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twenty or ten years, confound years in which those causes were in operation with years in which they were not.

We cannot close these few remarks and suggestions without thanking Mr. Forster, the eminent President of Section F, for the just, but not the less generous tribute which he paid to the great leader of economic science, whom the world has lately lost in Mr. John Stuart Mill.



(Fortnightly Review, February 1, 1879.)

PHILOSOPHICAL like religious and political history is the history of change and reform, of the decline of old and the rise of new systems, and the reformers encounter the same opposition in the world of philosophy as in that of religion and politics, being accused of attempts to destroy what they seek to regenerate und preserve. Those whose interest or pride is on the side of the old system resist the new one as an attack on themselves, but they call it an attack on religion, on the constitution, on science, or on some venerable name. The upholders of an ancient worship did not cry publicly that their craft was in danger to be set at naught, but 'great is Diana of the Ephesians.' So a cry is now heard in reply to Mr. Ingram from an old sect of economists of the greatness of Adam Smith. And it is well that the cry is now for him instead of Ricardo. Not long ago Adam Smith's name was seldom heard, his reputation was eclipsed by Ricardo's, the Wealth of Nations was treated as almost obsolete. A sort of mythical glory surrounded Ricardo, and we may realize in his instance the process by which the ballads of a number of singers came to be ascribed to one bard, and the exploits of a line of chiefs and warriors to a single hero. A theory to which a contemporary of Adam Smith was led by his own experience and observation of farming in Scotland, and which was afterwards reproduced by two contemporaries of Ricardo, came to be called 'Ricardo's Theory of Rent,' in spite of his own acknowledgment in his

* In connexion with this Essay, and the controversy referred to in it, see The Present Position and Prospects of Political Economy, by John K. Ingram, F.T.C.D., and an article in the Nineteenth Century, October, 1878, cntitled Recent Attacks on Political Economy by the Right Hon. Robert Lowe, M.P.


preface and elsewhere that he took it from Malthus and West, and of the fact that only the exaggerations and inaccuracies were his own. Mr. Mill's theory of international values has in like manner been traced to Ricardo, contrary to its author's own statement in his Autobiography of its independent origin. Mr. Mill himself, indeed, though he so qualified and amended the doctrines of his predecessor that the latter could scarcely have recognised them, and brought new elements and conditions within the field of political economy, sometimes spoke with the piety of a disciple, and has been represented by some of his own followers as little more; the giant thus standing on the shoulders of the dwarf to see over his head. It is a sign then that Ricardo has lost ground when his adherents fall back on Adam Smith, just as a victory was gained when theologians could no longer oppose a new doctrine as contrary to the Fathers, and were driven to contend that it was against the Bible, which they had before kept in the back-ground. A bold attempt may

be made now and then hereafter to rehabilitate Ricardo, but practically he is given up. It is to be noted that the phrase 'desire of wealth,' which with some of his successors is made to bear the whole weight of political economy, was not used by Ricardo. But that is only because he dispensed altogether with psychology, and with all inquiry into the mental forces at work; setting out with naked assumptions such as that it is 'natural' that the value of things should be proportionate to the labour of producing them, and that the 'natural' rate of wages is the price of the labourer's subsistence. These nebulous assumptions are not only both false, but also contradictory, for if the cost of the labourer's subsistence determined the rate of wages, it could not vary in different occupations with the nature of the work. A deduction from the assumed relation between wages and food, on which much of his system was built, was that a tax on corn could not fall on the labouring class, and

* In all that I have said concerning the origin and progress of rent, I have briefly repeated and endeavoured to elucidate the principles which Mr. Malthus has so ably laid down, on the same subject, in his Inquiry into the Nature and Progress of Rent, a work abounding in original ideas.-Ricardo's Works, M'Culloch's ed., p. 374. Compare the Preface to Ricardo's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. Ib.

this doctrine, as both Cobden and Sir Robert Peel have borne witness, was the main cause of the Corn Law. His theory that no improvement or economy in production can augment profit unless it lowers wages, has in like manner done incalculable harm. 'It has been,' he says in his treatise, 'my endeavour throughout this work to show that the rate of profits can never be increased but by a fall of wages.' Had he been an English Lassalle or Karl Marx, and his main object to sow enmity between capital and labour, he could not have devised a doctrine better adapted to the purpose. The notion too which his language did much to establish, that all wealth, including capital itself, is the produce of labour, in the sense of manual labour, exclusive of the capitalist's enterprise, invention, trouble and abstinence, is actually the corner stone of the creed of the German 'social democrat.' Political economy is then emerging from a cloud of petitio principii, bad generalization, and mischievous fallacy, when the controversy turns on the system of Adam Smith. It reminds one of the contest between the spirits of darkness and light for the body of Moses, to find the followers of Ricardo claiming Adam Smith for their prophet, and seeking to make his shrine the prop of a falling superstition.

The real issue of course is not what Adam Smith's system was, but what is the true one; the two questions however are not unrelated. 'Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you,' the true disciple of Adam Smith may say to those who raise altars to his name, but to whom he is virtually an unknown being. Not only is the phrase 'desire of wealth' not to be found in the Wealth of Nations, and Adam Smith guiltless of a vicious abstraction that has done much to darken economic inquiry; he introduced into his theory of the motives to exertion and sacrifice various desires and sentiments besides those which have wealth for their object. A writer from whom something more may be learned, than was known in the days of Plato respecting the philosophy of society, history, and law, has observed with respect to the deductive economists' practice of setting aside a number of forces as 'friction,' that the best corrective would be a demonstration that this so-called friction

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is capable of scientific analysis and measurement.* Friction is not, one may remark, a very appropriate or an adequate term; indicating neither the strength nor the mode of operation of the forces included under it. It would hardly seem correct to say that the earth is prevented by friction from falling into the sun. The motives too 'eliminated' in this fashion act in opposite ways, sometimes counteracting and sometimes stimulating by an additional object the love of gain. But Adam Smith was so far from eliminating' them, that he has set the example of an attempt to carry out Sir Henry Maine's idea of subjecting them not only to analysis but to measurement. The assertion of a recent advocate of the à priori and deductive method that the whole science of political economy is based on the desire of wealth and aversion from labour, is contrary not only to the spirit but to the letter of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. It is characteristic, indeed, of the laxity of the deductive method, in spite of its pretence of rigorous logic, that immediately after laying down the foregoing proposition Mr. Lowe drops one of the two abstractions contained in it, and affirms that Adam Smith's method was successful because the subject admitted of the elimination of all motives save the single one of pecuniary interest. And at the centenary of the Wealth of Nations he pronounced that 'the result of Adam Smith's investigation amounts to this, that the causes of wealth are two, work and thrift, and the causes of poverty two, idleness and waste;' adding that in his own opinion no more need be known or perhaps could be known on the subject. Nearly three thousand years before Adam Smith, Solomon had said as much; summing up in his proverbs on the subject the results of sagacious observation and induction, while men in general sought to grow rich by shorter methods such as prayer to their gods, as in later times by the aid of human protectors.

But to set aside all other motives to exertion besides riches, is quite opposed to Adam Smith's rationale of the choice of employments, and the different rates of wages and profit.

* Village Communities in the East and West. Third Edition, F. 232.

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