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of society; a state in which the mass of the people is habitually confined to a bare subsistence, and, consequently, exposed from time to time, from the accidents of trade, or of the seasons, to absolute want. I will not dwell on the misery of those on whom actual want does fall : it is too painful to be steadfastly contemplated, and forms only a small part of the evil. The great evil is the general feeling of insecurity: the fear which must beset almost every man, whose labor produces him only a subsistence, and who has no resource against contingencies, that at some period, how near he cannot tell, the want under which he has seen others sink may

reach himself. The principal sources of happiness are the social affections, but (to use the words of a powerful writer, and a very accurate observer of human nature) “ the man whose thoughts are perpetually harassed by the torment of immediate, or the dread of future want, loses the power of benevolent sympathy with his fellow-creatures; loses the virtuous feeling of a desire for their pleasures, and an aversion to their pains; rather, perhaps, hates their pleasures, as rendering the sense of his own misery more pungent; desires their pains, as rendering the sense of that misery the less. This is the explanation of the cruel and ferocious character which uniformly accompanies the hardships of savage life. Another result of suffering is, that it produces an extraordinary greediness for immediate gratification ; a violent propensity to seek compensation from any sensual indulgence which is within the reach. It is a consequence that the poorest individuals in civilised society are the most intemperate ; the least capable of deny. ing themselves any pleasure, however hurtful, which they can command. Hence their passion for intoxicating liquors ; hence, because he is still more wretched, the still more furious passion for them in the savage."

It is scarcely necessary to add that such a population must be grossly ignorant. The desire for knowlege is one of the last results of refinement; it requires, in general, to have been implanted in the mind during childhood ; and it is absurd to suppose that persons thus situated would have the power or the will to devote much to the education of their children. A further consequence is the absence of all real religion : for the religion of the grossly ignorant, if they have any, scarcely ever amounts to more than a debasing superstition.

It is impossible that, under such circumstances, there should be an effectual administration of justice. The law has few terrors for a man who has nothing to lose. Its efficiency, too, is almost altogether dependent on the support it receives from the general


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· History of British India, h. 6. c. 6.

body of the people. Among a very poor, and consequently, a very ignorant people, sympathy is almost always in favor of the offender : his flight is favored, his lurking-places are concealed, the witnesses against him are intimidated, and he escapes even after he has become the subject of prosecution ; but more frequently he escapes even prosecution. Outrages are committed in the

presence of hundreds, and we are told that not one of the perpetrators can be identified; that is, though they are well known, the witnesses conceal their knowlege.

When such is the character of the bulk of the community, there can be no security for the persons or property of any of its members. The three great restraints from crime,-religion, good feeling, and law, have, as we have seen, little force, while the great source of crime, the passion for immediate enjoyment, acquires additional strength.

I do not expect to be accused of having exaggerated the wretchedness of a country in which the bulk of the people are subject to the pressure or the apprehension of want. But I may be told, perhaps, that I have supposed an extreme case, a danger to which no civilised society is exposed, to provide against which is a waste of labor. ;

My answer is, first, that the miserable situation which I have described has, up to the present time, been that of many of the inhabitants of every densely-peopled country.

Mr. Mylne has shown (Life Annuities, vol. ii. p. 390,) that in England any material reduction in the price of wheat is almost always accompanied by a decrease in the number of burials; and that any material rise in the price is generally attended by a corresponding increase in the burials. This proves that there must be almost always in this country a considerable number of persons just vibrating between the possession and the want of mere food; whom an inclination of the price, one way or the other, saves or destroys. In London alone, when London was far less populous than it is now, Dr. Colquhoun estimated that there were never less than 20,000 persons who rose in the morning ignorant what means—whether casual employment, pillage, or mendicity--would give them food for the day, or shelter for the ensuing night. While I am now speaking, there are thousands and tens of thou. sands of families of hand weavers, in Lancashire and Yorkshire, who are working fourteen hours a day for what will scarcely support animal existence. . And those are, perhaps, still more numerous who cannot obtain regular employment even on such terms as these, but are eking out the deficiency of their wages by the gradual sale of their little stock of clothes and furniture. Unless we are prepared to maintain that there can be no measures by

which the number of persons so situated can be increased or diminished, we are, at least, bound to inquire into the pretensions of the science which professes to point out those measures.

But it is not true that the extreme case of general,pauperism, which I have described, is one to which no civilised society can be exposed. A large portion of the British Empire has been sinking into it during the last thirty years, and apparently with increased rapidity.

The House of Commons' Committee, appointed in the beginning of this year to consider the expediency of encouraging emigration from the United Kingdom, commence their Report by stating, as among the results of the evidence collected by them, “ That there are extensive districts in Ireland, and districts in England and Scotland, where the population is at the present mo. ment redundant ; in other words, where there exists a very considerable proportion of able-bodied and active laborers, beyond that number to which any existing demand for labor can afford employment. That the effect of this redundancy is not only to reduce a part of this population to a great degree of destitution and misery, but also to deteriorate the general condition of the laboring-classes. That by its producing a supply of labor in excess, as compared with the demand, the wages of labor are necessarily reduced to a minimum, which is utterly insufficient to supply that population with those means of support and subsistence which are necessary to secure a healthy and satisfactory condition of the community. That in England this redundant population has been, in part, supported by a parochial rate, which, according to the reports and evidence of former committees specially appointed to consider the subject, threatens, in its extreme tendency, to absorb the whole rental of the country. And that in Ireland, where no such parochial rate exists by law, and where the redundancy is found in a still greater degree, a considerable part of the population is dependent for the means of support on the precarious source of charity, or is compelled to resort to habits of plunder and spoliation for the actual means of subsistence."

If we turn to the Minutes, we shall find from Mr. Bodkin's evidence (p. 214) that the hope of being employed by the Mendicity Society in breaking stones at six-pence or eight-pence per day, a work from which English paupers absconded, produced such an emigration from the south of Ireland to London, that the Society were forced to make a distinction between the applicants, and to refuse the employment to any who had not resided in this country for a certain time. We shall find Mr. Becher stating (p. 193) that “ almost any change of situation would be for the benefit of the lower class in Munster:--the Bishop of Limerick (p. 144), that “the existing state of things is truly frightful.” Mr. Gabbitt (p. 127) describes the county of Limerick as “ the richest" (that is, I apprehend, the most fertile)" country in the world." he states that the best description of laborers, those best able to support a family, as soon as they can amass a sum sufficient to pay their passage, emigrate to America, “and leave all their children and families behind them, a load on the bounty of the public.” What must be the general misery of this country, so highlyfavored by nature, when the least miserable part of its laboring population are eager to escape from their wretchedness, not merely by an eternal separation from all those connected with them by nature and affection, but by leaving them "a load on the bounty of the public,” that is, to be supported by the charity of those who are too poor to emigrate? I am not sure whether I should not infer as intense suffering from Mr. Gabbitt's facts, as from the Bishop of Limerick's description of a dispossessed tenantry (p. 144),

without house, without food, without money, starving, and almost dying in the ditches.”

Happily there is no general misery in England like this; but even England, rich and prosperous, and well governed as she is beyond any other European community, is not, perhaps, quite beyond the sphere of a similar calamity. We have among our institutions, and our modes of acting, some which are eminently calculated to do more than merely retard our advancement,

I confidently hope that we shall not long have to contend with them; but my hope is founded solely on the expectation that the diffusion of sound principles of Political Economy will aid our enlightened ministers with the whole strength of public opinion, and enable them to conquer the ignorance, prejudice, and individual interest which have always been opposed to every improvement.

There are, however, many reasoners, or rather talkers and writers, who admit the importance of the subject, but distrust the conclusions of the science, and profess to be guided on all questions relating to it, not by the theories of political economists, but by the opinions of practical men, or their own common-sense.

By practical men are meant, I suppose, those who have had experience in the matters which Political Economy considers. But who has not had that experience? The revenue of all men must consist of rent, profit, or wages. They must all exchange it for commodities or services. They all know, or have equally the means of knowing, for it can be discovered only by reflection, why they set a high value on some things, a low one on others, and disregard a third class.

An academical body is not very commercial, but, probably, there is no one present who does not make twenty exchanges every week. If this expérience is not enough to enable him to understand how the human passions'act in buying and selling, he would be unable to comprehend it, though his transactions equalled in number and amount those of Baring or of Rothschild. It is, in fact, as impossible to avoid being a practical economist, as to avoid being a practical logician. The man who, beside the daily traffic in which we are all necessarily engaged, has devoted himself to any peculiar branch of trade or manufacture, (and such is the general character of those who are called practical men,) is much more likely to have his 'general views contracted than extended by it. He is apt to suppose that what he thinks useful and hurtful to himself, must be useful and hurtful to the community. Thus, the poor working-clothiers of Stroud attributed the public distress to the introduction of machinery in the manufacture of cloth; and Mr. Webb Hall calculated that a fall in the price of corn of 10s. a quarter would be a loss to the whole country of £20,000,000 a year.

To those who profess to be guided solely by common-sense, I will quote, in the first place, Dr. Whately's admirable illustration of the nature of common-sense, and of the absurdity of trusting to it where a better guide is to be found :

« By common-sense,” says Dr. Whately, “is meant, I apprehend, (when the term is used with any distinct meaning,) an exer. cise of the judgment unaided by any art or system of rules ; such. as we must necessarily employ in numberless cases of daily occurrence; in which, having no established principles to guide us,-no line of procedure, as it were, distinctly chalked out,—we must needs act on the best extemporaneous conjectures we can form. He who is eminently skilful in doing this, is said to possess a superior degree of common-sense. But that common-sense is only our second-best guide that the rules of art, if judiciously framed, are always desirable when they can be had, is an assertion, for the truth of which I may appeal to the testimony of mankind in general; which is so much the more valuable, inasmuch as it may be accounted the testimony of adversaries. For the generality have a strong predilection in favor of common-sense, except in those points in which they respectively possess the knowlege of a system of rules; but in these points they deride any one who trusts to unaided common-sense. A sailor, e. g., will perhaps despise the pretensions of medical men, and prefer treating a disease by common-sense : but he would ridicule the proposal of navigating a ship by common-sense, without regard to the maxims of nautical art. A physician, again, will perhaps contemn Systems of Political Economy, of Logic, or Metaphysics, and insist

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