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On another occasion, when I shall have to treat specially of the subject of money and of usury and usury laws, I will show in what a defective and lamentable manner this great subject has been treated by those who, having professed to understand it, have ventured on giving their instruction and decision to the nation and to the world. The position in which the subject itself has been placed and left; and the position which Bentham and Adam Smith, and the Economical writers in general, are placed in connection with the subject, and in reference to each other's efforts to treat of it, and to elucidate it; constitute a most remarkable history. The reception by our nation, and by the world, of these doctrines, following upon the Parliamentary advocacy of them by Mr. C. Poulett Thomson and other statesmen, show how easily and completely the great mass of mankind are to be misled; how thoroughly disposed men are to admit and to accept imposition when it is brought to them: first, dressed in the garb of science; and, next, when heated and inflamed by the spirit of party, they are ready and eager to applaud and to demand whatever is presented to them by their party advocates and leaders! Madly do they demand, and madly do they drink of the poisoned cup, thinking it to contain wholesome wine.
Important evidence connected with the science of Political Economy, supplied by the memoirs of Mr. Francis Horner.— His union with men of the Edinburgh school, for the purpose of studying the writings of the Political Economists. They read and attempt to understand "The Wealth of Nations." — The confusion that prevails in the writings of the Political Economists, in general, is discovered by them. - Mr. Horner declares the impossibility of understanding "The Wealth of Nations" because of its obscure and embarrassing character. He discovers that Adam Smith was not able to define the fundamental proposition of the science, the Cause of Value. Mr. Horner declares that Adam Smith, having been unable to discover the true theory of wealth, has given to the world a popular, plausible, and loose hypothesis of the creation of wealth, and which, being as good for the vulgar as any other, ought not to be disturbed until the assistance required of it by the Whig party is accomplished.
I HAVE now to readvert to the evidence that is supplied by Mr. Francis Horner. From amongst the men of the present generation who resolved on constituting themselves a school of practical Political Economists, and, by this means, raising themselves to elevated positions in the councils of the nation, Mr. Horner may be selected as a most prominent and honourable instance. It appears to me that he was a man who pursued both his private and his Parliamentary career, under the influence of sincere and disinterested and patriotic motives.
The discoveries in the field of political literature, which this statesman made in his attempt to become a proficient in the science of Political Economy, are of the most interesting, as well as of the most important and instructive character. These discoveries, together with the recorded opinions and
authority of this statesman, will increase and corroborate that line of evidence which I have already adduced in proof of the very defective and false manner in which the science of Political Economy has hitherto been treated.
And I have before declared, the important and difficult. practical questions that were intrusted to the intellectual consideration and management of Mr. Horner, when he was a member of the British Parliament, prove the high estimation in which his application, his talent, and his judgment were held. On preparing himself for the career of statesmanship that was opening for him, he discerned that a knowledge of Political Economy would be a most important accomplishment, the more especially so, because the political party to which he was attached were about to make a reformation of national commercial policy the main foundation of an improved system of legislation and government, which they intended to propound to the nation and to erect. Hence it was, that, on preparing himself for becoming an actor on the highest stage of political discussion and action, Mr. Horner resolved on devoting himself to such a study of Political Economy as should enable him to attain a knowledge of the true theory of commerce.
A view of the state of our knowledge of Political Economy is to be derived, therefore, from the description of that literary matter which this statesman discovered, in his attempt to become acquainted with the science. This description is conveyed to us in a work entitled "Memoirs of Francis Horner," the editor of the work being his brother, Mr. Leonard Horner.
When the course of study and preparation for political life, that was pursued by Mr. Horner, is contrasted with that to which I have so lately referred as having been adopted by Mr. C. P. Thomson, a conclusion is established very favourable to the course adopted by the former of these two states
men of the young school; for, whilst the latter was contented. with receiving doctrines as true, merely because they were delivered to him by Bentham, M'Culloch, and other men, Mr. Horner was not so unfaithful to truth and to science, to his country and to mankind. He did not receive the abortions of Bentham, of Adam Smith, of M'Culloch, or of any other man, as truth-containing and life-containing creations. He made every effort to examine for himself the quality of the doctrines, as well as the quality of the reasoning by which the doctrines were said to be sustained. The student of Political Economy, therefore, as well as the statesman, will be able to derive especial advantage and warning from the communications left us by Mr. Horner, in the history he has given of his studies, containing the discoveries he made in that field of Political Economy which is open before the world as the extant field of this science.
Educated, mainly, at our chief Northern University, Mr. Horner, early in life, met and became associated with men who have since become eminent; namely, Brougham, Jeffrey, Dugald Stewart, Sydney Smith, and others, who encouraged especially aspirations of the attainment of political knowledge and wisdom by the free and energetic exercise of their intellectual faculties. Devoting much thought, and directing much labour, to the study of Political Economy, hence the leading work on the science became, as a matter of course, an object of the greatest attention. A work which, together with its ambitious and captivating title of "The Wealth of Nations," had received approbation and homage alike from the practical statesmanship of Pitt, and the brilliant imagination of Burke, was expected to have proved a clear and copious fountain of knowledge, of sound reasoning, and of truth. I will now advert to the discoveries that were made by Mr. Horner, and to the insurmountable obstructions to their
course which Mr. Horner, and those who studied Political Economy with him, found to exist in the large work of Adam Smith; and it will be discerned that the obscurities, obstructions, and errors thus discovered and declared, show that I have not been either singular or too presumptuous in assigning radical falseness to the main principles and conclusions contained in that work, which, unhappily for our country and for other nations, has been made to constitute so large a part of the creed of modern statesmen, and to impart so large an influence to the social practice of men.
It is described, then, that Mr. Horner was pursuing his courses of study at Edinburgh. For the purpose of directing a larger degree of mental power to the study of Political Economy than is usually applied, Mr. Horner had agreed to study the science in conjunction with another man. The allusion to the subject which I will quote first, is the following:
"In the afternoon I read with Lord Webb (Lord Webb Seymour). He has challenged me to continue, during the ensuing year, our studies of philosophical logic, in the works of Lord Bacon; and likewise proposed that we should read together Smith's Wealth of Nations.' I have agreed to both proposals. His more intimate acquaintance with many facts in the interior situation of the country, in consequence of having travelled a great deal both in England and in Scotland, will contribute a large portion of illustrations which will be valuable to me in the progress of the investigation. I hope to date from this day the commencement of a regular course of Political Economy."
The passage just quoted shows the earnest desire which the author of it entertained of becoming acquainted with the
* Memoirs of Francis Horner, p. 92.