Imagens das páginas
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]




In some of the Essays in this volume, which the Provost and Senior Fellows of Trinity College have honoured the author by publishing in the Dublin University Press Series, slight changes of phrase have been made, but for the most part they are reprinted without alteration. Written at different times and on different subjects, they naturally exhibit some diversities of view, and readers who dissent from the author's reasoning on some questions may concur with it in the main on others. Yet threads of connexion will be found in the method of investigation, and in some fundamental ideas. The conception, for example, is followed throughout that every branch of the philosophy of society, morals and political economy not excepted, needs investigation and development by historical induction; and that not only the moral and economic condition of society, but its moral and economic theories and ideas, are the results of the course of national history and the state of national culture. Contemporary social phenomena, such as the statistician explores, though indispensable to the researches and verifications of the economist and the moralist, are regarded in these Essays as but the latest links in chains of sequence connecting the past and the future, and as marking steps in a movement in which there is both continuity and change.


The author desires gratefully to acknowledge that Mr. Mill, though not concurring in all his views, always warmly encouraged his endeavours to bring the light of inductive research to bear on the problems of Political and Moral Philosophy.* Whatever differences exist between Mr. Mill's treatment of some of those problems and his own-for example, in relation to the Utilitarian theory of morals, and the economic theories of profits and prices-are, he believes, in a great measure attributable to the fact, that whereas Mr. Mill in his youth attended the lectures of Mr. Austin, the author had the good fortune to attend those of Sir Henry Maine at the Middle Temple, and to learn first from them the historical method of investigation, followed with such brilliant success in Ancient Law, Village Communities in the East and West, and the Lectures on the Early History of Institutions. Holding a Professorship of both Jurisprudence and Political Economy, he was led to apply that method to the examination of economic questions, and to look at the present economic structure and state of society from Sir Henry Maine's point of view, as the result of a long evolution. Further investigation has convinced him that the English economist of the future must study in the schools of both Mr. Stubbs and Sir Henry Maine, as well as in that of Mr. Mill. Mr. Thorold Rogers'

*The following passage in a letter from Mr. Morley, the distinguished Editor of the Fortnightly Review, accepting a proposal of the Essay on Auvergne in this volume, shows how cordially Mr. Mill welcomed such investigations at a time when they were coldly regarded by the majority of English economists:-"September 17, 1874. No letter could have given me more pleasure than one containing such a proposal as yours. A long time ago, Mr. Mill said to me that no one wrote accounts at once so instructive and so interesting as your narratives of your foreign visits. Believe, therefore, how heartily I shall welcome your Paper on Auvergne for my November number."

History of Agriculture and Prices-'heroicum sane opus'-is an admirable example of original investigation of the sources of economic history. The Essay in this volume on Utilitarianism and the Summum Bonum, written in 1863, is from its brevity necessarily an imperfect presentation of the historical method in relation to morals, but it is an application of that method which the author believes had not been made before, and which disposes of some long controverted questions.

The two earliest Essays in point of date in the volume, entitled The Question of the Age-Is it Peace'? and "The Future of Europe Foretold in History,' will, it is submitted, if read in connexion with the one entitled Political Economy and Sociology,' written nearly nineteen years later, and with the political history of the interval, be found to establish the conclusion that the economy of modern Europe-including therein the occupations of its inhabitants, the motives determining the directions of their energies, and the constituents, amount, and distribution of their wealth-cannot be adequately interpreted without reference to the warlike tendencies of the age and their causes. Another conclusion which, it is believed, several of the Essays establish, is that 'the desire of wealth,' from which some eminent economists have attempted to deduce economic laws, is but an abstraction, and that one of the main problems of Political Economy is to investigate the changes which the desires, sentiments, and motives of which different kinds of wealth are the objects, undergo.

The reader is respectfully referred to a forthcoming Essay by the author in the Fortnightly Review (June 1, 1879),

entitled The Known and the Unknown in the Economic World,' for proof of the following propositions:

1. That the full knowledge and foreknowledge claimed by Mr. Lowe for the political economist in modern commercial society, can exist only at an opposite stage of development at which human business and conduct are determined, not by individual choice, or the pursuit of wealth, or commercial principles, but by immemorial ancestral custom.

2. That Mr. Ricardo, in his exposition of 'the laws which regulate natural prices, natural wages, and natural profits,' ignored the essential difference between stationary and progressive society, between the ancient economic world, with its simple and customary methods and prices, and the modern, with its vastness, complexity, incessant movement, and sudden vicissitudes and fluctuations.

3. That the distinction which Mr. Mill has drawn between home trade and international trade in respect of the transferability of labour and capital, and the equalization of wages and profit, if it had once some foundation when trade at home was simpler and better known, and when foreign trade was almost wholly unknown, can no longer be sustained. In both home trade and international trade, the migration of labour and capital has now some effect on wages and profits, and the comparative cost of producing different commodities has some effect on their comparative value and price, but in both cases the effect is uncertain and irregular, and incalculable. In neither case is there an equalization of either wages or profits; in neither case do prices conform to the Ricardian law of cost.

Ricardo's Works, M'Culloch's Ed., p. 49.

« AnteriorContinuar »