Review of

Principles of Political Economy
by John Stuart Mill

Walter Bagehot

[A review of the book by John Stuart Mill,
The Prospective Review, Vol.IV, 16, 1848, pp.460-502]

The work on which we are about to comment, seems to us unavoidably to present great difficulties to a reviewer. The admirable qualities of mind displayed in it, and the extensive research out of which it has sprung, make it necessary for the critic to practise a humility, to which he is perchance but little accustomed. Moreover the great size of the work, the number of valuable discussions which it contains, and, more than all, the great importance of almost the whole of its subject-matter, exact from us a difficult selection of topics, in order that our article may not be unpleasing to our readers or altogether unworthy of the work under review.

The course which we shall take will be first to mark Mr. Mill's position among economical and, so far as a few words will go, among general thinkers: and, after this introduction to select a single large class of considerations, viz., those bearing on the condition of the labouring classes: and to devote our attention to these exclusively. We choose this branch of the subject, not only because of its own intrinsic interest, but also because it contains a large proportion of Mr. Mill's peculiar and characteristic ideas. He is the first among great English Economists who has ventured to maintain, that the present division of the industrial community into labourers and capitalists is neither destined nor adapted for a long-continued existence: that a large production of wealth is much less important than a good distribution of it: that a state of industry in which both capital and population are stationary is as favourable to national well-being as one in which they are advancing: that fixed customs are perpetually modifying the effects which unrestrained competition would of itself inevitably produce: that a large body of peasant proprietors is usually a source of great national advantage: and that a system of Emigration on a great scale would be productive of much benefit to the English peasantry by raising their habitual standard of comfort, and therefore putting a check on the reckless increase of a miserable population. These propositions (which are not all that might be set down) will be enough to prove that the subject we have selected for discussion with Mr. Mill contains a sufficient number of his peculiar opinions, and therefore asking our readers to acquiesce in our selection of a special topic, we shall pass on to the general and introductory portion of our article.

In the preface to his work Mr. Mill states that he wishes his work to comprise both the theoretic exposition of purely economical doctrine, and also the extraneous considerations most necessary for its correct application to the real world in which we have to live and act. This he says, because he habitually bears in mind that Political Economy is founded on certain assumptions of which it is very convenient to trace out the consequences separately, but which being seldom accurately true, and being often very wide of the mark, will lead logically to consequences that it may be hazardous to apply without correction to the actual condition of mankind. Thus it is perpetually assumed that men will always buy what they want as cheaply as they can; whereas in matter of fact, vanity, liberality and indolence are perpetually preventing purchasers from beating down prices to the full extent of their ability.

The existence of such exceptional considerations distributes economists into two classes. What we may call common-sense thinkers have always seen that these extraneous influences were very important matters for their attention wherever actual practice was at all concerned. Adam Smith for example is the most striking specimen of this class of thinkers. He is very eminent in making short inductions from admitted facts, and in applying them with consistency and skill. He is not eminent for precision of statement or for microscopic accuracy of thought: but he is in general very successful in rather vague descriptions of conspicuous phenomena, and in tracing them back to the most influential of their proximate causes. It is evident that a mind so habitually starting with observed fact would be unlikely to neglect important agencies or to bind itself by purely hypothetical assumptions. Ricardo on the other hand is the most important of what may be called the abstract thinkers on the philosophy of wealth. He sets out from certain primitive assumptions, and from these he proceeds to evolve all his results by mere deduction. He but rarely comes into contact with the actual world at all: but frames a hypothetical one which exists nowhere out of his own imagination. Accordingly his views of his subject must be called deep rather than wide: explaining a little very well, but leaving much without remark: giving a little truth which it was difficult to arrive at, rather than a comprehensive summary of all the principles that modify the phenomena which he is considering. In reference to these peculiarities of their minds, it is certainly very remarkable that Adam Smith should have been a recluse student, during his whole life almost exclusively with abstractions, and that Ricardo, who is so eminently an abstract thinker, should have been bred up in actual business, and should have attained his powers of deductive reasoning without any early philosophical discipline. It would certainly have been expected, if we had not known how little outward circumstances avail against the intrinsic aptitudes of a strong mind, that Adam Smith would have looked on nature principally "through the spectacles of books," and that Ricardo would have taken that general, vague, but in the main sufficient, judgment upon matters of fact which is generally called "common sense," and which alone among the higher intellectual gifts is habitually exercised in every-day practical life.

In that part of his preface to which we just now alluded, Mr. Mill has substantially expressed his intention of conciliating the two modes of dealing with his subject; that is, of combining the abstract deduction and logical accuracy which are exemplified in Ricardo with that largeness of view and thorough acquaintance with diversified matters of fact for which the "Wealth of Nations" is so eminently remarkable.

And this great undertaking he has, so far as we can judge, admirably accomplished. The principal applications of abstract science are here treated of with a fulness of information, an impartiality of judgment, and a command over general principles, any one of which would have by itself been enough to make the work take rank as one of eminent merit, and to the union of which we have never seen anything in an economical writer, even approximating equal. No great subject within the range of Political Economy appears to us to have been wholly omitted, and if we acknowledge that all the larger considerations which we could wish for, are not on all occasions introduced, we also admit that minds trained in different schools of thought, and seeing life generally under a somewhat different aspect, must inevitably form conflicting judgments as to what was, and what was not, relevant to particular social problems. We are bound to add, that in almost all cases there is evidence that Mr. Mill has given much and earnest attention to all the kinds of argument which seemed to him capable of being opposed to his opinions. Nor with the exception of the 'System of Logic' have we read any contemporary publication in which the desire for the mere discovery of truth was either so strong in itself or so immensely preponderant over every other consideration. The false colours of prejudice and passion have no place in an intellect so thoroughly achromatic.

We feel it, therefore, to be almost presumption in us to attempt, as we promised, a description, even in the most general way, of Mr. Mill's position in the list of general thinkers. Yet it seems to us incumbent on the critic of such a man to try his hand at some such task. Mr. Mill has treated with first-rate ability of subjects which involve a discussion of many problems which concern most intimately the highest interests of man; and if we give a notion of the place he appears to us to occupy among important thinkers, it will be seen why, in some instances, we differ from him, and agree with those whom we should place higher on the scale of worth. Mr. Mill then belongs we think to the Aristotelic or unspiritual order of great thinkers. A Philosopher of this sort starts always from considerations of pure intellect. He never assumes the teachings of conscience: he never, that is, treats as primordial facts, either the existence of a law of duty independent of consequences, nor a moral government of the world, nor a connection either between virtue and a reward, or between sin and retribution. He may have a great mastery over trains of reasoning, a great skill in applying comprehensive principles to complicated phenomena; he may have robust sense like Locke or Adam Smith, a power of exhausting a subject like Aristotle or Bentham, or subtlety like the former, or definiteness in scheming like the latter: but whatever be his merits or deficiencies, this remains as his great characteristic, that the light of his intellect is exactly what Bacon calls "dry light;" it is "unsteeped in the humours of the affections:" it rests on what is observed to be: it never grounds itself on any inward assurance of what ought to be: it disregards what Butler calls the "presages of conscience," and attends only to the senses and the inductive intellect. In Physical Science and even in Metaphysics, the views of such men may be extensive, subtle or profound: in Politics also they may and often will excel, in tracing the different kinds of administrative machinery: they will in general be excellent judges of means, though not well fitted to appreciate what a thinker of a different order would be apt to consider, the highest ends of Government: in morals their views will in general be vague and not seldom erroneous, for their conscience is not luminous enough to give them vivid or well-defined convictions on the subject of duty: and on religion it is well if their tone be not that of Protagoras:

Such are the leading characteristics attaching to the school of thinkers, of whom Locke and Aristotle are perhaps the most attractive representatives, and among whom Auguste Comte is assuredly the least valuable specimen compatible with any remarkable ability. It would lead us too far from our subject to explain at length, that the extreme opposite of that School of thinkers is to be found in the School of Plato, and Butler, and Kant, who practically make the conscience the ultimate basis of all certainty: who infer from its inward suggestion the moral government of the world; the connection between shame and fear, and between sin and retribution: from whose principles it may perhaps be deduced, that the ground for trusting our other faculties is the duty revealed by conscience, of trusting those of them essential to the performance of the task assigned by God to Man: thinkers, in short, whose peculiar function it is to establish in the minds of thoughtful persons that primitive Theology which is the necessary basis of all positive Revelation.

To what may be called the moral genius of these writers, the author before us makes no pretension: he would, we apprehend, indeed, deny that it was possible for any man to possess what we reckon as their characteristic merits. On the other hand, in all the merits of the purely intellectual class of thinkers, we must travel far back into the past, before we can find any one whom we know to be possessed of them in an equal measure. Our author is not indeed in our judgment eminently qualified either to perceive or to appreciate nice and exquisite distinctions: he does not therefore at all make pretension to that combination of metaphysical subtlety and practical shrewdness which so many ages have agreed to wonder at in Aristotle: but nevertheless we hardly know of any one who has so much of that union of sense and science so remarkable in the Aristotelic treatises on the business of mankind. And in the firmness of grasp with which his understanding retains whatever has once come within its range, and in the undeviating consistency with which he applies every principle that he esteems ascertained, to every case that fairly comes within its scope, we know not where to find his equal.

From the shortcomings habitual to the school to which he belongs, we cannot hold him altogether exempt; but we are bound to add that these blemishes have rarely been presented in a form so little calculated to offend those whose conception of life may be cast into a somewhat different form. It is, as we have hinted, always evident that Mr. Mill has studiously endeavoured to master the opinions of those from whom he differs: to master them we mean, not in order to collect all arguments that may possibly be made available in their confutation, but what is much rarer, with a view of eliciting from them, if possible, the latent truth which all large masses of human belief may be charitably supposed to contain. With these few words we must abruptly conclude a train of thought which would not stop of itself until our limits were exhausted. It is seldom indeed that in this age of books we come into contact with a mind worthy to be compared with the few great authors of the past; and it is but seldom, therefore, that we are called to begin a discussion such as the brief one which we are in the act of ending.

We shall now go on to the more special purpose of our Article, namely, of describing and, so far as we can, discussing, those of Mr. Mill's speculations which most intimately concern the condition of the labouting classes. We shall first discuss the question on the supposition that the population which we are considering is like that of England divided into the three classes of rent-owners, capitalists, and labourers: each with separate interests, and each capable of separate and, with respect to the others, antagonistic action. And this discussion will naturally subdivide itself into two pans: first, what settles the rates of wages in a country with any given amount of capital and any given number of labourers; secondly, what is the law of the growth of capital, and what the law according to which population is augmented. We shall afterwards make some remarks on the changes which Mr. Mill would introduce into the social framework of Great Britain and Ireland: inasmuch as he has two plans for altering the present threefold division of the productive classes, and one plan for raising the wages paid to the hired labouter under the present system or under any other at all similar to it.

The first question then before us is, what in such a community as England settles the rate of wages when the number of labourers and the amount of capital are both given? On this point we think Mr. Mill's exposition much less complete than in any other equally important portion of his work; and it will therefore be most convenient to us to state shortly our own view, and then to show what portions of the truth seems to us to be omitted in Mr. Mill's solution of the problem.

Among the circumstances which would first strike a philosophical observer of a country possessing much accumulated wealth, one we think is, that the portion of the existing accumulation which is employed in obtaining new additional wealth naturally divides itself into two classes: one which may be called the Co-operative, and which assists and economizes the productive agency of Man; and another which may be fairly called the Remunerative, the characteristic function of which is to reward the exertion of human labour, by subsisting, for example, the labouter and his family, or by conferring on them any enjoyments in which their habitual circumstances enable them to find a pleasure. The most obvious instances of co-operative capital are steam-engines, power-looms, and machinery in general. Remunerative capital (or what is sometimes called the wages-fund of a nation) consists of corn and clothing, tea and sugar, and other similar commodities which the labourer consents, for the sake of their intrinsic qualities, to receive as a compensation for his mental or muscular exertion. It is obvious that in considering the rate of wages, the latter kind of capital is the one more certainly to our purpose. These two commodities, Labour and Remunerative Capital, come into the market and exchange one against the other, and their relative value seems to be settled exactly as in other cases, by the supply of each and also the demand for it; if there be an additional supply of corn or coarse clothing, and the demand for labour be unaltered, the working classes will be able to command more of these articles: if their supply be less, the same classes will certainly, more or less, be straitened. The intervention of money makes no difference here: it is the same thing, except for convenience sake, whether the capitalist purchase the commodities desired by the labourer, and barter them directly for their labour, or whether he gives the labourers money-tickets, by presenting which they will obtain from certain sellers those identical commodities.

Also it is to be borne in mind that the quantity of such commodities and of labour is not the only point which it is necessary to consider: the demand for these commodities also deserves much careful attention. If an additional number of unproductive consumers were to come into a nation and were not to employ any of its labourers, it is apparent that their consumption entrenches on the fund set apart for the maintenance of the industrial classes, unless the evil be corrected by the importation of corn from abroad, or by increased economy in the unproductive classes previously forming part of the nation. On the other hand, if these unproductive consumers were to bring with them a stock of necessaries adequate to their own consumption; and if they were to employ labourers on a large scale, and to pay them either in money or in commodities, it is evident that the command of labourers over wages-paying commodities would be increased, and that the unproductive classes must expend a larger sum in order to obtain the same quantities of the necessaries of life. Undoubtedly if in this instance there was no importation from abroad and no decrease in the consumption of the more opulent classes, the labouting classes would derive no benefit from the increase in the demand for labour: the demand for wages-paying commodities would have been also increased and their price would have risen: but as a rule that higher price would enforce a stricter economy in the more opulent classes, and thus the labourers would be benefitted though not to the full extent of the increased demand for the article in which they deal. In the first case which we noticed, the remuneration for labour was attended by an increased demand in other quarters for wages-paying commodities; and in the second by an increased demand for labour itself at a time when the supply and demand for remunerative capital received -- from other causes -- neither increase nor diminution. The relative value of labour and of wages-paying commodities is settled exactly as the relative value of Cloth and Hats is ascertained. The intervention of money complicates the phenomena in either case, but, as every one acquainted with the elements of the subject will admit, without introducing any new matter of fundamental principle.

Before proceeding further we shall quote Mr. Mill's observations on this portion of the subject. The following passage does not strike us as a complete rationale of the entire topic: but it contains a valuable summary of our author's opinion:--

"Wages like all other things may be regulated either by competition or by custom; but the last is not a common case. A custom on this subject could not easily maintain itself in any other than a stationary state of Society. An increase or a falling off in the demand for labour, an increase or diminution of the labouring population, could hardly fail to engender a competition which would break down any custom respecting wages by giving either to one side or the other a strong direct interest in infringing it. We may at all events speak of the wages of labour as determined in ordinary circumstances by competition.

"Wages then depend upon the demand and supply of labour, or, as it is often expressed, on the proportion between Population and Capital. By Population is here meant the number only of the working class, or rather of those who work for hire, and by Capital only circulating Capital, and not the whole of that, but the part which is expended in the direct purchase of labour, -- to this however must be added all the funds which without forming a part of Capital are paid in exchange for labour, such as the wages of soldiers, domestic servants, and other unproductive labourers. There is unfortunately no mode of expressing by one familiar term the aggregate of what may be called the wages-fund of a country, and as the wages of productive labour form nearly the whole of that fund, it is usual to overlook the smaller and less important part, and to say that wages depend on population and capital. It will be convenient to employ this expression, remembering however to consider it as elliptical and not as a literal statement of the entire truth.

"With these limitations of the terms, wages not only depend upon the relative amount of capital and population, but cannot be affected by anything else. Wages (meaning thereby of course the general rate) cannot rise except by an increase in the aggregate funds employed in hiring labourers, or a diminution in the number of competitors for rise: nor fall, except either by a diminution of the funds devolvable on paying labour, or by an increase in the number of labourers to be paid."

We think the simpler formula which we have ventured to lay down will obviate the necessity of a recourse to an expression which is not correct, and which is calculated to throw a mist over the real relations between machinery and manual labour. Mr. Mill is also inconsistent with himself in speaking of the wages-fund as a part of "circulating capital," for he has defined the latter to be "the portion of capital which is only capable of being used once:" now food is the only wages-paying commodity of importance that is only capable of a single use: in every sense in which machinery is capable of being used, often clothing and cottages are so too. Ricardo it is true uses habitually language of this sort, but then he defines circulating capital to be all capital rapidly perishable, and the error is therefore in him much less considerable, but nevertheless it is on every account undesirable to pay such special attention to that shortness of duration which is at best but an accidental quality of remunerative capital.

From this passage, in spite of the ambiguity in its concluding formula, it is evident that Mr. Mill must in consistency hold that an increase of machinery may be injurious to the lower classes. In other parts of his work he fully explains that such is his opinion, and in this we entirely agree with him. If, for example, a shifting of industrial relations should ever diminish the remunerative kind of capital, and at the same time increase the cooperative, the proportion, as it is phrased, of labour and capital has indeed remained unaltered; but the amount of that portion of capital which is set apart for the compensation of human industry has undergone a diminution which may be very serious. Again, if capital has been transferred from Agriculture to the production of Railroads, or Steam Engines, there is no question but that caeteris paribus the working classes will be straitened by the change: their labour was before devoted to increasing the fund out of which labour would be remunerated; after the alteration it is devoted to manufacturing articles which, though perpetually productive of new wealth, do not in the same degree contribute to the maintenance of a labouring population.

In this case machinery has been shown to be hurtful to the lower classes, because its creation has diverted resources which would otherwise have been employed in remunerating labour to the essentially different function of aiding the production of commodities which the labourers do not consume. It is also quite possible that the introduction of machinery may be injurious to the lower classes by diminishing the demand for their labour. If machinery be substituted for manual labour in any manufacturing employment, common sense, as Mr. Mill observes, sees that the labourers are worse off in that particular employment, and the onus probandi clearly lies upon those who assert that the labouring classes are not worse off generally for the change. What is usually said is, that the wages-fund or remunerative capital of the country remains the same: the use of a certain portion of it is rendered unnecessary in a particular department of industry; but the same aggregate amount exists: it can (it is said) only be shifted from one employment to another, and it is believed that the depression of a sort of labourers will infallibly be compensated by the extra remuneration of another. But it is in our judgment an entire mistake to contend that remunerative capital if released from one employment is necessarily employed in a similar capacity in some other. It is one of the points in which this description of capital differs from the co-operative sort, that the latter, if not used for its own characteristic function of aiding human labour, cannot be put to any other use. Machinery if not worked as such in producing wealth, can never be made to produce pleasure to any one; but remunerative capital, which consists of food, clothing, and other commodities adapted to satisfy certain primitive wants of man, can at once be turned in part at least to the production of transitory enjoyment. This sort of capital, when released from one manufacturing employment, is evidently capable of being used in satisfying the wants of unproductive consumers. The process would be, that less money-wages would be paid in consequence of the substitution of machinery for manual labour; that the working classes would have less to spend on such articles as food and clothing: that these commodities would therefore fall in price: that the fall in price would cause an increased consumption by the unproductive classes, and that their extra consumption would entrench on the fund that previous to the introduction of Machinery was set apart as a compensation for industrial exertion. On this point we have some reason to think that Mr. Mill would agree with us; though this is inconsistent with his general principle which we have quoted, and with many arguments which assume that the demand for labour is not an effective force operating on the rate of wages. But our auth.or is continually right in detail where his formulae would lead him wrong: and we know of no intellectual quality more thoroughly characteristic of a first-rate thinker.

There is we believe also another case in which the introduction of machinery is detrimental to the labouring classes. It was pointed out by Mr. Senior several years ago. Mr. Mill has omitted all consideration of it, probably because its practical importance is exceedingly slight. This case is, where the machinery consumed more wages-paying commodities than the labourers whose exertions it has superseded. Of this kind it is supposed that certain employments of the lower animals may be reckoned: these creatures being for our present purpose, simply animated machines, and it being perfectly possible that they might consume more food than the labourers whose work they were employed to perform. The peculiarity of this case is an additional demand for remunerative capital consequent on the increased use of machinery. The price of the former would consequently rise, and a certain portion of it be put beyond the reach of those labourers who would otherwise have consumed it.

Another mode exists beside that just now mentioned in which the substitution of co-operative for remunerative capital may be effected, and in which that substitution might be detrimental to the interests of the labouring classes. Ricardo was, it is believed, the first who worked out this view of the subject, which is somewhat more recondite than any consideration with which we have yet had to deal. His instance is in principle as follows: Suppose that a manufacturer of remunerative commodities should be in the habit of employing ú1,000 per annum in paying labourers; then if profits were ten per cent, it is clear that he would have a revenue of ú1,100 annually; but if instead of so doing, he choose to expend the same sum in the purchase of a machine, which will last ten years, it is apparent that his thousand pounds will be returned to him together with the ordinary profit by a revenue of ú110 per annum and it is clearly immaterial to him as a capitalist which course he decide to pursue. But if the commodities represented by the ú110 be not so numerous as those represented by the ú 1,100, which the greatest produce can be most easily obtained are those nearest to the consumer; and these will in general be the first selected for cultivation. We may add, though it is a matter more of curiosity than of importance, that there is a case in which this last cause will counteract the effect of the first, -- viz., where the lands least favourably situated have the greatest natural fertility. Here it might happen that the additional labour required to bring food from a greater distance was exactly counterbalanced by the additional fertility possessed by the more distant soils, and therefore that their cultivation would not increase the cost-price of food. But this case of exception is too improbable to need any particular attention, and in general it may be laid down that the first soils taken into cultivation will yield a greater return to the same labour than those that are left without tillage until a later period. It is also a fact of experience, and is deducible from somewhat similar considerations, that doubling the capital and labour on the same land will not double the produce in an unaltered state of agricultural knowledge. It is obvious that men will choose to use first the best means of cultivation which they know of. Hence it appears that in the progress of civilisation the productive arts and the general intelligence of the country are in constant increase, but that this increase is ever in part counteracted and sometimes more than overbalanced by the constant necessity of resorting to the cultivation of poorer soils.

So much of the productiveness of industry, which is one cause of the increase of capital. The propensity to save, which is the other cause, means, in more distinct words, the disposition of the people to postpone a present enjoyment for the future advantage of themselves and others. This will obviously vary with the estimate which the people in question are able to form of what is distantly future -- a kind of intelligence in which children, savages, and all uninstructed persons, are peculiarly deficient, and on the effects of which Mr. Mill has accumulated various interesting testimonies. The saving habit will also be fostered by a general security, that those who save to-day will be able to enjoy to-morrow, or at least be able to make over their enjoyment to whom they please; by a boldness to meet whatever risk there is that this event will not take place; and by the comparative desirableness of the station which is conferred by accumulated wealth. The two first seem as a rule to augment in strength during an advance of civilisation; the third is perhaps at its maximum in a rather rude and boisterous condition of society; the fourth attains its greatest efficiency in that state of purely commercial industry through which the mercantile and manufacturing classes of England, as well as the Northern States of the American Union, appear at present to be passing. To these four causes must be added the rate of the profit which can be derived from the employment of capital. It is evident that men will be more likely to save, cceterisparibus, when they get twenty per cent. on their capital, than when they can get two per cent.: but the efficiency of this cause at different times and circumstances, it will be better to consider after examining the subject of population. Then also we shall be better able to estimate the causes which apportion capital into the two divisions that have been before mentioned.

We have now then examined the disposition to save and the productiveness of industry. We have found that the great causes of accelerating the growth of capital are the increase of foresight and productive power consequent on the advance of civilisation: the great retarding cause is the diminishing proportion of return with which the soil of the earth rewards the increasing industry of the cultivator. And this is all which can at present be said with advantage with reference to the growth of capital.

We now go to the subject of Population -- a topic which is of obvious importance in reference to our peculiar subject, and about which there has been, and still is, a considerable amount of controversy. We are not, however, able to afford to it a portion of our space proportionable either to its interest or its difficulty. It may be broadly stated at the outset that Mr. Mill does not believe the doctrine of Malthus and Ricardo, that an increase of the comforts or a decrease in the misery of the labouting classes is invariably followed by an accelerated increase of population; or, on the other hand, that a diminution of their comforts or an increase in their misery will invariably retard the increase of their numbers.(1*) Our author is habitually aware that extreme misery is a great stimulant to population, by begetring recklessness and improvidence: since it may be safely affirmed that an Irishman who is as badly off as he can be, and who has no hope and scarcely an opportunity of becoming better, will, as a general rule, practise no prudential restraint whatever.

Mr. Mill also holds what is less obvious, that a very great increase in the comforts of the population, though it may be an immediate stimulus to population, will nevertheless in all likelihood, on the whole, retard its increase. This proposition was admirably brought into view by Mr. Thornton, in his essay on Over-Population. It is still, however, opposed by many reasoners; there is in the minds of some Economists an inveterate idea, almost, if not quite, amounting to a prejudice, to the effect that the most comfortable classes will always increase the most rapidly. If this proposition were not a frequent assumption, silently or expressly taken for granted in many influential arguments, it would have no intrinsic merit requiring a particular notice. Few ideas on this or on any other subject can be more clearly opposed to very obvious facts. It might be urged that in Norway, where the population is nearly stationary, the mass of the population enjoy a degree of comfort certainly unsurpassed, and most probably unequalled, in any other portion of Europe. But far more obvious facts are in every country at hand to correct this very erroneous idea. Is it by the increase of the Noblesse that the population of any country is particularly augmented? Do the middle, the opulent, or the commercial portions of any nation increase too rapidly? It is clear that, as we ascend in the social scale, we pass through classes which have at each step of ascent a diminishing rate of mcrease; the fact being that comfort, the habitual sense of having something valuable to lose, and the desire of parents that their children shall not be below, but, if possible, above the position in which they themselves live, are all motives which operate most as a check on population among the opulent and comfortable classes.

This being so, it is clear that it is the habit of the several classes of mankind to have a rate of increase of their own, fairly determined by the consumer of those commodities will obviously be worse off than before. In the case we are supposing the subjects of manufacture are wages-paying commodities, and the consumers we are speaking of are the labouring classes. It is clear, therefore, that they are straitened by whatever diminishes the aggregate annual proceeds of agriculture and of what may be called for shortness wages-making manufactures; but that the capitalist is benefitted only by the profit which is left after deducting the expense. In mercantile language this is expressed by saying that the consumer is dependent on the gross and the capitalist on the net return: in more popular phraseology it may be said that the consumer has only to heed the amount of commodities produced, whereas the capitalist is exclusively concerned with the pecuniary excess of income over outlay. It is evident that the operating cause is, as we said, the substitution of co-operative for remunerative capital: there was a certain amount produced to support the labourers during the ensuing year: there is in lieu of them a machine of equal pecuniary value: the national capital is the same in amount and the capitalist obtains as before his accustomed profit: but nevertheless the condition of the labourer and the consumer is deteriorated because they have a diminished supply of articles adapted to satisfy their wants.

To sum up then, the three cases in which the increase of machinery is detrimental to the labouring population are first when its introduction diminishes the supply of remunerative capital; secondly, when the introduction increases the demand for such capital; thirdly, when the demand for labour is diminished by the change. We are very far from thinking that any one of these cases is of frequent occurrence, or that any part of the present depressed state of the lower orders is in any considerable degree owing to an extension of machinery. In our judgment Mr. Mill has ample grounds for contending that by far the greater part of new machinery is merely an investment for the annual savings of the country; and being on that account a new creation of wealth does not diminish the existing amount of remunerative capital: nor do wages-paying commodities, except in the not very important instance of coal, appear to be consumed to any considerable extent by existing machinery. We should also hold, contrary to the opinion of Mr. Mill, that the increased demand for labour sometimes eventually caused by the introduction of machinery is decidedly beneficial to the lower orders. The cotton trade is an obvious instance of this: there is no reason however for wearying our readers with an examination of our differences on this point from Mr. Mill, because our reasons are only the reverse side of those which we have already exhibited in behalf of our opinion that any decrease in the demand for labour from a similar cause is detrimental to the real interests of the labouring classes.