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thoughtful man will detect, perhaps,
It is clear, therefore, that, however low the quality of land may be upon which population forces culture, let it be No. 25 suppose, eternally there
will be a lower than the lowest of the rent-paying lands [No. 28] which will be capable of culture under the single condition of paying no rent.
However, at this moment, and for the present purpose, no matter whether there be non-rent paying land under culture or not: it is quite enough if it be granted that the worst quality of land, and not any average quality, or superior quality, determines the price for the whole: common sense will extort this concession from every body. The price, in other words, must always be such as to cover the worst and least advantageous circumstances of culture, not the best and most advantageous.
What follows? Why, that, as the differences of land increase by descending lower and lower, regularly these differences swell the price. The doctrine is familiar to many: for those to whom it is not, a short illustration to the eye will suffice.
The diagram below represents the total price of corn, and it is divided into two sections, in order to represent to the eye the two elements of its price-wages and profits; which two are all that exist, or can exist, so long as only one quality of land is used. At any risk of tediousness, I repeat the reason: it is because, so long as a capitalist will always find a sufficient motive for employing his funds on what produces him the usual rate of profit, a moral impossibility exists that rent can be paid. The man who farms
his own land has no rent to pay, and can always undersell and drive out of the market him who charges rent also in the price of his corn. And if it is not charged in the price, if the grower takes his outlay in rent out of his profits, then it is not rent in any but a verbal sense.
Soon comes the time when No. 1 is found insufficient for a growing society; No. 2 is then resorted to of necessity; that is, an inferior soil; and now the case, as to price, stands thus: No 2 pays no rent now, for the same reason as No 1 paid none, when that had no inferior competitor. But because No. 2 costs, by its very definition, more to produce the same result (else how is it No. 2?)-that more becomes, on No. 1, rent, which is represented in the diagram by the darker space, cor
No. 1. |
responding exactly in amount to the
One farther stage we will take, and have done. Population increasing, calls at length for No. 3, and then the diagram will stand thus :
have often failed to perceive in public questions of great moment the extensive application of this very doctrine.
For example, twenty years ago, when the China question was at times under discussion, some eminent economists said, by way of meeting a particular argument, "Of what consequence to this mighty Chinese nation, of perhaps three hundred millions, is the little demand of Great Britain?" That demand is not little; neither in an absolute sense little, nor in relation to the domestic consumption of China. But suppose it were little-suppose that (instead of forty millions pounds' weight annually) it were but one million, still if this small addition to the native demand should happen so to operate as to push back the culture upon but one degree lower of soil, and that this were to make a difference of but one dollar an acre in the rent, then let it be remembered now, look. ing to the way in which rent acts, how vast might even that slight addition prove in its results ?--and vast, for the very reason alleged in proof that it would be trivial; viz., in proportion to the vast population of China, and its consequent vast consumption of tea (even admitting that the majority of the people are not rich enough to taste it). For such as is the consumption of tea, such will be the scale of soils employed. The dollar additional, by the supposition, on the penultimate quality of land, would be two dollars an acre on the ante-penultimate, three on the land next above, four on the next, and so on. If the vast extent of the tea-drinking population should force the culture upon seventy grades of soil, as it might, how tremendous might be the result, even from a single additional grade being called into action! And the reason why nations are only by degrees made sensible of such changes, is, that leases or other contracts (which as to land must always be of some duration) do not suffer the total effects to appear at once: a certain proportion of the subsisting contracts falls in every year; and until then, until rents are revised and suited to the new price, the advantage flows, of necessity, into the channel of profits.
Now, apply all this to the great question before us. Multitudes of men, like Mr Jacobs, building upon
accurate statistics, will dismiss the dispute in this summary way :-" It is idle to ask what were best-corn laws or none-to import freely or to exclude-for the whole project is a chimera: it is out of our power to import in the extent proposed: so we need not lose time and temper in discussing the policy. America never was able to furnish flour for more than three days' consumption of Britain; the Baltic and all other resources never yet furnished grain for six weeks' consumption." This answer, however, or evasion, will serve us no longer. The Philistines now meet us with this reply:"True; but whose fault was that? Our own. Nobody will grow what he has no prospect of selling. But let England make it fully understood in the Baltic, that she will take all the foreign grain which can support a fair market competition with her own, neither party drawing artificial helps from duties, bounties, or any fiscal imposts whatever, in that case we shall see a different scene."
Well; how different? To what extent? Here comes the pinch of the inquiry. Some imagine that foreign grain, unrestricted, would drive out the English as completely as the Norway rat has driven out or exterminated the old aboriginal rat: our sheaves, as in the Scriptural dream, would bow to the Polish. Upon this basis it is that some argue this question: they contemplate the result of English agriculture being literally annihilated. And if you ask, what then becomes of that part of our rural population?-they answer, "Oh! the cheapness of bread will leave money disposable for butcher's meat: there will be more extensive grazing and fattening. In that way we dispose of part: the other part will go into towns and make the cotton or iron goods, by which we shall pay the Poles for manufacturing our bread."
But this result would not take place in this extent, even if the restrictions on foreign corn were totally removed. Imagine two equal vats-one full, one empty; let off the water of the one into the other, the level of subsidence will be found when each becomes half full. Invert the operation of rent, as just explained; imagine it retrograding through the very same steps by which it advanced, and it will be seen that English corn itself, after a
very few steps, will have declined much nearer to continental prices. The common price at which wheat has settled of late years, is 60s. Now, a very few of the lower qualities of soil withdrawn, even on that sole change, English corn would fall to 45s. and 40s.
But now comes the ugly fact to meet the Philistines,-that, just as rent unthreaded its steps in England, so and inevitably would rent on the Continent travel on through those very stages which, in England, have raised our corn to a higher level than elsewhere. It is no matter where the corn is grown, so far as regards this inevitable effect, that, in Poland, as every where else, land presents us with a scale of large varieties. This monstrous deception is practised upon us at present: we see little grain (little wheat, at any rate) which has not come from the higher qualities of soil; and naturally enough, because in Poland the population, as a whole, is scanty (relatively to the extent of ground), and the population, as a wheat-consuming population, is quite trivial. Hence it is that the developement of rent has but commenced. But let England transfer her agriculture to Poland, instantaneously the very same cycle of effects will be traversed which in England has been traversed since 1775; soils of every quality will be called into action; rent will arise in its graduated series upon every separated quality; a race of wealthy farmers, stout yeomcn, happy labourers, aristocratic landlords, will again arise;-but unhappily, how ever, it cannot be added-and no mistake, for there will be the capital mistake that, instead of our own natural brothers, this race will be all owskis and wiskis. That, however, is a collateral theme; what I now wish to notice is simply the effect upon price. Were the plan realized which is sanctioned by the present revolutionists, the grossest delusion would be unmasked which has ever duped a people. This delusion consists in reasoning upon the basis of Baltic prices as they are or have been, though they themselves admit (by making it our crime) that never yet has a forty days' consumption been grown on our account. Are these men maniacs? Do they suppose that the three hundred and sixty-five days' consumption of a race
like the British can be produced by the Poles without a far worse developement of rent and costs than with us? Land has been often, and most conveniently for purposes of argu ment, treated as a corn-manufacturing machine, subject only to the condition that these machines are of various powers. Now at present, merely the best machines are used. But a permanent demand from England, eight times and a-half greater than the greatest and most memorable ever heard of, would at once create a run upon these machines, which in one revolving year would far more than reproduce the highest prices known amongst our selves.
But this is not all: the pressure of rent advances slowly, and only in correspondence with the population, and, at any rate, this pressure is met and, relieved by the opposite process in manufactures. But, besides this compensation, in England, where agricultural skill is great and capital overflowing, we have other compensations, sufflamina, or drags, which retard the motion of price upwards, in the continual application of improved machinery or improved processes to our agriculture. The full weight of declension in the soil has never been suffered with us to make itself felt; it has been checked, thwarted, kept down in every stage by growing knowledge and growing wealth. In Poland none of these sufflamina will be available. I need not say that every thing will have to be created; that without our laws and institutions and national energy it cannot be created, any more than an academy of belles lettres in Caffraria. And thus the full weight, unbroken, unimpeded, will descend upon prices from the decreasing qualities of the soil ranging through all the gamut, and from the absolute defect of the vast apparatus in roads, fences, canals, &c., as well as the more intellectual parts of that apparatus, which in Scotland and eastern England has travelled through centuries to a point of perfection.
This upon the unconditional adoption of the new proposals. But it will be urged in reply,-Suppose it conditional, and the importation to go on until the two prices, ours and the Baltic, meet in one level. I have already said, that in that case much fewer additions will need to be made in Poland,
much fewer to be laid aside in Eng- tory absolutely transferred as a whole land than is commonly supposed. A to Poland, and a cotton, iron, &c., mavery moderate change in each coun- nufactory substituted at home,-in try, a few of the worst qualities aban- that case the whole ladder of descent doned in England, a few of the upper upon inferior soils must be run down qualities taken up in Poland, would in Poland, which has caused our bring the two countries to a level. But own prices at home; and the whole then the evil here will be (an evil as series of increments in rent be traregards the absurd expectations of the versed, which is the very ground of poor), that exactly in proportion as our domestic murmurs, but for this the level will be easily accomplished, must never be overlooked-with agand without much convulsion to exist- gravations of this evil as much less ing rights, exactly in that case will the mitigated than ours as Poland is less relief be small. If two or three qua- civilised, less enlightened, less wealthy, lities of soil cashiered in England, and than Great Britain. On the other two or three added in Poland, bring form of the dilemma, the case is not the two vats to a level (and possibly so bad, simply because it is not so no greater change would be required), thoroughly carried out: but, however, in such a case 50s. or 48s. might be though a better result, it will be one the permanent price in both countries. of pure disappointment. For if there Now take the difference between that should be a long series of changes beand 60s. (for as to our present prices, fore the prices of England and Poland they are mere anomalies), and consi- met at the same level, then there would der it in the way I have suggested at be an approximation made to the enorpage 171; then one-fifth of the price mous evil just stated; and if the series being saved in bread, and one-fifth should turn out small, that would be of the poor man's expenditure being because the level of coincidence would on bread, he might receive one-fifth soon be effected; and then the alterof a fifth, or a twenty-fifth part more ation of price would be proportionately on his daily expenditure. And sup- trifling. pose wages to enter even to the extent of a half into the elements of price (as upon some rare articles they may), the result would be the half of a twentyfifth, that is, a fiftieth part in the price of goods.
But that calculation is of less importance. The main argument upon which we take our stand, is this dilemma built on the doctrine of Rent: the cycle of changes to be run through in transferring our agriculture in whole or in part to the Baltic provinces, is either wide or it is narrow, either great or small. Suppose it great, suppose, in fact, our corn manufac
Such is our argument from political economy, against the proposed change; but, were the change in itself better, every body wishing well to England, must thoroughly disapprove the intemperate (in some quarters the incendiary) mode of pursuing it. That, however, is a different theme. The upshot is this: it would cause a dreadful convulsion, if we could transfer our corn manufacture to a really cheaper country; but, by the argument here applied from Rent, it appears that there is no known country which in that case would be cheaper: we add, or nearly as cheap.
But observe, a declension of one-fifth on wheat would not give a declension of three-tenths on bread.
SOME ACCOUNT OF HIMSELF. BY THE IRISH OYSTER-EATER.
FASCICULUS THE FOURTH.
"By the contemplation of antiquity, the mind itself becomes antique "
I NEVER could, for the life of me, discover why inquisitive ruin-hunters and rubbish-excavators must be at the trouble of crossing the sea, and rattling along stony-hearted roads to Herculaneum and Pompeii, while there is so much interesting rubbish and neglected ruination at home. You have been to Herculaneum, of course-and Vesuvius, of course-and Pompeii, of course. You have seen the skeletons with gold bracelets, and the real Roman penny rolls "all hot."_You have been to the Royal Museum at Naples, of course, and have seen the gigantic cameo cut out of an oyster shell, as broad as the brim of Mr Fyssche Palmer's white hat, and nearly as thick as the Right Honourable Mr Forcible Feeble's skull-you have seen a papyrus unrolled, and, although you look at it very gravely for half an hour, with your head on one side, you can make neither head nor tail of it. Your Guide-book informs you, that No. 1019 is a bill of fare from the Cato's Head Tavern and Chop-house, Pompeii-it may be-and for all you know to the contrary, it may with equal probability be the story of John Gilpin turned upside down. Go home, sir, I advise you as a friend, mind your business, if you have any, and don't stay here, to make a fool of your
The Irish Pompeii, which, of course, you have not seen, for no other reason than because it lies under your nose, is situate, lying, and being in that part of the United Kingdom called Ireland, and is occasionally called and known the Earl of Meath's Liberty, or, simply, The Liberty. It is bounded to the north by Thomas Street, the scene of the Re. bellion of Emmett, in 1803; to the south, by Harold's Cross, and the Royal Canal; to the east, by St Patrick's Cathedral; and, to the west, by the New Market and the Circular Road, and contains, upon a moderate computation, the ruins of not less than ten thousand houses, and a pauper population of probably sixty thousand
VOL. XLV. NO. CCLXXX,
souls. It is termed, with great propriety, The Liberty-I presume, from the free and easy style of the tenements and their inhabitants. The most unbounded hospitality would prevail, if there happened to be any thing to give, for every body literally keeps open house all the year round, the doors having long since been removed to facilitate the practice of their peculiarly Irish virtue of hospitality; and the window-frames have in like manner disappeared, in search of another situation. Street after street of these tenements present themselves to the eye of the curious stranger, naked of window as of door; and save that they are densly inhabitated, and still retain staircases and floors, more like a city sacked by fire than the result of any ordinary process of gradual desolation and decay. The sewers are long since impervious, and a mantle of chickweed verdantly luxuriates over the stagnant puddle that fills the various avenues from side to side-it is no stroke of imagination to say, that you breathe an atmosphere of typhuscontagion is palpable-you may cut the malaria with a knife.
If I were to tell you of the solitary rambles I have had in this metropolis of utter desolation-of the sights I have seen-of the sermons I have drank in with my eyes, that with mute eloquence would melt the very stones under our feet-half-grown boys literally naked, in their buff, about the streetsand grown girls hiding their nakedness under dirty straw, within doorsexanimate wretches, dragging their carcases along, holding on by the wall, attenuated by no disease, sick of the want of food alone ;-if I were to particularize an instance from this mass of misery, and concentrate its hideousness before you, I dare say you would conclude me deranged or drunk.
Gracious God! is it not enough to drive a man mad, to hear the frantic buffoonery of liberators, agitators, demagogues, and paid patriots, whose lives pass away in the contrivance to give variety to extortion-who aban