Lapas attēli
[ocr errors]

is effected, will discern that a professed attempt to accomplish that which is professed to be accomplished in the following work, could not be substantiated if he who advanced the profession had not been able to introduce into his treatment of the subject-matter a new principle, or law - new as regards the science under treatment-such a principle and law as would impart the power of working out correct definitions, as well as the power of detecting, absolutely, those main errors of reasoning which are professed to be shown. The new principle and law thus referred to, as a necessary and indispensable element for effecting the detection and eradication of error and the infusion of truth, is that principle which every reflecting and intelligent man will recognise as the one great and potent law, a law that is present throughout every department of nature and of art, and to which all the matter of these departments is subordinated; so that if this law were not present and ruling, good or true results could in no case be educed. The principle and law to which allusion is made, is Proportions Definite Proportions. The scientific reader, when mention has been made to him of this law, will readily call to mind how vastly our acquisition of the knowledge of science in general has been promoted by the discovery of this law and by compliance with it; and that if this law had not been discovered and observed, we should still be wandering about and floundering in darkness, guessing instead of proving. That this great light-shedding, guiding, and controlling law has not, ere now, been introduced within the science of Political Economy, is, I must maintain, a reproach against those writers who have undertaken to treat of the science. If the reader, in the course of his studious examination of the subject, will mark carefully the character of the numerous weak and erroneous parts to which his attention will be directed, he will be able to assign the weakness and the errors

thus made by the several writers to an absence of a knowledge of the great law now referred to.

If ever an era of the world should arrive in which people in general shall have acquired the ability of seeing clearly and truly what they ought so to see, it will be viewed as an astonishing fact that writers should have conceived the notion, and that the world in general should have adopted the conception, that the abounding earth which we inhabit, and from which, by means first of individual and then of united labour, it is ordained that we shall all derive our maintenance, together with our material advancement and improvements, is to be best appropriated and enjoyed under the impulse of self-love, self-interest, and self-enjoyment, the love of wealth and of pleasure being the ruling desire, the motive principle, the guide to happiness, the notion and principle so received and cherished, being in direct antagonism with the principle which constitutes the foundation of the Religion that is professed to be held and venerated. But this shows us, that, as it has been of old, so does it continue to be. One principle admitted for profession;- another, and that an opposite principle, laid down and adopted for practice.

To this great subject-Principles of Social and Political Economy-the people of every nation of the world cannot too soon, or too earnestly, calmly, and carefully, direct their attention, the attention of their ablest men, of their noblest and purest thinkers, of their most gifted reasoners; for it is by the working of false and bad principles, not derived from, but surreptitiously imported into, this province of science, that the people of every nation will be brought more and more into want and destitution, into a condition of inability to employ and maintain the increasing number of their members and families, into more discontent, misery, and crime; that the governmental institutions of

[ocr errors]

every nation, however deeply founded and firm they may appear to be, and however venerable and venerated for their antiquity, will be so impaired and weakened, so unsustained by the real love and respect of the people, that real union of feeling and of interest by which alone strength and consolidation can be imparted-that they, on whom the high duty of governing shall rest, will be reduced to the unhappy condition of feeling and knowing that they cannot perform, with fidelity and success, the duties of that high office which they are called upon to hold.


One great and most lamentable feature connected with the treatment of Political Economy, both by the school of writers and by statesmen, is a desertion and departure from true courses, when it has been apprehended that these courses were not in accordance with the taste, the habits, or the particular wishes and interests of that party of the people with whom influence and power chiefly resided. This low and dishonourable course of seeing and believing one way to be right, and then, either under the influence of fear or a desire to acquire political power, or to retain political influence and power when acquired, resolving on abandoning this way, and on advocating as right, salutary, and politic that which is contrary, and so lending the spirit and the mind to an advocacy of those courses that are not in accordance with the conviction entertained by him who, nevertheless, so advocates, has prevailed, unhappily, in all nations; and deeply and justly have the people suffered on account of this infidelity of their own choosing, and of the insincerity and falsehood of those, whether writers or statesmen, in whom they have trusted. To such an extent has this false thinking, false speaking, false writing, and false dealing prevailed, and so familiar have the minds of men become with the bad arguments by which it is defended, that


the expediency on which it is founded is often declared to evince right judgment and good statesmanship.

By that which has just been advanced, it is not intended to assume that statesmen, even when holding the highest and most influential positions, have the power of commanding the judgment and controlling, for public policy, the convictions. and actions of a whole people, or of that majority of a people by whose judgment policy and laws are determined; but it is meant that, if a people should be found resolving on the adoption of courses that are of a character opposite to that character in which a statesman views them, and with which he believes them to be fraught, the statesman is bound, by all the obligations of truth, honour, and consistency, to adhere to his convictions and to uphold them before the face of the whole people, in order that for future examination of social courses, and for future guidance, the people may still have these views before them, together with the evidence from which they are derived; may use them for their advantage when policy and laws shall have to undergo further examination and change: whereas, if the views are suppressed or denied and relinquished, they are lost. To adopt that in the treatment of the interests of a people which is now so much commended as safe expediency, namely, to declare to them—It is true and good because you say it is true and good—or, It is untrue and bad because you say it is untrue and bad-is a course that must, most deservedly, entail upon a people degradation and misery; a people cannot too soon discern and denounce this infidelity. The pusillanimous surrender of the bulwarks of truth is censurable and criminal alike in the case of the writer as it is in that of the statesman.

By the lamentable courses now adverted to as being so prevalent, the minds of people are brought to accept and rest upon falsehood as a main principle of general or national


action; and so demoralisation being implanted will be increased and transfused. All subjects will be held as liable to be treated in the same manner, a seeming temporary convenience, or a false expediency, being made to occupy the great seat of national as well as private judgment; that judgment seat which Truth alone should occupy.

To help to raise the people of this generation a little out of the degradation into which they have sunk by the willing and concerted adoption of falsehood under the plea of expediency, the sentiments of ancient writers may be appealed to. I will quote from two, Sophocles and Homer. Thus, from Sophocles :

High honour'd in the state be he
Who honours still his Country's laws
And Heaven's supremacy.

As for myself, it is and was of old

My fix'd belief that he is indeed most vile,
Who, when the general state his guidance claims,
Dares not adhere to wisest policy.

SOPHOCLES' Antigone.

Again, from Homer:

Who dares think one thing and another tell,
My soul detests him as the gates of Hell.

ILIAD OF HOMER, Speech of Achilles.

Here are transmitted to us noble thoughts and noble advice thoughts and advice that may be pondered over with great benefit.

The reader is now invited to follow the writer patiently, and with the spirit and mind of a faithful and persevering student, through the numerous intricate and difficult courses of investigation, courses of evidence, and courses of reasoning, which the writer has had to explore, to pursue, and to con

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »