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further depressed by the low relative value of the food which he earns, which gives to any surplus he may possess a very small power in the purchase of manufactured commodities or foreign produce.

"Under these circumstances, we cannot be surprised that all accounts of Poland should represent the condition of the lower classes of society as extremely miserable; and the other parts of Europe, which resemble Poland in the state of their land and capital, resemble it in the condition of their people.

"In justice, however, to the agricultural system, it should be observed that the premature check to the capital, and the demand for labour which occurs in some of the countries of Europe, while land continues in considerable plenty, is not occasioned by the particular direction of their industry, but by the vices of the government and the structure of the society, which prevent its full and fair development in that direction."

In the quotations just made it is clearly and fully admitted that the entire virtue of the subject is concentred in the question of the appropriation of matter by the will and labour of man. No allusion whatever is here made to the original and appalling conclusion of the author, namely, that by the law in nature, the principle of the expansion and increase of subsistence is not sufficiently large for the principle of the expansion and increase of population. The evil is here attributed to the misappropriation of matter, or, the wrong direction given to labour.

Again: also he sets down as causes of the evil deplored, the difficulty of confining improvements in machinery,—the frequent changes that occur in the channels of trade-the injury

* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A.M., book 3, ch. viii. p. 394.

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sustained by capital by means of foreign competition, added to which, that domestic competition produces similar effects. I will now quote passages containing these arguments:

"A country which excels in commerce and manufactures, may purchase corn from a variety of others; and it may be supposed, perhaps, that proceeding upon this system it may continue to purchase an increasing quantity, and to maintain a rapidly increasing population, till the lands of all the nations. with which it trades are fully cultivated. As this is an event necessarily at a great distance, it may appear that the population of such a country will not be checked from the difficulty of procuring subsistence till after the lapse of a great number of ages.

"There are, however, causes constantly in operation, which will occasion the pressure of this difficulty, long before the event here contemplated has taken place, and while the means of raising food in the surrounding countries may still be comparatively abundant.

"In the first place, advantages which depend exclusively upon capital and skill, and the present possession of particular channels of commerce, cannot in their nature be permanent. We know how difficult it is to confine improvements in machinery to a single spot; we know that it is the constant object, both of individuals and countries, to increase their capital; and we know, from the past history of commercial states, that the channels of trade are not unfrequently taking a different direction. It is unreasonable therefore to expect that any one country, merely by the force of skill and capital, should remain in possession of markets, uninterrupted by foreign competition. But, when a powerful foreign competition takes place, the exportable commodities of the country in question must soon fall to prices which will essentially reduce profits; and the fall of profits will diminish both the

power and the will to save. Under these circumstances the accumulation of capital will be slow, and the demand for labour proportionably slow, till it comes nearly to a stand; while, perhaps, the new competitors, either by raising their own raw materials or by some other advantages, may still be increasing their capitals and population with some degree of rapidity.

"But, secondly, even if it were possible for a considerable time to exclude any formidable foreign competition, it is found that domestic competition produces almost unavoidably the same effects. If a machine be invented in a particular country, by the aid of which one man can do the work of ten, the possessors of it will of course at first make very unusual profits; but, as soon as the invention is generally known, so much capital and industry will be brought into this new and profitable employment, as to make its products greatly exceed both the foreign and domestic demand at the old prices. These prices, therefore, will continue to fall, till the stock and labour employed in this direction ceases to yield unusual profits. In this case it is evident that, though in an early period of such a manufacture the product of the industry of one man for a day might have been exchanged for such a portion of food as would support forty or fifty persons; yet, at a subsequent period, the product of the same industry might not purchase the support of ten."


Again, when treating of the cause of the decline of the trade of Holland, he asserts it to have been domestic competition; and then, in alluding to those branches of commerce which had retained their former vigour, he ascribes it to their being independent of foreign power and competition, while just after there appears the following passage in a note: —

* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A.M., book 3, ch. ix.

P. 402.

"It is a curious fact, that among the causes of the decline of the Dutch trade, Sir William Temple reckons the cheapness of corn, which, he says, has been for these dozen years, or more, general in these parts of Europe. This cheapness, he says, impeded the vent of spices and other Indian commodities among the Baltic nations, by diminishing their power of purchasing."

Again, when treating on Corn Laws, and adverting to the exhaustion of the fertility of land, he remarks that, "The British Isles show at present no symptoms whatever of this species of exhaustion;" and in the next page he adds, that, "when we consider what has actually been done in some districts of England and Scotland, and compare it with what remains to be done in other districts, we must allow that no near approach to this limit has yet been made." †

I will now quote passages establishing the fact of misappropriation or want of proper regulation of commerce : -

"In the natural and regular process of a country to a state of great wealth and population, there are two disadvantages to which the lower classes of society seem necessarily to be subjected. The first is, a diminished power of supporting children under the existing habits of the society with respect to the necessaries of life. And the second, the employment of a larger proportion of the population in occupations less favourable to health, and more exposed to fluctuations of demand and unsteadiness of wages.

"The second disadvantage to which the lowest classes of society are subjected in the progressive increase of wealth is, that a larger portion of them is engaged in unhealthy occupations, and in employments to which the wages of labour

* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A.M., book 3, ch. ix. p. 419.

+ Ibid. book 3, ch. xii. pp. 492, 493.

are exposed to much greater fluctuations than in agriculture, and the simpler kinds of domestic trade.

"In addition to the fluctuations arising from the changes from peace to war, and from war to peace, it is well known how subject particular manufactures are to fail from the caprices of taste. The weavers of Spitalfields were plunged into the most severe distress by the fashion of muslins instead of silks; and great numbers of workmen, in Sheffield and Birmingham, were for a time thrown out of employment, owing to the adoption of shoe strings and covered buttons, instead of buckles and metal buttons. Our manufactures, taken in the mass, have increased with prodigious rapidity, but in particular places they have failed; and the parishes where this has happened are invariably loaded with a crowd of poor, in the most distressed and miserable condition." *

Again, he writes: "It has been observed that many countries, at the period of their greatest degree of populousness, have lived in the greatest degree of plenty, and have been able to export corn; but, at other periods, when their population was very low, have lived in continual poverty and want, and have been obliged to import corn. Egypt, Palestine, Rome, Sicily, and Spain, are cited as particular exemplifications of this fact.

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"In the numerous instances of depopulation which occur in history, the causes may always be traced to the want of industry, or the ill-direction of that industry, arising from violence, bad government, ignorance, &c., which first occasion a want of food, and, of course, depopulation follows. When Rome adopted the custom of importing all her corn, and laying all Italy into pasture, she soon declined in population. The causes of the depopulation of Egypt and Turkey have

* An Essay on the Principle of Population, by T. R. Malthus, A. M., book 3, ch. xiii. pp. 12, 13, 14.

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