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Joseph Lowe.

The present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France online

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How wide a field of improvement is open to them,
if they will merely labour to transfer to their
respective territories the degree of agricultural
knowledge introduced into this country ! No En-
o'lishman who has not travelled can form an idea
of the general backwardness of the Continent, of
the poverty of the farmers, the awkwardness of
their implements, the deficiency of their buildings.
If we cross the narrow seas and fix our attention
on the districts of the Continent said to be farthest
advanced, such as Flanders, Nojinandy, or the
Paj/s de JScauce, we shall find their machinery so



Prosjjcct ()/' I he Continent and of England. Q5S

rude, and their work ])erfbrmed in so great a de-
gree by manual labour, that the productive pow-
ers of their soil might be doubled by the mere
application of the discoveries and inventions that
have taken place in our eastern and northern coun-
ties. If we carry our observation farther, and
calculate how nnich i-emains to be done in the
neglected plains of Hungary and Poland, in the
half-irrigated 'provinces of S])ain, Italy, and even
the south of France, the inference is, that Europe,
that boasted seat of cultivation, is not peopled to
the extent of a fiftli of the numbers it may be ren-
dered capable of supporting.

The prospect of England. — Let us not, how-
ever, imagine, that the advancement of the Conti-
nent would have the effect of lessening the relative
superiority of this coimtry ; on the contrary, those
advantages which have enabled us to take the lead
— extent of water communication, richness of
mines, command of capital, superiority of civil in-
stitutions, formed habits of business, — are all calcu-
lated to confirm our ])re-eminence, and even to
lead us forward in a (juicker ralio than our neigh-
bours. To comprehend this fully, the reader
ought first to acquire the conviction, that national
improvement is hkely to be ])rogressive, and hns
at })iesent no more reached a limit, than it had
thirty, fifty, or one hunflred years ago. To accpii-
esce in the notion, tliat tiie present mode of tilling
the ground, of navigating the ocean, or ])erfbrniing
mechanical laboiu-, is the best thai can he (l(>\isi'(l,
is the ])art of the indolent and unthinking; such is
the creed of the spiritless Asiatic, of the unenlight-
ened peasant, and the almost e(|nallv unenlightened
manufacturer in mauv parts of the Continent of"



I254< Population.

Europe. In this country, happily the discoveriea
that MO rapidly succeed each other, afford a proof
that we have not yet advanced half way in the
extension of our national resources. Of this, a
more ample developement shall be given in our
concluding chapter, when we shall shew how
surprisingly we have gained on our political rivals,
in the course of the last century, and how little we
have at present to dread at their hands — consi,
derations calculated to confirm the public, in an
approval of the pacific system which we have now
so fortunately adopted, and to satisfy the appre-
hensive among our countrymen, that with a steady
adherence to such a course, the day of trial in the
finances of England will ere long be surmounted.



Q65



CHAP. VIIL

National Revenue and Capital.

JriAviNG appro])nated several chapters to an ex-
amination of tlie condition of the country, under
the separate heads of Agriculture, Population,
and Poor-rate, we are now to make an attempt of
a more comprehensive nature, and to bestow a
chapter on our National Revenue and Capital
generally. This will lead us to discuss

The amount of our taxable income.

The connection between its increase and the
increase of our population ; and lastly,

The fluctuations it has experienced in the thirty
years that have elapsed since the French Revolution.



Estimate, by tfte late Mr. Colquhoun, of Pro-perty created in
Great Britain and Ireland, in the Year 1812.

Agriculture in all its branches, (including pas-
ture) ..... €217,000,000

Mines and minerals, including coals - - 9,000,000

Manufactures in every branch - - 1 1 4',0(K),000

Inland trade and banking ... ;i-5,(K)0,000

Foreign commerce and shipping - - 4(),(XX),000

Coasting trade .... 2,000,000
Fisheries, exclusive of the colonial fisheries of

Newfoundland ... - 2,000,000

Foreign income remitted - - - .'5,000,000

Total - - 480,000,000



^56 Ndlional Revenue.

Siicli WHS the amount of the property created
in Great Britain and Ireland in 181^ ; since which
there have occurred two very material clian^^es, —
a great increase in the quantity, and a still greater
decrease in the prices. The latter, in the case of
agriculture amounts to 60 per cent; in that of
manufactures to 40 or 50 per cent. ; but as Mr.
Colquhouu's estimate was made greatly below the
currency of the time, 20, or at the utmost, 2.5 per
cent., will form a sufficient deduction from its
amount. To this we find an ample counterpoise
iji the increase of quantity arising from

The additional produce on the part of the hands
restored to labour by the peace ;

The increase of our population since 1812; and

The progress of improvement in agriculture

and manufactures, by which the same number of

liands are enabled to produce a considerably larger

quantity.

The result, therefore, is, that even at reduced
prices, the value of the produce of the present
year, equals or exceeds that of 1812 ; but as ^\y.
Colquhouu's calculation included, under the head
of agriculture, a very large sum for produce, such
as oats, hay, grass, &c. appropriated to the food of
liorses and cattle, and as our object is to confine
our table to articles for the consumption of man,
or for the purposes of manufacture, we assume the
total at 3.50,000,000/. That sum, then, we con-
sider as representing the amount "of the property
annually created in Great Britain and Ireland ; in
other words, the amount of our animal production.
Of this large sum, what pr()])ortion, in this
land of taxes, can be considered as exempt from
the visit of the assessor ? About 2.5 per cent., as
appears trom the calculations in the Appendix,



National Revomc, 257.

leaving for our taxal)le income, somewhat more
tlian 260,000,000. Thus,

Estimate (four Taxable Income, in 1823^

(Great Britain distinct from Ireland.) t

Rent ol" laiul returned in
18 14-, at 4-:},0{X),000/., and
probably amounting, after
allowing for all deduc-
tions, omissions, and eva-
sions in the returns, to - £4'8,000,000

Add for land brought into

culture since the peace - 2,000,000

Together - 50,000,000

Deduct for all abatements
of rent since the peace^
made, making, or which
must ere long be made,
one third, or 33 per cent. 17,000,000

Probable rental in peace - 33,000,000

Deduct furtlicr for tempo-
rary deficiencies on the
part of farmers, at this
time of peculiar pressure 3,000,000

" €30,000,000

Tithe; amount in 1812 (see Returns of Property
Tax) 4-,700,000/. ; at present computed, after
making an addition for the increase of pro-
duce, and an abatement for the great fall of
prices .... - 4,000,0001

Rental of houses, returned at nearly 16,000,000/.
in 1814; since wliicli, the houses are aug-
mented in number by 15 per cent., and as
rents have fallen only partially, we compute
the amount at - - 17,(XX),000

Farming income, which, during the latter years
of the war, was sO large as to equal the rental
of our land, but which is at present so greatly

Carried forward - 51,000,000



258 Natio7ial Revenue.

lirought forward - 51,(XX),000
reduced, we estimate, with a view to the
future, at the medium rate of 6 per cent, on
200,000,000/, the supposed amount of capital
invested in agriculture - - - 12,000,(XK)

Income from trade and professions, comprising not
only manufacturing and mercantile profits, but
income from mines, docks, canals, tolls, iron-
works ; likewise salaries, as far as derived from
the concerns of individuals ; to the exclusion,
however, of all incomes below 50/. a year,
This portion of our national revenue, returned
during the war at 30,000,000/., and which,
if augmented in proportion to the increase of
our numbers, should at present be 35,000,000/.,
we compute, in consequence of the change in
the value of money, and the decrease of bu-
siness, at a great reduction, say . . - 22,000,000
Wages and all incomes below 50/. a year, com-
puted on a population, which, (exclusive of
Ireland) is now nearly 15,000,000, but from
which somewhat more than a third is deducted
for persons either above or below the station of
those receiving wages. This large deduction
comprizes not merel}^ paupers, but cottagers
and all others whose mode of life is such as to
lead, in a very slight degree, to the consump-
tion of taxed articles. The result, estimated
on a population of 9,000,000 working at the re-
duced wages of peace, but adding the earnings
of women and children to those of the men, is 90,000,000
Interest of our debt, funded and unfunded, since

the reduction of the 5 per cents. - - 30,000,000

Conjectural amount of interest from other money
securities ; viz. mortgages, private securities
generally ; also public securities, such as bank
stock, East India stock, foreign stock, in short,
all securities distinct from those of our govern-
ment ..... 20,000,000
Income of the army, navy, civil list, and public
offices, after allowing for the late retrenchments.



Carried forward - 225,000,000



Natiofial Revenue. 259

Brought forward - 225,000,000
and leaving out the proportion expended in

Ireland .... 15,000,000



Total of Great Britain 24-0,000,000

Ireland : taxable income computed during the

war at 35,000,000/.; at present at - - 25,000,000

(See Appendix, p. [79].) ■

Total of Great Britain and Ireland 265,000,000

Of which, lost to taxation, being expended abroad

by travellers and emigrants - 4,000,000



Remainder - 261,000,000



Ireland. -^The total produce of land and labour
in Ireland cannot, from the magnitude of the
population, be below 7t>,000,000/. a year, but the
cottagers are so numerous and their mode of living
so inferior to that of the inhabitants of towns, that
the portion of national income expended on taxed
articles can hardly, (})articularly since the fall of
rents, and the general decline of incomes,) exceed
the 25,000,000/. whicli we Iiave introduced into
the table.

Increase of National Income since 1792. — The
last thirty years have been a j)eriod equally re-
markable for financial as for political revolutions.
Do we, it maybe asked, possess the means of form-
ing, with any degree of accuracy, an estimate
of the increase of national income since 179'^?
Such an estimate, wliether in peace or war, is a
matter of great difficulty : the improvements in
our land, our houses, our furniture ; the additions
to our towns, our harbours, our manufacturing
establishments, in the present age, arc obvious,
and have been great beyond example j but as no
record can express the amount of expenditure in-

s 2



^60 National Revenue,

curred, or the success, necessarily very various, of
sucli investments of capital, it remains with the
inquirer to seek a standard of com])utation. For
this we are in some measure prepared by the re-
searches in the preceding chapters ; and by fol-
lowing up that course of reasoning we shall probably
be enabled to reduce to a systematic form that
which seems at present involved in contradiction.
The cause of the changes since 1792, we are dis-
posed to seek in —

Fluctuations in the activity of our productive
industry ;

Fluctuations in the value of money ;

The increase of population.

Of these different causes the first and second
have already been illustrated (Chap. II. and III.)
at considerable length ; and whatever may be
wanting in regard to them shall be supplied in a
subsequent part of our volume. At present, there-
fore, we confine our attention to the etiect of the
third cause, — increase of numbers ; — adopting the
principles laid dowm in our chapter on Popidation,
and applying, or endeavouring to apply them, to
the circumstances of the present age.

Connexion between the increase of Numbers and
increase of National Income. — We have already re-
marked tliat no adherent of Mr. IMalthus, whatever
might be his objection to increase of numbers, has
alleged that our lower orders have made a descent
in the scale of comfort ; nor does the surprising
increase of our population in the present age ap-
pear (Chapter on Poor Rate, p. 199.) to have carried
the proportion of our paupers to our total numbers,
much beyond what it was a century ago. We are
far from maintaining that marriages in humble life



National Revenue. 261

are contracted with the requisite prudence, or that
the parents of a numerous family can avoid a long
and serious struggle : our argument merely is, that
the situation of tlie lower classes generally, is not
altered for the worse. It is the characteristic of a
civilized and industrious society, like the inhabitants
of Holhmd, England, or Scotland, to make suc-
cessive discoveries in the means both of augmenting
produce and diminishing expense ; improvements
by whicli, whether effected in agriculture, maiui-
facture, navigation, or trade, a country is enabled
to support many more inhabitants in equal comfort.
Increase of numbers therefore is, even in the case
of the lower orders, conduciv^e to increase of tax-
able income ; for w^e have already had occasion to-
show what large sums are annually brought into
the exchequer by the duties on beer, spirits, to-
bacco, groceries ; all of which enter into the con-
sumption of the classes in question, particularly
when resident in towns.

The lo-west class of Poor, — How, it may be
asked, stands the question of increase (^f income,
in regard to a po})nlation of such primitive habits
as the cottagers of Ireland, or the mountaineers of
Scotland, accustomed to confine their demands to
mere subsistence? In such a case, an increase of
numbers implies a correspondent increase, not of
taxable income, but of the produce which, like
potatoes or ])read, constitutes the mere necessaries
of life ; and the result is an addition to our })opu-
lation of individuals, who, though able to earn their
subsistence, can be said to add to our 'political
strengtli in hardly any other sense than as recruits
for the public service, or as mere manual labourt'rs,
being unable to make the- sacrifice requisite tbr
Jearning the buf^iness of an aitisan.

s 8



'i6'i Nalional Revenue.

The connexion between increase of numbers,
and increase of wealth, will appear more clearly,
if we liave recourse to arithmetical statement, and
if we subject to an analysis the 250,0()0,0(X)^. con-
stituting the taxable income of the nation. This
will exhibit the following proportions :

Great Britain and Ireland.

(Taxable Income, exclusive of the pay of the Army
and Navy.)

Arising from wages and salaries, and of course,

directly affected by increase of population - £100,000,000

From capital and labour combined, a portion
of national income, which also is much in-
creased by increase of population - - 50,000,000

From rent of land, houses, or interest of
money, which are influenced, though in-
directly, and in an inferior degree, by the
increase of numbers ... . 100,000,000



Total - '250,000,000

That the increase of taxable income, as far as
such arises from wages and salaries, is in corre-
spondence with the increase of our numbers, re-
quires no demonstration : the same holds in regard
to professional men, to merchants, to master manu-
facturers, in short, in respect to every line in which
income depends on personal ei'ertion. Thus, land
in the hands of the farmer, like money in those of
the merchant, is productive in proportion to the
labour w^hich it is made to put in motion. So far
the connexion is clear and undoubted ; the case, it
may be said, is somewhat different in regard to a
Jixed income^ whether derived from real or per-
sonal property ; but even in that, the effect of in-
creasing numbers is great, producing, as is w^ell
known, an increasing demand for both land and
money capital. In proof of this, we have merely
to take, as an example, the almost daily case of a



National Revenue. ^QS

family becoming numerous ; the consequent repar-
tition of the paternal property, and the increase of
productive power given to the portion that is put
in a state of activity.

Fluctuations, of Income since lyf)^. — These ar-
guments will readily be accounted applicable in a
general sense, and for ordinary times ; but what
shall furnish a rule for computing national income
in so fluctuating a ])eriod as that through which
we have passed since 179- ■'' The question is cer-
tainly very complicated, and seems at first to
admit of no clear solution ; for while a calculator,
in forming an estimate twelve or fifteen years ago,
could hardly have failed to pronounce the war
liighly favourable to the increase of our wealth
(our debt forming apparently no counterpoise to
the increase of our resoiuces), a statement pre-
pared since our years of distress would convey a
very different result. In France, the Revolution
has been styled, the " queen of all earthly re-
\'erses ;" but we might almost hazard an opinion
that the effect of that convulsion, viewed in regard
to change of property and in all the extent of its
duration (now aho\e thirty years), has been as
great in this country as in tliat which gave it
birth. Among our neighbours, the change was
more sudden, directed more against a particular
class, and bringing with it, too often, the melan-
choly consequence of loss of lite; but with us it
has been more comprehensive, tor the alteration
in the value of money has come home to every
class and condition. If in France, government an-
nuitants suffered during the war a much greater
reduction tlian heie, (here is no comparison be-
tween the two countries in the extent of fiuctua-

s 4



9(54 National Revenue ;

tion in the circumstances of a far more numerous
class — the farmers. Their j)rosperity during tlie
war and their decline since the peace, have both
been much more in extremes among us, than on
the Continent.

An Estimate of them attempted. — Amidst all
these changes in indiv^idual property, is it practi-
cable to discover any rules of general application,
any data on wliich to found a comparison of the
circumstances of the public of the present day
with those of the public of 1806 or 1792? This
task may, perhaps, be found less difficult than it
appears. In a community so great and so varied
as the population of these kingdoms, the ease of
one part is often cotemporary with the em])arrass-
ment of another ; and there prevails, in the gene-
ral result, a tendency to a balance, an approacli to
Tiniformity which would hardly be credited by
those who, in drawing their inferences, allow tliem-
selves to be forcibly struck by the fluctuation of
particular classes. It was tluis that our revenue
stood its ground during all the trials of the war
and the no less trying interval that has followed :
it is thus, also, that the amount of our exports and
imports has continued to bear a proportion to two
regulating circumstances (the value of money and-
the increase of our population), amid all the ano-
malies, introduced by restrictions, prohibitions, li-
cences ; it is thiis that at present, the distress of
the producer of corn, is accompanied by a tempo-
rary advantage to the consumer. The ])olitical
arithmetician is, therefore, in some measure, justi-
fied in forming a conclusion, which, without this
collateral support, might appear vague and unten-
able; viz. " That though the circumstances of



its Increase since 179^. ^2iS5

individuals, separately, are so much altered since
1792, those of any given number, whether 100,
1000, or 10,000, are more nearly on a par than is
generally supposed."

This reasoning is calculated to lead to the infer-
ence, that our national income, (at least that of
Great Britain distinct from Irehmd), has increased
since 179~ in the ratio of the increase of our
population. We have, however, no wish to press
this point, it being of little consequence to our
argmnent, whether the proportion of the one, has
been greater or less than that of the other. It is
enough that we obtain assent to one leading con-
sideration, viz. that the surprising addition to our
numbers, since 1792 (50 per cent.) is, as far as can
be ascertained, unaccompanied by any general de-
terioration of ))rivate circumstances. The changes
in such circumstances have been almost infinite,
but there seems no reason to imagine that the
number of families or individuals, who have experi-
enced a decHne, exceeds that of those who have
improved their circumstances.

But are we, it may be said, authorized to assume
an equality in tiie individual income of this coun-
try between 179'^, a season of tranquillity, and the
present, which is one of general embarrassment?
To this argument, unluckily of great weight, we
oppose one of equal, or almost equal power; viz.
the great comparative increase of our tovvn-j)oj)u-
lation, the extent of which, as income inc?'cases so
much more in town than in the comilri/ (C'lia])ter on
Population, p. 240.) would ha\ e justified us, luul
our present circumstances been as tranquil and
secure as in 1792, in assuming an increase* of na-
tional property considerably beyond that of the
50 per cent, indicated by oiu- numbers.



266 National Ravenue ;

Without, therefore, affecting precision in a calcu-
lation where it is evidently unattainable, we shall
adopt the increase of our numbers, as an approx-
imation to a basis for calculating the increase of
our national revenue. Proceeding on this ground,
we shall exhibit in the tabular form, the aug-
mentation that has taken place since 1792, pre-
mising that our chief materials are the population
and property-tax returns, and that for the period of
war, we make a considerable addition on tlic score
of extra wages and profits.



its Increase since 179^. 2(J7



Conjectural Amount of our National Revenue or Taxable Income
at different Periods, from 1792 to 1822.

Great Britain distinct from -^ ^ ,„„„ Totals, also in

Ireland. Money of 1,92. M^ney of 1792.

In 1792, our taxable income

appears to have been as

stated in p. 35. about - £125,000,000

In 1806: increase calculated

in the ratio of the increase

of our population, 18 per




Online LibraryJoseph LoweThe present state of England in regard to agriculture, trade and finance; with a comparison of the prospects of England and France → online text (page 20 of 40)