Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[blocks in formation]

rious effects are well understood, some judgment may be formed of the measures which governments have adopted to contribute to the welfare of their people ; whether certain branches of commerce should be encouraged in preference to others; whether it be proper to prohibit this or that kind of merchandise ; whether any peculiar encouragement should be given to agriculture ; whether it be right to establish by law the price of provisions or the price of labour, or whether they should be left without control; and whether many

other measures, which influence the welfare of nations, should be adopted or rejected.

It is manifest, therefore, that political economy consists of two parts-theory and practice; the science and the art. The science comprehends a knowledge of the facts which have been enumerated; the art relates more particularly to legislation, and consists in doing whatever is requisite to contribute to the increase of national wealth, and avoiding whatever would be prejudicial to it.

Mrs. BRYAN. QUESTIONS.--1. What is political economy? 2. What is the state of savage life? 3. What is the consequence of attending to pasturage ? 4. What is the effect of discovering the art of tillage? 5. What introduces property ? 6. What is the origin of social order ? 7. What follows after the laws assume the regular form of a government ? 8. On what is the science of political economy

founded? 9. How may some judgment be formed of the measures of governments? 10. What does the science of political economy comprehend ? 11. The art?

LESSON 105.

*Property. When we consider the multitude who are in possession of means of enjoyment, that are to them the means only of selfish avarice or of profligate waste, and when, at the same time, we consider the multitudes, far more numerous, to whom a small share of that cumbrous and seemingly unprofitable wealth, would in an instant diffuse a comfort, that would make the heart of the indigent gay in his miserable hovel, and be like a dream of health itself to that pale cheek, which is slowly wasting on its wretched bed of straw,sin cold and darkness, --it might almost seem to the inconsiderate, at least for a

236

PROPERTY

1

moment, that ro expression of the social voice could be so beneficial, as that which should merely say, let there be no restraint of property, but let all the means of provision for the wants of mankind, be distributed according to the more or less imperious necessity of those wants, which all partake. It requires only the consideration of a moment, however, to perceive, that the very distribution, would, itself, be the most injurious boon that could be offered to indigence,--that soon, under such a system of supposed freedom from the usurpations of the wealthy, there would only be one general penury, without the possibility of relief; and an industry, that would be exercised, not in plundering the wealthy, for there could not then be wealth to admit of plunder, but in snatching from the weaker some scanty morsel of a wretched aliment, that would scarcely be sufficient to repay the labour of the struggle, to him who was too powerful not to prevail. There would be no palaces, indeed, in such a system of equal rapine,—and this might be considered as but a slight evil, from the small number of those who were stripped of them; but when the chambers of state had disappeared, where would be the cottage, or rather the whole hamlet of cottages, that might be expected to occupy its place? The simple dwellings of the unhappy peasant might be the last, indeed, to be invaded ; but when the magnificent mansion had been stripped by the first band of plunderers, these too would soon find plunderers as rapacious. No elegant art could be exercised, no science cultivated, where the search of a precarious existence for the day, would afford us no leisure for studies or exercises beyond the supply of mere animal wants ; and man, who, with property, is what we now behold him, and is to be, in his glorious progress even on earth, a being far nobler than we are capable, in our present circumstances, of divining,-would, without property, soon become, in the lowest depth of brutal ignorance and wretchedness, what it is almost as difficult for our imagination to picture to us, as it would be for it to picture what he may become on earth, after the many long ages of successive improvement:

The great inequality of property, strange as it may seem to be at any one moment, is only the effect of that security and absolute command of property, which allows the continual accumulation 8f it by continued industry. If all things had been common to all,-instead of that beautiful

[ocr errors]

DIVISION OF LABOUR.

237

and populous earth which we behold,—where cities pour wealth on the fields, and the fields, in their turn, send plenty to the cities, where all are conferring aid and receiving aid, and the most sensual and selfish cannot consume a sin. gle luxury, without giving, however unintentionally, some comfort, or the means of comfort to others, - instead of this noble dwelling-place of so many noble inhabitants, we should have had a waste or a wilderness, and a few miserable stragglers, half famished on that wide soil which now gives abundance to millions.

BROWN. QUESTION.-What reasons may be given for the institution of property?

er

LESSON 106.

Division of Labour.
Smelting, the melting of ore in a furnace so as to extract the

metal. In the more precious metals this is called refining. THAT separation of employments, which, in political economy, is called the division of labour, can take place only in civilized countries. In the flourishing states of Europe and America we find men not only exclusively engaged in the exercise of one particular art, but that art subdivided into numerous branches, each of which forms a distinct occupation for the different workmen. Observe the accommodation of the most common artificer or day-labourer in a civilized and thriving country, and you will perceive that the number of people, of whose industry a part, though but a small part, has been employed in procuring him this accommodation, exceeds all computation. The woollen coat, for example, which covers the labourer, though it may appear coarse and rough, is the produce of the joint labour of a great number of workmen. The shepherds, the sorter of the wool, the carder, the dyer, the spinner, the weaver, the fuller, the dresser, with many others, must all join their different arts to complete even this ordinary production. How many merchants and carriers, besides, must have been employed in transporting the materials from some of those workmen to others who often live in a distant part of the country! How much com

238

DIVISION OF LABOUR.

merce and navigation in particular, how many ship-builders, sailors, sail-makers, rope-makers, must have been employed, in order to bring together the different drugs made use of by the dyer, which often come from the remotest corners of the world! What a variety of labour too is necessary in order to produce the tools of those workmen! To say no thing of such complicated machines as the ship of the sailor, the mill of the fuller, or even the loom of the weaver, let us consider only what a variety of labour is requisite to form that very simple machine, the shears with which the shepherd clips t’ie wool. The niner, the builder of the furnace for heating the ore, the burner of the charcoal to be made úse of in the sincling house, the brick-maker, the brick-layer, the workmen who attend the furnace, the mill-wright, the forger, the smith, must all of them join their different arts in order to produce them. Were we to examine, in the same manner, all the different parts of his dress and household furniture, the different hands employed in preparing his food, the glass window which lets in the heat and the light, and keeps out the wind and the rain, with all the knowledge and art requisite for preparing that beautiful and happy invention, together with the tools of all the different workmen employed in producing those different conveniences; if we examine all these things, and consider what a variety of labour is employed about each of them, we shall be sensible, that without the assistance and co-operation of many

thousands, the very humblest person in a civilized country could not be provided for, even according to what we falsely imagine the easy and simple manner in which he is commonly accommodated. Compared, indeed, with the more extravagant luxury of the great, his accommodation must no doubt appear extremely simple and easy; and yet it may be true, perhaps, that the accommodation of an European prince does not always so much exceed that of an industrious and frugal peasant, as the accommodation of the latter exceeds that of many an African king, the absolute master of the lives and liberties of ten thousand naked savages.

AGRICULTURE,

LESSON 107.

Agriculture. AGRICULTURE' is the science which explains the means of making the earth produce, in plenty and perfection, those vegetables which are necessary to the convenience or subsistence of man. Its practice demands a considerable knowledge of the relations subsisting between the most important objects of nature. It is eminently conducive to the advantage of those engaged in it, by-its tendency to promote their health, and to cherish in them a manly and ingenuous character. Every improvement made in the art must be considered as of high utility, as it facilitates the subsistence of a greater proportion of rational and moral agents; or if we suppose the number to be unincreased, furnishes them with greater opportunities than could be possessed before, of obtaining that intellectual and moral enjoyment, which is the most honourable characteristic of their nature. The strength of nations is in proportion to their skilful cultivation of the soil; and their independence is secured, and their patriotism animated, by obtaining from their native spot all the requisites for easy and vigorous subsistence. Not only to raise vegetables for the use of man, but for those animals also which are used as food, is obviously, therefore, part of the occupation of the husbandman; and to assist him in his operations, other animals are to be reared and fed by him, to relieve his labours by their strength and endurance of exertion. In cold, and comparatively infertile climates, the services of these creatures are particularly important, if not absolutely indispensable, and their health and multiplication become, therefore, objects of great and unremitted attention.

Since the errors of ancient husbandry have been corrected, and vulgar superstitious traditions exploded, agriculture has been gradually improving. A solid and rational system of the art has been founded upon clear and intelligible principles. The application of natural history and chemistry to it has greatly accelerated its improvements. Inquiries have been made into the causes of the fertility and barrenness of land, the food and nutriment of vegetables, the nature of soils, and the best niodes of meliorating them with various

« ForrigeFortsæt »