« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
Examination of the doctrines and reasonings of Malthus continued. He is shown to have supplied abundant evidence for proving that the cause of deficiency of capital, or the means of maintaining population, is the neglect and absence of good social principle and action. - Notwithstanding his admissions of this failure of social duty on the part of man, by which deficiency is entailed, he advances the unwarrantable conclusion that a sufficiency for maintaining population is not provided under the law of the Creator,
UPON continuing my examination of the work of Mr. Malthus which is now under consideration, I find that the author, having adopted into his course of reasoning the two principles of progression which I have examined, and being necessitated, on many occasions, to work out his premises by their strict inductions, has, by so doing, brought his train of argument into collision with another train, which a selfevident state of facts enforces the recognition of. Thus, his course of argument presents an alternating assignment of cause, for the bringing about a uniform and an accredited effect. Now the effect or defect to be accounted for is, the absence of sufficiency, by which the physical destitution of a great part of mankind is necessitated. The question then is, whence arises this? Now as to the means. These consist of an immense and incalculable variety of matter furnished by the power of a divine and beneficent Creator. This on the one side. On the other, man cannot create; that is, he cannot create primarily; but by his labour and his intelligence he can modify and appropriate the matter given; that is, he can create secondarily, or he can create capital or means.
The material fund, therefore, though passive or submissive, is yet endued with the capability of being converted, by the active instrumentality of human power, into a vast variety of sustenantial, useful, and agreeable modifications. Thus there are in operation two distinct agencies: the one creative primarily― the other creative secondarily or appropriative.
Now the view taken by Malthus of this interesting and important subject has, most unhappily, led him to the inference of defective primary creation; hence his principle of the greatly-restrained power of forming capital as ordained by natural law, which asserted limitation he has attempted the explication of, by means of the arithmetical ratio of increase; and as corollaries on this principle, he is necessitated to assign, as causes of the evil, that which he denominates "the inevitable laws of nature;" and then follow his frequent attempts to rescue from censure human institutions, human government, and human social action.
Having shown how entirely destitute of solidity the line of argument is, whereby he has attempted to prove deficient primary provision, I will now advert to the many and remarkable admissions which his work contains, on the side of wrong or defective appropriation; that is, secondary provision or that wrought through the agency of man. These abound in almost every part of the 3rd and 4th books. I will adduce first a remarkable passage, in which the ill effect produced on capital by the employment of the destitute poor on manufactures is treated of; and also another, the tendency of which is to establish the general ill effect of competition: they are as follow:
"The attempts to employ the poor on any great scale in manufactures have almost invariably failed, and the stock and materials have been wasted. In those few parishes which, by better management or larger funds, have been
enabled to persevere in this system, the effect of these new manufactures in the market must have been to throw out of employment many independent workmen, who were before engaged in fabrications of a similar nature. This effect has been placed in a strong point of view, by Daniel de Foe, in an address to Parliament, entitled, Giving Alms no Charity.' Speaking of the employment of parish children in manufactures, he says, 'For every skein of worsted these poor children spin, there must be a skein the less spun by some poor family that spun it before; and for every piece of baize so made in London, there must be a piece the less made at Colchester or somewhere else.' Sir F. M. Eden, on the same subject, observes, that whether mops and brooms are made by parish children or by private workmen, no more can be sold than the public is in want of.""
"It will be said, perhaps, that the same reasoning might be applied to any new capital brought into competition in a particular trade or manufacture, which can rarely be done without injuring, in some degree, those that were engaged in it before. But there is a material difference in the two cases. In this the competition is perfectly fair, and what every man on entering into business must lay his account to."*
It will be evident that the matter of the above quotations is in the highest degree important, as bearing directly upon the great principle involved in the whole inquiry. Attention should be particularly directed to the false mode here resorted to for turning aside the effects of an evil admitted. The writer says, that in one case, the proceeding is "perfectly fair," and that the result might have been expected. But the question which he had to deal with and to decide was the exact nature of the facts: simply, whether by the course of com
* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A.M., book 3, ch. vi. p. 347.
petition adduced, the arrangement of facts would be injurious or beneficial to the general capital. If injurious, that efforts should be made for the purpose of restraining the cause as much as possible; if beneficial, that no restraint of law should be attempted.
Again, he asserts, that the subject is surrounded on all sides by the most formidable difficulties; and he readmits the ill effects of competition. Thus
"The whole subject is surrounded on all sides by the most formidable difficulties; and in no state of things is it so necessary to recollect the saying of Daniel de Foe, quoted in the last chapter. The manufactures all over the country, and the Spitalfields' weavers in particular, are in a state of the deepest distress, occasioned immediately and directly by the want of demand for the produce of their industry, and the consequent necessity felt by the masters of turning off many of their workmen, in order to proportion the supply to the contracted demand. It is proposed, however, by some wellmeaning people, to raise by subscription a fund for the express purpose of setting to work again those who have been turned off by their masters, the effect of which can only be to continue glutting a market already much too fully supplied. This is most naturally and justly objected to by the masters, as it prevents them from withdrawing the supply, and taking the only course which can prevent the total destruction of their capitals, and the necessity of turning off all their men instead of a part."*
Again: "On the subject of the distresses of the poor, and particularly the increase of pauperism of late years, the most erroneous opinions have been circulated. During the progress
* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A.M., book 3, ch. vii. p. 355.
of the war, the increase in the proportion of persons requiring parish assistance, was attributed chiefly to the high price of the necessaries of life. We have seen these necessaries of life experience a great and sudden fall, and yet, at the same time, a still larger proportion of the population requiring parish assistance."
Again: "The principal causes of the increase of pauperism, independently of the present crisis, are, first, the general increase of the manufacturing system, and the unavoidable variations of manufacturing labour."†
Again: "In a country where the wages of labour estimated in food are low, and that food is relatively of a very low value, both with regard to domestic and foreign manufactures, the condition of the labouring classes of society must be the worst possible."
And, speaking of Poland:
"Yet here corn is in abundance, and great quantities of it are yearly exported. But it appears clearly, that it is not either the power of the country to produce food, or even what it actually produces, that limits and regulates the progress of population, but the quantity which in the actual state of things is awarded to the labourer, and the rate at which the funds so appropriated increase."
"In the present case the demand for labour is very small, and though the population is inconsiderable, it is greater than the scanty capital of the country can fully employ; the condition of the labourer, therefore, is depressed by his being able to command only such a quantity of food as will maintain a stationary or very slowly increasing population. It is
* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A. M., book 3, ch. vii. p. 360.
+ Ibid. p. 365.
Ibid. p. 392.