But the direct demoralizing effect of War is probably still greater than its impoverishing effect. . In all the successful efforts of Missionaries among savages, civilization and conversion have gone hand in hand. The subjects which constitute the proper and sole province of the science, they do not scruple to submit to extemporaneous discussion, provided they but avoid the title by which that science is commonly designated. It has been my first object, to combat the prevailing prejudices against the study; and especially those which represent it as unfavourable to Religion. And the servant who has received but one talent, if he put it out to use, will fare better than he who has been entrusted with five, if he squander or bury them. The illustrations, however, which I have given from other subjects, are extremely inadequate; for I know of none in which so much theory, and that, most paradoxical theory, has been incorporated with experience, and passed off as a part of it, as in matters concerning Political-Economy.
Moyhanger, a New Zealander who was brought to England, was struck with especial wonder, in his visit to London, at the mystery, as it appeared to him, how such an immense population could be fed; as he saw neither cattle nor crops. I have spoken of security of property as the most essential point, because, though no progress can be made without a division of labour, this could neither exist without security of property, nor could fail to arise with it. Take, for example, the case of a Miser; one whose selfishness takes the turn of a love of hoarding. The presumptions are manifestly on the affirmative side. As for the vehement vituperation lavished on the study of Political-Economy which you will be prepared to hear, though, of course, not to answer, I will only remark, that I think it on the whole no unfavourable sign.
A coarse profusion in the most perishable articles, and again, the delight in tawdry kind of splendour, and shewy ornament, are characteristics of a semi-barbarous people. Let it be supposed, for instance, that in the one, the higher classes were anxiously occupied in diffusing the blessings of education among the people, and had provided adequately for the instruction both of children and adults; taking care that the most essential points of education should occupy the foremost place, and the next to them, the next; and exercising the judgment of a cultivated understanding as to the relative importance of each, and as to the best modes of conveying instruction in each: let us suppose their wealth to be employed in making an adequate provision for a sufficient number of respectable religious teachers, and of places of worship, to meet fully the wants of their population: let the schools again, for the education of the children of their own class, be conducted on a similar principle; making sound religious instruction, and the cultivation of sincere and practical religious habits, the primary object of attention, and placing every other branch of education in its proper order; taking especial care not to let shewy accomplishments become a readier path to distinction than substantial cultivation of the understanding; and guarding most sedulously against that besetting danger, the introduction into their schools of a wrong code of morality—a false point of honour, distinct from, or at variance with, Christian principle: let their Universities, again, and other institutions for ulterior education, be so regulated as to exhibit in the disposition of their endowments, the full efficiency of well-directed wealth, in carrying on a plan of manly instruction, of which the foundations should have been laid in earlier years; not sending forth into the world, to assume the office of legislators and directors of public afairs, such as shall have completed their education without having ever even begun the study of the subjects with which they are to be conversant, except so far as they may have taken upon trust some long-venerated prejudices; but men qualified for the high profession they are to follow, by a preparation analogous to what is required even of the humblest artisan:—let these objects, and such as these, occupy the attention, and employ the resources of an enlightened and opulent community—let these be, I do not say, perfectly attained, since perfection is not to be expected of man, but at least sedulously aimed at,—proposed as objects—thought of; and this surely is no impossibility: —and let the other community, perversely or negligently, pursue, in all or in many of these points, an opposite course; and it is easy to pronounce which of the two is employing its wealth with the better prospect of success, in attaining superior objects;—which is likely to improve, and which, to stand still or fall back, in respect of true national greatness;—which is the more advanced, and has the fairer prospect of advancing towards a higher and better kind of civilization than any nation has hitherto exhibited. But two things we can accomplish; which are very important, and which are probably all that our present faculties and extent of knowledge can attain to. And hence medical writers very prudently inculcate a caution to the practitioner, to ascertain what are the habitual notions of his informant, in order that he may interpret aright the descriptions given. For not only are many of the transactions which are, in the historian's view, the most important, such as are the least important to the Political-Economist, but also a great proportion of them consists of what are in reality the greatest impediments to the progress of a society in wealth: viz.
The contrivance mentioned by Herodotus of that Queen of Babylon, who removed every night the bridge over the Euphrates, that the inhabitants of the opposite sides might not pass over to rob each other, was not more preposterous than the idea of maintaining virtue among men by precluding them from mutual intercourse, and keeping them secluded from each other, in a state of barbarian rudeness and ignorance. For if we really are convinced of the truth of Scripture, and consequently of the falsity of any theory, of the earth, for instance, which is really at variance with it, we must needs believe that that theory is also at variance with observable phenomena; and we ought not therefore to shrink from trying that question by an appeal to these. It is, in this last case, therefore, though a source of enjoyment, out of the province of Political-Economy. These varied occupations present an almost infinite variety, of objects to the contemplation of those few, who, being attached to no particular occupation themselves, have leisure and inclination to examine the occupations of other people. Nature spirits won by a nose, but there was enough interest in the other option that I decided to go ahead and write a post on that as well.
In bodily strength, it has been ascertained by accurate and repeated experiments, that civilized men are decidedly superior to savages, and that the more barbarous, and those who lead a harder life, are generally inferior in this point to those who have made more approaches to civilization. But the dealers deserve neither censure for the scarcity which they are ignorantly supposed to produce, nor credit for the important public service which they in reality perform. Even Atheism does not lessen our difficulty; it only alters the character of it. Whether indeed we ourselves shall have enjoyed a large or a small share of them, will be of no importance to us a hundred years hence; but it will be of the greatest importance, whether we shall have employed the faculties and opportunities granted to us, in the increase and diffusion of those benefits among others. Knowledge would not have made the advances it has, if it had been promoted only by such persons. By the first of these propositions, he seemed to prove that there was no real virtue, and that what pretended to be such, was a mere cheat and imposition upon mankind; and by the second, that private vices were public benefits, since without them no society could prosper or flourish.
A rich nation, on the contrary, is always an industrious nation; and almost always more industrious than poor ones. The character of their religion, for instance, makes a great difference: and in this respect the most eminent nations of antiquity laboured under a great disadvantage, as compared with those of Christendom; and of these, such as are more or less enthralled by various superstitions, are far from being on a level with those who have approached nearer to the religion of the Bible. Again, for other purposes, the wealth of a nation would be computed according to that of the richest individuals. Formerly, nearly all practitioners recommended inoculation with small-pox; though the practice had been much opposed at its first introduction; now, they are almost unanimous in preferring vaccination; but in any stage of either of the controversies which arose respecting these modes of practice, a man would have been thought insane, who should have questioned the importance of studying the nature, symptoms, and effects of small-pox. The object that strikes the eye is to all of these persons the same; the difference of the impressions produced on the mind of each is referable to the differences in their minds.
A physician, again, will perhaps contemn systems of Political-Economy, of Logic, or Metaphysics, and insist on the superior wisdom of trusting to common-sense in such matters; but he would never approve of trusting to common-sense in the treatment of diseases. Accordingly the prevailing tendency has always been to adopt as a medium of exchange, in preference to all others, articles of an ornamental character, prized for their beauty and rarity; such as the silver and gold which have long been much the most extensively used for this purpose—the cowry-shells, admired for making necklaces, and very generally used as money throughout an extensive region in Africa—the porcellane shells employed in like manner in some parts of the East Indies, and the wampum of some of the native American Indians, which consists of a kind of bugles wrought out of shells, and used both as an ornament and as money. An excessive multiplication of the latter class is produced by the enactment of laws, whose object is, not revenue, but the exclusion of foreign productions for the supposed benefit of domestic industry. For, the things themselves of which the science treats, are immediately removed from its province, if we remove the possibility, or the intention, of making them the subjects of exchange; and this, though they may conduce, in the highest degree, to happiness, which is the ultimate object for the sake of which wealth is sought. Among poor and barbarous nations, as I formerly remarked, we may find as much avarice, fraud, vanity, and envy, called forth, in reference perhaps to a string of beads, a hatchet, or a musket, as are to be found in wealthier communities.
The phenomena which can be exhibited directly to the senses, afford perhaps, for the youthful mind, the best introduction to the study of Natural-Theology; but even greater admiration will arise as the philosophical inquirer proceeds to trace the marks of divine Wisdom in the various contrivances for the well-being of man, exhibited in the complicated structure of Society. Each family may thus in some degree combine within itself the variety of employments which exists in the whole community; in which, now one, and now another class, will be comparatively depressed, though the whole may be prosperous and advancing. However slender may be my qualifications in the science, a science which no one, I conceive, has as yet fully mastered, the University has at least testified, in the appointment, the most complete dissent from the notion, that the studies of Political-Economy and of Theology are unfriendly to each other. This very circumstance has always appeared to me the chief recommendation of such a use of the term; since the same thing is different to different persons. He will, at all events, we may be sure, defend his own cause, and finally lay prostrate the Dagon of infidelity; but we, his professed defenders, more zealous in reality for our own honour than for his, shall deserve to be smitten before the Philistines.
But till the advocates of Christianity shall have become universally much better acquainted with the true character of their religion, than, universally, they have ever yet been, we must always expect that every branch of study,—every scientific theory,—that is brought into notice, will be assailed on religious grounds, by those who either have not studied the subject, or who are incompetent judges of it; or again, who in addressing themselves to such persons as are so circumstanced, wish to excite and to take advantage of the passions of the ignorant. Yet all the while, he was in the habit of saying that Political-Economy, if an empire were of granite, would crumble it to dust. Moreover, whereas the supply of provisions for an army or garrison is comparatively uniform in kind: here the greatest possible variety is required, suitable to the wants of various classes of consumers. Many of the Londoners, who would perhaps have laughed at the savage's admiration, would probably have been found never to have even thought of the mechanism which is here at work. The use he is to make of the formula, is, not for the acquiring of these general principles, but for the application of them, in those cases where self-interest would be the most likely to blind him.