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which are placed under the control of labour were rightly developed and appropriated, or just courses of exchange observed.
The doctrine here advanced necessitates again a collision between individual freedom of action and social obligation. The doctrine is diametrically opposed to that free enjoyment of wealth, which most men in all shapes, and which almost all men in some shape, so vehemently contend for. But, notwithstanding the amount of human predilection for the one, and of human aversion from the other, I contend that the law of production and consumption, involving the paramount social obligation which I have advanced, is imperative, irresistible, and ever cogent. For the purpose of illustrating it, I will recollate the facts which the case comprises. I will assume that a possessor of wealth in Ireland is expending in that country his income of 5000l. a year, derived in the shape of rent of land, this land being cultivated for the purpose of procuring from it productions of a cereal and animal kind. Now, for keeping up his state of living, there are a certain number of persons employed in the capacity of domestic servants, both male and female; there are others employed in the gardens and grounds; and others in the stables; then there are those encouraged and supported in the neighbouring village or town, who have to supply commodities for the daily family consumption. Matters being in this state, the possessor and distributor of wealth resolves on quitting the sphere where his property is acquired, and where it has been expended or distributed.
In pursuance of this resolution he closes his mansion, discharges some of his domestic servants, some of his gardeners, and some of those employed in his stables, and, then, with his family, departs. By this procedure the labour of the servants who are dismissed will be added to the supply of labour
already in the market, and, in addition to this derangement, there comes the cessation of demand on the stocks of the shopkeepers who have been accustomed to supply the family with commodities, and, in fact, a derangement between the supply and demand of all that labour and all those commodities which the keeping up of a large establishment necessitates.
Now, all this course of action constitutes a backward process, and an injurious process. It is, I contend, unjust and unwarrantable, because it involves an infraction of that law of exchange or of commerce by which the constituent element of property is imparted, and by which the property of this very man who is engaged in committing the injury must have been formed, for it can only have been by the demand made and continued by other men that the productions of which his property is composed have acquired and retain value. Only let a like cessation of demand be applied to those productions, by the demand for which it is that he himself and his family derive the means of living, instead of finding purchasers in the several markets for his commodities, the productions procured from his land, consisting of wheat, oats, and cattle, let these commodities be shunned and rejected, a demand for them be withdrawn, just as he has withdrawn demand for the property and labour of other men, and then, in what position will he be? Why, in that precise position in which, so far as he is concerned, he would place, and has placed, others! He has reversed the process of the creation of value or property as regarded the interests of others, and now this reversal is turned homewards on himself; he is sent forth upon the world an evicted beggar. If such retributive justice could be impartially dealt out to all, we should have all such persons upholding a love and conservation of their country's interests, because, without
this love and conservation their own interests must perish: a base motive, certainly, but still a motive that would operate beneficially. In addition to the physical characteristic of the subject, which consists of the conservation of that wealth or capital, by which it has been ordained that the corporeal requirements of man, in all civilised communities, shall be supplied, there are to be considered other great and important characteristics. When the true social character of property, the obligations annexed to it, and the power which is conveyed by it, are seen and acknowledged, it is seen and acknowledged also how influential and important the working of property is in a moral and spiritual sense. Thus, when men possessing such property, and consequent power, as I have just described, acknowledge and fulfil the high obligations which are annexed to its possession by the just and eternal law of the Creator, it is seen what an important influence is acquired by the right exercise of this power over the spirits and minds of men who live within the range of its influence. The animating principle of society is made by it to assume an altered character, for instead of indifference to the welfare of others, there being sympathy; instead of selfishness there being social attachment with due and honourable sacrifice; instead of absence from those varied circumstances and scenes connected with human life, which are so materially affected and modified by assistance, advice, and example; there being voluntary presence amongst them, — the effect is social union and love, in place of disunion, discord, and contempt; the spirits of men being made to see and to feel the working of the paramount obligations of property, have, by the influence of this beneficial working, their dormant inclination for union awakened within them. The honourable men of the world see all this, and are ever active in fulfilling it in the degree to which their power extends; whilst by the
selfish and the base, it is evaded and spurned. When the true and honourable possessor of property desires to quit for a time the sphere where his property operates so beneficially and so influentially, he is careful in making such arrangements as shall prevent injury being inflicted on account of his temporary absence. All things are kept, as nearly as is possible, in the state in which they have been used to be, and in which they are required to be; his absence for the purpose of recreation, or for other good and lawful objects, is not prolonged beyond a given period, and that expenditure of property which is incurred for it, is done by means of some superfluous wealth which he can assign for it; and this careful provision being made, and this just regulation observed, that injurious abstraction from the customary and aggregate expenditure or support which has been extended, by means of his property, to those who live in the neighbourhood, is not made.
The horrid condition in which the large proportion of the labouring families of Ireland have, during past ages, been placed, and are now placed, with more or less exception, has often been described, though the social courses by which this condition has been induced have seldom, if ever, been so carefully investigated as to be traced to their true source. He who has visited this unhappy country has had before him, in the larger part of it, the lamentable spectacle of the families of men being in the worst, or, indeed, the only wretched, condition of all the creatures that are destined to live, and move, and retain existence, in that country. So small have the earnings of men become, that all which it is possible for them to command is, firstly, a low, mean, dirty, and miserable hovel for a dwelling, a structure far worse than those which are prepared for the protection of cattle; secondly, clothing of the commonest and refuse kind, scanty and ragged; food,
the potato only, though sometimes there may be the addition of a little sour milk. The wages earned are so small as to prevent the possibility of buying or demanding anything more than the things just mentioned; at the same time the country is seen to be of an admirable fertility, and highly cultivated, abounding in the productions of wheat, barley, oats, and other agricultural produce, and also in cattle. These, however, are conveyed to the shipping ports of Cork, Waterford, and other places, to be exported for the consumption of those families of another country who can afford to buy or demand them. It will be evident to every reflecting person, that the abundance of grain, of which good and wholesome bread might be made, cannot be grown or produced for those who are not able to pay the cost of growing or producing; likewise with animal food. At the same time it will be evident, that all these commodities will be grown, or produced, for all who have the power of buying or demanding, that is, of paying the cost of producing, together with the necessary profit.
At the trying epoch when the country was visited by that blight which destroyed almost entirely the potato crop, and when, consequently, the people were perishing by thousands for want of their only food, the country was producing abundance and superabundance, though not of the kind which these poor and miserable people could command. So that the elements of food, namely, wheat, barley, oats, and cattle were daily being sent out of the country for the consumption and sustenance of other and more fortunate persons; and then, in order that relief might be conveyed to the starving people by means of temporary assistance or alms, a cereal food, or meal of a cheaper kind than that produced by the labourers themselves within the country, namely, meal ground from Indian corn, was imported and dealt out to the famishing people.