Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

by greater imbecility of mind, and by a more degrading barbarity, than the rules of public economy in the rudest stages of society.*

Before Political Economy can be taught as a science, it must be in harmony with all. It has been somewhere remarked, that there is but one science, and that all the sciences, commonly so called, are only so many divisions and sub-divisions of one great whole, thus separated for the more convenient purpose of close and accurate investigation-no truth can therefore be opposed to any other truth—no theory regarding the colour of plants would be admitted as true, if at variance with the ascertained laws of chemistrythe science of agriculture not only regards the diversity of soils, but the nature and properties of the plants or seeds for which the earth is to be prepared. No theory of pathology, of anatomy, of any subject connected with the human frame, would be admitted as correct, or denominated a science, that contradicted the established truths in physiology, or was not consistent with the various branches of study relating to the structure of man. So with regard to man in his external relations, legislation, moral philosophy, political economy, must alike be governed by congenial

* Address to the London University, by the Author.

and harmonious laws ; nor can his external relations be considered apart from the internal economy of his frame, or without regard to his health, his personal morality, his intellectual and religious improvement-in short, there cannot be a greater fallacy than to suppose that any system of political economy ranks with the sciences, unless it be conversant with the nature and the attributes of the Being for whom it is designed, unless it indicates what things ought to be produced and how distributed by those whose animal nature should be subservient to higher faculties and aspirations. Mr. Senior, when Professor of Political Economy at the University of Oxford, appeared to be conscious of this, but got rid of the difficulty by boldly declaring : “It is not with happiness, but with wealth, that I am concerned as a political economist; and I am not only justified in omitting, but perhaps am bound to omit, all considerations which have no influence on wealth.” Here is a complete surrender of the claims of his subject to the denomination of a science; and what is the consequence of this severance of all higher considerations from the creation of wealth ?—not merely that they are kept subordinate, but are lost sight of altogether, and to whatever sufferings of physical destitution, of moral degradation, and of mental darkness, the

producers are exposed, so long as the largest amount of wealth is created, it is not the business of the political economist to investigate. Those accidental and fluctuating causes, be they the caprices of fashion, or the ravages of war, hitherto influencing supply and demand, are regarded as the immutable laws of nature, and upon these ever-varying data erroneous theories have been built up and demolished in rapid succession. Unmindful of the sacred admonition to “ train up a child in the way he should go,” systems are upheld under which even instruction can with difficulty be imparted, while all moral training is wholly impracticable.*

*“It is instructive to observe, how we compel, as it were, vice and misery with cne hand, and endeavour to suppress them on the other ; but the whole course of our manufacturing system tends to these results : you engage children from their earliest and tenderest age in these long, painful, and destructive occupations; when they have approached to manhood, they have outgrown their employments, and they are turned upon the world without moral, without professional education; the business they have learned avails them nothing; to what can they turn their hands for a maintenance ?—the children, for instance, who have been taught to make pins, having reached fourteen or fifteen years of age, are unfit to make pins any longer ; to procure an honest livelihood then becomes to them almost impossible; the governors of prisons will tell you, the relieving officers will tell you, that the vicious resort to plunder and prostitution ; the rest sink down.”Lord Ashley, on the Employment of Children in Mines.

The true theory of society combines the sciences of Political Economy and of Moral Philosophy, and may be illustrated as follows :

We will suppose fifty families of children taken to a remote part of the world, or away from general society, by parents anxious to train them in the spirit and practice of Christianity; some are afflicted with partial blindness, with deformity, or weakness others are distinguished by superior talents; trained in the love of God and man, one directs his attention to the study of optics, another to anatomy, in the hope of assisting their afflicted brothers; they are more or less successful, but even their endeavours have given strength, by exercise, to the higher motives, and endeared them more to the afflicted—those born with any infirmity of temper would be watched with like solicitude-the brothers and sisters actuated by the same spirit, the strong assisting the weak in body and mind, all become more closely united in the bonds of Christian lovethus far the rudiments of Moral Philosophy.

Now it is evident that with this promptitude of mutual assistance, the blind restored to sight, the crooked made straight, the weak strengthened, and moral evil checked in the bud, those who before were consumers only would become more efficient, bodily and mentally, and there would be

28

THE CHRISTIAN COMMONWEALTH.

THE CHRISTIAN COMMONWEALTH.

a larger produce—those of the greatest ability, relieved more or less from the care and attention before required by the weak, would have more time for the pursuits of science, and for promoting the general good. Here the rudiments of Political Economy are in harmony with those of Moral Philosophy.

The Political Economist* would dissent from the foregoing regulations as failing to generate motives to constant exertion; he would maintain that the parents, in order to sustain a persevering activity, must offer to those of great talent other and more powerful inducements, they must give a larger share of the produce of the families to those who make the most rapid progress in the acquisition of knowledge or display the greatest ability. This would be virtually telling them they were not to love the Lord their God with all their heart. Such an appeal to their selfishness would

*“You must not suppose that our political economists seek in the Bible for instruction |--They discover the cause of all our difficulties and evils, not in the constitution of society, but of human nature; and there, also, they look for it, not where it is to be found, in its sinfulness and fallen state, but in its essence, and the primal law which was its primal benediction !”—“How they (the people) should be set to work-how the beginning should be made-is what we must not expect to learn from any professor of political economy."-Southey.

« AnteriorContinuar »