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Scepticism-its Relation to Progress.
43 the Lutheran Presbyters provided by this system, that the people are trained inevitably to the habit of doubting much, and believing little; and it is only natural that the condition of a flock reduced to such fare should be a very poor one.
It is true, as we all know, that you can scarcely have men in earnest about religion, or, in fact, about anything, without having them somewhat self-willed and intolerant. But it is no less true that men who cease to have faith in God soon cease to have faith in each other. Individuals may seem to be an exception to this rule, but no community has ever been, or ever will be. In the process which ensues as religious faith dies out, self-seeking soon comes into the place of self-sacrifice; war, it may be, is loudly denounced, but it is less from any care about great principles, than from a care about much lower and more personal interests; while the sort of civilization in progress under such influences may be found to include such masses of conventional corruptness, as to make it doubtful whether the comparative rudeness which it has displaced would not, on the whole, be better. No-Mr. Buckle, your philosophy will not be equal to the world's regeneration. In giving us that, you have given us a part only of the means necessary to this end. There are agencies which you have placed last, that must be first, or our real progress will be small, though the changes introduced by scientific discovery may be great. To all that Mr. Buckle has said concerning the relation between freedom and the elevation of man, and between arbitrary power and his degradation, we cordially assent; but we despair of seeing freedom result from principles of statesmanship and morality so lax as those inculcated in this volume; or from a religion so purely subjective and personal, and so utterly vague as that to which its author would apparently reduce mankind. The author of this volume is by no means the formidable person in this field which some people seem to imagine. No thoughtful man, indeed, can read this book, and account the time so spent as lost. But the lessons he will gather from it will be rarely those which the writer is most solicitous to convey.
ART. II.-(1.) Euvres complètes de Frédéric Bastiat. 6 vols. 8vo.
Paris : Guillaumin et Cie. (2.) Études Historiques et Critiques sur le Principe et les Consé.
quences de la liberté du commerce international. Par EMILE DE LAVELEYE. Paris : Guillaumin et Cie.
EVERY community has practically a political economy of its own, suitable to its physical circumstances,—such as climate, soil, spontaneous products, geographical position, &c., and suitable to its habits, character, traditions, and idiosyncrasies; but principles underlying such peculiarities, and common to all communities, determine social welfare. Everywhere, and at all times, men must eat to live; and any kind of food, from the worm dug by a New Hollander out of a tree, or from the bread-fruit that the more favoured inhabitant of the Society Islands gathers from the selfsown palm of his
newly-formed home, to the most refined product of the French Emperor's kitchen, can only be obtained and appropriated by labour. What is true of food, is equally true of the most paltry ornament,—the subsistence of nations, and the poorest frippery that adorns an idol to delude the vulgar; and it is equally true of every kind of material object which in the most advanced civilization contributes to comfort, ease, subsistence, enjoyment, and power. The assimilation of the food to the living body is not our work, and the qualities which adapt it to sustain life are not our gift. This is the work and the gift of nature ; but to procure and appropriate food, and all other agreeable and desirable things, is everywhere, and at all times, man's work. It branches out into innumerable arts, which extend with the numbers and wants of mankind. Our knowledge of the effects of this and similar general principles, some of which are extremely palpable and familiar, while others are extremely recondite and strange, systematically arranged, but generally limited to material objects, constitutes the science of Political Economy.
But under different circumstances men work differently, different effects, or different conditions of society ensue, and different systems of practical economy, or national rules for the regulation of labour and the distribution of its products, are everywhere established. Hence those who observe facts in different communities, and embody them into a theory, without a very obvious deviation from scientific precision, may form different opinions of the underlying principles or laws of nature by which all are influenced, and by which all ought to be, and in the end, as knowledge becomes complete, will be guided. This Origin of the French System. is actually the case with the French and the English. They have different economical systems; and while astronomy and chemistry are the same, with some slight differences of form for both, the scientific political economy of imperial France is different from that of democratic England. It is our purpose succinctly to state the chief points of difference by which we may contribute to promote the existence of one uniform science for both. We must, however, disclaim the intention of being minutely critical ; and shall not think it necessary on all occasions textually to quote the passages which we shall abridge or adapt to our purpose.
The French preceded us in assuming the existence of general underlying principles or laws of nature, and in giving a scientific form to the subject, though we have contributed the great body of facts and observations on which alone the science can be securely built. It is now no longer necessary to inquire whether the growth and form of society be regulated by natural laws, for this is equally proved by their deductions and our observations; and we shall first advert to the circumstances which appear to have led inquirers in the two countries to take a different course.
When the science was first cultivated, the French were in an almost stationary, if not retrograding condition. The reign of Louis XIV., ruinous by its grandeur, closed in disasters, and France did not recover under the Regent nor under Louis XV. She lost the best of her American colonies, she was almost excluded from India, and was weighed down by financial and political difficulties. The well-head of social life was stopped by a vast encumbrance of aristocratic, ecclesiastical, and official rubbish, heaped on it in the barbarous ages. The condition of the bulk of the population, consisting in the main of peasantry, was extremely bad, and rather deteriorating than improving. The intellect of France, however, neither stationary nor retrograde, the cultivation of it being encouraged by the oppressive powers, was extremely active, and was deeply interested by the misery of the people.
Dr. Quesnay, to whom with one voice is attributed the honour of first conceiving the idea of a science of political economy, ' was struck,' says Mr. M'Culloch, with the depressed state of * France, and set himself to discover the causes which had pre' vented it making that progress which the industry of the people, the fertility of the soil, and the excellence of the climate
seemed to ensure.' The inquiries which he originated had mainly for their object to find out how to prevent poverty and misery, not how wealth is created. He assumed that all wealth was the produce of the soil, and of labour in conjunction with the soil, and he considered only how the people were to be relieved. He saw the evil consequences of the fiscal system which prevailed, and he sought out a just system of taxation by means of which the State, to which he was attached, might be served, and the people not undone. On his assumption, natural enough in the condition of France, then with few manufactures and little trade—that land is the only source of wealth,' he came to the conclusion that pet produce, or rent, after providing adequate subsistence for all concerned in agriculture, was the only means of supplying the expense of the State. The inquiry necessarily embraced many topics connected with the employment of the people, and their sufferings; and the mercantile system of policy being then prevalent, and much fostered in France, trade and its bearings were incidentally discussed. Poverty and misery, however, were not to be got rid of. Hitherto they have formed conspicuous portions of every civilized society, and those who set about ascertaining how they could be lessened, or entirely removed, were driven by the difficulties of the task to inquire into the principles and foundations of society. The sect, or the Physiocrats, as Dr. Quesnay's followers were called, did not stop at the results of his theory as to land and the true source of taxation, they inquired into The Natural and Essential Order of Society* -into the constitution and form of government most advantageous to the human race. Political economy thus became in their hands the science of society, and they deduced many of its rules from the abstract rights of man.
* There is,' said M. Dupont de Nemours, "a natural order of things pervading the physical constitution which God has bestowed on the universe, and by which all things are done. From this constitution laws flow which are the essential conditions of the order instituted by Providence. Man cannot modify these laws; he is himself subject to them. But he may learn them, and know how to apply them to his advantage. They prescribe to him, for the sake of his own welfare, to live in society with his fellows, to preserve agreements inviolate, to respect the persons and the property of all.'+
He enumerates amongst the social institutions founded in the order of nature,
'PERSONAL PROPERTY established by nature, by the physical necessity common to every individual to employ all his faculties, to procure the things adapted to satisfy his wants, on pain of death.' 'LIBERTY TO WORK, inseparable from personal property, of which it forms a con
* Title of a work by M. Mercier de la Rivière. Published in 1767, 1768.
+ Discours de l'Editeur des Euvres de Quesnay. Collection des Principaux Economistes. Guillaumin et Cie., Paris.
Different Origin of the English System.
47 stituent part.' 'MOVEABLE PROPERTY, which is only personal property considered in its use, in its object and in its necessary extension to the things acquired by personal labour.' 'FREEDOM OF TRADE, the free employment of wealth, inseparable from personal property and moveable property?
'Full liberty,' said M. Mercier de la Rivière, writing in 1767, ought to prevail in trade from respect to property. Personal interest, encouraged by this great liberty, induces each person actively and perpetually to perfect and to multiply the commodities which he has to sell; thus to increase the mass of enjoyments he is able to give to others, in order by this means to increase the mass of enjoyments he may receive from others in exchange. Society thus goes forward of itself; the desire of enjoying, and the liberty of enjoying, excite incessantly the increase of industry and of productions, and impress on society a movement which becomes a perpetual tendency towards its best possible condition.'
The economists in France, therefore, had adopted as a necessary consequence of a natural organization of society, perfect freedom of trade as the most profitable for nations and the true policy of States, before this subject was adverted to in The Wealth of Nations, or mooted here as a practical question. 'Entire freedom for trade,' said Turgot, in his letter to Dr. Price, 'is a corollary of the right of property. Such deep-lying principles have always been kept in view by French writers. M. Suy, following the Physiocrats, defines political economy to be 'the science of • the natural laws which determine the prosperity of nations,
their wealth and civilization. These laws are not the work of 'man, they are derived from the nature of things: man does not ' establish, he discovers them.'
The necessitous condition of France drove the French writers to take a very profound view of the science, and their general preference of sentiment to shop-keeping made them extend it from wealth to enjoyment and civilization. In France, too, restraints on political discussion compelled public writers to avoid practical matters, and discuss general principles. This suited their logical minds also, and from the first they attended more than the English to the abstractions of the science. Peculiarities of form, of facts, and phrases, distinguish the theoretical political economy of the French, at present, as well as at its origin, from our political economy.
When the science was first cultivated here, the people were in possession of comparative opulence, and government not being all-pervading, was considered more the cause of wealth than of poverty. Trade flourished, and was incessantly extended. Our colonies and colonial connexions continued to multiply, and our great superiority to the French as a thriving nation, so flattering