  as  the 
lords,  in  time,  became  inclined  to  employ  their  income  in 
the  purchase  of  luxuries  rather  than  in  the  maintenance  of 
retainers,  the  payments  in  kind  were  commuted  for  pay- 
ments in  money.  Each  concession,  at  first  voluntary  and 
revocable  at  pleasure,  gradually  acquired  the  force  of  cus- 
tom, and  was  at  last  recognised  and  enforced  by  the  tribu- 
nals. In  this  manner  the  serfs  progressively  rose  into  a  free 
tenantry,  who  held  their  land  in  perpetuity  on  fixed  condi 

*  The  ancient  law  books  of  the  Hindoos  mention  in  some  cases  one-sixth,  in 
others  one-fourth  of  the  produce,  as  a  proper  rent ;  but  there  is  no  evidence  that 
the  rules  laid  down  in  those  books  were,  at  any  period  of  history,  really  acted 

310  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  IV.     J  3. 

tions.  The  conditions  were  sometimes  very  onerous,  and 
the  people  very  miserable.  But  their  obligations  were  de- 
termined by  the  usage  or  law  of  the  country,  and  not  by 

Where  the  cultivators  had  never  been,  strictly  speaking, 
in  personal  bondage,  or  after  they  had  ceased  to  be  so,  the 
exigencies  of  a  poor  and  little  advanced  society  gave  rise  to 
another  arrangement,  which  in  some  parts  of  Europe,  even 
highly  improved  parts,  has  been  found  sufficiently  advanta- 
geous to  be  continued  to  the  present  day.  I  speak  of  the 
metayer  system.  Under  this,  the  land  is  divided,  in  small 
farms,  among  single  families,  the  landlord  generally  supply- 
ing the  stock  which  the  agricultural  system  of  the  country 
is  considered  to  require,  and  receiving,  in  lieu  of  rent  and 
profit,  a  fixed  proportion  of  the  produce.  This  proportion, 
which  is  generally  paid  in  kind,  is  usually,  (as  is  implied  in 
the  words  metayer,  mezzaiuolo,  and  medieiarius,)  one-half. 
There  are  places,  however,  such  as  the  rich  volcanic  soil  of 
the  province  of  Naples,  where  the  landlord  takes  two-thirds, 
and  yet  the  cultivator  by  means  of  an  excellent  agriculture 
contrives  to  live.  But  whether  the  proportion  is  two-thirds 
or  one-half,  it  is  a  fixed  proportion ;  not  variable  from  farm 
to  farm,  or  from  tenant  tp  tenant.  The  custom  of  the  coun- 
try is  the  universal  rule ;  nobody  thinks  of  raising  or  lower- 
ing rents,  or  of  letting  land  on  other  than  the  customary 
conditions.  Competition,  as  a  regulator  of  rent,  has  no 

§  3.  Prices,  whenever  there  was  no  monopoly,  came 
earlier  under  the  influence  of  competition,  and  are  much 
more  universally  subject  to  it,  than  rents :  but  that  influ- 
ence is  by  no  means,  even  in  the  present  activity  of  mer- 
cantile competition,  so  absolute  as  is  sometimes  assumed. 
There  is  no  proposition  which  meets  us  in  the  field  of  polit- 
ical economy  oftener  than  this — that  there  cannot  be  two 
prices  in  the  same  market.  Such  undoubtedly  is  the  natu- 
ral effect  of  unimpeded  competition ;  yet  every  one  knows 


that  there  are,  almost  always,  two  prices  in  the  same  mar- 
ket. Not  only  are  there  in  every  large  town,  and  in  almost 
every  trade,  cheap  shops  and  dear  shops,  but  the  same  shop 
often  sells  the  same  article  at  different  prices  to  different 
customers :  and,  as  a  general  rule,  each  retailer  adapts  his 
scale  of  prices  to  the  class  of  customers  whom  he  expects. 
The  wholesale  trade,  in  the  great  articles  of  commerce,  is 
really  under  the  dominion  of  competition.  There,  the  buy- 
ers as  well  as  sellers  are  traders  and  manufacturers,  and 
their  purchases  are  not  influenced  by  indolence  or  vulgar 
finery,  but  are  business  transactions.  In  the  wholesale  mar- 
kets therefore  it  is  true  as  a  general  proposition,  that  there 
are  not  two  prices  at  one  time  for  the  same  thing :  there  is 
at  each  time  and  place  a  market  price,  which  can  be  quoted 
in  a  price-current.  But  retail  price,  the  price  paid  by  the 
actual  consumer,  seems  to  feel  very  slowly  and  imperfectly 
the  effect  of  competition  ;  and  when  competition  does  exist, 
it  often,  instead  of  lowering  prices,  merely  divides  the  gains 
of  the  high  price  among  a  greater  number  of  dealers.  Hence 
it  is  that,  of  the  price  paid  by  the  consumer,  so  large  a  pro- 
portion is  absorbed  by  the  gains  of  retailers ;  and  any  one 
who  inquires  into  the  amount  which  reaches  the  hands  of 
those  who  made  the  things  he  buys,  will  often  be  astonished 
at  its  smallness.  When  indeed  the  market,  being  that  of  a 
great  city,  holds  out  a  sufficient  inducement  to  large  capital- 
ists to  engage  in  retail  operations,  it  is  generally  found  a 
better  speculation  to  attract  a  large  business  by  underselling 
others,  than  merely  to  divide  the  field  of  employment  with 
them.  This  influence  of  competition  is  making  itself  felt 
more  and  more  through  the  principal  branches  of  retail 
trade  in  the  large  towns ;  and  the  rapidity  and  cheapness 
of  transport,  by  making  consumers  less  dependent  on  the 
dealers  in  their  immediate  neighbourhood,  are  tending  to 
assimilate  more  and  more  the  whole  country  to  a  large 
town :  but  hitherto  it  is  only  in  the  great  centres  of  busi- 
ness that  retail  transactions  have  been  chiefly,  or  even 
much,  determined,  by  competition.    Elsewhere  it  rather 

312  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  IV.     fS. 


acts,  when  it  acts  at  all,  as  an  occasional  disturbing  influ- 
ence ;  the  habitual  regulator  is  custom,  modified  from  time 
to  time  by  notions  existing  in  the  minds  of  purchasers  and 
sellers,  of  some  kind  of  equity  or  justice. 

In  many  trades  the  terms  on  which  business  is  done  are 
a  matter  of  positive  arrangement  among  the  trade,  who  use 
the  means  they  always  possess  of  making  the  situation  of 
any  member  of  the  body  who  departs  from  its  fixed  cus- 
toms, inconvenient  or  disagreeable.  It  is  well  known  that 
the  bookselling  trade  was,  until  lately,  one  of  these,  and 
that  notwithstanding  the  active  spirit  of  rivalry  in  the  trade, 
competition  did  not  produce  its  natural  effect  in  breaking 
down  the  trade  rules.  All  professional  remuneration  is 
regulated  by  custom.  The  fees  of  physicians,  surgeons,  and 
barristers,  the  charges  of  attorneys,  are  nearly  invariable. 
Not  certainly  for  want  of  abundant  competition  in  those 
professions,  but  because  the  competition  operates  by  dimin- 
ishing each  competitor's  chance  of  fees,  not  by  lowering  the 
fees  themselves. 

Since  custom  stands  its  ground  against  competition  to  so 
considerable  an  extent,  even  where,  from  the  multitude  of 
competitors  and  the  general  energy  in  the  pursuit  of  gain, 
the  spirit  of  competition  is  strongest,  we  may  be  sure  that 
this  is  much  more  the  case  where  people  are  content  with 
smaller  gains,  and  estimate  their  pecuniary  interest  at  a 
lower  rate  when  balanced  against  their  ease  or  their  pleas- 
ure. I  believe  it  will  often  be  found,  in  Continental  Eu- 
rope, that  prices  and  charges,  of  some  or  of  all  sorts,  are 
much  higher  in  some  places  than  in  others  not  far  distant, 
without  its  being  possible  to  assign  any  other  cause  than 
that  it  has  always  been  so  :  the  customers  are  used  to  it,  and 
acquiesce  in  it.  An  enterprising  competitor,  with  sufficient 
capital,  might  force  down  the  charges,  and  make  his  fortune 
during  the  process ;  but  there  are  no  enterprising  competi- 
tors ;  those  who  have  capital  prefer  to  leave  it  where  it  is, 
or  to  make  less  profit  by  it  in  a  more  quiet  way. 

These  observations  must  be  received  as  a  general  cor- 


rection  to  be  applied  whenever  relevant,  whether  expressly 
mentioned  or  not,  to  the  conclusions  contained  in  the  subse- 
quent, portions  of  this  treatise.  Our  reasonings  must,  in 
general,  proceed  as  if  the  known  and  natural  effects  of  com- 
petition were  actually  produced  by  it,  in  all  cases  in  which 
it  is  not  restrained  by  some  positive  obstacle.  Where  com- 
petition, though  free  to  exist,  does  not  exist,  or  where  it 
exists,  but  has  its  natural  consequences  overruled  by  any 
other  agency,  the  conclusions  will  fail  more  or  less  of  being 
applicable.  To  escape  error,  we  ought,  in  applying  the  con- 
clusions of  political  econoniy  to  the  actual  affairs  of  life,  to 
consider  not  only  what  will  happen  supposing  the  maximum 
of  competition,  but  how  far  the  result  will  be  affected  if 
competition  falls  short  of  the  maximum. 

The  states  of  economical  relation  which  stand  first  in 
order,  to  be  discussed  and  appreciated,  are  those  in  which 
competition  has  no  part,  the  arbiter  of  transactions  being 
either  brute  force  or  established  usage.  These  will  be  the 
subject  of  the  next  four  chapters. 




§  1.  Among  the  forms  which  society  assumes  under  the 
influence  of  the  institution  of  property,  there  are,  as  I  have 
already  remarked,  two,  otherwise  of  a  widely  dissimilar  char- 
acter, but  resembling  in  this,  that  the  ownership  of  the  land, 
the  labour,  and  the  capital,  is  in  the  same  hands.  One  of 
these  cases  is  that  of  slavery,  the  other  is  that  of  peasant 
proprietors.  In  the  one,  the  landowner  owns  the  labour,  in 
the  other  the  labourer  owns  the  land.  We  begin  with  the 

In  this  system  all  the  produce  belongs  to  the  landlord. 
The  food  and  other  necessaries  of  his  labourers  are  part  of 
his  expenses.  The  labourers  possess  nothing  but  what  he 
thinks  fit  to  give  them,  and  until  he  thinks  fit  to  take  it 
back :  and  they  work  as  hard  as  he  chooses,  or  is  able,  to 
compel  them.  Their  wretchedness  is  only  limited  by  his 
humanity,  or  his  pecuniary  interest.  With  the  first  consid- 
eration, we  have  on  the  present  occasion  nothing  to  do. 
What  the  second  in  so  detestable  a  constitution  of  society 
may  dictate,  depends  on  the  facilities  for  importing  fresh 
slaves.  If  full-grown  able-bodied  slaves  can  be  procured  in 
sufficient  numbers,  and  imported  at  a  moderate  expense, 
self-interest  will  recommend  working  the  slaves  to  death, 
and  replacing  them  by  importation,  in  preference  to  the  slow 
and  expensive  process  of  breeding  them.  Nor  are  the  slave- 
owners generally  backward  in  learning  this  lesson.  It  is 
notorious  that  such  was  the  practice  in  our  slave  colonies, 

SLAVERY.  315 

while  the  slave  trade  was  legal ;  and  it  is  said  to  be  so  still 
in.  Cuba. 

When,  as  among  the  ancients,  the  slave-market  could 
only  be  supplied  by  captives  either  taken  in  war,  or  kid- 
napped from  thinly  scattered  tribes  on  the  remote  confines 
of  the  known  world,  it  was  generally  more  profitable  to 
keep  up  the  number  by  breeding,  which  necessitates  a  far 
better  treatment  of  them  ;  and  for  this  reason,  joined  with 
several  others,  the  condition  of  slaves,  notwithstanding  occa- 
sional enormities,  was  probably  much  less  bad  in  the  an- 
cient world,  than  in  the  colonies  of  modern  nations.  The 
Helots  are  usually  cited  as  the  type  of  the  most  hideous 
form  of  personal  slavery,  but  with  how  little  truth,  appears 
from  the  fact  that  they  were  regularly  armed  (though  not 
with  the  panoply  of  the  hoplite)  and  formed  an  integral  part 
of  the  military  strength  of  the  State.  They  were  doubtless 
an  inferior  and  degraded  caste,  but  their  slavery  seems  to 
have  been  one  of  the  least  onerous  varieties  of  serfdom. 
Slavery  appears  in  far  more  frightful  colours  among  the 
Romans,  during  the  period  in  which  the  Roman  aristocracy 
was  gorging  itself  with  the  plunder  of  a  newly-conquered 
world.  The  Romans  were  a  cruel  people,  and  the  worthless 
nobles  sported  with  the  lives  of  their  myriads  of  slaves  with 
the  same  reckless  prodigality  with  which  they  squandered 
any  other  part  of  their  ill-acquired  possessions.  Yet,  sla- 
very is  divested  of  one  of  its  worst  features  when  it  is  com- 
patible with  hope :  enfranchisement  was  easy  and  common : 
enfranchised  slaves  obtained  at  once  the  full  rights  of  citi- 
zens, and  instances  were  frequent  of  their  acquiring  not  only 
riches,  but  latterly  even  honours.  By  the  progress  of  milder 
legislation  under  the  Emperors,  much  of  the  protection  of 
law  was  thrown  round  the  slave,  he  became  capable  of  pos- 
sessing property,  and  the  evil  altogether  assumed  a  consid- 
erably gentler  aspect.  Until,  however,  slavery  assumes  the 
mitigated  form  of  villefiage,  in  which  not  only  the  slaves 
have  property  and  legal  rights,  but  their  obligations  are 
more  or  less  limited  by  usage,  and  they  partly  labour  for 

316  BOOK   II.     CHAPTER  V.     §2. 

their  own  benefit ;  their  condition  is  seldom  snch  as  to  pro- 
duce a  rapid  growth  either  of  population  or  of  production. 

§  2.  So  long  as  slave  countries  are  underpeopled  in 
proportion  to  their  cultivable  land,  the  labour  of  the  slaves, 
under  any  tolerable  management,  produces  much  more  than 
is  sufficient  for  their  support ;  especially  as  the  great  amount 
of  superintendence  which  their  labour  requires,  preventing 
the  dispersion  of  the  population,  ensures  some  of  the  advan- 
tages of  combined  labour.  Hence,  in  a  good  soil  and 
climate,  and  with  reasonable  care  of  his  own  interests,  the 
owner  of  many  slaves  has  the  means  of  being  rich.  The 
influence,  however,  of  such  a  state  of  society  on  production, 
is  perfectly  well  understood.  It  is  a  truism  to  assert,  that 
labour  extorted  by  fear  of  punishment  is  inefficient  and  un- 
productive. It  is  true  that  in  some  circumstances,  human 
beings  can  be  driven  by  the  lash  to  attempt,  and  even  to 
accomplish,  things  which  they  would  not  have  undertaken 
for  any  payment  which  it  could  have  been  worth  while  to 
an  employer  to  offer  them.  And  it  is  likely  that  product 
tive  operations  which  require  much  combination  of  labour, 
the  production  of  sugar,  for  example,  would  not  have  taken 
place  so  soon  in  the  American  colonies,  if  slavery  had  not 
existed  to  keep  masses  of  labour  together.  There  are  also 
savage  tribes  so  averse  from  regular  industry,  that  industrial 
life  is  scarcely  able  to  introduce  itself  among  them  until 
they  are  either  conquered  and  made  slaves  of,  or  become 
conquerors  and  make  others  so.  Bat  after  allowing  the  full 
value  of  these  considerations,  it  remains  certain  that  slavery 
is  incompatible  with  any  high  state  of  the  arts  of  life,  and 
any  great  efficiency  of  labour.  For  all  products  which 
require  much  skill,  slave  countries  are  usually  dependent  on 
foreigners.  Hopeless  slavery  effectually  brutifies  the  intel- 
lect ;  and  intelligence  in  the  slaves,  though  often  encouraged 
in  the  ancient  world  and  in  the  East,  is  in  a  more  advanced 
state  of  society  a  source  of  so  much  danger  and  an  object  oi 
so  much  dread  to  the  masters,  that  in  some  countries  it  is  a 

SLAVERY.  317 

highly  penal  offence  to  teach  a  slave  to  read.  All  processes 
carried  on  by  slave  labour  are  conducted  in  the  rudest  and 
most  unimproved  manner.  And  even  the  animal  strength 
of  the  slave  is,  on  an  average,  not  half  exerted.*  The  mild- 
est form  of  slavery  is  certainly  the  condition  of  the  serf,  who 
is  attached  to  the  soil,  supports  himself  from  his  allotment, 
and  works  a  certain  number  of  days  in  the  week  for  his 
lord.  Yet  there  is  but  one  opinion  on  the  extreme  inef- 
ficiency of  serf  labour.  The  following  passage  is  from  Pro- 
fessor Jones,f  whose  Essay  on  the  Distribution  of  Wealth 
(or  rather  on  Rent),  is  a  copious  repertory  of  valuable  facts 
on  the  landed  tenures  of  different  countries. 

"  The  Russians,  or  rather  those  German  writers  who 
have  observed  the  manners  and  habits  of  Russia,  state  some 
strong  facts  on  this  point.  Two  Middlesex  mowers,  they 
say,  will  mow  in  a  day  as  much  grass  as  six  Russian  serfs, 
and  in  spite  of  the  dearness  of  provisions  in  England  and 
their  cheapness  in  Russia,  the  mowing  a  quantity  of  hay 
which  would  cost  an  English  farmer  half  a  copeck,  will 
cost  a  Russian  proprietor  three  or  four  copecks.J  The 
Prussian  counsellor  of  state,  Jacob,  is  considered  to  have 
proved,  that  in  Russia,  where  everything  is  cheap,  the 
labour  of  a  serf  is  doubly  as  expensive  as  that  of  a  labourer 
in  England.  M.  Schmalz  gives  a  startling  account  of  the 
unproductiveness  of  serf  labour  in  Prussia,  from  his  own 
knowledge  and  observation.  §  In  Austria,  it  is  distinctly 
stated,  that  the  labour  of  a  serf  is  equal  to  only  one-third  of 
that  of  a  free  hired  labourer.  This  calculation,  made  in  an 
able  work  on  agriculture  (with  some  extracts  from  which  I 
have  been  favoured),  is  applied  to  the  practical  purpose  of 
deciding  on  the  number  of  labourers  necessary  to  cultivate 

*  The  unproductiveness  and  wastefulness  of  the  industrial  system  in  the 
Slave  States  of  North  America,  is  instructively  displayed  in  the  valuable  writings 
of  Mr.  Olmsted. 

f  Essay  on  the  Distribution  of  Wealth  and  on  the  Sources  of  Taxation,  By 
the  Rev.  Richard  Jones.    Page  50. 

X  "  Schmalz,  Economic  Politique,  French  translation,  vol.  i.  p.  66." 

§  "Vol.  ii.  p.  101." 

318  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  V.     f  3. 

an  estate  of  a  given  magnitude.  So  palpable,  indeed,  are 
the  ill  effects  of  labour  rents  on  the  industry  of  the  agricul- 
tural population,  that  in  Austria  itself,  where  proposals  of 
changes  of  any  kind  do  not  readily  make  their  way,  schemes 
and  plans  for  the  commutation  of  labour  rents  are  as  popu- 
lar as  in  the  more  stirring  -German  provinces  of  the 

What  is  wanting  in  the  quality  of  the  labour  itself,  is 
not  made  up  by  any  excellence  in  the  direction  and  super- 
intendence. As  the  same  writerf  remarks,  the  landed 
proprietors  "  are  necessarily,  in  their  character  of  cultiva- 
tors of  their  own  domains,  the  only  guides  and  directors  of 
the  industry  of  the  agricultural  population,"  since  there  can 
be  no  intermediate  class  of  capitalist  farmers  where  the 
labourers  are  the  property  of  the  lord.  Great  landowners 
are  everywhere  an  idle  class,  or  if  they  labour  at  all,  addict 
themselves  only  to  the  more  exciting  kinds  of  exertion ; 
that  lion's  share  which  superiors  always  reserve  for  them- 
selves. "  It  would "  as  Mr.  Jones  observes,  "  be  hopeless 
and  irrational  to  expect,  that  a  race  of  noble  proprietors, 
fenced  around  with  privileges  and  dignity,  and  attracted  to 
military  and  political  pursuits  by  the  advantages  and  habits 
of  their  station,  should  ever  become  attentive  cultivators  as 
a  body."  Even  in  England,  if  the  cultivation  of  every 
estate  depended  upon  its  proprietor,  any  one  can  judge 
what  would  be  the  result.  There  would  be  a  few  cases  of 
great  science  and  energy,  and  numerous  individual  instan- 
ces of  moderate  success,  but  the  general  state  of  agriculture 
would  be  contemptible. 

§  3.     Whether  the  proprietors  themselves  would  lose  by 

*  The  Hungarian  revolutionary  government,  during  its  brief  existence,  be- 
stowed on  that  country  one  of  the  greatest  benefits  it  could  receive,  and  one 
which  the  tyranny  that  succeeded  has  not  dared  to  take  away :  it  freed  the  peas- 
antry from  what  remained  of  the  bondage  of  serfdom,  the  labour  rents ;  decree- 
ing compensation  to  the  landlords  at  the  expense  of  the  Btate,  and  not  at  that  of 
the  liberated  peasants. 

f  Jones,  pp.  53,  54. 

SILVERY.  319 

the  emancipation  of  their  slaves,  is  a  different  question  from 
the  comparative  effectiveness  of  free  and  slave  labour  to  the 
community.  There  has  been  much  discussion  of  this  ques- 
tion as  an  abstract  thesis ;  as  if  it  could  possibly  admit  of 
any  universal  solution.  Whether  slavery  or  free  labour  is 
most  profitable  to  the  employer,  depends  on  the  wages  of 
the  free  labourer.  These,  again,  depend  on  the  numbers 
of  the  labouring  population,  compared  with  the  capital  and 
the  land.  Hired  labour  is  generally  60  much  more  efficient 
than  slave  labour,  that  the  employer  can  pay  a  considerably 
greater  value  in  wages,  than  the  maintenance  of  his  slaves 
cost  him  before,  and  yet  be  a  gainer  by  the  change :  but 
he  cannot  do  this  without  limit.  The  decline  of  serfdom  in 
Europe,  and  its  extinction  in  the  Western  nations,  was 
doubtless  hastened  by  the  changes  which  the  growth  of 
population  must  have  made  in  the  pecuniary  interests  of 
the  master.  As  population  pressed  harder  upon  the  land, 
without  any  improvement  in  agriculture,  the  maintenance 
of  the  serfs  necessarily  became  more  costly,  and  their  labour 
less  valuable.  With  the  rate  of  wages  such  as  it  is  in  Ireland, 
or  in  England  (where  in  proportion  to  its  efficiency,  labour 
is  quite  as  cheap  as  in  Ireland),  no  one  can  for  a  moment 
imagine  that  slavery  could  be  profitable.  If  the  Irish 
peasantry  were  slaves,  their  masters  would  be  as  willing,  as 
their  landlords  now  are,  to  pay  large  sums  merely  to  get 
rid  of  them.  In  the  rich  and  underpeopled  soil  of  the  West 
India  Islands,  there  is  just  as  little  doubt  that  the  balance 
of  profits  between  free  and  slave  labour  was  greatly  on  the 
side  of  slavery,  and  that  the  compensation  granted  to  tho 
slave-owners  for  its  abolition  was  not  more,  perhaps  even 
less,  than  an  equivalent  for  their  loss. 

More  needs  not  to  be  said  here  on  a  cause  so  completely 
judged  and  decided  as  that  of  slavery.  It  will  be  curious 
to  see  how  long  the  other  nations  possessing  slave  colonies 
will  be  content  to  remain  behind  England  in  a  matter  of 
such  concernment  both  to  justice,  which  decidedly  is  not  at 
present  a  fashionable  virtue,  and  to  philanthropy,  which 

320  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  V.     §3. 

certainly  is  so.*  Europe  is  far  more  inexcusable  than 
America  in  tolerating  an  enormity,  of  which  she  could  rid 
herself  with  so  much  greater  ease.  I  speak  of  negro- 
slavery,  not  of  the  servage  of  the  Slavonic  nations,  who 
have  not  yet  advanced  beyond  a  state  of  civilization  corre- 
sponding to  the  age  of  villenage  in  Western  Europe,  and 
who,  to  all  appearance,  will  be  indebted  for  their  liberation 
from  this  great  evil,  to  the  influence  of  the  ideas  of  the 
more  advanced  countries,  rather  than  to  the  rapidity  of 
their  own  progress  in  improvement. 

*  Denmark  has  the  honour'of  being  the  first  Continental  nation  which  foU 
lowed  the  example  of  England;  and  the  emancipation  of  the  slaves  was  one  of 
the  earliest  acts  of  the  heroic  and  calumniated  Provisional  Government  of 
France.  The  Dutch  Government  is  now  seriously  engaged  in  the  same  benefi- 
cent enterprise. 



§  1.  In  the  regime  of  peasant  properties,  as  in  that  of 
slavery,  the  whole  produce  belongs  to  a  single  owner,  and 
the  distinction  of  rent,  profits,  and  wages,  does  not  exist. 
In  all  other  respects,  the  two  states  of  society  are  the 
extreme  opposites  of  each  other.  The  one  is  the  state  of 
greatest  oppression  and  degradation  to  the  labouring  class. 
The  other  is  that  in  which  they  are  the  most  uncontrolled 
arbiters  of  their  own  lot. 

The  advantage,  however,  of  small  properties  in  land,  is 
one  of  the  most  disputed  questions  in  the  range  of  political 
economy.  On  the  Continent,  though  there  are  some  dis- 
sentients from  the  prevailing  opinion,  the  benefit  of  having 
a  numerous  proprietary  population  exists  in  the  minds  of 
most  people  in  the  form  of  an  axiom.  But  English  authori- 
ties are  either  unaware  of  the  judgment  of  Continental 
agriculturists,  or  are  content  to  put  it  aside,  on  the  plea  of 
their  having  no  experience  of  larger  properties  in  favour- 
able circumstances :  the  advantage  of  large  properties 
being  only  felt  where  there  are  also  large  farms:  and  as 
this,  in  arable  districts,  implies  a  greater  accumulation  of 
capital  than  usually  exists  on  the  Continent,  the  great  Con- 
tinental estates,  except  in  the  case  of  grazing  farms,  are 
mostly  let.  out  for  cultivation  in  small  portions.  There  is 
some  truth  in  this ;  but  the  argument  admits  of  being 
retorted ;  for  if  the  Continent  knows  little,  by  experience, 
of  cultivation  on  a  large  scale  and  by  large  capital,  the 

322  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §1. 

generality  of  English  writers  are  no  better  acquainted 
practically  with  peasant  proprietors,  and  have  almost 
always  the  most  erroneous  ideas  of  their  social  condition 
and  mode  of  life.  Yet  the  old  traditions  even  of  England 
are  on  the  same  side  with  the  general  opinion  of  the  Con- 
tinent. The  "  yeomanry  "  who  were  vaunted  as  the  glory 
of  England  while  they  existed,  and  have  been  so  much 
mourned  over  since  they  disappeared,  were  either  small 
proprietors  or  small  farmers,  and  if  they  were  mostly  the 
last,  the  character  they  bore  for  sturdy  independence  is  the 
more  noticeable.  There  is  a  part  of  England,  unfortunate- 
ly a  very  small  part,  where  peasant  proprietors  are  still 
common ;  for  such  are  the  "  statesmen "  of  Cumberland 
and  Westmoreland,  though  they  pay,  I  believe,  generally 
if  not  universally,  certain  customary  dues,  which,  being 
fixed,  no  more  affect  their  characters  of  proprietors  than  the 
land-tax  does.  There  is  but  one  voice,  among  those  ac- 
quainted with  the  country,  on  the  admirable  effects  of  this 
tenure  of  land  in  those  counties.  No  other  agricultural 
population  in  England  could  have  furnished  the  originals 
of  "Wordsworth's  peasantry.* 

*  In  Mr.  Wordsworth's  little  descriptive  work  on  the  scenery  of  the  Lakes, 
he  speaks  of  the  upper  part  of  the  dales  as  having  been  for  centuries  "  a  perfect 
republic  of  shepherds  and  agriculturists,  proprietors,  for  the  most  part,  of  the 
lands  which  they  occupied  and  cultivated.  The  plough  of  each  man  was  con- 
fined to  the  maintenance  of  his  own  family,  or  to  the  occasional  accommodation 
of  his  neighbour.  Two  or  three  cows  furnished  each  family  with  milk  and 
cheese.  The  chapel  was  the  only  edifice  that  presided  over  these  dwellings,  the 
supreme  head  of  this  pure  commonwealth ;  the  members  of  which  existed  in  the 
midst  of  a  powerful  empire,  like  an  ideal  society,  or  an  organized  community, 
whose  constitution  had  been  imposed  and  regulated  by  the  mountains  which  pro- 
tected it.  Neither  high-born  nobleman,  knight,  nor  esquire  was  here;  but 
many  of  these  humble  sons  of  the  hills  had  a  consciousness  that  the  land  which 
they  walked  over  and  tilled  had  for  more  than  five  hundred  years  been  possessed 
by  men  of  their  name  and  blood.  .  .  .  Corn  was  grown  in  these  vales  suffi- 
cient upon  each  estate  to  furnish  bread  for  each  family,  no  more.  The  storms 
and  moisture  of  the  climate  induced  them  to  sprinkle  their  upland  property  with 
outhouses  of  native  stone,  as  places  of  shelter  for  their  sheep,  where,  in  tempest- 
uous weather,  food  was  distributed  to  them.  Every  family  spun  from  its  own 
flock  the  wool  with  which  it  was  clothed ;  a  weaver  was  here  and  there  found 


The  general  system,  however,  of  English  cultivation, 
affording  no  experience  to  render  the  nature  and  operation 
of  peasant  properties  familiar,  and  Englishmen  being  in 
general  profoundly  ignorant  of  the  agricultural  economy  of 
other  countries,  the  very  idea  of  peasant  proprietors  is  strange 
to  the  English  mind,  and  does  not  easily  find  access  to  it. 
Even  the  forms  of  language  stand  in  the  way :  the  familiar 
designation  for  owners  of  land  being  "  landlords,"  a  term  to 
which  "  tenants "  is  always  understood  as  a  correlative. 
When,  at  the  time  of  the  famine,  the  suggestion  of  peasant 
properties  as  a  means  of  Irish  improvement  found  its  way 
into  parliamentary  and  newspaper  discussions,  there  were 
writers  of  pretension  to  whom  the  word  "  proprietor  "  was 
so  far  from  conveying  any  distinct  idea,  that  they  mistook 
the  small  holdings  of  Irish  cottier  tenants  for  peasant 
properties.  The  subject  being  so  little  understood,  I  think 
it  important,  before  entering  into  the  theory  of  it,  to  do 
something  towards  showing  how  the  case  stands  as  to  matter 
of  fact ;  by  exhibiting,  at  greater  length  than  would  other- 
wise be  admissible,  some  of  the  testimony  which  exists  res- 
pecting the  state  of  cultivation,  and  the  comfort  and  happi- 
ness of  the  cultivators,  in  those  countries  and  parts  of  coun- 
tries, in  which  the  greater  part  of  the  land  has  neither  land- 
lord nor  farmer,  other  than  the  labourer  who  tills  the  soil. 

§  2.  I  lay  no  stress  on  the  condition  of  North  America, 
where,  as- is  well  known,  the  land,  wherever  free  from  the 
curse  of  slavery,  is  almost  universally  owned  by  the  same 
person  who  holds  the  plough.  A  country  combining  the 
natural  fertility  of  America  with  the  knowledge  and  arts  of 
modern  Europe,  is  so  peculiarly  circumstanced,  that  scarcely 

among  them,  and  the  rest  of  their  wants  was  supplied  by  the  produce  of  the 
yarn,  which  they  carded  and  spun  in  their  own  houses,  and  carried  to  market 
either  under  their  arms,  or  more  frequently  on  packhorses,  a  small  train  taking 
their  way  weekly  down  the  valley,  or  over  the  mountains,  to  the  most  com- 
modious town.1' — A  Description  of  the  Scenery  of  the  Lakes  in  the  North  of 
England,  3rd  edit.  pp.  50  to  53  and  63  to  6& 

324  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §2. 

anything,  except  insecurity  of  property  or  a  tyrannical  gov- 
ernment, could  materially  impair  the  prosperity  of  the  in- 
dustrious classes..  I  might,  with  Sismondi,  insist  more 
strongly  on  the  case  of  ancient  Italy,  especially  Latium,  that 
Campagna  which  then  swarmed  with  inhabitants  in  the 
very  regions  which  under  a  contrary  regime  have  become 
uninhabitable  from  malaria.  But  I  prefer  taking  the.  evi- 
dence of  the  same  writer  on  things  known  to  him  by  per- 
gonal observation. 

"  C'est  surtout  la  Suisse,"  says  M.  de  Sismondi,  "  qu'il 
faut  parcourir,  qu'il  faut  etudier,  pour  juger  du  bonheur  des 
paysans  proprietaires.  C'est  la  Suisse  qu'il  faut  apprendre 
a  connaitre  pour  se  convaincre  que  1' agriculture  pratiquee 
par  ceux-ia  meme  qui  en  recueillent  les  fruits  suffit  pour 
procurer  une  grande  aisance  a  une  population  tres  nom- 
breuse ;  une  grande  independance  de  caractere,  fruit  de 
l'independance  des  situations  ;  un  grand  commerce  de  con- 
sommation,  consequence  du  bien-etre  de  tous  les  habitans, 
meme  dans  un  pays  dont  le  climat  est  rude,  dont  le  sol  est 
mediocrement  fertile,  et  ou  les  gelees  tardives  et  l'incon- 
stance  des  saisons  detruisent  souvent  l'espoir  du  laboureur. 
On  ne  saurait  voir  sans  admiration  ces  maisons  de  bois  du 
moindre  paysan,  si  vastes,  si  bien  closes,  si  bien  construites, 
si  couvertes  de  sculpture.  Dans  l'interieur  de  grands  corri- 
dors degagent  chaque  chambre  de  la  nombrense  famille; 
chaque  chambre  n'a  qu'un  lit,  et  il  est  abondamment 
pourvu  de  rideaux,  de  couvertures,  et  du  liijge  le  plus 
blanc ;  des  meublea  soignes  l'entourent ;  les  armoires  sont 
remplies  de  linge,  la  laiterie  est  vaste,  aeree,  et  d'une 
nettete  exquise ;  sous  le  meme  toit  on  trouve  de  grands  ap- 
provisionnemens  de  ble,  de  viande  salee,  de  fromage  et  de 
bois;  dans  les  etables  on  voit  le  b£tail  le  mieux  soign6  et  le 
plus  beau  de  l'Europe;  le  jardin  est  plante  de  fleurs,  les 
hommes  comme  les  femmes  sont  chaudement  et  proprement 
habilles,  les  dernieres  conservent  avec  orgueil  leur  antique 
costume;  tous  portent  sur  leur  visage  l'empreinte  de  la 
vigueur  et  de  la  sante.    Que  d'autres  nations  vantent  leur 


opulence,  la  Suisse  pottrra  toujours  leur  opposer  avec 
orgueil  ses  paysans."  * 

The  same  eminent  writer  thus  expresses  his  opinion  on 
peasant  proprietorship  in  general. 

"  Partout  oil  Fon  retrouve  les  paysans  proprictaires,  on 
retrouve  aussi  cette  aisance,  cette  securite,  cette  confiance 
dans  ravenir,  cette  independance  qui  assurent  en  meme 
temps  le  bonhenr  et  la  vertu.  La  paysan  qui  fait  avec  ses 
enfans  tout  l'ouvrage  de  son  petit  heritage,  qui  ne  paie  de 
fermagei  personne  au-dessus  de  lui,  ni  de  salaire  k  personne 
au-dessous,  qui  regie  sa  production  sur  sa  consoinmation,  qui 
mange  son  propre  ble,  boit  son  propre  vin,  se  revet  de  son 
chanvre  et  de  ses  laines,  se  goucie  peu  de  connaitre  les  prix 
du  marehe ;  car  il  a  peu  a  vendre  etpeu  a  acheter,  et  il  n'est 
jamais  mine  par  les  revolutions  du  commerce.  Loin  de 
craindre  pour  l'avenir,  il  le  voit  s'embellir  dans  son  espe- 
rance ;  car  il  met  &  profit  pour  ses  enfans,  pour  les  siecles 
qui  viendront,  chacun  des  instans  que  ne  requiert  pas  de  lui 
le  travail  de  l'annee.  II  lui  a  suffi  de  donner  peu  de  mo- 
mens  de  travail  pour  mettre  en  terre  le  noyau  qui  dans  cent 
ans  sera  un  grand  arbre,  pour  creuser  l'aqueduc  qui  secbera 
a  jamais  son  champ,  pour  former  le  conduit  qui  lui  amenera 
une  source  d'eau  vive,  pour  ameliorer  par  des  soins  souvent 
rep&6s  mais  derobes  &ur  le&  instans  perdus,  toutes  les  especes 
d'animaux  et  de  v£getaux  dont  il  s'entoure.  Son  petit  patri- 
moine  est  une  vraiecaisse  d'6pargnes?  toujours  prete  k  rece- 
voir  tous  ses  petits  profits,  a  utiliser  tous  ses  momens  do 
loisir.  La  puissance  toujours  agissante  de  la  nature  les 
f6conde,  et  les  lui  rend  au  centuple.  Le  paysan  a  vivement 
le  sentiment  dece  bonheur  attache  &  la  condition  de  proprie- 
taire.  Aussi  est-il  toujours  empresse  d' acheter  de  la  terre  & 
tout  prix.  II  la  paie  plus  qu'elle  ne  vaut,  plus  qu'elle  ne 
lui  rendra  peut-Stre;  mais  combien  n'a-t-il  pas  raison 
d'estimer  &  un  haut  prix  l'avantage  de  placer  desormais 
toujours  avantageusement  son  travail,  sans  etre  oblige  de 

<  *  Etudes  sur  VEconvmie  Politique,  Snai  HI. 

326  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §2. 

roffrir  an  rabais ;  de  trouver  totijcrars  an  besoin  son  pain^ 
sans  £tre  oblige  de  le  payer  a  l'ench&re. 

"  Le  paysan  proprietaire  est  de  tous  les  cultivateurs  celui 
qui  tire  le  plus  de  parti  du  sol ;  parceque  c'est  celui  qui 
spnge  le  plus  a  l'avenir,  tout  comme  celui  qui  a  6te  le  plus 
6clair6  par  1'experience ;  c'est  encore  lui  qui  met  le  mieux 
a  profit  le  travail  humain,  parceque  repartissant  ses  occupa- 
tions entre  tous  les  membres  de  sa  famille,  il  en  reserve 
pour  tous  les  jours  de  l'annee,  de  maniere  a  ce  qn'il  n'y  ait 
de  chomage  pour  personne :  de  tous  les  cultivateurs  il  est  le 
plus  heureux,  et  en  mSme  temps,  sur  un  espace  donnej  la 
terre  ne  nourrit  bien,  sans  s'epuiser,  et  n'occupe  jamais  tant 
d'habitans  que  lorsqu'ils  sont  proprietaires ;  enfin  de  tous 
les  cultivateurs  le  paysan  proprietaire  est  celui  qui  donne  le 
plus  d' encouragement  au  commerce  et  a  l'industrie,  parce- 
qu'il  est  le  plus  riche."  * 

This  picture  of  unwearied  assiduity,  and  what  may  be 
called  affectionate  interest  in  the  land,  is  borne  out  in  regard 
to  the  more  intelligent  Cantons  of  Switzerland  by  English 
observers.  "  In  walking  anywhere  in  the  neighbourhood  of 
Zurich,"  says  Mr.  Inglis,  "  in  looking  to  the  right  or  to  the 
left,  one  is  struck  with  the  extraordinary  industry  of  the 
inhabitants ;  and  if  we  learn  that  a  proprietor  here  has  a 

*  And  in  another  work  (Nouveaux  Principe*  <T Economic  Politique,  liv.  iii. 
ch.  e3,)  he  says:  uQuand  on  traverse  la  Suisse  presqu'entiere,  plusieurs  pro- 
vinces de  France,  d'ltalie,  et  d'AUemagne,  il  n'est  pas  besoin  de  demander,  en 
regardant  chaque  partie  de  terre,  si  elle  appartient  a  un  cultivateur  proprietaire 
ou  a  un  fermier.  Les  soins  bien  entendus,  les  jouissances  preparers  au  labou- 
reur,  la  parure  que  la  campagne  a  recue  de  ses  mains,  indiquent  bien  vite  le 
premier.  II  est  vrai  qu'un  gouvernement  oppressif  peut  d6truire  Paisance  et 
abrutir  Pintelligence  que  devait  donner  la  propriety,  que  Pimpot  peut  enlever  le 
plus  net  du  produit  des  champs,  que  l'insolence  des  agens  du  pouvoir  peut 
troubler  la  s£curit6  des  paysans,  que  Pimpossibilite  d'obtenir  justice  contre  un 
puissant  voisin  peut  jeter  le  decouragement  dans  Tame,  et  que,  dans  le  beau  pays 
qui  a  cte  rendu  a  l'administration  du  Roi  de  Sardaigne,  un  proprietaire  porte 
aussi  bien  qu'un  journalier  Puniforme  de  la  misere."  He  is  here  speaking  of 
Savoy,  where  the  peasants  are  generally  proprietors ;  and  according  to  authentic 
accounts,  extremely  miserable.  But,  as  M.  de  Sismondi  continues,  "  On  a  beau 
se  conformer  a  une  seule  des  regies  de  P6conomie  politique,  eUe  ne  puet  pa* 
operer  lc  bien  a  elle  seule ;  du  moins  elle  diminue  le  mal." 


return  often  per  cent,  we  are  inclined  to  say,  '  he  deserves 
it.'  I  speak  at  present  of  country  labour,  though  I  believe 
that  in  every  kind  of  trade  also,  the  people  of  Zurich  are 
remarkable  for  their  assiduity;  but  in  the  industry  they 
show  in  the  cultivation  of  their  land  I  may  safely  say  they 
are  unrivalled.  When  I  used  to  open  my  casement  be- 
tween four  and  five  in  the  morning  to  look  out  upon  the 
lake  and  the  distant  Alps,  I  saw  the  labourer  in  the  fields ; 
and  when  I  returned  from  an  evening  walk,  long  after 
sunset,  as  late,  perhaps,  as  half-past  eight,  there  was  the 
labourer,  mowing  his  grass,  or  tying  up  his  vines.  ...  It 
is  impossible  to  look  at  a  field,  a  garden,  a  hedging,  scarcely 
even  a  tree,  a  flower,  or  a  vegetable,  without  perceiving 
proofs  of  the  extreme  care  and  industry  that  are  bestowed 
upon  the  cultivation  of  the  soil.  If  for  example,  a  path 
leads  through,  or  by  the  side  of  a  field  of  grain,  the  corn  is 
not,  as  in  England,  permitted  to  hang  over  the  path,  ex- 
posed to  be  pulled  or  trodden  down  by  every  passer  by  ;  it 
is  everywhere  bounded  by  a  fence,  stakes  are  placed  at  in- 
tervals of  about  a  yard,  and,  about  two  or  three  feet  from 
the  ground,  boughs  of  trees  are  passed  longitudinally  along. 
If  you  look  into  a  field  towards  evening,  where  there  are 
large  beds  of  cauliflower  or  cabbage,  you  will  find  that 
every  single  plant  has  been  watered.  In  the  gardens,  which 
around  Zurich  are  extremely  large,  the  most  punctilious 
care  is  evinced  in  every  production  that  grows.  The  vege- 
tables are  planted  with  seemingly  mathematical  accuracy, 
not  a  6ingle  weed  is  to  be  seen,  not  a  single  stone.  Plants 
are  not  earthed  up  as  with  us,  but  are  planted  in  a  small 
hollow,  into  each  of  which  a  little  manure  is  put,  and  each 
plant  is  watered  daily.  Where  seeds  are  sown,  the  earth 
directly  above  is  broken  into  the  finest  powder ;  every  shrub, 
every  flower  is  tied  to  a  stake,  and  where  there  is  wall-fruit 
a  trellice  is  erected  against  the  wall,  to  which  the  boughs 
are  fastened,  and  there  is  not  a  single  thing  that  has  not  its 
appropriate  resting-pace."  * 

*  Switzerland,  the  South  of  France,  and  the  Pyrenees,  in  1830.    By  H.  IX 
Inrlis.     Vol.  i.  ch.  2. 

BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  YI.    §2. 

Of  one  of  the  remote  valleys  of  the  High  Alps  the  same 
writer  thus  expresses  himself: —  * 

"  In  the  whole  of  the  Engadine  the  land  belongs  to  the 
peasantry,  who,  like  the  inhabitants  of  every  other  place 
where  this  state  of  things  exist,  vary  greatly  in  the  extent 
of  their  possessions.  .  .  .  Generally  speaking,  an  Engadine 
peasant  lives  entirely  upon  the  produce  of  his  land,  with 
the  exception  of  the  few  articles  of  foreign  growth  required 
in  his  family,  such  as  coffee,  sugar,  and  wine.  Flax  is  grown, 
prepared,  spun,  and  woven,  without  ever  leaving  his  house. 
He  has  also  his  own  wool,  which  is  converted  into  a  blue 
coat  without  passing  through  the  hands  of  either  the  dyer 
or  the  tailor.  The  country  is  incapable  of  greater  cultiva- 
tion than  it  has  received.  All  has  been  done  for  it  that 
industry  and  an  extreme  love  of  gain  can  devise.  There  is 
not  a  foot  of  waste  land  in  the  Engadine,  the  lowest  part 
of  which  is  not  much  lower  than  the  top  of  Snowdon. 
Wherever  grass  will  grow,  there  it  is  ;  wherever  a  rock  will 
bear  a  blade,  verdure  is  seen  upon  it ;  wherever  an  ear  of 
rye  will  ripen,  there  it  is  to  be  found.  Barley  and  oats  have 
also  their  appropriate  spots ;  and  wherever  it  is  possible  to 
ripen  a  little  patch  of  wheat,  the  cultivation  of  it  is  at- 
tempted. In  no  country  in  Europe  will  be  found  so  few 
poor  as  in  the  Engadine.  In  the  village  of  Suss,  which 
contains  about  six  hundred  inhabitants,  there  is  not  a  single 
individual  who  has  not  wherewithal  to  live  comfortably, 
not  a  single  individual  who  is  indebted  to  others  for  one 
morsel  that  he  eats." 

Notwithstanding  the  general  prosperity  of  the  Swiss 
peasantry,  this  total  absence  of  pauperism,  and  (it  may 
almost  be  said)  of  poverty,  cannot  be  predicated  of  the 
whole  country ;  the  largest  and  richest  canton,  that  of 
Berne,  being  an  example  of  the  contrary  ;  for  although,  in 
the  parts  of  it  which  are  occupied  by  peasant  proprietors, 
their  industry  is  as  remarkable  and  their  ease  and  comfort 
as  conspicuous  as  elsewhere,  the  canton  is  burthened  with 

*  Ibid.  ch.  8  and  10. 


It  numerous  pauper  population,  through  the  operation  of 
the  worst  regulated  system  of  poor-law  administration  in 
Europe,  except  that  of  England  before  the  new  Poor  Law,* 
Nor  is  Switzerland  in  some  other  respects  a  favourable  ex- 
ample of  all  that  peasant  properties  might  effect.  There 
exists  a  series  of  statistical  accounts  of  the  Swiss  cantons, 
drawn  up  mostly  with  great  care  and  intelligence,  contain- 
ing detailed  information,  of  tolerably  recent  date,  respect- 
ing the  condition  of  the  land  and  of  the  people.  From  these, 
the  subdivision  appears  to  be  often  so  minute,  that  it  can 
hardly  be  supposed  not  to  be  excessive :  and  the  indebted- 
ness of  the  proprietors  in  the  flourishing  canton  of  Zurich 
"  borders,"  as  the  writer  expresses  it,  "  on  the  incredible ; "  f 
so  that  "  only  the  intensest  industry,  frugality,  temperance, 
and  complete  freedom  of  commerce  enable  them  to  stand 
their  ground."  Yet  the  general  conclusion  deducible  from 
these  books  is  that  since  the  beginning  of  the  century,  and 
concurrently  with  the  subdivision  of  many  great  estates 
which  belonged  to  nobles  or  to  the  cantonal  governments, 
there  has  been  a  striking  and  rapid  improvement  in  almost 
every  department  of  agriculture,  as  well  as  in  the  houses, 
the  habits,  and  the  food  of  the  people.  The  writer  of  the 
account  of  Thiirgau  goes  so  far  as  to  say,  that  since  the 
subdivision  of  the  feudal  estates  into  peasant  properties,  it 

*  There  have  been  considerable  changes  in  the  Poor  Law  administration  and 
legislation  of  the  Canton  of  Berne  since  the  sentence  in  the  text  was  written. 
Bat  I  am  not  sufficiently  acquainted  with  the  nature  and  operation  of  these 
changes  to  speak  more  particularly  of  them  here. 

f  "  Erne  an  das  unglaubHche  granzende  Schuldenmasse  "  is  the  expression. 
(Historisch-geographischstaiische  Gemalde  der  Schweiz.  Erster  Theil.  Der 
Kanton  Zurich.  Von  Gerold  Meyer  Von  Knonau,  1834,  pp.  80-1.)  There  are 
Tillages  in  Zurich,  he  adds,  in  which  there  is  not  a  single  property  unmortgaged. 
It  does  not,  however,  follow  that  each  individual  proprietor  is  deeply  involved 
because  the  aggregate  mass  of  incumbrances  is  large.  In  the  canton  of  Schaff- 
hausen,  for  instance,  it  is  stated  that  the  landed  properties  are  almost  all  mort- 
gaged, but  rarely  for  more  than  one-half  their  registered  value  (Zwblfler  Theil. 
Der  Kanton  Sckaffhausen,  von  Edward  Im-Thurn,  1840,  p.  52,)  and  the  mort- 
gages are  often  for  the  improvement  and  enlargement  of  the  estate.  (Sieben- 
uhftter  Theil.    Der  Kanton  Thiirgau,  von  J.  A.  Pupikofer,  1837,  p.  209.) 

330  BOOK  n.     CHAPTER  VI.     $  3. 

is  not  uncommon  for  a  third  or  a  fourth  part  of  an  estate  t<r 
produce  as  much  grain,  and  support  as  many  head  of  cattle, 
as  the  whole  estate  did  before.* 

§  3.  One  of  the  countries  in  which  peasant  proprietor's 
are  of  oldest  date,  and  most  numerous  in  proportion  to  the 
population,  is  Norway.  Of  the  social  and  economical  con- 
dition of  that  country  an  interesting  account  has  been  given 
by  Mr.  Laing.  His  testimony  in  favour  of  small  landed 
properties  both  there  and  elsewhere,  is  given  with  great 
decision.     I  shall  quote  a  few  passages. 

"  If  small  proprietors  are  not  good  farmers,  it  is  not  from 
the  same  cause  here  which  we  are  told  makes  them  so  in 
Scotland — indolence  and  want  of  exertion.  The  extent  to 
which  irrigation  is  carried  on  in  these  glens  and  valleys 
shows  a  spirit  of  exertion  and  co-operation  "  (I  request  par- 
ticular attention  to  this  point),  "to  which  the  latter  can 
show  nothing  similar.  Hay  being  the  principal  winter  sup- 
port of  live  stock,  and  both  it  and  corn,  as  well  as  potatoes, 
liable,  from  the  shallow  soil  and  powerful  reflection  of  sun- 
shine from  the  rocks,  to  be  burnt  and  withered  up,  the 
•greatest  exertions  are  made  to  bring  water  from  the  head 
of  each  glen,  along  such  a  level  as  will  give  the  command 
of  it  to  each  farmer  at  the  head  of  his  fields.  This  is  done 
by  leading  it  in  wooden  troughs  (the  half  of  a  tree  roughly 
scooped)  from  the  highest  perennial  stream  among  the  hills, 
through  woods,  across  ravines,  along  the  rocky,  often  per- 
pendicular, sides  of  the  glens,  and  from  this  main  trough 
giving  a  lateral  one  to  each  farmer  in  passing  the  head  of 
his  farm.  He  distributes  this  supply  by  moveable  troughs 
among  his  fields  ;  and  at  this  season  waters  each  rig  succes- 
sively with  scoops  like  those  used  by  bleachers  in  watering 

'  *  u  Denselben  Erfolg  hat  die  Vertheilung  der  ehemaligen  grossen  Lehenhofe 
in  mehrere  kleinere  eigenthiimliche  Bauernguter.  Es  ist  gar  nicht  selten,  dass 
ein  Drittheil  oder  Viertheil  eines  solchen  Hofes  nun  eben  so  viel  Getreide  liefert 
und  eben  so  viel  Stuck  Vieh  unterhalt  als  vormals  der  ganze  Hof,M  {Tlidrgo^ 
p.  12.) 


cloth,  laying  his  trough  between  every  two  rigs.  One  would 
not  believe,  without  seeing  it,  how  very  large  an  extent  of 
land  is  traversed  expeditiously  by  these  artificial  showers. 
The  extent  of  the  main  troughs  is  very  great.  In  one  glen 
I  walked  ten  miles,  and  found  it  troughed  on  both  sides : 
on  one,  the  chain  is  continued  down  the  main  valley  for  forty 
miles.*  Those  may  be  bad  farmers  who  do  such  things ; 
but  they  are  not  indolent,  nor  ignorant  of  the  principle  of 
working  in  concert,  and  keeping  up  establishments  for  com- 
mon benefit.  They  are  undoubtedly,  in  these  respects,  far 
in  advance  of  any  community  of  cottars  in  our  Highland 
glens.  They  feel  as  proprietors,  who  receive  the  advantage 
of  their  own  exertions.  The  excellent  state  of  the  roads  and 
bridges  is  another  proof  that  the  country  is  inhabited  by 
people  who  have  a  common  interest  to  keep  them  under 
repair.    There  are  no  tolls."  f 

On  the  effects  of  peasant  proprietorship  on  the  Continent 
generally,  the  same  writer  expresses  himself  as  follows.^: 

"  If  we  listen  to  the  large  farmer,  the  scientific  agricul- 
turist, the"  [English]  "political  economist,  good  farming 
must  perish  with  large  farms ;  the  very  idea  that  good  farm- 
ing can  exist,  unless  on  large  farms  cultivated  with  great 
capital,  they  hold  to  be  absurd.     Draining,  manuring,  eco- 

*  Reichensperger  (Die  Agrarfrage)  quoted  by  Mr.  Kay  ("  Social  Condition 
and  Education  of  the  People  in  England  and  Europe,")  observes,  u  that  the  parts 
of  Europe  where  the  most  extensive  and  costly  plans  for  watering  the  meadows 
and  lands  have  been  carried  out  in  the  greatest  perfection,  are  those  where  the 
lands  are  very  much  subdivided,  and  are  in  the  hands  of  small  proprietors.  He 
instances  the  plain  round  Valencia,  several  of  the  southern  departments  of 
France,  particularly  those  of  Vaucluse  and  Bouches  du  Rhone,  Lombardy,  Tus- 
cany, the  districts  of  Sienna,  Lucca,  and  Bergamo,  Piedmont,  many  parts  of 
Germany,  &c,  in  all  which  parts  of  Europe  the  land  is  very  much  subdivided 
among  small  proprietors.  In  all  these  parts  great  and  expensive  systems  and 
plans  of  general  irrigation  have  been  carried  out,  and  are  now  being  supported, 
by  the  small  proprietors  themselves ;  thus  showing  how  they  are  able  to  accom- 
plish, by  means  of  combination,  work  requiring  the  expenditure  of  great  quanti- 
ties of  capital."     Kayy  i.  126. 

f  Laing,  Journal  of  a  Residence  in  Norway \  pp.  36,  37. 

t  Notes  of  a  Traveller,  pp.  299  et  seqq. 

BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §3. 

nomical  arrangement,  cleaning  the  land,  regular  rotations, 
valuable  stock  and  implements,  all  belong  exclusively  to 
large  farms,  worked  by  large  capital,  and  by  hired  labour. 
This  reads  very  well ;  but  if  we  raise  our  eyes  from  their 
books  to  their  fields,  and  coolly  compare  what  we  see  in 
the  best  districts  farmed  in  large  farms,  with  what  we  see 
in  the  best  districts  farmed  in  small  farms,  we  see,  and  there 
is  no  blinking  the  fact,  better  crops  on  the  ground  in  Flan- 
ders, East  Friesland,  Holstein,  in  short,  on  the  whole  line 
of  the  arable  land  of  equal  quality  of  the  Continent,  from 
the  Sound  to  Calais,  than  we  see  on  the  line  of  British  coast 
opposite  to  this  line,  and  in  the  same  latitudes,  from  the 
Frith  of  Forth  all  round  to  Dover.  Minute  labour  on  small 
portions  of  arable  ground  gives  evidently,  in  equal  soils  and 
climate,  a  superior  productiveness,  where  these  small  por- 
tions belong  in  property,  as  in  Flanders,  Holland,  Friesland, 
and  Ditmarsch  in  Holstein,  to  the  farmer.  It  is  not  pre- 
tended by  our  agricultural  writers,  that  our  large  farmers, 
even  in  Berwickshire,  Koxburghshire,  or  the  Lothians,  ap- 
proach to  the  garden-like  cultivation,  attention  to  manures, 
drainage,  and  clean  state  of  the  land,  or  in  productiveness 
from  a  small  space  of  soil  not  originally  rich,  which  distin- 
guish the  small  farmers  of  Flanders,  or  their  system.  In 
the  best-farmed  parish  in  Scotland  or  England,  more  land 
is  wasted  in  the  corners  and  borders  of  the  fields  of  large 
farms,  in  the  roads  through  them,  unnecessarily  wide,  be* 
cause  they  are  bad,  and  bad  because  they  are  wide,  in  neg- 
lected commons,  waste  spots,  useless  belts,  and  clumps  of 
sorry  trees,  and  such  unproductive  areas,  than  would  main- 
tain the  poor  of  the  parish,  if  they  were  all  laid  together 
and  cultivated.  But  large  capital  applied  to  farming  is  of 
course  only  applied  to  the  very  best  of  the  soils  of  a  coun* 
try.  It  cannot  touch  the  small  unproductive  spots  which 
require  more  time  and  labour  to  fertilize  them  than  is  con- 
istent  with  a  quick  return  of  capital.  But  although  hired 
time  and  labour  cannot  be  applied  beneficially  to  such  cul- 
tivation, the  owner's  own  time  and  labour  may.     He  is 


working  for  no  higher  terms  at  first  from  his  land  than  a 
bare  living.  But  in  the  course  of  generations  fertility  and 
value  are  produced ;  a  better  living,  and  even  very  im- 
proved processes  of  husbandry,  are  attained.  Furrow 
draining,  stall  feeding  all  summer,  liquid  manures,  are  uni- 
versal in  the  husbandry  of  the  small  farms  of  Flanders, 
Lombardy,  Switzerland.  Our  most  improving  districts 
under  large  farms  are  but  beginning  to  adopt  them.  Dairy 
husbandry  even,  and  the  manufacture  of  the  largest  cheeses 
by  the  co-operation  of  many  small  farmers,*  the  mutual  as- 
surance of  property  against  fire  and  hail-storms,  by  the  co- 
operation of  small  farmers — the  most  scientific  and  expen- 
sive of  all  agricultural  operations  in  modern  times,  the 
manufacture  of  beet-root  sugar — the  supply  of  the  European 
markets  with  flax  and  hemp,  by  the  husbandry  of  small 
farmers — the  abundance  of  legumes,  fruits,  poultry,  in  the 
usual  diet  even  of  the  lowest  classes  abroad,  and  the  total 
want  of  such  variety  at  the  tables  even  of  our  middle  classes, 
and  this  variety  and  abundance  essentially  connected  with 
the  husbandry  of  small  farmers — all  these  are  features  in 

*  The  manner  in  which  the  Swiss  peasants  combine  to  carry  on  cheese- 
making  by  thair  united  capital  deserves  to  be  noted.  "  Each  parish  in  Switzer- 
land hires  a  men,  generally  from  the  district  of  Gruyere  in  the  canton  of  Frey- 
burg,  to  take  care  of  the  herd,  and  make  the  cheese.  One  cheeseman,  one 
pressman  or  assistant,  and  one  cowherd,  are  considered  necessary  for  every  forty 
cows.  The  owners  of  the  cows  get  credit  each  of  them,  in  a  book  daily,  for  the 
quantity  of  milk  given  by  each  cow.  The  cheeseman  and  his  assistants  milk  the 
cows,  put  the  milk  all  together,  and  make  cheese  of  it,  and  at  the  end  of  the 
season  each  owner  receives  the  weight  of  cheese  proportionable  to  the  quantity 
of  milk  his  cows  have  delivered.  By  this  co-operative  plan,  instead  of  the 
small-sized  unmarketable  cheeses  only,  which  each  could  produce  out  of  his 
three  or  four  cows'  milk,  he  has  the  same  weight  in  large  marketable  cheese 
superior  in  quality,  because  made  by  people  who  attend  to  no  other  business. 
The  cheeseman  and  his  assistants  are  paid  so  much  per  head  of  the  cows,  in 
money  or  in  cheese,  or  sometimes  they  hire  the  cows,  and  pay  the  owners  in 
money  or  cheese."  Notes  of  a  Traveller,  p.  851.  A  similar  system  exists  in  the 
French  Jura.  See,  for  full  details,  Lavergne,  Economie  Rurale  de  la  France, 
2nd  ed.,  139  et  seqq.  One  of  the  most  remarkable  points  in  this  interesting  case 
of  combination  of  labour,  is  the  confidence  which  it  supposes,  and  which  experi- 
ence must  justify,  in  the  integrity  of  the  persons  employed. 

334  BOOK  H.     CHAPTER  VI.     §4. 

the  occupation  of  a  country  by  small  proprietor-farmers, 
which  must  make  the  inquirer  pause  before  he  admits  the 
dogma  of  our  land  doctors  at  home,  that  large  farms  worked 
by  hired  labour  and  great  capital  can  alone  bring  out  the 
greatest  productiveness  of  the  soil  and  furnish  the  greatest 
supply  of  the  necessaries  and  conveniences  of  life  to  the  in- 
habitants of  a  country." 

§  4.  Among  the  many  flourishing  regions  of  Germany 
in  which  peasant  properties  prevail,  I  select  the  Palatinate, 
for  the  advantage  of  quoting,  from  an  English  source,  the 
results  of  recent  personal  observation  of  its  agriculture  and 
its  people.  Mr.  Howitt,  a  writer  whose  habit  it  is  to  see 
all  English  objects  and  English  socialities  en  beauy  and  who, 
in  treating  of  the  Rhenish  peasantry,  certainly  does  not 
underrate  the  rudeness  of  their  implements,  and  the  inferi- 
ority of  their  ploughing,  nevertheless  shows  that  under  the 
invigorating  influence  of  the  feelings  of  proprietorship,  they 
make  up  for  the  imperfections  of  their  apparatus  by  the  in- 
tensity of  their  application.  "  The  peasant  harrows  and 
clears  his  land  till  it  is  in  the  nicest  order,  and  it  is  admir- 
able to  see  the  crops  which  he  obtains."  *  "  The  peasants  f 
are  the  great  and  ever-present  objects  of  country  life.  They 
are  the  great  population  of  the  country,  because  they  them- 
selves are  the  possessors.  This  country  is,  in  fact,  for  the 
most  part,  in  the  hands  of  the  people.  It  is  parcelled  out 
among  the  multitude.  .  .  .  The  peasants  are  not,  as  with 
us,  for  the  most  part,  totally  cut  oft*  from  property  in  the 
soil  they  cultivate,  totally  dependent  on  the  labour  afforded 
by  others — they  are  themselves  the  proprietors.  It  is,  per- 
haps, from  this  cause  that  they  are  probably  the  most  in- 
dustrious peasantry  in  the  world.  They  labour  busily,  early 
and  late,  because  they  feel  that  they  are  labouring  for  them- 
selves. .  .  .  The  German  peasants  work  hard,  but  they 
have  no  actual  want.  Every  man  has  his  house,  his  orchard, 
his  roadside  trees,  commonly  so  heavy  with  fruit,  that  he  is 

*  Rural  and  Domestic  Life  of  Germany,  p,  27.  \  Ibid.  p.  40. 


obliged  to  prop  and  secure  them  all  ways,  or  they  would  be 
torn  to  pieces.  He  has  his  corn-plot,  his  plot  for  mangel- 
wurzel,  for  hemp,  and  so  on.  He  is  his  own  master ;  and 
he,  and  every  member  of  his  family,  have  the  strongest 
motives  to  labour.  You  see  the  effect  of  this  in  that  unre- 
mitting diligence  which  is  beyond  that  of  the  whole  world 
besides,  and  his  economy,  which  is  still  greater.  The  Ger- 
mans, indeed,  are  not  so  active  and  lively  as  the  English. 
You  never  see  them  in  a  bustle,  or  as  though  they  meant 
to  knock  off  a  vast  deal  in  a  little  time.  .  .  .  They  arc, 
on  the  contrary,  slow,  but  for  ever  doing.  They  plod  on 
from  day  to  day,  and  year  to  year — the  most  patient,  un- 
tirable,  and  persevering  of  animals.  The  English  peasant 
is  so  cut  off  from  the  idea  of  property,  that  he  comes  habitu- 
ally to  look  upon  it  as  a  thing  from  which  he  is  warned  by 
the  laws  of  the  large  proprietors,  and  becomes,  in  conse- 
quence, spiritless,  purposeless.  .  .  .  The  German  bauer, 
on  the  contrary,  looks  on  the  country  as  made  for  him  and 
his  fellow-men.  He  feels  himself  a  man ;  he  has  a  stake 
in  the  country,  as  good  as  that  of  the  bulk  of  his  neighbours ; 
no  man  can  threaten  him  with  ejection,  or  the  workhouse, 
so  long  as  he  is  active  and  economical.  He  walks,  therefore, 
with  a  bold  step ;  he  looks  you  in  the  face  with  the  air  of  a 
freeman,  but  of  a  respectful  one." 

Of  their  industry,  the  same  writer  thus  further  speaks : 
"  There  is  not  an  hour  of  the  year  in  which  they  do  not 
find  unceasing  occupation.  In  the  depth  of  winter,  when 
the  weather  permits  them  by  any  means  to  get  out  of  doors, 
they  are  always  finding  something  to  do.  They  carry  out 
their  manure  to  their  lands  while  the  frost  is  in  them.  If 
there  is  not  frost,  they  are  busy  cleaning  ditches  and  felling 
old  fruit  trees,  or  such  as  do  not  bear  well.  Such  of  them 
as  are  too  poor  to  lay  in  a  sufficient  stock  of  wood,  find 
plenty  of  work  in  ascending  into  the  mountainous  woods, 
and  bringing  thence  fuel.  It  would  astonish  the  English 
common  people  to  see  the  intense  labour  with  which  the 
Germans  earn  their  firewood.     In  the  depth  of  frost  and 

336  B00K  IL     CHAPTER  VI.     $4: 

snow,  go  into  any  of  their  hills  and  woods,  and  there  you 
find  them  hacking  up  stumps,  cutting  off  branches,  and 
gathering,  by  all  means  which  the  official  wood-police  will 
allow,  boughs,  stakes,  and  pieces  of  wood,  which  they  con- 
vey home  with  the  most  incredible  toil  and  patience."  * 
After  a  description  of  their  careful  and  laborious  vineyard 
culture,  he  continues,  f  "  In  England,  with  its  great  quan- 
tity of  grass  lands,  and  its  large  farms,  so  soon  as  the  grain 
is  in,  and  the  fields  are  shut  up  for  hay  grass,  the  country 
seems  in  a  comparative  state  of  rest  and  quiet.  But  here 
they  are  everywhere,  and  for  ever,  hoeing  and  mowing, 
planting  and  cutting,  weeding  and  gathering.  They  have 
a  succession  of  crops  like  a  market-gardener.  They  have 
their  carrots,  poppies,  hemp,  flax,  saintfoin,  lucerne,  rape, 
colewort,  cabbage,  rotabaga,  black  turnips,  Swedish  and 
white  turnips,  teazles,  Jerusalem  artichokes,  mangel-wurzel, 
parsnips,  kidney-beans,  field-beans,  and  peas,  vetches,  Indian 
corn,  buckwheat,  madder  for  the  manufacturer,  potatoes, 
their  great  crop  of  tobacco,  millet — ail,  or  the  greater  part, 
under  the  family  management,  in  their  own  family  allot- 
ments. They  have  had  these  things  first  to  sow,  many  of 
them  to  transplant,  to  hoe,  to  weed,  to  clear  off  insects,  to 
top  ;  many  of  them  to  mow  and  gather  in  successive  crops. 
They  have  their  water-meadows,  of  which  kind  almost  all 
their  meadows  are,  to  flood,  to  mow,  and  reflood ;  water- 
courses to  reopen  and  to  make  anew :  their  early  fruits  to 
gather,  to  bring  to  market  with  their  green  crops  of  vege- 
tables ;  their  cattle,  sheep,  calves,  foals,  most  of  them  prison- 
ers, and  poultry  to  look  after ;  their  vines,  as  they  shoot 
rampantly  in  the  summer  heat,  to  prune,  and  thin  oat  the 
leaves  when  they  are  too  thick  :  and  any  one  may  imagine 
what  a  scene  of  incessant  labour  it  is." 

This  interesting  sketch,  to  the  general  truth  of  which  any 
observant  traveller  in  that  highly  cultivated  and  populous 
region  can  bear  witness,  accords  with  the  more  elaborate 
delineation  by  a  distinguished  inhabitant,  Professor  Eau,  in 

*  Rural  and  Doviestic  Life  of  Germany,  p.  44.  f  Ibid.  p.  60. 


his  little  treatise  "  On  the  Agriculture  of  the  Palatinate. "  * 
Dr.  Rau  bears  testimony  not  only  to  the  industry,  but  to 
the  skill  and  intelligence  of  the  peasantry ;  their  judicious 
employment  of  manures,  and  excellent  rotation  of  crops ; 
the  progressive  improvement  of  their  agriculture  for  gen- 
erations past,  and  the  spirit  of  further  improvement  which 
is  still  active.  The  indefatigableness  of  the  country  people, 
who  may  be  seen  in  activity  all  the  day  and  all  the  year, 
and  are  never  idle,  because  they  make  a  good  distribution  of 
their  labours,  and  find  for  every  interval  of  time  a  suitable 
occupation,  is  as  well  known  as  their  zeal  is  praiseworthy  in 
turning  to  use  every  circumstance  which  presents  itself,  in 
seizing  upon  every  useful  novelty  which  offers,  and  even  in 
searching  out  new  and  advantageous  methods.  One  easily 
perceives  that  the  peasant  of  this  district  has  reflected  much 
on  his  occupation :  be  can  give  reasons  for  his  modes  of 
proceeding,  even  if  those  reasons  are  not  always  tenable ;  he 
is  as  exact  an  observer  of  proportions  as  it  is  po&ible  to  be 
from  memory,  without  the  aid  of  figures:  he  attends  to 
such  general  signs  of  the  times  as  appear  to  augur  him  either 
benefit  or  harm. "  f 

The  experience  of  all  other  parts  of  Germany  is  similar. 
"  In  Saxony, "  says  Mr.  Kay,  "  it  is  a  notorious  fact,  that 
during  the  last  thirty  years,  and  since  the  peasants  became 
the  proprietors  of  the  land,  there  has  been  a  rapid  and  con- 
tinual improvement  in  the  condition  of  the  honses,  in  the 
manner  of  living,  jn  the  dress  of  the  peasants,  and  particu- 
larly in  the  culture  of  the  land.  I  have  twice  walked  through 
that  part  of  Saxony  called  Saxon  Switzerland,  in  company 
with  a  German  guide,  and  on  purpose  to  see  the  state  of  the 
villages  and  of  the  farming,  and  I  can  safely  challenge  con- 
tradiction when  I  affirm  that  there  is  no  farming  in  all 
Europe  superior  to  the  laboriously  careful  cultivation  of  the 
valleys  of  that  part  of  Saxony.      There,  as  in  the  cantons 

*  Ueber  die  Landwirthschaft  der  Rheinpfalz,  und  insbesondere  in  der  ffeidel' 
forger  Gegend.    Von  D.  Karl  Heinrioh  Rau.    Heidelberg,  1830. 
f  Rau,  pp.  15,  16. 


338  BOOK  tt     CHAPTER  VI.     §*• 

of  Berne,  Vaud,  and  Zurich,  and  in  the  Rhine  provinces, 
the  farms  are  singularly  flourishing.  They  are  kept  in 
beautiful  condition,  and  are  always  neat  and  well  managed. 
The  ground  is  cleared  as  if  it  were  a  garden.  No  hedges 
or  brushwood  encumber  it.  Scarcely  a  rush  or  thistle  or  a 
bit  of  rank  grass  is  to  be  seen.  The  meadows  are  well 
watered  every  spring  with  liquid  manure,  saved  from  the 
drainings  of  the  farm  yards.  The  grass  is  so  free  from 
weeds  that  the  Saxon  meadows  reminded  me  more  of  Eng- 
lish lawns  than  of  anything  else  I  had  seen.  The  peas* 
ants  endeavour  to  outstrip  one  another  in  the  quantity  and 
quality  of  the  produce,  in  the  preparation  of  the  ground,  and 
in  the  general  cultivation  of  their  respective  portions.  All 
the  little  proprietors  are  eager  to  find  out  how  to  farm  so  as 
to  produce  the  greatest  results ;  they  diligently  seek  after 
improvements ;  they  send  their  children  to  the  agricultural 
schools  in  order  to  fit  them  to  assist  their  fathers ;  and  each 
proprietor  soon  adopts  a  new  improvement  introduced  by 
any  of  his  neighbours."  *  If  this  be  not  overstated,  it  denotes 
a  state  of  intelligence  very  different  not  only  from  that  of 
English  labourers  but  of  English  farmers. 

Mr.  Kay's  book,  published  in  1850,  contains  a  mass  of 
evidence  gathered  from  observation  and  inquiries  in  many 
different  parts  of  Europe,  together  with  attestations  from 
many  distinguished  writers,  to  the  beneficial  effects  of  peas- 
ant properties.  Among  the  testimonies  which  he  cites 
respecting  their  effect  on  agriculture,  I  select  the  follow- 

"  Reichensperger,  himself  an  inhabitant  of  that  part  of 
Prussia  where  the  land  is  the  most  subdivided,  has  pub- 
lished a  long  and  very  elaborate  work  to  show  the  admirable 
consequences  of  a  system  of  freeholds  in  land.     He  ex- 

*  The  Social  Condition  and  Education  of  tht  People  in  England  and 
Europe ;  showing  the  results  of  the  Primary  Schools,  and  of  the  division  of 
Landed  Property  in  Foreign  Countries.  By  Joseph  Kay,  Esq.,  M.A.,  Barrister- 
at-Law,  and  late  Travelling  Bachelor  of  the  University  of  Cambridge.  VoL  i 
pp.  138-40. 


presses  a  very  decided  opinion  that  not  only  are  the  gross 
products  of  any  given  number  of  acres  held  and  cultivated 
by  small  or  peasant  proprietors,  greater  than  the  gross  pro- 
ducts of  an  equal  number  of  acres  held  by  a  few  great  pro- 
prietors, and  cultivated  by  tenant  farmers,  but  that  the  net 
products  of  the  former,  after  deducting  all  the  expenses  of 
cultivation,  are  also  greater  than  the  net  products  of  the 

latter He  mentions  one  fact  which  seems  to  prove  that 

the  fertility  of  the  land  in  countries  where  the  properties  are 
small,  must  be  rapidly  increasing.  He  6ays  that  the  price 
of  the  land  which  is  divided  into  small  properties  in  the 
Prussian  Rhine  provinces,  is  much  higher,  and  has  been 
rising  much  more  rapidly,  than  the  price  of  land  on  the  great 
estates.  He  and  Professor  Rau  both  say  that  this  rise  in  the 
price  of  the  small  estates  would  have  ruined  the  more  recent 
purchasers,  unless  the  productiveness  of  the  small  estates 
had  increased  in  at  least  an  equal  proportion;  and  as  the 
small  proprietors  have  been  gradually  becoming  more  and. 
more  prosperous  notwithstanding  the  increasing  prices  they 
have  paid  for  their  land,  he  argues,  with  apparent  justness, 
that  this  would  seem  to  show  that  not  only  the  gross  profits 
of  the  small  estates,  but  the  net  profits  also  have  been  grad- 
ually increasing,  and  that  the  net  profits  per  acre,  of  land, 
when  farmed  by  small  proprietors,  are  greater  than  the  net 
profits  per  acre  of  land  farmed  by  a  great  proprietor.  He 
says,  with  seeming  truth,  that  the  increasing  price  of  land  in 
the  small  estates  cannot  be  the  mere  effect  of  competition, 
or  it  would  have  diminished  the  profits  and  the  prosperity  of 
the  small  proprietors,  and  that  this  result  has  not  followed 
the  rise. 

"  Albrecht  Thaer,  another  celebrated  German  writer  on 
the  different  systems  of  agriculture,  in  one  of  his  later  works 
(Grundsatze  der  rationellen  Landwirthschaft)  expresses  his 
decided  conviction,  that  the  n«t  produce  of  land  is  greater 
when  farmed  by  small  proprietors  than  when  farmed  by  great 
proprietors  or  their  tenants.  .  .  .  This  opinion  of  Thaer  is  all 
the  more  remarkable,  as,  during  the  early  part  of  his  life,  he 

34:0  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §5. 

was  very  strongly  In  favour  of  the  English  system  of  great 
estates  and  great  farms. " 

Mr.  Kay  adds  from  his  own  observation,  "  The  peasant 
farming  of  Prussia,  Saxony,  Holland,  and  Switzerland  is  the 
most  perfect  and  economical  farming  I  have  ever  witnessed 
in  any  country."  * 

§  5.  But  the  most  decisive  example  in  opposition  to  the 
English  prejudice  against  cultivation  by  peasant  proprietors, 
is  the  case  of  Belgium.  The  soil  is  originally  one  of  the 
worst  in  Europe.  "  The  provinces,  "  says  Mr.  M'Culloch,t 
"  of  West  and  East  Flanders,  and  Hainault,  form  a  far 
stretching  plain,  of  which  the  luxuriant  vegetation  indicates 
the  indefatigable  care  and  labour  bestowed  upon  its  cultiva- 
tion ;  for  the  natural  soil  consists  almost  wholly  of  barren 
sand,  and  its  great  fertility  is  entirely  the  result  of  very  skilful 
management  and  judicious  application  of  various  manures." 
There  exists  a  carefully  prepared  and  comprehensive  treatise 
on  Flemish  Husbandry,  in  the  Farmer's  Series  of  the  Society 
for  the  Diffusion  of  Useful  Knowledge.  The  writer  ob- 
serves,^: that  the  Flemish  agriculturists  "seem  to  want 
nothing  but  a  space  to  work  upon :  whatever  be  the  quality 
or  texture  of  the  soil,  in  time  they  will  make  it  produce 
something.  The  sand  in  the  Campine  can  be  compared  to 
nothing  but  the  sands  on  the  sea-shore,  which  they  probably 
were  originally.  It  is  highly  interesting  to  follow  step  by 
step  the  progress  of  improvement.  Here  you  see  a  cottage 
and  rude  cow-shed  erected  on  a  spot  of  the  most  unprom- 
ising aspect.  The  loose  white  sand  blown  into  irregular 
mounds  is  only  kept  together  by  the  roots  of  the  heath:  a 
small  spot  only  is  levelled  and  surrounded  by  a  ditch :  part 
of  this  is  covered  with  young  broom,  part  is  planted  with 
potatoes,  and  perhaps  a  small  patch  of  diminutive  clover  may 
show  itself:  "  but  manures,  both  solid  and  liquid,  are  collect- 
ing, "  and  this  is  the  nucleus  from  which,  in  a  few  years,  a 
little  farm  will  spread  around.  ...  If  there  is  no  manure  at 

.  *  Kay,  i.  1 16-8.      f  Geographical  Dictionary  y  art  "  Belgium."      %  Pp.  1 1-14. 


hand,  the  only  thing  that  can  be  sown,  on  pure  sand,  at  first, 
is  broom :  this  grows  in  the  most  barren  soils ;  in  three  years 
it  is  fit  to  cut,  and  produces  some  return  in  fagots  for  the 
bakers  and  brickmakers.  The  leaves  which  have  fallen 
have  somewhat  enriched  the  soil,  and  the  fibres  of  the 
roots  have  given  a  certain  degree  of  compactness.  It  may 
now  be  ploughed  and  sown  with  buckwheat,  or  even  with  rye 
without  manure.  By  the  time  this  is  reaped,  some  manure 
may  have  been  collected,  and  a  regular  course  of  cropping 
may  begin.  As  soon  as  clover  and  potatoes  enable  the 
farmer  to  keep  cows  and  make  manure,  the*  improvement 
goes  on  rapidly ;  in  a  few  years  the  soil  undergoes  a  complete 
change :  it  becomes  mellow  and  retentive  of  moisture,  and 
enriched  by  the  vegetable  matter  afforded  by  the  decompo- 
sition of  the  roots  of  clover  and  other  plants.  .  .  .  After  the 
land  has  been  gradually  brought  into  a  good  state,  and  is 
cultivated  in  a  regular  manner,  there  appears  much  less 
difference  between  the  soils  which  have  been  originally  good, 
and  those  which  have  been  made  so  by  labour  and  industry. 
At  least  the  crops  in  both  appear  more  nearly  alike  at  harvest, 
than  is  the  case  in  soils  of  different  qualities  in  other  coun- 
tries. This  is  a  great  proof  of  the  excellency  of  the  Flemish 
system ;  for  it  shows  that  the  land  is  in  a  constant  state  of 
improvement,  and  that  the  deficiency  of  the  soil  is  compen- 
sated by  greater  attention  to  tillage  and  manuring,  especi- 
ally the  latter. 

The  people  who  labour  thus  intensely,  because  labouring 
for  themselves,  have  practised  for  centuries  those  principles 
of  rotation  of  crops  and  economy  of  manures,  which  in  Eng- 
land are  counted  among  modern  discoveries :  and  even  now 
the  superiority  of  their  agriculture,  as  a  whole,  to  that  of 
England,  is  admitted  by  competent  judges.  "The  culti- 
vation of  a  poor  light  soil,  or  a  moderate  soil, "  says  the 
writer  last  quoted,* "is  generally  superior  in  Flanders  to 
that  of  the  most  improved  farms  of  the  same  kind  in  Britain. 
We  surpass  the  Flemish  farmer  greatly  in  capital,  in  varied 

*  Flemish  Husbandry^  p.  3. 

342  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §  5. 

implements  of  tillage,  in  the  choice  and  breeding  of  cattle 
and  sheep, "  (though,  according  to  the  same  authority,*  they 
are  much  "  before  us  in  the  feeding  of  their  cows, ")  "  and 
the  British  farmer  is  in  general  a  man  of  superior  education 
to  the  Flemish  peasant.  But  in  the  minute  attention  to  the 
qualities  of  the  soil,  in  the  management  and  application  of 
manures  of  different  kinds,  in  the  judicious  succession  of 
crops,  and  especially  in  the  economy  of  land,  so  that  every 
part  of  it  shall  be  in  a  constant  state  of  production,  we  have 
still  something  to  learn  from  the  Flemings, "  and  not  from 
an  instructed*  and  enterprising  Fleming  here  and  there,  but 
from  the  general  practice. 

Much  of  the  most  liighly  cultivated  part  of  the  country 
consists  of  peasant  properties,  managed  by  the  proprietors, 
always  either  wholly  or  partly  by  spade  industry .f  "  When 
the  land  is  cultivated  entirely  by  the  spade,  and  no  horses 
are  kept,  a  cow  is  kept  for  every  three  acres  of  land,  and 
entirely  fed  on  artificial  grasses  and  roots.  This  mode  of 
cultivation  is  principally  adopted  in  the  Waes  district, 
where  properties  are  very  small.  All  the  labour  is  done 
by  the  different  members  of  the  family ; "  children  soon 
beginning  "  to  assist  in  various  minute  operations,  accord- 
ing to  their  age  and  strength,  such  as  weeding,  hoeing,  feed- 
ing the  cows.  If  they  can  raise  rye  and  wheat  enough  to 
make  their  bread,  and  potatoes,  turnips,  carrots,  and  clover, 
for  the  cows,  they  do  well ;  and  the  produce  of  the  sale  of 
their  rape-seed,  their  flax,  their  hemp,  and  their  butter,  after 
deducting  the  expense  of  manure  purchased,  which  is  always 
considerable,  gives  them  a  very  good  profit.  Suppose  the 
whole  extent  of  the  land  to  be  six  acres,  which  is  not  an  un- 
common occupation,  and  which  one  man  can  manage ; " 
then  (after  describing  the  cultivation),  "  if  a  man  with  his 
wife  and  three  young  children  are  considered  as  equal  to 
three  and  a  half  grown  up  men,  the  family  will  require 
thirty-nine  bushels  of  grain,  forty-nine  bushels  of  potatoes, 

*  Ibid.  p.  13.  f  Flemish  Husbandry ',  pp.  73  et  seq. 


ft  fat  hog,  and  the  butter  and  milk  of  one  cow :  an  acre  and 
a  half  of  land  will  produce  the  grain  and  potatoes,  and  allow 
gome  corn  to  finish  the  fattening  of  the  hog,  which  has  the 
extra  buttermilk :  another  acre  in  clover,  carrots,  and  pota- 
toes, together  with  the  stubble  turnips,  will  more  than  feed 
the  cow  ;  consequently  two  and  a  half  acres  of  land  is  suffi- 
cient to  feed  this  family,  and  the  produce  of  the  other  three 
and  a  half  may  be  sold  to  pay  the  rent  or  the  interest  of 
purchase-money,  wear  and  tear  of  implements,  extra  manure, 
and  clothes  for  the  family.  But  these  acres  are  the  most 
profitable  on  the  farm,  for  the  hemp,  flax,  and  colza  are  in- 
cluded ;  and  by  having  another  acre  in  clover  and  roots,  a 
second  cow  can  be  kept,  and  its  produce  sold.  We  have, 
therefore,  a  solution  of  the  problem,  how  a  family  can  live 
and  thrive  on  six  acres  of  moderate  landk"  After  showing 
by  calculation  that  this  extent  of  land  can  be  cultivated  in 
the  most  perfect  manner  by  the  family  without  any  aid  from 
hired  labour,  the  writer  continues,  "  In  a  farm  of  ten  acres 
entirely  cultivated  by  the  spade,  the  addition  of  a  man  and 
a  woman  to  the  members  of  the  family  will  render  all  the 
operations  more  easy ;  and  with  a  horse  and  cart  to  carry 
out  the  manure,  and  bring  home  the  produce,  and  occasion- 
ally draw  the  harrows,  fifteen  acres  may  be  very  well  culti- 
vated. .  .  .  Thus  it  will  be  seen,"  (this  is  the  result  of  some 
pages  of  details  and  calculations,*)  "that  by  spade  hus- 
bandry, an  industrious  man  with  a  small  capital,  occupying 
only  fifteen  acres  of  good  light  land,  may  not  only  live  and 
bring  up  a  family,  paying  a  good  tent,  but  may  accumulate 
a  considerable  sum  in  the  course  of  his  life."  But  the  inde- 
fatigable industry  by  which  he  accomplishes  this,  and  of 
which  so  large  a  portion  is  expended  not  in  the  mere  culti- 
vation, but  in  the  improvement,  for  a  distant  return,  of  the 
soil  itself — has  that  industry  no  connexion  with  not  paying 
rent  ?  Could  it  exist,  without  presupposing,  at  least,  a  vir- 
tually permanent  tenure  ? 

As  to  their  mode  of  living,  M  the  Flemish  farmers  and 

r — ■ 

*  Flemish  Husbandry \  p.  81. 

844  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §5. 

labourers  live  much  more  economically  than  the  same  class 
in  England  :  they  seldom  eat  meat,  except  on  Sundays  and 
in  harvest :  buttermilk  and  potatoes  with  brown  bread  is 
their  daily  food."  It  is  on  this  kind  of  evidence  that  Eng- 
lish travellers,  as  they  hurry  through  Europe,  pronounce 
the  peasantry  of  every  Continental  country  poor  and  miser- 
able, its  agricultural  and  social  system  a  failure,  and  the 
English  the  only  regime  under  which  labourers  are  well  off. 
It  is,  truly  enough,  the  only  regime  under  which  labourers, 
whether  well  off  or  not,  never  attempt  to  be  better.  So  little 
are  English  labourers  accustomed  to  consider  it  possible  that 
a  labourer  should  not  spend  all  he  earns,  that  they  habitually 
mistake  the  signs  of  economy  for  those  of  poverty.  Observe 
the  true  interpretation  of  the  phenomena. 

"  Accordingly  they  are  gradually  acquiring  capital,  and 
their  great  ambition  is  to  have  land  of  their  own.  They 
eagerly  seize  every  opportunity  of  purchasing  a  small  farm, 
and  the  price  is  so  raised  by  competition,  that  land  pays 
little  more  than  two  per  cent,  interest  for  the  purchase- 
money.  Large  properties  gradually  disappear,  and  are 
divided  into  small  portions,  which  sell  at  a  high  rate.  But 
the  wealth  and  industry  of  the  population  is  continually  in- 
creasing, being  rather  diffused  through  the  masses  than  ac- 
cumulated in  individuals." 

"With  facts  like  these,  known  and  accessible,  it  is  not  a 
little  surprising  to  find  the  case  of  Flanders  referred  to  not 
in  recommendation  of  peasant  properties,  but  as  a  warning 
against  them  ;  on  no  better  ground  than  a  presumptive  ex- 
cess of  population,  inferred  from  the  distress  which  existed 
among  the  peasantry  of  Brabant  and  East  Flanders  in  the 
disastrous  year  1846-47.  The  evidence  which  I  have  cited 
from  a  writer  conversant  with  the  subject,  and  having  no 
economical  theory  to  support,  shows  that  the  distress,  what- 
ever may  have  been  its  severity,  arose  from  no  insufficiency 
in  these  little  properties  to  supply  abundantly,  in  any  ordi- 
nary circumstances,  the  wants  of  all  whom  they  have  to 
maintain.    It  arose  from  the  essential  condition  to  which 


those  are  subject  who  employ  land  of  their  own  in  growing 
their  own  food,  namely,  that  the  vicissitudes  of  the  seasons 
must  be  borne  by  themselves,  and  cannot,  as  in  the  case  of 
large  farmers,  be  shifted  from  them  to  the  consumer.  When 
we  remember  the  season  of  1846,  a  partial  failure  of  all  kinds 
of  grain,  and  an  almost  total  one  of  the  potato,  it  is  no  won- 
der that  in  so  unusual  a  calamity  the  produce  of  six  acres, 
half  of  them  sown  with  flax,  hemp,  or  oil  seeds,  should  fall 
short  of  a  year's  provision  for  a  family.  But  we  are  not  to 
contrast  the  distressed  Flemish  peasant  with  an  English 
capitalist  who  farms  several  hundred  acres  of  land.  If  the 
peasant  were  an  Englishman,  he  would  not  be  that  capital- 
ist, but  a  day  labourer  under  a  capitalist.  And  is  there 
no  distress,  in  times  of  dearth,  among  day  labourers  ?  Was 
there  none,  that  year,  in  countries  where  small  proprietors 
and  small  farmers  are  unknown  ?  I  am  aware  of  no  reason 
for  believing  that  the  distress  was  greater  in  Belgium,  than 
corresponds  to  the  proportional  extent  of  the  failure  of  crops 
compared  with  other  countries.* 

§  6.  The  evidence  of  the  beneficial  operation  of  peasant 
properties  in  the  Channel  Islands  is  of  so  decisive  a  char- 
acter, that  I  cannot  help  adding  to  the  numerous  citations 
already  made,  part  of  a  description  of  the  economical  con- 
dition of  those  islands,  by  a  writer  who  combines  personal 
observation  with  an  attentive  study  of  the  information  af- 
forded by  others.     Mr.  William  Thornton,  in  his  "  Plea  for 

*  As  much  of  the  distress  lately  complained  of  in  Belgium,  as  partakes  in 
any  degree  of  a  permanent  character,  appears  to  be  almost  confined  to  the  por- 
tion of  the  population  who  carry  on  manufacturing  labour,  either  by  itself  or  in 
conjunction  with  agricultural ;  and  to  be  occasioned  by  a  diminished  demand  foi 
Belgic  manufactures. 

To  the  preceding  testimonies  respecting  Germany,  Switzerland,  and  Belgium, 
may  be  added  the  following  from  Niebuhr,  respecting  the  Roman  Campagna.  In 
a  letter  from  Tivoli,  he  says,  "Wherever  you  find  hereditary  farmers,  or  small 
proprietors,  there  you  also  find  industry  and  honesty.  I  believe  that  a  man  who 
would  employ  a  large  fortune  in  establishing  small  freeholds  might  put  an  end  to 
robbery  in  the  mountain  districts." — Life  and  Letters  of  Niebvhr,  vol.  ii.  p.  149. 

346  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §6. 

Peasant  Proprietors,"  a  book  which  by  the  excellence  both 
of  its  materials  and  of  its  execution,  deserves  to  be  regarded 
as  the  standard  work  on  that  side  of  the  question,  speaks  of 
the  island  of  Guernsey  in  the  following  terms :  "  Not  even 
in  England  is  nearly  so  large  a  quantity  of  produce  sent  to 
market  from  a  tract  of  such  limited  extent.  This  of  itself 
might  prove  that  the  cultivators  must  be  far  removed  above 
poverty,  for  being  absolute  owners  of  all  the  produce  raised 
by  them,  they  of  course  sell  only  what  they  do  not  them- 
selves require.  Bat  the  satisfactoriness  of  their  condition 
is  apparent  to  every  observer.  4  The  happiest  community,' 
says  Mr.  Hill,  i  which  it  has  ever  been  my  lot  to  fall  in  with, 
is  to  be  found  in  this  little  island  of  Guernsey.'  '  No  mat- 
ter,' says  Sir  George  Head,  '  to  what  point  the  traveller  may 
choose  to  bend  his  way,  comfort  everywhere  prevails.'  What 
most  surprises  the  English  visitor  in  his  first  walk  or  drive 
beyond  the  bounds  of  St.  Peter's  Port  is  the  appearance  of 
the  habitations  with  which  the  landscape  is  thickly  studded. 
Many  of  them  are  such  as  in  his  own  country  would  belong 
to  persons  of  middle  rank  ;  but  he  is  puzzled  to  guess  what 
sort  of  people  live  in  the  others,  which,  though  in  general 
not  large  enough  for  farmers,  are  almost  invariably  much 
too  good  in  every  respect  for  day  labourers.  .  .  .  Literally, 
in  the  whole  island,  with  the  exception  of  a  few  fishermen's 
huts,  there  is  not  one  so  mean  as  to  be  likened  to  the  ordi- 
nary habitation  of  an  English  farm  labourer.  ...  4  Look,' 
says  a  late  Bailiff  of  Guernsey,  Mr.  De  L'Isle  Brock,  *  at  the 
hovels  of  the  English,  and  compare  them  with  the  cottages 
of  our  peasantry.'  .  .  .  Beggars  are  utterly  unknown.  .  .  . 
Pauperism,  able-bodied  pauperism  at  least,  is  nearly  as  rare 
as  mendicancy.  The  Savings  Banks  accounts  also  bear  wit- 
ness to  the  general  abundance  enjoyed  by  the  labouring 
classes  of  Guernsey.  In  the  year  1841,  there  were  in  Eng- 
land, out  of  a  population  of  nearly  fifteen  millions,  less  than 
700,000  depositors,  or  one  in  every  twenty  persons,  and  the 
average  amount  of  the  deposits  was  Z01.  In  Guernsey,  in 
the  same  year,  out  of  a  population  of  26,000,  the  number  of 


depositors  was  1920,  and  the  average  amount  of  the  deposits 
40£"  *  The  evidence  as  to  Jersey  and  Alderney  is  of  a 
similar  character. 

Of  the  efficiency  and  productiveness  of  agriculture  on 
the  small  properties  of  the  Channel  Islands,  Mr.  Thornton 
produces  ample  evidence,  the  result  of  which  he  sums  up 
as  follows:  "Thus  it  appears  that  in  the  two  principal 
Channel  Islands,  the  agricultural  population  is,  in  the  one 
twice,  and  in  the  other  three  times,  as  dense  as  in  Britain, 
there  being  in  the  latter  country  only  one  cultivator  to 
twenty-two  acres  of  cultivated  land,  while  in  Jersey  there 
is  one  to  eleven,  and  in  Guernsey  one  to  seven  acres.  Yet 
the  agriculture  of  these  islands  maintains,  besides  cultiva- 
tors, non-agricultural  populations,  respectively  four  and  five 
times  as  dense  as  that  of  Britain.  This  difference  does  not 
arise  from  any  superiority  of  soil  or  climate  possessed  by  the 
Channel  Islands,  for  the  former  is  naturally  rather  poor^  and 
the.  latter  is  not  better  thai*  in  the  southern  counties  of  Eng- 
land. It  is  owing  entirely  to  the  assiduous  care  of  the  far- 
mers, and  to  the  abundant  use  of  manure."  f  "  In  the  .year 
1837,"  he  says  in  another  place,  %"  the  average  yield  of 
wheat  in  the  large  farms  of  England  was  only  twenty-one 
bushels,  and  the  highest  average  for  any  one  county  was  no 
more  than  twenty-six  bushels.  The  highest  average  since 
claimed  for  the  whole  of  England,  is  thirty  bushels.  In 
Jersey,  where  the  average  size  of  farms  is  only  sixteen  acres, 
the  average  produce  of  wheat  per  acre  was  stated  by  Inglis 
in  1834  to  be  thirty-six  bushels ;  but  it  is  proved  by  official 
tables  to  have  been  forty  bushels  in  the  five  years  ending 
with  1833.  In  Guernsey,  where  farms  are  still  smaller,  four 
quarters  per  acre,  according  to  Inglis,  is  considered  a  good, 
but  &till  a  very  common  crop."  "  Thirty  shillings  §  an  acre 
would  be  thought  in  England  a  very  fair  rent  for  middling 
land ;  but  in  the  Channel  Islands,  it  is  only  very  inferior 
land  that  would  not  let  for  at  least  47." 

*  A  Plea  for  Peasant  Proprietors.  By  William  Thomas  Thornton,  pp.  99-104. 
f  Ibid.  p.  38.  %  Ibid-  P-  3-  §  Ibid.  p.  32. 

348  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §7. 

§  7.  It  is  from  France,  that  impressions  unfavourable 
to  peasant  properties  are  generally  drawn ;  it  is  in  France 
that  the  system  is  so  often  asserted  to  have  brought  forth 
its  fruit  in  the  most  wretched  possible  agriculture,  and  to 
be  rapidly  reducing,  if  not  to  have  already  reduced  the  peas- 
antry, by  subdivision  of  land,  to  the  verge  of  starvation. 
It  is  difficult  to  account  for  the  general  prevalence  of  im- 
pressions so  much  the  reverse  of  truth.  The  agriculture  of 
France  was  wretched  and  the  peasantry  in  great  indigence 
before  the  Revolution.  At  that  time  they  were  not,  so  uni- 
versally as  at  present,  landed  proprietors.  There  were, 
however,  considerable  districts  of  France  where  the  land, 
even  then,  was  to  a  great  extent  the  property  of  the  peasant- 
ry, and  among  these  were  many  of  the  most  conspicuous 
exceptions  to  the  general  bad  agriculture  and  to  the  general 
poverty.  An  authority,  on  this  point,  not  to  be  disputed,  is 
Arthur  Young,  the  inveterate  enemy  of  small  farms,  the 
coryphaeus  of  the  modern  English  school  of  agriculturists  ; 
who  yet,  travelling  over  nearly  the  whole  of  France  in  1787, 
1788,  and  1789,  when  he  finds  remarkable  excellence  of 
cultivation,  never  hesitates  to  ascribe  it  to  peasant  property. 
"  Leaving  Sauve,"  says  he,*  "  I  was  much  struck  with  a 
large  tract  of  land,  seemingly  nothing  but  huge  rocks ;  yet 
most  of  it  enclosed  and  planted  with  the  most  industrious 
attention.  Every  man  has  an  olive,  a  mulberry,  an  almond, 
or  a  peach  tree,  and  vines  scattered  among  them ;  so  that 
the  whole  ground  is  covered  with  the  oddest  mixture  of 
these  plants  and  bulging  rocks,  that  can  be  conceived.  The 
inhabitants  of  this  village  deserve  encouragement  for  their 
industry  ;  and  if  I  were  a  French  minister  they  should  have 
it.  They  would  soon  turn  all  the  deserts  around  them  into 
gardens.  Such  a  knot  of  active  husbandmen,  who  turn 
their  rocks  into  scenes  of  fertility,  because  I  suppose  their 
own,  would  do  the  same  by  the  wastes,  if  animated  by  the 
same  omnipotent  principle."  Again :  f  "  Walk  to  Rossen- 
dal,"  (near Dunkirk)  "where  M.  le  Brun  has  an  improve- 

*  Arthur  Young's  Travels  in  France,  vol.  i.  p.  50.  f  Ibid.  p.  88. 


ment  on  the  Dunes,  which  he  very  obligingly  showed  me. 
Between  the  town  and  that  place  is  a  great  number  of  neat 
little  houses,  built  each  with  its  garden,  and  one  or  two 
fields  enclosed,  of  most  wretched  blowing  dune  sand,  natu- 
rally as  white  as  snow,  but  improved  by  industry.  The 
magic  of  property  turns  sand  to  gold."  And  again :  *  "  Go- 
ing out  of  Gange,  I  was  surprised  to  find  by  far  the  greatest 
exertion  in  irrigation  which  I  had  yet  seen  in  France ;  and 
then  passed  by  some  steep  mountains,  highly  cultivated  in 
terraces.  Much  watering  at  St.  Lawrence.  The  scenery 
very  interesting  to  a  farmer.  From  Gange,  to  the  moun- 
tain of  rough  ground  which  I  crossed,  the  ride  has  been  the 
most  interesting  which  I  have  taken  in  France  ;  the  efforts 
of  industry  the  most  vigorous  ;  the  animation  the  most  live- 
ly. An  activity  has  been  here,  that  has  swept  away  all 
difficulties  before  it,  and  has  clothed  the  very  rocks  with 
verdure.  It  would  be  a  disgrace  to  common  sense  to  ask 
the  cause ;  the  enjoyment  of  property  must  have  done  it. 
Give  a  man  the  secure  possession  of  a  bleak  rock,  and  he 
will  turn  it  into  a  garden ;  give  him  a  nine  years  lease  of  a 
garden,  and  he  will  convert  it  into  a  desert. 

In  his  description  of  the  country  at  the  foot  of  the  West- 
ern Pyrenees,  he  speaks  no  longer  from  surmise,  but  from 
knowledge.  "  Take  f  the  road  to  Moneng,  and  come  pre- 
sently to  a  scene  which  was  so  new  to  me  in  France,  that  I 
could  hardly  believe  my  own  eyes.  A  succession  of  many 
well-built,  tight,  and  comfortable  farming  cottages  built  of 
stone  and  covered  with  tiles ;  each  having  its  little  garden, 
inclosed  by  dipt  thorn-hedges,  with  plenty  of  peach  and 
other  fruit-trees,  some  fine  oaks  scattered  in  the  hedges,  and 
young  trees  nursed  up  with  so  much  care,  that  nothing  but 
the  fostering  attention  of  the  owner  could  effect  anything 
like  it.  To  every  house  belongs  a  farm,  perfectly  well  en- 
closed, with  grass  borders  mown  and  neatly  kept  around  the 
corn-fields,  with  gates  to  pass  from  one  enclosure  to  another. 

*  Arthur  Young's  Travels  in  France,  vol.  i.  p.  51.  f  Ibid.  p.  66. 

350  BOOK  II     CHAPTER  VI.     §1 

There  are  some  parts  of  England  (where  small  yeomen  still 
remain)  that  resemble  this  country  of  Beam ;  but  we  have 
very  little  that  is  equal  to  what  I  have  seen  in  this  ride  of 
twelve  miles  from  Pan  to  Moneng.  It  is  all  in  the  hands 
of  little  proprietors,  without  the  farms  being  so  small  as  to 
occasion  a  vicious  and  miserable  population.  An  air  of 
neatness,  warmth,  and  comfort  breathes  over  the  whole.  It 
is  visible  in  their  new  built  houses  and  stables;  in  their 
little  gardens ;  in  their  hedges ;  in  the  courts  before  their 
doors ;  even  in  the  coops  for  their  poultry,  and  the  sties  for 
their  hog3.  A  peasant  does  not  think  of  rendering  his  pig 
comfortable,  if  his  own  happiness  hang  by  the  thread  of  a 
nine  years'  lease.  We  are  now  in  Bearn,  within  a  few  miles 
of  the  cradle  of  Henry  IV.  Do  they  inherit  these  blessings 
from  that  good  prince  ?  The  benignant  genius  of  that  good 
monarch  seems  to  reign  still  over  the  country ;  each  peasant 
has  the  fowl  in  the  pot."  He  frequently  notices  the  excel- 
lence of  the  agriculture  of  French  Flanders,  where  the  farms 
"  are  ail  small,  and  much  in  the  hands  of  little  proprietors."* 
In  the  Pays  de  Caux,  also  a  country  of  small  properties,  the 
agriculture  was  miserable;  of  which  his  explanation  was 
that  it  "  is  a  manufacturing  country,  and  farming  is  but  a 
secondary  pursuit  to  the  cotton  fabric,  which  spreads  over 
the  whole  of  it."  f  The  same  district  is  still  a  seat  of  manu- 
factures, and  a  country  of  small  proprietors,  and  is  now, 
whether  we  judge  from  the  appearance  of  the  crops  or  from 
the  official  returns,  one  of  the  best  cultivated  in  France. 
In  "  Flanders,  Alsace,  and  part  of  Artois,  as  well  as  on  the 
banks  of  the  Garonne,  France  possesses  a  husbandry  equal 
to  our  own."  %  Those  countries,  and  a  considerable  part  of 
Quercy,  "  are  cultivated  more  like  gardens  than  farms- 
Perhaps  they  are  too  much  like  gardens,  from  the  smallness 
of  properties."  §  In  those  districts  the  admirable  rotation 
of  crops,  so  long  practised  in  Italy,  but  at  that  time  general- 
ly neglected  in  France,  was  already  universal.     "  The  rapid 

*  Young,  pp.  322-4.       f  R>^-  P-  325.       %  Ibid,  vol  i.  p.  357.      §  Ibid.  p.  364. 


succession  of  crops,  tho  harvest  of  one  being  but  the  signal 
of  sowing  immediately  for  a  second,"  (the  same  fact  which 
strikes  all  observers  in  the  valley  of  the  Rhine,)  "  can 
scarcely  be  carried  to  greater  perfection :  and  this  is  a  point, 
perhaps,  of  all  others  the  most  essential  to  good  husbandry, 
when  such  crops  are  so  justly  distributed  as  we  generally 
find  them  in  these  provinces;  cleaning  and  ameliorating 
ones  being  made  the  preparation  for  such  as  foul  and  ex- 

It  must  not,  however,  be  supposed,  that  Arthur  Young's 
testimony  on  the  subject  of  peasant  properties  is  uniformly 
favourable.  In  Lorraine,  Champagne,  and  elsewhere,  he 
finds  the  agriculture  bad,  and  the  small  proprietors  very 
miserable,  in  consequence,  as  he  says,  of  the  extreme  sub- 
division of  the  land.  His  opinion  is  thus  summed  up  :* — 
"  Before  I  travelled,  I  conceived  that  small  farms,  in  prop- 
erty, were  very  susceptible  of  good  cultivation ;  and  that 
the  occupier  of  such,  having  no  rent  to  pay,  might  be  suffi- 
ciently at  his  ease  to  work  improvements,  and  carry  on  a 
vigorous  husbandry ;  but  what  I  have  seen  in  France,  has 
greatly  lessened  my  good  opinion  of  them.  In  Flanders,  I 
saw  excellent  husbandry  on  properties  of  30  to  100  acres ; 
but  we  seldom  find  here  such  small  patches  of  property  as 
are  common  in  other  provinces.  In  Alsace,  and  on  the 
Garonne,  that  is,  on  soils  of  such  exuberant  fertility  as  to 
demand  no  exertions,  some  small  properties  also  are  well 
cultivated.  In  Beam,  I  passed  through  a  region  of  little 
farmers,  whose  appearance,  neatness,  ease,  and  happiness 
charmed  me;  it  was  what  property  alone  could,  on  a  small 
scale,  effect;  but  these  were  by  no  means  contemptibly 
small ;  they  are,  as  I  judged  by  the  distance  from  house  to 
house,  from  40  to  80  acres.  Except  these,  and  a  very  few 
other  instances,  I  saw  nothing  respectable  on  small  proper- 
ties, except  a  most  unremitting  industry.  Indeed,  it  is 
necessary  to  impress  on  the  reader's  mind,  that  though  the 
husbandry  I  met  with,  in  a  great  variety  of  instances  on 

*  Young,  vol.  i.  p.  412. 

352  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VI.     §7. 

little  properties,  was  as  bad  as  can  be  well  conceived,  yet 
the  industry  of  the  possessors  was  so  conspicuous,  and  so 
meritorious,  that  no  commendations  would  be  too  great  for 
it.  It  was  sufficient  to  prove  that  property  in  land  is,  of  all 
others,  the  most  active  instigator  to  severe  and  incessant 
labour.  And  this  truth  is  of  such  force  and  extent,  that  I 
know  no  way  so  sure  of  carrying  tillage  to  a  mountain  top, 
as  by  permitting  the  adjoining  villagers  to  acquire  it  in 
property ;  in  fact,  we  see  that  in  the  mountains  of  Langue- 
doc,  &c,  they  have  conveyed  earth  in  baskets,  on  their 
backs,  to  form  a  soil  where  nature  had  denied  it." 

.  The  experience,  therefore,  of  this  celebrated  agriculturist, 
and  apostle  of  la  grande  culture,  may  be  said  to  be,  that  the 
effect  of  small  properties,  cultivated  by  peasant  proprietors, 
is  admirable  when  they  are  not  too  small :  so  small,  namely, 
as  not  fully  to  occupy  the  time  and  attention  of  the  family ; 
for  he  often  complains,  with  great  apparent  reason,  of  the 
quantity  of  idle  time  which  the  peasantry  had  on  their 
hands  when  the  land  was  in  very  small  portions,  notwith- 
standing the  ardour  with  which  they  toiled  to  improve  their 
little  patrimony,  in  every  way  which  their  knowledge  or 
ingenuity  could  suggest.  He  recommends,  accordingly,  that 
a  limit  of  subdivision  should  be  fixed  by  law ;  and  this  is 
by  no  means  an  indefensible  proposition  in  countries,  if  such 
there  are,  where  the  morcdlement,  having  already  gone 
farther  than  the  state  of  capital  and  the  nature  of  the  staple 
articles  of  cultivation  render  advisable,  still  continues  pro- 
gressive. That  each  peasant  should  have  a  patch  of  land, 
even  in  full  property,  if  it  is  not  sufficient  to  support  him  in 
comfort,  is  a  system  with  all  the  disadvantages,  and  scarcely 
any  of  the  benefits,  of  small  properties ;  since  he  must  either 
live  in  indigence  on  the  produce  of  his  land,  or  depend  as 
habitually  as  if  lie  had  no  landed  possessions,  on  the  wages 
of  hired  labour :  which,  besides,  if  all  the  holdings  surround- 
ing him  are  of  similar  dimensions,  he  has  little  prospect  of 
finding.  The  benefits  of  peasant  properties  are  conditional 
on  their  not  being  too  much  subdivided ;  that  is,  on  their 


not  being  required  to  maintain  too  many  persons,  in  propor- 
tion to  the  produce  that  can  be  raised  from  them  by  those 
persons.  The  question  resolves  itself,  like  most  questions 
respecting  the  condition  of  the  labouring  classes,  into  one 
of  population.  Are  small  properties  a  stimulus  to  undue 
multiplication,  or  a  check  to  it  t 



§  1.  Before  examining  the  influence  of  peasant  proper- 
ties on  the  ultimate  economical  interests  of  the  labouring 
class,  as  determined  by  the  increase  of  population,  let  us 
note  the  points  respecting  the  moral  and  social  influence  of 
that  territorial  arrangement,  which  may  be  looked  upon  as 
established,  either  by  the  reason  of  the  case,  or  by  the  facts 
and  authorities  cited  in  the  preceding  chapter. 

The  reader  new  to  the  subject  must  have  been  struck 
with  the  powerful  impression  made  upon  all  the  witnesses 
to  whom  I  have  referred,  by  what  a  Swiss  statistical  writer 
calls  the  "almost  superhuman  industry"  of  peasant  pro- 
prietors.* On  this  point  at  least,  authorities  are  unanimous. 
Those  who  have  seen  only  one  country  of  peasant  proper- 
ties, always  think  the  inhabitants  of  that  country  the  most 
industrious  in  the  world.  There  is  as  little  doubt  among 
observers,  with  what  feature  in  the  condition  of  the  peas- 
antry this  pre-eminent  industry  is  connected.  It  is  "  the 
magic  of  property  "  which,  in  the  words  of  Arthur  Young, 
"  turns  sand  into  gold."  The  idea  of  property  does  not, 
however,  necessarily  imply  that  there  should  be  no  rent, 
any  more  than  that  there  should  be  no  taxes.  It  merely 
implies  that  the  rent  should  be  a  fixed  charge,  not  liable  to 
be  raised  against  the  possessor  by  his  own  improvements, 
or  by  the  will  of  a  landlord.  A  tenant  at  a  quit-rent  is,  to 
all  intents  and  purposes,  a  proprietor ;  a  copyholder  is  not 

*  "Fcu&t  iibermenscfUiche  Fleiss."    Der  Canton  Schaff hausen  (ut  supra),  p.  53. 


less  so  than  a  freeholder.  What  is  wanted  is  permanent 
possession  on  fixed  terms.  "  Give  a  man  the  secure  posses- 
sion of  a  bleak  rock,  and  he  will  turn  it  into  a  garden ;  give 
him  a  nine  years'  lease  of  a  garden,  and  he  will  convert  it 
into  a  desert." 

The  details  which  have  been  cited,  and  those,  still  more 
minute,  to  be  found  in  the  same  authorities,  concerning  the 
habitually  elaborate  system  of  cultivation,  and  the  thousand 
devices  of  the  peasant  proprietor  for  making  every  superflu- 
ous hour  and  odd  moment  instrumental  to  some  increase  in 
the  future  produce  and  value  of  the  land,  will  explain  what 
has  been  said  in  a  previous  chapter*  respecting  the  far 
larger  gross  produce  which,  with  anything  like  parity  of 
agricultural  knowledge,  is  obtained,  from  the  same  quality 
of  soil,  on  small  farms,  at  least  when  they  are  the  property 
of  the  cultivator.  The  treatise  on  "  Flemish  husbandry  " 
is  especially  instructive  respecting  the  means  by  which  un- 
tiring industry  does  more  than  outweigh  inferiority  of  re- 
sources, imperfection  of  implements,  and  ignorance  of  scien- 
tific theories.  The  peasant  cultivation  of  Flanders  and 
Italy  is  affirmed  to  produce  heavier  crops,  in  equal  circum- 
stances of  soil,  than  the  best  cultivated  districts  of  Scotland 
and  England.  It  produces  them,  no  doubt,  with  an  amount 
of  labour  which,  if  paid  for  by  an  employer,  would  make 
the  cost  to  him  more  than  equivalent  to  the  benefit ;  but  to 
the  peasant  it  is  not  cost,  it  is  the  devotion  of  time  which 
he  can  spare,  to  a  favourite  pursuit,  if  we  should  not  rather 
say  a  ruling  passion.f 

*  Supra,  Book  i.  ch.  ix.  §  4. 

f  Read  the  graphic  description  by  the  historian  Michelet,  of  the  feelings  of  a 
peasant  proprietor  towards  his  land. 

"Si  nous  voulons  connaitre  la  pensee  intime,  la  passion,  du  pajsan  de 
France,  cela  est  fort  aise.  Promenons-nous  le  dimanche  dans  la  campagne, 
suivons-le.  Le  voila  qui  s'en  va  la-bas  devant  nous.  II  est  deux  heures ;  sa 
femme  est  a  vepres ;  il  est  endimanche ;  je  reponds  qu'il  va  voir  sa  maitresse. 

"  Quelle  maitresse  ?  sa  terre. 

"  Je  ne  dis  pas  qu'il  y  aille  tout  droit.  Non,  il  est  libre  ce  jour-la,  il  est 
maitre  d'7  alter  ou  de  n'y  pas  aller.    N'y  va-t-il  pas  assez  tous  les  jours  de  la 

356  BOOK  n.     CHAPTER  VII.    §  1. 

We  have  seen,  too,  that  it  is  not  solely  by  superior  ex- 
ertion that  the  Flemish  cultivators  succeed  in  obtaining 
these  brilliant  results.  The  same  motive  which  gives  such 
intensity  to  their  industry,  placed  them  earlier  in  possession 
of  an  amount  of  agricultural  knowledge  jaot  attained  until 
much  later  in  countries  where  agriculture  was  carried  on 
solely  by  hired  labour.  An  equally  high  testimony  is  borne 
by  M.  de  Lavergne*  to  the  agricultural  skill  of  the  small 
proprietors,  in  those  parts  of  France  to  which  the  petite 
culture  is  really  suitable.  "  In  the  rich  plains  of  Flanders, 
on  the  banks  of  the  Rhine,  the  Garonne,  the  Charente,  the 
Rhone,  all  the  practices  which  fertilize  the  land  and  increase 
the  productiveness  of  labour  are  known  to  the  very  smallest 
cultivators,  and  practised  by  them,  however  considerable 
may  be  the  advances  which  they  require.  In  their  hands, 
abundant  manures,  collected  at  great  cost,  repair  and  inces- 
santly increase  the  fertility  of  the  soil,  in  spite  of  the  activi- 
ty of  cultivation.  The  races  of  cattle  are  superior,  the  crops 
magnificent.  Tobacco,  flax,  colza,  madder,  beetroot,  in 
some  places ;  in  others,  the  vine,  the  olive,  the  plum,  the 
mulberry,  only  yield  their  abundant  treasures  to  a  popula- 
tion of  industrious  labourers.  Is  it  not  also  to  the  petite 
culture  that  we  are  indebted  for  most  of  the  garden  produce 

semaine?  Aussi,  il  se  detourne,  il  va  ailleurs,  il  a  affaire  ailleurs.  Et  pourtant, 
il  y  va. 

"II  est  vrai  qu'il  paasait  bien  pres;  c'6tait  une  occasion.  II  la  regarde, 
mais  apparemment  il  n'y  entrera  pas;  qu'y  ferait-il? — Et  pourtant  il  y  entre. 

44  Du  moins,  il  est  probable  qu'il  n'y  travaillera  pas ;  il  est  endimanchS ;  il  a 
blouse  et  chemise  blanches. — Rien  n'empeche  cependant  d'oter  quelque  mauvaise 
herbe,  de  rejeter  cette  pierre.  II  y  a  bien  encore  cette  souche  qui  g6ne,  mais  il 
n'a  pas  sa  pioche,  ce  sera  pour  demain. 

44  Alors,  il  croise  ses  bras  et  s'arrete,  regarde,  serieux,  soucicux.  n  regarde 
longtemps,  tres-longtemps,  et  semble  s'oublier.  A  la  fin,  s'il  se  croit  observe, 
s'il  appercoit  un  passant,  il  s'eloigne  a  pas  lents.  A  trente  pas  encore,  il  s'ar^- 
rete,  se  retourne,  et  jette  sur  sa  terre  un  dernier  regard,  regard  profond  et  som- 
bre ;  mais  pour  qui  sait  bien  voir,  il  est  tout  passionne1,  ce  regard,  tout  de  coeur, 
plein  de  devotion." — Le  Peuple,  par  J.  Michelet,  Ire  partie,  ch.  1. 

*  Essai  sur  VEconomie  Rurale  de  VAngUterre,  de  VEcosse,  et  de  Vlrlande^ 
8me  6d.  p.  127. 


obtained  by  dint  of  great  outlay  in  the  neighbourhood  of 

%  2.  Another  aspect  of  peasant  properties,  in  which  it 
is  essential  that  they  should  be  considered,  is  that  of  an  in- 
strument of  popular  education.  Books  and  schooling  are 
absolutely  necessary  to  education;  but  not  all-sufficient. 
The  mental  faculties  will  be  most  developed  where  they  are 
most  exercised ;  and  what  gives  more  exercise  to  them  than 
the  having  a  multitude  of  interests,  none  of  which  can  be 
neglected,  and  which  can  be  provided  for  only  by  varied 
efforts  of  will  and  intelligence  ?  Some  of  the  disparagers  of 
small  properties  lay  great  stress  on  the  cares  and  anxieties 
which  beset  the  peasant  proprietor  of  the  Rhineland  or 
Flanders.  It  is  precisely  those  cares  and  anxieties  which 
tend  to  make  him  a  superior  being  to  an  English  day-labour- 
er. It  is,  to  be  sure,  rather  abusing  the  privileges  of  fair 
argument  to  represent  the  condition  of  a  day-labourer  as 
not  an  anxious  one.  I  can  conceive  no  circumstances  in 
which  he  is  free  from  anxiety,  where  there  is  a  possibility 
of  being  out  of  employment ;  unless  he  has  access  to  a  pro- 
fuse dispensation  of  parish  pay,  and  jio  shame  or  reluctance 
in  demanding  it.  The  day-labourer  has,  in  the  existing 
state  of  society  and  population,  many  of  the  anxieties  which 
have  not  an  invigorating  effect  on  the  mind,  and  none  of 
those  which  have.  The  position  of  the  peasant  proprietor 
of  Flanders  is  the  reverse.  From  the  anxiety  which  chills 
and  paralyses — the  uncertainty  of  having  food  to  eat — few 
persons  are  more  exempt :  it  requires  as  rare  a  concurrence 
of  circumstances  as  the  potato  failure  combined  with  an  uni- 
versal bad  harvest,  to  bring  him  within  reach  of  that  danger. 
His  anxieties  are  the  ordinary  vicissitudes  of  more  and  less ; 
his  cares  are  that  he  takes  his  fair  share  of  the  business  of 
life ;  that  he  is  a  free  human  being,  and  not  perpetually  a 
child,  which  seems  to  be  the  approved  condition  of  the 
labouring  classes  according  to  the  prevailing  philanthropy. 
He  is  no  longer  a  being  of  a  different  order  from  the  middle 

358  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VII.     §3. 

classes ;  he  has  pursuits  and  objects  like  those  which  occupy 
them,  and  give  to  their  intellects  the  greatest  part  of  such 
cultivation  as  they  receive.  If  there  is  a  first  principle  in 
intellectual  education,  it  is  this — that  the  discipline  which 
does  good  to  the  mind  is  that  in  which  the  mind  is  active* 
not  that  in  which  it  is  passive.  The  secret  for  developing 
the  faculties  is  to  give  them  much  to  do,  and  much  induce- 
ment to  do  it.  This  detracts  nothing  from  the  importance, 
and  even  necessity,  of  other  kinds  of  mental  cultivation. 
The  possession  of  property  will  not  prevent  the  peasant  from 
being  coarse,  selfish,  and  narrow-minded.  These  things  de- 
pend on  other  influences,  and  other  kinds  of  instruction. 
But  this  great  stimulus  to  one  kind  of  mental  activity,  in  no 
way  impedes  any  other  means  of  intellectual  development. 
On  the  contrary,  by  cultivating  the  habit  of  turning  to 
practical  use  every  fragment  of  knowledge  acquired,  it  helps 
to  render  that  schooling  and  reading  fruitful,  which  with- 
out some  such  auxiliary  influence  are  in  too  many  cases  like 
seed  thrown  on  a  rock. 

§  3.  It  is  not  on  the  intelligence  alone,  that  the  situa- 
tion of  a  peasant  proprietor  exercises  an  improving  influence. 
It  is  no  less  propitious  to  the  moral  virtues  of  prudence, 
temperance,  and  self-control.  Day-labourers,  where  the 
labouring  class  mainly  consists  of  Ihem,  are  usually  improvi- 
dent :  they  spend  carelessly  to  the  foil  extent  of  their  means, 
and  let  the  future  shift  for  itself.  This  is  so  notorious,  that 
many  persons  strongly  interested  in  the  welfare  of  the 
labouring  classes,  hold  it  as  a  fixed  opinion  that  an  increase 
of  wages  would  do  them  little  good,  unless  accompanied  by 
at  least  a  corresponding  improvement  in  their  tastes  and 
habits.  The  tendency  of  peasant  proprietors,  and  of  those 
who  hope  to  become  proprietors,  is  to  the  contrary  extreme ; 
to  take  even  too  much  thought  for  the  morrow.  They  are 
oftener  accused  of  penuriousness  than  of  prodigality.  They 
deny  themselves  reasonable  indulgences,  and  live  wretch- 
edly in  order  to  economize.     In  Switzerland  almost  every* 


body  saves,  who  has  any  means  of  saving ;  the  case  of  the 
Flemish  farmers  has  been  already  noticed:  among  the 
French,  though  a  pleasure-loving  and  reputed  to  be  a  self- 
indulgent  people,  the  spirit  of  thrift  is  diffused  through  the 
rural  population  in  a  manner  most  gratifying  as  a  whole, 
and  which  in  individual  instances  errs  rather  on  the  side  of 
excess  than  defect.  Among  those  who,  from  the  hovels  in 
which  they  live,  and  the  herbs  and  roots  which  constitute 
their  diet,  are  mistaken  by  travellers  for  proofs  and  speci- 
mens of  general  indigence,  there  are  numbers  who  have 
hoards  in  leathern  bags,  consisting  of  sums  in  five-franc 
pieces,  which  they  keep  by  them  perhaps  for  a  whole  gen- 
eration, unless  brought  out  to  be  expended  in  their  most 
cherished  gratification — the  purchase  of  land.  If  there  is  a 
moral  inconvenience  attached  to  a  state  of  society  in  which 
the  peasantry  have  land,  it  is  the  danger  of  their  being  too 
careful  of  their  pecuniary  concerns ;  of  its  making  them 
crafty,  and  "  calculating  "  in  the  objectionable  sense.  The 
peasant  is  no  simple  countryman,  no  downright  "  paysan  du 
Danube ; "  both  in  fact  and  in  fiction  he  is  now  "  le  ruse 
paysan."  That  is  the  stage  which  he  has  reached  in  the 
progressive  development  which  the  constitution  of  things 
has  imposed  on  human  intelligence  and  human  emancipa- 
tion. But  some  excess  in  this  direction  is  a  small  and  a 
passing  evil  compared  with  recklesness  and  improvidence  in 
the  labouring  classes,  and  a  cheap  price  to  pay  for  the  in- 
estimable worth  of  the  virtue  of  self-dependence,  as  the  gen- 
eral characteristic  of  a  people :  a  virtue  which  is  one  of  the 
first  conditions  of  excellence  in  a  human  character — the 
stock  on  which  if  the  other  virtues  are  not  grafted,  they 
have  seldom  any  firm  root ;  a  quality  indispensable  in  the 
case  of  a  labouring  class,  even  to  any  tolerable  degree  of 
physical  comfort ;  and  by  which  the  peasantry  of  France, 
and  of  most  European  countries  of  peasant  proprietors,  are 
distinguished  beyond  any  other  labouring  population. 

§  4.     Is  it  likely,  that  a  state  of  economical  relations  so 

360  BOOK  IL     CHAPTER  VIL     $4. 

conducive  to  frugality  and  prudence  in  every  other  respect, 
should  be  prejudicial  to  it  in  the  cardinal  point  of  increase 
of  population  ?  That  it  is  so,  is  the  opinion  expressed  by 
most  of  those  English  political  economists  who  have  written 
anything  about  the  matter.  Mr.  M'Culloch's  opinion  is 
well  known.  Mr.  Jones  affirms,*  that  a  "  peasant  popula- 
tion, raising  their  own  wages  from  the  soil,  and  consuming 
them  in  kind,  are  universally  acted  upon  very  feebly  by  in- 
ternal checks,  or  by  motives  disposing  them  to  restraint. 
The  consequence  is,  that  unless  some  external  cause,  quite 
independent,  of  their  will,  forces  such  peasant  cultivators  to 
slacken  their  rate  of  increase,  they  will,  in  a  limited  territory, 
very  rapidly  approach  a  state  of  want  and  penury,  and  will 
be  stopped  at  last  only  by  the  physical  impossibility  of  pro- 
curing subsistence."  He  elsewhere  f  speaks  of  such  a  peas- 
antry as  "  exactly  in  the  condition  in  which  the  animal  dis- 
position to  increase  their  numbers  is  checked  by  the  fewest 
of  those  balancing  motives  and  desires  which  regulate  the 
increase  of  superior  ranks  or  more  civilized  people."  The 
u  causes  of  this  peculiarity,"  Mr.  Jones  promised  to  point 
out  in  a  subsequent  work,  which  never  made  its  appearance. 
I  am  totally  unable  to  conjecture  from  what  theory  of 
human  nature,  and  of  the  motives  which  influence  human 
conduct,  he  would  have  derived  them.  Arthur  Young  as- 
sumes the  same  "  peculiarity "  as  a  fact ;  but,  though  not 
much  in  the  habit  of  qualifying  his  opinions,  he  does  not 
push  his  doctrine  to  so  violent  an  extreme  as  Mr.  Jones ; 
having,  as  we  have  seen,  himself  testified  to  various  in- 
stances in  which  peasant  populations,  such  as  Mr.  Jones 
speaks  of,  were  not  tending  to  "  a  state  of  want  and  penury," 
and  were  in  no  danger  whatever  of  coming  in  contact  with 
u  physical  impossibility  of  procuring  subsistence." 

That  there  should  be  discrepancy  of  experience  on  this 
matter,  is  easily  to  be  accounted  for.  Whether  the  labour- 
ing people  live  by  land  or  by  wages,  they  have  always  hith- 
erto multiplied  up  to  the  limit  set  by  their  habitual  stand- 
ard of  comfort.    "When  that  standard  waa  low,  not  exceed- 

*  Ensay  on  the  Distribution  of  Wealth,  p.  146.  f  Ibid»  P-  68- 


ing  a  scanty  subsistence,  the  size  of  properties,  as  well  as 
the  rate  of  wages,  has  been  kept  down  to  what  would  barely 
support  life.  Extremely  low  ideas  of  what  is  necessary  for 
subsistence,  are  perfectly  compatible  with  peasant  proper- 
ties ;  and  if  a  people  have  always  been  used  to  poverty,  and 
habit  has  reconciled  them  to  it,  there  will  be  over-popula- 
tion, and  excessive  subdivision  of  land.  But  this  is  not  to 
the  purpose.  The  true  question  is,  supposing  a  peasantry  to 
possess  land  not  insufficient  but  sufficient  for  their  comfortable 
support,  are  they  more,  or  less,  likely  to  fall  from  this  state 
of  comfort  through  improvident  multiplication,  than  if  they 
were  living  in  an  equally  comfortable  manner  as  hired 
labourers  ?  All  &  priori  considerations  are  in  favour  of 
their  being  less  likely.  The  dependence  of  wages  on  popu- 
lation is  a  matter  of  speculation  and  discussion.  That 
wages  would  fall  if  population  were  much  increased  is  often 
a  matter  of  real  doubt,  and  always  a  thing  which  requires 
some  exercise  of  the  thinking  faculty  for  its  intelligent  rec- 
ognition. But  every  peasant  can  satisfy  himself  from  evi- 
dence which  he  can  fully  appreciate,  whether  his  piece  of 
land  can  be  made  to  support  several  families  in  the  same 
comfort  in  which  it  supports  one.  Few  people  like  to  leave 
to  their  children  a  worse  lot  in  life  than  their  own  The 
parent  who  has  land  to  leave,  is  perfectly  able  to  judge 
whether  the  children  can  live  upon  it  or  not :  but  people 
who  are  supported  by  wages,  see  no  reason  why  their  6ons 
should  be  unable  to  support  themselves  in  the  same  way, 
and  trust  accordingly  to  chance.  "  In  even  the  most  useful 
and  necessary  arts  and  manufactures,"  says  Mr.  Laing,* 
"  the  demand  for  labourers  is  not  a  seen,  known,  steady,  and 
appreciable  demand  :  but  it  is  so  in  husbandry"  under  small 
properties.  "  The  labour  to  be  done,  the  subsistence  that 
labour  will  produce  out  of  his  portion  of  land,  are  seen  and 
known  elements  in  a  man's  calculation  upon  his  means  of 
subsistence.  Can  his  square  of  land,  or  can  it  not,  subsist 
a  family?  Can  he  marry  or  not  ?  are  questions  which  every 
man  can  answer  without  delay,  doubt,  or  speculation.     It 

*  Note*  of  a  Traveller,  p.  46. 

BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VH.     §4. 

is  the  depending  on  chance,  where  judgment  has  nothing 
clearly  set  before  it,  that  causes  reckless,  improvident  mar- 
riages in  the  lower,  as  in  the  higher  classes,  and  produces 
among  us  the  eyils  of  over-population ;  and  chance  neces- 
sarily enters  into  every  man's  calculations,  when  certainty 
is  removed  altogether  ;  as  it  is,  where  certain  subsistence  is, 
by  our  distribution  of  property,  the  lot  of  but  a  small  por- 
tion instead  of  about  two-thirds  of  the  people." 

There  never  has  been  a  writer  more  keenly  sensible  of 
the  evilfi  brought  upon  the  labouring  classes  by  excess  of 
population,  than  Sismondi,  and  this  is  one  of  the  grounds 
of  his  earnest  advocacy  of  peasant  properties.  He  had 
ample  opportunity,  in  more  countries  than  one,  for  judging 
of  their  effect  on  population.  Let  us  see  his  testimony. 
"  In  the  countries  in  which  cultivation  by  small  proprietors 
still  continues,  population  increases  regularly  and  rapidly 
until  it  has  attained  its  natural  limits ;  that  is  to  say,  inheri- 
tances continue  to  be  divided  and  subdivided  among  several 
sons,  as  long  as,  by  an  increase  of  labour,  each  family  can 
extract  an  equal  income  from  a  smaller  portion  of  land.  A 
father  who  possessed  a  vast  extent  of  natural  pasture,  di- 
vides it  among  his  sons,  and  they  turn  it  into  fields  and 
meadows ;  his  sons  divide  it  among  their  sons,  who  abolish 
fallows :  each  improvement  in  agricultural  knowledge  ad- 
mits of  another  step  in  the  subdivision  of  property.  But 
there  is  no  danger  lest  the  proprietor  should  bring  up  his 
children  to  make  beggars  of  them.  He  knows  exactly  what 
inheritance  he  has  to  leave  them ;  he  knows  that  the  law 
will  divide  it  equally  among  them ;  he  sees  the  limit  beyond 
which  this  division  would  make  them  descend  from  the  rank 
which  he  has  himself  filled,  and  a  just  family  pride,  com- 
mon to  the  peasant  and  to  the  nobleman,  makes  him  abstain 
from  summoning  into  life,  children  for  whom  he  cannot 
properly  provide.  If  more  are  born,  at  least  they  do  not 
marry,  or  they  agree  among  themselves,  which  of  several 
brothers  shall  perpetuate  the  family.  It  is  not  found  that 
in  the  Swiss  Cantons,  the  patrimonies  of  the  peasants  are 
ever  so  divided  as  to  reduce  them  below  an  honourable 


competence ;  though  the  habit  of  foreign  service,  by  open 
ing  to  the  children  a  career  indefinite  and  uncalculable, 
sometimes  calls  forth  a  superabundant  population."  * 

There  is  similar  testimony  respecting  Norway.  Though 
there  is  no  law  or  custom  of  primogeniture,  and  no  manu- 
factures to  take  off  a  surplus  population,  the  subdivision  of 
property  is  not  carried  to  an  injurious  extent.  "The  divi- 
sion of  the  land  among  children,"  says  Mr.  Laing,f  "  ap- 
pears not,  during  the  thousand  years  it  has  been  in  opera- 
tion, to  have  had  the  effect  of  reducing  the  landed  proper- 
ties to  the  minimum  size  that  will  barely  support  human 
existence.  I  have  counted  from  five-and-twenty  to  forty 
cows  upon  farms,  and  that  in  a  country  in  which  the  farmer 
must,  for  at  least  seven  months  in  the  year,  have  winter 
provender  and  houses  provided  for  all  the  cattle.  It  is  evi- 
dent that  some  cause  or  other,  operating  on  aggregation  of 
landed  property,  counteracts  the  dividing  effects  of  partition 
among  children.  That  cause  can  be  no  other  than  what  I 
have  long  conjectured  would  be  effective  in  such  a  social 
arrangement :  viz.  that  in  a  country  where  land  is  held,  not 
in  tenancy  merely,  as  in  Ireland,  but  in  full  ownership,  its 
aggregation  by  the  deaths  of  co-heirs,  and  by  the  marriages 
of  the  female  heirs  among  the  body  of  landholders,  will  bal- 
ance its  subdivision  by  the  equal  succession  of  children. 
The  whole  mass  of  property  will,  I  conceive,  be  found  in 
such  a  state  of  society  to  consist  of  as  many  estates  of  the 
class  of  1000Z.,  as  many  of  100Z.,  as  many  of  10Z.,  a  year,  at 
one  period  as  at  another."  That  this  should  happen,  sup- 
poses diffused  through  society  a  very  efficacious  prudential 
check  to  population ;  and  it  is  reasonable  to  give  part  of 
the  credit  of  this  prudential  restraint  to  the  peculiar  adapta- 
tion of  the  peasant-proprietary  system  for  fostering  it. 

"  In  some  parts  of  Switzerland,"  says  Mr.  Kay,J  "  as  in 
the  canton  of  Argovie,  for  instance,  a  peasant  never  marries 
before  he  attains  the  age  of  twenty-five  years,  and  generally 
much  latef  in  life  ;  and  in  that  canton  the  women  very  sel- 

*  Nouveaux  Principcs,  Book  iii.  ch.  3.  f  Residence  in  Norway \  p.  18.    . 

f  Vol.  i.  pp.  67-9. 

364  BOOK   II.     CHAPTER  VII.    §4. 

dom  marry  before  they  have  attained  the  age  of  thirty.  .  /. 
Nor  do  the  division  of  land  and  the  cheapness  of  the  mode 
of  conveying  it  from  one  man  to  another,  encourage  the 
providence  of  the  labourers  of  the  rural  districts  only.  They 
act  in  the  same  manner,  though  perhaps  in  a  less  degree, 
upon  the  labourers  of  the  smaller  towns.  In  the  smaller 
provincial  towns  it  is  customary  for  a  labourer  to  own  a 
small  plot  of  ground  outside  the  town.  This  plot  he  culti- 
vates in  the  evening  as  his  kitchen  garden.  He  raises  in  it 
vegetables  and  fruits  for  the  use  of  his  family  during  the 
winter.  After  his  day's  work  is  over,  he  and  his  family 
repair  to  the  garden  for  a  short  time,  which  they  spend  in 
planting,  sowing,  weeding,  or  preparing  for  sowing  a  har- 
vest, according  to  the  season.  The  desire  to  become  pos- 
sessed of  one  of  these  gardens  operates  very  strongly  in 
strengthening  prudential  habits  and  in  restraining  improvi- 
dent marriages.  Some  of  the  manufacturers  in  the  canton 
of  Argovie  told  me  that  a  townsman  was  seldom  contented 
until  he  had  bought  a  garden,  or  a  garden  and  house,  and 
that  the  town  labourers  generally  deferred  their  marriages 
for  some  years,  in  order  to  save  enough  to  purchase  either 
one  or  both  of  these  luxuries." 

The  same  writer  shows  by  statistical  evidence*  that  in 
Prussia  the  average  age  of  marriage  is  not  only  much  later 
than  in  England,  but  "  is  gradually  becoming  later  than  it 
was  formerly,"  while  at  the  same  time  "  fewer  illegitimate 
children  are  born  in  Prussia  than  in  any  other  of  the  Euro- 
pean countries."  "  Wherever  I  travelled,"  says  Mr.  Kay,f 
"  in  North  Germany  and  Switzerland,  I  was  assured  by  all 
that  the  desire  to  obtain  land,  which  was  felt  by  all  the 
peasants,  was  acting  as  the  strongest  possible  check  upon 
undue  increase  of  population."  X 

*  Ibid.  pp.  75-9.  t  Ibid-  P-  90- 

\  The  Prussian  minister  of  statistics,  in  a  work  (Der  Volkswohlstand  im 
Preussischen  Staate)  which  I  am  obliged  to  quote  at  second  hand  from  Mr.  Kay, 
after  proving  by  figures  the  great  and  progressive  increase  of  the  consumption 
of  food  and  clothing  per  head  of  the  population,  from  which  he  justly  infers  a 
corresponding  increase  of  the  productiveness  of  agriculture,  continues :  "  The 
division  of  estates  has,  since  1831,  proceeded  more  and  more  throughout  the 


In  Flanders,  according  to  Mr.  Fauche,  the  British  Consul 
at  Ostend,  *  "  farmers  sons  and  those  who  have  the  means 
to  become  fanners'  will  delay  their  marriage  until  they  get 
possession  of  a  farm."  Once  a  farmer,  the  next  object  is  to 
become  a  proprietor.  "  The  first  thing  a  Dane  does  with 
his  savings,"  says  Mr.  Browne,  the  Consul  at  Copenhagen,+ 
"  is  to  purchase  a  clock,  then  a  horse  and  cow,  which  he 
hires  out,  and  which  pays  a  good  interest.  Then  his  ambi- 
tion is  to  become  a  petty  proprietor,  and  this  class  of  per- 
sons is  better  off  than  any  in  Denmark.  Indeed,  I  know 
of  no  people  in  any  country  who  have  more  easily  within 
their  reach  all  that  is  really  necessary  for  life  than  this  class, 
which  is  very  large  in  comparison  with  that  of  labourers." 

But  the  experience  which  most  decidedly  contradicts 
the  asserted  tendency  of  peasant  proprietorship  to  produce 
excess  of  population,  is  the  case  of  France.  In  that  country 
the  experiment  is  not  tried  in  the  most  favourable  circum- 
stances, a  large  proportion  of  the  properties  being  too  small. 
The  number  of  landed  proprietors  in  France  is  not  exactly 
ascertained,  but  on  no  estimate  does  it  fall  much  short  of 
five  millions ;  which,  on  the  lowest  calculation  of  the  num- 
ber of  persons  of  a  family  (and  for  France  it  ought  to  be  a 
low  calculation),  shows  much  more  than  half  the  population 
as  either  possessing,  or  entitled  to  inherit,  landed  property. 
A  majority  of  the  properties  are  so  small  as  not  to  afford  a 
subsistence  to  the  proprietors,  of  whom,  according  to  some 
computations,  as  many  as  three  millions  are  obliged  to  eke 
out  their  means  of  support  either  by  working  for  hire,  or  by 
taking  additional  land,  generally  on  metayer  tenure. 
When  the  property  possessed  is  not  sufficient  to  relieve  the 
possessor  from  dependence  on  wages,  the  condition  of  a  pro- 
prietor loses  much  of  its  characteristic  efficacy  as  a  check 

country.  There  are  now  many  more  small  independent  proprietors  than  for- 
merly. Yet,  however  many  complaints  of  pauperism  are  heard  among  the 
dependent  labourers,  we  never  hear  it  complained  that  pauperism  is  increasing 
among  the  peasant  proprietors.1' — Kay,  i.  262-6. 

*  In  a  communication  to  the  Commissioners  of  the  Poor  Law  Enquiry,  p.  640 
of  their  Foreign  Communications,  Appendix  F  to  their  First  Report 
,     f  Ibid.  268. 


BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VH.     $4. 

to  over-population  :  and  if  the  prediction  so  often  made  in 
England  had  been  realized,  and  France  had  become  a 
"  pauper  warren,"  the  experiment  would  have  proved  noth- 
ing against  the  tendencies  of  the  same  system  of  agricul- 
tural economy  in  other  circumstances.  But  what  is  the 
fact  ?  That  the  rate  of  increase  of  the  French  population 
is  the  slowest  in  Europe.  During  the  generation  which  the 
Revolution  raised  from  the  extreme  of  hopeless  wretched- 
ness to  sudden  abundance,  a  great  increase  of  population 
took  place.  But  a  generation  has  grown  up,  which,  having 
been  born  in  improved  circumstances,  has  not  learnt  to  be 
miserable ;  and  upon  them  the  spirit  of  thrift  operates  most 
conspicuously,  in  keeping  the  increase  of  population  within 
the  increase  of  national  wealth.  In  a  table,  drawn  up  by 
Professor  Ran,*  of  the  rate  of  annual  increase  of  the  popu- 
lations of  various  countries,  that  of  France,  from  1817  to 
1827,  is  stated  at  f£s  per  cent,  that  of  England  during  a 
similar  decennial  period  being  1 ,-%  annually,  and  that  of  the 
United  States  nearly  3.    According  to  the  official  returns  as 

*  The  following  is  the  table  (see  p.  168  of  the  Belgian  translation  of  Mr. 
Rau's  large  work) : 

Per  cent. 
United  States.  .  .  .  1820-30  .  .  2-92 

Hungary  (according  to  Rohrer)     2*40 

England 1811-21  .  .  1*78 

44  1821-31  .  .  1*60 

Austria  (Rohrer) 1*30 

Prussia 1816-27  .  .  154 

44        1820-30  .  .  1*37 

44        1821-31  .  .   127 

Netherlands    .  .  .  .  1821-28  .  .  1*28 

But  the  number  given  by  Moreau  de  Jonnes,  he  adds,  is  not  entitled  to  im- 
plicit confidence. 

The  following  table  given  by  M.  Quetelet  (Sur  V Homme  et  le  Developpement 
de  ses  Faculte*,  vol.  i.  ch.  7)  also  on  the  authority  of  Rau,  contains  additional 
matter,  and  differs  in  some  items  from  the  preceding,  probably  from  the  author's 
having  taken,  in  those  cases,  an  average  of  different  years : 

Per  cent. 

Scotland 1821-31  .  .   1*30 

'Saxony 1815-30  .  .  1-15 

Baden  .  .  .  1820-30  (Heunisch)  113 

Bavaria 1814-28  .  .  1*08 

Naples 1814-24  .  .  0'83 

France   .  .  .  1817-27  (Mathieu)  0-63 
and  more  recently  (Moreau  de 


Per  cent. 

Per  cent. 

Per  cent. 

Ireland    . 

.     .  245 

Rhenish  Prussia  1*33 

Naples     . 

.  0-83 

Hungary . 

.     .  2-40 

Austria    .     .     .1*30 

France     . 

.     .  0-68 

Spain .     . 

.     .  166 

Bavaria   .     .     .  1»08 

Sweden    . 

.     .  0*58 

England  . 

.     .  1*65 

Netherlands.    ..  0  94 


.  0*45 

A  very  carefully  prepared  statement,  by  M.  Legoyt,  in  the  Journal  de* 



analyzed  by  M.  Legoyt,*  the  increase  of  the  population, 
which  from  1801  to  1806  was  at  the  rate  of- 1-28  per  cent 
annually,  averaged  only  0*47  per  cent  from  1806  to  1831 ; 
from  1831  to  1836  it  averaged  0*60  per  cent ;  from  1836  to 
1841,  0*41  per  cent,  and  from  1841  to  1846, 0*68  per  cent,  f 
At  the  census  of  1851  the  rate  of  annual  increase  shown 
was  only  1*08  per  cent  in  the  five  yeare,  or  0*21  annually ; 
and  at  the  census  of  1856  only  0*71  per  cent  in  five  years, 
or  0*14  annually  :  so  that,  in  the  words  of  M.  de  Lavergne, 
"la  population  ne  s'accroit  presque  plus  en  France.":): 
Even  this  slow  increase  is  wholly  the  effect  of  a  dimunition 
of  deaths ;  the  number  of  births  not  increasing  at  all,  while 
the  proportion  of  the  births  to  the  population  is  constantly 
diminishing.§    This   slow   growth  of  the   numbers  of  the 

Economises  for  May  1847,  which  brings  up  the  results  for  France  to  the  census 
of  the  preceding  year  1846,  is  summed  up  in  the  following  table : 


to  the 

According  to 

the  excess 

of  births  over 



to  the 

According  to 

the  excess 

of  birtlsover 


Sweden  . 
Norway  . 
Russia  .  . 
Austria.  . 
Prussia.  . 
Saxony.  . 
Hanover  . 
Bavaria   . 

per  cent. 


per  cent. 

Holland.  .  . 
Belgium.  .  . 
Sardinia.   .  . 
Great  Britain 
of  Ireland) 
France   .  .  . 
United  States 

per  cent. 


I   195 


per  cent. 


*  Journal  des  Economises  for  March  and  May  1847. 

f  M.  Legoyt  is  of  opinion  that  the  population  was  understated  in  1841,  and 
the  increase  between  that  time  and  1846  consequently  overstated,  and  that  the 
real  increase  during  the  whole  period  was  something  intermediate  between  the 
last  two  averages,  or  not  much  more  than  one  in  two  hundred. 

J  Journal  des  Economistes  for  February  1 847. 

§  The  following  are  the  numbers  given  by  M.  Legoyt : 

(  annual  number  )  (  of  thepo- 

From   1824  to  1828  \       of  births       \  981,914,  being  1  m  32-30  \  pulation 

„      1829  to   1833  „ 

„      1834  to   1838 

„      1839   to   1843  „ 

v  „      1844   &    1845  „ 

In  the  last  two  years  the  births,  according  to  M.  Legoyt,  were  swelled  by  the 


„      1  in  84-00 


„      1  in  34*39 


„      1  in  35-27 


„     1  in  35-58 

368  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VII.     §4. 

people,  while  capital  increases  much  more  rapidly,  has 
caused  a  noticeable  improvement  in  the  condition  of  the 
labouring  class.  The  circumstances  of  that  portion  of  the 
class  who  are  landed  proprietors  are  not  easily  ascertained 
with  precision,  being  of  course  extremely  variable;  but  the 
mere  labourers,  who  derived  no  direct  benefit  from  the 
changes  in  landed  property  which  took  place  at  the  Revo- 
lution, have  unquestionably  much  improved  in  condition 
since  that  period.*    Dr.  Rau  testifies  to  a  similar  fact  in 

effects  of  a  considerable  immigration.  •*  Cette  diminution  des  naissances,"  he 
observes,  u  en  presence  d'un  accroissement  constant,  quoique  peu  rapide,  de  la 
population  generate  et  des  manages,  ne  peat  etre  attribue  qu'aux  progres  de 
l'esprit  d'ordre  et  de  prevision  dans  les  families.  C'est  d'ailleurs  la  consequence 
prevue  de  nos  institutions  civiles  et  sociales,  qui,  en  amenant  cbaque  jour  une 
plus  grande  subdivision  de  la  fortune  territoriale  et  mobiliere  de  la  France,  deve- 
loppent  au  sein  des  populations  les  instincts  de  conservation  et  de  bienetre." 

In  four  departments,  among  which  are  two  of  the  most  thriving  in  Norman- 
dy, the  deaths  even  then  exceeded  the  births.  The  la3t  census,  that  of  1856, 
exhibits  the  remarkable  fact  of  a  positive  diminution  in  the  population  of  54  out 
of  the  86  departments.  A  significant  comment  on  the  pauper-warren  theory. 
See  M.  de  Lavergne's  analysis  of  the  returns. 

*  "  Les  classes  de  notre  population  qui  n'ont  que  leur  salaire,  celles  qui,  par 
cette  raison,  sont  les  plus  ex  pose  es  a  l'indigence,  sont  aujourd'hui  beaucoup 
mieux  pourvues  des  objets  ndcessaires  a  la  nourriture,  au  logement  et  au  vete- 
ment,  qu'elles  ne  l'etaient  au  commencement  du  siecle.  ...  On  peut  appuyer 

[ce  fait]  du  temoignage  de  toutes  les  personnes  qui  ont  souvenir  de  la  premiere 
des  Ipoques  coraparees.  .  .  .  S'il  restait  des  doutes  a  cet  egard,  on  pourrait 

facilement  les  dissiper  en  consultant  les  anciens  ctiltivateurs  et  les  anciens 
ouvriers,  ainsi  que  nous  l'avons  fait  nous-memes  dans  diverses  localites,  sans 
rencontrer  un  seul  temoignage  contradictoire ;  on  peut  invoquer  aussi  les  ren- 
seignemens  receuillis  a  ce  sujet  par  un  observateur  exact,  M.  Villerme  (Tahleau 
de  VEtat  Physique  et  Moral  des  Ouvriers,  liv.  ii.  ch.  l.)M    From  an  intelligent 
work  published  in  1846,  Recherche*  sur  les  Causes  de  V  Indigence,  p&r  A.  Cle- 
ment, pp.  84-5.     The  same  writer  speaks  (p.  118)  of  ula  hausse  considerable 
qui  s'est  manifestee  depuis  1789  dans  le  taux  du  salaire  de  nos  cultfvateurs 
journaliers ; "  and  adds  the  following  evidence  of  a  higher  standard  of  habitual 
requirements,  even  in  that  portion  of  the  town  population,  the  state  of  which  is 
usually  represented  as  most  deplorable.      "Depuis  quinze   a  vingt  ans,  un 
changement  considerable  s'est  manifesto  dans  les  habitudes  des  ouvriera  de  nos 
villes  manufacturiere :  ils  depensent  aujourd'hui  beaucoup  plus  que  par  le  pass£ 
pour  le  vetement  et  la  parure.  .....  Les  ouvriers  de  oertaines  classes,  tela 

que  les  anciens  canuts  de  Lyon,"  (according  to  all  representations,  like  their 


the  case  of  another  country  in  which  the  subdivision  of  the 
land  is  probably  excessive,  the  Palatinate.* 

I  am  not  aware  of  a  single  authentic  instance  which 
supports  the  assertion  that  rapid  multiplication  is  promoted 

counterpart,  our  handloom  weavers,  the  very  worst  paid  class  of  artizans,)  "  ne 
se  montrent  plus  comme  autrefois  couverts  de  sales  haillons."    (Page  164.) 

The  preceding  statements  were  given  in  former  editions  of  this  work,  being 
the  best  to  which  I  had  at  the  time  access ;  but  evidence,  both  of  a  more  recent, 
and  of  a  more  minute  and  precise  character,  will  now  be  found  in  the  important 
work  of  M.  Leonee  de  Lavergne,  Econwnie  Rurale  de  la  France  depuis  1789. 
According  to  that  pains-taking,  well-informed,  and  most  impartial  enquirer,  the 
average  daily  wages  of  a  French  labourer  have  risen,  since  the  commencement 
of  the  Revolution,  in  the  ratio  of  19  to  80,  while,  owing  to  the  more  con- 
stant employment,  the  total  earnings  have  increased  in  a  still  greater  ratio, 
not  short  of  double.  The  following  are  the  words  of  M.  de  Lavergne  (2nd  ed. 
p.  67): 

"  Arthur  Young  lvalue  a  dix-neuf  sol*  le  prix  moyen  de  la  journ6e  du  travail, 
qui  doit  &tre  aujourd'hui  dun  fraric  cinquante  centimes,  et  cette  augmentation 
ne  reprcsente  encore  qu'une  partie  du  gain  realise.  Bien  que  la  nation  rurale 
soit  restee  a  peu  pres  la  m£me,  Texc^dant  de  population  survenu  depuis  1789 
s'etant  concentre  dans  les  villes,  le  nombre  effectif  des  journdes  de  travail  a 
grossi,  d'abord  parce  que  la  vie  moyenne  s^tant  allongce,  le  nombre  des  hommes 
valides  s'est  &eve\  et  ensuite  parce  que  le  travail  est  mieux  organise1,  soit  par  la 
suppression  de  plusieurs  fetes  chomdes,  Boit  par  le  seul  effet  d'une  demande  plus 
active.  En  tenant  compte  de  Taccroissement  du  nombre  des  journees,  le  gain 
annuel  de  Fouvrier  rural  doit  avoir  doubl6.  .  .  .  Cette  augmentation  dans  le 
salaire  se  traduit  pour  Touvrier  en  une  augmentation  au  moins  correspondante 
de  bien-6tre,  puisque  le  prix  des  principaux  objets  necessaircs  a  la  vie  a  peu 
changg,  et  que  celui  des  objets  fabriqu6s,  des  tissus,  par  cxemple,  a  sensiblement 
baisse\  Inhabitation  est  egalement  devenue  meilleure,  sinon  partout,  du  moins 
dans  la  plupart  de  nos  provinces." 

M.  de  Lavergne's  estimate  of  the  average  amount  of  a  day's  wages  is  ground- 
ed on  a  careful  comparison,  in  this  and  all  other  economical  points  of  view,  of 
all  the  different  provinces  of  France. 

*  In  his  little  book  on  the  Agriculture  of  the  Palatinate,  already  cited.  He 
says  that  the  daily  wages  of  labour,  which  during  the  last  years  of  the  war  were 
unusually  high,  and  so  continued  until  1817,  afterwards  sank  to  a  lower  money- 
rate,  but  that  the  prices  of  many  commodities  having  fallen  in  a  still  greater 
proportion,  the  condition  of  the  people  was  unequivocally  improved.  The  food 
given  to  farm  labourers  by  their  employers  has  also  greatly  improved  in  quantity 
and  quality.  "  Sie  heutigen  Tages  bedeutend  besser  ist,  als  vor  ungefahr  40 
Jahren,  wo  das  Gesinde  weniger  Fleisch  und  Mehlspeisen,  keinen  Kase  zum 
Brote  u.  dgl.  erhielt."  (p.  20.)  "  Such  an  increase  of  wages "  (adds  the  Pro- 
fessor) "  which  must  be  estimated  not  in  money,  but  in  the  quantity  of  necessa- 

870  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VII.     §*. 

by  peasant  properties.  Instances  may  undoubtedly  be  cited 
of  its  not  being  prevented  by  them,  and  one  of  tbe  princi- 
pal of  these  is  Belgium ;  the  prospects  of  which,  in  respect 
to  population,  are  at  present  a  matter  of  considerable  un- 
certainty. Belgium  has  the  most  rapidly  increasing  popula- 
tion on  the  Continent ;  and  when  the  circumstances  of  the 
country  require,  as  they  must  soon  do,  that  this  rapidity 
should  be  checked,  there  will  be  a  considerable  strength  of 
existing  habit  to  be  broken  through.  One  of  the  unfavour- 
able circumstances  is  the  great  power  possessed  over  the 
minds  of  the  people  by  the  Catholic  priesthood,  whose  in- 
fluence is  everywhere  strongly  exerted  against  restraining 
population.  As  yet,  however,  it  must  be  remembered  that 
the  indefatigable  industry  and  great  agricultural  skill  of 
the  people  have  rendered  the  existing  rapidity  of  increase 
practically  innocuous  ;  the  great  number  of  large  estates  still 
undivided  affording  by  their  gradual  dismemberment,  a  re- 
source for  the  necessary  augmentation  of  the  gross  produce ; 
and  there  are,  besides,  many  large  manufacturing  towns, 
and  mining  and  coal  districts,  which  attract  and  employ  a 
considerable  portion  of  the  annual  increase  of  population. 

§  5.  But  even  where  peasant  properties  are  accompanied 
by  an  excess  of  numbers,  this  evil  is  not  necessarily  attend- 
ed with  the  additional  economical  disadvantage  of  too  great 
a  subdivision  of  the  land.  It  does  not  follow  because  landed 
property  is  minutely  divided,  that  farms  will  be  so.  As 
large  properties  are  perfectly  compatible  with  small  farms, 
so  are  small  properties  with  farms  of  an  adequate  size;  and 
a  subdivision  of  occupancy  is  not  an  inevitable  consequence 
of  even  undue  multiplication  among  peasant  proprietors. 

ries  and  conveniences  which  the  labourer  is  enabled  to  procure,  is  by  universal 
admission,  a  proof  that  the  mass  of  capital  must  have  increased."  It  proves  not 
only  this,  but  also  that  the  labouring  population  has  not  increased  in  an  equal 
degree ;  and  that  in  this  instance  as  well  as  in  France,  the  morcellement  of  the 
land,  even  when  excessive,  has  been  compatible  with  a  strengthening  of  the  pru- 
dential checks  to  population. 


Ab  might  be  expected  from  their  admirable  intelligence  in 
things  relating  to  their  occupation,  the  Flemish  peasantry 
have  long  learnt  this  lesson.  "  The  habit  of  not  dividing 
properties,"  says  Dr.  Kau,*  "  and  the  opinion  that  this  is 
advantageous,  have  been  so  completely  preserved  in  Flan- 
ders, that  even  now,  when  a  peasant  dies  leaving  several 
children,  they  do  not  think  of  dividing  his  patrimony, 
though'it  be  neither  entailed  nor  settled  in  trust ;  they  pre- 
fer selling  it  entire,  and  sharing  the  proceeds,  considering  it 
as  a  jewel  which  loses  its  value  when  it  is  divided."  That 
the  same  feeling  must  prevail  widely  even  in  France,  is 
shown  by  the  great  frequency  of  sales  of  land,  amounting  in 
ten  years  to  a  fourth  part  of  the  whole  soil  of  the  country ; 
and  M.  Passy,  in  his  tract  "  On  the  Changes  in  the  Agri- 
cultural Condition  of  the  Department  of  the  Eure  since  the 
year  1800,"t  states  other  facts  tending  to  the  same  conclu- 
sion. "  The  example,"  says  he,  "  of  this  department  attests 
that  there  does  not  exist,  as  some  writers  have  imagined, 
between  the  distribution  of  property  and  that  of  cultivation, 
a  connexion  which  tends  invincibly  to  assimilate  them.  In 
no  portion  of  it  have  changes  of  ownership  had  a  percepti- 
ble influence  on  the  size  of  holdings.  While,  in  districts  of 
small  farming,  lands  belonging  to  the  same  owner  are  ordi- 
narily distributed  among  many  tenants,  so  neither  is  it  un- 
common, in  places  where  the  grande  vulture  prevails,  for 
the  same  farmer  to  rent  the  lands  of  several  proprietors.  In 
the  plains  of  Vexin,  in  particular,  many  active  and  rich 
cultivators  do  not  content  themselves  with  a  single  farm ; 
others  add  to  the  lands  of  their  principal  holding,  all  those 
in  the  neighbourhood  which  they  are  able  to  hire,  and  in 
this  manner  make  up  a  total  extent  which  in  some  cases 

*  Page  834  of  the  Brussels  translation.  He  cites  as  an  authority,  Schwerz, 
Landwirthschaftlieke  Mittheilungen,  i.  185. 

f  One  of  the  important  papers  which  have  appeared  in  the  Journal  des 
Bconomtite*)  the  organ  of  the  principal  political  economists  of  France,  and  doing 
great  and  increasing  honour  to  their  knowledge  and  ability.  M.  Passy's  essay 
has  been  reprinted  separately  as  a  pamphlet. 

372  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VII.     §5. 

reaches  or  exceeds  two  hundred  hectares"  (five  hundred 
English  acres).  "The  more  the  estates  are  dismembered, 
the  more  frequent  do  this  sort  of  arrangements  become : 
and  as  they  conduce  to  the  interest  of  all  concerned,  it  is 
probable  that  time  will  confirm  them." 

"  In  some  places,"  says  M.  de  Lavergne,*  "  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  Paris,  for  example,  where  the  advantages  of 
the  grande  culture  become  evident,  the  size  of  farm&  tends 
to  increase,  several  farms  are  thrown  together  into  one,  and 
farmers  enlarge  their  holdings  by  renting  parcelles  from  a 
number  of  different  proprietors.  Elsewhere  farms  as  well 
as  properties  of  too  great  extent  tend  to  division.  Cultivar 
tion  spontaneously  finds  out  the  organization  which  suits  it 
best."  It  is  a  striking  fact,  stated  by  the  same  eminent 
writer,f  that  the  departments  which  have  the  greatest  num- 
ber of  small  cotes  fonritres,  are  the  Nord,  the  Somme,  the 
Pas  de  Calais,  the  Seine  Inferieure,  the  Aisne,  and  the 
Oise ;  all  of  them  among  the  richest  and  best  cultivated, 
and  the  first-mentioned  of  them  the  very  richest  and  best 
cultivated,  in  France. 

Undue  subdivision,  and  excessive  smallness  of  holdings, 
are  undoubtedly  a  prevalent  evil  in  some  countries  of  peas- 
ant proprietors  and  particularly  in  parts  of  Germany  and 
France.  The  governments  of  Bavaria  and  Nassau  have 
thought  it  necessary  to  impose  a  legal  limit  to  subdivision, 
and  the  Prussian  Government  unsuccessfully  proposed  the 
same  measure  to  the  Estates  of  its  Rhenish  Provinces.  But 
I  do  not  think  it  will  anywhere  be  found  that  the  petite  cul- 
ture is  the  system  of  the  peasants,  and  the  grande  culture 
that  of  the  great  landlords :  on  the  contrary,  wherever  the 
small  properties  are  divided  among  too  many  proprietors,  I 
believe  it  to  be  true  that  the  large  properties  also  are  par- 

*  Economie  Rurale  de  la  France,  p.  455. 

f  P.  111.  See,  for  facts  of  a  similar  tendency,  pp.  141,  250,  and  other  pas- 
sages of  the  same  important  treatise ;  which,  on  the  other  hand,  equally  abound* 
with  evidence  of  the  mischievous  effect  of  subdivision  when  too  minute,  or  when 
the  nature  of  the  soil  and  of  its  products  is  not  suitable  to  it. 


cfelled  out  among  too  many  farmers,  and  that  the  cause  is 
the  same  in  both  cases,  a  backward  state  of  capital,  skill, 
and  agricultural  enterprise.  There  is  reason  to  believe  that 
the  subdivision  in  France  is  not  more  excessive  than  is  ac- 
counted for  by  this  cause ;  that  it  is  diminishing,  not  in- 
creasing ;  and  that  the  terror  expressed  in  some  quarters,  at 
the  progress  of  the  morcellement^  is  one  of  the  most  ground- 
less of  real  or  pretended  panics.* 

If  peasant  properties  have  any  effect  in  promoting  sub- 
division beyond  the  degree  which  corresponds  to  the  agri- 
cultural practices  of  the  country,  and  which  is  customary  on 
its  large  estates,  the  cause  must  lie  in  one  of  the  salutary 
influences  of  the  system ;  the  eminent  degree  in  which  it 
promotes  providence  on  the  part  of  those  who,  not  being 

*  Mr.  Laing,  in  his  latest  publication,  "  Observations  on  the  Social  and 
Political  State  of  the  European  People  in  1848  and  1849/'  a  book  devoted  to  the 
glorification  of  England,  and  the  disparagement  of  everything  elsewhere  which 
others,  or  even  he  himself  in  former  works,  had  thought  worthy  of  praise,  argues 
that  "  although  the  land  itself  is  not  divided  and  subdivided  "  on  the  death  of  the 
proprietor,  u  the  value  of  the  land  is,  and  with  effects  almost  as  prejudicial  to 
social  progress.  The  value  of  each  share  becomes  a  debt  or  burden  upon  the 
land."  Consequently  the  condition  of  the  agricultural  population  is  retrograde ; 
"each  generation  is  worse  off  than  the  preceding  one,  although  the  land  is 
neither  less  nor  more  divided,  nor  worse  cultivated."  And  this  he  gives  as  the 
explanation  of  the  great  indebtedness  of  the  small  landed  proprietors  in  France 
(pp.  97-9.)  If  these  statements  were  correct,  they  would  invalidate  all  which 
Mr.  Laing  affirmed  so  positively  in  other  writings,  and  repeats  in  this,  respecting 
the  peculiar  efficacy  of  the  possession  of  land  in  preventing  over-population. 
But  he  is  entirely  mistaken  as  to  the  matter  of  fact.  In  the  only  country  of 
which  he  speaks  from  actual  residence,  Norway,  he  does  not  pretend  that  the 
condition  of  the  peasant  proprietors  is  deteriorating.  The  facts  already  cited 
prove  that  in  respect  to  Belgium,  Germany,  and  Switzerland,  the  assertion  is 
equally  wide  of  the  mark ;  and  what  has  been  shown  respecting  the  slow  increase 
of  population  in  France,  demonstrates  that  if  the  condition  of  the  French  peasant- 
ry was  deteriorating,  it  could  not  be  from  the  cause  supposed  by  Mr.  Laing. 
The  truth  I  believe  to  be  that  in  every  country  without  exception,  in  which 
peasant  properties  prevail,  the  condition  of  the  people  is  improving,  the  produce 
of  the  land  and  even  its  fertility  increasing,  and  from  the  larger  surplus  which 
remains  after  feeding  the  agricultural  classes,  the  towns  are  augmenting  both  in 
population  and-  in  the  well-being  of  their  inhabitants.  On  this  question,  as  well 
as  on  that  of  the  morceliement,  so  far  as  regards  France,  additional  facts  and 
observations,  brought  up  to  a  later  date,  will  be  found  in  the  Appendix. 

374  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VII.     §5. 

yet  peasant  proprietors,  hope  to  become  so.  In  England, 
where  the  labourer  has  no  investment  for  his  savings  but 
the  savings  bank,  and  no  position  to  which  he  can  rise  by 
any  exercise  of  economy,  except  perhaps  that  of  a  petty 
shopkeeper,  with  its  chances  of  bankruptcy,  there  is  nothing 
at  all  resembling  the  intense  spirit  of  thrift  which  takes 
possession  of  one  who,  from  being  a  day  labourer,  can  raise 
himself  by  saving  to  the  condition  of  a  landed  proprietor. 
According  to  almost  all  authorities,  the  real  cause  of  the 
morcellement  is  the  higher  price  which  can  be  obtained  for 
land  by  selling  it  to  the  peasantry,  as  an  investment  for 
their  small  accumulations,  than  by  disposing  of  it  entire  to 
some  rich  purchaser  who  has  no  object  but  to  live  on  its  in- 
come without  improving  it.  The  hope  of  obtaining  such 
an  investment  is  the  most  powerful  of  inducements,  to  those 
who  are  without  land,  to  practise  the  industry,  frugality, 
and  self-restraint,  on  which  their  success  in  this  object  of 
ambition  is  dependent. 

As  the  result  of  this  enquiry  into  the  direct  operation 
and  indirect  influences  of  peasant  properties,  I  conceive  it 
to  be  established,  that  there  is  no  necessary  connexion  be- 
tween this  form  of  landed  property  and  an  imperfect  state 
of  the  arts  of  production ;  that  it  is  favourable  in  quite  as 
many  respects  as  it  is  unfavourable,  to  the  most  effective  use 
of  the  powers  of  the  soil ;  that  no  other  existing  state  of 
agricultural  economy  has  so  beneficial  an  effect  on  the  in- 
dustry, the  intelligence,  the  frugality,  and  prudence  of  the 
population,  nor  tends  on  the  whole  so  much  to  discourage 
an  improvident  increase  of  their  numbers ;  and  that  no  ex- 
isting state,  therefore,  is  on  the  whole  so  favourable,  both  to 
their  moral  and  their  physical  welfare.  Compared  with  the 
English  system  of  cultivation  by  hired  labour,  it  must  be 
regarded  as  eminently  beneficial   to  the  labouring  class.* 

*  French  history  strikingly  confirms  these  conclusions.  Three  times  during 
the  course  of  ages  the  peasantry  have  been  purchasers  of  land ;  and  these  tiroes 
immediately  preceded  the  three  principal  eras  of  French  agricultural  prosperity. 

u  Aux  temps  les  plus  mauvais,"  says  the  historian  Michelet,  (Le  Penple,  Ire 


We  are  not  on  the  present  occasion  called  upon  to  compare 
it  with  the  joint  ownership  of  the  land  by  associations  of 

partie,  cb.  1,)  "  aux  moments  de  pauvrete  universelle,  ou  le  riche  meme  est 
pauvre  et  vend  par  force,  alors  le  pauvre  ae  trouve  en  6tat  d'acheter ;  nul  ac- 
quereur  ne  se  presentant,  le  paysan  en  guenilles  arrive  avec  sa  piece  d'or,  et  il 
acquiert  un  bout  de  terre.  €es  moments  de  desaatre  ou  le  paysan  a  pu  acquerir 
la  terre  a  bon  march£,  ont  toujours  et6  suivis  d'un  elan  subit  de  fecondite  qu'on 
ne  s'expliquait  pas.  Vers  1500,  par  exemple,  quand  la  France  epuisee  par  Louis 
XI.  semble  achever  sa  ruine  en  Italie,  la  noblesse  qui  part  est  obligee  de  ven- 
dre ;  la  terre,  passant  k  de  nouvelles  mains,  refleurit  tout-a-coup ;  on  travaille, 
on  batit.  Ce  beau  moment  (dans  le  style  de  l'histoire  monarchique)  s'est  appele 
le  bon  Louis  X1L 

"  D  dure  peu,  malheureusement.  La  terre  est  a  peine  remise  en  bon  6tat, 
le  fisc  fond  dessus;  les  guerres  de  religion  arrivent,  qui  semblent  raser  tout 
jusqu'au  sol,  miseres  horribles,  famines  atroces  ou  les  meres  mangeaient  leurs 
enfants.  Qui  croirait  que  le  pays  se  relcve  de  la  ?  Eh  bien,  la  guerre  finit  a 
peine,  de  ce  champ  ravage,  de  cette  chaumiere  encore  noire  et  brulee,  sort 
Tepargne  du  paysan.  II  achete ;  en  dix  ans,  la  France  a  change*  de  face ;  en 
vingt  ou  trente,  tous  les  biens  ont  double,  triple  de  valeur.  Ce  moment  encore 
baptise  d'un  nom  royal,  s'appelle  le  bon  Henri  IV.  et  le  grand  Richelieu." 

Of  the  third  era  it  is  needless  again  to  speak :  it  was  that  of  the  Revolution. 

Whoever  would  study  the  reverse  of  the  picture,  may  compare  these  historic 
periods,  characterized  by  the  dismemberment  of  large  and  the  construction  of 
small  properties,  with  the  wide-spread  national  suffering  which  accompanied,  and 
the  permanent  deterioration  of  the  condition  of  the  labouring  classes  which  fol- 
lowed, the  u  clearing "  away  of  small  yeomen  to  make  room  for  large  grazing 
farms,  which  was  the  grand  economical  event  of  English  history  during  the  six- 
teenth century. 



§  1.  From  the  case  in  which  the  produce  of  land  and 
labour  belongs  undividedly  to  the  labourer,  we  proceed  to 
the  cases  in  which  it  is  divided,  but  between  two  classes 
only,  the  labourers  and  the  landowners ;  the  character  of 
capitalists  merging  in  the  one  or  the  other,  as  the  case  may 
be.  It  is  possible  indeed  to  conceive  that  there  might  be 
only  two  classes  of  persons  to  share  the  produce,  and  that  a 
class  of  capitalists  might  be  one  of  them ;  the  character  of 
labourer  and  that  of  landowner  being  united  to  form  the 
other.  This  might  occur  in  two  ways.  The  labourers, 
though  owning  the  land,  might  let  it  to  a  tenant,  and  work 
under  him  as  hired  servants.  But  this  arrangement,  even 
in  the  very  rare  cases  which  could  give  rise  to  it,  would  not 
require  any  particular  discussion,  since  it  would  not  differ 
in  any  material  respect  from  the  threefold  system  of  labour- 
ers, capitalists,  and  landlords.  The  other  case  is  the  not 
uncommon  one,  in  which  a  peasant  proprietor  owns  and 
cultivates  the  land,  but  raises  the  little  capital  required,  by 
a  mortgage  upon  it.  Neither  does  this  case  present  any 
important  peculiarity.  There  is  but  one  person,  the  peas- 
ant himself,  who  has  any  right  or  power  of  interference  in 
the  management.  He  pays  a  fixed  annuity  as  interest  to  a 
capitalist,  as  he  pays  another  fixed  sum  in  taxes  to  the  gov- 
ernment. Without  dwelling  further  on  these  cases,  we  pass 
to  those  which  present  marked  features  of  peculiarity. 

When  the  two  parties  sharing  in  the  produce  are  the 


labourer  or  labourers  and  the  landowner,  it  is  not  a  very 
material  circumstance  in  the  case,  which  of  the  two  furnishes 
the  stock,  or  whether,  as  sometimes  happens,  they  furnish 
it,  in  a  determinate  proportion,  between  them.  The  essen- 
tial difference  does  not  lie  in  tffis,  but  in  another  circum- 
stance, namely,  whether  the  division  of  the  produce  between 
the  two  is  regulated  by  custom  or  by  competition.  We  will 
begin  with  the  former  case ;  of  which  the  metayer  culture  is 
the  principal,  and  in  Europe  almost  the  sole,  example. 

The  principle  of  the  metayer  system  is  that  the  labourer, 
or  peasant,  makes  his  engagement  directly  with  the  land- 
owner, and  pays,  not  a  fixed  rent,  either  in  money  or  in 
kind,  but  a  certain  proportion  of  the  produce,  or  rather  of 
what  remains  of  the  produce  after  deducting  what  is  con- 
sidered necessary  to  keep  up  the  stock.  The  proportion  is 
usually,  as  the  name  imports,  one-half;  but  in  several  dis- 
tricts in  Italy  it  is  two-thirds.  Respecting  the  supply  of 
stock,  the  custom  varies  from  place  to  place ;  in  some  places 
the  landlord  furnishes  the  whole,  in  others  half,  in  others 
some  particular  part,  as  for  instance  the  cattle  and  seed,  the 
labourer  providing  the  implements.*  "This  connexion," 
says  Sismondi,  speaking  chiefly  of  Tuscany,f  "is  often  the 

*  In  France,  before  the  Revolution,  according  to  Arthur  Young  (i.  403) 
there  was  great  local  diversity  in  this  respect.  In  Champagne,  **  the  landlord 
commonly  finds  half  the  cattle  and  half  the  seed,  and  the  metayer,  labour,  imple- 
ments, and  taxes;  but  in  some  districts  the  landlord  bears  a  share  of  these.  In 
Roussillon,  the  landlord  pays  half  the  taxes ;  and  in  Guienne,  from  Auch  to 
Fleuran,  many  landlords  pay  all.  Near  Aguillon,  on  the  Garonne,  the  metayers 
furnish  half  the  cattle.  At  Nangis,  in  the  Isle  of  France,  I  met  with  an  agree- 
ment for  the  landlord  to  furnish  live  stock,  implements,  harness,  and  taxes ;  the 
metayer  found  labour  and  his  own  capitation  tax :  the  landlord  repaired  the 
house  and  gates;  the  metayer  the  windows:  the  landlord  provided  seed  the  first 
year,  the  metayer  the  last ;  in  the  intervening  years  they  supply  half  and  half. 
In  the  Bourbonnois  the  landlord  finds  all  sorts  of  live  stock,  yet  the  metayer  sells, 
changes,  and  buys  at  his  will;  the  steward  keeping  an  account  of  these  muta- 
tions, for  the  landlord  has  half  the  product  of  sales,  and  pays  half  the  purchases.17 
In  Piedmont,  he  says,  "the  landlord  commonly  pays  the  taxes  and  repairs  the 
buildings,  and  the  tenant  provides  cattle,  implements,  and  seed.11  (II.  151.) 
<  f  Etude*  sur  ? Economic  Politique,  6me  essai :  De  la  Condition  dee  CuHiva- 
teurs  en  Toscane. 

378  BOOK  IL     CHAPTER  VIII.     §2. 

Bubject  of  a  contract,  to  definfe  certain  services  and  certain 
occasional  payments  to  which  the  metayer  binds  himself; 
nevertheless  the  differences  in  the  obligations  of  owe  such 
contract  and  another  are  inconsiderable ;  usage  governs  alike 
all  these  engagements,  and  supplies  the  stipulations  which 
have  not  been  expressed :  and  the  landlord  who  attempted 
to  depart  from  usage,  who  exacted  more  than  his  neighbour, 
who  took  for  the  basis  of  the  agreement  anything  but  the 
equal  division  of  the  crops,  would  render  himself  so  odious, 
he  would  be  so  sure  of  not  obtaining  a  metayer  who  was  an 
honest  man,  that  the  contract  of  all  the  metayers  may  be 
considered  as  identical,  at  least  in  each  province,  and  never 
gives  rise  to  any  competition  among  peasants  in  search  of 
employment,  or  any  offer  to  cultivate  the  soil  on  cheaper 
terms  than  one  another."  To  the  same  effect  Chateau- 
vieux,*  speaking  of  the  metayers  of  Piedmont.  "They 
consider  it,"  (the  farm)  "  as  a  patrimony,  and  never  think 
of  renewing  the  lease,  but  go  on  from  generation  to  genera- 
tion, on  the  same  terms,  without  writings  or  registries."t 

§  2.  When  the  partition  of  the  produce  is  a  matter  of 
fixed  usage,  not  of  varying  convention,  political  economy 
has  no  laws  of  distribution  to  investigate.  It  has  only  to 
consider,  as  in  the  case  of  peasant  proprietors,  the  effects  of 
the  system,  first,  on  the  condition  of  the  peasantry,  morally 
and  physically,  and  secondly,  on  the  efficiency  of  the  labour. 
In  both  these  particulars  the  metayer  system  has  the  charac- 

*  Letters  from  Italy.  I  quote  from  Dr.  Rigby's  translation  (p.  22.) 
f  This  virtual  fixity  of  tenure  is  not  however  universal  even  in  Italy ;  and  it 
is  to  its  absence  that  Sismondi  attributes  the  inferior  condition  of  the  metayers 
in  some  provinces  of  Naples,  in  Lucca,  and  in  the  Riviera  of  Genoa;  where  the 
landlords  obtain  a  larger  (though  still  a  fixed)  share  of  the  produce.  In  those 
countries  the  cultivation  is  splendid,  but  the  people  wretchedly  poor.  4t  The 
same  misfortune  would  probably  have  befallen  the  people  of  Tuscany  if  public 
opinion  did  not  protect  the  cultivator;  but  a  proprietor  would  not  dare  to  impose 
conditions  unusual  in  the  country,  and  even  in  changing  one  metayer  for  an- 
other, he  alters  nothing  in  the  terms  of  the  engagement"  [Nouveaux  Principe^ 
liv.  iii.  ch.  5.] 


teristic  advantages  of  peasant  properties,  bnt  has  them  in  a 
less  degree.  The  metayer  has  less  motive  to  exertion  than 
the  peasant  proprietor,  since  only  half  the  fruits  of  his  in- 
dustry, instead  of  the  whole,  are  his  own.  But  he  has  a 
much  stronger  motive  than  a  day  labourer,  who  has  no 
other  interest  in  the  result  than  not  to  be  dismissed.  If 
the  metayer  cannot  be  turned  out  except  for  some  violation 
of  his  contract,  he  has  a  stronger  motive  to  exertion  than 
any  tenant-farmer  who  has  not  a  lease.  The  metayer  is  at 
least  his  landlord's  partner,  and  a  half-sharer  in  their  joint 
gains.  Where,  too,  the  permanence  of  his  tenure  is  guaran- 
teed by  custom,  he  acquires  local  attachments,  and  much  of 
the  feelings  of  a  proprietor.  I  am  supposing  that  this  half 
produce  is  sufficient  to  yield  him  a  comfortable  support. 
Whether  it  is  so,  depends  (in  any  given  state  of  agriculture) 
on  the  degree  of  subdivision  of  the  land ;  which  depends 
on  the  operation  of  the  population  principle.  A  multi- 
plication of  people,  beyond  the  number  that  can  be  properly 
supported  on  the  land  or  taken  off  by  manufactures,  is  inci- 
dent even  to  a  peasant  proprietary,  and  of  course  not  less 
but  rather  more  incident  to  a  metayer  population.  The 
tendency,  however,  which  we  noticed  in  the  proprietary 
system,  to  promote  prudence  on  this  point,  is  in  no  small 
degree  common  to  it  with  the  metayer  system.  There, 
also,  it  is  a  matter  of  easy  and  exact  calculation  whether  a 
family  can  be  supported  or  not.  If  it  is  easy  to  see  whether 
the  owner  of  the  whole  produce  can  increase  the  production 
so  as  to  maintain  a  greater  number  of  persons  equally  well, 
it  is  a  not  less  simple  problem  whether  the  owner  of  half 
the  produce  can  do  so.*     There  is  one  check  which  this 

*  M.  Bastiat  affirms  that  even  in  France,  incontestably  the  least  favourable 
example  of  the  metayer  system,  its  effect  in  repressing  population  is  conspicuous. 

"  Un  fait  bien  constat^,  c'est  que  la  tendance  k  une  multiplication  desor- 
donnee  se  manifeste  principalement  au  sein  de  cette  classe  d'hommes  qui  vit  de 
salaires.  Cette  pre"  voyance  qui  retarde  les  manages  a  sur  elle  peu  d'empire, 
.parce  que  les  maux  qui  r&ultent  de  Texces  de  concurrence  ne  lui  apparaissent 
que  tres-confusement,  et  dans  un  lointain  en  apparence  peu  redoubtable.    C'est 

380  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §2. 

system  seems  to  offer,  over  and  above  those  held  out  even 
by  the  proprietary  system ;  there  is  a  landlord,  who  may 
exert  a  controlling  power,  by  refusing  his  consent  to  a  sub- 
division. I  do  not,  however,  attach  great  importance  to 
this  check,  because  the  farm  may  be  loaded  with  super- 
fluous hands  without  being  subdivided ;  and  because,  so 
long  as  the  increase  of  hands  increases  the  gross  produce, 
which  is  almost  always  the  case,  the  landlord,  who  receives 
half  the  produce,  is  an  immediate  gainer,  the  inconvenience 
falling  only  on  the  labourers.  The  landlord  is  no  doubt 
liable  in  the  end  to  suffer  from  their  poverty,  by  being 
forced  to  make  advances  to  them,  especially  in  bad  seasons ; 
and  a  foresight  of  this  ultimate  inconvenience  may  operate 
beneficially  on  such  landlords  as  prefer  future  security  to 
present  profit. 

The  characteristic  disadvantage  of  the  metayer  system 
is  very  fairly  stated  by  Adam  Smith.  After  pointing  out 
that  metayers  "  have  a  plain  interest  that  the  whole  prod- 
uce should  be  as  great  as  possible,  in  order  that  their  own 
proportion  may  be  so,"  he  continues,*  "it  could  never, 
however,  be  the  interest  of  this  species  of  cultivators  to  lay 
out,  in  the  further  improvement  of  the  land,  any  part  of  the 
little  stock  which  they  might  save  from  their  own  share  of 
the  produce,  because  the  lord,  who  laid  out  nothing,  was  to 
get  one  half  of  whatever  it  produced.  The  tithe,  which  is 
but  a  tenth  of  the  produce,  is  found  to  be  a  very  great 
hindrance    to    improvement.      A.    tax,    therefore,    which 

done  la  circonstance  la  plus  favorable  pour  un  pays  d'etre  organise*  de  maniere 
a  exclure  le  salariat.  Dans  les  pays  de  metairies,  les  manages  sont  determines 
principalement  par  les  besoins  de  la  culture;  ils  se  multiplient  quand,  par 
quelque  circonstance,  les  metairies  offrent  des  vides  nuisibles  aux  travaux ;  ils  se 
ralentissent  quand  les  places  sont  rem  plies.  lei,  un  6tat  de  choses  facile  a  con- 
stater,  savoir,  la  rapport  entre  l'etendue  du  domaine  et  le  nombre  des  bras,  op£re 
comme  la  prcvoyance  et  plus  surement  qu'clle.  Aussi  voyons-nous  que  si  aucune 
circonstance  n'mtervient  pour  ouvrir  des  debouches  a  une  population  surnume" 
raire,  elle  demeure  stationnaire.  Nos  departements  meridionaux  en  sont  la 
preuve." — Considerations  sur  le  M6tayage,  Journal  des  Economist**  for  Febru- 
ary 1846. 

*  Wealth  of  Nations,  book  iii.  chap.  2. 


amounted  to  one  half,  must  have  been  an  effectual  bar  to 
it.  It  might  be  the  interest  of  a  metayer  to  make  the  land 
produce  as  much  as  could  be  brought  out  of  it  by  means  of 
the  stock  furnished  by  the  proprietor ;  but  it  could  never 
be  his  interest  to  mix  any  part  of  his  own  with  it.  In 
France,  where  five  parts  out  of  six  of  the  whole  kingdom 
are  said  to  be  still  occupied  by  this  species  of  cultivators, 
the  proprietors  complain  that  their  metayers  take  every 
opportunity  of  employing  the  master's  cattle  rather  in  car- 
riage than  in  cultivation  ;  because  in  the  one  case  they  get 
the  whole  profits  to  themselves,  in  the  other  they  share 
them  with  their  landlord." 

It  is  indeed  implied  in  the  very  nature  of  the  tenure,  that 
all  improvements  which  require  expenditure  of  capital,  must 
be  made  with  the  capital  of  the  landlord.  This,  however,  is 
essentially  the  case  even  in  England,  whenever  the  farmers 
are  tenants-at-will :  or  (if  Arthur  Young  is  right)  even  on  a 
"nine  years  lease."  If  tfie  landlord  is  willing  to  provide 
capital  for  improvements,  the  metayer  has  the  strongest 
interest  in  promoting  them,  since  half  the  benefit  of  them 
will  accrue  to  himself.  As  however  the  perpetuity  of  tenure 
which,  in  the  case  we  are  discussing,  he  enjoys  by  custom, 
renders  his  consent  a  necessary  condition ;  the  spirit  of 
routine,  and  dislike  of  innovation,  characteristic  of  an  agri- 
cultural people  when  not  corrected  by  education,  are  no 
doubt,  as  the  advocates  of  the  system  seem  to  admit,  a  serious 
hindrance  to  improvement. 

§  3.  The  metayer  system  has  met  with  no  mercy  from 
English  authorities.  "  There  is  not  one  word  to  be  said  in 
favour  of  the  practice, "  says  Arthur  Young,*  "  and  a  thou- 
sand arguments  that  might  be  used  against  it.  The  hard 
plea  of  necessity  can  alone  be  urged  in  its  favour ;  the 
poverty  of  the  farmers  being  so  great,  that  the  landlord  must 
stock  the  farm,  or  it  could  not  be  stocked,  at  .all  :..tlua  is  a 
most  cruel  burthen  to  a  proprietor,  who  is  thus  obliged  to 

*  Travels,  vol.  i.  pp.  404 — 5. 

BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VIII.     §8. 

run  much  of  the  hazard  of  farming  in  the  most  dangerous  of 
all  methods,  that  of  trusting  his  property  absolutely  in  the 
hands  of  people  who  are  generally  ignorant,  many  care- 
less,  and  some  undoubtedly  wicked.  ...  In  this  most 
miserable  of  all  the  modes  of  letting  land,  the  defrauded  land^ 
lord  receives  a  contemptible  rent;  the  farmer  is  in  the 
lowest  state  of  poverty ;  the  land  is  miserably  cultivated ; 
and  the  nation  suffers  as  severely  as  the  parties  themselves. 
.  .  .  Wherever*  this  system  prevails,  it  may  be  taken 
for  granted  that  a  useless  and  miserable  population  is  found. 
.  .  .  Wherever  the  country  (that  I  saw)  is  poor  and 
unwatered,  in  the  Milanese,  it  is  in  the  hands  of  metayers : " 
they  are  almost  always  in  debt  to  their  landlord  for  seed  or 
food,  and  "  their  condition  is  more  wretched  than  that  of  a 
day  labourer.  .  .  .  Theref  are  but  few  districts "  (in 
Italy)  "  where  lands  are  let  to  the  occupying  tenant  at  a 
money-rent ;  but  wherever  it  is  found,  their  crops  are 
greater ;  a  clear  proof  of  the  imbecility  of  the  metaying 
system."  "Wherever  it "  (the  metayer  system)  "has  been 
adopted,"  says  Mr.  M'Culloch,^:  "  it  has  put  a  stop  to  all 
improvement,  and  has  reduced  the  cultivators  to  the  most 
abject  poverty."  Mr.  Jones  §  shares  the  common  opinion, 
and  quotes  Turgot  and  Destutt-Tracy  in  support  of  it.  The 
impression,  however,  of  all  these  writers  (notwithstanding 
Arthur  Young's  occasional  references  to  Italy)  seems  to  be 
chiefly  derived  from  France,  and  France  before  the  Eevolu- 
tion.  I  Now  the  situation  of  French  metayers  under  the  old 
regime  by  no  means  represents  the  typical  form  of  the  con- 
tract.    It  is  essential  to  that  form,  that  the  proprietor  pays 

*  Travels,  vol.  ii.  151—3.  f  Ibid,  ii.  217. 

%  Principles  of  Political  Economy,  3rd  ed.  p.  471. 

§  Essay  on  tJie  Distribution  of  Wealth,  pp.  102 — 4. 

|  M.  de  Tracy  is  partially  an  exception,  inasmuch  as  his  experience  reachea 
lower  down  than  the  revolutionary  period :  but  he  admits  (as  Mr.  Jones  has  him- 
self stated  in  another  place)  that  -he  is  acquainted  only  with  a  limited  district,  of 
great  subdivision  and  unfertile  soil. 

M.  Passyis  of  opinion,  that  a  French  peasantry  must  be  in  indigence  and  the 
country  badly  cultivated  on  a  metayer  system,  because  the  proportion  of  the 


«11  the  taxes.  Bat  in  France  the  exemption  of  the  noblesse 
from  direct  taxation  had  led  the  Government  to  throw  the 
whole  burthen  of  their  ever-increasing  fiscal  exactions  upon 
the  occupiers :  and  it  is  to  these  exactions  that  Turgot 
ascribed  the  extreme  wretchedness  of  the  metayers:  a 
wretchedness  in  some  cases  so  excessive,  that  in  Limousin 
and  Angoumois  (the  provinces  which  he  administered)  they 
had  seldom  more,  according  to  him,  after  deducting  all  bur- 
thens, than  from  twenty-five  to  thirty  livres  (20  to  24  shil- 
lings) per  head  for  their  whole  annual  consumption :  "  je  ne 
dis  pas  en  argent,  mais  en  comptant  tout  ce  qu'ils  consom- 
ment  en  nature  sur  ce  qu'ils  ont  recolte. "  *  When  we  add 
that  they  had  not  the  virtual  fixity  of  tenure  of  the  metayers 
of  Italy,  ("  in  Limousin,"  says  Arthur  Young,f  "  the  metayers 
are  considered  as  little  better  than  menial  servants,  remova- 
ble at  pleasure,  and  obliged  to  conform  in  all  things  to  the 
will  of  the  landlords,")  it  is  evident  that  their  case  affords 
no  argument  against  the  metayer  system  in  its  better  form. 
A  population  who  could  call  nothing  their  own,  who,  like 
the  Irish  cottiers,  could  not  in  any  contingency  be  worse  off, 
had  nothing  to  restrain  them  from  multiplying,  and  subdi- 
viding the  land,  until  stopped  by  actual  starvation. 

We  shall  find  a  very  different  picture,  by  the  most  accu- 
rate authorities,  of  the  metayer  cultivation  of  Italy.    In  the 

produce  claimable  by  the  landlord  is  too  high ;  it  being  only  in  more  favourable 
climates  that  any  land,  not  of  the  most  exuberant  fertility,  can  pay  half  its  gross 
produce  in  rent,  and  leave  enough  to  peasant  farmers  to  enable  them  to  grow 
successfully  the  more  expensive  and  valuable  products  of  agriculture.  (/%*- 
teme*  de  Culture,  p.  35.)  This  is  an  objection  only  to  a  particular  numerical 
proportion,  which  is  indeed  the  common  one,  but  is  not  essential  to  the  system. 

*  See  the  "  Memoire  sur  la  Surcharge  des  Impositions  qu'eprouvait  la  Gene- 
ralite  de  Limoges,  addresse  au  Conseil  d'Etat  en  1766,"  pp.  260—304  of  the 
fourth  volume  of  Turgot's  Works.  The  occasional  engagements  of  landlords  (as 
mentioned  by  Arthur  Young)  to  pay  a  part  of  the  taxes,  were,  according  to  Tur- 
got, of  recent  origin,  under  the  compulsion  of  actual  necessity.  "  Le  proprie- 
taire  ne  s'y  prete  qu'autant  qu'il  ne  peut  trouver  de  metayer  autrement ;  ainsi, 
meme  dans  ce  cas-la,  le  metayer  est  toujours  r£duit  a  ce  qu'il  faut  precisement 
pour  ne  pas  mourir  de  faim.     (p.  275.) 

+  VoL  i.  p.  404. 

384  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VIII.  §3. 

first  place,  as  to  subdivision.  In  Lotnbardy,  according  to 
Chateauvieux,*  there  are  few  farms  which  exceed  sixty  acres, 
and  few  which  have  less  than  ten.  These  farms  are  all 
occupied  by  metayers  at  half  profit.  They  invariably  dis- 
play "  an  extent  f  and  a  richness  in  buildings  rarely  known 
in  any  other  country  in  Europe."  Their  plan  "  affords  the 
greatest  room  with  the  least  extent  of  building;  is  best 
adapted  to  arrange  and  secure  the  crop  ;  and  is,  at  the  same 
time,  the  most  economical,  and  the  least  exposed  to  accidents 
by  fire."  The  court-yard  "  exhibits  a  whole  so  regular  and 
commodious,  and  a  system  of  such  care  and  good  order,  that 
our  dirty  and  ill-arranged  farms  can  convey  no  adequate 
idea  of. "  The  same  description  applies  to  Piedmont.  The 
rotation  of  crops  is  excellent.  "I  should  think  £  no  country 
can  bring  so  large  a  portion  of  its  produce  to  market  as 
Piedmont."  Though  the  soil  is  not  naturally  very  fertile, 
"  the  number  of  cities  is  prodigiously  great."  The  agri- 
culture must,  therefore,  be  eminently  favourable  to  the  net 
as  well  as  to  the  gross  produce  of  the  land.     "  Each  plough 

works  thirty-two  acres  in  the  season Nothing  can  be 

more  perfect  or  neater  than  the  hoeing  and  moulding  up  the 
maize,  when  in  full  growth,  by  a  single  plough,  with  a  pair 
of  oxen,  without  injury  to  a  single  plant,  while  all  the  weeds 
are  effectually  destroyed. "  So  much  for  agricultural  skill. 
"  Nothing  can  be  so  excellent  as  the  crop  which  precedes 
and  that  which  follows  it. "  The  wheat  "  is  thrashed  by  a 
cylinder,  drawn  by  a  horse,  and  guided  by  a  boy,  while  the 
labourers  turn  over  the  straw  with  forks.  This  process  lasts 
nearly  a  fortnight;  it  is  quick  and  economical,  and  conr 

pletely  gets  out  the  grain In  no  part  of  the  world 

are  the  economy  and  the  management  of  the  land  better 
understood  than  in  Piedmont,  and  this  explains  the  phe- 
nomenon of  its  great  population,  and  immense  export  of 
provisions."     All  this  under  metayer  cultivation. 
.   Of  the  valley  of  the  Arno,  in  its  whole  extent,  both 

*  Letters  from  Italy,  translated  by  Rigby,  p.  16. 
f  Ibid.  pp.  19,  20.  %  Ibid.  pp.  24-31. 


above  and  below  Florence,  the  same  writer  thug  speaks ;  * — 
M  Forests  of  olive-trees  covered  the  lower  parts  of  the  moan* 
tains,  and  by  their  foliage  concealed  an  infinite  number  of 
small  farms,  which  peopled  these  parts  of  the  mountains ; 
chestnut-trees  raised  their  heads  on  the  higher  slopes,  their 
healthy  verdure  contrasting  with  the  pale  tint  of  the  olive- 
trees,  and  spreading  a  brightness  over  this  amphitheatre* 
The  road  was  bordered  on  each  side  with  village-houses,  not 

more  than  a  hundred  paces  from  each  other They 

are  placed  at  a  little  distance  from  the  road,  and  separated 
from  it  by  a  wall,  and  a  terrace  of  some  feet  in  extent.  On 
the  wall  are  commonly  placed  many  vases  of  antique  forms, 
in  which  flowers,  aloes,  and  young  orange-trees  are  growing. 

The  house  itself  is  completely  covered  with  vines 

Before  these  houses  we  saw  groups  of  peasant  females 
dressed  in  white  linen,  silk  corsets,  and  straw-hats  orna- 
mented with  flowers These  houses  being  so  near 

each  other,  it  is  evident  that  the  land  annexed  to  them 
must  be  small,  and  that  property,  in  these  valleys,  must  be 
very  much  divided ;  the  extent  of  these  domains  being  from 
three  to  ten  acres.  The  land  lies  round  the  houses,  and  is 
divided  into  fields  by  small  canals,  or  rows  of  trees,  some 
of  which  are  mulberry-trees,  but  the  greatest  number 
poplars,  the  leaves  of  which  are  eaten  by  the  cattle.  Each 
tree  supports  a  vine These  divisions,  arrayed  in  ob- 
long squares,  are  large  enough  to  be  cultivated  by  a  plough 
without  wheels,  and  a  pair  of  oxen.  There  is  a  pair  of  oxen 
between  ten  or  twelve  of  the  farmers ;  they  employ  thorn 

successively  in    the  cultivation  of   all  the  farms 

Almost  every  farm  maintains  a  well-looking  horse,  which 
goes  in  a  small  two  wheeled  cart,  neatly  made,  and  painted 
red ;  they  serve  for  all  the  purposes  of  draught  for  the  farm, 
and  also  to  convey  the  farmer's  daughters  to  mass  and  to 
balls.  Thus,  on  holidays,  hundreds  of  these  little  carts  are 
seen  flying  in  all  directions,  carrying  the  young  women, 
decorated  with  flowers  and  ribbons." 

"""'  '    ""    -  •  Pp.  78-9. 


386  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VHI.     §8. 

This  is  not  a  picture  of  poverty ;  and  so  far  as  agricul- 
ture is  concerned,  it  effectually  redeems  metayer  cultivation, 
as  existing  in  these  countries,  from  the  reproaches  of  English 
writers  ;  but  with  respect  to  the  condition  of  the  cultivators, 
Chateau vieux's  testimouy  is,  in  some  points,  not  so  favour- 
able. "It  is*  neither  the  natural  fertility  of  the  soil,  nor 
the  abundance  which  strikes  the  eye  of  the  traveller,  which 
constitute  the  well-being  of  its  inhabitants.  It  is  the 
number  of  individuals  among  whom  the  total  produce  is 
divided,  which  fixes  the  portion  that  each  is  enabled  to 
enjoy.  Here  it  is  very  small.  I  have  thus  far,  indeed, 
exhibited  a  delightful  country,  well  watered,  fertile,  and 
covered  with  a  perpetual  vegetation;  I  have  shown  it 
divided  into  countless  inclosures,  which  like  so  many  beds 
in  a  garden,  display  a  thousand  varying  productions;  I 
have  shown,  that  to  all  these  inclosures  are  attached  well- 
built  houses,  clothed  with  vines,  and  decorated  with  flowers; 
but,  on  entering  them,  we  find  a  total  want  of  all  the  con- 
veniences of  life,  a  table  more  than  frugal,  and  a  general 
appearance  of  privation."  Is  not  Chdteauvieux  here  un- 
consciously contrasting  the  condition  of  the  metayers  with 
that  of  the  farmers  of  other  countries,  when  the  proper 
standard  with  which  to  compare  it  is  that  of  the  agricultural 
day-labourers  ? 

Arthur  Young  says,f  "  I  was  assured  that  these  meta- 
yers are  (especially  near  Florence)  much  at  their  ease ;  that 
on  holidays  they  are  dressed  remarkably  well,  and  not 
without  objects  of  luxury,  as  silver,  gold,  and  silk ;  and  live 
well,  on  plenty  of  bread,  wine,  and  legumes.  In  some 
instances  this  may  possibly  be  the  case,  but  the  general 
fact  is  contrary.  It  is  absurd  to  think  that  metayers,  upon 
such  a  farm  as  is  cultivated  by  a  pair  of  oxen,  can  live  at 
their  ease ;  and  a  clear  proof  of  their  poverty  is  this,  that 
the  landlord,  who  provides  half  the  live  stock,  is  often 
obliged  to  lend  the  peasant  money  to  procure  his  half. 

—  .Ill  ■■■■■>!  Ill    ■■^ 

*  Pp.  73—6.  f  Travels,  vol.  ii.  p.  156, 


METAYERa  387 

The  metayers,  not  in  the  vicinity  of  the  city,  are 

so  poor,  that  landlords  even  lend  them  corn  to  eat :  their 
food  is  black  bread,  made  of  a  mixture  with  vetches ;  and 
their  drink  is  very  little  wine,  mixed  with  "water,  and  called 
aquarolle  /  meat  on  Sundays  only ;  their  dress  very  ordi- 
nary. "  Mr.  Jones  admits  the  superior  comfort  of  the 
metayers  near  Florence,  and  attributes  it  partly  to  straw- 
platting,  by  which  the  women  of  the  peasantry  can  earn, 
according  to  Chateauvieux,*  from  fifteen  to  twenty  pence 
a-day.  But  even  this  fact  tells  in  favour  of  the  metayer 
system ;  for  in  those  parts  of  England  in  which  either  straw- 
platting  or  lace-making  is  carried  on  by  the  women  and 
children  of  the  labouring  class,  as  in  Bedfordshire  and 
Buckinghamshire,  the  condition  of  the  class  is  not  better, 
but  rather  worse  than  elsewhere,  the  wages  of  agricultural 
labour  being  depressed  by  a  full  equivalent. 

In  spite  of  Chateauvieux's  statement  respecting  the 
poverty  of  the  metayers,  his  opinion,  in  respect  to  Italy  at 
least,  is  given  in  favour  of  the  system.  "  It  occupies  f  and 
constantly  interests  the  proprietors,  which  is  never  the 
case  with  great  proprietors  who  lease  their  estates  at  fixed 
rents.  It  establishes  a  community  of  interests,  and  relations 
of  kindness  between  the  proprietors  and  the  metayers;  a 
kindness  which  I  have  often  witnessed,  and  from  which 
result  great  advantages  in  the  moral  condition  of  society. 
The  proprietor,  under  this  system,  always  interested  in  the 
success  of  the  crop,  never  refuses  to  make  an  advance  upon 
it,  which  the  land  promises  to  repay  with  interest.  It  is  by 
these  advances,  and  by  the  hope  thus  inspired,  that  the 
rich  proprietors  of  land  have  gradually  perfected  the  whole 
rural  economy  of  Italy.  It  is  to  them  that  it  owes  the  nu- 
merous systems  of  irrigation  which  water  its  soil,  as  also 
the  establishment  of  the  terrace  culture  on  the  hills; 
gradual  but  permanent  improvements,  which  common 
peasants,  for  want  of  means,  could  never  have  effected,  and 
which  could  never  have  been  accomplished  by  the  farmers, 

•  Letters  from  Italy,  p.  75.  f  Ibid»  PP-  295—6. 

388  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER  VIIL    §8. 

nor  by  the  great  proprietors  who  let  their  estates  at  fixed 
rents,  because  they  are  not  sufficiently  interested.  Thus  the 
interested  system  forms  of  itself  that  alliance  between  the 
rich  proprietor,  whose  means  provide  for  the  improvement  of 
the  culture,  and  the  metayer,  whose  care  and  labours  are  di- 
rected, by  a  common  interest,  to  make  the  most  of  these 
advances. " 

But  the  testimony  most  favourable  to  the  system  is  that 
of  Sisinondi,  which  has  the  advantage  of  being  specific,  and 
from  accurate  knowledge ;  his  information  being  not  that  of 
a  traveller,  but  of  a  resident  proprietor,  intimately  acquainted 
with  rural  life.  His  statements  apply  to  Tuscany  generally, 
and  more  particulary  to  the  Val  di  Nievole,  in  which  his 
own  property  lay,  and  which  is  not  within  the  supposed  priv- 
ileged circle  immediately  round  Florence.  It  is  one  of  the 
districts  in  which  the  size  of  farms  appears  to  be  the  small- 
est. Hie  following  is  his  description  of  the  dwellings  and 
mode  of  life  of  the  metayers  of  that  district.* 

"  Cette  maison,  batie  en  bonnes  murailles  a  chaux  et  k 
ciment,  a  tou jours  au  moins  un  etage,  quelquefois  deux,  au* 
dessus  du  rez-de-chauss6e.  Le  plus  sou  vent  on  trouve  a  ce 
rez-de-chauss6e  la  cuisine,  urie  Stable  pour  deux  betes  a  corne, 
et  le  magasin,  qui  prend  son  nom,  tinaia,  des  grandes  cuves 
(tint)  oh  Ton  fait  fcrmenter  le  vin,  sans  le  soumettre  au 
pressoir :  c'est  Ik  encore  que  le  metayer  enferme  sous  cle  ses 
tonneaux,  son  huile,  et  son  blc.  Presque  toujours  il  posscde 
encore  un  hangar  appuye  contre  la  maison,  pour  qu'il  puisse 
y  travailler  a  couvert  a  raccommoder  ses  outils,  au  a  hacher 
le  fourrage  pour  son  betail.  Au  premier  et  au  second  etage 
sont  deux,  trois,  et  sou  vent  quatrei  chambres  a  lit.  ...  La 
plus  spacieuse  et  la  mieux  aeree  de  ees  chambres  est  en 
general  destinee  par  le  metayer,  pendant  les  mois  de  Mai  et 
de  Juin,  a  Feducation  des  vers  a  soie :  de  grands  coffres  pour 
enfermer  les  habits  et  le  linge,  et  quelques  chaises  de  bois, 
sont  les  principaux  meubles  de  ces  chambres;  mais  une 

*  From  his  Sixth  Essay,  formerly  referred  to. 


nouvelle  6pouse  y  apporte  toujours  aa  commode  de  bob  de 
noyer.  Les  lits  &ont  sans  rideaux,  sans  tour  de  lit ;  mais 
8ur  ehacun,  outre  un  bon  garde-paille  rempli  de  la  paille 
61astique  du  ble  de  Turquie,  on  voit  un  ou  deux  matelas  en 
laine,  ou,  chez  les  plus  pauvres,  en  etoupe,  une  bonne  cou- 
verture  piquee,  des  draps  de  forte  toile  de  chanvre,  et  sur  le 
meilleur  lit  de  la  famille,  un  tapis  de  bourre  de  soie  qu'on 
etale  les  jours  de  f<§te.  II  n'y  a  de  cheminee  qu'a  la  cuisine; 
dans  la  infime  piece  ou  trouve  toujours  la  grande  table 
de  bois  oil  dine  la  famille,  avec  ses  bancs;  le  grand  coffre, 
qui  6ert  en  meme  temps  d'armoire  pour  conserver  le  pain  et 
les  provisions,  et  de  petrin ;  un  assortment  asscz  complet  et 
fort  peu  couteux  de  pots,  de  plats  et  d'assiettes  en  terre 
cuite ;  une  ou  deux  lampes  de  laiton,  un  poids  a  la  romaine, 
et  an  moins  deux  cruches  en  cuivre  rouge  pour  puiser  et 
pour  conserver  l'eau.  Tout  le  linge  et  tous  les  habits  de 
travail  de  la  famille  ont  ete  files  par  les  femmes  de  la  maison. 
Ces  habits,  tant  pour  les  hommes  que  pour  les  femmes,  sont 
de  l'etoffe  qu'ils  nomment  mezza  lana  si  elle  est  epaisse,  mola 
si  elle  est  legere.  La  trame  est  un  gros  fil  ou  de  chanvre  ou 
d'etoupe,  le  remplissage  est  de  laine  ou  de  coton ;  elle  est 
teinte  par  les  monies  paysannes  qui  Pont  fil6e.  On  se 
flgurerait  difficilement  combien,  par  un  travail  assidu,  les 
paysannes  savent  accumuler  et  de  toile  et  de  mezza  lana; 
Combien  de  draps  se  trouvent  au  depot  commun :  combien 
chaque  membre  de  la  famille  a  de  chemises,  de  vestes,  de 
pantalons,  de  j  upons,  et  de  robes.  Pour  le  faire  comprendre, 
nous  joignons  en  note  une  partie  de  l'inventaire  de  la  famille 
de  paysans  que  nous  connaissons  le  mieux;  elle  n'est  ni 
parmi  les  plus  pauvres  ni  parmi  les  plus  riches,  et  elle  vit 
heureuse  par  son  travail  sur  la  moiti6  des  r£coltes  de  moins 
de  dix  arpens  de  terre.*     Cette  epouse  avait  eu  50  ecus  de 

*  "  Inventaire  du  trousseau  de  Jeanne,  fille  de  Valente  Paptni,  a  son  manage 
avec  Giovacchino  Landi,  le  29  Avril  1835,  a  Porta  Vecchia,  pres  Pescia: 

"  28  chemises,  3  robes  de  bourre  de  soie  en  couleur,  4  robes  de  fleuret  de 
«oie  en  couleur,  7  robes  d'indieane  ou  toile  de  coton,  2  robes  de  travail  d'hiver 
(mezza  lana)  3  robes  et  joupons  de  trayail  d'&e  (inola\  3  jupes  blanches,  5  ta- 

BOOK  II.    CHAPTER  VIII.     §  8. 

dot,  dont  20  pay£s  comptant,  et  le  reste  k  terme,  a  2  6cns 
par  ann£e.  L'ecu  de  Toscane  vaut  6  francs.  La  dot  la  plus 
commune  pour  les  paysannes,  dans  le  reste  de  la  Toscane 
oil  les  metairies  sont  plus  grandes,  est  de  100  ecus,  600 
francs. " 

Is  this  poverty,  or  consistent  with  poverty  ?  When  a 
common,  M.  de  Sismondi  even  says  the  common,  marriage 
portion  of  a  metayer's  daughter  is  24Z.  English  money,  equiv- 
alent to  at  least  50Z.  in  Italy  and  in  that  rank  of  life ;  when 
one  whose  dowry  is  only  half  that  amount,  has  the  ward- 
robe described,  which  is  represented  by  Sismondi  as  a  fair 
average ;  the  class  must  be  fully  comparable,  in  general 
condition,  to  a  large  proportion  even  of  capitalist  farmers  in 
other  countries ;  and  incomparably  above  the  day-labourers 
of  any  country,  except  a  new  colony,  or  the  United  States. 
Very  little  can  be  inferred,  against  such  evidence,  fr6m  a 
traveller's  impression  of  the  poor  quality  of  their  food.  Its 
unexpensive  character  may  be  rather  the  effect  of  economy 
than  of  necessity.  Costly  feeding  is  not  the  favourite 
luxury  of  a  southern  people ;  their  diet  in  all  classes  is 
principally  vegetable,  and  no  peasantry  on  the  Continent  has 
the  superstition  of  the  English  labourer  respecting  white 
bread.  But  the  nourishment  of  the  Tuscan  peasant,  accord- 
ing to  Sismondi,  "  is  wholesome  and  various :  its  basis  is  an 
excellent  wheaten  bread,  brown,  but  pure  from  bran  and 
from  all  mixture. "  "  Dans  la  mauvaise  saison,  il  ne  fait  que 
deux  repas  par  jour :  a  dix  heures  du  matin  il  mange  sa 

bliers  de  toile  peinte,  1  tablier  de  sole  noir,  1  tablier  de  merinos  noir,  9  tabliers 
de  travail  {mola)  en  coulcur,  4  raouchoirs  blancs,  8  mouchoira  en  couleur,  3 
mouchoirs  de  soie,  2  voiles  brodes  et  1  voile  de  tulle,  3  essuie-mains,  14  paires 
de  bas,  2  chapeaux,  Tun  de  feutre,  Pautre  de  paille  fine :  2  camees  d'or,  2  boucles 
d'oreilles  en  or,  1  chapelet  avec  deux  piastres  romaines,  1  collier  de  corail  avec 

sa  croix  d'or Toutes  les  Spouses  plus  riches  ont  de  plus  la  veste  di  seta, 

la  grande  robe  de  toilette,  de  soie,  qu'elles  ne  portent  que  quatre  ou  cinq  fois 
dans  leur  vie. 

44  Les  hommes  n'ont  point  de  trousseaux :  Pepoux  en  se  mariant  tfavait  que 
14  chemises,  et  le  reste  en  proportion.  II  n'a  encore  a  present  que  13  paires  de 
draps,  tandis  que  dans  la  famille  de  sa  femme  il  y  en  a  30  paires," 


pollenta,  a  Pentree  de  la  nuit  il  mange  la  soupe,  puis  du  pain 
avec  quelque  assaisonnement  (companatico).  En  ete  il  fait 
trois  repas,  k  huit  heures,  a  une  heure,  et  au  soir,  mais  il 
n'allume  de  feu  qu'une  Beule  fois  par  jour,  pour  son  diner, 
qui  se  compose  de  soupe,  puis  d'un  plat  ou  de  viande  salee 
on  de  poisson  sec,  on  de  haricots,  ou  d'herbages,  qu'il  mange 
avec  du  pain.  La  viande  salee  n'entre  que  pour  une  quan- 
tity bien  minime  dans  cet  ordinaire,  car  il  estime  que  quarante 
livres  de  pore  sale  par  individu  suffisent  amplement  &  sa 
provision  de  l'annee;  il  en  met  deux  fois  par  semaine  un 
petit  morceau  dans  son  potage.  Le  dimanche  il  a  toujours 
sur  sa  table  un  plat  de  viande  fraiche,  mais  un  morceau  qui 
ne  pese  qu'une  livre  ou  une  livre  et  demie  suffit  a  toute  la 
famille,  quelque  nombreuse  qu'elle  soit.  11  ne  faut  point 
oublier  que  le  paysan  Toscan  recolte  en  general  de  Thuile 
d'onve  pour  son  usage:  il  s'en  sert,  non  seulement  pour 
s'eclairer,  mais  pour  assaisonner  tout  les  vegetaux  qu'il 
apprete  pour  sa  table,  et  qui  deviennent  ainsi  bien  plus 
savoureux  et  plus  nutritifs.  A  dejeuner  il  mange  du  pain,  et 
quelquefois  du  fromage  et  des  fruits ;  a  souper,  du  pain  et  de 
la  salade.  Sa  boisson  se  compose  du  vin  inferieur  du  pays, 
et  de  la  vinelle  ou  piquette  faite  d'eau  fermentee  sur  le  inarc 
du  raisin.  II  reserve  cependant  toujours  quelque  peu  de  son 
meilleur  vin  pour  le  jour  oil  il  battra  son  grain,  et  pour 
quelques  fetes  qui  se  celebrent  en  famille.  11  estime  a  dix 
barils  de  vinelle  par  annee  (environ  cinquante  bouteilles)  et  a 
cinq  sacs  de  froment  (environ  mille  livres  de  pain)  la  portion 
requise  pour  un  bomme  fait. 

The  remarks  of  Sismondi  on  the  moral  influences  of  this 
state  of  society  are  not  less  worthy  of  attention.  The  rights 
and  obligations  of  the  metayer  being  fixed  by  usage,  and  all 
taxes  and  rates  being  paid  by  the  proprietor,  "  le  metayer  a 
les  avantages  de  la  propriete  sans  Finconvenient  de  la  de- 
fendre.  (Test  au  proprietaire  qu'avec  la  terre  appartient  la 
guerre :  pour  lui  il  vit  en  paix  avec  tous  ses  voisins ;  il  n'a  a 
leur  egard  aucun  motif  de  rivalite  ou  de  defiance ;  il  conserve 
la  bonne  harmonie  avec  eux,  comme  avec  son  maitre,  avec  le 

892  BOOK  II.     CHAPTER:  VIII.     §3. 

fiac  et  avec  l'eglise :  il  vend  peu,  il  achete  pen,  il  touche  pea 
d'argent,  mais  pereonne  ne  lui  en  demande.  On  a  souvent 
parle  du  caractere  doux  et  bienveillant  des  Tuscans,  mais  on 
n'a  point  assez  remarque  la  cause  qui  a  le  plus  contribue  a 
preserver  cette  douceur ;  e'est  celle  qui  a  soustrait  tous  les 
agriculteurs,  formant  plus  des  trois  quarts  de  la  population^ 
a  presque  toute  occasion  de  querelle,"  The  fixity  of  tenure 
which  the  metayer,  so  long  as  he  fulfils  his  known  obliga- 
tions, possesses  by  usage,  though  not  by  law,  gives  him  the 
local  attachments,  and  almost  the  strong  sense  of  personal 
interest  characteristic  of  a  proprietor,  u  Le  metayer  vit  sur 
sa  metairie  eomme  sur  son  heritage,  l'aimant  defection, 
travaillant  a  la  bonifier  sans  cesse,  se  confiant  dans  Tavenir, 
et  coraptant  bien  que  ses  champs  seront  travailles  apres  lui 
par  ses  enfans  et  les  enfans  de  ses  enfans.  En  eftet,  le  plus 
grand  nombre  des  metayers  vivent  de  generation  en  genera- 
tion sur  la  meme  terre ;  ils  la  connaissent  en  detail  avec  une 
precision  que  le  sentiment  seul  de  la  propriete  pent  donner. . . 
Les  champs  eleves  en  terrasses  les  uns  au-dessus  des  autres 
n'ont  souvent  pas  plus  de  quatre  pieds  de  largeur,  mais  il  n'y 
en  a  pas  un  dont  le  metayer  n'ait  etudie  en  quelqne  sorte  le 
caractere.  Celui-ci  est  6ec,  celui-la  froid  «t  humide;  ici  la 
terre  est  profonde,  la  ce  n'est  qu'une  croute  qui  couvre  a 
peine  le  roc ;  le  froment  prospere  mieux  sur  l'un,  le  seigle 
sur  l'autre ;  ici  ce  serait  peine  perdue  de  semer  du  ble  de 
Turquie,  ailleurs  la  terre  se  refuse  aux  feves  et  anx  lupins, 
plus  loin  le  lin  viendra  a  merveille,  et  le  bord  de  ce  ruisseau 
sera  propre  au  chanvre :  ainsi  Ton  apprend  du  metayer,  avec 
etonnement,  que  dans  une  espace  de  dix  arpens^  le  sol,  les 
aspects,  et  l'inclinaison  du  terrain,  presentent  plus  de  variete 
qu'un  riche  fermier  n'en  sait  en  general  distinguer  dans  une 
ferme  de  cinq  cents  acres  d'etendue.  C'est  que  le  dernier 
sent  qu'il  n'est  la  que  de  passage,  que  de  plus  il  doit  se  con- 
duire  par  des  regies  generates,  et  negliger  les  details.  Mais  le 
metayer,  avec  l'experience  du  passe,  a  sen  ti  son  intelligence 
eveillee  par  l'interet  et  l'affection  pour  devenir  le  meilleur 
des  observateurs,  et  avec  tout  1'avenir  devant  lui,  il  nesonge 

HBTATERa  393 

pas  a  lui  settlement,  mais  a  bcs  enfans  et  a  fies  petits  enfans. 
Ausai  lorequ'il  plante  1'olivier,  arbre  seculaire,  et  qu'il  menage 
au  fond  da  creux  qu'il  fait  pour  lui  un  ecoulement  aux  eau* 
qui  pourraient  lui  nuire,  il  etudie  toutes  lea  couches  de  terrain 
qu'il  est  appelo  a  defoncer."* 

§  4.  I  do  not  offer  these  quotations  as  evidence  of  the 
intrinsic  excellence  of  the  metayer  system ;  but  they  surely 
suffice  to  prove  that  neither  "  land  miserably  cultivated  " 
nor  a  people  in  "  the  most  abject  poverty,"  have  any  neces* 
sary  connexion  with  it,  and  that  the  unmeasured  vitupera- 
tion lavished  upon  the  system  by  English  writers,  is 
grounded  on  an  extremely  narrow  view  of  the  subject  I 
look  upon  the  rural  economy  of  Italy  as  simply  so  much 
additional  evidence  in  favour  of  small  occupations  with 
permanent  tenure.  It  is  an  example  of  what  can  be  accom- 
plished by  those  two  elements,  even  under  the  disadvantage 
of  the  peculiar  nature  of  the  metayer  contract,  in  which  the 
motives  to  exertion  on  the  part  of  the  tenant  are  only  half 
as  strong  as  if  he  farmed  the  land  on  the  same  footing  of 
perpetuity  at  a  money-rent,  either  fixed,  or  varying  accord- 
ing  to  some  rule  which  would  leave  to  the  tenant  the  vhole 
benefit  of  his  own  exertions.    The  metayer  tenure  is  not 

*  Of  the  intelligence  of  this  interesting  people,  M.  de  Sismondi  speaks  in  the 
most  favourable  terms.  Few  of  them  can  read;  but  there  is  often  one  member 
of  the  family  destined  for  the  priesthood,  who  reads  to  them  on  winter  evenings. 
Their  language  differs  little  from  the  purest  Italian.  The  taste  for  improvisation 
in  verse  is  general.  '*  Les  paysans  du  val  de  Nievole  frequentent  le  spectacle 
les  jours  de  fete,  en  6te\  de  neuf  a  onze  heures  du  soir :  leur  admission  ne  leur 
coute  guere  que  cinq  sols  de  France.  Alfieri  est  leur  auteur  de  predilection ; 
tout©  Thistoire  de*  Atrides  est  familiere  a  ces  hommes  qui  ne  savent  pas  lire,  et 
qui  vont  demander  a  ce  pocte  austere  un  delassement  de  leurs  rudes  travaux." 
Unlike  most  rustics,  they  find  pleasure  in  the  beauty  of  their  country.  (i  Dans 
les  collines  du  val  de  Nievole  on  trouve  devant  chaque  maison,  Faire  pour  battre 
le  bl6,  qui  a  rarement  plus  de  vingt-cinq  a  trente  toises  carries,  e'est  le  plus 
souvent.le  seul  espace  de  niveau  qu'on  rencontre  dans  toute  la  m6tairie.  En 
meme  temps  e'est  une  terrasse  qui  domine  les  plaines  et  la  valine,  et  d'ou  la  vue 
s'etend  sur  un  pays  ravissant.  Presque  jamais  je  ne  m'y  suis  arrets  pour  Fad- 
mirer,  sans  que  le  metayer  soit  venu  jouir  de  mon  admiration,  ct  m'indiquer  du 
doigt  les  beautea  qu'il  croyait  pouvoir  m'avoir  echappe." 

894  BOOK  a     CHAPTER  VIIL     {4. 

one  which  we  should  be  anxious  to  introduce  where  the 
exigencies  of  society  had  not  naturally  given  birth  to  it ; 
but  neither  ought  we  to  be  eager  to  abolish  it  on  a  mere 
d  priori  view  of  its  disadvantages.  If  the  system  in  Tus- 
cany works  as  well  in  practice  as  it  is  represented  to  do, 
with  every  appearance  of  minute  knowledge,  by  so  compe- 
tent an  authority  as  SiBmondi ;  if  the  mode  of  living  of  the 
people,  and  the  size  of  farms,  have  for  ages  maintained  and 
still  maintain  themselves*  such  as  they  are  said  to  be  by 
him,  it  were  to  be  regretted  that  a  state  of  rural  well-being 
so  much  beyond  what  is  realised  in  most  European  coun- 
tries, should  be  put  to  hazard  by  an  attempt  to  introduce, 
under  the  guise  of  agricultural  improvement,  a  system  of 
money-rents  and  capitalist  farmers.  Even  where  the  metay- 
ers are  poor,  and  the  subdivision  great,  it  is  not  to  be 
assumed  as  of  course,  that  the  change  would  be  for  the  bet- 
ter. The  enlargement  of  farms,  and  the  introduction  of 
what  are  called  agricultural  improvements,  usually  diminish 
the  number  of  labourers  employed  on  the  land ;  and  unless 
the  growth  of  capital  in  trade  and  manufactures  affords  an 
opening  for  the  displaced  population,  or  unless  there  are 
reclaimable  wastes  on  which  they  can  be  located,  competi- 
tion will  so  reduce  wages,  that  they  will  probably  be  worse 
off  as  day-labourers  than  they  were  as  metayers. 

Mr.  Jones  very  properly  objects  against  the  French 
Economists  of  the  last  century,  that  in  pursuing  their  fa- 
vourite object  of  introducing  money-rents,  they  turned 
their  minds  solely  to  putting  farmers  in  the  place  of  metay- 
ers, instead  of  transforming  the  existing  metayers  into  far* 

*  "On  ne  voit  jamais,"  says  Sismondi,  " une  famiUe  de  metayers  proposer  a 
son  maitre  de  partager  sa  mStairie,  k  moins  que  le  travail  ne  soit  reeUement 
supe>ieur  a  ses  forces,  et  qu'elle  ne  sente  la  certitude  de  conserver  les  memes 
jouis&ances  sur  un  moindre  cspace  de  terrain.  On  ne  voit  jamais  dans  une 
famiUe  plusieurs  fils  se  marier  en  meme  temps,  et  former  autant  de  menages 
nouveaux ;  un  seul  prend  une  femme  et  se  charge  des  soins  du  menage ;  aucun 
de  ses  freres  ne  se  marie