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to the highest place, have cleared up, state to come to their application ; removed, or corrected the ambiguities but if, instead of following this oband inconsistencies of their predeces- vious and natural order, we reverse sors, pointed out with precision and the operation and commence at the accuracy the limits of the science and second stage, we shall never be the necessity for observing them, enabled to eliminate the first prindefined the leading terms, and with ciples of the science from amidst the order and method arranged and pre- endless variety of extraneous matters sented the elementary principles, with which these must be involved in thereby bringing within the reach of their application to any practical any ordinary capacity what before question ; and so will remain in igwould have made very considerable norance of the very things which demands both on the student's time alone could enable us to conduct with and understanding. And, after all success original investigations. But this has been achieved, Dugald Dugald Stewart, instead of teaching Stewart comes before the public for political economy as a science, defines the first time in a new character, and it as an art ; and even treating it as claims the suffrages of a generation an art, does not confine it within any accustomed to instructors in economic well defined limits, but, on the conscience, who had been trained to their trary, expresses himself in most task by the study of works containing vague and general terms when he information far wider and much better purports to indicate its appropriate expressed than what fell to the lot of province. In opposition to Adam writers of his day.
Smith and others, who deemed naThese are the circumstances under tional wealth a subject of sufficient which the lectures appear, and they comprehensiveness, difficulty and imcertainly show that the author is portance to demand a science for entitled to every indulgence at our itself, he lays down (p. 10) that the hands; whether we consider the state title of political economy “may be in which his writings are submitted extended with much advantage to all to the public, or the standard of ex- those speculations which have for cellence by which we are apt to their object the great and ultimate measure them. Making due allowance ends from which political regulations for all these matters, it may freely be derive all their value; and to which conceded the lectures are not destitute wealth and population themselves are of merit; but the last praise we only to be regarded as subordinate should ever have thought of awarding and instrumental. Such are the is that given by the learned editor, speculations which aim at ascertaining who states (p. ix.) that, as they stand, those fundamental principles of policy they will be found, as an introduction which Lord Bacon has so happily and to political economy, among the best significantly described as leges legum, extant. If the rule of begin- ex quibus informatio peti possit, quid ning at the beginning applies in singulis legibus bene aut properam to this as to other studies, such positum aut constitutum sit.” Now, no an encomium is wholly misplaced, for one can deny that the investigations the mode of procedure adopted is not indicated in this passage deserve our of that nature; and, besides, even in most anxious attention ; but it is so far as the elements of the science equally evident their vastness and are at all discussed, the author's claims generality forbid all attempts to as a good introductory writer must grasp them within the compass of a be equally disallowed, the portions single department of study. To of the work devoted to that subject borrow the words of Mr. Senior, in being decidedly the very worst it the introduction to his treatise on contains. This we shall show a little political economy (originally publishfurther on, and for the present confine ed as an article in the Encyclopaedia our attention to the former part of Metropolitana,) "it is impossible to the objection.
overstate the importance of these The first step in any department of inquiries, and not easy to state their study should be to learn its leading extent. They involve as their general scientific principles, and it is only premises the consideration of the after that process has been gone whole theory of morals, of governthrough, the student can be in a fit ment, of civil and criminal legislation ;
and, for their particular premises, a knowledge of all the facts which affect the social condition of every community whose conduct the economist proposes to influence. We believe that such inquiries far exceed the bounds of any single treatise, and indeed the powers of any single mind. We believe that by confining our own and the reader's attention to the nature, production and distribution of wealth, we shall produce a more clear, complete and instructive work than if we allowed ourselves to wander into the more interesting and more important but far less definite fields by which the comparatively narrow path of political economy is surrounded." That the end to which the teachings of economic science should be applied is the promotion of human welfare generally, and not the mere attainment of wealth, is undoubtedly true ; but Dugald Stewart and his followers overlook the important fact that the student cannot be put in possession of the principles of political economy, and so enabled to apply them in aid of securing the proposed end, unless he has in the first instance investigated separately the science which comprises them, as can easily be established by analogy to the case of other departments of knowledge more generally taught and more successfully cultivated, a long course of experience having recommended and enforced the adoption of the best method of procedure. Taking, for example, the subject of mathematics, what would be thought of a teacher, who, instead of instructing his pupils in the elements of geometry, algebra, and trigonometry in the first instance, were to bring them at once to practical questions of surveying and the like (the ends, be it remembered, for which the science is cultivated,) and yet expect they could ever learn the subject under such a gatom? For in the questions which ar se in practice, the principles to be applied do not present themselves in that order wherein they might most readily be learned ; and besides they are encumbered with considerations that come within the province of other sciences and arts, such as questions relating to the effect of atmospheric refraction, the chemical changes imparted to the different instruments of admeasurement by vicissitudes of
temperature and diversity of situation. And is it to be supposed the inexperienced beginner will be able to separate and classify all these various elements he encounters, and select from among them those which belong to the science he is meant to be learning? All this while, moreover, he is under the necessity of burthening his memory with a vast number of data as to time, place, and number,--data which, in fifty in. stances out of one, will be of no use to him whatsoever, except while he is engaged at the very question they belong to ; and this identical question, or anything at all like it, may never occur in his subsequent practice, so that thus a large portion of his labour goes for nothing. And the end will be, that after all this toil and trouble he will master few or none of those general truths which would place him in a position to deal with any new question which might arise, of a nature analogous to those which had been the object of his investigations. But if, instead of adopting this perplexing and irregular course, he had been instructed in the usual manner, within a brief space the leading principles of the science might have been brought before him; and when, with a little care and diligence, he had mastered them, if his abilities lay in that line, then after investigating a few practical examples by way of testing his acquirements, he would be in a position to apply the science to any question proposed, so far as its solution depended on the principles he had been learning, and not those belonging to anything else. And it he were acquainted with these latter also, he might deduce and recommend practical conclusions ; but if he were not, he should state his results with appropriate qualifications, explaining that they are applicable so far and no farther than as they are exempt from the action of those disturbing influences which he had been unable to take into account; just as the theo retical mechanician willannounce that what he has demonstrated on the supposition of motion in a vacuum must be corrected by reference to the effects of atmospheric pressure, before it can be applied to the movements which occur around us. By similar reasoning we arrive at the method to be adopted by the student in Political
Economy, and learn the caution to be observed in the application of its principles to practice. And it can also be shown in the course of the investigation, that the claims of the study to our earnest attention are of the most incontestable force.
The science has for its object the laws which regulate the production and distribution of wealth, in so far as these operations are governed by the desire of man to attain the maximum of wealth at the minimum of sacrifice; and this at once marks out a class of natural laws, and a science which comprises them. The principle of action on which it is founded is sufficiently powerful in its operation to turn in its own direction a large portion of human conduct; and the object of that action, wealth, is de cidedly worthy of attentive consideration, comprising, as it does, the means of satisfying so large a class of our wants and desires. Hence, a science, defined as above, has every claim on our notice so far as the importance of its subject matter is concerned. But even this is not sufficient to entitle it to be pursued as a separate branch of study, for sciences without end might be created were we to dignify with such an appellation every body of natural laws possessed of characteristics distinguishing them in a strongly marked manner from all others, and relating to objects of admitted importance. In addition to these requisites the conception and discussion of the laws in question must be attended with such difficulty, that any person of ordinary abilites coming to deal with them without having studied them specially, would be unable to understand their modus operandi, and thus incapable of directing or controlling them. This last claim to rank as a science Political Economy likewise possesses, as all must admit who call to mind how long, and to what extent, not alone the general body of the people, but even the most gifted philosophers and statesmen remained in ignorance of the natural laws which governed the production and distribution of wealth, and how extremely baneful were the effects which thence ensued. Thus briefly may be exhibited the grounds upon which it is contended that Political Economy should be classified as a separate science ; and, having got so
far, it follows in the next place, as a matter of course, that to master its truths it must be studied like a science, as it is, and not sought for in the chaotic mass which should be analysed were it attempted to collect its principles from the endless variety of practical questions in which they occur in connexion with other matters, as must be the case were we to commence to study the subject as an art, or, rather, as one of the arts which has for its object the attainment of the welfare of the community.
Preliminary investigations should, indeed, be exemplified and illustrated as we proceed, by appropriate practical examples, in this as in other sciences ; but this is not to be confounded with the method of those who place science in the background, and completely bury its elementary principles under a mass of details, consisting in a great measure of extraneous matters, which serve, in fact, not to illustrate, but, rather, to conceal the general truths which ought to be impressed on the mind.
When the student has devoted himself for a while to the science, and mastered its leading principles, then he will be prepared to take part in their application. But here he must remember that other principles than those of economic science are to be attended to, and if he proceed to advocate practical measures without observing this precaution, the chances are his predictions may turn out untrue, or the object he marks out for attainment inexpedient. The predictions must turn out untrue if human conduct, in the case supposed, be not governed and directed by the desire for wealth ; and the objects inexpedient if considerations be involved in the question under contemplation, higher than those which are merely economic, and at variance with them. If the investigator be prepared to deal with all the circumstances which thus arise whenever it is proposed to deduce practical rules from theoretical teachings, he may safely be permitted to urge the adoption or rejection of legislative measures ; but it is not as an economist alone he is entitled to speak with authority. And if from accident, or from incapacity for certain branches of knowledge, he be not prepared to deal with his case in all its hearings, his scientific acquirements
are not useless notwithstanding; for though they cannot qualify him to enact the legislator, yet they will enable him to afford very important assistance by pointing out the economic results which are calculated to ensue, and which may be then taken into account for whatever they are worth, as one of the elements to be attended to in conjunction with whatever others may exist.
It is not as a scientific exposition, whether elementary or otherwise, of the principles of Political Economy, that these lectures are to be looked upon; but rather as a collection of detached essays, some, indeed, of a purely scientific character, and others mixed and applied. The most instructive portion of the work, perhaps, is that which treats of population, especially in connection with landed property and agriculture ; indeed, this might be read with great advantage at the present day, not that it contains much, if anything, that is new, but on account of its drawing the ats tention constantly to what is very generally overlooked, though constituting the very essence of the subject. The author brings together a great deal of interesting information as to the tenure of land and the condition of the occupiers in different parts of Europe, and gives a fair review of the controversy, then mooted as much as it now is, touching the comparative advantages and disadvantages of large and small farms. Then, as at the present day, most people discussed the question without explaining what came up to their idea of a large farm and what of a small one, or taking into account that what might be the best size under particular circumstances would no longer be so where the agricultural products to be raised, the nature of the soil, or the habits and condition of the rural population were essentially different.Al luding to some very interesting agricultural reports in which the question of large and small farms had been actively discussed, the author observes (p. 128):-“Some of the reasonings in the papers, as well as in other publications of a similar nature, might, perhaps, have been spared, if the writers had explained with a little more precision the ideas they annexed to the words large and small as employed in the controversy;
words which are not only indefinite in their signification, in consequence of the want of a given standard of comparison ; but which must neces. sarily vary in their import in different parts of the country according to local circumstances. The advocates for small farms, for example, sometimes include under that denomination farms from 150 to 200 acres (which are far above the highest average of small farms in Great Britain, and of large ones in Ireland,) contrasting these with farms of 1500 or 2000 acres, which are so very far above the highest average of large farms that they should be considered as exceptions.
“Many of these writers, too, seem to have proceeded on the supposition, that the principles on which the size of farms ought to be settled, are of much more universal application than they will be found to admit of in reality. A few of them, however, have been completely aware of this consideration, remarking, that the size of farms must necessarily be regulated by a variety of local peculiarities, such as soil, situation, modes of husbandry, and the extent of capital possessed by the class of farmers; and that admitting the general maxim-The best size of farm is that which affords the greatest proportional produce, for the least proportional expense—the application of this maxim will be found to lead to widely different conclusions, in different districts." And if this be so, as it doubtless is, even when we confine our attention to Great Britain, what will it not be necessary to take into account when instituting comparison between the sizes of farms most desirable in the various localities throughout Europe, from the wineproducing countries where farming rather resembles what would here be called gardening, to the great com and pasture lands where large holdings are those which appear to be managed with most success.
The following, likewise, deserves to be borne in mind. “ With respert to the supposed tendency of small farms to promote population, I shall only remark before leaving this artide, that it must not be judged of merely from the numbers which are subsiste ? on the spot.” The idea that “the mode of culture which employs most
hands, is most favourable to the population of the State,” is justly reprobated by the author of L'Ami des Hommes (the elder Mirabeau) as a vulgar prejudice. “ The overplus of produce carried to market," he observes, “is no less beneficial in this respect by feeding towns, than if eaten on the fields that produced it. The more, therefore, that the industry and riches of the farmer enable him to economise the labour of men, the greater is the surplus which remains for the subsistence of others. To suppose, as some authors have done, that small farms add to the numbers of a people, while, at the same time, it is granted that they neither yield an adequate produce nor rent, amounts very nearly to a contradiction in terms." It is not uncommon to hear those who profess to be patriots and philanthropists lamenting the consolidation of wretchedly small holdings into farms, we will not say large, but just of moderate extent, and asserting in declamatory language they would rather see the land supporting people, the strength of the State, than feeding pigs and bullocks. To persons of this tone of mind, who seem to think land is devoted to the best of all purposes when it is turned into a pauper-warren, and forget that when it ceases to be tenanted by wretched cottiers, then, and then only, it becomes capable of supporting labourers in comfort, we point out the judicious observations of Dugald Stewart and the elder Mirabeau, and beg of them to remember that we are not to judge of the capacity of any kind of farms to promote population by reference to the numbers subsisted on the spot, but rather by taking into account the quantity of food produced, whether that be employed in supporting those who occupy the immediate locality or those who inhabit other parts of the country.
The author is not so felicitous in discussing the connexion between the size of properties and the amount of population, as that between population and the extent of farms. He adduces a good deal of information on the subject, though generally not of the most satisfactory kind. He dwells a great deal on the fluctuations in the population and the sizes of estates which are said to have occurred
in the States of ancient Rome, without duly considering that what has been handed down to us respecting them can hardly be of that very accuratecharacter which alone would justify us in basing conclusions on them, and taking no notice of the fact that the great change from small to large properties which occurred about the time of the decline of Rome was accompanied by the substitution of slaves for freemen as the cultivators of the soil--a fact which alone is amply sufficient to account for the deterioration of agriculture and the diminution of population, and draws at once a line of distinction between the event in question and those occurring within our own times, to which they are usually compared. His own ideas on the subject do not appear to have been at all settled, and, indeed, he himself confesses as much ; for after bringing forward a good deal of miscellaneous and often contradictory information and speculations, he states (page 151)-“I have quoted these passages because I am always far more anxious to suggest a variety of ideas for your examination, than to establish any particular system.” An observation at once demonstrating the undecided condition of the author's mind, and establishing, in connexion with many others of a similar strain, how very unfit, as we before contended, these lectures are to serve as an introductory treatise. For the work best suited to the beginner is that which tells him plainly and concisely what is known on the subject he is about learning ; not that in which the author says to him, “Here is all that is said on both sides of the question ; and as to which is the right one, I, who have long studied the matter, decline to offer any decided opinion. I leave it to you, who are confessedly ignorant on this subject, to deduce the best conclusion you are able from the heterogeneous mass of conflicting evidence I lay before you." But returning to what we commenced with, so far as the author indicates any opinion of his own, he rather inclines to that of those who consider small properties favourable to the increase of population. No doubt it is true that the larger the number of persons the rent of the land of a country is divided among, the more there are who have an opportunity of support