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to take all the weavers from the low-paying masters, in order that they might be driven out of the trade."*

When masters do combine to resist a rise of wages, it is generally in consequence of countercombinations among their workmen.

Thus, however much the combinations among men or among masters may interfere with the free circulation of labour, it is not in the power of labourers, as a class, permanently to improve their condition by a combination for a rise of wages; or in the power of masters, by combining, permanently to reduce the reward for labour below its natural level.

* Committee on Commerce, &c. 1833, p. 912.

CHAPTER IV.

ON THE LIMITS OF THE FUND FOR THE EMPLOY

MENT OF LABOUR.

Falstaff. What money is in my purse ?
Page. Seven groats and twopence.

Henry IV., Part Second, Act I. Sc. II.

The population of a country can never exceed the number that its supply of food is capable of maintaining

Countries, however, commercially connected, may be in some respects considered as forming one community. Suppose two countries, A and B, trading together ; A, a country exclusively agricultural, B, a country exclusively manufacturing : it is evident, that should A cease to produce, B must cease to manufacture; also that the number of the manufacturing population

of B must be limited by the amount of the surplus produce of A. The labour and skill employed in manufactures in B will only affect the quantity and the quality of the goods sent to A, but can never enable B to employ a single additional labourer, so long as the commerce is confined to these two countries. But if C, a second manufacturing country, be introduced, in proportion as B, by machinery or skill, is enabled to undersell C, so will it be enabled to maintain a greater number of labourers ; but the total number of persons in B and C must depend upon the surplus produce of A ; and these three countries will, in this respect, form but one community.

The commerce of two countries, neither of which imports provisions from the other, merely regards the conveniences and luxuries of life, without in the smallest degree affecting the amount of population in either. But wherever a country imports corn or other provisions in return for manufactures, its exports procure it a share of the food grown in another. Thus the means of producing food may belong to one country, while the power of purchasing it may be vested in another. We accordingly find that in some countries there is a large exportation of provisions, while many are in a state of destitution at home.

If food or manufactures are imported into a country, there will be an additional quantity of them to be divided among its inhabitants. If manufactured goods are exported, it is evident that the people can derive no additional comfort from the manufactures thus taken away from them. But if food is imported in return, the population will obtain an additional supply of food, and of food only, by their manufacture of comforts. So likewise the people will derive no additional means of subsistence from the circumstance of food being exported from their country. But if other articles are imported in return, there will be an additional amount of these articles to be distributed among them. If these articles are such as are consumed by the labouring classes, an increased amount of them will lower their price to the labourer. But if they consist of such articles as are consumed only by the rich, the enjoyments of the rich, who consume them, will be alone enhanced.

If the food or the manufactures exported are sent abroad as a consignment of rent due to an absentee, nothing will be imported in return. If a person living in England, whose expenditure gives employment to 50 Englishmen, goes to reside abroad, and gives employment to 50 foreigners instead of 50 English, the value of the wages of the 50 English labourers which is exported to enable the absentee to maintain these foreigners, is so much taken away from the fund for the support of labour in England, and so much added to the fund for the support of labour abroad. This proposition, simple and self-evident as it appears, has been by no means universally assented to. Mr. M‘Cullock is of opinion that absenteeism is rather a benefit to a country than otherwise ; and considers that as the rent of an Irish non-resident landlord is exported to him in the productions of Ireland, the inhabitants of that country derive as much advantage from his consumption as if he had

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