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Mr. Malthus touching the scale of fertility. And here Mr. Carey combats, with success, the notion supported by Malthus, et hoc genus omne, that, (6 as population increases, there arises a necessity for extending cultivation over land yielding a diminished return, attended with a constant diminution in the wages of labor and the profits of capital." Mr. Carey, as usual, does not take hold of this theory and dispose of it in its place or out of its place, at once, but scatters it here and there in his volume. His theory is in favor of concentration, "and dispersion is," he says, "the evil to be guarded against." This is, however, as much a theory as the other, and so Mr. Carey denominates it, and Ireland, at least, is an example against it. This might be expected; for it is a tremendous leap from Mr. Malthus's theory of a universal excess of population, clean across the circumference of political economy, to this opposite one of Mr. Carey, that there cannot be such an excess in any country. What is the utility of framing theories, which are true and false according to the circumstances? Concentration is best when it is favored by the laws, habits of the population, improved arts, and a general developement of physical and intellectual faculties and resources; otherwise it may be an evil. It does generally happen, that the greatest concentration of population takes place under the circumstances, which render this very augmentation a benefit, coöperating with a thousand other concurring causes to carry a nation forward. And thence, as might be expected, the statistical annals show, that usually in the same country, and with the same people, the condition of the laboring and other classes is the best, at the time when they most rapidly increase, and approach to the acme of numbers. So that Mr. Carey easily confutes Malthus out of the statistical records of Mr. Eden, and so far his argument is consolatory and cheering; but, being under the spell, and subject to the destiny, of this political economy, he must needs go directly into the opposite theory himself. The doctrine of perfectibility, that blazed out, with other meteors, at the time of the French revolution, insisted, that there was no limit to the possible, and practicable, and probable progress of society and the arts; and this is a much more grateful doctrine than the contrary one, that little or no progress has been made, or is possible; that we are, at the best, only capable of change, and a revolution about a circle. But, without professing perfectibility, every
one may say, that, as far as industry, arts, laws, and improvement of facilities and resources can keep pace with the augmentation of numbers, such augmentation is desirable, and we may well believe that they may be carried further than they yet have been. Whether the distance before us, therefore, is limited or infinite, the practical result is the same for the present; and, as long as we can see before us room for advancement, the practical inquiry for the legislator and philanthropist is, What circumstances promote the increase of population, and what are favorable and salutary causes of such increase; and to what extent, or upon what conditions, is such augmentation desirable?
Mr. Malthus answers, that it is so to the extent of the means of subsistence. And this is a very true, and at the same time not a very bold answer; for we already supposed, that the population could not subsist without food. The most material question is, What general causes will augment the provisions? Mr. Malthus has no reply but to subdue the ungrateful number ten, which he represents to be little better than starvation. He is the very Heraclitus of political economy. Mr. Carey adopts the more cheerful, and at present prevailing view, that, when we are reduced to hoe corn upon number ten, we work to better purpose, and are better fed and clad, than at Mr. Malthus's blessed number one, or any intermediate number.
Having disposed of lands, houses, rents, and all the phenomena of rude and high cultivation, roads, canals, and other avenues to a market, as affecting the economical condition of the community, we next, in convenient order of distribution, come to other species of capital, for land is one species. And we do not see the occasion of all the difficulty in defining capital; for what does it mean but those transferable, deliverable things, which bear a market price? A slave is capital, as he is transferable and deliverable; but the capacity of a freeman to earn wages, though as good as capital, since it affords income, is not capital; for, though he can agree to use this faculty for another, this is an agreement, but not the transfer or delivery of a thing. Wages are somewhat in the nature of rent and interest, being, like those, income. And here again we have a theory; some of the economists maintaining, that accumulation is advantageous, to an indefinite, or, if you please, an infinite
extent. But, as this doctrine cannot be practically applied or tested, it is, like most of the theories in this science, a hinderance, rather than a help, to knowledge. It will be apparent, at first sight, that a large amount of the capital of some countries such as jewelry, pictures, and statues, does not bear directly on industry and production. Still they may, in case of need, be sent abroad, as the jewelry of the South American countries at the commencement of their revolution, to buy ships and other things necessary in war or industry. The species of capital, what it consists in,-is quite a material consideration in the investigation of the national condition. Are the buildings, for instance, frail, and liable to be blown down in storms, or durable? Are the machines, and instruments of industry of all descriptions, clumsy or well constructed? Interesting investigations lie under these inquiries, which the economists have neglected. Again, not only the quantity and kinds of capital, but its distribution, whether in large masses or small subdivisions, has a material bearing upon the national condition. It has been remarked, by Mr. Webster, on some occasion, that the new law of descent of property in France, substituting an equal division in place of the old law of primogeniture, was sufficient of itself to work out a revolution in the entire social and economical condition and mutual relations of the inhabitants.
Connected with this subject is another of no less interest, namely; Whether the capital, the pursuits, and condition of a country are such, that its industry and productive capabilities are liable to sudden reverses. It is a well-known principle in regard to the laws, that their steadiness, and the uniformity and integrity of their administration, are essential to the wellbeing of a people, and the steadiness of the national industry and productiveness is no less essential. Now most of these questions, and many others, no less decisive of the general condition, make no figure in books of political economy, and hardly appear there at all, but give place to the fine-spun theories and verbal distinctions, of which we have spoken.
But the most elevated part of this science, and the most neglected, is that relating to the character and habits of the population of a country, and its political and social institutions, and literature, considered in all their phases, as bearing upon their economical condition. Everybody, economist or not, must perceive, that these are the living, animating
principles, that generally determine the destiny of a people in matters of productiveness and wealth; and yet they have hitherto scarcely made their appearance in works of political economy. These topics do not come at all within the thirty-seven "laws of nature" which Mr. Carey deems himself to have established in this, his First Part; and we do not see any particular provision for their introduction on “a future occasion," in the hints given by him of the subjects of his subsequent part or parts. There are not wanting signs, from various quarters, that the higher subjects of the science will, ere long, find a place in the works that treat of it. But shall we, it has sometimes been asked, have discussions on ethics, the fine arts, and government, in a work on political economy? Undoubtedly we shall. We have discussions now on agriculture, capital, trade, navigation, and banking; not precisely such as agriculturists, traders, navigators, and bankers would give on their respective pursuits, but such as show, or are intended to show, the general circumstances in these several subjects, by which the national growth in wealth is checked and promoted.
It is plain, that the productive faculties are no less affected. by the religion, the morals, the social distinctions, the political, and the juridical administration; why not then consider them? not analytically and elaborately, as in works devoted especially to them, but in those aspects in which they have an economical influence.
We have long chapters on what Smith denominates division of labor, by which he means separation or distribution of employments; and this thing is exaggerated into an immense magnitude, as if it were the quiet, occult power, that bears civilized society forward to its stupendous achievements in industry. These extravagant notions are going out of date; but the exaggeration upon this topic, as upon many others, which properly belong to the science, serves but to distort it, and to convert a truth into a practical error; for it is as important a mistake to assign to a given cause fifty times its true effects, as to attribute a part of those effects to a cause with which they have no connexion. It overlays the subject with a dead weight, and gratuitously; since nothing is to be done in the matter by legislation or otherwise, however the fact may be; for this distribution can be carried only to the extent of the limits assigned by density of population, facility
of communication, accumulation of capital in masses, and the formation of extensive systems of production. The practicability of the distribution is incident to certain combinations of circumstances, and will be governed by those; and those combinations grow out of other causes, which the economist should seek out, and explain, and show the distinction and multiplication of pursuits as being attendant upon them.
This subject of division of labor would thus shrink into its proper dimensions, and give place for other topics, hitherto slightly mentioned, or wholly omitted. For example, the inventive faculty is far more active in one nation than another, and yet we find it mentioned by the economists only very superficially, and by many of them not at all. The mere prejudices, and habits of thinking, of a people, as to useful pursuits, have a more decisive influence upon productive capabilities, than all the causes mentioned by most of the economists put together. Witness the old prejudices of the French in regard to the degradation of the mercantile profession, and the analogous prejudices of the people of Hindostan in regard to certain trades. A cause that operates so strongly ought to occupy the attention of the expounders of national prosperity and decline; yet we scarcely meet with it in their works. They discourse of the division of labor, the geometrical series, and what not, in preference.
The legislation of a country has an irresistible influence upon the productive energies; and what do we find in the works of the economical doctors respecting it? Why, we find those of one side saying, Laissez nous faire, "Let us alone, pass no law whatever, with the express purpose of furthering production, whether by bounties and rewards, taxes, or otherwise; and those on the other, saying, that you must fill the statute-book with laws and regulations of this description; and those of each side are equally sweeping, dogmatical, and absolute in their assertions and denials. These occupy the two extremes of the scale, one the boiling point of prohibition, the other the zero of free trade. Can any reflecting man imagine, that science consists in these extravagances? Is it not evident to every man, that a vast proportion of the legislation and administration of the laws, and the police regulations, have a prodigious effect, direct and indirect, upon productive activity, though no professed