« AnteriorContinuar »
cording to some definite ratio, other. not, as they undoubtedly ought to be, wise it is incapable of proof. We shall by the price of his wheat multiplied not object to it, that, as wages form a into the quantity of wheat he has to very small part of the expenses of a sell. What a different aspect does the farmer, it would require a great reduc- fact wear, when exhibited with all its tion of them to produce a small in- circumstances ! If a farmer sells a crease in his profits, and a great rise quarter of wheat for 90s. instead of 60s. in them to produce a small dimi- he receives 50 per cent more for that nution in his profits. Nor shall we quarter; but if his produce is only 24 object to it, that it necessarily leaves bushels per acre instead of 36, a little undetermined and undeterminable, calculation will convince us, that when wages rise and profits fall, or though the price of wheat has risen when the reverse occurs, which is the from 60s. to 90s., his profit remains the cause, and which the effect ; nor this more serious and fundamental objec Similar remarks may be made with tion :-the real wages are estimated regard to the impossibility of ascerby the price of corn ; by this price the taining the proportion of the produce, farmers' profits are supposed to be re or of the value of the produce obtaingulated ; and yet the rise and fall of ed by husbandry labourers, by means these profits are stated to be occasion of the imperfect facts supplied by those ed by the rate of real wages. What is tables, as it is evident that this proporthis but saying, that the real wages tion must depend not solely on the of the labourer, which depend on the wages and the prices of wheat, but on price of corn, are the cause of the rise the price of wheat multiplied into the and fall of the profits of the farmer? quantity produced. We may further or, in other words, are both cause and observe, that there is no necessary effect! We shall not urge these objec- connexion between fluctuations in the tions, because at present we are not real wages of labour, or their comexamining the general doctrine. We mand over produce, and fluctuations shall confine ourselves to the facts, and in the proportionate share of the proendeavour to shew, that they are not duce or the value of the produce raised stated in all their circumstances. by them, which their wages will pro
In the first place, the wages of the cure; a simple case will shew this; labourer are measured by their power let us suppose wheat to rise from 40s. over the purchase of wheat, and they to 60s., the quarter and wages from 1s. are said to be greater or less, according to 1s. 6d. a-day. It is evident that the as they enable him to purchase more real wages of the labourer are not alor less of it. Why is not the same tered. Let us now suppose that when standard applied to the profits of the wheat is at 40s. the produce per acre farmer :- Why is an increase in the is four quarters, and that when it is at mere money price of his wheat set 60s. the produce is only two quarters; down as an increase of his profits; that is, in the first instance, L.8 the and a diminution in the money price, acre; and in the other, only L.6. It is as indicating a diminution of his pro- obvious that the wages of the labourer, fits ? The same standard ought to be in both instances enabling him to purapplied to both ; either the money re chase the same quantity of wheat, in ceived for wages and wheat, or the fact give him the command over a power of money, in both cases, over greater portion of the produce of an commodities. If the real wages of la acre of land, and of the value of that bour, though advanced from 12 to 18 produce, in the latter instance than in in money, are in fact no higher, be- the former. His real wages, and his cause wheat has advanced from 60s. share of the produce, would remain to 90s., neither are the real profits of stationary, though his money wages the farmer, if, while he gets the latter advanced from 1s. to 1s. 6d., if, while price for his wheat, he be obliged to wheat rose from 40s. to 60s., the propay 50 per cent more for what he buys. duce remained the same; and his real He can live no better than he did, and wages would remain stationary, while he can save no more than he did. his share in the produce would be di
But there is an omission of a much minished, if, while wheat rose from more material circumstance than this : 4:08. to 60s., the produce per acre rose the profits of the farmer are estimated above four quarters. by the price of his wheat alone, and Again, if his wages remained at 18
while wheat advanced from 40s.to 60s., tical and experienced, have often as it is evident that his real wages would much of the hypothetical interwoven have fallen, though, if along with this in their opinions, as the most specularise in the price of wheat the produce tive theorists. Half of these facts are had fallen from four quarters to two, mere inferences, rashly and erroneoushis share of the produce, or of the va- ly drawn. They may have no systelue of the produce, would have been matic hypothesis in their minds, but increased.
they are full of assumptions, without But to conclude this digression, being aware of it. It is impossible that what then becomes of all the inferences men should witness simultaneous or drawn from tables, which exhibit only consecutive events, without connecting the price of wheat, and not also the them in their imagination as causes quantity sold, in support of the doc- and effects. There is a continual protrine, that when wages rise, profits pensity in the human mind to establish must fall, and when wages fall, pro- those relations amongst the phenomena fits must rise, since such tables do subjected to its observation, and to not exhibit all the facts on which consider them as possessing the chaprofits can be calculated ?
racter of facts. But in doing this, Let us next suppose that all the cir- there is great liability to error, and cumstances attendant on any particu- the opinions of a man who has formed lar measure or occurrence are faith them from what Lord Bacon calls fully and fully stated, and that all the mera palpatio, purely from what he consequences resulting, not only im, has come in personal contact with, mediately, but ultimately and perma- cannot but abound with rash and fals nently, not only to a particular branch lacious conclusions, for which he fanof commerce, but to national prospe- cies himself to have the authority of rity, are also faithfully and fully sta- his own senses, or of indisputable exted: there is still a source of error perience.” to which Practical Political Economists There are two classes of cases in are liable. They are apt to substitute which mere practical men are most inferences for facts. “The utility of liable to confound facts and inferences ; the distinction between them," ob- the first is, where an event is preceded serves a sensible and ingenious author, by a single circumstance; the other “is very perceptible in all questions is, where an event is preceded by seof national policy. In public affairs veral circumstances. there is commonly such a multiplicity The first does not occur so frequentof principles in operation, so many ly as the second, nor is it so liable to concurring and counteracting circum- lead us into error; it happens, howstances, such an intermixture of de- ever, sometimes, that two events are sign and accident, that the utmost simultaneous or consecutive, to which caution is necessary in referring events we assign the respective names of to their origin ; while in no subject cause and effect; whereas we either of human speculation, perhaps, is there mistake the one for the other, or rea greater confusion of realities and as gard them in this relation, though in sumptions. It is sufficient for the fact they are both effects of some lamajority of political reasoners, that tent and unnoticed cause.
If any two events are co-existent or consecu- very striking occurrence takes place tive. To their conception, it imme, which strongly draws our attention diately becomes a fact, that one is the and interests us, and this has been accause of the other. These remarks companied or preceded by any remarkserve to shew, what at first sight may able event, the mind imperceptibly appear paradoxical, that those men, unites them as cause and effect. The who are generally designated as prac- flash and report of a gun, the light
*" Essays on the Formation and Publication of Opinions, and on other Subjects" “Essay on Facts and Inferences." This little volume is much less known than it de. serves to be ; it is distinguished for a clear, successful, and interesting application of in. tellectual and metaphysical inquiries to the most important practical purposes. The subsequent work of the same author, “ Questions on Metaphysics, Morals, Political Economy, &c.” is of very inferior merit; the thought from which it sprung is good, but the plan and execution are very defective.
ning and thunder, are set down as viewed otherwise, they will only lead to respectively cause and effect, by those error and vain or mischievous actions. who are unaccustomed to them. There So with respect to real freedom, and a are many similar instances in Political free constitution ; real freedom must Economy, where two events are re- first spring from circumstances which garded as cause and effect, where there enlighten men, and teach and enable is either no such connexion between them to expand their views and wishes, them, or where both are effects pro- and to know and appreciate their ceeding from one unobserved cause. rights and capabilities. This will proSometimes the effect is mistaken for duce not only the forms, laws, privithe cause ; what opinion is more com- leges, and protections, of a free conmon than that a free constitution will stitution, but infuse into all these render men enlightened, free, and pros- such an animating and influential perous? This mistaken notion has led spirit, as will, in its turn, act on the to the foolish expectation, that, in or- state of the people, and increase their der to give civil, religious, and politi- freedom. cal freedom to a state, it was only ne- The other class of cases, in which cessary to decree that the power of mere practical men are liable to conthe sovereign should be limited, the found facts and inferences, comprepeople should be represented, discuss hends all those where an event is presion on all topics allowed, &c. The ceded by several circumstances. advocates for this opinion appeal to In such instances a mere practical what they call facts; they appeal to man is apt to be bewildered and led Britain and America; these countries, astray, especially if it happens (as it they say, have free constitutions, and often does) that his prejudices, or his the people are enlightened, free, and individual' interest, lead him to fix on prosperous. The consequence seems one circumstance, without examinato them to follow naturally ; the state tion or inquiry, to the exclusion of all of the people is the effect of their conle the others, as the only real and effistitution,--therefore give the same cient cause. Numerous cases of this constitution to other people, and they kind are continually occurring: one will also become enlightened, free, and may suffice. Soon after the establish. prosperous.
ment of peace, there was a very great • This unfolds to us another source depreciation in the price of agricultaof error, in collecting what are called ral produce, and consequently in the facts; it not unfrequently happens that rent and value of land. What was what has been the cause becomes the the cause of this? The circumstances effect, and it is very necessary to at immediately preceding, were a change tend to the period and circuinstances from war to peace-the renewal of of this change in the character of the commercial intercourse with foreign event. Britain contains the most nu- powers-diminished taxation and exmerous and the best modes of convey, penditure the return to cash payance of any nation in the world, but ments—and two or three abundant it is evident that these must facilitate harvests. Each of these preceding commerce: the inference seems fair events was separately and exclusively and sound; make similar modes of assigned as the cause of the depression con veyance in another country, and its of agriculture: and each party appealcommerce will also flourish. Here is ed to what they called facts. Agriculan instance of misapprehension of ture flourished during war, and while facts, or rather of the connexion be we were shut out from the continent : tween cause and effect, from not at- -it languishes now that there is peace tending to the change of character in and intercourse with the continent; consecutive events to which we have the case is clear ; here is double proof alluded. The process seems to be, a -an event occurring under certain certain stimulus given to industry, circumstances, being co-existent with enterprize, and the consequent acquis those circumstances, and disappearing sition of a certain portion of capital; when they do. The advocates for the these lead to the formation of roads, other opinions argued in a similar canals, &c. and these, in their turn, in- manner. Such is the worth of what crease industry, enterprize, and capi- is usually styled facts and experience. tal. The facts viewed in this light and How the real truth is to be obtained connexion are useful and important; in such cases, we shall afterwards in
quire, when we investigate the mode all the other technical combinations of by which the science of Political Eco- an antiquated and scholastic policy: nomy can be placed on the basis of the latter, by inspiring, on the one general principles, and those principles hand, a distrust of the human powers, deduced from well-ascertained causes when they attempt to embrace in de and effects.
tail interests at once so complicated This will form the subject of two and momentous; and on the other, a more portions of this Essay, one rela- religious attention to the designs of ting to the general investigation of the Nature, as displayed in the general mode in which we arrive at truth, in laws, which regulate her economy, the principal departments of human leading no less irresistibly to a gradua knowledge, and to the nature of the al and progressive simplification
of the evidence on which they are founded; political mechanism. It is, indeed, the and the other, applying the results of never failing result of all sound phi. this general investigation to the de- losophy, to humble, more and more, partment of Political Economy, consi- the pride of science before that Wisa dered as a science.
dom, which is infinite and divine; We cannot better conclude this part whereas, the farther back we carry our of our Essay, in which we have endea- researches into those ages, the instituvoured to estimate, at their real and tions of which have been credulously just value, what are called the facts regarded as monuments of the supe and experience of practical men in Po- riority of unsophisticated good sense, litical Economy, than by the follow over the false refinements of modern ing quotation from Mr Stewart, in arrogance, we are the more struck which he points out and expatiates with the numberless insults offered to upon the contrasted effects of statisti- the most obvious suggestions of nature cal and philosophical studies on the and of reason. We may remark this, progress and the interests of society, not only in the moral depravity of and which, it appears to us, exhibits rude tribes, but in the universal disa striking and happy instance of exu. position which they discover to disberance of thought, conveyed in his figure and distort the bodies of their peculiarly exuberantand flowing style: infants :-in one case, new-modelling
". From these considerations, it the form of the eyelids; in a second, would appear, that in politics, as well lengthening the ears; in a third, checkas in many of the other sciences, ing the growth of the feet ; in a fourth, the loudest advocates for experience, by mechanical pressure applied to the are the least entitled to appeal to its head, attacking the seat of thought authority in favour of their dogmas; and intelligence. To allow the huand that the charge of a presumptu- man form to attain, in perfection, its ous confidence in human wisdom and fair proportions, is one of the latest foresight, which they are perpetually improvements of civilized society: and urging against political philosophers, the case is perfectly analogous in those may, with far greater justice, be re- sciences which have for their object torted on themselves. An additional to assist nature in the cure of diseases; illustration of this is presented by the in the developement and improvement strikingly contrasted effects of statistin of the intellectual faculties; in the cal and philosophical studies on the in- correction of bad morals; and in the tellectual habits in general: the for- regulations of Political Economy."mer invariably encouraging a predi- Elements of the Philosophy, fc. Vol. II. lection for restraints and checks, and p. 451-2.
CHAPTER ON CHURCHYARDS.
Within a short distance of my own hind to enjoy the luxury of the aged, habitation stands a picturesque old the warmth of the cheerful sun-beams, cburch, remote from any town or ham- the serene beauty of nature, the fruitlet, save that village of the dead con- ful aspect of the ripening corn-fields, tained within the precincts of its own the sound of near and mirthful voices, sequestered burial-ground. It is, how the voices of children and grandchilever, the parish church of a large ru- dren, and a sense of quiet happiness, ral district, comprising several small partaking surely of that peace which hamlets, and numerous farms and cote passeth all understanding. tages, together with the scattered re And sometimes the venerable Elder sidences of the neighbouring gentry; comes, accompanied by his old faithful and hither (there being no other place helpmate; and then they may be seen of worship within the parish bounda- once more side by side, her arm again ry) its population may be seen for the locked within his as in the days of most part resorting on Sundays, by courtship; not, as then, resting on his various roads, lanes, heath-tracks, cop- more vigorous frame, for they have pice and field-paths, all diverging from grown old and feeble together; and of that consecrated centre. The church the twain, the burthen of itself, nearly in the midst of a very heaviest upon the husband, for his has beautiful church-yard, rich in old car- been the hardest portion of labour. In ved head-stones, and bright verdure, the prime of life, during the full flush roofing the nameless graves — the of his manly vigour, and of her health church itself stands on the brow of a ful comeliness, he was wont to walk finely wooded knoll, commanding a sturdily onward, discoursing between diversified expanse of heath, forest, whiles with his buxom partner, as she and cultivated land ; and it is a beau- followed with her little ones ; but now tiful sight on Sundays, on a fine au- they are grown up into men and wotumn Sunday in particular, when the men, dispersed about in their several ferns are assuming their rich browns, stations, and have themselves young and the forest trees their exquisite ones to care and provide for; and the gradations of colour, such as no lim- old couple are, as it were, left to be ner upon earth can paint to see the gin the world again, alone in their people approaching in all directions, quiet cottage. Those two alone togenow winding in long straggling files ther, as when they entered it fifty over the open common, now abruptly years agone, bridegroom and bride disappearing amongst its innumerable alone, but not forsaken-sons, and shrubby declivities, and again emer- daughters, and grandchildren, as each ging into sight through the boles of can snatch an interval of leisure, or the old oaks that encircle the church- when the labours of the day are over, yard, standing in their majestic beau- come dropping in under the honeyty, like sentinels over the slumbers of suckle porch, with their hearty greetthe dead. From two several quarters ings; and many a chubby great-grandacross the heath, approach the more child finds its frequent way to Grancondensed currents of the living stream; num's cottage ; many a school truant, one, the inhabitants of a far distant and many a “ toddlin' wee thing, hamlet, the other, comprising the po- whose little hand can hardly reach pulation of two smaller ones, within the latch of the low wicket, but whose a shorter distance of the church. And baby, call of “ fitcherin' noise an' from many lanes and leafy glades, and glee” gains free and fond admittance. through many field-paths and stiles, And now they are on their way togeadvance small groups of neighbours, ther, the old man and his wife. -See ! and families, and social pairs, and here they have just passed through the and there a solitary aged person, who last field-gate leading thitherward to totters leisurely along, supported by the church. They are on their way his trusty companion, his stout oak together towards the house of God, staff, not undutifully consigned by his and towards the place where they shall neglectful children to that silent com soon lie down to rest “in sure and panionship, but willingly loitering be- certain hope," and they lean on one