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this, in one way and another, supports a great many idlers.' idlers are, of course, supported at the expense of the industrious.' Our author elsewhere speaks of the idle class as those who live on their incomes, without laboring in any business or profession. Now, we had supposed that the property of the rich could not yield an income, without being employed to assist the industrious in the work of production. Mr. Sedgwick quotes the pregnant maxims of Adam Smith, that capital is hoarded labor — labor laid up for future use; and that labor is the original price paid for all things. Both the working man, then, and the rich man who chooses not to work with his hands, have labor to bestow toward the production of new value. The labor of one is in the exertion of his personal strength; the labor of the other is hoarded, laid up, in implements, machinery, lands, buildings, or in money wbich can be exchanged for any or all of these things. Each must contribute to the work of production a portion of the productive power he has to bestow, or he can receive no return. If any among us will not work, will not bestow a portion of the labor which resides in his muscular strength, his invention, or his capital, he cannot eat of the fruit of this all-creating industry, unless he cheat or beg. Is the right of the capitalist to his share of the product of this combined labor, less sacred than that of the working man? Such a distinction is as repugnant to our instinctive sense of justice, as hostile to the existence of civilized society. Perhaps the right of property owes its stability less to any politic consideration of its necessity to society, than to a less erring principle, the common sympathy with the possessory feeling, the instinct which connects man's spirit with the outward utilities which belong to his condition in this world. Theft and robbery are an outrage on this primary feeling, and it is chiefly against this insult to our common humanity, that the moral judgment of every society denounces the penalties of its criminal code. Priority of occupancy of any part of the common fund of nature, constitutes, to the unsophisticated apprehension of men, as good a foundation for the claim of the occupant, as the fact of his having incorporated with it a portion of his own labor - his own creative energy.
A correct analysis, perhaps, would show the recognition of the right of the occupant, in either case, to depend upon the common sympathy with his sense of property, and his reasonable expectation of possessing and enjoying what he has created, or rightly appropriated. And this proprietary feeling, and the disposition to sustain and vindicate it, lose none of their strength from length of possession. In this potent instinct of our race the instinct of appropriation we see an effectual security against whatever is apprehended from the spirit of agrarianism, or any other spirit whose aim and impulse is against the established laws of property and order. We should almost as soon expect to see a society assent to a plan of mutual extermination, as agree to carry into practice the principle of an equal division of property. In France, when anarchy and oppression made the most fearful demonstrations of their united strength, political crime was made the pretext for spoliation. Some such assumption was necessary to reconcile the spirit of Jacobinism to stripping a hated aristocracy of their hereditary estates.
If then the legal protection of property, whether acquired by the industry of the individual, or inherited from his ancestors, be according to our native sense of justice; and as necessary to the very being of society, as the protection of personal freedom itself; and if this property, or hoarded labor, can yield no income to its possessor, without being made to assist in creating more property, the passages we have quoted must be rejected as unsound in reason,
if not exceptionable on the score of their tendency. As the possessor of ancestral property has not labored for the same, 'and as all property comes from labor,' we suppose his possession must rest on unequal laws in his favor, which is monopoly !' We will not now quarrel with a word. The law of nature will stand good, whatever name you call it by.
How does the national debt of Great Britain support a class of idlers ? The question is surely of little practical moment to us; but it is worth while to have something like clear ideas of a subject so much spoken and thought of. When the debt was created, an amount of property, equal to it, was destroyed - worse than wasted — by drawing hundreds of thousands of men away from the proper, honest business of men, stripping them of their proper humanity, converting them into fighting machines, ministers of destruction, to lay waste alike the proud city and the peasant's home, and turn a peaceful, unoffending land into one wide slaughter-house. The property used to equip and support these instruments of ruin, was of course consumed, lost. That is past. But the whole nation of Great Britain chose not to contribute the sum by a tax on themselves; but, by the agency of their government, borrowed the amount, on interest, of a few capitalists, a part of the nation, because it was more convenient to pay the interest, than contribute so much from their productive capital, and it still continues to be more convenient. The productive capital of Great Britain is indebted to certain capitalists, or holders of stock, as our productive capital is indebted to banks, and other lenders. The owner of any amount of British Government stock is, legally and morally, the owner of an equal amount of the active capital of the British nation. If he lives by the active labor of others, others live by his hoarded labor. He is supported at the public expense,' in just the same sense as the lender of money, at a fair rate of interest, is supported at the expense of his borrower, that is, in a very perverted sense of the words, or in no sense at all. But let us hasten to more edifying argument.
Man is constituted with a multitude of wants and desires, other than those which are supplied by the bounty of nature, without bis care.
The objects of these wants and desires are necessary, in different degrees, to his existence, his comfort, and the development of his faculties, physical, intellectual, and moral. He wants food, and clothing, and shelter, to protect him from the inclemencies of the weather. When he is provided with these first necessaries, in their coarsest, humblest form, a multitude of secondary wants are ready to prompt him to new efforts. He wants better food; his clothing, his habitation, and furniture, require improvement, not only to fit them better for their first simple purpose, but also to gratify
his desire for order, elegance, and beauty. He wants opportunities and leisure for converse with his kind, and the means to gratify his benevolence, by alleviating their distresses, and supplying their wants. He is endowed with curiosity; he wants knowledge, and the means necessary to its attainment. ally, there is not a word of truth in the dictum of the gentle hermit, “ Man wants but little here below. His wants are boundless, and without number, and prompt him to the indefinite accumulation of all useful and pleasant things, perishable and imperishable. Sad and true is the picture which our author has drawn of the poverty of the great mass. the ninety-nine hundredths of mankind. The poverty of European laborers is too melancholy an object, for those whose hand may not reach, and whose strength may not suffice to redress it. But our own day laborers are poor, very poor. They are destitute of all but a few of the most necessary comforts and conveniences of life. Our farmers are poor.
There is a sad want of comfort and elegance in their houses and furniture. In their gardens and grounds, there is little convenience or beauty — far less than there might be. How indifferently are their children supplied with the means of obtaining such an education as befits the citizens of a republic! Our mechanics and tradesmen are in no better condition. But the most revolting description of poverty is here drawn.
By fashionable and expensive poor, is intended all those, whether merchants, farmers, mechanics, day laborers, etc., who live in the imitation of expensive fashions, without any proper regard to their wages or fortunes. This class, in the United States, embraces a larger proportion of the people than in any other country whatever. In other words, travellers and strangers agree, that the people of the United States are, in many particulars, the most wasteful of all civilized people on earth.
“Of these fashionable expensive poor, a large number, even of those that belong to the higher classes, are among the poorest people in the United States. If there were weights and scales to weigh human misery by the ounce and pound, it would be found that these unhappy people suffer more in mind from embarrassments, duns, mortification, offended pride, and conscious meanness and wickedness, at the thought that they are spending the property of their friends, and of honest, hard-working mechanics and others, than many very poor people do in body, for the want of sufficient clothing, fuel, and food. Striving to be something which their property will not allow, they are in a perpetual conflict, in the worst war in the world a war with themselves. They do not live by any rule of their own, according to what God has given them, and what is therefore only allowable for them to spend, but they live after a rule set by the fashion of rich people, and thus they see with other people's eyes, whose eyes are their ruin. Instead of having their clothes made in the most economical way, in their own houses by their wives, daughters, and servants, they run to the fashionable milliner's and tailor's, at the same time that they are suffering for good, substantial, seasonable garments.
Their parlors and dining rooms are full of what they call splendor, that is, finery. If they have
valuable pictures, it is ten to one these are put into the shade, in order to show their fine curtains to better advantage.
* If you go out of this region of splendor and magnificence, the real barrenness of the territory in good, useful things, appears. In the kitchen and other apartments, there is not a decent sufficiency of proper cooking utensils, tubs, kettles, dishes, carpets, and other conveniences for health, comfort and cleanliness. Nothing is so mean as the real poverty of these people, except their pride.'
The repulsive feature in this description of poverty, is the prominence in which its cause — a weak, contemptible vanity — stands out to view. It is the poverty which attends upon a very mean vice of character, as a part of its natural and proper punishment. The fault of this unhappy class of persons consists in buying things which they do not want, and doing without things which are necessary to their comfort, respectability, and dignity of character. They aspire after elegance and splendor, or what they think will pass for elegance and splendor, and violate every principle of taste as well as of reason. Fitness, appropriateness, consistency, the elements of beauty, whether in the moral or material world, are discarded; and their means of display are valued in proportion as they violate all the conceptions of such common-place minds as those of Michael Angelo and Reynolds. Their whole lives are a miserable caricature of the elegance they aspire aster.
But this class of expensive poor are ridiculous only by carrying to a greater extreme than others the practice of buying vain and worthless things, in preference to useful ones. The same practice causes the poverty of all other classes of people ; yes, all classes, without exception. There is not, perhaps, an individual in a hundred thousand who is not too poor to purchase many useful, and truly beautiful, and therefore truly valuable, things; things fitted to promote the happiness, to enlighten, exalt, and purify the minds of men, in the present and future generations, to make their abodes a shrine for the pilgrims of genius, and their country honored and beloved throughout the world. There are very few indeed who are not too poor to be the masters of such desirable possessions; and the number is not small, who have disabled themselves to encourage the fine and useful arts, by an habitual patronage of the useless and vulgar ones. The most wealthy portion of mankind, when utility comes to be preferred to vanity, will find in the purchase of useful, intrinsically and permanently valuable objects, full employment for all their revenues. is beyond dispute, that the industry of the whole world, applied in the most judicious and skilful manner, is incapable of creating more useful products than are needed; and whatever portion of this labor - whether quick, or hoarded, in the shape of capital - is applied to the production of useless and frivolous things, which minister only to a diseased vanity, or sordid sensuality, is so much abstracted from the service of mankind. From its legitimate office of a high and honorable ministration to actual wants and ennobling desires, it is cast down to an abject servitude to debasing passions.
The folly of a waste of revenue on that which is not wealth, and which affords no gratification that a reasonable being ought not to be
ashamed of; the theory that frivolous luxuries are productive of good, by giving employment to the poor; the distinction between useful things, approved by good taste, and luxurious, useless finery; and the position of Malthus, Chalmers, etc., that production, and the consequent demand for capital, must find a limit in the inability of purchasers, will be briefly considered, and the latter, it is believed, refuted, in another and concluding number.
OF THE OAK
BY ROBERT M.
'T is true that Time hath stamp'd his mark upon my lofty brow,
'Tis true that in my native bowers my leaves might now be green,
Alas! alas! no heart hath throbbed, that earth hath ever known,
Yet who would wish to pass through life, in dark seclusion thrown,
"Our fathers loved this aged oak, that stands by the way-side.' Savannak, ( Georgia.)