« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
tions, that the valuable result can be again effected, or the compound matter produced.
Or, let the same scientific person be engaged in examining a portion of natural substance. By the process of analysis, he has succeeded in dividing the composition, and separating its various simple elements, so that having ascertained the exact nature of the compound matter, he is able to recompose it, by means of putting together similar materials in their just proportions. Now, let such a scientific person, who has been thus successfully engaged, be informed of the free principle of acting. Let him be told that the results of his labours would have been the same, if the free process had been observed, or if the law of definite proportions had been wholly disregarded. In what light would this scientific operator view his informant? Why, he would view him as a person who was literally an idiot. I maintain, that between the instances adduced, and that of FREE commerce or trade, the analogy is strictly correct.
If any number of persons should be induced to meet who had devoted so much of their talents and attention to the science of Social and Political Economy, as to have acquired a considerable insight into the subject, and were to agree to enter upon a discussion of its main features, I maintain that they would soon come to a unanimous resolution of rejecting altogether the free principle, seeing that it involved a fundamental and total absurdity. The principle would not be allowed to form any question at all for them. In place of it the question would be, whether any particular people or nation, who were suffering distress and destitution, had brought this lamentable state on themselves by reason of having restricted or confined their action or labour too much; or whether it had been brought on by their having pursued an opposite course, which is that of permitting too great
expansion and latitude, or venturing on too wide a field of change? These, I contend, would form the two distinct questions to which their attention and deep consideration would be directed; and a noble course of inquiry would be thus opened, on which to exercise their intellectual and reasoning faculties.
The inquiry would, therefore, tend to establish for practice one of two courses, either to observe, for the future, a lesser degree of change, and so to consolidate the circumstances of the nation; or, to observe a greater degree, and thus to expand or extend them. But, as for the free principle, it would, as I have before remarked, be rejected altogether, as having no legitimate place, or no place at all, within the province of science.
With regard to the fact of the adoption of the free principle of commerce by so many well-instructed and clever men, and by so many statesmen both of the higher and lower rank, it will be said, as it often has been said, that the principle and system have been adopted as a matter of preference, as preferable to that complicated and nugatory system of regulation and restriction, which, having been invented and applied during the earlier periods of the existence of nations, has been so unjustly used for the interests of some, and against the interests of others, and having been thus converted into a party or class engine and monopoly, had become so cumbersome, so injurious, and so intolerable, as to be impossible of maintenance in a nation where a due and salutary degree of freedom is enjoyed by all classes of the people.
Now, if the subject had been placed on this foundation of preference; if the free principle, instead of being received and commended as absolutely good and profitable, had been received and upheld on the ground of being relatively better than the prevailing principle and system of regulation and
restriction, the grounds of this preference and adoption would have been sound, wisely chosen, and tenable, because the natural social law of trade and commerce would not have been sacrificed.
The great general truth or principle having been thus acknowledged and preserved, though not explained or defined, would, nevertheless, have been committed to the reverence and to the observation of every individual man of the nation. But this right, honourable, and only enlightened course, has not been acknowledged and observed. Our statesmen, resting their policy only on the bad foundation of expediency, and so following in the wake of that school of writers who have permitted themselves to be influenced and led by the strong current of human desires, and so have become mere panderers to these desires, and whose works, when brought to the test of close and correct examination, for the purpose of preserving that which is true in them, and rejecting that which is false, have to suffer almost total destruction, have accepted and presented the free principle in an absolute, and not in a relative, character. Hence the adopted, free, or competitive course, is of that character which deprives men of all idea of, and hence of all attachment to, social principle and truth. It abolishes all notion of a law of general action. By it men are taught and urged to adopt selfishness and selfish action, and that in the extremest degree, under the false pretext that by the competitive action and course, the largest amount of wealth is added to the national stock. In their attempts to uphold this immoral and abominable principle and system, all writers have placed themselves in a condition of inextricable confusion; and, by becoming attached to these writers, by placing confidence in them, and by adopting their doctrines, individual men and nations will bring upon themselves merited injury and punishment.
Remarkable illustration by Shakspeare of the important and universal character of the Law of Proportions, and of the applicability of this law to the social condition and constitution of man. — ·Special comment on the Law of Proportions concluded.
How much derangement and mischief have been introduced, and are now being introduced, within the circumstances of mankind by false views and wrong courses of Social and Political Economy! They constitute, in fact, the great engine by which the true prosperity and power of nations are undermined and eventually destroyed. And yet it has to be asked - who is qualified to meet the assailants who arm themselves with the formidable weapons which these false views and wrong courses supply? The constitutional statesman, however true, strong, and noble may be the principles he entertains in his own mind, and the courses he has been wont to advocate, is yet seen to surrender, by degrees, the truth of his convictions. The accredited philosopher, the received theologian, and the appointed pleader of the cause of religion, likewise, being compelled to sustain the attacks of persevering adversaries, and being unable— from want of a thorough and substantial faith in the cause to which they are professionally attached to answer demonstratively, the manifold objections, and the false though specious assumptions of their worldly adversaries, are at length induced to quit the strong and secure positions that are provided for them within the field of the religion they possess, and, taking refuge beneath the numerous pleas of a
system falsely called Utilitarian, abandon the great and essential bulwarks of their faith. The spirit of the world lures, deceives, coerces, and at last overcomes them - they relinquish that which is divine, and they substitute for it that which coming of man is called human. They retain the name, place, secular dignity, and, unhappily, the influence appertaining to a public Christian advocate, having relinquished its main characteristics.
It has been said that an exalted member of our English Christian Church, who has acquired his elevated position by having directed much attention to the subject of industrial and commercial economy, and by his ability in supporting and diffusing the principles which he has adopted — when conversing on the principle applicable to the due and beneficial development of national industry, and the course of labour conducive to the general welfare of a people, said, that what he liked above all things to hear was -the hammer the hammer the hammer. At six o'clock in the morning? Good! At five o'clock? Better! At four o'clock? Better still! Now, by this we obtain a view of the harsh soul of human or modern Utilitarian philosophy. Work -work-work! Production-production - production! Quantity quantity quantity! It is only this one poor, dull, toil and task requiring, and unsocial, idea that the founders and disciples of the modern Utilitarian school have been able to compass with reference to this great and interesting subject. So little has perception, genius, or true philosophy, been present during their lucubrations and elaborations, that they have been unable to discern either theoretically or practically that something essential is wanting to their single and solitary idea of work or production. The addition, together with the indispensable connexion, influence, and operation, of good social law, arising from the