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the popular feeling and mind as a true hypothesis, — and this is here advanced and declared, it will be evident that the practical operation of such "hypothesis" must be most mischievous, because of this popularity, or adaptitude for deceiving and misleading almost the whole body of the people. Such a false and bad principle, when once it had become engrafted on, and infused into, the popular feeling and mind, would be most difficult, if not impossible, of eradication.
Such, then, is the estimate that was formed of the great and popular work composed by Adam Smith, and the character delivered of it, as well as the description given bot the use, and the abuse, which it has been made to serve, by one of the most esteemed of modern statesmen, the power of whose mind was more especially directed to the attainment of a just appreciation of the work, than, in all probability, the mind of any other statesman or writer has been. An awful and instructive lesson, and a solemn warning, are here conveyed to the world! And more especially to those of the world, who, having entered the department of science and laboured there, think and assume that they have acquired KNOWLEDGE, USEFUL KNOWLEDGE !
On the treatment of the science of Political Economy by Mr. Cobden. This statesman announces to the nation that the Great General Principles of Commerce have been so ably and fully elucidated by Adam Smith, Ricardo, and the other writers of the school of Political Economists, that no further investigation is required. — Hence, he recommends that the nation should proceed without doubt or fear to put in practice the principles of the school. — Further evidence supplied by Mr. Senior and Mr. John Stuart Mill. These writers declare that the science of Political Economy still requires to be elucidated, little progress having as yet been made in it.
THE instance which I will adduce next of the unfaithful and bad manner in which the science of Political Economy has been treated, is that which is supplied by an ardent and clever living statesman. This statesman is Mr. Cobden.
In the year 1839, when the work of Adam Smith, as also the writings of the other members of the modern school of Political Economists, had been so diffused and commended as to exercise a very powerful influence on the mind of the nation, and when, by the combined efforts of other writers of smaller note, and also of a large body of politicians, a strong feeling had been raised and excited in the nation against the principle of regulation as applied to general commerce; and when a desire was strongly felt and expressed for the abolition of all the special restrictions and regulations which were either of an ancient or modern origin; Mr. Cobden directed the force of his energetic and powerful talents to the great and arduous labour of advocating the principle of an entire freedom of commercial action between all the nations of the world.
In conducting this great work, Mr. Cobden discerned that it would be in the highest degree advantageous to his course, and even indispensable for insuring success, that the people, having been got to imbibe the notion, should take their stand upon the assumption, that the science of Political Economy needed no farther investigation; it having been thoroughly investigated, was completely understood, and its laws clearly explained, by that band of writers who are known as a national school of Political Economists. Hence, in an address * which Mr. Cobden wrote and published for the purpose of preparing the way for the accomplishment of the object in view, he recommended the people to accept the science of Political Economy as it had then been treated, as entirely fit for the practical guidance of their interests. In this address, he spoke of the science, by using the following words :-"The obvious truths which Adam Smith, Ricardo, and others, had so clearly demonstrated." And again:-"All attempts to carry us back, in our discussion of the subject, beyond the period when the principle of free trade was applied to the manufactures, commerce, and shipping of Great Britain and her colonies, should therefore be sedulously avoided, as supererogatory, and calculated only to mystify what has, from that time, been a plain and unembarrassed question."
. Now, there is to be remarked, here, the very different treatment that was applied to this great subject by Mr. Francis Horner, on the one hand, and by Mr. Cobden on the other; these statesmen being members of the same school of politicians, that is, both being of that party which is called "Liberal." Mr. Horner, by an attentive, close, and unprejudiced examination, discovered that, as regards the great principle involved, there was no such thing as "obvious.
• Anti-Corn Law Circular, No. 1., April 16, 1839.
truth in the work of Adam Smith, for that his constant habit and course were those of administering contradiction in one part of his work, to that which he had set up and attempted to maintain in another part; self-destruction being the common and prevailing feature. Moreover, if Mr. Cobden had taken the pains-those pains which it was a most solemn duty for him to have employed-to examine thoroughly and honestly, he would have discerned, that instead of an agreement having been come to between Adam Smith and Mr. Ricardo, which he has asserted to be the fact, the very contrary is the fact. Perhaps the largest and most solidly-constructed proposition that is contained in the whole of Adam Smith's large work, is that by which he has maintained the superior advantageousness to a nation of its home trade over its foreign trade; and by which he has shown the injury that a nation would sustain by abandoning a home trade, and adopting a foreign trade in its place. Now Mr. Ricardo, instead of concurring with this proposition of Adam Smith, has opposed it diametrically, and has attempted to show that Adam Smith's proposition of fact is a problem erroneously worked. Thus, we have two antagonistic propositions constructed by these two writers: these propositions, embracing the most important part of the whole subject-matter, standing side by side. But when Mr. Ricardo's proposition is examined with accuracy—and by accuracy I mean a very different method from that which has been adopted by so many careless examiners-the proposition constructed by Mr. Ricardo, in special refutation of that constructed by Adam Smith, is discovered to be an error of a most unpardonable character. And yet all this diction and contradiction is introduced for acceptance by the world as "obvious truth." The too easy and too confiding people are told, and they have permitted themselves to be persuaded, that the great economical writers have so fully and so clearly
established the truth on which their interests rest, that no further effort or examination is required.
It is, indeed, deeply to be lamented, that a man who had contributed his powerful aid towards exposing that abuse of law by which unjust monopolies had been created, and were supported, and who undertook such an important and weighty task as Mr. Cobden undertook to perform, in advocating and recommending a great universal principle of commerce, a principle upon which the maintenance of millions of human families would depend; and from which those issuesinvolving, on the one hand, either the progress, the welfare, and the peace, or, on the other hand, the decline, the misery, and the social alienation and hostility, of nations were to be derived should have entered upon his great undertaking with so little regard for the soundness or the unsoundness of the foundation upon which he was constructing.
The allegation, then, that stands against Mr. Cobden, by the matter supplied by himself, is this-He has asserted that he knew that to be true which he did not know to be true; and which, if he had read and examined, as he professed to have read and examined, he would have known to have been untrue: this, in culpability, is next in degree to asserting that to be true which he knew to be untrue.
Had Mr. Cobden but employed ordinary care and honest investigation for which far less talent would have sufficed than that possessed by him he could not have failed to have discerned, that the writings he has referred to and made use of as supplying "obvious truth" supply, instead of obvious truth, obvious confusion, contradiction, and error. By the important instance thus furnished by the course of Mr. Cobden, and by the reception which his labours have met with, we are again shown how fatally blind, how weak, how incompetent, or how incapable of forming a true and sound judgment, men and