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duced, let us give, says he, to the government in the shape of taxes; in those new hands, it will lose none of its virtue to maintain population; it will be distributed by government in pay to soldiers and sailors, as before it was distributed by the master manufacturers in wages of labour. All the difference will be, that the soldiers and sailors will work security for us, whereas the manufacturers wrought luxuries. The population will be as effectually maintained; they will only be maintained in a different manner.
It might still be imagined that a country engaged in foreign trade, a great proportion of the population of which may seem to owe its subsistence to foreign customers, must prove an exception to this rule, and could not be maintained by giving into the hands of government the price of the luxuries which the nation consumes, because it is not the nation by whom the commodities they produce are purchased. It has often enough however been explained, that every nation imports commodities equal in value to those which it exports; and those imported commodities it consumes. It in fact therefore consumes all the commodities which it exports, because it consumes all the commodities which these are employed to purchase. It follows, that the exporting nation is the real supporter of the manufacturers of the exported goods. Mr. C. avails himself of this fact, to prove that his doctrine is equally applicable to a country that possesses a foreign trade, as to one that has
A country which imports corn, the produce of whose soil does not supply subsistence to the whole of the population, is a case which he thinks it next incumbent upon him to reconcile with his theory. He tells us, that not more than one thirtieth of the population of Great Britain is dependent upon the importation of agricultural produce. This part he labours to show is of very inferior value, not only to the mightier mass of the population, but to any other equal part. It may, therefore, in his opinion, be sacrificed without any particular regret. By the loss of trade, he says, "this redundant population "would, in the course of a few years, be swept from the face of the country; and the whole loss ultimately sustained, would be the very small portion of their income, that they yielded to the public revenue. This," says he, "is the whole amount of the mischief, and for this are we to give up the country in despair?"
The profit of the capitalist is another particular, which re. quires not a little labour to shape and order it to his satisfaction. It naturally appears, that this is a resource to the country. It belongs to Mr. C. to show, that as far as it interferes with his theory it is no resource at all. From what source is
the profit of the capitalist derived? It is derived from the consumer of the commodity which his capital is employed in providing. But if this consumer buy not the commodity, and give the whole of what he would have paid for it to government, while government pays away that part of the value to common soldiers, which would have been given as wages to workmen, it will give the remainder which accrued as profit to the ca pitalist, either to him or some one else in his place, as an officer. Thus the same quantity of profit or income will still be enjoyed by the country at large.
Having proceeded thus far in the account of this author's doctrine, and having the outline of his theory, as well as the grand particulars of its application, before us, we will pause a little to offer some reflections on what we have already contemplated.
Mr. Chalmers is an author, probably young in years, but certainly young in this kind of speculation: who can trace out the relations of a particular idea with considerable ingenuity, but who has very imperfectly contemplated the combined operation of those manifold causes on which the good of society depends. A community of human beings is not, as the theory of Mr. Chalmers supposes, a machine governed by physical laws, as if it were composed of pieces of iron and wood, which may be managed at pleasure, and made to work as suits the will and purpose of the owner. Human beings must be governed by motives, and these must arise from the views which they entertain of their own good. Now it is much to be suspected, that a nation will never think it for its good to toil hard, and give up four parts in five of its earnings, reserving to itself nothing but the bare necessaries of life, that government may maintain immense fleets and armies. But this, sy Mr. Chalmers, is the only means by which you can prevent a foreign government from obtaining the dominion over you. Unfortunately, however, for Mr. Chalmers, scarcely any government can work us greater evil than this, to make us toil hard, and permit us to enjoy nothing but the bare necessa ries of life. This is the very condition of a West India slave. It is a truth which deserves a more general and attentive regard than hitherto it has obtained, that one government differs from another, the worst in short differs from the best, in this, chiefly, that in the one the fruit of his industry is secured to the earner, in the other it is not secured. Liberty and slavery Mr. Chalmers seems little to understand. They respect two particulars in the condition of man, his person and his property, But the fact is, that in the worst governments mere personal security is in a much less degree infringed than is generally supposed. Small is the number of individuals that feel on
their persons the cruel hand of a despotic government. Such a government, it is true, not being restricted by equal laws, fairly enforced, has the power of infringing on the person of the subject; but in point of fact it does not exert this power, to any considerable extent. If the subject is not secured from personal injury, he is nevertheless exempt from it. The great mass of a people liye and die, and their bodies are carried to the grave, untouched by the most tyrannical rulers. A few hundreds of senators trembled at the savage caprices of Nero, but the millions who filled the immense extent of the Roman empire, ate, drank, and slept in security. Of the present go, vernments of Europe, personal safety is almost as complete under one as under another: under the tyrannical there is, in fact, nearly as little chance that an individual, who quietly and innocently pursues his affairs, shall be either imprisoned or slain by the government, as there is under the free. There are doubtless some privileges in which the subject of one has an advantage, as for instance, in the toleration of religious dissent. More liberty in printing complaints of the government also may be allowed under one than under another; but this privilege can only be exercised by so small a portion of the community, that it can never in its direct operation, as a personal privilege, be very sensibly felt. But the difference between governments in regard to security of property is of the greatest magnitude. In the case of the arbitrary government, taxes, or contributions, are levied entirely at the pleasure of the governor; and with the exception of a few great men, whose power and combination may suffice to protect them, every thing is taken from the great mass of the people which they can possibly spare,-every thing, in short, but the bare necessaries of life.
When Mr. Chalmers has duly considered this important circumstance, let him then draw the conclusion respecting his own system, which obviously follows. Whenever any government, however constituted, comes to take from the subjects at large every thing but the bare necessaries of life, it equals in its effects, with some abatement, the worst government which can be set up. This abatement, too, will appear exceedingly minute, when it is remembered, that a government which is in a condition to take the property of the subject, arbitrarily, is also in a condition to take his life.
Our author has not sufficient maturity of reflection to calculate right even upon his own principles. He seems to think that all that part of the population at present occupied in the preparation of luxuries, might be placed at the disposal of government, and employed in the business of arms. He does not consider, that if they were not employed in the
preparation of luxuries, a great proportion of them must still be employed in the service of the consumers of luxuries. A great proportion of luxuries are substitutes for second necessaries. The fine coat of a gentleman is a luxury; but were he à common soldier he must still have a coat: a considerable part of the population, therefore, who are now employed in clothing him, must continue to be so employed. His house and furniture are luxuries, and so is his food; but he must have house, furniture, and food, were he a peasant and Mr. Chalmers seems not to have duly considered what is the real difference between the consumption of the great man, and the consumption of the little. There is a fine passage in Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiments," which might have suggested to him an idea of it. "It is to no purpose," says that discerning writer, "that the proud and unfeeling land, lord views his extensive fields, and, without a thought for the wants of his brethren, in imagination consumes himself the whole harvest that grows upon them. The homely and vulgar proverb, that the eye is larger than the belly, never was more fully verified than with regard to him. The capacity of his stomach bears no proportion to the immensity of his desires, and will receive no more than that of the meanest peasant. The produce of the soil maintains at all times that number of inhabitants which it is capable of maintaining, The rich only select from the heap what is most precious and agreeable. They consume little more than the poor." Were all their luxuries, therefore, to be taken from those who are rich enough to obtain them, so great a proportion of those who were employed in the manufacture of these luxuries, must now be employed in the preparation of the necessaries which must come in lieu of them, that a much smaller proportion of the population will be set loose, than Mr. Chalmers, who never seems to have adverted to this material circumstance, is at all aware.
But Mr. Chalmers, inflamed with the imagination of being a great discoverer, is hurried along with a rapidity which permits him not to observe a single object either on his right hand or his left. Without adducing any more of the numerous subordinate, though conclusive arguments, which his theory supplies against itself, we shall now endeavour to present that important view of human society, by the consideration of which its absurdity, we think, is at once completely substantiated.
It is not a little remarkable, that a man should write a book for the rectification of human affairs, plausible enough, and not devoid of a certain kind of knowledge and ingenuity, yet should never, in the whole course of it, reflect upon the great
spring of human movement and action; should propose a scheme of political arrangement, in express contradiction and opposition to it. Who knows not that the grand principle of all industry and improvement among mankind, is the desire and hope of bettering their condition? Deprive men of this stimulus, and you spread universal indolence and wretchedness. If the most obvious dictates of human nature fail to persuade us of this fact, we may consult the experience of all ages and nations. Whenever men have been reduced to the remediless necessity of toiling solely for the necessaries of life, few more necessaries have ever been raised than sufficed to preserve the raisers in existence. Wherever a government has laid its merciless hand on all the produce of industry, except what was barely sufficient to maintain the industrious, there, uniformly, has the government experienced, in a short time, that little remained which it could touch. Contemplate every despotic and rapacious government on earth; contemplate Turkey. Is it there that the means of maintaining a vast army and navy are most completely found? There, however, very little luxury exists, which can be retrenched. There few individuals have more than a very scanty supply of necessaries. In Austria and Russia the case is better by several degrees. But there too the proportion of the population who are permitted to retain any thing beyond the mere necessaries of life, is exceedingly sinall. The poverty and weakness of those countries, their incapacity to maintain large fleets and armies, is exactly proportional. France is the best governed country on the continent of Europe. There, both at present, and for centuries past, vicious and defective as its government is and has always been, a greater share of the produce of their industry has been left with the people, than in any other continental kingdom; a much larger proportion of the population were raised above the mere necessaries of life; a much greater proportion of the population were and are enabled to indulge the hope of bettering their condition; and we see the consequence. But nothing can be more absurd than the ideas vulgarly entertained in this country, of the unbounded power of France to maintain fleets and armies. Including our army and navy, we have a greater number of men in the pay of government at this moment than France has, though her population is more than twice as great as ours. It is our jealousy and fear that has always made us ascribe the victories of France to immensity of numbers. It is a fact of which few are aware, that our warlike establishment costs us more than twice what France is enabled to expend upon hers. The financial accounts of France for the year 1804 are the last to which we are enabled to refer.