Page images
PDF
EPUB

Sect. 6.

Produce.

In England then, rents have risen, the pro- Book f. portion of hands employed in cultivation has be- Chap. vii

. come much less than formerly, and the proportion of the gross produce, taken by the landlord Increase of

English as rent, has diminished. It follows from the pre- Rents is ceding principles and calculations, that the general creased rise of rents which has taken place, has not "pro“ ceeded from the employment of an additional

quantity of labor with a proportionally less re

turn,” but from some cause or causes essentially distinct from that, and attended by opposite results.

It appears then, as the last result of our analysis, that the increased rents of this country have proceeded from better farming and greater produce'.

There are persons, no doubt, and more perhaps among the ranks of the political economists of the present day than elsewhere, who will disdain conclusions so like those of the uninitiated. Those who have been trained in better schools of reasoning, must smile at such a feeling. The enquirer into the secrets of nature expects with reason that the progress of his labors will lead to the continual revelation of fresh wonders: but in ethical and political investigations, our general views must, for the most part, be founded on facts and feelings common

1 To estimate that greater produce fairly, it is always to be recollected, that we must not confine our views to the increased corn produce of small spots, although that is remarkable, but must take in the varied produce of considerable tracts; or at least, of whole farms.

Chap. vii.
Sect. 6.

Rents is from in. creased Produce.

Book I. to the human race, and forcing themselves into

very general observation. On these subjects, there

fore, without shewing any quarter to stubborn preIncrease of judice or brute ignorance, we may still very safely

conclude that there are no symptoms of a false and diseased spirit of philosophizing so certain, as a feverish thirst for the stimulus of startling novelty; a contempt for obvious truths merely because they are already familiar; and a disposition to thrust aside, unregarded and unnoticed, any conclusions which resemble those to which every day experience and prompt spontaneous judgements have conducted the bulk of mankind.

SECTION VII.

The Interests of the Landlord are not in Opposition to

those of the other Classes.

Book I.

Interests of

other Classes.

THERE is great reason to believe, that cases Chap. vii. Sect. 7. very rarely occur, in which the rentals of districts

cultivated by farmers, increase, not because more Landlords produce has been obtained from the earth, but beto those of cause the share of the producing classes has dimi

nished with the increasing difficulties of production. We have just seen, that in England, the only considerable country in which farmers' rents are extensively prevalent, there is strong evidence to shew that this circumstance has not, in any degree, influenced the progress of rents. Still it has been admitted, that in an extreme case, this would be a possible cause of increased rents; and the belief

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Sect. 7.

Interests of

to those of other

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

now widely spread, that it is not only a possible Book I.

Chap. vii. but an actually operating cause, makes it of some importance to correct an erroneous impression, founded on that belief, that the interests of the different Landlords

not opposed classes of society may be in permanent opposition to each other. Mr. Ricardo, who could perceive Classes. no cause from which an increase of the revenues of the landed proprietors could possibly proceed, except “the employment of additional labor with“out a proportional return,” was led by the unlucky narrowness of his system on this point, to denounce the interests of the landlords, as always opposed to those of every other class of the community'. While we have been taking a more comprehensive view of the sources of the increase of rents, and have been shewing the manner in which that increase necessarily follows the concentration and improvement of cultivation, we have gathered materials which enable us to demonstrate the unsoundness of this repulsive doctrine. It is true that there are cases in which the landlords may derive a limited advantage from circumstances which are diminishing the means of the body of the people; but their permanent prosperity, and that gradual elevation of their revenue which sustains them in their relative position in the community, must emanate from more wholesome and more abundant sources.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

TIL, I

i Ricardo, Essay on the Influence of a low price, &c. p. 20. “ It follows then, that the interest of the landlord is always

opposed to the interests of every other class in the commu“nity."

uh)

Book 1. Chap. vii. Sect. 7.

Interests of

to those of other Classes.

If indeed the being in a position to derive occasional gain from the losses of others, were sufficient

to characterize any class of society as having inteLandlords' rests in permanent hostility with those of their not opposed countrymen, Mr. Ricardo, to be consistent and just,

should have made his denunciation more general, and included in it both the capitalists and the laborers; for it is not disputed that they too have, each of them, occasionally, interests which are adverse to those of the rest of the community; and that wages may be increased by a decrease of profits, and profits swelled by the decrease of wages, as certainly as rents may be elevated by encroachments on the revenues of the producing classes. But if we were seriously to argue thence, that the interests of all the different classes of the community are in constant and perpetual opposition to each other, the conclusion would arouse the suspicion of the most unwary enquirer. The fact is, that the prosperity which each class can grasp by the depression of others, is, by the laws of nature, limited and insecure. The advantages which each may draw from sources of increasing wealth, common to all, or at least injurious to none, are safe, and capable of being pushed to an extent of which the limits lie beyond our experience, or means of calculation. And in this respect, there is no difference in the social position of the landlords, and that of the other classes which compose the state.

When the revenues of any one class increase, that increase may in every case proceed from two causes; first, from an invasion of the revenues of

Interests of

to those of

Classes.

some other class, the aggregate revenue of the Book I. state remaining what it was: or secondly, from Sect. 7. increased production, leaving the revenues of all the other classes untouched, and presenting a clear Landlords addition to the aggregate revenue of the nation.

not opposed A little consideration will shew us, that it is Other only in the last, that is, the most advantageous manner, that the revenue of any class can increase progressively and securely in the progress of nations, We will trace this truth, first, in the case of the laborers and capitalists, and then in that of the landlords.

The productive power of a people being stationary, wages may increase, we know, at the expence of profits; or on the other hand, with the advance of the productive powers of the population, wages may increase while profits are undiminished. The power of production being stationary, we have already had occasion to shew how small an increase in the rate of wages will produce a considerable depression of profits: and we have seen', that supposing the capital employed to amount to five times the wages paid, an addition of one single shilling to every 10s. paid as wages, would lower profits from 12 to 10 per cent. In the

In the ordinary state of the world, the further progress of a rise of wages, attended by such an effect, would soon cease to be possible. ' Long before, in any one na. tion, the rate of profits had, in the course of such a process, been reduced to one-half their actual

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »