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crops which appear to occur in some undefined but mysterious fashion. With this great rise in the price of food, came an unnatural inflation of rents. For intelligible reasons, that profit of high prices, which the farmer enjoyed at first, he was constrained to share with the landlord, and thus a particular class, engaged in supplying the necessaries of life, throve on the misery of the people, and in course of time came to think it had a right to thrive on this misery.

If the land of a country were, like its capital, capable of indefinite extension, no rent could arise for anything save that which has been invested in the soil, or for such advantages as arise from proximity to a market. But in fully-settled countries, no addition can be made to their area, and thus, as long as agriculture progresses, rents advance. The intelligence of the agriculturist and the necessities of the people are equally gainful to the owner of the soil. Hence, under circumstances like those alluded to above, where the home supply is scanty and foreign supply is arrested, there is no limit, except the power of the people to purchase, to the exactions of the landowner. All the landowners, could they act in concert, might do as a man could who, in a besieged city, possessed all the corn on which the people could depend for existence. Now the landowners could not of course act in concert, but they could do the next thing to this—they could induce the Legislature to act for them, by fixing the price at which the deficiency of the home market could be supplied from foreign sources. This policy, too, had an indirect effect on the foreign producer. It discouraged him from attempting to supply a market, entrance into which was so uncertain.

It would be odious and unjust to say that the landlords wished to gather their gains from the misery of the people. But from habit men do that which is unjust and immoral without suspecting the character of their actions and their policy. The worst cause may be defended with honest intentions, or excused on the plea of overruling necessity. In the palmy days of the Corn Law, men admitted, even while they angrily vindicated the law which was then existing, that in the abstract the natural justice of Free Trade was incontestable. The protective system, they allowed, was artificial, but it was a compensation for ‘peculiar burdens,' as they alleged; and, more than this, it was a system, the subversion of which would subvert a host of interests, which might claim consideration, tolerance, and even support, on grounds of prescription. But at last the Corn Laws broke down, partly by the vigorous reasonings and active exertions of those who attacked them, much more by the conscientious conversion of a statesman, whose previous theories gave way under the pressure of a terrible famine.

During the existence of these laws, however, two circumstances perpetually occurred, the interpretation of which tended greatly to shake the faith of many among those who had persistently advocated their maintenance. It was found that there was the greatest distress among agriculturists when the rest of the country was prosperous. The rent of the farmer had been based on the assumption of high prices; to him, then, plenty was ruin. Gradually, therefore, it appeared to many that a system must be something worse than artificial which makes the beneficence of Nature a mischief to the person on which that beneficence is immediately bestowed.

Next it was found out, that though the farmer profited by a high price of wheat, he suffered from these high prices, by the fact that his sheep and cattle, and similar produce, fell greatly in value during this contingency. Could he indeed have anticipated the scarcity of one season and the plenty of another, he might have attempted to provide against the risks of his calling; but this was, of course, impossible. Plenty and dearness were therefore inconvenient to him, though not in the same degree, the larger benefit, as far as he was concerned, accruing when the nation was suffering from scarcity. At last the laws fell, and the effect has been, that the prosperity of the nation has grown rapidly, the rent of land having fully participated in the general increase.

The last relics of the mercantile system, in so far as the efforts

VOL. I.

of this system were directed towards favouring the accumulations of the precious metals, were swept away at the resumption of cash payments in 1819. Up to this period it was lawful to export foreign gold coin, and bullion the produce of foreign gold, but not British coin or bullion the produce of British coin. But the restriction had long ceased to be operative before this abrogation. It has been found impossible to prevent smuggling, even when the article is bulky, provided the act of smuggling does not appear to be a plain breach of moral obligation, but merely resistance to a law dictated by caprice or selfishness. It was therefore still less possible to prevent the secret exportation of gold coin. It was notorious that the military chests of Napoleon were supplied by the act and at the risk of British bullion dealers. Besides, people were found to swear, at a very small premium, that the gold for which a legal exportation was sought was not the produce of British coin.

The range of the subjects treated in Smith's work is very wide. Social history and the politics of commerce occupy his attention as much as mere abstract reasonings. His educational theories have been generally accepted. His rules of taxation are classical. His vindication of free trade is complete. His criticism of the Great Company has been the basis of the latest legislation on the Indian Empire. His conception of the mutual relations in which nations stand, is as comprehensive as it is generous.

It should not be forgotten that Smith did not propose to himself the discovery of a scheme which should make any one country wealthy or prosperous at the expense of the rest of mankind, but how the wealth of nations should be developed. He rose far above the peddling maxim, that the gain of one people is the loss of another. Hence his work is international, and has formed an effective protest against those shams of a sordid self-interest, which masks itself under the name of Patriotism.

Among economists, Smith possesses the inductive mind in the highest degree. His work not only displays a wealth of varied reading, but is full of facts. Considering, too, how inexact were the statistical data on which he could in his time rely, his

sagacity is remarkable. No example of this quality seems to me more striking than his inference that the precarious occupants in the ancient manor must have passed through a métayer tenancy before they reached the independence of the fifteenthcentury yeoman, as described by Fortescue. Such was actually the fact, as I have been able to discover from a very large investigation of farm accounts during the epoch referred to by Smith. But, in fact, to be scientific, Political Economy must be constantly inductive. Half, and more than half, of the fallacies into which persons who have handled this subject have fallen, are the direct outcome of purely abstract speculation. In consequence, though he was the progenitor of the science, and necessarily left it incomplete, Smith is far more frequently in the right than his critics are. Almost every blemish in his work (some few inaccuracies of expression excepted, which arise from a somewhat loose use of terms,) is due to his exaggerated sympathy with the economical theories of his French friends and teachers. It is to this influence that we can trace his errors as to the nature and causes of value, and whatever is defective in his exposition of rent. Even here, however, he seems to me to be much more in the right than Ricardo, who accounts for the origin of rent on grounds which have absolutely no warrant in fact. His most adverse critics have, however, united with his warmest admirers in his vindication of private liberty against the interference of Government; that is, in his advocacy of what are called Free Trade principles.

To the modern reader, who recognises the vast services which the merchants and manufacturers of Great Britain have done for such principles as Smith advocated, the language which the author uses about the mercantile classes seems singularly harsh and bitter. "The passionate confidence of interested falsehood;' the policy of a 'great empire' being guided by the policy of shop-keepers;' 'impertinent badges of slavery, imposed by the groundless jealousy of merchants and manufacturers ;' "illiberal and oppressive monopolies;'“the mean and malignant expedients of the mercantile system,' and similarly pungent comments on the machinations of the trading classes a century ago, are expressions of active animosity against interests, which Smith must have thought hostile to the public good.

But, at that time, the leading merchants deserved little sympathy from any person who considered this public good as the paramount object of economy and legislation. Their intrigues had prevented the establishment of bonded warehouses. The mercantile classes drove Walpole into the war of the Right of Search. The real or reputed interests of the same order precipitated and prolonged the Seven Years' War. The cost of that war, and the sustentation of the East India Company, whose conquests had made it bankrupt, led to the uprising of the American colonists, and the War of Independence. The merchants who stimulated, and the Nabobs and Planters who continued these costly struggles, were no doubt powerful in Change Alley. They were, moreover, ready to make the highest biddings for rotten boroughs. But they were detested by the people, and especially by those freeholders in whom, as Smith thought, the strength and hope of the nation resided. Macaulay has given, in a few words, a statement of how public opinion estimated these people in his Life of Lord Clive, the greatest of the race.

The most energetic attack, however, which Smith made on any institution of his time, was that on the East India Company. To us, the Company is a thing of the past. In Smith's day it was the most brilliant phenomenon that the world had ever witnessed. A very few years had created the Indian Empire : ; and changed a few timid and servile traders into a force of heroes, by whom successes had been achieved more amazing than those of Cortes and Pizarro. In the face of this extraordinary rrestige, which affected the whole Western world, the author of the Wealth of Nations' dissected the pretensions of the great Company, showed that it failed as a trader, and failed as a ruler; and proved that its government was mischievous to its subjects, and its monopoly a wrong upon the English people.

After the third edition of 1784 Smith made no alteration in the text of his work Such a course was not, we may suppose,

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