페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

all such measures; and the alternatives they will have to expect, are either the ruin of their property, under desolating rebellion and civil war, or such justice as Mr. O'Connell's parliament promises to mete out to them—beginning with a tax of 75 per cent. upon absentee estates !

The mention of absentees reminds us that Miss Martineau takes up and defends Mr. M'Culloch's stupendous, and, we had really thought, exploded paradox; and since that egregious doctrine is still in fashion among our rulers, we must take the liberty to say a single word on it. Professor M‘Culloch, and his disciples, male and female, forget wholly one very simple fact, namely-that the distress of the Irish arises from a want of FOOD. The mass of the inhabitants of Ireland are starving; and her friends congratulate each other on the increase of her exports of corn, beef, and bacon! Is Ireland turbulent? The Lord Lieutenant threatens her with an embargo on her ports, which shall force the Irish, as the ne plus ultra of punishment, to eat the produce of their own fields and fatting-stalls. And Mr. M'Culloch in his turn declares, that the absentee landlords, by creating a foreign demand for this produce, and causing eight millions' worth of her primest eatables to leave her shores for the markets of London, Bristol, and Manchester, confer an extraordinary advantage on her fasting inhabitants, who have enjoyed the inestimable privilege of raising all these good things, for English epicures, upon a diet of potatoes and skim-milk, varied with seaweed and nettles! May we venture to hint to all these reasoners, that what the Irish want is the privilege, not merely of raising so many millions' worth of corn, and beef, and bacon, and butter, but of eating moreover as much of it as will appease the wolf in their insides. As long as there are fertile acres, and stout arms in Ireland, so long will there be plenty of food grown in it; but the great question for its inhabitants is, what shall become of the food when grown—who are to eat it? If the landlord lives abroad, his share of the produce of his estate

(and living out of sight of the distress caused by exorbitant rents, he will, generally, exact a very large one)—is sent to him in the shape of food for the foreign markets, which he (indirectly, if not directly) exchanges there with the natives of the country for all the comforts and luxuries he consumes. Were he to return to reside on his estate, or at Dublin, he would exchange this same produce with Irish shopkeepers, artisans, and labourers, for their services in supplying him with comforts and luxuries, instead of with British or French shopkeepers, &c. And thus, were all the absentees to return, the entire amount of their rental (with the exception only of the prime cost of what foreign productions they would still consume) would be spent in the employment of Irish industry. The greater part of the food now exported to pay these rents would remain at home, and be consumed by the Irish themselves; and the landlord, moreover, when resident on his estate, would find it impossible to exact such exorbitant rents as at present from the tenants among whom he lived; but must allow them to retain a somewhat larger share of the produce of their labour, and expend a portion of the remainder in employing them to improve his property. Miss Martineau, it seems, following Mr. M'Culloch, actually believes and insists, that every landlord gives employment and a maintenance to his tenants by the act of taking his rents from them; but confers no benefit on those among whom he spends his rents, because he takes an equivalent from them! (p. 101.) So that if the race of Irish landlords were extinct, and their tenants were forced to eat or pocket the value of all they grow, they would be ruined ! — while the shopkeepers of Bath or London, among whom Irish landlords now spend so many thousands a year, would lose nothing by the withdrawal of their custom! Are these opinions accordant with observation, experience, or reason ? And if not, can they be sound political economy?*

ductions * We admit, that the case of English absenteeism, considered merely with respect to what onr authoress's narrow-minded school call Political Economy, stands on different grounds. England exports nothing but manufactures, while Ireland exports little else but food. The rental of an English landlord who resides abroad can only be remitted in the shape of manufactured articles, which must be first purchased of English workmen with the food grown on the landlord's estate. The Irish absentee, on the contrary, can only have his rent remitted in the shape of food—and it needs no laboured demonstration to prove, that, the more food goes out of the country, the less remains behind to support its inhabitants.

Let Miss Martineau, who is exceedingly fond of the term subsistence-fund, as expressing that portion of capital which sets the labouring class to work, reflect, that this consists, in fact, of food, and little else : and we do not despair of her coming round to the opinion, both that absenteeism is an evil, since, by causing an exportation of food, it diminishes the subsistence fund; and that a poor-law, which should compel Irish landlords to spare to their starving fellow-countrymen, in purchase of their labour, a little of that food which is now sent on their account to England, would itself provide the capital necessary for setting the poor Irish to work.

In another of these stories, entitled “French Wines and Politics,' the author's chief aim is to show, that the value of everything that is exchanged depends on the labour required to produce it' (p. 37); and the particular object selected for the exemplifica

tion of this principle' is the same which Mr. M'Culloch employed for the same purpose in his famous assertion, that the increased value which wine derives from being kept in a cellar till it mellows, is entirely owing to the LABOUR bestowed upon it during the years it lies there untouched! Dramatizing this dictum, Miss Martineau-oh! that M. Scribe could hear her!)-makes her Parisian wine-merchant talk to his wife of his cellar-full of labour' (p. 38); and having called in a hurricane to destroy an entire vintage in the South of France, she assures us, that the increased value of the wine-merchant's stock is owing, not to the consequent scarcity of wine (as plain folks would suppose), but to the dearness of labour !—which dearness of labour, however, she can only contrive to bring about at the same time, by actually extending her hurricane over the corn-fields of the North of France, as well as the vineyards of the South. But supposing that the two hurricanes had not happened together, where would be Miss Martineau's 'principle'?

Again— For Each and for All,' is intended to illustrate the principle already refuted by us, that profits and wages (that is, the entire remuneration for labour) must be continually lowered with the advance man makes in numbers and civilization, through

the necessity of taking inferior soils into cultivation.' And how is this principle illustrated ? Not by any story in which the reader could perceive it at work—there might have been a difficulty in framing any such tale—but we are presented with a titled lady, the wife of a cabinet minister, who, while spending the autumn vacation at a country-seat, enters into discussions on the laws which regulate wages and profits with Nanny White who keeps the little huckster's shop in the village,' and 'old Joel the sexton.' These two worthies enlighten the minds of the great Whig lord and his countess on the causes of the distress of the country, and dogmatically lecture them on the operation of the natural laws of distribution, throughout several chapters of dialogue, which our readers would not thank us for extracting—but the burden of wbich is, that whenever a farmer takes into cultivation some inferior land, the profits and wages of his neighbours instantly fall in consequence, on which account the said neighbours are naturally very angry with him! (p. 75.)—All this is so just, so clear, so self-evident, and so ably . illustrated,' thut we do not wonder at our actual ministers having followed the example of

Lord F-' and resorted for lessons on political economy to Miss Martineau, who is evidently quite as capable of governing the nation as Old Joel himself.

We hardly think it worth while to remark upon another story,

[ocr errors]

in which this lady is good enough to exemplify the phenomena of money, by supposing a Siberian market carried on very briskly for a whole day upon five mouse-skins, as the sole circulating medium -the said mouse-skins, from some unaccountable quality, being ten times as valuable at the end of the day as at the beginning. The mouse-skins are then carried off by the cat, or some travelling fur-traders, we forget which, and the Siberian colonists have recourse to a new kind of money, consisting of mammoth-bones! Fancy a pocket-full of mammoth-tusks and tibiæ, with the grinders, we presume, for small change! And this trash is to bring political economy within the comprehension of babes and sucklings!

Our readers have by this time had enough of this damsel. We will only express our sorrow at observing, that in her remaining tales she still continues to harp on the necessity of limiting the number of consumers'! Nor is sorrow, perhaps, the word we ought to use.

We should be loth to bring a blush unnecessarily upon the cheek of any woman; but may we venture to ask this maiden sage the meaning of the following passage :

• A parent has a considerable influence over the subsistence-fund of his family, and an absolute control over the numbers to be supported by that fund. Has the young lady picked up this piece of information in her conferences with the Lord Chancellor? or has she been entering into high and lofty communion on such subjects with certain gentlemen of her sect, famous for dropping their gratuitous advice on these matters into areas, for the benefit of the London kitchenmaids? We all remember Moore's · She Politician.'

• 'Tis my fortune to know a lean Benthamite spinster,

A maid who her faith in old Jeremy puts,
Who talks with a lisp of “ the last new Westminster,"

And hopes you're delighted with “ Mill upon Gluts," ' &c. Did Miss Martineau sit for the picture? But no ;-such a character is nothing to a female Malthusian. A woman who thinks child-bearing a crime against society! An unmarried woman who declaims against marriage!! A young woman who deprecates charity and a provision for the poor!!!

Miss Martineau has, we are most willing to acknowledge, talents which might make her an useful and an agreeable writer. But the best advice we can give her is, to burn all the little books she has as yet written, with one or two exceptions ;-to abstain from writing any more till she has mastered a better set of principles' than the precious stock she has borrowed from her favourite professors ; and, in the mean time, to study the works of a lady who, with immeasurably greater abilities in every way, was her predecessor in the line she considers so wholly original - the

illustrating

illustrating by fiction the natural laws of social welfare. Political economy is far more ingeniously as well as justly illustrated in the • Absentee' and Castle Rackrent,' than in Ireland. There is not indeed one tale of Miss Edgeworth's but conveys some useful lesson on questions which materially concern the economy of society. But the difference between the two writers is, that the moral of Miss Edgeworth's tales is naturally suggested to the reader by the course of events of which he peruses the narrative; that of Miss Martineau is embodied in elaborate dialogues or most unnatural incidents, with which her stories are interlarded and interrupted, to the utter destruction of the interest of all but detached bits of them. *

Art. VIII.-The Causes of the French Revolution. Svo.

pp. 274. London. 1832. THIS HIS thin book, or rather thick pamphlet, is—his booksellers

make no secret about it—the production of Lord John Russell. Some years ago his Lordship undertook what he called • Memoirs of the Affairs of Europe since the Peace of Utrecht,' and of these he had already presented to the world two massy volumes, which, however, the world was not pleased to accept. Had he continued his story on the original scale, Lord John must have become as voluminouis as Thomas Aquinas, before he could have reached the peace of Amiens. But the construction of the Reform Bill, correspondence with Political Unions, and other useful public labours, have diverted his attention from the prosecution of this gigantic task; and we must be contented, it seems, with sixpence in the pound—with a few detached sections on the most momentous revolution of modern times, which the noble author had at first designed to interweave with the narrative of his thirtieth or thirty-fifth quarto.

His Lordship is perhaps not aware,—for Whig lords, even when not cabinet ministers, have always been averse to hear wholesome truths,—that a man, who played a considerable part in that revolution, had already characterized his Lordship as a ' petit littérateur;' but we do not believe that the French language has any diminutive by which that eminent person could express the contempt which he--and every man who knows anything of French

* It gives us much pleasure to see, that Miss Edgeworth's stories are now in the course of republication in a cheap series of monthly volumes, with corrections and notes, after the fashion of the current editions of the Waverley novels and the works of Lord Byron. But are we never to have any more new novels from her now unrivalled hand?

literature

« 이전계속 »