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History of the National progress - Continued. page 4


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Among those qualities in the character of Englishmen which have most materially contributed to England's greatness, the extraordinary capacity they possess for the transaction of common every-day business must be recognised as standing in the first rank. The ordinary pursuits of life are followed by Englishmen with an energy and intensity of purpose which, beyond the pale of the Anglo- Saxon world, would be sought in vain. To the possession and habitual exercise of these talents we must ascribe the fact that, though their every-day labours are confined within the shortest hours, the English are, nevertheless, the wealthiest nation in the civilised world, with, perhaps, the exception of those colonies and states which have sprung, and are still constantly being strengthened, from their own loins. The wealth of the population of the British Isles has been estimated at various periods with sufficient correctness to justify a brief recapitulation. From the review, a clearer notion will be gathered respecting the present condition of the country, and the rapidity with which its material welfare has advanced in the most recent period of its history.

In the year 1700 the total wealth of the United Kingdom, whose inhabitants at that time only numbered about 8,000,000, was estimated by Gregory King at 600,000,000, or 75 sterling per head of the population. In 1800 Dr. Becke and Sir W. Pulteney estimated it at three times this amount (1,800,000,000), or 112 per head, on the increased population of the latter date. In 1845 Mr. Porter estimated the value of personal property at about two thousand millions sterling, and that of real property at about the same sum; making altogether 4,000,000,000, or 150 per head. In 1860 the estimate was 6,000,000,000, or 200 per head. The annual income of the population of the United Kingdom in 1800 was computed to be about 230,000,000 sterling. In 1860 it was placed at 600,000,000, averaging about 20 per head of the population of the United Kingdom, which at that time numbered about thirty millions of souls. At the same period France, with a population of thirty- six millions, is estimated to have had an income of 500,000,000 annually, or about 14 a head. Russia, with a population of nearly 70,000,000, is estimated to have had an annual income at that period of not more than about 350,000,000 sterling, or 5 per head. After the year last mentioned the question, so far as it concerned the United Kingdom, was investigated more closely than before, and the results which were arrived at appear to be as near an approximation to the truth as it is possible, under the conditions of the case, to attain.

In a speech delivered at Liverpool in 1866, Mr. Gladstone placed the earnings of the working classes of the United Kingdom at about 250,000,000 sterling. The rough estimate thus casually mentioned once more turned the attention of economists to the subject. Mr. Michael Bass, after communicating with Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Milner Gibson, commissioned Professor Leone Levi to institute a methodical inquiry into the earnings of the working classes of the United Kingdom. In the following year that gentleman published the result of his labours. He estimated that, of the 6,000,000 men constituting the male portion of the working population of the United Kingdom in 1866, the half, or 3,000,000, were artisans or skilled labourers, the other half being unskilled labourers. 2,500,000 were engaged in occupations principally carried on in rural districts, including agriculture, mining, and quarrying; while 3,500,000 were employed in occupations mostly followed in towns. Of the 11,000,000 forming the working population, male and female, in 1866, the domestic servants, army and navy, and police - numbering altogether about 1,800,000 - were classed as non-producers; so that about nine and a quarter millions was the number of those who performed the manual operations by which the whole of the wealth of the country is produced. Their total earnings in the year were estimated by Professor Levi at about three hundred and forty-nine millions sterling. Mr. Dudley Baxter, who, rather later, made an independent investigation into the subject, does not differ materially from the preceding writer in the general results he arrived at. The total number of persons in the United Kingdom with income or wages he estimated to number rather more than thirteen and a half millions, while more than fifteen and a half millions of the population were in receipt of neither, but were entirely dependent for their subsistence on the former class. Out of every eleven persons, therefore, there were six persons not in receipt of income or wages to five that were. Of the persons receiving income or wages, nearly eleven millions (10,961,000) belonged to the classes who acquired them by manual labour. The upper and middle classes, including the principal merchants, manufacturers, and professional classes, as well as persons of independent property, numbered more than two and three-quarter millions. The classes living by manual labour therefore outnumbered the upper and middle classes in receipt of incomes in the proportion of four to one. Adding the dependent portions of the population to the earners and possessors of income, Mr. Baxter found that in 1867, "putting the result into round numbers, out of a total population of thirty millions, the upper and middle classes are seven millions, and the manual labour class twenty-three millions." The gross income of the upper and middle classes in England and Wales amounted to upwards of four hundred millions sterling per annum (407,200,000), and that of the manual labour class to more than two hundred and fifty millions (254,729,000). In Scotland the respective income of these classes was 42,516,000 and 31,747,000; and in Ireland 39,758,000 and 38,169,000. The total income of the upper and middle classes throughout the United Kingdom thus amounted to nearly four hundred and ninety millions (489,474,000), and that of the manual labour class to more than three hundred and twenty-four and a half millions (324,645,000).

Of the 13,720,000 persons in receipt of income or wages, 8,500 had incomes of 5,000 a year and upwards, and their aggregate income amounted to 126,157,000. Those in receipt of from 1,000 to 5,000 a year numbered 48,800, and received in the aggregate 83,324,000. Next we find 178,300 persons with incomes of from 300 to 1,000, and receiving altogether 87,723,000. Then follow 1,026,400 persons with incomes varying from 100 to 300, who were in receipt in the aggregate of 110,950,000. The next class consists of 1,497,000 persons, whose annual wages or incomes varied from 60 to 100, and who received among them a total of 81,320,000 annually. The manual labour class, which comes last, numbered, as above mentioned, 10,961,000 persons in its ranks, who received on the average less than 60 a year each, and who annually earned an aggregate sum of 324,645,000.

The Gross Annual Income of the United Kingdom, and its Distribution

(Mr. Dudley Baxter.)
Number of Persons.Total Aggregate Income.Annual Income of Each Person.
Upper Classes: -
  8,500126,157,0005,000 and upwards
  48,80083,324,0001,000 to 5,000
Middle Classes: -
  178,30087,723,000300 to 100
  1,026,400110,950,000100 to 300
  1,497,00081,320,00060 to 100
Manual Labour Class: -
  10,961,000324,645,000Under 60
Gran Total 13,720,000; Persons in Receipt of 814,119,000; Aggregate Annual Income

The total sum of the incomes under 100 a year Mr. Baxter computed to amount to about four hundred and six millions sterling, and the total number of persons receiving them at rather less than twelve and a half millions. The number of persons in receipt of incomes of more than 100 a year he computed to be 1,262,000, and their aggregate annual income at four hundred and eight millions sterling. Thus the gross aggregate income of the United Kingdom in the year 1867 he estimated to amount to rather more than eight hundred and fourteen millions sterling. Of this sum, he estimated that nearly one hundred and sixty-six millions were produced by the agricultural classes; while the manufacturing and mining industry of the country produced nearly three hundred and fourteen millions. The three hundred and thirty-four millions remaining included the earnings of the rest of the population, as well as the incomes of the non-productive classes. Such, then, are some of the principal results of recent inquiries into the total wealth and annual income of the United Kingdom.

The rapid progress which the nation has made in wealth in recent years may be further illustrated by comparing the principal points in its economic and commercial condition in the year 1870 with the position of affairs in 1860. In order to render the comparison more trustworthy, we will, as far as possible, take the average of three years in each case. We have seen that the annual average income of the nation was estimated in 1860 to be about six hundred millions sterling. The years later it was eight hundred millions. The average annual value of the imports at the earlier period was nearly one hundred and eighty-five millions; at the later, nearly two hundred and ninety-eight millions. At the same periods the average annual value of the exports was, respectively, one hundred and twenty-seven and a half millions, and one hundred and eighty-nine and three-quarter millions. The value of the coal and metals produced averaged thirty-one and a half millions in the former period, and more than forty-three and three-quarter millions in the latter. The working classes deposited, on the average, upwards of eight and three- quarter millions annually in the savings-banks in the former period, and more than thirteen millions and a half in the latter. Finally, the tonnage of registered vessels increased from an annual average of four and three-quarter million tons in the three years 1858-60, to five and a half million tons in 1868-70.

The working classes, therefore, saved nearly thirteen pounds in 1870 for every eight pounds they saved in 1880, or more than half as much again at the later as at the earlier date. The nation imported considerably more than half as much again in 1870 as it did in 1860, and it exported half as much again at the later as it did at the earlier date. The vessels which carried its merchandise to foreign nations and brought their produce home could carry not far short of a third more in 1870 than in 1860. Nor does this adequately represent the increase of its merchant navy: for steam power, which has been increasingly adopted ever since it was adapted to the propulsion of ships, enables a vessel to do several times as much work as it would perform if dependent solely upon wind and sails. Again, for every hundred pounds' worth of mineral wealth brought from the bowels of the earth in 1860 there was a hundred and thirty-nine pounds' worth secured in 1870. And as regards the income of the nation at large, for every 100 it was in receipt of in 1860, it received 133 in 1870. In the following table the facts we have here adverted to are collected in a summary form: -

Yearly Average, 1858-60Yearly Average, 1868-70Increase per Cent
Total Value of Merchandise Imported into the United Kingdom181,765,687297,738,83761
Total Value of British and Irish Produce exported127,637,171189,757,58449
Total Tonnage of Registered Vessels employed in Home and Foreign Trade of United Kingdom 4,282,030 tons.5,544,282 tons29
Total Value of Coal and Metals Produced in the United Kingdom.31,595,78443,878,65439
Total Amount received by Savings-banks ( Post- Office and ordinary) in the United Kingdom.8,800,80613,558,05554
Annual Income of the Nation (estimated)600,000,000800,000,00033

Such, then, was the condition of the commerce, such the wealth and prosperity of Great Britain and Ireland, thirty years before the close of the nineteenth century. The figures and numbers in which the unexampled progress of the preceding twenty years is expressed, are not the result of mere conjecture. In almost all cases they are the records of the national business as taken down, checked, and revised with all the care which it was in the power of the most powerful of states to bestow upon them. How the wonderful prosperity they demonstrate has been brought about, what are the principal material agents which have helped to accelerate the vast and rapid progress of recent years - these are the questions we have now to consider.

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