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so fairly opened to them, required a monopoly at home, making all other interests tributary to their idle and mercenary speculations, as a means of enabling them to contend with other nations in foreign markets. Politicians seized upon this excited spirit as a means to promote their personal views. The peace of the country has been shaken. It is now no longer a question of Political Economy, but a contest of higher principles; and hostility and sectional feelings have been created, that may act injuriously not only on this interest, but on the Union itself, for a longer period than the superficial will readily imagine.
Until within a short period, the great kingdoms of Europe were composed of provinces who had distinc: laws, privileges and customs. These provinces viewed each other with distrust and jealousy, surrounded themselves with guards and customhouses, prohibited the free ingress of commodities, even from the neighbouring districts of the same nation, lest it might interfere with their own industry, and others might grow rich at their expense. Every fetter of the restrictive system was brightened and burnished, and kept in active employment. Yet strange to tell, they did not get rich under this system, for as all acted on the same principle, there was no means by which each could exchange its superfluous productions; they did not get independent, for each was frequently in want of the most common necessaries of life, and had no wealth with which they could purchase. All were poor and ignorant alike, and filled with those prejudices and foolish opinions that belong to ignorance and poverty, clinging with the most obstinate prepossession to the very source and cause of all their privations. When by accident, for war has sometimes broken these chains, or by the progress of liberal opinions, they have been disenthralled from these shackles, they have found, to their utter astonishment, that the improvement of one district did not necessarily produce the ruin of another, that where all were left to the operation of a free and unrestricted competition, all could find some employment and share in the general prosperity.* By the early application
* It is very amusing, and might be instructive to read the lamentations of some of the purest Scotch patriots in 1706, over the evils which the union with England was to inflict on that country—her wealth was to be drained away-her industry destroyed--she was not only to be fleeced, but layed alive The error with all of this class of politicians, springs from a supposition that there is but a certain amount of wealth or labour in the world, and that whenever any country acquires a new or an unusnal quantity, it must be gained by winning the portion of some less fortunate land. They appear not to know, or not to remember, that by the stimulus of free competition, industry can be excited to redoubled exertions that by improvements in the arts, the results of labour can be prodigiously multiplied-and that by the un. restrained power of exchange, all the productions of industry acquire value, and become real and substantial wealth. VOL. IV.-NO. 8.
of these enlightened principles to national as well as to parochial or provincial intercourse, the United States have afforded an example of extended and rapid prosperity, unparalleled by any other nation. This was the real "American System,” not begged or borrowed from the superannuated governments of the old world, to which our country ought to have adhered; it should have been our pride and our boast, and would have secured to us an exceedingly great reward.
We can only touch occasionally on the questions discussed in these volumes-many that are important we are obliged to pass over. On one wbich has divided the great political economists of the present day-Say, Ricardo, Malthus, Sismondi-we shall offer a few observations. The two former of these writers assert that a nation dever can produce too much, because production creates demand; the last two deny this, and assert that demand should precede and determine production, that when this is not the case, new production is rather the cause of ruin than of wealth. On this point, however, M. Sismondi shall speak for himself:
“ Economists are at present divided on a fundamental question, on the decision of which depends in some measure, the first principles of their science. All that we can flatter ourselves to perform, is to show the importance of the question, and to exhort those who, perhaps, have too lightly formed their opinions, to meditate anew on this subject.
“This is the question-Mr. Ricardo in England, M. Say on the Continent, maintain that it is sufficient for the economist to occupy himself with the production of riches; for the prosperity of nations depeuds on a constantly increasing production. They say that production, in creating the means of exchange, creates consumption; that no one need ever fear that riches (productions of value) will encumber the market, whatever may be the quantity that human industry may produce, because the wants and desires of men will be always ready to convert this wealth to use.
“On the other hand, Mr. Malthus in England, bas maintained, as I have endeavoured to do on the Continent, that consumption is not the necessary consequence of production; that the wants and the desires of men are, it is true, without limits, but that these wants and these desires can only be satisfied and occasion consumption so far as they are united to the means of exchange. We have affirmed, that when these means of exchange were created, it did not necessarily follow that they would pass into the hands of those who felt these desires and wants, that it even happened frequently that the means of exchange increased in society, whilst the demand and the wages of labour diminished; that then the desires and wants of a portion of the population could not be satisfied, and consumption must necessarily diminish. In short, we pretend that the unequivocal sign of the prosperity of society is not the increasing production of wealth, but the increasing demand for labour, or the increase of wages which rewards it.
“Messrs. Ricardo and Say do not deny that the increasing demand for labour is a symptom of prosperity, but they affirm that it results inevitably from the increase of productions.
"Mr. Malthus and I deny this. We regard these two increments as resulting from independent, and sometimes even opposite causes. In our opinion, when the demand for labour does not precede and determine production, the market becomes overstocked, and then an increased production becomes a cause of ruin, not of enjoyment.”
Even where such men differ, it appears to us that their differences may sometimes arise, if not from a mistatement of a question, at least from viewing it under different aspects, and with different prepossessions. Frequently these discussions approach the confines of metaphysics—they become a mere logomachy—the fair field for the display of keen wits and gladiatorial skill. We know not that we can remove any of the difficulties in this question. We will, however, briefly state our own impressions.
Demand arises from human wants, from the anxious desire of obtaining those objects which minister to the necessity, the comforts, or the mere caprices of mankind-it may be latent or active, expressed or understood. The demand when latent, may yet be as real and ardent as when most actively manifested. It may exist in full force-it may be as well understood as if openly expressed. It is, perhaps, because this circumstance has not been duly considered, that the opinion, as an abstract theorem, has been adopted, that supply should precede demand. We will offer one or two illustrations to explain our position.
There bas been no period, probably, since the days of Dædalus, in which men have not anxiously desired to possess wings. Many, before the age of the Psalmist, probably wished for the wings of the morning, not, however, that they might fly away and be no more seen, but that they might rove from place to place with facility, and change climate and country at pleasure. Yet no one runs from street to street inquiring for wings, because it is well understood that no such useful appendages to our frame have yet been invented. . But in these days of discovery, should some one of those who load our patent offices with specifications, for the most part, of old things made new, only patent a wellformed, powerful, safe and efficient substitute for wings, who can doubt that the demand would be most extensive and active. But it will spring from a pre-existing want, deeply implanted in our nature. Again, from the first moment that the power
of steam was made known, and applied in the most imperfect manner to ma
chinery, no wish was more strongly felt than that its tremendous agency should be employed to overcome the currents of rapid rivers, and impel boats along those streams, where the labour of men and the unsteady action of the wind are of so little avail. It was perfectly immaterial whether the plan of Fitch, or Rumsey, or Fulton succeeded. This was a mere personal consideration. What the world wanted, was an application of this power in some form, or in any form that could be managed with moderate skill, and could drive boats at a rate of not less than four or five miles an hour, against a rapid current. As soon as this was accomplished, the demand became extensive, and is constantly increasing. It cannot, however, be said that in this instance it was produced by the supply; on the contrary, it sprung from the pre-existing wants of society.
In like manner, men in a savage state, but far more in civilized and refined ages, are always feeling the strong desire of acquiring not only those objects which minister to their physical wants, but those which grow out of the refined taste and artificial distinctions of social life. A fondness for decoration in dress, in equipage, in furniture, in houses, are all modifications of this impulse. The particular form or fashion of these objects is iininaterial; this is left to accident, to caprice, to the taste of the manufacturer or of his employer. It is, however, in this wide field for the display of ingenuity, in the fabrication of all things necessary for our convenience and luxury, our arts and our sciences, our serious occupations or fantastic amusements, that supply seems to precede and create demand, and in the wonderfulcontrivances to gratify the vanity, the indolence, the artificial wants of all classes and conditions of men, to tempt them by novelty, or beauty, or some imaginary advantages to purchase the ever varying commodities which industry and skill are constantly offering to their cupidity. It is in this manner that supply appears to increase indefinitely, and almost without limits, national wealth. For those nations who are most skilful in the arts, and who can command labour at the cheapest rate, draw to themselves the productions of all other countries in exchange for their own. How these productions, this wealth is afterwards distributed, we have already seen. That in this manner supply furnishes the means of exchange as well between nations as individuals, and increases consumption, we do not doubt; yet these means have value only when they conform to the wants and desires of men.
It seems also as if theory were pushed to extremes, when it is supposed that there cannot be an overproduction of any ar
ticle, at least of any valuable article, “because the wants and desires of men will always be ready to convert all this abundance to use." We fear the experience of the world, even at the present moment, is contradicting this opinion. When we analyze the subject, and take each particular item of which production is composed, no one will doubt of the possibility of overproduction. No one will deny, for instance, that more bats could be made than the whole human race could use, or shoes, or ploughs, or swords—or, as we remarked above, any individual article out of the whole mass of national wealth. Surely then it would be illogical to deny of the whole what is true of each part. If we were to make any exception, and even this is questionable, it would be in favour of food, because wages must ultimately depend on the price of food, and life, and to a certain extent, comfort, can be maintained under the greatest accumulation. Thus, if food should be produced to the greatest possible excess, so that the labour employed in its production, becomes almost valueless, yet the price of food would fall in the same proportion, and the modicum the labourer would receive, however small, would yet procure food, and having this in abundance, the human frame can easily be accustomed to many other privations. But with regard to other articles, the same advantage would not exist. They might be produced to excess, and the wages of the labour employed on them be reduced to nothing, while food, from other circumstances, may be sustained in value or even become scarce and dear-leaving the labourer no means of supporting life.
Our author opposes, and with much ingenuity, the theory of population proposed by Mr. Malthus. He appears to assume the only correct ground on which this theory can be controverted. He undertakes to prove that if the population of the human race increases in a geometrical proportion, the natural increase of vegetables and animals, by which human life is supported, increases in a far more rapid ratio, and that if accidental circumstances obstruct the natural increase of these substances, and limit it within very narrow compass, there is also some inscrutable law of nature acting against the possible increase of man, and defeating also on this point all speculative calculations. We shall, without entering on the question ourselves, present one of the views of M. Sismondi, for the satisfaction and amusement of our readers, for we suspect, after all that has been written on the subject, that it will always be a point of mere speculative inquiry, without ever producing any practical result.
" Mr. Malthus has established as a principle, that in every country the population is limited by the quantity of subsistence which the coun