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is necessitated, by the matter of fact, to assign the state of prosperity to a period when restrictions or regulations upon commerce existed to a greater degree; and the state of adversity to a period when many restrictive regulations had been abolished, and much more freedom of commerce prevailed. He contents himself, however, merely with directing attention to this state of facts in practice, which, in appearance, attaches confirmation to the asserted theory of restricted or regulated commerce, and, by consequence, falsification to its opposite, or the theory of unregulated or free trade; and having thus commented, he does not attempt to decide the question, but leaves the connection of causes and effects, though partially suggested, yet wholly untraced; while immediately succeeding, there occurs this remarkable passage:
Altogether the state of the commercial world since the war, clearly shows that SOMETHING ELSE is necessary to the continued increase of wealth besides an increase in the means of producing."
What this "something else," or great latent beneficial principle is, having failed to discover, he has substituted for it matter by conjecture. This short passage is full of deeply interesting and important meaning; for, without doubt, in it is the opening which would lead to the truth of the entire science, but which, hitherto, human investigation has not penetrated.
The evidence which I have thus adduced from the writings of Malthus, bearing upon the great question, of the comparative increase of population and capital, shows, that the conclusion adopted by this writer, a conclusion by which he has assumed that population is made by man to increase
* Principles of Political Economy, by T. R. Malthus, A.M., sect. 10, ch. i. p. 420.
faster than the means of sustaining population that are provided in nature are capable of being made to increase,-a conclusion which is adverse to the exercise of one of the dearest, most powerful, and most noble affections inherent in the nature of man,-is entirely without foundation. For, on whatever side the question be viewed, it is apparent that the fact is not an excessive increase of people as compared with our POWER of procuring means or capital; but that it is a deficient acquisition of means or capital, arising entirely from the absence of a proper direction or regulation of the NATIONAL WILL, the absence of good social action, or that union and combination which are indispensably necessary for insuring human maintenance.
The defective character of the writings of the school of the Political Economists shown by a reference to the work of Dugald Stewart. The moral characteristics of the science declared by this writer. - He notices the absence from the writings of the schoolmen of simple fundamental principles and premises. — He directs attention to the danger of relying on the mere opinions of men who are called men of experience. He enters upon an examination of Dr. Smith's reasonings.
– He declares his partial agreement with him, as well as his partial disagreement. - He declares that he has to differ from him widely on the first principles of the science. He states the substance of this difference.
- He enters upon an examination of Adam Smith's reasonings on the cause of value. —He declares Adam Smith's arguments on this great elementary point to be unsatisfactory and fallacious. He suggests a solution of the cause of value.
THE evidence to which I will have recourse, in the next place, for the purpose of ascertaining the character and quality of our prevailing Political Economy shall be derived from the writings of Dugald Stewart. This thoughtful and philosophical inquirer, having become deeply interested in the science of Political Economy itself, became also deeply interested in the labours of his contemporary and friend Adam Smith. Hence, those two volumes of his works which comprise his labours on this subject, contain very elaborate disquisitions both on the original matter which the subject presents, and on the particular views and conclusions that have been presented to the world by Adam Smith, and by those who, at the period when Dugald Stewart wrote, constituted the school of Economists.
On commencing an examination of the character of Dugald Stewart's writings on Political Economy, I have to invite the
attention of the reader to one very important feature, a feature which honourably distinguishes this writer from so many others who have written on the subject. The feature alluded to, is an acknowledgment of the great element of moral principle that is inherent in the subject, followed by a declaration that it is the duty of writers on Political Economy to show the courses by which diffusion or distribution of wealth is to be accomplished, instead of bending and distorting their talents in order to suit the taste and the will of the world, or lending themselves to the ignoble course of showing and commending the way by which individual men may acquire the largest amount of riches, may command the utmost degree of luxury and enjoyment, for themselves.
On commencing his work, Dugald Stewart makes allusion to that lamentable deficiency which prevails with all members of the school of Economists, namely, the absence of simple fundamental principles, or sound premises, on which to begin, and afterwards to raise, the structure of their reasoning. Treating of the use and value of the fundamental principles, he says: "Such are the speculations which aim at ascertaining those fundamental principles which Lord Bacon has so significantly and so happily described as, 'Leges legum,' &c. . I shall only mention, at present, the effect it would necessarily have in keeping constantly before the mind of the speculative politician the Standard by which the wisdom and expediency of any institution is to be estimated, and in checking those partial views of human affairs which have led so many eminent writers, in their zeal for the advancement of National Riches, to overlook the more essential objects of Political Union."*
The quotation I will next make is one by which the writer
* Dugald Stewart's Works, vol. viii. ch. i. p. 10.
gives a salutary warning against trusting too much to the opinions of any class of men for the purpose of determining on particular courses of national trade. He says: "For speculations which embrace so complicated a variety of objects, the details of a particular branch of trade are surely not the best preparation; nor is that quick-sighted regard to personal interest which commercial pursuits communicate, necessarily accompanied with views equally just concerning questions of public utility. The truth is, that no wise statesman will reckon much on the disinterested benevolence of any one order of individuals; and the only occasions on which their professional knowledge is likely to be turned to national advantage, is when the interest of their order, and the interest of the community, are one and the same. That this is less the case with manufacturers and merchants than with farmers and country gentlemen, is frequently remarked by Mr. Smith in the course of his inquiry, and the same observation has been sanctioned by a still more unexceptionable authority, that of Sir Josiah Child. 'Merchants,' says this very intelligent and liberal writer, who was himself in an eminent degree conversant with the practical details of trade, ‘Merchants, while they are in the busy and eager prosecution of their particular objects, although they be very wise and good men, are not always the best judges of commerce, as it relates to the power and profit of a kingdom. a kingdom. The reason may be, because their eyes are so continually fixed on what makes for their peculiar gain or loss, that they have no leisure to expatiate, or to turn their thoughts to what is most advantageous for the kingdom in general.'"*
By the matter of this passage a warning is given against the adoption of that weak policy which so many inefficient statesmen, or men of mere expediency, are induced to adopt,
*Dugald Stewart's Works, vol. viii. ch. i. p. 15.