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Had the Author been happy enough to have met with any thing in the publications of the day calculated to lead to the conclusion, that the interesting, involved, and vastly important subject of the following work was understood by the writers, he would not have imposed on himself the onerous labor he has performed. Could any conceive the difficulties of such a labor to an uneducated man, dependent on mechanical occupation, unassisted and unencouraged (save that the most intelligent and opposed, whom he has met, have never been able to controvert his conclusions) they would rather wonder it should have been performed at all, than find fault with its defects. It never would have been performed by him, had not the ardor of his desire to aid in obviating the calamities which ignorance entails, and the anguish of feelings they excite, been commensurate to the clearness and force with which the subject has impressed his own mind. Truth is the great object he has labored to establish; if he has succeeded in that object, it will be the people's own fault, should such calamities as have lately and still agitate the public mind be continued, as they inevitably will, unless the causes are removed by them to whom the labor of removing them belongs.


Ir must have been obvious to every attentive observer of prevailing opinion, that the condition of the people of Great Britain, and the modern principles of legislation, were, until the present commercial panic, alike objects of general congratulation. The man that dared to question the excellence of either the one or the other, was considered to be influenced by bad feeling, or as not belonging to the age. Being one of the few that venture to think for themselves, I have pursued a course of inquiry in an unbeaten track, which has led to conclusions directly opposed to popular opinions, and knowing that if truth be heard, she must be regarded, I venture to submit those conclusions to general scrutiny.

The principles and combinations developed, and the changes effected within the last 35 years, have placed Great Britain in a condition so totally distinct, not only from all other countries, but even from herself, in comparison with every former period, as to render a just estimate of that condition unattainable, without taking into account her new powers and means. In that view, so far from affording matter for congratulation, she presents an object for contemplation at once anomalous and appalling, not only to the degraded portion of the community, but to those also who pride themselves in the accumulation of wealth, by the insecurity in which that wealth is involved.

Institutions are forming in various parts of the country for the collection, diffusion, and expansion of mechanical and other scientific knowlege, tending to increase our productive power. Whatever scientific knowlege the promoters of these institutions may possess, or however honorable their motives, they betray a most lamentable want of knowlege of the actual condition of the people. Their pretensions are calculated to deceive the public opinion into a blind confidence, in the rapid improvement in the knowlege and condition of the laboring classes. Many talk as if the condition of the laboring classes, in the aggregate, was to be estimated by that of the very few that can avail of the benefits those institutions are professedly intended to promote, while it is incontrovertible, that . the whole of the laborers employed in agriculture, and nine-tenths of the artisans of the country, are precluded all opportunity of cultivating their minds by scientific attainment, by the exhaustion of

their physical powers, and the absorption of their whole time to procure a scanty subsistence. The promoters of these institutions appear to have shut their eyes to the fact, that the expansion of mechanical power, which, instead of being made subservient to the com fort of the laboring classes, is brought into competition with their la bor, and thereby reduces their wages; whilst an aristocratical monopoly of the land, and an absurd and despotic exclusion of foreign subsistence, raises the price of subsisting comforts, equal to many millions of taxes in favor of the monopolists, the whole leading to the physical degradation and moral debasement of those very classes whose condition is so fallaciously made the subject of national congratulation.

It appears to grieve these men of science to see men lifting heavy loads, which could be done with so much ease by machinery. But they do not point out how the poor slaves, whom they pity, are to obtain bread, should the labor they perform be done by machinery. That machinery is abstractedly good, cannot be disputed, because its property is produce, while the property of man is want; it is, therefore, adapted to his condition. But like fire and water, to the agency of which we are vastly indebted for the increase and perfection of the greatest portion of our comforts, while under judicious control; but without such control, they would be the most terrific agents we should have to encounter; and without it also, machinery, instead of a blessing, may prove a curse.

Men too, of great pretension and overbearing presumption, are pressing on public attention certain dogmas that have no foundation în truth, and are totally inapplicable to British society, under the imposing and dignified title of Political Economy. Science is the development of truth. The science of political economy is the most delightful, the most interesting, and the most important of all the sciences, as its objects are to unfold the means whereby the greatest amount of human' comfort and improvement can be obtained with the greatest facility and ease.

That which has not truth for its basis, cannot be entitled to the consideration of science. It is conclusive of superficial knowlege among the people that they can be induced to receive pedantic conceits as axioms of science. This is to be accounted for on the principle that "in all popular errors there is a tolerable substratum of truth." All speculators, especially when they have the advantages of education, will occasionally make out a good case, as those who are always speculating in lotteries, &c. will occasionally obtain a prize. The science of political economy is, indeed, the science of the people. But as a great portion of what has been promulgated under that appellation is untrue and inapplicable to society, it cannot be entitled to consideration. Yet, as the bee sucks honey from every flower, a portion of the substratum of truth that may be found in the works of the economist, will be occasionally availed of in the discussion of the subjects that may be brought under consideration. No personal feeling shall knowingly be allowed to disparage this contest for truth. Truth is the great


object sought to be established. Nothing but truth can be entitled to regard. Truth is great, and must prevail.

That men possessing faculty, as some of the promoters of modern schemes and doctrines evidently do, should not direct their endeavors to unfold, on scientific principles, the manner in which newly-discovered mechanical power has affected, and how it ought to affect the condition of society, is much to be regretted. Had that been the case, they might have been useful to the country, by becoming instrumental, in instructing those who preside over public affairs, in that scientific knowlege that is indispensable to the right administration of the laws of society. It is possible for rulers to be very worthy men, and yet be as far behind the age, in the knowlege of political science, as those who, when the effects of steam power and the spinning-jenny are so obvious, would still adhere to the distaff and spindle.

Without such scientific knowlege among rulers, instead of proportionably elevating the condition of society, that newly-discovered scientific power may become instrumental, in enslaving, subjugating, and debasing those who constitute the strength and sinews of the state, and of hurling. the nation from its proud pre-eminence, to rank with others in fallen greatness.

Without such knowlege none can be entitled to public confidence in the management of its affairs, as none can be fit to direct that which they do not understand.

Nothing can be more conclusive of the fact of prevailing ignorance on this subject, than the incontrovertible tendency of the existing order of society, and of the doctrines called political economy, to produce a convergence of money influence, or despotism, which is the worst of all despotisms, as it weakens the bonds of society, by reducing the affections of human nature to a money value on the one hand, and a divergence of poverty and misery on the other; or in other words, increasing wealth in fewer hands, and extending privation among greater numbers, the unerring indicators of national decay according to all experience and all history.

That social institutions are susceptible of scientific elucidation is unquestionable. That such elucidation has never been effected, is apparent from the contrariety of opinions and confused notions of legislators, on the various subjects that come before Parliament. Such institutions do not appear to have been put to the test of analytical investigation, until the recent publication of the volume of Statistical Illustrations, from which the following conclusions are chiefly deduced. Genuine science is tardy in its progress; but the science of social government, or National Policy, is so interesting to all, from its superiority to all others, (inasmuch as it applies to the condition and feelings of every member of the community,) that it is reasonable to hope it will form an exception to others in the rapidity of its advance. There are, however, several discouraging circumstances to overcome, arising out of various causes.

One of these causes is the prevailing and inveterate dislike to an assemblage of figures. But it must be obvious, that the operations and resources of Great Britain are of a magnitude too vast to be brought

within the power of human comprehension, without the aid of figures, however repulsive they may appear; and being properly applied, they lead to just conclusions with precision and accuracy. Yet even our most ostensible public characters manifest a distaste for, or an incapacity to appreciate them.

When the indefatigable Member for Aberdeen introduced an extended financial statement, on the opening of a late Session of Parliament, Lord Londonderry, who always displayed an anxiety to fix the attention of the House on the "fundamental features" of a question, said, it was "a motley group of figures that he could not understand!" And another statesman, a man of figures, Mr. Vansittart, whose profundity of reasoning enabled him to prove to the satisfaction of two-thirds of the Members, that the axiom of Euclid, viz. " that the whole is greater than a part," was not true; being asked his opinion, some time after, of the tables produced by Mr. Hume, said, "he could not tell if they were true or untrue." If men so eminent, and whose public engagements require a knowlege of such subjects, are not able to grapple with an accumulation of figures, how is it to be expected from others? It is to be presumed, however, that the prevailing distaste for figures would very much subside among those who feel aggrieved by the pressure of taxation, if they could be made to understand, how much that pressure is increased by the very erroneous manner in which it is levied, which can be demonstrated far to exceed general apprehension. The money-jobbing between the Executive Government and the monied interests is not only worse than useless, but incredibly mischievous. Even the present worthy Financier, reputable as he has become with the public, from the circumstance of his entering on that office under the auspicious aspect of a mitigator of public burdens, together with the general rectitude, candor, and urbanity of his manners; he, by one unnecessary and uncalled for expedient, committed the public to an unnecessary obligation more than sufficient to pay the salaries of all the Cabinet Ministers in perpetuity; of which any one may satisfy himself who can compute the details of the Act, 4 Geo. IV. cap. 22, which will form a subject for future investigation. I must, in my conscience, however, acquit him of understanding the subject, which was complicated, as if for the purpose of being misunderstood. For if he did understand it, on no principle could the measure be accounted for, but that of a private participation, direct or indirect, which no one would for a moment believe, that knows any thing of the character of that distinguished individual. The consequences to the public, however, are the same, whether done with or without being understood by the parties to the transaction.

Were the public aware of the unnecessary burdens occasioned by the want of knowlege on the part of their rulers, they would certainly soon prevent them, by exciting an emulation amongst Ministers to attain it, lest the people should as far outstrip them in directive wisdom, as in inventive wisdom, they have outstripped all former periods. To be candid, this statement is introduced here for the purpose, if possible, of stimulating such inquiries amongst the people, as will induce them more vigilantly to watch over and examine the measures which may, from

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