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She can deep mysteries unriddle
As easily as thread a needle.' The first story, · Life in the Wilds,' is intended to exhibit the elements of wealth, and the advantages of the division and economy of labour. A small body of South African settlers are represented as suddenly stripped, by an incursion of savages, of their whole stock of valuables, including houses, furniture, arms, tools, down to a knife, a hatchet, even a nail ;-left, in short, in possession absolutely of nothing but the clothes they had on, the seeds buried in the soil, and their wits. The latter article seems to be monopolized in joint-stock partnership by a Mr. Stone, the chaplain, and Captain Adams. By the advice of these gentlemen the disconsolate colonists set to work to make the best of their position, -shooting game with bows and arrows, seeking caves for houses, carving their meat with flints, and digging the soil with hedge-stakes. All this gives occasion to many lectures from Mr. Stone on the elements of wealth, and the necessity of labouring in some form or other to produce it, and to many experimental proofs of the vast progress that has been made by civilized nations in facilitating, by various contrivances, the labour of production. But to our mind, if we must be candid, this chapter of Political Economy has been • illustrated' long ago in a much more amusing and instructive story than any of Miss Martineau's-viz., Robinson Crusoe-a story which has the advantage of making our little people fully sensible of the value of civilization, with all its hardly-earned blessings, without puzzling their intellects with such unintelligible and fantastical refinements as the following:
"" I am afraid, Sir,” said Hill, “ that your doctrine would go far towards doing away the distinction between labour that is productive and that which is unproductive." " It is impossible," replied Mr. Stone,
that difference, because it is a difference of fact, which no opinions can alter. It must always be as clear as observation can make it, whether a man's labour produces any of the things which constitute wealth. .... However industrious or useful they may be, domestic servants are unproductive labourers. . . . . Fulton, the currier, produces leather out of what was only the hide of a beast; and Harrison makes bricks out of what was only clay ; Links, the farrier, is unproductive as a farrier—but he is also a smith, and makes horse-shoes and nails, and implements out of what was only a lump of iron. Here he is a labourer of both kinds.”—“ That is curious !"“And so are you, Mr. Hill. You make medicines; but when you give advice, or bleed patients, or shave your customers on a Saturday night, you are an unproductive labourer.” [This is curious too.] “ And how do you class yourself, my dear ?" said Mrs. Stone. “Unproductive in my pulpit and the schoolroom,” replied her husband,
" to do away
“ and productive when I am working in my field.”
16 You have cleared up the matter completely, Sir," said Hill.'—p. 54.
Only to think of lectures on such subjects among a parcel of poor houseless
wretches, struggling for existence on the sands of Caffreland ! But to overlook this absurdity,-instead of the wise and wonderful Mr. Stone's having cleared up the matter completely,' as the Unitarian chaplain's admirer, Hill, thinks he has done, we are of opinion, that no chaplain, even of the Established Church, could possibly have rendered a plain matter more obscure. If wealth means (and we know no better definition of it) all that is valuable in exchange, then it is obvious that all labour which is bought and sold is productive of wealth. Can there be sillier nonsense than an attempt to draw a broad line of distinction between the labour of the farrier while he is shoeing a horse, and that of the same individual while making the shoe; to call the grazier and the farmer productive—the butcher and the cook unproductive labourers ? It seems no labourer is to be called productive who does not make something! Why, even this silly verbal distinction will not carry Miss Martineau out in her exclusion of domestic servants, (after Malthus,) for a cook makes puddings, and a housemaid makes beds. Miss Martineau quite forgets that, by her own definition, (and she is quite correct in this,) no labour creates anything, but only changes the form or the place of natural objects ; * and is not this done to as good a purpose, that is, as productively, by the cook who roasts a leg of mutton, as by the grazier who fattens it-by the man who fastens the shoe on the horse's foot, as by the man who hammers it into shape on the anvil ? Here, as elsewhere, the doctors are only too faithfully dramatised.
Tale the second illustrates the utility of capital, and especially of machinery, in a clever and agreeable manner. The Hill and the Valley' is decidedly, in our opinion, the best of Miss Martineau's productions. We cannot say much for the next; the moral of which is the advantage of the consolidation of small farms into large ones. This has long been a favourite principle of the political economists, and has been practically acted upon in this country to an extent which we believe landlords, as well as statesmen, are now deeply regretting. The truth, we take to be, that the capital saved upon small farms has of late years been spent upon large ones. The analogy of manufactures does not hold good. A manufactory can be carried on upon the most extensive scale within a very limited space, such as the eye of the master can easily superintend ; and the power of thus bringing every link in the chain of operations to be forged on the same spot, occasions a great saving of time and carriage, and admits of the introduction of a methodical organization, by which the general productiveness is increased. But it is just the reverse with agricultural operations. The space on which they are carried on extends in exact proportion with the size of the farm. And in the same proportion must the cost of carriage of the manure and crops, to and from the central farm buildings, be increased; as well as the difficulty which the master experiences in exercising the necessary vigilance over the work of his labourers, and enforcing the perfect tillage of his fields. When a farm is of such a moderate size that the farmer himself does not think it beneath him to work on it in company with his sons, and two or three helpers, this small body are apt, we believe, to put far more substantial labour into their day's work than an equal number of hired labourers, employed on a distant part of an extensive farm, and but occasionally visited by their master, as mounted, perhaps, on his crack hunter, he makes his way to the cover-side. Even if the amount of rent payable by either class of farms be taken as the sole criterion, we believe dearbought experience of late to have convinced landowners that, though small farms may give a little extra trouble to their agents in collecting their rents, the gross amount will be larger than if they were consolidated. But the question has likewise its moral bearings. And in this light there is much, we think, to regret in a system which goes to destroy all the intermediate gradations of rural society between a 'bull-frog' farmer (as Cobbett calls him) and his day-labourers ; leaving no steps within the sphere of vision of the latter, upon which they can ever hope to raise themselves above the flat level of the situation in which they were born.
* P. 27.
· Demerara,' the fourth tale, is powerfully written. The picture it contains of slavery, is, however, evidently drawn from imagination and the accounts of the anti-slavery missions, not from observation or the reports of unprejudiced bystanders. For example, a runaway slave is represented as hunted and torn to pieces by blood-hounds! Will Miss Martineau favour us with an authenticated relation of any such occurrence of late years in Demerara, or any of our West Indian colonies ? of principles,' at the end of this tale, the injustice of slavery is proved in the following manner :
* Property is held by conventional, not natural, right. As the agreement to hold man in property never took place between the parties concerned, i. e., is not conventional, man has no right to hold man in property.'
If there were no stronger argument against slavery than this, our slave-owners need be under no apprehension of its abolition. Why, by this rule, what have we a right to hold in property? The
In the summary
agreement to hold a horse or a house in property never took place between the parties concerned,' and, therefore, there can be no property in horses or houses ! Or if Miss Martineau means, by
the parties concerned,' all who have any desire to use horses or houses, let her say where the convention sat, consisting of all these parties, which · agreed to make a present to the Marquis of Westminster either of his stud or his streets. Miss Martineau is said to be high authority in the law courts. We would strongly recommend, therefore, the next thief who is tried at the Old Bailey, to plead that property is held by conventional not natural right;' and as he, Timothy Tomkins, never agreed that the prosecutor should hold his silk handkerchief in property, he had no more right to it than he, Timothy. It was nullius in bonis, and therefore liable to the maxim capiat qui capere possit. The theory which derives rights exclusively from a social contract' ' entered into by all parties concerned,' is as foolish as it is dangerous. Has Miss Martineau ever read Blackstone ? or does she write works on the principles of legislation in total ignorance of all that has been previously written on the same subject ?
Ella of Garveloch,' the fifth tale, is improbable, but amusing, —that is to say, if we skip the political economy in it, which consists of sundry long and doleful dialogues on the nature of rent. Miss Martineau formally adopts the Ricardo definition of rent as that which is paid to the land-owner for the use of the original indestructible powers of the soil -(p. 143); and yet with a droll inconsistency, makes her young she-farmer, Ella, begin by paying rent only for the house and fences on her occupation, and a further rent at the end of a few years for the kelp-ground and herring-fishery attached to it; and even the rent she is ultimately charged for the land of her little farm, is expressly set down to the account of the vicinity of the sea-shore rendering it capable of fertilization by the refuse weed; so that there is not a single particle of the rent she at any time pays which can be said to arise from the original indestructible powers of the soil! This is illustrating a definition in an odd fashion. But thus it is,-- when the axioms and definitions of these political economists are tested by an application to facts, they are found not to fit above one in a hundred.
The sixth tale takes up the history of Garveloch (a rocky islet among the Hebrides) at a later period. A fishing company had established a station upon it; a fishing village had been built; and encouraged by the demand for labour thus occasioned, a considerable population had settled there from the neighbouring islands, and was rapidly increasing — herrings and bannocks being a prolific diet. This is a state of things to alarm a Malthusian
and Ella, the Martineau of Garveloch, begins, even when the island is at the zenith of its prosperity, to quake at the anticipation of its over-population. She sees the cultivation of the islands so rapidly improving, that their produce had more than doubled in the last ten years, but she is impressed with the idea that all this time the consumers are increasing at a much quicker rate.'
"" Not double in ten years, surely ?” “Certainly not; but say twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, or any number of years you choose ; still as the number of people doubles itself for ever, while the produce of the land does not, the people must increase faster than the produce.”'
This is rare logic and arithmetic, and not a little curious as natural history. A plain person, now, would have supposed, that if the produce doubled itself in ten, and the people only in a hundred years, the people would not increase quite so fast as the produce; seeing that, at the end of the first century, the population would be multiplied but by two, the produce by one thousand and twentyfour! But these are the discoveries of genius! Why does Miss Martineau write, except to correct our mistaken notions, and expound to us the mysteries of the principle of population?'
But what follows is yet more surprising in every way:
If all the corn that was raised in the islands had been used for seed-corn, instead of nine-tenths of it being eaten; if all the fish had been turned into its market-price on the spot, without any expense of curing, packing, and conveying, this capital would still have doubled itself much more slowly than the number of people who were to subsist upon it!'-p. 53.
Now, since the corn sown in these islands, by the admission of the author, increases at present ten-fold in a year, it is as clear as arithmetic can make it, that if all were used for seed-corn (under the supposition proposed) it would be necessary, in order that the population should keep up only to the same rate of increase,-and putting the stock of fish out of the question—and supposing nobody to die—that every female should marry at three months old, and have twenty children at a birth! We believe the herrings multiply at some such rate; and it seems Miss Martineau thinks herring-fisherwomen must be equally prolific. A little ignorance on these ticklish topics is perhaps not unbecoming a young unmarried lady. But before such a person undertook to write books in favour of the preventive check,' she should have informed herself somewhat more accurately upon the laws of human propagation. Poor innocent! She has been puzzling over Mr. Malthus's arithmetical and geometrical ratios, for knowledge which she should have obtained by a simple question or two of her mamma,