Imágenes de páginas

made them wiser, will embrace from choice what they have sub mitted to from necessity. There can be no doubt, I think, that these opinions, and the obstinacy into which they led him, were the ultimate causes of his downfal.

But can they be said to have been founded on common-sense? If Napoleon had trusted to his own powerful sense, if he had not been misled by a theory as wild as it is generally received, could he have believed that the continent was injured by enjoying an advantageous market, and was injured precisely in the proportion in which that market was advantageous ?

The length to which this lecture has extended prevents me from dwelling on the many other prejudices which profess to derive their sanction from the much-abused term “common-sense." I will only suggest, as instances, the common opinion that the uaproductive consumption of opulent individuals and of governments, the mere waste of armies and of courts, is beneficial to the other members of society, because, to use the vague and unintelligible language of common conversation, « it promotes the circulation of money;" and the equally common error, that a fall in the price of subsistence, arising from its abundance, is injurious to the manufacturing-classes, because it diminishes the market for their commodities. These opinions, setting aside their error, are so paradoxical, that I cannot conceive a man with a mind so constituted as to admit them unhesitatingly if they were presented to him when perfectly unbiassed. But they are favor. able to the interests, or to the supposed interests, of the most influential members of every community. They have been so long repeated, in so many shapes, and on so many occasions, that they have become“ familiar in our ears as household words;" and there is not a more common mistake than to suppose, that because a proposition is trite it must be true.

In the early part of this lecture I stated that the theoretic branch of Political Economy-that which explains the nature, production, and distribution of wealth-would be found to rest on a few general propositions, the result of observation, or of consciousness. The propositions to which I alluded are these :

Firstly. That wealth consists of all those things, and of those things only, which are transferable; which are limited in quantity, and which, directly or indirectly, produce pleasure or prevent pain: or, to use an equivalent expression, which are susceptible of exchange; (including under exchange, hire, as well as absolute purchase ;) or, to use a third equivalent expression, which have value.

Secondly. That every person is desirous to obtain, with as

are shall al Welations are not to be

little sacrifice as possible, as much as possible of the articles of wealth. ' .

Thirdly. That the powers of labor, and of the other instruments which produce wealth, may be indefinitely increased by using their products as the means of further production,

Fourthly. That, agricultural skill remaining the same, additional labor employed on the land within a given district produces a less proportionate return. And, .

Fifthly. That the population of a given district is limited only by moral or physical evil, or by deficiency in the means of obtaining those articles of wealth, or, in other words, those necessaries, decencies, and luxuries, which the habits of the individuals of each class of the inhabitants of that district lead them to require. · The second of these propositions is a matter of consciousness ; the others are matter of observation. I shall devote my next lectures, and probably the whole of the present and the next year's .course, to the illustration (for it can scarcely be said to require proof) of the second proposition, and to the proof and illustration of the others; and in my subsequent reasonings, I shall assume them all as data.

If these premises are true, I shall be right while I argue from them correctly : that I shall always succeed in doing so, on so abstract a subject, where the relations are so various, and the nomenclature is so defective, of course is not to be hoped ; but happily I address an audience too acute to suffer my errors to pass undetected, and too friendly not to inform me of them. · I shall endeavor, in all my discussions, and particularly in the introductory ones, to make use of as few terms as possible which, from their vagueness or their technicality, require explanation, without previously defining them. The reasonings in Political Economy are, however, .so mutually dependent, that it is seldom possible to define one term without introducing into the definition others equally obscure. The best course in a written treatise is that adopted by M. Say, who has affixed to his valuable work on Political Economy a list of definitions. But it is impossible to imitate his example in viva-voce lectures : for such a list is, in fact, an epitome of the theoretical branch of the science, which the attention of no listener could follow, as the beginning must be unintelligible without the end. Dr. Whately's kindness in permitting me to append to his logic a collection of economical definitions, has a little alleviated this difficulty. That work is probably in the hands of the greater part of my hearers; and, as most people begin reading a book by the Appendix, I think I may take it for granted that they have looked through the definitions in

question. I almost regret now, that I did not suggest in each place the definition which appeared to me the most convenient. In its present state, however, that collection will enable even those who are unacquainted with the outline of the science to form a general notion of the meaning of its principal terms, when I am forced, as must sometimes be the case, to use them without previous explanation.

Another difficulty, arising from the same source, is the necessity which will frequently arise of arguing from premises which have been simply assumed, as if they have been conceded. Thus, the whole reasoning of my next lectures will assume “ that every person is desirous to obtain, with as little sacrifice as possible, as much as possible of the articles of wealth.” I shall endeavor to avoid doing this tacitly, except where, as is perhaps the case with the propositions I have just stated, the assumed premise is selfevident. But expressly or tacitly, I shall be forced to do it continually.







On leaving London, I feel it a duty again to address the people of England, and to call their attention in the most solemn manner to the very peculiar, and I may say alarming, circumstances in which the whole kingdom (and especially that part of it in which I am most immediately interested) is placed.

I certainly should not again have obtruded myself on the British public, but as his Grace, the responsible Premier of the Crown, has declared in his place in Parliament on Thursday night, that it was not the intention of the Cabinet to propose any measure for the relief of the Catholics, I hope I am justified in making a second appeal, connected as I conceive their question to be with the tranquillity of Ireland.

The declaration of the Prime Minister is of the last importance, not only to Ireland but to England. It tells Ireland she is to remain a victim : it tells England that she must continue to feed the thousands of Irish who annually cast themselves on her shores : nay, more,—it tells the friends of civil and religious liberty everywhere what they have to expect,—whether Protestants or Catholics, what they are to expect-advocates of liberty or advocates of tranquillity, that the period of happiness is at all events postponed ; that they have one cause and one opponent: who that opponent is, they can now no longer doubt.

I proved elsewhere, and that proof has not been refuted, or even denied, that England is most materially injured by the continuance of Ireland in her present condition. I wish now to do more-I wish to show that England has common cause with Ireland, to a greater extent than even her pacification or prosperity—that she has common cause with Ireland in preserving the laws and the liberties of the whole people inviolate.

It is a wise saying of my Lord Bacon, that " measures without men are dead images.” Had a measure of relief from the present VOL. XXIX.




« AnteriorContinuar »