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There are other circumstances that enter into many of our calculations of value, which ought to be noticed in forming our estimates, and consequently in framing our theorems. The force of a stream of water or of wind which moves the macbinery of a mill, is calculated to produce value, and possesses that inherent power previous to its appropriation to the use of man. True, it requires industry or labour so to employ it, but when thus employed, thus appropriated, the value which results from its use, is unquestionably not the product of that labour or industry alone. The acquired value is the joint production of two agents—the industry of man and the inherent powers of nature. The one his owii, and therefore capable of being applied exclusively to his own benefit; the other, regulated by general laws beyond his control, and though enlisted occasionally in his service, capable, according to the same laws, of destroying his work and sweeping away his labours in the strife of elemental warfare. The power of the elements can only be productive of value, when, more by the intelligence than by the labour of man, they are appropriated to his use. “All value," (says M. Say, in the introduction to his Treatise on Political Economy, though he does not appear to hold sufficiently to this principle throughout his work,) "is derived from the operation of labour, or rather from the industry of man combined with the operation of those agents which nature and capital furnish.” If this be true, neither can industry nor labour be in all cases the proper general term for the origin of wealth, for however much capital may be indebted to industry for its creation and increase, still such agents as nature independently furnishes, never could have so arisen, and yet they are here necessarily treated as items of wealth.
With respect to the second position advanced by M. Sismondi, in the passage we have extracted, “that the government should interpose in regulating the individual production of wealth, because the rich have the power of augmenting their riches not only by a new production, but by reducing the condition of the poor,” it is here that the great principle of M. Sismondi, which he maintains throughout his work, begins to be displayed. It seems to be his idea, while adopting the mercantile system as the basis of his speculations, that the interference of the government is perpetually necessary to prevent or repair those inequalities which the system has a constant tendency to produce. The parental care of the government must superintend every movement of the great machine, its protecting and guiding hand be every where present. Man must constantly be guarded against his own errors.
this as one of those vague imaginations, one of those Utopian dreams, which are always floating in the brain of a certain class of politicians, leading them to believe that they can manage every man's concerns better than he can bimself, and can remove, if only free scope be given to their sagacity, all the evils with which human society is afflicted. As was the case in some other celebrated speculations of a similar nature, the latter end of their commonwealth frequently forgets the beginning. The great professed object of these systems, is to increase the wealth in order to increase the power and happiness of a nation, and they commence by placing fetters on the intercourse between individuals and states, by controlling men in those pursuits which practice has rendered familiar and easy, and which experience has proved to be most profitable ;-they acknowledge that national wealth is the result of individual wealth, and yet force capital and labour from productive into unproductive channels, injuring alike those who were engaged in the former occupation, and those who have been attracted into new pursuits--creating inevitably the most pernicious inequalities of wealth, while they affect to reprobate excessive accumulation. Such are the inconsistencies of the doctrines now so strenuously maintained in the United States, and which M. Sismondi himself, against the most enlightened economists of France, continues to advocate.
The truth is (and we are obliged often, however reluctantly, to repeat truisms) that evil is mingled in every cup which man is permitted to taste, and we can acquire no good without some portion of alloy. Wherever the commercial system, the source of the wealth, the power, the active enterprize of modern times is established, riches and poverty, wretchedness and enjoyment must exist in degrees totally unknown to an agricultural age or nation. The accumulation of wealth is the active, we may say, the vital principle of this system. We must take it with its good and evil, but we will be unwise to accelerate its progress, or hasten to that extreme point, where some convulsion, whose termination no man can foresee, must break up the diseased and vitiated state of society, and probably impose on its members a long course of degradation and suffering.
Accidental circumstances, such as the entailment of estates, the existence of hereditary rights and privileges, may increase and perpetuate these evils, and prevent those partial distributions of wealth, that occasional dispersion of the accumulations of successful enterprize, which, in all countries under the operation of equal laws, must frequently take place. We have no doubt, that in Great Britain, to which M. Sismondi constantly alludes, the
existence of these feudal principles tends to aggravate the symptoms of the disease which oppresses the lower classes of her population, and has rendered one-half of them paupers; but the vice is inherent in the system, and can never be eradicated.
That the example of Great Britain, which has bewildered the ininds of so many politicians, and to which in all these discussions reference is constantly bad, is splendid and imposing, it is impossible to deny. That nation, in spite of many disadvantages, presents at this time the most magnificent spectacle of productive industry that the world has ever witnessed. So wonderful, indeed, is her creative power, that authors, among the rest M. Sismondi, seem to dread that the whole world will prove too small a theatre for its display. Her rulers do not trust to the natural progress of other nations, or rely on the commercial liberality or wants of other people, to afford her competent markets, they colonize the remotest corners of the earth, and all the benefit expected from these colonies by the parent state, is that they will furnish raw materials for her workshops, and an increasing demand for her commodities. Her navigators traverse every ocean, and have explored the most desolate islands and inhospitable shores. She has subjugated an immense empire in the Eastern hemisphere, and holds a large portion of the Western subject to her sway. Every continent has witnessed and felt
er power. These mighty efforts have been made for the extension of her commerce, to afford markets for her ever increasing production—and the defects of her political system and her national policy have been redeemed by a character of travscen
But when, from one point of view, we admire the imposing grandeur of the British empire, we must not forget the almost unceasing wars, the waste of blood and treasure, the drafts upon the income and property, perhaps, the welfare of a not remote posterity, by which this empire has been built up and sustained. The foundations were laid by her maritime superiority—they have been extended by her commercial enterprize, and her manufacturing skill and industry have naturally followed the possession of markets almost without limit, of which she had gained the absolute control, and, as far as she wished, the exclusive monopoly. Those who, seduced by the example of Great Britain, wish to follow and imitate her in the career of her compiercial and manufacturing prosperity, must adopt also her foreign policy; must acquire or create colonies in the most remote corners of the globe; must give to their productions a market, to their seamen a home on every shore, and in every clime--must conquer the weak, intimidate the strong; and, standing in the attitude
of perpetual defiance, maintain their system in despite of the rivalry of jealous and hostile nations. More than a hundred millions of people depend, or can be made, merely by her legislative enactments, to depend upon her for the supply of their most necessary wants, and the shuttle and the loom, the anvil and the forge, might be kept in activity to a degree scarcely known in any other age or country, without seeking a market beyond the limits of her own dominions. This is the sure basis on which her system rests, and it must flourish until these foundations be undermined-until domestic violence shall unnerve the arms that wield ber mighty strength-or foreign power wrest from her grasp the scattered fragments of her colossal empire.
But there is another element in the power of Great Britain, or rather the source of all her power which must not be overlooked. Her insular position has unquestionably given her many advantages, and sheltered her from many a storm that has desolated the adjacent continent; but there are many islands as beautiful and fair, superior in size, naturally more fertile, some, even now more populous, on whom these bounties have been wasted. It is not then alone, her insular form which has secured to her these advantages. Her restrictive systems and schemes of monopoly have been extolled, yet nations almost without number, have adopted and pursued similar measures, and to most of them they have proved teluin imbelle, an inefficient weapon, the source neither of wealth nor power, of domestic prosperity nor of foreign influence. Spain, with greater natural advantages, with accidental appendages to ber empire altogether without parallel, on whose dominions the sun never set, and whose colonies covered perhaps the fairest portion of the globe, sunk under this system, which she most rigidly pursued to the impoverishment of her own citizens, and the degradation of all subjected to her. And how many small states-how often have even great nations, encumbering their inembers with restraints and regulations without number-reaped, in their anxious pursuit of national wealth, nothing but disappointment. Whence has this difference arisen? Why have circumstances apparently similar, even principles in this respect uniform, produced such dissimilar results ? Why is Great Britain alone quoted, when it is wished to hold up to our view the beneficial influence of this system: ? It is that the real causes of the wealth and power of Great Britain are more deeply seated, and too often escape the superficial gaze of those who look with dazzled eyes at the effects rather than the sources of her apparent prosperity. To her, when compared with the other nations of Europe, we may
emphatically apply the praise which Adam Smith justly gave to Europe, when contrasted with the other portions of the globe
Magna Viram Mater.” She has produced the men and the government whose energy has accomplished these marvellous works-the men, whose lofty character, whose intrepid courage, whose perseverance, whose integrity, have opened the path to her political and commercial greatness, and the government, whose liberal and enlightened principles have enabled her citizens to triumph alike over the obstacles which other nations had to encounter, the errors and defects of their own character, and the vices engendered and implanted in her own political system by feudal prejudices and ignorance, the parent of monopolies and its attendant evils, which, in fine, have made her prosper in despite of these evils. The liberal spirit of her institutions has supported her against the deteriorating influence of her anti-social doctrines.
We are aware that in addressing a people who boast the same lineage with the British nation, who inherit the same virtues, and not a few of the same frailties, who boast of a government exempted from many of the anomalies and excrescences of the British constitution, and better adapted, as we hope and trust, to promote the welfare of mankind; we speak to those who have reason to be encouraged by her success, rather than deterred by the failure of others, and who may hope to perform whatever enterprize, talent and energy may aspire to accomplish. Well then, let us raise the veil and see what this mighty people has actually acquired, the results, the blessings which the great statesmen of our country are so anxious to confer on us. Great Britain, in her political aspect, presents a spectacle of almost unrivalled magnificence; she controls a large portion of the human race. The nations of the earth seem tributary to her skill, or fearful of her power-and, like Babylon of old, she stands as “The Golden City, the glory of kingdoms ;" but behind this splendid and gorgeous drapery, what does she disclose ?-a lazar house, filled with wretchedness and corruption, a population sunk in poverty and vice-the wealth, and consequently the power of the country concentering daily in fewer hands, and indigence and crime extending rapidly through the land-more than half of her inhabitants, by the avowal of her own statesmen, are now paupers, living by the daily or weekly distributions of alms, and the numbers are rapidly increasing. The seats of the arts on which she prides herself, and for which she is so much envied, are now surrounded by military cantonments, the sabre and the bayonet are found necessary to silence the voice, and repress the outrages of des