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sufficient accuracy for our purpose, by referring to the progress of population, and the habits of the bulk of the people. It is plain, from the statements already made, that the inhabitants of a country, supposing them to have the same, or about the same, continuous command over necessaries and conveniences, cannot increase without a corresponding increase of capital. Whenever, therefore, we find the people of a country increasing, without any, or with but little variation taking place in their condition, we may conclude that the capital of the country is increasing in the same, or nearly the same, proportion. Now, it has been established beyond all question, that the population of several of the States of North America has, after making due allowance for immigrants, continued to double, for a century past, in so short a period as twenty or at most five-and-twenty years. And as neither the kinds nor the supply of necessaries and conveniences falling to the share of the inhabitants of the United States is supposed to have been materially affected during the last century, the increase of population shows that the capital of the country has advanced in a nearly corresponding ratio. But in old-settled countries, the increase of capital, and consequently of population, is much slower. The population of Scotland, for example, is supposed to have amounted to 1,265,000 in 1755; and as it amounted to 2,870,784 in 1851, it would follow, on the principle already stated, that the capital of the country had required nearly 76 years to double.1 In like manner, the population of England and Wales amounted to 6,039,000 in 1750, and to 17,905,831 in 1851, showing that the population, and therefore the capital, of that country, applicable to the support of man, or the supply of food, clothes, and other articles necessary for the support of human life, had about trebled in a century.
The cause of this discrepancy in the rates at which capital and population advance in different countries, is to be found in the circumstance of industry being more productive in
1 It has more than doubled; for the condition of all classes has been greatly improved.
some than in others. Capital consists of the accumulated produce of industry; and wherever, therefore, industry is most productive, there will also, it may be presumed, be the greatest power to increase capital. This presumption may no doubt be, and frequently is, defeated by the greater weight of the public burdens in the more productive country, by defective institutions, a feeling of insecurity, or some such modifying principle. But where these do not occur, or where their influence is not sufficient to countervail the superior productiveness of industry, the means of accumulation will be comparatively extensive. It is obvious, too, that the increase of that portion of capital, which consists of the food and other raw products required for the subsistence and accommodation of the labourer, will especially depend on the productiveness of the soils that are under tillage. Were agriculture in the same state of advancement in any two countries, and the soils under cultivation twice as fertile in the one as in the other, it is evident that the power of adding to its stock of food and other raw materials would also be twice as great in the more fertile country as in the other. It is on this principle partly, but more on the facility of getting land, that we are able to account for the extraordinarily rapid increase of capital and population in the United States, and generally in all colonies planted in fertile and thinly-peopled countries. America possesses a vast extent of fertile and unoccupied territory, which is sold in convenient portions at very low prices. It is not good land, but labour, that is there the desideratum; and the larger a man's family, that is, the greater the amount of labour at his command, the more prosperous does he become. Hence, in America, while farming is low, profits are high. But in Great Britain, and other long-settled and densely-peopled countries, the state of society is widely different. farming is high and profits low. All our land has been appropriated for ages; large sums have been expended upon its improvement; and it cannot be obtained except at a high price. Additional supplies of food are in consequence
raised with much greater difficulty in old than in newly settled countries. And, cæteris paribus, their advance in wealth and population is comparatively slow. The rate of wages in such countries may not, all things taken into account, differ very materially. But the situation of the labourers in new countries will, notwithstanding, be generally preferable, inasmuch as they afford greater facilities to industrious individuals of acquiring land, and raising themselves to a superior station.
It was stated by various witnesses before a committee of the House of Commons on the state of agriculture, in 1822, that the produce obtained from the best lands under wheat in England and Wales varied from thirty-six to forty bushels an acre;1 while that obtained from the inferior lands did not exceed eight or ten bushels. But in past times, when the population was scanty, and tillage was confined to the superior lands, agriculture was at a very low ebb; and it may be doubted whether the lands that now yield from forty to fifty bushels an acre did then yield more than from a fourth to a third part of that quantity. The power to increase supplies of food is not, therefore, dependent only on the quality of the soils in cultivation, but partly on that and partly also on the state of agriculture. In this country, improvements in the latter have more than countervailed for a lengthened period the decreasing fertility of the soils to which we have had to resort for additional supplies of food. This has been most strikingly verified, as every one knows, in the interval that has elapsed since the conclusion of the American, and more especially of the late French, war. We now raise much larger supplies of corn, beef, &c., than we did at the lastmentioned period, notwithstanding prices have fallen heavily in the interval.
In England and the United States, whose inhabitants speak the same language, and have a very extensive intercourse with each other, the arts and sciences cultivated in them both may
1 From forty to fifty bushels an acre would now be nearer the mark.
be expected to approach near to an equality. And therefore, if the inferior lands, or those last taken into cultivation in America, possessed twice the productive power of those last taken into cultivation in England, it might be supposed that agricultural industry in the former would be about twice as productive as in the latter, and that the power which each country possesses of increasing that portion of its capital which consists of food, and other farm produce, would be in about that proportion.
It is found, however, that theoretical conclusions of this sort are much modified in practice. Agricultural science may be equal, or nearly equal, in two countries, and yet their agriculture may be widely different. Scientific knowledge, which is generally confined to a few, and the application of that knowledge by the parties engaged in any great department of industry, are totally different things. The former may be in a very advanced state, while the latter is in its infancy. And such is the case with agricultural science and practice in the United States. The theory of agriculture is there highly advanced, while, speaking generally, the art is imperfect in the extreme. This is a consequence of the facility enjoyed by the Americans of acquiring new land, and of its being more advantageous to cultivate it in the cheapest manner, than to apply improved processes to the old lands. Hence it is that extensive tracts of the latter, after having been cultivated for a while, have been abandoned; and that, except in a few peculiarly favoured districts, the crops are not nearly so heavy as might have been anticipated. This state of things will, of course, change with the changing circumstances of the country. As it becomes more difficult to obtain supplies of new land, a better and more careful system of tillage will be applied to the old land.
Still, however, there can be no doubt that, partly from the farmers being the owners of the land which they cultivate, partly from their not being obliged to resort to inferior soils, and partly from their exemption from tithes, and the smaller amount of their burdens, industry is de
CAPITAL AND POPULATION.
cidedly more productive in countries like the United States, and generally in those that are newly settled, than in those that have been long occupied by a comparatively dense population. But in America, as elsewhere, the best lands will, in the long run, be exhausted; and whenever this is the case, increased supplies of food can only be had by resorting to such as are less fertile. This decreasing fertility of the soil may, as we have just seen, be countervailed, or more than countervailed, by improvements in agriculture and the arts. But whether this be so or not, were population as dense, and tillage as far extended over secondary lands, in the United States as in England, the probability is, that industry would be no better rewarded there than here, and that the progress of both countries in wealth and population would not be very different.
The free importation of corn and other articles of food does not materially affect the previous statements. Prices in a country which habitually imports a portion of its supplies, must be higher than in those from which she imports; and she is thus laid under the same sort of disadvantage, compared with them, as if she cultivated soils of a less degree of fertility. But the freedom of the corn trade gives a security against this disadvantage ever becoming very considerable; while it, at the same time, affords the best attainable security against the recurrence of those periods of scarcity and high prices which are always productive of great public inconvenience and distress.
But while the power of all countries to feed additional inhabitants is thus progressively diminished, through the diminished fertility of the soils which they must successively bring under cultivation, the power possessed by their inhabitants of adding to their numbers, undergoes no sensible change. The principle, or instinct, which impels man to propagate his species, has appeared in all ages and countries so nearly the same, that it may, in the language of mathematicians, be considered as a constant quantity. However